Are You Smarter than a Zombie? Grading ‘The Walking Dead’ Characters

(Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

(Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

With Season 6 of The Walking Dead now underway, we thought it might be fun to highlight some of the most popular characters from AMC’s hit show. Please remember that the below grades are totally my opinion. I know there are strong arguments for each character, but I’ve spent a lot of time making theoretical plans for a zombie apocalypse, which means I’ve also spent a lot of time finding what I think are the good and bad in each character.

I can only hope that if this were to ever happen in real life, I could find people as amazing as the people below. Not to mentions all the other AMAZING characters we’ve seen throughout the series. I’m still trying to recover from the death of Hershel.

Rick Grimes

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Leadership: B+

Sure, Rick can be emotional at times, but he manages to keep the group safe in most situations. Since Rick was a cop before the outbreak he has a lot of training on how to handle other people as well as less than ideal situations. While the ideal situation is a group democracy, sometimes there just needs to be a “Ricktatorship”.

Areas of improvement: At times Rick can be a little impulsive and in the past has put the group in dangerous situations because of this. Having a group democracy isn’t the fastest way to handle situations, but in the long run, can be beneficial for the group. He needs to better understand the appropriate situations for the “Ricktatorship”.

Weapon of Choice: B-

Rick’s signature weapon is his trusty Colt Python, a .357 magnum revolver manufactured by Colt in Hartford, Connecticut. Even though this weapon has a lot of stopping power, which is good for walkers and for humans, it is also very loud, and we all know that loud noise brings the walkers toward you.

Adaptability: A-

When we’re first introduced to Rick he’s waking up from a coma. He has no idea what’s happened to the world. Even though being a cop has prepared him for devastating situations, it’s hard to wake up from a coma and be on point. It takes him a while to adapt, but with the help of Morgan and Morgan’s son and later, the group, he’s able to come to terms with the world he’s living in. After becoming a leader of the group, he’s been able to adapt in most living situations they’ve come across fairly easily.



Danai Gurira as Michonne (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Danai Gurira as Michonne (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Leadership: B+

While Michonne hasn’t necessarily been in a leadership role in the current group, she’s certainly proved she can be one. After rescuing Andrea in season 2, Michonne did her due-diligence by keeping Andrea safe, and in the current situation, Rick relies on her quite a bit on when making leadership decisions. Even though Michonne could most certainly hold a leadership role, she’s also a bit of a lone wolf. She had to survive by herself for many months before meeting Andrea or the rest of the group.

Weapon of Choice: A

Michonne’s signature weapon is the katana, a medium Japanese sword that was used by the samurai class in Japan. The katana is an excellent weapon for hunting both humans and walkers because…well for obvious reasons. It’s a quite weapon and because she takes care of it, is always sharp. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that she can wield that thing like a champ.

Adaptability: B+

Michonne has had to adapt a lot since the outbreak. She had a pretty comfortable life with her fiancé and son before the collapse of society. Since their loss, she learned how to walk amongst the walkers and blend in to the background, which she did flawlessly by create her walkers on leashes. Michonne has also had to learn how to make friends and become part of a group, which can be difficult when no one trusts anyone else.


Daryl Dixon

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Leadership: B-

Daryl is another character that we have never seen be a leader; however, he has done his fair share of standing up to Rick when it’s necessary. Because of his loner tendencies, he seems to fall in line with whoever is leading the group at the time. He has the capability to be a great leader, and I think Rick can see that, which is why he relies on him just about as much as Michonne when it comes to group decisions.

Weapon of Choice: A-

Daryl’s crossbow is an excellent weapon, but if you miss on the first shot you may be doomed. Crossbows are historically slow to reload and if not done properly can be very inaccurate. Crossbows have another disadvantage when it comes to the large bolts (ammunition). Large bolts means you can’t carry as many, so if you run out the weapon is pretty much useless. Luckily, Daryl has a lot of practice and knows how to properly use the weapon. Because of his hunting background and natural survival instincts, he also knows how to create new arrows if needed.

Adaptability: C

Daryl hasn’t had to adapt that much. He was a loner before the outbreak and we are lead to believe lived in a more secluded area. The biggest struggle for Daryl, thus far, has been adjusting to living with a group of people, which he’s done pretty successfully. There was a bit of a struggle in the beginning because of the closeness to his brother, but he’s also been able to find himself a bit more during the apocalypse and stepped out of his brother’s shadow.


Glenn Rhee

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Steven Yeun as Glenn Rhee (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Leadership: C

Glenn is a great asset to the group, but as mature as an apocalypse will make someone, he still probably has some learning to do and wisdom to gain before taking on leadership in a group as big as they have. But hear me when I say, “The group DOES NEED HIM!” He’s shown he can be a true warrior.

Weapon of Choice: B

What’s convenient about Glenn is his lack of weapon of choice. He’s kind of multi-faceted when it comes to weapons, but that can be both good and bad. He hasn’t necessarily mastered everything. He does seem to be a pretty good shot with a gun, and good with a knife up close, but how many times have we thought he might be the next to go? For me, it’s been quite a bit. He often has close calls. Maybe if he mastered one particular weapon and always had it on him, I wouldn’t be on the edge of my seat as much when he’s caught in a horde.

Adaptability: A

Since Glenn is young, I think it makes him really strong in adaptability. He’s managed to conform to whatever type of person the group needs him to be and he’s almost always the first to volunteer for an outing. Remember that time he covered himself in guts, yeah me too. Not everyone could do that.


Carol Peletier

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier (Image Credit: Frank Ockenfels/AMC)

Leadership: B-

Like the rest, we haven’t gotten a chance to see too much of Carol’s leadership skills. In season 4 we saw Carol kill Karen, which may have been a bit of a rash decision on her part. Understandably, she was worried about the flu being passed around, but this may be shown some weakness in her leadership skills. She does seem to redeem herself later when she finds Tyrese, Lizzie and Mika. In this small group, she does show that she can handle making decisions for a small group. But again, we see her take extreme measures when she has Lizzie, “Look at the flowers.” She still has some learning to do, and probably some trust to regain.

Weapon of Choice: B

Like Glenn, Carol doesn’t really have a weapon of choice. She’s been able to figure out how to use many different weapons and use them effectively. In season 4 we even see her teaching children how to use weapons because she has been able to grasp exactly what’s beyond their temporary salvations.

Adaptability: A+

We’ve learned through past seasons that Carol was living in an abusive household with her husband and really didn’t know how to take control of her life. When we meet her, her husband Ed is still alive and she’s helping to care for daughter, Sophia. We’ve now had to watch her bury both of her loved ones, and maintain some sanity. She’s learned how to handle herself in bad situations while still having that motherly role in the group. Plus, at one point she had to survive on her own upon being kicked out of the group. Of all everyone, she’s probably adapted the best, which is something we wouldn’t have necessarily guessed in the beginning.

Let’s be real. All of these characters are perfect. Robert Kirkman is one amazing writer, and if the characters weren’t who they are – it just wouldn’t be the same.  Weaknesses in The Walking Dead are what make the show interesting – if they were all leaders, wielded their weapons perfectly, and worked well as a team, there wouldn’t be a story. There are those occasions though, where we get to watch a character really break from their role and develop a never before seen skill.  There’s a reason why people keep coming back.


Keep up with the new season of The Walking Dead on Sunday’s on AMC, and stick around for Talking Dead right after – Chris Hardwick is an amazing host, and there is a lot of great conversation!


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