The characters on your favorite television shows rarely seem to worry about their finances. They are often dressed to impress, live in nice homes and are able to afford whatever they want without much thought. But how much would these popular characters actually be making, based on their careers and location? (For a related reading, see Why Networks Love Reality TV.)
IN PICTURES: Celebrities With Big Dreams That Paid Off

Grey's Anatomy - Surgical Interns
Salary in Seattle: $48,000
National Average: $47,000

The original characters have moved up the food chain (or the actors have moved on), but the show was originally based on the surgical interns finding their place in the big bad hospital. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), to become a surgeon one would typically need to spend four years earning an undergraduate degree, four years in medical school and three to eight years as an intern and resident. At least we know Grey's won't run out of time in the near future! So what would a surgical intern be making in Seattle, WA? According to, $48,000 per year. Hopefully those student loans haven't come due yet!

The Big Bang Theory - Theoretical Physicist
Salary in Pasadena: $86,000
National Average: $84,500

The brilliant mind of Dr. Sheldon Cooper has won actor Jim Parsons a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series. If physics is your passion, be prepared to spend a lot of time in school to make it your career – a PhD is typically required for research positions like Sheldon holds. If you were planning to be a theoretical physicist in Pasadena, California, you could expect to make $86,000 providing you hold a PhD and have about six years experience. However, if Sheldon is in fact a postdoctoral research associate, that yearly salary drops to $44,000, with a national average of $42,000.

CSI: Las Vegas - Crime Scene Investigators
Salary in Las Vegas: $51,000
National Average: $44,570

The gritty CSIs seem to be a mix of lab geeks and detectives. CSIs often hold a degree in Criminal Justice or have a background in science. Their jobs include assessing and processing crime scenes and evidence to try and determine what really happened. They may be called upon to testify concerning their findings in court. In Las Vegas, all of that dirty work would be rewarded by an annual salary of $51,000 – quite a bit higher than the national average of $44,570.

IN PICTURES: 7 Millionaires By Marriage

How I Met Your Mother - Architect
Salary in New York City: $59,400
National Average: $52,500

Ted Mosby has big dreams when it comes to love, and his aspirations for his career are almost as lofty. Architects design buildings for clients on a project basis. According to the BLS, architects must be licensed to practice, just as a lawyer or doctor would. And like those professions, architects must complete a degree and internship before sitting for the licensing exam. A successful architect working in Manhattan might be taking home $59,400. This is above the national average of $52,500.

Criminal Minds - FBI Agents
Salary in Quantico: $77,250
National Average: $70,400

A component of the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation's National Center for the Analysis of Violent Crime (NCAVC), the Behavioral Analysis Unit really does use a mix of psychology and social sciences to better understand and apprehend criminals. So what could you make if you signed up as an FBI agent in Quantico, VA? The national average is $70,400. But if you're in Quantico, you could expect to pull in a bit more, with the average being $77,250.

The Bottom Line
The focus of these kinds of shows is rarely financial. After all, if we're looking to kick back and relax watching some TV, it's unlikely that we'd like to see our favorite characters balancing their budgets. However, when you see them jump into a Lexus and drive out of a fancy Los Angeles property, now you might have a better understanding of if that's likely or just more TV magic. (For more, check out Financial Careers According To Hollywood.)

Salary figures are provided by online salary database

For the latest financial news, see Water Cooler Finance: Rising Markets And Buffett's Successor.

Related Articles
  1. Investing News

    Should You Invest in Disney Stock Before Star Wars?

    The force is strong with Disney stock, as it continues to make gains going into the launch of EP7. But is this pricey stock a good buy at these levels?
  2. Retirement

    Is Netflix Stock Suitable for Your IRA or Roth IRA?

    Learn about the risks of Netflix's business plan and long-term corporate strategy, and see if the stock's risk/reward profile warrants inclusion in an IRA.
  3. Stock Analysis

    4 Things to Watch in the Cable Industry's Consolidation

    Learn about the high-profile purchases being made of cable companies and how these signal the future consolidation of the cable industry.
  4. Personal Finance

    10 Reasons It Is Time to Look for a New Job

    Learn 10 good reasons for switching jobs, such as major life changes, ethical concerns, job description creep and upwards mobility.
  5. Wealth Management

    The Net Worth of the Shark Tank Cast

    Discover how the richest "Sharks" on the hit TV show amassed their vast fortunes, and learn how much they have to offer eager entrepreneurs.
  6. Investing News

    How AT&T Evolved into a Mobile Phone Giant

    A third of Americans use an AT&T mobile phone. How did it evolve from a state-sponsored monopoly, though antitrust and a technological revolution?
  7. Economics

    Management Strategies From A Top CEO

    Jack Welch is a legend in the business world: during the two decades he was CEO of General Electric, the company’s value rose by 4000%.
  8. Investing

    Oprah Winfrey Closes Iconic Harpo Studios

    A look at the history of Harpo, and what the future holds for the queen of entertainment ventures.
  9. Markets

    How Global Entertainment Firms Break Into the Chinese Market

    Learn how movie piracy in China affects companies such as Disney, and what these companies are doing to combat it, including co-productions in China.
  10. Investing

    From Supermodel to Entrepreneur: Gisele Bündchen's Sejaa Pure Skincare

    As one of the highest-paid models in history, Bündchen has turned her name and image into a worldwide brand, and Sejaa is part of her massive empire.
  1. Does working capital include salaries?

    A company accrues unpaid salaries on its balance sheet as part of accounts payable, which is a current liability account, ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. Do financial advisors need to meet quotas?

    Most financial advisors are required to meet quotas, particularly if they work for firms that pay base salaries or draws ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What is the difference between AGI (adjusted gross income) and gross income?

    In the United States, individuals pay taxes based on their adjusted gross income, or AGI, rather than their gross income. ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How is marginal propensity to save calculated?

    Marginal propensity to save is used in Keynesian macroeconomics to quantify the relationship between changes in income and ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. How can minimum wages contribute to a market failure?

    The minimum wage acts like a price floor on labor, reducing the supply of jobs available to a level below the market-clearing ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. How does the always be closing (ABC) strategy benefit a salesperson's sales funnel?

    It is good practice in sales to always be closing, because it's common for a salesperson's sales funnel to be leaky. When ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Black Friday

    1. A day of stock market catastrophe. Originally, September 24, 1869, was deemed Black Friday. The crash was sparked by gold ...
  2. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  3. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  4. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  5. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  6. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
Trading Center