The Richest CSI Cast Member Might Surprise You

"CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" premiered on CBS in 2000 and quickly became one of the most successful television franchises of all time. It spawned multiple spinoffs, which many actors can thank for their successful careers and hefty bank accounts. By 2010, the franchise had made CBS over $2 billion richer over the course of its run, per Forbes, and it has undoubtedly generated even more wealth for everyone involved with its production since then.

The franchise has produced over 800 episodes and created jobs for hundreds of actors, directors, writers, and producers. While the original "CSI" ended its run in 2015, a new spin-off, "CSI: Vegas" began airing in 2021, gathering some of the actors behind the first show's favorite detectives for the new venture, and certainly padding their already-large net worths.

Dozens of "CSI" actors are multimillionaires, but the wealthiest of them all may come as a surprise. So after 20-plus years of "CSI," just how much are the franchise's biggest stars worth? 

Melina Kanakaredes left over a payment dispute

Actor Melina Kanakaredes has been in show business for decades now, starring in television series including "Providence," "The Resident," and, of course, "CSI: NY." Her successful acting career has amassed her an estimated net worth of $10 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

In 2010, three years before the final episode of "CSI: NY" aired, Kanakaredes became one of the many stars who have left the "CSI" franchise. According to Forbes, she was raking in around $200,000 per episode in her final season. Ostensibly, $200,000 per episode is a generous paycheck, but some of her co-stars and counterparts from other series in the franchise were reportedly making more, even double, what she was earning. Forbes suggested that the pay disparity possibly played a major part in her decision to leave.

Although she wasn't earning as much as some of her peers, Kanakaredes' pay afforded her the ability to travel all over the world. In 2009, the actor told USA Today that some of her favorite places to visit are Zimbabwe and Monemvasia, Greece. And while she told OK! Magazine (via Fanpop) that she's a fan of designer clothing by Roberto Cavalli, in a 2011 interview with Pittsburgh Magazine, she said her "most expensive splurge" was "a conservative wardrobe to meet the pope and the Greek Orthodox patriarch."

George Eads worked as a copy machine salesman

Former "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" star George Eads was fired after a murky history on the hit show, but not before accruing an enviable fortune. According to Celebrity Net Worth, the actor is worth an estimated $13 million. He's had roles on a number of other series, including "Young Justice" and "This Is Us," but the bulk of his acting career was spent on the set of "CSI." Per Entertainment Weekly, he was getting paid $100,000 an episode in 2004 when he temporarily lost his job, with CBS saying he was fired for skipping work over a pay dispute (he claimed that he'd just overslept).

After leaving "CSI" for good in 2015, Eads joined the cast of the "MacGyver" reboot. "They called me and the name alone had me running as fast as I could to get over there (to sign on)," he told "I saw all the action and I saw that I was going to play an ex-military kind of junkyard dog, which was such a departure (from Stokes on CSI) so I was in."

Before becoming an actor, Eads worked myriad odd jobs to make a living. According to Chron., he sold copy machines and worked at a Gold's Gym. But after making it big, he was able to splurge on a collection of vehicles that included a Porsche and a pair of Harley Davidson motorcycles, per Stuff.

Hill Harper is a money expert

Former "CSI: NY" actor Hill Harper is a multi-hyphenate if there ever were one. Seriously, the only other person in Hollywood who might be as busy as Harper is Ryan Seacrest. Also a star on "The Good Doctor," Harper is an author, activist, and spokesperson with an undergraduate degree from Brown University and a Juris Doctorate from Harvard Law School, per Penguin Random House. But he didn't immediately start living large right out of college. "I remember, I used to get that three Kraft Macaroni and Cheese boxes for like 59 cents from the Dollar Store and eat it," he recalled during a Facebook Live event for Experian.

Harper also runs a foundation called Manifest Your Destiny, which works "to provide underserved youth a path to empowerment and educational excellence." He works with Experian to teach and promote financial literacy and has written a book, "The Wealth Cure," on the topic. "I really wanted to dig deeper into finance, financial literacy, wealth building, to try to solve some problems that I was noticing working with folks through my foundation," he said of the endeavor. 

Harper revealed to Reuters that a Vanguard S&P 500 fund helped him increase his savings, and he owns a hotel and a coffee shop. Given his financial savvy, it should come as no surprise that Harper is worth an estimated $14 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Emily Procter runs her own nonprofit organization

Emily Procter has spent time on some of Hollywood's most storied sets. Not only did she star in "CSI: Miami" from 2002 to 2012, she also had a role in the legendary political drama "The West Wing." Aaron Sorkin, the creator of the latter, told Empire he later regretted not promoting Procter to series regular — and, presumably, giving her a pay increase. "And of course Emily was snatched up right away by another show –- CSI: Miami –- and of course it was a giant hit," he said. "I made plenty of mistakes on the show but none of them that big." Thanks to her roles on both shows, Procter can boast an estimated net worth of $14 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth.

With her earnings, Procter was able to purchase a four-bedroom home in Los Angeles not far from the beach, per Lonny. It features a pool, a backyard dining area, and a huge crystal chandelier in the living room. She's come a long way from living in a tiny apartment and driving a car that "was falling apart." She recalled to Empire, "I had to duct tape cooler packs to my air vents."

When she's not acting, Procter is running her nonprofit, Ground Breakers, which works to "create positive identity opportunities for children, and additionally for adults, in compromised circumstances." Procter started the organization in 2019, and "hopes to be a supporter for change and equity for all."

Adam Rodriguez's career took a different turn

"CSI: Miami" star Adam Rodriguez began acting after working as a stockbroker, so he knows a thing or two about money. However, he told High Times that "nobody looked happy, healthy or like they enjoyed what they were doing" at the office where he worked, so it wasn't long before he decided to leave. As an actor, he's appeared in shows including "Criminal Minds," "Jane the Virgin," and "Empire," and he got some money thrown at him in the "Magic Mike" movies.

Before either career, Rodriguez wanted to become a professional baseball player, he told Big Purple Marble, but an injury prevented him from pursuing his dream. Had he ended up in Major League Baseball, he could have earned an average of $4 million per season, according to ESPN. Per Celebrity Net Worth, he has accumulated an estimated $14 million net worth through acting, though, so we'd say he's doing just fine — and he can afford World Series tickets, at least.

Rodriguez's "CSI: Miami" salary hasn't been divulged, but he did score a contract negotiation win in 2010 after almost having his character, Eric Delko, written off the show. Entertainment Weekly asked him if he'd received a pay increase, and he replied, "Certainly, I can't complain, but, no, that wasn't the case. One of the things [they did] to sweeten the deal was they're allowing me to write and direct at least one episode next season."

Paul Guilfoyle could be worth more

Paul Guilfoyle is one of the most recognizable "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" stars from the cast, as he appeared in nearly all 336 episodes as Captain Jim Brass. His work in Hollywood also includes other iconic titles, such as "Three Men and a Baby," "L.A. Confidential," and "Mrs. Doubtfire," earning him an estimated net worth of $18 million, as reported by Celebrity Net Worth.

Keeping tenured actors on hit television shows can become too expensive for networks, and CBS has not been immune from this issue, despite the massive success of "CSI." As previously stated, Guilfoyle did not appear in every episode of the famed crime show, and, according to an interview with CSI Files, it was a financial decision. "I'm taking episodes off because it's a way to save money on the show, for financial reasons," he said. However, this didn't save him from getting axed by the show's producers in 2014, per The Hollywood Reporter.

Fans' interest in actors' finances seems to bother Guilfoyle. "They really want to know the business deal that actors have, how much money movies make at the box office," he told CSI Files. "They've kind of lost the connection to just watching a television show for its face value and entertainment value." We hate to disappoint you, Guilfoyle, but we'll remain interested in actors' finances.

Elisabeth Shue has Karate Kid money

Elisabeth Shue has been accumulating her estimated $20 million net worth (per Celebrity Net Worth) since the 1980s. Before landing her role in "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," she starred in "The Karate Kid" and "Adventures in Babysitting." She also worked alongside Nicolas Cage in "Leaving Las Vegas," for which she garnered an Oscar nomination. We hope she didn't pick up any of Cage's spending habits while on set.

Shue's success provided her with more than enough money to take some time off from acting and complete her college education in 2000. In the '80s, she had studied political science at Harvard, but her blossoming acting career prevented her from getting her degree. "I just knew the longer I waited, the less chance there was I was ever going to finish my degree," she told the Independent in 2005. "It felt like a good time to take a break."

After "CSI" ended, Shue continued acting, and one job in particular piqued fans' interest. In 2021, she reprised her role as Ali Mills from the movie "The Karate Kid" for the Netflix original sequel, "Cobra Kai." "I definitely had a lot of people always asking me whether I was going to be on the show," she told Entertainment Weekly. "I'm so respectful of what they've created on 'Cobra Kai.'"

Patricia Arquette wants equal pay

Patricia Arquette's acting career has been so prolific, it's hard to remember she was even part of the "CSI" franchise, especially considering her show's brief life — "CSI: Cyber" aired for just two seasons. Arquette has an estimated net worth of $24 million, though, according to Celebrity Net Worth, so the loss of that job likely didn't impact her much financially.

Still, Arquette maintains that she and other women in Hollywood are not paid what they deserve. After winning an Oscar for her role in "Boyhood" in 2015, the actor delivered a stirring speech advocating for equal wages, which was ardently applauded by the crowd, particularly Meryl Streep and Jennifer Lopez.

Arquette told WENN, "I paid more money to my babysitter and my dog walker than I made in 'Boyhood,' and to be in 'Boyhood!” The film grossed over $48 million, per Box Office Mojo. Either Arquette was indeed paid unfairly, or she has a ridiculously high-priced babysitter. And for the record, while she was paid a substantial sum for each episode of her Showtime limited series "Escape at Dannemora" — $200,000, to be exact — Variety reported that her co-star Benecio del Toro was making twice that amount, seemingly proving her point about pay disparity. 

Laurence Fishburne made a ton of money from The Matrix

Laurence Fishburne is an illustrious actor whose credits in other projects might seem to far outweigh his work on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation." Over the course of his Hollywood career, Fishburne has earned an estimated $30 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. He's also nabbed an Oscar nomination and a few Emmy Awards, per IMDb. However, he was earning a whopping $350,000 per episode for his role on "CSI" in 2010, according to TV Guide

Fishburne is well-known for his work in the famed film series "The Matrix," in which he played Morpheus. While he didn't earn much for the first installment, he was well-compensated for the next two, bringing home $15 million for each movie, per Forbes. He also received a percentage of the gross profits that brought his total pay to around $40 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. Given his work on the series, fans wondered if he'd been cast for the fourth installment, but he told New York Magazine (via People) that he had "not been invited" to reprise his role.

But it's not like Fishburne is ever wanting for work. He owns his own production company, per Deadline, and one of the projects he's backed is one he also stars in: the hit ABC series "Black-ish."

Marg Helgenberger was one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors

It's rare to see a series last on television as long as "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation," and even rarer to see an actor remain in the same role for hundreds and hundreds of episodes. (How has Ellen Pompeo not tired of "Grey's Anatomy" yet?) Marg Helgenberger is one of those rare actors, staying on "CSI" for over 200 episodes.

At the height of her "CSI" career, she was earning $375,000 per episode, per TV Guide. And according to Celebrity Net Worth, she has an estimated net worth of $32 million. Helgenberger's earnings were so high, she made it to number three on Forbes' list of "Prime-Time's 10 Top-Earning Women" in 2009, coming in just behind Tyra Banks and Katherine Heigl. and when you are as wealthy as her, downsizing means selling your Los Angeles home for $8 million and moving into a $4.5 million mountainside abode "with an inspiring view of the Getty Museum," per Dirt.

While Helgenberger has had a successful acting career and made plenty of money, she does have some regrets. When asked what she would do differently in her life, she told Moms, "If I could do it all over again, I would definitely have more children. Nothing replaces family." Not even $32 million.

David Caruso retired from acting

We love to hear that a celebrity has retired from acting — because it's usually followed by their triumphant return to the screen. But some actors can afford not to work, and David Caruso is probably one of them. According to TV Guide, he was getting paid $375,000 per of "CSI: Miami" in 2010. The actor, who once worked as a movie theater usher before he was famous, also made bank by starring in films. He earned $1 million for the 1995 thriller "Kiss of Death" and over $2 million for "Jade," which was released that same year, per The Los Angeles Times.

