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
921 477
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

2
845 497
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
640 403
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
827 520
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
759 440
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
569 408
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
528 440
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
810 457
Spike is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

9
474 349
April Ludgate is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
penguinmayne added April Ludgate Parks and Recreation

10
542 336
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

11
497 419
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
541 457
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
433 420
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
346 183
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 Songs That Don't Mean What You Think They Do

15
395 370
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

16
334 350
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
470 362
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
411 375
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
412 343
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
260 375
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
314 332
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

The Most Beloved Grumps in TV History

22
325 288
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
156 167
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
155 96
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
170 115
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
173 207
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
229 312
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

28
320 316
Mr. Gold is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Mr. Gold Once Upon a Time

The Greatest Perpetually Single Women in TV History

29
172 183
Niles Crane is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Mia W (SweetLilMzMia) added Niles Crane Frasier

30
152 112
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

31
290 360
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
320 372
Angel is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

33
302 414
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

34
175 190
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
165 202
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

The Best TV Shows Based on Movies

36
145 104
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

37
229 399
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
127 168
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

39
205 392
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

40
100 126
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

41
57 18
Arya Stark is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
gallifreyankhaleesi added Arya Stark Game of Thrones

42
62 70
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

The Best Episodes of House Hunters

43
109 149
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 43 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

44
111 168
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

45
128 197
Stiles is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Stiles Teen Wolf

46
267 295
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

47
195 359
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

48
130 198
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

49
73 44
Amy Farrah Fowler is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilytabby added Amy Farrah Fowler The Big Bang Theory

50
157 347
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter