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Why Some Long-Time Fans Stopped Watching Vikings

The historical drama "Vikings," which was created by Michael Hirst, aired for six seasons from 2013 to 2020 on the History Channel, with the final 10 episodes airing on Amazon Prime Video. Inspired by Norsemen tales of early medieval Scandinavia, the series follows various characters, such as Viking chieftain Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), who travels to the Western world after becoming increasingly frustrated with the policies of local chieftain Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). Other main cast members included Katheryn Winnick, Clive Standen, and Gustaf Skarsgård.

The series remained well received by critics over its six seasons — its average Tomatometer score is 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, with just a slightly lower average audience score of 87%. Its 6th season even currently holds a perfect Tomatometer score. However, not all of the show's fans have been consistently happy with "Vikings" over the years. In fact, some fans even stopped watching it altogether — here's why.

Fans think the show got bad after Ragnar died

Despite being the protagonist of "Vikings," Ragnar dies in Season 4 Episode 15 when he was dropped into a pit of snakes at the order of King Aelle (Ivan Kaye). Killing off one's protagonist is certainly a bold move — and many fans ardently think that it did not pay off. One fan, u/eric4716, started a discussion on Reddit about their dislike of the show's direction. They wrote, "Since Ragnar died, the show stands out for poor writing, poor acting, plot lines that don't make sense, and just really unlikable characters. I'm definitely not going to follow this series any more."

Another user, u/TheDorkNite, agreed and noted that they only continued tuning in for the battles — only to be disappointed by those as well. Meanwhile, u/Sandman643, declared that Ragnar was holding the show together, thus "Vikings" is boring without the character. One user suggested that the writers were trying too hard, writing, "I think they just tried too much to make it "complex" and failed. Too many places and plots at the same time, made it all over the place and it doesn't make you care for anyone anymore." They continued that this was in opposition to the first few seasons, which had more straightforward plot lines.

Adding their input as to why the series declined, u/Coz91 wrote, "The only good characters left were put to the sideline and the newer ones that were supposed to replace them just weren't near good enough."

Travis Fimmel was ready to move on from playing Ragnar

Ragnar's death may be the turning point (in a bad way) in "Vikings" for many fans, but his actor, Travis Fimmel, was more than ready to move on from the character when he exited the show in the fourth season. In an interview with Collider, Fimmel noted that while it was a great experience and that he made good friends from the show, he did not find it difficult to say goodbye to playing Ragnar. "As soon as the [cameras] are off, I start talking to people," he said. "I'm not one of those actors that live and breathe the character, and take it home."

Similarly, after Ragnar's death, "Vikings" creator Michael Hirst told CinemaBlend that he didn't miss writing Ragnar in the seasons following Fimmel's departure. Hirst explained, "The short answer is no. I loved writing for Travis and together we crafted and created a singular hero and a complex, attractive and charismatic character. But my saga was always going to be about Ragnar and his sons. Historically speaking, some of his sons were equally if not in fact more famous than Ragnar himself." Hirst also noted Ivar the Boneless, Bjorn Ironside, and Lagertha as characters who he enjoyed continuing to write for as the series progressed.