The Walking Dead has shambled along for 20 years. Between multiple comic series, several TV shows, and a few video games, its cast overflows with unforgettable characters. Whether we love them, hate them, or love to hate them, here are 22 of the best Walking Dead characters from all corners of media.
Carl was just a young boy when the zombie apocalypse started. He barely got the chance to live in the old world before having to fight for his life and see one loved one after another perish. But with the guidance of his father, he never let the bleakness of the new world swallow him. At a very young age, he took responsibilities that no child should ever endure. Whether his opponents were walkers or humans, he became a force to be reckoned with. In the comics, he survived until the end.
The Walking Dead has followed Rick since the beginning. Even after his departure, he remains the character that defines the series. He proves himself a capable leader early in the story and continues to fill that role to the end (in the comics, at least). He leads his people through zombie hordes, cross-country migrations, wars, and a transition back into civilized society. The final issue of the comic shows that even decades after his death, his legacy lives on. Rick Grimes truly is more than a man; he’s a legend.
Clementine was just a little girl left alone when the dead started walking. In the first season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead, the player (Lee) had to protect her above anything else. After Lee’s death, she had to start taking care of herself. To survive, she had to show bravery and resourcefulness as a child unmatched by most of the adults in the series. Ultimately, she survives and gets the happy ending she worked hard to earn.
The zombie apocalypse gave Lee a new lease on life. He avoided going to jail for murder, but at the cost of society collapsing. He doesn’t have time to feel sorry for himself because, almost immediately, he gets charged with taking care of Clementine. In a world of danger and ever-shifting loyalties, Lee never loses sight of the mission to keep Clementine safe. In the end, he sacrifices everything he has for her. And the lessons he teaches Clementine will stay with her for the rest of her story.
The lawyer-turned-samurai attracted a following from the moment she showed up in the series. She first discovers the secret to taming walkers. She could travel the country unbothered by using her zombified husband and brother as walking cloaking devices. Since then, she proves a formidable fighter and one of Rick’s closest allies. And in the show, she’s also his lover and an adoptive mother to Carl and Judith.
In the early stages of the story, Dale stands out as the oldest member of the group. This kindly old man serves as the survivors’ much-needed moral compass, standing up for what’s right even when the others are ready to let the new world drag them down. Even though his death happened so early in the grand scheme, true fans still mourn the man with a fishing hat and an RV.
Morgan was Rick’s first ally in the series. He shepherds Rick through the shock of waking up in a world where the dead eat the living. The loss of his wife and son changed him so much that other characters wrote him off as crazy. But until the end, he proved one of the sanest among them.
Herschel lived most of his life as a simple man. He had a farm and a family and became a devout Christian. But when the dead began to rise, he found all of his values challenged. He offered Rick and his friends sanctuary at his farm while Carl recovered from his gunshot wound, eventually blending with the group and considering them family. Those who have seen the show have an extra soft spot in their heart for him and his apparent infinite ammo shotgun.
Glenn is a fan favorite for good reason. He meets Rick as a scrappy young pizza delivery boy who grows into one of the group’s pillars. When the group needs a hero, he volunteers without hesitation. It broke readers’ hearts when he met his end at the hands of Negan. The TV adaptation of this moment marks a historical turning point in the live-action series.
Daryl never even appeared in the original comics, but he’s had more impact on The Walking Dead than just about any other character. He went from an original TV character intended to have a short run to becoming the protagonist of his own spinoff show. Fans love his signature crossbow and slow-burning character arc of learning to embrace being in a group and showing how much he cares for others.
Owning a tiger is reason enough for Ezekiel to earn a spot on this list, but that’s not all there is to The King. The larger-than-life zookeeper inspired a whole community to unite under his leadership. His community theater act may be silly, but it was just what his people (and the audience) needed.
Carol’s a prolific character in both the comics and the show despite the two versions going in wildly different directions. Comic Carol had a complete breakdown due to her inability to cope with the horrors of the zombie apocalypse (and Michonne stealing her boyfriend). The TV version of her has an incredible character arc. She begins as a timid victim of domestic violence who reaches her ultimate low when her daughter Sophia turns up dead. But as the seasons go by, she becomes one of the most effective combatants in the series.
Don’t let the TV version fool you; the comic version of Andrea is incredible. She gradually becomes the best sharpshooter in the series, saving beloved characters time after time. Eventually, she enters a relationship with Rick and becomes a new mother for Carl. Even after dying, she remains a treasured loved one to the Grimes family.
AJ is among the few new babies born throughout the series. His parents unfortunately die when he’s very young, but thankfully, loving people adopt him. Eventually,Clementine becomes his adoptive mother even though she’s still a child. The final season of Telltale’s The Walking Dead allows the player as Clementine to shape the person AJ will become.
On the surface, Milton is The Governor’s timid and unassuming right-hand man. He acts as the brains behind Woodbury and why it ran so smoothly for so long. But Milton has a conscience. As The Governor’s façade started to chip away, Milton bravely took numerous risks to his own life to keep his boss in check for as long as he could. His crowning moment arrived when he secretly burned The Governor’s walker pits, practically daring The Governor to accuse him.
Characters describe Eugene as a genius, and for good reason. His knowledge of engineering ammunition gives him and his allies a strategic edge against The Saviors. After the war, he gets to work on the even loftier goal of getting a cross-country train system up and running.
Alpha brought fear to the hearts of our protagonists not seen since the war with the Saviors. As leader of the Whisperers, she and her community blended in and directed hordes of zombies by wearing walker skin. She terrified Rick and his allies by slaughtering critical members of their communities, including Ezekiel and Rosita, and putting their heads on pikes. Audiences saw her soft spot when she sent her daughter to live at the Hilltop so she could escape the savagery of the Whisperers’ primal lifestyle.
Negan is, without a doubt, the most iconic villain in the whole series. He rules over the Saviors and the surrounding communities with an iron fist. He wields Lucille, a baseball bat wrapped in barbed wire, like a scepter and uses it to mete out his own twisted form of justice. He transforms after his defeat by Rick. The former tyrant slowly learns the value of surviving through cooperation rather than fear and can roam free.
The Governor becomes the first major villain of the series and remains one of the best. While he already made a significant impact as the chaotic ruler of Woodbury in the comics, the TV show elevated him even further. The television adaptation makes him into an incredibly charismatic man who hides his violent and unstable nature underneath the persona of a trusted leader. This version vies in very close competition with Negan for the best villain of the series.
By the end of the comic series, Maggie has become one of the longest-lasting members of Rick’s group. She makes the trek from Herschel’s farm to the collection of settlements at the end of the series. After the death of her husband, Glen, she rises to the occasion and becomes the leader of the Hilltop. As such an essential character in the television adaptation she’ll co-headline a spinoff series with Negan in The Walking Dead: Dead City.
Next to Clementine, Kenny had the most extended presence in the Telltale games. When Lee was still alive, he could count on Kenny as his closest ally. While his chipper attitude was one of his most appealing qualities at first, losing his wife, son, and several friends wore him down until he was a shell of the man he was before. Kenny’s journey shows how living in the world of bestcan change a person.