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What Was Really Supposed To Happen To Harald In Vikings

It's been quite the journey for Harald Finehair (Peter Franzén) on Vikings.

Scorned in love by a woman who deemed him too unimportant to marry, Harald vowed to become King of All Norway to win her affection. Two seasons later –– after much raiding and conquering, betraying and being betrayed –– he did just that. Sure, he bribed his way to victory by promising the various kings and earls electing their new leader more prestigious posts, but King of All Norway is King of All Norway. You do what you have to do, even when it turns out that your love and inspiration has already married some lowly Danish earl.

But as showrunner Michael Hirst explained to Monsters and Critics, Harald was never supposed to succeed. Hirst had intended to kill the character far sooner into his run on the show. "Earlier seasons I had planned to kill him off, but I couldn't because he was so strong. He gave me something else."

Hirst singled out Franzen's performance for taking the character to another level, imbuing him with a courage and a ferocity that made him a fitting ally and rival to the likes of Ragnar (Travis Fimmel), Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen), and Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig). Hirst says it became clear to him that Harald was a survivor, someone who couldn't be jettisoned so easily.

Harald provides Vikings with a little levity

Most important is Harald's versatility. Not only is Harald a fierce opponent on the battlefield, but he also proves to be witty, with Hirst claiming he is "one of the few Vikings who gave me humor" when that was called for in a scene. "If there's some sort of puzzle that everyone is in, first of all he increases the puzzle and then solves it. He unravels it."

"There are some characters who you write them and tell them what they're going to do," Hirst said. "There are other characters who sneak up on you and they are themselves, do what they want to do, and you just sort of follow them." Harald is undoubtedly in the latter category. "When you love a character, he gets a lot of freedom from the writer," Hirst said.

That love bought Harald far more time on the show than anyone could have predicted, but that boon might have run out. When fans last saw Harald in the midseason finale, he was gravely wounded and sending away his only hope of rescue after attempting to repel a Rus attack. Audiences will have to wait until the second half of the sixth season premieres December 30 to find out whether the consummate survivor can escape this time.