Just like Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead has a sneaky habit of killing off your favorite characters when you least expect it. We’ve waved goodbye to a few good ones and fare-welled some bad. But there are still a bunch of living legends around that make the show what it is (we’re looking at you, Daryl!).
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In an effort to honor TWD legends like Glenn and Carl and salute icons like Rick and Carol, here’s a list of the 46 Walking Dead characters ranked from worst to best…
This is by no means a full and complete list! P.S – Spoilers ahead!
46. Lance Hornsby
Dies: Season 11
Actress: Josh Hamilton
Ranked as our worst Walking Dead character, Lance Hornsby was a slimy and slithering snake among the grass of the Commonwealth. Kind and sweet until it didn’t better him or his goals, Lance is ranked here for being a completely reckless and evil character.
Working for the Miltons allowed Lance a lot of freedom and control over the people and so he manipulated the system to always come out on top. A character so scheming and unhinged, we’re glad he was finally eliminated.
45. Pamela Milton
Actress: Laila Robins
Pamela Milton is the head honcho of the Commonwealth community. Her leadership has overseen the growth of an immense and densely populated gated community.
Although not so much an assassin like previous ones, Pamela is certainly one of the worst leaders the show has had. Caring only for her reputation and with a son like Sebastian who acted abhorrently towards anyone who wasn’t in the top echelon of the community, this family are clearly dislikable, so we can’t say she’s one of the best characters on the show.
44. Leah Shaw
Dies: Season 11
Actress: Lynn Collins
Leah Shaw was introduced as a love interest of Daryl’s. They met while Daryl was taking a break from Alexandria, after the supposed death of Rick. In his recuperation, he met Leah, and the two fell in love, but this was a love that was never going to last.
The two parted ways and it was revealed that Leah was a member of a vigilante gang who were hunting and killing members of the Alexandrian/Hilltop community. Leah’s group, the ‘Reapers’ were then taken out by our gang and Leah was killed by her former lover, Daryl.
43. Milton Mamet
Died: Season 3
Actor: Dallas Roberts
Geeky Milton Mamet would have been a great asset to any side in the apocalypse. His nerdy, scientist-savvy had him experimenting on those about to turn and the walking dead themselves.
Milton was crucial to The Governor, being perhaps his only hope of bringing his daughter back in human form. But ultimately, he chose the wrong side (when is choosing The Governor’s side ever a good idea?). He ends up stabbed several times by the man himself and is later stabbed through the head by Andrea.
42. Lizzie Samuels
Died: Season 4
Actress: Brighton Sharbino
An unforgettable character for all the wrong reasons. Sweet-faced, young Lizzie, believed that walkers were ‘people’, too and deserved some empathy and protection. To prove this, she murdered her own little sister.
While not evil through-and-through (she was a kid, after all), the rest of the group were left wondering what to do with her risky behavior, and so it came as a tough choice when Carol had to shoot her in the back of her head.
41. Max Mercer
Actress: Margot Bingham
Max maintains a shy and committed demeanor and is relatively sweet and quiet, making her the perfect match for our beloved Eugene.
She is the sister of Michael Mercer and the former executive assistant for Pamela Milton. She was always distrusting of this family and the way they ran the Commonwealth, and so when she saw the true nature of this community, she bravely took a risk by reaching out to Eugene through radio. #Hero
40. Michael Mercer
Actor: Michael James Shaw
Michael Mercer is the former head of armed forces within the Commonwealth. After witnessing the sheer horrors and disasters created and enabled by Lance and the Miltons, Michael proves himself a protective character who learns to fight for what he believes in.
Sweet, caring and incredibly loyal to those he loves; as well as fiercely brave and strong, Michael rightly ends up becoming the lieutenant governor after the revolution.
Actress: Paola Lázaro
From the pink streaks in her hair down to her fluffy pink jacket, Juanita Sanchez may seem incredibly happy and nonchalant, but she’s actually a deeply troubled character who was alone in the apocalypse for far too long and became forgetful of how to interact with other people (who weren’t undead).
Despite this, Juanita still comes across as the most exciting and lively character that ever has graced the screen of The Walking Dead.
