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.

list ordered by

1
907 469
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

The Best Re-Casting of Famous TV Roles The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History

2
823 491
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
625 396
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
811 514
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
744 437
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Stinson How I Met Your Mother

6
557 405
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
520 435
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
465 342
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added April Ludgate Parks and Recreation

9
532 330
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

10
801 453
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

11
489 414
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
531 454
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
427 414
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
333 179
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

15
386 366
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

The Most Shocking TV Deaths of All Time 31 Times You've Seen The Walking Dead Actors Before

16
326 348
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
457 359
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
406 372
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
406 339
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
257 369
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
308 329
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
316 284
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
148 166
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
teddybear1029 added Bart Simpson The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show

24
150 92
Charlie Kelly is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Charlie Kelly It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

25
165 111
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
168 202
Butters Stotch is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Tom Islava added Butters Stotch South Park

27
224 306
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

28
168 181
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Niles Crane Frasier

29
312 313
Mr. Gold is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Mr. Gold Once Upon a Time

The Creepiest Characters in TV History 51 High-Paying, Flexible Jobs

30
284 357
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

31
145 109
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

32
299 411
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
314 369
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
171 187
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
163 197
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
138 101
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

37
229 395
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
205 388
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

39
123 164
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

40
99 122
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

41
193 358
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

42
58 67
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

43
141 346
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

The Most Beloved Grumps in TV History The Best Animated TV Shows Since 2015

44
155 346
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

45
103 147
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lisa DeLong added Radar O'Reilly W*A*L*T*E*R, M*A*S*H

46
107 166
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

47
128 197
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

48
123 195
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Stiles Teen Wolf

49
265 294
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

50
202 370
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes