Though it may not have held as much cultural significance of Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones within the “Golden Age of Television,” Vikings traded historical accuracy for engaging and unpredictable storylines, shocking violence, and compelling performances that kept viewers returning again and again between 2013 and 2020.
Originally a centerpiece of History’s scripted programming before concluding its run on Amazon Prime Video, Vikings follows the highly fictionalized life and legacy of Ragnar Lothbrok (real name Lodbrok), a legendary Norse viking who became the scourge of both England and France during the 9th century.
Created by Michael Hirst, who previously masterminded Showtime’s acclaimed historical drama The Tudors and wrote both of Shekhar Kapur’s Elizabeth films, Vikings premiered to 6 million viewers back in 2013, and maintained an impressive viewership throughout its 89-episode broadcast history.
Another great aspect of Vikings is that the show remained relatively strong throughout its entire run, with each season bringing forth a unique attitude and plenty of memorable moments.
Oh, and in case you’ve yet to venture into the world of Vikings for yourself, beware of spoilers down below.
Despite their best efforts, Vikings’ fifth season was also their most uneven, as it took some time for the narrative to find its footing and pacing while juggling the various storylines of the new central characters.
While some may have criticized the slow-burn pace of the series’ final episodes, Vikings' scale throughout the sixth season and stylistic visual choices made this season an improvement over its predecessor.
Of course, Vikings’ first season had the Herculean task of setting up the lore and visual aesthetic of the series, and much like Game of Thrones, the series’ exhaustive number of characters all take some time to become familiar to the audience.
Furthermore, Vikings’ second season was bolstered by the superb supporting cast, including Linus Roache, Donal Logue, and Alyssa Sutherland, and the badass breakout of Katheryn Winnick from surprising standout to fan favorite.
Of course, Vikings’ fourth season is also a major turning point for the historical drama, as defined by the gradual downfall of Ragnar Lothbrok culminating in arguably the best and most shocking episode of the series, “All His Angels.”
From the shocking murder of Athelstan, the maturity of Björn, the affair between King Ecbert and Lagertha, the tragic death of Siggy, and the mystery surrounding Harbard, Vikings keeps its audience on the edge of their seat throughout this season while playing with the preconceived notions of Ragnar’s legend thus far.
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