Highest-paid working characters on a sitcom?

Over in the Big Bang Theory thread, I wrote:

And this is the thread.

Who else is in the running? Not The Beverly Hillbillies, because that was not a salaried wealth. It has to be people whose money goes away if the job does. A show about show business fits better.

30 Rock had a showrunner, probably a million dollars a year, two TV stars, also a million or more, and the head of the corporation, several million, but also some low-paid workers, like the NBC page.

Maybe we should split this into show business and non-show business categories.

I wonder how much Gregory House made? I know he lived like he did when he college, but he seemed to spend a lot on music and (it was implied) hookers.

Hardly a sitcom.

Dr. Huxtable? Who knows how much he made, but combine it with his wife’s lawyering duties and it could be pretty good.

Mr Drummond on Diff’rent Strokes was making a pretty penny. And the Dad in Silver Spoons was running a toy company, I think?

The Dick Van Dyke Show. Rob was presumably paid well (by the standards of the time) as head writer.

Make Room for Daddy has Danny as a successful nightclub comedian.

The Joey Bishop Show (second season, after it was revamped) had Bishop as a talk show host; he lived in an upscale NY apartment in a “The Carlton Arms,” which clearly wasn’t rent controlled.

*Seinfeld *played himself.

:confused: *Penny *is not making $300,000. I’m at a loss how you could think that.

When he was working as Dr. Drake Ramoray on a soap opera Joey could have been pulling in as much as $5000 a week. Had he not been killed off and stayed on the show long enough maybe twice that.

Barney on HIMYM was making well into 6 figures. His lifestyle would indicate at least 500K a year, but much of his income might come from investments, so he might have been a low end 250K a year Wall Streeter.

It’s not clear how much Jay on Modern Family makes. He owns a successful business, has the lifestyle of a well off man, but occasionally grumbles about the costs of everything. I’m guessing his income is in the low 6 figures for salary but he has some substantial wealth also based on the value of his business.

It was a substantially different environment in the 60s, but if Darren Stephen’s boss Larry Tate on Bewitched was an advertising agency executive today he would be making millions of dollars a year.

Frasier and Niles Crane were making well into the six figures as successful psychiatrists.

Penny said on the April 9, 2015 show “The Fortification Implementation” that she made twice as much as Leonard. If Leonard makes well over $100,000 then she has to be close to $300,000. I said I didn’t believe it, and we’ll see if the show makes this canon.

There are lots of shows where one or two characters are making that kind of money. BBT is rare in that every major character has a high income.

Maybe Childrens Hospital, since almost every major character is a doctor.

Larry David in Curb Your Enthusiasm? He’s enjoying his Seinfeld money and seems pretty wealthy.

How about the President played by Bill Pullman in the short-lived sitcom 1600 Pen?

Is Leonard making $100000+ actually established, or just inferred? When I was in school, it was a requirement that everyone on staff making more than six figures be publicly reported, and that list contained very few people below department heads (and only heads of major departments). The BBT guys are certainly higher than post-docs on the totem pole, but I don’t think any of them are close to being “head of the physics department”.

Barney on HIMYM was making a vague yet extraordinarily ridiculous amount.

How does Harold Finch make his money on Person of Interest? It seems he got a lot of money (or had) although it may not be salary and he’s off the grid.

Uncle Phil on Fresh Prince had some serious cash to throw around. It’s hard to say a sum, but given that he had a mansion with live-in staff probably somewhere upwards of half a million per year.

In To the Manor Born Richard Devere is described as a self-made millionaire who owns or owned a supermarket chain and another company called ‘Farmer Tom’.

The characters on The Big Bang Theory might not even have a conventional income at all. They could be in “soft money” positions, meaning that their pay comes almost entirely out of grants. This can potentially be far more lucrative than being paid by the university, but it’s also highly variable, and they might well see a semester or two where their grants get turned down and they don’t get paid at all.

To answer the OP, we really need to pin down what we mean by “working”. Does the CEO of a large corporation “work”? Does it matter if his compensation is in stocks instead of salary?

If we push the definition of “sitcom”, then I think that Scrooge McDuck is the winner. All of his income seems to come from various forms of his own personal adventurism, and all of his wealth came from his own income, so I think we can call it a “job” for him.

In an actual sitcom, there’s Montgomery Burns from The Simpsons, but there, one can question how much of his pay counts as being for “work”.

Wait, is somebody following Silicon Valley? Are those guys zillionaires yet?

It’s hard to put numbers on it, but Eliot Carlin (Dr. Hartley’s misanthropic patient on The Bob Newhart Show) was a self-described “real estate tycoon” who was once referred to as “the bundle maker”. He was a minor character, but IMO one of the show’s high points.