Ashton Kutcher Tops List Of The Highest-Paid TV Actors

Forbes.com

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Sheen? Who's Charlie Sheen? The volatile actor topped our list of Highest-Paid TV Actors last year with $40 million. This year he's nowhere to be seen. Instead, the actor who took over his lead role on the hit CBS sitcom "Two and A Half Men" ranks in the No. 1 spot. We estimate that Ashton Kutcher earned $24 million between May 2011 and May 2012.

Kutcher has proven that he can hold his own on the show. "Two and a Half Men" attracts an average 12 million viewers per show making it the most-watched sitcom on TV. That's given Kutcher plenty of money to invest in the Silicon Valley startups that have become his passion. Kutcher was an early investor in Skype, Spotify, and Airbnb.

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The two sides of his life, acting and tech investing, will come together in the upcoming film "Jobs" where Kutcher will play Apple founder Steve Jobs.

Sheen isn't the only actor who failed to make our list this year (and he might get back on thanks to his great deal on the show "Anger Management"). Steve Carrell ranked third last year with $15 million. This year he didn't even qualify for our TV list. Carell left the NBC sitcom "The Office" in 2011 so now he'll need to prove himself as a movie star. Small movies like "Hope Springs" and "Seeking a Friend at the End of the World" aren't going to help him compete against the likes of Tom Cruise and Will Smith when it comes to paydays. Carell has a long way to go before he can get back on our lists.


The numbers for the Highest-Paid TV Actor list come from our Celebrity 100 research and reflect estimated earnings between May 2011 and May 2012. We do not deduct for manager and agent fees or the other costs of being a celebrity.

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Ranking second on our list behind Kutcher is Hugh Laurie with $18 million. This is likely the last year for Laurie on the list. His Fox show, "House," ended its eight-year run in May. Laurie will continue to earn from "House" in syndication but it won’t be enough for him to land on our Celebrity 100 again unless he gets on another show or beefs up his movie career.

Tying for second place with $18 million is Ray Romano. The "Everybody Loves Raymond" star made a brief return to the small screen with "Men of a Certain Age." The TNT show was critically acclaimed but never attracted a very large audience. TNT canceled the show last year after only two seasons. Romano still earns plenty though from Raymond reruns and "Ice Age" where he plays wooly mammoth Manny. The fourth "Ice Age" movie earned $860 million at the global box office.

Alec Baldwin and Mark Harmon tie for fourth place with $15 million each. For years Baldwin has been talking about ending his run on "30 Rock" where he plays awesome executive Jack Donaghy. Now he'll get his chance to spread his wings. The ratings-challenged sitcom is in its final season. He'll next voice a tough-talking Santa Claus in DreamWorks Animation's "Rise of the Guardians."

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"NCIS" might be one of the least hip shows on TV but it's still a ratings juggernaut for CBS attracting an average 19.7 million viewers per show. Harmon, who got his start on the medical drama "St. Elsewhere," has been happy to stick to TV. He hasn't appeared in a major movie since "NCIS" debuted in 2003.

See the full list of The Highest-Paid TV Actors

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