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The Top 10 Badass Characters of The Walking Dead

Updated on November 6, 2015

First, I just want to say thank you for reading! I want to remind everyone that this article is strictly my opinion. I wanted to write something to express my current obsession for The Walking Dead. My goal is to get current fans talking and to introduce potential new fans to a modern cult classic.

Secondly, this article contains SPOILERS. If you are not up to date with the show or comic or video game, then continue reading at your own risk.

Lastly, use caution when watching the video clips. There IS blood, gore and strong language. These videos are not mine, and I can't take any credit for them.

You have been advised ; )

Maggie rushes in to save her father

#10 Maggie

Maggie is one of the few characters that we've had the pleasure to watch blossom into the incredible person that she wast meant to be. We first meet Maggie when the group comes across Hershel's farm after Rick's son is accidentally shot. Grieving the loss of her mother and several other members of her family, she spends her days naively going about doing her routine chores, believing that a simple wood picket fence would keep the walkers away from the farm. Most wouldn't give Maggie very good odds to survive on her own, but when a supply run goes horribly wrong, she realizes just how serious the situation really is. She decides to learn how to use knives and to shoot. We literally see her change from frail farmer's daughter to bad ass zombie fighter overnight. As time goes by, we see her taking on more dangerous tasks that put her on the front line of danger. Her complete 360 degree change and her willingness to help really catapult her onto the list. Adversely, her character in the comics is grossly overshadowed by her television counterpart. While the comic character had endured far more loss, pain and despair than any other character, she always seems just verging on the edge of a mental breakdown, including a botched suicide attempt. Even though she is the only living member of her rather large family, and the recent murder of her lover, the fact that she still carries on has helped her earn a place in my heart. In the comic, she becomes the surrogate mother to Carol's daughter, Sophia, has helped ground Maggie and help her deal with the loses that would have drove most normal women insane. Her TV persona has earned my respect, but only time will tell if she deserves to keep it or not. For the time being, watching her morph into fearless, front line fighter has earned her the number 10 spot on my list.

Glenn jumps in head first to save Maggie

#9 Glenn

Glenn is one of those characters that teeters on the fence of ordinary and bad ass. Switching quickly from deadly fighter to supply runner to wallflower. Glenn is the only character that is represented the same way in both the TV and comic series. He seems to always try to find the good in people, and isn't afraid to jump straight into danger if it means protecting those he loves. While it could be said that it's a very foolish trait for Glenn to have, we have to admit that without his compassion for people, Rick would have died in Atlanta while searching for supplies and Maggie would have been lost while searching for antibiotics. As the groups fastest and most agile runner, Glenn is almost solely responsible for keeping everyone fed. I can see where many people would rebut that Glenn is just capitalizing on his skills, but I don't agree with that. I consider anyone who is willing to throw themselves into the face of danger, well aware of what the consequences could be, without question deserving of a bad ass title. I can think of a few examples of Glenn rushing head first into danger to protect someone. Case in point, when Maggie is attacked by a walker while looting a pharmacy, Glenn's first instinct was to jump into the line of fire to save her, which I think is admirable. Although foolish yes, not everyone would be willing to risk their own skin for someone else. I consider it to be a special bad ass quality all on its own.

Hershel has a big heart, but isn't afraid to tell you like it is

#8 Hershel

Many people argue that while Rick is the leader of the pack, Hershel is the glue that holds everyone together. Hershel dies in the comics during the assault on the prison (in which daughter Maggie is driven slightly mad) but its the TV character that has earned the admiration of many. When we first meet Hershel, he has a small cache of walkers trapped in his barn, while working to try to devise a cure. Hershel hates the idea of killing the walkers, thinking they are merely diseased humans. It's miraculous that he never received a bite since he was handling so many of the undead bare handed. Hershel really comes alive during his time at the prison. After being bitten on the ankle, he opts to have his leg amputated and continues fighting the scourge on a mere wooden replacement. Most people would have given up under normal circumstances, but Hershel recovered and decided he needed to fight even harder. When Rick's wife dies, he understandably loses his sanity, and only Hershel is able to get through to him, and is now the single person who's opinion Rick values. Many would look at Hershel as only a feeble old man, when his determination, wisdom and behind the scenes tactics suggest otherwise. Hershel gets credit for not only taking on the extra day to day hardships, but for facing them with an extra challenge and for taking them on with a cheerful determination, which in the end, rewards him with the number 8 position.

