THEN AND NOW: How 'The Walking Dead' cast has changed from their first appearance on the show

Jerry, Daryl, and Maggie TWD 11b
The cast of "The Walking Dead" looks a lot different now from when they first joined the series.AMC
  • "The Walking Dead" is ending this fall after 11 seasons.

  • The main cast has grown a lot from the survivors we first met over the past decade.

  • Including Rick and Michonne, who will return in a spinoff, here's how the cast has changed.

The clean-cut Rick Grimes was the original protagonist of "The Walking Dead."

rick twd 101 gun
Andrew Lincoln is seen on the 2010 pilot of "TWD."AMC

After waking from a coma in a hospital, Grimes set out to find his family and unexpectedly became the leader of a group of survivors for the show's first nine seasons.

The last time we saw Rick, he had a full beard and graying hair.

twd 905 rick grimes
Rick last appeared on "TWD" on season nine, episode five.Gene Page/AMC

The former sheriff's deputy ditched the good cop routine to survive in the new world. Sometimes, Rick went a little too far with his tactics, but he always went to any length to make sure his children and the extended family he created during the apocalypse was safe.

On season nine, episode five, Rick was believed dead by his loved ones when he was actually carried away on a Civic Republic Military helicopter to save his life. Missing for years, Rick will return in a future spinoff series.


Michonne was distrustful of nearly everyone when she first came across Rick's group on season three.

TWD 301 Danai Gurira as Michonne
Danai Gurira first appeared as Michonne on the show's season three premiere.Gene Page/AMC

After losing her loved ones and traveling only with walkers for a period of time, it took the katana-wielding warrior a while to warm up to Rick and his group.

Michonne became a vital member of the group and Rick's wife.

michonne twd 1008
Danai Gurira left "TWD" before the end of season 10 in March 2020.Gene Page/AMC

During her time on the series, Michonne overcame the trauma of losing a child and eventually opened her heart to become a mother again. Not only did Michonne came to love and raise Rick's children as her own, but together they share a son who Rick doesn't know exists because of his departure on the series.

Michonne went from a loner in the apocalypse to a dependable leader and defender. She left the series on season 10, episode 13 with a new 'do in search of Rick and will return in an untitled Rick and Michonne spinoff.

Cailey Fleming has played an aged-up version of Rick's daughter, Judith, since he left the show.

judith 905 twd
Gene Page/AMC

Fleming, who has also appeared on "Loki" and in "Star Wars," joined "The Walking Dead" when she was 11. When we were introduced to Judith, she was spunky, mischievous, and ready to dive into action to help others just like her parents and brother, Carl.

We've watched Fleming grow up over the past few years on the series.

Judith TWD 11c
Cailey Fleming, as Judith Grimes, on the final eight episodes of "TWD."AMC

Judith still wears her brother Carl's hat, but isn't quick to run off and put herself in unnecessary danger. With her mom away, she's grown into a protector for her brother, RJ, and teacher to her peers on how they should protect themselves against threats.

Throughout the series, Judith largely served as a symbol of hope for the future. Everything the group did was for Judith and the next generation to survive.

It's jarring going back to the show's first season and seeing Daryl Dixon with short hair.

TWD 103 Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Daryl Dixon (Norman Reedus) on season one, episode three of "TWD."AMC

It's tough to imagine Daryl without his longer hair, but when he first stormed onto season one carrying a pile of squirrels, he was loud, brash, and very much a loner who never pictured himself being part of a loving family or raising kids.

A little bit of an oddball, Daryl marched to the beat of his own drum and didn't care what anyone thought about him. He was the bad boy who would get into a scrap if anyone offended him or his brother.

Daryl has undergone one of the largest transformations on "The Walking Dead."

TWD 11c Norman Reedus as Daryl Dixon
Norman Reedus has played the TV only "TWD" character since season one.Jace Downs/AMC

If season one Daryl could see himself now, he wouldn't recognize the man he's looking at. Yes, there's the obvious hair growth, but, over 11 seasons, Daryl went from an abused loner to a valued member of Rick's group and a nurturing uncle to Rick's kids. People actually call him Uncle Daryl.

