The Longest Surviving Characters On The Walking Dead

The Longest Surviving Characters On The Walking Dead

The nature of The Walking Dead means that it’s likely none of the characters who were there at the beginning will still be there at the end. With Rick Grimes – the one character everyone thought was safe – leaving the show, there are only two characters left from season 1.

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It’s almost become an unspoken competition among the characters to see who can last the most episodes between their introduction and their death (or the actor getting a new opportunity). The most popular characters tend to stick around the longest. So, ranked, here are the Longest Surviving Characters On TWD.

Updated on April 14th, 2022, by Shawn S. Lealos: The Walking Dead is airing its final season. As the 11th season roars on to the explosive conclusion, there are very few people still alive from early in the series. Only two survivors from season 1 are still around and two from the second. Outside of that, everyone else has died or moved on.

There will surely be more deaths coming in the final season, possibly to some of the longer surviving cast members. However, there are also announced spinoffs in the works, so at least four longstanding characters will survive this final season, but that doesn’t mean that there won’t be more loved ones, allies, and enemies who fall by the wayside as the Commonwealth storyline wraps up the popular original Walking Dead series.

15 Sasha Williams (73 episodes)

Sasha Williams showed up with her older brother Tyreese when she first appeared on The Walking Dead in season 3. She then had to watch her boyfriend Bob die and then her own brother died, leaving her alone. However, Sasha was ready to fight and took her war to Negan.

What finished her run on the show was one of the best deaths on The Walking Dead. In season 7’s “The First Day of the Rest of Your Life,” she took her own life while trapped in a casket by Negan. This was a trap, as she knew when Negan opened it, she would have turned and could finally kill him. She failed, but it was all it took for her allies to beat Negan on that day.

14 Glenn Rhee (81 episodes)

steven yeun as glenn rhee playing guitar on twd

Glenn’s death in the season 7 premiere is what made a lot of viewers tune out of the show for good. Suddenly, the highest-rated show on TV was just a show with pretty good ratings, because Glenn’s death was unnecessarily gory. His eye popped out of its socket before Negan finished him off.

In fact, the death itself was unnecessary, period. Negan wanted to kill one of Rick’s guys to get the message across and he chose Abraham. But then Daryl punched him and he decided he needed to kill someone else to fully demonstrate that he was in charge now. It was particularly controversial coming just a few episodes after the dumpster fake-out.

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13 Jerry (85+ episodes)

jerry and carol hug in diverged

It might be shocking to realize that Jerry, of all people, has survived longer than all but 12 people on The Walking Dead at this time. It might be hard to remember, but he appeared on the second episode of season 7, which was only two episodes after Negan made his grandstand appearance in the season 6 finale.

Jerry was there representing King Ezekiel and The Kingdom. Since that appearance, he has gone from Ezekiel’s right-hand man to a family man, getting married and having three kids of his own while living in Alexandria.

12 Negan Smith (87+ episodes)

Negan kneeling with Lucille on The Walking Dead.

Negan has outlasted Rick on The Walking Dead, something no one could have expected – except those who read the comics. Negan was one of the most hated bad guys on the show and then he started to redeem himself, especially when he killed Alpha to strike out at the Whisperers.

RELATED: Every Major Character Death In The Walking Dead Comics

Negan will not die either, at least not on the main show. The Walking Dead will get some spinoffs and Negan will appear in one of them with Maggie, which should be interesting since she has really not completely forgotten that he killed her husband.

11 Tara Chambler (89 episodes)

Alanna Masterson as Tara in The Walking Dead Season 7 Episode 6

Tara is an important Walking Dead character because she was the first character ever introduced on the show to identify as LGBTQ. Since then, we’ve seen a few such characters enter the series – Aaron, Jesus, Tara’s own love interest Denise – but Tara was the first one. Tara has escaped death on a number of occasions, and she’s lost a lot of people close to her.

She’s one of the few characters who wasn’t originally in the comic book series. Rather, she appeared in the tie-in novel Rise of the Governor and was first introduced in a season 4 arc that took TWD viewers away from Rick’s group for the first time. She finally died when The Whisperers killed her and put her head on a spike.

10 Carl Grimes (109 episodes)

Chandler Riggs as Carl Grimes in The Walking Dead

For eight long years, Carl Grimes was one of the most hated characters on The Walking Dead. He did one thing after another that made fans wish he would just be killed off already. Of course, there was a small fan community of teen girls who were obsessed with Chandler Riggs, but the average viewer couldn’t stand Carl.

When it finally did happen, you’d have expected him to go out with a bang. He had a close relationship with Negan that jumped between friendly and contentious, and yet what got him, in the end, was a bite from which he slowly passed away in an underground tunnel. It was very disappointing.

9 Aaron (109+ episodes)

The Walking Dead Season 11 Carol and Aaron at Hilltop Melissa McBride

Aaron first showed up in season 5 as a scout looking for survivors his society might trust to bring in and help. It was similar to what Jesus was doing, but unlike Jesus, Aaron stuck around for a long time after this appearance.

Aaron was a quick favorite thanks to his ability to gain people’s trust and his willingness not to ruin that faith. He also had a boyfriend who he lived with, and while he died in a battle, Aaron fought on and became one of the survivors’ most loyal and trustworthy allies. He is still fighting the good fight, now at the Commonwealth.

