'Vikings' Ending: You Have Questions, The Creator Has Answers

Vikings Jordan Patrich Smith Ubbe History
Bernard Walsh / History

So, you have finished watching “Vikings” on Amazon Prime Video and you still have a lot of questions. Who better to answer them than series creator Michael Hirst? Exactly. The series’ final episodes reveal the ending of multiple arcs, including the person who wound up ruling Kattegat.

Below you will find the answer to burning questions that may still be haunting you. How did the show connect Ragnar to the story in the series finale? Was Michael Hirst’s original ending the same one that “Vikings” viewers witnessed? How did history impact the storytelling of characters’ fate?

Those questions and so much more get dove into. Be warned, spoilers for the ending of “Vikings” are discussed beyond this point. If you do not to know who lives and dies, or want to know, then you may need to turn away now. Without further ado, here is Michael Hirst’s insight:

Vikings Ingrid Lucy Martin History Channel
Jonathan Hession / History

Did Michael Hirst always imagine the ending that viewers saw? For instance, Ingrid becoming the Queen of Kattegat.

“Vikings” ends with a lot of carnage and a surprising ruler for Kattegat. Introduced late in the series run, Ingrid rises to the rank of Queen of Kattegat after her husband, Harald, and lover, Erik the Red, are killed.

Michael Hirst: No, I didn’t foresee that. That came when I began to think of the last season. So, the very last scene and the ending in Newfoundland, in America, I always knew that that would be the ending, and in fact, when I pitched the show to the History Channel many, many years ago, I told them what the ending was going to be.

That is if I ever had the opportunity to get there because, as you know, most shows are cancelled after one season. So, let alone you know, 16 or 89 episodes. So, I got to where I wanted to go. I always knew where I was headed in the global sense. But the details -- they come along when they need to come along, and these characters, to some extent, have a life of their own.

I know this sounds insane but occasionally, what they do is hide from me. I kept trying to kill King Harald off and failing because he was too full of life, and I liked him so much that I failed to kill him off at least twice. So, this all probably sounds really surreal. But anyway, you do form a deep relationship with characters who you live with every day for ten years.

Vikings King Harald Peter Franzen History Channel
Jonathan Hession / History

Why did King Harald and Erik the Red die on “Vikings” when historians say they lived a lot longer in real life?

King Harald and Erik the Red both die during the final episodes of “Vikings.” In contrast, historians put their real-life counterparts living a lot longer. Why did Michael Hirst opt for them to meet a short end?

Michael Hirst: I was writing drama, not a documentary. So, the lives of my central characters had really to fit in with the demands of drama not live in mind of exact historical fact. I mean, it’s the Dark Ages, so there isn’t that much known about them all. I wanted to give King Harald a wonderful death. His death is very moving.

Him seeing his dead brother again and him going to Valhalla with his dead brother. I needed that. It would have been a huge waste with him still being alive at the end of the show with really nowhere to go. I don’t apologize for giving him, or Lagertha, for that matter, a rather wonderful send-off. They certainly deserved it.

Vikings Travis Fimmel Ragnar Lothbrok History
Bernard Walsh / History

Why did the Blood Eagle make a comeback in the series finale?

The Viking punishment is one of the goriest, graphic, and disturbing things portrayed in “Vikings.” In the series finale, it makes a return as Ubbe presides over the execution as Ragnar had done before him.

Michael Hirst: Well, because it was a theme. It connected Ragnar with the end of the show. But also because a Blood Eagle to the Viking enables the person who is being Blood Eagled to have a lifetime to go to Valhalla. It’s not knowing if your agony ended, then the Vikings thought that you would go to Valhalla.

So, this was the test for, I have forgotten the name of that Viking now to whom it was going to be done to in America, but he just wasn’t of the caliber of the people we’d see earlier on in the heroic age of the Viking that he couldn’t do it. So, it was a good test of his character.

Vikings Georgia Hirst Torvi Jordan Patrick Smith Ubbe Ray Stevenson Athelstan Othere Amazon Prime Video
Prime Video

What character did Michael Hirst identify with the most when writing the show?

As the creator of “Vikings,” Michael Hirst spent more time in the minds of his characters than anyone. In retrospect, I asked if there was a character that he identified with the most. His answer is fascinating.

