Top 10 Highest-Paid TV Actresses in the World (2018)

Kaley Cuoco, Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch attending the 2014 People's Choice Awards Kathy Hutchins /

Following the uproar for equal pay within small-screen acting, the highest-paid TV actresses have managed to make a combined income of $168.5 million (£131 million) compared to last year’s $156.5 million (£121.9 million), leading the way to ending the gender pay gap once and for all – and proving that these talented ladies are more than just a pretty face!

To honour these powerful women, who have inspired millions of other women to follow in their footsteps, we’ve highlighted them in our very own list of the highest paid TV actresses in 2018.

10. Pauley Perrette

Pauley Perrette attending the 2015 GLAAD Media Awards in Los AngelesKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $8.5 million (£6.6 million)

Pauley Perrette, better known as forensic scientist Abby Sciuto on the hit TV series NCIS., recently threw in the total following a 16-year stint on the show – making some serious allegations upon her departure. Perrette suggests in a series of tweets that the reason she decided to leave the show was down to ‘multiple physical assaults’, though she hasn’t specified any names.

Her paycheque in Forbes’s scoring period was enough to land her a spot on the list of the 10 highest-paid TV actresses of 2018. It’s unknown where the bartender-turned-actress will be next year, but we hope a guest appearance as Abby is on the cards!

9. Claire Danes

Actress Claire Danes attending the Tiffany & Co 2017 Blue Cook Collection GalaDebby Wong /

Earnings: $9 million (£7 million)

The Homeland actress returns to the list after four years, thanks to her salary from the CIA-based thriller. Best known for portraying CIA officer Carrie Mathison on Homeland, Claire Danes returns to the list after four years, thanks to her salary from the action-thriller, leading the show for an eighth and final season in 2019.

The Emmy Award winner also found huge success on the big screen, too, with roles in Little Women alongside Christian Bale, Romeo + Juliet, Les Misérables and Terminator 3: Rise of the Machine.

8. Kerry Washington

Kerry Washington attending the 48th NAACP Image Awards in Los AngelesJamie Lamor Thompson /

Earnings: $11 million (£8.6 million)

Kerry Washington is known as the first black female lead in television, portraying Olivia Pope in the hit drama series Scandal and cashing in one a multimillion-dollar paycheque following the show’s conclusion earlier this year.

With the success of her production company Simpson Street, her appearance in blockbusters such as Save the Last Dance, Django Unchained and The Last King of Scotland), as well as her endorsement deals with Neutrogena and Movado, it’s safe to say that Washington will be making an appearance on the 2019 list, too!

6. Melissa Rauch (tie)

Melissa Rauch attending the Kathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $12 million (£9.3 million)

Melissa Raunch ties with her costar Mayim Bialik as the sixth-highest-paid TV actress, her first time on the list as The Big Bang Theory nears its conclusion in 2019. Raunch is best known as playing Dr Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz on the show and is also famous for her work in stand-up comedy.

As the series comes to a close, Melissa has taken the stage again to produce comedy sketches at the Upright Citizen Brigade Theatre and has also lent her voice to animations like Sofia the First.

6. Mayim Bialik (tie)

Mayim Bialik attending the 2017 PeopleKathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $12 million (£9.3 million)

Following her male costars and Kaley Cuoco taking a pay cut, Mayim Bialik (along with Rauch) was able to make the cut as a high earner thanks to her increased salary. Mayim is best known for playing Dr Amy Farrah Fowler on The Big Bang Theory and even made a guest appearance on TV drama Beauty and the Beast back in 1987.

Mayim has expressed her sadness on her blog regarding the impending conclusion of The Big Bang Theory, but she’s sure to stun us all with her next move in 2019, whatever it may be!

5. Julie Bowen

Julie Bowen attending the Inspiration Awards Benefitting Step Up in Los AngelesDFree /

Earnings: $12.5 million (£9.7 million)

Julie Bowen made most of her earnings portraying Claire Dunphy on ABC’s hit sitcom Modern Family, but her appearance alongside Melissa McCarthy (one of 2018’s highest-paid actresses) in Life of the Party also contributed to her paycheque.

With years of experience on the small screen, it’s no surprise that the talented actress is among the Top 5 on this list. She’s previously had recurring roles in ER, Lost, Weeds and Boston Legal.

4. Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay attending the No More PSA Launch in Los Angeless_bukley /

Earnings: $13 million (£10.1 million)

Mariska Hargitay portrays Lieutenant Olivia Benson on the mega-series Law and Order: Special Victims Unit and managed to rack up a hefty income from over 20 years on the show. The only original cast member since its debut in 1999 also serves as an executive producer on the show, too!

Having followed in the footsteps of her late mother Jayne Mansfield, Hargitay was destined to succeed in film and television. She started her career with a recurring role on ER before she scored her biggest gig on Law and Order.

3. Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo attending the Kathy Hutchins /

Earnings: $23.5 million (£18.3 million)

Ellen Pompeo’s leading role as attending general surgeon Dr Meredith Grey on ABC’s hit drama series Grey’s Anatomy for the past 14 years (and her recent dispute demanding a higher salary) helped her cement her place on the list of the world’s highest-paid TV actresses.

According to a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Pompeo hinted her days on Grey’s and in front of the camera may be coming to an end, saying that her next project will be behind the scenes.

2. Kaley Cuoco

Kaley Cuoco attending the 2013 Grammy Awards in Los AngelesDFree /

Earnings: $24.5 million (£19 million)

Actress Kaley Cuoco started her career on the family sitcom 8 Simple Rules, but her role as Penny in The Big Bang Theory has taken her success to new heights. Being the only highly paid female on the cast, Kaley took a pay cut of about $100,000 (£77,750) per episode, along with her male costars, to boost Rauch and Bialik’s income.

Having starred in films like Hop and The Wedding Ringer, we may see more of Kaley on the big screen as the popular TV show approaches its end.

1. Sofia Vergara

Sofia Vergara attending the movie premiere of DFree /

Earnings: $42.5 million (£33 million)

The Colombian actress has been reigning top spot on the highest-paid TV actresses list for six years in a row, and it’s not hard to see why! Following her portrayal of Gloria Delgado-Pritchett on the hit series Modern Family, Vergara managed to score a number of box office gigs, including Hot Pursuit with Reese Weatherspoon and The Emoji Movie.

The actress-turned-businesswoman also receives a large sum from her licensing deals with SharkNinja and Rooms to Go, as well as her personal line of perfumes.

Which TV actress on the list do you love the most? Let us know in the comments section below!

If you loved 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 actresses, based on pre-tax earnings between 1 June 2017 and 1 June 2018. Currency conversions are based on rates supplied by on 12 November 2018.