fictional characters The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Originally by
35k votes 2.7k voters 43k views 82 items Follow Embed

List Rules Vote up the best breakout TV characters of all time

When a television show first starts, the writers of the program already have the star in mind. They write for the characters they think the audience will relate to and like the most and design the show around those characters. However, once the show hits the airwaves, the viewers don’t always agree. Sometimes the true star of the show is the unlikeliest candidate. The breakout character is usually a character who was introduced as part of the supporting cast, but for one reason or another became a fan favorite. This list of the greatest breakout characters in TV history includes characters from both comedies and dramas and has been ranked by the community.

The breakout character on a TV show usually becomes the most discussed and most loved part of the show. He or she has the funniest lines, the best stories, and is portrayed by the favorite actor. After a positive audience reaction, these breakout characters suddenly start to get more screen time and story lines. Characters like Fonzie and Ben Linus were never meant to be huge parts of their shows, but after their introduction, it was inevitable that they’d become pivotal to the show’s success. Some breakout characters, like Frasier Crane, even go on to star in their own series.

Who are the greatest breakout characters on TV? Vote up the best breakout television characters below or add the best breakout star if he or she isn't already on the list.

list ordered by

1
+ - 818 435
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

The Creepiest Characters in TV History The Best and Worst Disney Animated Movies

2
+ - 738 457
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
+ - 750 466
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

4
+ - 547 369
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

5
+ - 521 368
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

6
+ - 668 411
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Stinson How I Met Your Mother

7
+ - 759 420
Spike is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

8
+ - 478 405
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

9
+ - 491 309
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

10
+ - 417 316
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
April Ludgate Parks and Recreation

11
+ - 443 392
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
+ - 486 429
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
+ - 396 388
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
+ - 279 158
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

15
+ - 351 343
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

The Greatest Misunderstood Teens in TV History The Best Re-Casting of Famous TV Roles

16
+ - 297 328
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
+ - 424 335
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
+ - 382 348
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
+ - 369 317
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
+ - 231 348
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
+ - 282 310
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
+ - 292 262
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
+ - 129 148
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Bart Simpson The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show

24
+ - 127 74
Charlie Kelly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Charlie Kelly It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

25
+ - 144 94
Suzanne
Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
+ - 295 292
Mr. Gold is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mr. Gold Once Upon a Time

27
+ - 201 286
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

28
+ - 148 160
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Niles Crane Frasier

29
+ - 138 182
Butters Stotch is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Butters Stotch South Park

The Biggest Pimps In Television History Fun Jobs That Pay Well

30
+ - 123 90
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

31
+ - 260 338
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
+ - 284 390
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
+ - 288 346
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
+ - 150 167
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
+ - 144 176
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
+ - 193 365
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

37
+ - 208 373
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
+ - 82 100
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

39
+ - 110 84
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Schmidt New Girl

40
+ - 94 125
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Radar O'Reilly W*A*L*T*E*R, M*A*S*H

41
+ - 257 273
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

42
+ - 120 175
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Westen Burn Notice

43
+ - 100 142
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

The Greatest TV Characters of All Time The Best Current TV Shows Starring Movie Stars

44
+ - 137 324
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

45
+ - 98 145
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

46
+ - 43 45
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

47
+ - 148 326
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

48
+ - 192 349
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes

49
+ - 91 140
Rebekah Mikaelson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Rebekah Mikaelson The Vampire Diaries

50
+ - 109 178
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stiles Teen Wolf