By Maureen Lee Lenker
July 24, 2020 at 03:31 PM EDT

For many Vikings heroes, creator Michael Hirst couldn't help but put off their journeys to Valhalla.

While virtually gathering with cast members Travis Fimmel, Clive Standen, Katheryn Winnick, Alexander Ludwig, and Jordan Patrick Smith, Hirst and the actors looked back at the six seasons of the History series. The show will wrap up its run with the second half of its sixth season later this year, but many of the cast and Hirst took their virtual Comic-Can panel as an opportunity to reflect on favorite moments, the intricacies of fight scenes, and more.

Hirst also looked back at his original plans for the show and how his interactions with the cast and characters impacted the plot. Namely, there were two characters slated to die much earlier in the action whose fatal fate he couldn't help but keep postponing. Ragnar Lothbrok (Fimmel), the Viking king and legendary Norse hero, who was the core of the show from the beginning was originally slated to die at the end of season 1.

"When I was writing the show, Ragnar died at the end of season 1," Hirst said. "But actually when we were making it, I realized by the end of the season we were only on the start of Ragnar’s journey. " Ragnar ended up sticking around until the back half of season 4, before he was succeeded by his sons.

Hirst admits lots of people warned him against killing his protagonist, but since it was always part of the show's concept, it didn't present a problem beyond finding the right time in the storytelling for it to happen. "There were plenty of gloomy, doom-laden warnings that to kill off your major character will damage the show and it was a risk," he said. "But I’d sold the show on the basis of this was Ragnar Lothbrok and his sons."

Another character who received a reprieve from death not one, but three times was Harald Finehair (Peter Franzén), the warlord determined to become King of all Norway. Harald eventually achieved his goal, but he was fatally wounded in a battle at the end of the first part of season 6. "In the script, I killed [him] off three times, and couldn’t do it," Hirst recounted. "I couldn’t do it. He did lots of bad stuff that guy, but he did it so well and he had a sense of humor and I just didn’t want to lose that. There weren’t that many laughs, but he gave us most of them. And I just couldn’t do it. I just couldn’t sacrifice him."

While Winnick and Fimmel, whose characters have now died on the show, got to reminisce about their favorite experiences, Hirst also helped audiences look forward to the series finale. "The characters who we all, including me, have grown to love will all have their fates decided," he said. "Whether they live or die is of course in the hands of the gods. Though I had a hand in it too. I think the conclusion of the saga is deeply satisfying, a proper and meaningful ending. And I hope all our fans will feel the same way. I tried to do justice to all my characters and I hope I succeeded."

Watch the video above for more, including a clip from the second half of season 6.

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