You would never believe how much some of your favorite television stars rake in each year, and even each episode, that they star in some of the most popular shows on the small screen. When it is really put into perspective, it is arguable that a majority of them could be bringing in way too much. Forbes magazine has already compiled a list that proves many big-named actors are overpaid when it comes to their roles in major films in 2016. None other than Johnny Depp topped the list. Will Smith, Channing Tatum, Will Ferrell, George Clooney, Adam Sandler, Mark Wahlberg, Academy Award winner Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, and Bradley Copper round out the top ten of that list. The numbers are calculated based on the last three films the actor starred in, plus factored in how much the movies made. The amount the star made was also considered.
But when it comes to television, you would be extremely surprised how much some of the major small screen actors make; some of them in the millions! Even though they are part of juggernaut shows like Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory, some of the actors’ earnings will make you raise your eyebrows and even gasp as you try to find out the quickest way to move to Los Angeles and enroll in acting classes. From Jim Parsons to Sofia Vergara, and even Gilmore Girls star Lauren Graham, check out our list of TV stars who make way too much money.
15 Jim Parsons
Don’t be surprised because you will see a handful of The Big Bang Theory stars on this list. That’s because some of them make in the millions per episode. As for Jim Parsons, who portrays Sheldon Cooper, he brings in a whopping $1 million per episode (at 24 episodes per season)! Yes, you read that correctly. And he’s tied for the spot of the highest paid actor on television right now. To put it in perspective, the current tenth season of The Big Bang Theory has 17 episodes. That means Parsons makes at least 17 million for this season for the show alone. Keep in mind previous seasons have had as many as 24 episodes. That doesn’t include endorsements or even his role in the popular film Hidden Figures. Sheldon is definitely a favorite on The Big Bang Theory as he plays a theoretical physicist at Caltech. He rooms with one of his best friends, Leonard Hofstadter, played by Johnny Galecki.
14 Kaley Cuoco
So remember when we said that Jim Parsons was tied for the top spot of highest paid actors on television right now? Well, it looks like his competition is his The Big Bang Theory co-star, Kaley Cuoco, who also makes $1 million per episode. She plays the vixen and Sheldon and Leonard’s neighbor, Penny. A fun fact is that Penny’s last name has remained a mystery. The producers and directors are said to be adamant about keeping it that way. Cuoco, Parsons, and (spoiler alert) Galecki all signed on to a $1 million per episode deal in a 24 episode season. They sealed the deal in 2014. It is good for three years and is up for renewal at the end of the 10th season. The show is still pulling in huge numbers as the latest season premiere received nearly 22 million viewers. Only time will tell if Cuoco, Parsons, and Galecki will get paid even more.
13 Ray Romano
This television star is also said to be getting overpaid. In fact Ray Romano's money stirred up some controversy with his co-stars. His salary for Everybody Loves Raymond got as high up as $1.8 million per episode. He was also awarded syndication fees that were projected to get as high as $1 billion. His high salary on the sitcom caused lots of drama on the set and even resulted in Brad Garrett, who played his brother Robert, going on strike for two weeks. His walkout worked as his own salary was upped by $160,000. The cast also received some of the syndication fees as well. Right now, Romano's net worth is said to be $120 million. He went on to have a recurring role on Parenthood after starring on Everybody Loves Raymond. He was also the voice of the loveable Manfred also known as Manny in the Ice Age franchise. Men of a Certain Age also featured Romano when it aired from 2009-2011.
12 Sofia Vergara
Modern Family star Sofia Vergara might be known as the Queen of Television when it comes to TV actresses (and her character Gloria Pritchett is definitely a fan favorite) but word is she still gets paid too much. As for specifics, she gets $250,000 per episode; so she easily makes millions each year. This is a major boost from the $65,000 she had at one point per episode. Still, while her per episode pay is less than Cuoco’s, she bested the actress when it came to being the highest paid actress on television. In fact, Vergara won the title for the fifth year in a row in 2016 thanks to endorsements like Head & Shoulders and Ninja Coffee Bar. And we can't forget her unforgettable stint as a Cover Girl for the popular cosmetics line. As of today, her net worth is said to be more than $100 million.
11 Donnie Wahlberg
The former boy bander is still doing awfully good for himself since New Kids on the Block ended its reign in 90s. But now fans can see him every Friday on police drama Blue Bloods. This series has amped up his net worth bringing it in to a total of $20 million. His role in the movies Ransom, The Sixth Sense, Dreamcatcher, and Band of Brothers probably didn’t hurt his earnings either. It looks like the series is pretty private of how much he makes per episode but his co-star Tom Selleck brings in $150,000 each episode. Reports spread that high salaries for the popular actors who star in the series is what caused a possible cancellation of the show after seven seasons. Interestingly enough, Donnie Wahlberg's brother, Mark Wahlberg, also landed a spot on Forbes' list of overpaid movie actors for 2016.
10 Michael Weatherly
Switching over to NCIS, that popular show has quite a bit of highly and arguably overpaid actors as well. Michael Weatherly is said to rake in nearly 6 million a year after earning $250,000 per episode. Weatherly also earned a spot on Forbes' list of highest paid television actors in late 2016. He ranked at number 13 and was tied with none other than The X-Files star David Duchovny. Weatherly's NCIS character Tony DiNozzo died in an episode in spring of 2016. But that hasn't hurt Weatherly's millionaire status. He has been said to be worth $15 million. And he's headed over to CBS for a new show called Bull. It's not clear what his salary is yet for the series, but it's safe to say there's probably plenty to go around as he plays the title character, Jason Bull, in the television show inspired by Dr. Phil's early days.
9 Justin Chambers
We are pretty much obsessed with ABC's Grey's Anatomy star Justin Chambers; after all, he is one of the only original actors left since season one (the other is his co-star Ellen Pompeo who plays the main character Meredith Grey). Still, is Chambers overpaid when it comes to his role as bad boy Alex Karev? Word is he makes about $125,000 per episode. This is compared to the $400,000 per episode salary that Pompeo has currently. Still, Chambers is on the bottom of the list of Highest Paid TV Actors for 2016 after he made $9.5 million last year. Even though he's number 15 on the list, he's still present. This has definitely gone up after his net worth was reported at $4 million just two years ago. Chambers also starred in The Wedding Planner opposite Jennifer Lopez and Matthew McConaughey, The Musketeer, The Zodiac, and Lakeview Terrace. But it's safe to say he's best known as Karev on Grey's Anatomy.
8 Lauren Graham & Alexis Bledel
Let's just say that Lauren Graham is tied for the highest paid actress for a television when it comes to per episode. You can probably guess that right next to her is her television daughter, Alexis Bledel. The ladies each brought in $750,000 per episode for their Gilmore Girls: A Year In The Life mini-series on Netflix that was released back in November. The show had four episodes. Graham responded to her potential salary's release and said, " “That list… I have no idea what the level of truth in it is, but it was cool to see a lot of very strong women and talented women helming TV shows. That’s what I really like about it.” She had an estimated net worth of $15 million in early 2016. After Gilmore Girls, Graham had a main role in Parenthood (interestingly enough she and Ray Romano's character tied the knot at the end of the series).
7 Mark Harmon
Our list wouldn't be complete without NCIS star Mark Harmon. He is actually just below Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel in the Highest Paid TV actors list for the drama category. He reportedly scores $525,000 per episode for the CBS series. But unlike the Gilmore Girls remake, it definitely has more than four episodes. The current season, number 14, has 24 episodes. He made $20 million in 2016 alone. This isn't too much of a surprise considering NCIS led as the most-watched scripted drama series in the entire 2015-2016 season. It's without a doubt that Harmon's character, Special Agent Gibbs, had a huge part to play in the show that has seen major successes since it first aired in September of 2003. Harmon also showed off his skills behind the camera and took part in some producing as well. His net worth was $40 million as of September 2016
6 Johnny Galecki
This The Big Bang Theory star's salary is truly worth mentioning as well. He and his co-stars Jim Parsons and Kaley Cuoco are tied for the highest paid actors and actresses in a television comedy. He joins them and also makes $1 million per episode as the they are all considered the core trio of the hit show. Galecki got his start at an early age in another popular sitcom, Roseanne from 1992-1997. He also has been in Hancock, Hope & Faith, and Table for Three. He even had a special role as his The Big Bang Theory character Leonard Hofstadter in an episode of Family Guy. But it's clear that his true success has come with The Big Bang Theory. As a note, their co-stars have a pretty good amount coming in as well. Kunal Nayyar, who plays Raj Koothrappali, earned $22 million last year and Simon Helberg earned $22.5 million. This is right behind Galecki who brought in $24 million, and Parsons who made $25.5 million.
5 Ty Burrell
Ty Burrell makes $250,000 per episode for the role as Phil Dunphy on the hit family sitcom Modern Family on ABC. It was a breakout role for the star who has also appeared in Finding Dory and a new movie Rock That Body that is currently in pre-production. He has been on Modern Family since the first episode aired back in 2009. Many of his co-stars, including Sofia Vergara, also make $250,000 for each episode of the show that is also in syndication right now on other networks such as USA. Julie Bowen, who plays Phil’s wife Claire, also makes $250,000 per episode along with Eric Stonestreet who plays the lovable Cameron Tucker, and Jesse Tyler Ferguson who portrays Mitchell Pritchett. They used to only make $65,000 per episode. Burrell’s net worth is also said to be about $8 million.
4 Pat Sajak
Pat Sajak might just be a game show host (of one of the most historic shows of all time), but he is certainly bringing home quite the pretty penny when it comes to how much he makes per episode on the popular game show Wheel of Fortune. The magic number for Sajak is $12 million a year. His salary beats out other daytime and nighttime hosts like Chelsea Handler, and even Good Morning America host Robin Roberts as they make about $10 million a year. We couldn’t help but wonder how much Sajak’s Wheel of Fortune counterpart Vanna White makes for each year considering she is a pretty major staple for the show as well. She brings in $8 million a year. She also won a lawsuit against Samsung after the electronic company came out with an advertisement of a parody robot playing with letters on a game show. She won $403,000 in damages.
3 Dwayne Johnson
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson started off as an intense wrestler, but now he’s one of the highest paid actors on the small screen and even more when it comes to popular movies. Check this out – he makes $400,000 per episode of HBO’s series Ballers. This makes him fourth in line for the highest paid actor when it comes to a comedy. He’s right after The Big Bang Theory stars Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki. But that’s not all. At one point he was the highest paid actor in the entire world, for 2016, after he brought in $64.5 million that year. This is more than twice as much as he made in 2015 thanks to movies like Central Intelligence and Fast 8, part of the Fast and Furious Franchise. He is also set to star in the Baywatch movie. Not bad for a guy who started out as a wrestler.
2 Andy Cohen
Andy Cohen is known for being present when some of the biggest reality TV fights go down on Bravo. But he’s pretty well paid! The host of Watch What Happens Live makes $4-$5 million per episode. This doesn’t even include his role as an executive for the Bravo network and hosting reality television reunion specials for shows like The Real Housewives franchise, Married to Medicine, and Vanderpump Rules. Still, Cohen has been building his stock for much longer than many of us might remember. He started as an intern for CBS News before he made his way up to senior producer for The Early Show on the same network as well as tried his hand at producing for 48 Hours. He was then VP of programming for a channel called Trio before going to Bravo five years later. This is probably why he has a net worth of $15 million.
1 Judge Judy
Oh Judy Sheindlin. We know her as Judge Judy, and she is the highest paid person in daytime television right now thanks to the long run of Judge Judy that first aired more than 20 years ago in 1996. She has been going strong since and makes $47 million a year! She brings in more than 10 million viewers a week and only has to work 52 days out of the year. It’s not clear how many episodes she tapes in one day, but she does 260 episodes in an entire year. It is also a major help that production costs are extremely low as she tapes in a court room. As for her bailiff, Petri Hawkins-Byrd, he makes $1 million a year. Where do we sign up for this kind of deal? It’s safe to say Judge Judy is a household name as families gather to watch her wit and smart comments daily, even after 20 years!
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