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For the 2012 BBC Documentary series, see Vikings (TV documentary series).

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File:Vikings Title.png
GenreHistorical drama
Created byMichael Hirst
Written byMichael Hirst
  • Travis Fimmel
  • Katheryn Winnick
  • Clive Standen
  • Jessalyn Gilsig
  • Gustaf Skarsgård
  • George Blagden
  • Gabriel Byrne
  • Alyssa Sutherland
  • Donal Logue
  • Alexander Ludwig
  • Linus Roache
  • Ben Robson
  • Kevin Durand
  • Lothaire Bluteau
  • John Kavanagh
  • Peter Franzén
  • Jasper Pääkkönen
  • Moe Dunford
  • Alex Høgh
  • Marco Ilsø
  • David Lindström
  • Jordan Patrick Smith
  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Opening theme"If I Had a Heart"
by Fever Ray
ComposerTrevor Morris
Country of originCanada
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons4
No. of episodes49 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Morgan O'Sullivan
  • Sheila Hockin
  • Sherry Marsh
  • Alan Gasmer
  • James Flynn
  • John Weber
  • Michael Hirst
  • Steve Wakefield
  • Keith Thompson
  • Sanne Wohlenberg
Production locationsAshford Studios
County Wicklow
  • John Bartley
  • PJ Dillon
  • Owen McPolin
  • Aaron Marshall
  • Michele Conroy
  • Don Cassidy
  • Tad Seaborn
  • Christopher Donaldson
Running time45 minutes
Production companies
  • Shaw Media
  • Octagon Films
  • Take 5 Productions
  • MGM Television
Original networkHistory
Original releaseMarch 3, 2013 (2013-03-03) –
present (present)

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Vikings is a historical drama television series written and created by Michael Hirst for the channel History. Filmed in Ireland, it premiered on March 3, 2013 in Canada.[1]

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known legendary Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. The show portrays Ragnar as a farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England, and eventually becomes a Scandinavian king, with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Björn Ironside, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.

Vikings was renewed for a fourth season in March 2015 with an extended order of 20 episodes, which premiered on February 18, 2016.[2][3][4] On March 17, 2016, History renewed Vikings for a fifth season of 20 episodes.[5]


The series is inspired by the tales of the raiding, trading, and exploring Norsemen of early medieval Scandinavia. It follows the exploits of the legendary Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok and his crew and family, as notably laid down in the 13th century sagas Ragnars saga Loðbrókar and Ragnarssona þáttr, as well as in Saxo Grammaticus's 12th century work Gesta Danorum. Norse legendary sagas were partially fictional tales based in Norse oral tradition, written down about 200 to 400 years after the events they describe. Further inspiration is taken from historical sources of the period, such as records of the Viking raid on Lindisfarne depicted in the second episode, or Ahmad ibn Fadlan's 10th-century account of the Volga Vikings. The series is set at the beginning of the Viking Age, marked by the Lindisfarne raid in 793. List of Vikings episodes


Main article: List of Vikings characters
  • Travis Fimmel as Ragnar Lothbrok (seasons 1–4)
  • Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha
  • Clive Standen as Rollo[6]
  • Jessalyn Gilsig as Siggy (seasons 1–3)
  • Gustaf Skarsgård as Floki
  • George Blagden as Athelstan (main seasons 1–3, guest season 4)
  • Gabriel Byrne as Earl Haraldson (season 1)
  • Alyssa Sutherland as Aslaug (seasons 1–4)[7]
  • Donal Logue as Horik of Denmark (seasons 1–2)
  • Alexander Ludwig as Bjorn Ironside (seasons 2–)
  • Linus Roache as Ecbert of Wessex (seasons 2–4)
  • Ben Robson as Kalf (seasons 3–4)
  • Kevin Durand as Harbard (seasons 3–)
  • Lothaire Bluteau as Charles of West Francia (seasons 3–)
  • John Kavanagh as The Seer (recurring seasons 1–3, main seasons 4–) and Pope Leo IV (guest season 4)
  • Peter Franzén as Harald Finehair (seasons 4–)[8]
  • Jasper Pääkkönen as Halfdan the Black (seasons 4–)[8]
  • Moe Dunford as Aethelwulf (recurring seasons 2–4, main seasons 4–)
  • Alex Høgh as Ivar the Boneless (seasons 4–)
  • Marco Ilsø as Hvitserk (seasons 4–)
  • David Lindström as Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye (season 4)
  • Jordan Patrick Smith as Ubbe (seasons 4–)
  • Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Bishop Heahmund (seasons 4–)


