Skip to content

Here Are the Yearly Salaries of Your Favorite TV Characters

Well, assuming they're fiscally responsible adults

Have you ever watched a sitcom and thought, "There's no way that guy can afford that apartment?" Well, you're probably right. But we decided to back up these assumptions with some numbers, and set out to figure out just how much the lifestyles of some favorite TV characters would cost—their homes, habits, and other expenses. The results were surprising.

Taking into account the character's (totally perceived) lifestyle and spending habits, and the cost of living in their city, we calculated how much pre-tax income each would have to bring in to be able to afford it all—following the 50/20/30 rule (spending just 30 percent on "wants," like travel or dining out, and 20 percent on savings) and spending, per expert recommendations, no more than 25 percent of post-tax income on housing.

Since it's a major part of anyone's budget, housing makes up an equally major part of these calculations. When details on the actual digs that a character is said to live in are available on Zillow or Trulia, we used that info, or else found numbers for a property that closely matches it (in number of rooms, square footage, and location). If the exterior filmed for the show is drastically different from the property it's supposed to represent (for example, if a New York "based" apartment is cinematographically based in Los Angeles), we tracked down data for a property based on the size and location of the character's house, rather than the actual shooting location.

If the show is set in a fictional or unknown city, we went with a city that it most closely resembled (for instance, The Simpsons isn't explicit about what state it's set, but an educated guess puts it in Oregon). Oh, and one more thing: To keep things consistent and simple, everything here is based on 2018 figures. (To be clear: We're calculating as if Mad Men's Don Draper were commuting to-and-from Ossining today, in 2018—not in 1965.) Got it? Good.

So, after all that arithmetic, what do the numbers boil down to? How much would your favorite TV characters have to make to reasonably be able to live they way they do today? Read on to find out. And if you prefer your small-screen analysis a little lighter, check out The 30 Funniest Sitcom Jokes of All Time.

Joey Tribbiani: $188,146 (Friends)

Joey and Rachel Go Sailing Funniest Jokes From Friends

Occupation: Actor
Address: 90 Bedford Street, Manhattan, New York
Fictional House Size: 2BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $2,575 (half of $5,150)
Needs: Meatball subs, headshots
Wants: Beer, video games, pizza
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $123,600
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $188,146

To afford this Greenwich Village apartment on his own, this sporadically employed actor would have to bring in more than half a million dollars a year. Fortunately, his roommate is more gainfully employed as an IT something or other and likely covers at least half the rent (probably more), and probably most of the beer and pizza expenses. So he could probably get by making a mere $188K to afford his lifestyle—nothing a rear-end double gig or milk-carton infomercial couldn't cover, right? And for more hilarity from everyone's favorite gang, don't miss The 30 Funniest Jokes From Friends.

Frasier Crane: $816,180 (Frasier)

carrying something heavy for a woman

Occupation: Radio psychiatrist
Actual Address: N/A
Fictional House Size: 3BD, 3.5BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $12,735
Needs: Alimony payments, child support, dog food
Wants: Steak, sherry, tossed salad, scrambled eggs
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 199
Required Net Pay: $611,280
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $816,180

Frasier loves the finer things in life, including a luxury three-bedroom condo in the fictional Elliott Bay Towers. Though his the price point is hard to estimate, since it's fake and all, Curbed Seattle polled local realtors about the cost of an equivalent condo and got about $3.1 million. Adding in his high spending habits and the fact he still has family to help pay for, and he'd have to be bringing in more than $800K to comfortably be covering everything. And for more from the good doctor, see the 10 Hilarious Jokes That Prove Frasier Is the Greatest TV Show Ever.

Jerry Seinfeld: $231,040 (Seinfeld)

The cast of Seinfeld.
IMDB/West-Shapiro, Castle Rock Entertainment

Occupation: Comedian
Actual Address: 129 West 81st Street, Manhattan, New York
Fictional House Size: 1BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $2,550
Needs: Groceries, white sneakers, high-waisted jeans
Wants: Date night dinners, coffee at Monk's
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $153,000
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $231,040

This Upper West Side spot isn't cheap, but considering that Jerry's a successful comedian who seems to have steady gigs, he seems more than able to afford it. Jerry's one-bedroom apartment is less pricy than Chandler and Joey's two-bedroom (and that's not just because the building exterior was filmed in Los Angeles), but add in his constant spending on dates to fancy places like Poppie's and Pomodoro, and his daily trips to Monk's, and he'd have to be pulling in a hefty salary to pay for it all. And to learn how a show about nothing actually taught you something, check out the 24 Best Life Lessons Seinfeld Taught You.

Carrie Bradshaw: $288,788 (Sex and the City)

sex and the city

Occupation: Relationship columnist
Actual Address: 245 East 73rd Street, Manhattan, New York
Fictional House Size: 1BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $3,000
Needs: Manolo Blahniks, Christian Louboutins, Jimmy Choos
Wants: "Stop deciding exactly what we want, and just see what happens."
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $180,000
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $288,788

Carrie's Upper East Side one-bedroom in a brownstone (actually filmed in the West Village at 66 Perry Street) is far more glamorously appointed than anything Seinfeld aspires to—complete with a walk-in closet full of couture from Gucci, Fendi, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Dolce & Gabbana, and, well, pretty much every high-price label. (Don't even get us started on the shoe closet.) All those cosmos and brunches can really add up. The almost $300K salary such a lifestyle would require would be hard for even the most successful newspaper writer to find when Sex and the City was on the air. Nowadays, it would be impossible.

Don Draper: $487,844 (Mad Men)

don draper driving

Occupation: Creative Director
Actual Address: 42 Bullet Park Road, Ossining, New York
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 2BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $6,607
Needs: Car insurance, trips to California
Wants: Whiskey, cigarettes
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $317,136
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $487,844

The four-bedroom home in which Draper and his family live in the show is actually in Pasadena, California, and sold in 2002 for just under $1 million—and a similar-sized house in the moneyed Westchester village of Ossining would go for a bit more than that now. While Don loves good food at fancy restaurants—and throwing back whiskey most of the night—Sterling Cooper usually foots those bills. For Don to afford his opulent lifestyle without corporate sponsorship, he'd have to pull in some big money.

Walter White: $78,783 (Breaking Bad)

breaking bad
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: High school teacher
Actual Address: 3828 Piermont Drive, Albuquerque, New Mexico
Fictional House Size: 3BD, 2BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $1,295
Needs: Doctor bills, criminal lawyer payments
Wants: Lab supplies, pool cleaning supplies, lily of the valley
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 126
Required Net Pay: $62,160
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $78,783

Walter was once a simple man with modest needs, and thanks to Albuquerque's relatively low cost of living, he and his family could live comfortably on a high school teacher's salary. That changes when he's diagnosed with lung cancer and the bills start stacking up. Of course, this doesn't include his lucrative, infamous side gig. Oh, and if you're looking for a lucrative side gig of your own, start with the 20 Lucrative Side Hustle Ideas for Putting Your Savings on Steroids. (Don't worry, they're all 100 percent legal.)

Roseanne and Dan Connor: $48,818 (Roseanne)

Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Bartender, shampoo girl, plastics factory worker (Roseanne); drywall business owner, hot tub salesman, garage boss (Dan)
Actual Address: 619 S. Runnymeade Avenue, Evansville, Indiana
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 2BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $605
Needs: Rent, groceries
Wants: Junk food, tools for motorcycle repair
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 190
Required Net Pay: $36,300
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $43,818

Another family that lives modestly compared to their coastal counterparts, the Connors also bring in paychecks unpredictably and are used to unpaid bills piling up. Though the show is set in the fictional town of Lanford, Illinois, the actual house can be found in Evansville, Indiana, and the cost of a similarly sized home in a working-class suburb of Chicago will cost a little over $600 a month.

Barney Stinson: $528,379 (How I Met Your Mother)

Barney Stinson
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: "Please."
Actual Address: 211 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, New York
Fictional House Size: 2BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $6,500
Needs: Bespoke suits, silk ties, hibachi lessons, Cuban cigars, whiskey, an Imperial Stormtrooper costume, one (and only one) pillow, high fives
Wants: Love
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $312,000
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $528,379

Barney may be mysterious about what exactly he does for a living ("Please"), but he's definitely raking in some serious money to be able to live the good life that he enjoys—luxury apartment with panoramic views and two 300-inch televisions, endless bespoke suits, and seemingly bottomless pockets for random expenditures. He lives in one of the most expensive buildings in one of the most expensive neighborhoods of one of the most expensive cities in the world, so would need at least half a million dollars to keep up such a lifestyle. And if you're looking for the extra scratch to live this type of life, This is the Best Way to Earn $500,000 in Your Spare Time.

Tony Soprano: $602,625 (The Sopranos)

Tony Soprano
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: "Waste management consultant"
Actual Address: 633 Stag Trail Road, North Caldwell, New Jersey
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 4BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $7,941
Needs: Bullets, gifts for Carmela, various indiscretions
Wants: Prosciutto, Cubans, fishing equipment
Big Spender Status: High
Cost of Living Index: 195
Required Net Pay: $381,168
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $602,625

A North Caldwell mansion complete with Corinthian columns, high ceilings and marble floors is just part of the serious expenses Tony must cover. He's juggling the costs of two kids, a wife, and a mistress, plus his own pricey appetites. Fortunately, he's got a reliable stream of funds coming in from a variety of businesses and is not one to overlook an opportunity for some side cash.

Carl and Harriet Winslow: $128,826 (Family Matters)

Carl Winslow
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Police officer (Carl); chief of security at Chicago Chronicle (Harriet)
Actual Address: 1516 West Wrightwood Avenue, Chicago, Illinois
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 5BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $2,635
Needs: Groceries and clothes for the family, home repairs after visits from Steve Urkel
Wants: Doughnuts
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 190
Required Net Pay: $97,680
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $128,826

To live their comfortable life in a nice big house in the suburbs of Chicago, the Winslows would not need the eye-popping salaries required of their New Yorker sitcom counterparts. Expenses also drop off slightly after season four, after the undiscussed disappearance of daughter Judy. Considering their dual income, and the good benefits Carl receives through his police job, they would seem to be living well within their means.

Tim Taylor: $67,139 (Home Improvement)

Tim Taylor
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: TV host
Actual Address: Unknown
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $881
Needs: Medical bills after accidents
Wants: Power tools, pimped out garage, Detroit Lions t-shirts
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 129
Required Net Pay: $52,860
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $67,139

The Tool Man is one of the most financially responsible characters on this list. Though he and his family live in a spacious four-bedroom home, it's in a highly affordable suburb of Michigan. While Tim likes his toys, he's a guy who likes to do his own home repairs, and saves big money by doing projects on his own (or getting Al and his sons' help). He and Jill aren't big spenders, choosing to cook meals at home or barbecuing in the backyard. Especially with the housing downturn Michigan has seen in the years since Home Improvement aired, the Taylors would not be spending much to live their lives. Given that he's a TV host, we're guessing that he has a bulging savings account.

The Dunphys Family: $825,373 (Modern Family)

Dunphys Family, Modern Family
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Realtor (Phil), homemaker/CEO of closet and blind company (Claire)
Actual Address: 10336 Dunleer Drive, Los Angeles, California
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $9,640
Needs: Home repairs, school supplies
Wants: Vacations to Hawaii, Vegas, dude ranches
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 196
Required Net Pay: $462,720
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $825,373

The closet business has to be pretty good to afford this Cheviot Hills home and to keep up with the costs of three kids, especially a daughter as clothes-conscious as Haley. While the actual home that's filmed for the show sold for $2.5 million a couple years back, we can assume Phil, as a realtor by trade, got a pretty good deal on the place. That said, he was probably happy to have the extra income when Claire moved returned to her dad's blind company.

Blanche Devereaux: $440,361 (The Golden Girls)

The Golden Girls Funniest Sitcoms
Touchstone Television via YouTube

Occupation: Retired
Actual Address: 245 North Saltair Avenue, Los Angeles, California
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 3BA, in Miami, Florida
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $5,199
Needs: Birthday presents for kids and grandkids
Wants: Dates with dapper suitors
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 184
Required Net Pay: $249,552
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $440,361

A spacious Miami home like this might be a bit pricey. Fortunately, Blanche can rely on a little help from her friends (and may have even paid off much of the house by the time they move in). The actual shooting location of the house in Los Angeles is estimated to be worth more than $3.2 million. She is not a big spender but likes the finer things in life and has an active social life—though we can assume that most of the old-fashioned gentlemen she dates are footing the bill.

