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The 20 Best Walking Dead Characters


The 20 Best Walking Dead Characters


Summary

  • The best Walking Dead characters were survivors and villains who could both kill and be killed, but what made them great was their ability to evoke care or hatred from viewers.
  • The popularity of The Walking Dead and its spin-off shows is largely due to the amazing characters introduced in the series, such as Sasha, Rosita, The Governor, Glenn, Maggie, and Carol.
  • These characters have complex and evolving storylines, demonstrating traits like compassion, humor, bravery, and loyalty, which made them fan favorites and some of the best Walking Dead characters in the show’s history.



The best Walking Dead characters were survivors and villains who proved that they could hold their own in a world that had fallen into chaos. They survived a zombie apocalypse and could defend against the worst humanity had to offer. However, what made these characters great wasn’t just their ability to kill or be killed. The Walking Dead characters could make viewers at home care about them and either want them to succeed and live to fight another day or make viewers hate them so much that they want to see them die in the most gruesome way possible.

The Walking Dead premiered in 2010 on AMC, a zombie television series based on a popular comic book series by Robert Kirkman. Soon, the story of Rick Grimes and his ragtag group of survivors outgrew even the popularity of the comics and became a worldwide phenomenon that spawned spin-off Walking Dead shows. Even with the main series concluded, more shows are coming, and that is, in large part, due to the amazing characters introduced in the show.


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20 Tyreese Williams

Played by Chad Coleman

Tyreese, AKA Ty, joins the main group alongside his sister Sasha in season three and quickly becomes a fan favorite. Ty provides a voice of compassion in a world ravaged by fear and violence. Ty can hold his own when push comes to shove, but he consistently chooses a path of kindness and forgiveness when possible. He’s also the only reason baby Judith survives the Governor’s prison attack in season 4.

Tyreese is much more active and willing to fight when needed.


Fans mourned his death in season 5, although fans of the source material knew that he wasn’t anywhere near as great as his comic book counterpart. In the comics, Tyreese is much more active and willing to fight when needed. He replaced Shane in the comics as Rick’s right-hand man, but that was a role Daryl took on in the TV show. While the violent and destructive Tyreese from the books never made it into the TV show, the passive and peace-minded version still won over fans.

19 Jesus Rovia

Played by Tom Payne


Jesus has one of the best Walking Dead characters’ introductions in the series, which is only a fraction of why fans love him. He can trick seasoned apocalyptic survivors Rick and Daryl and steal their supply truck. He also saves them from Walkers, showing he is not a bad guy. A member of the Hilltop community, Jesus becomes their leader following Maggie’s departure but maintains close friendships in other communities and shows mercy to those who moved against them.

His compassion, sense of humor, and talent for theft made Jesus a fan favorite early in his time on the show. However, his time on the show ended when The Whisperers killed him, which changed his story arc in the comics. Jesus survived to the end in the comics and was one of the strongest and most reliable warriors the books ever introduced. The TV show barely touched on his might in a fight, and he was pushed aside after his great introduction while still somehow capturing fans’ hearts anyway.


18 Sasha Williams

Played by Sonequa Martin-Green

When she debuted, fans didn’t love Sasha. Cold and distant, she treats others terribly. She is also reckless and hot-headed, sometimes causing the group to fall apart. Sasha also falls into a black hole of despair after Bob dies and then worse when her brother Tyreese dies. However, that makes her more complex than other warriors on the show, and she only grows stronger and more determined to gain revenge against anyone who threatens her people.

Her status as one of the best Walking Dead characters is cemented when she takes her own life, knowing that Negan would be the first to find her, and she could possibly take him out as a Walker. This shocked Negan and showed that Sasha was willing to die to bring down the person she felt was the worst enemy of the survivors. The fact that she failed and Negan made it out alive doesn’t discount the fact that she died a warrior’s death and almost killed the baddest of the bad.


17 Rosita Espinosa

Played by Christian Serratos

Rosita becoming a fan favorite would surprise fans who were watching when Christian Serratos first joined the series in the fourth season. Many fans saw Rosita, at the time, as little more than Abraham’s love interest. Over time, however, Rosita’s difficult life and background come to light, and she becomes a fierce protector of the community she helps build. She also becomes a complex character who navigates her friendship with Eugene with her desire to move on from him.


