With the sizable audience of services like HBO or Hulu, Hollywood now has to shell out some big bucks to their TV actors, particularly those that are household names. The small screen might be the place to be if you want to make some serious cash. Take a look below at a few of the highest-paid TV stars per episode.
Mariska Hargitay – $500,000
Most actors pursue some kind of variety in their career. It’s rare that an artist chooses to play the same character for the entirety of their time in Hollywood. However, that’s exactly what Mariska Hargitay has done. Not only that, but she has also found massive success reprising her role as Olivia Benson in Law & Order: SVU.
Perhaps it’s the money that keeps Hargitay returning to the small screen year after year. Nineteen seasons after the show first premiered in 1999, Hargitay now makes $500,000 per episode. That’s roughly $12 million per season!
Tim Allen – $1.25 million
Tim Allen has been in everything. But before he was Santa Clause or even the recognizable voice of Buzz Lightyear, Allen was the lead of Home Improvement.
As handyman Tim Taylor, Allen earned $1.25 million per episode. The decision to shoot the show was a defining moment in Allen’s career that set up him for massive success down the line.
Paul Reiser – $1 million
In the hit sitcom Mad About You, Paul Reiser starred as the primary love interest opposite actress Helen Hunt. In the role, Reiser and Hunt displayed such chemistry that they easily attracted millions of viewers that had to see how their story ended.
For his hard work as a dreamy love interest, Reiser was paid $1 million per episode. After the sitcom ended, Reiser went off to star in many other illustrious projects, including the Academy-Award nominated Whiplash.
Adult Cast Members of Modern Family – $500,000
While Modern Family recently came to an end, it seared itself in people’s minds as a lovable, family-friendly TV show. The series features a collection of popular actors, each of whom brings something special to the show.
As the show became more and more successful, the cast was rewarded for their hard work. The adults of the show, including Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ty Burrell, Sofia Vergara, and Eric Stonestreet all earned $500,000 per episode.
Ellen Pompeo – $575,000
Ellen Pompeo has been the focal point of Grey’s Anatomy since the very first season. She plays Meredith Grey, a surgeon in training at a large hospital. Over the years, Pompeo has been very vocal about her attempts to negotiate a higher paycheck. Her persistence paid off, and she now makes $575,000 per episode.
Grey’s Anatomy is already in its 16th season, and it’s unclear if the show will slow down anytime soon. It has declined in success over the years, but it still has a dedicated fan base who continues to watch week after week.
Patrick Dempsey – $350,000
While working on Grey’s Anatomy, Patrick Dempsey continued working in film and had quite the successful career. However, he chose to continue in his role as Dr. McDreamy, likely because of the $350,000 paycheck per episode.
When McDreamy met his untimely demise, Dempsey’s paychecks also came to an end. But after eleven seasons on the show, Dempsey made quite a pretty penny playing a doctor. Why go to medical school when you could just go into acting?
William H. Macy – $350,000
Emmy Rossum wasn’t the only star bringing home the big bucks on the set of Shameless. William H. Macy, who plays her alcoholic father Frank Gallagher, also made $350,000 per episode. Before starring in Shameless, Macy established his undeniable talent with roles in Magnolia, Fargo, and Air Force One.
He’s certainly a fan favorite in the entertainment world, but his role on Shameless took his talent to another level and transformed him into one of television’s most iconic characters.
Simon Cowell – ~$940,000
Simon Cowell is known in the entertainment world as the incredibly harsh judge of your favorite singing competitions. As a well-respected member of the music industry, Cowell’s opinion is taken seriously, even when it seems overly critical. While Cowell starred on many shows, he made the most money while working on X Factor.
For his spot as a judge, he earned $75 million for the entire season. With 80 episodes, Cowell was making just under a million dollars simply to tell people how bad they were.
Steve Carrell – $1 Million
Steve Carrell first became a household name when he starred in the hit sitcom The Office. While his career started in comedy, he later left the series to pursue a career as a movie actor. Over the years, he has given a variety of stunning performances which prove that he’s as talented an actor in drama as he is in comedy.
