Vikings vs. The Last Kingdom vs. Game of Thrones: Full Comparison

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You might be considering embarking upon an epic binge-fest, and one or more of these shows might be in your crosshairs while you might have watched one or two of the others. Or you might just be curious how Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones compare, and which one of them is ultimately the better show.

Either way, I’ve watched these shows at least twice over, and so I decided to compare them thoroughly in different categories (story, score, casting, consistency, etc.), compile all the data I could find on what critics think (IMDb, Metacritic, etc.), and decide once and for all: Who wins the battle between Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?

ℹ️ There are NO spoilers in this article, you can read on even if you haven’t seen the shows.

Vikings vs. The Last Kingdom vs. Game of Thrones: Which is Best?

Game of Thrones scores higher and is ultimately better than both Vikings and The Last Kingdom, despite an objectively disastrous ending to the show. For six seasons viewers get a gripping adaptation of GRRM’s superb A Song of Ice and Fire, with a world-class story, characters, cinematography, score, and cast.

Vikings is a better show than The Last Kingdom in my opinion, but the two are very close in quality and level of entertainment and in essence show two different sides of the Viking Age coin. Vikings is more blockbuster and epic than TLK, which comes across as more authentic and down-to-earth.

Online critics hold Game of Thrones only slightly above The Last Kingdom, which in turn scores higher than Vikings; all three ranking very high in general on critic sites and review aggregators (around 90%).

Here’s a breakdown of my own weighted scores as well as the average scores of other critics:

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
NP’s Weighted Average ScoreNordic Perspective Score
75.0%
VS
73.6%
VS
85.0%
Critics’ Total Average ScoreIMDb, Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, etc.
87.2%
VS
90.2%
VS
90.4%
How these scores where calculated
Story
7
VS
7
VS
9
Character Interest & Believability
8
VS
6
VS
10
Casting Choices & Level of Acting
8
VS
8
VS
9
Cinematography & Creativity
8
VS
7
VS
9
Soundtrack & score
7
VS
6
VS
10
Authenticity & Realism
6
VS
8
VS
7
Action Scenes
8
VS
7
VS
9
Soundtrack & score
6
VS
7
VS
8
Consistency
7
VS
8
VS
7
NP‘s Weighted ScoreSome categories have more of an impact on this score than others
75.0%
VS
73.6%
VS
85.0%


IMDb Average Rating
8.5
VS
8.4
VS
9.2
Metacritic Metascore
74
VS
78
VS
86
Metacritic User Score
8.2
VS
8.6
VS
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score
93%
VS
91%
VS
89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
85%
VS
96%
VS
85%
JustWatch Rating
92%
VS
91%
VS
98%
RatinGraph Average Rating
8.1
VS
8.9
VS
8.8
Critics’ Total Average Score
87.2%
VS
90.2%
VS
90.4%

Even before judging the shows in each category, GoT stood out to me with its ground-breaking production and delivery. It truly held the world’s attention every Sunday for all 8 seasons (despite the last two going from superb to trash real fast), and achieved a level of global success the other two shows did not.

Game of Trones fans were ultimately left disappointed though, perhaps explaining why The Last Kingdom ranked so close to GoT according to online critics. Overall I still say the story, cast, characters, creative value and setting of Game of Thrones is on a different level from Vikings and TLK, despite the disappointing ending.

Either way I was very curious to see how these three shows stacked up, so let’s dive into the categories and see how Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones compare with respect to their stories, characters, cast, cinematography, soundtrack, authenticity, action scenes, dramatic impact, and consistency:

1

Storyline (Quality & Execution)

How good is the story of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good is the story of Vikings?

Vikings is loosely based on Viking Age events and characters depicted in the Norse sagas and by historians, but the show writers made many ahistorical connections and bake together hundreds of years of events in around 30 years. While it does make for good entertainment, the story suffers a bit. Score: 7/10

How good is the story of The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom is based on the excellent The Saxon Stories, and follows the original story well. This means a solidly structured story throughout, although sometimes a bit too convenient for the main characters, and sometimes without enough time for each character to shine and develop. Score: 7/10

How good is the story of Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is based on A Song of Ice and Fire by George R. R. Martin, who was involved for the first six seasons. GRRM’s story is a modern fantasy masterpiece, up there with the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the show did it justice while he was involved. When he wasn’t, it suffered greatly. Score: 8/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Story Score
6
VS
6
VS
8

Which has the better story; Vikings, The Last Kingdom, or Game of Thrones?

