Entertainment The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Ranker TV
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44.3k votes 3.5k voters 48.4k views 105 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
1,026 527
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Parks and Recreation
2
760 447
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Office
3
925 550
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Walking Dead
4
861 484
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
How I Met Your Mother
5
913 582
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Big Bang Theory
6
663 436
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Star Trek
7
604 471
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi
8
537 389
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added Parks and Recreation
9
595 379
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Scrubs
10
851 503
Spike is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Buffy the Vampire Slayer
11
564 448
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Seinfeld
12
611 496
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Guy
13
423 214
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Breaking Bad
14
477 452
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Matters
15
396 373
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Andy Griffith Show
16
436 407
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
That 70's Show
17
522 393
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Supernatural
18
461 399
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cheers
19
446 374
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Will & Grace
20
368 354
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Ties
21
286 409
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Community
22
358 316
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Supernatural
23
203 196
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
teddybear1029 added The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show
24
280 339
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Breaking Bad
25
177 129
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