The original raiders and pirates of history, the Vikings are the epitome of strength, brute force, and seafaring ingenuity.
With their uniquely recognizable ships and distinctive looks, these Scandinavian explorers colonized their way around Europe and the world from the 9th to 11th century.
Known for their strength, tenacity, and fearsome reputations, the Vikings of old were a force to be reckoned with.
The tales of heroic Viking figures have inspired countless stories, with some leaning toward a more mystical take, incorporating their belief in Norse Mythology, and others drawing from real records and archaeological finds.
Want the short version of this blog post? Then check out our video on the top 5 best TV shows about Vikings:
With so much history and visually compelling lore to draw from, the Vikings have been conquering our TV screens for quite some time.
Whether we are following a dramatic saga, dealing with mythical creatures or settling in to learn more about the real Vikings, TV shows about Vikings remain a compelling genre.
THE BEST SCRIPTED TV SERIES ABOUT VIKINGS
Vikings, History Channel/Amazon Prime (2013 – 2020)
History’s Vikings is easily one of the most iconic shows about the Norsemen from Scandinavia.
The sleeper hit started small on the History Channel but subsequently gained a massive following due to its high production and compelling storytelling.
Centered on Ragnar Lothbrok, the 6 season show follows him and his descendants. We meet young Ragnar as a farmer with a yearning to explore what lies on shores beyond his own.
A lot of the show focuses on his headstrong nature and defiance of Earl Haradlson, his Chief.
Ragnar wants to head West, where there is more opportunity, and begins to construct his own fleet, all while garnering followers through his claims of a direct lineage to Odin himself.
Riveting visuals, extraordinary casting, and a wonderfully entwined mix of history and fiction, Vikings sets the bar very high when it comes to television.
Vikings: Valhalla, Netflix (2022 – present)
This show is a follow-up to the juggernaut that is Vikings and is set 100 years after the events of the final season.
This time we investigate the tension brewing between Viking descendants and the English, as well as conflicts within the Norsemen themselves as Christianity starts rising – a threat to their pagan beliefs.
What makes the show stand out is that the creators are open about its portrayal of the decline of the Viking Age. The intent is to end the show at the Battle of Stamford Bridge, set in 1066.
As viewers, we know where the characters are headed and what their ultimate fate is, but we are still drawn by the familial bonds of Lief Eriksson and his kin.
Norsemen, Netflix (2016 – 2020)
Taking things in a lighter direction, Norsemen is a comedic look at life in Norway during the 790s.
The show is a unique production – recording both English and Norwegian scenes at the same time, instead of relying on dubbed dialogue.
The ensemble nature of the show allows an easy flow between characters as we follow different leads on their day-to-day duties, often with hilarious results.
Whether bickering with a neighboring village or resisting modernization from a former Roman slave, the show plays with the idea of parody and surprisingly modern ideas – modern for a medieval village of Vikings of course.
The show is a surprising delight and is worth the watch for a total of 9 hours of hilarity – because you will binge this in one sitting.
The Last Kingdom, Netflix/BBC (2015 – 2022)
Based on The Saxon Stories series of books by author Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom is a compelling 5 season saga that only gets better with each season.
Throughout the show, we follow Uhtred, a young Saxon orphan at the hands of a Danish army.
The young boy is captured by Earl Ragnar, who ultimately raises him along with other captives.
When his new home is destroyed, and his adopted family is once again ripped from him, Uhtred is beset with a need for vengeance. However, having two identities, Uhtred is torn between his loyalty to his lineage and his love for those who raised him.
Through this quest, Uhtred is seemingly drawn into a larger war brewing between the Vikings and the Anglo-Saxons.
Riveting to watch and filled with emotion, we are invested in every episode, even as the world is figuratively burning behind Uhtred.
DreamWorks Dragons, Netflix (2012 – 2018)
Giving the Vikings a more whimsical look, the DreamWorks Dragons is derived from the massively successful movie, How To Train Your Dragon.
The show is a bridge between the first and second films and follows our favorite dragon-taming wunderkind Hiccup as he finds himself the peacekeeper between dragons and humans yet again.
Set in a quaint Viking village, the show is a wonderfully fun experience for younger viewers.
Familiar favorites, such as Toothless the dragon, make an appearance, and viewers meet new characters and dragons at the Dragon Training Academy.
DreamWorks Dragons: Rescue Riders, Netflix (2019 – 2022)
Young Vikings twins, Dak and Leyla join the Dragons universe with their unique insight into the beasts.
