Conceived after his father's return from England, Aslaug had been giving Ragnar warnings of things to come. Aslaug had warned that they should not have sex for at least three days, knowing of a prophecy that threatened the prospective child's health, but Ragnar insisted. Because Ragnar did not heed her warnings, Ivar was born with weak bones, his legs twisted and seemingly broken, hence the nickname "Boneless."
When he was born, Aslaug and Ragnar feared for his difficult life. Ragnar, as well as Siggy, suggested that Ivar should be killed, though Aslaug refused. Ragnar once took him out in an attempt to kill him himself. However, Ragnar could not bring himself to do so. When Aslaug told Ragnar his name, Ragnar gave him the epithet "Boneless."
Ivar was tormented with pain, but Ragnar did not appear to care much. Later Harbard seemed to be able to ease Ivar's pain through unknown means. When Harbard left he claimed to have taken some of Ivar's pain into himself and that Ivar would not suffer as much in the future.
Ivar was seen when he was playing with his brothers in Kattegat while being carried in a cart which Ivar tells them not to break his bones. Later he was greeted by Bjorn who just came back from Paris and later in the episode. He said goodbye to Bjorn and he told them to take care of Ragnar. Ragnar attempts to involve Ivar in the celebration of Yol and hang a piece of mistletoe as an ornament. Ivar refused and Aslaug took him away from Ragnar. Aslaug stated that Ivar was not like Ragnar and her responsibility, not his. Ragnar said he loved Ivar as much as Aslaug, to which Aslaug replied he did not act like it. Ivar later was brought to Floki by Aslaug to be mentored in the path of a Viking, with Aslaug intending for her son to hate the Christians. Floki seems to bond with Ivar, as they are fellow outcasts.
While Ivar is learning from Floki, he sees various children playing and wants to join them, so Floki puts him in his cart and takes him out among them. Ivar is mostly ignored by the other children despite his pleas for them to toss him the ball, so Floki catches it and tosses it to him. Another child runs up and tries to wrestle it away from Ivar; unable to overcome him in strength, Ivar impulsively picks up a hatchet in his cart and strikes the boy in the head, mortally wounding him. Ivar is horrified; Aslaug hastily comes over to him and tells him it was not his fault.
Years later, Ivar defends his father's honor from his brothers, who criticize Ragnar for abandoning them for so many years. Ivar also justifies Ragnar keeping the destruction of their Wessex settlement a secret, stating that the fame from invading Paris was more important. Ivar is later seen greeting Ragnar when he returns.
Ivar is shown to be impotent when his brothers set him up to have sex with a slave girl. The slave girl tells him that potency is not as important as other characteristics. He later has a conversation with Ragnar in which Ragnar asks him to go to England. All other brothers have declined Ragnar's invitation to go, Ivar sits in the throne room where Ragnar finds him and Ivar agrees to join his father to travel to England.
As a seer-woman, Aslaug had warned Ivar not to go to England, as he would die in a storm. Ivar dismissed this, as he was intent to learn from his esteemed father and get to know him as a father more than a King. Prior to leaving, with some Saxon gold that Ragnar gave him, he got a town blacksmith to make him a metallic contraption, which enabled him to walk more ably than before. He surprised his parents and brothers with this and set forth with Ragnar to England.
Ragnar had bribed his former subjects into raiding with him, even those who publicly expressed their hatred of him. They took some ships that Bjorn had lent to them, and pursued across the North Sea to England. Despite an initially calm crossing, they had encountered a heavy storm on the horizon. Once the storm hit, some ships were lost, and they were capsized by a large wave. Aslaug was able to see this, as a seer, and was immensely distraught at her son's apparent death.
However, Ivar and Ragnar, and some of the raiding party survived. They gathered on a beach and found a nearby cave to settle in and reformulate a strategy. Ivar's metallic "legs" were also lost in the storm, and his father told him to crawl. However, this was not out of cruelty, as he said this weakness was also his greatest strength.
The party lived off the land for several days, narrowly averting detection by an English girl collecting forest produce for her town or village. Ivar asked Ragnar why he left the kingship, but he did not respond. He did, however, say that coming to England was his destiny.
Ragnar tells Ivar they must go to the Royal Villa, they kill their fellow Vikings while they are asleep. Ivar and Ragnar arrive at the Royal town and give themselves up. Ivar and Ragnar are seized by Aethelwulf. Ecbert arrives and promises no harm will come to Ivar. Ecbert agrees to hand Ragnar over to King Aelle and arrange a safe passage for Ivar to go home.
Ecbert has arranged a ship to take Ivar home. Ragnar speaks with Ivar alone and says goodbye, knowing he will be handed over to Aelle and die. Ragnar tells Ivar to take revenge on Ecbert and to be ruthless. Ivar returns to Kattegat, to discover that his mother has been killed by Lagertha. Ivar challenges Lagertha to single combat, but is refused, and promises that he will kill Lagertha one day. A man in a black cloak with one eye brings news of Ragnar's death to Ivar. Ivar, Ubbe, and Sigurd decide to gather a large army and return to England to avenge Ragnar. An armada of Swedish Vikings, led by Earl Jorgensen, arrives to join the Lothbroks. Ivar and Ubbe attempt to kill Lagertha, but are stopped by Bjorn, who makes clear that his brothers will have to kill him before Lagertha. Floki presents Ivar with a war chariot which will enable him to lead troops in combat. As the great army assembles, Bjorn and Ivar argue over its leadership. The great army lands in Northumbria, King Aelle's much smaller army is overrun, Aelle is captured, and killed by the blood eagle while Ivar is looking into his eyes.
The Vikings arrive at Repton. Before they meet, Ivar persuades Bjorn to scout a potential battlefield and plan to use the terrain to defeat the Saxons. The Vikings then harass the Saxons on the battlefield with archers hidden in the surrounding woods. Prince Aethelwulf decides to move his forces toward the Viking's ships, but the
The Vikings then ambush them in a tight valley. In panic and frustration, Aethelwulf orders a charge. The Saxons charge into the Norse shield wall and suffer heavy losses. Aethelwulf orders a retreat. Ivar demands the blood eagle for Ecbert, but Bjorn reminds his brothers of Ragnar's dream of settlement and agrees to allow Ecbert to choose his own death in exchange for signing over East Anglia. Ecbert then kills himself in his Roman bath. Bjorn shares his wish to raid the Mediterranean, while Ivar proposes continued raids in England. In an argument over what action to take next, Sigurd starts to insult Ivar and mock his impotence, and Ivar in a fit of rage kills Sigurd by throwing an axe.
A few months afterward, Sigurd's funeral is held Bjorn and Halfdan leave the Great Heathen Army to sail back to the Mediterranean Sea and King Harald leaves the army as well to sail to Kattegat. Ivar, Hvitserk, and Ubbe rule jointly over their newly acquired land in East Anglia. Floki decides to leave the great heathen army to sail to the unknown, Ivar and Floki said there goodbyes. Ivar and Ubbe have an argument to either continue raiding or make peace with the English kingdoms but Ivar persuades his brothers to go north and conquer the city of York and turn it into their stronghold. Ivar, Hvitserk, and Ubbe decide to attack the town on Ascension Day, quickly overrunning the meager garrison before butchering the inhabitants, during the battle Ivar shows his brutality by torturing and killing the bishop. Ivar recruits bodyguards and decides to have a tattoo of a giant snake on his back. Ubbe and Hvitsek questioned Ivar as to why does he need a bodyguard and Ivar explains the reason is that he is a cripple. Ivar shows his brothers that he can now stand and walk on his own feet with the help of new leg braces and a crutch.
The Saxons led by King Aethelwulf and Bishop Heahmund entered the town through a section of the old Roman walls that were purposefully neglected by Ivar to lure the Saxons in the town. Once the army formed up, the Saxon forces were split into two. Aethelwulf and Heahmund, Ivar ordered the Danes to fire their arrows, taking out some Saxons. the Saxons were then trapped as the Norsemen raised wooden barricades to contain them while the archers continued depleting their ranks. The Saxons were then lured into small streets and alleyways that were laden with low standing spikes upon which dozens of men fell, fatally wounding themselves. The Danes finally emerged from cover before engaging Aethelwulf's forces into vicious, close-quarter street fighting. Heahmund's force was likewise trapped in a street where the Danes poured oil on the floor before lightning it, which burnt and killed several Saxons. Hundreds of Saxon forces then emerged to confront Ivar, who, in a ferocious stance, provoked the frightened Saxon warriors, claiming they couldn't kill him. While the fight also raged throughout the town, Ubbe's men then came out to meet the Saxons led by Heahmund's.
After the battle, the Saxons suffered a crushing defeat. Ubbe and Hvitserk propose a peace, but Ivar wants to continue the war. The two brothers secretly leave at night to negotiate with the Saxons, Aethelwulf seemingly accepts their offer, but Heahmund arranges to have the brothers humiliated. With Ubbe having lost face, Ivar secures his position as the leader of the Great Army. Ubbe and Hvitserk prepare to leave for Kattegat with their few followers, however, at the last minute, Hvitserk defected to join Ivar. The Saxons laid siege to York, they massacred their hunting parties and blocked the city while pretending to burn bodies. Ivar and Hvitserk are in the sewers of the city and Ivar informs Hvitserk that he has a plan. The city is deserted the Saxons celebrate but they are cut short when Vikings appear from the sewers and engage in battle. The Vikings win and the Saxons retreat. During the battle, Bishop Heahmund is captured and spared by Ivar. Ivar has a conversation with Heahmund about religion and Ivar decides to take the Bishop with him to meet King Harald.
Taking his army, Ivar, Hvitserk and the bishop traveled to Vestfold when they arrived they were greeted by Harald. Ivar made an alliance with Harald to attack Kattegat in exchange Ivar promised Harald that he would become his heir and they plan to attack Kattegat in two months' time. Ivar threatens and persuaded Heahmund to fight with them. After two months The army of Ivar, Harald, Hvitserk line up against the forces of Lagertha, Bjorn and Ubbe, meet above Kattegat. Lagertha sends Emissaries then negotiations take place Hvitserk was traded as a hostage for Halfdan. The leaders of the two armies met again the next day. Bjorn Ironside begs Ivar to consider the possibility of peace stating that a civil war can only bring tragedy, and “a lifetime of revenge obligations for those who survive.” Here all diplomacy failed and the armies had to resort to battle. Ivar agrees but tricks and mocks Lagertha and her allies. Before the battle, Ivar takes Astrid and a third of their army towards the shore, to protect their fleet. Hvitserk and his group try to flank but are ambushed in the forest by the Sami. The battle begins, and Bjorn and Lagertha gain the upper hand, as Harald's forces are outflanked. Ivar hears the fighting but says it is too late to help. Heahmund is wounded, and Harald retreats.
Ivar and Hvitserk form an alliance with Rollo, on the condition that Bjorn is spared. Bjorn meets with Ivar and Harald but is rejected; Ivar tries to have him captured but is stopped by Harald. When preparing for the battle, Ivar accuses Hvitserk of regretting his defection. The army of Ivar and Harald faces against Lagertha forces. Astrid, Halfdan, Guthrum, Svase, and Snaefrid are killed during the battle. Ivar orders the Frankish soldiers to attack, forcing Lagertha and Bjorn to retreat and leave Kattegat.
After seemingly paranormally impregnating his wife Freydis, whose child is in reality not Ivar's, Ivar is publicly deified as one of the Æsir, though he is already regarded as a descendant of Odin. He becomes a tyrant and sacrifices a lookalike of Lagertha.
Ivar loses the Siege of Kattegat due to being betrayed by Kattegat's people and his wife, whom he kills, during a short assault on the city. One of his supporters, Vigrid, smuggles him out of Kattegat.
Ivar has fled Scandinavia and is exploring the world along the Silk Road with his companion Vigrid. They have fallen in with a group of vagabonds and mercenaries. The group is attacked by Ganbaatar and the Rus, with only Ivar and Vigrid left alive. The two are brought to Kiev where they are presented to Prince Oleg. Oleg doesn't believe that Ivar is actually a king, so he tortures Vigrid in attempt to get the truth. Vigrid is eventually executed by having his arms ripped off. Ivar is both bothered and fascinated by Oleg.
After their failed invasion of Scandinavia, Ivar follows Prince Oleg back to Kiev because he is still determined to overthrow him so that Igor can take up his rightful position as heir to the throne. Ivar has been plotting and scheming with Prince Dir to get Igor away from Oleg and to take down Oleg once and for all. With the help of Princess Katia, Ivar and Hvitserk manage to get Igor out of Kiev and to safety.
Knowing Igor is safe in the hands of Katia and Dir, Ivar decides it is finally time to leave the Rus behind and return to Kattegat with Hvitserk. At the celebration feast following the defeat of Oleg, Katia informs Ivar that she is carrying his child. Ivar asks Katia to accompany him back to Kattegat, but she says that her place is with her family, and she wants to raise their child in Kiev. Before he leaves, Katia promises Ivar that their child will know who his father is. Igor and Ivar have a heartbreaking good-bye and Igor watches tearfully and Ivar and Hvitserk leave Kiev.
The Vikings are strategizing the best attack against Wessex. Harald says that he doesn't think they should attack the Royal Villa because the Saxons must have increased its fortifications and defenses. The others agree. Ivar says that they must flush the King out of his stronghold and force him to fight them in a place of their choosing. Ivar suggests they have the battle in Edington. He recalls how Ragnar carried him up a steep hill beyond the town to the ramparts of an ancient fort that looks down on the valley below, the perfect place for a battle. Everyone agrees with Ivar's plan.
