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Top 10 It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia Episodes

 

 

 

It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is just over a month away from its 13th season, an impressive lifespan for any television show, and has kept a consistent level of hilarity and exceptional character work for its entire run.

With the narcissistic and egotistical gang front and centre of Paddy’s Pub, every episode is hilarious and pushes the envelope of what’s acceptable in its own particular way, with the cast of characters each serving a role in the group dynamic to bring the comedic potential of the show to its side-splitting best.

It’s a tough ask over the show’s 12 seasons and 134 episodes to narrow it down to a mere top 10, but fortunately, the fandom has been discussing the best episodes of the show for years now, and there are stand out episodes by the bucketload to decide from.

Every episode has its own incredible gags and memorable moments, but the ones on this list stand out particularly for their place in pop culture history, their fantastic use of the show’s deplorable central characters, and most importantly of all, their brilliant comedy.

10. The Gang Goes To A Water Park

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The most recent entry on this list comes from Season 12, and sees the gang spending the day at a water park. A relatively simple premise that, like all good Sunny episodes, descends into crude, vulgar, chaotic scenarios that bring out the best comedy from the cast of exceptionally awful characters.

With Mac and Sweet Dee trapped inside a waterslide with a group of children, Frank and Charlie pretending Frank has AIDS to cut in front of all the lines, and Dennis tutoring a young con artist, this episode crams a lot of gags in to its three scenarios and perfectly portrays all five of the key characters in this single episode.

As things escalate and eventually collide in the episode’s final act, it’s hard not to laugh until it hurts at the screams of the horrified children, and the disinterest of the lifeguards at such an explosion of terror. With stand-out cameos from Game of Thrones show-runners David Benioff and D.B. Weiss as the two most unfazed lifeguards of all time, this episode is a perfect example of Sunny’s humour, and how preserved their comedy has been over its 12 season run.

9. Mac & Dennis Move To The Suburbs

FX

Arguably the most quotable episode of the entire series, this instalment isolates Mac and Dennis from the rest of the gang and shows the crazy cabin fever that engulfs their lives once they move to the suburbs. Spurred on by a bet with Frank that says if they can’t stay in the suburbs for a month, they will have to share their bed with an old man for a year afterwards, Dennis and Mac are pushed to their psychological limits.

Dennis’ anger is on full display here, his road rage is insanely relatable and quotable, while Mac’s turn as the stay at home partner is pure Always Sunny gold when it reaches its climax. Poor Dennis Jr. With such a tight, two-character centric episode, there are still countless gags and twists in the plot to keep the viewer engaged and laughing.

This episode has given birth to a plethora of memes, with the plate toss being particularly popular, and rightly so. The physical comedy on display here is amazing, and the character work is a true sitcom masterclass, despite the dark depths it takes its heroes to. This is a must watch for fans of comedy as a whole.

8. Mac And Charlie Die: Part 1

FX

This two-parter kicks off in exceptional style, with Mac and Charlie trying to prevent Mac’s father from leaving jail by telling the authorities that Mac’s Dad threatened to “eat their butts”. It only gets more comically insane from there.

After Mac’s Dad is released, and with the show’s two stupidest characters now fearing for their lives, they decide to fake their deaths in this first part of an incredible double bill of Sunny goodness. As their fake suicide escalates, and their delusions of success grow alongside it, Charlie and Mac possibly make the worst attempt at faking their own deaths in television history.

Watching Rob McElhenney’s Mac bounce off of Charlie Day’s Charlie for two whole episodes is grippingly hilarious, as the two only encourage each other to go bigger and crazier with their ideas, and when they need to fix an actual problem, Mac’s concussion, they take the worst steps possible in trying to resolve this issue.

This is a classic for longtime fans and a great example of Sunny’s ability to keep through-lines in their plot throughout their seasons, as Mac’s Dad’s hatred of Mac and Charlie stems from previous episodes, and builds to a fantastic ending in the second part of this double bill.

7. The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis

FX

The best episodes of Sunny exploit the gang’s crazy schemes and their close to the wire humour, and this episode does just that. As the guys try to exploit the rising prices of gasoline, Dee and Frank try to brand Dee and Dennis’ birth father a terrorist, as he is about to donate their inheritance to a Muslim community centre.

However, Mac, Dennis, and Charlie run into numerous obstacles, despite their perfectly thought out Ghostbuster’s dynamic, and Dee and Frank unknowingly torment the wrong person, as the man they are spying on isn’t actually their intended victim. And to think, Frank was so close to waterboarding the guy.

So many great gags stem from this episode, with Charlie’s “wild card” antics escalating every situation he is in, Dennis’ narcissism reaching incredible heights as the “looks” of the operation, and Mac’s self-indulgent title as the “brains” derails their foolproof plan of selling gas door-to-door.

On the other hand, it’s Frank’s Islamophobia and torture lust that gift some of the greatest comedic moments in the character’s history, with Dee along for the ride as the “useless chick”. It’s equal parts offensive and incredibly smart, and completely Sunny.

6. The D.E.N.N.I.S. System

FX

Demonstrate value. Engage physically. Nurturing dependence. Neglect emotionally. Inspire hope. Separate entirely. The D.E.N.N.I.S. system.

This episode is a shining example of character work, and a clever, Sunny twist on the sitcom cliche of the sexually successful character trying to educate the others in how to charm members of the opposite sex. Dennis’ dark, manipulative system perfectly displays the worst, and simultaneously best, parts of his character, and the added bonus of the rest of the gang being useless at using his system is the perfect way to create a must-see episode.

