Breakthrough Performances, Sterling K. Brown, Thandie Newton, Millie Bobby Brown, Riz Ahmed

It's hard enough keeping track of every show on television these days, let alone the individual performances that make up each series. And a lot of those performances are as forgettable as the series that delivered them. But there are some that make you sit up, set your phone down and watch.

They're the performances that can elevate a relatively unknown actor to household name. Or the performances that finally give a seasoned veteran their due. They're breakthrough performances, and though they may not be bound by genre or network, gender or race (or age!), they all share one defining characteristic: They're fantastic.

Earlier this week, we presented to you the best TV shows 2016 had to offer. Now, we present the year's 16 breakthrough performances. It was good, good year, TV lovers. To see who made the list, be sure to click through our new gallery.

Did your favorite performance make the cut? Let us know in the comments below!

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