Actors earn a lot of money, don’t they? You probably think the big dream for an aspiring actor is to become an A-lister in the industry, starring on the big screens in big-budget movies. But what if we told you that the big pay comes from the small screen?
If you can land a role in a long-running series, you’ll have a steady job that will continue paying even after the filming ends. Thanks to syndication, if a show lasts long enough, the actors get bonuses each time an episode airs. But who has been making the most money?
Jerry Seinfeld in Seinfeld – $100 Million Annually
This remarkable sitcom’s impact lingers to this day. Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, the show’s co-creators, set the bar for sitcoms with their quick wit, absurd characters, and episodes that mostly ended up being about nothing. These days, the majority of shows adopt the concepts presented by this one.
Younger viewers might not understand the appeal, though, as many shows now feature even greater creativity. Jerry Seinfeld was making $1 million per episode in nine seasons. Additionally, because he was also a producer, syndication has allowed him to earn over $100 million annually. Not bad at all.
Rose Mclver in iZombie – 5% of the Residuals
Rose McIver played the lead role in the supernatural crime series iZombie on the CW. She played a zombie who satisfies her need for flesh by consuming brains from the mortuary where she works as a medical examiner. We’ll admit that The Walking Dead was intense and dramatic.
But the five-season run of iZombie was funnier. Rose McIver will receive up to 5% of the residuals because it has had excellent ratings, and reruns are a given. This contract is undoubtedly good for McIver for such a well-liked show that is tied to a streaming favorite.
Matt LeBlanc in Friends – $20 Million Annually
Imagine getting paid millions yearly for a show that ended years ago. Matt LeBlanc played the actor Joey with the thick skull who always made viewers laugh on Friends. He also had an appearance on the Friends spinoff Joey, although the ratings for this show weren’t as impressive.
The original Friends had better ratings. Don’t feel bad for Joey, though; when Friends was still airing, Matt LeBlanc was earning a million dollars every episode. Reruns will bring in another $20 million, and his present sitcom, Man with a Plan, is still on.
Dr. Phil on The Dr. Phil Show – $10 Million So Far
Dr. Phil is known as a tough-talking psychologist with a talk show that addresses sensitive topics. The show discusses the ironies of human nature and behavior, and many of them involve helping those who are in need. After debuting in 2002, the filming is simpler than most scripted shows.
That’s because of the reality TV element. New episodes are continuously airing. Even if reruns may not be among the most watched shows on TV, there are still enough of them to generate revenue. The total residual income for Dr. Phil is somewhere around $10 million.
Kelsey Grammer in Frasier – $13 Million Annually
In order to spend more time with his family, the Cheers character Dr. Frasier Crane was moved from his initial setting in Boston to Seattle. Although it was a risk, it increased the show’s popularity beyond that of Cheers. Grammer played the character for over 20 years.
After 11 seasons, the show was eventually canceled in 2004. Grammer was earning $1.6 million per episode by the time the show ended. And despite being off the air more than 20 years, the show is still breaking hearts and earning Grammer approximately $13 million annually.
Sarah Michelle Gellar in Buffy the Vampire Slayer – $10 Million So Far
Gellar played the chosen one, a high school student named Buffy Summers, for seven seasons, fighting vampires, demons, and many other evil creatures. Kristy Swanson played the lead in the movie, which served as the show’s impetus, but the television series didn’t choose to cast her.
Due to the success of the show, which ran from March 1997 to May 2003, Gellar has earned over $10 million in total residuals. For fans of Joss Whedon who would later make Firefly, the DVDs of the show are a regular must-watch. UPN reruns still appear sometimes.
Johnny Galecki in The Big Bang Theory – $10 Million Annually
The Big Bang Theory is one of our favorite shows of all time. The 12 years Johnny Galecki spent portraying Leonard, The Big Bang Theory’s most relatable geek, was undoubtedly financially rewarding. While the network profited billions, Galecki and his co-stars only made a combined total of millions.
Galecki, like Jim Parsons, earns up to $10 million every year since reruns are always on television. Take comfort if you like The Big Bang Theory and are sad that it ended too soon; Young Sheldon still has a long future. Getting paid that much isn’t shabby either.
Fred Savage in The Wonder Years – No Profit from Reruns
The theme song “With a Little Help from My Friends,” performed by John Lennon and Paul McCartney, could be the most well-known part of The Wonder Years. Fred Savage played Kevin, a kindhearted teen in the 1960s. Despite airing for six seasons, the show ended poorly.
