The Walking Dead is one of the most popular sci-fi franchises in current pop culture, but its passionate fandom didn’t just materialize due to its amazing visual effects and scary storylines. Its sprawling cast of characters (which includes its prequel series, Fear The Walking Dead) helped anchor and ground its fantastical elements, making a franchise centered on a zombie apocalypse feel genuine and authentic through their compelling narratives.
With longtime James Cameron collaborator/producer Gale Anne Hurd producing The Walking Dead, as well as the Terminator movies and series, it’s perhaps not so surprising for genre fans to see some of the same faces appear in each franchise. Not only are these actors talented, but they also help to make the world-building of each franchise both authentic and familiar, a fantastic hook for fans.
One of the best guest stars to appear in The Walking Dead, Robert Patrick made his highly-anticipated debut in season 10 as twins who had been psychologically changed by the zombie apocalypse. The only downside to such a celebrated star playing not one but two characters? That they weren’t featured for longer!
Patrick became a household name playing the T-1000, the hypertrophied version of the T-800, and the villain of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. While it’s hard to imagine anyone being more of an unstoppable killing machine than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator, Patrick’s cold and calculating stare, along with his incredible new abilities, made him even more terrifying.
With a preference to let her weapons do the talking, Kerry Cahill brought a viscerally dynamic presence to the character of Dianne in The Walking Dead, who switched allegiances between Ezekiel and the Kingdom and the Hilltop Colony as necessity dictated, always proving herself a valuable martial asset.
Cahill portrayed Lt. Whitley in the badly received Terminator Genisys, another capable fighter from the future who pledged herself to Kyle Reese, John Connor, and the Resistance. The movie was considered a reboot of the franchise, so its timeline didn’t follow any previous versions.
Surviving the zombie apocalypse didn’t automatically make everyone a natural-born leader, as Xander Berkeley’s Gregory found out. As the leader of the Hilltop Colony, he relinquished control to Negan and the Saviors in an act of cowardice, subjecting his own people to tyranny.
In Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Berkeley didn’t fare much better as the step-dad of John Connor, whose constant complaining about his adopted son ended abruptly when Robert Patrick’s T-1000 impersonated his wife and pierced his throat with a blade-hand as he drank milk directly from the carton.
In The Walking Dead prequel Fear The Walking Dead, the beginning of the outbreak was highlighted through the perspective of several key survivors, including a young widow and her children and Garret Dillahunt’s fan-favorite gunslinger, John Dorie.
Dorie played another competent killer in The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a Terminator named Cromartie who became an unexpected ally to Sarah Connor. The series followed her attempts to keep John Connor alive as new assassins were sent from the future to prevent him from leading the Resistance. Cromartie later became the robotic body of the computer program, “John Henry.”
Despite a significant change to her comic book origins, Alanna Masterson’s Tara Chambler was one of the most beloved characters on the series, eventually becoming a co-leader of the Hilltop Colony. Whether it was the Governor, the Saviors, or the Whisperers, she stood her ground and did what was necessary to survive, though she wasn’t immune to feeling guilty for her decisions.
Masterson appeared in the second season of The Sarah Connor Chronicles as Zoe McCarthy, one half of a mother-daughter duo who came in contact with Sarah Connor and her teenage son John while attending a funeral service with a possible connection to Skynet.
Fear The Walking Dead featured Nick Stahl in the moody and philosophical role of Riley, a high-ranking member of the Doomsday Cult that came to prominence by the sixth season. After taking over for Teddy as the cult leader, he took control of the Holding and tried to lead his followers to his idea of salvation.
Stahl portrayed John Connor as an adult in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, living off the grid in the wake of his mother’s death. Having stopped Skynet from going online, he believed Judgment Day had passed, but the reappearance of a T-800 and the new “Terminatrix” made him realize that Skynet’s plan was inevitable.
While not technically in any of The Walking Dead series, Chris Hardwick was the host of The Talking Dead, an aftershow that offered commentary and critiques following each episode of The Walking Dead. The wrap-up explored everything from character deaths and plot twists to fan theories and other rumors.
Hardwick appeared in a small part in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines as Tobias, an engineer who worked for Cyber Research Systems, and reported the status of military networks after Robert Brewster brought Skynet online. He survived the battle between the T-1 and the CRS Labs Hunter-Killer, but might not have survived Judgment Day.
Thanks to his selfishness, laziness, and negative attitude, few would want Zach McGowan’s Justin on their team in The Walking Dead. Exiled from Rick’s group, hated by Daryl, and especially loathed among the survivors of the Oceanside group, he found a home among the Saviors. While the group allowed him to fulfill his every murderous desire, he eventually got what he deserved.
McGowan had a small role in Terminator Salvation as a soldier in John Connor’s Resistance in a future that had been partially altered, thanks to the appearance of someone who might hold the key to humankind’s fate in the coming war against Skynet and the machines.
Fear The Walking Dead featured Michael Papajohn as George, a dangerous prisoner at the Texas Prison who was placed on death row for his crimes and due to be executed at the time of the initial outbreak. After his execution by lethal injection, he reanimated and attacked guards and fellow death row inmates.
Papajohn appeared in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines as a paramedic, and in Terminator Salvation as Carnahan, one of John Connor’s Resistance soldiers who was skeptical of using a terminator he doesn’t trust against Skynet and the rest of the machines.
Obnoxious and violent, it wasn’t surprising that Joshua Mikel’s Jared challenged Rick’s decisions at every turn on The Walking Dead. It also wasn’t surprising when he ended up joining the Saviors, his bullish behavior perfectly matching up with Negan’s aggressive style of leadership.
Mikel capitalized on his ability to play characters with poor attitudes in Terminator Genisys, playing an angry driver who shouted expletives at Guardian when he suddenly stopped his van to focus on Sarah Connor and Kyle Reese being escorted by police.