A fighter, a mother, and a woman always looking for a logical solution to a problem, Rosita grows into one of the most loved Walking Dead characters in the TV series, making Rosita’s Walking Dead fate all the more depressing. The fact that she covered up the fact that she knew she was going to die after getting bitten so that she could help her fellow survivors bring down the Commonwealth’s oppressive government showed how powerful of a woman Rosita really was.

16 Gabriel Stokes

Played by Seth Gilliam

Father Gabriel was a low-key villain at first. He betrayed his congregation and allowed them to be consumed by Walkers while he hid in his church. He tries to betray Rick and his friends more than once. He is a coward and a liar, but eventually, he chooses to fight and carries his own weight. He proves his loyalty, and he works alongside the survivors to create a new world.


Father Gabriel ended up as one of the best Walking Dead characters on the show by the end, proving he belonged despite all the mistakes he made along the way. It took a long time for fans to come around. In the comics, his death seems satisfactory, thanks to all the evil things he did during his time in the storyline. However, he survived the TV show’s finale, which made fans happy because he showed that second chances were possible, and he rehabilitated his reputation and became a hero.

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15 Morgan Jones

Played by Lennie James


Whether fans love Morgan depends on the story arc, but there’s no denying he’s one of the best Walking Dead characters in the franchise. He’s one of the characters to appear in both The Walking Dead and its spin-off, Fear The Walking Dead, and he was the first to do so. Morgan alternating between using violence as a way to solve every problem and being a complete pacifist is one of the things that makes him so interesting.

He goes through several changes in the series, but he’s always a bit of a philosopher, trying to figure out his place in the world. He lost his way a little when he became a complete pacifist, but he soon learned there was a line he had to cross at times to protect those around him. He finally left Fear the Walking Dead before its finale, and he left fans hoping he would one day meet up with Rick Grimes once again, helping tie the first season of The Walking Dead to its story’s end.


14 Eugene Porter

Played by Josh McDermitt

Eugene Porter is an interesting character. For many years, he was one of the most hated good guys. However, he is also complex, making him one of the best Walking Dead characters. At the start, he is a liar, a coward, and a liability. He should have died more than once and gotten some good people killed in his place. He gave Abraham false hope of a cure based on lies and then showed cowardly actions every time the group faced danger. He was a liability.

He had similar changes in the comics, but Eugene Porter had a character development on the TV show that stands above almost anyone else in the franchise.


However, by the end, Eugene had become an integral part of the group’s survival and someone that fans found themselves somehow cheering for. His final moments with Rosita still bring tears. The fact that his survival and resolution of happiness and love show how drastic his change in the Walking Dead saga turned out to be. He had similar changes in the comics, but Eugene Porter had a character development on the TV show that stands above almost anyone else in the franchise.

13 The Governor

Played by David Morrissey


The Governor is an evil man and someone that fans hate. Every story needs a great villain, and that is what makes The Governor one of the best Walking Dead characters in the show’s history. The comic book version was vile, and while fans hated him, it wasn’t the same as the TV show’s version. The comic version was a disgusting person who deserved a terrible death. David Morrissey brought something to the character that made him a lot more interesting and impactful than the comic version.

The Governor almost made one of the show’s most hated characters (Andrea) actually interesting and made her someone to root for after fans almost wished for her death for the first two seasons. The Governor in the TV show did bad things, but they were not as vile as what the comic book version did, and that helped make him a more charismatic villain. Even after killing fan-favorite Hershel, fans still wanted to see more of The Governor, and they got that in a spin-off novel.


12 Carl Grimes

Played by Chandler Riggs

Like Rosita, Carl was not initially beloved. Rick and Lori’s son, Carl, was among the longest-appearing characters. In the early seasons, his tendency to get into the middle of trouble at every opportunity annoyed the audience. However, Carl grows up fast when he has to help deliver his baby sister and watch his mother’s death. Looking after her and making sure she survives becomes his mission. He becomes a surprising bridge between his father’s group and other groups, specifically Negan.


When Carl sacrifices himself following a Walker bite, so his family can survive, the audience misses the person he became, not the child he started as. Carl’s optimism was something that Rick had started to lose, and he was the person that people could relate to better on the TV show. In the comics, Carl survived to the end, and the comics were the story he was telling his daughter. In the TV show, he died, and it was his sister Judith (who died in the comics) who got that moment at the end.

11 King Ezekiel

Played by Khary Payton

Before Ezekiel debuted, there was much anticipation for the character’s arrival. Ezekiel’s Kingdom became one of the most interesting communities in the series very quickly, as fans were fascinated with how they operated. As the series continued, Ezekiel’s chemistry with so many characters made him a fan favorite. Watching his scenes can bring plenty of humor or plenty of drama, depending on the episode in question, and Kary Payton always delivers.


It’s hard not to love a leader who cares about his people. He became so popular that he survived his fate in the comics. In the books, he was one of the heads on the pikes during the Whisperer’s War. However, the TV show emphasized that Ezekiel was too important for this fate. He survived to the very end of The Walking Dead, and in the flash forward, it was shown he was the new Commonwealth leader (instead of Maggie), and this character deserved that moment above anyone else.

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10 Abraham Ford

Played by Michael Cudlitz


Abraham is first introduced to the show in season 4. Previously a Sergeant for the US Army, Abraham is loud, humorously obnoxious, and a stubborn brute force to be reckoned with. He also struggles with a deep sense of hopelessness, brought on by a combination of unresolved PTSD and the death of his family, which makes his character more complex than he may first appear.

Much to fans’ heartbreak, right as Abraham finds a renewed sense of hope, he meets his fate, unflinching, head held high, looking Negan straight in the eyes. This didn’t happen in the comics, but Abraham actually survived longer than he did in the books. In the comics, he took the arrow to the eye that killed Denise, and then the TV show used his death at Negan’s hands as a red herring that made it look like Glenn might survive. A lot of viewers hated losing Abraham just as a way to make Glenn’s death more shocking.


9 Shane Walsh

Played by Jon Bernthal

Shane Walsh was the show’s first villain and remains one of the best Walking Dead characters. Before the zombie apocalypse, Shane was Rick’s best friend, and he made it his duty to protect Rick’s family while he was in a coma. Shane fell in love with Rick’s wife, Lori, and the two had a relationship before Rick turned up, and Lori returned to her husband.

Shane died quicker in the comics, but his popularity meant he made it to season 2. The show also changed Shane’s death and had Rick kill his friend to protect himself and his people. In the comics, Shane is about to kill Rick when Carl shoots and kills Shane to save his dad. This change allowed Carl to remain a little more innocent for a bit longer on TV, but it also helped Rick deal with the first villain in the series firsthand, even if it did cost the show one of its best characters.


8 Hershel Greene

Played by Scott Wilson

Hershel joins the show in season 2 alongside his daughters Maggie and Beth, as well as short-timers Otis, Patricia, and Jimmy. He allows Rick’s group to camp on his farm while he tends to Carl after Otis accidentally shoots the boy while hunting. A man of faith, Hershel is initially convinced that the Walkers can be cured, and takes to corralling stray Walkers, (and his undead wife), into his barn for safekeeping.

Eventually, Hershel is forced to see the hard truth, and events lead him to become one of Rick’s most trusted advisors and the closest thing the group has to a doctor, as he was a veterinarian pre-apocalypse. He was also the kindest survivor on the show, solidifying his spot as one of the best Walking Dead characters for most fans. It was a huge blow to the group and fans when Hershel died a most heroic death at the hands of The Governor in season 4.


7 Glenn Rhee

Played by Steven Yeun

Glenn is clever, kind, and a bit of a daredevil. He’s first introduced in season 1, episode 2, when he saves Rick from a swarm of walkers. Always a fan favorite, his quick thinking, compassion, humor, and optimism make Glenn a breath of fresh air in an otherwise suffocating situation. His blossoming and eventually fully realized relationship with Maggie was a romantic focal point for many show’s viewers. This couple proved that there could be a future in the zombie apocalypse.


This played a big part in making his brutal death at the hands of Negan in season 7 arguably the most traumatizing death that the show has ever produced. Always a loyal, trustworthy, and dependable member of the group, Glenn will forever hold a special place in the hearts of fans as one of the best Walking Dead characters in the show’s 11 seasons. His death also drove many viewers away from the show, both because of the sad loss and the brutality of the murder.

6 Maggie Greene

Played by Lauren Cohan

Maggie has survived The Walking Dead since season 2. She’s first introduced to fans when Rick and his group stumble upon her family’s farm. When the farm catches fire and is overrun by walkers, Maggie flees with the group alongside her father, Hershel, and sister, Beth. Maggie is quick-thinking, strong-willed, loyal, and fair, with a keen sense of survival.


Maggie left the group (and the show) in season 9, shortly after Rick decided to spare Negan, a decision Maggie could not abide, given what Negan did to her husband, Glenn. Fans greatly felt her absence and were thrilled to see her return at the end of season 10, returning one of the best Walking Dead characters to the show. There’s still a lot to unpack with Maggie, as she and Negan appeared in The Walking Dead: Dead City. She showed she was still ruthless and never got over Glenn’s death.

5 Negan Smith

Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan


For fans of the show, it’s likely unsurprising that this devilishly charming villain went from one of the most hated to one of the best Walking Dead characters on the entire show. There’s no denying that his horrifically violent actions in season 7 produced some of the most gut-wrenching, soul-crushing scenes in the show, and yet Negan, as portrayed by Jeffery Dean Morgan, is arguably the most charismatic, sometimes even comical character on The Walking Dead.

That, mixed with his emotionally complex past and his seemingly genuine concern for Carl and Judith, is enough to leave anyone feeling confused over whether they love to hate him or hate to love him. Negan might do horrible things in the show, and fans will never forgive him for taking out Glenn, but he’s fascinating to watch. He became more sympathetic when he showed up in The Walking Dead: Dead City while proving he was still a deadly warrior who now fights to protect others.


4 Carol Peletier

Played by Melissa McBride

Carol is one of the two remaining characters from season 1 in the final season of The Walking Dead. Carol is introduced to fans as the protective mother of a young girl, Sophia, and the wife of an abusive man, Ed. Much to the relief of Carol and her fans, her husband dies early on, giving her character room to breathe. The death of her daughter, Sophia, is one of the first character deaths to have fans reaching for the tissue box.

It becomes a defining moment for Carol, pushing her to become a hardened, sometimes manipulative survivor. Carol is capable of being ruthless, especially if she feels it’s necessary to protect her loved ones. She’s deeply wounded by loss, which often causes her to push those closest to her away. Still, despite her best efforts to repress how much she cares, she’s heavily influenced by her loyalty to those she considers family, easily one of the best Walking Dead characters on the show.


3 Michonne Hawthorne

Played by Danai Gurira

Michonne has one of the most mysterious introductions to the show. She’s first introduced at the very end of season 2, as a cloaked figure with a katana and a couple of leashed walkers, who saves Andrea from an attacking walker. At first, Michonne seems stoic, hardened, and pragmatic, but as she settles in with the group and begins to let her guard down, deeper layers reveal her as a warm and caring person. This led to her beautiful romance with Rick Grimes.


She’s fiercely loyal, a true warrior with a sword, and will fight passionately for those she loves. Still alive, she left the group and the show in season 10 in search of her romantic partner, Rick, after discovering he may still be alive. She appeared in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, reuniting with Rick. They battled — and defeated — the CRM, a group that was systematically killing people all over the country in an attempt to maintain complete control over the United States.

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2 Rick Grimes

Played by Andrew Lincoln


Rick is arguably the show’s main character and the group’s leader until leaving the show in season 9. Rick is the very first character introduced, as the show begins with him waking up in a hospital bed, alone, dehydrated, and soon to discover the world has been overrun by the undead and his loved ones are missing. Being a sheriff’s deputy, he’s already equipped with some useful survival skills, and he eventually finds his wife, son, and best friend amid a group of survivors.

From then on, Rick becomes the natural leader of the group, forcing him into any number of moral dilemmas as he takes on the responsibility of keeping everyone alive. Often faced with situations where violence is the only recourse, Rick does his best to navigate his group through the challenges of a post-apocalyptic world while maintaining some semblance of a moral compass.


In season 9, Rick is caught in an explosion, and the group believes he has been killed. Fans, however, knew better. He returned in The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live, where he and Michonne team up to bring down the evil CRM. The miniseries proved that fans were more than ready to see Rick back, as he remains one of the best characters in the show’s history.

