The Walking Dead's Worst Villains, Ranked - VRGyani News and Media


Thursday, September 2, 2021

The Walking Dead's Worst Villains, Ranked

Over the course of 10 years, the characters on the hit AMC drama series The Walking Dead, which recently entered its 11th and final season, have gone through...a lot. Like, an absurd amount of hardship. In addition to fighting off endless herds of walkers, the ever-evolving cast of characters is continuously threatened by other groups trying to secure the same thing: survival.

Personalities, ideologies, and ways of life inevitably clash, and often result in some pretty bloody confrontation. Some foes we thought were brutal in the earlier seasons may seem like nothing compared to the villains of the last few years. On the flip side, we might be forgetting just how vicious some of their past enemies truly were. (Out of sight, out of mind, perhaps.) Don’t forget about those heartbreaking moments when we learn that the enemies are coming from inside the group, or when some of the foes have a bit of a change of heart. (I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t the plague the biggest enemy here? That’s a very valid point. But also, arguably not as fun to rank.) Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, shall we?

Here’s a list of the big bads of The Walking Dead, and how they measure up against one another.

[Editor’s note: Major spoilers ahead!]

13. Ozzy (and the Highwaymen)

First Appearance: Season 9 Episode 13 “Chokepoint

Status: Dead as of Season 10 Episode 10 “Stalker

Though they might seem threatening on the outside as they patrol the roads on horseback, Ozzy and the Highwaymen turn out to be nothing to fear. They don’t make the best first impression, as they attacked Jerry and Ezekiel’s crew on the road. But, after striking a deal with Ezekiel in which the Highwaymen would protect the roads in return for supplies (and movies?) they actually become helpful allies. Ozzy meets a rather grisly demise, as he is kidnapped and decapitated by Alpha, becoming the ultimate headless horseman (sorry, had to).

12. Deanna Monroe

First Appearance: Season 5 Episode 12 “Remember

Status: Dead as of Season 6 Episode 8 “Start to Finish

Who’s Deanna? Deanna Monroe is not your average villain, especially compared to the other baddies on this list. Unlike the others, she doesn’t have selfish desires motivating her every move. She’s cautious, and doesn’t take in just anyone to her established and respected community. She puts Rick and his group under intense surveillance, and conducts recorded interviews with every new member to ensure the safety of her people. None of that seems too unreasonable, right? The problem here is that Deanna doesn’t trust Rick, creating an incredible amount of friction between both parties. From her perspective, things didn’t start to become difficult until he arrived. If anything, Rick was the villain, constantly at odds with Pete, and busy trying to change the way Deanna ran her own community. Rick solidifies her preconceived notions about him when he doesn’t show up to the meeting she scheduled specifically to resolve his problem with Pete. In Rick’s eyes, in order for the community to thrive, people would have to start listening to him.

Deanna’s one of the few antagonists to veer from personal beliefs and actually adapt. After a crazed Pete murders her husband, she gives Rick the go-ahead to do what he’s wanted to do from the start: kill Pete and help lead the Alexandrians. So, was Deanna evil? Not in the slightest. But her initial distrust of Rick caused a rift for the protagonists we know and love, leaving them to question each other and whether or not Alexandria was all it was believed to be.

11. Joe (and the Claimers)

First Appearance: Season 4 Episode 11 “Claimed

Status: Dead as of Season 4 Episode 16 “A

The Claimers are a short-lived, morally corrupt threat to Rick, Carl, and Michonne. The small group of men stumbled into the home that Rick was recuperating in. Rick does his best to avoid conflict, but ends up fighting and killing Lou inside the house. A furious Joe, the merciless leader of the group, sets out to track down and murder Rick for killing one of his own. Oddly enough, Daryl Dixon reluctantly joins them, and later tries to convince them to leave Rick alone.

