1. Carrie Bradshaw — Sex and the City


Job: Relationship columnist
Location: New York City, New York
On the show … Protagonist Carrie Bradshaw (portrayed by Sarah Jessica Parker) seemingly writes only one article a week for the fictional newspaper, The New York Star. The way Carrie lives, you’d think the Sex and the City characters’ salaries were sky-high.

In real life … A well-paid freelancer might get $1 a word nowadays. Costs of living were less from 1998 to 2004 (when the show ran), but it would’ve been impossible for Bradshaw to sustain her shoe habit on a freelancer’s salary.

NEXT: Carrie could have supplemented her income as a waitress, like this character.

2. Diane Chambers — Cheers


Job: Waitress
Location: Boston, Massachusetts
On the show … Diane Chambers (right) was portrayed by actress Shelley Long. Chambers was known to be a sharp but snooty woman that came to work as a waitress in Sam Malone’s bar, Cheers. Chambers eventually left Cheers to become a writer.

In real life … Cheers ran from 1982 to 1993 — a time in which Chambers would’ve made less money but benefited from lower costs of living. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) says waitstaff now make an annual mean wage of $32,310 in the Boston area (as of 2018).

NEXT: He makes the big bucks.

3. Sheldon Cooper — The Big Bang Theory

CBS Entertainment/IMDb

Job: Theoretical physicist
Location: Pasadena, California
On the show … Sheldon Cooper, Ph.D., Sc.D. (played by Jim Parsons), is a theoretical physicist at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). Cooper has always been smart — as a 9-year-old child he skipped five grades. (That’s probably unheard of in real life.)

In real life … The median physicist salary in 2018 was $120,950, according to the BLS. You’ve gotta be talented to work at Caltech, but looks like Cooper was smart enough for the task.

NEXT: Nowadays, this profession might be replaced by online psychiatrists.

4. Frasier Crane — Frasier

Getty Images/IMDb

Job: Radio psychiatrist
Location: Seattle, Washington
On the show … Frasier Crane (portrayed by Kelsey Grammer) was a radio psychiatrist based in Seattle, Washington, doling out advice over the Pacific Northwest’s airwaves. Crane pays for his father’s housekeeping and physical therapy in addition to his own expenses.

In real life … The median psychiatrist’s salary is $208,000 (as of 2018), according to data acquired by BLS. Just FYI, Frasier took place between 1993 and 2004, when salaries and costs of living in Seattle were lower.

NEXT: She wouldn’t have been able to afford her apartment on this salary.

5. Monica Geller — Friends


Job: Chef
Location: New York City, New York
On the show … On the iconic show Friends, character Monica Geller (played by Courteney Cox) is a New York City chef living in a giant apartment in the East Village with lavender-colored walls. She eventually becomes head chef at two high-end restaurants.

In real life … Geller would’ve needed to have some roommates to live in the spacious New York City apartment seen on the show. Sure, cost of living would’ve been lower during Friends’ run dates, but consider the mean chef salary for 2018 according to BLS: $52,160.

NEXT: She could treat herself.

6. Meredith Grey — Grey’s Anatomy


Job: Head of general surgery
Location: Seattle, Washington
On the show … Meredith Grey, M.D. (portrayed by Ellen Pompeo), has worked her way up from surgical intern to the head of general surgery throughout the series. But, it looks bad for Grey’s career in the season 15 finale, as she’s committed insurance fraud.

In real life … Grey is blowing it with the insurance fraud thing. Time and time again she’s broken the rules at Grey Sloan, but never been busted. The average annual general surgeon salary in 2018, according to BLS, is $225,700.

NEXT: He’s got to support the bunch somehow.

7. Mike Brady — The Brady Bunch

Mike Brady, TV show characters
Michael Ochs Archives/Michael Ochs Archive via Getty Images

Job: Architect
Location: Unspecified
On the show … Mike Brady (played by the late Robert Reed) supports his family of six kids (three biological and three adopted) and pays for housekeeper Alice. Mother Carol hands out brown bag lunches and kisses Mr. Brady goodbye each morning before he leaves for work.

In real life … Obvi the show took place years ago, so salaries were lower, as well as cost of living. If Mr. Brady was working in 2018, he’d make an average architect salary of $88,860, says BLS.

NEXT: We imagine this character makes more than PayScale says she does.

8. Olivia Pope —Scandal


Job: Crisis manager
Location: Washington, D.C.
On the show … The tough-as-nails Olivia Pope (portrayed by Kerry Washington) is the boss of her own crisis management firm, Olivia Pope & Associates. Her specialty is managing political scandals — something that’ll come into use in D.C., we imagine.

In real life … PayScale reports an average crisis manager salary as $57,391. However, we imagine that a crisis manager working for the freaking POTUS makes more than that! Are you, dear reader, a crisis manager? Call in! We want to hear what YOU’RE making!

NEXT: She’s everyone’s favorite skeptic.

9. Dana Scully — The X-Files

Fox Television/IMDb

Job: Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) special agent
Location: Filmed in Vancouver, then Los Angeles
On the show … Dana Scully (played by Gillian Anderson) investigates strange, supernatural phenomena with fellow agent Fox Mulder (played by David Duchovny). Scully is smart as heck, having graduated from medical school and offered a gig with the FBI.

In real life … As far as we know, FBI agents don’t investigate the supernatural like Scully and Mulder do (that’s what they tell us, anyway … ). The FBI’s website says new FBI special agents earn about $50,605.

NEXT: This character isn’t as successful as the actor who plays him.

10. Jerry Seinfeld — Seinfeld

Jerry Seinfeld, TV characters salaries
NBCUniversal via IMDb

Job: Stand-up comic
Location: New York City, New York
On the show … Actor Jerry Seinfeld (center) plays a fictionalized version of himself, who works as a stand-up comedian and hangs out with his friends George, Elaine, and Kramer. He lives on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and frequents Tom’s Restaurant.

In real life … Actor Jerry Seinfeld’s estimated net worth is $950 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Unless TV Jerry is a famous comic, he can’t afford that UWS apartment. The Art Career Project says the profession might make $30,000 a year.

NEXT: Remember the episode when he yelled, “I DECLARE BANKRUPTCY”?

11. Michael Scott — The Office

NBCUniversal Inc/Image via IMDb

Job: Regional sales manager
Location: Scranton, Pennsylvania
On the show … Michael Scott (played by Steve Carell) is the regional manager of paper company Dunder Mifflin. Like a lot of people in power, Scott is pretty incompetent and often guilty of tactlessness. He was on seven of the nine seasons of The Office.

In real life … Scott could’ve lost his job because of the messed-up things he’s done, but he’s maintained employment throughout the series. (Many imbecile managers keep their job IRL, too.) The median sales manager salary is $124,220, says BLS.

NEXT: Being a mobster is a stressful job.

12. Tony Soprano — The Sopranos


Job: “Waste management consultant”
Location: New Jersey
On the show … Italian-American patriarch Tony Soprano says his career is as a “waste management consultant,” but he’s actually a mobster through and through. Like all jobs, being a mobster causes him stress, leading Tony to regularly see therapist Dr. Jennifer Melfi.

In real life … A quick search on Glassdoor for “waste management consultant” gives an estimated annual salary of $105,461. These are more recent numbers, of course, so that amount might not be contemporary to 1999 to 2007, when The Sopranos ran.

NEXT: Her shopaholic tendencies aren’t supported by this salary.

13. Lily Aldrin — How I Met Your Mother


Job: Kindergarten teacher
Location: New York City, New York
On the show … Lily Aldrin (right) is played by actress Alyson Hannigan. Aldrin works as a kindergarten teacher and is an amateur painter. She’s able to get back into the arts working as an art consultant later in the series.

