It isn't farfetched to say that Seinfeld– the show about nothing – is the last best pop culture phenomenon to come out of the 20thcentury. Friendsmay come close – in both its cultural impact and how it made its cast famous and wealthy – but Seinfeld still reigns supreme. That got us thinking: How much did the Seinfeldcast members make off the show? It ran for nine seasons and by that last season Jerry Seinfeld was making $1 million per episode, while Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards were making about $600,000 per episode. In fact, Seinfeld's $1 million per episode was a record until 2002, when the cast members of Friendsall banded together to push for – and get – $1 million an episode.
Reportedly, Jerry Seinfeld turned down more than $100 million – or $5 million per episode – to do just one more season of his sitcom. He didn't need to. Even today, Jerry Seinfeld would never have to perform another stand up set, ride around in cars with other comics getting coffee, or develop another television show as long as he lives and he'd still make millions each and every year. THAT is the staying power of his eponymous creationSeinfeld.
Let's take a look at how much each cast member made off Seinfeld.
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In 1989, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David got together to create a pilot for NBC called The Seinfeld Chronicles.It was obviously renamed Seinfeldand ran for nine seasons and 180 episodes. It is one of the most successful shows in syndication history as well, generating more than $4 billion to-date.
Jerry earned $20,000 per episode during the show's 5-episode first season, for a total of $100,000. His per episode pay was doubled to $40,000 for the second and third seasons, for a total of $1.4 million. For seasons 4, 5 and 6, a total of 70 episodes, Jerry earned $100,000 per episode. That equates to $7 million. For seasons 7 and 8, a total of 46 episodes, Jerry's per episode salary was boosted to $500,000. That equates to $23 million. For season 9, Jerry earned $1 million per episode, totaling $24 million for the season (which is the same as roughly $38 million after adjusting for inflation). He was the very first television actor to earn $1 million per episode.
When you add it all up, Jerry earned roughly $60 million in salary alone from "Seinfeld". Roughly the same as around $100 million after adjusting for inflation.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards
For the first several seasons of Seinfeld, supporting cast members Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Jason Alexander, and Michael Richards earned a nominal amount of money for their work on the show. They successfully negotiated raises before season 5, in 1993, that had them each earning $150,000 per episode, roughly $3.8 million per season. In May 1997, the supporting cast members held out for a massive raise, hoping for $1 million per episode and/or backend ownership points. As Jason later explained:
"Julia, Michael and I, during our big renegotiation for the final year, asked for something that I will go to my grave saying we should have had, and that is back-end participation in the profits for the show. It was categorically denied to us, which forced us to then ask for ungodly salaries. We make very little, standard Screen Actors Guild residuals for the reruns."
Jason explained to Jerry at the time:
"The day will come when you regret this decision, only because it's going to put us in a position eventually of seemingly tainting the wonderful impression of what this was for the four of us. You have created a rift between you and the three of us, and while we are in no way, shape or form looking for parity with you, you have created a chasm that is also inappropriate."
The network countered with $200,000, then $400,000. The supporting cast members ended up receiving $600,000 per episode for the show's final season, which worked out to around $15 million a piece. That's the same as earning around $24 million today. In total, before inflation, the supporting cast members earned approximately $45 million in base salary from Seinfeld.
Contrary to popular belief, Julia, Jason, and Michael do not make significant amounts of money from Seinfeld's syndication deals. In order to make money from syndication sales, one needs to have equity ownership percentage points on the show. The supporting cast never received backend points on the show. They do receive royalties from when the show airs, but these payments equate to hundreds of thousands per year at most, not millions as many assume. By contrast, Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld each earned $250 million in 1998 alone from syndication sales. Even a full decade later, Larry and Jerry were earning at least $50 million per year from syndication points. While the supporting cast members were denied backend points in 1997, they were able to negotiate profit-sharing points on the DVD sales which resulted in a moderate windfall back when people bought DVDs.
By contrast, from the outset of Seinfeld, Jerry and Larry David each owned 7.5% of the show's backend equity points. At the peak of the show's success when Jerry and Larry were negotiating new deals with NBC, they were able to double their ownership stake to 15% each. When the show was first sold into syndication in 1998, it generated $1.7 billion in revenue. That left both Jerry and Larry with $255 million windfalls.
When Seinfeld sold to Hulu for $180 million in 2015, Jerry and Larry each earned $27 million. In a given year, they earn $40-50 million from syndication sales and show royalties.
As of this writing, Jerry and Larry have both earned at least $800 million off Seinfeld between salary, DVD, merchandise and syndication deals.
SeinfeldEarnings vs. FriendsEarnings
By the time Friendscame along in 1994, things had changed a bit. And it was different from Seinfeldin that none of the six stars were more famous than the others, and from the outset, they were all paid the same. During the first season, each of them earned $22,500 per episode. That works out to $540,000 for the first season. Their salaries were boosted to $40,000 per episode in the second season. That works out to $960,000 for the second season.
Ahead of the third season, when their contracts were up, the cast banded together to negotiate as a group – which was the first time a cast had ever done that. They ended up with a deal that paid $75,000 per episode of season three ($1.875 million for the season), $85,000 for season 4 ($2.04 million), $100,000 for season 5 ($2.5 million) and $125,000 in season 6 ($3.125 million).
Before season 7 started filming, the cast negotiated for a massive raise. They each ended up earning $750,000 per episode in seasons 7 and 8 ($18 million per season). For seasons 9 and 10, each cast member earned $1 million per episode. That works out to $24 million for season 9 and $18 million for season 10. If you total it all up, each cast member ofFriendsearned around $90 million in base salary alone from the show before backend bonuses and on-going royalties.
As part of their 2000 contract negotiations, the cast was able to demand backend points on the show which would allow them to earn royalties off the show's sale into syndication. Up to that point, the only other TV stars who had ownership stakes in shows were Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Cosby – and their show titles had their names in it.Friendscontinues to generate north of $1 billion per year in syndication royalties and streaming deals. It has been reported that each cast member in some years can earn $10-$20 million in royalties alone.
In the end, the cast of Friendsmakes more in syndication than the supporting cast members of Seinfeld, which harkens back to Jason Alexander's statement about the chasm between Jerry Seinfeld and the rest of the cast. WithFriends, it has always been equal.
How much did cast members of Seinfeld make per episode? ›
How much did Jerry Seinfeld make per episode? Seinfeld started off making about $20,000 per Seinfeld episode, according to Celebrity Net Worth, a number which reportedly doubled by Seasons 3 and 4. As the show's popularity climbed, he got another pay bump for Seasons 4, 5 and 6, earning $100,000 an episode.How much does the Seinfeld cast make off of reruns? ›
Per Yahoo, "David and Seinfeld can each make $400 million per syndication cycle, New York Magazine reported." These checks helped Seinfeld amass his $950 million net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth.How much do the cast of Seinfeld get in residuals? ›
To this day, it's estimated that both Seinfeld and David receive residuals of between US$40 million and US$60 million (AU$57.7 million to AU$86.6 million) each year.Do the Seinfeld stars get royalties? ›
All cast members of Seinfeld receive royalties even in 2021. However, the amount of money each actor or actress receives varies. Ideally, the co-writers and co-creators of the series, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, receive the most amount each time the TV show reruns on any network.Who is the richest Seinfeld cast member? ›
Larry David: $400 million (£295.2m)Did Kramer inherit money? ›
Despite the failure of the majority of his schemes and his unwillingness to even apply for a normal job, Kramer always seems to have money when he needs it. In the episode "The Shoes", Jerry remarks that Kramer received a "ton of money" at some earlier point in his life (presumably via inheritance).Why didn't the cast of Seinfeld get royalties? ›
In 2003, Louis-Dreyfus, Richards and Alexander refused to participate in the making of a DVD series of the show because they felt they were being taken advantage of. After a standoff, Seinfeld and the producers agreed to cut the trio in on royalties.How much did Kramer make on Seinfeld? ›
Over the decades, its amassed more than $3.1 billion. By the end of Seinfeld, Jerry (Jerry Seinfeld), George (Jason Alexander), Elaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), and Kramer (Michael Richards) were earning a whopping $1 million per episode.How much did Michael Richards make from Seinfeld? ›
Michael Richards portrayed Cosmo Kramer in 170 episodes of Seinfeld and was one of the show's supporting actors. He received $150,000 per episode from the show's fifth season. His salary then increased to $200,000 per episode in subsequent seasons, before the NBC network bumped it to $600,000.Is the cast of Seinfeld still friends? ›
Jason Alexander says the Seinfeld cast were NEVER friends and were just 'work mates' who led 'very different lives' Seinfeld is one of the greatest sitcoms of all time. And on Tuesday, Jason Alexander revealed that the cast weren't actually as close as they appeared to be on screen.
