To celebrate the Oct. 22 Season 8 premiere of The Walking Dead — the series’ 100th episode — Yahoo TV will be posting a new TWD-related story every day through the season opener.
The Walking Dead writers and actors know how to bring big bad guys (and gals) to colorful, layered life. Our heroes learn time and again that tangling with the up-to-no-good living is far scarier than any walker. We’ve compiled a list of the 16 most memorable evildoers so far, and we’re counting them down, from very bad to the very worst. Feel free to offer your opposing opinions in the comments.
The Walking Dead Season 8 premieres Oct. 22 at 9 p.m. on AMC.
16. Ed Peletier
Abusive husband Ed was a coward, to be sure. But as afraid as he was of walkers, his bigger apocalyptic fear was that he could no longer isolate Carol and keep her under his thumb. When Shane tossed him a beating after he hit Carol and threatened the other women, it was only a matter of time before the big bully that was Ed Peletier was a goner. A creeping walker took care of that, and Carol made sure he was good and dead with repeated whacks to his noggin with a pickaxe.
15. Pete Anderson
Another abusive husband, Pete — or Porch Dick as he became known thanks to Talking Dead — was allowed to get away with his behavior because he was the town doctor. But not only did he take his anger with the new world out on his family, after his death we learned he sucked as a doctor, too: Denise revealed he wouldn’t allow her in the medical office, where she could’ve gotten valuable experience and been more prepared to help people.
Gregory might be forgiven for being a run of the mill weasel, but it’s the aggressive manner in which he pursues weaseldom that makes him a villain. To wit: swiping Glenn’s pocket watch (the one gifted to him by Hershel) from his dead body; trying to give up the hiding Maggie and Sasha to Simon; considering killing Maggie, even though he’s too wimpy to even stab a walker… we could go on, but suffice it to say that Gregory operates completely from a place of fear, which does not a good leader make. Good weasel? Check.
Benjamin said it best when he referred to Savior Jared as a “rat-faced prick.” Sadly, that was in the same episode where Jared fatally shot Benjamin, sending Morgan into meltdown mode, and helping convince King Ezekiel to go to war against the Saviors. But Jared’s real villainy comes from just how much he clearly delights in tormenting and killing, which he only gets away with because he’s a Savior. Also worth noting: his direct supervisor, Gavin, thinks he’s a big giant creep, too.
Dwight killed Denise and tortured Daryl, but he’s not higher on the list because — well, Dwight has redemption written all over him. He made his first steps toward that in the Season 7 finale, pledging that he would shift his loyalty to the Alexandrians, and he’s done nothing yet to suggest that wasn’t genuine. Still, he has done some bad things — let us not forget that it’s because of his lies that Dr. Carson was tossed face first into an oven — so he’s certainly earned a spot amongst the baddest of the big baddies.
In a fantastic performance by guest star Alicia Witt, Paula introduced herself as someone who had done terrible things to endure in the apocalypse, and even more terrible things to become a valued, high-ranking member of Negan’s Saviors crew. Her story was all the more tragic because, like Carol, Michonne, Maggie, and other female survivors, Paula had suffered terrible family deaths and came out all the stronger for it. But she also came out more hardened, less empathetic, and ultimately, too detached from her fellow humans to continue living.
He used his position as a Grady Hospital cop to rape Joan, and he attempted to do the same to Beth. That’s what led to him becoming supper for Walker Joan after she killed herself. So yeah, it all worked out in the end.
9. The Wolves
Before they were completely wiped out, The Wolves, led by Owen, wreaked much havoc, from killing Noah’s family at Shirewilt Estates to attacking Morgan to breaking into Alexandria and leaving many townsfolk dead. Owen redeemed himself in the end by sacrificing himself to save Denise, but that doesn’t change the fact that the Wolves also killed poor Shelly Neudermeyer, who wanted nothing more out of post-apocalyptic life than to smoke her cigs and make some fresh pasta.
Shane’s misdeeds were many, especially once his downward spiral sped up as his obsession with Lori grew. But at the top of his bad guy resume: trying to kill his best friend and cop partner Rick because he was in love with Rick’s wife Lori, who was knocked up with Shane’s baby, after they had an affair when Shane assumed — but did not know — Rick was dead.
7. Claimer Joe
Dude was gonna watch as his men raped and murdered Carl and Michonne, then murdered Rick and Daryl. Rick’s nosh on Joe’s jugular stopped all that, but still, Joe? He definitely claimed the title of Very Bad Man.
What makes this leader of the Grady Hospital cops rank so highly on the list? The fact that she did have the potential to be a good leader, and had a staff that (mostly) wanted to make their community a good place to live. But Dawn’s insecurities and a bit of power trippin’ led her to allow bullies like Gorman to make the hospital hell for some of the residents, just so Dawn could tenuously hold on to her position. In the end, neither she nor Gorman were left to fight over control.
Mary, mother of Gareth, and leader of the people-eatin’ Terminus crew, earns her spot on the list of TWD‘s biggest baddies because she allowed Gareth and his brother to become cannibals. Of course we sympathize with the traumatic experiences the Terminites suffered at the hands of the men who had brutalized them earlier in the apocalypse, but Mary could have at least made an attempt to help Gareth and Alex channel their anger in a less, say, cannibalistic way.
We can’t help but be fascinated by Jadis and her odd ways as leader of the Heapsters. But she did make Rick prove his mettle by fighting spiky walker Winslow, then force the Alexandrians to come up with a whole cache of guns before she’d agree to join their battle against Negan, only to cut a side deal with the Saviors and betray Rick’s people in the middle of the Season 7 finale fight. That’s big baddie handiwork, for sure — but we still can’t wait to see what Jadis and the Heapsters get up to next.
HE. ATE. PEOPLE.
Surprised to see him at number two on the list? We certainly don’t need to make a case for why he’s that high up; two words: Glenn and Abraham. But even with the dozens of other reasons why Negan is, and is likely to remain, one of the show’s all-time biggest bad eggs, consider this: there is a purpose, a philosophy behind his dastardly deeds. The Here’s Negan backstory revealed his leadership style to be the way he knew he could keep the greatest number of people alive, by being willing to kill some along the way. We’re guessing Season 8 of the series might focus in on the same thing. It won’t change the things he’s done, but it certainly would put Negan’s worldview into a new, thought-provoking perspective.
1. The Governor
Woodbury might have seemed like The Governor’s attempt at a Negan-like, tightly-run safe community, but The Governor ultimately proved that his main motivation for everything was his own ego, which makes him our ultimate big baddie in TWD history. After leaving Woodbury in ruins, with many in the community dead, Brian got a second chance to do apocalyptic life right when he won the love of Lilly Chambler and her sweet daughter, Meghan. But Brian couldn’t handle sharing leadership of his new camp with his former Woodbury minion Martinez, and embarked on a sociopathic spree that included murdering Martinez, beheading Hershel, leaving the prison uninhabitable, and ultimately, his own death.