Despite the nose-dive in quality of the final few Game of Thrones seasons, it still has a better story than Vikings and The Last Kingdom due to the sheer level of George R. R. Martin’s writing. The story of Vikings is great for 4/6 seasons, while TLK holds up better in the long run with a slightly less gripping story.


2

Character Interest & Believability

How good are the characters in Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good are the characters in Vikings?

Vikings features one of the best lead characters in TV (Ragnar Lothbrok portrayed by Travis Kimmel), backed up by a handful of other interesting characters who you become invested in over the seasons. Other regular characters come across as less believable and interesting. Score: 8/10

How good are the characters in The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom is The Uthred Show and almost entirely center around him over the four seasons, with some exceptions (i.e. Alfred, Beocca). Uthred is an intriguing character (not quite reaching Ragnar Lothbrok levels) but the supporting characters feel underdeveloped. Score: 7/10

How good are the characters in Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones features so many characters that have found their way into millions of hearts and minds, both from the books and the show. The show-makers initially did a terrific job adapting them to the screen, but also made some dubious choices for the later half of the show. Score: 9/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Character Interest & Believability
8
VS
7
VS
9

Which has the better characters; Vikings, The Last Kingdom, or Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones has better characters overall than Vikings and The Last Kingdom, which isn’t surprising as it’s a character-driven story written from individual perspectives. The many iconic characters of GoT can be rivaled by Vikings to a certain extent, but TLK doesn’t quite reach those levels.


3

Casting Choices & Level of Acting

How good is the cast of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good is the cast of Vikings?

Vikings did a great job casting in the first three seasons, absolutely nailing Ragnar as the main protagonist, as well as Floki, Rollo, Lagertha, and Björn (to name a few). Many Vikings are actual Scandinavians, which saves the later sub-par casting choices (i.e. Ragnar’s sons) a little bit. Score: 7/10″}

How good is the cast of The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom made some great casting choices for key characters such as Uthred, Beocca, and King Alfred. Many of the Danes are played by actual Scandinavians, which adds to the authenticity and believability of the characters. Score: 7/10

How good is the cast of Game of Thrones?

The Game of Thrones casting choices were mostly legendary (at least early on), with the likes of Jon, Sam, Ned, Baelish, Arya, and many more. On the other hand, the casting of Robert Baratheon, Daario x2, Euron, Manse, and flashback-Rhaegar are all examples that were sub-par. Score: 8/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Casting Choices & Level of Acting
7
VS
7
VS
9

4

Cinematography & Creativity

How good is the cinematography of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good is the cinematography of Vikings?

Vikings features tons of epic scenes that fires on all the blockbuster cylinders with clever techniques that woos the audience aplenty. This presents an intriguing, expressive, and mystical Viking world for us to enjoy. Although some of the cinematic elements tend to feel over the top. Score: 8/10

How good is the cinematography of The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom delivers a high level of cinematography creating an authentic image of Viking Age England, but as it is entirely centered around the Saxon-Dane conflict it tends to get repetitive from time to time. Score: 7/10

How good is the cinematography of Game of Thrones?

The level of cinematography in Game of Thrones is up there with the best as far as TV goes. Some of the episodes are nothing short of cinematographic masterpieces, and where it not for a couple of deep-dives in quality toward the end, it would’ve been a perfect score. Score: 9/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Cinematography & Creativity
8
VS
7
VS
9

5

Soundtrack & Score

How good is the soundtrack of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good is the soundtrack of Vikings?

The Vikings main theme and overall score is phenomenal, and really halps capturing the intriguing and mystic side of the Norse world in Vikings. Many musical elements feel unique and very fitting as well, which helps the overall creative value immensely in shows like this. Score: 8/10

How good is the soundtrack of The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom soundtrack and score doesn’t stand out in many ways, but it still delivers a high level throughout the show. It doesn’t stand out in any negative ways, but perhaps not in many positive either in the end. Score: 7/10

How good is the soundtrack of Game of Thrones?

There are few TV scores that can beat that of Game of Thrones. Ramin Djawadi created countless iconic songs that are etched into our minds forever. Viewers are treated to music performed in the show by the likes of Sigur Ros, Coldplay, and Ed Sheeran – which should give you a good idea. Score: 10/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Soundtrack & score
8
VS
7
VS
10

6

Authenticity & Realism

How authentic does Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones feel?
How authentic is Vikings?

Vikings might draw inspiration from historical events, but it does not claim to be an accurate representation of the time period. This is a show meant to entertain first and educate second, with loads of compromises in favor of looking cool (hair styles, costumes, etc.) rather than authentic. Score: 5/10

How authentic is The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom isn’t a reliable history source, but it has received praise from historians for accuracy. Especially for certain portrayals (King Alfred, Aethelflaed), referring to the Norse invaders and settlers as Danes more than Vikings, as well as general events, terms, and looks. Score: 8/10

How authentic is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones provided an authentic portrayal of the ASOIAF story and characters for the first five seasons. As the last two seasons aren’t based on actual books it’s hard to judge the accuracy of those, but fans of the books would say they likely are not very accurate at all to the canon. Score: 7/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Authenticity & Realism
5
VS
8
VS
7

7

Action Scenes

How good are the action scenes of Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good are the action scenes in Vikings?

Vikings features plenty of epic Norse brawls that can get anyone’s blood pumping, with a level of action that is comparable to the best of theatrical releases. Favorite scenes include the siege of Paris and the battle against King Aelle, while other scenes bring down the score slightly. Score: 8/10

How good are the action scenes in The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom offers more than a few grand battles between the Danes and the Saxons and the level of action does not disappoint. Viewers are treated to exciting duels as well as historical details, that bring a fresh perspective to medieval-style sword battles. Score: 7/10

How good are the action scenes in Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones produced what is likely some of the best action scenes and battles we’ve yet to see on TV, including The Battle of the Bastards which simply left me in awe. Some later scenes fail to impress (i.e. The Battle of Winterfell), bringing the score down slightly. Score: 9/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Action Scenes
8
VS
7
VS
9

8

Dramatic Impact

How dramatic is Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?
How good is the drama in Vikings?

Vikings isn’t known for its dramatic flair, and the show sometimes struggles to engage viewers in the relationships between the characters. There are some dramatic elements that hit home and some really exciting twists, but the drama ultimately takes the backseat to the action in this show. Score: 6/10

How good is the drama in The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom succeeds in building and telling some heartfelt stories over the seasons, and there are more than a few dramatic twists that feel on point and not too obvious. That said, some of the drama can feel manufactured at times, and prevents the show from reaching higher scores. Score: 7/10

How good is the drama in Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones has defined what constitutes great TV drama for many, building on GRRM’s superb comprehension of human relationships, secret schemes, rivaling factions, and hunger for power. Until the last few seasons, when all of this seems to have been forgotten in a haste. Score: 8/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Soundtrack & score
6
VS
7
VS
8

9

Consistency

How consistent is Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?

Note: No data for ‘The Last Kingdom’ Seasons 5–8, ‘Vikings’ Seasons 7–8. Source: IMDb

How consistent is Vikings?

Vikings is consistently improving from seasons 1 to 4. However, after season 4 the show hits a sharp decline that doesn’t really recover, leaving viewers wondering what could’ve been. Score: 6/10

How consistent is The Last Kingdom?

The Last Kingdom only gets better as the show progress through the Danish-Saxon conflicts in Britain, and although we have yet to see how the last season (and subsequent movie) will turn out, few shows can deliver this type of consistency. Score: 9/10

How consistent is Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is world-renown for how inconsistent the last few seasons of the show was, hurting an otherwise VERY impressive improvement from season to season in the majority of the show’s life. Fans were ultimately left disappointed with the ending of an otherwise superb series. Score: 7/10

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
Consistency
6
VS
9
VS
7

10

Final Weighted Score

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
NP‘s Weighted ScoreSome categories have more of an impact on this score than othersWhis is ultimately better; Vikings, The Last Kingdom, or Game of Thrones?
69%
VS
71%
VS
86%


Average Ratings From Online Critics (Vikings vs. The Last Kingdom vs. Game of Thrones)

Vikings
VS
The Last Kingdom
VS
Game of Thrones
IMDb Average RatingAverage rating as seen on the shows main page on IMDb.com
8.5
VS
8.4
VS
9.2
Metacritic MetascoreAverate Critic Rating on MetaCritic.com
74
VS
78
VS
86
Metacritic User ScoreAverate Critic Rating on MetaCritic.com
8.2
VS
8.6
VS
7.5
Rotten Tomatoes Critic ScoreAverage Tomatometer on RottenTomatoes.com
93%
VS
91%
VS
89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience ScoreAverage Audience Score on RottenTomatoes.com
85%
VS
96%
VS
85%
JustWatch RatingAverage Rating on JustWatch.com
92%
VS
91%
VS
98%
RatinGraph Average RatingAverage Rating on RatinGraph.com
8.1
VS
8.9
VS
8.8
Critic’s Total AverageTotal Average Score
87.2%
VS
90.2%
VS
90.4%

How does online critics rate Vikings, The Last Kingdom, and Game of Thrones?

Game of Thrones is rated slightly higher overall (90.4%) than The Last Kingdom (90.2%) by online critics, while Vikings receive the lowest average critic score (87.2%) of the three. Game of Thrones also takes the top spot of the three on IMDb and Metacritic, the two most reliable sources in my experience.

Users who have rated the shows on Metacritic, Rotten Tomatoes, and Ratingraph seem to prefer The Last Kingdom by a wide margin, while JustWatch users lean heavily towards Game of Thrones. The only rating that goes in the favor of Vikings is Rotten Tomatoes’ Critic Score.

This essentially means Vikings received a positive critic review more often than the other two, but it does not take into account what the review score or rating was other than that. This is why the show ultimately ranks the lowest overall out of the three.

Here’s how this looks on a graph:

Show Data Table

Average Rating Comparison Table (Vikings vs. The Last Kingdom vs. Game of Thrones

VikingsThe Last KingdomGame of Thrones
IMDb Average Rating8.58.49.2
Metacritic Metascore747885
Metacritic User Score8.28.67.5
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score93%91%89%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score85%96%85%
JustWatch Rating92%91%98%
RatinGraph Average Rating8.18.98.8
Total Average Score87.2%90.2%90.4%

So we’ve looked at what the critics and the data say and how the shows compare, now here’s a summary for each show individually:

Vikings Ratings Summary

8.7Expert Score
How Vikings Rate on Different Critic Sites
Average rating across different media rating services for History Channel’s ‘Vikings’.
IMDb rating
8.5
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score
9.3
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
8.5
JustWatch
9.2
Ratingraph
8.1
Positives
  • The acting is generally excellent
  • The story is exciting and gripping
  • The soundtrack is fitting and projects an intriguing, mystic mood.
  • Main characters are interesting and well-developed
  • Suffers in the last few seasons
  • Too many historical shortcuts and compromises
  • Casting in the later part of the show is questionable

The Last Kingdom Ratings Summary

9Expert Score
How The Last Kingdom Rates on Different Critic Sites
Average viewer rating across different media rating services for the TV series The Last Kingdom.
IMDb rating
8.4
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score
9.1
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
9.6
JustWatch
9.1
Ratingraph
8.9
Positives
  • Has great customes and authentic setting
  • Doesn’t go overboard (i.e. Vikings)
  • Easier to follow than GoT
  • Feels real and gritty
  • Believable characters and good acting
  • The plot armor is a bit too strong
  • Main character finds himself in many “convenient” situations
  • Spends too little time building up events and characters
  • Villains die a bit too easy

Game of Thrones Ratings Summary

9Expert Score
How Game of Thrones <meta charset="utf-8">Rates on Different Critic Sites
Average viewer rating across different media rating services for the TV series Game of Thrones.
IMDb rating
9.2
Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score
8.9
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score
8.5
JustWatch
9.8
Ratingraph
8.8
Positives
  • Iconic characters & story
  • Excellent acting
  • World-class cinematography, action & drama
  • Unpredictable and suprising
  • Well-developed character arcs
  • The last two seasons are garbage compared to the preceding ones
  • Some characters are omitted or simply ignored compared to the books
  • So. Many. Characters. Hard to keep track of them all!

Sources:

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt2306299

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt4179452

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0944947/

https://www.metacritic.com/tv/vikings

https://www.metacritic.com/tv/the-last-kingdom

https://www.metacritic.com/tv/game-of-thrones

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/vikings_2013

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/the_last_kingdom

https://www.rottentomatoes.com/tv/game_of_thrones

https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/vikings

https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/the-last-kingdom

https://www.justwatch.com/us/tv-show/game-of-thrones

https://www.ratingraph.com/tv-shows/vikings-ratings-44473/

https://www.ratingraph.com/tv-shows/the-last-kingdom-ratings-54396/

https://www.ratingraph.com/tv-shows/game-of-thrones-ratings-26649/

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By Karl Andersson

As a native Swede with a Finnish mother, Karl identifies as both Nordic and Scandinavian. He left Sweden at 19 to explore the world, and stayed abroad for almost 8 years—during which he backpacked, worked every job there was, earned a degree from UC Berkeley, and met the future mother of his children. He ultimately returned to his native Malmö with his love, where they now have 3 Swedish-American boys eager to explore the world.

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