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
883 458
Ron Swanson is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Ron Swanson Parks and Recreation

The Best Re-Casting of Famous TV Roles The Best Survivor Contestants That Ever Played

2
793 482
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
601 386
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
792 499
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
717 426
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
543 395
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
506 425
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
789 439
Spike is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

9
451 332
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
521 323
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

11
480 404
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
518 443
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
419 404
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
318 171
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
376 356
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

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16
316 342
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
444 351
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
403 363
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
390 333
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
248 361
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
298 325
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
307 276
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
140 160
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
143 86
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
158 105
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
220 296
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

27
159 195
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
166 172
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
308 304
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

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30
140 102
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

31
276 349
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
295 405
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
304 361
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
163 179
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
156 189
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
202 379
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

37
224 386
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

38
128 96
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

39
94 112
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

40
115 156
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

41
54 58
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

42
101 138
Radar O'Reilly is listed (or ranked) 42 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

43
264 286
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

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44
102 155
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
154 337
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

46
139 338
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

47
124 189
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

48
184 348
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

49
200 359
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes

50
98 152
Rebekah Mikaelson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Neobule added Rebekah Mikaelson The Vampire Diaries