Every Walking Dead Hero Ranked
“The Walking Dead” is filled with zombies, danger, and endless conflict, but what keeps audiences coming back week after week are the stunning moments of heroism, big and small. The show demonstrates that even in the worst of times, people will find ways to care for each other and to make the world a better place one step at a time.
Some characters on “The Walking Dead” are valiant warriors who fight the dead and living alike to keep their families alive. Others are quiet heroes who contribute to humanity simply by insisting that its best virtues aren’t left behind in the apocalypse. Without either group the survivors of the zombie virus would find themselves much worse off.
These are all the heroes who have been fighting for each other on “The Walking Dead” for over a decade, ranked.
Not every hero of the apocalypse is smashing zombie heads or killing scores of human enemies. Sometimes it’s enough to remind people of what was and to teach a young man the art of RV repair. For the first two seasons of “The Walking Dead,” Dale is the moral center of the main group of survivors. He’s got a lesson and a story for every situation, and though his comments sometimes garner eye rolls, Dale endears himself to everyone he meets.
When the group has their first real conflict with armed human enemies, Rick ends up bringing a hostage back to the farm. In the intense discussion about how to handle the situation, Dale is the only member of the group entirely opposed to killing the man. Dale is the first person who sees what the group is losing on their path to survival, and he’s the first person who tries to show them why humanity is worth holding on to.
Andrea is part of the initial group of survivors who makes it out of Atlanta with Shane. She and her sister Amy escape with the others and form a close bond with Dale. When Amy dies in the Season 1 episode “Vatos,” Andrea becomes untethered and unmotivated to go on surviving. Dale convinces her to keep going, and Andrea starts learning how to shoot and fight for herself in the apocalypse.
Andrea meets Michonne, and they help each other survive through the winter between Seasons 2 and 3. They drift apart when Andrea wants to join the community in Woodbury, before she comes to realize that the Governor is evil. Andrea doesn’t take an opportunity to murder the Governor herself because she feels for him and believes in Woodbury, but she ultimately decides to side with Rick and the others at the prison, even if it means the Governor will kill her.
Enid belongs to the generation that comes of age during the zombie apocalypse. At a young age, she is left to fend for herself when her parents are killed by walkers. Enid learns how to fight and survive on her own in the wild before Aaron finds her and brings her back to Alexandria. She’s there when Rick, Carl, and the rest of the main group of survivors arrive.
After the war with the Saviors, Enid makes Hilltop her new home. She becomes an important figure in the community and works in the medical trailer treating illnesses and injuries. Unfortunately, Enid never gets the chance to fully become a hero in “The Walking Dead” universe because she is ruthlessly killed by Alpha and the Whisperers.
27. Tara Chambler
Many characters in “The Walking Dead” start out opposed to the main group of survivors before joining them and becoming an important part of the family. Tara spends the early days of the apocalypse hiding out in an apartment building with her father, sister, and niece. The Governor moves into their building after the fall of Woodbury, and he convinces Tara’s family that they will be better off out in the world. Tara is with the Governor when he attacks the prison, and she loses her entire family in the battle.
Tara is horrified by what she sees at the prison. She makes it a goal to redeem herself and helps Glenn on his quest to reunite with Maggie after he lost her in the prison battle. Tara stays with the group for years and becomes a leader at the Hilltop before she’s killed by the Whisperers.
When Siddiq first encounters the survivors, Rick turns him away. Disagreeing with his father’s approach to strangers, Carl goes back to help Siddiq and gets bitten by a zombie in the process. The two return to Alexandria where Carl lives out his final hours amidst an attack from the Saviors. On Carl’s deathbed. Siddiq promises to honor his vision of the future.
Siddiq’s medical expertise helps the survivors through the rest of the war with the Saviors and the many years that follow. He becomes a member of Alexandria’s governing council, where he pressures Michonne to reunite the communities, and he has a daughter with Rosita. Carl sacrificed himself for the future, and Siddiq lives up to his promise by working his hardest to make that future a reality until he is killed by an undercover Whisperer in season 10.
25. Rosita Espinosa
Rosita is a survivor, warrior, friend, and mother. She’s first introduced alongside Abraham and Eugene as the three of them are traveling to Washington D.C. to deliver a “cure” for the zombie virus to the government. Rosita isn’t as closely tied to the mission as Abraham, so she’s more willing to go along with Rick’s group when the two encounter each other. She and Abraham have a close relationship on the road, but it begins to fall apart when they reach Alexandria.
After Negan kills Abraham, Rosita is lost and isolates herself from the group while pursuing revenge. When the war ends, Rosita is able to settle and make a life for herself in Alexandria. She and Gabriel raise her daughter Coco after Siddiq’s death, and Rosita struggles to find the line between needing to fight and needing to stay safe and alive for her daughter.
24. Judith Grimes
Baby Judith is growing up fast on “The Walking Dead.” In one of the show’s most heartrending scenes, Lori gave birth to Judith in the depths of the prison early in Season 3. In the comics, Judith died during the Governor’s attack on the prison — but her life is saved in the show, and the group fights hard to keep her alive during their search for a new home.
Michonne becomes Judith’s mother when she and Rick fall in love. After the group believes Rick is dead, Michonne raises Judith and her son RJ within the walls of Alexandria. Despite growing up inside the walls rather than on the road, Judith is every bit as strong as her brother Carl was. With the swordsmanship of her mother and the deadly aim of her father, Judith throws herself into defending her home and her family at every opportunity.
Jerry is one of the earliest members of the Kingdom, and he becomes King Ezekiel’s most trusted guard and advisor. Among the ever-increasing crowd of survivors, Jerry stands out because of his beaming smile and unwavering optimism. Jerry is the first character in “The Walking Dead” who finds ample time for jokes and laughs.
Looks can be deceiving, and underneath Jerry’s cheerful surface is an intimidating and versatile fighter. Jerry joins the war against the Saviors and fights for the freedom of the communities. Not quite a decade later, he picks up arms without hesitation when the Whisperers threaten everyone’s safety. When the Kingdom falls, Jerry helps to keep its spirit alive as he and Ezekiel lead their people to the Hilltop, then to Alexandria. Whether he’s fighting enemies, checking on loved ones, or simply raising his children, Jerry exudes heroism.
It doesn’t take grand moments of bravery or winning massive battles to make someone a hero. From his very first appearance, T-Dog represented a kind of quiet heroism in the apocalypse. Rick meets T-Dog along with Merle, Andrea, Glenn, and Morales on a roof in downtown Atlanta. Merle calls T-Dog a racial slur, and the two get into a fistfight. Rick handcuffs Merle to a pipe and gives T-Dog the key. The key is lost when zombies break into the building, but T-Dog risks his life by going back to seal the door to the roof, ensuring that Merle won’t get eaten.
Throughout season 2, T-Dog drifts into the background of “The Walking Dead” and doesn’t get his proper time to shine. When the group moves into the prison and starts clearing out the zombies there, T-Dog gets bitten on the shoulder. Before he dies, T-Dog distracts a horde of zombies from Carol, giving her the chance to continue fighting through the prison with the others.
21. Lori Grimes
When the zombie virus finally collapses society, Lori believes that her husband Rick is dead in a hospital. Shane and Lori begin a relationship soon after he helps her escape Atlanta with Carl. When they discover that Rick is alive, Lori quickly breaks things off with Shane, but she later confesses to Rick that she doesn’t know which of them is the father of her unborn child.
Despite all the conflict she experiences in the apocalypse, Lori never gives up on trying to keep her family together. She is willing to do anything to sustain her marriage and her children. Lori is a constant source of affirmation for young Carl, even in the worst of moments. When she’s forced to deliver her daughter via a C-section in the prison, Lori knows she won’t survive the birth. Her last words are encouragement to her son as she tells him that he will “beat this world” someday.
20. Hershel Greene
Hershel initially tries to live through the zombie apocalypse in utter denial. He keeps his zombified wife, friends, and neighbors locked inside his barn while telling himself that someday there will be a way to transform them all back into humans. When Carl is accidentally shot by Hershel’s farm hand, Hershel uses his veterinary background to save the boy’s life.
When Hershel’s farm is overrun by the dead, he leaves with Rick’s group. While clearing out the prison, Hershel gets a bite on the leg, and the group discovers that by amputating a limb it’s possible to save someone from the zombie virus. When the fight for survival leads Carl to killing, Hershel convinces Rick to pull back from his violent tendencies and invest in peace for his son. The Governor kills Hershel in the final stand off at the prison, but the old man’s teachings live on through the rest of the group.
19. Beth Greene
Hershel’s youngest daughter transforms her painful apocalyptic experiences into motivation to care for other people. Beth lives through the early days of society’s collapse on her father’s farm. There she loses friends and family, and she considers giving up on survival altogether. Beth pulls through her inner struggles by dedicating herself to fighting for her family and the other survivors.
At the prison, Beth helps care for Judith and the other children. She works to keep up morale while the group fights with the Governor and Woodbury. After the prison falls, Beth grows close to Daryl before she’s abducted and taken to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. There she meets a boy named Noah, who desperately wants to escape the hospital so he can return home to see his family. When she sees an opportunity, Beth sacrifices herself to guarantee Noah’s freedom.
18. Deanna Monroe
If heroism means taking on seemingly insurmountable tasks for the benefit of others, then Deanna Monroe has it in spades. Deanna and her husband were some of the first people to arrive in Alexandria. Her husband designed the walls that surround the community, and Deana organized every other aspect of the community. She gave people jobs and a purpose in the apocalypse. Alexandria wouldn’t exist without her efforts.
Deanna welcomes Rick and his family into the community with the hope that they will teach the Alexandrians about the harsh realities outside the walls. Rick and the others teach her plenty about the difficult decisions that need to be made to guarantee everyone’s survival, but Deanna imparts knowledge to them as well. She inspires Michonne to believe that a return to society and coalition of communities is a possibility for the future.
Paul Rovia gets the nickname Jesus because of his long brown hair and well-kept beard. He’s a recruiter and supply runner for the Hilltop community when he first meets Rick and the other survivors. Jesus connects the Alexandrians with Hilltop and begins the process of forming a coalition between the communities. When Maggie becomes Hilltop’s leader during the war with the Saviors, Jesus is one of her most trusted advisors.
Jesus begins turning the tide of the war by refusing to kill a group of Savior prisoners. He wants a peaceful society and that means only killing when it’s necessary. Some of the Saviors Jesus saves become valuable members of Hilltop and even fight back against their old comrades. Years later, when Maggie leaves Hilltop and the other communities behind, Jesus is voted in as the new leader.
In “Always Accountable,” Dwight, his wife Sherry, and his sister-in-law encounter Daryl while the three of them are trying to escape from the Saviors. Dwight and Sherry end up rejoining the Saviors after Sherry’s sister is killed by a walker. Negan burns Dwight’s face and demands to marry his wife as punishment for their attempted escape.
When Daryl becomes a prisoner of the Saviors, Dwight is his guard and torturer. Eventually, Sherry helps Daryl escape before leaving herself, and Dwight finds an opportunity to turn on Negan. Throughout the war between the Saviors and Rick’s group, Dwight feeds important information to Alexandria. He becomes a key part of Rick’s eventual victory over Negan. After the war, Dwight leaves the area to find Sherry, and his story continues in “Fear the Walking Dead.”
Aaron becomes a member of Alexandria shortly after the community is formed. It’s his job to explore the world outside the walls and find new people to become community members. He finds Rick’s group when they are at their lowest point. They treat Aaron with suspicion and outright hostility, but he can see beneath the surface of their behavior and invites them back to Alexandria anyway.
During the war with the Saviors, Aaron and his boyfriend Eric adopt an orphaned baby they name Gracie. Eric doesn’t survive the war, but Aaron goes on to raise Gracie, become a leader in Alexandria, and fight against the Whisperers. Through all the pain and conflict, Aaron never loses the optimistic view of humanity that led him to searching for new survivors day after day and inviting Rick’s group back to his home.
14. Father Gabriel Stokes
Gabriel is the pastor of a small church located in the woods in Georgia. When the zombie virus first comes to his small town, his congregation tries to seek shelter within the church, but Gabriel locks the doors to defend himself. When Rick and the others meet Gabriel, he’s been living inside the church on his own for months. He joins the group and works to redeem himself for what he did to his congregation.
Through constant conflict and exposure, Gabriel overcomes his cowardice and learns how to kill zombies and survive in the wild. Gabriel’s relationship to God changes, and in some ways deepens, as he confronts his own sins and commits others to help keep his friends alive. Gabriel finds his place in Alexandria as a council member, spiritual advisor, and, when necessary, a fighter. He begins a relationship with Rosita shortly before she realizes that she’s pregnant with Siddiq’s child, but Gabriel decides to stay with her and raise the baby as his own.
13. Abraham Ford
Abraham is a fearsome fighter and a loyal friend. He loses his wife and children early in the apocalypse, and the loss nearly pushes him to suicide. At the last moment, Abraham meets Eugene, who claims to know the cure to the zombie virus, and the two begin a journey to Washington, D.C. Along the way Abraham meets Rosita, and the two fall in love. When the three of them meet Glenn and the other survivors, they all end up trapped inside a train car at Terminus.
Abraham helps the survivors fight their way out of Terminus. When Eugene finally confesses that he never had the cure, Abraham pulls himself together by realizing that protecting his new friends is now his purpose in life. He helps the group get to Alexandria, and there he works to strengthen the community until he’s killed by Negan.