Recently, Carrell returned to TV in the Netflix comedy Space Force. The series pays him $1 million per episode to play a general starting a new branch of the U.S. military.
Julia Roberts – $600,000
At one point, Julia Roberts was the highest-earning woman in show business. While she doesn’t work as often now, her notoriety alone demands a high salary. Recently, she departed from her normal career as a movie actress and starred in the Amazon thriller Homecoming.
The show was about a treatment center for veterans dealing with post-traumatic stress and it earned Roberts $600,000 per episode.
Reese Witherspoon – $2 Million
Aniston wasn’t the only actress making the big bucks on The Morning Show. Her costar Reese Witherspoon also earned $2 million per episode. Witherspoon’s salary on The Morning Show was a big increase from the HBO drama Big Little Lies, where she earned $1 million per episode.
Although both Witherspoon and Aniston were nominated for Golden Globes for their work on the series, neither snagged the award.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus – $600,000
Seinfeld was named after Jerry Seinfeld, but Julia Louis-Dreyfus is what made the show as successful as it was. Dreyfus played Elaine Benes, the female lead on the series. Like her other castmates, Dreyfus earned $600,000 per episode. After Seinfeld ended, Dreyfus’ acting chops kept her in the public eye.
She contributed heavily to Larry David’s show, and recently starred in the political comedy series Veep. The show has already won numerous awards, yet another testament to Dreyfus’ incredible talent.
Mary-Kate & Ashley Olsen – $80,000
Although this salary doesn’t sound impressive compared to the large earnings on this list, it’s quite big when you consider that it was the Olsen twins’ first paycheck. Not only that, but they also earned this sum when they were just three years old!
Today, Mary-Kate and Ashley have a net worth of about $300 million. They have ventured out of the TV space and now focus most of their energy on fashion and other industries.
Kelly Clarkson – $461,000
Kelly Clarkson won American Idol, but her career didn’t stop there. The win was just the tipping point in her climb to fame, which included a thriving music career. She also joined the cast of The Voice, but she was paid slightly less than her male costars.
Clarkson earned $12 million per season as a judge. That amounts to roughly $461,000 per episode, depending on the number of episodes. While she’s a perfect example of the gender pay gap, Clarkson is still making quite a lot of money for her work as a judge.
Norman Reedus – $550,000
While Andrew Lincoln was the highest earner on The Walking Dead, Norman Reedus wasn’t far behind him. As Daryl Dixon, Reedus made $550,000 per episode. He quickly became one of the most beloved characters of the series.
The Walking Dead is easily Reedus’ biggest claim to fame. Beyond starring as Daryl, however, Reedus also had his own reality show, Ride with Norman Reedus.
Kim Kardashian – $1 million
Keeping Up With the Kardashians isn’t just a way for the family to stay in the spotlight. The show is actually very lucrative for everyone involved, especially as it continues to rise in popularity. While making every detail of her life public might be uncomfortable, the $1 million paycheck per episode likely dulls some of Kim Kardashian’s pain.
At one point, the star even earned a $5 million bonus after convincing her husband, Kanye West, to join in on the fun
The Cast of The Big Bang Theory – $900,000
The Big Bang Theory was another sitcom that only got more and more popular during its time on the air. The show was created by Chuck Lorre, the same mind behind Two and a Half Men. The series centers on a group of nerds dating and navigating life together.
Each of the five main characters of The Big Bang Theory—Johnny Galecki, Jim Parsons, Kunal Nayyar, Simon Helberg, and Kaley Cuoco—all earned $900,000 per episode. After twelve seasons, it’s safe to say that all these actors were pretty comfortably financially.
Ray Romano – $1.7 million
Ray Romano starred on the massively popular Everybody Loves Raymond. During nine seasons, the show won 15 Primetime Emmy Awards. The finale alone premiered to an audience of 32.94 million viewers. Considering those large numbers, Romano’s salary also had to be hefty to mimic the success of the show.
He actually earned the place of the second-highest TV earner of all time, raking in $1.7 million per episode. His net worth now stands at $130 million, in large part a reflection of his massive earnings on the sitcom.
Mindy Kaling – $140,000
After starring in multiple Judd Apatow movies that got her name out into the public, Mindy Kaling took her talent to the next level when she joined the cast of the classic sitcom The Office. After starring the hit show for many years, networks decided to give Kaling her own show.
On The Mindy Project, Kaling brought home $140,000 per episode. The show was a success, but it ended in 2017 after just six seasons.
The Cast of Game Of Thrones – $2 million
Game of Thrones was a cultural phenomenon that ended in disaster. But even though the last season was a major disappointment for fans, the cast probably didn’t think so. Some of the most notable stars of the series, including Emilia Clarke, Peter Dinklage, Lena Heady, and Kit Harington, earned $2 million per episode.
Honestly, the large paycheck was probably in part a congratulation for not dying during the show. In a series known for killing off characters at random, the fact that these stars survived until the end was a feat in itself.
Jason Momoa – $600,000
While the characters who made it all the way through Game of Thrones earned millions of dollars per episode, Jason Momoa wasn’t one of the lucky stars to escape death. When the series was still new, Momoa starred as Khal Drogo, a character that vaulted him to fame.
Unfortunately, Drogo died in the first season. Momoa didn’t stop, however, and now stars in a new Apple TV+ show called See. For his work on this new series, Momoa made $600,000 per episode. It’s not $2 million, but it’s certainly something.
Meryl Streep — $825,000
While TV actors used to be in an entirely different class than film actors, those lines are blurring. As streaming services become more popular, most are looking for big-name actors to draw an audience to their original content. Although it hasn’t been released yet, Meryl Streep is set to star in a new series called The Nix.
The show is based on a novel adapted for TV by J.J. Abrams. As one of the most well-respected actresses in the world, it comes as no surprise that Streep made $825,000 per episode for her work on the show.
Jerry Seinfeld – $1 million
Jerry Seinfeld was a big deal in comedy, in part due to the show named after him. Seinfeld was big while it was on the air, but it also ran dozens of successful re-runs that raked in the viewers, making it one of the most-viewed TV shows of all time.
By the final season, it was estimated that one in ten Americans watched Seinfeld. To reflect that success, Jerry Seinfeld earned $1 million per episode. When the series finished, NBC was so desperate to keep Seinfeld on board that they offered him $5 million per episode, which he declined.
Ryan Seacrest – $652,000
While many celebrities will pursue multiple options on the small screen, Ryan Seacrest is pretty comfortable being just a host. He’s incredibly good at his job, which has made him a hot commodity in the TV space. From 2013-2016, Seacrest made $15 million per season hosting American Idol.
In the 2014 season, there were 23 episodes of the musical competition show. That means Seacrest made $652,000 per episode. Why would he want to be anything but a host if he can make money like that?
Patrick Stewart – $750,000
Patrick Stewart first entered the collective consciousness when he starred as Capt. Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise in Star Trek: The Next Generation. After that role, he branched out into many illustrious characters, including Professor X in X-Men.
Now, Stewart is reprising his role as Picard in the new 2020 series Star Trek: Picard. Since it’s nearly impossible to imagine any other actor playing this role, Stewart makes $750,000 per episode. It pays to make yourself indispensable!
Lauren Graham – $750,000
Alexis Bledel wasn’t the only star of Gilmore Girls. While Bledel played the somewhat uptight Rory, Lauren Graham starred as the ultra-cool, coffee-obsessed Lorelai, Rory’s mom. As the other main character of the series, Graham also made $750,000 per episode.
Gilmore Girls came to an end, but Graham wasn’t done with the small screen. After putting Lorelai behind her, Graham went on to star as Sarah Braverman on Parenthood for over 100 episodes.