As Kevin grew older, the creators wanted more mature storylines, but the executives preferred that Kevin remain a teenager. So the show was canceled. Even worse for Savage, ABC, the show’s only rights holder, aired the drama’s last episode. Savage and the other actors have not earned any residuals.
Hank Azaria in The Simpsons – $10 Million Annually
Hank Azaria has been part of The Simpsons since it first debuted in 1989. He is now one of the series’ voice performers with the longest stay. In an effort to cast a person of Apu’s ethnicity, he will no longer be voicing the character. He still has several minor roles, though.
They include Chief Wiggum and Moe Szyslak, as well as many supporting characters. Every year, The Simpsons earns a ton of money from reruns and brand-new episodes. Azaria will continue to get $10 million in compensation every year for the episodes in which he voiced Apu.
Ricky Gervais in The Office UK – $1 Million Annually
We’re sure you’re more familiar with the US version of The Office, but this one is the original. Unfortunately, it only aired for two seasons (14 episodes). Despite the short time, The Office UK gave us the popular mockumentary style, which is used in other shows such as Parks and Rec.
Even after such a brief run, Ricky Gervais, who portrayed the office boss David Brent, earns a million dollars annually. To the joy of fans of the original series, Ricky Gervais made some guest appearances on the US version of the show, which aired for nine seasons.
Ben McKenzie in Gotham – $10,000 Annually
Captain Gordon kept Gotham safe before Batman—or at least tried to. Ben McKenzie had his work cut out for him because of villains like the Penguin, the Riddler, and the Joker. It lasted 100 episodes throughout its five seasons. Ben wrote and directed a couple of episodes.
He also acted in them. Thanks to reruns and streaming residuals, he can make up to $10,000 annually. The enormous brute Bane was the final supervillain to arrive, but by the end of the show, Batman had donned his cape and was prepared to get to work.
Paul Fusco in Alf – $300 per Episode
Alf, which stood for Alien Life Form, was created by puppeteer and voice artist Paul Fusco. The show Alf was about a suburban family who takes in this weird creature when it crashes into their garage. Fusco and Tom Patchett were the creators of the show.
Unfortunately, NBC canceled it after just four seasons due to poor viewership. NBC President Brandon Tartikoff regretted the decision to end the show, saying that it could have continued for a few more years. In the first year of syndication, reruns paid Fusco a cool $300 for every episode.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus in Seinfeld – $400 Million So Far
Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a comedian, singer, and producer, but she is most known for playing Elaine on the comedy show Seinfeld. Despite having the lead role on the TV show Veep and appearing on Saturday Night Live, she doesn’t actually need to work. How cool is that?
She has made at least $400 million from Seinfeld residuals. Julia doesn’t own a part of the rights, unlike her friend Jerry, but she still makes a lot of money. When channel-surfing, it’s still typical to stumble onto this show about nothing (the show’s motto was “no learning, no hugging”).
Jon Cryer in Two and a Half Men – $20 Million So Far
Two and a Half Men has dominated the charts. Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen, and Angus T. Jones, the three original principal actors, continue to make millions from rerun profits. The sitcom has aired reruns even after 12 seasons, despite having its ups and downs (mostly due to Charlie Sheen’s behavior).
At his highest point, Cryer made well over $600,000 for each episode, and currently, his cumulative residual earnings total about $20 million. There may be plans for a remake, but Sheen’s unpredictable nature will likely play a significant role in whether or not it materializes.
French Stewart in 3rd Rock from the Sun – $1,000 Annually
3rd Rock From the Sun is a classic about a crew of extraterrestrials trying to understand life on Earth. Over the course of the sitcom’s six seasons, comedian French Stewart portrayed Harry Solomon. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was also a child star on the show.
Sitcoms’ popularity at the time meant this show had tough competition, although it still received good ratings. Sadly, because of contractual restrictions, the actor only receives approximately $1,000 per year, and most of that money comes from DVD sales. You can only go so far with good reviews.
Mark Harmon in NCIS – $60 Million So Far
NCIS, a member of the CSI family, centers on Mark Harmon’s character, Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, a Navy investigator. The show has been running since its debut in 2003! Harmon makes roughly $850,000 every episode, and there are hundreds of episodes that provide that delicious rerun money.
The original NCIS is the seventh-longest prime time television series in the United States. However, two more shows have been created from this long-running one. That indicates that Harmon will likely earn enough money to pay for all his great-grandchildren’s expenses. Right now, the number stands at $60 million.
Jim Parsons in The Big Bang Theory – $10 Million Annually
Jim Parsons and his co-star Johnny Galecki were catapulted to fame by this brainy sitcom, but Kaley Cuoco was already well-known at the time. Despite being an oddball and quirky man-child, Sheldon Cooper, played by Parsons, enjoys smart jokes. After 12 seasons, the show finally ended.
He was earning roughly a million dollars every episode. He should earn around $10 million a year from DVD sales and syndication. Even though the show is disliked in certain quarters, both nerds and non-nerds found it entertaining enough to propel it to the top of the charts.
George Clooney in ER – $13 Million Annually
The author of Jurassic Park, Michael Crichton, also created the well-known medical drama ER. The main character was portrayed by everyone’s favorite seductive lead actor for five seasons. George Clooney earns up to $13 million a year from the reruns! He reveled in playing Dr. Doug Ross.
He was the most attractive physician to appear on television since 1994. Obviously, Clooney has gone on to become a Hollywood success in scores of big and small films. But as far as his money is concerned, he’s really just doing it for fun because he doesn’t need to work.
Michael J. Fox in Family Ties – No Earnings from Reruns
Family Ties launched Michael J. Fox’s career, but it didn’t bring in a lot of cash for him. When was the last time you watched a repeat of this show? The cast received exactly $0 in residuals. Near the end of the show, Michael had to hitchhike to work.
This was due to low pay. In fact, Fox nearly lost his job on the show because the producers didn’t think he was attractive enough to sell merchandise. He would go on to prove them all wrong during his time in the Back to the Future movies.
Morena Baccarin in Gotham – $10,000 Annually
In Gotham, Morena Baccarin portrays Dr. Leslie Thompkins who marries Jim Gordon. There was a chemistry between Baccarin and Ben McKenzie who played Gordon, and the two were wed in 2017. Fans of Batman and superheroes seemed to enjoy Gotham. The show was quite popular among them.
Baccarin is a geek icon, appearing as Inara Serra in Firefly and Vanessa in Deadpool. She has also been on shows such as Homeland and The Mentalist. She earns about $10,000 yearly from Gotham. Since the show just ended, reruns will still be regular, being a Netflix favorite.
Drake in Degrassi – $8.62 So Far
Drake began his career as an actor long before he became one of the most popular rappers in the world. From 2001 to 2008, he portrayed basketball player Jimmy Brooks in the Canadian teen drama Degrassi. Drake played a well-liked character on this popular show for 14 seasons.
But he makes hardly enough money each month to buy a meal. He recently shared an image of a residual check online in the amount of $8.62. Given that he is one of the richest performers with hundreds of millions in net worth, he probably doesn’t even cash these checks.
Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation – No Earnings
Being the captain of the Enterprise on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Jean-Luc Picard oozes stature, charm, and wit. At least after the first season. The cast put a lot of effort into the production and continues to appear at conventions. Patrick Stewart, however, who played Picard, has said that he was never paid any residuals from the show.
It was one of the shows that helped science fiction become popular. Jean-Luc is the title character of Star Trek: Picard. Stewart did earn a sizable sum during his time on the show as well as an additional few million dollars from the Star Trek movies.
David Schwimmer in Friends – $20 Million Annually
David Schwimmer played the archaeologist in Friends who, luckily, marries Jennifer Aniston’s character. Like Matt LeBlanc, he earns $20 million a year through syndication and reruns. Thanks to appearances in the animated Madagascar films and the most recent Netflix film The Laundromat starring Meryl Streep, his career is flourishing.
His quip We were on a break! is still widely used as a joke online. All six of the main actors will continue to make a lot of money because of how well-liked the show is on Netflix and other streaming platforms. Not a bad career, right?
Carol Burnett in The Carol Burnett Show – One Penny per DVD
The Carol Burnett Show was a groundbreaking television show. Female comedian Carol Burnett hosted a sketch show with thousands of short segments that are still very funny today. You’d think Carol would be doing well with 11 seasons and a ton of repeats to air, but it wasn’t to be.
Due to copyright laws, music had to be removed from the reruns, which decreased the payment Carol received for each show. According to her most current deal, she will receive one penny for each DVD sold. Thankfully, Burnett’s most recent Netflix series, A Little Help, is providing her with some help.
