The Most Expensive TV Shows Ever Made
Wed, April 21, 2021

The Most Expensive TV Shows Ever Made

Big viewership is the reason why companies spend big on a TV series that is sure to draw in audiences across the world. / Photo by: VasiliyBudarin via Shutterstock


With the advent of streaming, more and more film studios are reaching their audiences and taking advantage of their niche interests. The result is that there are more shows now than ever before, all of which cater to a particular set of people with specific interests. If not, well, they’re usually big enough to warrant a much bigger viewing audience in the mainstream.

This big viewership is actually the reason why companies gladly spend big on a TV series that is sure to draw in audiences across the world, and the amount of money they spend can be eye-popping. Take a look at some of these shows that are very up there in terms of the per-episode budget. 

“Game of Thrones” (2011 - 2019)

Per Episode Budget: $15 million 

It came out just a year after the start of the decade and finished a year shy of its end. That’s about eight years of airing, which is enough evidence that “Game of Thrones” was truly a force to reckon with and has now become a crucial part of TV history. With each episode eating up a $15 million budget, it’s no surprise that every minute detail of the show was well-executed and the scenes shot in locations that did justice to their source material, not to mention putting to shame some full-length movies that obviously scrimped on their finances. According to an article by Mental Floss, an online magazine that presents facts, puzzles, and trivia with a humorous tone, most of the show’s budget went to making the CGI truly astonishing, paying the actors more for becoming household names, as well as ensuring that the show is as engrossing and as high fantasy as George R.R. Martin’s book. 


Each episode of Game of Thrones is eating up a $15 million budget. / Photo by: Kathy Hutchins via Shutterstock


“The Crown” (2016 - present)

Per Episode Budget: $13 million

To be impeccably crafted and as historically accurate as Netflix can make it, “The Crown” needs to have a big budget, to the tune of $13 million, most of which goes into making sure that every detail is just right. According to Mental Floss, one instance that captures the team’s dedication to making everything historically accurate was when the producers spent $35,000 just to recreate Queen Elizabeth II’s wedding dress for the first episode. 

“ER” (1994 - 2009)

Per Episode Budget: $13 million 

Touted as the show that truly launched George Clooney’s career, “ER” proved to be a success in its entire run, with NBC paying Warner Bros. some $13 million for every single episode in later seasons, according to British-based entertainment website Digital Spy. Cinema Blend added that it actually started with only $2 million per episode, which eventually increased to $8 million and then reached $13 million. 

“Band of Brothers” (2001)

Per Episode Budget: $12.5 million 

A dramatized account of “Easy Company,” it was simply a miniseries, but each episode proved expensive to make. Mental Floss reported that with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks as producers of the show, that meant that each episode needed to be shot on location. Everything was made to be as accurate as possible, with sets and costumes reflecting the World War II era, which perfectly complemented the impressive action sequences. 

“The Get Down” (2016 - 2017) 

Per Episode Budget: $11 million 

Just like “The Crown,” Netflix’s “The Get Down” had a big budget mostly allotted for making every episode as authentic as possible, being set in the late 70s Bronx. The show, defined by Mental Floss as director Baz Luhrmann’s “passion project,” cost $120 million for a single season. Most of that money went into building the show’s elaborate sets and to pay for the rights to classic R&B and funk songs. Despite the big budget, it was only good for one season because of a lack of warm viewer response, reported Digital Spy, a British-based entertainment, television and film website, and brand. 

“Friends” (1994 - 2004)

Per Episode Budget: $10 million 

It will forever be remembered for its dominance in the world of American sitcoms. Despite the fact that some of its episodes may have lost touch with the current shift of beliefs in the country these days, “Friends” is still one very memorable series. Even the salary grade of the actors was memorable, as it was reported that each main character was making upward of $1 million per episode.  

“The Big Bang Theory” (2007 - 2019)

Per Episode Budget: $9 million 

For all the negative comments that the show kept getting during its run, its 12 seasons proved that there were at least enough people who wanted to keep it on the air. For CBS, it was a record-breaking hit that it agreed to renegotiate the cast members’ contracts so that each made between $750,000 to a cool $1 million per episode. 

The many heavyweight guest stars (most of them related to the nerd world) and the royalty fee for the Barenaked Ladies at the start of each episode made every episode even pricier.

Well, there you have it. If you have watched any or all of the shows on this list and enjoyed them no end, then that should be enough justification for their mind-blowing budget.