Jason Alexander – $600,000
Along with the rest of the Seinfeld cast, Jason Alexander made quite a bit of money while starring on the show. Alexander played George Constanza, the neurotic friend of Seinfeld. While Alexander hasn’t ever been able to replicate the fame he found on the show, the paycheck of $600,000 per episode he made while filming likely dulls some of the disappointment.
Alexander also hasn’t disappeared from the public eye. He continued to have a successful career after the series ended, though Constanza will always be his most memorable role.
Michael Richards – $600,000
Seinfeld may have been named after Jerry Seinfeld, but Cosmo Kramer was one of the most beloved characters of the series. Known for his fuzzy hair, Kramer was Seinfeld’s neighbor through the many successful seasons of the show. Richards didn’t earn quite as much notoriety as Seinfeld himself or even Julia Louis-Dreyfus, but he did earn a large paycheck of $600,000 per episode.
After Seinfeld ended, Richards had his own show—The Michael Richards Show. Unfortunately, the series was short-lived. Since then, Richards has pretty much kept himself out of the spotlight.
Chris Evans – $750,000
Chris Evans’ first recognizable role was in Not Another Teen Movie. He has come a long way since then, now finding notoriety as Captain America in all the Marvel films. His climb to the top of show business is definitely reflected both in his increasingly popular roles and in his salary. He now plays the lead role of Andy Barber on Apple TV+’s Defending Jacob.
For his work on the miniseries, Evans makes $750,000 per episode.
Alexis Bledel – $750,000
Gilmore Girls was another TV success. Most young women could relate in some way to Rory Gilmore, the smart, ambitious daughter of free spirit Lorelai Gilmore. As the show became more and more successful, the actress behind Rory—Alexis Bledel—saw that success reflected in her paycheck.
Bledel earned $750,000 per episode while playing Rory. After the show was canceled, Bledel later reprised the beloved role in the Netflix special Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life.
Helen Hunt – $1 million
Mad About You was yet another popular sitcom in the 90s. While it doesn’t have the same reputation today as shows like Seinfeld or Friends, it was quite popular while it was on the air. The show had two leads, one of which was Jamie Buchman, played by Helen Hunt. Jamie lived in New York City and worked in PR alongside her husband, played by Paul Reiser. For her work on the series, Hunt earned $1 million per episode.
She also went on to star in many popular movies, including Twister, As Good As It Gets, and Castaway.
Blake Shelton – $500,000
Blake Shelton also made quite a living for himself as a judge on The Voice. In addition to the income from his music career, Shelton makes half a million dollars per episode, a salary on par with his fellow judge Adam Levine.
Out of 17 seasons of The Voice, Shelton has won six. He judges and competes alongside girlfriend Gwen Stefanie, who also makes a killing on the series.
Drew Carey – $775,000
Today, most people recognize Drew Carey from his hosting gigs on The Price Is Right and Whose Line Is It Anyway? Before he was the face of popular game shows, however, Carey had his own series—The Drew Carey Show. Similar to Seinfeld, The Drew Carey Show followed a fictional version of Carey through his life. Simple as the concept was, the show ran for nine successful seasons.
For Carey, the price of starring on that show was definitely right considering he made $775,000 per episode.
Jon Cryer – $620,000
Although Jon Cryer made much less than both Charlie Sheen and Ashton Kutcher on Two and a Half Men, he still managed to rake in a large paycheck of $620,000 per episode.
Cryer played the uptight brother to Sheen’s rebellious sibling. Although he’s most recognized from Two and a Half Men, he originally made a name for himself when he starred in 80s classics, including Pretty In Pink.
Nicole Kidman – $1 Million
The hit HBO series Big Little Lies follows five women involved in a murder investigation in Monterey, California. Based on a novel originally, the series was a massive success, earning a second season that added to the original story in the book.
As one of the main characters, Nicole Kidman earned $1 million per episode. She also earned critical acclaim for the show, as her performance was considered to be the most touching of all the women.