Ivar is a sadist, sarcastic, angry, bloodthirsty, and violent person. Even as a child he is cruel and dangerous. When he learns of Siggy’s death he laughs. He literally murders another child with an axe over a disagreement during a ballgame and isn’t any less unhinged when he grows up. He is easily angered, arrogant, and selfish as a child, though this is partly due to Aslaug’s bad parenting. He is indifferent upon hearing of the murder of the entire Wessex settlement. His ruthless attitude makes him feared by everyone, with the possible exceptions of Bjorn, Ragnar, and Aslaug. His bloodthirsty antics often teach people not to underestimate him just because he is labeled a cripple. If you think he is inferior in any way, shape, or form to his brothers, he will show you otherwise. He is the best archer and axe thrower of Ragnar’s sons, and is a match for at least Hvitserk and Sigurd with a sword, despite being unable to walk. His sheer rage and spite are enough to make him dangerous and feared. He has the most upper-body strength of his brothers due to having to drag himself by his arms to get anywhere for most of his life.
Despite being a vicious, bloodthirsty, kin-slaying conqueror, Ivar’s complete and utter love and devotion for his parents are both redeeming qualities for him. Disrespect them in front of him at your peril. He admires Ragnar for his great fame and successful raids. He deeply loves his mother as she was the only person that shows him any great amount of attention and love. Ivar can have moments of seeming to care about his brothers. Though it comes across quite creepily, Ivar seems to send Hvitserk away so that he won’t be tempted to kill the only brother he has left on his side. He flat out says that he loves him before he does so, something he’d only said to his parents up to that point. He also has a moment of remorse when he breaks down in front of Margrethe and tells her that it is hard being the son of Ragnar Lothbrok. He also is seen shedding a tear at Sigurd’s funeral, furthering the idea that he hadn’t really intended to kill Sigurd.
Ivar consistently believes he does what he had to do. There is a lot of dissonance between him and others. Many people try to define him by his disability. But this only pushes him harder to more extreme positions to prove that isn’t the case. Then the same people say he doesn’t need to try so hard, which makes him repeat their earlier words to him. This dissonance peaks when kills Sigurd with an axe in the middle of Sigurd publicly ranting about Ivar’s disability as he has done all their lives. When his brothers are furious with him, Ivar asks, “What would you have done?” None of them can provide an answer.
After invading England, Ivar develops a “God Complex,” planted in his mind by Freydis. He begins considering himself to be better than any other Viking and that he should be “King of the World.” Eventually he even begins believing he is actually a god. This delusion is shattered when his son is born handicapped.
Underneath his psychotic rage, it’s shown Ivar desperately wants a family of his own. The last thing he does before escaping Kattegat is to display his wife’s body and son’s bones on his bed. Thus, showing that what he cares about losing isn’t just his power but the family he tried to create. He chooses to leave his son to die of exposure after he is born deformed. Weirdly for Ivar this is not an act of malice, because Baldur would have been unable to feed, and Ivar can’t bear the thought of him living the same life that he did.
Ivar’s love for war is one of his greatest strengths as it allows him to unleash his wrath upon his enemies and gives him a chance to be greater than Ragnar which he dreams of being. The bloodshed he causes shows his love of killing and expresses his violent nature profoundly. Ragnar admits that Ivar is the most intelligent of his sons and is therefore the most dangerous and capable. Ragnar further admits that if Ivar can channel his anger correctly, it will make him a great leader. During the Great Heathen Army’s First Invasion, Ivar impresses his brothers and the other Vikings with his tactical acumen. His keen and strategic mind is most clearly on display during the two battles in York. Ivar has learned to suppress his constant anger and hide it from those who don’t know him well. For example, when he learns that Aslaug is dead, he doesn’t cry or strike out, instead he quietly sits while squeezing a wooden chess pieces so tightly that his hand starts to bleed. This behavior makes Ivar highly unpredictable and gives him great inner strength and ruthlessness. During battles, Ivar has nerves of steel. Numerous times he refuses to take shelter under shields like other Vikings. Instead, he stands there laughing maniacally. In almost every battle Ivar is always seen screaming at the top of his lungs. Ivar enjoys seeing people slaughtered, especially if he is the one doing it. He outright states that he likes killing when strangling Margarethe in bed. His extensive carnage and ruthlessness in York really show him having true fun torturing and murdering half the town. Ivar is also a very charismatic and capable manipulator. He convinces the Great Heathen Army to swear loyalty to him alone. He also manipulates a large portion of the Kingdom of Kattegat to give up their voting rights and to support his claim that he is a god.
