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Every Walking Dead Villain Ranked From Worst To Best

For a show that bills itself on being set in a zombie apocalypse, The Walking Dead makes it clear that the walkers are hardly the biggest threat facing what's left of humanity. Sure, the early days of the outbreak see loved ones die left and right, as well as unlikely alliances form between even more unlikely people. But it doesn't take long before humanity's biggest and historically greatest threat rears its ugly head once again: humanity itself.

Every time the survivors who make up the main cast find a safe harbor, someone comes along, hell-bent on taking it for themselves and the people they care about. In a world where diplomacy isn't valued nearly as much as one's ability to put something sharp through a living or dead skull, conflict remains the single greatest driver of political and social change on The Walking Dead. As the show progresses, the big bads that step up to the plate to try and dethrone our heroes seem to get bigger, badder, and more bonkers than their predecessors. However, for every baddie that causes genuine turmoil among the main group, there's a litany of less-than-stellar antagonists left in their wake. 

As such, it's interesting to take a look back on The Walking Dead's best and worst villains. These are the baddies our heroes have had to overcome, ranked.

Jadis (Anne)

First introduced in season seven, Jadis is the leader of a faction known as the Scavengers. Rick approaches them in the hopes of gaining more soldiers in his fight against Negan and the Saviors. Jadis is depicted as a curt, cold leader of a handful of loyal survivors. She lives in a junkyard where she often makes art out of the items that are discarded, and elects to speak in broken English, despite demonstrating that she is capable of proper syntax. Although her eccentricities make Jadis, whose real name is later revealed to be Anne, irritating, they're not the reason she ranks as one of the worst villains on the show.

When push comes to shove, Jadis' move is always to extort something out of the people she has power over. When Rick comes with his hat in his hand, she demands some kind of tribute. When she agrees to fight alongside him, she eventually betrays the Alexandrians and joins the Saviors ... only to later betray them when the tide of the battle shifts. In the end, she makes one greedy choice too many, and her entire group is massacred by the Saviors at the behest of Simon. Her time as a villain is marked by perplexing character traits and an inability to really impact the outcome of the world. Frankly, the Scavengers are just pawns who aren't even particularly good at being pawns, and her simplistic, greedy leadership is 100 percent to blame.


When Gregory is introduced, he seems like an impressive figure. He's run the Hilltop colony since the beginning, and by season six it stands as one of the few safe havens left in the world. It's even more well-off than Alexandria, since it's self-sustaining. However, as the world grows and alliances start to form, it becomes clear that Gregory is only a peacetime leader — and a very average one at that.

When the Saviors first arrive, he's unable to put up much of a fight and almost immediately rolls over. Once Rick comes around, he realizes that his people need some muscle and agrees to help, right up until Rick loses his first battle with the Saviors. He then declares their deal "null and void." After that, Maggie gains popularity as a leader among Hilltop residents, prompting Gregory to attempt to defect to the Saviors.

Perhaps you've already noticed the pattern here: Gregory gives up at the drop of a hat. Whenever things get real, he simply quits and joins the other team, bouncing back and forth between the good guys and bad guys and having little impact on either faction. Hero or villain, a person in the world of The Walking Dead has to make big moves that might lead to conflict. Even if he's no fighter, maintaining control is key, and Gregory, from the get-go, never really has control of anyone or anything.

The Wolves

It's rare that a villainous group on The Walking Dead has no distinct leader, but such is the case with the Wolves. The Wolves are a group of marauders active in the Washington D.C. area who survive by raiding any living people for supplies, then using their zombified bodies as bait to attract more prey. They foster a sense of unease in the area by marking areas they've hit with the words "Wolves not far." Their theatrics don't end there: They carve a "W" into both their foreheads and the foreheads of their victims. 

For all their style, the Wolves don't last very long against Rick's group — namely, Carol. In season six, after teasing their presence in the area for weeks, they launch a full-on attack on Alexandria. They've done this before: The survivors discover a group of homes that have been walled off in a similar fashion as the Wolves attempt in Alexandria, and brought to ruin as a result. The Wolves' MO is to mutilate trapped residents and make sure the community is no longer a viable place to live by knocking down their perimeter walls. In short, they're the reason people can't have nice things in the zombie apocalypse.