Ansel Elgort – $500,000
Ansel Elgort has pretty much stayed out of the entertainment space after starring in what felt like everything a few years ago. However, he is planning to make a return to our small screens with Tokyo Vice, a TV show yet to be released. In the new series, Elgort plays a journalist uncovering corruption in Tokyo roughly 30 years ago.
Based on a true story, the memoir has been accused of stepping on people’s toes. Japan itself doesn’t want to publish the series. Despite the controversy, Elgort makes $500,000 per episode
Miley Cyrus – $550,000
While most of the women on The Voice were paid less than their male counterparts, producers knew they couldn’t get away with shorting Miley Cyrus. Although she started her career on Disney Channel as Hannah Montana, she later departed violently from the innocent image and started focusing on her vocal talent.
She joined the cast of The Voice and was paid $13 million for the 2016-2017 season. That ended up being about $550,000 per episode, a sum that accounted for her impressive musical talent.
Michael C. Hall – $830,000
Michael C. Hall played the titular character in Dexter, a chilling drama about a forensic technician who is also a serial killer. The show was considered one of the most gripping series on TV. Hall was rewarded for his incredible performances with a hefty salary of $830,000.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough for Hall. As the series continued, he engaged in a publicized salary dispute with the producers that nearly ended the show. They reached an agreement, but the final episode of the series left fans disappointed. It almost felt like that whole fight wasn’t worth it.
Gwen Stefani – ~$425,000
While her boyfriend Blake Shelton raked in half a million dollars for each episode of The Voice, Gwen Stefani wasn’t quite as lucky. Much like the other female coaches, Stefani earned $12 million per season. However, her seasons had a few more episodes, making her pay roughly $425,000 per installment.
Still, Stefani came a long way from her place as the lead singer of No Doubt. Even though the role earned her fame and recognition, Stefani eventually branched out on her own, showing off her talented voice to the world.
Charlie Sheen – $1.8 million
Before he was fired, Charlie Sheen was in quite a sweet position on Two and a Half Men. He made history by signing a deal that earned him $1.8 million per episode for his role. At the time, he was officially the highest-paid actor in the world. Unfortunately, his public meltdown also had an effect on his job.
The producers felt it was necessary to part ways with him as he entered rehab, ending his massive paycheck for good. While he still has quite a bit of money to his name, Sheen’s reputation will likely never be the same.
Adam Levine – $500,000
There’s definitely money to be made in musical competition shows. While Adam Levine is best known as the lead singer of Maroon 5, he has expanded his career into various other avenues over the last decade. He 2012, he tried his hand at acting in American Horror Story’s second season.
After his acting debut, Levine decided to simply be himself. He joined The Voice as a coach, making $13 million per season. Although his team won the first season he participated in, Levine recently made his exit from the show.
The Cast Of Friends – $1 million
Friends wasn’t only popular during its time on the air. Thanks to streaming services, it’s now considered a classic TV show that continues to entertain the next generation. In fact, many people consider it to be the greatest TV show of all time.
By the final season, each of the six “friends”—Ross, Rachel, Monica, Chandler, Joey, and Phoebe—earned $1 million per episode. While some of the friends, like Jennifer Aniston, went on to have impressive careers, others were happy to relax and enjoy the benefits of their large salary after the show’s final episode.
Katy Perry – $1,389,000
Much like Adam Levine, Katy Perry also made the big bucks when she decided to be a judge on American Idol. But while Adam Levine only made a measly half a million per episode, Katy Perry made nearly $1.4 million.
Per season, Pery makes $25 million. In comparison, Lionel Ritchie, a fellow judge, only makes $10 million. Perry certainly makes sense as a judge, but viewers have questioned if she’s really worth the ridiculously high salary.
Patricia Heaton – $250,000
Patricia Heaton stars in The Middle, a beloved sitcom about a middle-class family just trying to survive. The show ran for nine seasons, ending in 2018, and Heaton played the leading lady, Frankie Heck.
