The Two and a Half Men effect – Ashton Kutcher replaces Charlie Sheen as highest paid US TV actor

The new star of the American sitcom ousts its former lead to take the number one spot in the Forbes list, followed by House actor Hugh Laurie

Landing the Two and a Half Men gig has turned out to be the biggest coup of Ashton Kutcher’s career. Following his first season playing Walden Schmidt in the CBS show, the actor has earned a bank-busting £14.8m – landing him the title of best paid actor on US television.


And to add insult to injury, he has usurped his predecessor Charlie Sheen’s position at the top of Forbes’ TV actors rich-list after the Anger Management actor was acrimoniously fired from the role following his public meltdown last year.

Sheen – who once earned a reported £24.8m for playing Charlie Harper – has not even made the top ten this time around, despite his new FX series receiving a 90-episode order in August.

Tied at number two behind Kutcher are British actor and comedian Hugh Laurie, who took home an impressive £11m for his lead role in medical drama House, and Ray Romano – star of Parenthood – whose large pay check mostly comes from the syndication of his hit show Everybody Loves Raymond, which ended in 2005.

30 Rock’s Alec Baldwin and NCIS actor Mark Harmon are equal fourth with a healthy £9m, while rounding off the top ten are Tim Allen (Last Man Standing and Home Improvement), Jon Cryer (Ashton’s Two and a Half Men co-star), Patrick Dempsey (Grey’s Anatomy), Jim Parsons (The Big Bang Theory), Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory) and Jason Segel (How I Met Your Mother).

Along with Sheen, notable absentees from this year’s list are Steve Carell – 2011’s number three, who sacrificed his £9m annual earnings when he left The Office: An American Workplace last year – as well as Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, stars of the Emmy Award-winning political series Homeland.

Check out this year’s Forbes top 10 best paid TV actors (and their earnings) below:

1 Ashton Kutcher (£14.8m)

2= Hugh Laurie (£11m)

2= Ray Romano (£11m)

4= Alec Baldwin (£9m)

4= Mark Harmon (£9m)

6 Tim Allen (£8.6m)

7 Jon Cryer (£8m)

8 Patrick Dempsey (£7.5m)

9= Jim Parsons (£5m)

9= Johnny Galecki (£5m)


9= Jason Segel (£5m)