Having been raised among the dragons, they can communicate fluently with the creatures – who knew each growl was a proper word?
Using these skills, the twins and other dragon riders go on epic adventures to save other dragons and protect the sleepy Viking town of Huttsgalor – making them the titular Rescue Riders.
Ragnarok, Netflix (2020 – present)
Taking place in Norway, Ragnarok draws on Norse Mythology (the prevailing belief system of the Vikings) to tell the story of Magne and his battle against the powerful Jutul family.
With a seriously supernatural side, the show isn’t afraid to go big.
Magne, as it turns out, is the reincarnation of the one of only Thor, the god of thunder. Using his powers, he sets out to undo the damage being done by the Jutuls – four supernatural beings posing as a wholesome but wealthy family.
It is up to Magne and his new friends, who may also be gods themselves, to once again prevent Ragnarok – the end times predicted in Norse Mythology.
Although a slow build, the show is consistently tense and viewers can expect to be glued to their seats trying to solve the mystery before them.
Tales of The Vikings, Broadcast syndication (1959 – 1960)
Vikings have been with us on the screen since the early days of television, and in Tales of The Vikings, we meet Chief Firebeard and children Leif and Finn.
Follow the family as they set out from their homeland on a quest to conquer and ultimately settle in a new home.
Leif Eriksson in particular takes center stage as he and his men get into the most conflicts and adventures along the way.
The Kirk Douglas-produced series is a cult classic and is highly sought after by vintage TV show collectors.
Vicky The Viking, Fuji Television (1974 – 1976)
A popular show from Germany and Japan, Vicky The Viking (Chîsana baikingu Bikke) is based on Vicke Viking written by Runer Johnson in 1963.
Young Vicky, son of the Viking Chief Halvar has an adventurous life, often fueled by high wit and imagination.
As outside of a box thinker, he often solves problems that perplex his village mates.
Watch as Vicky invents new devices or takes to the air in longships with kites.
The show is incredibly whimsical and really leans into celebrating the fact that Vicky is often regarded highly for being different.
Vic The Viking, ABC (2013 – 2014)
Vic the Viking is an updated adaptation of Vicky the Viking and once again follows our favorite son of Chief Halvar and the constituents of Flake – their home village.
In the show Vic is portrayed as a little frailer, but still a genius.
We get to see him interact with a coterie of wacky characters such as Tjurre and Snorre – siblings who have never learned to get along.
Along the way, he helps his father battle his arch-nemesis – the devious Captain Sven and his band of blundering bumpkins.
Other than that, young Vic has many enemies of his own, who prove to be a fun challenge to his skilled mind.
Vinland Saga, Netflix (2019 – present)
Set in 1013 AD, we are introduced to young Thorffin, a man on a quest to avenge his father’s death. He works for the killer Askeladd, hoping that one day he may be allowed to duel those who took his father from him.
It may sound straightforward but the Vinland Saga is exactly that – a sweeping tale spanning multiple character arcs and continents.
Drawing from real historical moments, the show beautifully juxtaposes the delicacy of the grief process against the impending decline of the Viking world and all the violence that comes with that.
The anime show is based on a manga series of the same name by Makoto Yukimura, and has received high praise from both the creator and fans alike – he recommended that new fans watch the anime before reaching for the manga.
Vikingskool, Disney+ (2022)
Vikingskool is the home of only the best Viking warriors in training, and when our group of unlikely heroes join the program, they’re ready to shake up the stereotype of what gives a Viking their heart and soul.
Follow Ylva, Erik, and Arni as they navigate being outsiders at an elite school for warriors and leaders.
Together our trio faces new challenges with not only their own brand of bravery but a heaping dose of loyalty and friendship too.
The road to graduation is paved with obstacles, but these three do not allow their faults to set them back – instead, they rely on the very things that set them apart from their peers.
THE BEST DOCUMENTARY SERIES ABOUT VIKINGS
Real Vikings, Amazon Prime (2016)
Investigate where the scripted TV shows we’ve been talking about draw their inspiration from with Real Vikings, a companion to the hit show Vikings.
Join a cast of well-known experts and celebrities as they journey across Europe, visiting historical sights and museums.
Each episode follows a specific topic of Viking Lore, such as Episode 2 which explores the rise of Paganism among the Vikings.
Cast members from the scripted TV show Vikings also make an appearance, as they learn more about the real-life mighty Ragnar Lothbrok and how Viking society functioned socially and culturally.
Watch them test-drive an actual longship and learn about Vikings in new and accessible ways.
