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Warriors don't show their heart until the axe reveals it.
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Floki Vilgerðarson is a boat builder and incorrigible trickster, who also happens to be Ragnar Lothbrok's eccentric and closest friend. He is the husband of Helga, and they have a daughter named Angrboda.

Biography

Season 1

In the episode Rites of Passage, we are first introduced to Floki when Ragnar brings his son Bjorn to visit him. Ragnar described Floki as shy, but he then jumps out in front of Bjorn wearing a mask in an attempt to frighten him. Ragnar told Floki that he will be making their longship for their travels to the west. Floki presents the result: a new kind of ship which allows for travel on the open sea and up rivers. Floki remains nervous about whatever his new design will work. However, as he, Ragnar and Rollo take it for a virgin-journey, he is overjoyed to find it working perfectly.

In the episode Wrath of the Northmen, Ragnar's crew gather at Floki's shipyard where they wash and set out on their journey. At the North Sea, a terrible storm rages. Floki takes it as Thor proving the quality of Floki's ship. After the raid, Floki sets fire to the scriptures of the Lindisfarne monastery. The fire spread and destroyed most of the monastery.

In the episode Raid, Ragnar and his family seek shelter at Floki's shipyard where they first meet his lover Helga. Floki uses his skills in healing to save Ragnar's life.

In the episode Sacrifice, when it is announced that they need a new human sacrifice for the gods to take the place of Athelstan, Floki seems to momentarily consider offering himself for the honor, but Helga pulls him back.

In the episode All Change, Floki joins Ragnar on his journey to Götaland to negotiate with Jarl Borg. Floki remarks he is bad at treating his guests. Later, Ragnar sends him to King Horik to further the terms Ragnar has managed to make with Borg. King Horik and Floki bonds over their deep interest in Norse Mythology. Floki quip that Loki is his distant ancestor. Horik ultimately rejects Borg's terms. Floki concludes this can only mean war.

Season 2

Floki is still as loyal as ever to Ragnar. Floki is among the warriors Rollo injures severely during his betrayal in the battle against Jarl Borg. Floki eventually recovers and continues to build the ships for their continued voyage and raids to England.

Floki finds himself not fully trusting the Christian-turned-pagan Athelstan; while the latter has claimed to have abandoned his Christian beliefs, Floki does not believe him.

Later Floki appears to drift away from Ragnar, feeling Ragnar claims everything. He marries his lover Helga without the blessing of the Earl of Kattegat but with King Horik and his son Erlendur as witnesses. When the Viking fleet leaves Kattegat for Wessex, Floki joins with Horik rather than Ragnar as he thinks the King knows more about the darker gods that haunt him than Ragnar.

It is on the trip to Wessex that King Horik further sinks his talons in Floki, telling him a shipbuilder is just as valuable as ten Earls. The Danish King also tells him he needs Floki's ideas, for these come directly from the gods. In the Viking camp in Wessex, Floki is often seen close to King Horik. Floki even follows the Danish King when he advances towards Anglo-Saxon forces despite Ragnar advising them to wait. When the Norsemen are on the brink of being annihilated, Floki persuades Horik to retreat along with Ragnar, Lagertha and some others, leaving a critically injured Rollo behind.

Arriving at Ecbert's villa, Floki remarks that it is a bad decision to negotiate with the King of Wessex. He adds that Rollo is not worth it after his earlier betrayal. When Lagertha says it is not only about Rollo, Floki replies it is also about Athelstan, someone who they cannot trust. Ragnar finds it peculiar for Floki to talk about trust.

Helga arrives in Kattegat with their newborn child. Floki wants to name her Angrboda, after Loki's first wife. Helga is upset about it, remarking that Angboda was evil and gave Loki monstrous offspring. Floki says she still was a great Giantess. When Helga asks Floki if he will come back with them so he can get to know his daughter, Floki declines, saying he has to stay in Kattegat and urges her to leave.

Floki reminds King Horik a proposition, but Horik replies he is not sure if he can trust Floki. When Floki asks what he can do to gain his trust, Horik tells him to kill someone close to Ragnar. Floki gathers some mushrooms which he personally gives to Rollo, still recovering from his injuries, and also via Ubbe to Torstein. Later, Torstein appears to have died from poisoning. Floki, while comforting a grieving Bjorn, tearfully says they should find the one who murdered their friend and flay him.

King Horik visits Floki at his place, saying he did well and now Ragnar and his family should be killed. Bjorn, whom they think of as possibly protected by the gods, is to be killed as well and Floki, Horik says, should find a way to do it. Floki spies on Bjorn, who pursues his lover Porunn in the woods.

