It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia may already be the longest running live-action comedy in history with 134 episodes, but the show still has at least two more seasons coming. Mac himself, Rob McElhenney, came up with the idea with his friends Glenn Howerton and Charlie Day and the rest is history. With Howerton finally confirming that he will be back for season 13 despite Dennis’ decision to leave Philly at the end of season 12, now seems like the best time to look at the show’s past.
While it may be a fan-favorite show now, the series struggled for years to find stable footing within the ratings. Despite the fact the show as always supported by FX execs, it took a while for the gang’s ridiculous, often juvenile antics to translate into major success, but it certainly happened.
Now that the show has been on TV for 13 years, certain information about the development of the series and its cast has slowly leaked out into the public. The gang may be full of happy-go-lucky fools, but the real story behind the show isn’t as joyous. Just like a good soap opera, the real scoop is full of drama.
Come discover 18 Secrets Behind It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia You Had No Idea About.
18. The Original Sweet Dee’s not-so-sweet exit
While it may be hard to imagine anyone but Kaitlin Olson playing Deandra Reynolds, she wasn’t the original. At first Jordan Reid, a friend of the gang and McElhenney’s girlfriend, played Sweet Dee. She played the character in the unofficial pilots, but by the time FX picked up the show things were changing.
In a blog post she revealed that, despite the fact she helped develop the original idea and let them shoot in her apartment, she was pushed out of the group when her relationship with McElhenney started souring. All the guys became EPs on he show and Reid says kept her mouth shut, but once she broke up with McElhenney, she found out she’d also lose her role.
Eventually, Olson took over and the character became the giant bird fans love. The show debuted in 2005, and by the time 2008 hit, McElhenney had already swooped up another Dee as the two tied the knot.
17. Charlie Day’s Not a fan of Rum Ham
Out of all the jokes from the show’s seventh season, rum ham is probably the one that most people still remember. A quick google search of the food item shows various how-to guides and recipes for making the booze-soaked dish. In the episode ‘The Gang Hits The Jersey Shore,’ Mac and Frank are the only people who interact with or eat some of the ham, but that doesn’t mean the performers haven’t tried rum ham.
Talking to TMZ, Charlie Day said he was sent a sampling of rum ham while eating dinner in Charlotte. Someone put a piece of ham in a glass of rum and sent it over to the actor. Even though he tried a sip, he had no problem admitting it “was disgusting.”
16. DeVito’s Love of Substances
Each one of the show’s main characters have experimented with various drugs over the years. Despite the fact he’s the oldest character, Frank seems to experiment with drugs more than anyone else in the gang and is very comfortable entering an altered mindset.
It turns out DeVito himself also has a penchant for partaking in specific substances. The actor, who used to work in his sister’s salon and was called Mr. D by all the ladies, told Rolling Stone he used to have a large appetite for substances back in the day.
When asked if he would snort a line if it was presented to him, DeVito replied by saying “Why not?” Calling it “beautiful” and “wonderful” he said if presented with the opportunity “you don’t want to pass it up,” but he insisted he wouldn’t make a habit out of it.
15. McPoyles Are Based on a Real Family
While the gang are the only characters that appear in every episode of the series, part of what makes the show so enjoyable is the engaging supporting characters. Some of the funniest throughout the show’s history are the McPoyles, a large, inappropriately close family.
It turns out Charlie Day had been friends with the actors Jimmy Simpson and Nate Mooney. He even lived with Simpson for a few years in New York, and the parts were tailor-made to their acting abilities.
Day admits that he knew someone in high school with the last name McBoyle that had 13 siblings, and decided to just adapt the name. Similarly, McElhenney based some of the larger antics of the family based on a family he remembers from his youth in Philadelphia. While he admits they are strange, he doesn’t think they were as creepy as the McPoyles.
14. Charlie And His Wife Have Played Creepy Twins
One of the longest running plot threads in It’s Always Sunny is Charlie’s obsession with The Waitress. Way back in season one, he even faked having cancer just to trick her into going out with him for a day. What fans of the series may not know is that the two performers are actually married in real life.
The two met while they were both performing in plays in New York City, and Charlie Day arm-wrestled with a friend to win the right to go flirt with Mary Elizabeth Ellis. She said Day ultimately saved her from a drunken Irish man in the bar and the rest is history.
