TV's Highest Paid Stars Won't Make A Lick of Sense to You

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Ethan Miller, Getty Images / NBC

Earlier today, we saw a surprising article that detailed the current state of viewers for Sunday night cable series, some of which hardly seemed like they could be true.  And yet, for as critically adored as series like 'Breaking Bad' may be, it just isn't where the big bucks are.  A new list of TV's most paid stars that came out today will equally shock you, particularly when your salary is less than that of a monkey.  Enjoy!

TVGuide released its annual list of TV's Highest Paid Stars today, and for those unfamiliar with how the economics of TV tend to work, you may find yourselves in for a shock.  And we're not talking a shock like Crystal, the Capuchin monkey from 'Community' and 'The Hangover, Part 2' making $12,000 an episode for 'Animal Practice,' a series which hasn't yet begun to air.

We don't even find it all that shocking that Ashton Kutcher nets $700,000 for an episode of 'Two and a Half Men,' or that for all their negotiating ploys the six adults of 'Modern Family' only net $175,000 a piece.  Mariah Carey will certainly return the investment of $17 million for a season of 'American Idol' as well, but the highest paid star will scare you right off the bench.  Want to know who pulls down $45 million for a single year?

Judge...frakkin'...Judy.  Yeah.  If you need a few minutes to vomit, we'll be here when you get back.

Though the below names only represent a few highlights of the full list, to be revealed in the August 9 issue of TVGuide, take a look at TV's Highest Paid Stars below, and tell us if you think they're worth it in the comments!

Drama (per episode)
Mark Harmon (NCIS): $500,000
Ellen Pompeo (Grey's Anatomy): $350,000
Kevin Bacon (The Following): $175,000
Lucy Liu (Elementary): $125,000
Stephen Amell (Arrow): $30,000

Comedy (per episode)
Ashton Kutcher (Two and a Half Men): $700,000
Kaley Cuoco (The Big Bang Theory): $300,000
Modern Family
Adult Cast: $175,000 each
Lea Michele (Glee): $75,000
Crystal the Monkey (Animal Practice): $12,000

Late Night (per year)
David Letterman: $28 million
Jay Leno: $25 million
Jon Stewart: $16 million
Craig Ferguson: $8 million
Chelsea Handler: $8 million

Daytime/Syndication (per year)
Judy Sheindlin (Judge Judy): $45 million
Joe Brown (Judge Joe Brown): $20 million
Kelly Ripa (Live! With Kelly): $20 million
Sherri Shepherd (The View): $1.5 million
Mario Batali (The Chew): $6,000 per episode

Reality
Mariah Carey (American Idol): $17 million per season
Howard Stern (America's Got Talent): $15 million per season
Pauly DelVecchio (Jersey Shore): $175,000 per episode
Betty White (Off Their Rockers): $50,000 per episode
Landry Family (Swamp People): $25,000 per episode

News (per year)
Matt Lauer (Today): $21.5 million
Bill O'Reilly (The O'Reilly Factor): $15 million
Diane Sawyer (ABC World News): $12 million
Anderson Cooper (Anderson Cooper 360 and Anderson Live): $11 million
Robin Meade (HLN anchor): $750,000

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