There is no question that movies are an expensive business, especially when you add superstars and VFX into the mix. But TV shows are not far behind. In fact, there have been times when a single TV show episode has costed more than what’s the entire budget of most movies. 

Here are some of the most expensive TV episodes ever shot:

1. Game of Thrones, S8: $15 million per episode

The iconic battle scenes didn’t just deliver on cinematic thrills but also cost a bomb. The Battle Of Bastards episode (from S6), widely considered as one of the most expensive episodes, cost a little over $11 million, whereas each episode of S8 cost $15 million per episode

The New Yorker

2. The Crown, S1: $13 million per episode

Those period costumes and sets certainly don’t come easy. One of Netflix’s most expensive series, the budget for the entire season 1, with 10 episodes in total, was $130 million which makes it $13 million per episode. 


3. Terra Nova, The Pilot Episode:  $14 million

Even though the show was cancelled after the first season itself, it did rack up a budget equivalent to shows that ran for years. Simply because its two-hour-long pilot episode itself cost a whopping $14 million.


4. Boardwalk Empire, The Pilot Episode: $18 million

The pilot episode of this American period crime-drama cost $18 million and was directed by Martin Scorsese – which definitely contributed to the show’s successful 5-season run. 

Dans Media Digest

5. Westworld, The Original (Pilot): $25 million

The sci-fi drama that gave us a chance to fall in love with composer Ramin Djawadi’s magic all over again, had a pilot episode that was shot over a period of 22 days, and cost $25 million. Considering that, a budget of $8-$10 million per episode seems entirely reasonable. 

Entertainment Weekly

6. Vinyl, The Pilot Episode: Over $30 million

Wow, these pilot episodes certainly ain’t cheap! The two-hour-long pilot episode of this period-drama was directed by Martin Scorsese and cost $30 million. The show was cancelled after the first season itself. 


7. Lost, The pilot episode(s): $10-$14 million  

Spread across two episodes, the pilot of Lost, directed by J. J. Abrams, cost somewhere between $10-$14 million. The primary expense was due to the purchasing, shipping, and dressing of a decommissioned Lockheed 1011 to showcase flight wreckage. At the time, it was the most expensive pilot made for TV.


8. The Mandalorian, S1: $12.5 million per episode

A total cost of $100 million across eight episodes brings the budget for each episode of The Mandalorian to $12.5 million. Reportedly, Disney Plus plans to invest an even higher amount in some of its upcoming Marvel shows. 


9. Fringe, Pilot: $10 million

Shot in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, the two-hour pilot episode of this sci-fi drama cost $10 million. 


10. FRIENDS, S10: $10 million per episode

By the time the show ended in 2004, all the six leads were crowd favourites, and drawing in $1 million each, per episode. That’s how the cost of the final season was $10 million per episode.  Considering how the finale drew in advertising rates averaging $2m for 30 seconds, we’d say the price was justified! 


11. E.R: $13 million per episode. 

Not just Friends, the popular medical drama E.R., starring George Clooney, Laura Innes, Noah Wyle, and others, was also costing the producers $13 million per episode at the peak of its popularity. 


Talk about being expensive!