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Why Some Vikings Fans Think Harald Was So Underrated

As The Guardian noted last year, Vikings seem to have appeared everywhere in pop culture in the past decade, from video games to superhero films and beyond. There are few entertainment genres that scratch the white male power fantasy itch in the same way that stories about these seafaring raiders do. So when "Vikings" came out on the History Channel back in 2013, its popularity was practically a given. There are other aspects to the series, of course — they do throw in some solid girl power plot elements with Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), so that's a plus. And the family drama is Shakespearean levels of epic. All in all, it's not a bad show, but they weren't exactly reinventing the wheel.

In many ways, the better parts of the show are hidden in characters and storylines that played second fiddle to Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his antics. We've already mentioned Lagertha, and Floki's (Gustaf Skarsgård) entire character arc is no slouch, either. But there's another minor character whom fans of the show feel got short-changed when it comes to screen time and getting credit where credit is due.

The tragedy of Harald's storyline kept fans emotionally invested in the show

When it comes to characters who could be the focus of Shakespearian tragedies, King Harald Finehair (Peter Franzén) could win that award with one hand tied behind his back. The one thing he wants more than anything in the world — to unite all of Norway under his rule — becomes the least satisfying reward once he finally achieves it. He spends his whole life feeling inferior to and envious of Ragnar and his sons. He murders his own brother just to put himself in the right position to take the throne he so desperately wants. And when he finally gets there, he realizes that it's lonely at the top, with nothing to show for it but a slew of dead friends and a spiteful wife who resents being with him.

In this Harald appreciation thread by a now-deleted Reddit user, several "Vikings" fans talked about how that particular character made them feel. Many agree that his story was truly tragic, especially given how hollow his achievement felt compared to all the profound sacrifices he had to make in order to end up where he did. u/PointlessSemicircle thought that his "death scene was beautiful and really well done." Others concurred, emphasizing that he was one of the few characters they actually cared about toward the end of the show, especially after the time skip.

While several other posters said that they didn't actually like Harald very much, they at least admitted that his storyline was compelling. "I can't say I ever liked him BUT I felt that he definitely developed the more we got to know him and the more open the viewer is to being objective about him, the more you can see of his motivation," said u/FS1120. Commenter u/DonnieDelaware agreed, saying they had expected Harald to be a small side character at the beginning, but after a while, he "kept getting more attention and suddenly I was invested in his story just as much as others."