The Claimers finally come face to face with Rick and have no clue how quickly they are about to be wiped out. Joe holds Rick at gunpoint, and prepares to have his men assault Michonne and Carl. He ignores Daryl’s pleas, and is completely taken by surprise when Rick swings his head back, causing him to shoot his gun. Now, it’s the Claimers who are claimed, as Rick and Michonne take them out one by one. Rick shows no remorse, as he rips Joe’s jugular out with his teeth. Audiences said goodbye to Joe and hello to a blood-thirsty Rick.

RELATED: The 9 Most Shocking 'The Walking Dead' Deaths

10. Gregory (and the Hilltop)

First Appearance: Season 6 Episode 11 “Knots Untie

Status: Dead as of Season 9 Episode 1 “A New Beginning

Ah, Gregory. How to describe him. You know that piece of food that gets stuck in your teeth that you just can’t quite pick out of your mouth, no matter how hard you try? That’s Gregory. He’s the definition of a coward and the source of ultimate frustration for our protagonists, particularly Maggie. He left viewers feeling more annoyed than scared, as he proved time and time again that he wasn’t capable of doing any real damage. The real harm came from what he allowed the Saviors to get away with. They already had Gregory under their thumb: in an agreement, the Saviors would get half of the Hilltop’s food, in return for keeping the Hilltop members alive. Only a matter of time before he would be pressured into something else.

There are way too many instances of Gregory’s cowardice to name, so let’s jump to some of the key moments. In addition to his sexist remarks, he vocalized his frustration with Maggie’s leadership often, but was too afraid to even do anything. The closest he came to showing Maggie who the “real” boss was came in “Something They Need,” where he pulls a knife on her behind her back. He then struggles with a walker, only to be saved by Maggie. (It’s revealed that he’s never even killed one before.) Gregory even lets Negan’s right-hand man Simon know that the Hilltop fully supports them against Rick (though the residents of Hilltop would say otherwise). The so-called leader even escapes his own community in an attempt to save himself and ally with Simon. Upon his return, he is placed in prison, and eventually tries to get Maggie killed (again). Maggie, the new leader, hanged him, much to Michonne’s surprise. How was the Hilltop able to thrive under his horrible leadership?

9. Gareth

First Appearance: Season 4 Episode 16: “A

Status: Dead as of Season 5 Episode 3: “Four Walls and a Roof

The long trek to Terminus seemed much longer than the amount of time Rick’s group actually spends there. At first, it seemed like a potentially safe community for Rick to join (at least that’s what all the signs said). But, it is revealed to be a cannibalistic group led by a man named Gareth. After Gareth learns that Rick won’t be joining their way of life, he looks to him and his group not as people, but as food. They eat Bob Stookey alive, and Gareth explains to him how they became cannibals. Rick and several others, including Glenn Rhee, are bound and gagged in front of a trough. Gareth’s men are just about to bash their skulls in with metal bats (bit of a foreshadowing, isn't it?) and prepare them as food, but are distracted by a sudden ambush. To fans' delight, Carol was there to save the day and burn Terminus to the ground. Gareth eventually surrenders, but Rick wasn’t going to take any more chances. Rick follows through with his promise and tears Gareth apart with a machete. While Gareth may have some weird dietary habits, he wasn’t much of a threat. Nice try, Gareth, but it turns out your eyes were bigger than your stomach.

8. Natania (and Oceanside)

First Appearance: Season 7 Episode 6 “Swear

Status: Dead as of Season 8 Episode 8 “How It’s Gotta Be

Natania, the longtime leader of the secluded Oceanside community, proves to be more of a threat to her people than to Rick. She escaped from Simon’s camp long ago, and has since grown increasingly paranoid that an outsider will find her secret establishment. She’s so paranoid, in fact, that she will kill any outsider who enters their land. She interacts mostly with Tara of Rick’s group, who essentially washes up on their shores. Natania makes the controversial decision to kill Tara, but thanks to Cyndie, Natania’s granddaughter, Tara is able to escape unscathed. Despite repeated attempts at allegiance, Natania denies Rick’s help. She even goes as far as to hold Tara hostage, but Cyndie turns against her grandmother, and assists Rick and Alexandrians with securing weapons. Natania wasn’t as deadly as the other villains on this list, but her stubborn ways jeopardized Rick’s safety until the very last minute.

7. Dawn Lerner

First Appearance: Season 5 Episode 4 “Slabtown

Status: Dead as of Season 5 Episode 8 “Coda

While hospitals are typically considered safe spaces, Grady Memorial Hospital was far from it. In “Slabtown,” Beth Greene, who went missing in the previous season, wakes up completely confused as to how she got there. After studying the ways the staff operates, Beth realizes her life is at risk. That’s because she was under the watchful eye of tough police officer Dawn Lerner. Dawn’s brief stay in The Walking Dead universe is quite memorable. She immediately tells Beth that she must earn her keep by doing various undesirable tasks around the hospital. It seems that any time Beth sees her, she’s busy reprimanding one of the doctors or fellow officers. She was always there to remind someone that staying there was a privilege. Is there any heart under that hard exterior? If anyone was to find it, it would be Beth.

In “Coda,” we finally see a more sensitive side of Dawn, even though she does her best to stifle it. Dawn is fed up by Officer O’Donnell’s crass behavior, and confronts him in the hallway. O’Donnell doesn’t back down, but instead attacks a teary-eyed Dawn in front of Beth. Seeing a human side of Dawn enabled Beth to connect with her captor on a different level. She goes so far as to kick O’Donnell down an elevator shaft, saving Dawn’s life in the process. Dawn even admits that she cries, but doesn't let the others know in order to maintain her stern persona. Was Beth’s wholesomeness breaking through to Dawn? Well, we wouldn’t really have a chance to find out, as the final minutes of the episode are the final moments for both characters. Seconds from safety, Beth stabs Dawn in the shoulder, leading her to shoot Beth in the head. Dawn claims she didn’t mean to kill Beth, but, can we really believe her? Daryl Dixon sure couldn’t, and shot her in the head. It was an early checkout for Dawn, whose arc on the series was filled with suspense and tension every time she was on screen.

6. Shane Walsh

First Appearance: Season 1 Episode 1 “Days Gone Bye

Status: Dead as of Season 2 Episode 12 “Better Angels

Though he only lasted two seasons, Shane proves himself to be a legitimate threat. He is one of the very first people we meet in the series, as he is Rick Grimes’ best friend and fellow Sheriff. They entered the post-apocalyptic world together, which makes his turn to the dark side all the more tragic. Looking back on Shane’s character arc, he morphs into the main antagonist rather quickly. While Rick is away on a mission that would help the group in Episode 2, Shane conceives a child with Rick’s wife, Lori. (Their child, Judith Grimes, becomes an important part of the series in the years to come.) The eventual revelation to Rick is one of the many red flags in their brotherly relationship.

In “Bloodletting,” Shane and Otis (who accidentally shot Carl Grimes) embark on a dangerous medical supply run at a nearby FEMA shelter. Shane shoots him in the leg and kicks him to the walkers in order for himself to survive. Otis does not go down without a fight, as he even yanks a chunk of hair from Shane’s head. After shaving his head, it was clear that not only his physical appearance changed, but that Shane now had both feet firmly planted in antagonist territory. Shane’s cold-heart was growing icier by the minute. In his remaining episodes, he was combative and disagreeable, notoriously ripping open Hershel’s barn full of walkers (that’s a whole other conversation) and threatening other members of the group. In his final episode, “Better Angels,” he lures Rick deep into the woods and away from the others in an attempt to kill him and take the reins as leader. Ultimately, Rick knew exactly what was going on, and, after an intense fight, stabbed Shane in the chest.

5. Jadis (and the Scavengers)

First Appearance: Season 7 Episode 10 “New Best Friends

Status: Unknown as of Season 9 Episode 5 “What Comes After

A woman of few words, Jadis, the leader of the Scavengers, is a tough nut to crack. She rarely shows any signs of emotion, and is motivated by greed. The perfect way to sum up her time on the series is with one word: betrayal. She proves to be one of the trickiest villains for Rick and is almost impossible to trust. Here are a few examples: In Season 7, she promises to help Rick against Negan once he delivers her a certain amount of guns. Later, in battle, she betrays Rick and tells him that she’s actually on Negan’s side, even though they had an agreement. She gets a taste of her own medicine, though, once Negan’s buddy Simon accuses her of betraying him.

Simon then betrays Negan by going against his plan, and takes it upon himself to eliminate all the Scavengers except Jadis. (Is your head also spinning?) Eventually, she catches Negan, but lets him go. She realizes she can’t go on alone, and joins Alexandria after the war, changing her name back to Anne. Some of her most memorable moments come toward the end of Season 9. After Rick blows up the bridge, she rescues him and brings him aboard a helicopter she's been keeping contact with. Though she came into this series as an antagonist who shows no remorse, she leaves it a hero. Where oh where could Rick and Anne be now?

RELATED: 'The Walking Dead' Final Season Trailer Reveals the Beginning of the End

4. Alpha (and the Whisperers)

First Appearance: Season 9 Episode 9 “Adaptation

Status: Dead as of Season 10 Episode 12 “Walk With Us

The Mother of the Year award goes to Alpha, the exceptionally cruel leader of the Whisperers. The calm, slow-talking, skin-wearing leader’s backstory is explained thoroughly in the episode, “Omega,” by her daughter, Lydia, whom Alpha disowned. Even in the early days of the apocalypse, Alpha showed no tolerance for weakness, going as far as killing her husband for disagreeing with her plan, and anyone else she deemed too weak for her army. She no longer sees humans as people, but as obstacles, and makes sure to not be sucked into anyone’s stories of personal struggle. She has a hefty list of victims, including Enid, Henry, Tara, and the Highwaymen, (to name a few), of which she decapitated and put their heads on spikes. This would be the exact way that she dies, as her former lover Negan (we don’t have to unpack that) tricks her into believing he has Lydia, but instead slices her in the throat.

3. Owen (and the Wolves)

First Appearance: Season 5 Episode 16 “Conquer

Status: Dead as of Season 6 Episode 9 “No Way Out

We first meet Owen in the very beginning of the Season 5 finale, when he approaches a post-Eastman Morgan, who peacefully eats by a fire in the woods. He stands out from the others, as Owen has a “W” carved into his forehead meant to symbolize his allegiance to the group known as the Wolves. What makes Owen one of the most feared villains is how upfront he is. He’s going to kill you, and he’s going to take all of your things. Then, he’ll likely carve a “W” into your head. He switches conversation topics from wiping out communities to going to the movies with friends so seamlessly, you might not even notice. Owen’s so confident, well spoken, and relaxed, that it’s almost impossible to predict exactly when he’s going to kill you. Morgan doesn’t seem too threatened by Owen, and after a brief struggle, knocks him out with his staff and leaves him to die in his car (not before honking the horn a few times, of course). But, Owen is still alive, and on his way to Alexandria (thanks for leaving your backpack full of pictures behind, Aaron).

The most high-stakes episodes of Season 6 are the ones with Owen, and that says a lot considering he’s held prisoner for most of them. He brings out conflict between Carol (who wants to kill Owen) and Morgan (who doesn’t believe killing him is the answer). While they fight, Owen is totally unphased, and never shows any signs of fear for his life. After Morgan knocks out Carol, Owen knocks out Morgan, and escapes with the community nurse, Denise, as his hostage. No one, not even Owen, could predict what he was going to do next. Despite a clear route to safety, he goes back into a herd of walkers to save Denise, causing himself to be bitten in the arm. Did her inspirational words from before get through to him? Something did, as he sacrificed himself again in order for her to rush to safety. Either way, he wasn’t going to survive, as Carol shot him repeatedly from a balcony. Owen was an intriguing individual, who had the potential to be a real asset to Rick’s group if he did in fact have a change of heart.

