Top 12 Most Loved Characters from The Walking Dead

best Walking Dead Characters

After eight seasons, several decisive battles and more blood than we ever thought imaginable, The Walking Dead stands tall above the rest with its broad ensemble cast featuring a wide variety of characters.  Some good, some bad, some downright evil, this list counts down some of the top fan favorites we’ve come to know and love throughout the series.


12. Shane

Jon Bernthal as Shane

Starting this list off, we have to take a long stroll down memory lane to remember our old friend, and later foe, Shane Walsh.  Shane, a Season 1 alum, was partner and best friend of series lead Rick Grimes and stepped up to lead the original Atlanta survivors after the zombie outbreak.  Expertly portrayed by Jon Bernthal, Shane quickly became a fan favorite early on due to his zombie-killing prowess, quick adaption to post-apocalyptic life, and his ability to lead the group of survivors and keep them alive.  The tension building between Shane and Rick was palpable, the two men caught in a love triangle with Rick’s wife, Lori.  Shane soon devolved into series antagonist when his grip on morality begins to loosen and he puts his obsession with Lori far above the well-being of the other survivors.  Even when he turned to the dark side, fans were still sad to see him go and all these years later, Shane remains one of the highest regarded characters in The Walking Dead universe. 

11. The Governor

David Morrissey as The Governor

Whenever we are dealing with a character wearing an eye patch, they are either really cool or really lame; rarely is there any middle ground.  In this case, it is definitely the former.  Phillip Blake, better known as The Governor, was the primary antagonist of Season 3 and served as a worthy adversary to Rick and his group.  The Governor is hard, brutal and relentless.  He leads his pack of survivors and demands total control and absolute power.  He became a favorite amongst fans because while bloodthirsty and sociopathic, Blake was a villain with a fair amount of moral ambiguity.  Despite his atrocities, The Governor is difficult to hate and you like seeing him on screen.  His mission to keep the safe haven of Woodbury under control and Walker-free, fans were torn when this one-eyed killer went up against Rick and the Atlanta survivors. 

10. Carol

Melissa McBride as Carol

Talk about a character doing a one-eighty.  When we first met Carol Peletier long ago during Season 1, she was a silent, broken woman, caught under the boot of her abusive husband.  That doesn’t last long though and in time Carol emerged as one of the most dominant female characters on the show.  Fans were blown away when this initially meek woman revealed her cunning nature and her pragmatic, resourceful approach to surviving in this post-apocalyptic world.  Carol stands above the rest as an extremely capable killer and one who is no longer afraid to do whatever is necessary for the good of her allies.  Her character transformation was delightfully pleasing and it is no wonder why she has become one of the most loved characters in the series.

9. Negan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan

Love him or hate him, it’s undeniable  Negan burst onto The Walking Dead with sledge hammer force.  Or should we say baseball bat?  Cocky, crude, and in some ways charming, Negan is a man whose toothy smile puts you at momentary ease before his trusty bat, Lucille, comes crashing down on your skull.  Negan emerged on the final episode of Season 6, and it was immediately clear this man was a force to be reckoned with.  His brutal killing of two show favorites was enough to get the people talking and quickly create fan polarization.  You hate Negan, but in a lot of ways, you don’t want him to go away.  If he isn’t stopped, eventually there will be no force for good left in their ruined world, but in the meantime, we can do with a bit more carnage and destruction; and if that’s not love, I don’t know what is.

8. Father Gabriel

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel

A fixture of Catholicism is atonement.  Repenting for your sins and doing whatever it takes to make it right.  What better character for such an undertaking than Father Gabriel Stokes?  Gabriel is a priest that survived the outbreak by hiding out inside his church, living off of canned goods from a food drive.  Father Gabriel harbors a lot of guilt, saving himself while his parishioners were torn to shreds by Walkers.  After Gabriel is rescued from Walkers by Rick, he starts his long road to redemption.  I think this is what fans find so endearing about him.  Gabriel went from a meek, fearful man to a brave and trusted ally to Rick and the others.  The road to salvation is a long one, and Father Gabriel’s journey to finding grace is a well paced and satisfying story fans have come to love. 

7. Maggie

Lauren Cohan as Maggie

No character has been subjected to more painstaking loss and horror than Maggie Rhee, and I think that is what makes her so relatable to fans.  We’ve all dealt with loss, but Maggie personifies it and fans got to see how one can overcome such dire tragedy.  First introduced in The Walking Dead’s second season, Maggie stood out as a realistic character in the sense that her actions were never over the top, a portrayal of how many of us might act in such circumstances.  After the death of her siblings, her father and her beloved husband, Maggie was the epitome of a broken woman, unspeakable acts of violence grinding her down to almost nothing.  Much like a phoenix, Maggie rose from the ashes of despair and came back stronger and more relentless than ever.  If you have any semblance of a heart, it’s difficult not to rank Maggie as one of your Walking Dead favorites.

6. Jesus

Tom Payne as Jesus

Paul Rovia, better known to the other survivors as “Jesus”, is a symbol of hope and goodness in the violent world we’ve come to know in The Walking Dead universe.  A member of the Hilltop Colony, Jesus serves as a supply runner and recruiter that looks an awful lot like biblical holy man, Jesus Christ.  This nickname is no coincidence, as Paul remains optimistic in an increasingly dismal world and believes all those that have done wrong have an opportunity for redemption.  This is what makes Jesus so lovable to fans; things can only get so dark before you need to see a little light at the end of the tunnel.  Jesus embodies hope for a better tomorrow.  When vile characters like Negan exist, people like Jesus need to be there to counter balance the darkness and brighten the dullness of the human spirit.

5. Abraham

Michael Cudlitz as Abraham

With all the complexities and soft spots of many characters on The Walking Dead, sometimes we just need a character that’s tough as nails.  Abraham Ford is the man for the job.  After hiding out with his family in a grocery store, a violent altercation causes his family to abandon him, a decision that ends up costing them their lives.  Broken and alone, Abraham is a wandering bull, a strong and brave weapon ready to dismantle the creatures that stole his family and shattered his mental state.  Abraham resonated with fans due to his efficiency at surviving and the lack of any fear in the face of adversity and even certain death.  It’s still cool to be cool, and Abraham was a great relief in a show of sometimes fragile and fearful characters.    

4. Glenn

Steven Yeun as Glenn

Ah, Glenn – the man with the nine lives.  Glenn might be in the lead for the person who’s escaped certain death more than any other; but alas, everyone runs out of luck eventually.  Glenn was there from the beginning; a decidedly average guy who found himself dropped into this Walker-infested apocalypse and somehow managed to find a way to keep on breathing.  This is what made Glenn so lovable to the fans.  Along with his wife, Maggie, Glenn is a force of pure good and his actions resonate with us because they reflect how many of us hope we’d act in his situation.  Always level-headed and loyal, Glenn lived on for the betterment of the group.  A sweet, likable, and relatable character, Glenn tops the list of Walking Dead characters we could see ourselves becoming close friends with. 

3. Michonne

Danai Gurira as Michonne

Much like Abraham, sometimes viewers need a character that is just a badass killing machine; Michonne more than lives up to the description.  The katana-wielding, zombie-corralling lone wolf burst onto The Walking Dead scene after saving Andrea from flesh-crazed Walkers.  Chopping the Walkers to bits, we find Michonne is dragging two shackled Walkers behind her.  This sets the tone for her character like nothing else, it was clear from the get go Michonne was at the top of our lists when Walker killing needed to be done.  Fans were attracted to her mystery and overall distrust to Rick and the others, but over time Michonne became one of the group’s most loyal and efficient survivors.  When Michonne is in the scene, it’s a sure fire bet zombie heads are going to roll.

2. Daryl

Norman Reedus as Daryl

While we are on the subject of being badass, let’s bring in the runner up for fan favorite, Daryl Dixon.  This crossbow-wielding hunter embodies everything a great character should be:  strong, cool, effective, compassionate.  First being introduced in Season 1 as a redneck with above average skills with a bow, Daryl quickly rose through the ranks as an effective leader and at times rivaled Rick for the best person to keep the other survivors alive.  Daryl has proven his loyalty to the group, putting his neck on the line more times than we can count; heroic in every sense of the word.  Rick has had his ups and down with various members of the group, but Daryl has consistently been the guy you can count on and is a serious contender for the show’s most loved character.

1. Rick

Andrew Lincoln as Rick

Yes, Daryl is an incredible character, but is there any other choice for The Walking Dead’s most beloved hero than the man himself, Rick Grimes?  The series’ main protagonist and leader of the Atlanta survivors, Rick succeeds as the leading man because of the simple fact he is imperfect.  He’s smart, resilient, and brave – all things a leader needs to be; but he is also vengeful, reckless at times, and mentally broken down.  A sheriff’s deputy before the outbreak, it made sense a person in law enforcement would lead a disordered world back to order.  But that was a dream he woke up from long ago.  Fighting off hordes of walkers is harrowing enough, not to mention the equally dangerous run-ins with other survivors, but Rick has been consistently pushed to the limit when tasked with leading this group of strangers to safety.  He doesn’t always get it right, but Rick is more than capable of carrying the heavy load of The Walking Dead on his dirty, rundown shoulders and is an absolute slam dunk as the show’s most beloved zombie killer.  

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I spend thousands of hours exploring other people’s worlds, one of these days I probably won’t come back. If I see something scary in there, I'll be sure to let you know.
Gamer Since: 1996
Favorite Genre: RPG
Top 3 Favorite Games:World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor, Hitman, Grand Theft Auto V

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