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Vikings: What Ivar's "Boneless" Nickname Really Means


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Many characters in Vikings have nicknames reflecting either physical or personality traits. Such is the case of Ivar, known as “Ivar the Boneless” – and here’s what his name really means. Created by Michael Hirst, Vikings made its debut on History Channel in 2013. Vikings was originally planned to be a miniseries, but it was a hit with critics and viewers, so it was renewed for a second season. After a couple of ups and downs, Vikings is coming to an end with its sixth season, with fans now waiting for the final batch of episodes to arrive.

Vikings has gone through a lot of changes, particularly with its main characters. The series initially focused on Ragnar Lothbrok (Travis Fimmel) and his travels and raids alongside his Viking brothers, but as time passed and the stories evolved, his sons began to take the lead. This made it easier for them to become the protagonists after Ragnar’s death in season 4, but didn’t really do much to save the series. Still, Vikings continued now with special attention on the stories of Bjorn (Alexander Ludwig) and Ivar (Alex Høgh Andersen), and this last one has a lot of history behind him, starting with his name.

Ivar Ragnarsson is best known as “Ivar the Boneless”, a name given to him by Ragnar himself. Ivar is the son of Aslaug, not Lagertha, and thus he’s Bjorn’s half-brother. Aslaug warned Ragnar they shouldn’t have sex for at least three days as she knew of a prophecy that threatened their child’s health, but Ragnar didn’t pay attention to it. Aslaug’s words were right, and their child was born with weak bones, his legs were twisted and appeared to be broken. As a result, Ragnar nicknamed him “boneless”, and along with Siggy suggested that the kid should be killed, but Aslaug refused. Ivar spent years in pain due to his condition, but he was eventually able to stand and walk on his own.

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Unlike other characters in Vikings, Ivar was based on a real person, who also had the nickname “boneless”. The real Ivar was one of the greatest Viking leaders to exist, and commander of the Great Heathen Army, a coalition of Norse warriors who came together to invade four Anglo-Saxon kingdoms. The origin of the nickname “boneless”, however, remains uncertain, as various translations and researches have thrown different results. Ivar’s nickname could have been due to brittle bone disease or even male impotence, but it might have also been simply a translation mistake, with the nickname actually being “the Hated” (which makes perfect sense).

Ivar’s nickname might also be connected to his personality, as he’s pretty unstable, sadistic, and very narcissistic, and it only takes one brief look at his actions throughout Vikings to see that “boneless” suits him quite well beyond any physical condition. Whatever Vikings has prepared for Ivar’s arc in the final episodes of the series remains to be seen, but he surely won’t change his cruel ways.

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