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The Definitive Ranking of The Walking Dead‘s 20 Most Evil Villains

Zombies have nothing on these terrifying characters

In the world of The Walking Dead monsters shamble around almost every corner. But while flesh-hungry walkers are an ever-present danger for Rick Grimes, Daryl Dixon and the rest of the crew, they definitely aren’t always the scariest threat out there. Over the past five and a half seasons of the series, the apocalypse’s survivors have come face-to-face with bone-chilling bad guys—living bad guys—that put regular old zombies to shame. Before AMC’s hit show returns on Feb. 14 and introduces new evildoers, let’s revisit the villains who have already made their mark.

Read More: The Walking Dead: Did the Midseason Finale Satisfy?

  • Nicholas

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Resident of the Alexandria Safe-Zone

    First appearance: Season 5, episode 12 — “Remember”

    Status: Dead

    Nicholas’ actions may not have been sinister but they were cowardly and careless—tantamount to evil in a ruined world. His failings were serious enough to lead to dire consequences for other members of his group. He not only sacrificed several of his fellow Alexandrians to save himself, but also got Noah brutally killed by trapping him in a walker-filled revolving door. To top it all off, he was almost responsible for Glenn’s death…three times.

  • Dawn Lerner

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Chief police officer of Grady Memorial Hospital

    First appearance: Season 5, Episode 4 — “Slabtown”

    Status: Dead

    It’s hard to say how evil Dawn actually was. On one hand, she punished her subordinates with physical violence and turned a blind eye to the sexual assault happening in the hospital under her watch. On the other, she seemed to genuinely care about saving the lives of everyone that came into the community and (delusively) believed that everything she did was for the greater good. An authoritarian with a heart in other words. But in the end, she was responsible for killing Beth, securing her a spot on this list.

  • Ed Peletier

    Role: Carol Peletier’s husband

    First appearance: Season 1, episode 3 — “Tell It to the Frogs”

    Status: Dead

    Ed Peletier could pretty much be described in one word: scumbag. He was both physically and emotionally abusive to his wife Carol and daughter Sophia. Nor did he hesitate to verbally lash out at the other females of the Atlanta group. Luckily, he wasn’t around to inflict damage for too long after the zombie apocalypse set in, meeting his end at the hands (er, mouths) of a horde of walkers in the fourth episode of the series.

  • Pete Anderson

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Jessie Anderson’s husband

    First appearance: Season 5, episode 12 — “Remember”

    Status: Dead

    Pete was the second abusive husband to appear in the series, but that didn’t make viewers hate him any less. Alexandria’s resident doctor used his medical position to lord power over the community. No surprise he became fast enemies with Rick when his group arrived in the Free-Zone. After the conflict between the two escalated to physical violence, a town meeting was held to resolve the situation. It was there that Pete slit Free-Zone leader Deanna Monroe’s husband’s throat, prompting her to give Rick the order to execute him. (It may have been an accident, but still…)

  • Gorman

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Police officer in Grady Memorial Hospital

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 5 — “Slabtown”

    Status: Dead

    In a series that relies heavily on gore for shock value, Gorman proved that you don’t need blood and guts to make a show difficult to watch. (Despite his name!) Fortunately, after a particularly creepy scene in which he forced Beth to share a lollipop with him, the youngest Greene was able to get the better of him. When the corrupt officer tried to force himself on her, Beth smashed him over the head with a glass jar. Then she let a walker finish the job.

  • Tomas

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of the prisoners

    First appearance: Season 3, episode 1 — “Seed”

    Status: Dead

    The convicted criminal was spared jail time when zombies took over the world, but he obviously didn’t do much with his reprieve. Tomas was quick to brutally murder his prison ally Big Tiny when the latter was infected by a walker, and he tried to kill Rick twice before the former sheriff’s deputy put a machete through his head.

