The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
Salaries of Television Dads
Throughout the history of television, actors have portrayed American families making it through life, going through family problems, resolving issues, and somehow still managing to enjoy each other’s company. In almost all television shows, the father always ran off to work and would return home where the show would focus on the interactions of family members. Sometimes the dad would bring his work home with him and his family would help him solve issues, while other times, the show actually brought the viewer into the job of the TV Dad.
Nowadays, usually mother and father work, teenage to grown kids may work, or the show altogether is focused mostly on the workplace, on the characters and their lives at work, portraying them as they are at work and seldom leaving the workplace to show them elsewhere.
In the cases where the show focused on home and family life, there were sometimes unrealistic or realistic expectations about salary vs. lifestyle. For example, the show Friends, although a beloved show and forgiven for all its faults, portrays five friends who basically live together, yet hardly ever go to work, or work jobs that would never pay the type of salary that could afford the luxuries of a New York apartment.
Another example that can be debated is Ray (Ray Ramano) in Everybody Loves Raymond. While portraying a husband, father, and son, and supposedly working as a well-known sportswriter, might make anywhere from $20,000 to $80,000, depending on who they are writing for, how often they write, and how well they write. The actual house is located at 135 Margaret Blvd Merrick, NY, with Zillow putting the cost of the house at $504,000, or rent being around $2,000 to $3,000 a month. While his wife Debra (Patricia Heaton) is a stay at home mother, it is realistic that Ray could definitely afford the house on his salary if he works hard enough, though the show seemed to focus mostly on family life and not so much on his work life.
Most shows have done an excellent job of portraying salary and matching lifestyle of family as a realistic perception. A single low-income family certainly would not be living in a mansion, as seen for Al Bundy making around $25,000 a year, and his family in Married with Children. It is perfectly acceptable, however, for Uncle Phil in Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, a judge, to be making over $100,000 a year and living well-off in a great mansion, with the average price of a mansion in Beverley Hills, California being around $1 – $2 million when the show aired. Also portrayed realistically, as he and his family were living in a mansion, which his salary allowed, was Maxwell Sheffield in The Nanny, whose average salary at the time may have been about $100,000 to $150,000 a year.
The most unrealistic salary on a television show is Peter Griffin’s salary on Family Guy. Joe Swanson does have a realistic salary and an affordable home at about $50,000 to $60,000 a year working as a police officer. Cleveland Brown is a deli owner and entrepreneur, with an estimated salary of around $30,000. In later episodes, Cleveland is seen working as a postal worker, which means his salary is around $50,000 – $60,000 a year. Glen Quagmire is another neighbor making the highest paid salary, working as a commercial airline pilot, with many years of experience, his salary is most likely around or above $80,000 to $110,000. Considering that Quagmire has flown to the Philippines, his salary should be quite high. Peter Griffin, however, with all his jobs, would not be making anywhere near the salaries of his neighbors. Taking either of Peter Griffin’s two primary careers throughout the show: An assembly-line worker at a toy company and a workerbee and clerk at Pawtucket Patriot Brewery, he makes an estimated $20,000 to $30,000 a year, though his adventures and antics tend to cost a lot more, which would put him in massive debt.
Some of the salaries of these TV dads may be higher or lower than what they actually make, for example, in an episode of The Simpsons, when Homer views his paycheck, it is significantly lower than what is stated below, suggesting that he makes less than $25,000 a year, but for what his job responsibilities are and what his job title is, he should be making around or above $50,000 – $60,000 a year. It should also be taken into consideration that these salaries are based on the salaries for the year 2005.
This table chart shows the salary of television dads, as they would make in the show, not what they were actually getting paid.
