Top 10 Highest-Paid TV Actors

Ed O'Neil And Ty Burrell ABC via Daily Mail Online

We all know how well-paid movie stars are, but we often forget that TV actors are high earners, too!

With total combined earnings of $181 million (£137.6 million) over a 12-month period, these 10 famous faces are laughing straight to the bank, with some earning up to $1 million (£760,000) an episode!

What makes these men even more admirable is that some took a pay cut from 2017 to ensure that their female costars received an equal salary, putting an end to the gender pay gap in television!

To honour these TV legends, we’ve highlighted them in our very own list of the top 10 highest-paid TV actors!

10. Andrew Lincoln

Andrew LincolnKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $11 million (£8.4 million)

Best known for portraying Rick Grimes in The Walking Dead, Andrew Lincoln starts the list of the highest-paid actors in television at Number 10. The British actor’s recent departure from the show (he made his last appearance on 4 November 2018), however, it doesn’t mean we won’t get to see Grimes again! In fact, AMC announced that Grimes would return in three TV movies, which will explore his story following the events of his final appearance in The Walking Dead. In other words, we can expect to see Lincoln’s name in next year’s list of the highest-paid TV actors!

9. Ty Burrell

Ty BurrellRena Schild /

Earnings: $12 million (£9.1 million)

One of four Modern Family male stars to appear on this list, Ty Burrell is best known for his role as Phil Dunphy, the endearingly inept father-of-three, on the ABC sitcom. Although he took a pay cut to ensure his female costars were paid equally, he still managed to rake in the big bucks thanks to his well-paid endorsement deals with the National Association of Realtors and Gain.

8. Jesse Tyler Ferguson

Jesse Tyler FergusonKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $13 million (£9.9 million)

Jesse Ferguson, who plays Mitchell Pritchett on Modern Family also ranks as one of the highest-paid TV actors in 2018. The five-time Emmy award nominee started his acting career on Broadway but ultimately got his big break on the small screen in 2009.

7. Eric Stonestreet

Eric StonestreetFeatureflash Photo Agency /

Earnings: $13.5 million (£10.3 million)

Eric Stonestreet’s main source of income comes from playing Cam Tucker, the flamboyant and bubbly husband on Mitchell, on Modern Family, earning some $500,000 (£380,000) per episode. He also makes a great deal of money by lending his voice to children’s animated shows and films, such as Sofia the First and The Secret Life of Pets.

6. Ed O’Neill

Ed OKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $14 million (£10.6 million)

Despite popular belief, Ed O’Neill’s acting career isn’t winding down – in fact, the complete opposite holds true! And with his own private projects complementing his Modern Family paycheque – including stock investments, properties, endorsement deals and various retail projects – the American actor seems to be making money left, right and centre.

5. Mark Harmon

Mark HarmonDFree /

Earnings: $19 million (£14.4 million)

Mark Harmon, better known for portraying special agent Leroy Gibbs in the popular crime show NCIS, is one of the best-paid TV actors in the world. Having shied away from a career in football, Harmon decided to set his sights on film and television. The gamble paid off, as he’s enjoyed a long and prosperous career, and was even named People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive in 1986.

3. Simon Helberg (tie)

Simon HelbergDFree /

Earnings: $23.5 million (£17.9 million)

Golden Globe nominee Simon Helberg comes in joint third place with his costar Kunal Nayyar. Helberg practically grew up in Hollywood, with his father Sandy being an actor and his mother Harriet a casting director. Naturally, Helberg followed in their footsteps. He studied theatre at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and went on to guest-star in TV series like Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and Joey, before landing a starring role on the hit sitcom The Big Bang Theory In 2007.

3. Kunal Nayyar (tie)

Kunal NayyarKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $23.5 million (£17.9 million)

British-born actor Kunal Nayyar is best-known for playing Raj Koothrappali on The Big Bang Theory, but he didn’t initially set out to be an actor. It was while studying business in India that we developed a passion for acting after he started taking acting classes and appeared in several plays. He then decided to pursue a degree in acting at Temple University – and, well, the rest is history! Through his rise to stardom, the British-Indian actor also lent his voice to the animated series Sanjay and Craig and Ice Age: Continental Drift.

2. Johnny Galecki

Johnny GaleckiTinseltown /

Earnings: $25 million (£19 million)

Belgian-born American actor Johnny Galecki has been acting since the age of 12 and is best known for his roles as David Healy in Roseanne and physicist Leonard Hofstadter in The Big Bang Theory. In between, he has stared in a number of blockbuster movies, including National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Vanilla Sky and Hancock.

1. Jim Parsons

Jim ParsonsFeatureflash Photo Agency /

Earnings: $26.5 million (£20.1 million)

Taking the top spot is none other than Emmy Award-winner Jim Parsons, who rose to fame for this portrayal of Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory. However, Parsons’ success is largely due to his side projects, including the production and narrative of the Big Bang spin-off, Young Sheldon. The Big Bang Theory is currently running in its twelfth and final season and is scheduled to end in 2019, following Parsons’ decisions to move on from Sheldon and focus on other projects, including a planned return to Broadway.

Who are you surprised to see on, or missing from, this list?

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Did you love this list? Why not check out our list of the highest paid actors, too?


This list was adapted from Forbes’s list of the highest-paid TV actors in 2018, which is based on pre-tax earnings between 1 June 2017 and 1 June 2018. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 7 November 2018.