TV Characters The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Ranker TV
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43.3k votes 3.4k voters 47.8k views 102 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
999 518
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Parks and Recreation

2
901 539
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Walking Dead

3
728 441
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Office

4
841 478
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
How I Met Your Mother

5
648 432
Spock is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Star Trek

6
895 572
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Big Bang Theory

7
590 466
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
524 385
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added Parks and Recreation

9
583 372
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Scrubs

10
839 497
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Buffy the Vampire Slayer

11
555 443
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Seinfeld

12
596 489
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Guy

13
401 208
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Breaking Bad

14
468 445
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Matters

15
388 368
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Andy Griffith Show

16
425 400
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
That 70's Show

17
506 388
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Supernatural

18
451 395
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cheers

19
437 368
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Will & Grace

20
357 350
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Ties

21
276 406
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Community

22
194 188
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
349 312
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Supernatural

24
270 336
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Breaking Bad

25
170 124
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