The 10 Most Expensive Television Series to Hit the Small Screen


The series got the axing block, but audiences were not that disappointed as HBO’s Game of Thrones eventually took over.

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4. Marco Polo


Starz originally developed the series, but when they failed to get permits to shoot in China, Netflix picked it up. Like most period dramas, budget mostly went to the set, costume design, and filming on location. All ten episodes of the first season were said to have cost more than $90 million.

However, Marco Polo was not a hit with critics, receiving both mixed to negative reviews. This did not stop Netflix from renewing it for a second season, though, and it is set to premiere in July 2016.

3. Friends


You are probably wondering why such a simple television show with limited sets can have such a big rating. Similar to Fraiser, the equally hit tv series Friends allotted a big budget for the cast’s contracts. Turned out, David Schwimmer, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew Perry, Lisa Kudrow, Courteney Cox, and Matt LeBlanc became real-life close friends—too close that they all ended up demanding the same pay for each episode. Studio bosses agreed and each of them received a cool $1 million an episode, making up 60 percent of production cost. But it was a small price to pay for the show’s success.

2. Rome


Rome may have had many distinguishable characters, but it was primarily centered around Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo amid an epic Roman Empire backdrop. The series is a critics and fan favorite, and it even went on to get the approval of several historians for its accurate telling of that era. The set was created in Italy and had hundreds of extras and costume pieces to match.

The series won seven Emmys and got two Golden Globe nods as well as ratings success for both HBO and BBC.

Rome ended after a stellar two-season run. The show’s creators cited budget reasons as a factor in making it difficult to continue, even after partnering up with BBC, both networks just couldn’t shoulder the costs anymore. The second season wrapped up the series nicely, though, filling all the plot holes and having a clean narrative pace in the process—although during production, a fire broke out and destroyed a good portion of the million-dollar set.

Fans have continued to rally for a new season, but HBO has teased on the possibility of a movie adaptation just to cap off where the series left audiences off. However, no such production has been made or officially announced.

1. ER


It was the show that launched George Clooney‘s career in his breakout role as Dr. Doug Ross. ER was basically synonymous to the golden age of television during the ’90s and still considerably one of the best medical dramas in television history.

When Clooney began to slowly build his movie career, the show tried to keep him in with a massive two-year contract, which was offered to the rest of the cast as well. But over time, Clooney and most of the original cast members moved on to do other things. The show did not suffer, though, as it receded in budget but still came up with amazing ratings.

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