The Walking Dead

The Walking Dead: 10 Heroes Who Easily Could Have Turned Into Villains

From Carol’s brutal ways to Daryl’s initial resentment, some of The Walking Dead's heroes could have been villains. What made them so antagonistic?

The Walking Dead‘s fans had good reason to be excited when story details of the Rick and Michonne spinoff were recently revealed. The flagship show will also be coming to a close on Nov. 20, 2022. While the heroes will be missed, there were plenty of times when they could have turned into villains.

Examples range from Daryl’s initial arc of wanting revenge for Merle’s disappearance to Carl’s unstable views of the post-apocalyptic world under Shane’s guidance. It’s interesting to see how Rick, Carol and the others could have been known as antagonists had the series wanted it that way, and why they were on the path to villainy at certain points.

Tara Chambler

Tara Chambler standing in the Hilltop in The Walking Dead

Tara was introduced as a reluctant member of The Governor’s new squad that he assembled to destroy the prison. Many of the villain’s team gladly joined his ranks and Tara had the same opportunity to turn over a villainous leaf as well.

In fact, Tara did partake in the battle that led to the prison’s destruction, only allying with Glenn afterward. Had Tara wanted, she could have attempted to take Glenn’s life to cement her role as a villain. But Tara decided to make amends for helping The Governor, which put her on the path to becoming a protagonist.


Alden behind a fence in The Walking Dead

Alden was initially part of the Saviors, having been introduced as one of the captives from the Sanctuary. Maggie believed he was villainous like the rest of his people, most of whom openly mocked her and the heroes even after they were caught.

Alden chose to take a peaceful path by connecting with Maggie, making her see that not everyone in the Sanctuary wanted to partake in the war. There were many moments where it seemed that Alden was just manipulating Maggie and could turn on her. Howeer, Alden turned out to be a genuine personality who was instrumental in changing the remaining Saviors from villainy.

Morgan Jones

Morgan Jones sitting down in The Walking Dead

Morgan became unhinged after losing his son at the hands of his infected wife, resorting to killing anyone he came across. He was briefly against Rick when the latter approached his area and nearly eliminated him until Morgan was incapacitated.

Morgan could have easily turned down Rick’s attempts to realign with him and continued to try to take his life. Moreover, Morgan could have easily become a villain when he became unhinged once more during the eighth season. His tendency to reach murderous lengths made him a threat even to his own friends, but Morgan managed to keep it at bay and fled to avoid becoming a full-on villain.

Gabriel Stokes

Gabriel Stokes in the woods in The Walking Dead

Gabriel admitted he’d locked people outside his church to die at the hands of the infected while saving himself. While this was an act of cowardice, he took on villainous tendencies at Alexandria, where he tried to convince Deanna Monroe that the heroes were brutal savages.

Gabriel came close to becoming a villain when he had an altercation with Sasha, almost tipping her fragile state over the edge by verbally antagonizing her. The show decided to take a different direction by eventually evolving Gabriel’s characterization after he showed remorse for his actions. But Gabriel could very well have served as a villain who corrupted Alexandria’s citizens against the main heroes.

Sasha Williams

Sasha Williams sitting in the forest in The Walking Dead

Sasha’s emotional fragility became worse after losing her lover Bob and brother Tyreese, and also being unable to accustom herself to Alexandria. She nearly lost her restraint after Gabriel antagonized her by calling her a killer, which was a trait she showed when she brutally murdered the antagonistic Terminus faction.

Sasha nearly gave in to her darker mindset when she preferred to lie among the infected rather than humans and almost taking Garbiel’s life would have been the tipping point. She eventually channeled this anger toward sacrificing herself for her friends, although it would have been believable if the show wanted her to turn into a villain.

Carl Grimes

Carl Grimes aims a gun in The Walking Dead

A lot of effort went toward making Carl out to be a good person in later seasons to move past the seeds planted for a potential turn into a villain in earlier seasons. Carl was heavily influenced by Shane to take on a kill-or-be-killed attitude, which led to him killing a defenseless boy.

Carl also wanted to kill The Governor’s people rather than seek peaceful resolutions, which made him arguably just as bad as the villains. The show appeared to be carving out an arc for Rick to deal with this dangerous side of his son until Carl’s point of view was changed, and he started to feel remorse.

Eugene Porter

Eugene Porter in the Saviors compound in The Walking Dead

Eugene is one of the Walking Dead characters with the most growth, having been an absolute coward who’s now become a brave person. His cowardly traits briefly caused him to align with Negan and the Saviors, helping them fortify the Sanctuary and come close to sabotaging his own friends.

Eugene almost fully aligned with the Saviors until he was made to see how the heroes had saved his life and how much he owed them. He ultimately betrayed the Saviors from within to lead to their loss, although Eugene could have ensured the opposite result had he embraced his villainous traits.

Daryl Dixon

Daryl Dixon with a crossbow in The Walking Dead

Daryl is the protagonist who has the best chance of surviving The Walking Dead because he’s supposed to headline his own spin-off. That didn’t seem to be on the cards in the first season, where Daryl looked to be set up as the next antagonist who wanted revenge for Merle’s disappearance.

Daryl was shown to be angry and bitter at the group for locking Merle up, believing he’d been eaten by the infected. Had Daryl given in to his feelings of vengeance, he could have had the role Shane ultimately played at the farm to be the main antagonist of the second season. Instead, he accepted what happened to Merle and eventually became the lead character

Carol Peletier

Carol Peletier aims a gun in The Walking Dead

Following Carol would make for an interesting Walking Dead spin-off, although she has also shown villainous mannerisms many times. Carol was responsible for killing innocent ill people at the prison, using unwitting characters as bait, and becoming extremely trigger-happy.

The show has established herself as a scary character who has no qualms about killing protagonists if she feels they’re standing in her way. Carol could easily have become a villain if The Walking Dead chose to portray her actions as villainous rather than in a morally gray area.

Rick Grimes

Rick Grimes looks at Michonne in The Walking Dead

Fans will get to check out the original protagonist again when he returns for the Rick and Michonne spinoff TV series. Rick may have been the hero, but there was little to separate him from the villains at numerous points. Chief among them was when Rick almost engaged in a hostile takeover of Alexandria and brutally murdered Saviors he promised not to kill.

As pointed out by Negan, Rick was the aggressor from his side of the story, as he slaughtered the Saviors for the Hilltop when Negan’s people hadn’t done anything to them. Of course, Rick’s attempts to reunite the communities and willingness to accept responsibility for his actions make him a hero. But there are quite a few moments where the protagonist could have become the antagonist.

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