In 2010, The Walking Dead premiered on AMC and immediately became a huge hit for the network. The story of survival in a world suffering from a massive epidemic that created zombies grabbed television viewers by the eyeballs and shook their bodies and nerves, making each episode a seat-gripping adventure that no one wanted to miss. Now, eight years later, The Walking Dead might have dropped a little in ratings, but fans of the series are still nothing but die-hard.
The zombie apocalypse can really mess someone up, though, and that’s all too evident in the appearance of some of those cast members on The Walking Dead who managed to make it to season eight (and granted, many didn’t make it). Strangely enough, though, some of those same cast members look exactly the same, even when splattered with zombie innards.
Let’s take a look back at what some of these cast members looked like in their first episodes vs. what they look like now – or as far as they survived . This list does include a few RIPs, though, because no one is safe in the zombie apocalypse.
Here is The Walking Dead: What The Cast Looked Like In Their First Episode Vs Now.
15. Norman Reedus (Daryl)
Thanks to Norman Reedus, the redneck character Daryl Dixon, immediately became the steamy symbol of the zombie apocalypse. Perhaps it’s the way that he uses a bow, instead of a gun, to take down the undead. Perhaps it’s the scruffy facial hair that he is never without. Perhaps it’s the motorcycle he rides.
Whatever the case, even Reedus has changed in the eight years since his first episode on The Walking Dead. He looked a lot less scruffy in his first episode, “Tell it to the Frogs”. Fast forward to season eight, and his hair is also longer (are there no scissors left in the world?) and he looks a lot more ragged. His goatee also has a little gray in it now, too.
14. Melissa McBride (Carol)
Melissa McBride started out her time on The Walking Dead as Carol, then a mom who only wanted to protect her daughter from the undead. Unfortunately, she failed, and that left its mark on her.
Carol eventually decided that she needed to learn how to protect herself and became one of the toughest members of Rick’s group, eventually to the point that she could probably take Rick in a fight if she wanted to. That shows in the change in McBride’s appearance on the show.
Physically, Carol looks stronger, although she doesn’t seem to have aged much in eight years. She’s harder, with rougher lines, and now usually sports heavy armor and weapons. Her hair is also a little longer, which seems to be a show-wide trend.
13. Andrew Lincoln (Rick)
Before the premiere of The Walking Dead, movie fans knew Andrew Lincoln as that clean-cut guy from Love, Actually who fell in love with his best friend’s wife. On the AMC series, Lincoln took on a more serious role: as a man who awakens from a coma only to discover that the world is now overrun with zombies. Now, movie and TV fans can’t see the actor as anything else.
His character, Rick Grimes, is an example of just how much the zombie apocalypse will age a man. He started out as a baby-faced sheriff, clean-shaven with short hair. Now, eight years later, though, Rick definitely looks like he’s seen some things. He sports a beard peppered with gray, various scrapes and bruises, longish hair, and haunted eyes.
12. Chandler Riggs (Carl)
Warning: spoilers ahead!
When it comes to changing over the period of eight years on a TV shows, kids are always the ones who show the most growth. When Chandler Riggs, who played Carl on the series, first appeared on The Walking Dead, he was just a sweet little freckle-faced boy, full of hope and innocence. But that little boy grew up in the middle of the zombie apocalypse, and now he’s dead.
Before he died, though, Carl looked like a tall, lanky young man with long hair. He also managed to lose an eye over the course of eight years and started wearing an eye patch. Now he just looks dead. And fans will keep crying about that for episodes to come.
11. Lauren Cohan (Maggie)
Even during the zombie apocalypse, Maggie, as portrayed by actress Lauren Cohan, stayed on her family’s farm, supposedly safe from everything else going on in the world. When Rick and his gang showed up, so, too, did the rest of the zombie apocalypse.
Maggie was always a bright-eyed intelligent girl, but eight years of fighting zombies created more lines in her face – although unlike her companions, her hair stayed about the same. The character is also pregnant (and has been for several seasons now), which gives Cohan’s performance a certain glow, as well as an even more determined glare, especially after the brutal death of her husband, Glen.
10. Danai Gurira (Michonne)
Danae Gurira didn’t show up on The Walking Dead until the season two finale, but she immediately made an impression as Michonne, an angry and bitter woman armed with a kitana who knew how to handle zombies better than anyone fans had seen on the series up to that point. Although she saves Andrea and allows the former member of Rick’s group to join her, Michonne still keeps Andrea, and everyone else at arm’s length.
Not much has changed about Gurira’s appearance on the series, although her eyes are a lot softer now that she’s learned to trust people again and has fallen in love with Rick. She can still mow down a herd of zombies with a sword, though, and that shows in her muscular physique.
9. Lenny James (Morgan)
The only real difference in actor Lenny James’ appearance on his first episode of The Walking Dead vs. how he looks now is that he has aged a little bit. Perhaps his eyes are a little harder, as he has fought for and lost so much.
His character, Morgan, went through a lot: not only did he lose his wife to the zombies, but he also lost his son. By the time Rick caught up with him in Atlanta, Morgan was a completely different man: broken and insane with grief. Morgan eventually pulled himself together, but became more of a pacifist, refusing to kill other survivors even when his own life is at stake. Morgan prefers to fight with a staff, which indicates that he is physically fit.
8. Josh McDermitt (Eugene)
Josh McDermitt plays the one character on The Walking Dead that everyone loves to hate and make fun of. He’s not a villain, per se, but Eugene did lie to the group about being a scientist who needs to get to Washington, D.C., because he has a cure for the disease that created the zombies. Eventually, though, Eugene did come clean and redeem himself, and became a valuable member of Rick’s group.
Throughout all of this, though, he never lost the mullet. In fact, fans might riot if he lost the mullet. Now, nearly four seasons later since his first episode, “Inmates”, Eugene looks about the same, if not a little more round-faced and ragged. His time in Alexandria, in particular, was good to him.
7. Ross Marquand (Aaron)
Ross Marquand first appeared as Aaron in season five and was the first openly gay man on the series. It was Aaron who first approached Rick and his group to invite them to Alexandria.
Aaron was so charming (and persistent) that he convinced the team of cynical survivors to follow him into the new community, where they thrived – at least until the zombies and Saviors showed up. He also became good friends with Daryl; perhaps they both felt like outsiders within their respective groups.
6. Katelyn Nacon (Enid)
Katelyn Nacon’s first episode was in season five, in the episode called “Remember”. Carl finds himself almost immediately drawn to her, probably because he hasn’t really met any other girls his age in years and he was at that point where his hormones were raging.
Whatever the case, Enid was initially cold to him, much to his chagrin. They eventually become boyfriend and girlfriend, though, although their romance couldn’t go much of anywhere, what with the Walkers invading Alexandria and the Saviors turning up.
Enid looks about the same throughout her first three seasons, but once she learns of Carl’s death, that could change: it’s bound to take a toll on her. Maybe she’ll buck the long straggly hair trend of the show and cut off all her locks.
5. Alanna Masterson (Tara)
Tara didn’t appear on The Walking Dead until season four, but since then, she’s become a part of Rick’s extended group. As portrayed by Alanna Masterson, she looks a lot different now than she did then.
In her first episode, she is with her sister and the two are part of the group run by the villainous Governor. She is aloof and a little stand-offish, but also seems a lot younger then than she appears on the show now. Although she finally becomes a little less hardened, by season eight, she’s cold and vengeful, thanks to the Saviours and the deaths of Glenn, Abraham, and Olivia at their hands.
4. Christian Serratos (Rosita)
Although the character of Rosita, as portrayed by actress Christian Serratos, has been a part of The Walking Dead cast for four seasons now, she seems to have some kind of secret that makes her continue to look good, even throughout the worst of the zombie apocalypse and the whole Saviours thing.
Like Tara, though, she does have a slightly more tougher look to her, especially after the death of Glenn and the others at the hand of Negan. Who can blame her? Anyone would want vengeance after that. She still sports the same cap she had all along, though, and she still seems as fresh and pretty as she was way back in season four. How does she do it?
3. Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel)
Seth Gilliam’s first episode of The Walking Dead was “Strangers”, in which Rick’s group comes upon his character, Father Gabriel Stokes, as the priest lays upon a rock, attacked by zombies, screaming for help. As a man of God, he realizes that the walkers are people he once knew, which makes it difficult for him to allow them to get killed.
He has an innocence in his faith, which showed on his face in his first episode. Even into season eight, even after he has seen so many horrible things, Father Gabriel still fights to hold on to his faith. Perhaps that is why the look of the character has not changed much between then and now. For someone who’s seen a lot of bad stuff, he has aged pretty well.
2. Major Dodson (Sam)
Technically, Major Dodson’s character, Sam is not a survivor, but he did change throughout his two seasons on the series – besides the fact that he was alive and that he’s now dead. When viewers first met Sam, they saw an odd little boy who seemed attached to his mother’s skirts, stamping Rick’s hand with an “A” and complaining that there are no more cookies.
That’s when the infamous scene with Carol happens, because he sees her taking weapons from Alexandria’s armory. She threatened him, but then offered him cookies if he kept quiet. He did.
The last time we saw Sam, though, he was dressed in rags covered in zombie guts and blood, trying to escape a town overrun with walkers. He has a freak-out moment, which brings attention to him and he gets eaten alive.
1. Austin Amelio (Dwight)
Dwight, as portrayed by Austin Amelio, was once a high-ranking member of Negan’s group, the Saviors. That means that he looked pretty well-fed and clean when part of Rick’s group eventually met him in season six. If anything, Negan takes care of his own – for the most part.
Dwight continues after the group, but he eventually becomes a target for Negan because of all his screw-ups. Negan finds out that Dwight is in love with Sherry, so he uses that against the couple: Sherry must marry Negan to save Dwight’s life. They get married, but Negan still burns Dwight’s face with an iron, which means that he looks a lot different now than he did before that. Also, his hair is longer.
In season eight, after much turmoil, Dwight begins to side with the Alexandrians.
Which The Walking Dead cast member do you think changed the most? Share your thoughts in the comments.
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