Who Will Survive Ragnarok?

In Norse mythology, Ragnarok, the death of the gods, is the ultimate, catastrophic event that ends the world. Loki and his children will join the fire giants and the army of Hel to fight against the Asgardian gods.

Many gods, including Loki, Thor, and Odin, will die, but a few beings will survive to repopulate a new world. 

The gods who survive Ragnarok include Thor’s sons, Magni and Modi, who’ll take up their father’s hammer after he dies.

Other survivors include Vidar, Vali, Hoenir, Njord, and Sol, the sun’s daughter. Hod and Baldr will return from Hel to fight, and two humans, Lif and Lifthrasir, will also survive.

This article will explain the Norse phenomenon of Ragnarok, including who lives and who dies, and who kills who.

It will also speculate on whether the gods can stop the cataclysmic event.

Also, see Norse Mythology vs Celtic Mythology? to learn more.

Thor's hammer
Who dies in Ragnarok? See below

What Is Ragnarok?

Ragnarok is the story of how the world ends and is reborn in Norse mythology. It’s also called the “Doom (or “Twilight”) of the Gods.”

It’s the great battle between Odin and the other Asgardian gods against Loki, his children, and their armies. Its death toll is cosmic, nearly all-encompassing.

The tale of Ragnarok appears in the Icelandic saga Voluspa. Later, Snorri Sturluson also includes it in his version of the Eddas, the Prose Edda. [1] Ragnarok’s precipitating event is Baldr’s death. 

After that, there will be a seemingly endless and deathly cold winter, and all of humankind will start fighting.

The two wolves who chase the sun and moon will catch their prey and swallow them, plunging the world into total darkness.

The life tree, Yggdrasil, will shake, sending earthquakes and other natural disasters throughout the nine worlds.

Finally, the fire giants and Hel’s dead will take advantage of these disasters and escape their realms. At that point, they’ll join Loki and his children on the march to Asgard.

Who Dies in Ragnarok?

Nearly everyone in the nine worlds will die during Ragnarok.

Fewer than ten gods will survive and only two humans. The fate of the goddesses isn’t explicitly stated in the source material, but they will likely die, as well. 

The following sections will outline some of the most notable battles and deaths during Ragnarok.

Odin Will Fight Fenrir and Lose; Fenrir Will Die at Vidar’s Hand

Odin will fight Loki’s mighty wolf son, Fenrir (or Fenris), during the battle. This battle is one that Odin will not win, nor will he survive it.

Most sources agree that Fenrir will swallow Odin, though it’s unclear if he’ll swallow him whole or devour him. 

Odin’s son, Vidar, will avenge his father’s death. His special shoes give him enormous strength, which he will use to step on Fenrir’s lower jaw, pinning him to the ground. 

Accounts differ at this point. Some say Vidar will kill Fenrir by ripping the wolf’s jaws apart with his bare hands. [2]

Others say he will stab Fenrir through the throat or slice him to pieces after pinning his lower jaw open. [3] 

One particular translation of the Poetic Edda says that Vidar stabs Fenrir through the heart: 

“Then comes Sigfather’s mighty son, Vithar, to fight with the foaming wolf; In the giant’s son does he thrust his sword Full to the heart: his father is avenged.” [4] 

Either way, Vidar will slay Fenrir shortly after Fenrir kills Odin. 

Also, see Does Norse Mythology Have Demons? to learn more.

Loki norse god
Who will kill Thor? See below

Loki and Heimdallr Will Kill Each Other

Throughout the Eddas, Loki and Heimdallr are antagonistic toward one another. They have a longstanding animosity that neither has with any of the other gods.

This hatred will end for both of them when they kill each other at Ragnarok. It’s not clear how they kill one another, only that they do.

Thor and Jormungandr Will Kill One Another

Like Loki and Heimdallr, Thor and Jormungandr will also fight and slay each other.

Their deaths happen one right after the other. Thor will kill Jormungandr with his mighty hammer, Mjolnir.

He will then take three steps and fall dead from the poison of Jormungandr’s venom. 

Tyr Will Kill Garm and Then Die From Blood Loss

The one-handed (or ‘one-armed’ in some translations) god of war, Tyr, will fight the massive guard dog of Hel, Garm. (Modern retellings of the myth call him a hellhound; it’s a fitting, if not accurate, description.)

Tyr will kill Garm. Shortly before he does, Garm will bite off Tyr’s other hand/arm.

After dealing Garm’s death blow, Tyr will bleed out and die, succumbing to his own mortal wound. 

Freyr Will Fight Surtr and Die

An earlier tale in the Eddas talks about Freyr’s magical sword – the most powerful sword in all the nine realms. He trades his sword for love, and in doing so, he seals his fate.

Had he retained his sword, he would have survived Ragnarok. Without it, he is fated to die. 

He will fight the fire giant Surtr, and Surtr will kill him. Some sources say that Freyr kills Surtr in turn, but this isn’t made clear in the source material. 

Since it’s Surtr’s fire that will set the world on fire and burn it to ash, it’s unlikely that Freyr will kill him in their battle.

Many people speculate that Surtr will burn himself to ash along with the rest of the world. 

Also, see What Is the Tesseract in Norse Mythology? to learn more.

Can Ragnarok be stopped? See below

All of Mankind Dies, Save Two

When Surtr spreads his fire across the world, he will kill all of humanity along with the gods. The only two humans who’ll survive are Lif and Lifthrasir.

They’ll hide in Hoddmimir’s Holt (sometimes called Hoddmimir’s Forest), which will be protected from Surtr’s fire. 

They’ll survive off morning dew until they can escape their hiding place and repopulate the world. [5]

Sol, the daughter of Sol, will return to the sky and light the world.

Baldr and his blind brother Hodr will return from Hel to fight on the side of Asgard, and both will survive. The other surviving gods include: 

  • Magni: Thor’s son, who will wield his hammer after his death
  • Modi: Thor’s other son. The myths are unclear whether he, too, will wield Mjolnir after Thor’s death
  • Vidar: Odin’s son
  • Vali: Odin’s son
  • Njord: Freyr and Freyja’s father
  • Hoenir: Odin’s brother

Some less reputable sources (non-scholarly websites and various individuals) claim that Ullr and Aegir will also survive Ragnarok.

Unfortunately, there is no scholarly evidence to back that up.

Can Ragnarok Be Stopped?

Ragnarok cannot be stopped. It was foretold in a prophecy and is fated to occur.

It will end the world as people know it and make room for a newer, brighter world after this one ends.

Final Thoughts

Few gods and even fewer people will survive Ragnarok. However, they’ll be enough to build a new world from the ashes of the current one.

Also, see What Is Seidr in Norse Mythology? to learn more.

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Christian Christensen

Christian started Scandinavia Facts to explore his family heritage, raise awareness of one of his academic interests as a professor, and civilly promote the region. Please see the About page for details.

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