2. The Governor

First Appearance: Season 3 Episode 3 “Walk With Me

Status: Dead as of Season 4 Episode 8 “Too Far Gone

It’s crystal clear by the end of his first episode that The Governor (also known as Philip Blake) is not the well-intentioned protector he claims to be. Michonne and Andrea stumbled across him and his crew when he appeared to be saving a man (Welles) from a helicopter crash. From there, they were taken in by Philip (and to their surprise, Merle Dixon), to the secure safe haven known as Woodbury. Right from the start, Andrea was enamored by the eerily idyllic life those within the walls seemed to live. Children running around? No deaths? Something wasn’t right, and Michonne knew it. It turns out, The Governor was lying to his residents from the start about being a selfless leader. He let Welles believe that he would bring back the rest of his cohorts alive. Instead, Philip fakes his surrender to the group, and, just as they disarm, guns them all down and takes their weapons. By the end of the episode, the audience sees Welles’s head lazily floating in a fish tank in The Governor’s take on an aquarium. Guess he didn’t have everyone’s best intentions in mind after all.

Things escalate quite a bit while The Governor is in power. He recruits an emotionally unstable Andrea to live with him in Woodbury, and she falls under his spell (until she has a last-minute change of heart). The main conflict that would bring down Philip once and for all is ignited when Maggie and Glenn are kidnapped by his men. Rick wants his people back, and The Governor wants Rick to surrender, making this the perfect cocktail for pure anarchy. Philip interrogates and sexually harasses Maggie and Glenn, and goes full-steam-ahead with his annihilistic plan. The long struggle for the throne culminates in a blood-soaked showdown outside of The Prison, a key location and refuge early in the series. By this time, Michonne and Hershel are bound and kneeling at Philip’s feet. As the title of the episode (“Too Far Gone”) suggests, the days of reasoning with The Governor were over. He uses Michonne’s katana to decapitate Hershel in front of Hershel’s daughters, Beth and Maggie, much to everyone’s horror. The Governor not only killed without hesitation, but was an outright liar who masterfully manipulated people to join his deadly community.

1. Negan (and the Saviors)

First Appearance: Season 6 Episode 12 “Last Day on Earth

Status: Alive

Let’s meet the man. Fans eagerly awaited this notorious villain’s on-screen arrival, as they were curious to see if his cruelty from the comics could make it to the screen. Negan proves to be the most brutal baddie (bat-y?) of the series within minutes. As repercussions for killing his people, he rounds Rick’s group up in a circle and explains to them that they are under his control now, and have plenty to fear. Not only is he worse than what Rick anticipated, but he’s arrogant—and even giddy—watching everyone’s pained expressions. He introduces everyone to his barbed-wire-covered baseball bat, Lucille (named after his wife), which two unfortunate souls would soon become very familiar with. As promised, Negan bashes in the skulls of Abraham and Glenn until they are bloody stumps.

Negan has been through a lot since his impressive debut. He’s been imprisoned by Rick’s group, betrayed by some of his most loyal Saviors, bonded with Carl and Judith, had his throat slashed by Rick, and joined forces with Alpha and the Whisperers. He has, however, stepped up to the plate and proved that he could even be a voice of reason when they need it most. It’s clear his time as prisoner humbled and softened him a bit. Yes, he joined the Whispers, but only to kill Alpha. Still alive heading into the final season, can Negan make it to the very end?

New episodes of The Walking Dead air Sundays on AMC.

KEEP READING: 'The Walking Dead' Final Season Trailer Resurrects Rick Grimes

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