‘Vikings’: Why Ragnar Lothbrok’s Story Had to Change

History’s Vikings has included some major character shifts over its six seasons. Arguably the most shocking one involves Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel). After suffering a terrible defeat, Ragnar turns into a shell of the man he once was on a downward spiral. Read on to learn why Ragnar’s story had to change and turn out the way it did. There are spoilers ahead.

King Ragnar Lothbrok of Kattegat

Travis Fimmel
Travis Fimmel | Mike Pont/WireImage

Ragnar earns world renown and becomes the most famous Viking of his time. He successfully takes his people to England where they start raiding and getting rich off the Saxons. Ragnar even leads a successful raid on Paris.

However, on his second attempt to take Paris, he fails and he is blamed for the loss entirely. After that, Ragnar leaves Kattegat and disappears for a number of years, leaving behind his family and everything he ever knew. After many years pass, Ragnar returns to find all his children grown and no one seems very inclined to welcome him back.

Ragnar returns to England

Ragnar can’t even seem to get a decent crew of men together to go back to England. It’s revealed that Ragnar has returned to get his revenge on Wessex for destroying the settlement, but there’s a much deeper purpose. Ragnar bribes numerous old men with his plunder from earlier raids and takes Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen) along with him.

They hit a storm and only a few of the already slim crew survive. Ragnar reveals to Ivar that he has no intention of returning and together they kill the men they came to England with. Based on Ragnar’s comment, it’s clear he had another motive to return to Wessex and King Ecbert (Linus Roache).

Ragnar’s death brings the Great Heathen Army to England

Ragnar knew that his death would be the jumping-off point for his sons to come back and seek revenge. He purposely goes to King Ecbert and not King Aelle (Ivan Kaye) first. He wants them both held accountable and he makes sure Ivar knows this. He wants them to seek revenge and even convinces Ecbert to give him up to Aelle of Northumbria. Ragnar tells Ecbert that he must kill him. This makes sense considering Ragnar knows that if he isn’t killed, his sons will not bring a great army to England to get revenge.

The sons of Ragnar take revenge

It’s all part of Ragnar’s plan, and it helps kickstart his sons into action. The sons of Ragnar leave the land a different place than when they first find it. They kill King Aelle and also King Ecbert, even though Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) lets him to kill himself instead. The Great Heathen Army takes revenge for Ragnar and the people that were slaughtered by Ecbert so many years before.

Why Ragnar’s story had to change in the end

Eventually, Ragnar’s dream of getting his revenge for the lost settlement in Wessex is realized, but it could only happen with his death. The legend of Ragnar Lothbrok lives on in the people who knew him and in his sons. His story had to change so his goal could then be realized. It didn’t matter to him if he had to die in the process. With the death of Ragnar came the birth of an even greater legend.