For the past several years, AMC’s The Walking Dead has been one of the biggest shows on TV. Adapting Robert Kirkman’s long-running comic series, the show has been a fixture on Sunday nights since its premiere in 2010. In the 100 or so episodes that have followed, fans have grown to love Rick, Darryl, Michonne and Carl (or “Coral” if you are so inclined). These characters have gone through Hell, and killed hundreds of zombies along the way. For many of the actors that make up the cast, this is the role of a lifetime.
But it wasn’t always the case that these actors have worked on such a high-profile project. Frankly, every actor on the show has a real stinker or two (or more) on their IMDB pages. Whether it’s an embarrassing indie horror film, a horrible comedy or, in one actor’s case, a slightly more “blue” film, every cast member has an embarrassing role they’d like to forget. Unfortunately for them, we are here to collect them all into one place, so that fans of the show will know that Darryl wasn’t always the crossbow-wielding bad boy. And that's just the tip of the crapberg!
19 KHARY PAYTON
Some non-Walking Dead fans might argue that Khary Payton’s most embarrassing role to date is actually King Ezekiel. Honestly, he’s just a guy obsessed with role-playing that happens to have a pet tiger. However, if you can believe it, there’s a lot more on his IMDB page worse than working next to a fake tiger.
Payton’s worst role has to be in the 2005 film, Hellraiser: Hellworld where he played Derrick. This is a straight-to-DVD sequel to the classic horror film Hellraiser that brought the series into the digital age. That’s right, this is the sequel where kids, like Derrick, play a horrible possessed computer game called Hellworld. Thankfully, Payton is damn near unrecognizable, so in theory, he could just deny the whole experience. Oh yeah, and for those eagle-eyed readers, that is Superman himself, Henry Cavill, co-starring with Payton.
18 KATELYN NACON
Compared to most of the other actors on The Walking Dead, Katelyn Nacon has one of the shortest filmographies. Nacon’s first big break was actually starring as Enid on The Walking Dead. Before then, she had a few small films and television appearances. That doesn’t mean she doesn’t have a blemish on her IMDB, though.
Psychology of Secrets is a 2013 film that is part thriller and part Christian recruitment video. In the film, Nacon has a small role as Patti. Content aside, the film is just full of laughable acting and horrible direction. Making matters worse, it’s clear that this “film” was actually shot on video, giving the whole thing a cheap look. Seriously, just take two minutes out of your day and watch the trailer. It’s guaranteed to make you cringe.
17 LAUREN COHAN
Maggie is a character that has had one of the best arcs on The Walking Dead. Going from the young, insecure daughter character to full-on leader and badass, Maggie has cemented herself as one of the most fun characters to watch on the show. None of this could have been possible without the amazing talent of actress Lauren Cohan.
However, Cohan hasn’t always starred in great films and tv series. Back before TWD, Cohan did the rounds on many TV series, in guest roles. But the worst role of her career has to be as Charlotte in Van Wilder: The Rise of Taj. Yep, that’s the Van Wilder sequel without Ryan Reynolds, aka Van Wilder. The 2006 film has a 7% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a paltry $2.3 million in the US. Needless to say, this was a financial and critical failure of epic proportions.
16 MELISSA MCBRIDE
Melissa McBride’s Carol has gone from being one of the many side characters on The Walking Dead to becoming one of the stars. A survivor of abuse, Carol has found her inner action star and turned into one of the best zombie killers in that show. Funny enough, The Walking Dead isn’t McBride’s first foray into the horror genre.
Way back in 1994, McBride starred in Mutant Species, with the role of “Tiffany’s mom.” For those that don’t know, and unless you’re a fan of horrible B-level horror films you wouldn’t know, Mutant Species is one of many Predator rip-offs to come out during the ‘90s. Going straight to VHS, Mutant Species is just garbage. There’s not even much else to say. Lucky for McBride, she doesn’t have a huge role in the film, but there’s no mistaking, she’s definitely there.
15 JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a relative newcomer to The Walking Dead. However, after only being on the show for a couple seasons, Morgan’s Negan is the driving force of the series right now. Negan is the big bad of the series, and Morgan is so damn charismatic that you can’t help but like the guy.
Back before he was enchanting us all as the violent Negan, he was just a struggling actor trying to get by. And what does a very handsome struggling actor do to get by? Well, he stars in a film that isn’t afraid to show a little skin. Undercover Heat is a film that is what people of certain generations used to call a “Skin-emax” movie. These were the films on cable that many young folks would stay up late to catch a peek when their parents weren’t watching. Needless to say, it’s a safe bet that Morgan isn’t very happy it’s listed on his IMDB page.
14 NORMAN REEDUS
Let’s just get this out of the way at the beginning – yes, we know that Darryl is a handsome man. Now, let’s venture back to a time before Reedus was carving out a spot in everyone’s heart. Back then, he was just a nobody, who starred in a slew of not-so-great roles. And yes, we would include the highly overrated Boondock Saints in that list.
However, we’re not here to debate Boondock. No, let’s go back even further to the film Gossip. As the title suggests, this was a terrible thriller from 2000 that was all about how bad gossip is. It took place on a college campus where everyone was hot and having sex with each other. You know, just like real life. Basically, Reedus just plays a pretty boy that loves to tell stories and gossip. Yuck. This role might make viewers question their love of Darryl.
13 ANDREW LINCOLN
Rick Grimes is the heart and soul of The Walking Dead. Played perfectly by the very British Andrew Lincoln, Grimes is the former southern sheriff deputy that just wants to protect his people from any and all threats. Back before Lincoln was putting on that southern accent, he starred in a bunch of pretty decent films, with most remembering him as the poor sap that held up posters in Love, Actually.
However, before all that, he starred as Michael Collins in the TV movie Moonshot. This was one of many films that tried to tell the story of the Apollo 11 mission that landed on the surface of the Moon. It was not very good, and forgotten in time. What makes this TV film extra odd was the fact that it is the very American story as told by British people and acted by a bunch of British actors with American accents. It was also a starring vehicle for James Marsters, who, let’s be honest, just isn’t a really great actor.
12 CHANDLER RIGGS
Oh, Chandler Riggs. We’ve watched you grow up from the annoying little Carl to the much older, long-haired one-eyed star that we know and love. As to be expected from someone who joined The Walking Dead at such a young age, there’s not much to nitpick on his IMDB. Well, except for one notable exception.
Jesus H. Zombie is a 2006 movie that was the first film in Riggs’ oeuvre. With the lovable tagline “Who will Jesus eat?” you know exactly what to expect with this film. It’s just a very cheesy indie horror film that tries desperately to be funny, but ends up failing on multiple fronts. For those interested in subjecting yourself to the torture that is Jesus H. Zombie, there’s a trailer for the film floating around. It’s worth viewing, if only to see an adorable little Chandler Riggs talking about shooting zombies.
11 DANAI GURIRA
Danai Gurira is an amazing actress. Not only is she incredible as Michonne on The Walking Dead, but she’s about to make a huge mark in the MCU in the upcoming Black Panther film. She’s so great, that it’s very difficult to even attempt to dig up a bad mark on her past work.
In fact, compared to the rest of the cast, she actually is going to get off pretty light on this list. Her most embarrassing work to date has to be on NBC’s Law and Order: Criminal Intent. Yes, that’s hardly something to be embarrassed about, but it is from over a decade ago, when Gurira wasn’t the accomplished actor she is now. Okay, let’s be honest, she just does good work. Let’s take a moment to applaud her career choices!
10 LENNIE JAMES
Lennie James is one of those actors that you see working in a bunch of projects, but you never remember his name. That’s not a slight on his acting ability, as he’s genuinely pretty great in almost everything he touches, but it’s just a fact of life. James’ work on The Walking Dead has been one of the highlights of the series as he brings a philosophical discussion to a show about zombie killing.
That being said, do you remember when Matthew McConaughey was trying to be Indiana Jones? Yes, that was a thing. Back in 2005, Sahara was the much-hyped film that starred McConaughey, and co-starred Lennie James, where McConaughey’s Dirk Pitt (horrible name) was going to be the next Indy. The film bombed in spectacular fashion and almost killed McConaughey’s career. Thankfully, Lennie James survived rather unscathed and continued to work, and most people forgot that Sahara ever existed. Well, almost everyone.
9 JOSH MCDERMITT
Josh McDermitt, as Eugene, is single-handedly responsible for making the idea of a mullet remotely cool again. Love him or hate him, Eugene is a fixture on The Walking Dead, and McDermitt is fantastic in the role. Before TWD really put him on the map, McDermitt was a struggling comedian and actor.
His first major role, and most embarrassing, has to be as Brandon on the TV Land show Retired at 35. The show follows a character named David as he quits his normal job to live with his parents in their retirement community in Florida. Hilarity ensues. Well, not really. It’s not a great show. However, one of the stars is none other than McDermitt. You’d be hard-pressed to spot him though, as he’s blonde and bearded with a big smile on his face. Sadly, for the rest of his career, he won’t be remembered as the handsome sitcom star. Instead, he’ll be the “mullet guy from that zombie show.”
8 ROSS MARQUAND
Ross Marquand is an actor who has been working for over a decade, but you’ve just probably never noticed. His biggest role, without a doubt, is on The Walking Dead. Before then, his most memorable role was guest-starring on another AMC show, Mad Men. You can’t help but notice one big stinker on Marquand’s IMDB page, though.
Woodshop is a film that was the starring vehicle, and comedic debut, of none other than Jesse Ventura. Yep, the ex-wrestler and Governor who turned into a conspiracy theorist. Notice how “comedian” wasn’t in that description. The film isn't funny at all, and unfortunately, Marquand is right in the thick of it. However, if you’re a fan of TWD, you owe it to yourself to check out some of Marquand’s impressionist work. It’s incredible.
7 SETH GILLIAM
If Seth Gilliam’s role as Gabriel on The Walking Dead is the first time you’ve seen him act, then you’re missing out. Gilliam has been a part of two incredible series before The Walking Dead – The Wire and Oz. Throughout his career, Gilliam has also popped up in a variety of series, and he’s always great.
In hindsight, however, there’s probably one show that he is embarrassed to be part of – The Cosby Show. Back in the early ‘90s, Gilliam was in three episodes of The Cosby Show as the character of Aaron. There’s nothing wrong with his portrayal of Aaron in the show, but with the recent controversy surrounding Bill Cosby, we’re sure he probably doesn’t want to talk about his stint on the show very much. In fact, we’ll just leave it at that and move on.
6 CHRISTIAN SERRATOS
Rosita is another one of the powerful women on The Walking Dead. Throughout her run on the show, Rosita has always been a strong presence, which is due in no small part to the acting ability of Christian Serratos. It’s pretty incredible that she is great as Rosita on the show, considering her past as a Disney Channel kid and a veteran of the Twilight movie franchise.
Way back in 2006, Serratos signed on to play Heather in the Disney Channel film Cow Belles (get it?). The film was an excuse to have stars AJ and Aly Michalka show up on the Disney Channel yet again. It’s almost unfair to knock the movie completely, as it is just Disney Channel dreck; but still, compared to the rest of her IMDB page, this is the biggest blemish for Serratos. Thankfully, she seems to have grown out of her “teen comedy” roots to do more serious work.
5 TOM PAYNE
Back before Tom Payne grew out his hair and beard to play the part of Jesus on The Walking Dead, he was just a guy trying to make it big. He spent years doing his thing, as most British people do, on a variety of British TV series. Unlike many on this list, you don’t have to dig very deep to find Payne’s most embarrassing role.
Recently, Payne starred as Jaxon (such a “kewl” name, huh?) in the film, MindGamers. Minus the long hair and bushy beard, Payne played the role as a college student trying to come up with a big scientific breakthrough. Think of MindGamers as another film in the long list of Matrix rip-offs that have come out in the last two decades. There’s tons of techno music, crazy flips and futuristic clothing.
4 AUSTIN AMELIO
Austin Amelio’s Dwight is one of the most interesting characters on The Walking Dead. With his scarred face, and questionable alliances, you’re never quite sure what is going on in Dwight’s head. Amelio’s portrayal of Dwight is easily some of the best acting on the entire show.
If you are interested in seeing Amelio play a character that isn’t scarred, but is loud and obnoxious, you should check out Cabin Crew. The 2017 film is a big departure for the actor, who is best known for being brooding on The Walking Dead. Cabin Crew is a low-budget indie film that belongs more at the beginning of someone’s career, and not while he’s filming a major TV show. Amelio isn’t horrible in the role, but the overall quality of the film is severely lacking.
3 XANDER BERKELEY
Xander Berkeley is an actor that has an IMDB page a mile long. Before playing Gregory on The Walking Dead, Berkeley has been seen in absolutely TONS of movies, including Terminator 2: Judgement Day and Taken. Of course, if you’re that prolific as an actor, you’re bound to star in a few films that aren’t necessarily up to snuff.
Frankly, you can pick a few different films from his filmography for this list, but the biggest stain on his career has to be in Barb Wire. Back in 1996, Pamela Anderson was set to star as the titular character in the futuristic comic book adaptation. The film was a big bomb, not even coming close to making enough money to recoup its small $9 million budget. It also tanked the career of Anderson. Lucky for Berkeley, he just took the bump and moved on to bigger, better things.
2 STEVEN OGG
Steven Ogg is an eclectic actor, to say the least. As Simon on The Walking Dead, he’s bit of a jerk, clearly. However, he’s also the voice of Trevor Phillips in GTA V, and he’s made guest appearances in series like Better Call Saul, Westworld, and Broad City. Needless to say, he’s an accomplished actor that’s willing to take chances.
One of those chances didn’t turn out to be a great choice. In 2003, he starred as Pavel in the film Mail Order Bride. In the film, which is just flat-out bad, Ogg plays a member of the Russian Mafia. So, if you ever wanted to hear Simon from The Walking Dead with a stereotypical Russian accent, this is your movie. Honestly, it’s probably best if we all agree that Mail Order Bride never happened.
1 POLLYANNA MCINTOSH
Lover her or hate her, everyone has their opinion on Jadis and the Trash People from The Walking Dead. They’re polarizing characters, to say the least. However, if you do a quick Google search on the actress behind Jadis, Pollyanna McIntosh, you’ll see that she’s actually an accomplished actress who speaks in full sentences.
However, you’ll also find, in that Google search, that she starred in the Sci-Fi Channel original movie, Bats: Human Harvest. The film follows a group of Delta Force soldiers, accompanied by a Russia-born CIA agent, played by McIntosh, as they fight bats that have a taste for human flesh. As is the case with all Sci-Fi Channel films, the acting is pretty horrible and the special effects are garbage. But hey, even actresses like McIntosh have to start somewhere.
Can you think of any other roles undertaken by TWD actors? Let us know in the comments!