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
912 471
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

2
830 493
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
630 398
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
817 515
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
749 437
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
559 406
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
522 435
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
467 343
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
536 331
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

10
801 455
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

11
489 415
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
533 455
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
429 415
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
338 180
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

The Saddest Television Deaths Ever

15
389 367
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

16
328 348
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
461 360
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
406 373
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
407 339
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
258 370
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
309 329
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

The Best Anime Series of All Time

22
321 285
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
150 167
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
151 93
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
166 112
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
169 203
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
226 307
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

28
169 181
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Niles Crane Frasier

The Creepiest Characters in TV History

29
149 110
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

30
315 315
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
286 358
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
314 370
Angel is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

33
299 412
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

34
173 188
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
165 198
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

The Best Movies Based on TV Shows

36
140 102
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

37
229 396
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
205 389
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

39
123 165
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

40
99 123
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

41
60 68
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

42
54 17
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
gallifreyankhaleesi added Arya Stark Game of Thrones

The Most Beloved Grumps in TV History

43
266 294
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

44
105 148
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 44 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

45
108 167
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

46
193 359
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

47
128 198
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

48
72 43
Amy Farrah Fowler is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilytabby added Amy Farrah Fowler The Big Bang Theory

49
124 197
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Stiles Teen Wolf

50
141 347
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times