An Irish-Canadian co-production, Vikings was developed and produced by Octagon Films and Take 5 Productions.[1] Michael Hirst, Morgan O'Sullivan, John Weber, Sherry Marsh, Alan Gasmer, James Flynn and Sheila Hockin are credited as executive producers.[1] The first season's budget has been reported as $40 million USD.[9]

The series began filming in July 2012 at Ashford Studios, a newly built studio facility in Ireland,[10] chosen as a location for its tax advantages.[9] On August 16, 2012, longship scenes were filmed at Luggala, as well as on the Poulaphouca Reservoir, in the heart of the Wicklow Mountains.[11] 70 percent of the first season was filmed outdoors.[9] Some additional background shots were done in western Norway.[12]

Johan Renck,[13] Ciarán Donnelly and Ken Girotti each directed three episodes. The production team includes cinematographer John Bartley, costume designer Joan Bergin, production designer Tom Conroy, composer Trevor Morris and Irish choir Crux Vocal Ensemble, directed by Paul McGough.

On April 5, 2013, History renewed Vikings for a ten-episode second season.[14]

Two new series regulars were announced on June 11, 2013. Alexander Ludwig, portraying the teenage Björn, and Linus Roache, playing King Ecbert of Wessex.[15] Season two undergoes a jump in time, aging the young Björn (Nathan O’Toole) into an older swordsman portrayed by Ludwig. The older Björn has not seen his father, Ragnar, for "a long period of time." Lagertha remarries to a powerful jarl, a stepfather who provides harsh guidance to Björn.[16]

Several Swedish media sources reported that actors Edvin Endre, son of Swedish actress Lena Endre,[17] and Anna Åström had signed up for roles in season two.[18] It was confirmed that Endre had obtained the role of Erlendur, one of King Horik's sons.

Jeff Woolnough[19] and Kari Skogland joined Ken Girotti and Ciaran Donnelly as directors of season two.[20]

Michael Hirst announced plans for season four before season three had begun airing.[21] Season four began production around the Dublin area in April 2015.[22]

Finnish actors Peter Franzén and Jasper Pääkkönen, as well as Canadian actress Dianne Doan joined the cast of season four. Franzén obtained the role of Norwegian King Harald Finehair, a potential rival to Ragnar. Pääkkönen was cast as Halfdan the Black, Finehair's brother. Doan portrays Yidu, a Chinese character who has a major role in the first half of the fourth season.[23]

At the same time that the series was renewed for a fifth season, it was announced that Irish actor Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Heahmund would be joining the cast for that season.[5]

Former WWE star Adam Copeland, (a.k.a. Edge), has been cast in a recurring role for season five. He will portray Ketill Flatnose, a violent and bold warrior, chosen by Floki to lead a Viking expedition intent on traveling to Iceland to set up a colony there.[24] Irish actor Darren Cahill will play the role of Aethelred in the upcoming season.[25] Nigerian actor Stanley Amuzie told local media he had landed a small role in the upcoming season.[26] Season five will also include Irish actor, musician and real-life police detective, Kieran O'Reilly, who will play the role of "White Hair".[27]

Norwegian music group Wardruna provided much of the background music to the series. Founder Einar Kvitrafn Selvik also appeared as an actor.[28]


Main article: List of Vikings episodes

Vikings premiered on March 3, 2013 in Canada[29] and the United States.[10]

In the UK, Vikings premiered on May 24, 2013 where it was exclusively available on the streaming video-on-demand service LoveFilm.[30] The second season premiered on March 24, 2015.[31] The third season began airing on February 20, 2015 on Amazon Video.[32]

In Australia, the series premiered on August 8, 2013 on SBS One.[33] It was later moved to FX, which debuted the second season on February 4, 2015.[34] Season three of Vikings began broadcasting in Australia on SBS One on March 19, 2015.[35] Season four of Vikings began broadcasting in Australia on SBS One on February 24, 2016.[36]


See also: List of awards and nominations received by Vikings


Metacritic ratings per season
Template:Line chart
Season 1 Season 2 Season 3
Rating 71[37] 77[38] 81[39]

The series received favourable ratings by critics after the first episode, with an average rating of 71% according to Metacritic.[40] Alan Sepinwall of HitFix praised the series's casting, notably of Fimmel as Ragnar, and observed that Vikings "isn't complicated. It (...) relies on the inherent appeal of the era and these characters to drive the story."[41] Nancy DeWolf Smith of The Wall Street Journal noted the "natural and authentic" setting and costumes, and appreciated that Vikings was (unlike, e.g., Spartacus) not a celebration of sex and violence, but "a study of character, stamina, power and (...) of social, emotional and even intellectual awakening".[42] Hank Stuever, writing for the Washington Post, found that the "compelling and robust new drama series (...) delivers all the expected gore and blood spatter". But he also wrote that it successfully adapted the skills of cable television drama, with the care taken in acting, writing and sense of scope reminiscent of such series as Rome, Sons of Anarchy and Game of Thrones. He also suggested that the way the series emphasized "a core pride and nobility in this tribe of thugs" reflected "just another iteration of Tony Soprano".[43] Neil Genzlinger, in The New York Times, praised the "arresting" cinematography and the actors' performances, notably Fimmel's, and favorably contrasted Vikings to Game of Thrones and Spartacus for the absence of gratuitous nudity.[44]

In TIME, James Poniewozik noted that the relatively simple generational conflict underlying Vikings "doesn't nearly have the narrative ambition of a Game of Thrones or the political subtleties of a Rome", nor these series' skill with dialogue, but that it held up pretty well compared to the "tabloid history" of series like The Tudors and The Borgias. He concluded that "Vikings' larger story arc is really more about historical forces" than about its not very complex characters.[45] Clark Collis of Entertainment Weekly appreciated the cast's performance, but considered Vikings to be "kind of a mess", lacking the intrigue of The Tudors and Game of Thrones.[46] Brian Lowry criticized the series in Variety as an "unrelenting cheese-fest" and as a "more simpleminded version of Game of Thrones", but considered that it had "a level of atmosphere and momentum that makes it work as a mild diversion".[47] In the San Francisco Chronicle, David Wiegand was disappointed by the series's "glacial pace" and lack of action as well as the "flabby direction and a gassy script", while appreciating the performances and characters.[48]

The second season received a Metacritic rating of 77%, and a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 92% based on 12 professional critic reviews.


According to Nielsen, the series premiere drew 6 million viewers in the U.S., topping all broadcast networks among viewers aged 18 to 49. An earlier claim of over 18 million viewers was later retracted by the channel with an apology.[49][50]

In Canada, the premiere had 1.1 million viewers. The first season has averaged 942,000 viewers.[51]

Historical accuracy[]

Some critics have pointed out historical inaccuracies in the series's depiction of Viking society. Lars Walker, in the magazine The American Spectator, criticized its portrayal of Viking Age government (in the person of Earl Haraldson) as autocratic rather than essentially democratic.[52] Joel Robert Thompson criticized the show's depiction of the Norse peoples' supposed ignorance of the existence of Britain and Ireland, and the use of the death penalty instead of outlawry (skoggangr) as a punishment for heinous crimes.[53]

Monty Dobson, a historian at Central Michigan University, criticised the show's depictions of Viking Age clothing, but went on to state that fictional shows like Vikings could still be a useful teaching tool.[54] The Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten reported that the series incorrectly depicted the temple at Uppsala as a stave church in the mountains, whereas the historical temple was situated on flat land and stave churches were a hallmark of later Christian architecture in Scandinavia.[55] On the other hand, the temple as depicted in the show does have similarities with the reconstructions of the Uppåkra hof. The show also portrays the crucifixion of a prominent character instigated by a Christian bishop, apparently as a punishment for apostasy, even though historically Emperor Constantine officially outlawed crucifixion in the 4th century.[56]

Many characters are based on (or inspired by) real people from history or legend, and the major events portrayed are broadly drawn from history. However events from over a hundred years have been condensed, so that people who could never have met are shown as of similar age, with the historical events amended for dramatic effect. For example, season one leads up to the attack on Lindisfarne Abbey of 793 (before the real Rollo was born) but in season three the same characters at roughly the same ages participate in the siege of Paris of 885. By this time Ecbert had been dead for over forty years, and King Alfred the Great was already king, yet he is still portrayed as a child in season four. Rollo is portrayed having his followers killed, and fighting his fellow Vikings, whereas in history they were granted what became Normandy and continued to co-operate with their Norse kinsmen. Furthermore, most of the principal characters are portrayed as being from Norway, while according to primary sources they would most likely have been Danes.

Little is known about Viking religious practice[57] and so its depiction is largely creative. When Katheryn Winnick was asked why she licked the seer's hand she answered "It wasn’t originally in the script and we just wanted to come up with something unique and different".[58] Regarding the historical differences and accuracy issues of the show, showrunner Michael Hirst comments that "I especially had to take liberties with ‘Vikings’ because no one knows for sure what happened in the Dark Ages" and that "we want people to watch it. A historical account of the Vikings would reach hundreds, occasionally thousands, of people. Here we’ve got to reach millions."[59]

Cinematic errors[]

Kattegat, Hedeby and Götaland are very different geographical terms. Only Hedeby is a settlement (today's Copenhagen), Kattegat is the sea between the Jutland peninsula and today's Sweden. The southern quarter of today's Sweden is Götaland. Further, there are many fjords surrounding Kattegat (especially at eastern Jutland, and at the northern shores of Zealand and Funen), but Denmark lacks mountains. Only in Norway do such fjords exist. Denmark and southernmost Sweden (Scania) are covered with thick layers of boulder clay or sandy soil, both types are very fertile and free of stones.

Related media[]

Zenescope partnered with the History Channel to create a free Vikings comic book based on the series. It was first distributed at Comic-Con 2013 and by comiXology in February 2014.[60][61] The comic was written by Michael Hirst, features interior artwork by Dennis Calero (X-Men Noir), and is set before the events of season one. In addition to featuring Ragnar and Rollo battling alongside their father, the comic depicts the brothers’ first encounter with Lagertha.[61]

See also[]

  • Vikings (season 1)
  • Vikings (season 2)
  • Vikings (season 3)
  • Vikings (season 4)

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  2. Nicholson, Max (March 26, 2015). "Vikings Renewed for Season 4". IGN. Retrieved March 27, 2015.
  3. Mathew, Ilin (July 3, 2015). "'Vikings' Season 4 Spoilers: Queen Aslaug to be Leader; Will Rollo Follow Ragnar's Footsteps?". International Business Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  4. Matt Webb Mitovich. "Vikings Gets Supersized Season 4, Premiere Date, 'Last Supper'-y Poster - TVLine". TVLine.
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  12. "FILMS SHOT IN NORWAY". Film commission Norway. Retrieved 2015-12-02.
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  15. Goldberg, Lesley. 'Vikings' Enlists 'Hunger Games', 'Law & Order' Actors for Season 2, The Hollywood Reporter, June 11, 2013. Accessed January 5, 2014.
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  17. "Edvin Endre klar för HBO-serie". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 2013-06-28. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (|trans-title= suggested) (help)
  18. "Siktar på roll i Skarsgårds vikingaserie". Aftonbladet (in Swedish). 2013-07-09. Unknown parameter |trans_title= ignored (|trans-title= suggested) (help)
  19. "Selected Filmography". Marco Ciglia.
  20. "PJ Dillon" (PDF). Casarotto.
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  25. "'Red Rock' actor Darren Cahill joins 'Vikings' Season 5". The Irish Film & Television Network.
  26. Izuzu, Chidumga. "Stanley Aguzie: Nollywood actor lands role in "Vikings"".
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  28. "Einar Kvitrafn Selvik (Wardruna) Appearing On History Channel's Vikings". Ghost Cult Magazine. February 15, 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2017.
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  30. Munn, Patrick (May 10, 2013). "LOVEFiLM Acquires Exclusive UK Rights To History's 'Vikings', Sets Premiere For May 24th". TV Wise. Retrieved January 28, 2015.
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  40. Template:Metacritic television
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  53. Balar, Keya (March 14, 2013). "Historical Inaccuracies in 'Vikings'". Daily Targum. Retrieved April 14, 2013.
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  55. "TV-serie om vikinger skaper latter for historiske tabber". Aftenposten. April 24, 2013. Retrieved April 25, 2013.
  56. Encyclopædia Britannica. "Encyclopaedia Britannica Online: crucifixion". Retrieved 2009-12-19.
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  61. 61.0 61.1 "Hero Complex: Comic-Con: 'Vikings' will land with stars, free comic, boat races". Los Angeles Times. July 2, 2013.

External links[]

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