Drought is a stochastic natural hazard that is instigated by intense and persistent shortage of precipitation. Following an initial meteorological phenomenon, subsequent impacts are realized on agriculture and hydrology. Among the natural hazards, droughts possess certain unique features; in addition to delayed effects, droughts vary by multiple dynamic dimensions including severity and duration, which in addition to causing a pervasive and subjective network of impacts makes them difficult to characterize. In order manage drought, drought characterization is essential enabling both retrospective analyses (e.g., severity versus impacts analysis) and prospective planning (e.g., risk assessment). The adaptation of a simplified method by drought indices has facilitated drought characterization for various users and entities. More than 100 drought indices have so far been proposed, some of which are operationally used to characterize drought using gridded maps at regional and national levels. These indices correspond to different types of drought, including meteorological, agricultural, and hydrological drought. By quantifying severity levels and declaring drought's start and end, drought indices currently aid in a variety of operations including drought early warning and monitoring and contingency planning. Given their variety and ongoing development, it is crucial to provide a comprehensive overview of available drought indices that highlights their difference and examines the trend in their development. This paper reviews 74 operational and proposed drought indices and describes research directions.