AMC’s The Walking Dead has been a cultural phenomenon for over a decade. From the onset to the apocalypse to many years in the future, a rapidly changing group of characters have battled with the dead in an effort to rebuild civilization and build a new beginning for future generations. But as the greater good takes a stand, there will always be darker individuals who attempt to undermine them and ensure their own survival in the post-apocalyptic mayhem.
With an extended final season coming to us in the next year, we’ve been introduced to a wide range of antagonists with varying degrees of morality. Some have even turned over a new leaf when left with no other options. Let’s take a look at the 10 most evil villains in the show’s history.
10 Dawn Lerner
The leader of a police officer group down at Grady Memorial Hospital, Dawn Lerner initially appears as a caring and compromising individual. She attempted to maintain peace in a broken and corrupt system that only continued to decline. As time goes on, however, her softer side is proven to be a facade.
Her constant manipulations of Beth Greene proved to be her downfall. She would use her ward to boost her leadership status and keep the other residents in line. In the end, Dawn met her fate at the hands of Daryl Dixon after accidentally killing Beth in a trade-off between survivors.
Gregory is introduced as the leader of the Hilltop Colony, a former mansion turned farming community near Alexandria. He is a narcissistic, egotistical, and cowardly man that enjoys his position of power and having thousands of people under his control. His effectiveness in keeping his citizens alive belies his own cowardice and refusal to face the world outside the walls.
During the primary conflict with the Saviors, Gregory remains subservient to the extortionists and refuses to aid Rick’s group, even when Negan ordered his death. This leads to his loss of leadership to Maggie Rhee after the war. Following one last attempt to reclaim his power, Gregory is publicly executed at the beginning of season 9.
The brother of Daryl Dixon and somewhat of a stereotypical Southern redneck, Merle finds humor in complete chaos. He spends most of his time mentally and emotionally toying with the minds of others. He’s far from all bark and no bite, easily holding his own in conflicts against his fellow group members.
After being abandoned in Atlanta early on, Merle is found by the Governor and enlisted as the right-hand man for his army. He completely devolved into a ruthless killer and followed any and all orders given. In the end, a change of heart and a major act of redemption led to his fate at the hands of his former leader.
Simon is a ruthless, brutal, and unpredictable individual who is even considered by Negan to be too over-the-top. He was initially extremely loyal to his leader and the wider cause of the Saviors. He seems to be desensitized to the violence he encounters every day, even taking pure joy in the forceful subjugation of other communities.
During the conflict in season 8, Simon loses patience with Negan’s methods when the losses continue to mount. His belief of simply eliminating any opposition leads to the merciless slaughter of the Scavengers. Simon’s thirst for blood and attempts to take over the Saviors results in his grisly death.
Beta is a brutal, sociopathic, cunning, and aggressive man who is highly devoted to the Whisperer lifestyle and his leader, Alpha. He is completely loyal and follows her orders without question. He is far from a yes-man, however, and constantly advocates for himself and the group even if it leads to minimal results.
Following Alpha’s death at the hands of former member Negan, Beta has a complete mental breakdown. He still sees her as a leader in spite of the actual situation. In one final confrontation with his adversaries, Beta lets his guard down and is blinded and devoured by the massive horde of walkers.
5 Shane Walsh
Shane Walsh was once a caring man and good friend to Rick Grimes who took care of his family after he was assumed dead. He served as the leader of the first Atlanta group and believed he had all the skills to survive in a post-apocalyptic world. Upon Rick’s return and reunification with his family, the situation significantly deteriorates.
In the next season, Shane abandons his entire moral compass in favor of his own survival. With Rick’s wife Lori pregnant with his child, he sought to eliminate his best friend and take over as a father. Despite his eventual fate, his hardened and ruthless mentality would be adopted by countless others as they aimed to secure their own futures.
Gareth appears as the philosophical and cunning leader of Terminus who will do anything to ensure the security of himself and his people. He no longer sees any good left in the world and resorts to extreme methods to stay alive. Rick’s group came into conflict with Terminus in an effort to find a new home, but discover something much more unsettling.
Terminus is revealed to be a group of cannibals, capturing any survivor that comes across them as a means of food. The heroes then form an ambush to bring an end to their reign of terror. A final confrontation devolves Gareth into a complete coward as he meets his final fate.
Alpha is the highly intelligent and psychopathic leader of the Whisperers, a group that uses walker skins in the form of masks to hide amongst herds and even build armies. She relishes in her position and will easily dispose of those who oppose her. She is also a formidable combatant, frequently holding her own against the heroes in one-on-one encounters.
After establishing a border between her lands and the Coalition, Alpha utilizes various methods to destroy the communities from within. She even faces constant setbacks in the form of her daughter Lydia’s defection. Through circumstances orchestrated by rival Carol, Negan lures her into a trap and brings an end to her reign.
2 The Governor
Phillip Blake, better known as the Governor, is the leader of Woodbury and a major antagonist to our heroes early on. He is prone to fits of psychotic rage and can hold his own in combat. Like other villains, he maintained a persona of congeniality and appeared to be dedicated to his community’s success.
His sanity completely unraveled upon the death and reanimation of his daughter, refusing to put her down before Michonne’s intervention. Blake then waged war on Rick and his group while constantly battling conflicting thoughts. A final fight with Rick led to his demise and a tragic end to a once-valuable ally.
Negan is the ruthless former leader of the Saviors who used his authority and resources to subjugate communities under his rule. He was heavily worshipped by his followers who never questioned his motives, not even those who possessed a similar role of power within the group. While he seemingly takes pleasure in striking fear into his subordinates, his methods have kept hundreds of civilians alive.
During the conflict with Alexandria, Negan works tirelessly to destroy the opposition for good. The death of Carl Grimes furthers his drive to weaken the Militia and bring a definitive end to the conflict. An eventual showdown with Rick Grimes leads to a serious injury and his imprisonment within Alexandria, experiencing a change of heart as time passed.