Michael Hirst: Well, that’s interesting. You know there is a little bit of me in most of the main characters, obviously. Even the female ones as well, even Lagertha. There’s something about me in all of them. If I identify at all, it’s often with the slightly marginal characters. So, I don’t ever see myself as a Ragnar figure or Prince Oleg or any sort of commanding figure.

Being a writer, being in the margins, being on the edges of things. So, like the monk, Aethelred, I could really identify with him because he’s an observer of things as well as being involved, and that’s kind of how I think about myself in my own role. He’s so in and out of the story in a way.

But I just think that in order to write something like this and after it all I wrote 89 episodes, so it’s a lot of episodes, it’s a long time that it was very important that I sort of fell in love with the characters. You know even Ivar, obviously, particularly Ivar the Boneless, I couldn’t have written about these characters so consistently over such a long period unless I loved them.

Vikings Katheryn Winnick Lagertha History
Jonathan Hession / History

Why it was hard to kill off characters on “Vikings.”

While speaking about his relationship with the characters he crafted, Michael Hirst also explained that he struggled to kill off certain ones during the final episodes. The creator of “Vikings” also described the difficulty he faced deciding the fates, and some cases death, of his characters.

Michael Hirst: The author’s love for characters is a pretty vague idea, but I do, and so it was incredibly difficult in these last episodes to have to kill off some of the characters I’ve loved to death. So, I wasn’t identifying with them. I had a deep, significant relationship with them. I ended up losing a lot of sleep with the decisions that I made, and I wanted to make the right decisions for the characters.

I never wanted to cheat either the characters or the audience. The editing had to feel appropriate and satisfactory and satisfying on an emotional level. So, it was a challenge. These last episodes were a great challenge to write but also to enjoy for me. So, writing “Vikings” has really been a joy from beginning to end.

Vikings Ray Stevenson Athelstan Othere Jordan Patrick Smith Ubbe Georgia Hirst Torvi Amazon Prime Video
Prime Video

How did Michael Hirst feel about the final episodes debuting on Amazon Prime Video instead of History?

When “Vikings” made its 2013 debut it did so on History. Nearly eight years later, the series bid its initial farewell via streaming. Asked how he felt about the move, Michael Hirst told me he was “excited” about it before adding the following.

Michael Hirst: You know it’s the way of the world, actually. People just don’t have the patience anymore, and I don’t really have the patience to wait a week between episodes. It was bad enough waiting a year between seasons. It is what it is now, and I do love the final ten episodes.

I’m very anxious that people get to watch it, and there is something actually about being able to go onto the next episode straight away, having watched one. Not always. It does not always work but generally speaking, if you get embedded in something, and you are really engaged, and you want desperately to know what happens, it’s wonderful that you can just carry on watching. It’s a great thing.


Nearly eight years ago, in 2013, Michael Hirst’s “Vikings” erupted into viewers’ imaginations. The swashbuckling, thought-provoking, often envelope-pushing, and consistently ambitious drama sailed right into the center of TV’s costume drama revival. As the challenging year that was 2020 came to a close, “Vikings” roared back for its final chapter.

The last episodes of Season 6 cement the final leg in the epic saga of the Lothbrok family. Once led in the flesh by patriarch Ragnar, he ascended to Valhalla two (seemingly) long seasons ago. Unlike past seasons, Michael Hirst’s contemplative series made its first bow on Amazon Prime Video instead of History.

You can call it a “sign of the times.” After all, a lot has changed since “Vikings” made its debut. Streaming wars broke out as costume dramas proved they were more than a revived genre circa 2011. They proved themselves ready to thrive in a whole new TV landscape.

Fellow genre staples left the stage. Thus, leaving “Vikings” as one of the last of its kind. A remnant from the early days of everyone wanted to travel back in time to the enigmatic age of Dark Age intrigue. There would be no horn-adored hats in Michael Hirst’s vision. “Vikings” found its flare in intense hairstyles and even more brooding character conflict.

The price of ambition, and the wonder of pushing limits, would sit at the center of “Vikings” and its sprawling scene of characters. Michael Hirst is who you have to thank for all of it, including Katheryn Winnick’s fan-favorite character, Lagertha. So, how did Hirst feel about his highly-lauded series coming to an end?

Now you know. The final episodes of “Vikings” are currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video alongside all the series’ prior seasons.