The Big Bang Theory’s Kaley Cuoco knows she’ll never have the same level of pay she had on the show. In 2019, the sitcom ended after 12 years on the air after lead actor Jim Parsons decided he no longer wanted to do the thirteenth season. This led to the show’s creative team deciding to wrap up the show altogether instead of moving forward without Sheldon.
During the last years of The Big Bang Theory, the cast was reportedly paid a whopping $1 million per episode thanks to its massive popularity. Before its final season, it continued to have strong viewership ratings, averaging a 2.7 rating in adults 18-49 and 14 million viewers an episode in Live+Same Day for its 24-episode 11th season. Given these numbers, it’s not surprising that CBS would want to shell out money for the cast if that means that they’ll continue doing it.
Looking back at it now, Cuoco revealed that she and co-star Johnny Galecki (also her ex-boyfriend) would have conversations about the mind-baffling level of salary they were. The actress told the Armchair Expert podcast that after the initial contract renegotiations, she and Galecki realized they would never have this generous amount of pay again for the rest of their careers.
Johnny and I were very close and we were partners in this whole thing so we got to share the celebrations together. We were like “Can you believe we did that?” We did that together.
‘I remember after the first negotiations, we had a lot of the same team so we would get together and have these big meetings. Then after we’d walk outside in disbelief and we would cry. We would have these long late night conversations where we would be bawling because he and I both knew this would never happen again because it won’t.
Based on Cuoco’s recollection, she and Galecki seemed to have already been confounded by their first pay increase from The Big Bang Theory. It’s uncertain at what salary grade they were in at this point, but it’s possible that they might not even be at the top level yet. As the show gained more popularity, CBS was more motivated to keep the actors, resulting in their massive compensation toward the show’s end. However, it’s worth noting that the original cast members such as Cuoco, Galecki, Parsons, Simon Helberg, and Kunal Nayyar took a collective pay cut to ensure that Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch were also getting the raise they deserve.
CBS had more plans for The Big Bang Theory. Not long before the sitcom was announced to be ending, entertainment executive Kelly Kahl publicly said they were having internal talks about possibly ordering season 13, exciting many fans. Unfortunately, even if the network was willing to spend more on the actors, Parsons was set on leaving. Whether or not Cuoco or her castmates will ever be paid the same salary in their future endeavors is unknown unless a revival happens.