     

  • Andrew

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Right hand man of Tomas

    First appearance: Season 3, episode 1 — “Seed”

    Status: Dead

    Once Tomas was taken out, his simpatico Andrew set out to exact revenge. After luring a horde of walkers inside the prison’s walls, he found himself in a standoff with Rick and fellow prisoner Oscar, who ended up shooting Andrew in the head. However, his actions caused the death of both T-Dog and Lori Grimes, sending Rick to the brink of insanity.

  • Mitch Dolgen

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: The Governor’s soldier

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 7 — “Dead Weight”

    Status: Dead

    After the Governor joined the river camp, Mitch allowed the former Woodbury leader to murder his younger brother in cold blood. He then became the Governor’s right-hand man and assisted with the assault on Rick’s group at the prison, operating the tank that destroyed the fences keeping the walkers at bay and causing the death of many innocents. Mitch was essentially the Governor’s Göring.

  • Caesar Martinez

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Woodbury guard, leader of the river camp

    First appearance: Season 3, episode 3 — “Walk With Me”

    Status: Dead

    As one of the Governor’s most trusted Woodbury allies, Martinez helped terrorize not only those outside the community’s walls but also his fellow townspeople. Among other offenses, he participated in the murder of a group of innocent soldiers and the attack on the prison. Although he left to start his own camp after the Governor gunned down the majority of the Woodbury army, he later welcomed his former leader into the new group, a decision that did not work out in his favor.

  • Martin

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Resident of Terminus

    First appearance: Season 5, Episode 1 — “No Sanctuary”

    Status: Dead

    Martin was creepy enough that visions of him haunted Tyreese even after he met his end. He was not only a cannibal, but also threatened to kill baby Judith in order to escape capture by Tyreese and Carol. As his final act of cruelty, he kidnapped Bob and ate his leg in front of him with the other surviving Terminus residents—resulting in perhaps the show’s best taunt: “You eatin’ tainted meat!”

  • Mary

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Mother of Terminus leader Gareth and brother Alex

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 15 — “Us”

    Status: Dead

    As one of the founders of the cannibal community Terminus, Mary spelled nothing but trouble. The kind you find yourself picking out of your teeth days later. She acted as the welcoming committee for Rick and company upon their arrival at the so-called “sanctuary,” but had no qualms about allowing them to be locked away for slaughter. After her menacing “you’re the butcher or you’re the cattle” speech, no one was sorry to see her go.

  • Merle Dixon

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Woodbury guard, Daryl Dixon’s brother

    First appearance: Season 1, episode 2 — “Guts”

    Status: Dead

    Although he briefly turned to the good side shortly before his death, Merle spent the majority of his life as a violent, manipulative and hateful man. Before he was accused of being a traitor, he acted as the Governor’s right-hand man, participating in the murder of a group of innocent soldiers as well as the capture and torture of Glenn and Maggie. However, Merle was not pure evil. He sincerely loved his brother Daryl; His final attempt to kill the Governor ultimately gave the prison group a fighting chance to defeat the homicidal Woodbury leader.

  • Joe

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of the Claimers

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 11 — “Claimed”

    Status: Dead

    The cold-blooded leader of the Claimers has been one of the most savage people Rick’s group has encountered along the road. Joe abided strictly by the harsh rules he set down for his traveling companions. He severely—read: lethally—punished those who didn’t follow. He also had no misgivings about threatening to let his crew rape and murder Rick’s son in front of him before killing Rick himself. If not for some quick thinking on Rick’s part, Joe almost certainly would have gone through with this monstrous promise.

  • Shane Walsh

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Second-in-command of Rick’s group

    First appearance: Season 1, episode 1 — “Days Gone By”

    Status: Dead

    It didn’t take too long for Shane to go from good to bad once the walkers took over the world. He had no qualms about starting an affair with Lori as soon as he thought Rick was dead, and when his former best friend returned, Shane held it against him for the rest of his life. His moral instability was apparent throughout his run on the show, but it became clear there was no going back for him when he sacrificed Otis to be eaten alive by walkers. His unsuccessful attempt to murder Rick was the inevitable culmination of his transformation. That led to his end.