How many Porsches does Jerry Seinfeld own? ›
8 The Collection Features An Impressive Number Of Porsches
The successful actor has owned as many as 46 Porsche models at one point. And although the exact models of all 46 remain unknown, the fleet is said to include quite rare models, including the first 911 from 1963.
Elaine is unhappy with the eventual gift ($182 cash) and outright insulted by the platonic gift card.Who was most successful after Seinfeld? ›
Having played in the iconic Elaine Benes for 9 seasons until Seinfeld ended, Julia Louis-Dreyfus has arguably had the most successful career following the sitcom's finale.Is Elaine from Seinfeld a billionaire? ›
She played the role of Elaine on Seinfeld for nine seasons between 1989 and 1998. She is one of the most awarded actresses in American history. As of March 2023, Julia Louis Dreyfus' net worth is approximately $250 Million.How Much Is Elaine Benes from Seinfeld worth? ›
Louis-Dreyfus has made her own money through her work as an actor, namely her prolific television career. As Elaine Benes on the classic sitcom Seinfeld from 1989 until 1998, the actress was reportedly able to net around $45 million in total.How much did Larry David make with Seinfeld? ›
The syndication of Seinfeld earned David an estimated $250 million in 1998 alone. This amount has been steadily decreasing each year, but payments will continue until the full $1.7 billion from the original syndication deal has been paid.How much is George Costanza worth? ›
He is best known for his role as George Costanza on the long-running sitcom 'Seinfeld. ' Before his nine-year run on 'Seinfeld,' Alexander starred in a short-lived sitcom CBS called 'Everything's Relative'. What is this? As of March 2023, Jason Alexander's net worth is estimated to be roughly $50 Million.What disability does Kramer have? ›
In the course of five years, psychiatry students and their professor at Rutgers-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School in New Jersey have concluded that Kramer's behavior is in line with that of people given diagnoses of schizoid personality disorder.Who is Elaine Benes based on? ›
According to Jerry Seinfeld's biography (written by Jerry Oppenheimer), Elaine was based in part on Susan McNabb (who was dating Seinfeld when the character was created), though eventually named after friend and fellow comic Elayne Boosler.How is Kramer able to afford his apartment? ›
He got the jacket from his mom's lover, he got two jackets from Jerry, a bunch of clothes from Frank, he basically pays little to no money on clothes.
Why did the Seinfeld cast go to jail? ›
The jury finds Jerry, George, Elaine, and Kramer guilty of criminal indifference, and the judge sentences them to a year in prison.How much did Jerry Seinfeld sell Seinfeld for? ›
In 2015, Hulu bought Seinfeld for approximately $180 million, out of which Jerry and Larry both made $27 million.How much is Louis Dreyfus worth? ›
|Parent(s)||Pierre Louis-Dreyfus Dolores Porges (née Neubauer)|
No money exchanged hands between Tootsie Roll (Junior Mints' parent company) and Seinfeld.How much did Ray Romano make per episode? ›
Romano earned $800,000 per episode in seasons five, six and seven of “Everybody Loves Raymond.” In the final two seasons, his pay jumped to $1.75 million per episode, or approximately $40 million in season eight and $28 million in the abbreviated last season.What does Kramer do for a living? ›
The only known steady job Kramer had throughout the entire series was in "The Strike", where he went back to work at H&H Bagels after being on strike for over a decade.What is the most financially successful sitcom? ›
- 1 'The Simpsons' ...
