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How Much Did The Cast Of Friends Get Paid?

For 10 seasons, from 1994 to 2004, the NBC sitcom "Friends" followed the lives of six friends living in New York City and navigating their 20s and, later, 30s. The iconic set of characters is, of course, made up of former rich girl Rachel Green (Jennifer Aniston), perfectionist chef Monica Geller (Courteney Cox), eccentric masseuse Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow), lovable actor Joey Tribbiani (Matt LeBlanc), sarcastic Chandler Bing (Matthew Perry) and paleontologist Ross Geller (David Schwimmer).

After it ended in 2004, "Friends" remained extremely popular, especially with the help of streaming services, such as Netflix, and now, HBO Max. And not only has the content of the episodes become ingrained in the public's recollection — such as iconic moments from the show, including Ross and Rachel's first kiss and the friends' impromptu quiz show — but specific behind-the-scenes facts about the show have become public knowledge as well. For example, it's widely known that the main cast made a lot of money for "Friends."

But, for those curious, exactly how much did Aniston, Cox, Kudrow, LeBlanc, Perry, and Schwimmer make for the run of "Friends"?

The Friends cast worked their way up to one million per episode

As reported by Business Insider, the "Friends" stars were making good money from the get-go, with all six prominent cast members bringing in $22,500 per episode. Moving on to the second season, the cast members' salaries varied, ranging from $22,500 to $40,000 per episode. Reportedly, Jennifer Aniston and David Schwimmer were making more than their cast mates because the budding relationship between Ross and Rachel was such a significant focus in the early seasons. However, beginning with Season 3, all six cast members began negotiating together to ensure they were all making equal amounts. So, in Season 3, all six made $75,000 per episode.

The cast members' salaries went up to $85,000 per episode for Season 4, then $100,000 per episode for Season 5, and $125,000 for Season 6. The salary increased for the next two seasons, with each cast member making $750,000 per episode for Seasons 7 and 8. And, finally, all six actors made one million per episode for the final two seasons of "Friends." The cast also began receiving a portion of syndication profits starting in 2000, according to The New York Times.

When you think about how much each star made over the 10 seasons, it's a bit hard to fathom. After all, each cast member made $22 million for the 10th season alone.

The stars also got a big paycheck for the reunion special

In May 2021, the six stars of "Friends" all got together once again for HBO Max's special, "Friends: The Reunion," which was hosted by James Corden and executive produced by the sitcom's creators, Marta Kauffman and David Crane, Kevin S. Bright.

The reunion included segments of the cast discussing their time on the show, the creators talking about the casting and development process, and famous scenes from the series being re-enacted. It was an extremely exciting program for fans of the show and the six cast members. But, even if they were genuinely excited to be reuniting with one another and discussing their time on the iconic show, they were also incentivized with a big paycheck.

According to Variety, each central cast member made about $2.5 million to participate in the reunion special. If you count it as an "episode," that would mean that the reunion special was the cast's final pay raise, taking them from the one million per episode of Seasons 9 and 10 to a very high $2.5 million.