12. Morgan Jones
Morgan is the first person that Rick encounters after waking up in the hospital. He teaches Rick about the walkers and the dangers of the new world, but he chooses to stay in his home with his son rather than joining Rick on the road to Atlanta. The two meet again years after Morgan has been driven to madness by the loss of his son. A man named Eastman takes Morgan in and teaches him the value of non-violence.
From that point on, Morgan struggles to find peace and minimal conflict in the new world. He regroups with Rick and the others in Alexandria, and for a while he joins their community. During the war with the Saviors, Morgan is forced to make compromises on his non-violent values, but he manages to do so without losing himself. Morgan leaves Virginia and goes on to become an important character in “Fear the Walking Dead.”
11. Tyreese Williams
Most heroes in “The Walking Dead” have taken human lives to defend the people they love most. Tyreese is unique because he believes in holding onto his pre-apocalypse humanity. He refuses not only killing but also hatred. When Carol finally confesses that she’s the one who killed Tyreese’s girlfriend Karen to stop a sickness from spreading through the prison, he forgives her.
Without a doubt, Tyreese’s most heroic action is saving baby Judith from the prison when the Governor destroys the fences surrounding it. Tyreese takes Judith with him even though he knows that a baby is a liability in a world filled with zombies and despite having no idea if he’ll be able to reunite her with her father. If it wasn’t for Tyreese, Judith would have died a horrific, albeit more comic accurate, death way back in Season 4.
10. Maggie Rhee
Maggie meets the other survivors when they arrive on her father’s farm in Season 2. Even in the early days of the apocalypse, Maggie understands that people need to stick together and care for each other. She is driven by family, which initially includes Hershel and Beth, but comes to include Glenn and all the other survivors. Maggie becomes a fierce fighter as she helps the group defend themselves against the Governor and ultimately make their way north to Virginia.
After Glenn’s death, Maggie is consumed by the desire for revenge against Negan, but she manages to make taking care of the people at Hilltop her first priority. Maggie takes over as the community’s leader and guides them through the war against the Saviors. When the war ends and Maggie gives birth to her son, she leaves the communities, but continues looking out for other people and comes to lead another group of survivors.
9. Eugene Porter
Eugene’s struggle for survival in the apocalypse has led him back and forth across the line between good and evil. When he’s first introduced in Season 4, Eugene is being escorted from Texas to Washington D.C. by Abraham and Rosita. He told them that he’s a government scientist with the key to curing the zombie virus, but in “Self Help” he confesses that it was all a lie. Later, when the survivors are fighting the Saviors, Eugene joins Negan’s team to save his own skin.
Though he makes some bad decisions, Eugene is still one of the most valuable heroes on “The Walking Dead.” He turns on the Saviors by sabotaging their bullets, which leads to Rick and the other communities winning the war. He provides for the communities with his technical expertise and saves countless lives with his intellect. In the process, he learns how capable he is and comes down firmly on the side of good.
The leader of the Kingdom makes quite an entrance in “The Walking Dead.” Carol first meets King Ezekiel in a theater-turned-throne room where he’s seated next to the massive tiger Shiva. Only later does Ezekiel reveal that he was just a regular zookeeper before the apocalypse. He saved Shiva, and she allowed him to build up a mythology around himself that he used to create the Kingdom.
Ezekiel is a brave and warmhearted man who acts as a compassionate leader for his people. When Ezekiel pledges the Kingdom’s support in the fight against the Saviors, it turns the tide of the war. In the Whisperer war, Ezekiel and Carol lose their son Henry, but Ezekiel continues to lead and inspire his people through the pain. When the Kingdom ultimately falls, Ezekiel takes his people to the Hilltop where they continue to fight back against the Whisperers and their horde of zombies.
7. Sasha Williams
Sasha suffers loss after loss throughout her time on “The Walking Dead.” Shortly after Sasha and her brother Tyreese join the survivors at the prison, she falls for a man named Bob. Their relationship is cut short when Bob gets bitten by a walker while the group is staying at Gabriel’s church. When the group finally makes it to Virginia, Sasha loses her brother to yet another bite. At Alexandria, Sasha begins recovering from her losses when she enters a relationship with Abraham, but then the Saviors show up and Negan brutally murders Abraham in front of her.
When Abraham dies, Sasha is blinded by rage. She leads a solo assault on the Savior’s Sanctuary compound and gets captured by Negan. Sasha knows that Negan will use her against her friends, so she decides to sacrifice herself for everyone’s benefit. Eugene slips her a suicide pill which Sasha uses to transform herself into a zombie while Negan drives her to Alexandria in a coffin. Her surprise attack on Negan gives Rick’s survivors the opening they need to fight back against the Saviors.