In the end, however, their attack on Alexandria is nothing more than a surprisingly toothless display of intimidation. Carol, disguised as a Wolf, successful slaughters a number of them, and the Alexandrians are able to repel their forces. So much for the Wolves' ferocity.


All things considered, Gareth is actually a pretty savvy villain. Not only does he lead a large faction of people, he manages to hatch a pretty clever scheme that brings a lot of unsuspecting victims into his web. After founding Terminus as a safe haven, Gareth's good intentions are foiled by a group of hostile survivors who briefly take over. He manages to get the place back, but only by resorting to villainous tactics. Following this, Gareth grows merciless and turns his little beacon of hope into a trap for people in the area who hear radio broadcasts hailing Terminus as a sanctuary. In reality, it's a meat factory for cannibals. 

The only reason Gareth ranks so low on this list is simply that his villainy doesn't last long in the face of Rick Grimes and his survivors. After Gareth captures the group and attempts to murder them for meat, Rick and company manage to escape and take Terminus out. With everything he built in ruins, Gareth tracks them to a nearby church and manages to capture Bob. Ultimately, though, his tracking amounts to nothing as Rick makes good on his promise to murder him with a red-handled machete. 

Gareth is neither the most cunning, nor the most threatening villain on The Walking Dead, but he does manage to build something worthy of infamy. Unfortunately, his contribution to the world ends there.


Dwight is an enormously complicated villain. However, that complexity somewhat diminishes his level of success as a bad guy: His heart just isn't in it. Dwight is introduced as someone who betrays Daryl's kindness on the road after fleeing the Saviors with his wife and sister-in-law.  Eventually, the family returns. Negan separates Dwight from his wife and burns half his face off with an iron for his desertion.

After enduring this trauma and spending a good portion of time in solitary confinement, Dwight emerges as one of Negan's top guys. He's reintroduced to the survivors after he mercilessly shoots Denise Cloyd through the eye, and is part of the team that captures the survivors before Abraham Ford and Glenn Rhee are executed by Negan. Basically, Dwight is an irredeemable bastard at this point in the story. However, his love for his wife keeps a singular spark of humanity alive within him, and eventually, he makes the bold choice to turn on Negan and the Saviors and act as a mole for the Alexandrians.

For a time, Dwight is a pretty captivating figure to watch, because it's genuinely unclear where his loyalties lie. In the end, he makes the tough call to do the right thing, and Daryl spares his life as a result. He's one of The Walking Dead's more understated antagonists, and that makes him a relatively minor figure on this list, but definitely not in the hearts of the show's fans.


While Joe never leads a large group like Jadis, Gareth, or the Wolves, he gets major points for being a seriously evil person. He's first introduced as the leader of a very small group of marauders called the Claimers. They roll into a house that Rick happens to be hiding out in and quickly demonstrate their depravity. Rick manages to escape them, but not without killing a Claimer.

While tracking Rick down for revenge, Joe meets and befriends Daryl and explains his philosophy on leadership. Joe manages to keep his small group in line by issuing one major rule: Anyone who claims something owns it by right. Those who violate this rule are punished with a beating, "or worse." The Claimers are a small faction because Joe deals with internal conflicts by straight-up murdering the person who is at fault. What likely started out as the misguided leadership of someone under duress has devolved into a marauding band that traverses the apocalypse pursuing cruel thrills and a twisted version of justice.

When Joe catches up to Rick, he threatens to murder Daryl and rape both Michonne and Carl. He genuinely gets one over on Rick, but only briefly, because Joe underestimates his opponent's savagery. Rick rips out Joe's jugular vein with his teeth, putting an end to his misguided worldview right then and there.


Sometimes, the scariest villains are the ones who are convinced they're the good guy. When Dawn is introduced, she's several years into the apocalypse, but is still holding out hope for a government rescue. What's more, she's still hanging on to some semblance of control through her rank in the Atlanta Police Department.

Dawn presides over a hospital that she and a handful of other survivors, cops, and physicians have turned into a very tense safe haven. With resources dwindling, Dawn allows crimes like murder, forced labor, and even rape, all in the name of keeping their way of life going until a government rescue arrives. This is, as the audience knows, a long wait for a train that simply isn't coming.

