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Vikings True Story: How Ivar the Boneless Really Died

The main antagonist in Vikings, Ivar the Boneless, met his fate in the final episode, but how does his death in Vikings compare to the end of the real Ivar the Boneless? Created by Michael Hirst, Vikings debuted on History Channel in 2013, and even though it was originally planned to be a miniseries, it was quickly renewed for a second season. The series has now come to an end after six seasons full of action, drama, and betrayal, especially among families. The final episodes of Vikings brought the stories of Ragnar’s sons to an end, but not all of them continue after the events of the series.

Vikings changed its main point of narrative focus several times throughout its six-season run, initially following legendary Norse figure Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his travels and raids alongside his Viking brothers. The series later shifted its focus to Ragnar’s sons and their own travels and battles, with special attention on the arcs of Bjorn Ironside (Alexander Ludwig) and Ivar the Boneless (Alex Høgh Andersen). Vikings' final episodes conspire to close the arcs of its main characters, with some reaching their demise in more tragic ways than others.

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The cruel and seemingly indestructible Ivar ultimately does make it past the Vikings series finale, unlike his brothers Ubbe (Jordan Patrick Smith) and Hvitserk (Marco Ilsø). Ivar dies in battle after seeing Hvitserk exhausted and injured and struggling to keep fighting. He joins the battle so Hvitserk can stand back and survive, with Hvitserk simultaneously pointing out that Ivar’s eyes were blue, which meant that he was in great danger of breaking his bones. Vikings' Ivar the Boneless urges his warriors to keep fighting, reminding anyone close enough to hear him that he and his people were not afraid to die. He then turns around to find a young man with a dagger who stabs Ivar multiple times in the stomach, killing Ivar.

Although the team behind Vikings continually aims to be as historically accurate as possible, in most cases there aren’t many historical records about the characters, which leaves ample room for creative interpretation by the showrunners. However, Ivar is one of the few Vikings characters based on a real-life person, who was born with weak bones and given the nickname “Boneless.” While he is considered one of the greatest Viking leaders with links to Norse mythology, it’s not clear how and when Ivar died, with some historians claiming he died in 870 and others in 873. As for his cause of death, it is mostly speculated that a sudden and horrible disease gripped the evil warrior, thus making way for the possibility that “Boneless” was not about a condition he was born with, but instead a moniker for an unknown disease that struck him later on in his life.

The discovery of a mass grave in England, near the battle site where the Great Heathen Army overthrew the Mercian King Burgred of his kingdom, sparked rumors about it being the resting place of Ivar, as over 250 partial skeletons were found surrounding the body, pointing at the man buried there being of very high status. If this does indeed explain the location of Ivar’s body, then he most likely died in battle, just like in Vikings, although it remains unclear if he was disease-stricken at the time of his demise. Ivar’s death in Vikings has been met with a lot of criticism from viewers, who view his end as a poorly written scene that does not fit the character despite granting poignant closure to Ivar’s chaotic yet interesting arc.

Next: Vikings Season 6 Ending Explained: Ragnar's Sons & Kattegat's New Ruler

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