The 10 greatest episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is easily one of the greatest comedy series to come from the USA in the new millennium. It is crass, completely shameless, and the characters are all arseholes, but you cannot help but love each and every one of them. It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has managed to last well over a decade by this point, and honestly, we’re not surprised. The show is a goldmine of quotes, memorable moments, and joy, so it’s unsurprising that after 11 seasons the It’s Always Sunny is still going strong with no end in sight.
It’s Always Sunny revolves around the exploits of the owners of Paddy’s Pub – These people are without a doubt some of the worst folk humanity has to offer. Each and every one of them is selfish, and quite possibly barking mad. First of all, there’s Mac; an extraordinarily self-deluded, yet insecure man; there’s Charlie, a disgusting, yet lovable creep; Mac’s best friend Dennis, a hypersexual and completely vain individual; Dennis’ sister “Sweet” Dee, a long suffering, yet equally self-centred bartender at Paddy’s Pub that likes to see herself as the compassionate liberal of the gang (though is nothing of the kind); and Dennis and Dee’s father Frank, played by the lovely Danny DeVito. Frank is a repulsive man with a love of the darker things life has to offer. Together, these five are an absolute pleasure to watch as they get up to some truly reprehensible activities that no decent person would ever even consider, which is perhaps why the series has gone on to become one of the greatest comedy hits of recent years.
So, what is this article about? Well, as you can guess from the title, I will be taking a look at a number of episodes featured in the entire series of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and ranking my favourite episodes (so far). I will be pointing out exactly what makes the episode so amazing, and why I love them so much. And now, without further ado, let’s get to it:
10] The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore
How many of us have tried to relive a childhood memory only to discover that things just weren’t as great as we remembered? Well, that’s exactly the situation that befalls poor Sweet Dee and Dennis as they pack up their bags and return to the Jersey Shore. After a string of unfortunate occurrences, the siblings’ cherished memories are now forever tarnished; replaced with Angel Dust, grave digging, and under-the-boardwalk sex; oh, and let’s not forget a stomach-churning accident on an amusement park ride for Dee. However, it isn’t all ruined childhood memories, not at all – Charlie (along with the rest of the gang) has joined Dennis and Dee at the Jersey Shore and his experience there is completely the opposite to what Dennis and Dee’s. While entertaining himself on the beach, who should he see but his long time obsession, the Waitress. To Charlie’s surprise (and ours) the Waitress agrees to spend time with him on the beach. The two seem to be having an absolutely magnificent time, and it’s incredibly nice to see them enjoying each other’s company. However, all becomes clear in the morning when it turns out that the Waitress was tripping balls on Ecstacy the entire time. Completely disgusted with Charlie’s recount of the evening, the Waitress hurries off.
Meanwhile, Mac and Frank’s activities introduced fans to what has gone on to become one of the more iconic items from the show – Rum Ham! Mac and Frank don’t care about getting the Jersey Shore experience, they simply want to relax on the beach. Frank, oh man, Frank has one of the greatest ideas – ham on the beach. But not just any old ham, oh no, ham soaked in rum! This idea has proved to be so popular with fans that many folk have been inspired to actually prepare rum ham; though unfortunately the results don’t seem to be as wonderful as you may imagine. But oh well, it seemed like a good idea at the time.
09] The ANTI-Social Network
The idea behind this episode is simple – Dee has taken the guys to a gin bar which inevitably causes the gang to compare the bar with their own. In no time at all, the group begin to bicker, causing a total strange to shush them for being too loud. Initially shrugging this off, they soon agree that the event has started to bother them and that it’s time for some payback, so they set out to find the man that insulted them and shush him back; while Frank decides to make a viral video to advertise Paddy’s Pub.
This episode is brilliant – It shows how petty the gang can be, but it’s totally relatable. I mean, how many of us have been shushed and simply brushed it off, only for it to eventually bug us? Naturally, the gang go one step further than most of us normally would and hunt down this rude arsehole purely to return the insult. The episode also features the return of a fan-favourite character – Dr. Mantis Toboggan, an alter-ego of Frank’s first introduced in the episode The D.E.N.N.I.S. System, as the central figure in the Paddy’s Pub viral video.
Over the course of the show, fans started to notice that Dennis developed a habit of calling Dee a bitch, and this episode happens to feature my favourite instance of this, which you can view in the video below.
08] The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre
Is there anybody out there that doesn’t find the McPoyle family grossly hysterical? Possibly, but I’m sure they’re in the minority. The McPoyles are some of the most popular recurring characters on the show, so how great is it that we get an episode that introduces us to their extended family? The occasion? Well, it turns out that Liam McPoyle is getting married to Dennis’ ex-wife – Maureen Ponderosa. And yes, the entire clan are exactly as you would imagine them to be. If you thought that a McPoyle-Ponderosa wedding would be a pretty standard affair, you would be so wrong. So very, very wrong. Okay, yes, it does start off relatively normal (as normal as a wedding such as this could be), but things quickly decent into pure madness.
It’s a treat just to see a whole load more of the delightfully strange McPoyles, but what really puts the icing on the cake is a cameo by the superb Guillermo del Toro as the utterly bizarre Papa MyPoyle. You thought Liam and Ryan were odd? They are nothing compared to old Papa McPoyle.
07] Hundred Dollar Baby
This episode has a special place in my heart, dear readers, for it was the first episode that gave me one of my very first bouts of uncontrollable laughter relating to this show. While the whole episode is great, the best part occurs right towards the very end. Throughout the entire episode, Bobby Thunderson, an old rival of Frank’s has been trash-talking him and Dee, along with his daughter Brianna. Frank has had enough of Bobby’s crap and challenges him to a boxing match. As Bobby is going through some rules, Frank throws a dirty punch and wallops an unsuspecting Bobby square on the jaw, knocking him into his daughter causing her to fall as well. Brianna breaks her neck upon a fallen stool. An alarmed Frank shouts “Holy shit!” and takes an opportunity to flee the scene. This moment totally caught me off guard when I first saw it, and I could not stop laughing. I rewatched the episode for the purposes of this article, and yes, it still makes me laugh so much.
As I say, I very much enjoy this episode in general. The image used for this selection is from a scene that every fan remembers, even after all these years. Charlie has discovered Dee’s stash of steroids and has become much more unstable than usual, something that results in the two getting into a roid-induced fight. Of course, Dee wouldn’t even be on steroids if it wasn’t for Dennis and Mac – towards the beginning of the episode, the three of them are held up by a knife wielding meth head, and I’m sure this won’t surprise you, but the two guys run off, leaving Dee behind, causing her to begin training with the goal of increasing her self-defence skills. Just watch the episode and you’ll see why it has become a fan-favourite.
06] The Storm of the Century
Okay, so my reasoning behind this selection is simple – It’s all about Sweet Dee. Her role in The Storm of the Century centres around her fears regarding an upcoming storm due to hit Philadelphia, dubbed as, yes, “The Storm of the Century”. Over the course of the episode, Dee becomes increasingly agitated about her safety and chances of survival, fears that are not put to rest in the slightest by Frank, despite his best efforts. Sweet Dee’s over-the-top panicking is fantastic, it’s so side-splittingly funny, and in my opinion, totally justifies this episode’s place here on my list. Again, no matter how many times I watch this episode, she never fails to make me laugh, especially when she’s driving Cricket to the hospital after he suffers a gunshot wound.
05] The Gang Goes on Family Fight
There are two truly great episodes that came out of Season 10, and one of them has to be The Gang Goes on Family Fight. When you spend so much time with these characters it’s easy to get used to their extreme behaviour, but as soon as you put them up against a number of ‘normal’ people, it becomes obvious very quickly just how strange our gang really is. What we have here is a prime example of this, as the gang somehow manage to get on TV, appearing on a show known as Family Fight. I thoroughly enjoy this episode right from the opening scene to the closing moment.
Featuring a guest appearance from actor, writer, and comedian: Keegan-Michael Key as the unfortunate host of Family Fight, the episode sees a man brought to his limits because of the frustrating stupidity of “The Reynolds’ Family”, and can you blame him, really? I mean, he has to put up with utterly bizarre answers to totally mundane questions; for example: “Name an animal that we eat that doesn’t eat us” gets an answer of “Dragon”, which actually appears on the board! Ultimately, the host just manages to survive his encounter with the group and exits the vicinity as soon as it is possible for him to do so.
04] Thunder Gun Express
The summer’s biggest film is here – Thunder Gun Express. It’s a must-see movie for any fan of the action genre, and the gang are super hyped to see it (the main character hangs dong). Unfortunately for our characters, Thunder Gun Express may not be an option today thanks to traffic problems caused by the President’s visit to Philadelphia. Desperate to get to the cinema in time, the gang abandon Dennis in the traffic as they decide to make a run for it. Mac tries, unsuccessfully, to steal a motorbike; Charlie and Dee take to the sewers; and Frank hijacks a river-tour boat, giving an impromptu “tell-all” about the many exploits of the Paddy’s Pub gang to a group of highly confused, yet strangely intrigued tourists.
One of the funniest things about this episode for me is the fact that Frank demonstrates that he will not be fucked over. After all the panic, all the running, all the squeezing into tight spaces, all but one of the gang finally reach the cinema and get to their seats. Frank, having being left behind, decides that if he is not able to see the film, nobody will see the film. The sly devil calls in a bomb threat, causing the cinema to be evacuated. The lesson? Don’t be a twat to Frank, he’ll get his own back on you eventually.
03] The Nightman Cometh
Many episodes of It’s Always Sunny feature callbacks to prior episodes, but The Nightman Cometh is one of the few to be based entirely around a previous moment. First mentioned in Sweet Dee’s Dating a Retarded Person when he and Dennis work on a song, Charlie has since gone on to complete his very own stage-show musical and has decided that it would be a good idea to get the rest of the gang involved. The Nightman Cometh contains a range of songs that have become infused into the minds of every It’s Always Sunny fan – Dee’s impromptu addition to the end of her scripted song, Frank’s troll-song, Charlie’s closing number, and not forgetting the titular song itself; seriously, it’s no wonder that this episode is so popular among viewers.
The first big laugh for me comes right at the beginning of the episode. When Charlie tries to rope the gang into taking on the various roles, they try to work out what his motivation is; throwing out suggestions of revenge, jealousy, and anger. Let’s be honest, you can’t blame them for thinking this way; after all, when do the gang ever do anything that isn’t motivated by selfish reasons? But Charlie protests vehemently, stating that he only wrote the musical because he wanted to; something which completely confuses his friends. I love this. The fact that the gang are so selfish, that they’re such terrible people they cannot fathom the fact that somebody may just do something because it’s fun, and not because they want to get back at someone.
Hilariously, we find out towards the end that the gang were actually correct in suspecting an ulterior motive. As with many of Charlie’s activities, this whole show was yet another attempt to gain the affections of The Waitress, ending in a marriage proposal in front of the entire crowd. One which, unsurprisingly is rejected. Poor Charlie, but hey, Charlie’s loss was our gain as this episode is one of the most memorable episodes from the entire series, and even spawned a genuine stage show performed by the cast. I know, right? Outstanding. I would’ve loved to have seen that. Bring the stage-show to the UK, please, guys. The Gang Tour the UK, c’mon.
02] Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games
You all know this one, guys. Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games is one of those episodes that everybody knows and remembers fondly. Stuck inside with nothing to do, the gang decide to break out an old board game that they created together – Chardee MacDennis. This episode does not actually feature any character other than the core five, something which, I think you’ll agree, proves that sometimes all this show needs is the main characters being their terrible selves.
There are times when I wish the game Chardee MacDennis really existed, but then I remember just how bad of an idea that would be. Could you imagine the terrible situations that would arise? You thought Mario Party destroyed friendships? Try playing Chardee MacDennis.
The popularity of this episode has obviously been noted by the show’s creators, as the opening episode of Season 11 was infact a follow-up to this one – Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo. It really is not surprising why this episode is so loved by the fans. Not only is it ridiculously funny, but it is incredibly quotable too. Let me give you an example – I’ll start off with a question from the episode, and you answer it, okay? Okay: “Dennis is asshole. Why Charlie hate?” Of course you know the answer. It’s “Because Dennis is a bastard man!”.
01] The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention
And here we are at my absolute favourite episode of the show. There were so many deserving alternatives for the top spot, but I had to go with this episode as it is one of my “go-to” episodes of the series. Whenever I want to try and coax people into watching It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, I get them to check out this episode. Not only is it hysterical, but it also gives you a good sense of each character’s personality.
The premise of this episode is that Frank has had the sudden realisation that he probably won’t be around for much longer, so he wants to get “real weird with” the time he has left, and that is exactly what he does. Over the course of this episode we see him show up at the funeral of a family member, attempt to have sex with his dead wife’s sister (it was her husband’s funeral), and thanks to a little push from Mac, give up on perusing his sister-in-law and instead go for his niece – Gail the Snail (nicknamed “The Garbage Pail Cousin” by Dennis and Dee). Oh, and at one point he rushes back to the bar to put out a grease fire with a handgun, so you know… yeah.
This is one of many episodes that show off just how selfish the gang really are. When you see the title, you assume that they’d be giving Frank an intervention to help him get back on the right path, to look after himself. Nope. Their only motivation is that his actions are starting to impact on their lives and they’re not having it! His disgusting behaviour just isn’t fun for them anymore, and it’s time to sort it out. Soon though, the gang begin turning on each other, imposing interventions on one another for various reasons, such as Charlie’s illiteracy.
The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention is incredibly funny, and like many of the episodes appearing on this list, it can be viewed over and over without losing any of the hilarity. Once again Danny DeVito has the chance to shine as Frank takes centre stage, and I think the best moment in this episode has to be the scene where as soon as Frank enters Paddy’s Pub, the gang start wooping, shouting at him, and insulting him. Of course, Frank thinks he is being roasted and enjoys every minute of it; all while a severely confused therapist just stares at everyone.
And finally, my fellow IASIP fans, what do you think about my list of episodes? Are there any you would place higher than the others? Are there episodes that you would include instead? Let me know in the comment section below.