6. Glenn Rhee
“Hey you, dumbass. Yeah, you in the tank. Cozy in there?” Glenn’s voice-only appearance in the first episode of “The Walking Dead” remains one of the show’s best lines. In episode 2, he rescues Rick from the tank and instantly endears himself to the man and the show’s audience. Despite the gruesome horror constantly surrounding him, Glenn always has a smile on his face and is quick to find the bright side of any situation.
Glenn is a key part of the group’s survival during their stay at the prison and their travel north to Alexandria. Along the way he constantly envisions a world in which they can all live together peacefully, and his confidence in that eventual reality never wavers. Glenn falls in love with Maggie and marries her while at the prison. When they reach Alexandria and the other communities, Glenn wants to have a baby because he believes in the future. He is horrifically murdered by Negan when the group falls to the Saviors, but his optimism and vision of the future lives on.
5. Carl Grimes
Rick Grimes’s son is part of the first generation of kids who come of age in the midst of the apocalypse. Carl faces more hardship in his young life than most people ever do. In Season 2 he gets shot, and his best friend Sophia dies. In Season 3, he’s forced to kill his own mother before she turns into a walker. Because of all the conflict, Carl has difficulty finding the line between doing what’s necessary for survival and holding onto what makes him human.
Rick and Hershel pull Carl back from the ledge and teach him that killing and violence isn’t always the right path. Years later, Carl does the same for his father when he urges Rick to find a solution with the Saviors that doesn’t lead to endless killing. Carl’s death in season 8 was a major departure from the comics, but it serves to inspire Rick and the others’ belief in a civilization not quite so different from the world before the zombies.
When Michonne joins the show in Season 3, she’s a sword-wielding mystery woman who wanders the world with two chained walkers in tow. She and Andrea form a bond as the two help each other survive through the first winter of the apocalypse, but Michonne is generally distrusting of others and prefers to be left alone. Andrea becomes enamored with Woodbury, but Michonne knows from the start that something is wrong, and she ends up joining forces with the survivors at the prison.
From there, Michonne forms a deep bond with the rest of the group as she helps them get from Georgia to Virginia. In a departure from the comics, she develops a romantic relationship with Rick, and the two have a child together, though Rick doesn’t know it. Michonne raises Judith and RJ while she becomes the de facto leader of Alexandria. Though Michonne has her own struggles in her leadership role, she remains a key factor in the group’s ongoing survival.
3. Daryl Dixon
Of all the heroes in the show, Daryl may be the most comfortable with life in the zombie apocalypse. Even before the fall of civilization, Daryl was an outsider who spent much of his time outdoors and getting up to trouble with his brother Merle. When the walkers come, Daryl already has the tools he needs to survive.
Daryl is hesitant to stay with the group after losing Merle in Season 1, but he decides to stick around and ends up becoming Rick’s right hand man. Without Daryl’s hunting and tracking skills, the entire group would have starved to death before ever making it to the prison. Like Carol, Daryl is more than capable of surviving on his own, but his loyalty to Rick keeps him fighting for the rest of the group, even years after Rick’s apparent death. He’s slow to open up to other people, but Daryl still holds onto his love and sense of humanity even after years of life-or-death struggle.
2. Carol Peletier
Hardly any character in “The Walking Dead” goes through a more dramatic transformation than Carol. Along with her young daughter Sophia and abusive husband Ed, Carol is part of the group of survivors that Shane helped to escape from Atlanta. Ed is dispatched by the end of Season 1, and Carol loses her daughter in Season 2. From that point she begins to come out of her shell and slowly transforms into one of the most adaptable and deadly survivors in the apocalypse.
Carol always does what she believes is right, whether that’s teaching children about combat or burning the diseased bodies of her friends. She single handedly saves the group from Terminus in Season 4, and she’s an integral part of the fight against the Wolves and the Saviors when everyone reaches Alexandria. Carol repeatedly proves that she’s capable of living on her own and defending herself in the new world. If anyone can keep on living, it’s Carol.
1. Rick Grimes
There’s no doubt that Rick Grimes is the greatest hero in “The Walking Dead.” If the show ever had a protagonist, it was Rick. In the first episode, he wakes up in a hospital bed in the middle of the zombie apocalypse and immediately sets out to find his family. Once he does, he becomes determined to secure safety for the people he loves.
For eight seasons, Rick leads the main group of survivors through thick and thin, from Atlanta all the way to Alexandria in Virginia. He may not always make the right decision, but everything he does is for the good of the group as a whole. Whether it’s giving an inspirational speech or mowing down whoever stands in his path, Rick is always capable of doing what needs to be done. The group wouldn’t be where they are without Rick, and though he left “The Walking Dead,” his story is far from over.