1 Daryl Dixon

Played by Norman Reedus

Daryl wasn’t even a character in the comics, yet he became one of the best Walking Dead characters, if not the best. Starting off in season 1 as a hot-headed, crossbow-wielding, thorn-in-Ricks-side, Daryl is arguably one of the most transformed characters in The Walking Dead. Fans are first introduced to his softer side in season 2, and over time, Daryl learns to deal with the anger he carries from surviving an abusive childhood, and he grows into a respected and relied-upon member of the group.


A smart, observant, capable survivor and tracker, it’s no surprise Daryl received a spin-off show once The Walking Dead ended at the end of its 11th season. Fans can’t get enough of Daryl Dixon, which they proved when they turned in to The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, a show that saw him end up in Paris where he battled new threats to humanity in the form of more Walkers and a new group that thinks it knows what is best concerning controlling he world.

  • The Walking Dead Season 11 Poster

    The Walking Dead

    Based on one of the most successful and popular comic books of all time, AMC’s The Walking Dead captures the ongoing human drama following a zombie apocalypse. The series, developed for television by Frank Darabont, follows a group of survivors, led by police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), who are traveling in search of a safe and secure home. However, instead of the zombies, it is the living who remain that truly become the walking dead. The Walking Dead lasted for eleven seasons and spawned several spinoff shows, such as Fear the Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond.
     

    Cast
    Steven Yeun , Andrew Lincoln , Chandler Riggs , Laurie Holden , Jeffrey DeMunn , Sarah Wayne Callies , Melissa McBride , Norman Reedus , Jon Bernthal , Iron E. Singleton

    Release Date
    October 31, 2010

    Seasons
    11

    Streaming Service(s)
    Netflix , AMC Plus

  • Tales of the Walking Dead TV Poster

    Tales of the Walking Dead

    Tales of the Walking Dead is a horror anthology television series set in the world of Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. The show follows six different tales of characters, new and old, across the franchise as they deal with the brutal apocalyptic world – where zombies are only one of the threats that stand in the way of survival.

    Cast
    Terry Crews , Samantha Morton , Olivia Munn , Daniella Pineda

    Release Date
    August 14, 2022

    Seasons
    1

  • Fear the Walking Dead Season 8 Poster

    Fear the Walking Dead

    A prequel to AMC’s hit series, Fear the Walking Dead, follows new characters and explores the city of Los Angeles as the world transforms into the horrifying zombie apocalypse that changes the world forever. The first half of the series follows a found family that rebuilds who they are to adapt and survive the new world order. The second half follows Morgan Jones, a survivor from the original franchise who joins the original surviving cast members.

    Cast
    Cliff Curtis , Frank Dillane , mercedes mason , Elizabeth Rodriguez , Kim Dickens , Ruben Blades , lorenzo james henrie , Alycia Debnam-Carey , Colman Domingo

    Release Date
    August 23, 2015

    Seasons
    8

  • The Walking Dead The Ones Who Live TV Show Poster

    The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

    Created by Scott M. Gimple and Danai Gurira, The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live is a sequel spin-off series in The Walking Dead television franchise. The series picks up some time after Michonne departs from the original series, as she searches to be reunited with her lover, Rick Grimes. Meanwhile, Rick finds himself amid another war between the living and the dead.

    Cast
    Andrew Lincoln , Danai Gurira , Pollyanna McIntosh , Lesley-Ann Brandt , Terry O’Quinn

    Release Date
    February 25, 2024

    Seasons
    1

    Streaming Service(s)
    AMC+


  • The Walking Dead

    Release Date:
    2010-10-31

    Cast:
    Steven Yeun, Andrew Lincoln, Chandler Riggs, Laurie Holden, Jeffrey DeMunn, Sarah Wayne Callies, Melissa McBride, Norman Reedus, Jon Bernthal, Iron E. Singleton

    Genres:
    Horror, Thriller, Drama

    Seasons:
    11

    Story By:
    Tony Moore, Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard

    Network:
    AMC

    Streaming Service(s):
    Netflix, AMC Plus

    Directors:
    Greg Nicotero

    Showrunner:
    Frank Darabont, Angela Kang, Scott M. Gimple, Glen Mazzara

    Franchise(s):
    The Walking Dead

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