Big stars make a big sum of money in the showbiz world; it is a well-known fact. It is no secret that the actors we see on an everyday basis on TV earn the quantity of money we cannot even imagine earning in a lifetime. Television is available in almost every home in the world, and we can sometimes relate to these cute and funny characters that we see on the screen. What happens when we find out about the game played behind the curtain? The impressive fact is that dollar bills seem to appear in front of our eyes when we see how much some of them earn just for one single episode. It can make us rethink about our careers and admire them even more. Or on the other hand, we can become very jealous, and for a good reason. Some of the figures they earn just by appearing in one episode are bigger than we, ordinary mortal humans, can imagine in a year of working every day, even 24/7. Some of the TV stars you will find on this list will not surprise you, but others will have your jaws dropping after you read about the figures standing beside their names. One thing is for sure, after reading this list you may think of taking up acting lessons as soon as you can.
10. Mariska Hargitay – $500,000 per episode, Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
Law and order is one of the most popular dramas on NBC, and Special Victims Unit is the longest airing. Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay earned 400,000 dollars per episode when he was still a member of team. Meloni announced that he was leaving the series in 2011. Now, Marishka earns $100,000 more, we can only guess that is a consequence of his departure. The show premiered in 1999 and it lasted so far making it one of the longest lasting series on NBC. Hargitay, former beauty queen, got People’s Choice award for Favorite crime drama TV actress last year, and a lot more other rewards in her career.
9. Mark Harmon – $525,000 per episode, NCIS
NCIS is a must when it comes to drama series on television. No wonder one of the cast has an impressive paycheck per episode. Mark Harmon, for the 11th season, made $525,000 per episode. He is one of the most memorable characters on TV, so no it’s not a surprise he earns that much money. There are 24 episodes in the season which means that Mark will make $12.6 million in total. The show is not stopping with this season, as they confirmed that there will be another one, but there are no rumors that Harmon’s salary is going to be bigger than the current one.
8. Ashton Kutcher- $750,000 per episode, Two and a Half Men
After a public scandal involving Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men needed a backup star to keep the sitcom going. Ashton Kutcher had a quite good sitcom experience on That 70’s show, and he was the logical choice for Sheen’s replacement. He now earns $750,000 per episode in the third season of the new series. For this season he will receive about $16.5 million dollars, and don’t you worry, he will be back for more in the next one. He still costs a lot less than the former scandal hero Charlie Sheen, but he succeeded to save his on-screen family doing their thing for another couple of seasons.
7. Jerry Seinfeld – $1M per episode, Seinfeld
When last season of Seinfeld was premiered, 1 in 10 Americans tuned in every week to watch the show. Seinfeld was paid a million for every single episode in that season. He also earned syndication fees and with the fees, there are indications that he obtained an average of $1.5 million per episode. If the show continued and Seinfeld agreed to act in another season, he would definitely be on the top of this list. NBC crew knew what they are losing when Seinfeld said that he wants to end the show, so they offered him a tiny $5 million dollars for the season 10.
6. Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons – $1M per episode, Big Bang Theory
The Big Bang Theory cast and the producer Chuck Lorre, made a real Bing Bang with their series. Group of geniuses together with their hot and lovely neighbor Penny got the comedy TV program onto another level. The cute geeks became more popular than anyone expected when they made their goofy appearance for the first time. The series had incredible average ratings of over 19.5 million viewers per episode for the last couple of seasons. The leading cast, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, have made a three-year deal worth $1 million dollars per episode. No one expected this show to become this big, no matter the name.
5. Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, David Schwimmer and Lisa Kudrow – $1M per episode, Friends
The cast of most favorite sitcom ever, Friends, negotiated together with the production and managed to earn one million dollars for one episode for the last two years of shooting. During the first seasons all the actors had different salaries, and some of them wanted to walk away from the show because of it. Later on, when the show was worldwide famous, they made an exact same salary. When they started filming, they were earning just over $20,000 per episode, but when the series ended the cast had arranged a 5000% raise. Lisa Kudrow, famous as Phoebe, made them to negotiate together and demand the highest salaries.
4. Tim Taylor, Home Improvement – $1.25M per episode, Home Improvement
Tim Allen played patriarch Tim Taylor on the ABC sitcom Home Improvement. During the last season of airing, from 1998 to 1999, he was awarded $1.25 million per episode. In this final season, there were 27 episodes, and he earned almost $34 million dollars. These numbers would be much higher if the show was aired today. This series, aired in early 90s, was the second highest-rated show on television. Tim also starred in The Santa Clause, Toy Story and Jungle 2 Jungle. Home Improvement was as popular as Friends or Seinfeld in that time and Allen was aware of that, so he demanded a bigger salary for his role in the final season.
3. Kelsey Grammer – $1.6M per episode, Fraiser
In the course of 20 years playing the character of Dr. Fraiser Crane, Kesley Grammer became famous all around the globe. Playing one character for two decades must be hard, but for him it paid off. Last two seasons for Grammer were the best we assume, because he was reeling in $1.6 million per episode; that is almost $77 million dollars in total. He earned $250.000 per episode in the third season, because he already had a huge fan base because of the hit show Cheers. He picked up 4 Emmy awards, of the show’s 37 in total.
2. Ray Romano – $1.8M per episode, Everybody Loves Raymond
This popular sitcom that premiered in the 90’s became one of the favorite family sitcoms ever. What made it so popular is that fact that many situations in the series are inspired by real life events of Romano’s family. Ray Romano, during the seventh season, was earning $800,000 per episode, and he was awarded an extra million. For the season 8th, he got a nice raise, so he earned $1.8 million per episode. The final season reached up to 32.94 million viewers. Everybody loves Raymond made Ray Romano worldwide famous, and he sure loves CBS for paying him that much.
1. Charlie Sheen- $1.8M per episode, Two and a Half Men
Charlie Sheen is living the life of his character from Two and a Half Men, and he earns a million dollar plus figure for an episode. The exact amount of money he gets is $1.8 million dollars, and he got it in the final year of his contract. He was forced off the show four episodes before it finished. He even demanded a 50 percent raise. Sheen broke the all-time record for salaries after the recording of the 100th episode of the FX series Anger Management. He played a therapist for 100 episodes and collected 2 million dollars per episode before the show was canceled.