If there’s a lesson to be learned from this year’s Forbes list of the highest paid actors on television, it’s that you really don’t want to give up a sweet gig like Two and a Half Men. Just like last year’s list, the highest-paid roster is topped again for 2012 by a star of that particular show. Only this year the winner who is laughing all the way to the bank is Ashton Kutcher.

Kutcher made $24 million between May of 2011 and May of 2012, according to the annual Forbes listing of the highest paid folks on television. That makes him number one, a place held last year by the man he replaced, Charlie Sheen. Sheen’s dramatic departure from the show dropped him from his $40 million salary for the previous year to, well, completely off the list. Two and a Half Men is the place to be to make the big bucks. This year, co-star Jon Cryer holds a place on the list as well, having pulled in $13 million (which puts him not too far down the list in spite of the $11 million difference in his pay from Ashton’s).

Rounding out the top five biggest earners are Hugh Laurie, who pulled in $18 million for the final season of House, Ray Romano (also with $18 million), and Alec Baldwin and Marc Harmon who tied with $15 million. Those names are followed closely by Tim Allen ($14 million) and Jon Cryer.

If you are wondering where the ladies are at, Forbes lists the highest paid TV actresses separately, and while the winner doesn’t make as much as Ashton, she still comes in right around Hugh Laurie’s pay grade. Sofia Vergara takes the crown for 2012 with $19 million in earnings. Kim Kardashian follows with $18 million, although calling her an actual actress might be a bit of a stretch. Eva Longoria made $15 million in the past year. The next two actresses I feel I have to question again - Bethany Frankel landed at $12 million, and Kardashian sister Khloe made $11 million. That ties her with (finally, a real actress) Tina Fey.

Forbes takes some liberties with the people they choose to put on the female list, and they also have their own particular way of determining income. But there’s no question when it comes to Ashton Kutcher – that guy is making bank.

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