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
889 463
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

The Most Shocking TV Deaths of All Time The Best Movies Based on TV Shows

2
804 485
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
608 391
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
798 506
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
725 431
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
551 399
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
513 429
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
454 337
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
794 447
Spike is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

10
525 326
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

11
483 408
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
522 449
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
421 409
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
323 175
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
378 361
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

The Creepiest Characters in TV History The Best Re-Casting of Famous TV Roles

16
318 347
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
445 357
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
404 369
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
396 335
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
252 365
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
301 328
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
308 281
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
143 164
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
146 89
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
161 108
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
221 302
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

27
161 199
Butters Stotch is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Tom Islava added Butters Stotch South Park

28
167 178
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
309 309
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 Most Beloved Grumps in TV History The Best Things About Fall

30
141 106
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

31
279 354
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
298 409
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
309 365
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
165 184
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
158 193
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
226 391
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

37
203 384
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

38
131 99
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

39
118 160
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

40
94 118
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

41
102 143
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 41 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

42
55 63
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

43
140 343
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

The Greatest Perpetually Single Women in TV History The Greatest World War II Movies of All Time

44
155 343
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

45
187 351
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

46
265 292
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

47
103 162
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

48
124 195
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

49
119 191
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Stiles Teen Wolf

50
200 365
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes