New to the list this year — due in part to the highly-anticipated reprisal of his role as Fox Mulder – is The X-FilesDavid Duchovny. His $10 million take during the period analyzed by FORBES was enough to tie him for the 13th spot with CBS’ Michael Weatherly, another newcomer. This cycle, Weatherly’s salary came from his role as fan-favorite Tony DiNozzo on NCIS; whether his new Bull) strikes just as much resonance with fans remains to be seen.
venture as Dr. Jason Bull (on CBS’
Helping to clear space for Duchovny and Weatherly were Ashton Kutcher, Jon Cryer, Patrick Dempsey and Simon Baker – all of whom appeared on last year’s list but did not make repeat appearances due to either their shows being cancelled (Kutcher and Cryer’s money-maker was Two and a Half Men, while Baker’s earnings driver was The Mentalist – both of which ended in February 2015) or their character getting killed off (RIP, McDreamy).
While stars of the Tiffany Network dominated the top of the 2016 list, the leading actors from the Alphabet Network dominated the rest of it. The men of Modern Family Ty Burrell, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet – once again benefited from per-episode salaries in the mid-six figures, a cut of the back end profit and varying side projects. Burrell, for instance, starred in an ad campaign for the National Association of Realtors (in-character, no less!); while Ferguson got a boost from an ad campaign with Voya and Fully Committed, the one-man Broadway show he anchored this past spring and summer.
Other actors repping ABC on the list: Nathan Fillion and Justin Chambers. Fillion’s last season as Castles titular character (the show was cancelled this spring) helped him earn a $12 million haul, a figure good enough to tie him with Ray Romano and Ferguson at the #7 spot. Chambers, who has played Alex Karev on Grey’s Anatomy since its inception in 2005, came in at #15 with $9.5 million.
All told, the 15 men on this list earned $225 million – a figure that outpaces the $208.5 million brought in by television’s top-earning actresses. The gender wage gap still persists — though it’s not as large in TV-land as that which women face outside of Hollywood. As FORBES’ Maddie Berg explains here, this is due in part to the beauty of cast-wide salary negotiations, which is common for large ensemble shows. Big Bang’s Parsons and Galecki earn the same per-episode salary as Kaley Cuoco, while Burrell, Ferguson et al. earn the same Modern Family paycheck as co-star Sofia Vergara — though Vergara, of course, outpaced her male co-stars in annual earnings thanks to a bevy of endorsement and licensing deals.
FORBES’ earnings estimates are based on data from Nielsen, Box Office Mojo and IMDB, as well as interviews with agents, managers, lawyers and industry insiders. Our list of the world’s highest-paid TV actresses was published last week, while the lists of the highest-paid film actors and actresses were published in August. All earnings figures are before management fees and taxes.