All 7 The Walking Dead shows ranked from worst to best

The Walking Dead Universe lives beyond the original series. Which of the TWD shows live up to the hype and which ones died off too quickly?
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: James Dimmock/AMC
Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Gallery - Photo Credit: James Dimmock/AMC /

The Walking Dead became a global phenomenon during the 12 years that it was on the air. Based on the Robert Kirkman comic book series, it quickly grew into one of the most popular shows on television in its early years, with only the likes of Game of Thrones and Breaking Bad coming close to its level of popularity at the time.

Rick Grimes’ run-ins with the undead brought him to a much larger cast of characters, many of whom became beloved additions to the show throughout the decade that TWD was on the air. The success of the show also saw multiple spinoffs spawned throughout its run such as prequel series Fear The Walking Dead and The Walking Dead: World Beyond.

But the main show’s conclusion wasn’t the end for the franchise, it was only the beginning, as multiple new spinoffs were greenlit, including The Walking Dead: Dead City which aired earlier this year, and The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon, which is wrapping up its first season-run. Both shows became the biggest ever hits of the AMC+ streaming service, and both will return for second seasons, meaning that the TWD Universe is alive and well. Their record was then broken again by the Rick and Michonne-led spinoff The Ones Who Live, which received acclaim from fans and critics.

Taking all of that into account, let’s look back at the seven TWD Universe shows thus far and rank them while we’re at it.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond, The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1, The Walking Dead: World Beyond season 1 episode 3, The Walking Dead: World Beyond review
Alexa Mansour as Hope, Aliyah Royale as Iris, Hal Cumpston as Silas, Nicolas Cantu as Elton – The Walking Dead: World Beyond _ Season 1, Episode 2 – Photo Credit: Jojo Whilden/AMC /

7. The Walking Dead: World Beyond

The concept of The Walking Dead: World Beyond is one of the more unique ideas that we’ve seen from the TWD Universe. Between Fear The Walking Dead‘s characters experiencing the fall of society and The Walking Dead‘s characters surviving through the apocalypse, we had seen multiple different points of view of the brave new world. But what about a generation of those who knew nothing but it?

World Beyond focuses on the next generation of survivors, showcasing what it’s like to live in a world that was never normal, relying on stories from their parents and guardians to imagine what everything was like before the Walkers (or the “empties” as the kids called them) rose from the dead.

The series didn’t quite come together right away. Some of the supporting characters were more interesting than the leads, the dialogue felt cliched and some of the survivors didn’t act like actual people. Nevertheless, the two-season miniseries improved a great deal as it went on, introducing us to new facets of a world we thought we had seen all of, and something tells us it might be one of the TWD Universe’s most important shows whenever we finally catch up with Rick Grimes in his own spinoff.

The Walking Dead: World Beyond was full of potential and even though it didn’t always live up to that, it gave us a fresh new perspective on this undead world.

Tales of the Walking Dead, The Walking Dead
Terry Crews as Joe – Tales of the Walking Dead _ Season 1, Episode 1 – Photo Credit: Curtis Bonds Baker/AMC /

6. Tales of the Walking Dead

One of the first TWD spinoffs announced after it was revealed The Walking Dead was ending, Tales of the Walking Dead is an idea that fans have been pitching for a long time. It’s an anthology series, focused on telling standalone tales set within the wider TWD Universe, giving us a chance to see how different people cope with the end of the world as they knew it at different times.

As a result, we got some interesting new stories and were introduced to some quirky new characters along the way – some of who we wouldn’t mind catching up with in sequel episodes. We also got more of a glimpse into how TWD big bad Alpha came to be, as the incomparable Samantha Morton returned for a special episode that detailed more of her character’s origin story. Joining Morton in the series was an impeccable cast, including Terry Crews and Olivia Munn.

As with all anthology series, some episodes shone a little brighter than others, but Tales of the Walking Dead provided new perspectives to a world we were familiar with, and it was so successful in doing so that we’re still hoping that it will get a second season.

Fear The Walking Dead, Fear The Walking Dead season 7
Kim Dickens as Madison Clark, Lennie James as Morgan Jones – Fear the Walking Dead _ Season 7, Episode 16 – Photo Credit: Lauren “Lo” Smith/AMC /

5. Fear The Walking Dead

Fear The Walking Dead is a show that features both the very best and worst of the TWD Universe. Its first three seasons, led by the Clark Family as they navigate the beginnings of the undead world, is exhilarating and it adds a whole new layer to the story that kicked off in the original show. Everything after that is just a poor attempt to be The Walking Dead.

Looking back on the show’s eight season run, there is no denying that it functioned best when it was a prequel series. Not only did we get the chance to see how the apocalypse all started, we were treated to a completely different type of show as Madison Clark struggled to protect her family from the dangers of this new world.

The decision to “kill off” Madison halfway through the show’s fourth season and replace her with TWD‘s personality vacuum Morgan was not only incredibly disrespectful to everyone, it saddled us with a far less interesting protagonist. And the fact that the show jumped forward in time to catch up with the main series (which then jumped farther in time to set them apart again?) took away all the potential for untold stories, just leaving with a less interesting Walking Dead.

The show’s third season was a triumph and it was a terrible idea to reinvent the show after that (even more so in hindsight). There were definitely positives after season 4, including Alicia’s character growth, but the main one was Madison’s return in season 7 because it finally meant that the show could bow out like it always should have: With its actual main character at the center of it.