Tim Allen in Home Improvement – $18 Million So Far
In nearly 200 episodes of Home Improvement, Tim “the Toolman” Taylor helped viewers make improvements to their homes and to their relationships with family members. The sitcom was a huge success for the Disney channel. Allen has earned a total of $18 million from the show so far.
And there have even been rumors of a reunion, which would undoubtedly increase that amount even more. Tim Allen has a ton of projects to keep him occupied, including his show Last Man Standing and his role as Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films.
Tracey Ullman in The Tracey Ullman Show – $5,000 Annually
It was expected that Tracey Ullman would have her own show on Fox after performing as an actor, singer, and dancer on several series. The show debuted with “You’re Thinking Right,” a song by George Clinton, and continued for four years before ending in 1990.
Ullman makes a maximum of $5,000 annually from Fox reruns. And this was only after a protracted legal dispute with The Simpsons creators after voicing many characters for the animated shorts that debuted on The Tracey Ullman Show, – all for a meager $5,000 per year.
Charlie Sheen in Two and a Half Men – $20 Million So Far
Two unmarried men try to raise a child in Two and a Half Men. It was a harsh fate to have Charlie Sheen replaced by Ashton Kutcher due to Charlie’s unpredictable and violent conduct, but the show was one of the most watched on television in the 2000s and 2010s.
Sheen has still received residual income totaling $20 million. He has indicated an interest in a comeback, but sadly, the show has already killed his character. Even though there’s no way for him to return, he will always smile on the way to the bank, knowing that he doesn’t have to work.
David Caruso in CSI Miami – $100,000 Annually
Investigative shows have been popular for a long time, but the CSI series did better than its competitors. Any lead actor will be financially secure for the rest of their lives since the CSI extended universe has made somewhere over $6 billion .
David Caruso felt that 10 seasons of CSI Miami had given him enough experience. After acting and directing since 1975, he ended his career when the show did. While his earnings are lower than some of the other actors on our list, he still earns approximately $100,000 annually.
Ted Danson in Cheers – $5 Million Annually
Ted Danson, a well-known Cheers cast member, may not have Frasier money, but his credentials and earnings are still remarkable. Sam was the proprietor of the eponymous bar, and he alternated between being the voice of reason and pure insanity. But that’s not the end of his career.
Danson has also appeared in episodes of The Good Place, Bored to Death, and Curb Your Enthusiasm. However, even if he didn’t have that job to rely on, he could still relax and have a posh life with the $5 million he earns annually from the bar-centered show. Cheers, Ted!
Marg Helgenberger in CSI – $10,000 Annually
The crime scene investigators that kickstarted the crime drama genre ran from 2000 to 2015. Marg Helgenberger only makes $10,000 per year despite having a sizable running time and a large fan base. Not bad, though a little unexpected given how well-liked the show is.
Contractual difficulties or other intricate elements of this sort are most likely to blame. In addition to appearing in the CBS courtroom drama All Rise, Helgenberger describes her tenure on CSI as a “comfortable niche.” Helgenberger is thought to have a net worth of $18 million despite receiving little residuals.
Nancy Cartwright in The Simpsons – $20 Million Annually
The Simpsons is still on the air after 31 seasons. And we love it. Bart Simpson and a few other lesser roles are all performed by Nancy Cartwright. All the primary voice performers are making millions of dollars from the show’s 31 seasons that have already been created.
Cartwright herself earns up to $20 million a year. She has performed in a variety of voice roles, most likely for pleasure, and she is paid $400,000 for each new episode to which she lends her voice. She obviously doesn’t need to work anymore.
John Goodman in Roseanne – $1 Million Annually
Although Roseanne first aired in 1988, its most recent live television appearance was in 2018. While there were 10 seasons of the show over a period of 30 years where John Goodman played Roseanne’s husband, the actor’s residuals are approaching a million dollars annually. The movie propelled him to stardom.
Due to this comedy, which featured everyday people, Goodman was able to break into Hollywood in live-action and voice-over roles. After a brief return, Roseanne was abruptly canceled by ABC due to Roseanne Barr’s contentious tweets. It appears that this show has finally come to an end.
