Fictional Characters The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Ranker TV
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40.3k votes 3.1k voters 46.2k views 100 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.

1
949 491
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

2
869 511
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
675 414
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
797 450
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Stinson How I Met Your Mother

5
850 536
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

6
584 418
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
537 450
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
489 358
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
555 344
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

10
820 467
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

11
510 424
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
559 463
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
363 186
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Jesse Pinkman Breaking Bad

14
445 425
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

15
409 377
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

16
340 355
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
488 366
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
418 380
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
421 347
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
266 384
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
321 338
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
170 172
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
teddybear1029 added Bart Simpson The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show

23
337 293
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

24
160 101
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
175 122
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
182 211
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
240 317
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

28
164 117
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

29
179 188
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Niles Crane Frasier

30
325 320
Mr. Gold is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Mr. Gold Once Upon a Time

31
298 364
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
325 376
Angel is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

33
182 193
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

34
307 424
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

35
170 204
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
156 109
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

37
139 175
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

38
70 20
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
gallifreyankhaleesi added Arya Stark Game of Thrones

39
234 404
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

40
211 397
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

41
107 130
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

42
119 172
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

43
68 76
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

44
206 364
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

45
113 152
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
132 200
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Stiles Teen Wolf

47
80 48
Amy Farrah Fowler is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilytabby added Amy Farrah Fowler The Big Bang Theory

48
132 202
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

49
110 164
Rebekah Mikaelson is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Neobule added Rebekah Mikaelson The Vampire Diaries

50
159 351
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter