In the first couple of seasons of The Walking Dead, the only villains were the undead roaming the Earth. That seemed to be enough to keep the audience’s interest. But when that turned out to be untrue, the show started bringing in human villains. This fit in with the premise of a post-apocalyptic world in which other surviving humans are a bigger threat than zombies.
RELATED: Walking Dead Renewed For Season 10 at AMC
Now that the show’s been on the air for almost a decade, we’ve gotten to know quite a few different villains. As the show rounds out its ninth season, here are all The Walking Dead Villains, ranked.
It can’t be stressed enough just how hated Gregory was as a character. He never made any firm allegiances with anyone. He led the Hilltop and refused to help anyone, and then begged for help when he was threatened by Negan. Then he went and sided with Negan because it seemed like the easy option, and when Negan kicked him out, he tried to get back into the Hilltop.
Eventually, Maggie was sick of this slimy dude screwing everyone around, so she had him publicly hanged. Gregory was one of TWD‘s most hated characters, but he was never menacing in the slightest, so he wasn’t a great villain.
When we met Dwight in season 6, he seemed like a complete jerk. Daryl had helped him, and then to return the favor, Dwight went and stole Daryl’s motorcycle and crossbow. After that, he was dead to most of The Walking Dead‘s fan base, the same fan base that popularized the “If Daryl dies, we riot” campaign.
However, as it turns out, that wasn’t the full story. Dwight has been forced into doing Negan’s bidding. He’s not necessarily a bad guy, and he definitely doesn’t side with Negan, but he did murder Denise and offer to do the same to Daryl, so he’s also not a saint.
Not a lot of people know the name of Jadis’ group, the Scavengers, so they are better known as “the garbage people.” They live at the dump and are much smarter than that would suggest. Her motto is: “We take. We don’t bother.” But she has shown that she doesn’t follow this very closely as she double-crossed Rick and turned on his group, simply because Negan came to her with a better offer. Rick was pretty bothered by that.
Ultimately, Jadis isn’t very powerful, since Simon took out her entire group while he was in a tantrum, but she is an intriguing and duplicitous character.
This is tough to judge because Merle was a great character, but that’s not because he’s a great villain; it’s because he redeemed himself by the end and became a hero. When he first appeared in the second episode of the first season and he was spouting racist language and didn’t care about anybody, viewers would’ve laughed in your face if you told them they’d be close to tears when this guy died in season 3.
But then, since we got to see his path to redemption and his relationship with his brother Daryl, that scene was heartbreaking. He’s a great character, but not necessarily a great villain.
Simon probably wouldn’t have been as memorable if he hadn’t been played by Steven Ogg, best known for voicing Trevor Philips in Grand Theft Auto V. But since he was, what could’ve just been Negan’s lackey suddenly became a character of his own. Simon always did a great job of intimidating the communities under Negan’s thumb, and his relationship with Gregory was particularly tense.
Plus, Simon’s snap decision to eliminate all the Scavengers besides Jadis established him as a man with a dangerous mind. Unfortunately, it also established him as a man that Negan would soon kill for disobeying his orders.
5 The Governor
What makes the Governor stand out as a villain is that he was the first main villain on the show. We’d had Shane, but he didn’t really count. He wasn’t leading an army against Rick like most TWD villains are; he was just crazy. The Governor had a whole gated community called Woodbury and turned out to be a complete psycho.
He held sadistic zombie games and kept his undead daughter chained up in his house and he had a weird severed head aquarium. The Governor worked as a villain the audience hated, but unfortunately, he’s let down by the three episodes that were dedicated to him in season 4. That’s too much Governor.
We first met Owen, the heartless leader of “the Wolves,” back in season 5 when he and another Wolf tried (and failed) to rob Morgan. Sure enough, he wasn’t gone for good. He came back later after finding Aaron’s backpack and he and the rest of the Wolves attacked Alexandria.
RELATED: Rick & Morgan Can Reunite In The Walking Dead Movies – Here’s How
Benedict Samuel played the role brilliantly, with a truly psychotic demeanor. He made Owen a chilling presence, as did the “W” etched into his forehead. Whenever this character was on-screen, viewers were certainly unnerved. After he was gone, he wasn’t entirely memorable, but he did make an impact in the episodes he was in.
The second half of season 4 took an interesting structure, as the chaos at the prison had broken up the group and they all separately followed the signs to Terminus. Back then, everyone was optimistic that it would be a safe haven. But of course, as they all arrived there, they realized it was anything but.
The Termites, led by Gareth, were luring people into their community so they could eat them. It was perhaps the show’s darkest storyline up to that point. Since Gareth comes and goes in such a short time period, he doesn’t have much time to make an impact. But thanks to Andrew J. West’s unsettling smirk, the character was an unforgettable psychopath.
What makes Shane a great villain is that he started out as one of the good guys. He was the one who put the hospital bed in front of Rick’s room and saved him from being eaten by walkers in his coma. He kept Rick’s family safe and looked after his wife (if a little too closely). That’s what made his fall from grace so tragic.
RELATED: The Walking Dead Only Has Two Characters Left From Season 1
This guy devolved into insanity as he shaved his head, left Otis to die, and tried to sexually assault Lori. In the words of Harvey Dent, “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.” Well, Shane lived long enough to see himself become the villain and then he died, so he got the worst of both worlds.
Of course Negan is top of the list. Who else would be? This guy is the daddy of all Walking Dead villains. Fans eagerly awaited his debut on the show for six long years before he finally showed up, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan did not disappoint. After the hiccup of the brutally violent season 7 premiere that made a lot of people tune out forever, Negan became the villain you loved to hate.
He would do something horrific like pop Glenn’s eye out with a baseball bat, but then he would also have a sweary one-liner that made you laugh. It’s a difficult line to walk, but Morgan nailed it.
NEXT: The Walking Dead Needs To Let Go Of Rick Grimes If It’s Going To Survive