In a show of unity and parity, the five original cast members of The Big Bang Theory have taken a small cut in their salaries to raise the salary of their co-stars Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch.
Bialik and Rauch have earned significantly less than the hit comedy's stars Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco, Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg. Since joining the show in season three, Bialik's and Rauch's per-episode fee has risen from $20,000 to $100,000 per episode, while the original five stars most recently earned $1 million per episode. In order to release $500,000 to help fund Bialik and Rauch's salaries, Parsons, Galecki, Cuoco, Nayyar and Helberg have agreed to take a $100,000 cut in salary for the next two seasons.
This move follows Shameless star Emmy Rossum's recent demand for equal pay with her co-star, William H. Macy.
RELATED: Take a look at each cast member's salary per episode:
‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast's salary per episode
‘The Big Bang Theory’ cast's salary per episode
Kaley Cuoco Salary: $1 Million Per Episode
On “The Big Bang Theory,” Kaley Cuoco is Penny Hofstadter, wife of Leonard. Currently a pharmaceutical sales rep, Penny moved to Los Angeles to become an actress, but never got her career in show business off the ground.
Cuoco is one of the highest-paid actresses on television, behind only Sophia Vergara of “Modern Family,” reported Forbes. Cuoco has a net worth of $45 million. Since season eight, she has earned $1 million per episode of “The Big Bang Theory” to play Penny, a leap from her previous salary of $350,000, reported Deadline.com. Additionally, her work on the show has earned her a Critics’ Choice Award and a People’s Choice Award.
Unlike Penny, Cuoco found success in acting at a young age. At present, she has nearly five dozen acting credits to her name, dating back to the 1992 TV movie “Quicksand: No Escape.” Some of her most noteworthy roles include playing Bridget Hennessy on the series “8 Simple Rules” and starring as Gretchen Palmer in “The Wedding Ringer.”
Jim Parsons Salary: $1 Million Per Episode
Jim Parsons is Dr. Sheldon Cooper on “The Big Bang Theory.” A theoretical physicist who enrolled in college at the age of 11, Sheldon finds himself to be the perfect human, but his seriously eccentric personality makes him a bit difficult for others to handle. In the Oct. 10 episode of season 10, Sheldon finally decides to move in with long-time girlfriend Amy.
Playing the role of Sheldon has proven incredibly lucrative for Parsons, as he’s been banking $1 million per episode since season eight. His current salary is nearly three times the $350,000 he was earning prior to his contract negotiation, bringing his net worth to $70 million. Beyond monetary gains from the show, he also won a Golden Globe and four Primetime Emmys for his work on “The Big Bang Theory.”
Sheldon is the biggest role Parsons has ever played, but it’s certainly not the only one. He previously appeared on the series “Judging Amy,” lent his voice for Oh in the animated film “Home” and appeared in “Wish I Was Here,” among other projects.
Johnny Galecki Salary: $1 Million Per Episode
Penny’s husband, Dr. Leonard Hofstadter is played by Johnny Galecki. Best friend and former roommate of Sheldon, Leonard is a bit less socially awkward than the rest of his geeky pals and constantly finds himself stuck explaining Sheldon’s peculiar behavior.
Galecki earns $1 million per episode for his work as Leonard on “The Big Bang Theory.” Along with Cuoco and Parsons, he renegotiated his salary to its current rate from $350,000 prior to season eight. In total, Galecki’s net worth is $50 million.
Since starting his career as a child actor in 1987, Galecki has achieved major success. Besides “The Big Bang Theory,” he’s best known for his long-time role as David Healy on the series “Roseanne.” He also starred as Rusty in the cult classic “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” and the horror film “I Know What You Did Last Summer.”
Simon Helberg Salary: $750,000 Per Episode
Howard Wolowitz is played by Simon Helberg. Prior to settling down with his now-wife Bernadette Rostenkowski, the aerospace engineer considered himself to be quite the ladies’ man. Until she passed away in season eight, Howard had a seriously overbearing mother who tried to control him.
Helberg’s net worth is $45 million, and he earns around $750,000 per episode of the CBS sitcom, reported Deadline. In addition to serious monetary gains, he also won a Critics’ Choice Award for his portrayal of Howard and has received numerous Screen Actors Guild Award nods.
Beyond his work on “The Big Bang Theory,” Helberg recently starred in the film “Florence Foster Jenkins.” He also has a recurring role voicing the character Bian Zao on the series “Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness” and appeared in the films “Van Wilder: Party Liaison” and “Old School.”
Kunal Nayyar Salary: $750,000 Per Episode
Better known as “Raj,” Kunal Nayyar is Dr. Rajesh Ramayan Koothrappali on “The Big Bang Theory.” For the first six seasons of the show, the astrophysicist suffered from the social anxiety disorder selective mutism, which made it impossible for him to talk to women he wasn’t related to.
Nayyar is paid a salary of about $750,000 per episode to play Raj, which has brought the actor’s net worth to $45 million. “The Big Bang Theory” has proven to be a lucky break for the actor — he picked up the role just a few years into his career.
Lately, Nayyar has been keeping a busy schedule. In addition to his obligations for “The Big Bang Theory,” he’s been lending his voice to a number of animated roles, including Vijay Patel on the television series “Sanjay and Craig” and Dr. Pakij on “Fantasy Hospital” — in addition to Guy Diamond in the movie “Trolls.” Previously, he’s guest-starred on “The Mindy Project,” “Sullivan & Son” and “NCIS.”
Mayim Bialik Salary: $100,000 Per Episode
On “The Big Bang Theory,” Mayim Bialik is Dr. Amy Fowler, Sheldon’s girlfriend. A Harvard-educated neurobiologist, Fowler met Sheldon in the season three finale and has been dating him on-and-off ever since.
Bialik’s net worth is $12 million and she reportedly earns $100,000 per episode for playing the part of Amy, according to numerous media outlets. Earlier this year, the actress told the NY Daily News that she, Cuoco and other cast members were overpaid.
A seasoned actress, Bialik has been recognized with a Critics’ Choice Award and four Primetime Emmy nods for her work on “The Big Bang Theory.” She starred as Blossom Russo on the hit ’90s show “Blossom.” She’s also appeared on a number of television shows, including “7th Heaven,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
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A high-cost cast
The Big Bang Theory is one of TV's most popular sitcoms, but it is also a costly show to continue.Production costs have risen to $9 million an episode, more than half of which consists of the actors' salaries.
Parsons, Galecki and Cuoco were contracted to $1 million per episode for a 24-episode season for three more seasons, beginning in 2014. The trio of stars are TV's highest-paid actors on comedies.
Created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, the series premiered on CBS in September 2007. The show follows five characters who live in Pasadena, California — four academically gifted and socially awkward men and their neighbor, Penny, whose friendliness and common sense contrast with their social ineptitude.
One decade later, the show remains a hit: 21.5 million viewers tuned in for the season 10 premiere.
Big stars, big paydays
Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco received up to $60,000 per episode for the first three seasons. Their salaries for the fourth season increased to $200,000 and increased to $350,000 an episode in the seventh season. New contracts were signed in August 2014 with Galecki, Parsons and Cuoco getting $1 million per episode for three years as well as larger pieces of the show, signing bonuses, production deals and advances toward the back-end.
TV Guidereports that between June 1, 2015 and June 1, 2016, Parsons made $25.5 million, Cuoco made $24.5 million, Galecki made $24 million, Helberg made $22.5 million and Nayyar made $22 million.