In an unexpected twist, Robert Kirkman recently brought his epic zombie comic, The Walking Dead, to an end.
With 193 issues under its belt, the series has an expansive list of characters, many of which are incredibly investing.
And I am going to count down who I believe are the top 10 best characters of the series.
Honorable mentions go out to Dale, Tyreese and Abraham who just missed out on making the list.
Now, let’s kick this list off with number 10.
10. The Governor.
I cannot remember a time when I have hated a character more than the Governor.
I know this may be a strange thing to say, considering this is a top 10 best characters list, but the Governor is a character you are supposed to hate.
And, I have got to admit, Kirkman did an amazing job at making him one of the most detestable characters I have ever seen.
He is one of The Walking Dead‘s best villains and it all comes down to how vile he is and how he covers this up.
Name any crime under the sun and this disgusting human being has probably done it.
Rape, torture, murder, the list is endless.
This is where my one criticism of him comes in as it does get quite uncomfortable when Kirkman goes full on snuff film with what he does and what happens to him.
One of the big criticisms I have heard about his character is that he is too evil to the point of being one dimensional.
Well, to those who say that I would recommend they read The Rise of the Governor and its follow ups, a series of novels by Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga that detail the origins of the Governor, and the events of the prison attacks from his perspective.
There we learn that his name is actually not Phillip Blake but Brian Blake, and he is suffering from some kind of split personality because he comes to believe he is his brother after Phillip’s death.
These books add layers to the Governor and make him more interesting to look at in the comics.
The Governor makes the list both for this reason and how he is easily one of the most memorably hateable characters in fiction for me.
9. Glenn Rhee.
One of the original survivors in the series, Glenn quickly stood out as one of the more likeable characters with his resourcefulness.
A former pizza delivery boy, it was he who would go out into the zombie infested city of Atlanta to search for supplies to keep everyone alive.
It was here that he rescued Rick and their long friendship began.
One of the big standouts of Glenn is his relationship with Maggie.
For the first 40 or so issues where their relationship was shown they were more like those horny couples you see in horror movies only, you know, they did not die (at least not yet).
It was only after the prison arc where Glenn’s relationship with Maggie grew into something special for me, with them having to raise Sophia after Carol’s death.
Here, we saw Glenn become a father and how he had to try and help Maggie through her depression, which even led to an attempted suicide.
Glenn pushed forward though, providing for his new family in this harsh world.
Eventually, he and Maggie finally succeeded in getting pregnant and it looked like a new chapter would be opening in Glenn’s life.
And then Issue 100 happened.
Glenn’s death in this issue is definitely one of The Walking Dead‘s most shocking moments.
Not only is it horrifying to see one of the comics most likeable characters get beaten to death with a baseball bat but it also opened up a whole new story and line of development for characters like Maggie.
The death is made even more tragic by the fact that Glenn was one of the few characters in The Walking Dead who had not been corrupted by the violence in the world.
Glenn was a likeable character throughout his time in the comic, and very important to the narrative, and for that he takes the ninth spot.
No, not that Jesus.
The Jesus I am talking about is Paul Monroe, who goes by that nickname because, well, he looks like Jesus Christ.
Arriving some time after the No Way Out Arc, Jesus serves as the character who brings The Walking Dead story into a brand new direction.
The volume he first appears in is called “A Larger World” for a reason.
Through Jesus, Rick’s group are introduced to various communities including the Hilltop, the Kingdom, and even the villainous Saviors.
Along with introducing this new angle to the story, Jesus is also a great character with a lot of likability.
He is also the series’ best fighter by a wide margin, even beating Negan in combat during the All Out War arc.
I like to think he was some kind of martial arts instructor before the apocalypse hit, which would make a lot of sense.
Sadly, we do not know anything at all about his past but, despite this, he still remains an interesting character throughout.
His relationship with Aaron after the Whisperer War Arc is also well done, with a significant amount of buildup.
Jesus is a character we did not know much about but was amazing, all the same.
Every time he showed up in a fight you knew something epic was about to go down.
7. Eugene Porter.
Eugene is one of The Walking Dead‘s most surprising characters for me.
This is because after his introduction and the first few arcs he was featured in, I honestly never expected to like him and, yet, here he is at number seven on my favourite characters list.
When Eugene is introduced he is instantly setup as one of the series’ most important characters because he knows how to cure the zombie plague… only for this to turn out to be a complete lie.
After rightfully getting the hell beaten out of him by Abraham, Eugene admits he lied because he was scared and had no other talent to protect himself.
While this is understandable, it framed Eugene in quite an unlikable light considering so many had died for him.
This changed in the All Out War Arc when, after the death of Abraham, Eugene began to work tirelessly to stop the Saviours by producing bullets for the communities to use in their fight.
Then, when he was kidnapped by Negan, who threatened to castrate him if he did not produce bullets for him, Eugene refused in a moment that showed true bravery and just how much he had changed.
His character development continued into the subsequent arcs, as he became a vital member in, not just the communities’ survival, but civilization’s survival in general.
With all of this growth in terms of his worth and character growth, Eugene went from one of the most unlikable characters to one of the most important and interesting.
6. Maggie Rhee.
Maggie is a character whose development does not get discussed very much compared to other characters and I think this is a shame.
Upon comparing how she started out in the series to where she ends up, it can clearly be seen how she is a completely changed person by the story’s conclusion.
When we first meet Maggie she is, to quote Glenn, a “sex machine.”
Many of her scenes in the first few arcs focus on the intimacy between her and Glenn with a lot of eye candy.
However, this changes after the prison attack where Maggie loses all of her remaining family.
This loss, and the pressure of the orphaned Sophia now viewing Maggie as her mother, causes Maggie to spiral into depression, resulting in a shocking suicide attempt.
After recovering from this, Maggie comes to accept becoming Sophia’s mother and enters a new stage in her relationship with Glenn.
From this point on, they are one of the clear examples of a family unit created in this apocalypse.
However, this unit is shattered when, shortly after learning she is pregnant, Maggie is forced to watch as Glenn is beaten to death in front of her.
After this traumatic event, a more hardened Maggie arises.
And with the triumphant words of “I believe in Rick Grimes” she becomes the leader of the Hilltop and by the story’s end is even the president.
This growth from lovesick girl, to caring mother, to hardened leader is one of The Walking Dead‘s most emotional character growths.
5. Michonne Hawthorne.
Michonne is an instantly recognizable character from The Walking Dead.
The image of her walking with her two pet zombies, katana in hand, is one of the most recognizable in the series.
However, it did take a bit of time for me to warm up to her character.
This was probably because she first appeared and was a central character in of the comics’ weakest volumes, “The Heart’s Desire”, which basically turned The Walking Dead into a soap opera for a time.
Then there was her storyline with the Governor, which turned her into a victim pretty soon after we had met her and to very uncomfortable levels.
The fact that it later went full on snuff, rape revenge definitely did not help.
It felt like Kirkman was just trying to shock the reader with what she experienced.
After this, though, Michonne got a lot better as a character with Kirkman delving deeper into her mentality and even the guilt she holds for some of the things she has done.
Her final confrontation with the Governor is an epic moment for her, even if she does not succeed in killing him, and the moment she saves Carl’s life after the prison massacre is a highlight.
From here, she continued to be a strong, reliable figure who grew a close bond with Rick.
This eventually resulted in my favourite scene of hers where Rick calls her his best friend, only for her to cheekily reply, “what are you, ten?”
Then there is the discovery that her daughter Elodie is alive in the final arc and, even though I felt like what came of it was a bit of a missed opportunity, their reunion is incredibly touching.
Michonne is one of the series’ most memorable and coolest characters, emerging from the initial slump I felt she had in the best of ways.
If the Governor is a character I love to hate, then Negan is a character I hate to love.
Arriving on the scene in The Walking Dead‘s 100th Issue, Negan made a bloody splash when he brutally beat Glenn to death in front of everyone, including Maggie who was pregnant.
This instantly set Negan up, both as the new big threat for the group to face and also as someone for the reader to hate.
However, this last thing did not happen for me.
Because, while I did hate Negan initially, her very quickly grew on me as a character.
He was not only darkly humorous but also had a moral code, with him hating rape so much that he kills a man in his group when he tries to commit it.
This made Negan very different from the Governor because, while he was someone who simply did twisted things because he wanted to, Negan did them because he believed they were the right thing to do.
And it was this sentiment of Negan’s that allowed him to have a redemption arc in the aftermath of All Out War, becoming a changed man and helping Rick and the communities in the war against the Whisperers.
Although he never shakes his violent tendencies, as seen by him beheading the Whisper leader Alpha to prove his loyalty to Rick.
This unpredictable personality made for some great interactions with other characters, especially Carl who would go on to form a kind of friendship(?) with the monstrous man.
Then there was the resolution to his story in Issue 174, where Maggie finally confronts him for killing Glenn.
Rather than doing so, though, she instead leaves him to live the life of loneliness he deserves.
This act seems to give the both of them closure, and Negan departs from the story with his redemption arc fully complete.
Negan is the best villain in The Walking Dead.
They made a character who committed a horrific act of violence the first time we meet him somehow likeable, and made me hate myself for liking him.
3. Andrea Grimes.
Andrea was one of my most hated characters in The Walking Dead show.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I started reading the comics and found Andrea to be one of the most likeable characters.
The TV series really screwed up her storyline and it was incredibly sad to read the comics and see what a missed opportunity she was in that show.
Andrea starts out in the comics as just an ordinary woman who becomes hardened by the world, after the death of her sister.
Becoming a sharpshooter, she is quickly established as one of the groups most reliable and useful members.
Then there is her relationship with the elderly Dale, which is surprisingly emotional and well done.
The two’s arcs are both great and make their relationships one of the highlights of the comic.
However, her relationship with Dale is not the best of the series.
No, that goes to Andrea’s relationship with Rick long after Dale’s death.
Initially, I felt that this relationship came out of left field but, as it developed and we got to see these two grow from it, it quickly became the best relationship.
Andrea has so many amazing moments from the comics, like her taking out the Governor’s men when he attacks the prison and, most notably, her fight with Connor in the bell tower.
Her death in Issue 167 from a roamer bite is one of the most emotional deaths in the entire comic series.
It is quite the gut punch seeing everyone whose lives she affected saying their final goodbyes to her, and then even seeing Rick nearly give up and allow Andrea to kill him when she turns.
Thankfully, he pulls himself together and puts her down, remembering her final words at the end of the issue.
Andrea is an amazing character with so many standout moments and an emotional sendoff.
2. Carl Grimes.
Carl is another character that was screwed over in the show, although not to the extent that Andrea was.
His show version just never went down the dark descent that the comic Carl did.
This Carl started off as a lot more useful than the TV adaptation, with him learning to use a gun way sooner.
Still, he was not really important until after the prison massacre where he lost his mother Lori and newborn sister Judith.
After this point, Carl went down a very dark storyline, with him having to take care of his injured father and later killing another boy named Ben who had gone crazy and murdered his own brother.
Carl doing this showed just how brutal the world of The Walking Dead was for a child, with him being forced to commit acts to keep himself and the group safe.
This worsened after he was shockingly shot during the No Way Out arc because he became harsher as a result.
His crueler temperament even led him to try and assassinate Negan.
Luckily, the swearing leader took a liking to Carl so did not hurt him.
The two even formed some kind of bond, continuing to have talks after Negan was locked up.
It was at this point that Carl began to take a lot after both Rick and Negan, almost killing two bullies when they attacked him and Sophia, like Negan would, and going after Lydia in the Whisperer Arc after he learned she was being abused, like Rick would.
This created a complex personality for Carl where he embodied traits of not just the main character of the series but also one of the series’ biggest villains as well.
One of the big themes of The Walking Dead is about raising children in a cruel world and what this causes the child to become.
Carl embodies this perfectly and the series could not have ended any better than with him sitting in a rocking chair with his daughter Andrea, who is named after his step-mother, telling her the story of the series.
1. Rick Grimes.
The man, the myth, the legend, the main character, Rick Grimes is, without a doubt, the best character in The Walking Dead.
He was the one we followed all the way up until the ending, and during that time we got to see him grow from the leader of a small group of survivors to a heroic figure sure to be remembered in the history books.
His journey to get to this point is inspirational, with him enduring many sacrifices and hardships.
We, as the readers, instantly related to his search to find his wife, Lori, and son, Carl, after waking up in the apocalypse.
When he finally found them and his goals switched to protecting the group, we followed him in this.
And it was not long before Rick had to start doing morally grey things to protect those he loved.
Shooting Dexter in the prison arc was the beginning of this, and the act culminated in him shouting “we are the walking dead!”
With this statement, Rick’s hardships continued as he shockingly losing his hand to the Governor and then saw Lori and their baby Judith die in the prison massacre.
He did countless horrible things to protect his people after this, from ripping a man’s throat out with his teeth to save Carl from being raped, to torturing a group of cannibals to death after they had already been beaten.
All of this resulted in Rick and his group, including Carl, starting to lose their humanity to survive.
Then they arrived at the Alexandria Safe Zone and we got to see our battle hardened main character struggle to live in society again, only for things to predictably go wrong in the worst of ways, resulting in him needing to take charge.
It was here that Rick emerged as the true inspirational leader, giving numerous memorable speeches to inspire his people.
His relationship with Andrea also started here as the best of the series.
He then began to take steps towards building a humane society, as seen by him sparing Negan, even after all the horrible things he had done, and later freeing him when he had been rehabilitated.
Rick even began to rebuild a society that was better than our own one, with everyone being equal.
His inspirational journey to build this society reached its pinnacle in the Commonwealth Arc, where his new system conflicted with the flawed old one.
The end result was Rick’s society winning with his story coming full circle when he said the great line of “we are NOT the walking dead!”
Sadly, this also resulted in Rick’s death at the hands of Sebastian Milton, which is my one big problems with Rick’s story.
I like the idea behind his death but I felt the execution left a bit to be desired.
Still, this does not change the fact that Rick is a fantastic main character, and the best character of the comic.
Watching him rebuild a new and better society in an apocalyptic world was amazing, and a highlight of the series.