The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: Dead City, The Walking Dead: Dead City release date, The Walking Dead spinoffs
Lauren Cohan as Maggie Rhee, Jeffrey Dean Morgan as Negan – The Walking Dead: Dead City Season 1 – Photo Credit: Peter Kramer/AMC /

4. The Walking Dead: Dead City

The arrival of The Walking Dead: Dead City marked the beginning of a new era for the TWD Universe. The first of three new spinoffs focusing on Walking Dead characters after the events of the main show, it follows Maggie Greene as she heads off into New York City to rescue her son from a deadly new evil named The Croat. To do that, she recruits the one man who she knows is the key to keeping him safe. The only problem is that this man is also the man who killed her husband. Yes, it’s Negan.

Dead City restores a larger-than-life feel to the world of The Walking Dead that the shared universe just hasn’t had in such a long time. Maybe that’s the Manhattan setting or the limited series feel of it all, but it’s much more cinematic than the original series, sharing more qualities with HBO’s The Last of Us than it does its predecessor.

The Maggie and Negan conflict feels like a bit of a retread but the performances of Lauren Cohan and Jeffrey Dean Morgan ensure that we buy into every minute of it. It’s also a fresh tale that genuinely feels like it has bite (no pun intended), justifying its own existence as an exciting new chapter in the ever-growing TWD Universe.

The Walking Dead, The Ones Who Live
Danai Gurira as Michonne, Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes - The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live _ Season 1, Episode 2 - Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

3. The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live

Ah, the one we had all been waiting for. The Walking Dead: The Ones Who Live had went through several iterations before it finally arrived on AMC and AMC Plus as a six-part series, but it was always supposed to accomplish one thing: Bringing back Rick Grimes and Michonne.

It obviously accomplished that, but it did so effectively - very effectively, in fact. The Ones Who Live explores what the characters have been up to since we last saw them in a full-time capacity, bridging the gaps between those moments and their cameo appearances in the series finale of the main series. It also fulfills its promise of making their long-awaited reunion a moment worth waiting for.

At its heart, the series is a love story; one about surviving the most unlikely of all odds, risking it all to find the person you love the most. It's a timeless story, but one that The Ones Who Live manages to mold in its own image. It's all very in-line with the kind of drama that we've come to expect from The Walking Dead but with an added layer of nuance that wasn't always present in the original series.

The show justifies its own existence by telling a story that couldn't have breathed in the way that it does if it had been told on the mothership series, and Andrew Lincoln and Danai Gurira prove that they are still forces to be reckoned with; telling this compelling story with gravitas and power.

The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon – The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon _ Season 1, Episode 6 – Photo Credit: Emmanuel Guimier/AMC /

2. The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon

I’ll be the first to admit that there was some uncertainty about The Walking Dead: Daryl Dixon prior to its arrival. Daryl was already the main characters of The Walking Dead‘s final few seasons, and the show was originally envisioned as a Daryl and Carol spinoff, so was the show we were getting actually going to live up to expectations and justify its own existence. In a word: Yes. Yes, it was.

Daryl Dixon is a thing of beauty. Taking its title character to France, it expands the universe in ways that the original show could not have, as Daryl heads out to see what else is out there. What he doesn’t expect is to find a new mission, one that involves protecting a young boy named Laurent from the dangers of the undead. And those dangers are evolving, with new, deadlier types of walkers all around.

It’s larger than life in every single way, with its cinematography being one of its strongest aspects. The show is visually stunning, showing us a vivid look at another setting in this long undead world and there is no other way to describe the way that it is shot than cinema.

It’s been a long time since The Walking Dead had the life that it has here, but after Daryl Dixon‘s first season, I couldn’t be more excited about the TWD Universe, especially with Carol joining in on the second. This is what the next era of The Walking Dead should look like, and it looks beautiful.

The Walking Dead, The Walking Dead season 2
(L-R) Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln), Lori Grimes (Sarah Wayne Callies), Hershel Greene (Scott Wilson), Carl Grimes (Chandler Riggs), T-Dog (Robert ‘IronE’ Singleton) – The Walking Dead – Season 2, Episode 13 – Photo Credit: Gene Page/AMC /

1. The Walking Dead

Of course The Walking Dead is at the top of our list. There isn’t anywhere else it could be, let’s be honest. The AMC series changed the game when it debuted in 2010, bringing Robert Kirkman’s legendary comic books to life before it took on a whole new life of its own. And from the moment Rick Grimes found himself trapped in this brave new world, there was no turning back.

While The Walking Dead started as Rick’s story, it grew over time to welcome a huge cast of characters in. It was a story of survival, so it made sense that it had such a large cast, and that made it all the more edge of seat every time a walker invaded their safe havens or an evil villain made their presence felt, because you never knew which character was in danger.

The show did stumble along the way, making most of its biggest mistakes as it edged into its second half, but there is no denying the sheer compelling nature of the decade worth of content that the legendary series gave us. It also reinvigorated the horror and zombie genres on television and reeled us in as it did so.

Contrary to its subject matter, The Walking Dead will never die. Its legacy will live on through the multitude of streaming services it finds itself on over the years and the multiple spinoffs that will open new chapters in the classic story. But oh, to experience the grandeur of this show during its original run was truly something else.

Next. TWD: Nobody Wants to Admit. 10 things nobody wants to admit about The Walking Dead. dark

What’s your favorite show in AMC’s The Walking Dead Universe?