Yesterday, it was announced that the highest-rated show on network television, Big Bang Theory, would resume production for the upcoming season after CBS finally made a deal with the three principals in the cast, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, and Jim Parsons. The deal, worth $90 million, would give each actor about $1 million per episode. That puts them in the rare $1 million club, but there are still several actors who averaged more per episode.
Here’s how the cast of BBT stacks up among the richest per episode actors in TV history.
Charlie Sheen, Two and a Half Men — Sheen made $1.8 million per episode in the final year of his eight-year contract, although he was forced off the show before he could complete the entire season (the last four episodes were cancelled) after he made disparaging remarks about Chuck Lorre and demanded a 50 percent raise.
Ray Romano, Everybody Loves Raymond — Romano made $1.8 million per episode in the last year of his contract, although thanks to royalties, he was still making $20 million a year off of Everybody Loves Raymond more than five years after it began its run.
Kelsey Grammer, Frasier — For the last two seasons of Frasier, Grammer earned $75 million, or around $1.6 million per episode.
Tim Allen, Home Improvement — Allen negotiated $1.25 million per episode for the final year of Home Improvement.
Jerry Seinfeld, Seinfeld — Although Jerry Seinfeld only earned $1 million per episode, he still continues to earn around $400 million a year in syndication royalties.
Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matthew Perry, Matt LeBlanc, and Lisa Kudrow, Friends — Thanks to Lisa Kudrow’s brilliant, unheard of at the time tactic, the cast negotiated together and managed to secure a tidy $1 million per episode for the last two years (they also began receiving syndication royalties after the fifth season).
Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons, Big Bang Theory — As reported yesterday, after delaying production on the upcoming season, the principal cast of BBT managed to negotiate $1 million per episode, plus back-end fees and royalties.
Helen Hunt and Paul Reiser, Mad About You — Reiser and Hunt, whose contracts stipulated that they be paid the same amount, were awarded $1 million per episode in the seventh and final season of the series, although ratings fells sharply that year.
Michael C. Hall, Dexter — Although we don’t have an exact number per episode number, Michael C. Hall earned between $20 and $24 million for the final two seasons of Dexter, or close to $1 million per episode.
Drew Carey, The Drew Carey Show — By the end of its run, Drew Carey was earning $750,000 per episode, which is part of why the show was cancelled. The sliding ratings and the cost of the series ($3 million per episode), necessitated its cancellation.
Ashton Kutcher, Two and a Half Men — Although he makes significantly less than Charlie Sheen did, Kutcher still manages to be one of television’s highest paid actors.
Julia Louis Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards, Seinfeld — Their $600,000 per episode is nothing to sneeze at, although they do not own a piece of the show, so they only receive SAG rates for syndication royalties.
Jon Cryer, Two and a Half Men — Cryer, for putting up with Sheen, Angus T. Jones, and Ashton Kutcher for all these years, really does deserve more than the $600,000 per episode he earns.
Mark Harmon, NCIS — Harmon is basically the richest per episode guy in network dramas now, with $525,000 per episode.
William Peterson, CSI— Before stepping away from CSI, Peterson was making half a million per episode. His replacement, Ted Danson, earns over $200,000 per episode.