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Today He’s Living off Reruns, the Number Will Shock You

Being a TV star is a pretty sweet gig. Ok, that’s probably a pretty obvious statement. But beyond all the money you make from each episode of your show, and beyond all the perks of being famous, there’s the serious bank you can make from royalties. Hit shows that end up in syndication can be a major windfall for the stars featured in them, sometimes even more than they made on their original acting work. In this video, we’re taking a look at the residual deals of some of the top names in TV. So stick around, as Facts Verse presents: Today He’s Living Off Reruns, the Number Will Shock You!

Jon Cryer – Two and A Half Men

Two and a Half Men was a behemoth of a sitcom that ran for 12 seasons. For most of those, it featured the trio of Jon Cryer, Charlie Sheen, and Angus T. Jones. And as the show got more and more popular, the stars were able to renegotiate their salaries to include some major bumps up. While the amount that Jon Cryer made per episode varied throughout the run, at the highest point he was raking in $620,000 per episode. That’s some serious dough! Eventually, Charlie Sheen left the show, but it was able to keep running with Ashton Kutcher taking over as the co-lead. Eventually the show came to a close after 12 seasons. But these stars didn’t have to get another job to keep earning money from acting. They were all getting serious money with the show in syndication. It’s said that Jon Cryer, for example, gets a portion of the rerun money, up to $20 million. That’s not too shabby a paycheck for work you already did years ago, and were already paid handsomely for.

Charlie Sheen – Two and A Half Men

Charlie Sheen, Cryer’s costar for much of the series, had a slightly different path to his rerun money, though he ended up with a huge score. As many of us remember, Sheen had a very public breakdown in 2011. He was dealing with issues of alcohol and drug abuse, and was blasting the people who made the show, among other very odd behavior. As a result, he was fired from Two and a Half Men. Despite this wild situation, Sheen was still entitled to his share of royalties when the show sent into syndication. He chose a slightly different route, opting to sell his rights to the royalties. He netted $27 million for that sale, which is another sweet payday for work he already did, especially considering how much he badmouthed the people in charge of getting him all that money in the first place!

The Simpsons Cast

The Simpsons is perhaps the most enduring show ever on television, as it is airing it’s 34th season as of 2023. And its cast of voice actors have made oodles of money over the years, as the show gained and then retained its popularity. Originally, the main cast was raking in $30K per episode. Which is already an incredible score, considering they only have to work a few hours every week. That number was bumped up to $50K at one point, then $100K for the 13th and 14th seasons. It was followed by a bump to $125K for season 15. A few seasons later, the got bumped up to between $250 and $360K mark. Though at that point, FOX decided that each season would have one fewer episode, so that offset some of the bump up. But they weren’t done. At one point they each demanded $500K per episode, but that was negotiated down to $440K. Later on, they were told that their salary demands made it less likely that the show would continue. So they all agreed to a slight pay cut, back down to $300K per episode. All in all, these voice actors are rich beyond their wildest dreams. And while they’ve made a lot more in salaries, they also negotiated a $10 million payout for reruns too. It’s potentially the best job in Hollywood!

The Friends Cast

The salaries for the cast of the beloved sitcom, Friends, was a highly publicized topic while the show was on the air. They all began at a measly $22,500 per episode rate. That number was slowly negotiated up as the show became more of a hit, and as the cast members became more and more famous. They were all equally essential to the show, and NBC knew it. So when the cast came in with demands of $1 million per episode for the final two seasons, the network knew they had to shell out the cash. They all made a cool million for all of those season 9 and 10 episodes. But that certainly wasn’t the end of it. Each cast member reportedly earns $20 million EVERY YEAR on reruns of Friends. Which isn’t super surprising, considering how popular it remains, and how often it’s been shown on various networks in the last 20 years.

Tim Allen – Home Improvement

Tim Allen was a struggling comedian when he was cast in Home Improvement. He’d had a rough go for the years prior, even serving jail time when he got busted for selling cocaine. But his fortunes changed completely when he landed the role of Tim Taylor. The show was actually based in part on his stand up comedy, so it was fair to say the role was never going to anyone else. But he and his stellar cast helped make it a monster hit for years. Over the course of 8 seasons, Home Improvement consistently had high ratings, and they paid the cast accordingly. On top of his large salary – he was said to have been bumped up to $1.25 million towards the end of the run – he has reportedly earned a nice $18 million on rerun royalties from the show. And when you add that to the success of his other projects, like Toy Story and Last Man Standing, Allen is sitting on more money than he’d ever need. Certainly enough that he’ll never again have to resort to selling drugs!

Mayim Bialik -The Big Bang Theory

Mayim Bialik’s career is nothing short of amazing, having starred in multiple hit TV shows. First, she broke out as Blossom in the show “Blossom.” It made her a star, along with costar Joey Lawrence, and it ran for 5 seasons. No doubt by the end of it, she was making a hefty chunk of change per episode. And often, when someone is the lead on a show that ends, they try, unsuccessfully to find another project that will bring them back into the spotlight. But Mayim managed to join onto one of the biggest sitcoms of all time: The Big Bang Theory. And that’s when she started raking in the Big (bang) bucks. Despite not being one of the leads of the show, Mayim was an integral part of it, and she ended up earning $200K per episode. This actually was partially the result of other cast members agreeing to take a pay cut, so that Mayim’s salary could get bumped up. Since Big Bang Theory ended, she’s gone on to do incredible things such as get a PhD in neuroscience, as well as become one of the hosts of Jeopardy. And she takes in a nice chunk of change from Big Bang Theory reruns too, earning approximately $10 million a year in royalties. Now that’s how you make a bank account blossom.

Bob Denver – Gilligan’s Island

Gilligan’s Island star Bob Denver might not be the first person you think of when it comes to raking in the royalties. And yet, his work on that show paid HUGE dividends in the years after it aired. It’s also wild when you consider the fact that the show wasn’t a particularly huge hit when it was on the air. It finished up in 1967 after only three seasons. And yet, when it went into syndication, it took off. It became a hit show and a touchstone of American pop culture. While Bob wasn’t making the big bucks while the show was on the air, the intense popularity of it in the years since ended up making him a ton of money in roytalties. Bob passed away in 2005, but until then, he reportedly made $100 million dollars in the 50 years after the show stopped its original run. His estate still receives his royalty check from it, so whomever was the beneficiary of his estate is certainly making a lot of cash for Bob’s work from the 1960’s.

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David – Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David set out to create a project for NBC that Jerry would star in, based on Jerry’s stand up routine, and not much else. They were able to get it made, and the show was nearly cancelled in the first season due to low ratings. Thankfully for all of us, the brass at NBC decided to give it a second chance. And it took off like few shows ever have.

Jerry started off around around $20K an episode, which was certainly more than he was making at nighclubs, doing stand up. So he was probably psyched. Of course, nowadays he probably won’t get out of bed for $20K. As the show started to take off, he was able to renegotiate his salary up and up. He soon hit the $100K mark, then the $300 and $400K mark per episode, until he finally landed on $1 million per episode in the final season. It’s not known what Larry David was originally making per episode with the original run, but we do know about the whopping deals he’s made since. In 1998, the show was sold for syndication and he netted $250 million for the rights. It has since been sold a couple more times – once to Hulu, and recently to Netflix – and those have netted Larry $155 million more.

Jerry and Larry still make a ton of money from royalties every year as well. It’s reported that they each make a staggering $110 million every year from Seinfeld reruns alone.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Were any of these numbers surprising to you? Let us know in the comments section below!

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