What the cast of The Walking Dead looks like in real life

Making it out of the zombie apocalypse alive means putting your survival instincts to the test—and putting your weekly manicure on hold until things blow over. The Walking Dead's survivors may look like they haven't seen a hot shower in a while, but the actors playing the "Atlanta Four" and their fellow survivors are doing just fine in the personal hygiene department. Check out what the cast of AMC's The Walking Dead looks like in real life.

Andrew Lincoln (Rick)

As the first character introduced in the series premiere of The Walking Dead in 2010, Rick Grimes started his undead odyssey as your typical clean-cut Sheriff's Deputy. But being constantly brutalized and watching your friends and loved ones succumb to the horrors of the apocalypse can change a man—and Rick Grimes is the prime example of a broken yet hopeful survivor. Rick's difficulty coming to grips with the world's encroaching nihilism reflects in his features—particularly his hair and beard, which have grown longer and more disheveled as the show goes on.

Fortunately, the ever-dashing Andrew Lincoln shares little in common with his tormented character beyond his rugged good looks. Whereas Rick is a hard-boiled guardian, Lincoln is all about the laughs—he's even got a penchant for playing pranks on his castmates.

Norman Reedus (Daryl)

Norman Reedus' Daryl Dixon is more comfortable on a hog than in an armored car, more at ease roughing it in the wilderness than living it up in a lavish mansion—and his appearance parallels his no-nonsense approach to survival. With scraggly locks that all but obscure sunken eyes that have seen some unseeable things, Daryl's look is a post-apocalyptic take on the hard-nosed biker with a heart of gold.

In real life, Reedus is indistinguishable from his character… albeit with a lot less dirt and blood caking his clothing. For better or for worse, it doesn't take much makeup to transform Reedus—who, like Daryl, really takes his motorcycles seriously—into his fictional, walker-whacking counterpart. Unlike the brooding lone wolf that is Mr. Dixon, however, Reedus is a sweetheart. Oh, and he likes to kiss people. Like, a lot.

Chandler Riggs (Carl)

Fans who've stuck with AMC's zombie hit since its humble beginnings can attest to the many changes they've seen the young Chandler Riggs undergo—both as a result of the nightmare unfolding around him and, well, puberty (a whole different kind of nightmare). Riggs was first cast as Carl at the tender age of 10, and, while he's maintained a youthful, bright-eyed appearance throughout the series, he's not without his physical—and mental—battle scars. Most notably, the gaping hole where his right eyeball used to be.

But take away the bandage (or the gruesome prosthetic), knock off the cowboy hat, and that's where the differences end. That flowing mane is real, and Riggs, who graduated high school in May 2017, keeps it long for a very specific reason: he's contractually obligated to. When asked about his hair during a Reddit AMA, he claimed that he'd eventually shave it off, but, for now, he's "gotta keep [his] hair long for as long as [he's] on the show."

Danai Gurira (Michonne)

Everyone's favorite katana-wielding #WCW took the screen by storm in season 3, and we've yet to find a new obsession. Forget what we said about putting fashion on hold in the apocalypse. Michonne kicks walker ass in style, slicing and dicing in distressed skinny jeans and her signature sleeveless leather vest.

Gurira really brings her character to life—so it came as a minor shock to super fans everywhere when they realized that the actress has always worn her hair short, even shaving it for her role in Marvel's Black Panther film. That's right—those dreads are a wig, and Gurira has a complicated relationship with them, claiming they can be kind of a hassle when filming, especially when it's "100 degrees in the swamps of Georgia."

Steven Yeun (Glenn)

When Negan killed Glenn in a brutal scene that invoked the rage of longtime fans, The Walking Dead was changed forever. And while Glenn may be best remembered for the skull crack heard around the world, he truly was the group's moral compass. His style of dress was practical and no-frills, echoing his attitude. If Glenn was anything, he was grounded.

Steven Yeun is a lot like his character in that respect. His shares a relaxed look with his TV counterpart—though he's a bit more dapper, with well-groomed hair and fewer specks of brain matter adorning his clothing. Before deciding to pursue a career in acting (to his parents' dismay), Yeun had planned to attend law school—or try his hand at a medical career. Somehow, it's just as easy to imagine him defending the innocent in court as it is to recall his role in The Walking Dead.

