I’ve been a fan of The Walking Dead for some time, and have seen some amazing characters in this series. I’ve witnessed great development and stories that have captured my interest in some of the best episodes, from the destruction of the prison to the rise of the Saviors. However, there’s one thing that The Walking Dead has always been a bit short handed on, and that is villains.
Don’t get me wrong, they have plenty of antagonists in this show, but at the same time, it feels (at least to me) that certain enemies don’t have the same impact as the others. While not everyone can be Negan, there are definitely some characters/groups that stand out a bit more. So from the very beginning of the show to the end, these are The Walking Dead’s main villains, ranked.
12. The Claimers (Season 4)
The Claimers first appeared in Season 4 of The Walking Dead when Daryl was alone after Beth was taken away. But over time, they grew to just be aggravating, who thought that “claiming” something automatically made it theirs no matter what.
Their worst act as villains was when one of them threatened to rape Carl, but there was nothing else that stands out to me amongst their Season 4 stint. Although I’ll never get tired of watching Rick rip out the leader’s jugular.
11. The Reapers (Season 11)
Ugh. Talking about the Reapers annoys me.
In my eyes, they really aren’t that much better than the Claimers. They just remind me of pushy apocalypse survivors that just kill whoever they want to get what they feel they deserve – these guys just so happen to have military training.
The storyline was just boring and not my favorite of the whole series, and I despised Leah in general – the love interest of Daryl for, like, an episode, and then turned out to be one of the main leaders of the Reapers.
The character was pointless, and so was this storyline. Zero stars out of five.
10. The Wolves (Season 6)
I’ll always think that the Wolves were one of the most-wasted opportunities The Walking Dead ever had. In Season 6, it felt like there wasn’t that much going on in terms of villains. Peace was finally found amongst the survivors. The Wolves were given the perfect opportunity to be the villain the show needed.
And then they were wiped out within a couple of episodes.
The reason I rank them a bit higher than the others is that at least they had some serious impact on the community as a whole. They had killed several people. But the way that Rick’s group was able to basically just get rid of them so quickly felt disappointing.
9. Jadis (Season 7 & 8)
Jadis was… all right. Some people might not agree with me, and even the actress who played her said she was a great villain, but she wasn't the best in my eyes.
Her group, which appeared not that long after Negan’s first arrival in The Walking Dead, was just weird. They lived among the trash and made deals with people for their own advantage. They even switched sides on Rick to serve Negan. The only serious thing they did was when they threw Rick into a pit to fight a walker with no weapons.
But Jadis herself was redeemed, not that long after. Was she still a bit of a prick even then? Yeah, but she and her group were nowhere near as bad as some of the others here.
8. The Terminus Group (Season 5)
You know, I actually really liked the Terminus group in The Walking Dead during Season 5. Cannibals were a great new enemy that the group had never faced before. And they would have been higher on this list if they weren’t killed so quickly.
Within a couple of episodes, they were murdered by Rick’s group without a single thought once they got the upper hand. The cannibals' worst moment was when they amputated Bob’s leg to eat it, and of course, his classic line of “I’m tainted meat!” is a great quote, but it’s just a shame we didn’t get more of them.
7. The Walkers (In General)
The walkers are some of the least threatening villains in The Walking Dead. I felt like in the beginning of the series, they were a bit more of a threat, but as the show went on, and the survivors found new ways to deal with them, all they really felt like since then was an inconvenience.
The hordes in both Season 6 and Season 10 definitely gave the survivors a run for their money, but other than that, if there’s only a couple of them, they can get taken out pretty easily. I will say that there have been some interesting developments in the walkers throughout the series. There’s even some new ones in the latest spinoff, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon that are somehow able to burn people. But they’re still just…mid.
6. Simon (Season 6, 7, 8)
I loved Simon. In The Walking Dead Season 6, when he first showed up, admittedly, I felt that he was just this annoying biker that said cryptic lines just to be sketchy but over time, I genuinely felt fear. As Negan’s right-hand man, he had almost just as much power as the big bad, but Simon felt almost a little too psychopathic.