A great watch for fans of the TV show, but a wonderful stand-alone piece too for knowledge seekers.
Vikings: The Rise and Fall, National Geographic (2022)
Few civilizations have experienced as meteoric a rise as the Vikings.
Through their ruthless efforts guided by their own morals and value system, they expanded at a nearly unmatched rate until their inevitable decline – a history not often explored from the viewpoint of the Norsemen themselves.
Narrated by Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Vikings: The Rise and Fall digs deep into the mythos of Vikings and contrasts the traditional representation against true archaeological facts.
The show seeks to remove the Western lens that we have always viewed the Vikings through and instead seeks to humanize these fearsome warriors by showing us their thought processes, culture, and lifestyle.
Vikings, BBC (2012)
Join Neil Oliver on a journey showcasing the incredible climb to the top of the warrior list achieved by the Vikings.
Starting in prehistoric times, the show delves deep to create a solid knowledge base of the Vikings. It culminates with the Vikings and the Empire of Canute.
See why these warriors were called “The Hell’s Angels of The Middle Ages” as Neil and fellow guests investigate their awesome weaponry, belief system, and adherence to the adage “take no prisoners”.
The Last Journey of the Vikings, Apple TV (2020)
Boasting dramatic reenactments, even using high-end CGI, The Last Journey of the Vikings elucidates why the Vikings chose to navigate away from Denmark.
The show focuses more on the latter years of the Viking Empire and examines their relationship with the rise of Christianity and the transformation of Europe at the time.
The show culminates in the historic Battle of Hastings in 1066, which marks the end of the Viking age as we know it.
How did this happen, and how did it create the blueprint for a new age? Experts weigh in over four neatly condensed episodes that are as much a feast for the eyes as they are food for the brain.
Vikings: Legends at Sea, Amazon Prime (1995)
Take an epic journey to find out why the Vikings were considered such fearsome forces on the open sea.
Follow presenters as they investigate the unique weaponry, and longships designed by Viking warriors.
Vikings: Legenda at Sea is an intriguing look at the lives of Vikings, their society, and their towns through an archaeological lens centered on the immense progress they made in only a handful of centuries.
Secrets of the Viking Stone, Amazon (2020 – present)
Just how far did the Vikings go when conquering and settling across the globe, and did they make it to North America?
Join renowned actor Peter Stormare and history buff Elroy Balgaard set out to solve the mystery by investigating the famed Kensington Runestone in Minnesota.
The show has a more colloquial tone, often employing a humorous and deeply personal take on the runestone.
Learn how the highly debated artifact was discovered, talk to experts in the field, and go on a genealogical journey. Is the stone real and were the Vikings ahead of Columbus in their discoveries?
Lost Worlds season 2 episode 9 “The Vikings”
Using only the latest technology in visual presentation, the Lost Worlds is a very popular show that puts ancient or lost civilizations on the small screen.
Using CGI and expert knowledge, ancient tombs, and villages are recreated, so that the audience may get a glimpse of what life in one of these lost worlds may have been like.
In episode 9 of season 2, the show drops anchor at the Vikings, showcasing how they came to be such a powerful force in medieval Europe.
We see how they started with small attacks in powerless coastal monasteries before building their fleet up into a range of ingenious ships that could traverse any water-based territory.
What is more fearsome than a hoard of raiders coming inland along a river?
The Vikings proved that pirates need not stay in the open waters, but could easily give their land legs a go.
History’s Mysteries season 15 episode 3 “Vikings, Fury from the North”
Hosted by Arthur Kent, History’s Mysteries brings to life historical enigmas with the help of experts giving their interpretation of the event from each side.
The show often builds a timeline, as the host lays out the factual information they have.
In episode 3 of season 15, the show pivots to focus on the Vikings, delving into the side of Viking history documentaries don’t always showcase.
Learn about the furious force that was the Norsemen and their incredible journey, as well as the terror they could strike in the hearts of their targets.
Daily Life in Danelaw episode “Vikings”
From the vault of the educational Youtube channel Kings and Generals, comes a look at the life of Vikings while engaging in daily life under the Danelaw system.
What makes the documentary unique is the animation style supported by a team of historians, animators, and military experts.
Their episode on Vikings examines the customs that arose while living under Danelaw in medieval times, as well as their massive expansion.
From only five cities to an empire, the Vikings had a massive impact on Europe that resonates to this day.
Learn about their advanced military strategies, unique problem-solving capabilities, and day-to-day lifestyles.