35 Highest Paid TV Stars of 2015: You Won't Believe Who's #1!

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These days, there are more shows than you can even count.

With all the different networks and means of binging on TV, it's an embarrassment of riches for the fans ... and for the actors and actresses.

Just as the sheer number of television programs grows by the year, the bank accounts of the stars are growing too. By, like, a lot. 

We pay a pretty penny for our entertainment, apparently. Or many pennies. Millions upon millions of them if you want to get technical.

Okay, so technically advertisers and networks pay those pennies, but who's paying the networks and buying the products, you know?

When the principal cast of The Big Bang Theory negotiated $1 million per episode in the not so distant past, that dominated headlines.

And rightfully so. But remarkably enough, Kaley, Johnny and Jim didn't even top the list of the 35 highest paid TV stars of 2015. 

Who does? Proceed to find out. It's a shocker, for sure ...

1. Tatiana Maslany

Tatiana Maslany
Tatiana Maslany plays something like 7? 8? characters on Orphan Black and only makes $50,000 per episode. She should get at least $50,000 per character (because she's effing amazing!) but we're pretty sure her half a million a season paycheck doesn't hurt her feels.

2. Sharon Osbourne

Sharon Osbourne raked in $1 million for The Talk. That's a lot, for sure, and it doesn't take into account any money she might bring in from appearances and judging stints on other shows.

3. Keri Russell

Star of The Americans, Keri Russell, banked a cool $100,000 per episode for the spy drama. In a 13-episode season, that brought her a cool $1.3 million a year.

4. Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, and Lea Michele

Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, and Lea Michele
Before Glee ended, Matthew Morrison, Jane Lynch, and Lea Michele were each bringing home $1.6 million a season. That's $80,000 an episode for those of you who hate math.

5. Peter Dinklage

Tyrion Lannister, aka Peter Dinklage, has the highest salary of any Game of Thrones cast member. He's raking in $150,000 an episode for a total of $1.9 million a season. If he's the next Jon Snow, (read: killed off) maybe this is why.

6. Kerry Washington

Scandal's Kerry Washington is the ONLY cast member to make this list. In 2015, she was paid $80,000 an episode (a straight $2 million) to bring Olivia Pope to life.

7. Andy Cohen

Bravo's Andy Cohen, host of Watch What Happens Live (and referee of every Real Housewives reunion ever) makes $2 million for his nightly celebrity and pop culture snarkfest. That $2 million is a steal for the network.

8. James Spader

James Spader plays Red Reddington on The Blacklist, and for his successful portrayal of a government agent turned criminal turned informant, he walks away with $2.75 million a year.

9. Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgard

Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgard
The three leads from True Blood, Sookie and her vampires, played by Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, and Alexander Skarsgard, tied with James Spader at $2.75 million per season. Their per-ep salary was higher, though, since there were fewer episodes. (10 = $275K per! Maths!)

10. Claire Danes

Claire Danes
Claire Danes is a long way from her days as an awkward loner with eyes for Jared Leto. That girl's all grown and gone and a very talented and handsomely paid woman stands in her place. For her fantastic work on Homeland, Danes makes $3 million a year.

11. Zooey Deschanel

As quirky girl-next-door Jess, Zooey Deschanel outshines and outearns her male costars. She makes $125,000 an episode and $3 million a year. (Plus she's a designer and a musician, too!)

12. Jon Hamm

Jon Hamm
In addition to adding some hardware to his bookshelves, Jon Hamm added $3.5 million to his bank account for paying a mysogynistic ad man on Mad Men. He did not, however, seem to spend any of that money on underwear.

13. Amy Poehler

Amy Poehler
One of the funniest and brightest shining stars in Hollywood, Amy Poehler made $4.4 million in the final season of Parks and Rec.

14. Keith Urban

Not taking a season off, a la Jennifer Lopez, has proven fortuitous for Keith Urban. The American Idol judge made $5 million for his advice and expertise on American Idol season 14 and will make that much (or more) in the singing competition's final season next year.

15. How I Met Your Mother Cast

The principal cast members of How I Met Your Mother negotiated their way into $225,000 an episode deals, meaning they all brought home $5 million for the show's final season. Even though the finale basically ruined the entire series, those checks still got cashed.

16. Modern Family Cast

Modern Family Cast
The cast of Modern Family, minus Ed O'Neill, got into an ugly lawsuit with 20th Century Fox over their salaries. Ty Burrell, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Sofia Vergara, and Jesse Tyler all ended up walking away from the negotiating table with $4.2 million a season in their pockets. Even with the bloodsucking lawyers taking their cut, that's still crazy cash!

17. Ed O'Neill

Ed O'Neill
While his castmates were negotiating their contracts, Ed O'Neill was negotiating one of his own. While they make $4.2 million, he worked out a deal making $4.8 million, or $200,000 an episode. SUCKERS!

