The Walking Dead may be a television show about zombies, but those are not the primary villains on this AMC series. Instead, as the long-running series has proven, the Walkers may be dangerous but the truly evil beings are the people who have survived the apocalypse. Of course, evil is also in the eye of the beholder.
For every villain that the show’s survivors have met, there are ways in which Rick Grimes or Daryl Dixon could actually be called the villains of that particular story. Was Negan truly evil or was he reacting to the actions of Rick and the survivors? With that said, there were also some really despicable people who were beyond redemption.
Updated on April 3rd, 2021 by Saim Cheeda: The Walking Dead always sees its roster of villains expand by each year, with the show set to feature many more before its conclusion with its eleventh season. The interesting thing about villains on the show is that there are those that are antagonists to specific characters, yet the impact they have is such that they feature in the main storylines as well. With antagonists that command entire groups and armies, it’s safe to say that there are a lot of baddies that have shown up in this series. In order to reflect all these points, this list has been updated to rank the newer villains.
20 Pete Anderson
Pete was a personal antagonist to Rick in Season 5, being the abusive husband of Jessie, a woman Rick had an attraction towards. A bull of a man, he even fought Rick to a stalemate, with plans to kill Rick once their rivalry escalated.
Ultimately, Pete was killed off rather meekly, as he lacked the flair needed to be an overarching antagonist. Rick got the sweet taste of victory by being the one to shoot Pete in the head and end any threat he might have posed in the future.
19 The Living
What’s interesting about this group is that the faction only made an appearance once in the series, yet was one of the main antagonistic forces of Season 2. That’s because the Living was the group who attacked Rick and company, following the group became convinced the Living were after them.
It was due to their threat that Shane killed off Randall and used the fear within the Farm to try and take Rick’s life. Of course, while the idea of the Living was scary, the fact that they barely showed up means they can’t place too high.
18 The Claimers
The Claimers in season 4 brought the wrath of Rick Grimes and company, as they reached a level of depravity seldom seen but accurate, given the status of the world. In the episode “A” the group that had Rick, Carl, Daryl, and Michonne captured and then sealed their own fate.
One of the Claimers, Dan, took things too far with Rick and Rick descended into one of his most vicious and violent moments ever on the show when he killed him.
When the survivors reached Alexandria, Rick, Daryl and Carol proved that they were not good people, scheming to steal the entire community from the peaceful living survivors there. In order to weigh out this antagonistic behavior, The Walking Dead added people living there that were worse.
These included Pete, who was an abusive father and husband. However, even worse was Nicholas, who was a coward that allowed his friend Aiden to die, was directly responsible for the death of Noah, and then tried to kill Glenn. When he finally took his own life, it proved that not everyone could be rehabilitated and clouded Glenn’s outlook somewhat.
Out of all The Walking Dead villains, Dwight is the one who received some redemption. He was part of the Saviors and was one of Negan’s right-hand men. He also had his wife taken by Negan and had his face burned with a red hot iron as punishment.
However, he was also evil, as he is the man who shot Denise in the eye with an arrow, killing her. He and his wife also betrayed Daryl before that when he tried to help them. Add in his part in helping Negan kill Glenn and Abraham, and he was pure evil — at least until he turned on Negan and helped Rick defeat the Saviors.
Jadis was the leader of the Scavengers and she was a true backstabber, working both the Saviors and Alexandrians equally. She did some things that made her worse than Rick, constantly switching sides and then betraying those people for her own good.
After Simon showed up and slaughtered all her friends and fellow survivors, she seemed to change by letting Negan live, although remained in contact with the mysterious Helicopter Group to hand abducted people over to them. She “saved” Rick this way in the final scene that anyone saw him on The Walking Dead.
Gregory was the worst kind of villain by mentality. He was a politician that only cared about himself and his own status, above that of even his own people. He lived in the biggest house in The Hilltop and bowed down to do anything Negan told him, turning his head when his own people died.
When Rick and Maggie tried to help, Gregory betrayed them and went to Negan. Gregory was so slimy, that Negan didn’t even like him. Finally, at the end of the war, Gregory tried to betray Maggie and have her killed and found himself hanging by his neck for his sins.
This is a controversial addition. Lizzie was a villain but also a child who was disturbed. The problem with the apocalypse is that the medicine that children need is not available so they are left with their own problems.
Lizzie believed that the walkers were not to be feared and could be loved and return to who they were before. She killed her own little sister Mika and then tried to kill Judith to prove it. The moment Carol had to put her down was heartbreaking.
12 Dawn Lerner
Officer Dawn Lerner was an interesting villain, in that she did what she felt she needed to do in order to help her people survive. She barricaded them in the upper level of Grady Memorial Hospital. She would also send people out to find survivors who needed help to give them a safe place to stay.
Fans got to know her in season 5 when she helped save the lives of Beth and Carol. However, her rules at the hospital involved forcing those who were saved to work off the cost of the medical supplies in labor, which wasn’t that bad of a thing. However, Dawn killed Beth and it was enough to make her a legitimate villain.
11 The Wolves
Morgan really wanted to believe that he could be a pacifist and help others understand that they didn’t need to fight each other anymore. Even when he was almost killed by members of The Wolves, he still remained steadfast that he did not need to kill and just needed to save.
This was disproven when The Wolves attacked Alexandria. Most were killed, but Morgan captured one of them in Owen and tried to help nurse him back to health while also trying to rehabilitate him. Even with Morgan saving him, Owen turned on him. Owen did have a change of heart and tried to help Denise but Carol killed him anyway.
Dante arrived out of nowhere in the series, with the explanation given that he was saved at some point. It turned out that he was a part of the Whisperers the whole time, having infiltrated the heroes in order to poison their water supply.
He got very far in his quest, being the killer of Siddiq and allowing Alpha considerable knowledge of the communities to her tactical advantage. In the end, he was killed by Gabriel rather brutally, although a fitting end for such a smarmy man.
9 The Walkers
One can’t rule out the threat of the walkers at any point. Had it been early seasons, they would have ranked much higher. The walkers haven’t been as much of a threat due to characters being more experienced, but they always rack up a kill count each season.
A lot of the major characters have perished to these zombies, with even later season protagonists like Carl meeting their end due to a walker attack. The show’s scariest kills all have to do with the walkers involved.
8 Merle Dixon
Merle Dixon was the first villain introduced on The Walking Dead. He was a racist redneck who only cared about himself and his little brother Daryl. When he met up with the survivors, he attacked them and demanded that they make him their leader. He severely beat T-Dog and tortured Glenn and only fell when Rick hit him from behind.
Later, he joined the Governor and did everything asked of him to a tee — until he found his brother. He joined up with Rick eventually when he realized that Daryl believed in him and sacrificed himself to help try to take down the Governor.
While he was the true second in command to Negan in the Saviors, by the end, Simon proved to arguably be a worse human being than Negan ever approached. While Negan kept control through rules and regulations, Simon never understood why compassion and mercy should ever be shown.
Negan gained loyalty due to being a man of his word. When everyone thought Negan was dead, Simon took control, slaughtered all the Scavengers, and set out to attack The Hilltop. His actions caused people — especially Dwight — to turn on him. He finally fell at the hands of Negan, who strangled him.
6 The Terminus Group
Terminus was a huge mystery up until their reveal in season 4. However, all the signs leading to them were a ruse to bring in new victims that the group could then capture, chop up and eat to provide sustenance for their own survival. Yes, they were cannibals.
Mary was the leader, a lady who seemed very nice, but that was until they betrayed Rick and company. They had a tragic backstory as Mary and her sons had to fight against men who abused them, but the lengths they went to were horrific. The best part was when Gareth and his men had just eaten Bob’s foot and then realized they Bob had been bitten, contaminating them all.
5 Shane Walsh
Shane Walsh was a good man in the beginning but became one of the show’s greatest villains. He was Rick’s best friend on the police force and made sure, after the zombie apocalypse, to barricade a comatose Rick in his room to save him and then made it his mission to protect Rick’s wife and son.
Sadly, with the assumption that Rick was dead, Shane fell in love with Lori and she reciprocated that love. When Rick returned, she made it clear she was with Rick, and Shane was driven mad by jealousy — both for Lori and when Rick his spot as the leader among the survivors. Soon, those feelings caused him to try to kill Rick and turn fully to the side of evil.
While she was still in action on The Walking Dead TV show, Alpha and the Whisperers had the chance to move to the top of the list. Her biggest moment came at the end of season 9 when she snuck into the Fair — a happy event showing a new beginning — and captured and murdered 10 people.
Tara, one of the longest-tenured survivors left, died. In a surprising turn of events, two of the children in Henry and Enid died at her hands. Before this, her people killed Jesus. By the time she was finished, Alpha could have become the most dangerous villain had she not been played by Negan and killed.
Beta may have started out as Alpha’s second-in-command, but he grew to be a much more formidable threat than her. This comes down to his complete disregard of the concept of mercy, being perfectly willing to slaughter the Whisperers themselves due to his strange philosophy.
Even in death, Beta celebrated being among the walkers, as he went out with a huge grin and not even showing any pain while being devoured. He’s also responsible for leading the enormous zombie swarm toward the communities, along with being an absolute force in the fighting department.
2 The Governor
The Governor was a disgustingly vile villain and possibly the most despicable in Walking Dead history. He would take people who came to him for help and put them into gladiatorial battles with walkers for the amusement of his people. When he looked like someone who might help Rick and company, he betrayed them.
In the comics, what he did to Michonne was unforgivable. On the television show, he was a little more nuanced, but he was still nowhere redeemable. When he killed the purest member of the entire group in Hershel, it was the ultimate act of villainy.
Negan was a complex villain and that made him one of the most popular characters from the comic books. While The Walking Dead TV show seemed to drop the ball somewhat with him, Jeffrey Dean Morgan did everything he could to give Negan the spirit from the comics.
Negan was a bad man in that he kills people — innocent people — to prove that he is in charge. When he killed Glenn and Abraham, it was an act that many fans will never forgive him for. However, Negan is also fiercely loyal and will do anything to protect those he has sworn to protect. He is the most iconic villain in Walking Dead history and is just as much a hero as he is a villain. In some cases, Negan is the hero and Rick is the villain of their story.
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