We do not know who coined the word ‘The Small Screen” for television. At the time of coining the word, the word might have been apt. Under today circumstances, we can restrict this word when comparing the physical sizes alone. As far as popularity and earning capacity is concerned, the TV actors and actresses are way ahead of their counterparts on the “Big Screen.”
In terms of popularity, the TV soaps have a greater reach and a bigger audience. Hence, practically every household knows them. With the spread of the satellite and the internet TV, these names have become familiar elsewhere in the world as well.
These actors attract a lot of commercial attention as well. One can see them endorsing the most famous products. These endorsements have made them more popular. We shall look at the list of the Top 10 Highest Paid American TV Actors active today. Kindly note that we are listing their names in terms of the amount they earn per episode. Some of these TV serials continue for years with more than a hundred episodes. We leave it to your imagination as to what could be their earnings under these circumstances.
Here are the top 10 Highest Paid American TV Actors in 2017-2018
10. Ellen Pompeo (Grey’s Anatomy): $400,000 per episode
At No. 10 we have Ellen Kathleen Pompeo, an American actress and producer. Making her debut in the NBC’s legal drama, ‘Law & Order’, she has appeared in various other TV serials such as Strangers with Candy, Strong Medicine, and Friends. She has acted in many films such as Catch Me If You can, and others. However, she earns this spot in the list because of her memorable role as Dr. Meredith Grey in the TV serial, ‘Grey’s Anatomy’. This serial is on the air since 2005. She charges an astronomical $400,000 per episode.
9. Dwayne Johnson (Ballers): $400,000 per episode
Who does not know this actor at No. 9? He is no other than Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, the highest paid actor in Hollywood today. With films such as The Scorpion King and The Fast & Furious series, Dwayne Johnson towers over every other actor in the world. However, on the TV screen, he is at the No. 9 position charging $ 400,000 per episode for his role in Ballers. The Rock is a multifaceted personality gracing the TV screens every other day with his histrionics in the WWE. Should we say more about this handsome hulk?
8. Claire Danes (Homeland): $450,000 per episode
The lure of the so-called small screen is big, one should say. Otherwise, why would an actor of the caliber of Claire Catherine Danes choose to appear on TV? She is a recipient of three Emmy Awards, four Golden Globe Awards, and many more other awards. Making her debut on TV in the series, Law & Order, she is more famous for her role of Carrie Mathinson in the TV soap opera, Homeland. As per reports, she charges $ 450,000 per episode for portraying this role in the serial on the air since 2011. This makes her occupy the No. 8 spot in this list.
7. Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington (Game of Thrones): $ 500,000 per episode
At No. 7 we have a pair, Emilia Clarke and Kit Harrington, both earning $ 500,000 per episode each for their histrionics in the mega serial, ‘Game of Thrones’. Whenever we have two people as close as Kit and Emilia are in the series, sparks are bound to fly. These sparks nearly spelled the doom of Kit’s real life relationship with Rose Leslie. This series has also won the pair of kit and Emilia the chance to endorse the products of Dolce and Gabbana.
6. Kevin Spacey (House of Cards): $500,000 per episode
At No. 6 we have a veteran of sorts, Kevin Spacey Fowler. Having acted in numerous films, some of which have gone on to win the Academy Awards, he has bagged some of his own as well such ‘The Usual Suspects’ and the ‘American Beauty’. An excellent TV host, he has hosted Saturday Night Live twice. Reportedly charging $ 500,000 per episode for his role in the House of Cards, Kevin Spacey is a fit entrant at No. 6 on this list.
5. Mark Harmon (NCIS): $525,000 per episode
A veteran TV and film actor, Mark Harmon is a multi-talented individual. In addition to being a good actor, he is a football player of repute as well. Some of his memorable roles include that of the SS special agent Simon Donovan in The Wild West for which he won an Emmy Award nomination. However, he has made a mark with his role of Leroy Jethro Gibbs in the TV serial NCIS. This serial is on the air since 2003. Imagine his earnings when you consider that he charges $ 525,000 per episode today. This figure cements his spot at No. 5 in this list.
4. Lauren Graham (Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life): $750,000 per episode
Renowned for her skill of speaking tremendously fast, Lauren Helen Graham is famous for her portrayal of Lorelai Gilmore on the TV series, Gilmore Girls. She forms an excellent bond with Alexis Bledel, her co-star in the series. She is an accomplished author as well, having published her memoir, Talking as Fast as I can – Gilmore Girls to Gilmore Girls. Earning as much as $ 750,000 per episode, she is among the highest paid TV actors on the scene today. She occupies the No. 4 spot on this list.
3. Alexis Bledel (Gilmore Girls – A Year in the Life): $750,000 per episode
One of the most popular TV serials in the US, Gilmore Girls figures a second time in this list. Many actors in this serial have gone on to fetch various awards. Kimberley Alexis Bledel, portraying the role of Rory Gilmore is one such actor. She formed an excellent pairing with Lauren Graham who played the role of Rory’s mother. In addition Alexis is an accomplished film actor as well having played the role of a prostitute convincingly in the film, Sin City. She charges an equal amount of $ 750,000 per episode making her one of the highest paid actors in the industry.
2. Meryl Streep (The Jinx): $825,000 per episode
One of the best actresses of her time, Meryl Streep can lay claim to be one of the most graceful actors to grace the Hollywood screens. In addition, she has a successful second innings in the form of excellent roles in TV serials. You can judge the importance that the industry gives to the TV serials when you see actors of the caliber of Meryl Streep consenting to act in this medium. Mind you, she has more Oscar nominations than any other actor in the history of Hollywood. She has won a hat-trick of the Academy Awards. Charging $ 825,000 per episode for her role in The Jinx, she is among the highest paid individual actors on the small screen.
1. Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Galecki (The Big Bang Theory): $1 million per episode
The top spot in this list goes to Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, and Johnny Galecki for their roles in The Big Bang Theory. This is one of the most popular shows on CBS. The chemistry between the three actors is incredible. It is no wonder that they charge $ 1 million per episode. The popularity of the series allows the producer to cater to their demands as well. They deserve the top spot in this list wholeheartedly.
When you go through the list, you can see that there are some big names such as Dwayne Johnson and Meryl Streep. This should prove that the name ‘small screen’ is a misnomer today. The popularity of the TV industry can rival or even exceed that of the main Hollywood film industry.