Melissa McBride (Carol)

Melissa McBride's friendship with Frank Darabont, the director of The Mist, led to her being cast in the role of Carol. She'd previously enjoyed a successful career as a casting director before dipping her toes into acting—and the rest, as they say, is horror-TV history. A fan favorite for her cunning and loyalty to the team, Carol's short, silver hair has become an emblem of her journey from widow to warrior.

Like many of McBride's equally un-ugly-fiable castmates, this Saturn Award-winning actress' transformation into Carol boils down to mussing her hair, trading a stylish blouse for battle armor, plopping a rifle in her hands, and smearing a handful of mud across her cheeks. They pay makeup artists for that?

​Lauren Cohan (Maggie)

When poor ol' Hershel Greene's eldest daughter Maggie was introduced early on in The Walking Dead's second season, viewers had no idea she'd go from Glenn's cute-as-a-button farmhand crush to a tough-as-nails widow—and mom-to-be. Eventually becoming mother hen of Hilltop Colony and helping lead the Militia against the Saviors and the Scavengers, Maggie's character has evolved almost as dramatically as her style—she's traded in her layered blouses and pristine denim for baseball caps, hunting jackets, and handgun holsters.

Lauren Cohan, on the other hand, is all glitz and glamour—at least compared to her kneecap-busting counterpart. Among the best dressed of her castmates, Cohan, who modeled for Richard Branson's failed apparel company Virgin Clothing before hitting it big in Hollywood, regularly opts for designer clothing and elegant makeup rather than the apocalyptic rags in Maggie's wardrobe. Hey—nobody wants to take their work home with them, right?

Lennie James (Morgan)

After his mental breakdown, his fling with pacifism, and his chaotic collapse back into homicide after Richard's betrayal of the Kingdom, we can collectively forgive Morgan for his… inconsistent behavior—though fans still love to argue over his sense of morality and mental state in forums 'til they're blue in the face. Desk chair MD diagnoses aside, Morgan is a ticking time bomb in makeshift armor. But we love him just the same.

Lennie James, on the other hand, is one dapper son of a gun. After graduating from Guildhall School of Music and Drama, the English—yes, English—actor went on to star in a number of high-profile films and TV shows including Guy Ritchie's comedy crime caper Snatch and the CBS cult hit Jericho before finding his footing among the Militia in AMC's The Walking Dead. Of course, Morgan's looking a little more wild in the eyes these days, while James is out and about rocking a pair of dark frames and a single earring.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Negan)

Whether you hate to love him or love to hate him, Jeffrey Dean Morgan's portrayal of the sociopathic Louisville-slugger-swinging Negan changed the game when he stomped onto the scene, putting two beloved cast members down in an episode that had fans sobbing into their barf bags. The Saviors' head honcho rocks a leather jacket that suggests a pre-apocalypse penchant for punk rock—along with an out-of-place red scarf that so terrifically clashes with his tough guy persona it's actually inspired articles speculating about its thematic relevance.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan doesn't quite share the same sensibilities as his tele-villain—and with good reason. He's gone on the record about how emotionally taxing the role of Negan can be at times, especially when he's constantly (fictionally) threatening the lives of castmates he considers friends. Physically, Morgan isn't afraid to grow out those whiskers, while Negan's chin walks the fine line between five-o'clock-shadowed and baby's bottom smooth.

Josh McDermitt (Eugene)

If Eugene is anything, he's crafty: he can produce poison, he can craft bullets—hell, he's become Negan's right-hand man. Against all odds, he's survived… somehow. While by no means the most lovable member of the show, the mullet-touting brains behind pretty much every operation is played by an actor who acts, speaks, and dresses like the total opposite of his TV counterpart.

Let's do this one rapid-fire: Yes, the beloved hair is real, though his natural hair color is blond. No, that's not his real voice—according to a Reddit AMA, he based it on his brother's manner of speech. His everyday wardrobe is not, in fact, limited to vests and cargo shorts. And finally—and we cannot stress this one enough—McDermitt is nothing like the cowardly Eugene (though try telling that to some of The Walking Dead's crazed fans).

