Content Warning: This list contains mentions of kidnap, violence, and sexual assault
For a series that is only six seasons long, Vikings has an incredibly high kill-count when it comes to its characters. Even main characters are not safe, as Ragnar Lothbrok himself dies around halfway through, and he is arguably the main character of the entire series! Along the way, almost every major character ends up dead, whether in battle (and onto Valhalla), of illness (surprisingly rare), by a childhood accident, or, possibly most common of all, by being murdered.
It’s not surprising, then, that some of these characters were killed off before they really had a chance to shine on screen – or in a way that felt undeserved, even in the scope of the story itself. Some of these characters caught the sympathy of fans, who felt that they should have earned a happier ending, while others weren’t even given a chance to become truly beloved.
10 Young Siggy (& Thorunn)
In season 3, Bjorn marries for the first time – a woman named Thorunn, who had a child, a girl who they named Siggy. However, the storyline here ended up being largely dropped, for no discernable reason. Thorunn took a blow to the face in battle, leaving her with a large facial scar, and withdrew from Bjorn and society, before wandering off alone into the wilderness (where it’s not clear if she survived elsewhere, or died off-screen). Her daughter, left in Kattegat, was neglected and eventually found dead, and no one seemed particularly upset at her passing. It was a sad end to a character who should have grown up and continued the line of Ragnar Lothbrok as his first grandchild.
Most of the Sons of Ragnar became well-developed and complicated characters in their own right. Sigurd, however, got the short end of the stick (or the axe). Fans barely had a chance to get to know anything about this brother before he was murdered by Ivar for insulting his manliness in front of the army – and he seemed at times to exist largely so that his death could further the plot and sow discord between the brothers.
Harald was a well-developed character with a lot of screen time, but he deserved more in the sense that he deserved a happier ending! Harald may not have been the most moral man, but by Vikings standards, he wasn’t terrible, either – and he lost everything in the pursuit of a singular dream to unite his country. He failed romantically, to the point that he himself joked about it, he lost his brother, he even essentially lost his kingship to Bjorn – as even though he won the election, Bjorn was hailed as the true King and unifier, while Harald died alone on a battlefield in another land.
Gyda was the only Daughter of Ragnar, in a series that ended up revolving around his sons. There was so much potential here, and seeing what a daughter of Ragnar and Lagertha could become would have made for an incredible story – but unfortunately, she was killed off back in the first season.
A plague swept over the Viking settlement, and Gyda didn’t survive, robbing fans of what may have been a far more interesting sibling dynamic in later seasons.
Astrid deserved better in so many ways. Lagertha’s second in command was introduced in season 4, as her lover as well as her trainee as a fighter. It seemed for a while as though there was space in the series for a court of powerful women, including Astrid, Lagertha, and Torvi, which had great potential – but it was not to be. Astrid’s season 5 storyline saw her kidnapped, raped, impregnated, and forced to marry, before she met Lagertha in battle and asked her former lover to kill her. The storyline was gratuitous, and the use of rape as a plot device here was completely unnecessary, even for a series like Vikings that doesn’t shy away from sex and violence.
5 Tanaruz & Helga
Helga is another character whose storyline seemed to jump the shark, just so that the character could be killed off to forward someone else’s story – in this case, Floki’s. Helga has a solid place in the story up until season 4, which is when things start to go wrong. At this point, she and Floki are in love, and have a daughter – but when the daughter dies, Helga ends up kidnapping a child on a raid to Algeciras, and trying to force her to become a new daughter to herself and Floki. Unsurprisingly, this doesn’t work, and the child – Tanaruz – kills Helga and then herself. It’s a heartbreaking end to a great character, and also feels like a rushed way to remove her so that Floki can disappear on his own.
Heahmund had a huge amount of potential as a kind of replacement for Athelstan – a Christian taken among the Vikings, who connected to Lagertha and could have continued some of the emotional struggles to reconcile faiths.
As a warrior, as well as a Bishop, he was a unique character, and for a while it seemed as though he would become another major player. It was a shock, then, when he was killed in battle after only a single season on the show.
3 Torvi’s Children
Although Torvi has four children, only one survives until the end of the series – and all three of the others deserved more. Guthrum, Torvi’s son with Jarl Borg, had the most screentime, and actually survived to adulthood to be killed in battle. Despite this, he didn’t get a lot of development or screentime, and given that his father was killed so brutally by Ragnar, he could have had a much more interesting dynamic on the show. Still, he had more development than Hali and Asa, Torvi’s children with Bjorn. Hali was killed as a child in battle, and Asa was swept overboard and drowned – and neither were given a chance to grow into real characters.
Athelstan quickly became a fan-favorite character, as he shifted from monk to Viking and back again, questioning his faith and his place in the world, and developing an incredible dynamic with Ragnar. In the end, though, Athelstan met his end at the hands of Floki, who hated him for his faith. It was a disappointing end in part because it was so obvious. Floki had always hated him, so there was little surprise to his eventual murder, and his death felt less like a true completion of his story and more a way to drive a wedge between Floki and Ragnar.
Lagertha, for many fans, was the central character of the show – even above Ragnar himself. She was a hero, a warrior, and a guardian of her people and her family – she was a legend in her own right, and when she managed to survive so many battles and losses, fans breathed a sigh of relief to see her retire to a farmstead to live out her days in peace. If anyone in the series deserved a happy ending, it was Lagertha, and it looked, for a moment, like she got it… which is what made it all the more disappointing when she ended up back in battle, fighting against raiders. Still, had she died here, it could have been fitting. But to return to Kattegat, and die at the hands of a hallucinating Hvitserk, was just devastating.
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