13. DeVito joined because FX insisted on having a star in season 2
It’s Always Sunny may have a dedicated following now, but it took a long time for that fan base to solidify. After the first season, FX approached the creators and told them they would need to bring on a bigger name if they wanted the show to continue. Unfortunately, the cast as it was wasn’t bringing in the ratings and numbers the network needed, so something needed to change to bring more buzz to the series.
Originally, McElhenney was hesitant to adding a name to the series because he liked the lo-fi quality, but FX told them the show would be canceled without it.
Fortunately for the cast, Danny DeVito’s kids were a fan of the show and had already suggested he give it a watch. FX had pitched Devito’s name as a possibility as a celebrity who would bring more publicity to the show, and the gang eventually came around to the idea due to the actor’s history playing “despicable characters.”
12. Dee Was Designed as a “Straight Woman”
At this point, it’s hard to imagine Sweet Dee being anything but a crude, drunk woman constantly pining for the acceptance of her delinquent co-workers. When the show was originally developed though, Dee was designed to be more of a traditional, female sitcom character who wasn’t as raunchy.
Glenn Howerton explained that originally Dee was designed as the straight-woman to contrast with the ridiculous antics of the gang. However, rather quickly the gang decided that wasn’t the best idea and that everyone should be crazy but the writers didn’t know how to pull it off. He credits Kaitlin Olson’s performance in the first season as the catalyst that pushed the creative team to figure out how they could increase the character’s comedic potential.
11. McElhenney Ate 5,000 Calories a Day to Become Fat Mac
Despite how much everyone in the gang drinks, they are all in relatively good shape. Mac especially is shown as someone who enjoys working out and tries his best to take care of his body.
Show creator Rob McElhenney wanted to change things for season 7, though, so he decided to gain 50 pounds to more realistically depict how heavy someone who drinks as much as Mac would be. He wanted the whole cast to join him to counter the idea that sitcom characters become better looking in time somehow, but no one else was interested in transforming their body.
To put on weight, McElhenney ate five 1,000 calorie meals a day.
10. Danny DeVito’s controversial opinions
One of Frank Reynold’s most entertaining qualities is his distrust of the establishment. In this crazy business man’s mind, nothing is worse than the government and how they are constantly trying to control him (or take his guns away).
It turns out Danny DeVito, who is definitely on the left of the political spectrum compared to Frank, also has some anti-establishment views. The actor, who was a die-hard Bernie Sanders supporter in 2016 and even likened him to Obi-Won, had no problem voicing his opinions about the “Oscars So White” campaign in 2016.
Speaking frankly at the Sundance Film Festival, Devito said Hollywood was stacked with a “bunch of racists” and said “it’s unfortunate that the entire country is a racist country.”
9. Gang Doesn’t Drink on Set, But Two Own A Bar
The whole show centers around the gang’s antics as operate their bar Paddy’s Pub. While the characters may appear drunk in every episode, it turns out none of the actors drink while on set. Not only would it make it harder for the members of the cast to remember their lines, but it would also be an insurance issue if the show’s creators and executive producers were constantly drunk on set and something bad happened.
While they may not drink on set, McElhenney and Olson own a real bar in Philadelphia where everyone is free to drink. Mac’s Tavern has items on the menu related to the show and offers discounted drinks whenever a Philadelphia sports team is playing.
8. Frank Ogles His Own Daughter
It doesn’t matter that Frank is significantly older than the rest of the gang, he is equally depraved. After his divorce from Dee and Dennis’ mother in the second season, Frank slowly degrades into an alcoholic who constantly tries to pick up younger women.
In one episode, Frank reconnects with an old girlfriend over dinner. He goes to the meal assuming they will get into dirty antics like old times, but throughout the dinner he finds out that she is straightlaced and only there to see an old friend. Immediately after he learns the truth, a young waitress walks over to the table asking if the two of them are ready to order.
7. Why Glenn Howerton changed his characters’ name
At this point, it’s hard to imagine any of the characters being named anything else than what they currently are. Charlie Day decided to keep his name for his goofball character and Rob McElhenney chose Mac, a name derived from his real last name.