While Negan had hopes of maybe developing peace between the Saviors and Rick’s group, Simon wanted to do whatever it took to somehow keep the Saviors on top, and that meant betraying Negan. Of course, Negan didn’t appreciate this and ended Simon’s life not that long after through a big fight, but Simon was a worthy antagonist. He was cold, calculating, and just a bit crazy which made him memorable.
He even came back in a certain way for The Walking Dead: Dead City, so it’s clear fans did enjoy him a lot.
5. The Commonwealth (Season 11)
To be honest, it was going to be hard to adapt something as big and bold as The Commonwealth in the TV show, because there’s a lot of nuanced themes and storylines that come from the Commonwealth arc in the comics. But I have to say, the show did a decent job with it, so much so I’d put it in my top five.
I think it was an accurate way of visualizing how the world would be if a group decided to rebuild society when the rest of the planet has fallen apart. Not only that, but the threat was much bigger this time around, with a whole military going against Alexandria, Hilltop, and more.
Pamela wasn’t really that scary – really, no one in this case was incredibly scary, but they were calculated, and sometimes, that’s all you need with a good villain.
4. Shane Walsh (Season 2)
While Shane wasn’t necessarily a villain until Season 2, you could clearly see his descent throughout the two seasons he was in during The Walking Dead, and I believe that’s what makes him one of the most memorable. He never did anything as bad as some of the other villains on here, but it was his slow and painstaking march towards the antagonist that makes him stand out.
We see him transform from Rick’s right-hand man to someone who is willing to aim a gun at him once he realizes he’s lost his leadership, lost the woman he cared about and was losing his best friend. That standoff between the two of them is one of the most iconic scenes in the series and deserves more praise as a great turning point for one of Rick’s former allies. It was great to see him again in Season 9.
3. The Governor (Season 3 & 4)
As one of the most iconic villains of The Walking Dead, the Governor needed to be ranked this high. We meet him in Season 3 with Andrea and Michonne, seeing this apparent happy-go-lucky guy who has a community and wants to help people. But only then is it revealed that he’s actually a total psychopath who chains up his reanimated zombie daughter and cuts off the heads of people.
His Season 4 story felt almost better than Season 3, seeing him not only take out the prison but take out the group's moral compass in Hershel Greene, decapitating him without barely any hesitation. His death was very well-deserved by the time it came to him. It’s a shame we never got to see David Morrissey play the role again.
2. Alpha And Beta (Seasons 9 & 10)
For so long, we were waiting for this amazing and terrifying duo from the comics, and when the producers adapted them to The Walking Dead series, they did not disappoint. The introduction of Alpha, Beta, and the Whisperers as a whole was a great addition to the show in Seasons 9/10 when the main protagonist – Rick – was gone. It provided a genuine threat to all of the communities, one that had them coming together again to somehow fight back against them.
I mean, no one else can unite walkers as Alpha and Beta could. They could have very easily destroyed all of the communities. Hell, they did with Hilltop. They killed several people in the Kingdom. If it wasn’t for Negan becoming one of them for a time to get to Alpha and protect Lydia, then the survivors would probably be dead meat by now. These two have such an interesting relationship, the best villainous partnership.
1. Negan (Season 6,7,8)
If you’re surprised, you clearly haven’t been paying attention.
Out of every villain I have ever seen on The Walking Dead, and on TV as a whole, no other villain has quite captivated me like Negan. Introduced at the end of Season 6, Negan was first seen as this horrible man leading a group of horrible people, who lead some of the saddest Walking Dead deaths. However, over the course of the next two seasons, we start to see several sides of Negan.
We start to see that while he is a screwed-up dude, he also has a strange set of morals. We see that he cares about children, from his complicated relationship with Carl. We see later on that he wants to make a change and become a better version of himself with his relationship with Judith. We even see his changed ways when he teams up with Daryl, someone he once tortured when he was the leader of the Saviors.
Negan is such a compelling villain-turned-antihero, so much so that now, years later, I find myself rooting for him to stay alive instead of wishing death upon him. That’s how you know a villain is done correctly – no one can quite outdo Negan.
What are your favorite villains in The Walking Dead? Now that the show is done, we can look back on fondness with these villains – and then maybe make a list of the best villains in the spinoffs. The world of The Walking Dead just never ends. Or I’ll just binge this whole series until the emotional finale; who knows at this point?
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Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!