fictional characters The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

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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.

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

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2
+ - 733 451
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
+ - 736 458
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

4
+ - 538 358
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

5
+ - 513 361
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

6
+ - 654 403
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
+ - 748 414
Spike is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

8
+ - 472 400
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

9
+ - 481 303
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

10
+ - 407 311
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
April Ludgate Parks and Recreation

11
+ - 440 385
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
+ - 478 422
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
+ - 385 384
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
+ - 275 151
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

15
+ - 294 321
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

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16
+ - 343 337
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

17
+ - 414 328
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
+ - 376 343
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
+ - 362 313
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
+ - 226 342
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
+ - 278 304
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
+ - 284 257
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
+ - 126 142
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
+ - 124 69
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
+ - 138 91
Suzanne
Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
+ - 199 281
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

27
+ - 288 286
Mr. Gold is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mr. Gold Once Upon a Time

28
+ - 135 176
Butters Stotch is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Butters Stotch South Park

29
+ - 141 157
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Niles Crane Frasier

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30
+ - 257 331
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

31
+ - 116 84
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

32
+ - 279 383
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
+ - 283 339
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
+ - 148 164
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
+ - 141 173
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
+ - 189 358
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

37
+ - 207 368
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
+ - 79 96
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

39
+ - 106 79
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Schmidt New Girl

40
+ - 137 319
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

41
+ - 92 121
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Radar O'Reilly W*A*L*T*E*R, M*A*S*H

42
+ - 116 170
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Westen Burn Notice

43
+ - 94 134
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

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44
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Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

45
+ - 250 270
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

46
+ - 94 141
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

47
+ - 39 41
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

48
+ - 89 134
Rebekah Mikaelson is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Rebekah Mikaelson The Vampire Diaries

49
+ - 188 345
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes

50
+ - 157 324
J.R. Ewing is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.R. Ewing Dallas