The men we hate to love

Since The Sopranos the anti-hero has become the usual lead in many series, such as Mad Men, Breaking Bad, and others. It’s not that Tony Soprano was the first but definitely was an influencer. In Vikings and Peaky Blinders, two series with passionate and dedicated fans, it isn’t different. Both tell a family saga, full of betrayals and twists, violence, and true facts background. In this context, Ivar, the Boneless, and Thomas Shelby are “brothers”.

Ivar and Tommy are “morally challenged” men, practical and often violent. Both pursued and gained power, but are lonely and marked by tragedy. Both are the clever ones in their families, had to skip the “natural hereditary order” of things, and both had to lead their brothers into achieving things. Okay, more Tommy than Ivar, but still. Neither men have any hesitation to kill to get what they seek, doesn’t trust in anyone, not even (or even less) their own brothers. Tommy, however, is loved and admired by his kin. Ivar, not.

Ivar, the boneless is inspired by the real Viking that lived around 870 A.C. As it is in the series, there’s a version that says that he had a physical disability that justified the nickname. Historians suspect that Ivar had osteogenesis, a disease of great pain that causes the bones to be brittle.

On the Netflix/History series, the young Danish actor Alex Høgh Andersen gives life to Ivar, adored by the fans, even when the youngest of Ragnar Lothbrok behaves awfully. His worst enemy is his older brother, Bjorn Ironside, and the final season of Vikings will conclude their fight.

Tommy Shelby of Peaky Blinders is also inspired by true facts and Thomas Gilbert might have been the base of the character. The Peaky Blinders did exist in Birmingham, not quite as organized as the fiction, but beautifully dressed as they are.

Cillian Murphy shines as Tommy, as well as Andersen as Ivar. Vikings came to its conclusion in 2020, about two years before the next season of Peaky Blinders actually becomes available.


At this point, Tommy Shelby is a broken man and looks getting farther and farther from redemption. We last saw him desperate and with a gun pointed at his own head.

Vikings had also left us hanging with Ivar’s stab through Bjorn in a battle. It was shocking and settled that there was no way he would ever have any chance to find forgiveness for the most absurd killing in the series. Yet, he did. Kind of. He could not be away from the violence of the period and of his soul, but Ivar’s destiny is one of the series’ greatest moments before it ended.

Without him, there’s only Tommy for us to wonder about. 2021 looks like a long year ahead.

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