Mike Brady: $403,769 (The Brady Bunch)

Mike Brady
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Architect
Actual Address: 11222 Dilling Street, North Hollywood, California
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $4,300
Needs: Full-time house cleaner, orthodontics
Wants: Stylish furniture, magazines
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 196
Required Net Pay: $258,000
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $403,769

Though the actual North Hollywood house filmed in the show is estimated to be worth about $1.5 million, a more typical five-bedroom home of about the same size would likely cost a bit under that. The biggest expenses for Papa Brady would be in covering the costs of raising six kids as a sole breadwinner. Good thing that being an architect pays so well.

Jack Arnold: $123,852 (The Wonder Years)

Wonder Years
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Middle manager/furniture company owner
Actual Address: 516 University Avenue, Burbank, California
Fictional House Size: 4BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $1,881
Needs: Groceries
Wants: Beer, Dodge Polara
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $90,288
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $123,852

The Arnold paterfamilias gets by without much help from his friends or family, covering the costs of a four-bedroom home and family expenses with his salary as a middle manager or small business owner. Though the show never says what city the Arnolds live in and the actual house it shows is in Burbank (estimated to be worth about $717K), the show's creator intended for it to take place in Long Island, so for our purposes those are the numbers we ran with.

The Mathews Family: $138,189 (Boy Meets World)

boy meets world
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Supermarket manager (Alan); real estate agent (Amy)
Address: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $2,170
Needs: School supplies, college tuition for Eric
Wants: Occasional date night
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 172
Required Net Pay: $104,160
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $138,189

The actual house that this coming-of-age sitcom filmed as its location was way too small to actually house a family of five and is actually located in Studio City, California, rather than the Philadelphia of the show. Fortunately a property that was equivalent to the five-bedroom home that the family would need to live comfortably would be very reasonable.

Perfect Strangers
D2A6F9 Ein Grieche Erobert Chicago Perfect Strangers Balki Bartokomous (Bronson Pinchot), Larry Appleton (Mark Linn-Baker) *** Local

Occupation: Ritz Discount Store, Chicago Chronicle newspaper
Address: Chicago, Illinois
Fictional House Size: 2BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $1,765
Needs: Money sent back to Mypos
Wants: Date nights with Jennifer and Mary Anne
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 190
Required Net Pay: $84,720
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $123,220

The shooting location of the apartment where Larry and Balki live is actually in Los Angeles, and an equivalent two-bedroom option in Chicago might be tough to afford on one salary from a discount store (though, thankfully, once Balki starts working and Larry moves up to a job at the newspaper, things start looking better). Together they'd have to be bringing in a combined $123K—that could pay for many sheep in Mypos!

Uncle Phil and Aunt Vivian: $2,426,939 (The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air)

Uncle Phil
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Lawyer (Phil); Teacher/homemaker (Vivian)
Actual Address: 251 North Bristol Avenue, Los Angeles, California
Fictional House Size: 7BD, 8BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $25,036
Needs: Butler salary
Wants: Big meals
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 196
Required Net Pay: $1,201,728
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $2,426,939

The only legit mansion on this list, the actual house sold for $8,907,054, but it's now valued at a mere $7,300,000 by Uncle Phil is a high-powered partner at his law firm and later a judge, and brings in big money, but probably not enough to afford such a luxe lifestyle in one of the country's priciest zip codes.

In fact, he'd have to be making post-Independence Day Will Smith money. That being said, Phil is frugal in most other ways, outside of eating more than is probably good for him.

The Tanners: $2,426,939 (Full House)

Full House
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Sportscaster (Danny); stand-up comedian (Joey); rock musician (Jesse)
Actual Address: 1709 Broderick Street, San Francisco, California
Fictional House Size: 6BD, 3BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $22,291
Needs: Cleaning supplies, school supplies
Wants: Occasional dates, guitar repair
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 241
Required Net Pay: $1,069,968
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $2,426,939

Maybe the most wildly unrealistic situation on this list, this projected income probably wouldn't cover the Tanners' costs. The actual house filmed as part of the show—a 1900 Victorian California brownstone often mistaken for one of SF's iconic Painted Ladies and which sold recently for almost $4 million—has only three bedrooms, while the Tanners would have needed at least six to fit everyone. So costs would have been quite a lot more. Especially considering the intermittent employment of Joey and Jesse, the other two main breadwinners in the full house, it's unlikely even the most successful TV broadcaster makes that much in a year.