Caruso hasn't appeared in any television or film projects since "CSI: Miami" was canceled in 2012, but he dabbled in a different form of art for at least a few years. In 2013, he created a website to sell paintings and photographs, but it's now defunct. He also opened his own art gallery in Westlake Village, California. In 2015, he commissioned "several works of art" — including at least two performance pieces — from artist Cole Sternberg. According to a Medium author who played a character in those installations, Caruso eventually decided to get out of the art game. 

Before bidding his entertainment and art careers adieu, the actor racked up quite the fortune. As of this writing, his net worth stands at $35 million, per Celebrity Net Worth

William Petersen was another one of Hollywood's highest-paid actors

One of the wealthiest stars of "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" is actor William Petersen, with an estimated net worth of $40 million, per Celebrity Net Worth. According to The Hollywood Reporter, he was paid $600,000 per episode. He was also one of the show's producers, and his combined jobs were earning him "$5.25 million per season" in 2004, per UPI. In a 2009 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he admitted that he was being "paid a ridiculous amount of money," and he explained his decision to leave by saying that he no longer felt like "an aggressive actor." 

He exercised his acting muscles with a stint on the stage in Chicago that paid "roughly 0.1% of" his "CSI" salary. And in 2017, he explained his continued avoidance of network TV by telling the Chicago Tribune that he was taking time off to raise his twins, who were 6 years old at the time.

But by 2021, Petersen had agreed to reprise his role as Gil Grissom for a new "CSI" spinoff, "CSI: Vegas." He had accused CBS of "greed" when the network first started producing "CSI" spinoffs, per the Chicago Tribune, but he clearly warmed to the concept. "The idea of coming back in the land of science, I thought, was really a great opportunity," he said, per ET. "And it's different because it's 20 years later. It's different because it's all new people too and that's all very exciting." 

Gary Sinise is very charitable

Thanks in part to his work on "CSI: NY," Gary Sinise has amassed a $40 million net worth, according to Celebrity Net Worth. His per episode salary reached $275,000 at the peak of the show's performance, per TV Guide. Sinise is also well-known for his work on "Forrest Gump" and "Apollo 13."

When he's not acting, Sinise is raising money for veterans and first responders through his organization The Gary Sinise Foundation, which brings in $30 million annually, per People. Sinise wrote about his passion for serving servicemembers in his book, "Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service," where he details his family's military history, as well as his connection to soldiers that he forged by playing Lieutenant Dan Taylor in "Forrest Gump."

In a 2010 interview with Military Money, Sinise spoke about his spending habits. "I like to spend my money on my family or on charities. I don't like anything that's excessive," he said. "I don't own a bunch of cars: what do I need a bunch of cars for?" However, he revealed that he does occasionally treat himself and his family to vacations, naming Florida and Hawaii as two places they like to visit.

Ted Danson is super rich

As of this writing, the richest "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" cast member is none other than '80s heartthrob Ted Danson. Danson has been on television screens for decades now, most notably on "Cheers," "Becker," and "The Good Place." Unsurprisingly, his years of work in the entertainment industry have left him with a sizable net worth: an estimated $80 million, per Celebrity Net Worth.

Danson was earning $450,000 per episode for his iconic role as Sam Malone on "Cheers," an incredible amount of money for the early '90s, and one that made him the era's "highest-paid star in television," per The New York Times. (The "Friends" cast didn't begin making $1 million per episode until the early 2000s.) And Danson's salary when he joined "CSI" was only $225,000 per episode, according to TV Guide. (Yes, we're laughing at the use of the word 'only,' too.)

Danson resurged in popularity again in the late 2010s after joining NBC's fantasy comedy "The Good Place." On "Late Night with Seth Meyers," he said that he hoped it would not be "the end" of his career, and he got his wish. He was cast as the lead in another NBC sitcom, "Mr. Mayor," which premiered in 2021 and was renewed for a second season. Cheers to Ted Danson's success! (Sorry, we had to.)