There are many factors at play in Jussie Smollett's alleged hate crime hoax, money not being one of the most important of them. But according to Chicago PD (and disputed by sources close to Smollett and his job on Empire), one of his motives in staging the attack was dissatisfaction over his salary on the show, which is reported to be anywhere from $65,000 an episode at some point in the recent past to as much as $125,000 an episode more recently. Whether Smollett was unhappy with his salary or not, here's how it compares to the per-episode pay earned by some of TV's other current stars.
Norman Reedus, AMC's The Walking Dead: $1 Million Per Episode
Elizabeth Moss, Hulu's The Handmaid's Tale: $1 Million Per Episode
Nicole Kidman, HBO's Big Little Lies: $1 Million Per Episode
Jim Parsons, CBS' The Big Bang Theory: $1 Million Per Episode
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, HBO's Ballers: $650,000 Per Episode
Julia Roberts, Amazon's Homecoming: $600,000 Per Episode
Ellen Pompeo, ABC's Grey's Anatomy: $575,000 Per Episode
Sean Penn, Hulu's The First: $500,000 Per Episode
Kit Harington, HBO's Game of Thrones: $500,000 Per Episode
John Goodman, ABC's The Conners: $375,000 Per Episode
Millie Bobby Brown, Netflix's Stranger Things: $350,000 Per Episode
Sterling K. Brown, NBC's This Is Us: $250,000 Per Episode
Evan Rachel Wood, HBO's Westworld: $250,000 Per Episode
It might also make sense to compare Smollett's Empire salary to that of his co-stars on that show. According to one source, the cast is structured into three salary tiers, with top-billed stars Terence Howard and Taraji P. Henson starting out earning somewhere between $110,000 and $120,000 an episode at the beginning, getting bumped to somewhere between $225,000 and $250,000 in 2016. Smollett, on the other hand, is reported to have started out with a salary of $40,000-$50,000 per episode compared to what he made on the show's most recent season.