Here’s How the Original ‘Friends’ Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

'Friends' Cast
Photo: © Warner Bros. / Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Remember the most awkward episode of Friends, when Chandler, Ross and Monica realize the rest of their pals are broke, and Chandler says, “I’m sorry we make more money than you, but we’re not gonna feel guilty about it!” Yeah, well. That’s *probably* how each actor felt about their Friends cast salary when compared to other sitcom stars, but honestly, we’re not mad at it. It’s a small (OK, very large) price to pay for the glory that is Friends.

So, what exactly was the Friends cast salary back then? For everything you need to know about how much the cast of Friends earned per episode (along with how their paychecks compare to their new salary for Friends: The Reunion, which airs on HBO Max on May 27, 2021) just keep on reading below!

Jennifer Aniston (Rachel Green)

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $330 million

Jennifer Aniston started acting at a young age and was no stranger to sitcoms before Friends, having already booked roles in several television series. Of those series, however, four were quickly canceled, leaving Aniston feeling doubtful about her career prospects in the early 90s. But that all changed when she joined the cast of Friends as Rachel Green in 1994, originating what would become one of television’s favorite female characters ever. 

jennifer aniston friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Andrew Eccles/© NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Aniston went into season 1 of Friends with a $22,500 per episode salary, but was rumored to have earned a salary bump of around $40,000 per episode by season 2 as her on-screen relationship with Ross (David Schwimmer) became a focal point of the show, as per Business Insider. By season 3, Aniston, along with the rest of her core cast, banded together to renegotiate their salaries to a cool $75,000 per episode. They kept up their collective bargaining practice all the way up until the series’ end, famously earning $1 million per episode in seasons 9 and 10. This made Aniston one of the highest-paid women in television—a position she still hasn’t given up with an estimated net worth of $330 million in 2021, according to Wealthy Persons.

Courteney Cox (Monica Geller)

courteney cox friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Reisig & Taylor/ ©Warner Bros. Television/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $150 million

Cox was arguably the most famous face out of the bunch before joining the cast of Friends, having cozied up with none other than Bruce Springsteen in his “Dancing in the Dark” music video and starred in the successful sitcom Family Ties alongside Michael J. Fox. In 1994, she joined the cast of Friends as Monica Geller, making a sweet $22,500 per episode salary. While she may not have earned as much as her fellow leading lady Jennifer Aniston during season 2, Cox managed to negotiate a $75,000 per episode salary along with the rest of her castmates by season 3. Through their continued negotiation, Cox joined the rest of her Friends co-stars in making a whopping $1 million per episode by the series’ end. As the second-wealthiest star of the Friends cast, Cox’s net worth is now estimated at roughly $150 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth

Lisa Kudrow (Phoebe Buffay)

lisa kudrow friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Warner Bros./Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $90 million

Though she isn’t the wealthiest member of the Friends cast, Kudrow certainly has one of the richest origin stories out of all of them. The psychobiology graduate quit her job after working for eight years at her father’s medical practice to try her hand at show business, eventually landing a role on NBC’s Mad About You sitcom. Friends fans will recognize her character on that show, Ursula Buffay—a.k.a. the sister of Phoebe Buffay, the role she eventually came to play on Friends! While the characters were on two different shows, they even shared the same storyline as twins.

Like the rest of her castmates, Kudrow earned $22,500 per episode when she first joined Friends in 1994. By season 3, she was making a much-improved $75,000 per episode salary after she and her castmates negotiated for raises. The cast continued to bargain over their salaries for the next several years, which led to Kudrow and her co-stars bringing in an enormous $1 million per episode by the series’ end. According to Celebrity Net Worth, Kudrow’s net worth is now estimated at $90 million.

Matthew Perry (Chandler Bing)

matthew perry friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

© Warner Bros./Courtesy: Everett Collection.

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $120 million

Prior to joining the cast of Friends, Perry had already appeared in a number of television projects such as 1987’s Second Chance. But it was his 10-season run on Friends in the role of Chandler Bing that really catapulted his career—and his bank account. Like the rest of his castmates, the actor brought home $22,500 per episode upon first joining the series, but that number grew larger as they continued to negotiate for raises. By seasons 9 and 10 of the series, the Friends cast’s collective bargaining earned each of them, including Perry, the salary of $1 million per episode. Perry, who continued acting in several films like Three To Tango, Almost Heroes, The Whole Nine Yards, and more during his time on the show, now has a net worth of around $120 million, as per Celebrity Net Worth.

David Schwimmer (Ross Geller)

david schwimmer friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Chris Haston/© NBC/Courtesy Everett Collection.

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $100 million

While Schwimmer appeared in TV shows like The Wonder Years and Monty, it was joining the cast of Friends in 1994 that led to his real breakthrough. He earned $22,500 per episode when he first began his role as a Ross Geller on the series, but it’s rumored that he quickly turned that around to $40,000 per episode by season 2 when his on-screen relationship with Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) became a major focus on the show, Business Insider reports.  From season 3 and beyond, he and his castmates banded together to negotiate salary increases. Thanks to their efforts, Schwimmer was making an impressive $1 million per episode during seasons 9 and 10 along with the rest of his co-stars. There’s no doubt that those generous paychecks played a big role in his net worth today, which Celebrity Net Worth estimates to be around $100 million.

Matt LeBlanc (Joey Tribbiani)

matt leblanc friends Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Everett Collection.

Show salary: $1 million per episode by the series’ end

Reunion salary: Between $2.5 and $3 million for the special

Net worth: $80 million

Long before he became a household name, LeBlanc was working as a backup actor in music videos for the likes of Alanis Morissette, Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, and more. The Massachusetts-native went on to land a minor recurring role in the popular sitcom, Married…with Children in 1991. Three years later, however, he was propelled to stardom after being cast in the role of loveable ladies man Joey Tribbiani on Friends. Upon joining the series, LeBlanc, much like the rest of his cast, earned a not-too-shabby $22,500 per episode. But that salary looks paltry compared to the $1 million per episode LeBlanc and his castmates were finally able to negotiate for by the end of the series. All in all, his time on Friends certainly made a generous impact on his $80 million net worth today, as per Celebrity Net Worth.

Friends Forever: The One About the Episodes

friends forever Heres How the Original Friends Cast Salaries Compare to Their Reunion Paycheck

Harper Design.

If you still can’t get enough of Friends, check out Friends Forever: The One About the Episodes, the only authorized guide with behind-the-scenes details for over 200 fan-favorite episodes. This 25th Anniversary edition is fully illustrated and includes tons of fun exclusives, like never-before-seen photos, interviews with show creators Marta Kauffman and David Crane, and interactives from the series itself. For example: You’ll finally see what’s on Joey’s fake resume vs. his real one and find out Chandler’s real job! Friends Forever: The One About the Episodes is available to purchase on Amazon or Bookshop.org.

Friends: The Reunion is available to stream on HBO Max on May 27, 2021.

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