TV

15 Most Expensive TV Series Ever Made

By Priyadarshi Nepal | December 2, 2022 11:02 AM

Some of the Most expensive television series to be ever made.
Some of the Most expensive television series to be ever made. ( Source : screenrant )

Watching a well-produced television series is a pleasure but making a TV show can be a bit expensive.

In fact, the most expensive series The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power cost $58 million per episode to make. 

However, not all series are that expensive, and the production team has managed to make great series in a fraction of The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power's budget. Here are the 15 most expensive series made until now, Starting from the least expensive, we will gradually move towards the expensive ones. 

15. Halo

Poster of television series Halo which cost $10 million per episode to make.
Poster of television series Halo which cost $10 million per episode to make. ( Source : imdb )

Starting at the first, the least expensive series on our list is Halo costing $10 million per episode to make. 

While $10 million for around 45 minutes of the footage seems extravagant, the series is far from the most expensive one ever made. The series is based on the popular video game of the same name and the story takes place in the 26th century. 

According to Stacker, most of the series's budget went to building future-based sets, designing costumes, and most importantly VFX. The actors in the series might not have demanded huge paychecks for their appearance as they are yet to make a big name for big paychecks. 

The 9 episodes in the first season cost over $90 million to make and the series has already been renewed for the second season. However, the series received mixed reviews from fans and critics and might not have been able to justify the large spending. 

Where To WatchParamount+
NameHalo
Cost Per Episode$10 Million

14. The Get Down

Poster of television series The Get Down.
Poster of television series The Get Down. ( Source : rottentomatoes )

The Get Down had a production cost of $11 million per episode which makes it the second cheapest series on our list. 

While each episode of the series was nearly as long as a featured film with the pilot episode clocking at 92 minutes, the length of the episode is not to blame for burning through the production budget. In fact, Netflix spent a large portion of the production budget on licensing the music and songs that appeared in the series. 

Similarly, the set also cost a mammoth amount of money to make. Netflix spent a total of $120 million to produce 11 episodes of season 1 of the series The Get Down. Due to its huge budget and not much return on investment, the series only lasted for one season. 

The series was based in the 1970s and revolved around the rise of hip-hop in The Bronx of New York. It followed a group of teenagers as they saw the rise of Hip-Hop and disco music through their eyes.

NameThe Get Down
Where To WatchNetflix
Cost Per Episode$11 million

13. Band of Brothers

Poster of television series Band of Brothers.
Poster of television series Band of Brothers. ( Source : traditiononline )

The Band of Brothers was the most expensive television miniseries in 2001 with a budget of $12.5 million per episode. 

The ten-episode miniseries was made by HBO with a total budget of $125 million, just in production. An Additional $15 million was allocated for promotion campaigns taking the total cost of the miniseries to $140 million. 

Band of Brothers became expensive as paying for the costumes, star-studded cast, and the European location burned through the production budget of the World War II miniseries. Episodes ran between 49 minutes to 70 minutes with the pilot running straight for 1 hour and 10 minutes. 

The plot of the miniseries follows Easy Company of the 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment as they are deployed during World War II, the miniseries is based on true events from World War II. 

However, spending $140 million in total might seem a little extravagant for a miniseries but Band of Brothers turned profitable as it is one of the blue-rays best sellers since 2011 and sold over $250 million worth of DVD and VHS since its release according to the Wikipedia page of the television miniseries. 

NameBand of Brothers
Where To WatchHBO Max
Cost Per Episode$12.5 Million

12. The Mandalorian

Poster of television series The Mandalorian.
Poster of television series The Mandalorian. ( Source : disneyplus )

Sci-fiction series The Mandalorian burned between $12.5 to $15 million per episode in the production budget. 

The Mandalorian is based on Star Wars by George Lucas, the creator himself tried making a live-action version of the franchise but the production budget was deemed too expensive. George sold his Lucasfilms to Disney in 2012 and Disney did invest in the project. While Disney might not have invested a huge budget like in its Marvel series, Disney did put out over $100 million just for the first season of the series. 

Most of the budget was burned by the "new technology" developed for the characters to immerse themself in the CG world using all-around LED screens to project the actual scenarios according to Stacker. 

The series already aired two seasons and the third one is expected in early 2023. On average, Disney has already spent over $300 million just for the one series until now. 

NameThe Mandalorian
Where To WatchDisney+
Cost Per Episode$12.5-15 Million

11. The Crown

The poster of Netflix's The Crown.
The poster of Netflix's The Crown. ( Source : poder360 )

Covering British Royals does not come cheap as The Crown had a budget of $13 million per episode. 

Netflix's portrayal of Queen Elizabeth II had to be as accurate as possible and the attention to detail did not come cheap for the creator. In fact, the dress of Queen Elizabeth II's dress in the pilot of the historic series racked up $37,000 alone. Furthermore, The Crown used over 7000 costumes during its production up to season 4, imagine the cost of the wardrobe alone. 

However, the abundance of glamorous and expensive Royal costumes is not the only one to burn through the production budget as the creators of the show had to build a life-size replica of Buckingham Palace according to Stacker. We are pretty sure, the replica does not come close in the actual area and sheer size. 

According to Guardian, The Crown had already spent over $260 million in mid-2020. 

NameThe Crown
Cost Per Episode$13 Million
Where To WatchNetflix

10. ER

Poster of NBC's television series ER.
Poster of NBC's television series ER. ( Source : nbc )

ER despite being old series has gained its position in the top 10 of the most expensive television series with per episode cost being $13 million. 

However, the per-episode cost was not close to the figure during its starting seasons but later the television series became a household name in the United States racking up the production budget. 

The NBC series aired for 15 seasons between 1994 and 2009, with its casts getting famous they were entitled to bigger paychecks which resulted in a peak production budget of $13 million per episode according to Stacker. 

Although spending an average of $13 million per episode for 331 episodes might seem like huge money spent, the television series had already earned $3 billion by 2014 according to ER's Wikipedia article. 

NameER
Where To WatchHulu
Cost Per Episode$13 Million

9. See

Poster of Apple TV's series See.
Poster of Apple TV's series See. ( Source : apple )

Apple TV's See costs $15 million per episode to make. 

The show is set 600 years into the future, now you can imagine what might have burned millions per episode. The plot of the series gets even more twisted as in the post-apocalyptic scenario of the series humans are blind. 

According to Metro, the lead cast Jason Momoa revealed they had to landscape a huge area in Vancouver where they shot most of the scenes and the cast had to go through a month of blind training before even starting to film, racking up the budget. However, a large portion of the production budget might have gone toward the cast's paycheck, working with stars is never cheap. 

The series ran for three seasons with each containing 8 episodes, if we do the simple maths the total budget of the series would be $360 million. 

NameSee
Where To WatchApple TV+
Cost Per Episode$15 Million

8. The Sandman

Poster of Netflix series The Sandman.
Poster of Netflix series The Sandman. ( Source : collider )

The Sandman cost $15 million per episode to make. 

As the series was long overdue, Netflix could not cut corners in terms of budgeting to satisfy its fans and viewers. Furthermore, creating several bizarre dream worlds physically through sets and adding VFX when needed does not come cheap.

The series follows Morpheus as he escapes his 106 years of captives and sets about straightening his realm in Dreaming. The production budget of the series was so high, around $150 million in total, that according to Stacker, rumors of the second season being canceled due to the mammoth budget started floating on the internet. 

However, denying the claim, Netflix announced the second season of the series in November 2022. They have already set the bars high up and might need to add a few more million to the production budget this time around. 

Cost Per Episode$15 Million
Where To WatchNetflix
NameThe Sandman

7. Game of Thrones

A snippet from Game of Thrones' intro sequence.
A snippet from Game of Thrones' intro sequence. ( Source : polygon )

Game of Thrones ties with The Sandman in terms of per episode cost with both at $15 million per episode. 

The series is set in the medieval fictional continents of Westeros and Essos and follows a long list of characters struggling and weaving political webs to gain the power of the Iron Throne (Seven Kingdom). Working with such a huge cast is definitely expensive but the recreation of the medieval era, costumes, and three dragons with VFX might have burned through a large chunk of the production budget. 

The ensemble of the major cast made over $1.2 million each per episode during the later seasons taking the budget of the final seasons to the skies. HBO spent a whopping $1.5 billion for the eight seasons but has already earned $3.1 billion from subscriptions alone according to Finance Monthly. A hefty return for a mammoth investment right?

NameGame of Thrones
Where To WatchHBO Max
Cost Per Episode$15 Million

6. House of the Dragon

Poster of HBO series House of the Dragon.
Poster of HBO series House of the Dragon. ( Source : tvinsider )

House of the Dragon has a per episode of $20 million, as expected for the successor of Game of Thrones. 

After Game of Thrones saw massive success for HBO, the network decided to push forward with a prequel titled House of the Dragon. As bars were already set high into the skies, House of the Dragon has a per-episode budget of $20 million starting from season 1. Creating 17 dragons in the scene on top of the medieval scenes does not come cheap right?

House of the Dragon might rack up the number even further in later seasons just like its parent series Game of Thrones. While the $200 million price tag already seems a hefty one, the series also had a $100 million budget just for advertisement and marketing according to Deadline. However, the $100 million will work for later seasons as well. 

NameHouse of the Dragon
Where To WatchHBO Max
Cost Per Episode$20 Million

5. The Pacific

Poster of the television series The Pacific.
Poster of the television series The Pacific. ( Source : rottentomatoes )

Creating history has always been an expensive endeavor and The Pacific cost about $21.7 million per episode to do so in 2010. 

Although HBO's miniseries The Pacific was estimated to cost $100 million initially, the final cost of the miniseries ended up being more than double the estimated figure, $217 million to be precise according to The Hollywood Reporter. The first scene where Sledge lands on Peleliu alone cost about $5 million. It required 300 actors to stay on the Australian beach for 4 days. 

Creating costumes was equally expensive for The Pacific, they had to use specially woven fabric from India to recreate the 1940s weaving and cloth. They also used appropriate armory and tools to recreate the firing and explosions from the 1940s. Imagine the attention to detail, no wonder the series ended up costing $217 million to make. 

NameThe Pacific
Where To WatchHBO Max
Cost Per Episode$21.7 Million

4. WandaVision

Image of MCU characters Wanda and Vision from one of the scenes of series WandaVision.
Image of MCU characters Wanda and Vision from one of the scenes of series WandaVision. ( Source : collider )

While recreating history is expensive, creating the future is even more expensive as WandaVision's per-episode cost was $25 million. 

WandaVision came with a huge price tag because Disney+ had to keep in mind all the MCU fans and theatrically released films of the franchise. With the bars set high with the VFX and special effects, everything must be to par when it comes to the MCU franchise. 

Another big blow to the budget came from the cast, starring the same cast as in the original film series is a must. Swapping cast in the series does not seem as a good decision and the stars came with a hefty paycheck demand. 

Where To WatchDisney+
Cost Per Episode$25 Million
NameWandaVision

3. Hawkeye

MCU character Hawkeye portrayed by Jeremy Renner.
MCU character Hawkeye portrayed by Jeremy Renner. ( Source : collider )

Hawkeye's episodes also cost $25 million to make just like another Marvel series WandaVision. 

Disney spent $25 million per episode to give the bow and arrow wielding avenger his own series. Much like WandaVision, most of the budget for Hawkeye was allocated for the special effects and salaries of the cast. 

According to Collider, Disney spent $200 million just for Hawkeye and bought the bundle of WandaVision, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, and Hawkeye for $500 million. Any guesses on how can Hawkeye cost $200 million? Well, the answer lies in the backend, Disney did not just purchase the streaming right but also all the backend rights limiting Marvel Studios from selling the series to other syndicate platforms ever. 

In all the struggles in keeping the rights safe with Disney, they spent around $25 million per episode for the beloved MCU characters' own series where they shine alone. 

NameHawkeye
Where To WatchDisney+
Cost Per Episode$25 Million

2. Stranger Things

Poster of Netflix series Stranger Things.
Poster of Netflix series Stranger Things. ( Source : netflix )

Stranger Things per episode cost is $30 million, with $270 million spent for just the 4th season of the show. 

The teen horror sci-fi drama follows teen characters who are affected by supernatural occurrences in their small fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. When supernatural things are involved they tend to get expensive to create with VFX and special effects. Compared to previous seasons, each episode of season one cost $7 million to make, each episode of season 2 cost $8 million to make, and each episode of season 3 cost $10 million to make. 

The production team of Stranger Things has gone a bit further by creating an entire upside-down world in an alternate universe in the plot of the show, more VFX and special effect money have gone there. They might have saved a few bucks by casting rising stars as opposed to big names but still $270 million for just one season seems to be an expensive deal. 

NameStranger Things
Where To WatchNetflix
Cost Per Episode$30 Million

1. The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power

Poster of Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.
Poster of Amazon series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. ( Source : collider )

The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the most expensive television series ever made with $58.1 million spent in each episode. 

As we covered a series costing $30 million per episode to make previously, and honestly that sounded like huge money for one episode, but here we are with The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power costing over $58.1 million per episode making it the most expensive and number one in our list. 

While Amazon had initially made commitments of $1 billion to make five seasons of the series, the first season alone burned half of the production cost. Season one of the series ended up costing $465 million to make. However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, out of $465 million, $250 million was to purchase the rights for The Lords of the Rings, and the remaining $215 also includes the startup cost. 

Similarly, the cost of building sets and costumes, which can be used in later seasons also comes inclusive in the seemingly mammoth cost. Nonetheless, The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power is the most expensive television series to be ever made, until now. 

NameThe Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power
Where To WatchAmazon Prime
Cost Per Episode$58.1 Million