|TV DAD||SHOW||JOB||BASE SALARY|
(in 2005 $)
|1||Blake Carrington||Dynasty (1981-89)||CEO Denver-Carrington||$856,515|
|2||J.R. “Jock” Ewing, Sr.||Dallas (1978-91)||CEO Ewing Oil||$838,569|
|3||Philip Drummond||Diff’rent Strokes (1978-86)||President||$720,600|
|4||Chase Gioberti||Falcon Crest (1981-90)||Vineyard Owner||$677,487|
|5||George Jefferson||The Jeffersons (1975-85)||CEO Jefferson Cleaners||$555,702|
|6||Michael Bluth||Arrested Development (2003-present)||CEO Real Estate Company||$527,205|
|7||Jed Bartlet||West Wing (1999-present)||US President||$400,000|
|8||Andy Brown||Everwood (2002-present)||Neurosurgeon||$328,949|
|9||Sean McNamara||Nip/Tuck (2003-present)||Plastic Surgeon||$274,456|
|10||Vernon Albright||My Little Margie (1952-55)||Investment Executive||$270,035|
|11||Walter Findley||Maude (1972-78)||Appliance Store Owner||$245,668|
|12||Heathcliff Huxtable||The Cosby Show (1984-92)||Obstetrician||$237,932|
|13||Tim Taylor||Home Improvement (1991-99)||Host of “Tool Time”||$191,526|
|14||George Baxter||Hazel (1961-66)||Corporate Lawyer||$178,880|
|15||Frasier Crane||Frasier (1993-2004)||Radio Psychiatrist||$164,644|
|16||Jason Seaver||Growing Pains (1985-92)||Psychiatrist||$160,466|
|17||Philip Banks||Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990-96)||Judge||$146,000|
|18||Howard Borden||The Bob Newhart Show (1972-78)||Airline Pilot||$135,818|
|19||Danny Tanner||Full House (1987-95)||Morning Show Host||$130,000|
|20||Sandy Cohen||The OC (2003-present)||Lawyer||$113,780|
|21||Uncle Bill Davis||Family Affair (1966-71)||Consulting Engineer||$111,353|
|22||Sam Aldrich||The Aldrich Family (1949-53)||District Attorney||$102,504|
|23||Rob Petrie||The Dick Van Dyke Show (1961-66)||Head Comedy Writer (TV)||$95,941|
|24||Tom Corbett||The Courtship of Eddie’s Father (1969-72)||Magazine Publisher||$95,021|
|25||Alan Harper||Two and a Half Men (2003-present)||Chiropractor||$87,672|
|26||Andy Taylor||The Andy Griffith Show (1960-68)||Sheriff||$84,019|
|27||Tom Scavo||Desperate Housewives (2004-present)||Regional Sales Manager||$83,688|
|28||Ross Gellar||Friends (1994-2004)||Professor of Paleontology||$81,904|
|29||Darrin Stephens||Bewitched (1964-72)||Advertising Executive||$70,785|
|30||Homer Simpson||The Simpsons (1989-present)||Nuclear Safety Inspector||$65,000|
|31||Henry Mitchell||Dennis the Menace (1986-88)||Engineer||$60,537|
|32||Frank Costanza||Seinfeld (1990-98)||Salesman||$59,070|
|33||Steve Douglas||My Three Sons (1960-72)||Aviation Engineer||$53,962|
|34||Nate Fisher||Six Feet Under (2001-05)||Funeral Director||$53,366|
|35||Ricky Ricardo||I Love Lucy (1951-57)||Bandleader||$51,931|
|36||Frank De Fazio||Laverne & Shirley (1976-83)||Pizza Bowl Manager||$51,896|
|37||Howard Cunningham||Happy Days (1974-84)||Hardware Store Manager||$49,796|
|38||Tom Bradford||Eight is Enough (1977-81)||Columnist||$49,065|
|39||Lars “Papa” Hansen||Mama (1949-56)||Carpenter||$48,170|
|40||Carl Winslow||Family Matters (1989-98)||Police Officer||$48,000|
|41||Herman Munster||The Munsters (1964-66)||Undertaker||$47,268|
|42||Chester A Riley||The Life of Riley (1953-58)||Airplane Riveter||$47,049|
|43||Ray Barone||Everybody Loves Raymond (1996-2005)||Sportswriter||$46,852|
|44||Ward Cleaver||Leave it to beaver (1957-63)||Accountant||$46,617|
|45||Archie Bunker||All in the Family (1971-79)||Dock Foreman||$45,431|
|46||George Burns||Burns and Allen (1950-58)||Entertainer||$44,386|
|47||Danny Williams||Make Room for Daddy (1953-65)||Nightclub Entertainer||$44,386|
|48||Mike Brady||Brady Bunch (1969-74)||Architect||$44,064|
|49||Elliot Stabler||Law & Order: SVU (1999-present)||Detective||$42,889|
|50||Andy Sipowicz||NYPD Blue (1993-2005)||Detective||$42,889|
|51||Steven Keaton||Family Ties (1982-89)||Public TV Station Manager||$40,713|
|52||Jim Anderson||Father Knows Best (1954-60)||Insurance Agent||$38,790|
|53||Dan Conner||Roseanne (1988-97)||Construction Worker||$38,202|
|54||Fred Flintstone||The Flintstones (1960-66)||Quarry Crane Operator||$37,357|
|55||Gary Ewing||Knots Landing (1979-93)||Mechanic (first job)||$33,529|
|56||Fred G. Sanford||Sanford and Son (1972-77)||Junk Dealer||$27,950|
|57||Al Bundy||Married with children (1987-97)||Shoe Salesman||$25,943|
|58||John Walton, Sr.||The Waltons (1972-81)||Lumberman||$24,128|
|59||Tony Micelli||Who’s the Boss? (1984-92)||Housekeeper||$21,281|
|60||James Evans, Sr.||Good Times (1974-79)||Unemployed||$0|
Original Source: http://money.cnn.com/pf/features/lists/tvdad_salaries/