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3 TV Star Salaries — and What Their Characters Would Earn in Real Life


TV Guide has an interesting roundup of TV star salaries, the angle being, "They just don't pay them like they used to." (Click for full list and awesome use of the Norma Desmond "the pictures got small" quote.) But before you shed a tear for the stars of your favorite shows, let's take a look at how much they're earning, compared to the characters they play.

1. Mark Harmon, NCIS – $500,000 per episode

Special Agent in the real-life Naval Criminal Investigative Services: $56,000 annually, plus locality rates.

It’s true that Leroy Jethro Gibbs is the senior special agent in charge, but we’re betting that overtime alone wouldn’t make up the difference between his pay packet and that of the actor who plays him.

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2. Ellen Pompeo, “Grey’s Anatomy” – $350,000 per episode

Surgeon in Seattle, Wash.: Up to $177,000 per year

Hugh Laurie famously said that he got paid more for pretending to be a doctor than his father did for actually being one, and a comparison of Dr. Meredith Grey’s paycheck with Ellen Pompeo’s bears that out. The actress earns twice the fictitious doc’s salary in just one episode.

3. Jesse Tyler Ferguson, “Modern Family” – $175,000 per episode

Lawyer in Los Angeles, Calif.: $49,247 – $163,525 annually.

The cast of “Modern Family” recently got raises to $175,000 per episode, which means that, any way you slice it, Jesse Tyler Ferguson is making his character Mitchell Pritchett’s salary many times over each year.

More From PayScale:

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Millennials’ Job Prospects Aren’t So Bad After All [infographic]

Is Self-Employment Less Risky Than Getting a Job?


(Photo Credit: tasselflower/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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