TV review by
Emily Ashby, Common Sense Media
Vikings TV Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Violent, mature drama has amiable, legendary hero.

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 22 reviews

Kids say

age 14+
Based on 35 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

The protagonist is motivated by adventure, family responsibilities, and a sense of destiny, and his actions challenge a status quo that relegates most of his compatriots to a mediocre existence under a controlling chieftain. The story is set in a time when conflict, violence, and corporal punishment were the norm and children were raised to accept it.

Positive Role Models

Ragnan challenges tradition in ways that threaten trouble for his family, but he risks it for the hope of a better future. He lives in a violent time, so the fact that he kills and abducts to get what he wants isn't surprising, but the story shows that he's also a loving father and husband and a spiritual follower of the Norse gods. Other characters aren't as noble; his brother has designs on his wife, and the Viking lord throws his weight around to keep the locals in line.


Gratuitous and realistic. Bloody battles show close-up sword fights, stabbings, and agonizing death. Corporal punishment is carried out by beheading (in one scene, the victim's head is held up after death to the crowd's cheers) and a stoning gauntlet, among other varieties. Sexual assault and physical attacks are a constant threat to women and children as well.


Bedroom scenes show moments before and after intercourse, but not the act itself. Steamy foreplay involves kissing, fondling, and one partner mounting the other; afterward they lie together in various stages of undress (men are shirtless, women's breasts are covered by a blanket). Sexy talk, as when a woman tells her husband, "I want to ride you like a bull."


Rarely "piss."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Vikings drink what's presumed to be ale or beer of some kind, and kids "of age" (which turns out to be 12) get to partake. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Vikings is a gritty historical drama that chronicles the rise of legendary Norse revolutionary and hero Ragnan Lothbrok from a common raider to eventual Viking king. The series is violent, often exceedingly so, with graphic battle scenes that show close-up fighting, stabbings, stonings, beatings, and even the occasional beheading. Other mature topics like rape emerge, and steamy love scenes keep nudity to a minimum (women cover their chests with blankets, men are shirtless), but play up sexy foreplay and explicit bedroom talk. But set against the backdrop of this brutal era is a dynamic story of a loving family man whose foresight and determination took him to unexplored lands and eventual fame and power.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byDavid Z. February 16, 2018

I get angry every time I see the 14+

I happen to like the show--the production quality, costumes etc. is amazing. And it really shows you (though probably not the intent of the creators) why, desp... Continue reading
Adult Written byconcernedparent111 April 21, 2014

Miss the story in Vikings

The series seems to have gotten bloodier and bloodier. Where is the story of the laudable actions Ragnar takes? The crucifixion was bad enough, but I left the r... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written bySquatch April 2, 2013

"Vikings" IS BAD

This Common Sense Media review doesn't accurately review the show because it is only based on the 1st episode. The review doesn't add the fact that th... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byArima November 18, 2020

What's the story?

VIKINGS centers on Ragnan Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel), a farmer and hired raider under the direction of chieftain Earl Haraldson (Gabriel Byrne). While Haraldson is content sending his men to pillage the impoverished lands to the east of Norway, Ragnan is drawn to the unexplored western sea, guided by new directional tools and a strong sense of destiny. He enlists the help of his friend, Floki (Gustaf Skarsgard), to create a stronger, faster ship that can weather the unknown, and joins forces with his brother, Rollo (Clive Standen), for the dangerous journey, leaving his wife, Lagertha (Katheryn Winnick), at home with their children.

Is it any good?

From the writing genius of Michael Hirst (The Tudors, Elizabeth) comes an inspired, artistic series based on real people and events that gives viewers a unique inside-out look at this mysterious clan of historical players often represented as ancient street thugs. Vikings tries to change that long-held impression, putting a surprisingly sympathetic spin on Ragnan and telling the tale from the point of view of this celebrated visionary, devoted father, and spiritual devotee who rose to power because of his impulse to push boundaries. Crafty cinematography drops viewers into a land of long ago, carrying them along for the dangerous but exhilarating ride alongside Ragnan, his family, and his men.

But for all of Vikings' historical value, the show is never lacking action, adventure, romance, intrigue, and suspense, making it an extraordinarily enjoyable watch. Don’t sweat it if your knowledge of Norse legends is limited to Thor; you'll find yourself quickly caught up in this real-life drama played out by the talented Fimmel and a sensational supporting cast. If your teens can stomach the raw violence and mature sexual content, this is a fantastic series that will introduce you to a whole new set of historical figures and may inspire some supplementary research into the legends that inspired the show.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the challenges that accompany new adventures. How do you know when a risk is worth taking? What can be learned from failure? Is success any sweeter because of the risks taken?

  • How reliable are cultural legends and oral history? What role do they play in your beliefs about history or religion?

  • Is Ragnan a heroic character? Is he violent, or is that a product of his surroundings? How do we assign fame today? Are modern-day heroes any more or less deserving of their stations than someone like him?

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love history

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate