Every actor who lands a role on a popular series considers themselves lucky, but thanks to residuals, they can continue to be paid for their work long after a series has stopped airing new episodes. Fans might be surprised that some actors can live well off of just their residuals, while others aren't paid more than a few dollars for their former jobs. And thanks to streaming services, many actors don't receive any residuals at all for some of the most successful series that have ever aired.
Kelsey Grammer From "Frasier," $13 Million Per Year
Kelsey Grammer really hit the jackpot when his beloved "Cheers" character received his own spin-off series "Frasier." The spin-off aired for an unbelievable 11 seasons and thanks to Grammer's role as executive producer and director of many episodes, he receives some pretty sizable residual checks each month, which have by some estimates, surmounted $13 million since the series went off the air in 2004.
Ray Romano From "Everybody Loves Raymond," $18 Million Per Year
"Everbody Loves Raymond" was on the air for 9 seasons and ended in 2005, but many people started watching the series long after it wrapped up. That's why Ray Romano still gets a ton of money in residuals each year. That and he was an executive producer on the series, so he is paid significantly more than cast members who only acted on the show.
Bob Saget From "Full House," $2,000 Per Year
Bob Saget was everywhere in the '90s. Not only did he star as Danny Tanner on the beloved sitcom "Full House," but he also hosted "America's Funniest Home Videos" at its peak and had a successful stand-up comedy career. Thanks to all of this, Saget was paid more for his work on the series than other members of the cast, and because of that he also receives more in residuals each year.
George Clooney From "ER," $13 Million Per Year
George Clooney was a series regular on "ER" for five years and his star power is what got many people to tune in to the show in the first place. Clooney received two Emmy nominations for his role, which helped catapult him to major stardom and thanks to the hours he put into the hour long drama, he still receives some pretty hefty residuals.
Jerry Seinfeld From "Seinfeld," $110 Million Per Year
Jerry Seinfeld's residuals for his popular 1990s series may seem steep, but at the time that the series was on the air, Seinfeld was making an incredible $5 million per episode. He was also a writer and creator of the series, which means that he put in more hours than the rest of the cast, but that was well reflected on his paychecks. Most people would happily never work again with that kind of income still coming in, but Jerry continues to perform and work on television.
Hank Azaria From "The Simpsons," $10 Million Per Year
Hank Azaria has been acting on "The Simpsons" since its premiere in 1989, playing popular characters like Moe, Apu, Chief Wiggum and the Comic Book Guy. Although Azaria no longer plays Apu as of 2020, he still appears on the show regularly and is paid well for his current and former appearances. It doesn't look like the animated series is going anywhere anytime soon, so this number will only go up in years to come.
Jim Parsons From "The Big Bang Theory," $10 Million Per Year
Many people were stunned to hear that the main cast members of "The Big Bang Theory" would be receiving $1 million per episode for their work on the show, but their income didn't stop after the series ended. Thanks to the show continuing to air frequently in reruns on television, the cast still gets nice residual checks every month, which almost amount to how much they were making when the show was still on the air.
Alan Alda From "M*A*S*H*," $1 Million Per Year
Alan Alda was on "M*A*S*H*" for 11 years and because it was one of the most popular series of its time, the cast cut a great deal with the network for future residuals. The series finale was viewed by over 125 million people when it aired and the series continues to have loyal viewers. Alda also directed quite a few episodes, which ups his monthly residual checks significantly.
Ed O’Neill From "Married With Children," $10 Million Per Year
Ed O'Neill should be known as the King of sitcoms because thanks to his fatherly roles on "Married... With Children" and "Modern Family," he has become a staple of American households for generations. And from "Married... With Children" alone, O'Neill still makes a significant amount in residuals, which have sadly started to wane due to streaming services. Thankfully, O'Neill is still working and his career doesn't seem to be slowing down any time soon.
