Entertainment

The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History  

Ranker TV
Originally by
44.6k votes 3.5k voters 48.7k views 104 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
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Parks and Recreation
2
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Walking Dead
3
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Office
4
Spock is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Star Trek
5
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Big Bang Theory
6
Barney Stinson is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
How I Met Your Mother
7
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added Parks and Recreation
8
Spike is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Buffy the Vampire Slayer
9
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi
10
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Scrubs
11
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Guy
12
Jesse Pinkman is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Breaking Bad
13
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Seinfeld
14
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Andy Griffith Show
15
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Supernatural
16
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
That 70's Show
17
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Matters
18
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cheers
19
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Will & Grace
20
Bart Simpson is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
teddybear1029 added The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show
21
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Supernatural
22
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Community
23
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Family Ties
24
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Breaking Bad
25
Butters Stotch is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Tom Islava added South Park