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In the history of the series Vikings, there have been a number of shocking moments that have made some fans’ jaws drop. We’ve compiled a list here of the most intense of those moments. Read on to learn what they are and what happens.

5. The murder of Athelstan

In season 3, one of the most lovable characters is murdered while he prays. Athelstan (George Blagden) was a former monk turned Viking. He becomes close friends with Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) over the years, and they learn a lot from each other despite the fact that Ragnar abducted him. Athelstan is constantly trying to find his faith and figure out what he believes in while in the middle of two worlds and religions. He helps Ragnar achieve his goals, but their friendship causes jealousy from Floki (Gustaf Skarsgård), who has always been suspicious of Athelstan. 

While Athelstan prays, Floki comes in and kills him with an axe after thinking the gods have told him to spill blood. It’s a truly shocking moment, and one that changes Ragnar forever. He loses his closet friend, and it’s a hard situation for fans to wrap their heads around. Athelstan was a beloved character, and his loss is felt immensely.

4. Lagertha takes back Kattegat and kills Aslaug

Katheryn Winnick in 'Vikings'
Katheryn Winnick in ‘Vikings’ | Jonathan Hession/A+E Networks/History

In season 4B, Queen Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland) has been ruling for years by herself after Ragnar’s disappearance. And when he returns to go back to Wessex for revenge, Lagertha, his first wife, takes Kattegat back from Aslaug. Fans might recall that Lagertha was married to Ragnar when he cheated on her with Aslaug and got her pregnant. Ragnar wants to have a relationship with both women, and Aslaug pretends to go along with it. But Lagertha isn’t having it, and she divorces Ragnar and leaves him. However, she never forgives Aslaug for her part in it.

Lagertha and her warriors take back her home, and she becomes the Queen of Kattegat. However, when Aslaug asks to be allowed to leave, she turns her back to walk away, but Lagertha shoots her with an arrow, killing her. It’s a surprising moment because it seems like Lagertha is going to let her go, but at the last second, her true intentions are known.

3. Judith murders her own son

In season 5B, Judith (Jennie Jacques) poisons her own son to save the other. She has two sons – Aethelred (Darren Cahill) and King Alfred (Ferdia Walsh-Peelo). However, Aethelred is the older one and the son of King Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford) of Wessex. Alfred is really the son of the former monk Athelstan, but Judith convinces Aethelred to let Alfred take the crown. However, Aethelred has plotted with other nobles in a coup before, although he says he didn’t give the signal for it to go ahead, refusing to do so.

But Judith believes her son will never stop trying to take his place as King of Wessex, so she poisons his wine, watching him die. It’s a truly shocking moment, and one that she doesn’t hide from Alfred either.

2. Bjorn Ironside is stabbed

Alexander Ludwig in 'Vikings'
Alexander Ludwig in ‘Vikings’ | Jonathan Hession/A+E Networks/History

In the mid-season finale of season 6, Ragnar’s oldest son, Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig), is stabbed while fighting the Rus Vikings who have come to invade Scandinavia. It’s a shocking and unexpected moment because it appears that Ivar stabs him, although he’s supposed to be somewhere else entirely at the time. It’s a fatal wound for Bjorn, and one fans didn’t see coming. He finally takes his place as the ruler of Kattegat back from Ivar, and he’s stabbed while fighting to defend his home and people.

However, Bjorn has a plan. He has a rumor spread to the Rus that he’s already dead, although he is gravely wounded. He meets the Rus head-on before battle, riding out on his horse in his armor. Seeing him alive terrifies the Rus, who think he’s already dead. When he’s shot by three arrows, he still raises his sword, rallying his troops to battle, defeating the Rus and sending them into retreat. But Bjorn dies in the process.

1. Ragnar is killed by King Aelle

Travis Fimmel in 'Vikings'
Travis Fimmel in ‘Vikings’ | Jonathan Hession/A+E Networks/History

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The most shocking moment in the series is arguably the death of King Ragnar. After a devastating loss in Paris with the hindrance of Rollo (Clive Standen) going against his brother Ragnar, he disappears for a number of years. But he eventually returns, and he goes back to Wessex to get revenge for the destroyed settlement there. With a skeleton crew of men and his son Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen), Ragnar makes a plan to have King Ecbert (Linus Roache) give him over to King Aelle (Ivan Kaye), who throws him into a pit of snakes, and he dies from the venom.

Ragnar knows that his sons will exact revenge on the kings of England for his death, and Ivar is allowed to go home to bring the news to them, which is all part of Ragnar’s plan of revenge. The sons of Ragnar bring over the Great Heathen Army, which takes revenge for his death. It’s exactly what Ragnar hoped would happen, and nothing in England is ever the same after this.

These are the most shocking moments in the history of the hit series Vikings. There are more where these come from, but these key moments seem to top all the rest.