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The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

Updated October 27, 2020 37.8k votes 3.7k voters 50.1k views110 items

List RulesVote 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.

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  • 1
    Ron Swanson
    927
    436

    Ron Swanson

    Parks and Recreation

    ActorNick Offerman

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  • 2
    Daryl Dixon
    803
    457

    Daryl Dixon

    The Walking Dead

    ActorNorman Reedus

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  • 3
    Barney Stinson
    783
    404

    Barney Stinson

    How I Met Your Mother

    ActorNeil Patrick Harris

  • 4
    Spock
    591
    354

    Spock

    Star Trek

    ActorLeonard Nimoy

    OccupationScientist

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  • 5
    Dwight Schrute
    724
    371

    Dwight Schrute

    The Office

    ActorRainn Wilson

  • 6
    Spike
    668
    429

    Spike

    Buffy the Vampire Slayer

    ActorJames Marsters

  • 7
    Sheldon Cooper
    780
    506

    Sheldon Cooper

    The Big Bang Theory

    ActorJim Parsons

  • 8
    Jesse Pinkman
    458
    215

    Jesse Pinkman

    Breaking Bad

    ActorAaron Paul

  • 9
    Fonzie
    522
    377

    Fonzie

    Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

    ActorHenry Winkler

    OccupationMechanic

  • 10
    April Ludgate
    505
    339

    April Ludgate

    Parks and Recreation

    ActorAubrey Plaza

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  • 11
    The Janitor
    518
    323

    ActorNeil Flynn

    OccupationJanitor

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  • 12
    Castiel
    453
    332

    Castiel

    Supernatural

    ActorMisha Collins

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  • 13
    Cosmo Kramer
    478
    367

    Cosmo Kramer

    Seinfeld

    ActorMichael Richards

    OccupationActor

  • 14
    Arya Stark
    167
    64

    Arya Stark

    Game of Thrones

    ActorMaisie Williams

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  • 15
    Stewie Griffin
    520
    406

    Stewie Griffin

    Family Guy

    ActorSeth MacFarlane

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  • 16
    Barney Fife
    350
    300

    Barney Fife

    The Andy Griffith Show

    ActorDon Knotts

    OccupationPolice officer

  • 17
    Frasier Crane
    387
    322

    ActorKelsey Grammer

    OccupationPsychiatrist, Psychotherapist, Radio personality

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  • 18
    Bobby Singer
    318
    269

    Bobby Singer

    Supernatural

    ActorJim Beaver

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  • 19
    Steve Urkel
    408
    368

    Steve Urkel

    Family Matters

    ActorJaleel White

    OccupationStudent, Inventor, Scientist

  • 20
    Karen Walker
    377
    311

    Karen Walker

    Will & Grace

    ActorMegan Mullally

    OccupationBusinessperson, Socialite, Personal assistant

  • 21
    Crowley
    194
    145

    Crowley

    Supernatural

    ActorMark Sheppard

  • 22
    Alex P. Keaton
    323
    286

    Alex P. Keaton

    Family Ties

    ActorMichael J. Fox

  • 23
    Daenerys Targaryen
    100
    57

    Daenerys Targaryen

    Game of Thrones

    ActorEmilia Clarke

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  • 24
    Bart Simpson
    218
    198

    Bart Simpson

    The Simpsons, The Tracey Ullman Show

    ActorNancy Cartwright

    OccupationStudent

  • 25
    Winston Bishop
    184
    107

    ActorLamorne Morris

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