- 2 'Friends' ...
- 3 'Modern Family' ...
- 4 'The Big Bang Theory' ...
- 5 'Cheers' ...
- 6 'Frasier' ...
- 7 'Seinfeld' ...
- 8 'Everybody Loves Raymond'
According to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, some do and some don't. For principal performers, royalties can lead to long-term payoffs that trump the original salary. Background actors, on the other hand, won't be getting any residual checks in the mail.How long do actors get residuals? ›
For TV programs, residual pay to SAG-AFTRA are due: Network prime time - 30 days after the air date. Non-prime time network - 30 days after the air date. Syndication - four months after the air date.Was Seinfeld rich on Seinfeld? ›
Jerry earned the bulk of his wealth through his time on the hit TV comedy show "Seinfeld," one of the most successful comedy sitcoms of all time. Jerry owns a 15% stake in the show's backend points, earning him a recurring revenue stream that eventually pushes the actor into billionaire status.
Who owns Seinfeld? ›
|Distributor||Columbia Pictures Television|
|Original release||July 5, 1989 – May 14, 1998|
It is due to both his popularity on the show and his crazy entrances. Kramer is one of the iconic characters form Seinfeld (along with The Soup Nazi and Newman). Whenever people see him enter an episode, they just laugh because they have memories of his antics.Who had more viewers Friends or Seinfeld? ›
As things stand, Friends is definitely the bigger TV show with a popularity that'll seemingly never end, which gives it the win in the long run, even though stances on the quality of each show are matters of opinion.When did Kramer leave Seinfeld? ›
From 1989 to 1998, he played Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld, three times receiving the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series.Are Jerry Seinfeld and Jay Leno friends? ›
Jerry Seinfeld poked a little fun at his longtime friend and fellow comedian Jay Leno on Monday. The 68-year-old stand-up star shared that Leno - who suffered burns after his steam car erupted into flames in a garage - is doing 'fine' at home following a release from a burn unit in Los Angeles.How many cars Seinfeld owns? ›
Jerry Seinfeld's car collection is one of the most impressive in the world. He owns over 150 cars, and his collection is valued at over £13 million. He has a wide variety of vehicles, including Porsches, Ferraris, and even a Volkswagen Beetle.Where did Jerry Seinfeld make most of his money? ›
Jerry Seinfeld's net worth is $950 million. Jerry earned the vast majority of his fortune thanks to the sitcom "Seinfeld" which has proven to be one of the most-profitable shows in television history, in terms of syndication royalties. Jerry owns 15% of the show's backend equity points.How much did you pay for the jacket Seinfeld? ›
Rob read an email question asking them how much they think the jacket costs, and what is the most they've spent on a jacket. Akiva felt the jacket was around $1500, while Rob had figured it to be around $1100. Rob went as far as inputting what an $1100 jacket in 1991 would cost today, which turned out to be $1924.94.Who is the extra in Seinfeld? ›
Norman Brenner was the stand in for actor Michael Richards (Kramer) on the TV show Seinfeld. What's interesting is that Brenner can be seen in dozens of episodes of the show as an extra.Why wasn t Kramer in The Chinese Restaurant episode? ›
Cast. "The Chinese Restaurant" was the first episode that did not feature regular character Kramer (Michael Richards), Jerry's neighbor. David explained that the reason for Kramer's absence was because—during Seinfeld's early seasons—the character never left his apartment and did not go out with the other three.
Who is the best Seinfeld main character? ›
- 7 George Steinbrenner.
- 6 Jerry Seinfeld.
- 5 Frank Costanza.
- 4 Elaine Benes.
- 3 Newman.
- 2 George Costanza.
- 1 Cosmo Kramer.
Seinfeld remains a comedy legend.
He chronicled his post-"Seinfeld" tour in the Emmy-nominated 1998 HBO comedy special "I'm Telling You for the Last Time." His next Hollywood project was the animated film "Bee Movie" (2007), which he wrote, produced, and did lead voice-acting for.
Jason Alexander And Jerry Seinfeld Were 'Work Friends'
But we really hung out with each other at the show. We were workmates. After nine years, when the show ended, we kind of went, 'Oh, bye, see ya! '"
Jerry Seinfeld was taking in $1 million per episode—a far cry from that early $40,000—and his three main colleagues (Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Elaine, Jason Alexander as George and Michael Richards as Kramer) were pocketing $600,000 per episode.How much is Margarita Louis Dreyfus worth? › What is Julia Louis-Dreyfus the heir to? ›
Julia Louis Dreyfus.
She is the heiress of the Louis Dreyfus Group, which is a French company founded in 1851 by the actress' great-great-grandfather. It is now estimated to be worth of roughly $3 billion.
At his peak, Charlie Sheen is one of the highest paid television actors with over $1 million salary income per episode. During the initial seasons of Two and a half men, Charlie Sheen was paid $250,000 salary per episode. Towards the end of the show, Charlie Sheen was earning over $1 million salary from the show.How much did Kramer make from Seinfeld? ›
Michael Richards portrayed Cosmo Kramer in 170 episodes of Seinfeld and was one of the show's supporting actors. He received $150,000 per episode from the show's fifth season. His salary then increased to $200,000 per episode in subsequent seasons, before the NBC network bumped it to $600,000.What percentage of Seinfeld does Jerry own? ›
Jerry owns 15% of his show's backend equity. Owns a 12-acre house in Hamptons that is worth approximately $70-100 million. He reportedly makes around $40-50 million every year through his syndications and royalties.What actor has made the most money per episode? ›
- Charlie Sheen. Show: Two and a Half Men. Character: Charlie Harper. ...
- Ray Romano. Show: Everybody Loves Raymond. ...
- Kelsey Grammer. Show: Frasier. ...
- Tim Allen. Show: Home Improvement. ...
- James Gandolfini. Show: The Sopranos.
How much does Mila Kunis make per episode? ›
How much does Mila Kunis make per episode? Having two hit shows under her belt, That '70s Show and Family Guy, Mila Kunis should be able to negotiate a pretty penny for her tv appearances. It has been estimated that she earns around $150,000 per episode of television that she appears in.How much did Sofia Vergara make an episode? ›
2. How Much Did Vergara Make on Modern Family? Believe it or not, Vergara earned just $30,000 per episode during the first three seasons, but her salary got some major boosts over time. By season six, she was making over $190,000 for each episode (roughly $4 million per season).How much was Ashton Kutcher paid an episode? ›
|Ashton Kutcher||Two and a Half Men||$755,000|
|Drew Carey||The Drew Carey Show||$750,000|
|David Hyde Pierce||Frasier||$750,000|
|Lauren Graham||Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life||$750,000|
So, do all actors get paid for reruns? According to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, some do, and some don't. For principal performers, royalties can lead to long-term payoffs that trump the original salary.How much did Conchata Ferrell make per episode? ›
Two and a Half Men Salary
Conchata Ferrell appeared in over 200 episodes of "Two and a Half Men" between 2003 and 2015. At her peak she earned a salary of $150,000 per episode. That worked out to around $3.3 million per season.
Not once in the history of Seinfeld's nine seasons does Jerry get drunk. In fact, he's only seen consuming one beer in a singular episode: Season Seven's “The Shower Head.”What is the most controversial episode of Seinfeld? ›
One example was the potential Seinfeld Episode "The Bet", which made inappropriate assassination and gun jokes.