It can be argued that Ivar Ragnarsson, AKA Ivar The Boneless, did a good job of filling up the void left after the death of his father Ragnar. But while his father was a hero, Ivar was a perfect baddie—always killing people for no good reason and smiling during the darkest of moments. As a shrewd military leader, he also provided viewers with some of the best battle scenes.
Ivar’s growth from childhood to adulthood was well-documented in the series, but as he grew in body, he didn’t grow in heart. Instead, his descent into madness kept going deeper and deeper. The positive outcome of this is that he became the show’s greatest villain. Here’s exactly how Ivar just kept getting worse.
10 Mindless Killings
Ivar’s bloodthirsty attitude is one of the reasons why he is so hated. The leader and conqueror starts killing at a very young age and never stops. In fact, his penchant for taking lives becomes more profound in adulthood.
When he’s a boy, he murders a fellow kid with a hatchet for refusing to let him participate in a game. Later on, he kills his brother Sigurd and doesn’t feel remorseful. He also kills his brother’s girlfriend. And let’s not forget the moment when he lands an axe on the Seer’s head for telling him that he is not a god like he thinks he is.
9 Delusions Of Grandeur
Speaking of gods, Ivar believes in his self-importance so much that he totally convinces himself that he is a deity. From early in the series, Ivar feels he is better than everyone else, that’s why he forcefully takes what he wants.
Things get worse after he invades England. He starts to believe that he is a god. His wife Freydis helps him fuel his narrative even further, thanks to her sycophancy. Ivar asks the Seer and Oracle of Kattegart to confirm that he is indeed a god and when he is told that that isn’t the case, he continues to insist that he is no ordinary human.
8 Diminished Military Prowess
Every great conqueror eventually meets their Waterloo, and the same happens to Ivar. After years of winning complex battles, his tactical genius begins to fade. Perhaps his biggest mistake is his failure to keep the people around him loyal.
Ivar eventually loses the Siege of Kattegat while facing off against Bjorn and Hvitserk’s forces. This happens due to the betrayal from Freydis, who clues in the enemy about a secret entry to the city. Ivar later strangles her for her betrayal, before placing her body next to that of her son. He then flees and goes into exile.
7 Obsession With Freydis
Love is a good thing, but too much of love brews problems, and that’s exactly what happens to Ivar. His obsession with Freydis eventually leads to his downfall. Given how much Freydis praises him, Ivar is unable to see that she is manipulating him. He believes everything she says, even when it doesn’t make sense.
She tells him she’d die for him when it’s definitely not the case. She promises him a child despite the fact that he is impotent. When she gets pregnant, she convinces him that its his baby. “I carry in my body the son of a god,” she tells him, to convince him that he is indeed the father. Ivar’s obsession with Freydis continues until she costs him his throne.
6 String Of Betrayals
Ivar has a habit of betraying people. This is due to the fact that he doesn’t care about anyone else’s interests. But just like his blind love for Freydis, his refusal to honor agreements also leads to his downfall.
The most important person he betrays is Harald. Ivar convinces Harald to help him attack Kattegat with the promise that he will become his heir. But as soon as Ivar becomes king, he gets married and tries to have a child in order to have a ‘proper’ heir. This angers Harald, who later teams up with Bjorn to overthrow him.
5 Not Learning From His Father
Among all of Ragnar’s sons, Ivar is the one who loved him the most. The two spent a lot of time together, hence it’s surprising that Ivar never really absorbed some of his father’s wisdom.
When he becomes a ruler, Ivar’s leadership style differs greatly from Ragnar’s. He opts to become tyrannical rather than a man of the people like Ragnar. And despite knowing that Ragnar almost left him out to die in the woods because of his deformity, he still does the same to Baldur. This results in the little getting eaten by wolves.
4 Feud With His Brothers
Ivar’s feud with family members keep getting worse as the series progresses. He lets things get out of hand instead of making an effort to create a proper bond. During an argument on whether to raid England or the Mediterranean in Season 4, Ivar loses his temper and throws an axe at his brother Sigurd, killing him in the prosses.
Despite initially having a good relationship with his brother Ubbe, the two fall out with each other and become enemies. Ivar can’t stand Bjorn either, and the feeling is mutual. When Bjorn becomes ruler, he throws out everyone who was associated with Ivar. His other brother Hvitserk also helps to defeat him in the second assault on Kattegart.
3 Desperately Trying To Impress The Subjects
Ivar has always wanted to be loved, but there’s never been anyone willing to love him. After his impressive rise to become the ruler of Kattegat, he tries hard to impress the citizens and make them love him. This is impossible because he is ruling with an iron fist. Sadly, he doesn’t understand that he is the problem.
Ivar even lies to the people that he has captured Lagertha and is sacrificing her to the gods just to win their approval. It turns out the woman being sacrificed is just a look-alike. A couple of people in the crowd even realize this and begin heckling. Ivar also claims that he is a god in order to make the people worship him.
2 Rigid Religious Views
Religion is a recurring theme in Vikings and most of the main characters are seen exploring different faiths before settling on one. Ubbe explores other faiths before deciding to believe in the gods. Hvitserk explores the Buddhist faith while Ragnar juggles between Christianity and the Norse faith.
Ivar, on the other hand, harbors extreme religious views from the beginning. He totally despises Christianity and uses the gods to justify all his wrong decisions. This hatred becomes worse as the years pass by, to the point where he sees himself as divine too.
1 Blind Loyalty To Ragnar
Ragnar might have been the most loved character in the show as well as the character whose death hurt the most, but he was far from perfect. As a leader and a father, he was nothing close to a saint.
Most of Ragnar’s children see his mistakes in the series and develop feelings of disdain towards him, but Ivar stands by him at all times. When Ragnar goes away for years and comes back, all his children are justifiably angry, except Ivar. He is complicit in helping Ragnar keep the settlement destruction a secret, despite the fact that many of his own people have died.
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