David Schwimmer — Friends
Ross from Friends was the quirky, neurotic, smart, and lovable member of the six-person main cast. While Schwimmer has gone on to a very successful career as a director, his emergence as a sitcom actor put him squarely into the limelight. The show itself exploded to the point where many call it among the best sitcom comedies ever made. Of course, you can catch a Friends episode on virtually any channel. Schwimmer makes a whopping $20 million (reportedly) a year from these residuals.
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Alex Borstein — Family Guy
The actor/voice-actor has been a prominent comedic performer for decades. While we don’t see her face on her main gig, Alex’s vocal brilliance as Lois in Family Guy is certainly recognizable for fans all over the world. Reports indicate that Borstein makes over $200,000 per episode! On residuals alone from an annual standpoint, it’s said she makes about $10 million. Based upon these numbers, we can’t see her ending this role anytime soon.
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Carol Burnett — The Carol Burnett Show
The Carol Burnett Show still remains absolutely hilarious despite airing over 40 years ago. Burnett herself is a comedic genius — both as a sketch actor and writer. She knew exactly which buttons to hit when layering in jokes after jokes/building a narrative. Unfortunately, music copyrights have hindered her ability to make a ton of money in residuals off her work. The latest reported estimate had Burnett taking home one cent per DVD sold.
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Jennifer Aniston — Friends
You shouldn’t be surprised by this one. As we mentioned above, Friends continues to be a juggernaut of a show. You couldn’t go through a full run of your channels without seeing a rerun. From there, Aniston benefits from becoming the biggest star from the original cast. From film to other series, Aniston has really exploded into being an A-Lister. After her 10-year run as Rachel, Aniston has benefitted heavily from residuals. According to some reports, she makes roughly $20 mil a year on reruns from this show alone.
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Betty White — Golden Girls
The late Betty White was a total icon within the world of pop culture. Golden Girls is a show which continues to air — drawing in fans of all generations. White’s brightness on the show was both endearing and refreshing. The 7-season show stopped running in 1992. As previously mentioned, there’s still a huge demand for this hilarious show. White benefitted hugely from the popularity which spans across multiple generations. From a monetary standpoint, White reportedly earned $3 million/year in reruns.
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Johnny Galecki — The Big Bang Theory
Talk about a career. Galecki has starred in two of the biggest sitcoms of the last 30 years in Roseanne and The Big Bang Theory. The characters are both even-keeled in nature, and Galecki was exquisite when hitting his comedic cues. His portrayal of Leonard on Big Bang lasted 12 seasons (a near eternity for a sitcom). This show will surely be a fixture on the rerun-circuit for decades to come. As such, Galecki reportedly is raking in $10 million a year in residuals.
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David Caruso — CSI: Miami
All of the CSI shows have their own ‘spice’ to them. The Miami iteration starred David Caruso as the lead Horatio Caine. At any time when you turn on your television, there’s a high likelihood you’ll catch one of these shows. Now, getting down to the nitty-gritty…does Caruso make a ton of money off residuals from Miami? In a word, yes! Reportedly, Caruso makes up to 100k a year in residuals.
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Courteney Cox — Friends
Shocker — another Friends cast member! Are you noticing a trend here? Her character Monica was the brother of Ross, and the lover of Chandler. Cox was a nice foil for Aniston’s antics, and Phoebe’s somewhat bizarre behavior (Lisa Kudrow). Cox’s career post-Friends was highly successful. She was the lead in Cougar Town, and also had a prominent role in Scream. As for residuals from the sitcom, Cox is said to make $20 million a year in rerun cash.
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Tim Allen — Home Improvement
Talk about a lifestyle change. After originally serving two years in jail over a drug charge, Allen turned his life around and went full-bore into the world of comedy. Home Improvement changed Allen’s life for good. It paved the way for a film career, and ultimately a working career in Hollywood which has spanned more than 30 years. The show ended in 1999 after eight years. Reportedly — with all of the earnings in syndication/residuals, Allen has earned a combined $18 million.
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Matthew Perry — Friends
Among the ‘big three’ male actors from the cast, one can make the argument that Chandler (Matthew Perry) was the most popular character. He wasn’t the clown (Joey) nor was he the quirky character (Ross). Essentially, Perry’s character was written as the stable good-looking guy with a more mild disposition. In all actuality, Perry is handsomely paid from his role in this show. Reports indicate that he takes home roughly $20 million a year in residuals.
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Maureen McCormick — The Brady Bunch
Even if you have watched just one scene from The Brady Bunch, there is a good chance that you’ve either: A) Seen Marcia Brady take a football to the nose, or B) Heard the line “Ow my nose!” Played by Maureen McCormick, Marcia was the eldest daughter — blessed with stunning looks and the attention of everyone at school. Undoubtedly, playing Marcia was the highlight of the California native’s career. Despite The Brady Bunch remaining a very popular and frequently-watched show, McCormick isn’t benefitting from its sustained presence. Why? McCormick — and her castmates — had a no-residuals clause in her contract. That has to sting…
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Jerry Seinfeld — Seinfeld
The show about absolutely nothing is arguably the greatest single sitcom in the history of television. The braintrust of Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld crafted weekly episodes centering on idiosyncratic behavior, absurd attention to detail, tomfoolery, and nuanced comedic timing. When smashed together with the core group (Seinfeld, Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards), you’re left with an absolutely brilliant show. Of course, it makes sense that Jerry would make a ton of money off the show even in 2022. The show last aired a new episode in 1998, but Seinfeld remains one of the most-watched shows on television. Amazingly, Seinfeld allegedly makes up to $110 million yearly in residuals — a truly staggering number.
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George Clooney — ER
331 episodes, 15 seasons, 15 years — ER. Following the doctors and nurses of Chicago’s County General Hospital, ER was Grey’s Anatomy before that hit came to exist. The series debuted on NBC in 1994 and originally starred a host of notable actors including George Clooney, Julianna Margulies and Anthony Edwards. The show focused on the happenings inside the emergency room at Chicago’s County General Hospital, but also spent a fair amount of time dealing with the personal lives of the staff. Clooney was with the show from 1994 to 1999 playing the role of Dr. Doug Ross. The famous actor allegedly makes around $13 million per year in residuals to this day.
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Ed O’Neill — Married With Children
The younger audience may recognize Ed O’Neill for his role as Jay Pritchett in Modern Family. However, O’Neill made a name for himself in the 1980’s and ’90’s for his work in Married With Children. One of the longest-running sitcoms of all-time, Married With Children was on air from 1987-1997 — and O’Neill appeared in all 259 episodes. Playing the role of Al Bundy, O’Neill earned two Golden Globe nominations for Best Performance by an Actor in a Television Series – Comedy/Musical. According to reports, the television star makes up to $1 million per year in residuals from Married With Children.
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Alan Alda — M*A*S*H
Alan Alda starred in M*A*S*H — a war comedy-drama series that is considered to be one of the greatest television shows of all-time. Starring as Captain Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce, Alda appeared in all 256 episodes of the show. For 11 seasons, Alda played the role to perfection and solidified his place in television history. The M*A*S*H star earned a whopping 25 Emmy nominations — five wins — for his work on the show. Nearly 40 years removed from the show’s finale, Alda is still said to be making $1 million in residuals annually.
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Bob Saget — Full House
Full House is about as wholesome a show as you will find. Bob Saget played a widower raising three daughters. Needing extra help, his brother-in-law (John Stamos) and best friend (Dave Coulier) came to the rescue. We saw this blended family grow on television, with many storylines tackling issues every family faces. It also marked the emergence of the Olsen Twins — who’ve since become quite successful in a number of fields. The show lasted eight seasons and a whopping 192 episodes. Surprisingly, Saget was said to make a meager $2,000 in residuals due to the fact that he wasn’t an executive producer on the show. Sadly, the Full House star passed away on January 9, 2022.
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Jim Parsons — The Big Bang Theory
In The Big Bang Theory, two California-based physicists work and live together. It is evident from the very start that the two men are a bit eccentric. However, Leonard (Johnny Galecki) and Sheldon (Jim Parsons) — the latter won four Emmys for Best Actor — will come to realize that there is more to life than work. When a woman named Penny (Kaley Cuoco) moves across the hall from the friends, the pair start looking at life in a different way. The dynamic between the three (and two other close friends) resonated with viewers. The Big Bang Theory enjoyed a 12-season run which spanned 12 years and 279 episodes. Parsons — who earned $900,000 per episode in Season 12 — is said to bring in nearly $10 million per year in residuals.
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Ray Romano — Everybody Loves Raymond
Between the mid-1990s and mid-2000s, Everybody Loves Raymond was one of the most popular sitcoms on television. Starring Ray Romano (Raymond), Patricia Heaton, Brad Garrett, Doris Roberts and Peter Boyle, the show ran for nine seasons and featured 210 episodes. Showcasing Romano’s dry, sarcastic humor, Everybody Loves Raymond excelled at creating hysterical moments between Raymond and his Long Island-based family. Despite the final episode having aired in 2005, Romano is said to make up to $18 million yearly in residuals thanks to reruns of the lovable comedy.
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Hank Azaria — The Simpsons
A show that never needs an introduction, The Simpsons has been an American staple dating back to December of 1989. Created by Matt Groening, this hilarious animated sitcom relies upon satire and parodying American life to capture its audiences attention. And for over 30 years, the show has done just that. Who doesn’t love the Simpson family? With 33 seasons and over 700 episodes to its name, The Simpsons has shown no signs of slowing down. Hank Azaria has been with the show since the beginning — voicing numerous characters including Moe, Chief Wiggum and Apu. Azaria, who has won multiple Emmy’s for his work on the show, allegedly makes up to $10 million per year in residuals.
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Kelsey Grammer — Frasier
Beginning in 1993, Kelsey Grammer was a mainstay on NBC’s airwaves thanks to the hit-show Frasier. A spin-off of the legendary Cheers, Frasier focused on Grammer’s Frasier Cane — a psychiatrist who returns to Seattle to host The Dr. Frasier Cane Show (a radio show focusing on psychiatry). Frasier made its debut four months after Cheers final episode aired, and Grammer carried the show until 2004 — 11 seasons and 264 episodes in total. Remarkably, the show won 38 Emmy awards (nominated for 108) and 24 Golden Globes. Despite the show’s finale approaching its 20-year mark, Grammer allegedly makes up to $13 million per year in residuals.
