What ‘The Walking Dead’ Actors Look Like In Real Life
The cast looks a lot different when they're not fighting zombies.
Even after nine seasons, “The Walking Dead” is still going strong. Fans can’t get enough of the show’s combination of zombies and drama, and with a revolving door of characters, the series will seemingly never run out of stories to tell.
Here’s a look at the popular AMC show’s most beloved (and infamous) characters and the actors who play them. Since the cast of “The Walking Dead” is frequently covered in fake blood on-screen, you might find them completely unrecognizable off-screen.
Spoiler alert: If you aren’t up-to-date on the latest season of “The Walking Dead,” be warned that there are spoilers ahead.
Character: Maggie Greene
Over the course of “The Walking Dead,” Maggie Greene transforms from a naive farm girl to fierce Hilltop Colony leader. Her relationship with Glenn, with whom she has a child, is also one of the sweetest couplings on the show. (That is, until his brutal death in Season 7.)
Played By: Lauren Cohan
After eight years on the show, actress Lauren Cohan left the show to star on the ABC series, “Whiskey Cavalier.” However, instead of killing off her character, “The Walking Dead” producers decided to make her character disappear for most of Season 9. This potentially leaves the door open for Cohan to return in the future, depending on the fate of “Whiskey Cavalier.”
Character: Rick Grimes
It’s hard to imagine “The Walking Dead” without the character of Rick Grimes. As the show’s protagonist, Rick woke up from a coma in the first episode and learned about the zombie apocalypse at the same time that the show’s viewers did. However, fans will have to get used to a Rick-less “Walking Dead,” as the character was written off the show in Season 9.
Played By: Andrew Lincoln
What’s next for British actor Andrew Lincoln, now that he’s left “The Walking Dead”? More “Walking Dead,” it seems, in the form of spinoff movies. The actor reportedly left the show in order to spend more time at home with his family in the U.K. but apparently, he isn’t leaving the character behind for good. Prior to “The Walking Dead,” you might remember Lincoln from the movie “Love, Actually.”
Character: Carol Peletier
Although she started out as a meek housewife in Season 1 with only a few lines to say, Carol has transformed into a no-nonsense warrior and one of the show’s main characters over the course of the series. In fact, she is the longest-surviving female character, and one of the few characters to appear in all of the first nine seasons of ‘The Walking Dead.” It remains to be seen how Carol will fare in future seasons, but we know that she isn’t afraid to make hard choices in order to stay alive.
Played By: Melissa McBride
Before she was Carol on “The Walking Dead,” Melissa McBride worked as an actress and casting director in Georgia, where the show is filmed. She had previously had some small roles on TV shows and was cast on “The Walking Dead” without even having to audition. McBride has said that she thought her character would be dead within a few episodes. However, almost a decade later, the actress is one of the few cast members from Season 1 to still be on the show.
Character: Carl Grimes
Many viewers were shocked when Carl Grimes died in Season 8, after having survived a post-apocalyptic world for so many years as a child. Over the course of the series, Carl witnessed his mother and friends pass away. Despite this, he still managed to retain his humanity, even spending his final hours writing letters to Rick and other loved ones, before nobly killing himself.
Played By: Chandler Riggs
As a child actor, Chandler Riggs literally grew up in front of viewers’ eyes. He began acting on “The Walking Dead” at the age of 10 and left the show as an 18-year-old in 2018. Since then, he’s auditioned for other roles, like Spider-Man, and also works as a DJ under the stage name Eclipse.
Character: Daryl Dixon
Known for his expertise with a crossbow, Daryl Dixon is a character that was created for the TV series and does not appear in the comic books. That means his arc and future on the show are far more unknown than those of other characters. Fans of Daryl will have also noticed that his hair hasn’t been cut since Season 1. It just keeps getting longer and more unkempt every season.
Played By: Norman Reedus
Although Norman Reedus has been acting and modeling since the ’90s, his first breakout acting role was in the 1999 film “Boondock Saints.” When he heard about “The Walking Dead,” Reedus was determined to audition and impressed producers so much that they created the role of Daryl specifically for him. In his personal life, Reedus has a young daughter with girlfriend Diane Kruger, as well as an adult son with ex-girlfriend Helena Christensen.
Character: Glenn Rhee
The character of Glenn Rhee was described by the blog BleedingCool as the “heart and soul” of “The Walking Dead” for the first six seasons. A former pizza delivery guy who helps Rick escape the zombies in the second episode of the series and who later falls in love with Maggie, Glenn quickly became a fan favorite. That’s why viewers were dismayed when the character’s life came to a sudden end in the Season 7 premiere.
Played By: Steven Yeun
“The Walking Dead” was Steven Yeun’s first major acting role, but it certainly won’t be his last. Since leaving the show in 2106, Yeun has starred in several movies, including the Korean-language film “Burning.” He also married his longtime girlfriend Joana Pak, and the two welcomed a son together in 2017.
If it wasn’t clear from her leashed zombie “pets” in the beginning seasons, the character of Michonne has always been hard as nails, capable of chopping down crowds of walkers on her own. As the series has gone on, Michonne has become a fully fleshed-out character with a tragic backstory, a romance with Rick and an ambition to lead. We can’t wait to see where the show’s writers take her storyline next.
Played By: Danai Gurira
Michonne is just one of several physically demanding roles that Danai Gurira has tackled in the last few years. She also starred as Okoye in the 2018 films “Black Panther” and “Avengers: Infinity War.” In addition to being an actress, Gurira is also a talented playwright who has been nominated for a Tony Award and Drama Desk Award for her 2016 play “Eclipsed.”
Character: Abraham Ford
The obscenity-spewing soldier Abraham had some of the best quotes on the show during the seasons he appeared in. One memorable Abraham line was in Season 5 when he said, “I’ve been to eight county fairs and a goat rodeo but I’ve never seen anything like that.” Sadly, his character was killed off during the very violent Season 7 premiere.
Played By: Michael Cudlitz
Although he’s a natural blonde, veteran actor Michael Cudlitz dyed his hair red to better match the comic book drawing of his character on ‘The Walking Dead.” Since leaving the show in 2016, Cudlitz has continued to work steadily. He most recently starred on the ABC sitcom “The Kids Are Alright.”
Season 7 of “The Walking Dead” introduced audiences to one of the show’s most memorable (human) villains, Negan. In the now-infamous season premiere, Negan killed both Abraham and Glenn with his weapon of choice: a baseball bat covered in barbed wire that he named “Lucille.” While Season 9 was light on Negan storylines, the character will apparently have a stronger presence in future seasons.
Played By: Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Before he was cast on “The Walking Dead,” Jeffrey Dean Morgan was already a fan of the show. And since he was a TV veteran, he didn’t even have to audition for the role of the villain Negan. Morgan previously appeared on shows like “Supernatural,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Weeds” and “The Good Wife.”
Character: Rosita Espinosa
Although Rosita first showed up on “The Walking Dead” in Season 5 at the same time as Abraham, the character has survived far longer than her one-time boyfriend. In Season 9, viewers were surprised to find out that Rosita and Father Gabriel were together, a pairing that not many fans would have predicted. However, if the TV series follows the comic books, Rosita’s demise may be imminent.
Played By: Christian Serratos
As an actress, Christian Serratos is not one to be typecast, starting out on a Nickelodeon show, “Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide,” and playing one of Bella’s classmates in “Twilight.” However, the zombie-slaying Rosita on “The Walking Dead” is, by far, her most memorable role to date. The actress gave birth to her first child in 2017 with her boyfriend, New Politics singer David Boyd.
Character: Eugene Porter
Unlike most of the other characters on “The Walking Dead,” Eugene is not particularly tough or able to defend himself against zombies. Instead, he utilizes his intelligence to help keep himself safe. (Although his defining character trait might be his mullet haircut.)
Played By: Josh McDermitt
Before landing the role of Eugene on “The Walking Dead,” Josh McDermitt was best known as a comedian and was even a semi-finalist on the fourth season of “Last Comic Standing.” He also starred on the short-lived TV Land sitcom “Retired at 35.” In 2017, McDermitt reportedly quit social media over death threats he received related to his “Walking Dead” character.
Character: King Ezekiel
Between the gray dreadlocks and the pet tiger by his side, King Ezekiel is one of the most memorable characters on “The Walking Dead.” He first appears in Season 7 as the leader of “The Kingdom.” He also becomes romantically involved with Carol in later seasons.
Played By: Khary Payton
In addition to his role on “The Walking Dead,” Khary Payton is also an accomplished voice actor. He’s voiced characters in dozens of animated TV shows, films and video games. Payton is married to fellow actor Stacy Reed Payton and has two children.
Character: Sasha Williams
Like Glenn and Abraham, Season 7 was the last one for Sasha, a sharpshooter who joins Rick’s group along with her brother Tyreese. Generally, when such a significant character dies and reanimates as a zombie, you aren’t rooting for them to kill others. But that was the case with Sasha, as her death was part of a memorable revenge plot to kill the villain Negan in the Season 7 finale.
Played By: Sonequa Martin-Green
Sonequa Martin-Green originally auditioned for the role of Michonne, and while she didn’t get it, the show’s producers decided to create the role of Sasha just for her. “The Walking Dead” wasn’t her first foray into TV, however. She previously had roles on “Army Wives,” “The Good Wife” and “Once Upon A Time” and she is currently acting on “Star Trek: Discovery.”