Christian Serratos (Rosita)

Christian Serratos stole our hearts as the feisty Rosita Espinosa when she joined the cast in season 4. But after the decimation of two of her besties at the hands of Negan, she was quick to become an outspoken proponent of 'sploding the Saviors. Season 7 saw her adapting a colder, more determined outlook as the idea of vengeance consumed her. Her personality shift is reflected in her wardrobe change—she's swapped out the short shorts for more practical jeans, she's ditched the hoop earrings, and she's grown out of the pigtails.

It goes without saying that Serratos has come a long way since her humble beginnings as Suzie Crabgrass, the titular character's love interest in Nickelodeon's Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide. She's gone from breaking high school hearts to kicking zombie butt. Off-camera, Serratos can be found donning any number of designer getups—clothing one can imagine Rosita would've killed for, pre-walker-apocalypse.

Khary Payton (Ezekiel)

Keeping in theme with the theatrics of the self-proclaimed community-theatre-actor-turned king himself, Khary Payton has undergone quite the dramatic makeover to play one of the series' most polarizing characters—Ezekiel, ruler of the Kingdom. Though the decorated actor, who's lent his voice to hundreds of animated television shows, video games, and films, would prefer to keep things simple—with a shaved head and the best beard this side of Jason Momoa's Drogo.

Payton's charismatic character, on the other hand, goes all out in an attempt to unify the downtrodden denizens of his settlement. With a mane of gray dreadlocks straight out of The Matrix and a closet bursting with regal garments fit for an Elder Scrolls emperor, Ezekiel's look is far from practical—and totally in contrast with Payton's stripped-down, casual aesthetic.

Tom Payne (Jesus)

Jesus is one of those characters that nobody expected would make the transition from the pages of the comics to the small screen. Think about it: a gay zombie-kicking kung-fu Christ with glorious hair? Get outta here! Well, truth is often stranger than fiction, so when Tom Payne was cast as the plucky Messiah with a penchant for parkour, nerds everywhere rejoiced in the name of their savior, Paul "Jesus" Rovia (Monroe in the comics).

Following suit with a number of his castmates, Payne, who's starred in several British shows and films including the controversial teen drama Skins and BBC's Waterloo Road, grew his hair out to match his character's comic book look. But while Jesus looks most himself in his leather trench coat and gray beanie—must-have gear for roughing up walkers—Payne seems to prefer loose yet stylish pre-apocalyptic apparel.

Michael Cudlitz (Abraham)

Let's face it: Abraham's got a face only a mother could love. Well, and Rosita. And Sasha. And his late wife Ellen… OK, so the big lug gets a lot of love. But between the signature scowl, the jowl-intensifying handlebar 'stache, and the sunset-orange box cut, Abraham's lucky he's got charm and loyalty in heaps.

Turns out Michael Cudlitz, the actor behind all that orange hair dye, is a natural blond. And—wouldn't you know it—he's nowhere near as averse to sleeves as his character's wardrobe would have you believe.

Look, we know The Walking Dead just isn't the same without the cuss-spewing, cigar-chomping, mustachioed spartan. But, if his filmography is any indication, Michael Cudlitz is a busy actor, so you'd be hard-pressed to take two steps without tripping over a project he's involved in. Case in point: The Trustee, an ABC pilot that features Cudlitz alongside buddy cop duo Laverne Cox and Meaghan Rath.

David Morrissey (The Governor)

Though he didn't last as long as the survivors with whom he'd waged war, David Morrissey's stint as Philip Blake—better known as the Governor—reminded audiences that zombies weren't the only thing to be afraid of during the end days. While old Gov's distinguishing feature is the eyepatch he adopts after Michonne introduces him to her katana, his yuppie style of dress and well-groomed appearance serve only to contrast his twisted sensibilities, making him that much more sinister.

For one thing, David Morrissey smiles way more often than his twisted TV twin. That, coupled with his slicked-back hair, penchant for snappy dressing, and warm British accent, soothe any fears we had about how he might, say, lock us in a room with a brain-starved zombie.

