The Big Bang Theory became one of the highest paid casts in television history. The show ran 12 seasons, two more than Friends did. By the last season, five of the show’s leads were making over $1 million per episodes. So what about the other two?
Reviews.org put together a comparison of the salaries of the Friends and Big Bang Theory Cast. While the Friends cast matched up once they banded together to negotiate for equal pay, the seven leads of The Big Bang Theory had wider gaps between their salaries.
Three ‘Big Bang Theory’ stars already made $1 million in season one
When the show began, Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki and Kaley Cuoco already made $1 million for the first season. That makes sense, since they would be the leads of the show, and over 22 episodes that’s about $45,000 per episode, a fairly standard starting TV salary. Also, Galecki and Parsons were established stars so could command reasonable fees. Parsons would become the show’s top earner with his endorsement deals and backend participation.
Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg made $765,000 that season, only about $10,000 less per episode, for their supporting roles.
Season 2 was a big promotion for ‘The Big Bang Theory’
Once The Big Bang Theory became a hit, everyone got a raise. Parsons and Galecki made over $5 million for the second season while Cuoco made just about $4.5 million. Nayyal and Helberg each made over $3 million for the second season.
Mayim Byalik and Melissa Rauch joined ‘The Big Bang Theory’ in season 3
The cast of the show grew in the third season, with Melissa Rauch joining the cast and Byalik appearing in the season finale. For the single episode, Bialik made $378,602. Rauch $762,814 for her first season on The Big Bang Theory.
Salaries continued to rise each season. Cuoco, Nayyal and Helberg added millions to their salaries in season 4 while Parsons and Galecki nearly doubled theirs. For that season, Rauch added $1 million to her salary and Byalik half a million.
Mayim Byalik and Melissa Rauch narrowed the gap but never closed it
By season 5, Rauch and Byalik joined the $5 million club, by which point Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco were making $8 million. Nayyar and Helberg were making $6 million. By the final season, the original five cast members were each making $1 million per episode, not per season.
The first five cast members of The Big Bang Theory got a two year head start commanding incremental raises along the way. There are also issues of the gender pay gap. The unequal pay in the beginning kept Cuoco behind Galecki and Parsons in Reviews.org’s totals. Rauch and Byalik never caught up to their male supporting cast members.
For the final season, the five original stars each gave up $100,000 per episode intending it to go towards raises for Byalik and Rauch, according to The Hollywood Reporter. That’s $2.4 million each for the season. THR said Rauch and Byalik were likely to earn $425,000 per episode. That checks out with Review.org’s totals too.