First on the list is, of course, the one and only Ragnar. At the start of the series - before his rise to power - Ragnar actually appears quite fresh-faced, but his look quickly changes to match his warring and pillaging ways.
In reality, actor Travis Fimmel looks completely different to his on-screen alter ego! There's no pony tail, tattoos or (thankfully) any blood spattered across his face after a particularly long battle. He's still got a bit of a beard but it's nothing compared to the one that he sports on the show.
With that in mind, we do have to give a special shout-out to just how different Travis looks when he plays the older Ragnar in later seasons. We're quite glad he doesn't sport that frazzled grey beard in real life:
Like her warrior husband Ragnar, Lagertha is well-known in the Viking world for her fighting prowess. She is also ambitious and intelligent with good looks to match - all traits which quickly earn her some awkward attention from brother-in-law Rollo! She later romances Kalf and Astrid, before taking her place as the rightful queen of Kattegat towards the end of season four.
Fans of the show have long admired Lagertha's elaborate hair and make-up, but in reality Katheryn Winnick opts for a simpler look. We don't blame her, especially since it must take a couple of hours to achieve some of those intricate braids. However, Winnick does match her on-screen alter-go in some ways - she has trained in martial arts since the age of seven, and won her first black belt at age 13. In a recent interview, Winnick stated "Like her, I refuse to play second fiddle. She won’t sit at home and take care of the kids while he goes out to explore. No way – she goes out and fights".
The mystical Floki often sports some interesting make up, whilst his famous beard has undergone several changes over the course of the series! Like Ragnar, he has also changed a lot since the start of the show, transforming from an idealistic young man to an old adventurer who is looking for a place to retire and be close to the gods. As you can tell from the photo below, in reality Gustaf looks very different to his Viking alter-ego.
In reality, Clive Standen's short hair and stubble make him look completely different from his on-screen alter-ego!
Regular viewers of the series will know that Bjorn has undergone quite the transformation since his first appearance on the show. In season one he played Ragnar's young son, before returning as a fresh-faced teenager and then finally becoming a Viking leader himself. In reality, Alexander has kept his undercut but ditched the longer ponytail and scruffy beard in favour of a more groomed look!
Halfdan was one half(!) of the Norwegian brothers who sailed to Kattegat in order to join their fellow Vikings in raiding and pillaging along the English coast. Whilst he is extremely close to his brother Harald for much of the series, Halfdan eventually forges a strong bond with Bjorn, who ends up saving his life and sailing with him around the Mediterranean Sea. Halfdan's look is very distinctive and similar to his brother Harald - both men have bright blue tattoos covering much of their face. The same can't be said of Finnish actor Jasper Pääkkönen, who looks extremely different to the Viking warrior he portrays on-screen!
Regular viewers will know that the Saxon princess Judith is often forced to wear her hair to one side. After it's revealed that she has cheated on her husband, one of Judith's ears is cut off in a very public display of humiliation. Since then the character is nearly always shown with her hairstyle elaborately held to one side so that her horrific scar is covered. Fortunately, English actress Jenni Jacques doesn't have the same problem. Apart from that small detail, she actually looks remarkably similar to her on-screen alter-ego.
Princess Aslaug is Ragnar's second wife, and mother of all his sons except Bjorn (whose mother is Lagertha). Aslaug prefers the finer things in life and is not well-loved in Kattegat, to say the least. Once Ivar is born, she neglects her other children and dotes on her disabled son, a decision which later causes a lot of resentment amongst her older sons. Like Lagertha, Aslaug often wears her hair in intricate braids which fans have frequently tried to replicate on social media, with plenty of online tutorials to choose from. As you can see from the photo below, actress Alyssa Sutherland opts for a much simpler look!
Last but not least, Harald 'Finehair' certainly lives up to his name, with a striking pony tail that he refuses to cut until he has become king. His distinctive tattoos are a trademark of his look, and are very similar in style to his younger brother Halfdan. Finnish actor Peter Franzén couldn't look more different to the Viking warrior he portrays on-screen! Check out the photo below to see Peter without his tattoos and long hair: