TV Actors? Still Really Stinkin’ Rich

By October 5, 2016


It’s one thing to play a member of the very wealthy Lannister family in HBO’s Game of Thrones. But it’s quite another when you live like a member of the Lannister family.

Well, without the violence, craziness, incest and need to send your army everywhere.

New research from Hollywood trade publication Variety has revealed that the five primary members of the Thrones cast combine to earn $2.5 million … per episode. That’s Tyrion Lannister’s Peter Dinklage, Cersei Lannister’s Lena Headey, Jamie Lannister’s Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Jon Snow’s Kit Harrington and Danerys Targaryen’s Emilia Clarke, all earning $500,000 per episode, or $5 million per season.

Yet that’s not even the top for actors appearing in television dramas, according to the Variety report. Instead, that title belongs to Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel, reprising their roles of Lorelai and and Rory Gilmore for Netflix’s planned Gilmore Girls revival. For that effort, they’ll receive $750,000 each for every episode,

James Spader, on the other hand, gets just $250,000 per episode for NBC’s The Blacklist, while each member of the main cast of Westworld – HBO’s newest drama – is set to earn just $175,000 per episode each.

The income list is far from complete, but Variety said it surveyed anyone they could find who is connected to the actors or their bank accounts to “offer a snapshot of the earnings power” of the actors we tune into each week on television.

Actors wanting to make really good money, however, shouldn’t look for drama. Instead, the real dollars are in comedy. Especially if that comedy is Big Bang Theory on CBS. Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki each earn $1 million per episode. That number becomes even more jaw-dropping when you realize that CBS airs 24 episodes each year.

Even the voices behind our favorite characters on The Simpsons don’t pull in that kind of cash. In fact, that cast earns just $315,000 per episode. All the while Gina Rodriguez, the star of The CW’s Jane the Virgin earns only $60,000. That means she has to film 17 episodes of her show just to earn the same amount the Big Bang stars get for one.

On the reality side, no one was even close to making the kind of dough Judge Judy star Judy Sheindlin makes – her annual payday is $47 million. Talk show hosts Matt Lauer and Ellen DeGeneres trailed Sheindlin, making just around $20 million annually.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.