It took a while, but Daryl let down his guard long enough to show that underneath his hardened exterior was a teddy bear with a heart of gold. Just don't get on his bad side or you're probably getting a knife to the head.

Carol started off as a meek abused housewife.

TWD 106 Melissa McBride
Melissa McBride as Carol Peletier on season one, episode six of "TWD."AMC

Carol didn't have much of a voice on the show's first season. Raising her little girl, Sophia, she lived in fear of her abusive husband, Ed, until he was killed by the dead.

After 11 seasons, Carol has had the other largest transformation on the series.

TWD 1117
Carol was never going to let anyone make her feel the way Ed did again.Jace Downs/AMC

Ed's untimely death and the loss of Sophia the following season gave Carol the strength to become a force to reckoned with in the new world.

Never afraid to take action or be one step ahead of trouble, Carol helped save Rick and the group on more than one occasion and is a formidable leader in the apocalypse who you don't want as your enemy.

Feeling safe and away from the abuse that terrorized her most of her life, Carol finally allowed herself to grow her hair out on the show's later seasons when she found someone, Ezekiel, who treated her like a queen. Her series' journey became one of hope over the years for abuse survivors who have found strength in Carol's story.

Ezekiel entered the show playing the part of a king.

TWD 702 King Ezekiel
Ezekiel (Khary Payton) made his entrance onto "TWD" on season seven, episode two.Gene Page/AMC

Ezekiel made an over-the-top entrance on the show's seventh season. It wasn't long until we learned that the king tapped into his theatrical background and hid behind his beloved tiger, Shiva, to play the role of the ruler of a kingdom in order to keep the peace at his former community.

Ezekiel dropped the king act a while ago.

TWD 11c Khary Payton as Ezekiel
Zeke has gotten grayer and wiser.Jace Downs/AMC

After surviving cancer, Ezekiel received a second lease on life. At the Commonwealth community, Zeke has returned to his roots and cares for animals. Additionally, he helps run an underground hospital that aids the poor in the community.

Jerry quickly became a fan favorite when he was introduced alongside Ezekiel.

TWD 702 Jerry
Cooper Andrews joined "TWD" on season seven, episode two.Gene Page/AMC

Ezekiel's right-hand man quickly became a fan favorite for his lightheartedness, his extreme loyalty to Zeke, and his optimistic outlook in the apocalypse.

When we first met Jerry, he always had his hair tied back and only referred to Ezekiel as royalty.


Jerry let his hair down and became a family man.

TWD 1119(?) Jerry and Aaron
Jace Downs/AMC

When Ezekiel told Jerry to stop referring to him as his king, Jerry found love in the apocalypse. He's still the joyful ray of sunshine from season seven, but now he has a wife and three kids.

Negan came swinging onto the show with jet black hair and a cocky attitude.

Negan TWD 616
Jeffrey Dean Morgan couldn't wait to join "TWD" on its season six finale.Gene Page/AMC

Negan made a huge entrance onto the show when he brutally killed two members of Rick's group, including fan-favorite Glenn. The latter death became a controversial series' moment.

Recently, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who plays the character, told Insider it was probably a bad call to kill Glenn of the series.

Years in prison aged Negan, but he still has his sharp tongue.

TWD 1114 Negan
Negan underwent a massive overhaul and redemption on the series.AMC

After becoming the Negan show for two seasons, Negan sat on the sidelines for a bit in prison so the show could refocus on becoming an ensemble series before he became a prominent figure on the show again.

While Daryl's group doesn't forgive Negan for killing their friends, they have acknowledged his loyalty to the group after helping to get them out of a few tight spots. Negan's currently remarried and expecting a child, a departure from the comics.

Maggie first appeared on season two of the show.

TWD 202 Lauren Cohan
Lauren Cohan has played Maggie Rhee since season two, episode two.Gene Page/AMC

Daryl and Glenn's first impression of Maggie came when she blazed in on a horse, shouting out instructions for the survivors to meet at her family's house. On the show's second season, she showcased her ability to always be ready for action and to help others when needed.


Maggie's now a no-nonsense, tough-as-nails momma bear.