In real life … A teacher’s salary — kindergarten specifically — is on average $58,370 a year, says data from BLS. Luckily for Aldrin, New York state is the fifth-highest state for employment as a kindergarten teacher.

NEXT: This profession can make him a high roller on- and off-screen.

14. Don Draper — Mad Men

Don Draper, TV characters salaries
Michael Yarish/AMC via IMDb

Job: Creative director
Location: New York City, New York
On the show … Don Draper is the talented, complex, and ruthless creative director of ad agency Sterling Cooper in 1960s New York City. The boys at Sterling Cooper (and some of the women) work hard and play even harder.

In real life … BLS indicates an art director’s average salary would be $104,590. However, Business Insider says Draper would make over $300,000 today. In the 1960s, though, his salary would have been $45,000. (That’s an entry-level salary today!)

NEXT: She works multiple jobs to make ends meet.

15. Roseanne Conner — Roseanne

Roseanne, TV characters salaries
Adam Rose/ABC via IMDb

Job: Various, including plastics factory worker
Location: The fictional Lanford, Illinois
On the show … The show is applauded for featuring a blue-collar family with two parents working outside of the home. Roseanne Conner (portrayed by Roseanne Barr) first worked in a factory, then a string of other menial jobs.

In real life … The Conners constantly struggled with money on the show — an experience many working-class viewers could probably relate to. PayScale lists factory workers as making anywhere from $20,614 to $48,986.

NEXT: Happy + goth + forensic scientist = Words you didn’t expect to go together.

16. Abby Sciuto — NCIS

CBS Broadcasting Inc via IMDb

Job: Forensic scientist
Location: Washington, D.C.
On the show … Abby Sciuto (second from right) was the eccentric forensic scientist on NCIS and possibly the show’s most memorable character. Pauley Perrette played the character from 2003 to 2018, ultimately leaving and hinting at some very troubling reasons for her departure, says Country Living.

In real life … A forensic science tech would make an average of $62,490 in 2018, says the data from BLS. On the high end, a forensic scientist would make $92,000, says data from PayScale.

NEXT: He needed a side hustle because the teacher salary wasn’t cutting it.

17. Walter White — Breaking Bad

AMC Sony via IMDb

Job: High school chemistry teacher
Location: New Mexico
On the show … Breaking Bad is best known for the fascinating transformation of Walter White from meek high school chemistry teacher to ruthless kingpin. He originally starts cooking meth (“blue”) on the side to support his family after being diagnosed with cancer.

In real life … A high school teacher salary is said to be an average of $64,340, according to data from the BLS. Considering White was trying to set his family up for life after he died, that teacher’s salary wouldn’t be enough for that.

NEXT: Good morning, San Francisco!

18. Danny Tanner — Full House

ABC Photo Archives/Courtesy of IMDb

Job: Broadcaster
Location: San Francisco, California
On the show … Dad extraordinaire Danny Tanner (played by Bob Saget) first works as a sportscaster at the beginning of the series. He then co-hosts TV talk show Wake Up, San Francisco! with Rebecca Donaldson. In Fuller House, Tanner is a newscaster in Los Angeles.

In real life … The average broadcaster salary might be $48,000, according to PayScale data. On the high end, a broadcaster could make $102,000. Adjust that to salary levels when the show took place, and Tanner is lucky his brothers were contributing to the household income.

NEXT: Family matters, and so does money …

19. Carl Winslow — Family Matters

ABC Photo Archives via IMDb

Job: Police officer
Location: Chicago, Illinois
On the show … Carl Winslow (right) is the patriarch on Family Matters. A police officer for the Chicago Police Department, he’s always irritated and constantly bothered by his neighbor — none other than Steve Urkel himself. It’s suggested Winslow is a great officer, although he has an incompetent boss.

In real life … Data from the BLS says a police officer’s salary is $65,460 on average in 2018. Winslow might have made that in today’s money, but adjust that salary to the time period of the show, and he’d make less money.

NEXT: He’s known as “The Tool Man.”