Maureen McCormick From "The Brady Bunch," $0 Per Year
"The Brady Bunch" is still airing in reruns, so one would assume that the main cast all earns a living based on their residuals alone. That's sadly not the case due to deals with the network at the time on the series' airing. The cast have tried and failed to renegotiate these deals in recent years because of the continued popularity of the series. But they are paid if the series is shown on other series or in movies.
Betty White From "The Golden Girls," $3 Million Per Year
"The Golden Girls" finale aired in 1992, and even though network executives thought that the show wouldn't last when it first premiered, the series was on for seven years and continues to be shown in reruns on television today. Maybe that's why the cast was able to secure excellent residual rates, which continue even after most of the actresses from the series have passed away.
David Schwimmer From "Friends," $20 Million Per Year
The "Friends" cast reached an incredible deal with their network in the '90s when they negotiated that if their salaries were not raised, they would all quit the series. Thanks to this bold move, all six main cast members soon made $1 million per episode while the series was on the air. The show has continued to be a hit, being one of the few to earn its actors excellent residuals from streaming services, like HBO Max, which paid out $425 million for the exclusive rights to air the series.
Johnny Galecki From "The Big Bang Theory," $10 Million Per Year
Fans of "The Big Bang Theory" will be pleased to hear that the cast still earn a good salary from the series years after its finale. And fans of the show are probably also well aware that the spin-off series "Young Sheldon" is in its sixth season, so the stars of that show may soon be earning residual income for their work as well.
Alex Borstein From "Family Guy," $10 Million Per Year
Alex Borstein has called her role on the popular animated series a "freaking gift" in recent years, which must be due in part to the residuals she continues to earn. "Family Guy" is currently in its 21st season, which means that Borstein continues to earn a salary as well as monthly residuals. Because the series is animated, Borstein likely records her lines in a studio or at home, meaning that she could have made this fortune entirely in her pajamas!
David Caruso From "CSI Miami," $100,000 Per Year
David Caruso has been a main stay on crime procedurals for decades, and his role as Lieutenant Horatio Caine on "CSI: Miami" is still paying off big. Caruso appeared on the show for ten years from 2002 to 2012 and he was the only actor to appear on all 232 episodes of the series. Thanks to his time on the show, he still receives incredible residuals and he hasn't done any acting work since the series wrapped.
Jennifer Aniston From "Friends," $20 Million Per Year
Jennifer Aniston stole audiences hearts when she premiered as Rachel Green on "Friends" and thanks to her chemistry with the rest of the cast, millions of people still watch the series every year. Aniston took the role after declining a spot on the cast of the sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Live," which wouldn't have paid her nearly as well after so many years.
Matthew Perry From "Friends," $20 Million Per Year
Each cast member from "Friends" makes an incredible amount in residuals each year, but thanks to other opportunities, none of them are begging for work. That includes Chandler himself, Matthew Perry, who signed a seven-figure book deal for his upcoming autobiography. The book chronicles his time on the series, as well as his lower points which include 65 stints in rehab facilities over the years.
Carol Burnett From "The Carol Burnett Show," $0.01 Per DVD Sold
One may think that having your name in the title of your show means that you'd make some big bucks when residuals come rolling in, but that isn't always the case. Due to music licensing fees and copyright restrictions that have caused the series to be cut down in some markets, Burnett takes home just one cent from each DVD sale of her popular series and sometimes even less than that when reruns are aired on TV.
Tim Allen From "Home Improvement," Up To $18 Million
Tim Allen has recently expressed some desire to make a "Home Improvement" reboot, which would undeniably help resurrect the payments he used to make for the original series. Since the show has gone off the air, it's estimated that Allen has taken home over $18 million in monthly residual payments, but the amount he earns has gone down over time since reruns air less frequently on television.
Courteney Cox From "Friends," $20 Million Per Year
Courteney Cox was arguably the most famous member of the "Friends" cast when the series first premiered, and although she was originally destined to play Rachel, it turns out that there was no one better suited to play her quirky and reliable friend Monica. Cox, like the rest of the cast, continues to act frequently, but doesn't really need to thanks to the incredible amount that she makes each year due to residuals.
Ted Danson From "Cheers," Up To $5 Million Per Year
"Cheers" aired for 11 years on NBC and Ted Danson frequently thanks the series for jump starting his acting career. He has stated in interviews that every job that came after "Cheers" was thanks in part to how beloved the sitcom was. And Danson still gets paid royally for his portrayal of the bartender Sam Malone. At one point he was taking home about $5 million per year in residuals, although that figure may not be accurate today.
David Hyde Pierce From "Frasier," Up To $40 Million
David Hyde Pierce was cast as Niles Crane, Frasier's brother and fellow psychiatrist, thanks mostly to his uncanny resemblance to Kelsey Grammer. Pierce did not even have to audition for the role, which earned him not only 11 Emmy nominations and four wins, but also an incredible residual salary for years to come. Pierce now stars on the HBO series "Julia," but it's anyone's guess if he will appear in the new "Frasier" revival series set to hit Paramount+ in 2023.
Patrick Stewart From "Star Trek: The Next Generation," $0 Per Year
"Star Trek: The Next Generation" had a budget of over $1 million per episode, but none of that has gone to paying its stars much in residuals. Patrick Stewart has stated that he never received any residuals from the series, but earned millions for his appearances in subsequent "Star Trek" films. He is also still making money from the franchise thanks to his new series "Star Trek: Picard" so maybe he has made a good deal after all.
David Hasselhoff From "Baywatch," $4 Million Per Year
David Hasselhoff was the face of "Baywatch" when it aired from 1989 to 2000, but not everyone knows that he was also a producer of the series for many years. He invested his own money in making the series when it was cancelled by NBC after just one season. The show was then nationally syndicated for the rest of its 11 year run, proving Hasselhoff's investment to be a good one.
Fred Savage From "The Wonder Years," $0 Per Year
Fred Savage doesn't get any residuals from "The Wonder Years" due to ABC's ownership of the series, and that may be why he isn't open to a cast reunion anytime soon. In a recent interview, Savage dismissed ideas of a reunion and said, "The show was about a time in your life. The show was about this finite moment in your life that has a beginning and an end. You can’t really go back to it."
Mark Harmon From "NCIS," Up To $60 Million
"NCIS" is one of the longest running series on television, so its no question that Mark Harmon is paid well for his work. The series, which is still running in its 19th season, also frequently airs reruns. This job alone has made Harmon a multi-millionaire, but he still works on other series like the "NCIS" spin-off "NCIS: New Orleans," for which he also serves as executive producer.
Matt LeBlanc From "Friends," $20 Million Per Year
Matt LeBlanc, like all of his fellow cast mates, recently appeared in a reunion special together, which was nothing short of a big payout. Each member of the main cast took home $2,500,000 for their appearance on the HBO Max special. Besides LeBlanc's residuals and his earnings from newer series like "Episodes" and "Man with a Plan," he won't be short on cash any time soon.
Tracey Ullman From "The Tracey Ullman Show," $5,000 Per Year
"The Tracey Ullman Show" won 10 Emmy awards when it was on the air from 1987 to 1990, but Ullman, who was the first British woman to have her own series in Britain and in the United States, fought to earn her pay. Ullman entered a legal battle in the '90s with the Fox network over the animated series "The Simpsons," which began as a segment on her show. Ultimately she was rewarded millions but no longer receives residuals from "The Simpsons."
Lucille Ball From "I Love Lucy," Up To $17 Million Per Year
Without Lucille Ball and her husband Desi Arnaz, there may be no residuals in television whatsoever. Ball and Arnaz owned their series outright, so they received all revenue from the show instead of the network. Thanks to their smarts, reruns were able to be shown because they kept recordings of the series, which wasn't common practice back in the '50s.