Actress: Cassidy McClincy
Lydia is a controversial character, as she’s the daughter of villain Alpha and ex-girlfriend of Henry, Carol’s adopted son. She is taken under the wigs of both Daryl and Negan, two very gruff and hardened characters, themselves. This history of hardship and misery may be why these characters can relate in a specific way to one another.
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Lydia’s journey with the group has been treacherous and dangerous, to say the least, but it seems life has improved for her, especially after Carol forgave her and learned to let her in.
Died: Season 4
Actor: Xander Berkeley
Gregory, possibly the most irritating character to ever star on the show, but undeniably memorable to say the least.
The unfit leader of the Hilltop was a narcissistic, egotistical, and foolish man, who very few fans grew fond of. His eventual death in season 9 wasn’t grieved for, especially following his treachery and attempts to kill Maggie. Good riddance.
Actress: Pollyanna McIntosh
Former antagonist, Anne, also known as ‘Jadis’, started off being despised by fans. She threw Rick into an all-out war with Winslow, after all. She later redeemed herself by rescuing Rick from a riverside following the major explosion.
Taking him off on a helicopter to somewhere unknown, it’s a shame we haven’t seen more of this character’s good side thus far.
35. Tara Chambler
Died: Season 9
Actress: Alanna Masterson
Tara well and truly became a fixture of TWD. She had an uncommon mixture of extreme anxiety and fear which she pushed to one side when called upon to act.
She was brave in the face of unspeakable tragedy, including the death of her girlfriend, Denise, and was one of the most down-to-earth and likeable characters, bringing a sense of normality to the show. It’s a shame she’s gone.
Died: Season 3
Actress: Laurie Holden
Unlike her Walking Dead comic book counterpart, Andrea got killed off way too soon at the hands of The Governor.
She was smart and fearless and was the only one who could get close enough to The Governor to glean his motives and true personality. On page, she is still alive and kicking and has even hooked up with Rick (sorry, Richone shippers)!
Died: Season 10
Actor: Ryan Hurst
We’ve seen many villains over the years of The Walking Dead, and while some of them were somewhat “meh”, others were downright excellence.
Beta was the masked, murderous maniac of season 10, who gave every fan the heebie jeebies at just the sight of him. He didn’t stick around for long, but while he did, Beta’s psychotic nature and ‘can’t kill me’ vibes were TV gold.
Died: Season 10
Actress: Samantha Morton
You’ve got to despise any villain who kills off your favorite characters, right? As if we weren’t over Negan’s killings back in season 7, we were introduced to yet another sadistic antagonist in season 9.
Currently holding the highest kill count of any female antagonist on The Walking Dead, Alpha was a deranged, and terrifying character who killed the likes of Tara and Enid. As much of a villain as she was, we *sorta* warmed towards the leader of The Whisperers while she was alive – simply for being great at being bad.
Died: Season 6
Actor: John Carroll Lynch
Eastman was one of the show’s most remarkable characters. In a time when the remaining population were learning to fight the dead and each other, Eastman was essentially a pacifist and found peace through not harming other human beings, only defending himself against the dead.
He practiced his defense skills and mindfulness using Aikido and was eventually able to pass this along to Morgan, who arrived an angry, bitter man and left a much more peaceful one.
30. Eugene Porter
Actor: Josh McDermitt
Eugene is what Robert Kirkman feels most of us would be like in the same circumstances as the survivors (sans mullet and geeky genius). He’s highly agitated, self-preserving and initially claims he has the cure to the virus causing people to turn.
After discovering his cowardice and lies, many of Rick’s crew are devastated. Eugene disappointingly ends up defecting to Negan’s side due to the fear of what he will undergo if he does not. One of the very few to betray Rick, this character ended up returning to the good side and earning his friends’ forgiveness.
Actress: Nadia Hilker
Previously one of Yumiko’s clients as she was imprisoned for murder in the heat of revenge, Magna is a complex character on the show. She’s incredibly loyal and would do almost anything to save her close and immediate friends and allies.
Magna has a feisty temper and will stand up to almost anyone, while very little phases her – she *almost* mirrors Michonne in this realm of her personality, wouldn’t you agree?
Actress: Eleanor Matsuura
Yumiko, introduced amongst Connie, Magna, Luke, and Kelly when they were saved by Judith Grimes, is a strong character. Previously trained as a lawyer in the pre-apocalyptic world, she later acts as a mediator and communicator within the group.
