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Vikings: Valhalla Netflix release date, cast and plot

If you've been down in the dumps ever since it was revealed in January 2019 that the upcoming sixth season of History's drama series Vikings would be its last, it's time to pick yourself back up. A new Vikings spin-off series has been announced, and soon Vikings: Valhalla will be streaming on Netflix.

The flagship Vikings series kicked off back in 2013, and quickly established itself as one of History's most successful series while also blazing a new trail for the network as its first scripted fiction series. Though billed as a historical drama, Vikings has a largely invented narrative that inserts real and legendary figures from Norse culture into actual historical events, having them interact in ways that historians deem unlikely. On the early seasons, the series followed Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a historically-debatable figure and folk hero of Scandinavia, and his wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), a legendary ruler whose historicity is also debated. (Vikings gets a lot of things wrong when it comes to history.) Also featured heavily were real-life Viking conqueror Rollo of Normandy (Clive Standen), presented as Ragnar's brother in the show. Later seasons of Vikings focused more on the offspring of Ragnar, most notably Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) and Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh)

Throughout its run, Vikings has chronicled, well, the Viking way of life, the Norse peoples' first forays into England and France, and the constant power struggles and political machinations that went on in Europe during the eighth and ninth centuries. So with a lot of ground covered through six seasons, what's left to explore on Vikings: Valhalla? Here's everything we know about the spin-off series so far. 

Spoilers for Vikings ahead!

What is Vikings: Valhalla's release date?

Before you start scrolling through Netflix's thousands of offerings looking for Vikings: Valhalla, know this: No release date has yet been announced for the series.

As this is a brand-new show that was confirmed in November 2019, Netflix is likely nowhere near announcing a start date for the series. For comparison, just take a look at The Witcher. That show was first announced way back in May 2017, but it wasn't until Halloween of 2019 — two-and-a-half years later — that Netflix announced the release date. That debut date, by the way, was December 20, 2019 — meaning it wasn't announced until less than two months before the premiere. While Vikings: Valhalla may not have quite as long of a wait given that it's spinning off from a property instead of building one from the ground up, there's no reason to believe that Netflix will announce a release date for the show anytime soon.

There's another major obstacle to Valhalla's premiere beyond Netflix's history of holding onto its release dates until the last minute, and that's Vikings season 6. The final season of the series began airing on December 4, 2019. That date marked the beginning of only the first 10 episodes of what's to be a 20-episode finale season. The latter 10 episodes of season 6 aren't expected to air until late 2020 — no premiere date has been announced as of yet. And since Vikings: Valhalla is meant to be a follow-up to Vikings, fans won't see it until after the original series ends. Expect a 2021 premiere date at the earliest.

Fans still have a while to wait before the next iteration of Vikings begins streaming into their living rooms, but they should find comfort in knowing that Netflix has already ponied up for a massive series order. While streaming viewers have grown accustomed to seasons of series containing 12 or fewer episodes, in a rare turn of events, Netflix committed to a 24-episode package of Vikings: Valhalla (via TV Guide). No word yet whether Netflix plans to divide the initial 24-episode order into two separate seasons or release the whole batch at once, but either way, the sheer size of the order speaks volumes about the company's belief in the series.

Who is in the Vikings: Valhalla cast?

If there's one thing that Vikings has been great at doing, it's killing off its main characters. Season 3 saw the deaths of Earl Haraldson's widow/Rollo's girlfriend Siggy (Jessalyn Gilsig) and the priest/Ragnar's BFF Athelstan (George Blagden). Vikings season 4 knocked off Ragnar's second wife Aslaug (Alyssa Sutherland), his friend and rival King Ecbert (Linus Roache), and most shockingly of all, Ragnar himself, who up until that point had been the series' main protagonist. On season 5, as more characters were added, the bodies continued to pile up, with seemingly no character being safe from week to week. By the time Vikings concludes its run, it's possible that there won't even be any main Vikings cast members left alive to return for Valhalla.

And frankly, fans shouldn't expect there to be. No cast has been announced yet for Vikings: Valhalla, but it has been confirmed that the new series will take place around 100 years after the current show. Even the youngest Vikings character will be dead and gone by then — meaning there's little to no chance of seeing Ragnar, Lagertha, or Ivar on the new series. 

Instead, Vikings: Valhalla will feature all-new characters based on even more historical figures from Norse legend. Some of the main characters of Vikings: Valhalla will be Leif Erikson, Freydis, Harald Hardrada, and William the Conqueror. Who might play these larger-than-life figures is anyone's guess.

While fan-favorite shield-maiden-turned-jarl Lagertha will be long dead by the time Vikings: Valhalla picks up the Scandinavian saga, actress Kathryn Winnick hasn't ruled out coming back to the franchise behind the camera. Winnick, who has already served as a director on Vikings, told TV Guide that she would be open to returning to Ireland to direct one or more episodes of Vikings: Valhalla

Even though the 100-year time gap will make things tricky, Alexander Ludwig has suggested that his character, Bjorn Ironside, may not have finished his Vikings journey. Whether that means some kind of flashback sequence on the new spin-off series or an appearance in a potential feature film remains to be seen. It's just nice to know Ludwig isn't quite ready to leave the world of Vikings behind.

Vikings creator Michael Hirst is also responsible for Vikings: Valhalla, but this time around he's added some interesting talent to the writers room to give the spinoff series its own flavor. Jeb Stuart, who penned screenplays for Die Hard and The Fugitive in addition to working on the upcoming Netflix series The Liberator, will be lending his talents to the Scandinavian drama (via IMDb). Considering the fact that his two most famous films have endured as classics of the action genre, we'll chalk this one up as a good hire.

What's the plot of Vikings: Valhalla?

Since the spin-off was announced only recently, plot details have been scarce. But that doesn't mean we can't make a few educated guesses as to what kinds of stories Vikings: Valhalla will be looking to tell, since we know the main characters. And to do that, we'll look to real Viking history.

Leif Erikson is arguably the most famous of the lot. He has a pretty big claim to fame, as he's believed to be the first European to discover North America (rather than that imposter Christopher Columbus). Not only that, but Leif Erikson is said to have done so a whole half-millennium before Columbus sailed the ocean blue, setting foot in a land he dubbed "Vinland" (possibly Newfoundland, Canada) back in the 11th century. Then there's Freydis, Leif's sister, who is also said to have taken part in the Vinland voyage. Though her historical record is spotty, she's always portrayed as a fierce warrior. Vikings: Valhalla will almost certainly include the siblings' trip to the new world in its plot. 

Next is Harald Hardrada. Born about 45 years after Leif Erikson, he's regarded as the last great Viking King, having fought for control of Norway and Denmark before meeting his end during an invasion of England. His successor, in some respects, was his contemporary — the Norman King William the Conqueror, who wasn't a Viking but claimed Viking ancestry as a descendent of the one-and-only Rollo. William conquered England following Harald Hardrada's defeat, becoming its king. The pair's respective battles will almost certainly factor into the plot of Vikings: Valhalla.