Ivar and Sigurd clearly have the most antagonist relationship over all the brothers. Their relationship is clearly a Cain and Abel type with Sigurd being the unusually cruel Abel. Sigurd is always making cruel jokes about Ivar’s disability and apparent impotency. For example, Sigurd tells Ivar he has the mind of a child, and that Aslaug is the only one who ever really loved him, and she is dead now. Ivar always counters back. For example, during one their sniping matches Ivar accuses him of “offering his arse to other men.”
The two come to potentially lethal violence a few times, with them always being interrupted. This pattern happens so often that it comes to the point where it almost becomes a running joke among the brothers. Until Ivar throws his axe at Sigurd during the celebratory feast after the Sack of Winchester, and murders Sigurd because this time there was no one to catch the axe.
Sigurd appears to enjoy embarrassing and hurting Ivar’s feelings. While he is repeatedly cruel to Ivar to point of being unlikable, Sigurd’s actual criticisms of Ivar, specifically his statements that Ivar is crazy and has the mind of a child look pretty prescient after the events of Season 5. During Season 5, Ivar repeatedly showed himself to be a dangerous, savage, and unsettling villain but with some childlike qualities and behaviors. Ivar is suckered multiple times by people feeding his ego and becomes so over the top arrogant that he starts calling himself one of the Æsir.
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 for most of his life. 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. Their friendship makes sense as they are both generally considered outsiders in Kattegat. 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.
Ivar has an odd friendship with Alfred, who shows him nothing but compassion and acceptance during his time in Wessex. Just like their fathers before them, one would not expect a Viking and a Christian to get along so well, but the pair are seen happily playing chess together. When Ivar departs for home, Alfred gives him a black chess piece as a token of their friendship, something Ivar is obviously touched by.
Ivar is someone who is attracted to the crazy and cruel, which Oleg embodies in abundance. Ivar is fascinated by the Rus and befriends him. Their friendship is characterized by Oleg's drastic mood swings. He flips between berating Ivar and tearfully asking for his forgiveness. Oleg is always either over idealizing or demonizing Ivar. He also uses Ivar's confusion over whether or not Princess Katia is somehow Freydis to manipulate him. Ivar eventually finds himself conflicted over Oleg. He sees the prince as an all-powerful man, which is what Ivar wants to be, but he also sees the cruelty and evil in Oleg.
Igor inspires Ivar to change for the better and helps him mature. Their relationship is incredibly heartwarming. Ivar sees similarities between himself and the young prince, as they are both considered outcasts. Igor is the first person Ivar has felt a duty to protect. Because of Igor, Ivar begins to show signs of real compassion for the first time. While the start of their friendship might have been part of a long-term scheme on Ivar's part, which included teaching Igor that he is king of the "sky and the land," they do end up forming a true friendship. Unlike most of his previous relationships, Ivar doesn't want anything but the best for Igor, and even willingly puts himself at risk for the boy. When Oleg reprimands Igor for being playful, Igor becomes feisty and his reactions come across as suppressed anger, much like Ivar’s. Oleg thrashes Igor’s toy and becomes incredibly violent. While Ivar silently watches this all unfold without a reaction, afterwards he finds a crying Igor and consoles him. Igor is heartbroken over Ivar's departure because he has truly come to see him as a combination of a brother and father figure.
- As of the Season 2 finale, Ivar and his brothers would be known by the Old Norse title of Budlungr or "prince."
- It has been suggested that the historical Ivar suffered from a brittle bone disease which rendered his legs useless. In most modern Scandinavian languages the word for "bone" is the same as the word for "leg". The disease also causes Ivar's sclerae (the whites of the eye) to have a blueish hue. However, this is disputed, since there are bones uncovered from Derbyshire in England (where the town of Repton is situated), which are supposedly his own. The skeletal remains show a man of above-average height and size, who despite this had a healthy skeletal system.
- The King of East Anglia, Edmund the Martyr, was said to have been shot with arrows and beheaded by Ivar, as punishment for refusing to renounce Christianity. This is said to have been near the current English town of Bury St. Edmunds, which was named after him in tribute.
- Ivar is said to have been one of the first Norse kings of Dublin in Ireland.
- Ivar is accounted as being the son who defeated and blood-eagled King Aelle in retribution for his father's death.
- Due to his disease, Ivar suffers from sexual impotence, this is mentioned by Margrethe after they tried to have sex.
- The idea of a Viking being tied to a chariot to enter battle comes from the legendary Danish King Harald Wartooth, who due to his old age, was tied to a chariot at the Battle of Bråvalla in order to face his enemies.
|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|