When the group led by Eugene travel to the Commonwealth, Yumiko returns to her old profession and practices in the name of the law.
Actress: Angel Theory
Kelly, Connie’s sister, is one of the youngest of the surviving characters. She struggles with hearing impairments, but like Connie, she doesn’t let this stop or define her. Even when her sister was missing, Kelly never gave up looking for her, really showing the audience what the meaning of true love is.
An integral part of the community and loved by all, Kelly’s bubbly sense of humor and deep respect for the group has allowed her to earn her place within Alexandria and the Commonwealth.
Died: Season 9
Actress: Katelyn Nacon
It was unfortunate losing young Enid in season 9. Former love interest of Carl Grimes and later, Alden, Enid may have started off untrustworthy, but later, she turned into yet another beloved member of the group.
It just sucks that her head had to end up on one of those pikes. Damn you, Whisperers.
Actor: Ross Marquand
The longest surviving Alexandria character, Aaron is a great character that viewers were immediately drawn to following his appearance.
After suffering the loss of his boyfriend, Eric, later adopting sweet Gracie, and losing a hand, it’s clear that this group member is a downright trooper.
24. Father Gabriel Stokes
Actor: Seth Gilliam
Father Gabriel is a particularly divisive figure on TWD. We learn that his holiness is a mask for the guilt he feels at barricading himself in his church and leaving his flock to fend for themselves.
Even though the survivors take him in, he wears the label of a coward. Since then, he has done things to redeem himself, but also things that prove that he will take the path of least resistance.
Actor: Austin Amelio
Starting off as perhaps the most committed to Negan and despite having the side of his face burned with a scolding hot iron by Negan earlier on, Dwight remained loyal – until season 8. He slowly began to realize that he could not abide by what Negan had done; stealing his wife, making him to the worst of the grunt work and turning him into a ‘bad’ man.
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The change in Dwight was remarkable and it made the show a little more interesting knowing he was a spy in Negan’s camp. We wonder where he is now…
Actress: Lauren Ridloff
Connie is an incredibly interesting and admirable character. Her lovable personality attracts her to Daryl, as they both share a similar code of honor and ethics. She previously worked as a journalist and is always fighting for the rights and lives of others – a trait that earns her much respect from her community.
Dies: Season 11
Actor: Callan McAuliffe
Alden was one of the few members of the Saviors to turn over their weapons and start a new leaf with the good guys. After being captured by the Hilltop, he realized that his life with the Saviors was worthless and so committed to a life of honesty and good work.
He was a loyal Maggie follower and trusted in the ways of Mrs. Rhee. Alden soon became a friend to all and was incredibly well-liked amongst his community, although some may have found him more dispensable than others, as he met his demise in season 11 of the series.
Actress: Cailey Fleming
Judith, now older, is taking on the persona of both of her father and brother, making fans feel super proud. She’s brave, confident and incredibly smart; and her fearlessness with fighting against walkers is admirable.
Kids usually don’t have a great destiny on this show, but good ol’ Jude is lucky to be alive – and kicking butt while at it.
19. Dale Horvath
Died: Season 2
Actor: Jeffrey DeMunn
Oh, how we miss Dale – the once-was voice of reason and the conscience of Rick’s group. He was also a father-figure and counsellor to many.
A lot of watchers were genuinely shocked when the fishing hat-toting, old campervan-driving, Dale made his exit and felt the show had pulled one of its best characters. RIP.
Died: Season 9
Actor: Tom Payne
Anyone who is named ‘Jesus’ must be an intriguing character, right? Indeed! Like the real-life Son of God, Jesus could appear and disappear without detection and his gentler side had him helping people rather than taking more of a leadership role within the community.
He even had the beard and mustache to match! We’ll miss him.
Actor: Cooper Andrews
Jerry is introduced as King Ezekiel’s right-hand man and guard. This genuinely lovable and kind soul is cherished by everyone he meets, except for his enemies who swiftly meet their maker upon encountering him.
He’s an incredibly brave and trustworthy character who never deferred from his friends’ sides and never faltered when asked to lay down his life for the good of the community.
Actor: Khary Payton
Everyone wants a man like Ezekiel in their lives. Wise, charismatic and…a cat-lover. The ‘King’ who owned a pet tiger (a.k.a. Shiva) is one of The Walking Dead’s greatest fighters, leaders and protectors.
