The Walking Dead may very well have one of the largest cast of characters in television history… so there are bound to be a few winners (and losers, of course).
Some characters are given loads of character growth, meaningful lines, and epic action-hero moments, while others just sort of stand around in the background and sweat a lot– hey, it’s filmed in Georgia.
Our list of the best and worst may catch you off guard. Fan favorites don’t receive any special treatment here. We’re looking specifically at character development, writing, acting, originality, and uniqueness — everything plays a huge factor.
Will your favorite character end up on the worst list? Was your most-hated character secretly awesome all along? It’s time to find out.
Here are the 10 Best (And 10 Worst) The Walking Dead Characters.
20. Worst: Sophia
There isn’t anything against Sophia herself. She’s a little kid in a messed up world. However, her character was given so little to do it’s hard to think of any significant scenes before her zombie walk out of Hershel’s barn.
For all the hullabaloo over Sophia’s untimely death, this girl was just a plot device in human form. She wasn’t actually a character at all. She existed solely as a catalyst for the rest of the group. She was the reason Daryl stepped up and Carol got brutal.
She’s the reason Hershel lost his faith in a cure. The group spends multiple seasons suffering from her death, yet she had maybe four lines in her entire series run. She’s a trope — the girl in the refrigerator and nothing else. That’s pretty sad.
19. Best: Carol
From meek housewife to kick-butt warrior, Carol has had ups and downs– she’s done wrong and she’s done very, very right. Plus, her relationship with Daryl is just the cutest.
There is no single character with as much growth as The Walking Dead’s den mother. Carol began her run on the show as a battered housewife, afraid of everything around her. Over the years she has grown to become a fierce survivor with more than a little PTSD.
She’s gone through bouts of depression and coldness, distancing herself from those she loves. And she’s gone through periods of intense caring for her group, stopping at nothing to keep them out of harm’s way.
18. Worst: Sam
Like Sophia, Sam only existed to move the plot forward. From the moment he arrived on screen, he was meant for one thing only: to give a Rick a reason to chop off his mom’s arm.
However, Sam wasn’t eternally loved by the rest of the group, nor has anyone ever expressed regret over his death. This poor kid messed everything up and now he’s essentially forgotten.
Where Sophia’s storyline brought the best out of everyone around her (except herself, but that’s a writing problem) Sam’s brought out the worst. Carol got unjustifiably nasty toward a frightened little kid and she was pretty much the only character to even give notice to him… At least he had a healthy amount of lines.
17. Best: Daryl
The archer has earned his fan-favorite status. Daryl’s days as a wildcard immature redneck were hilarious. Sure, he was dirty and angry at the world, but his stubbornness and determination led to many comedic moments and it was clear from the very beginning this rogue had heart of gold buried deep inside.
He really warmed people’s hearts when you began to see the love he hid under all those layers of dirt.
Daryl’s taken a bit of a dark turn in recent seasons, but that just adds to the character development. He was tortured by Negan. He’s allowed to get a little brutal.
16. Worst: Beth
Beth is bratty, annoying, and basically useless up until she saved Noah from the hospital. And technically she even botched that pretty bad. Who stabs someone with tiny scissors while they are holding a gun.
She was about to be out, and we all know Rick wasn’t about to let Noah stay behind. Beth caused her own death for literally no reason.
Beth started out kind of interesting, dropping into deep depression after watching her zombie family die for the second time. Her story had great potential when she started begging Maggie to commit suicide with her.
Then her storyline veered into inexplicable Broadway musical territory. Don’t get it wrong, musicals are great. Beth’s singing being forced on the viewers because Emily Kinney had a country album coming out is not so great.
15. Best: Tara
Tara is another character who gets the occasional bad rap — and for no good reason. When season 7 debuted its Tara-centric episode the internet exploded. Who wants a whole episode focused on Tara? We do. She’s cute, she’s cool, she’s kinda awkward. Plus, girl looks good in shades.
She has faith in those around her and stands as a source of inspiration and courage, often convincing them to believe in their own abilities even as she doubts her own.
She’s the only character to ever attempt to get out of a dangerous situation (being cornered in Oceanside) by suggesting a chill hangout session. Tara may have been sort of a villain at first, but she’s more than made up for it.
14. Worst: Rosita
Rosita seems fierce and independent, but she really only defines herself by the men in her life. All her survival skills have been gleaned by men she had sex with after the apocalypse… why?
Not why did she do that, but why was it necessary for that to even be a part of her character development? Having a high relationship count is one thing, wrapping your entire identity up in those relationships is another.
She’s also a bit of a bully. She throws her disinterest in Spencer’s face and is incredibly verbally abusive to Eugene while trying to force him to make her a bullet. Rosita has so many issues to unpack.
13. Best: Eugene
He’s a coward, he’s a genius, and he’s painfully awkward. Eugene does his best to help his friends (eventually, but hey, character growth) while simultaneously destroying everything with his ineptitude.
Eugene had zero survival skills and got by the only way he knew how: Fake it ‘til you make it. The faux “doctor” may have gotten by on his lies, but he does have a conscience and eventually fessed up to his friends. He’s also not proud of his survival methods and makes sure to warn fellow cowards not follow in his footsteps. That takes guts.
Oh, and he may or may not have just joined sides with the bad guys. Eugene makes the best list simply for his originality and unique storylines. A hero he is not, but you could never accuse him of being boring.
12. Worst: Spencer
There is just nothing redeemable about this guy. He’s not a bad guy, per se. But he’s not exactly a good guy either. In the words of Father Gabriel, he’s just a “tremendous s**t.” So cocky, so irrational. He fails to think anything through but is certain it will go his way thanks to his privileged upbringing.
Spencer hates Rick and his entire group from the very beginning for no discernible reason. His immediate reaction to any form of tragedy or difficulty is to sulk and stew and feel bad for himself.
He uses his hatred of the other survivors as justification for his selfish actions (stealing guns and food). Spencer just sucks all around and may be the most useless member of the Monroe family despite surviving the longest.
11. Best: Father Gabriel
Similar to Eugene, Gabriel began as a coward, but he’s actually trying super hard to make up for it. Gabe killed a bunch of his parishioners, rendered the church useless while trying to run away for… reasons?
Plus, he came gosh darn close to getting Rick’s group cast out of Alexandria entirely. That’s a lot to atone for, but the priest is trying his best to set things right.
While most reformed characters make one huge gesture and are immediately forgiven by the group, Gabriel’s path to redemption has been slow and steady.
He has yet to be brought fully into the fold despite multiple attempts to prove his loyalty and worth, but he isn’t about to give up trying. His storyline is just more realistic than his peers’ because of this.
10. Worst: Jadis
Traitorous, stupid-haired Jadis. She’s fickle and untrustworthy and overall kind of boring. Does anyone care if Jadis’s dumpster kids eventually join Rick’s group? Does anyone care if they don’t? Does anyone care if they all die in the war and are never seen on the show again? No. They do not.
Jadis and her Heapsters clash with the vibe of the rest of the survivors. They are awkward and off-putting, as if they didn’t spend the majority of their lives living in normal society before the zombie outbreak. Three years ago Jadis was a cashier or college kid.
Now she’s living in garbage dumps and bluntly informing women she’s going to have sex with their boyfriends because she said so? This is not how humans behave.
9. Best: Eastman
The cheesemaker who taught Morgan how to Morgan. Eastman only had one single episode, but his just might be the most tragic origin story of any character on The Walking Dead.
A good guy from the start, he spent his pre-apocalypse days attempting to reform criminals and clean up the streets. His entire family was murdered by one of said criminals before the outbreak ever began.
Eastman did lose some of his good guy zen for a while — exacting cruel, slow revenge against his family’s murderer. However, he genuinely learned from his mistakes and became the only character left on the show to truly refuse to kill others. Eastman was a fantastic character and only needed an hour to show it.
8. Worst: Lori
Mrs. Grimes totally earned her bad rap. What kind of mother constantly loses track of her own son when people are dying in mass quantities on the daily? She spent the entire apocalypse pawning Carl off on the other survivors asking them to watch him “for a minute” every chance she got, then blamed them when he couldn’t be found.
Even if you wanted to forgive her for sleeping with Shane because she thought Rick was dead (there’s always the debate that she didn’t wait very long) her actions after were atrocious.
She simultaneously told Shane to stay with group while telling Rick that Shane was dangerous and would need to be dealt with. You could arguably say she was responsible for Rick and Shane’s final showdown.
7. Best: Carl
Yes, Carl. He was super hated in the earlier seasons, and with good reason (that kid would not stay in the house). However, he’s really come into his own the past few seasons. He’s the only character in the entire show to never show fear to Negan. He’s one of the youngest characters on the entire show and quite possibly the bravest.
Negan isn’t Carl’s first supervillain rodeo either. Carl may have actually been the one to shoot the Governor during the season 4 showdown and he took out zombie Shane. The young Grimes could be credited with ending two out of three Big Bads, that’s quite a track record.