During the night, King Horik secretly gathers his troops to attack Kattegat with the intention of killing Ragnar. When he makes his way to the Earl's Hall, it turns out that Floki has stayed true to Ragnar all along and was only acting as a double agent. Ragnar's loyalists then take turn in stabbing Horik. Floki sarcastically pats the King's face before walking away, leaving him to be finished by Ragnar.

Season 3

In this season, Floki accompanies King Ragnar back to England, where they travel to Wessex and meet with King Ecbert. King Ecbert states that he is prepared to give the Northmen the land that was promised to them on their previous trip, however, in order to put at ease the minds of some of the nobles of Wessex, they will have to fight for Princess Kwenthrith for the throne of Mercia. King Ragnar agrees, along with everyone else, although Floki voices his mistrust of the Christian king.

Ragnar's forces meet the army of King Brihtwulf, Kwenthrith's abusive uncle, and soundly defeats them, with Floki himself pulling the king from his horse and killing him. Later, while celebrating their victory, Floki retrieves the king's head for Kwenthrith and is amused by watching her stab the severed head repeatedly. Torstein received an arrow wound to the arm in this battle, and it eventually turned gangrenous. Later, he asks Floki to amputate it for him, which Floki reluctantly does. The Vikings next went to battle against the forces of Kwenthrith's younger brother, Prince Burgred. During this battle, an injured Torstein volunteers to climb the hill first in order to scout out the enemy position, knowing that he is close to death and wanting to die in battle. After the battle, a grieving Floki tells Ragnar that it is his fault that Torstein died, believing it was wrong of them to fight for the Christians.

After the battle, Prince Aethelwulf approaches Rollo and Floki, saying that he now views them as allies and friends. Rollo reciprocates the sentiment, but Floki again shows his distaste for the Christians, saying the gods will be angry with them for making common cause with nonbelievers.

Upon returning to Kattegat, the men learn of Siggy's death while saving Ubbe and Hvitserk from drowning in the frozen lake. Floki, suspicious of the events, has Helga tell him the truth about the visit of Harbard, and Aslaug's infidelity with him. He later tells Ragnar that Aslaug slept with Harbrard, which was why Siggy was watching the children at the time of the accident, and also that he believes that Harbard was in fact the Allfather, Odin, though Ragnar seems to dismiss this belief.

Later, a farmer returns from the settlement in Wessex, informing Ragnar and Floki of its destruction at the hands of Prince Aethelwulf, undoubtedly under the orders of King Ecbert. Floki tells Ragnar that it was a mistake to ever trust the Christians, and that they must seek revenge on Ecbert for his betrayal. Floki then tells Ragnar that he believes Athelstan to also be responsible, since it was him who vouched for King Ecbert's trustworthiness. Ragnar angrily tells Floki that he himself is solely to blame, not Athelstan. In disgust, Floki returns to his wharf to get away from everything and to be with his family. While working, he receives a vision from the gods, telling him that blood must be spilled. Floki secretly returns to Kattegat and kills Athelstan while he is praying.

Floki accompanies Ragnar and the army to Francia, preparing to attack the city of Paris. When they arrive, Ragnar tells Floki that he misses Athelstan, but will now need to rely on Floki more than ever, and he shocks everyone by placing Floki in command of the attack, although it is revealed that Ragnar's true intentions are to punish Floki for killing his friend. Floki, confident that the gods will lead him to victory, begins building large ladders and structures on the boats in order to allow the soldiers to climb the high walls of Paris. Although the Vikings fight valiantly, the forces of Paris are able to repel them from the walls. Floki, watching all the men fall from the walls, eventually hides under one of the burning structures, questioning how the gods could have allowed him to fail, and he seemingly is prepared to burn alive for his failures. Later, he is seen back at camp, consumed by guilt, expressing his disbelief to Ragnar, believing that he did everything the gods wanted him to, and his shock at their defeat. Helga, disgusted by Floki's selfishness in the face of so much loss of life, leaves him.

Having been injured during the attack, Ragnar seeks an embassy with the rulers of Paris. They offer him gold and silver to leave Paris in peace, but he refuses. Knowing his end is near, Ragnar instead asks to be baptized and buried inside the city, and he asks Floki for one last favor, to make him a coffin. Later, Bjorn tells everyone that Ragnar has died. While standing over his coffin, Floki expresses his disgust in Ragnar for his betrayal of the gods by his baptism, and that he himself felt betrayed, having loved Ragnar more than anyone, including Athelstan, revealing his jealousy. He tells Ragnar that he both hates him, and loves him with all his heart. In reality, Ragnar's death was a ruse, his true purpose was to gain access to the city. Ragnar burst from his coffin and takes Princess Gisla hostage and forces the soldiers to open the gates of Paris to the Viking army. Having successfully sacked the city, the Vikings set sail for Kattegat. On the way back, Ragnar tells Floki that he knows it was him that killed Athelstan.

