Though not the most prolific of genres, the best movies and shows about Vikings feature some notable entries. Dating back thousands of years, these tales of brave and vicious warriors, strong communities, and brutal tales of survival highlight an exciting world for audiences to enter. The big screen has delivered some huge blockbusters on the subject, as well as small intimate movies, while Viking shows have grown in popularity over the years, perhaps due to the emergence of fantasy medieval shows like Game of Thrones, which can feature similar elements.
Fans of Viking lore have had a diverse range of content to choose from recently. The sequel series to Vikings, Vikings: Valhalla just aired its second season in January, and The Last Kingdom had its final season on Netflix in 2022. The wave of popularity of Vikings has most recently swung its ax with Robert Eggers’ The Northman. The Viking genre has also had influence in unexpected places, from the superhero realm to animated family movies. With such diversity within such a small genre, the best movies and shows about Vikings prove why these stories are so popular with audiences.
10 How To Train Your Dragon (2010)
- Stream on Peacock Premium
While more of a fantasy movie than a historical Viking story, How to Train Your Dragon adds a family-friendly element to the genre. Young Viking, Hiccup, dreams of becoming a dragon hunter, but when he captures a rare dragon, he instead befriends him, naming him Toothless. The pair teach their respective clans how to co-exist and thus begins the high-flying adventures together in their land of Berk. How To Train Your Dragon started a franchise that spans three feature films, three TV series, five short films, and an upcoming How To Train Your Dragon live-action remake. The series has been heavily awarded and huge at the box office as a DreamWorks hit.
9 Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
In the sequel to 2011’s Thor, Taika Waititi brings a fresh take on the character played by Chris Hemsworth. After his banished sister Hela returns to take Asgard, Thor is captured on an abandoned trash planet, Thor is in a race against time to stop Hela and save Asgard and his people. While the Norse god of thunder Thor is not technically a Viking, he is a god to the Viking people. As such, the character’s stories share similarities with the lore of the Scandinavian figures. Many MCU fans call it the funniest Marvel movie to date. With returning favorites like Hulk and new characters Valkyrie and Korg, Thor: Ragnarok is a comedic, action-packed, and profound take on the character.
8 The Last King (2016)
Though not a movie that many might be aware of, The Last King is a thrilling and impressive period-action movie with some great Viking fun. When a Viking king is murdered after the birth of his son, two of his bravest and most loyal warriors attempt to transport the infant heir to the throne across the dangerous land. The Norwegian movie doesn’t boast any big names with Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones’ Tormund Giantsbane) as likely the only recognizable face. However, seeing these two Vikings protecting a baby while fighting off enemies and having epic ski chase sequences makes it a small, underseen thrill ride.
7 Norsemen (2016 – 2020)
The Netflix comedy series, Norsemen, takes a look at an often overlooked aspect of Viking life, the everyday struggles of the “regular people.” Set in 790s Norway, the show follows what looks like ruthless characters but turns out to be bumbling joe schmoes on misadventures. The show portrays these characters as having modern problems, like resistance to cultural change. The series has a parody vibe of shows like Vikings or Game of Thrones. The spoof comedy was a critical hit but ended after three seasons.
6 The Last Kingdom (2015 – 2022)
Based on the novels The Saxon Stories by Bernard Cornwell, The Last Kingdom follows a young Uhtred, who is taken as a slave after his father is killed. He is raised by his Viking captors and eventually becomes family to them. Throughout The Last Kingdom, Uhtred is conflicted between loyalty to his homeland and his newfound family.
While the show was a hit for Netflix, it didn’t hit the mainstream popularity some of its counterparts did. However, it is regarded as one of the best epic action shows on TV. Fans of the action-packed, beautifully shot Viking tale sing its praises as an underrated medieval history gem. The series’ final epic conclusion comes with the film Seven Kings Must Die, set for release in April 2023 on Netflix.
5 Valhalla Rising (2009)
Before stepping into the neo-noir crime world in Drive, director Nicolas Winding Refn delivered the brutal and compelling Viking story, Valhalla Rising. Mads Mikkelsen plays a silent warrior known as One Eye. After escaping his captors, along with a slave boy, One Eye embarks on a quest filled with danger. Much like Refn’s Drive, the violence in Valhalla Rising is shocking and graphic, showing the merciless lifestyle of these Viking warriors. Without speaking, Mikkelsen still brings his usual intense on-screen persona, making for a Viking superhero of sorts and a thrilling protagonist to follow on this bloody journey.
4 Vikings: Valhalla (2022 – )
The spin-off series to The History Channel’s hit show, Vikings, dropped in February 2022 on Netflix and is set 100 years after the events of the original series. Voyaging beyond Scandinavia, a whole new cast of characters are in bloody conflict with the English while also struggling with their own power dynamics. The show quickly became the most-watched show on Netflix, (via Deadline) and was quickly picked up for more with season 2 airing in January 2023 and season 4 coming sometime next year. Most will say it’s definitely worth the watch, and Vikings: Valhalla is sitting comfortably in the upper echelon of Viking lore.
3 Beowulf (2007)
Following Robert Zemeckis’s collaboration with Tom Hanks on the motion-capture animated movie The Polar Express, the director decided to use the same animation approach for his take on the Viking legend Beowulf. The story follows the legendary titular warrior who is summoned to a kingdom to vanquish the monster Grendel who has been terrorizing them. As with The Polar Express, the animation style is distracting at times, with an uncanny valley aspect to the characters’ faces. However, it is still a vicious and brutal action movie with some amazing intense sequences made possible by the animation. It also features a stellar cast that includes Ray Winstone, Brendan Gleeson, Angelina Jolie, and Anthony Hopkins.
2 The Northman (2022)
Robert Eggers’ brutal revenge flick, The Northman, follows Amleth, a shredded Alexander Skarsgård on a mission to avenge his father. After his father is murdered by his uncle and his mother kidnapped, young Prince Amleth escapes by boat and is taken in by Vikings. It’s a trippy and intimate character-driven story and the Shakespearean-like dialogue in The Northman makes for a gripping story. True to Eggers’ style, the movie doesn’t shy away from gore, and the violence is visceral. Fans and critics especially enjoyed its cinematography and performances, especially from Skarsgård, Anya-Taylor Joy, and Nicole Kidman.
1 Vikings (2013 – 2020)
- Stream on Prime Video & Hulu
Vikings follows Ragnar, a Viking farmer whose ambitions take him and his family on bloody raids throughout France and England. Ragnar’s slow rise to power in the ferocious epic drew fans in, and in later seasons his sons. Loosely based on true Viking stories, Ragnar Lothbrok is a legend who was rumored to have descended from the Norse god, Odin. Due to its compelling characters, scenery, and intriguing world, the show gripped fans with its introduction to Viking lore. The show was a hit with the ratings for The History Channel and gained more exposure when it moved over to Netflix. Critics also praised the performance of the cast and the engaging story and it’s a must-watch for fans of Viking and Norse god lore.
MORE: Does Vikings’ Kattegat Exist? Real World Location Explained