Alex Borstein in Family Guy – $10 Million Annually
Alex Borstein maintains a lower profile as a voice actress than most prominent TV personalities. But you definitely know her. She voices Lois Griffin on the animated comedy series Family Guy, Peter’s patient wife. The show, which debuted in 1999, is still running and earning money.
Borstein makes almost a quarter million dollars per episode, and since she appears in nearly every one of them, residuals from reruns have added an additional $10 million per year to her bank account. However, because of her divorce, Borstein only receives half of that money; her ex-husband receives the other half.
Edie Falco in The Sopranos – $26 Million So Far
In The Sopranos, Edie Falco portrayed Tony Soprano’s wife alongside the late James Gandolfini, who played Tony. It was among the best crime dramas ever produced for television. Six seasons of the dramatic plot saw Falco’s portrayal of Carmela get six Emmy nominations (and three wins).
Falco has appeared in Oz and Nurse Jackie. She has made somewhere over $26 million since the final episode of The Sopranos aired in 2007 as a result of fans continuing to watch this renowned show over and over. You’ll agree that it’s quite deserved.
Betty White in The Golden Girls – $3 Million Annually
The late Betty White, Beatrice Arthur, Rue McClanahan, and Estelle Getty all shone as women in their prime throughout the 1990s. They spoke about everything, including romance, marriage, and parenthood. After seven seasons, the show came to an end in 1992, but the brilliant writing has kept it on television.
And decades after that, it continues to air. The show’s main appeal was undoubtedly Betty White’s appearance. After her death on December 31, 2021, several news sources have reported that the majority of White’s wealth will be used for charitable causes through nonprofit organizations that benefit animals.
David Hasselhoff in Baywatch – $4 Million Annually
Baywatch attracted a lot of attention thanks to its 11 seasons of slow-motion beach running and lots of tanned bodies to display. Pamela Anderson was launched to the limelight through Baywatch and has managed to stay there ever since, although David Hasselhoff made the most money.
Despite Baywatch’s low demand for reruns, Hasselhoff made $4 million a month while the show was airing, and he continues to make a lot off the show thanks to syndication and the type of episodes that anybody can watch without caring about continuity or narrative. It evolved into a show you could always watch somewhere.
Matthew Perry in Friends – $20 Million Annually
Here’s another entry from a cast of the classic TV show Friends. Matthew Perry plays Chandler Bing on Friends. He’s the tense-yet-funny data entry professional who, we believe, ends up with Monica for the show’s strongest relationship. We’ve previously spoken about how popular the show is . . .
. . . and how much money the stars continue to make from it. Even though Perry has had his ups and downs (he had to take a vacation from the show due to substance addiction issues), he hasn’t indicated a desire for a reunion, but we’re sure he enjoys the money.
Matt Stone and South Park – $25–$30 Million Annually
The series is about four boys—Stan Marsh, Eric Cartman, Kyle Broflovski, and Kenny McCormick—and their antics in and around the Colorado town of South Park. The show rose to fame for its use of adult language and dark, surreal humor that targets an adult audience. It has also made money for its characters.
Since 1997, South Park has made half a billion dollars for both co-creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Comedy Central is still airing South Park regularly. The show doesn’t exactly appeal to children, but it does draw a sizable audience of teenagers as well as adults in their 20s and 30s.
Jackie Gleason in The Honeymooners – No Earnings from Reruns
Just one season—that’s how long The Honeymooners aired. But it remains a classic. Even though it only had 39 episodes in all, many today still remember it because of the Back to the Future theme. Jackie Gleason played the lead role, although he received no residuals.
Audrey Meadows was the only one to get anything when the show finished. While Gleason made $70,000 for every televised episode, reruns weren’t yet popular, and his contract didn’t include any details concerning residuals. On the other hand, Meadows might have been a fortune teller.
Alan Alda in M*A*S*H – $1 Million Annually
Since the 1960s, Alan Alda has mostly been a fixture on television because of M*A*S*H, a darkly humorous show. The show always had a funny edge, yet it never lost its emotional impact. Although it was set in the Korean War, parts of it were aired during the Vietnam War.
Alan Alda’s role as Hawkeye earned him $235,000 each episode, which was a sizable sum when the show ended in 1983 after 11 seasons. Alda has done a lot more to advance his career, and although earning less than comparable celebrities, he still makes about $1 million annually.
Ed O’Neill in Married . . . with Children – $10 Million Annually
In Married . . . with Children, we were invited into Al and Peggy Bundy’s home where they showed the absurdities of life. Ed O’Neill became well-known for his portrayal of the unfortunate Al Bundy, although these days, many people probably remember him better for his part as Jay in Modern Family.
Many shows have attempted to duplicate the popularity of the show, but none of them have been able to match the glory of Al’s family. He makes around $10 million a year from Married . . . with Children, but it’s likely that he will make even more with Modern Family.
Chad Michael Murray in One Tree Hill – $100,000 Annually
Chad Michael Murray portrayed Lucas Scott, the golden boy of the family and a true teen heartthrob, for nine seasons of One Tree Hill. The show, which highlighted the distinctive lifestyles of the residents of this town, particularly the high school kids, was well-liked by teenage audiences.
The drama features Sophia Bush before she became well-known on Chicago PD, which is still broadcast on the CW and has a 7.6 IMDb rating. One Tree Hill generates revenue for Chad Michael Murray of roughly $100,000 each year. These days, he doesn’t act much. Maybe it’s because he doesn’t need to.
Lisa Kudrow in Friends – $20 Million Annually
If anyone could’ve traveled to the future, they would’ve advised many actors who turned down Friends to take the roles. Lisa Kudrow makes up to $20 million annually as a result of her involvement in the Friends core cast. Lisa believed her character, Phoebe, was acting stupidly.
So she wasn’t comfortable playing the role. She is comfortable with the residuals, though. There are many other roles that this actress has been able to land, such as ones on Cheers, Mad About You, BoJack Horseman, and others. She appeared in The Comeback as well.
Tim Daly in Wings – $1,000 Annually
Tim Daly’s character in Wings, Joe Hackett, is described as Seinfeld’s stepchild. The eight-year run of the show began in 1990, but unlike Seinfeld, Daly did not own the rights, which significantly decreased the amount of money he was making each year. NBC owns the rights to the show.
Although it was one of the most well-liked shows of the 1990s, Daly only receives around $1,000 a year. Even though Daly claims to have seen the series offered as a rerun several times, the majority of that revenue came from DVD sales. He has, however, done well for himself.
Bob Saget in Full House – $2,000 Annually
Bob Saget has claimed that he made somewhere between $2 and $2,000 each episode for his part as Danny Tanner on Full House. You might be astonished to learn that Saget’s earnings from this show have only averaged around $2,000 annually. That means nothing to most actors.
He received extra money for his work on the Fuller House Netflix adaptation and sequel. Even though Full House lasted eight seasons and Fuller House only lasted five, Saget made a lot more money with the latter. Sadly, Bob Saget passed away in January 2022, leaving the house empty.
Jerry Orbach in Law & Order – Profit Is Unknown
Even though Law & Order spinoffs are still on television, the main series ended more than 10 years ago. When it came to residual payments, Jerry Orbach used an innovative negotiation strategy: six percent of the episode’s initial profits each time the show aired. It might not seem like much . . .
. . . especially considering that there are 20 seasons of episodes available. Additionally, it appears that it takes checks nine to 18 months to get to him after a show airs. Still, he will continue to have a stable income until the reruns are stopped, which is likely several years from now.
Maureen McCormick in The Brady Bunch – No Profits from Reruns
Even though this legendary comedy probably ended its run decades before you were born, you surely know it as the show that broke the genre and was a great deal of fun. Almost all the actors and actresses became stars as a result of it.
But as Maureen McCormick explains, the cast does not receive any residuals. They have been unable to renegotiate because the terms that deny them are impenetrable. The cast isn’t owed anything other than a few dollars if movie clips are used. Always read the contract, people!
Stephen Amell in Arrow – $100,000 So Far
With DC and Marvel films, as well as television series based on comic book characters, superheroes have advanced significantly over the past 10 years. In the first of the DC Comics story shows, Stephen Amell portrays Arrow. Together with The Flash and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, it is part of the Arrowverse.
Stephen Amell received thousands of dollars for each episode while it was airing and gets something similar from reruns. The show ended in 2020 after being renewed for a final season the year before. Before the show ended, Amell earned around $100,000 from reruns of past episodes.
Bob Denver in Gilligan’s Island – $100 Million in Total
After a three-hour trip turned into three years on a remote island, audiences eagerly anticipated each new episode of Gilligan’s Island. The show’s main character, played by Bob Denver, stole the show with his unexpectedly clean comedy and funny antics. Gilligan’s Island continues to air on television.
That’s despite it ending in the late 1960s. The show has garnered over $100 million in residuals. For many years, it kept all the actors—including Bob Denver—comfortable. Denver was a top earner up until his untimely death in 2005 from complications following surgery for throat cancer.
Kristen Bell in The Good Place – $125,000 Each Episode
The Good Place starts with a bad person entering the Good Place after her death. The show features philosophical debates, bureaucratic jokes, and some odd theological views. Kristen Bell is excellent as the bad girl trying to get into the Good Place.
This show has been a success, airing 43 episodes in all, and all of them were clever and unexpectedly humorous. Paychecks may be a little bit less than usual due to the limited number of episodes, but rewatching is inevitable. We’re sure this will keep Bell and the cast happy.
Daniel J. Travanti in Hill Street Blues – $10,000 Annually
Daniel J. Travanti received several nominations for his portrayal of Captain Furillo in the police drama Hill Street Blues, which received a Golden Globe and two Emmy awards. Hill Street Blues faces stiff competition from shows such as Criminal Minds and Blue Bloods as well as other cop dramas.
The show ran for seven seasons and had 146 episodes. But because of reruns and residuals, Travanti continues to earn a respectable $10,000 every year. Even while it doesn’t compare to the millions on this list, it’s still a sizable scratch. It’s like passive income.
Lea Michele in Glee – No Profits from Reruns
When writing Glee, Ryan Murphy had Lea Michele in mind after creating her character, Rachel. And luckily, Michele was just as interested. For six seasons, Michele and her singing, dancing, and acting co-stars made a million dollars for every episode of the sitcom about a high school glee club.
Fox owns all the rights to the show, and Michele and the other actors neglected to include a request for residual payments in their contracts. So none of them get any residual payments. But at least they earned good money while the show was running.
Henry Winkler in Happy Days – $65,000 in Total
The Fonz was a cool character. During the 1970s and 1980s, audiences flocked to see this show that ran for 11 seasons. It starred Henry Winkler and Ron Howard, who would later make an appearance on Arrested Development. ABC owns the rights to the reruns.
However, years after the show ended, a settlement was negotiated when these celebrities sued ABC for the residuals. Together, the two actors made $65,000 in addition to their DVD sales revenue. Although 65 grand is nothing to sneeze at, the actors most certainly could have made considerably more.
Sam Waterson in Law & Order – $5,000 Annually
Law & Order’s Sam Waterson has a contract that limits his access to residual income to just $5,000 per year. Don’t feel sorry for Waterson, though. His career as a movie actor, which included an Oscar-winning performance in The Killing Fields, is one of his many sources of income.
He has also left his imprint on the sitcom industry with the Netflix series Grace & Frankie. Additionally, he has a key position in the Law & Order: Special Victims Unit spinoff, which has a significant financial gain for him. So he’s had a great career and has one quite well.
Courtney Cox in Friends – $20 Million Annually
Friends may not be the highest-paying on the list, but the cast is lucky. As one of the most popular sitcoms of all time, the main cast members receive $20 million a year and lasting fame. Cox continued to play Jules on Cougar Town even after the sitcom ended.
Despite how different the genres are, she has made a ton of additional cameos in films such as the Scream series as reporter Gale. Cox and Friends co-star Lisa Kudrow reunited on The Ellen Show in February 2019 when Cox made an appearance. Not a bad career.
Trey Parker in South Park – $25–$30 Million Annually
For more than 20 years, Cartman, Stan, Kyle, and Kenny caused problems for the residents of South Park, Colorado. Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the show’s creators, have been making millions for just as long. Being the creators, it’s only normal that they’ve earned similar amounts over the years.
In addition to being the creators, Parker and Stone also provide the majority of the voices. The two have amassed earnings of almost $500 million apiece, in part because of how simple it is to produce the show. Comedy Central frequently airs reruns, and new episodes are regularly released.
Shay Mitchell in Pretty Little Liars – No Earnings from Reruns
Many people will say this show ended too early. After seven seasons, fans of Pretty Little Liars had to find a new show to binge-watch. This show had a mix of mystery, drama, and fun as an unidentified person threatens to expose a group of high school girls’ misdoings.
Despite having a sizable fan base, Shay Mitchell, who played one of the show’s leads, is not entitled to receive residuals under the terms of her contract. But don’t worry; Mitchell has been causing a stir in Hollywood, appearing in Mother’s Day, Dreamland, and The Possession of Hannah Grace.
Ray Romano in Everybody Loves Raymond – $18 Million Annually
Everybody Loves Raymond, a CBS comedy, illustrated how absurd life can get if your controlling parents live just next door. Although younger audiences would remember the main actor as the leading voice from the Ice Age movies, Ray Romano set the bar for dom-coms until the show ended in 2005.
Due to the show, Romano received an Emmy, and he remains at the top of Forbes’ list of the wealthiest celebrities. For Pete’s sake, his name is in the title of the show. Therefore his royalty checks are enormous. He makes somewhere around $18 million a year.
Claire Foy in The Crown – No Earnings from Reruns
The English royal family was the subject of the 1940s drama The Audience, which served as the inspiration for the classic series The Crown. It starts with a youthful (pre-coronation) Queen Elizabeth and keeps illustrating the tensions and problems the monarch faced as she grew older.
For Claire Foy who played the young Queen Elizabeth II, there won’t be any residuals for a while. Reruns won’t be available because The Crown is a Netflix production. Despite how well-liked the show is among viewers, Claire Foy hasn’t received any residuals yet. Could that change in the future?
Lucille Ball in I Love Lucy – $17 Million Annually
We have to go back to the 1950s to understand the history of reruns and how performers and actresses made money from them. The venerable comedy I Love Lucy had Lucille Ball and her real-life husband Desi Arnaz as the lead actors. They not only pioneered the sitcom . . .
. . . but they continued to make good money even after they passed away. Their estates continue to generate over $17 million a year despite only six seasons to work with. Since they (and not a network) owned the rights to their shows, they continued earning until 2018.
David Hyde Pierce in Frasier – $40 Million So Far
Many people believed that David Hyde Pierce was Kelsey Grammer’s real-life brother because he played Frasier’s brother Niles, but the resemblance is completely unintentional. On the Katie Couric Show, Pierce gave a glowing review of the script and the entire brilliant cast. It was regarded as one of the brightest television shows.
And if we’re being honest, it still could be. Since the end of the show’s run, Pierce has made about $40 million overall and received four Emmy nominations. For a little fun stunt casting, he also provided the voice for Cecil Terwilliger on The Simpsons.
Seth MacFarlane in Family Guy – $400,000 Annually
Comedian Seth MacFarlane created Family Guy, an animated series that has aired for 18 seasons and counting. Only The Simpsons has a longer run for animated comedy on television. MacFarlane could be making millions of dollars every year because of the outrageous success of Family Guy reruns.
But the most he can make is $400,000. However, MacFarlane makes far more money because he is also the show’s creator and producer. According to rumors, the show is worth more than $2 billion, and in 2013, all the voice performers received significant pay rises.
Desi Arnaz in I Love Lucy – $17 Million Annually
Everyone loved Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball together. Although their TV romance was real, the two sadly broke up in 1960. They made the decision to keep running their business and sitcom jointly in order to prevent lawyers from making money off of their divorce.
Desi earned in excess of $7.5 million yearly. According to their friends, the couple overcame their “horrible divorce” by becoming extremely wealthy. In 2018, they sold their business, Desilu Productions, but not before raking in millions for their own benefit and that of their heirs.
Jennifer Aniston in Friends – $20 Million Annually
Jennifer Aniston is the most popular member of the Friends cast. She has achieved enormous success in films, various television shows, and as a favorite of the paparazzi. Aniston is fast becoming a Hollywood legend. Thanks to her roles, she has amassed approximately a quarter of a billion dollars.
She continues to earn a sizable income from Friends reruns and streaming, just like her friends Schwimmer and LeBlanc. If for any reason she stops getting the big roles, Aniston can expect to get $20 million a year in residuals. That’s certainly nothing to sneeze at.
Tom Kenny in SpongeBob SquarePants – $10 Million Annually
After 12 seasons and beginning in 1999, SpongeBob SquarePants, the show about the yellow sponge living under the sea is still airing. Tom Kenny provided the voice for the upbeat character in all of the episodes and several films. His rerun residuals are more than $10 million annually!
Despite the passing of the original show’s creator and producer, Stephen Hillenburg, in 2018, the show is still airing. It is not surprising that Tom Kenny has been making money ever since syndication started because reruns are regular on Nickelodeon as well as other networks and streaming sites.