Season 4

In the episode Two Journeys, Floki goes with his wife Helga to Normandy.

Season 5

Floki discovers the volcanic island of Iceland, which he believes to be Asgard. The settlement established by him slowly falls apart, as its inhabitants take revenge on one another, creating a cycle of hatred. In the end Floki travels alone into a cave which he believes to be a gate to Helheim. Inside, instead of the gods he discovers a Christian cross. Laughing and crying at the same time, Floki is buried in the cave as it is revealed to be inside an erupting volcano.

Season 6

It is revealed that Floki is alive and has somehow made it to Newfoundland.

Personality

Floki is an eccentric and joyful man with a bizarre and zany air about him and is often the source of entertainment among his friends. Though this is arguably a facade to hide the more serious and emotionally troubled man brooding beneath the surface. Nonetheless, he is sincere in his loyalty to Ragnar and is respected for his sharp intellect and wisdom. So much so that Ragnar trusted him to negotiate peace talks with King Horik on Ragnar's behalf. He is regarded as an equal if nothing less than an individual of particularly high standing among the other warriors of Kattegat. Despite his seemingly nonchalant and apparently strange facade, Floki is very dedicated and proud of his work. He finds joy and often laughs during their plunders, whether he is killing or discovering new things in the land they visit. He is a man who is devoted to his gods and lives to serve them.

However, one very important aspect of Floki's personality is his fierce devotion to the Norse Pantheon. He is the most religious of Ragnar's group. At one point Floki quips that Loki's is his distant ancestor. Floki has shown on many occasions to be remarkably intolerant towards those who do not share his faith; particularly Christians. To him, all Christians are untrustworthy and undeserving of mercy, including Athelstan, whom he often menaces and only seems to tolerate at the behest of Ragnar. In Floki's mind his faith and way of life are on a collision course with Christianity where one is doomed to be destroyed by the other. It is for this reason that he finds the idea of cooperating with the Christians or otherwise participating in their customs, even in an insincere manner such as Rollo's baptism, to be a grave betrayal to the Norse gods. He is prone to viewing many events as having religious or spiritual significance and even sees visions from his gods.

Ironcially, his devotion to his faith didn't stop him from being intrigued by his first contact with Islam during the raid on the town of Algeciras Saracen Spain during the Mediterranean Raid.

Floki's fighting style is unusual but practical. Instead of traditional Viking weapons such as the spear and long ax, Floki prefers a small hatchet and a long knife. Rather than taking a stand in the shield wall or "skjaldborg", where his skinny frame and lack of muscle would put him at a disadvantage in the shoving match, Floki would stand behind his brothers, pull through and savagely butcher any enemy soldier unwary or stupid enough to let himself be caught.

This tactic worked even against larger and stronger opponents as the enemy would be dazed and confused at being ripped through the shield wall and then Floki's speed and use of two weapons will quickly finish the opponent, who is unguarded and encumbered with a heavy shield. All in all, this speaks for his quick thinking and, despite his skinny stature, being a lethal adversary who was not afraid to defy what is "usual" and invent his own ways.

Floki is also a very able and knowledgeable shipwright and carpenter, creating the longship which allows Ragnar to travel west into Britain, which earned him the nickname "Floki the Boatbuilder." Hints of a spiritual ability have been made throughout both seasons.

Relationships

Ivar "the Boneless"

Ivar’s relationships with Floki, whom he seems to regard as something of a surrogate father, is probably the only uncomplicated relationship he has with anyone. Floki is the only person he openly cries in front of. Aslaug had brought a young Ivar to Floki asking him to teach Ivar how to be a Viking and about the gods. This is where Ivar gets his hatred for Christianity. Floki practically raises Ivar. Floki is the one who creates Ivar’s war chariot which allows him to participate in battle for the first time. Ivar gets upset with Floki when he decides to give his life to the sea, feeling abandoned yet again by a parent-figure.

