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How Much Money Game Of Thrones Stars Actually Make

In Westeros, it is said that a Lannister always pays his debts; however, with the unbelievably lofty per-episode price tags that some of the Game of Thrones actors come with, it's hard to imagine them ever going into debt in the first place. HBO's award-winning mega-hit, inspired by George R.R. Martin's fantasy book series A Song of Ice and Fire, has grown exponentially in its eight years of captivating television, becoming one of the largest pop-culture trends in modern history. The third episode of its final season brought in 17.8 million viewers, lending more evidence to the argument that Thrones has become one of the most-watched shows on television.

Unsurprisingly, as the show elevated to new heights of fame and popularity, so too did the salaries of its distinguished cast members. According to The Hollywood Reporter, HBO utilizes a tiered system to determine the pay bracket each actor falls into. The major players, including Peter Dinklage, Emilia Clarke, and Kit Harington, are obviously in Tier A, whereas the more minor parts, such as those of Sophie Turner and Aidan Gillen, fall into Tier B. As the series entered its final season, some actors were reportedly earning over $500,000 per episode. Here are some rumored salaries of the stars of Game of Thrones.

The Mother of Dragons hits the motherlode

All hail the dragon queen! Emilia Clarke, who played the platinum-haired Daenerys Targaryen from the start of the series, made sure she wasn't going to be paid less than her male Thrones co-stars. According to Vanity Fair, Clarke, a proud advocate of the Time's Up movement, ensured that she and Thrones' four other main characters all got paid the same amount — a cool $300,000 per episode in 2014 — regardless of their genders.

Since 2014, Game of Thrones has only grown in popularity, and so too have its stars' paychecks. Clarke, who along with Kit Harington, Lena Headey, Peter Dinklage, and Nikolaj Coster-Waldau make up the top tier of the show's pay brackets, is one of the highest-paid actors on TV. In 2017, Variety reported that Clarke was paid an estimated $500,000 per episode for the final two seasons of Thrones, meaning that she took home $6.5 million for those seasons alone. Although Clarke has dipped her toes in other massive franchises, including Star Wars and Terminator, Thrones has been the main contributor to her net worth, currently estimated at around $13 million.

A salary fit for a king (in the North)

Kit Harington, who showed up to his first Game of Thrones audition for Jon Snow sporting a black eye from an altercation at a McDonald's the night before, has come a long way since 2011. The London-born actor, who started off starring in theater productions at the New London Theater, is now one of the highest-paid actors in a drama series, reportedly taking home around $500,000 per Thrones episode. That's not a bad nest egg to acquire from your first-ever TV gig.

Given that he was relatively unknown when he was cast in 2011, HBO probably wasn't shelling out the big bucks for the Bastard of Winterfell. According to Cosmopolitan, Harington's contract changed in 2014, bumping him up to $300,000 per episode, equating to $5,100,000 total for seasons 5 and 6. Factoring in his new $500,000 per-episode fee for the final two seasons, one can estimate that Harington will walk away from his time in Westeros having earned over $11.6 million. 

She gets that Lannister money

As part of the aforementioned "Tier A" of actors, Lena Headey, whose riveting performance as Cersei Lannister could teach a college-level course on "How to be an Effective Villain 101," was reportedly paid roughly half of a million dollars per episode for the final two seasons. That's definitely not a bad payday when you consider that the majority of her scenes in those episodes consist of her broodily gazing out of a balcony while she sips wine and plots more sadistic plans. In fact, given Headey's limited screentime in the final season, she was paid roughly $3.6 million in total for three episodes, which isn't bad at all when you consider that she only worked 15 days on the show.

Interestingly enough, Headey apparently wasn't always living the lavish life with her Game of Thrones money. In 2013, TMZ reported that Headey claimed to have less than $5 in her bank account. It would appear as though Headey, who had previously starred alongside Gerard Butler in 2006's adrenaline-pulsing action flick 300, has had a real change of fortune financially speaking thanks to her time in King's Landing.

Small stature, big wallet

In an interview with The Guardian, Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones, recalled his humble beginnings, renting an apartment on the Lower East Side with some less-than-ideal pets. "I wouldn't call it rat-infested," he insisted, "but we definitely found one rat." Now, the 49-year-old actor lives comfortably in a house in the woods in upstate New York with his wife and two children, far wealthier than he was in his 20s. He can largely thank Game of Thrones for his improved financial situation.

So just how much money has Thrones dumped into Dinklage's bank account over the show's eight years on the air? For the final two seasons, he took home roughly $500,000 per episode, meaning that he netted over $6 million since 2017 alone. Heavy reports that his estimated net worth of $15 million is primarily made up of money from Thrones paychecks, but he's also starred in some financially successful films, including X-Men: Days of Future Past and Avengers: Infinity War.

