-By Kat Rosenfield
While many fans of The Walking Dead are still hyperventilating into paper bags over that Rick-Michonne hookup on last night’s (Feb. 21) episode, this is your polite reminder not to get too comfortable with all this happily-ever-after.
Three words: Negan is coming.
The Big Bad we’ve all been waiting for is bound to make his first appearance on the show within the next week or two. And whenever he does make his entree into the rich canon of Walking Dead villainy, he’ll be riding a wave of anticipation that has him already threatening to eclipse the rest of the series’ antagonists in the Who’s Who of evildoers. But how naughty will Negan have to be in order to top the list of Most Evil Walking Dead Antagonist Ever? We’re looking back at all the existing competition, starting with the least formidable.
The Barflies, Dave and Tony
Rick found himself in a bar in town during Season 2, where he encountered these two losers, who threatened to raid the Green family farm. In keeping with the setting, Rick gave them a round of shots. In the face. With bullets. When we say that Dave and Tony were the worst villains on The Walking Dead, what we actually mean is that they were the worst at being villains.
Pete Anderson, a.k.a. “Porch Dick”
On a list that consists largely of power-mad dictators, actual cannibals, and roving gangs of sociopaths, Alexandria’s resident domestic abuser is truly a pathetic small-timer. But despite being the most banal kind of evil, he still caused an awful lot of trouble for Rick — and the untimely death of poor Reg.
Officer Dawn Lerner and the Hospital Jerks
The world as we know it might have come to an end, but police brutality lives on, thanks to this power-tripping control freak and her boys in blue. The worst thing about Dawn? She genuinely believed she was one of the good guys.
Tomas and Andrew, the Angry Inmates
Meanwhile, there was no such ambiguity when it came to Tomas and Andrew. Tomas was a cold-blooded murderer who thought he could out-maneuver Rick (NOPE), and Andrew’s idiotic play to take control of the prison cost T-Dog and Lori their lives (JERK). Clearly, these guys were in jail for a very, very good reason.
In a world gone mad, there’s a fine line between villainy and lunacy — but this group straddled it like champions. The Wolves were destructive, murderous sowers of chaos, which pushes them into the top five; however, they were also out of their damn minds, which keeps them from ranking any higher.
Now we’re getting into primo bad guy territory. The mercenary, cold-blooded Claimers were unapologetically evil, right up to the point where they tried to “claim” a piece of Carl Grimes and Rick took a bite out of their leader. Thanks to this group, we no longer call “Dibs!” on anything, because it’s too scary.
The Termites, featuring Gareth
Speaking of scary: the residents of Terminus were just as evil as the Claimers, but with bonus points for a) cannibalism, and b) sneakiness. Not only did they lure countless innocent victims to their human barbecue, but their ruthless leader looked like a baby-faced hipster barista. Shudder.
One of the few things worse than a roving group of cannibal predators: an enemy inside your own ranks. Shane and Rick’s friendship-gone-bad was one of the biggest threats to our heroes’ safety, and Shane is still the second-worst villain ever to appear on the show.
Slick, charming, manipulative, handsome, and a straight-up sociopath: Woodbury’s late, great leading man remains the ne plus ultra of The Walking Dead baddies. If Negan is going to ultimately reign supreme as the worst of the series’ villains, this is the one-eyed, head-collecting man to beat.