Seth Gilliam (Father Gabriel)

Let's clear the air right now: For all of his errors in judgement, Father Gabriel has proven himself to be a loyal part of the Militia. After the death of Glenn at the hands of Negan, Gabriel became the core group's moral touchstone—and his experiences traveling alongside Rick have bolstered not only his once-weak will but his combat prowess and survival skills. Despite the atrocities he's witnessed at the hands of both the walkers and his fellow man, Gabriel's faith is unwavering.

Seth Gilliam, the man behind the collar, is no stranger to playing complex characters. After all, this is the actor that gave us The Wire's Sergeant Ellis Carver, a character whose very arc epitomizes the potential for positive change both as a human being and as an officer of the law. Gilliam may be far from a holy man, but he's also a passionate actor who cares deeply about his fans, his character, and his castmates.

Austin Amelio (Dwight)

After a botched attempt at stealing medical supplies, Dwight nearly met his maker courtesy of Negan's bat, Lucille. But thanks to some quick thinking on the part of Dwight's wife, Sherry, he was spared a horrific death. The caveat? Sherry marries Negan, and Dwight's face gets well acquainted with an iron—Negan's idea of appropriate punishment.

Luckily, actor Austin Amelio has yet to get on a barbed wire-wrapped-bat-swinging lunatic's bad side. Though that's not to say he's unfamiliar with the occasional (yet comparatively less disfiguring) injury. In addition to being an actor, Amelio is a devoted skateboarder who even boasted a sponsorship with No Comply Skate Shop prior to hitting it big on The Walking Dead.

Sonequa Martin-Green (Sasha)

If there's one character who just couldn't catch a break, it was Sasha. Portrayed by Star Trek: Discovery's Sonequa Martin-Green for five seasons, she'd come face to face with the atrocities of the zombie apocalypse time and time again, losing her brother Tyreese, her first love interest, Bob, and, finally, Abraham. Hardened by the death that surrounded her—and convinced by Rosita that Negan must die by any means necessary—she sacrificed her life to buy the Militia enough time to turn the tables on the Scavengers and the Saviors.

But where Sasha is calculated, cunning, and unafraid to cast her own needs aside and leap into the fray, Martin-Green—whose beauty is only matched by her heart—has one particular reason to keep herself safe: her family. She gave birth to Kenric Justin Green II shortly after The Walking Dead's fifth season. "I think motherhood preps you for every single aspect of life," she told Watch!. "It's impossible to encapsulate in words how much motherhood prepped me for being a human being."

Katelyn Nacon (Enid)

If The Walking Dead has taught viewers one thing, it's that death is inevitable—and dumb luck can only get you so far. No character epitomizes this concept better than Enid, who, despite her youth and inexperience, has somehow managed to survive. On her own. In the walker-infested wilderness.

Her motto, "JSS," or "Just Survive Somehow," represents the humanistic message at the heart of The Walking Dead: that perseverance, craftiness, and the will to go on despite insurmountable odds is what separates us humans from the undead. Like her male counterpart Carl, Enid looks, dresses, and acts her age—albeit with the occasional gun. Because, you know, it's the apocalypse.

Fortunately, Katelyn Nacon—Enid in real life—doesn't need to contend with the undead. Between flaunting her fashion sense as a style icon, acting in one of TV's biggest shows, and chasing success as an aspiring musician, where would she find the time?

Pollyanna McIntosh (Jadis)

The Walking Dead's season 7 saw the introduction of a new group to the mix—the Scavengers, a group of weird-talkin', junkyard-livin' survivors with a love of recycling and all things hooded. While these "Heapsters" first seemed down with the idea of joining the Militia and doing away with the Saviors for good, Jadis' crew would go on to show their true colors, eventually betraying Rick's collective during a massive shoot-out with the Saviors in Alexandria.

Between her traitorous tendencies and exactly zero qualms about putting her group before the lives of others, Jadis may just be the anarchic breath of fresh air the show needs after suffering major ratings drops during its seventh season. Pollyanna McIntosh, the actress who portrays Jadis, somehow manages to make that post-apocalyptic dye-job work offscreen. It's safe to say that the Heapster Queen cleans up quite nicely.