TWD 11c Maggie
Lauren Cohan is seen on season 11 of "TWD."Jace Downs/AMC

Viewers watched as Maggie slowly lost her entire family — her brothers and sisters, her beloved father, and her husband — throughout the show and rarely faltered. With only her son, Hershel (named after her father), her many losses hardened her and have made her extra careful of who she trusts.

Rosita entered the show looking identical to her comic book character.

TWD 411 Christian Serratos
Christian Serratos has played Rosita since season four, episode 10 of "TWD."Gene Page/AMC

Rosita was over-sexualized when she first entered the show, but she was someone who could more than hold her own. She was in a relationship with Abraham until Negan brutally killed him.

Rosita has risen to become a warrior and a member of the Commonwealth's army.

TWD 11C Christian Serratos
Rosita is seen on season 11 of "TWD."Jace Downs/AMC

Rosita initially became a bit wreckless after Abraham's death. Her need to exact revenge on Negan led to the faint scar on her face.

After Negan is jailed, Rosita found a renewed purpose in life when the show jumped forward in time to show that she gave birth to a daughter, Coco, with Siddiq who she now raises with Gabriel.

Eugene Porter came onto the show as a liar and a bit of a creep with a mullet.

TWD 411 Eugene, Josh McDermitt
Josh McDermitt has played Eugene since season four, episode 10.Gene Page/AMC

Eugene secured his safety in the zombie apocalypse early on by telling others that he was the key to the zombie cure. When we first met him, he carried a torch for Rosita.

Eugene finally found confidence in himself and grew his hair out even longer.

TWD season 11 Eugene
Here's how Eugene looks now on season 11.Josh Stringer/Jace Downs, AMC

One of the smartest survivors on "TWD," Eugene finally put his smarts to good use by manipulating Negan at one point and, eventually, setting up a radio system that allowed the group to find a community of almost 50,000, the Commonwealth.

Though Rosita never returned Eugene's affections over the years, the two remain besties. And, that's OK. Eugene has found love at the Commonwealth with a woman named Max (Margot Bingham).

The then-baby-faced Aaron eagerly offered shelter to Rick's group at a new community.

TWD 512 Aaron
Ross Marquand joined "TWD" as Aaron on season five, episode 10.Gene Page/AMC

Aaron gave the group some much needed hope on season five, episode 10 when he recruited them to join the Alexandria community, a place the survivors have called home ever since.

When we met him, Aaron had a boyfriend and always had a sunny disposition or a dad joke to lighten the mood.

Aaron isn't smiling as much these days, toughened by many losses.

TWD 1116 Ross Marquand
Aaron looks a little more rough these days with a full beard.Jace Downs/AMC

Like Maggie, Aaron has suffered numerous losses in his boyfriend, Eric, and his friends. In season nine, Aaron lost part of his left arm after it was crushed. Each loss has darkened his cheerful disposition a little more. One of the few bright spots in his life is his adopted daughter, Gracie, who he would go to almost any length to protect.

On the show, Aaron's full beard and mace arm make him the spitting image of Rick from the comics at this point.

Father Gabriel joined the series as an untrustworthy, cowardly figure.

father gabriel the walking dead
Seth Gilliam has played Father Gabriel on "TWD" since season five, episode two.Gene Page/AMC

Shortly after the survivors stumbled upon Father Gabriel and his church on season five, they learned he harbored a dark secret: the priest locked his congregation out of the house of worship when the undead attacked.

When Gabe first joined the group, he was largely self-interested, skeptical of Rick, and someone who seemed too cowardly to ever fire a gun.

Gabriel went from a selfish and cowardly priest to a confident and caring leader and sniper.

Daryl Dixon and Father Gabriel on TWD 11c
Norman Reedus and Seth Gilliam on "TWD."Jace Downs/AMC

No one is messing with Gabriel these days. Despite losing the sight in one of his eyes after an illness, Gabriel's one of the best shots in Daryl's group. The priest eventually settled down with Rosita and the two have a child, though their relationship's a bit rocky.

Magna and her group joined the series on season nine.

TWD 908 Connie and Magna
Nadia Hilker has played Magna since season nine, episode five.Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

Judith discovered Magna and her group in the woods when the show jumped forward six years after Rick departed the show. Magna was heavily skeptical of Michonne and Aaron's group when they first met.

