15 of the Most Expensive TV Shows Produced in the Last Two Decade

Almost everybody loves sitting down and watching an episode or two of their favorite television shows. Watching television is a cheap means of getting entertainment for most people but creating those television shows aren’t cheap to produce. Some of our favorite and best television shows, and even some of the bad ones, have massive budgets that would shock some of their viewers. It was even announced that Jon Favreau’s live-action Star Wars show would have a budge of $100 million for the first season.

So here are the top 15 more expensive televisions shows that have been produced, did your favorites make the list?

1. Game of Thrones

It’s not shocking that Game of Thrones is on top of this list, the show is probably one of the most popular ones to date and we can see why with their $15 million per episode budget. The show is shot in some pretty exotic locations and the actors aren’t b-list people we’ve never heard of. Add that all together with the amazing graphics, lets be honest those dragons look awesome, and you’ve created a pretty hefty price tag.

2. The Crown

The Crown is a series that is dedicated remaking history just the way it was back in the day and Netflix has no issue doing that with this show. Just to recreate Queen Elizabeth’s II’s wedding dress the producers paid $35,000 and that was for one episode. Between the location and the elaborate costumes, The Crown is coming in at $13 million per episode.

3. ER

Oh ER, how you bring back fond memories. This NBC medical drama which introduced George Clooney to the world was a hit between 1998 and 2003, they even had Quentin Tarantino direct an episode for them. The show featured a massive cast of up and coming stars and NBC loved it so much they had no issues with how much producers spent of the hit show. ER’s per episode budget ranged around $13 million and that was before we had all the fancy equipment we have today.

4. Band of Brothers

Band of Brothers was an HBO miniseries in 2001 about “Easy Company” of the 101st Airborne and fans of the show can easily see how producers spent $12.5 million per episode. The show took place during World War II and producing a set for that time period wasn’t cheap. When you add Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg to your list of producers, plus the location, massive cast, and costumes, it’s surprising that they only hit 12.5 million.

5. The Get Down

Netflix is trying to up their fame and stay in competition with cable companies and in doing so they are really trying to appeal to niche audiences. This can really work for companies but unfortunately when it comes to The Get Down, the show was a massive flop. For a single season Netflix had to dish out $120 million, with cost adding up from set design and paying out exorbitant fees for the right to classic R&B and funk songs. The show was going to have a second season, but Netflix canceled it and has not mentioned if it plans on bring the show back.

6. Friends

They’ll be there for you with a heavy price tag of $10 million per episode. Friends was a classic back when it aired and is still a popular television show to watch today. With a cast made up of six main stars, producers ended up paying $1 million to each of the six series regulars. NBC did try to keep shooting cost down but with a great cast we can see why they were spending $10 million per episode.

7. The Big Bang Theory


This nerdy sitcom has become a record-breaking hit for CBS and although there isn’t a lot of set cost, the shows seven main characters knew they were in a hit show and negotiated their contracts so they would be making between $750,000 and $1 million per episode. Add in the shooting cost, celebrity cameos, and royalty fees for the theme song, and The Big Bang Theory is dishing out a cool $9 million per 25 minuet episodes. Maybe it’s a good thing they are on their last season?

8. Marco Polo

This epic historical drama that follows the early years of a titular merchant/explorer debuted in 2014 on Netflix and its first 10 episodes cost the company $90 million. Netflix thought the show was doing well and renewed it for a second season with the same budget. In the end the show wasn’t the hit Netflix was hoping for and is best known for leaving the company in $200 million worth of debt.

9. Rome

Netflix once again aimed high and tried to create a high-budget show for fans to love. Rome did well during the first season and had a budget of $9 million per episode, plus some say we have Rome to thank for shows like Game of Thrones. With the popularity of historical dramas, Netflix renewed for a second season, but ratings took a dive and it ended up being its last.

10. Sense8


This sci-fi sleeping hit was pretty successful but ended up being canceled by Netflix because of their weighty budget. The show cost them $9 million per episode with Wachowskis wanting to film everything on location, costing the company money on long-term filming permits in nine different metropolitan areas around the world.

11. The Alienist


This dark mystery show that followed Caleb Carr ran TNT $7.5 million per episode. The show was a lavish adaptation and offered a ton of special effects and set-building that helped give an authentic feel to the show that was supposed to take place in Manhattan in the 1890s.

12. Camelot


Camelot was an epic historical fantasy that premiered on Starz and cost producers around $7 million for each episode, mainly to guarantee high production value. Even with a large price tag and good prediction value, the show was dropped after 10 episodes.

13. Fraiser


We all remember the good old days when Fraiser was on our televisions and for the final season, producers really wanted to give fans all they had and that included a $5.2 million budget per episode. The money was mainly spent on cast salaries, especially since Kelsey Grammar raked in $1.6 million alone.

14. Boardwalk Empire


Now this one is a little bazar. Boardwalk Empire was an HBO hit with each episode costing around $5 million each, which is common for good shows. The pilot of this show is a game changer though, costing producers $18 million. The money went towards elaborate boardwalk sets that cost $2 million alone among other things.

15. House of Cards


House of Cards started out with a $4.5 million budget per episode for the first few seasons but now with an A-list cast that is commanding most of the cash, that price tag has risen. No one ever said that running the United States was going to be cheap and maybe the price tag is why Netflix set the last season at only 8 episodes.


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