When friends debuted in 1994 with a cast of six unknown actors, each earning about $20,000 an episode. In the final season, that figure rose to $1 million per episode.
“We wanted to get the same because we thought it was fair,” Aniston said in an ET interview at the time, who also spoke about the cast’s close bond, who never really experienced rumors of fights or tension during their 10 years together, a rarity in Hollywood.
As the renewal negotiations were being reported in detail in the press, the cast of friends was criticized for demanding such high wages.
Yet look at how much money the show was raking in: 30-second commercials during the final season were running for $1 million, with the coveted series finale ads netting $2 million, the highest advertising rate for a television sitcom. Everytime.
And the series finale was watched by 52.5 million viewers, making it the fourth most-watched television episode in history, with the retrospective special that aired earlier, boasting 35 million viewers.
Still, LeBlanc defended his salary in a 2015 interview.
“Were we worth $1 million? To me, that’s such a weird question. Like, that’s irrelevant. Are you worth it? How do you rate how funny something is?” he told the Huffington Post. “We were in a position to get it. If you’re in a position at any job, no matter what it is—whether you’re driving a milk truck or installing TVs or sofa upholstery, and you’re in a position to get a raise and you don’t ask for it, you’re stupid. You know what I mean? We were in a position and we were able to achieve that. ‘Value’ has nothing to do with it.”