Merle's best (and worst) moments

#7 Merle

The elder brother Dixon is the polar opposite of his younger sibling, Daryl. The prejudiced, red neck lone wolf was written strictly for the TV series, but that doesn't mean he's any less of a bad ass character. I've despised Merle since the very beginning, and when he finally reached his end last season, I can't say that it hurt my feelings in the least bit. Intolerant to others, mean, undependable and uncooperative, Merle has enough bad traits to make the walkers look tame. I can't argue that Merle is the ultimate survivalist and his self sufficiency skills are something that any group would need. However, his tendency to make bad, impulsive decisions are what led to his demise and the hands of the governor. His personality certainly leaves a lot to be desired, but his actions have earned him a spot on most people's bad ass radar. He foolishly attacked the governor head on, simply because it needed to be done. No BS, plain and simple, gave him a smidge of admiration from me. Although there is one scene that cements his status in my mind. After being hand cuffed to the roof of a department store, walkers inching closer to him with every passing second, Merle decides that he has only one option if he wants to live. Finding a discarded hacksaw, he amputates his own hand and descends back into the store. Handless, bleeding and fighting walkers along the way, he stumbles across a kitchen with a working stove and cauterizes his wound (Owwww!) and escapes out a window several stories up. Many would write him off as a dead man walking (!) but we see him soon after, working as a mercenary and a machete attached to his stump. He'd turned himself into a killing machine, and if that doesn't say bad ass, then I don't know what else would. Even though he is everyone's favorite character that they love to hate, Merle has made some tough choices that put him at number 7 on the bad ass chart.

Clementine may seem frail, but she's probably the toughest out of the cast

#6 Clementine

At first glance, Clementine just seems like an ordinary little girl. Hardly a candidate for an exclusive tally such as this one. At the beginning of the outbreak she quickly sensed something was wrong and took shelter inside a secluded tree house. Surviving on her own for several days, she cleverly took the opportunity to study these new adversaries and figuring out their habits, strengths and weaknesses. It was thanks to her observations that helped Lee survive his first zombie encounter. I think what impresses me the most about Clementine is her ability to adapt. Regardless of how bad the situation may be, she seldom complains and manages to keep her sweet sense of humor (Doodie!). For example: when Lee confesses his past to her, she understands, accepts and moves forward. Not judging him for his sins, but realizing that just because Lee did a bad thing, doesn't automatically make him a bad man. Quickly she learns how to survive on her own in the cruel new world. As we'll see in the end of the game, she will prove to everyone just how bad ass she really is, when she must make the toughest decision ever. In a way the rising took its toll the hardest on Clementine. This is the time where she should be enjoying her youth, dreaming about what the future should hold and learning about who she is, not learning how to kill demons. She had her innocence unceremoniously ripped from underneath her feet. She is one major bad ass to still find something to smile about in this grim new world. She will be crucial to helping any member of her team to maintain their sanity.

Tyreese takes down a group of walkers with nothing but his trusty hammer. Thor who?

#5 Tyreese

Tyreese quickly became Rick's right hand man in the comic, and rapidly transformed into a force to be reckoned with on the TV show. While as of recently, Tyreese is making a string of rash decisions, he has shown his strengths as an absolute power house, mowing down a herd of zombies all on his own after he, Daryl and Michonne were overrun while searching for supplies in a nearby town. Was it a wise move to attack alone, not in the least, but he is driven and knows where to focus his aggression. On the flip side I really like the comic version of Tyreese much more. He had to fight to earn his way into Rick's good graces, and by not letting up, becomes a very influential character. Unfortunately Tyreese is one very unlucky guy. For example: once inside the prison, Tyreese and a few other guys are trying to clear out a gym that is packed full of walkers. Once inside, the group is overrun and all escape except for Tyreese. Thinking that he was lost to the horde, they lock the doors and agree to regroup and relaunch another assault. Several days later, they reopen the gym doors only to find Tyrese sitting in the center of a mass of dead walkers. The only thing out of his mouth "What took you so long?" Surviving that caliber of attack easily earns him a bad ass ranking. Loyalty is what defines him, after a failed attempt to assassinate the governor, he sacrifices his own life in order to save Rick and the camp. Even at the very end, he didn't hesitate to put the welfare of everyone else before his own.

Andrea grew into her role as bad ass. She really is misunderstood, and wanted to play the game on her own terms

#4 Andrea

Easily the most hated character ever. While I'm actually very fond of this 'love her or hate her' character, it is hard to deny the amount of strength and determination she really has. She never shied away from making some tough decisions, like letting Beth make her own choice when she contemplated suicide. Or killing her beloved sister after she gets bitten. If nothing else, it's hard to argue that Andrea knows how to take care of herself. For instance, when the Greene family farm comes under attack, Rick's crew barely gets away. Andrea, fending off a few walkers, is accidentally left behind. But does she panic? No. Instead, she kept a level head and started running toward safety, picking off zombies as she ran. There are very few characters who could have been abandoned and took on and entire walker horde and lived to tell the tale. Her major weakness is men. She lets her judgement be clouded sometimes as she genuinely tries to find the good in people. She catches all kinds of flack for not killing the governor but she didn't realize his hidden agenda until it was too late. Even then, she tired to figure out a way to bring the colonies together without bloodshed. Many claim that she betrayed her original team, but I disagree. Her goal was to bring people together. In the comic, she is portrayed differently. While she still has a weakness for affection, she isn't necessarily as blinded by it. She is valued for her sharp shooting talents and is easily Rick's right hand woman. I hated to see her TV counterpart die, but she went down fighting in true warrior style. After losing her dear sister, Andrea slipped into a dark depression and at one point gave up and considered suicide. Her good friend, Dale, saw her spiraling downward and forced her to see reality, that there has to be something worth fighting for. Andrea quickly picks herself back up and turned her perspective around. Here sister's memory driving her to become everything that she needed to be. This is certainly not an easy thing to do, a bad ass turn around all on its own.

