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The Reason Alyssa Sutherland Left Vikings After Season 4

Part history, mostly legend, 100-percent drama, Vikings has given us six seasons of fights, feuds, and impressive fur robes. But the series lost one of its most deliciously cunning characters back on season 4.

Alyssa Sutherland's Aslaug made a memorable entrance to Vikings at the end of season 1 and start of season 2. A princess of Götaland (known today as Sweden), Aslaug was the orphaned daughter of a dragon-slaying father and a warrior mother. She also claimed to be a völva — a woman who had visions of the future — but her preferred battlefield was the bedroom. Aslaug started out by seducing farmer-turned-warrior and future king Ragnar (Travis Fimmel) with her wit, a dress made of netting, and her potential to bare him his prophesied sons. Ragnar's wife Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick) was less than impressed with Aslaug, and the two women's rocky relationship through the next few seasons of Vikings finally culminated in Lagertha shooting her rival in the back. 

It was undoubtedly a dramatic death — especially as it looked like Aslaug might actually escape with her life. But why was that moment the right time to say goodbye to such a deviously fun character? Here's the real reason Alyssa Sutherland left Vikings after season 4.

Alyssa Sutherland always knew Aslaug would die on Vikings

Borrowing her character's gift of foresight, Sutherland saw her Vikings exit coming. In 2016, right after Aslaug's death episode aired, the actress told Entertainment Weekly that she'd been waiting for Aslaug to be killed off ever since she joined the show. 

"The whole time I was on Vikings, I was waiting for this to happen," admitted Sutherland. "I figured [because] my character had been introduced in such a controversial way, the only thing to do with her was to get rid of her at some point. I actually thought that it would happen earlier, to be honest!" 

She further explained that she found out for sure that Aslaug was going to die on season 4 while they were filming episodes nine and ten. One of the producers approached her while she was waiting to film a scene, and she joked that being approached in that manner must have meant her character was about to die. That's exactly what was happening, as it turns out, but Sutherland said she accepted Aslaug's fate because the character's manner of death fit her personality. 

You could argue that Lagertha gets the final word in the ongoing feud, but Sutherland believes that Aslaug goaded her rival into giving her a send-off fit for a Viking. 

"I think that's her Viking way of being killed," Sutherland told Entertainment Weekly. "If she just went walking off somewhere else, what was she going to do? Die of old age? That's not a very dramatic death for her. The Vikings believed in dying in battle, being famous. It's sort of art imitating life. You join a show like Vikings, you know that, at any given moment, the producer's gonna come up to you, tap you on the shoulder [and say], 'We gotta kill someone, and it's gotta be you.' All you do is hope for it to be really dramatic. I think Aslaug wanted the same thing."

The characteristic smirk on Aslaug's face as she falls to the floor certainly speaks to this interpretation.

The show's creators wanted to move on to the next generation of Vikings

This plot move wasn't just about Aslaug. After four seasons anchored around Fimmel's King Ragnar, Vikings creator Michael Hirst felt that it was time to move on and tell the stories of the next generation. This was an especially juicy prospect for a storyteller because some of these tales and characters are actually more famous today than those of Ragnar. That's the reason Travis Fimmel left Vikings after season 4, and why his character met a grizzly, serpent-laden end on the episode after Aslaug's death. (This actually happened to the real Ragnar as well.)

Hirst had always looked at the story of Vikings as being a generation-spanning saga. In fact, Ragnar wasn't even supposed to make it out of the first season. That was when King Aelle (Ivan Blakeley Kaye) was supposed to get his snakey revenge on Ragnar for killing his brother Aethelwulf (Moe Dunford).

Unfortunately for the show, audiences didn't form the same attachment to Ragnar's now-adult sons. It didn't help that all but one had been children until the show time-jumped six years forward midway through an episode on season 4 — which may explain why Vikings is ending with season 6. But don't worry, Viking fans: there's a spin-off series in the works over at Netflix, and we've got all the news on Vikings: Valhalla's release date, cast, and plot.

Aslaug was a powder keg from the very beginning, with arrival in Kattegat dividing Ragnar's family and causing a rift between her and Lagertha. It's only fitting that such a controversial character got to go out with a bang — even if she may have taken the show's best days with her.