Although other fathers might come close, Rick Grimes is TWD’s number one dad. He made so many sacrifices for Carl and Judith’s safety — and Judith wasn’t even his kid — and always put their well-being first.
BEST: Daryl Dixon
An unexpected “dad,” but a good one nonetheless. Daryl all but adopted Lydia now that Alpha banished her, and honestly, dad-Daryl has been a great turn for his character. He and Lydia have a ton in common, and Daryl has proven he has both the responsibility and the heart to take care of a teenager… and a dog.
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BEST: Hershel Greene
He might not have always been the best dad, and he definitely had his demons, but when it mattered, Hershel was there for his daughters. Much like Rick, Hershel was always willing to sacrifice for his group and for the people he loved… and in the end, he paid the ultimate price for it.
BEST: Morgan Jones
Poor Morgan. Despite his best efforts, he couldn’t keep Duane alive — and it was kind of his fault that Duane died. Because he couldn’t kill his wife (and Duane’s mom) when she reanimated as a walker, Duane was eventually in the same situation and couldn’t pull the trigger. Now, Morgan seems to be a father figure/mentor for Alicia. Hopefully that’ll turn out better!
BEST: Glenn Rhee
We never got to see him with his son, Hershel, but we did get to see Glenn with another kid: Enid. Maggie and Glenn pretty much adopted Enid since she had no family left, and Glenn was able to talk some sense into her when she thought about leaving the group.
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BEST: Travis Manawa
Travis tried. Travis really, really tried. It was never going to be easy to get the Clarks and his former family to get along, but he made a valiant effort to sow familial seeds in their post-apocalyptic blended family. Then, when Chris exhibited some worrying violent tendencies, Travis left the group to make sure he was safe — and when Chris was killed, he exacted bloody, brutal revenge on the men who did it.
Much like Travis, Ezekiel tried. But there’s only so much a king can do to keep his adoptive son alive in the zombie apocalypse, and no one could’ve foreseen a threat like Alpha. Zeke allowed Henry to have things he wanted, like going to Hilltop to become a blacksmith, taught him life lessons as necessary and made sure he knew he was loved.
BEST: Daniel Salazar
Daniel is easily the most complicated dad on this list. From the beginning of Fear‘s run, he did everything he could to keep his family safe, especially his daughter, Ofelia. But — and this is a big “but” — Ofelia didn’t know about his dark past as a secret agent, nor his triple-digit body count. On her deathbed, she forgave him for what he’d done and said she was “really looking forward to getting to know him.” Poor Daniel!
WORST: Shane Walsh
Thank God Shane didn’t survive to meet Judith. He wasn’t exactly a great mentor figure to Carl (he was more interested in Lori than her son), and if Shane had had his way, Carl would’ve been a lot more ruthless than he was. Shane just didn’t have the gentleness and understanding that Rick and the rest of the good dads do.
WORST: The Governor
Keeping your daughter as a walker is a show of love, sure, but it doesn’t outweigh all the other terrible things The Governor did. Plus, there’s no way Penny would’ve wanted to be kept behind a wall in an undead state. Killing her would’ve been the merciful thing to do.
Richard Foreman Jr/AMC
WORST: Jeremiah Otto
Is it really necessary to explain why Jeremiah Otto is on this list? He admitted that his terrible parenting led to Troy’s impossibly fractured mental state, and ultimately, he cared about himself more than he cared about his ranch or his sons. He was abusive to his wife and cold to his children. Jake and Troy were better off without him.
Being a dad is undoubtedly a tough, sometimes-thankless job. Being a dad in the zombie apocalypse? Even tougher!
Keeping one's kid — or kids — safe from the jaws of the undead is no simple task, not to mention dealing with all the "normal" stuff, like teenage rebellion, family drama and deadly first crushes (poor Ezekiel knows all about that one, and how it worked out for his son, Henry). No matter whether their children are dead or alive, most of these dads did their best and gave their sons and daughters the most important survival asset of all: love.