20. Tim Taylor — Home Improvement

Tim Taylor, TV characters salaries
The Walt Disney Co./IMDb

Job: TV host
Location: Detroit, Michigan
On the show … Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (left) hosts a TV show with fellow character Al Borland — a home improvement show called Tool Time. Despite his nickname, Taylor is overly confident and accident-prone. He ignores safety regulations, often ending up in the hospital.

In real life … Hopefully Taylor has good health insurance, because otherwise, his broadcaster salary will probably take a beating … We mentioned in a slide before that Danny Tanner’s career as a broadcaster might earn him $48,000, according to PayScale.

NEXT: He and Carl Winslow might have some things to discuss.

21. Jim Hopper — Stranger Things

Jim Hopper, TV characters salaries
Netflix/Courtesy of Netflix via IMDb

Job: Police officer
Location: The fictional Hawkins, Indiana
On the show … Jim Hopper (played by David Harbour) is chief of the Hawkins Police Department. Easygoing Hop (not so easygoing in season three) hadn’t previously dealt with anything crazy like the supernatural Upside Down business, considering the sleepy nature of Hawkins.

In real life … Hopper might make $65,460 in today’s money on a police officer salary, according to data from the BLS. He might make more as he’s chief, but that number might be on the nose since it’s a small town.

NEXT: The actor that plays him makes more money.

22. Doug Ross — ER

NBC via Getty Images

Job: Emergency room doctor
Location: Chicago, Illinois
On the show … The dreamy Dr. Doug Ross (portrayed by actor George Clooney) is a dedicated ER pediatrician at County General. He’s known as a womanizer (at least for a while) with a complicated personal life. Despite this, he’s dedicated to medicine.

In real life … An ER doctor’s salary would be $220,642 in today’s money, according to data from PayScale. The average doctor’s salary is $209,000 in today’s money, also according to PayScale data. Dr. Ross can definitely afford all those dates …

NEXT: It’s surprising he’s qualified for this gig.

23. Homer Simpson — The Simpsons

Homer Simpson, TV characters salaries

Job: Various, including nuclear plant safety inspector
Location: Springfield (what state it’s in, we don’t know)
On the show … Homer Simpson (voiced by actor Dan Castellaneta) is the bumbling patriarch of the Simpsons family. He works days as a nuclear plant safety inspector and annoys his family nights and weekends.

In real life … Simpson’s paycheck is briefly shown during season seven, revealing a net pay of $362.19 weekly. Adjusted for inflation, that’s $37,416 annually. ZipRecruiter’s data says the average nuclear plant safety inspector salary is $65,498.

NEXT: Living with many roommates supplements her teacher salary quite well.

24. Jessica Day — New Girl

Jessica Day, TV characters salaries
FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Job: Middle school teacher, vice principal
Location: Los Angeles, California
On the show … Jessica Day (played by Zooey Deschanel) starts off as a middle school teacher. She gets laid off later on, taking on various jobs, but circles back to teaching in adult education and then later goes on to be a vice principal.

In real life … Before becoming vice principal, Day could earn an average middle school teacher salary of $58,600 per year. Considering Day shares an apartment with several dudes throughout most of New Girl, she could afford her LA lifestyle.

NEXT: Add “creator of Galentine’s Day” to her résumé!

25. Leslie Knope — Parks and Recreation

Leslie Knope, TV characters salaries
Larry French/NBC via IMDb

Job: Deputy director of the Parks and Recreation department
Location: The fictional Pawnee, Indiana
On the show … Leslie Knope (right) is the deputy director of the Parks and Recreation department in the fictional Pawnee, Indiana. She starts off ditzy, but writers developed her into a sharp yet overenthusiastic character.

In real life … PayScale shows the average salary for a deputy director of Parks and Recreation to be $59,938 annually. Costs of living in Pawnee are probably less than, say, a bigger city like New York City or Los Angeles, so Knope could get by fine on that salary.