Dennis’ explanation of his system is a shining display of his damaged psyche and self-love, while the interest of the others in the Paddy’s Pub gang shows their deifying of Dennis, and their child-like intrigue in his manipulation is frightening. Dennis is the star in this episode, constantly trying to prove his system works, and caring more about proving this point than the emotions of anyone unfortunate enough to cross paths with the gang.

A highlight is when Mac and Frank reveal their systems, swooping in on the damaged girls after Dennis has had his way with them and exploiting their emotional state. These people are the worst, and it makes for hilarious TV.

5. Sweet Dee’s Dating A Retarded Person

FX

The title gags are a staple of It’s Always Sunny, and this is one of the best examples, as Dee adamantly states there is no way she is dating a retarded person, and the title serves as a gag correcting her. Amazing.

As Dee tries to determine whether or not her new boyfriend is mentally challenged, the guys start an ill-informed, uncoordinated band, and Charlie gives birth to the infamous ‘Nightman’ and ‘Dayman’ songs, running jokes in the series and fan favourite songs, that stem from the disturbing idea that Charlie was sexually assaulted as a child.

This episode is rightfully a classic, as it combines the show’s musical aptitude with its trademark dark humour perfectly, with the two story strands combining in a perfect finale, where Charlie and Dennis, shunned by Mac and Frank, form their own group, and Dee, after finally popping the unusual question to her boyfriend and asking if he is, in fact, retarded, make for an unforgettable final twist.

With every character’s ego on full display and tested in their own way, the character work here is some of the series’ best, and that is high praise given how consistently great the character work is.

4. Chardee MacDennis: The Game Of Games

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A brilliant bottle episode, and one of the rare occasions when the gang actually stays inside Paddy’s Pub, that shows the gang at their bizarre best, testing each other’s resolve in three stages of an exceptionally dark game named after its four creators.

With no victory other than the satisfaction of smashing the losing team’s game pieces, this episode perfectly displays the gang’s joy at hurting each other, with the low stakes only serving to heighten the humour found in the extent they will go to in order to beat each other and see to it that their closest friends have their feelings hurt.

Testing the mind, body, and spirit in three stages of gameplay, Chardee MacDennis gives the gang every excuse to act crazy, insult each other, and feed their shared alcohol addiction all in one game of games. It also speaks volumes about their characters that cheating is actively encouraged, so long as you can get away with it, and shows the hierarchy of the gang perfectly, as Dennis and Dee always team up and have never been beaten by the inferior Mac and Charlie.

With Frank serving as the audience’s way into the hectic game, this episode perfectly uses all of the characters to their full potential.

3. The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award

FX

An incredibly meta episode skewering the Emmy awards for never nominating the show for a big award, despite its large fanbase and long-running history. They mock the Emmys, the other shows that typically get nominated, and the ways in which the shows can fit into trends and never come close to pushing the same boundaries that Sunny does on a weekly basis. Also, another musical number by Charlie is a perfect centrepiece to this amazingly funny episode.

Tired of never being nominated as the best “bar”, they decide to give the “patrons” what they want. Confused as to how other people are being awarded for doing what the gang are already doing, they decide to suck up to the judges and start analysing what other bars are doing differently in Philadelphia to win, after, naturally, contemplating spitting on the judges.

Implying that the winning bars were paying off the judges, trying to perfectly replicate what the other bars have been doing to be more accessible, and including a black guy to increase the diversity in the bar, this episode is a smart deconstruction of sitcom tropes whilst also keeping the idiocy of its central characters at the forefront.

2. Charlie Work

FX

Boasting an impressively well choreographed, single-shot scene in which Charlie distracts a health inspector while the rest of the gang try to hide their newest, messy scheme from her in a series of near misses is genius. The repetition of jokes is played perfectly, especially Dennis’ Matthew McConaughey impression, with Charlie’s fast-talking explanations incredibly well written and performed.

As the gang try to exploit airline miles using chickens and steaks, and Charlie panics about the state of the bar, the viewer is dragged in to Charlie’s undoubtedly filthy shoes and brought along on one of the busiest days of the illiterate janitor’s life. This episode does such an amazing job of making the audience feel as unappreciated as Charlie, and as out of the loop as he is with the rest of the gang’s insanely convoluted scheme.

Seeing how disinterested everyone else is in Charlie’s work, despite the audience knowing its importance, perfectly sums up all of their characters, with Charlie even finding time to rig a stool to be used as a final gag despite his panicked and stressed state. This is arguably the most technically brilliant episode of the entire series and well deserving of its place as the runner-up in this list.

1. The Nightman Cometh

FX

This musical episode that was also performed in real life theatres is simply perfect. For Sunny fans, it’s the perfect in-joke and send-up of the series, one that perfectly displays Charlie’s fragile psyche, the cast’s incredible talent for musically expressing their characters, and being riotously funny while it does it. Never did I think I would hear Danny DeVito demanding money to allow someone to enter a boy’s hole.

A perfect sequel to Charlie’s ‘Nightman’ and ‘Dayman’ songs, this episode sees Charlie turn the sexual assault driven story into a theatre show, one he is incredibly invested in and driven to see become a success. With the rest of the gang as his players, the expected self-serving antics of each character begin to leak into Charlie’s already hilarious magnum opus. The addition of Charlie’s love interest, the waitress, to the proceedings is the quintessential cherry on top of this beautifully crafted episode.

The songs are incredible, everyone’s motivations collide, and the context surrounding the episode’s conception is fascinating beyond belief. This episode is probably the most memorable of the entire series, quite possibly the series’ most important, and is It’s Always Sunny at its best.

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