8 Gabriel Stokes (117+ episodes)

Seth Gilliam as Father Gabriel in The Walking Dead

When we first met low-key Walking Dead villain Gabriel Stokes, the cowering priest who had never touched a weapon in his life, it didn’t seem like he would last five minutes in a world infested with flesh-eating zombies. However, he’s since become one of the longest surviving characters on the show. Most recently, he has made an unexpected emotional connection with Negan.

The two found themselves trapped by a horde of walkers together during the raid on the Saviors’ compound, and then when Gabriel was visiting Negan in the prison cell at Alexandria, he was the one who left the door open and let the evil tyrant out in the season 9 midseason finale. Since then, Gabriel has worked to redeem himself and has become a leader.

7 Rick Grimes (120 episodes)

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead

The producers of The Walking Dead always said that no character on the show was safe, but no one expected Rick Grimes to ever leave the show. He isn’t technically dead, since he was rescued at the last second in that weird helicopter sequence, but he has left the show.

RELATED: The 15 Best Walking Dead Characters, According To Ranker

The character will be reappearing, still played by Andrew Lincoln, in a movie – or trilogy of movies – on AMC. Rick was the only character on the show who could be described as the main protagonist, and now that he’s gone, The Walking Dead has become a true ensemble show with no real lead character.

6 TIE: Eugene Porter And Rosita Espinosa (125+ episodes)

When we first met Eugene, he claimed to know how to stop the zombie uprising forever. Abraham and Rosita were protecting him and helping him get to Washington, D.C., where he was going to push some buttons and save the world. Of course, he turned out to have been lying the whole time to get the mustachioed tough guy and his equally tough girlfriend to look after him. Eugene has done little to redeem himself.

Meanwhile, the Rosita character was criticized initially for not having any character development, but the season 7 episode “The Other Side” began remedying that as she and Sasha set out on an ultimately unsuccessful mission to assassinate Negan. The time she tried to shoot Negan and hit his baseball bat instead was pretty silly, though.

5 Michonne (126 episodes)

Michonne in Walking Dead Danai Gurira

When we first met Michonne, she was a mysterious figure who had a pair of armless walkers acting as her caddies. She saved Andrea’s life during the fall of Hershel’s farm in the show’s second season finale and the two of them survived together for the first few episodes of season 3.

She joined Rick’s group, saved a bunch of people’s lives, killed the Governor, and fell in love with Rick. It was that love that sent Michonne off the show, heading out to find Rick, who she learned survived. She might make an appearance in the upcoming Walking Dead movie to follow on from this.

4 Judith Grimes (142+ episodes)

Cailey Fleming as Judith Grimes in The Walking Dead

Judith Grimes was the first child born in the world of the main survivors on The Walking Dead. She was Rick and Lori’s daughter, and her mother died while giving birth in the prison. However, Rick and his son Carl took Judith and raised her.

Judith is now the last member of the Grimes family left alive. While it was her brother in the comics who made it to the end, and Judith died as a newborn, in the TV show, it appears that it is Judith that will take the role as one of the future leaders in the world of The Walking Dead.

3 Maggie Greene (162+ episodes)

Maggie in The Walking Dead season 9

Since Maggie Greene’s final episode was also Rick Grimes’ final episode, her departure from the show was kind of overshadowed. Unlike Andrew Lincoln, Lauren Cohan didn’t leave the show so that her character could star in a series of movies.

She got a new opportunity to star in her own TV show, Whiskey Cavalier, with fellow TWD actor Tyler James Williams. However, when that show was canceled, Maggie returned to The Walking Dead and she will be there for a long time because a new spin-off with Negan was announced to follow the conclusion of the main series.

2 Carol Peletier (166+ episodes)

Walking Dead Melissa McBride Carol Long Hair Explained

Carol debuted in the same Walking Dead episode as Daryl. It’s no wonder that Carol has managed to survive so long because she’s one of the strongest and most resilient characters on the show. She has suffered the loss of her young daughter and had to put the pieces of her life back together after that.

At the breakout of the apocalypse, she was stuck in an abusive marriage, so in a way, she was already fighting for survival long before the walkers came along. She’ll do anything to secure the safety of herself and those around her, even shoot a dangerously psychotic little girl in the back while she looks at flowers.

1 Daryl Dixon (166+ episodes)

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon in The Walking Dead

When The Walking Dead established itself as a show that likes to kill off major characters at the drop of a hat and Daryl Dixon established himself as everybody’s favorite character, the fans popularized the phrase: “If Daryl dies, we riot.” So, it’s safe to say he’ll be sticking around for a while.

With Andrew Lincoln gone, Norman Reedus is now essentially the star of the series, although his intention isn’t to take Rick’s place or replace Rick. Still, the producers have often said Daryl isn’t necessarily safe, and he did just get a pet dog, so it would be extra sad if he died now.

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Ben Sherlock
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Ben Sherlock is a writer, comedian, independent filmmaker, and Burt Reynolds enthusiast. He writes lists for Screen Rant and features and reviews for Game Rant. He’s currently in pre-production on his first feature (and has been for a while, because filmmaking is expensive). You can catch him performing standup at odd pubs around the UK that will give him stage time. Previously, he wrote for Taste of Cinema, Comic Book Resources, and BabbleTop.

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