10 Most Expensive TV Shows Ever Made

Until some years ago, most of the TV Shows were small production budgets. Just some exceptions demanded a millionaire investment per episode. However, things have changed fast and TV Shows are often receiving millions per episode for different reasons: because of the A-list cast, special effects or international locations.

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But a huge investment isn’t a guarantee of success, as we can see in this list. Some TV shows have failed even after spending millions per episode. But there are also shows that have made history and still making money even after years the last episode has been aired. Here is the list of the most expensive shows ever made.

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10 Sense8 – $9 million per episode

The sci-fi Netflix show written by The Wachowskis (The Matrix) tells the story of eight people living in different parts of the world and have an important connection. It was a success among the public and critics.

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The Wachowskis pushed to don’t shoot the show in studios, but use the real different locations in the script. That means Netflix had to spend $9 millions per episode to film in each place around the world. However, they might not have seen it as a good investment and the show was canceled after the second season.

9 Marco Polo – $9 million per episode

Netflix announced, in 2014, its most expensive and audacious production ever made until then. According to The New York Times, Marco Polo has costs. $90 million for the first 10 episodes. The story is centered around the years Marco Polo spent in the Mongol empire, during the 13th Century.

However, the public was not as excited as Netflix about the show and the numbers were below expected. There was a second season, but the company had a $200 million loss. It was one of the most remarkable failures of Netflix history.

8 Rome – $10 million per episode

Before Game of Thrones, HBO made significant investments on a show filmed abroad. Rome, that focuses in the last years of the Roman Republic, was the first production that demanded so much money.

Rome was filmed near the Italian capital and the cost of the production was very high. According to Forbes, each episode was around $6 and $10 million. Although the show was canceled in the second season, the experience was worth it. Many producers and directors involved in Rome also worked in Game of Thrones, HBO greatest success.

7 Friends – $10 million

There are just a few shows ever made able to resist the test of time and still to be funny 15 years after their last episode. Friends is one of them.

The cast was aware of their success and in 2001 Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer went negotiate their salary together, so they would receive the same amount. Each of them received $1 million per episode for season nine and ten.

The last seasons on Friends have cost $10 million per episode, according to Entertainment Weekly. But they are still a valuable brand.

6 The Big Bang Theory – $10 million per episode

Another show that made history on television was The Big Bang Theory, which last season aired this year. According to the Hollywood Reporter, each episode cost $10 million.

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Since 2014, Kaley Cuoco, Jim Parsons and Johnny Galecki, received $1 million per episode. However, in 2017 they had a pay cut of $100 thousand for a great reason. They and Kunal Nayyar and Simon Helberg would receive equal salaries of $900 thousand. Mayim Bialik and Melissa Rauch also had a raise and got $500 thousand per episode, according to Variety Report.

5 The Get Down – $11 million per episode

This was the most expensive Netflix production in 2016. According to Business Insider, the budget for The Get Down was $7.5 million per episode, but the final cost was much higher than expected: $11 million.

Unlike other shows, the cost was not so high for paying the cast or international locations, but for intellectual property for R&B and funk songs, filming shutdowns and changes in the staff and script. Perhaps that is the reason Netflix decided to cancel the show after its first season, that had a total cost of $120 million.

4 Band of Brothers – $12.5 million

In 2001 Tom Hanks produced this miniseries directed by Steven Spielberg about the Second War. Of course, as anything involving their names, it was a huge production.

The ten episodes had cost $125 million to HBO, $12.5 million per episode. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the cost was because of the details of the show, with period-accurate costumes, special effects and sets. It was considered an audacious production for television. But, unsurprisingly, Band of Brothers was a success among the public and critics. It received more than 30 awards in 2002.

3 ER – $13 Million 

ER was aired between 1994 and 2009 by NBC. It was the first medical drama to reach this level of success. But in 1999 the cost with the cast increased the value of the production and each episode cost $13 million. The cast had important names. George Clooney, for example, became a household name after the show. But we also had Julianna Margulies and Maura Tierney on the cast.

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Quentin Tarantino has directed one of the episodes. The best moments for the show were between 1998 and 2003 when the producers were allowed to make high investments on the show without many questions.

2 Game of Thrones – $15 million

Game of Thrones was the most successful TV show produced by HBO. But it came with a high price and each episode cost $15 million in the last season, according to Variety.

It is easy to understand it when we see the details of the production, special effects and also the several filming scenarios: Ireland, Croatia, Spain, Malta are a few of them. The previous season had a cost of $10 million per episode.

The investments pay off due to the huge commercial success of the show and HBO is already producing the first spin-off of GOT.

1 The Pacific

It might take many people by surprise to know that Game of Thrones is not the most expensive show ever made. This title belongs to The Pacific, also produced by HBO. This miniseries is a drama about World War II and each episode cost $21 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Most of the cost was to recreate in details scenarios of the Second War and battles scenes. Once of the most expensive shootings was to film the landing on the French shore of Peleliu. The results are impressive and the show was praised by most of the critics.

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