Daryl's best moments, many of which have melted the hearts of women worldwide

#3 Daryl

Ok, where do I even begin with Daryl. In the beginning episodes of the series, Daryl is only looking out for himself and his older brother Merle. However, as time passes, and the odds of locating Merle slip away, Daryl really devotes himself to the team. While Daryl is a role made strictly for TV, I have no doubt that he is the reason for the show's success. I really like Daryl, he isn't afraid to rush into the heat of battle. He's proved that he's trustworthy, regardless of what side mission he decides to take, he always comes back and always has the best intentions for the group. Even though he won't admit it, I think he really considers Rick and co. his family. The one defining moment for me (and for many people) is when Sophia turns up missing. Even when everyone had given up on finding her, Daryl risked his life and limb to rescue her from the clutches of the undead forest until he has concrete proof of what fate had befallen her. No matter how bloody his hands may get, the softness of his heart will always be the defining trait which helps propel Daryl to the top of most everyone's bad ass list. He is usually the first person to volunteer to go alone and hunt for food, to jump into a battle or to take on a search for a missing party member. He has shown us more than once that he is dependable, and I think his character really likes the feeling of being the single person that the group can rely on no matter what. For this, Daryl should be considered a bad ass that other bad ass wannabes can strive to be like.

Lee, recently bitten, takes on a walker herd alone in search of Clementine

#2 Lee

While I'm not sure how many people are going to agree with this choice since he's only a video game character, but he definitely deserves a high level of recognition. A convicted felon that manages to escape at the beginning of the outbreak, he stumbled upon orphaned Clementine and adopts her as his own. His role quickly switches from survivor to protector in an instant has certainly earned my respect. Every person Lee meets is greatly affected by his presence. He is the shoulder to cry on, the go to guy for any seemingly impossible challenges and does his best to lead his group without ever actually being appointed as so. Regardless of the obstacle, Clementine is still his number one priority. Even after he is bitten, every last bit of his strength is spent protecting his little girl. I can respect his willingness to make the tough decisions or sacrifices. Be it deciding which survivors to save, killing bitten members to save their family the heartache or putting his own needs aside so that those around him who are suffering more can be just a little more at ease. Courageous, strong and caring, Lee is a martyr that we can all feel good about loving. The best example is toward the end of the game when Clementine has been kidnapped and Lee discovers where she is being kept, he heads out to rescue her. Alone and bitten, Lee takes on a rather large group of walkers. Lee is determined, even though time is running out for him, saving Clementine is still his one and only priority. He lovers her, there's no denying that, and taking Clementine as if she were his own is a truly bad ass move all on its own.

Michonne can take down an entire zombie onslaught by herself without breaking a sweat

#1 Michonne

What I love about Michonne is that she's strong, brave, tough and versatile. She is a stealthy sword wielding force who can pick off walkers with a firearm using her dead eye accuracy whenever the need arises. She's smart enough to know when to attack and when to run, but more importantly, she has the knowledge to support her leader when needed and to step up and be the leader when the time is right. Her ingenious idea to keep two 'pet' walkers by her side (sans jaws and arms) to act as repellent is nothing short of bad ass all on it's own. While her TV and comic persona are very, very similar her background is mysteriously hidden from most of Rick's crew, and the extra bit of nervous fear that most feel toward her only gives her bad ass points a boost. I think after all is said and done, what impresses me the most is that she is obviously inflicted with post traumatic stress disorder and isn't necessarily the most mentally stable character. She is strong enough to keep her brain in check to survive among the risen. A modern day ninja. Stealthy and lethal, Michonne is more than capable of handling herself, and can easily dispatch a herd by herself. When it comes down to it, we would all be lucky to have an ally like her on our side.

Who tops your list of bad ass characters?

See results
5 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of The Walking Dead as a whole. Comics, games, tv etc.


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    • profile image


      9 months ago

      How can you create a top 10 most badass characters from The Walking Dead without the amazing Abraham? His nickname is the mustachioed badass!!!

    • profile image


      3 years ago


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      WHERE IS SHANE ???


    • profile image


      3 years ago

      clem of course! ^.^

    • YimmyP profile imageAUTHOR

      James Pagatpatan 

      4 years ago from Washington State

      Thanks! Actually, it's funny you should mention that, because I am working on an updated list as we speak. My goal is to have it ready for the public shortly.

    • Teeuwynn Woodruff profile image

      Teeuwynn Woodruff 

      4 years ago from Washington State

      Nice article. After the season 5 opener, you might want to consider putting Carol on this list.

    • profile image

      The Governor 

      4 years ago

      I, The Governor, am.


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