As the heart of the series, Heaton earned $250,000 per episode. Before starring in The Middle, Heaton also earned awards and praise for her role as Debra Barone in Everybody Loves Raymond.
Mark Harmon – $525,000
Much like Mariska Hargitay, Mark Harmon enjoys playing the same character. Over the course of his career, he has landed multiple long-term roles on popular TV shows, creating a bit of job security for the talented actor. He starred on St. Elsewhere and Chicago Hope, but he is best known for his role as Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS.
In this role, Harmon earns $525,000 per episode. While there are rumors that his character will take a step back in the series, Harmon continues to rake in the cash in the meantime.
Shakira – $520,000
Shakira is just one in a long line of music legends who brought their talents to The Voice. During her time as a judge, Shakira made $12 million for the entire season, which amounted to roughly $520,000 per episode. Shakira’s large paycheck on The Voice came after years and years of building her career as a pop superstar.
She is now one of the most respected female pop singers in the world, joining the ranks of other talented women like Jennifer Lopez and Lady Gaga.
Jennifer Aniston – $2 Million
After her time on Friends, Jennifer Aniston became a movie actress. She has had a thriving career and is now considered one of the biggest stars in Hollywood. She is still acting today and recently decided to make her return to TV on the Apple TV+ series, The Morning Show.
On The Morning Show, Aniston stars opposite Reese Witherspoon in a drama focused on the newsroom. For her work on the show, she made double her salary in the last season of Friends. At $2 million per episode, Aniston may never want to return to the big screen.
Paul Rudd – $450,000
Recently, Paul Rudd starred in a dark comedy released on Netflix called Living With Yourself. In the series, Rudd plays a copywriter unhappy with his life who accidentally clones himself while trying to improve his mood.
For his work on the series, Rudd was paid $450,000 per episode. It’s a sensible paycheck, especially since Rudd was basically playing two characters. The series had 8 episodes, which means Rudd made $3.6 million dollars total for his work.
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson – $650,000
Even though he started his career as one of the most famous wrestlers in WWE history, Johnson became a household name by showing off his impressive acting chops. In addition to his many movie roles, Johnson starred in the HBO show Ballers. For his work on the series, Johnson makes $650,000 per episode.
In addition to his role in Ballers, Johnson has also made his way to the big screen in movies like Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Moana, and The Fast & The Furious franchise.
Will Smith – $50,000
Before he starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Will Smith made a name for himself in the entertainment world as a rapper. He was then cast as the Fresh Prince, where he made about $50,000 per episode after taxes. His real income was much higher since roughly 70% of his salary was taken by the IRS.
Will Smith may have given most of his money to the government, but there’s no need to worry about him. He went on to have a successful career in Hollywood and still commonly stars in today’s blockbuster hits.
Britney Spears – $536,000
Britney Spears has been hard at work since she was a teenager, but that didn’t stop her from joining the cast of X Factor as a judge. In 2012, Spears made $15 million for the entire season. That puts her at about $536,000 per episode. Even though Spears doesn’t need the money, she’s certainly happy to take it. She deserves it!
The star has created a successful career for herself and can now lean back and reap the benefits of her famous name.
Tea Leoni – $125,000
On the political drama Madam Secretary, Tea Leoni plays Elizabeth McCord. Before she starred on television, however, she also made a name for herself by snagging roles in Deep Impact and Jurassic Park III.
While playing Elizabeth, Leoni makes $125,000 per episode. Her paycheck is significantly less than other female stars like Julie Louis-Dreyfus on Seinfeld, but it’s nothing to scoff at.
Chance the Rapper – $500,000
Chance the Rapper, formally named Chancelor Jonathan Bennett, has found massive success in his career in recent years. He makes a killing performing and recording his music, and he even won a Grammy for his work. Recently, Chance also joined the cast of Rhythm + Flow, a Netflix music competition program.
