The 20 Best Walking Dead Characters – News Today

The 20 Best Walking Dead Characters

Though the show has seen its fair share of heroes and villains come and go, some of the best Walking Dead characters continue to keep fans watching.

Split image showing Gleen and Carol in The Walking Dead

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 also could defend against the worst that humanity had to offerHowever, 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.

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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 on the show.

Custom image of unknown character silhouettes and Daryl, Rick, and Carol from The Walking Dead

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20 Tyreese Williams

Played by Chad Coleman

Tyreese near a window in The Walking Dead

Tyreese, AKA Ty, joins the main group alongside his sister Sasha in Season 3 and quickly becomes a fan favorite. Ty provides a voice of compassion in a world ravaged by fear and violence. When push comes to shove, Ty can hold his own, 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. 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.

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 the reason fans love him. He’s able to trick seasoned apocalyptic survivors Rick and Daryl, stealing their supply truck. He also saves them from Walkers. 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, his sense of humor, and his talent for theft made Jesus a fan favorite early in his time on the show.

18 Sasha Williams

Played by Sonequa Martin-Green

Sasha and Abraham holding hands and sitting on a fallen tree in The Walking Dead

Sasha is not someone that fans love when she debuts. Cold and distant, she treats others terribly. She is also reckless and hot-headed, causing the group to fall apart sometimes. Sasha also falls into a black hole of despair after Bob dies, and then worse when her brother dies. However, that makes her more complex than other warriors on the show. 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.

17 Rosita Espinosa

Played by Christian Serratos

Rosita becoming a fan favorite would surprise fans who were watching when Christian Serratos joined the series in Season 4. 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. 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.

16 Gabriel Stokes

Played by Seth Gilliam

Father Gabriel smiling at Negan in Walking Dead.

Father Gabriel was a low-key villain at first. He betrayed his congregation and allowed them to end up consumed by Walkers, all 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 starts to fight and carry 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.

Negan in a Whisperer mask and holding a bat in The Walking Dead season 10

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15 Morgan Jones

Played by Lennie James

Morgan in Fear The Walking Dead.

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 few characters to appear in both The Walking Dead and its spin-off Fear The Walking DeadMorgan 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 a lot of changes in the series, but he’s always a bit of a philosopher, trying to figure out his place in the world.

14 Eugene Porter

Played by Josh McDermitt

Eugene from The Walking Dead wearing a cowboy hat.

Eugene Porter is an interesting character. For many years, he was one of the most hated good guys. However, he is also a complex character, and that makes 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. However, by the end, Eugene has become not only an integral part of the group’s survival, but is someone that fans find themselves somehow cheering for. His final moments with Rosita still bring tears.

13 The Governor

Played by David Morrissey

The Governor pointing a gun in The Walking Dead

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. David Morrissey brought something to the character that made him a lot more interesting and impactful than the comic version. 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

Carl Grimes looking to the distance on The Walking Dead

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

11 King Ezekiel

Played by Khary Payton

Before Ezekiel debuted, there was a lot of 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 Payton always delivers. It’s hard not to love a leader who cares about his people.

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10 Abraham Ford

Played by Michael Cudlitz

Abraham turning back and looking into the distance in The Walking Dead

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 the heartbreak of fans, right as Abraham finds a renewed sense of hope, he meets his fate, unflinching, head held high, looking Negan straight in the eyes.

9 Shane Walsh

Played by Jon Bernthal

Jon Bernthal as Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead.

Shane Walsh was the first villain on the show and yet remains one of the best Walking Dead characters. Rick’s best friend before the zombie apocalypse, Shane made it his duty to protect Rick’s family while he was in a coma. Shane fell in love with Lori and the two had a relationship before Rick turned up and Lori returned to her husband. This made Rick his enemy until things came to a head and Rick killed him in self-defense. Shane died quicker in the comics, but his popularity meant he made it to season 2.

8 Hershel Greene

Played by Scott Wilson

Hershel Greene looking serious in The Walking Dead.

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, it’s his quick thinking, compassion, humor, and optimism that 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 fans of the show.

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.

6 Maggie Greene

Played by Lauren Cohan

Maggie aiming a gun at a walker in The Walking Dead.

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 her character as Maggie and Negan have a spinoff series in New York City.

5 Negan Smith

Played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Negan alone in a junkyard in The Walking Dead

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.

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, and 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 standing outside in The Walking Dead.

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.

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 will next appear in a miniseries as she finally reunites with Rick and possibly battles the CRM.

Michonne holding Rick's face next to a CRM Helicopter in The Walking Dead

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2 Rick Grimes

Played by Andrew Lincoln

Rick Grimes shoots Sophia in The Walking Dead

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, know better as he’s slated to appear in a miniseries to follow up the show.

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 came to a close at the end of its 11th season. Fans can’t get enough of Daryl Dixon.

While Fear The Walking Dead and The World Beyond have both concluded, the series still has four spin-offs that are ongoing: Dead CityDaryl DixonThe Ones Who Live, and More Tales From The Walking Dead Universe.

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