After fighting and treating his cancer, Ezekiel opens a healthcare clinic to treat those battling illnesses, which further proves his warm-heartedness. There’s no denying he’s proved himself worthy of his role as governor of the Commonwealth (after the revolution).
15. Rosita Espinosa
Died: Season 11
Actress: Christian Serratos
Rosita entered the show as a feisty, hot-headed, militant young woman who was resistant to following orders and liked to do things her own way. She was often falling out with someone only to reconcile later.
Until her very emotional death in the show’s finale, we saw her fall in and out of love; show-off her most badass side against her enemies, and eventually become a dedicated mother – even to her death. We need more girls like Rosita on TV.
14. Hershel Greene
Died: Season 4
Actor: Scott Wilson
Lest we forget! Dr. Hershel Greene let Rick’s group take refuge at his farm and tended to their medical ailments as well as feeding them from his land. He perpetuated what was possibly one of the most stable phases in the entire series.
Hershel’s grit and wisdom was lost when he died and we are still very much missing him today. RIP.
13. Shane Walsh
Died: Season 2
Actor: Jon Bernthal
Back when it was mainly just ‘man vs. walker’, we had one of our first controversial human characters. Shane, who was Rick Grimes’ police partner, and also having an affair with his wife, was a hardened and destructive guy who went from a kind of anti-hero to a downright villain.
Some loved him, others hated him, but there’s no denying that Shane brought controversy and excitement to the show early on in the seasons. Let’s not forget he had one of the craziest Walking Dead deaths!
Actor: Lennie James
Morgan Jones, played by the inimitable Lennie James, was a complex and fascinating protagonist. At the beginning, he was haunted by his beloved wife-turned-walker who staggered up and down his street, bringing his sorrow and anger to breaking point.
We later saw a Morgan who was nearly out of his mind with rage and mental torture and then later, he finally found peace. He became a new man who believed that every life was sacred and worthy of living, but this was tested when the Saviors attacked his crew and he was forced to kill – a huge moment in the series and a top character that truly represented the test of humanity.
11. The Governor
Died: Season 4
Actor: David Morrissey
Philip ‘The Governor’ Blake was as evil as they come. In fact, he was the first ‘big bad’ that came along before Negan. His initial, false congeniality was soon replaced by brutal, homicidal acts and he showed absolutely no remorse, even going so far as to kill his once-lover, Andrea, in a merciless way.
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His one vulnerability and the only one he could show love to, was his daughter who ‘turned’, but whom he kept hidden. Although one of the most hated characters on The Walking Dead, he was still a captivating villain that is remembered until this very day.
Died: Season 7
Actress: Sonequa Martin-Green
Sasha was brave and combative from the start. Being a smart-cookie and one who was very good with weaponry, she often gave the others a good pep talk when they needed it and almost never displayed her weaknesses. TWD fans will never forget the moment Sasha sacrificed herself for the group. RIP.
Actor: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Negan is (or at least, was) perhaps the most ruthless and twisted characters TWD has ever seen. Before his ‘redemption’ in later seasons, he took an immense amount of pleasure in the torture, death and harm of anyone. The most despicable act we’d seen him commit was bashing in the heads of Abraham and Glenn in front of their loved ones.
Why is he ranked at number 9, you might ask? We hate to say it, but he’s funny. Negan’s outrageous lines bring some humor to the show, and after all, he was the only villain to ever leave Rick’s group so defeated. He truly is a villain that we love to hate.
8. Abraham Ford
Died: Season 6
Actor: Michael Cudlitz
Abraham was the most militant Survivors we’d seen in a long time. He was loyal to a fault and constantly put himself in harm’s way to protect others.
Ab was respected for his take-no-prisoner’s attitude and his dedication to the group and one of his most chilling scenes was when he was killed at Negan’s hand by Lucille shouting a last, defiant “suck my nuts!”
7. Carl Grimes
Died: Season 8
Actor: Chandler Riggs
Little, timid, Carl, truly grew into a fearless, measured and clever character. After surviving two near-death experiences (one that included him losing his eyeball), he refused to be thought of as a child and convinced Rick to let him fight in the most gruesome of battles.
He had a way of dispatching walkers with seeming ease and would do anything to protect his father and baby sister, Judith. It sucks that we won’t get to see the adult version of Carl – he was bound to be the one true hero of the post-apocalyptic world.
6. Maggie Greene
Actress: Lauren Cohan
Maggie has been an anchor for this show since the very beginning. Despite being a ferocious defender of her group, she is also kind, gentle and has probably shed the most tears. We’ve seen Maggie go through ups and terrible downs with the death of her family, and then the slaughter of her husband, Glenn, which happened in front of her very own eyes.
Although angry and subdued at first, Maggie later recovers and becomes a leader in her own right and even tolerates the murderer of her husband, Negan.
5. Rick Grimes
Actor: Andrew Lincoln
British actor, Andrew Lincoln, has been good-naturedly mocked for his faux American accent and his character was criticized for becoming more prone to violence without proper thought. Despite this, he largely remained the hero, leader and most important character of the Walking Dead story throughout the seasons.
Rick always put his group first; took on the difficult mantle of leader; almost had a breakdown when confronted by Negan, but rallied his people to attack the Saviors in what they thought would be a death blow. He constantly protected his people, strategizing ways of keeping them alive and ultimately was a very relatable character. It’s a damn shame he went so soon…
4. Glenn Rhee
Died: Season 6
Actor: Steven Yeun
Unsurprisingly, when the loving, funny, but also very fierce character of Glenn Rhee was killed by Negan in front of Maggie’s eyes, a lot of people stopped watching the popular series.
He was probably the most loved character and his adoration for Maggie and their child was beautiful to watch. Glenn is most probably the most missed character in the history of TWD.
Actress: Danai Gurira
Michonne appeared to the untrained eye as a ruthless killer and a hardened survivalist who never needed anyone. In reality, even though she rarely let her guard down, you saw her softer side, especially with Carl and when she got into a romantic relationship with Rick.
Famous for slicing and dicing the heads of anything she considered evil with her lethal katana, this top girl was badass and we just wish we could’ve seen more of her throughout the final seasons of this show.
2. Carol Peletier
Actress: Melissa McBride
Carol was the down-trodden, abused housewife who defied the odds and learned to stand very solidly on her own two feet. Despite breaking down a few times, Carol becomes one of the strongest female characters to ever grace our TV screens and is somewhat an inspiration to many.
We’ve seen her take out enemies single-handedly and act as the ideal killing machine against those we hated most. Ranked as the second best TWD character, this knitting, cookie-baking babysitter is a strong, unstoppable, and fierce asset to her group.
1. Daryl Dixon
Actor: Norman Reedus
Daryl was the ultimate Redneck bikie. His wild, leather-clad, motorcycle-riding look made us wonder how he would turn out, and he’s proved to arguably be ranked the most popular and best Walking Dead character of all time.
From his scruffy hair, down to his complete fearlessness, Daryl has grown to become a TV icon and a true fan-favorite character – the bow-wielding bad boy is often attributed to the reason that fans kept on watching. No one can imagine the show without good old Mr. Dixon! We salute you, sir!
This show wouldn’t be what it is without these crucial characters. Who is your most remarkable Walking Dead legend? Which character did you dislike over the years?
Let us know what your ranking of The Walking Dead characters would look like in the comments below!
There are sections of this article that were written by Gráinne Cullen.
This article was originally published in August 2020.
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No chance this list is accurate. Carol number 2? No freaking way. Maybe 32. Maybe. So freaking annoying.
Heck ya he’s the goat
This list is so confused
Daryl is hot
not gonna lie, if you hate the actor cause of the character then they did their job. Eugene is actually pretty intelligent and does know a few things. he only lied and acts like a wimp because all he wants is to survive. Over time he improves a lot and shows how it is to really survive and hopefully continues that path. You have every right to hate the character since its not even real but don’t go as far to hate the actor for doing the role they were given.
Can’t wait until Eugene Porter dies on the show. THE WORST ACTOR IN THE WORLD. Go do a stage play you over acting gross fuck.
Lol his acting matches the persona he’s portraying no? After all, who’s gonna listen to some “bi**h boy” on the web anyway. Take a hike
Yes I agree Eugene Porter is Actually a good character I know some people might say he bad he’s useless but really he’s a good person and I don’t think you B*tch boy has the right to call him a bad word.
Rick as number 5??? Bitch is u trippin he the goat