Character: The Governor
As one of the non-zombie villains on “The Walking Dead,” The Governor is responsible for the deaths of several major characters, including Andrea and Merle. His role seemed to serve as the main antagonist of Season 3. However, he eventually receives what’s coming to him when he is (justifiably) murdered at the beginning of Season 4.
Played By: David Morrissey
British actor David Morrissey is classically trained, having attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He has appeared in a wide variety of TV and films, mostly in his U.K. home, although U.S. audiences might remember him from “Basic Instinct 2” and “The Other Boleyn Girl.” Morrissey has said that he would “love” to reprise his role as The Governor in a spinoff.
Character: Andrea Harrison
As one of the original cast members, Andrea played a pivotal role in the first three seasons of “The Walking Dead.” The show’s writers, however, made a major break from the comic books with Andrea’s character. While Andrea dies in Season 3 of the show, she lives a far longer life in print and even marries Rick in the comic.
Played By: Laurie Holden
Laurie Holden hasn’t minced words when it comes to how her character was written off of “The Walking Dead.”
“I think the departure from book Andrea to the screen was a mistake,” she said during a conference panel in 2017. After leaving the series, Holden appeared on other TV shows like “The Americans” and the upcoming “Proven Innocent.”
Character: Gabriel Stokes
Father Gabriel Stokes first appeared in Season 5 when he was rescued by Rick and company. Alone and unable to defend himself, the audience learns the priest’s terrible secret: He locked himself in the church when the zombie outbreak began and didn’t allow anyone else in. Over the course of the series, however, Gabriel evolves significantly and even becomes something of a ladies’ man.
Played By: Seth Gilliam
If Seth Gilliam looks familiar, it’s because he is a veteran TV actor. His long list of credits includes roles on shows like “The Wire,” “Teen Wolf,” “Oz” and many others. He also appeared in the 1997 movie “Starship Troopers.”
Gregory is the leader of “The Hilltop” community before being overthrown by Maggie. Since weak people never last long on a show like “The Walking Dead,” the fact that this character lasted more than three seasons is impressive.
Played By: Xander Berkeley
Xander Berkeley has been acting from a young age. His first few credits include roles on “M*A*S*H” and “The Incredible Hulk.” More recently, he’s acted on shows like “Supergirl” and “The Mentalist.” In addition to being a veteran actor, Berkeley is also a painter.
Character: Morgan Jones
Although he appears in the pilot episode of “The Walking Dead,” audiences don’t get to know Morgan until several seasons later. Overcoming the loss of his wife and son, he becomes the voice of reason and non-violence in Rick’s group. (For a time, anyway.)
Played By: Lennie James
In addition to his role on “The Walking Dead,” British actor Lennie James is also known for his roles in movies like “Blade Runner 2049” and “Snatch.” After multiple seasons on “The Walking Dead,” it was announced that James would become a cast member on “Fear the Walking Dead” and continue playing Morgan on that spin-off show, making him the first crossover actor between the two series.
“What happened to Heath?” is the question that “Walking Dead” fans had when the Alexandria supply runner character mysteriously disappeared after Season 7 after being introduced in Season 6. Luckily, it seems that the answer was given via an episode in Season 9.
Played By: Corey Hawkins
Corey Hawkins’ disappearance on “The Walking Dead” was not coincidental. The actor had the opportunity to act in movies like “BlacKkKlansman,” and he reportedly asked to be written off “The Walking Dead.” In addition to his TV and film work, Hawkins also appeared on Broadway in 2017 in “Six Degrees of Separation.”
Character: Paul ‘Jesus’ Rovia
When audiences first meet Jesus in Season 6, he manages to swindle Rick and Daryl out of their much-needed supplies. But it’s only a matter of time before he joins their group and becomes Maggie’s right-hand man. In Season 9, however, he succumbs to death following a run-in with a “Whisperer.”
Played By: Tom Payne
British actor Tom Payne wasn’t unhappy when his character met an untimely end on “The Walking Dead.”
“It’s an amazing show and I was so honored to be a part of it, but at the same time, being the same character without anything fun to do is a bit frustrating,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. Payne is reportedly engaged to Swedish singer and model Jennifer Akerman.
Character: Merle Dixon
Although Merle had a relatively small role on “The Walking Dead,” he still holds the distinction as being one of the show’s most memorable characters. Perhaps it’s because he cut off his own hand in Season 1. Or perhaps it’s due to the heartbreaking Season 3 scene where Merle has to be killed again by his own brother, Daryl.
Played By: Michael Rooker
Since working on “The Walking Dead,” Michael Rooker has become a sci-fi star, taking on the role of Yondu Udonta in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and the sequel “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” (If you don’t recognize him, it’s because he’s covered in blue makeup for the role.) He also previously starred in ’90s movies like “JFK” and “Mallrats.”