When Beth Greene arrives as a patient, she's given a crash course in Dawn's deeply and profoundly misguided way of leading. When Beth befriends a guy named Noah, they hatch an escape that half-fails, and only allows him to go. While Beth stays back and faces the consequences from one of Dawn's men, it becomes clear that Dawn is losing control, prompting her to do something drastic. When Beth's group comes to negotiate a trade for Beth and Carol (who has been injured and brought to the hospital), Dawn tries to prove herself by demanding they get Noah back as well. Driven to madness by her brief time with Dawn, Beth stabs her. Dawn reflexively shoots her, and is immediately shot dead by Daryl.

The Governor

The Governor, AKA Philip Blake, deserves high honors for being The Walking Dead's very first, through-and-through, honest-to-God villain. Prior to his arrival, the worst threat to humanity is Merle Dixon. When Daryl's brother is finally seen again after more than a year, he's the Governor's right hand man — which really says something about the company Blake keeps.

When the Governor is introduced, he is revealed to have accomplished what Rick has failed to do: He has created a working society within the zombie apocalypse. While the show has since seen a bevy of strongholds from both good guys and bad guys take shape, the Governor is the first to do it. It's not exactly a success, however: Things get very dystopian there only about a year or two out from the onset of the apocalypse.

What really makes the Governor a top villain isn't his leadership, but his madness. There's just no telling how he'll wield his power from moment to moment. Whether he's keeping a zombified daughter alive, implying he'll rape Maggie, decapitating Hershel, or turning a gun on his own men for no good reason, the Governor is erratic and dangerous. Even his demise comes as a result of his own lunacy. Upset over the loss of Woodbury and its people's assimilation into the prison, he drives a tank through one of the only safe havens left in the world, and dies trying to exact physical revenge on Rick Grimes.


Any group that's able to remain nomadic in the walker-infested world has almost certainly done so by killing members of the group deemed to be expendable. Such is the case with Alpha, a late-series villain the survivors of The Walking Dead are forced to contend with. 

Alpha is curt, cold, and has no time for any weakness in her ranks. She survives by leading a group called the Whisperers, who live among the walkers and even manage to control their movements through clever herding tactics. She is the first to recognize that the walkers are the weapon that brought humanity to its knees, making even the mightiest people and institutions fall. So, when she encounters Rick's group, she has very little time for their emotionality and moral compunctions. However, since they've captured her only daughter, Lydia, she has no choice but to roll through them with brutal vengeance.

The war with the Whisperers becomes one of the strongest conflicts in the series. Though Beta, the man Alpha has wrapped around her little finger, does most of the heavy lifting, it is she who herds enough walkers to basically wield this world's equivalent of a nuke. Furthermore, it is she who hatches a scheme that keeps our heroes under her thumb for years. Alpha is one of very few villains on The Walking Dead who doesn't underestimate her opponents, and thus manages to make them truly suffer.


Even people with a cursory understanding of The Walking Dead know that Negan is the greatest antagonist the show has ever seen. Although he spends a majority of his time on the show on a path to redemption, he wouldn't even be alive if it wasn't for his cunning, ruthlessness, and trademark weapon, Lucille.

When Negan is first introduced, he infamously murders Abraham and Glenn for no other reason than to demonstrate his power. Negan has a twisted way of always making "good" decisions: He views people as a resource. This means he's not a loose cannon murderer like the Governor or Joe — his conflicts are calculated, and he knows who will live or die (or at least how many) before he even begins a conversation. When it comes to leadership, he differs from Jadis and Dawn in that he knows success lies not in keeping people going, but in giving them an opportunity to thrive, hence the Sanctuary's point system.

However, the main thing that makes Negan such an effective villain is the fact that he's capable. Unlike Gregory or Dawn, when push comes to shove, Negan can fend for himself. For example, when his right-hand man, Simon, stages a coup, Negan gives him a chance to defeat him in a one-on-one fight that he easily wins fair and square. He boasts the smartest and most broken mind in any room, and is enormously capable of exerting his will on the people around him.