6th: Carol Peletier
Carol is one of the best character that came out of her shell and evolved so much that anybody would easily pick her as among the strongest personalities from The Walking Dead. The pixie haired fighter makes her appearance noticed when she enters the scene. Either she’s killing some zombies, giving life lessons or making huge decisions that saves the rest of the group, Carol is giving us her best and we can’t wait for her each episode.
We first saw Carol along with her no-good husband, Ed who occasionally beat her and was the classic misogynist. The turning point in Carol’s life started with Ed getting bit, moment when she decided she should give him the last hit in the head instead of Daryl. Years and years of anger and frustration built up to this moment when she killed him.
She took another hit when her daughter, Sophia also turned into a walker after an entire season of searching and hoping that she might still be alive. The heartbreaking scene features a long lost Sophia that has turned into a zombie and Carol’s worlds’ being shaken. Her special relationship with Daryl starts here, where he kills Sophia and comforts her.
When they start living in the prison, things seem to get safer and Rick takes joy in his new farmer life, while Carol still thinks it is important to stay on their toes just in case. Although Rick is the “pack-leader”, Carol turns her educational classes with the kids in self-defense courses and her actions are logic because if another outburst occurs, the kids are defenseless. While at the prison, Carol takes a few well-taught decisions, like the one to burn the bodies of the people infected with the flu and burn them.
When Rick finds out, he takes an extreme decision and forbids her to return to the prison. To us is just another act of Carol’s tactical thinking and a proof of how far she is willing to go to protect the new family. She leaves the prison with grace and has an honest moment with Daryl. We see here, the vulnerable Carol but not in a bad way but in a way that makes us love her at her strongest.
While she tries to break in the prison to get more weapons she stumbles across Sam and she gives him two choices: either he tells Rick about this and get tied up outside the prison or remain quite about it and receive cookies. This is an awesome moment because we see the strong and confident Carol and it is clear to everyone that she will never be weak for no one ever again.
Another tough moment in Carol’s life is when she meets again with the moment of being forced to kill someone she loves because they have turned. The tragic death of Lizzie makes Carol fight her demons and get over Sophia’s death by killing Lizzie and stick with her new personality of a survivor. We often see the spotlight on Carol’s inner struggles that makes us admire her and inspires us at the same time. Her rocket-launching from season five, “No Sanctuary”, exemplifies that she is indeed, not only an awesome hero but a strong mind to go with.
5th: Daryl Dixon
Even though The Walking Dead is not like other shows where romance, sexual tension or various relationships are a focusing issue, Daryl Dixon is one of the few characters who brought the sexual tension to the show. If not between the characters, then definitely among fans. A renegade of his own world, a hero and a dream man. Daryl took female fans to all of these stages while the five seasons and he is still the fans’ favorite character.
Daryl Dixon was initially a douchebag. A classic redneck boy who wanted to fight everybody, just like his older brother Merle. Unlike Merle, Daryl grew apart from his family values, even if he struggled with the issue at the beginning. When Merle sent walkers to the camp where Rick and Daryl where, he still stood out for his brother and even when he realized Merle wasn’t a good person after all, he still look out for him.
The thing about Daryl is that he also has a sensitive side, although it doesn’t show very often. His emotions never gets in his way of killing walkers unless it’s his brother that turns.He seems cold-blooded and distant but he doesn’t hide his tears when his brother finally turns into a walker and has to kill him.
The heartbreaking moment reached a sensitive spot in Daryl’s composure and, to be frank, it would have been hard for anyone not to cry. And it’s not the fact that we finally see him cry but that it was the most obvious moment when all female fans felt the need to comfort poor Daryl and do other stuff when he calmed down.
The Walking Dead comics don’t mention Daryl, as he doesn’t exists in them but the director made a wise decision when he added Daryl to the cast. Starting from an abusive, alcoholic and racist family, Daryl climbed his way through them and though his methamphetamine addiction to become the hero he is since season two. He let his past demons behind and rise as a strong and compassionate man who always does everything to save the group.
Another amazing Daryl moment was when everybody was searching for Sophia, Carol’s daughter. While everybody quit at some point, Daryl proved patience and never lost hope. As well as he dealt with Beth and Carl. The kids we’re very annoying at some point but Daryl was stronger than that and that’s why he deserves to be recognized and glorified as a sort of Boondock saint.
The reason Daryl has so many fans that loves him is not only he’s bad boy look but because deep down he is actually weak and care deeply for everyone and not strong as he portrays himself. Daryl doesn’t let many people know much about him, but when they do, as Beth found out, he is totally honest and sees hope into others too, no matter how hard the struggles is. He will fight even for a stranger to live because death is a sentence he refused to accept long ago.
4th: Rick Grimes
A natural born leader and a former sheriff, Rick Grimes has proven many times that he has many resources and intelligence even after the hardest battles, both physical and emotional. Rick initially confronts with the infection days after he wakes up from a coma alone in an abandoned hospital. He faced the cruel reality of being left behind by his friend and family in a frightening world of dead hungry people.
His intelligence and sense of duty made him seek for his wife and son and when he finally tracked them down at a refugee camp he takes leadership over the group. He takes responsibility over the group and tries to ensure them a safe and permanent home which they find for a while at the Greene farm and at Alexandria prison.
Being used to take care of his family and as a sheriff, over the town, he takes this sense of duty sometimes too far. It’s fascinating to follow the character’s transition and personality changes. Although he tries to stay close as much as he can to his son who needs most his guidance, Carl often strays from the group and disobeys his father because the burden of an post-apocalyptic world. Struggling with what comes first, Rick always tries to put his family first, a task very difficult to achieve in the chaos they live.
Things get a bad turn after his wife, Lori, dies in a cruel way, time in which Rick doesn’t own up to his group anymore, biting even the neck of a man that that threatens to kill his son and Michonne. Actor Andrew Lincoln describes Rick, in the end of the fourth season when he losses the safety of the prison too, as being “a man accepting brutality for the sake of his son“.
Leader once again
In season five he makes peace with his inner monsters and is the strongest he has ever been. He realizes that the only way to cope with every side of his personality, even the darkest ones, is to embrace them all. It’s the only way to keep his sanity intact and for Carl and him to keep staying alive. He is a leader once again but this time stronger. He learned to embrace his brutality as much as he did in the past with his humanity. I think all the fans waited for this moments of change from Rick Grimes, after having a breakdown, as much as the other characters waited too.