'Big Bang' Contracts Triple Salaries for Show's Top Stars

Dana Hinders

They may play nerds on TV, but Jim Parsons, Johnny Galecki, and Kaley Cuoco negotiated their Big Bang contracts like pros. Parsons (Sheldon Cooper), Galecki (Leonard Hofstadter), and Cuoco (Penny) have just signed three-year contracts guaranteeing them $1 million per episode for seasons 8, 9, and 10. The contracts also leave open a potential season 11 and leave them room to produce or take on movie roles if they so desire.

Previously, Parsons, Galecki, and Couco were earning $325,000 per episode of CBS's The Big Bang Theory. This means that their new contracts triple their annual income. The new Big Bang contract puts the show's stars into Friends territory, where the six person cast successfully managed to negotiate $1 million per episode for the final season of the series. There are a total of 72 episodes in the three seasons, which means each actor is guaranteed $72 million over the life of the Big Bang contract, plus a hefty share of profits from the syndication of the series.

Mayim Bialik (Amy Farrah Fowler) and Melissa Rauch (Bernadette Rostenkowski-Wolowitz) were not part of the most recent contract negotiations, since they each signed new contracts in 2013. They were earning $20,000 to $30,000 per episode under their old Big Bang contracts, with the new deals bumping up their earnings to $60,000 per episode with an increase to $100,000 per episode for the last year of the contract.

Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali) and Simon Helberg (Howard Wolowitz) are still negotiating contracts, but are expected to finalized their new deals later this week. The Big Bang Theory is scheduled to begin production on Wednesday. The show's eighth season will premiere on September 22.

The Big Bang Theory ranked No. 2 in the ratings for the 2013-14 TV season, bested only by NBC's Sunday Night Football. Nevertheless, the raises negotiated by the series' stars leave a sour taste in the mouths of many. When so many of the show's fans are struggling to make ends meet, the outrageous salaries of sitcom stars can't help but feel a bit offensive.

In 2013, we had a poverty rate of 15 percent and a median annual household income of just over $51,000. Even the top 1 percent of all earners have an annual household income of just under $390,000.

What can the stars possibly do with the money they'll be bringing in each season? Agilone has a few suggestions for the super-rich, including necessities like $14,000 diamond covered tea bags, a $1 million Orca whale, a $1.3 million bottle of Russo-Baltique vodka, and a $12 million hand crafted 24-carat gold baby bassinet.

What do you think? Is the Big Bang contract awarding Parsons, Galecki, and Cuoco $1 million per episode justified?

[Photo courtesy of CBS]