The costly cost of Coster-Waldau

Rounding out Thrones' Tier A cast is Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays Jaime Lannister, a.k.a. "The Kingslayer." The actor, whose resume includes films like Oblivion, Gods of Egypt, and The Other Woman, has quite enjoyed his extensive time in Westeros, and, undoubtedly, the wealth accumulated from it. Although it was originally rumored that Coster-Waldau was paid $500,000 per episode for the show's final two seasons, new information has circulated suggesting that his pay is, in fact, much more.

In September of 2018, Harper's Bazaar reported that, according to court documents from a lawsuit involving his former manager, Coster-Waldau actually made $1,066,667 per episode in season 8, and $942,857 per episode in season 7. He was also reportedly paid a $1.5 million advance of the show's profits. This would mean that nearly the entirety of his estimated $16 million net worth came from his time on Thrones. The things we do for love, indeed.

Turner's head-turning paychecks

On May 1, 2019, Joe Jonas married Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Thrones, in Las Vegas. According to Yahoo!, their combined net worth is somewhere in the $31 million range. Although one has to imagine that marrying a Jonas Brother comes with some serious coin, don't make the mistake of thinking that Turner isn't bringing a small fortune of her own to the table. The young up-and-comer is reportedly earning $210,000 per episode for her portrayal of the Lady of Winterfell.

Although her pay is far from modest, it is still obviously quite a bit lower than some of her co-stars, such as Harington, Clarke, and Dinklage. In an interview with Harper's Bazaar, Turner addressed the pay gap, expressing no sour grapes about the matter. "Kit [Harington, who plays her brother Jon Snow, the King in the North] got more money than me, but he had a bigger storyline. And for the last series, he had something crazy like 70 night shoots, and I didn't have that many. I was like, 'You know what... you keep that money.'"

Arya happy with all that money?

When Maisie Williams got the role of Arya Stark, she was only 13 years old, so it's relatively understandable that she wasn't paid astronomical amounts of money during her first few seasons on Thrones. Still, she was earning a reported $150,000 per episode, and has since been bumped up to $210,000, which doesn't exactly leave her impoverished.

So what is Williams planning to do after her time on Thrones comes to an end? It might surprise you to learn that, in addition to starring in various projects, she's focusing on launching her own app, Daisie, which is focused on making opportunities in the entertainment industry more widely accessible. Speaking with Business Insider, Williams spoke about how difficult it was for her to break into the industry. "I just think that it's a shame that there's such a lack of opportunities for so many people. Particularly people from where I came from... I just had this fluke way in." It's refreshing to see a young star invest her money into something so admirable.

Ser Davos be worth millions

Although he missed out on all the fun in Game of Thrones' first season, Liam Cunningham made a big splash in season 2 as Ser Davos Seaworth, the right-hand man to the would-be king Stannis Baratheon. Although he was originally contacted about potentially playing a different role in Thrones, Cunningham's Davos serves as the show's moral compass. In an interview with The Washington Post, he stated how grateful he is for his time in Westeros. "I'm as much of a fan, and I'm a fan that's blessed to be a participant in this."

Still, it must be noted that he's a fan who is paid handsomely for what he does. Cunningham reportedly takes home $300,000 for each episode he appears in as the Onion Knight, meaning that he's likely accumulated millions over his seven-year tenure. Not bad considering that he never read the books the show's based on.

Alfie's millions

Alfie Allen was given a tall order when cast as Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones. In an interview with Mic, the actor shed some insight on how challenging it was to adjust to his character's intense, ever-changing arcs. "If you'd say to any actor, "You get to play three parts in one person, how do you feel about that?" I'm pretty sure they'd be ecstatic. It's definitely always a challenge to find empathy — as a viewer, but also as an actor — for this character. It's difficult, a lot of the time."

It's good to know that Allen was fairly compensated for playing such a complex role, reportedly earning $100,000 – $200,000 per episode. When you consider that Allen's tenure on the show started with its very first episode, you can safely assume that he's built a decent fortune from his time on Thrones.

The master of coin, indeed

Aidan Gillen's Lord Petyr "Littlefinger" Baelish is the master of coin under King Robert Baratheon. This is also a fitting title for Gillen, who reportedly brought home anywhere from $4-8 million from his time on Thrones. Unlike several other characters on the series, Gillen had already built a relatively prestigious resume prior to getting the gig. He'd earned a BAFTA nomination for his part on Queer as Folk, and starred on HBO's The Wire. Thus, it's safe to assume he was fairly compensated on Thrones from the start.

Aside from the wealth he amassed from the series, Thrones also affected Gillen's career in other ways. Speaking to USA Today, Gillen touched on how the show's popularity has been beneficial to his reputation as an actor. "So many people have seen it," he pointed out. "It's the biggest production I've been involved with and it's run for a long time and the character is quite eye-catching. I hate talking about the mechanics of career, but I'm sure it all helps."