'Vikings' Scores Early Season 6 Renewal at History

Courtesy of History Channel

Arguably the most shocking death in the show's entire run thus far, leading man Ragnar was killed off midway through season four. But even in his final moments, Ragnar found a way to die on his own terms. After he and his men were marooned during a trip to Wessex to get revenge on King Ecbert, Ragnar struck a deal with his archenemy to save his son's life. Although Ragnar publicly told Ecbert he would tell his sons to seek revenge with instead with King Aelle, Ragnar secretly told his son to target Ecbert right before he was dropped into a pit of poisonous snakes.

History continues to show faith in Vikings.

The A&E Networks-owned cabler has handed out an early, 20-episode season six renewal for the drama from showrunner and creator Michael Hirst. Additionally, series regular Katheryn Winnick will make her directorial debut and helm an episode during season six. Production is set to begin in the fall in Ireland.

Vikings has creatively sailed to monumental lengths. The series has evolved from early raids in England, to the heart-stopping death of Ragnar Lothbrok, to the fierce battles of the Great Heathen Army, and now we’ll see the sons of Ragnar exploring and conquering the known world,” new History executive vp programming Eli Lehrer said Tuesday in a statement. “Michael Hirst has only scratched the surface of his epic saga. We look forward to continuing our partnership with one of the greatest writers in this era of Peak TV and entertaining our viewers with 40 new episodes over the next two seasons.”

The news comes more than two months ahead of the Nov. 29 season five premiere of the drama. The second 10-episode half of season five will air in 2018.

Season four of Vikings averaged 7.8 million viewers per episode when factoring in seven days of delayed viewing.

"It has been my pleasure and my privilege to work with History and our partner MGM over five seasons and 69 episodes of Vikings. Now we are ready to begin production of a 20-episode season six that will deliver a huge and unexpected revelation to our audience,” said Hirst. “There are many reasons why I love this show, not least for the commitment and creativity of everyone involved in making it, but perhaps even more important is the spirit that drives this production — one of the happiest, most collaborative and most authentic productions I have ever been involved with. And so we sail on."

Season five comes as Vikings said farewell to a number of series regulars in season four, including leading man Travis Fimmel and longtime character Maude Hirst, among others. Jonathan Rhys Meyers (The Tudors) recently boarded the show to help offset some of the departures.

Vikings is the anchor on History's original scripted roster, which also includes military drama Six