AMC's The Walking Dead returns for its eighth season tonight and while the zombie drama is one of the most-watched shows on television. However, despite drawing in millions of viewers each season the show's main cast members don't bring in the massive paychecks that the cast of other high-ranked cable television shows do.
While main cast members on shows such as HBO's Game of Thrones can earn around half a million dollars per episode the stars of The Walking Dead bring in a far more modest paycheck in comparison. How modest? Read on to find out what the main cast of The Walking Dead is making per episode.
Rick Grimes has been a main character on The Walking Dead since the very beginning and while that makes Andrew Lincoln one of the top-billed cast members on the show, as of the show's sixth season Lincoln has only made around $92,000 per episode. With each episode taking around eight days to film, Lincoln's total season income would come to just under $1.5 million. However, recent reports have indicated that Lincoln may have received a raise for seasons seven and eight, bringing him to around $618,000 per episode and up to par with other cable series stars.
Another main cast member that is reported to have received a significant raise ahead of season eight is Norman Reedus. It's not clear what Reedus was making prior to season seven. Some sources had the veteran actor making $80,000 per episode while others said $124,000, but both of those numbers were still low considering the popularity and success of The Walking Dead. However, if recent reports are accurate, he's now making around $550,000 an episode.
One of the wealthiest child actors currently in the industry, Riggs has a net worth of around $2 million. With nearly all of that $2 million coming from his work on The Walking Dead, Riggs likely makes around $30,000 per episode. Riggs had originally been contracted to appear for seven seasons on The Walking Dead, but renewed his contract with AMC. It's probably that the young actor may have received a significant pay raise when he signed on for more seasons of the show.
The rest of the main cast
While Lincoln and Riggs are the last of season one main cast members on the show and Reedus became main cast after starting out as recurring star, there are several other series regulars on the show as it enters its eighth season and while there's no definitive number on their per-episode income, based on estimated net worth stars such as Melissa McBride (Carol), Lauren Cohan (Maggie), and Danai Gurira (Michonne) make far less per episode. The women are estimated to be bringing in between $40,000 and $60,000 per episode -- far below Lincoln, Reedus, and Riggs.
Is it enough?
The Walking Dead may be extremely successful, but money has long been an issue for AMC when it comes to the zombie drama. The show's former showrunner Frank Darabont has taken AMC to court over what he claims is profit owed over the wildly successful show while series creator Robert Kirkman and other producers filed their own lawsuit against the network claiming that they have been cheated by the network when it comes to profits and licensing fees.
However even with lower-than-average paychecks and issues over profits, The Walking Dead shows no sign of slowing down. The stars keep coming back (so long as they aren't killed off, that is -- a real danger on a show about a world full of zombies) and the show goes on.
The Walking Dead season eight premieres Sunday, October 22 on AMC.