Homer Simpson: $166,451 (The Simpsons)

Homer king the simpsons
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Springfield Nuclear Power Plant Worker
Actual Address: 742 Evergreen Terrace
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 4BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $2,403
Needs: Pet food, groceries
Wants: Donuts, Moe's tab
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 148
Required Net Pay: $115,200
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $166,451

Though the show's creators are cagey about which state the city of Springfield is supposed to be, Matt Groening has gone on record saying it's in Oregon, so we'll take him at his word and calculate that a five-bedroom house outside Portland, similar to the one in the show, would run about $3,100 a month. Homer's not a big spender, and saves plenty by borrowing/stealing things from Ned Flanders. But on one salary, such a big place isn't cheap. Thankfully, the nuclear power industry seems to pay pretty well.

Martin Payne: $83,397 (Martin)

Martin Payne, Martin
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Radio DJ
Actual Address: 2900 E Jefferson Ave, Detroit, Michigan
House Size: 2BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $1,250
Needs: Clothes, groceries
Wants: Gifts for Gina
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 129
Required Net Pay: $60,000
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $83,397

Though Martin's a loud, freewheeling character, he's also living pretty responsibly within his means, especially after Gina moves in and the two share the cost of rent on their two-bedroom place in Detroit (even if it makes him mad when she brings in more money than him).

Al Bundy: $63,163 (Married…With Children)

Al Bundy, Married…With Children
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Women's shoes salesman
Actual Address: 641 Castlewood Lane, Deerfield, IL
Fictional House Size: 4BR, 2.5BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $1,029
Needs: Cable bill, couch
Wants: Beer
Big Spender Status: Low
Cost of Living Index: 190
Required Net Pay: $49,392
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $63,163

Al doesn't have a lot of pride in his work, family, or much else in his life, but the guy lives within his means. Though the actual Chicago suburb in which the Bundys live goes unnamed, the house itself that's in the exterior shots for the show is in Deerfield, Illinois, and the would set Al back about $1,000 a month—not bad for a four-bedroom home, complete with comfy couch, TV, and basement ideal for No Ma'am meetings.

George and Louise Jefferson: $532,633 (The Jeffersons)

George and Louise Jefferson, The Jeffersons
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Dry Cleaning Store Owner
Actual Address: 185 East 85th Street, Manhattan, New York
Fictional House Size: 2BD, 1BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $7,123
Needs: Good food
Wants: A maid, bigger piece of the pie
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 233
Required Net Pay: $341,904
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $532,633

All those dry cleaning stores that George owns helped move his family on up to a pretty nice place in the Upper East Side. Now known as "The Jeffersons Building," it would be pretty tough for even a really successful dry cleaning business owner to afford.

The Fishers: $306,920 (Six Feet Under)

Six Feet Under
Screenshot via YouTube

Occupation: Funeral directors
Actual Address: 2302 W 25th Street, Los Angeles, California
Fictional House Size: 5BD, 2BA
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $4,262
Needs: Air conditioning, pest control
Wants: Nice suits
Big Spender Status: Medium
Cost of Living Index: 196
Required Net Pay: $204,576
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $306,920

The Victorian property on West Adams might be pricey for one family, considering it's location and that it's spacious enough to house the Fishers—and a revolving door of bodies. Fortunately, business is reliable at the Fisher & Sons Funeral Home, ensuring a steady income, and their spending is not too outrageous.

Gilligan: $0 (Gilligan's Island)

Gilligan's Island
CBS Productions via YouTube

Occupation: First mate
City: Middle of the Pacific Ocean
Fictional House Size: Hut made of palm fronds
Monthly Mortgage/Rent: $0
Estimated Annual Mortgage: 0
Needs: Fresh water, regular supply of fish coconuts
Wants: Steak dinner, something besides fish or coconuts
Big Spender Status: Nonexistent
Cost of Living Index: 0
Required Net Pay: $0
Required Pre-Tax Salary: $0

Concerning finances, Gilligan had it pretty easy: No bills to pay, no mortgage to worry about, and a handful of friends he could count on. Sure, it probably got a bit boring and at times and he missed everything he knew and loved back home, but at least he never had to worry about recessions or the unpredictable housing market.

To discover more amazing secrets about living your best life, click here to sign up for our FREE daily newsletter!

Alex Palmer
Alex is a writer and expert excavator of fascinating facts. Read more
Filed Under