6. Worst: Rick
As the Sheriff himself, Rick claims to care about the input of his survivors… but they don’t call it a Ricktatorship for nothing. He isn’t above making snap decisions for the entire group and he proved willing to leave dissenters for dead after taking control of Alexandria.
Rick began as an everyman looking to reunite with his family and that was a compelling story — but since then his character development has only gone backward.
He shuts out the women in his life, refuses to listen to the advice of those around him, and takes on more of his enemies’ characteristics than his mentors’ (Rick exhibits way more Shane-like qualities than he does Hershel).
5. Best: Shane
Shane was a bad guy. Maybe he was right about Fort Benning or keeping Rick at the camp instead of going back to the city. Maybe he was the reason Carl survived his first gunshot wound. But he attempted to rape Lori and there is no defending that.
But where Shane’s story shines is in his approach to the brutal new world. He did have a point about the new world and its lawlessness. Rick fought Shane hard on all his strict survivalist beliefs, but over the years the Sheriff has come to resemble his former partner more and more. To the point he’s arguably still the most effective villain (to the story and Rick) the show has ever had seven years later.
That’s what puts Shane on the best list, he gets you thinking (and arguing, probably) over who was right or wrong, how the group would have fared had they followed his lead instead of Rick’s, and how you and your friends would have acted differently.
4. Worst: Negan
Negan’s storyline is meant to make us wonder if Rick might be the bad guy. He killed all those people in the outpost with no provocation. However, Negan is so cartoonish and comic booky, so over the top, it’s hard to take him seriously. His lines try so hard to be edgy that they just come off as ridiculous.
Add to that the fact that Negan is just straight evil. He killed an entire village in one shot and likes to make suffer by watching their loved ones die.
There’s no wondering if you would make the same choices as Negan as you would wonder with Shane. Negan is wrong and Rick is right. Negan’s story fails where Shane’s succeeds.
3. Best: The Governor
Bad guy or not, the Governor was a compelling character. Unpredictable, charismatic, and played to perfection by the acting powerhouse that is David Morrissey — the Governor was a scene-stealer through and through. Phillip’s ability to turn on dime from smarmy to dangerously unhinged kept you guessing from scene to the next.
After his fall from grace “Brian” still continued to deliver. Broing out with Tara and getting sad about a bowl of Spaghettios — the Governor’s surprise return was great television. Plus, he can seemingly get his hands on a tank any dang time he feels like it. (He had two.) That’s a great to trait to have the zombie apocalypse.
Bonus: His “I brought whiskey” line screams Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Mayor Wilkins, and that’s pretty neat.
2. Worst: Glenn
The eternal fan favorite Glenn is on the worst list. Sarcastic, fun-loving, fast-thinking, season 1 Glenn is fantastic. Adorkable, awkward, jonesing on Maggie, season 2 Glenn is the best. However, Glenn seasons 3-7 is lame.
When Rick goes crazy in season 3 Glenn tries to force his way into power with zero success. Nobody takes him seriously and he literally expects the group to hand him power because he says so.
He treats Maggie horrifically after she is assaulted by the Governor. He refuses to let her deal with the assault on her terms and puts a strain on their relationship by making it all about his own discomfort.
Again, in Alexandria, Glenn bit off more than he could chew by trying to take Nicolas under his wing. He failed to read that situation entirely, putting himself in Nicolas in situations neither of them could handle, resulting in Nicolas’s suicide. For all his popularity and heart, Glenn rarely did anything right.
1. Best: Andrea
Yes, Andrea. Usually found on everyone’s worst character list, Andrea is a great character who’s been given a bad rap. Viewing her storyline from a new perspective changes everything.
Andrea was suicidal. She planned to kill herself after losing her sister but her hand was forced. Those feelings never went away. That’s why she behaved the way she did with Beth. Her actions were dangerous and ill-advised, but she truly believed she was sparing Beth from ending up in the same boat.
Many fans hated Andrea’s season 3 storyline but her plot wasn’t as confusing as most fans and critics would have you believe. When you keep Andrea’s depression and suicidal tendencies in mind, it explains all of her erratic behavior throughout the season.
It’s why she clung to the false promises of the Governor — the creature comforts of Woodbury were her only reason to live. It was a promise that life could be semi-normal. She didn’t sell out her friends with fickle actions. She was suffering from mental illness and failing to get help or understanding from anyone around her.
Bonus: She put Lori in her place, so that has to count for something.
What do you think? Who is you favorite (or least favorite) The Walking Dead character? Sound off in the comments!
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