Magna's relationship with Yumiko has become a bit strained since we met them.

TWD 1103 Nadia Hilker
Hilker has played Magna since season nine.Josh Stringer/AMC

Viewers learned that Yumiko had previously represented Magna in a court case before the two fell for one another. Magna's stubborn and fiery, but fans never got a chance to learn a lot more about Magna's backstory, something Hilker recently told Insider she wished they got a chance to do.

Yumiko was introduced as Magna's girlfriend.

TWD 907 Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko
Eleanor Matsuura has played Yumiko since season nine, episode five.Gene Page/AMC

We saw early on that Yumiko is skilled with a bow and because of her previous life as a lawyer, isn't quick to rush to judgment. Her ability to look at a situation and consider options before diving head first into action helps to balance out Magna.

Yumiko now holds an envious role at the Commonwealth.

TWD 11C Eleanor Matsuura as Yumiko
Here's Yumiko on season 11 of "TWD."Jace Downs/AMC

Because of her legal background, Yumiko was selected to act as a top lawyer in the Commonwealth community to its leader, Governor Milton (Laila Robins), and given a more current hairstyle and clothing to look the part. In the process, she also discovered that her brother, who she long thought dead, was actually alive.

Unfortunately, her more elite status has fractured her relationship with Magna.

Connie quickly became a fan favorite when joining the series.

TWD 906 Lauren Ridloff as Connie
Lauren Ridloff joined "TWD" on season nine, episode five.Gene Page/AMC

Connie became a breakout favorite of Magna's group when "TWD" introduced a deaf character, played by deaf actor Lauren Ridloff, and didn't shy away from showing the story from her perspective.

As Connie said on the series, "TWD" showed that her disability was not a weakness, but a super power which never prevented her from jumping head first into danger. It just made her more aware of her surroundings.

The series made an effort to show other main characters sign with Connie. Daryl, in particular, took an interest in wanting to learn American Sign Language, serving as a teachable moment for fans.

Connie has been at the center of major storylines since joining the series.

TWD 1100 Connie
Connie wears her hair back on season 11 of "TWD."Josh Stringer/AMC

"TWD" pushed past stereotypes so that Connie's story wasn't focused on her deafness. When the actor was cast in Marvel's "Eternals" film, she went missing. In her return, she has used her journalistic skills from before the apocalypse to help take down corruption inside the Commonwealth.

Everything Connie has done to survive hasn't just been for herself, it's also been for her sister, Kelly.

Kelly was introduced as Connie's younger sister on season nine.

TWD 907 Kelly
Angel Theory joined "TWD" on season nine, episode five.Gene Page/AMC

In the comics, Kelly was Connie's lover, not a sibling. That show tweak ultimately delivered a more relatable familial bond between two sisters who would do anything to keep one another safe.

During her short time on the series, the youngest member of Magna's group has offered some of the series' most emotional moments when she refused to give up searching for her sister after a cave-in.

Kelly has one of the most personal "TWD" stories.

TWD 1111 Kelly and Connie
Kelly has a new hairstyle on season 11.Josh Stringer/AMC

Kelly's story arc became inspired by the actor's progressive hearing loss. In 2019, showrunner Angela Kang told Insider they were aware Angel Theory was losing more of her hearing. "Rather than fighting against that, we just thought we'd make it part of the story," Kang said.

Now, thriving at the Commonwealth, Kelly can be seen on the show's last season wearing a hearing aid as she aids her sister as a member of the press.

Luke rounded out Magna's group of survivors.

TWD 906 Luke
Dan Fogler has played Luke since season nine, episode five.Gene Page/AMC

Luke was introduced as probably the chillest member of Magna's group. The former music teacher made friends with Alden before his death.

Luke hasn't been seen since the end of season 10.

TWD season 10 Luke
Dan Fogler on season 10 of "TWD."Jackson Lee Davis/AMC

When we last saw Luke, he parted ways with Magna's group for love. He joined Jules at the Oceanside community where things were looking bleak when we last saw that area.

We're expecting to see Luke return on the show's final eight episodes.

Read the original article on Insider