Kaley Cuoco made a significant financial sacrifice for her co-stars.
By cutting her pay by $100,000 per episode, she ensured a salary boost for Melissa Rauch and Mayim Bialik, who were earning less.
When Jim Parsons left “The Big Bang Theory” in 2019, the salaries of the remaining cast became a big talking point. Parsons, who was the highest-paid actor on the show, earned $1 million per episode for his role as Sheldon.
After he left, Kaley Cuoco and Johnny Galecki, who played Penny and Leonard, were making big money too — $24.5 million and $26.5 million respectively.
Despite Parsons’ departure leaving a gap in the show’s budget, CBS was still ready to spend a lot to keep Cuoco and Galecki on board for the final season. They got a raise even though they were already making $1 million per episode.
The interesting part is what happened during the contract talks for the show’s last two seasons. Kaley Cuoco, one of TV’s highest earners at that time, agreed to a big pay cut.
She did this to help Melissa Rauch, who played Bernadette and was earning way less at $200,000 per episode. By taking a $100,000 cut per episode, Cuoco and the other male leads made an extra $500,000 per episode available.
This helped to increase Rauch and Mayim Bialik’s (who played Amy) salaries, pushing Rauch’s pay up to $450,000 per episode. While this was a great raise for Rauch, she still earned less than Cuoco.
The show, created by Chuck Lorre and Bill Prady, ran for 12 seasons, totaling 279 episodes. It initially centered around five main characters living in Pasadena, California: Leonard Hofstadter and Sheldon Cooper, two physicists at Caltech who share an apartment; Penny, a waitress and aspiring actress who lives across the hall; and Leonard and Sheldon’s geeky and socially awkward friends and coworkers, aerospace engineer Howard Wolowitz and astrophysicist Raj Koothrappali.
Over time, the show expanded its focus to include characters like neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler and microbiologist Bernadette Rostenkowski, among others. The show was filmed in front of a live audience and is known for its unique blend of humor, science, and relatable character dynamics.