‘Frasier’: Kelsey Grammer Earned Over $75 Million on the Show and Only Did It for the Money

Fans of TV shows know spin-offs to be a double-edged sword. You want more content from your favorite characters, but you know spin-offs are never as good as the original material. One spin-off, however, was part of the elite group of spin-offs that stands the test of time. Frasier was a critical success — just as much as its predecessor, Cheers.

The sitcom followed Kelsey Grammer’s recurring Cheers character, Frasier Crane, as he started his life over with his immediate family in Seattle. Viewers loved the balance between humor and emotion in Frasier, which gave them plenty to tune in for each week. Who loved it the most? Grammer, himself, of course.

Kelsey Grammer slightly smiling looking off camera
Kelsey Grammer | Daniel Zuchnik/Getty Images

Frasier knew how to pull off a spin-off

Cheers aired its series finale in 1993 after a successful 11 seasons. Only a few months later, Frasier kicked things off. It followed Cheers bar regular Dr. Frasier Crane, as he left his ex-wife and son behind in Boston to reunite with his father, Martin (John Mahoney), and younger brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce), in Seattle. Frasier became employed as the host of his own radio show, “The Dr. Frasier Crane Show,” where he helped callers through their problems — while never quite knowing how to handle his own. 

Frasier was a critical success, earning a whopping 107 Emmy Award nominations and winning 37. The sitcom aired 11 seasons on NBC from 1993-2004. It stood apart from Cheers by having a smaller cast, which allowed for more character-driven storylines, leading to more heartfelt and wholesome moments throughout the show, while still remaining humorous enough to be a comedy.

Kelsey Grammer knew the show wouldn’t exist without him

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Being the lead actor on a television show as successful as Frasier could understandably go to someone’s head. Grammer apparently reminded his co-stars frequently that he was the top-billed actor — and that it was going to stay that way. Co-star David Hyde Pierce reportedly said to Grammer after the success of the show’s first season, “Does this mean I’ll never have to work again?” Grammer responded, “No, it means I’ll never have to work again.”

Grammer was all about the money that Frasier would bring in. Even as far back as the beginnings of planning the spinoff, Grammer reportedly told network executives, “I trust your instincts, and I really do want to be very, very wealthy.” You can’t deny that he clearly has a nose for successful TV.

How much did Kelsey Grammer make on Frasier?

Grammer was ultimately correct — he wouldn’t have to work ever again. Grammer made more money than any of the stars of Cheers, making him the most successful actor in that particular television universe. The show was such a big hit, NBC gave Grammer a raise for the final two seasons of the show; he earned $1.6 million per episode in 2002-2004. The pay increase led to Grammer earning over $75 million in Frasier’s final two years. 

And while Grammer wouldn’t have to work again in order to comfortably live out the rest of his days, he has continued working on projects throughout the years since Frasier ended. In fact, he’s done more work since Frasier ended than he did before it started airing. He’s done voice work, made guest appearances in both television and movies, and has executive produced a number of projects. The money’s certainly not running out for Kelsey Grammer any time soon.