His fellow castmates, including T.I. and Cardi B, judge aspiring rappers and eventually choose a winner. For his work on the series as a judge, Chance is paid $500,000 per episode.
Andrew Lincoln – $650,000
The zombie trend in entertainment isn’t over. The Walking Dead is perfect proof. This post-apocalyptic zombie show follows Rick Grimes, a former police officer who wakes up after an injury in a zombie-filled world. Grimes is played by Andrew Lincoln, who exited the show in 2018.
Before Lincoln left The Walking Dead, he was the highest-paid actor on the set, making $650,000 per episode. His departure was in large part the result of a desire to spend more time with his children, who got much older during his eight years on set.
David Hyde Pierce – $750,000
Kelsey Grammer earned a notable paycheck of $1.6 million while on Frasier, but his co-stars were also paid pretty well. David Hyde Pierce played psychiatrist Niles Craine on the series, the younger brother of Frasier Crane. For that role, Pierce earned $750,000 per episode.
Although he didn’t earn as much has his onscreen brother, Pierce walked away with quite a bit of money in his pocket at the end of the series. He also won numerous awards for his performance, earning him increased notoriety as an actor.
Judith Sheindlin – ~$900,000
If you think you haven’t heard of Judith Sheindlin, think again. Sheindlin is the official name of the beloved Judge Judy. Judy makes a living by presiding over real-life court cases, where the audience is able to see her sharp wit at work while she makes her judgments.
While the producers didn’t originally think the show would be a success, they were wrong. Judy makes $47 million for all her many televised appearances, which averages out to about $900,000 per episode.
Alan Alda – $235,000
Before there was Charlie Sheen, there was Alan Alda. Alda’s salary looks much lower compared to Mr. Sheen’s, but the star was working far before Sheen found success. From 1972-1983, Alda starred as Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H.
In the early days of the show, Alda made just $10,000 per episode. As the show gained popularity, however, Alda’s paycheck was bumped up to $235,000 per episode. At the time, he was one of the highest-paid actors on TV.
Jennifer Lopez – $500,000
Before there was Katy Perry, there was Jennifer Lopez. In 2012, she agreed to be a judge on American Idol for $500,000 per episode. Lopez’s salary was nothing close to Perry’s despite the fact that Lopez has more experience in the industry and more talent in both acting and singing.
She was the perfect choice to judge up and coming singers, but she probably should have been paid more.
Kerry Washington – $150,000
Kerry Washington became a household name while playing Olivia Pope on Scandal. In the political thriller series, Pope is the head of a crisis management firm with intimate ties to the President of the United States. While playing Pope, Washington was nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe.
Her talent was reflected not only in her nominations but also in her hefty paycheck of $150,000 per episode. Since the series ended, Washington has starred in Django Unchained, The Last King of Scotland, Ray, and many other notable movies that continue to show off her talent.
Emmy Rossum – $350,000
Emmy Rossum stars as Fiona Gallagher in the hit Showtime series Shameless. The oldest in her family, Fiona takes on a mothering role for her siblings to keep them in line after the family is practically abandoned by their alcoholic father. For her supreme talent, Rossum earned $350,000 per episode.
Over the years, she was also given the opportunity to direct two episodes, expanding her skills in the entertainment world. She left the series after nine seasons, likely in search of bigger and better things.
James Gandolfini – $1 million
James Gandolfini starred in The Sopranos, an HBO drama focused on a New Jersey-based gangster family. The show quickly became a massive hit and is now considered to be one of the best TV shows ever made.
As Tony Soprano, Gandolfini definitely benefited from The Sopranos’ success. By the final episodes of the show, Gandolfini was raking in $1 million per episode. His pay bump was likely due to his award-winning performances that earned him three Emmys and a Golden Globe for his work on the show.
Cardi B – $500,000
There’s no pay gap here! Cardi Bi joined Chance the Rapper as a judge on Netflix’s Rhythm + Flow. Thankfully, she was paid just as much as her male counterpart at $500,000 per episode.
