The series Vikings ended this past December after 6 action-packed, brutal seasons. In it, Katheryn Winnick plays the incredibly fierce woman warrior Lagertha and in the first half of the final season -- before the series hopped from History to Amazon -- she met her abrupt and vicious end. I'm about to get into specific spoilers, but Winnick’s character was stabbed numerous times by her stepson, and while her overkilled exit from the show may have come as a big shock to the show’s viewers, it was less so for the actress.
Actually, her exit from Vikings wasn’t a shock at all to the actress. Katheryn Winnick apparently always knew she was going to be leaving the show, and didn’t think her character would even make it to the last season. In an interview with NME, Winnick said that she thought Lagertha would exit the show in the fourth season. In her own words:
I thought I was going to go in Season 4 when the show became more about Ragnar’s sons, but they convinced me to stay on with the offer of directing an episode. I really wanted to direct, and I didn’t want to be in the episode I was directing, so it was time to say goodbye. Leaving was always, always, always part of the plan.
Lagertha’s death was prophesied to come about from one of Ragnar’s sons, so it makes sense that Katheryn Winnick felt that Season 4, which is heavy with the foretold source of Lagertha’s demise, would be when she would take her leave. While her death does come from one of his sons, who was dealing with hallucinations at the time and only killed Lagertha by accident, it doesn’t come until seasons after the prophesy was initially made.
Katheryn Winnick did return after she was killed off of Vikings to direct the episode “Valhalla Can Wait," which is two episodes after her big death scene. Considering she got the directing opportunity and that she knew she was going to be killed off the History series for a while prior to the moment actually coming on set, Winnick said in the same interview that she was not at all upset about being written off the show and had been in contact with series creator Michael Hirst about Lagertha's future for a while.
I wasn’t upset when I was told I was getting written out. We’d been talking about it for a while. If anything, I was like: ‘When am I gonna go?!’
Although you wouldn’t know it from her killer performance, Vikings was Katheryn Winnick’s first major role. She had roles in a number of shows, like Oz and Criminal Minds, before landing Vikings, but a lot of them were one-offs. She’s seen a good amount of success since first portraying Lagertha, securing roles in big films like The Dark Tower and The Marksman. Since leaving the show, she has starred in another notable series, Big Sky.
Although Katheryn Winnick won’t be joining the Viking’s prequel spinoff Vikings: Valhalla, you can catch her on her new series Big Sky, which is still currently in its first season. The new series is seeing good ratings and has secured more episodes for its first season, which makes a potential second season promising. Winnick’s investigator character on Big Sky may be a far cry from Lagertha, but that just means we may not have to see such a violent exit when Winnick’s time on the new show comes to an end. (Well, maybe.)