How Much Your Favorite Nostalgic Stars Get Paid For Reruns


When shows continue to air reruns for years, even decades, after they first aired, it begs the question: how much do the stars continue to make? Do they even continue to make money on the reruns or does it all go to the networks? Apparently, it depends.

Generally speaking, according to the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, most main actors will get paid for reruns. These are called royalties. They certainly don’t pay the bills for everyone but they can be a nice bonus check every once in a while.


What your favorite stars make from reruns

FRIENDS, from left: Lisa Kudrow, Matthew Perry, Jennifer Aniston, David Schwimmer, Courteney Cox, Matt LeBlanc, 1994-2004. ph: Jon Ragel /© NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

However, some stars are still raking in the dough based on the continued popularity of their series. Take Friends for example. The show is still just as popular as it was in the ’90s and 2000s when it aired. Reportedly, Warner Bros. earns $1 billion each year from Friends reruns and each of the main stars earns around $20 million a year.


RELATED: 122 Classic (and Not-So-Classic) TV Sitcoms from the 1970s

SEINFELD, from left: Jason Alexander, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Michael Richards, Jerry Seinfeld, in ‘The Subway’, (Season 3, ep 313, aired January 8, 1992), 1989-1998. ph: Gino Misfud /©NBC / Courtesy Everett Collection

Another beloved sitcom is Seinfeld. The series ran for nine seasons and most of the royalties go to the show creators Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld. They reportedly earn around $400 million per syndication cycle.

GILLIGAN’S ISLAND, back from left: Jim Backus, Natalie Schafer, Tina Louise, Alan Hale, Jr., Dawn Wells; front from left: Russell Johnson, Bob Denver, 1964-1967 / Everett Collection

Other stars aren’t as lucky. While Gilligan’s Island is an iconic show in TV history, its stars earn next to nothing. While many of the show’s actors are now deceased, Dawn Wells spoke in 2015 that they didn’t get any money from reruns. The producer, Sherwood Schwartz received all of the cash.

The answer is that it can range

I LOVE LUCY, ‘I Love Lucy Christmas Special,’ from left, William Frawley, Desi Arnaz, Lucille Ball, Vivian Vance, season 6, episode 11, aired December 24, 1956 / Everett Collection

What happens when the creators and stars have now passed away, for instance with the cast with I Love Lucy? The show has been off the air since 1957 but still airs reruns. Now, TV executives from the channels the show plays on make the money. The show reportedly earns $20 million per year.

HOME IMPROVEMENT, from left: Richard Karn, Tim Allen, (1993), 1991-99. ph: Craig Sjodin/©Touchstone Television / Courtesy: Everett Collection

So far, it sounds like either they make a lot of money or nothing. There is always a middle ground, like with Home Improvement. Richard Karn, who played Al Borland on the series once said, “Every time the show gets bought around the world … you get a little percentage of that. … You don’t want to have to live on that, but it’s a nice kind of annuity.”

RELATED: 10 Classic TV Shows That Would Be Canceled Today

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