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Mark Harmon — NCIS
Procedural drama NCIS is one of the longest-running programs having started all the way back in 2003. Its 20th season is set to premier later this year. In total, there have been 435 episodes of the show thus far. Over the years, one constant on NCIS has been Mark Harmon who plays the role of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Harmon also works as an executive producer on the show. It’s reported that he earns over $125,000 per episode at this point.
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Fred Savage — The Wonder Years
Fred Savage began playing the role of Kevin Arnold on the hit-show The Wonder Years when he was just 11 years old. He couldn’t have possibly known how popular the show would one day become. Savage played Arnold for six seasons and appeared in all 115 episodes. At just 13 years old, Savage became the youngest ever to be nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor for a Comedy Series at the Emmy’s. Though the show was a massive hit, Savage has reportedly not seen any residuals over the years.
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Matt LeBlanc — Friends
Surprise, surprise — another Friends actors makes the list. Matt LeBlanc plays the role of Joey, the group’s jokester who always had a one-liner for every situation. His character was so beloved that it even earned LeBlanc his own spin-off, aptly titled Joey, which lasted two seasons. After reportedly being paid $22,500 per episode during the initial season, the pay of each actor in Friends dramatically rose as the show’s popularity grew. Just like his co-stars, LeBlanc now makes up to $20 million per year off of residuals.
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David Hasselhoff — Baywatch
The show that turned Pamela Anderson into an icon, Baywatch enjoyed a 13-year run and has seen several reboots and film adaptations over the years. Anderson’s ascension into stardom due to her role on Baywatch may have some forgetting that Hasselhoff was the show’s primary focus. Hasselhoff appeared in 220 episodes of the iconic action drama as lifeguard Mitch Buchannon. He reportedly earns up to $4 million per year in residuals.
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Lucille Ball — I Love Lucy
The late, great Lucille Ball is an icon who is often credited for starting the trend of actors being paid residuals for reruns. I Love Lucy was the most watched show on television for a majority of its run during the 1950s. It catapulted both Ball and then-husband (both on-screen and off) Desi Arnaz into celebrity status overnight. In terms of reimbursement, the couple owned the rights to the show (as opposed to the network owning the rights) greatly increasing their earnings. It’s reported that Ball earned up to $17 million per year off of reruns.
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Patrick Stewart — Star Trek – The Next Generation
The Star Trek fandom may be shocked to hear the stars of The Next Generation have yet to receive any residual payments for their roles on the popular show. That includes Patrick Stewart who played main character Jean-Luc Picard for the entire 178-episode run. Though the cast hadn’t seen any gratuity for the original show, the popularity of The Next Generation produced several spinoffs including 2020’s Star Trek: Picard. Stewart has reprised his role as the titular character in Picard, which will air its third season sometime in 2023.
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Nancy Cartwright — The Simpsons
If you’ve ever watched any animated television shows or cartoons, you’ve likely heard Nancy Cartwright at one point or another. Cartwright has been a titan in the voiceover business for over 40 years, and has voiced some of the most iconic characters in animation. For The Simpsons, Cartwright lends her voices to a handful of memorable characters — including both Bart and Maggie Simpson. She also plays the role of school bully Nelson Muntz, son of the police chief Ralph Wiggum, and the neighbor twins Todd and Rod Flanders. Cartwright reportedly earns around $20 million per year for her role on the show which is set to air its 34th season later this year.
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David Hyde Pierce — Frasier
Originally a spin-off based on a character from Cheers, the Kelsey Grammer-led Frasier became a television juggernaut in its own right. Considered one of the smartest shows in history, Frasier first aired in 1993 and went for 11 seasons with 264 episodes in total. David Hyde Pierce played the role of Grammer’s younger brother on the show, Niles Crane. The Yale University graduate earned four Emmy’s for Best Supporting Actor while on the show. In total, Frasier is said to have earned over $40 million in reruns since its original airing.
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Ted Danson — Cheers
Ted Danson is still raking in the cash for his role in the iconic sitcom Cheers. Danson plays Sam Malone, a womanizing bartender who was formerly an MLB relief pitcher. The show initially didn’t take off as the creators had planned. In fact, Cheers was nearly cancelled after the first season. However, it eventually became one of the biggest programs on television with 11 seasons and 275 episodes. Danson reportedly makes up to $5 million per year for the reruns.
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Jon Cryer — Two and a Half Men
One of the original three cast members (along with Charlie Sheen and Angus T. Jones), Jon Cryer earns a hefty paycheck for his work on the popular sitcom Two and a Half Men. Even after Sheen left the show, that didn’t stop Cryer from being one of the highest paid actors on television. Cryer starred in 262 episodes during the show’s 13-year run and earned two Primetime Emmy’s along the way. The show is still airing reruns despite ending in 2015, netting Cryer around $20 million yearly in residuals.
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