Finding Friends and Cashing Cheques: A Breakdown Of The Cast’s Earnings

Ed Angeli

Watching Friends is like being in a happy place; the show which provides comfort as you sip away on a cup of tea, reciting the lines after you’ve watched the same episode for the millionth time.

No matter how many times you’ve seen an episode, it’s just as entertaining; no matter how many times you hear Ross shout ’my sandwich’ or ‘pivot, pivot’, you’re going to keel over with laughter every time.

However, as every episode went on, it was well known that the cast were getting that little bit greedier; those pockets got deeper as the lead six demanded more money.

“‘Not everybody is going to get a million dollars an episode. There’s something unrealistic about it. So I think actually what we’re all doing [now] is actually more reasonable and makes more sense.”

— Marta Kauffman, Friends co-creator with David Crane

Where all the cast earnt $22,500 for the first series – per episode – this rose to $1million by the ninth series. To think of the show’s continual popularity and selling point through DVD distribution and TV airtime over 10 years since the finale of the show appears a reasonably ridiculous – if that oxymoron works – amount to demand from the show’s earnings.

Yet, at the time, when each series was being released, the viewing figures – yes, very high – but they were not increasing and instead plateaued/declined since the show’s first release.

Of course, there will naturally be a substantial amount of higher viewing figures with DVD purchases, and Friends being watched via other means such as catchup. But, the growth during each series release did not rise in correlation with the stars’ salaries.

It’s a legendary TV series, but one where perhaps greed outweighed popularity at the time; and, had the lead six not been money driven, it could have continued to make more series.

Still, we’ll continue to watch them on the repeat because, well, because there’s not a show quite like it.

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