Before the apocalypse Rick Grimes (portrayed by Andrew Lincoln) worked along side his long time partner Shane Walsh as a Sheriff in King County, Georgia. In Episode 01 of Season 01 a conversation between Rick and Shane indicated that before the apocalypse his marriage with Lori Grimes may have been falling apart. Shot in the line of duty, Rick entered a coma only waking up once he found himself in an abandon hospital in a changed world. Rick eventually sets out on a journey to find his family.
Against all odds Rick manages to reunite with his long lost family who have become part of a group of survivors. Rick quickly steps back into a leadership role making decisions that he believes will help the group move forward. While Rick wants to make his family’s safety the highest priority, often his moral compass leads him towards making humanity-based decisions instead.
Rick’s relationship with Shane Walsh unravels in Season 2 when Shane attempts to take back the leadership he once had with the group and Rick’s family. The conflict between the two former partners was a large portion of Season 2 with the eventual resolve coming when Rick kills Shane in self defence. When this event is combined with the survivors being run off the safe haven of Hershel Greene’s farm, Rick undergoes a radical transformation. The season 2 finale leaves a cliff hanger with Rick now a darker, harsher and more power hungry character than ever before.
Carl Grimes (portrayed by Chandler Riggs) is the son of Rick and Lori Grimes. Carl had his parents have openly argued in front of him about their marriage on at least one occasion. After his father is shot in the line of duty and enters a coma, Carl becomes quite close with Shane Walsh. After the apocalypse breaks out Carl is taken away by Shane and his Mom to flee to Atlanta. Carl is given little room to make his own decisions and often ends up taking actions that he’s clearly not happy with.
When he discovers that his father is alive, Carl is extremely happy to have him back in his life. Often Carl gets put in the middle of arguments between his father and Shane, sometimes even siding with Shane. Not have the life experience of most of the other survivors Carl’s moral compass is small often making offensive or cut-throat remarks.
Although Carl is shocked to witness his father kill Shane, he immediately shows his loyalty (and his ability with a gun) when he puts down Zombie Shane before it can attack Rick.
Before the apocalypse Glenn (portrayed by Steven Yeun) delivered pizza for a living in Atlanta. From the job Glenn learned a lot of shortcuts which came into use after the apocalypse. Glenn often leads (or is a part of) scavenging missions and has demonstrated an ability to get in and out of places safely. During one of his runs Glenn locates a man who manages to get himself stuck in a tank which turns out to be Rick Grimes. Glenn takes the time to help Rick escape and in turn he is indirectly responsible for helping Rick reunite with his family.
Glenn is often put in situations he’d rather not be. These situations have included walking directly through a group of zombies and also being led down a well as Zombie bait. Glenn gets a bump in his self-confidence when he meets (and falls in love) with Maggie Greene. With her help Glenn begins to look after himself and make more decisions on his own.
Hershel Greene (portrayed by Scott Wilson) grew up on the farm which his family had owned for 160 years but had moved out at a young age because of a bad relationship with his father. Before the apocalypse Hershel was a veterinarian because of his love for animals. Hershel fought with alcoholism but eventually gave it up when his daughter Maggie was born. When Maggie was 6 Hershel had another daughter named Beth.
Hershel’s wife died of an unknown cause when Maggie was young, but eventually married another woman named Annette and had the two of them had a son named Shawn. During the outbreak Annette and Shawn were bitten and turned into Zombies. Hershel felt that it was merely a disease and took the stand that turned-folk should be locked in the barn until they could find a cure.
Hershel takes on more of a medical role applying his veterinarian knowledge to humans. He first meets the group of survivors when Carl is accidentally shot by a member of his farm and is brought to him for medical attention. After Carl recovers Hershel disagrees with a lot of the radical opinions of the survival group and tells them they have to leave the farm. Eventually he backtracks on this and invites them to move into the house, but this doesn’t last long when the property is overrun by Zombies and they are forced to flee.
In the months that follow the destruction of his farm, Hershel and his two daughters continue to live among the other survivors as they take up residence in the prison discovered by Rick and Daryl. Hershel has taken on the role of Lori’s “doctor” as she comes closer to her delivery date.
As the survivors make their way deeper into the depths of the prison in order to clear the area of undead residents, Glenn and Maggie are separated from the rest of the group and hide in a side room. While Hershel and the others begin looking for the pair, he is bitten on the leg by a slumbering walker. Writhing in pain and bleeding fast, Rick helps Daryl and T-Dog pull Hershel into the cafeteria and chops off Hershel’s leg to prevent the disease from spreading through his body. Passing out from the experience, Hershel is brought back to the safe area of the prison and cared for by Lori, Carol and the others. Hershel’s fate is uncertain for several hours as Maggie and Beth are torn between whether or not their father will survive. Eventually, Hershel’s fortitude is greater than possibly anyone imagined and Hershel pulls through. Given a pair of crutches, he pushes himself to get back on his foot and get moving again. Within minutes, Hershel and the group are separated by walkers who have made their way into the prison, and Hershel uses his crutch to hold back the undead attacking his companions.
Maggie Greene (portrayed by Laura Cohan) is the oldest daughter of Hershel Green and sister of Beth. In a lot of respects Maggie is a typical farmer’s daughter wearing jeans, boots, riding horses and very well rounded in life.
When Rick’s group makes an appearance on the farm she quickly develops an interest in Glenn as they discover a lot of similarities between themselves in their roles within their groups. At first Maggie disagrees with a lot of Glenn’s outlooks on post-apocalyptic life but quickly comes around when her life is threatened by a zombie during an errand she goes on with Glenn.
After a rocky start, Maggie and Glenn eventually get her father’s blessing in regard to them perusing a relationship. Maggie quickly realized that Glenn was putting himself in unnecessary danger feeling he was being used by the group and she eventually helps Glenn develop his self confidence.
Daryl Dixon (portrayed by Norman Reedus) and his older brother Merle lived with an alcoholic father in north Georgia before the apocalypse. Due to these circumstances Daryl found himself being raised by Merle often sharing some of his radical beliefs. At some point after the apocalypse Daryl and his brother meet up with the survivors group where Daryl adopts a crossbow as his weapon of choice.
When Daryl finds out his brother was abandoned in Atlanta he becomes irate almost ready to write off the rest of the group. Eventually Daryl puts this behind him when Rick risk his life to go back with him to try to find his brother.
In season 2 when Sophia goes missing, Daryl takes the lead in the continued search for her often venturing off own his own each day. After getting trapped during the search, and almost attacked by a walker, Daryl has a breakdown where he has visions of his brother Merle.
Although Daryl develops a relationship with Carol he doesn’t like to show his emotions and is often rude to other survivors. Daryl is accidentally shot by Andrea but eventually survives the gunshot due to poor aim on her part.
Before the outbreak Carol (portrayed by Melissa McBride) lived in the South married to a man named Ed and their child Sophia. Although Carol was a victim of repetitive physical and verbal domestic violence, she stayed with him even after the apocalypse.
Although the group witnessed the violence on several occasions, Carol was often left to fend for herself until one day Shane Walsh reaches his breaking point and tries to teach Ed a lesson. After years of abuse Carol is unsure what to make of Shane’s actions partially thinking he was wrong to have stepped in.
After her husband is devoured by Zombies Carol takes out years of frustrations ruthlessly beating his corpse before it was sent to be buried with other deceased members of the group.
Throughout most of season 2 Carol finds herself on edge after her daughter goes missing without any evidence that she’s alive. Eventually when it’s discovered that Sophia has turned, Carol seeks comfort in Daryl Dixon feeling that the two of them relate on many levels.
Beth Greene (portrayed by Emily Kinney) is the daughter of Hershel Greene and the half-sister of Maggie Greene. Beth was in highschool when the apocalypse began. Hershel allowed Beth’s boyfriend, Jimmy, to stay on the farm with them in safety.
After Beth sees her mom (who has turned) get shot, she becomes hysterical eventually contemplating suicide. Eventually she attempts to kill herself using a shard of bathroom mirror but before she can complete she decides she would rather live. Beth makes a recovery from her suicide attempt not long before the group is run off the farm my zombies. Beth is once again distraught when she finds out that Jimmy did not make it.
By the beginning of Season 3, Beth has proven herself a valuable member of the group by helping clear out the yard of walkers and helping her father recover after the loss of his leg. She has also captured the attention of Rick’s son, Carl…who appears to be developing a crush on the young woman.
Andrea has been fleeing through the woods trying to escape the battle at Hershel’s farm at the end of the Season Two finale “Beside The Dying Fire.” Unable to run any farther, Andrea is running low on ammo, energy and hope. Just as a zombie is about to attack Andrea, the walker is cut down by a stranger carrying what appears to be a samurai sword. The stranger also has two walkers in tow with ropes who appear to have had their jaws and arms removed to prevent them from attacking.
In Season 3 the mysterious hooded figure is revealed as Michonne (played by Danai Gurira) a sword-wielding bad ass. During the 6 months following the Season 2 finale Michonne protects Andrea taking care of her while she has an unknown illness. When Michonne is taken into Woodbury along with Andrea by The Governer, she’s left feeling very uneasy about the community.
Philip is the seemingly benevolent yet ruthless leader of a group of survivors that has taken up residence in the town of Woodbury.
Philip was an average American man with average American problems, like a job, a house and bills. His wife had died in a car accident and left Philip to raise his daughter Penny as a single Dad. All that changed when the zombies appeared.
Philip become the defacto leader of a group of survivors who lives in the town of Woodbury. Woodbury’s survivors are made up of various people, including Merle Dixon, who according to him, was rescued by the Governor after self-mulilating himself to escape from the Atlanta rooftop where Rick Grimes had left him handcuffed. While the Governor appears to be a decent man trying to help rebuild society through Woodbury, he is secretly harboring a dark world around him….not the least of which is keeping his undead daughter Penny chained and bound in a secret room in his residence.
The Governor is first seen scouring a helicopter crash with other Woodbury residents when Merle Dixon finds Michonne and Andrea nearby in the woods. The two women are taken to Woodbury and are treated well by Philip and other locals…although now without their weapons. Upon discovering from the down helicopter’s pilot the location of his camp, the Governor waves a flag of truce while gunning the survivors down for their supplies. When returning, he explains to the Woodbury citizens that he scavanged the items, but Michonne doesn’t believe Philip at all. Michonne continues to defy the wishes of The Governor and a wedge is driven between she and Andrea, who has now began to develop feelings for the Governor. Michonne leaves Woodbury, but Andrea stays and believes in the Woodbury dream. She discovers that Philip has somewhat unorthodox ideas on how to strengthen people’s resolve, including brutal but staged fights with survivors and zombies in an arena. Andrea finds it repulsive at first, but eventually warms up to it.
Glenn and Maggie are taken hostage by Merle and brought back to Woodbury. The Governor interrogates Maggie and threatens to cut off Glenn’s hand if Maggie doesn’t undress for him. By this time, word has made it back to Rick Grimes at the prison by way of Michonne that Glenn and Maggie have been captured. Michonne leads Rick and a rescue party back to Woodbury to break Maggie and Glenn out. Michonne leaves the rescue party and goes off on her own and discovers Penny’s reanimated corpse. When Philip walks in and begs for Penny’s “life”, Michonne runs her katana through her head, causing the Governor to attack her. The two have a brutal confrontation, ending in Michonne stabbing Phllip in the eye with a piece of broken glass.
The Governor now has his “eye” focused on Rick’s camp, who has taken up residence in the nearby prison…