These 9 TV Shows Were the Most Expensive in History
Sword fights and Jen Aniston don’t come cheap
Don’t lie: You love both television and pretty, expensive things. So we know you settled in for a new episode of Game of Thrones and thought, The gowns, the castles, the headpieces! I wonder how much money is spent on this show?
Below, nine of the most expensive TV series in history. Get ready for a lotta zeros.
“ER”: $2 million per episode
Before Grey’s there was Clooney ER, the show that launched a thousand careers and had us begging for a million more medical dramas. Guest stars like and Amy Ryan and Shia LaBeouf drove up the price tag--as did increasingly elaborate sets and plot turns.
“Mad Men”: $2.5 million per episode
All things considered, this seven-season drama was a basement bargain. If you’re willing to overlook the $250,000 allotted to use a few seconds of the Beatles’ “Tomorrow Never Knows” in one 2012 episode.
“The X-Factor USA”: $3.5 million per episode
Banking on the success of its British counterpart, producers underestimated the two things guaranteed to devour any budget in America: celebrity guest appearances (Khloé Kardashian doesn’t come cheap) and travel costs (this country is huge).
“Lost”: $4 million per episode
Plane crashes and filming in Hawaii can get really pricey, especially when you have a massive cast and crew to feed and house for six mind-numbing seasons.
“Boardwalk Empire” and “Deadwood”: $5 million per episode
B.E. boasts the title of most expensive pilot ever at a cool $18 million. (Building that 1920s-era boardwalk alone cost $5 mil, after all). Deadwood shows how the Wild West was won, and then how it died, thanks to astounding set and costume expenses.
“Game of Thrones”: $6 million per episode
Exotic locations, CGI dragons, elaborate costumes and epic battles: HBO’s popular series is a real budget buster. At least we know if spending gets too out of control, the writers have no qualms about killing off our favorite characters.
“Marco Polo”: $9 million per episode
Piggybacking off the success of the GoT fantasy model, Netflix’s semi-fictional account of the medieval explorer’s adventures in China comes in at a whopping $90 million total for the season. With mixed reviews and a small audience for Season 1, the jury’s still out on whether or not it’s worth the cost.
“Rome”: $9 million per episode
Like the actual Roman Empire itself, it had to end. Thanks to too-high production costs, not even a cult following could save HBO’s period drama, which lasted a mere two seasons.
“Friends”: $10 million per episode
Despite a modest set (long live Central Perk), producers can thank the increased salary demands of the show’s rising stars for record-breaking expenses. By series end, the six pals each received $1 million per episode, making Aniston, Cox and Kudrow still the highest paid TV actresses of all time.