Here's How Expensive It Is To Make Just One Episode Of These 21 Popular TV Shows

1.First, Game of Thrones Season 1 — $6 million per episode.

Scenes from Game of Thrones

Back when Game of Thrones began in 2011, the HBO series was reportedly spending only $6 million per episode, which, given some of the bigger fantasy elements, is quite impressive. After the first five seasons, the budget jumped to $10 million per episode for seasons 6 and 7, with the final season costing $15 million per episode.


2.House of the Dragon — $20 million per episode.

Scenes from House of the Dragon

This Game of Thrones spinoff had an estimated budget of $200 million for the whole first season. The cost per episode of House of the Dragon is only $5 million more than the cost of the series finale of Game of Thrones.


3.Stranger Things Season 4 — $30 million per episode.

Scenes from Stranger Things

Netflix reportedly spent $30 million per episode for this latest season of Stranger Things, which was one of their biggest seasons of the show to date. A lot of that budget most likely went to the visual effects. The detailed visual effects and how time-consuming they were were among the reasons Season 4 was split into two parts, too.


4.The Big Bang Theory Season 11 — $10 million per episode.

Scenes from The Big Bang Theory

The Big Bang Theory reportedly spent $10 million per episode during the 2016–17 season, which was equal to the budget of one episode of Game of Thrones at the time. The reason for The Big Bang Theory's big budget was mostly the salaries of its stars, which were $1 million apiece per episode.


5.Friends Season 10 — $10 million per episode.

Scenes from Friends

In order to keep the show around for a final season, NBC agreed to pay Warner Bros. $10 million per episode, which was a very high price for a 30-minute comedy. Some of the budget went to the cast's salaries, which were $1 million per episode, per cast member, at the time.


6.The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power — $60 million per episode.

Scenes from The Rings of Power

The Rings of Power is television's most expensive show to date, with Prime Video giving the entire show a budget of roughly $715 million as of right now, with $465 million reportedly going just to the first eight episodes.

Prime Video

7.The Crown seasons 1 and 2 — $7 million per episode.

Scenes from The Crown

The Crown was Netflix's most expensive series at the time of its release in 2016 — Season 1 of the series was reportedly given a £100 million budget. News of the cost for the first two seasons notably broke when it was revealed that Claire Foy was paid less than Matt Smith for her work as Queen Elizabeth II.


8.Bridgerton Season 1 — $7 million per episode.

Scenes from Bridgerton

The first season of Bridgerton reportedly cost around $7 million per episode. And since the show went on to break numerous Netflix records as one of the most watched shows to date, it was well worth the money in the eyes of the streamer.


9.The Walking Dead Season 1 — $3.4 million per episode.

Scenes from The Walking Dead

The budget for The Walking Dead has been widely publicized since original showrunner Frank Darabont was reportedly fired over budget concerns between the first two seasons of the hit series. The first season cost $3.4 million per episode, according to Forbes, while Season 2's budget was cut to around $2.75 million per episode.


10.The Falcon and the Winter Soldier — $25 million per episode.

Scenes from The Falcon and the Winter Soldier

Marvel and Disney gave The Falcon and the Winter Soldier a budget of $25 million per episode. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, which delayed production on the series, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier was slated to be the first MCU original show on Disney+.

Marvel / Disney+

11.WandaVision — $25 million per episode.

Scenes from WandaVision

During preproduction for WandaVision, which was originally supposed to be the second MCU Disney+ series, the series had an estimated budget of $25 million per episode, just like Falcon and the Winter Soldier. This was one of the first big Disney+ and Marvel series, too.

Marvel / Disney+

12.The Mandalorian — $15 million per episode.

Scenes from The Mandalorian

Lucasfilm and Disney spend an estimated $15 million on this Star Wars series. The show's initial episode budget was factored into the projected $1 billion Disney spent on original programming in 2020.

Lucasfilm / Disney+

13.The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story — $6 million per episode.

Scenes from The People v OJ

In 2017, due to the rising cost of TV — in a "peak TV" era — FX upped how much it was willing to spend on this hourlong drama series. The Ryan Murphy–produced show got the highest budget per episode with $6 million.


14.The Boys Season 1 — $11.2 million per episode.

Scenes from The Boys

After the first season of The Boys, Prime Video actually upped the show's budget, which not only went to visual effects but also bought the show the "ability" to have bigger action sequences, according to showrunner Eric Kripke.

Prime Video

15.The Witcher Season 1 — $10 million per episode.

Scenes from The Witcher

For Season 1 of this hit series, Netflix apparently spent between $70 million and $80 million. At a time when everyone was competing to be the next Game of Thrones, Netflix wanted to snag that loyal audience. The budget went toward visual effects, set design, Henry Cavill's paycheck, and more.


16.Insecure — $3.5 million per episode.

Scenes from Insecure

In 2017, it was reported that an episode of Insecure cost $3.5 million to make. At the time, there was a massive boom in the amount of money studios spent on TV. The budget for Insecure was low for an HBO series but still above a network TV show.


17.Downton Abbey series 1 and 2 — $1 million per episode.

Scenes from Downton Abbey

According to creator Julian Fellowes in the book The World of Downton Abbey, the drama series cost a little over $1 million per episode in 2011. The low cost can likely be attributed to the show filming before TV budgets began to skyrocket in the era of "peak TV"; a lot of the budget went toward the costumes.


18.The Morning Show seasons 1 and 2 — $15 million per episode.

Scenes from The Morning Show

The Morning Show was given two seasons when it was first announced, which meant Apple spent a reported $300 million on the series out of the gate. The show marked the first big project from Apple TV+, and with stars like Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, it's no wonder the budget per episode was this high.

Apple TV+

19.Lost — $4 million per episode (the pilot cost around $12 million).

Scenes from Lost

While Lost was airing, it was considered one of the most expensive TV series, largely because of the filming locations needed to pull off the show. While each episode reportedly cost $4 million, the two-part pilot itself was around $12 million due to the plane crash.


20.Mad Men — $3 million per episode.

Scenes from Mad Men

While Mad Men is considered one of the best TV shows ever, when Season 3 premiered, its low viewership began to call attention to the hefty cost of each episode, which reportedly sat at around $3 million. Given the time period the series was set in, costs for the show were higher than those of other shows that brought in the same number of viewers.


21.And finally, ER seasons 4 to 6 — $13 million per episode.

Scenes from ER

At the time, this was one of the biggest TV deals ever, and a record-breaking cost for a TV series. At a time when NBC was worried about losing its successful "Must See TV" Thursday-night lineup, the network did anything it could to keep ER. Prior to this, each episode of ER only cost roughly $2 million.