As the longest-running live-action sitcom, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (otherwise known as IASIP) has given fans some iconic episodes full of moments that have been referenced in various forms of media. Whether it’s musical masterpieces like The Nightman Cometh or controversial classics like The D.E.N.N.I.S. System, the most popular episodes of the comedy series are beloved by fans and continue to be part of popular culture.
- Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo (Season 11, Episode 1)
- Frank’s Back in Business (Season 8, Episode 7)
- Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack (Season 4, Episode 10)
- The Gang Replaces Dee With a Monkey (Season 15, Episode 4)
- The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell (Season 4, Episode 11)
- Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats (Season 6, Episode 10)
- The Gang Gives Back (Season 2, Episode 6)
For every critically acclaimed episode from IASIP, however, there’s a hidden gem that does not get the praise and attention it deserves. From Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats to The Gang Gives Back, these underrated episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia often depict the gang’s less risky or more polarizing antics. These episodes may be overlooked, but a rewatch will remind viewers just how witty, funny, and wild many of these storylines are.
Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo is a fantastic episode that had one major problem – it couldn’t live up to the original. Season 7’s Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games is a beloved classic that helped cement It’s Always Sunny‘s place as one of the best sitcoms on Hulu. From Frank Reynolds’ (Danny DeVito) time in a dog kennel to the absurd coin flip that gave the losers a fighting chance, fans have likely seen the hilarious episode more than once.
Electric Boogaloo, on the other hand, complicates “Chardee MacDennis” by throwing in a supposed board game executive who’s interested in it. As the gang tries to keep their composure and inevitably fail, the situation goes wild and leads to a Saw-like segment in the basement and emotional battery from the Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis). While the first version of the game is undeniably better, Electric Boogaloo had its highlights, which include the twist that the executive is not really from Mattel and Dee and Dennis Reynolds’ (Kaitlin Olson and Glenn Howerton) gut-busting decision to burn Charlie Kelly’s (Charlie Day) flag in the hospital.
Charlie becomes Frank’s right-hand man in Frank’s Back in Business, where “the Warthog” is pulled back into the corporate world one last time to save his old company from a hostile takeover. Meanwhile, Dennis, Dee, and Mac (Rob McElhenney) argue over a lost wallet in Paddy’s Pub, but soon get roped into Frank’s scheme.
While fans have always known that Frank is wealthy, it’s this Season 8 episode that explains why that is. Frank is completely ruthless as a big shot at Atwater Capital, which confuses Charlie to no end because he can’t figure out exactly what it is that they “make.” The dynamic between the duo is sidesplitting, especially as Charlie becomes increasingly frustrated by how Frank just seems to be spending the company’s money. It’s an episode that’s not given enough credit for brilliant comedic moments like the paper jam, “Vic Vinegar, bodyguard,” and, of course, “Fight Milk.”
When Dee has a heart attack, the rest of the gang predictably somehow makes it about themselves, with the Reynolds siblings getting into exercising and supplements and Mac and Charlie finding jobs for their health benefits. Eventually, Dee and Dennis realize they don’t really like cardio and would rather buy supplements and Botox. Meanwhile, Frank has landed in a mental health facility.
Many fans, and even audiences who have never watched a single IASIP episode, will recognize Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack for one scene: the infamous “Pepe Silvia” conspiracy explanation from Charlie in the mailroom. Aside from this massively popular meme from the show, the actual episode itself has several other extremely amusing moments that highlight why it should be among the greats. On top of Dee and Dennis’ ridiculous attempts at injecting each other with Botox, the episode has an overlooked storyline centered on Frank, who is essentially reenacting moments from One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest as a clever reference to DeVito’s film debut.
The gang takes a joke literally and decides to replace Dee with a monkey when she leaves to pursue a TV series audition and a career as an acting teacher. To Mac, Dennis, and Charlie’s surprise, the monkey that Frank brings to the bar can actually pour decent drinks, so they put him to work. While they get way too drunk thanks to their new bartender, Dee gets drunk on power as she hosts an increasingly problematic acting class.
The Gang Replaces Dee With a Monkey was inevitably overshadowed by the epic adventure it would set up — the gang’s trip to Ireland. It’s easy to forget about this fun episode from one of the more recent seasons of IASIP, which highlighted how narcissistic and power-hungry Dee could be, while also showcasing how easily the men in the gang can be outsmarted by an actual monkey.
To remain one of the best sitcoms of all time, It’s Always Sunny relies on familiar tropes and formulas that have worked well in the past, which is why episodes like The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell can be a shock for fans. A kind of flashback episode, the entire storyline is based on the gang’s lie about “Patrick’s Pub” being instrumental during the Revolutionary War. Scenes from 1776 dominate the episode and show the gang’s involvement in cracking the liberty bell.
The clearly experimental IASIP episode was jarring for many fans when it first premiered. At that point in the show, viewers expected a particular formula, and this Season 4 episode went way out of bounds. In The Always Sunny Podcast, episode 56, McElhenney himself argues that the episode is underrated and unjustly hated, discussing how the “tremendous amount of audience pushback on this particular episode” was unwarranted. He even adds that it’s “within the top five to 10 best episodes” of the series, which goes against many viewers’ negative opinions of The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell.
Season 10’s Charlie Work is rightly what fans will point to when asked for the episode that captures how much Charlie does for the gang, but Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats should really be considered a close second. The episode starts with an obviously drained Charlie, who has just emerged from Paddy’s basement after bashing hundreds of rats. It’s just one of the many things he has to do to keep the bar working, and he’s clearly tired of it. The rest of the episode focuses on Mac, Dennis, Dee, and Frank’s poor efforts at planning a birthday party for Charlie based on his “dream book,” which mostly contains nonsensical ramblings.
King of the Rats is remembered for the “spaghetti policy” scene, which has become one of many fan-favorite IASIP memes. The episode itself is often overlooked, though, despite the fact that it provides a rare moment of selflessness from Mac, Dennis, and Dee. The trio put together truly grotesque objects from Charlie’s dream book just to cheer him up, and the “denim chicken,” “bird with teeth,” and “worm hat” they created are more than enough reasons to revisit the hidden gem.
It’s Always Sunny has never shied away from being an offensive or controversial show. The Gang Gives Back is proof of this, as the episode involves kids alongside scenes that poke fun at alcoholism and racism. It follows the gang’s disastrous community service as basketball coaches for local youth basketball teams, all while Charlie relies on the Waitress as his sponsor for his required Alcoholics Anonymous membership. As expected, the gang turns the basketball training into a competition between them, which leads to them teaching the kids dirty tricks and strategies to win the game.
The season 2 episode is rarely mentioned among the best of the series, despite taking IASIP‘s tried and tested formula and making the most out of it. The Gang Gives Back has so many brilliant moments that deserve more attention, which include Dee getting hit in the face with Mac’s elbow, the missing shoes and the endless laps as punishment, and Charlie’s gut-busting stint as a drunk referee.
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