As of 2014, the average salary for a Cal Tech physicist — you know, the people who break down how our world works — was $74,920, according to The San Diego Reader. One year later, as Forbes reports in their roundup of the highest paid TV actors, the salary of a man playing a caricatural version of one such physicist in a grating sitcom — you know, the type of TV that distracts us from how our world works — is $29 million. Yes, quite sweepingly, The Big Bang Theory actors made by far the most money of anyone acting in television, with Jim Parsons earning the above-noted salary.
Parsons’ co-star Johnny Galecki came in second, raking in $27 million for his least-geeky-of-the-geeks character, Leonard Leakey Hofstadter. Then, tied in third-place-for-bounteous-wealth were Simon Helberg (who plays Howard Joel Wolowitz, the nut-allergic polylinguist and somewhat insufferable aerospace engineer on The Big Bang Theory), The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar (Raj Koothrappali, the “metrosexual” one), and NCIS’ Mark Harmon, with $20 million. Ashton Kutcher plummeted from his place at the top of last year’s list — he’s also tied for third. The Modern Family cast likewise did well, with Ty Burrell and Jesse Tyler Ferguson taking 11th and 12th place respectively, and Ed O’Neill and Eric Stonestreet tying in 13th. Check out the full list of white dudes and Kunal Nayyar (yes, actually, it’s just him) in mediocre sitcoms/primetime dramas on Forbes.