There are lots of reasons that people choose to become actors, but it can't be denied that one of - if not the - biggest benefits of success as a TV or movie star is making a living that most people will only ever get to experience in their wildest dreams. This applies even more to lead actors, who usually make more than anyone else in their movie or on their show.
After nearly 13 seasons on the air, one presumes that Supernatural co-leads Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles must be making out pretty well financially, but are they? Well, yeah, but perhaps not quite as well as some fans are likely to assume. While Padalecki and Ackles do indeed make great salaries by any conventional measure, they're by no means in the top tier of TV actors when it comes to per episode pay.
While exact, up to date salary figures for actors aren't something that's necessarily easy to find, a few sources can at least give fans an idea of the ballpark range. According to this Variety report from last year, Ackles takes home $175,000 per episode. That doesn't sound like much when compared to the gargantuan $1 million per episode salaries of The Big Bang Theory leads - or even the $500,000 per episode that Kevin Spacey gets for House of Cards - but considering that Supernatural produces 23 new episodes per year, that still works out to Ackles hauling in a cool $4 million-plus per season.
The above report didn't include a number for Padalecki, but other online sources have suggested that he makes about $125,000 per episode. On the surface, that seems really odd, as both actors have been with Supernatural since the beginning, and Padalecki is actually first billed in the credits. While that still earns Padalecki nearly $3 million per year, it's definitely a big drop from what Ackles reportedly makes. One thing to consider is that Ackles sometimes directs for the show as well, which may well have had an effect on his reported earnings.
Additionally, Supernatural is a heavily merchandised show, and it's possible that Padalecki makes less base salary per episode in exchange for getting a bigger cut of the earnings from merch sales. For those wondering about Misha Collins (Castiel), some sources place him at about $20,000 per episode, which seems quite low, and it's unclear what year of Supernatural that figure is taken from. Collins isn't billed as a series regular every year, and it's possible that seasons where he participates less have seen him earn less per episode. Either way, it's clear that none of the three actors are in a position to have to worry about money, perhaps ever again.