Trivia

  • Floki in Old Norse means "tuft of hair," "bank of fog," and "halibut."
  • Gustaf Skarsgård has stated that he thinks Floki considers himself a descendant of Loki, while some fans think he is a reincarnation of the god himself. One major comparison between the two is seen in the torture and imprisonment of Floki in Season 4A, which shares many similarities to the description of Loki's captivity by the gods in the Norse saga The Binding of Loki.
  • As a key member of Earl Ragnar's Hird, Floki appears to hold the position of Skutilsvein, or "table-man", one of the officers and advisers of the reigning lord who had the privilege of sitting at his lord's table during feasts. Indeed, Floki has been seen to feast at Ragnar's table on multiple occasions.
  • As a shipwright, the Old Norse term for Floki's trade may have been Knarrarsmithr (literally "Boat-smith").
  • The character Floki might be loosely based on Hrafna-Flóke Vilgerðarson, one of the crew members on the expedition who discovered Iceland. Hrafna means raven and this makes his name "Raven-Floki son of Vilgerd." He got the Raven-Floki nickname after the expedition to Iceland in which they used three ravens to help them navigate to new lands.
  • Despite being a Viking and having sailed a lot, he doesn't know how to swim.
  • Through his actions and multiple conversations with people, there is strong implication that he suffers from a mental illness of some kind. The exact specifics are never detailed, however. 
  • Floki is one of the only raiders from the Raid on Lindisfarne currently still alive, the other being Rollo.


Quotes

I joke about many things, son of Ragnar. But never about ship-building.

–Floki to Bjorn, Rites of Passage

Who needs a reason for betrayal? One must always think the worst Ragnar, even of your own kin. That way, you avoid too much disappointment in life.

–Floki to Ragnar, Brother's War

It's true. I thought I was dead and while I was dead, I was dreaming of other places, the places that you and I shall sail to, Ragnar.

–Floki to Ragnar, Brother's War

I build boats, Ragnar. You're the navigator.

– Floki to Ragnar, Invasion

Warriors don’t show their heart until the axe reveals it.

– Floki to Bjorn, Blood Eagle

So then. I made you the boat that took you to fame. I made the boat that will take you to your heaven. Give my regards to Athelstan, by the way. You betrayed us. You betrayed your heritage. You betrayed our future. You betrayed me! I loved you more than anyone. I loved you more than that priest ever loved you. But, it made no difference. You always thought, oh, it's just Floki! No need to bother about Floki. He's just a fool. I hate you, Ragnar Lothbrok. And I love you with all my heart. Why do you tear me away from myself?

–Floki to Ragnar, The Dead

The space between life and death, that's where we are the most alive.

–Floki, The Profit and the Loss

Rollo! Betrayer of the gods and all the sacred things in Midgard. Come here, you snake. Come my way and let my axe slake its thirst on your blood! Come to Floki. Come to Floki, you bastard, I am waiting.

–Floki to Rollo, The Last Ship

I've been told your god is a carpenter. And guess what? So am I.

–Floki to King Ælle, Revenge

The man I once was would have dug this spade just deep enough into your skull to make you unconscious. And when you woke up, I would let you witness me burn your wife alive. And then, I would force your one remaining son to cut off your balls and have you eat them. And as you slowly bled out, the last thing you would see would be me raping your son, not knowing if I would show him the mercy of killing him or not. But you see, I won't do any of that. For even though you and Eyvind and everyone else in this cursed settlement have showed me that I can't change other human beings, I have changed myself. And I intend to stay this way. I owe it to the dead. Do with this place as you like. I am done with the humans.

–Floki to Kjetill, Baldur

Gallery

Appearances

Season one appearances
Rites of Passage Wrath of the Northmen Dispossessed
Trial Raid Burial of the Dead
A King's Ransom Sacrifice All Change
Season two appearances
Brother's War Invasion Treachery Eye For an Eye Answers in Blood
Unforgiven Blood Eagle Boneless The Choice The Lord's Prayer
Season three appearances
Mercenary The Wanderer Warrior's Fate Scarred The Usurper
Born Again Paris To the Gates! Breaking Point The Dead
Season four appearances
A Good Treason Kill the Queen Mercy Yol Promised
What Might Have Been The Profit and the Loss Portage Death All 'Round The Last Ship
The Outsider The Vision Two Journeys In the Uncertain Hour Before the Morning All His Angels
Crossings The Great Army Revenge On the Eve The Reckoning
Season five appearances
The Departed Part 1 The Departed Part 2 Homeland The Plan The Prisoner
The Message Full Moon The Joke A Simple Story Moments of Vision
The Revelation Murder Most Foul A New God The Lost Moment Hell
The Buddha The Most Terrible Thing Baldur What Happens in the Cave Ragnarok