The TV industry has never been so big as now. There are more than 500 scripted television series in the US alone. This is without the reality shows and kids series, which might take the number to more than a thousand. Few of the most-watched shows include- Game of Thrones, Greys Anatomy, Stranger Things, The Big Bang Theory, Money Heist, Breaking Bad, The Modern Family etc. Needless to say, few of the actors in these shows earn a lofty amount per episode.
Here is a compilation of the ten highest-paid TV actors in the world. Most of the highest-paid actors belong to the two most-watched series- Modern Family and The Big Bang Theory. Each of the lead actors of these shows gets paid somewhere between $500,000 - $1,000,000 per episode. Let's look at the entire list.
This article will provide insights into the following topics:
- Who is the highest paid TV actor of all time?
- Who was the highest paid actor on Modern Family?
- Who is the highest paid TV actor 2020?
- List of highest paid American television stars
Sofia Vergara (Modern Family)
The year 2019 was Sofia Vergara's seventh year of topping the list for highest-paid TV actors. This Colombian- American actress known for her role of in Modern Family where she plays a feisty, incredibly attractive and loving Colombian wife with shady past and heavy accent. Her role gained her many accolades and a net worth of around $160 million as of 2019.
Jim Parsons (Big Bang Theory)
Jim Parsons is famous all around the world for his portrayal of the quirky brilliant physicist Sheldon Cooper. This American actor and producer received many awards for this role and also made him the highest-paid TV actor in 2018 when he was reportedly withdrawing $26.5 million per annum. His career started with Off-Broadway, theatres shows and a recurring role in TV serials Judging Amy. He also appeared in many movies latest ones being- A kid like Jake, Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile and The Boys in the Band.
Johnny Galecki (Big Bang Theory)
Johnny Galecki started his career in 1987 with a CBS miniseries when he was just 12. His next big role came in ABC sitcom Roseanne where he became a permanent appearance since 1992 fall. He also appeared in many small roles in movies like- I Know What You Did Last Summer, Bean, Bounce and Vanilla Sky, Suicide Kings and the 2003 film Bookies. His recent being 2019 movie A dog's Journey. His popular role came in 2007 as Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory. His income is estimated around $25 million per year while his estimated net worth is double of that sum.
Kaley Cuoco (Big Bang Theory)
According to Forbes, this American actress and producer earns $25.5 million per year. She gained her popularity in 2002 with her role as Bridget Hennessey in 8 Simple Rules. After it got cancelled in 2005, she appeared in another series Charmed. She landed the role of Penny in The Big Bang Theory in 2007 which earned her Critic's Choice and Satellite awards among others. She was also seen in movies like The Penthouse, Killer Movie, The Last Ride, The Wedding Ringer etc. An action-comedy movie, The Man From Toronto is set to be released in 2021. Her current net worth is $55 million.
Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy)
Ellen Pompeo has been in the list of highest-paid TV actors for four years now. Her career started after she was discovered by a casting director who gave her first screen appearance in a L'Oreal ad. After that, she was seen in a Law & Order among other drama series. She gained recognition with her role in the drama movie Moonlight Mile in 2002. Three years after that, she bagged the major work that will make her known as Meredith Grey worldwide. The Shonda Rhime's medical drama Greys Anatomy, with Pompeo playing protagonist, is the longest running-scripted primetime show with currently in its 17th season. She reportedly earns $23.5 million per year from the show.
Simon Helberg (Big Bang Theory)
Simon Helberg is fondly popular as Howard Wolowitz in The Big Bang Theory which made his worth almost $23.5 million per year. This American actor, comedian and musician has appeared in few movies too like Old School, Good Night, and Good Luck, Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story and A Serious Man. He was also in a supporting role in 2016 film Florence Foster Jenkins alongside Meryl Streep which gained him a Golden Globe nomination. He is expected to appear next in musical film Annette.
Kunal Nayyar (Big Bang Theory)
He earns as much as his co-star and precedent in this list Simon Helberg, which makes his estimated net worth $45 million. He is known for his adorable character of Rajesh Koothrappali or Raj on The Big Bang Theory. He found himself in acting career after having participated in many College plays and further getting his Masters in acting. His career initially saw ads and plays including Rajiv Joseph's 2006 play Huck & Holden which garnered him attention in the US. He also appeared in an episode of NCIS playing a terrorist before getting signed for the CBS drama where he plays the Indian shy guy of the nerd gang who cannot talk to beautiful women until he is drunk.
Mark Harmon (NCIS)
He started his career in the early 1970s and was named 'Sexiest Man Alive' in 1986 by People's magazine. He appeared in the drama series St.Elsewhere, The West Wing and his most prominent role in NCIS. The role of Agent Gibbs in NCIS was offered to him in 2003 and was initially a guest character for another CBS drama JAG. Since then the portrayal has earned him many nominations and awards. He also appeared in many movies like Freaky Friday, Chasing Liberty and Worth Winning. His has a net worth $90 million with annual earnings of $19 million.
Ed O'Neill (Modern Family)
Edward Leonard O'Neill gained his first movie role in Cruising, starring Al Pacino. He appeared in a brief role in The Equalizer and around same time got the role of Al Bundy in Married... with Children which gained him two Golden Globe nominations. Just like Harmon, he too appeared in The West Wing in a recurring role. He has also shared the screen with Kaley Cuoco in 8 Simple Rules for a brief role. He appeared in movies like The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, Little Giants, The Bone Collector, Lucky Numbers, Spartan and did voiceovers for Wreck-It Ralph, Finding Dory and Ralph Breaks the Internet. He has a net worth of around $65 million and draws a salary of $14 million per annum.
Eric Stonestreet (Modern Family)
Eric Stonestreet has a total net worth of around $45 million and is widely loved for his role of Cameron Tucker in The Modern Family. The portrayal of Cam, a big dramatic personality who has a clown for his alter ego, fetched him three Emmy Award nominations for outstanding supporting actor, of which he won two. He first gained attention for his recurring role in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation. He has appeared in many movies like Bad Teacher, Identity Thief, The Loft and Confirmation. He also did a voiceover for The Secret Life of Pets. He was also seen in the judge's chair for America's Got Talent in 2020.
Modern Family's remaining cast- Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Julie Bowen and Ty Burrell also follow the list with each of them drawing around $12- $13 million per annum. Even the younger cast of the show Sarah Hyland, Ariel Winter, Nolan Gould and Rico Rodriguez earned a grand salary of around $100,000 per episode.
Similarly, the remaining main actors of The Big Bang Theory, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch gets paid $12 million per year.
Other actors that follow closely are - Mariska Hargitay (Law and Order), Andrew Lincoln (The Walking Dead), Kerry Washington (Scandal), Claire Danes (Homeland) and Pauley Perrette (NCIS).
Co-author: Shreya Arya
A digital marketing enthusiast with experience in HR and hospital management, Shreya has wide interests ranging from philosophy, psychology to latest trends in automation. She is also a freelance content writer and loves lending beautiful words to ideas and feelings.