18. Patricia Heaton

Patricia Heaton
Patricia Heaton won two Emmys for playing Debra Barone, suburban housewife, on Everybody Loves Raymond and used that to launch herself to a salary of $4.2 million a season for playing ... another suburban housewife on The Middle. Hey, that's good work if you can get it.

19. Tim Allen

Tim Allen, beloved actor behind Tim "the Toolman" Taylor, made the return to primetime sitcoms in 2011 with the launch of Last Man Standing. In just a few short years, he's making $4.2 million a season.

20. David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel

David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel have played partners on Bones for over a decade now. Their equal footing has helped them both bank $5.5 million a season for their work on the forensic drama.

21. Michael Weatherly

Michael Weatherly
He's played Special Agent Anthoy DiNozzo for 13 seasons now, and in that time he's become a beloved part of the NCIS fandom. They're more than happy to see him bring home $5.5 million a season for the role.

22. Rachel Maddow

Rachel Maddow, host of the nightly Rachel Maddow Show on MSNBC, makes $7 million a year for her commentary on American politics and current events.

23. Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, and Patrick Dempsey

Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, and Patrick Dempsey
Not even $7.7 million a year could keep Sandra Oh and Patrick Dempsey on Grey's Anatomy. Ellen Pompeo will have to hold down the fort herself this season. $350,000 a week should make that pretty easy.

24. Blake Shelton

Blake Shelton
Blake Shelton seriously knows how to negotiate. (Or his agent does. Whatever.) For two cycles a year on The Voice, he's bringing home $8 million dollars. (Adam Levine? Not on this list.)

25. Mariska Hargitay

Mariska Hargitay deserves every penny of her $8.8 million salary for playing Olivia Benson on Law & Order: SVU. She's the only original cast member still standing.

26. Jimmy Kimmel

For a guy who used to co-host a show that featured buxom blondes bouncing on a trampoline, Jimmy Kimmel has done well for himself as host of his own nightly talk show. He's raking in $10 million a year. (Adam Carolla? He's a podcaster now.)

27. Mark Harmon

Mark Harmon, star of NCIS, definitely gets paid the salary of a leading man. He makes $11.5 million a season to play Gibbs. (Could NCIS exist without Gibbs? No. Nor could CBS at this point.)

28. Jon Cryer

Jon Cryer
To keep Two and a Half Men going after Charlie Sheen's implosion, Jon Cryer's salary got bumped to $14.3 million for the show's final season. (Just wait ... Ashton Kutcher's coming up ...)

29. Howard Stern

Howard Stern
This salary is probably one of the most ridiculous in all of television. To judge America's Got Talent, Howard Stern makes $15 MILLION. A SEASON. Fifteen. Million. Dollars. To watch people regurgitate random things they've swallowed, spin plates, and whatever else people do for their fifteen minutes of fame.

30. Ashton Kutcher

Probably as a "Thank you for helping us not have to cancel our show," Two and a Half Men showrunners and producers paid Ashton Kutcher $16.5 million in the show's final season. Jon Cryer probably wanted to cry.

31. David Letterman

Before retiring from The Late Show, David Letterman was the second highest paid personality in the late night category bringing home $20 million a year.

32. Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Johnny Galecki, and Jim Parsons

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, Johnny Galecki, and Jim Parsons
It was the contract negotiation heard 'round the world when The Big Bang Theory stars threatened to walk if the network didn't pay them $1 million an episode. They got what they wanted and now make $24 million a season, with the bonus being that their holdout drove up salaries for everyone else on the show.

33. Matt Lauer

Matt Lauer out-earns his other Today Show cohorts so vastly that NONE OF THEM are anywhere on this list. He brings home anywhere from $22 million to $25 million a year for his work with NBC.

34. Jon Stewart

Before handing over the reins of The Daily Show, Jon Stewart was the highest paid man in late night television bringing home between $25 and $30 million dollars a year. He earned every single penny of it too.

35. Judy Sheindlin

Here she is, ladies and gentlemen. THE HIGHEST PAID STAR ON TELEVISION. Judge Judy Sheindlin makes $47 MILLION A YEAR passing down judgments in her courtroom. We know. WE KNOW ... "Shocking" doesn't begin to cover this one.

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TV, Photo Galleries, Tatiana Maslany, Sharon Osbourne, Emily Deschanel, Mark Harmon, Jim Parsons
Keri Russell, Peter Dinklage, Kerry Washington, Andy Cohen, James Spader, Anna Paquin, Stephen Moyer, Alexander Skarsgard, Claire Danes, Zooey Deschanel, Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler, Keith Urban, Tim Allen, David Boreanaz, Michael Weatherly, Rachel Maddow, Ellen Pompeo, Sandra Oh, Patrick Dempsey, Blake Shelton, Mariska Hargitay, Jimmy Kimmel, Jon Cryer, Howard Stern, Ashton Kutcher, David Letterman, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Matt Lauer, Jon Stewart, Judge Judy
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