The 10 Most Expensive Television Series to Hit the Small Screen

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Large-budget productions are not just limited to film or cinema. The small screen has had its share of costly television series that may or may not have clicked with audiences. There are several factors that contribute to a pricey production—some of that being special effects needed, exotic locations, and not to mention talent fees for big named stars.

Apparently, most networks gamble with large budgets in hopes of getting big returns. Take for example the success of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Seeing how this show has become such a big hit, other networks won’t hesitate to follow suit.

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But unfortunately, not all television shows on this list were well-received by audiences, and many were being axed off the screen after it was released. Want to know if your favorite show made the cut? Read on below and find out.

10. Terra Nova

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Fox’s ambitious sci-fi series had a strong plot and a massive production, which involved dinosaurs and time travel.  The show even received an approval from Steven Spielberg himself. It also got critical praise, mostly for the production’s effort in creating the CGI-enhanced world.  All in all, the television show cost a massive $14 million to make with most of the money getting spent on completing the set in Australia.

Unfortunately, audience support was not enough to keep it on screen, and FOX announced that Terra Nova was not going to be renewed shortly after its first season finale. Producers attempted to sell the show to other networks and even asked Netflix to continue a second season. But as of this writing, no announcement has been made.

9. Deadwood

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HBO spares no expense when it comes to creating their signature television shows, and Deadwood is the first but definitely not the last from the network to appear on this list. The period drama, which stars Hollywood heavyweights Timothy Olyphant and Ian McShane, was well-received by critics all over its three-season run.

Deadwood was based on an actual gold rush, which transpired in Deadwood, South Dakota, and this factor alone was enough pique audience interest. Lavish expenses were made on set design, which features real livestock and horses that brought people back in time, and they were certainly paid off when the show took home five Emmy awards.

Despite being cancelled, HBO has given the green-light for the script of a Deadwood movie this year. The news came not long after dedicated fans held on the hope of having another system following successful DVD sales.

8. Boardwalk Empire

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Another one of HBO’s signature series is the critically acclaimed Boardwalk Empire, which cost a staggering $5 million per episode to make. The series was set during the 1920s era, specifically in the Atlantic City boardwalk. It features Steve Buscemi as the unlikely anti-hero/protagonist Enoch “Nucky” Thompson. The character was actually based on real-life corrupt politician Enoch L. Johnson.

Buscemi’s performance was praised by critics and audiences alike, and the series went on to run for five very successful seasons. It was also recognized by numerous award shows and is often regarded as one the best television shows of all time.

7. Frasier

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Frasier is undoubtedly one of the best spin-offs in American television history. It stars Hollywood actor Kelsey Grammer as Dr. Frasier Crane, a fictional character that appeared in the long-running series Cheers. Grammer is one of the highest-paid comedians, so his salary of $1.6 million per episode contributed a good chunk of the series budget.

But it wasn’t just Grammer that earned such a big amount, as his co-stars David Hyde Pierce, John Mahoney, and Jane Leeves reeled in handsome salaries as well. What’s even more amazing is that the two dogs that played Frasier’s Jack Russell Terrier Eddie earned a respectable $10,000 an episode.

Production efforts pulled through, as Fraiser is regarded as one of the best comedy shows to have ever aired. It went on to do eleven seasons with the final episode airing in 2003.

6. Game of Thrones

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Game of Thrones‘ budget is not on the cast but is mostly spent on its filming locations and massive sets. The gamble that network giant HBO made on it proved to be one of their most successful ones yet as Game of Thrones is considered to be the third-highest rated television series. The television show does not shy away from its depiction of violence and nudity set behind a magical realm, and it has received its fair share of critics because of that.

The series is still ongoing and continues to garner more fans, who loyally tune in to see if their favorite characters survive this season. Evidently, the series puts most fantasy-themed movies to shame, but that comes with a price. Each Game of Thrones episode costs a staggering $6 million to make, and it was reported that the pilot episode had a budget of $10 million.

5. Camelot

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This Starz series came out roughly the same time HBO’s Game of Thrones did, and although it received positive reviews, the series failed to push a second season. The show had 1.1 million viewers with a 0.5 rating in the 18–49 demographic during its run, which fared well for production. The problem was the conflicting schedules of the main actors, as the television show stars big names such as Eva Green, Jamie Campbell Bower, and Joseph Fiennes.

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