The Best Walking Dead Characters, Ranked

By Chad Langen | Updated

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Best Walking Dead Characters

Despite the vast number of characters introduced throughout the 11 seasons of the original The Walking Dead series, as well as the numerous characters in its spinoff shows, only a handful truly leave an unforgettable impression.

These characters stand out thanks to their compelling storylines, remarkable portrayals by the actors, and their profound emotional impact on viewers. Whether heroes or villains, these 10 characters have undoubtedly left their mark on The Walking Dead’s legacy, cementing their status as some of the series’ finest.

10. Abraham Ford

Abraham Ford, portrayed by the talented actor Michael Cudlitz, is a significant character in The Walking Dead. With a military background as a former U.S. Army Sergeant, Abraham becomes a vital member of Rick’s group, offering his strategic skills and unwavering determination.

After losing his family during the outbreak, Abraham sets out on a mission to protect others and escort Eugene Porter to Washington, D.C., believing it holds the key to saving humanity. Though his journey tragically ends at the hands of Negan, Abraham Ford’s impact and memorable presence in The Walking Dead endure.

9. Hershel Greene

Scott Wilson delivers a remarkable portrayal of Hershel Greene, a cherished character in The Walking Dead. Known for his wisdom, compassion, and resilience, Hershel’s role as a veterinarian and farmer proves invaluable to Rick’s group, providing essential medical knowledge and guidance.

While initially wary of outsiders, Hershel’s integration into the community establishes him as an integral figure. Hershel emerges as a shining beacon of hope in the post-apocalyptic world, guided by an unyielding faith and an unwavering moral compass. Though his journey ends in heartbreak, Hershel’s legacy as a compassionate and wise leader lives on in the hearts of viewers.

8. Shane Walsh

Jon Bernthal brings complexity and controversy to the character of Shane Walsh in The Walking Dead. As Rick Grimes’ best friend and former police partner, Shane initially assumes leadership of the group following the zombie apocalypse. With his assertiveness and survival instincts, Shane grapples with his growing resentment towards Rick’s leadership and his deepening romantic feelings for Rick’s wife, Lori.

Bernthal’s compelling performance delves into Shane’s internal conflicts and gradual descent into darkness. Shane’s tragic fate becomes a pivotal moment in the series, leaving a lasting impact on viewers and offering a stark portrayal of the intricate facets of human nature in a post-apocalyptic world.

7. Maggie Greene

Maggie Greene, portrayed by the talented actress Lauren Cohan, is a resilient and inspiring character in The Walking Dead. Introduced in the second season, Maggie is part of the Greene family, living on a farm when Rick’s group arrives. Throughout the series, she evolves from a young, hopeful survivor to a strong and capable leader. Her romantic relationship with Glenn further adds depth to her character as they face numerous challenges together.

Lauren Cohan’s exceptional portrayal brings Maggie’s determination and vulnerability to life. There’s no question that Maggie remains a beloved and influential figure in The Walking Dead universe. We look forward to witnessing Maggie’s character continue to evolve in The Walking Dead: Dead City when she embarks on a journey to New York City alongside Negan.

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6. Glenn Rhee

Steven Yeun’s portrayal of Glenn Rhee in The Walking Dead is a testament to his ability to bring warmth, humor, and courage to the character. Despite starting as a former pizza delivery boy, Glenn swiftly proves himself as an invaluable member of Rick’s group. His resourcefulness and unwavering loyalty make him endearing and relatable, resonating with audiences.

Yeun’s performance adeptly showcases Glenn’s evolution from a young survivor to a respected leader, leaving an indelible mark on fans. Glenn’s tragic fate remains etched in the hearts of viewers, a poignant reminder of his enduring impact on the series.

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5. Negan

Negan, portrayed with charismatic menace by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, is one of the most notorious villains in The Walking Dead. The charismatic and sadistic leader of the Saviors, Negan wields a barbed wire-wrapped baseball bat named Lucille.

Morgan’s portrayal of Negan is chillingly captivating, capturing the character’s unpredictable nature and dark humor. Despite his brutal actions, Negan’s complex personality and occasional glimpses of humanity add layers to his character, making him a captivating and memorable antagonist.

Similar to our anticipation surrounding Maggie’s return, we’re thrilled to witness his comeback in The Walking Dead: Dead City.

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4. Carol Peletier

Melissa McBride delivers a masterful portrayal of Carol Peletier in The Walking Dead, showcasing one of the series’ most remarkable character transformations. From a timid and abused wife, Carol evolves into a resilient and cunning survivor, defying expectations. Her ability to adapt and persevere in the face of immense loss and trauma captivates audiences.

McBride’s exceptional performance captures Carol’s blend of strength and vulnerability, solidifying her as one of the show’s standout characters. Her journey resonates deeply, earning her a well-deserved place among The Walking Dead‘s finest.

3. Michonne

Played by the brilliant Danai Gurira, Michonne in The Walking Dead is a formidable warrior wielding a katana and harboring a mysterious past. Initially a solitary survivor, she eventually becomes an integral part of Rick’s group.

Gurira expertly captures the multifaceted nature of Michonne, whose stoic exterior conceals a deeply caring and compassionate core. Her evolution from a guarded loner to a trusted friend and leader is portrayed with beauty and depth, solidifying Michonne as one of the series’ most captivating characters.

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2. Daryl Dixon

Norman Reedus’s portrayal of Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead has earned him a dedicated fan base. The character, known for his rugged charm and exceptional survival skills, starts as an outsider and solitary figure but evolves into a dependable and fiercely loyal member of the group. His expert archery skills and resourcefulness make him an invaluable asset in their battle against the undead.

Reedus masterfully captures the complexity of Daryl’s character, often brooding yet resilient, which resonates with fans who admire his growth and unwavering determination in the face of adversity. Daryl Dixon remains a beloved and enduring presence in the series.

1. Rick Grimes

Andrew Lincoln delivers an exceptional turn as Rick Grimes, the heartbeat of The Walking Dead. Awakening from a coma in a world plagued by zombies, Rick, a former sheriff’s deputy, emerges as the de facto leader of the group, showcasing resilience, compassion, and unwavering determination.

Lincoln beautifully captures Rick’s transformation from an ordinary man to a hardened survivor, masterfully embodying both his vulnerabilities and his strength. Rick’s unwavering quest to protect his loved ones and build a better world serves as the foundation of the series, cementing his status as a central and iconic character.