Interestingly enough, T.I.’s salary for his work on the series is unknown. Whether he made more or less, Cardi B’s talent and incredible rise to fame made her the perfect judge to bring aspiring rappers into the spotlight.
Elisabeth Moss – $1,000,000
Another TV show based on a novel, The Handmaid’s Tale captured the attention of audiences across the country when it premiered on Hulu. Elisabeth Moss played Offred, the protagonist of the dystopian series, and even won an Emmy for her work in 2017.
Most people credit Moss’ incredible talent for the success of the show, so it sounds like she’s worth her $1 million per episode paycheck. Producers likely knew she would deliver, since she already had a Golden Globe and a Screen Actors Guild Award under her belt for her work on Madmen and Top of the Lake.
Roseanne Barr – $500,000
Before she earned public scorn in 2017, Roseanne Barr was the star of a show that was also named after her. Not only that, but Barr was also an executive producer on the sitcom. During that time, she earned $500,000 per episode, contributing to her net worth of $80 million.
Roseanne was so popular in its heyday that Barr tried to put together a revival in 2017. Unfortunately, Barr’s personal life got in the way. She tweeted something offensive and tried to backpedal her words after receiving backlash, but the show was still canceled before its second season.
Kelsey Grammer – $1.6 million
Kelsey Grammer first made his mark on television when he played Dr. Frasier Crane in the sitcom Cheers. His character was so beloved by the TV community that the producers decided to create a show entirely based around him. The spin-off was called Frasier, and it ran for a whopping 11 seasons.
Grammar made $1.6 million per episode while on Frasier. Today, he has a reported net worth of around $60 million, which probably could have been higher had he spent his money more shrewdly.
Christina Aguilera – ~$530,000-$600,000
While Kelly Clarkson was paid less than her male peers on The Voice, Christina Aguilera was actually paid more. Known for her powerful vocal talent, it was a no-brainer to bring her on as one of the series’ coaches. In 2013, Aguilera earned $17 million for the entire season of The Voice.
However, producers later decided that they were paying her too much. After a few seasons, Aguilera’s pay was reduced by $5 million, bringing her more in line with the other female coaches.
Mariah Carey $486,000
Mariah Carey is known for being a diva. In fact, she might be the most famous diva in the world. If you want Mariah Carey involved in your show, you should expect to pay quite a lot of money. When Carey agreed to be a judge for American Idol, she was paid $18 million dollars for the whole season.
That amounted to roughly $486,000 per episode. It was still significantly less than Katy Perry’s salary, but it was a hefty paycheck nonetheless.
Ashton Kutcher – $755,000
Charlie Sheen may have been fired from Two and a Half Men, but the producers weren’t willing to call it quits on the series just because they lost one of their main stars. Sheen was replaced by Ashton Kutcher, who made a whopping $755,000 per episode.
Although Kutcher joined the series late, he still managed to make more than his co-star Jon Cryer, a member of the original cast. However, Kutcher did make less than Sheen, who reportedly raked in over a million dollars per episode for his work.
Bryan Cranston – $700,000
Bryan Cranston has been a fixture in the entertainment world for quite a long time. In the 90s and 2000s, he starred in classics like Seinfeld and Malcolm in the Middle. But his role in Breaking Bad really skyrocketed his popularity. Still, Breaking Bad wasn’t Cranston’s most notable role from a payment perspective.
He currently makes $700,000 per episode on the Showtime series Your Honor. That’s more than he was paid while filming Breaking Bad, though his ultra-successful role on the series probably contributed to his higher pay.
Hugh Laurie – $700,000
Hugh Laurie is a British actor, but he put on his very best American accent when playing Dr. Gregory House in the medical drama House, M.D. While starring on the critically acclaimed show, Laurie made $700,000 per episode.
Not only was his paycheck massive, but Laurie also managed to make the Guinness Book of World Records while playing Dr. House. With 177 episodes in the series, Laurie was named the “most-watched leading man on television.”