FriendsWhen ?Friends? premiered in 1994, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, Matt LeBlanc, Matthew Perry and David Schwimmer each earned $22,000 per episode. During the show?s third season, the cast asked NBC that they each receive the same salary -- since some cast members were paid more than others. But the show's biggest contract dispute surfaced in 2000 when the cast asked that their salaries be increased from $125,000 to $800,000 plus royalties per episode. The network agreed. By 2002, each cast member was earning $1 million per episode.
"Two and a Half Men"In 2011, after his numerous rehab stints halted production, Charlie Sheen was fired from the hit series ?Two and a Half Men.? Sheen did not take the news too well and filed a $100 million wrongful termination lawsuit against CBS and the show?s producer, Chuck Lorre. After an extensive media war, both parties agreed to an undisclosed settlement. CBS and Warner Bros. Television (the show?s production company) released a vague statement on the agreement. "Warner Bros. Television, Chuck Lorre and Charlie Sheen have resolved their dispute to the parties' mutual satisfaction. The pending lawsuit and arbitration will be dismissed as to all parties. The parties have agreed to maintain confidentiality over the terms of the settlement."
'Everybody Love Raymond'In 2003, Brad Garret, who starred as Raymond?s lovable brother on the series, wasn?t happy with his salary. Garret earned just under $180,000 per episode but sought more. After a high-profile dispute, CBS agreed to increase his salary to $250,000 per episode, along with a share of the show?s profits.
'The Big Bang Theory'In 2010, the stars of ?The Big Bang Theory? were granted a massive salary increase. After three months of negotiations, Johnny Galecki, Kaley Cuoco and Jim Parsons went from making $60,000 an episode to $200,000 per episode. According to the agreement, which was made with CBS and Warner Bros., the actors are set to receive $350,000 per episode by the time the show enters its 7th season.
"The Sopranos"In 2003, ?Sopranos? star James Gandolfini fought HBO for a higher salary. The actor filed a lawsuit against the network to allow him to get out of his contract. HBO launched a countersuit and threatened to end the show?s production. In his Screen Actors Guild Award acceptance speech, he acknowledged the dispute. "Maybe there's some stuff lately that makes me seem ungrateful, but HBO -- I'd like to thank you for what you've done ... it is a great place to work," he said. At the time, Gandolfini was raking in $400,000 per episode but sought nearly $1 million. A week after the legal dispute began, both parties withdrew their lawsuits and the actor agreed to receive $800,000 per episode.
It was reported this week that cast members from Modern Family are suing 20th Century Fox for what they claim are illegal contracts that bind them to the show until 2016.
The stars of the hit sit-com, Sofia Vergara, Eric Stonestreet, Julie Bowen, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Ty Burrell, are asking that their contracts be terminated.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, they want their contracts nullified so they can ask for salary increases. They are being offered $150,000 an episode -- with the chance to earn $350,000 per episode before their contracts are up.
On Wednesday, the cast refused to attend a table read for the show's fourth season opener. Their decision to delay the start of the new season signals that the dispute is just beginning.
The conflict calls to mind some major contract issues in TV history. Here are five notable TV salary disagreements.