Which TV Stars Pull in the Most Dollars Per Episode?

Three stars from 'The Big Bang Theory' are seeking to top the list

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Monty Brinton / CBS

Even in the world of television actors we find the “haves” and the “have nots.” A few cast members on The Big Bang Theory might land in the “haves” section in a very big way, with series stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco asking for as much as $1 million per episode. Each. Did we already mention that is per episode?

Yeah, those kinds of figures make even Ashton Kutcher feel dirty and impoverished.

As one of television’s hottest sitcoms renegotiates deals with their stars—ahead of its seventh season debut on CBS on Sept. 26—the top trio wants a sizable jump from the $325,000 per episode they already haul in. Their costars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch just wrapped their negotiating, earning them up to $100,000 per episode by the end of their contracts.

And while a $100,000-per-episode deal sounds like a decent chunk of change (or paper currency), it’s a relatively modest sum. Take a look at kind of money being pulled in by TV’s highest paid actors.

Keep in mind this list doesn’t even the stars of daily shows, there ranks include: Judith Sheindlin, aka Judge Judy, (who pulls down $47 million annually), Jon Stewart (nearly $30 million), and Matt Lauer (close to $25 million).

And remember: these figures —compiled by splicing together a variety of TV Guide lists and other media reports)—are dollars earned per single episode.

Two and a Half Men

Monty Brinton / CBS

Walden (Ashton Kutcher, right) comforts Jake (Angus T. Jones, left) on ‘Two and a Half Men’

1.  Ashton Kutcher, Two and a Half Men, $750,000

2.  Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men, $600,000

3.  Mark Harmon, NCIS, $525,000

4.  Mariska Hargitay, Law and Order: SVU, $500,000

5.  Sandra Oh, Ellen Pompeo and Patrick Dempsey, Grey’s Anatomy, $350,000

6.  Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco, The Big Bang Theory, $325,000

7.  Simon Baker, The Mentalist, $300,000

7.  Angus T. Jones, Two and a Half Men, $300,000

9.  Claire Danes, Homeland, $250,000

9.  Michael Weatherly, NCIS, $250,000

9.  John Hamm, Mad Men, $250,000

12.  Tim Allen, Last Man standing, $225,000

12.  David Boreanaz, Bones, $225,000

12.  Ted Danson, CSI, $225,000

12.  Jason Segel, How I Met Your Mother, $225,000

16.  Neil Patrick Harris, How I Met Your Mother, $210,000

17.  Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation, $200,000

12 comments
BrodWildfire
BrodWildfire

That's quite sad that you get paid much, much more to act as a physicist than to actually be a physicist. At least they inspire the future scientists...

mr-k
mr-k

i think its mental  the amount of money involved.  getting paid ridiculous amounts of money when people break there back just to put basic food on the table.  I dnt know just think this world really needs a reality check. theres kids starving to death could we not make better use of money

ellak365
ellak365

Kinda figured the How I Met Your Mother guys would rank higher...

mrbomb13
mrbomb13

Future generations will look back on Jim Parsons as the most pansy-ass actor of the Millennial Generation.  As a Millennial, he makes me want to throw-up just watching him.

JessePinkman
JessePinkman

It seems like John Hamm should be higher up on this but $250,000 per episode is nothing to sneeze at.  He's made over $16 millon on the first five seasons alone.

DanBruce
DanBruce

Didn't realize there was that much money to be made off of trash.

rpearlston
rpearlston

@DanBruce If you believe them to be trash, what is the basis of your belief?  Have you watched any of these shows, thus enabling you to make such a comment.  If you have, why are you watching "trash"?  And if you haven't, why are you commenting on something of which you have no first-hand knowledge?

FInally, these shows are meant to entertain, not to edify.  For that,.there's always PBS.

DanBruce
DanBruce

@rpearlston @DanBruce You are correct, I have only seem promos for the programs. I assume that the networks pick what they consider to be the most appealing parts for the promos. It is on that basis that I call them trash. Newton Minow predicted it would come to this fifty years ago. Even PBS aims for the lowest common denominator at times.

oscar.galvan.lopez
oscar.galvan.lopez

@DanBruce @rpearlston 

If you think making a joke about not loving your child because he thinks a derivative is the area under a curve is "trash", then I'd hate to see what kind of mindless drivel you watch.