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
881 457
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 Fantasy TV Shows Since 2015

2
792 481
Daryl Dixon is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Daryl Dixon The Walking Dead

3
599 385
Dwight Schrute is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Dwight Schrute The Office

4
789 499
Sheldon Cooper is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sheldon Cooper The Big Bang Theory

5
715 425
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
543 394
Spock is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Spock Star Trek

7
505 425
Fonzie is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Fonzie Happy Days, Joanie Loves Chachi

8
788 438
Spike is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Gandarla86 added Spike Buffy the Vampire Slayer

9
450 331
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
520 322
Janitor is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
The Janitor Scrubs

11
479 404
Cosmo Kramer is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Cosmo Kramer Seinfeld

12
517 442
Stewie Griffin is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Stewie Griffin Family Guy

13
418 404
Steve Urkel is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Steve Urkel Family Matters

14
316 171
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
375 356
Michael Kelso is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Michael Kelso That 70's Show

The Most Shocking TV Deaths of All Time 8 TV Actors Who Turned Out Just Like Their Characters

16
315 342
Barney Fife is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Barney Fife The Andy Griffith Show

17
441 350
Castiel is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Castiel Supernatural

18
402 363
Frasier Crane is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Frasier Crane Cheers

19
390 332
Karen Walker is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Karen Walker Will & Grace

20
248 360
Abed Nadir is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Abed Nadir Community

21
297 325
Alex P. Keaton is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Alex P. Keaton Family Ties

22
305 274
Bobby Singer is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Bobby Singer Supernatural

23
140 158
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 85
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
158 103
Suzanne
swirlyt added Suzanne "Crazy Eyes" Warren Orange Is the New Black

26
219 296
Saul Goodman is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Saul Goodman Breaking Bad

27
159 194
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
166 171
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
306 303
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

The Creepiest Characters in TV History 51 High-Paying, Flexible Jobs

30
138 101
Crowley is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Lilahjk added Crowley

31
274 348
Nick Miller is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Nick Miller New Girl

32
293 404
Sue Sylvester is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History

33
303 360
Angel is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Angel Angel, Buffy the Vampire Slayer

34
163 178
Lafayette Reynolds is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
wawwhite1 added Lafayette Reynolds True Blood

35
155 188
Pam is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Pam True Blood

36
224 385
Randy Marsh is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Randy Marsh South Park

37
201 379
Elmo is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Elmo Sesame Street

38
126 95
Schmidt is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
swirlyt added Schmidt New Girl

39
94 111
Mike Ehrmantraut is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Brodka added Mike Ehrmantraut Breaking Bad

40
113 155
Patrick Star is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
CheckinaCoulibaly added Patrick Star SpongeBob SquarePants

41
53 57
Winston Bishop is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Winston Bishop New Girl

42
264 285
Lex Luthor is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
BartMark added Lex Luthor

43
100 138
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

The Most Beloved Grumps in TV History The Best Almond Milk Brands

44
124 188
Michael Westen is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
RoryCholewczynski added Michael Westen Burn Notice

45
139 337
J.J. Evans is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
J.J. Evans Good Times

46
101 155
Brooke Davis is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
JVall14 added Brooke Davis One Tree Hill

47
153 337
Vinnie Barbarino is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Vinnie Barbarino Welcome Back, Kotter

48
200 358
Sylar is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Sylar Heroes

49
183 347
Andy Bernard is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Andy Bernard The Office

50
97 150
Rebekah Mikaelson is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Greatest Breakout Characters in TV History
Neobule added Rebekah Mikaelson The Vampire Diaries