Entertainment The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Ranker TV
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43.6k votes 3.4k voters 48k views 101 items

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
1,004 519
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Parks and Recreation

2
906 542
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Walking Dead

3
734 442
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Office

4
845 479
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
How I Met Your Mother

5
652 433
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Star Trek

6
899 574
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Big Bang Theory

7
594 468
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
527 385
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added Parks and Recreation

9
586 374
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Scrubs

10
844 497
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Buffy the Vampire Slayer

11
555 445
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Seinfeld

12
599 491
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Guy

13
408 209
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Breaking Bad

14
470 448
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Matters

15
391 369
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Andy Griffith Show

16
427 402
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
That 70's Show

17
512 388
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Supernatural

18
453 396
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cheers

19
440 369
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Will & Grace

20
362 351
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Ties

21
278 407
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Community

22
197 191
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
teddybear1029 added The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show

23
352 312
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Supernatural

24
273 337
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Breaking Bad

25
171 126
Charlie Kelly is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia