In the early 2000’s, the cast from the sitcom Friends made headlines for their record-breaking deal making $1 million per episode and making the three female stars: Jennifer Aniston, Courtney Cox and Lisa Kudrow the top highest-paid TV actresses in history.
While $1 million per episode is more common in 2021, there’s still an exclusive list of top-paid actors and actresses from your favorite television series and some, are breaking new barriers.
7 Mariska Hargitay: $500,000 per episode
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Law & Order’s Detective Olivia Benson has been on the job for over 20 years and making Hargitay one of the highest-paid female actresses on television. According to Looper, after fan mail began moving from autograph requests to their person survival stories, Hargitay formed Joyful Heart Foundation to combat society’s response to sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse.
6 Ellen Pompeo: $575,000 per episode
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The star of Grey’s Anatomy has been playing Meredith Grey for 17 years and makes around $20 million per year. Pompeo recently said she’s chosen to stay on the television series because her work and family life balance is most important. She’s won a 2020 People’s Choice Award for Female TV Star among several others.
5 Norman Reedus: $1 Million per episode
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The star character of The Walking Dead plays Darryl Dixon alongside Melissa McBride as the hunter, tracker and navigator. Reedus has reportedly struck a deal for $1 million per episode and after the final season 11 airs in 2021-22, he’s already secured a spin-off series to begin in 2023.
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4 Elizabeth Moss: $1 Million per episode
The series, The Handmaid’s Tale, based off of Margaret Atwood’s novel by the same name has made Elizabeth Moss a household name and secured her a $1 Million per episode contract. The fourth season is expected to drop in 2021 and a 5th season has already been promised.
The drama of June Osborne, forced to become a handmaid to Commander Fred Waterford and his wife after her family attempts escape has earned Moss a Golden Globe for Best Actress according to Alux.
3 Nicole Kidman & Reese Witherspoon: $1 Million per episode
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Kidman and Witherspoon have been stars in their own right on the big screen, but the Big Little Lies stars have now made their name in television as well. Based on a 2014 novel by Liane Moriarty, the drama series looks at the lives of women and their relationships. Season 3 has not yet been renewed.
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2 Reese Witherspoon & Kerry Washington: $1.1 Million per episode
Not to outdo herself, Witherspoon is in a second women-based series, Little Fires Everywhere, and scoring $1.1 million per episode along with her well-known peer Washington. Celeste Ng’s bestselling novel by the same name follows a middle-class white woman offering her rental to an African American woman and the relationship that ensues.
1 Jennifer Aniston & Reese Witherspoon: $2 Million per episode
Apple TV signed on to follow a strong cast in The Morning Show, featuring Aniston, Witherspoon (again) and Steve Carrell through their journey as hosts of a morning show and the inner workings of workplace relationships.
The series was nominated for 3 Golden Globe Awards and a second season will drop in late 2021 or early 2022.
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Sources: Looper, Alux, Just Richest
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