Compared to acting in a movie, which may require you to go to an exotic location for a couple of months and then just relax while the nerds use digital effects to fill in the details, working on a TV show is almost like a real job. You go to the same place every day, you generally see the same people, and you get to take a few months or so off in the summer—it’s a bit like being a teacher in that respect. However, while teachers in the United States are primarily paid in angry phone calls from parents and anti-union legislation that makes their job more difficult, TV actors actually get money for their hard work. Like, a lot of money. In fact, Variety set out to find just how much money TV’s biggest stars get paid, and the results are rather disheartening—especially if you happen to be one of those teachers.
So, if you’d like to remain blissfully unaware about how much better off Jim Parsons, Matt Lauer, and Mark Harmon are than you, feel free to return to your perfectly acceptable life. For those of us who are made of sterner stuff, let’s check out the first of Variety’s handy graphics:
This list is for actors on comedy shows, and as Variety’s story points out, it’s all based on “a wide survey” of people who work on the industry. That means these numbers are all estimated, and some people who make a ton of money might not be included. That being said, Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki make an outrageous amount of money per Big Bang Theory episode. Keep in mind that Big Bang Theory is a network show that does 24-episode seasons, and it’s hard to believe that the three of them aren’t just made of solid gold at this point.
Here’s the drama list, which suggests that the reason why we hadn’t gotten a Gilmore Girls revival until now was that Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel both really wanted to buy some of those Lamborghini Centenarios. Mark Harmon is the real winner here, though, since NCIS also does 24 episodes every year. He can afford all of the stylish hair products he desires.
Finally, here’s the “Reality/Host/News” list, which mostly goes by year instead of episode—meaning Judge Judy does not make an obscene $45 million a few dozen times over every season. Perhaps the most interesting one here is the Shark Tank Sharks, who make $50,000 for each episode. Of course, they also pay money to invest in the things on the show and they make money off of the things they invest in, so they probably have the sweetest deal out of the whole lot.