  • Wolves Leader

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of the Wolves

    First appearance: Season 5, episode 16 — “Conquer”

    Status: Alive

    The nameless leader of the cold-blooded killers known as the Wolves is both remorseless and psychotic. His goal is to murder any and all survivors outside of his group, and he seems to find the violence he inflicts on others amusing. Unfortunately, since he’s one of the only people on this list who is still alive, there’s no telling what horror he has yet to unleash.

  • Gareth

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of Terminus

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 16 — “A”

    Status: Dead

    This one doesn’t take too much analysis. Gareth was the head of a community whose sole objective was to draw in fellow survivors in order to eat them. He kidnapped nearly everyone in Rick’s group, and certainly would’ve butchered and savored them all if not for Carol’s epic rescue mission. He then tracked down the escapees, managing to capture Bob and feast on his leg before Rick put an end to the chief cannibal.

  • Lizzie Samuels

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Member of the prison community

    First appearance: Season 4, episode 1 — “30 Days Without An Accident”

    Status: Dead

    Considering she was only a child, whether or not Lizzie was truly a villain is still up for debate. She sincerely believed that the undead were misunderstood and didn’t deserve to be killed. But in a desperate attempt to prove this theory, she murdered her younger sister and was about to do the same to baby Judith when she was caught. So nurture or nature? Anyway, in one of the most controversial scenes of the series, Carol distracted Lizzie by telling her to “look at the flowers” and then shot her.

  • The Governor

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of Woodbury

    First appearance: Season 3, episode 3 — “Walk With Me”

    Status: Dead

    Viewers first caught a glimpse into the Governor’s disturbing psyche when they saw the secret room where he stored walker heads inside fish tanks. From there, Philip Blake, as he was known pre-apocalypse, only revealed more clearly just how much of a sociopath he was. The leader of Woodbury had many crimes to his name, but some of his worst included threatening to rape Maggie, gunning down the majority of his own people and, of course, beheading Hershel for an audience of the kindly farmer’s friends and family.

  • Rick Grimes

    Gene Page—AMC

    Role: Leader of the Atlanta group turned leader of the Alexandria Safe-Zone

    First appearance: Season 1, episode 1 — “Days Gone By”

    Status: Alive

    What is villainy? In the beginning, there was no question that Rick was, as the protagonist of the show, pure. The honorable sheriff’s deputy who emerged from a coma to find a bleak new reality had a moral code that was so unshakeable it was sometimes even detrimental to those he cared about. Over the course of the first two seasons, Shane’s journey was played against Rick’s to show where Rick could end up if he traded his humanity for security. Rick is a cipher for us, the viewers, grappling to understand his place, his obligation, his choice in a ruined world.

    Now, Rick has turned into the very thing he killed Shane (and other baddies) for becoming, a man who has shed his concepts of fairness and conscience in order to give himself and those he loves the best chance of survival. Viewers have seen Rick commit some pretty horrific acts as he has adapted to the darkness of post-apocalyptic life. And more than a few characters he’s crossed paths with have noted his seeming ability to keep those closest to him alive while others perished.

    Only time will tell if he is destined to become the series’ ultimate villain.

     

  • Negan

    Role: Leader of the Saviors

    First appearance: Set to appear in season 6

    Status: Alive

    Negan has yet to make his official debut, but his introduction was teased in the closing moments of the mid-season finale. (Hence no photo.) Fans of the Walking Dead comic books know him as a baseball-bat-carrying maniac who commits one of the most disturbingly violent acts in the series’ history. Executive producer Robert Kirkman has even said that the Saviors’ leader will change the nature of the already ruthless show: “Negan is kind of an atomic bomb that’s going to be dropped on the show, and the show will probably never be the same after that. So buckle up, I guess?”

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