Glenn Howerton, on the other hand, chose to name his character Dennis, something that purposefully has no connection to his real name.
The character, who’s become increasingly twisted over the years, started out as a relatively normal dude.
Even though Howerton has said he’s “proud to create such a unique character” who is still likable despite his disturbing qualities, he didn’t want the character’s connotation and darker qualities to have any connection to his own life or how people looked at his real name.
6. The Gang Almost Drowns Frank
For the season 11 finale of the show, the gang left Phily and embarked on a cruise. While the episode is full of memorable moments, especially Mac coming out of the closet and then immediately getting back in it, the under water sequence is the most impressive.
In the scene, the gang all sit in on the floor in a submerged room of water. Due to DeVito’s buoyant shape, the gang struggled to keep the actor under water long enough to get a good shot so they decided to weigh him down. The rest of the gang had no problem returning to the surface, DeVito struggled to get back up and was pulled out by safety divers. Since it was such a stressful moment, DeVito left the set after that and went home for the day.
5. The Original Pilot
A lot of things have changed since McElhenney, Day, and Howerton shot a low-fi version of the show before FX took on the project. Not only was the show originally called “Jerks” and set in Los Angeles as the gang pursues careers in acting, but the show’s budget has gone up exponentially. Since the creators didn’t know how the gang would be accepted, each character was presented more so as misguided or misunderstood rather than being truly smug or terrible.
It’s estimated the original pilot was made for between $85 and $200.
That’s less than it would have cost to buy all the beer in the season 10 episode “The Gang Beats Boggs”. The shoot wasn’t intended to land a television show; it was just meant as a short film project among friends. Much of the story in the original pilot ended up being recycled into the fourth episode of the series “Charlie has Cancer”.
4. DeVito’s Height Explained
While Frank’s stature has been the subject of numerous jokes on It’s Always Sunny, the truth behind Devito’s short height is anything but funny.
DeVito has a disorder called multiple epiphyseal dysplasia, more commonly referred to as Fairbank’s disease, that affects bone growth. Major side effects include joint pain, exhaustion after activity, and even flat feet. As of now, there is no cure for the disease, but if it’s caught early enough surgery can help relieve discomfort for people who do have it.
The genetic disease has stunted DeVito’s growth throughout his life.
As a result, the accomplished actor is only 4’10, a whole foot shorter than the average, white American male. Fellow Bernie Sanders supporter Robert Reich, who served as the Secretary of Labor for President Bill Clinton, also has the disorder.
3. Everyone’s Married to Someone
Making a television show together means all the performers are constantly together, interacting and cracking jokes. It turns out, every single member of the group (sans Danny Devito) is married to someone else from the show.
Charlie, who is obsessed with a waitress who wants nothing to do with him, is actually married to Mary Ellis, the actress who plays the role. Despite how much Mac may talk crap on Dee in the show, McElhenney and and Olson tied the knot in 2008. Last but not least, Howerton, who plays the psychologically unhinged Dennis, married Jill Latiano. While Latiano isn’t a staple on the show, she did appear in the episode “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System” where her real world husband creepily hit on her.
2. No Awards, No Problem
It’s Always Sunny may be the longest running live-action comedy series, but that doesn’t mean it’s anywhere near the most awarded. The show has developed a large fan base for its raunchy comedy over its 12 season history, but it only started getting recognized at award ceremonies in 2013.
Instead of being recognized for writing or performing, it was nominated for outstanding stunt coordination.
Everyone’s frustration with award shows inspired the season 9 episode “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award”. In it, the gang is trying to get Paddy’s Pub to win a city-wide bar competition and each of them try different, desperate measures to get key deciders on their side. Even though the characters may say they don’t care about award “because they’re stupid,” it’s clear the Always Sunny team is frustrated about being snubbed.
1. Chris Pratt Keeps One-Upping Howerton
Even though Glenn Howerton has been in other projects, he is best known for playing Dennis.
Everything might have changed though if Howerton was cast as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy.
The actor was one of the countless performers who auditioned for the role, but it’s been reported that Howerton was one of the final actors in consideration. In fact, if Chris Pratt had turned down the role, it would have gone to Howerton.
At this point, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing Star-Lord, but Pratt’s role of Owen in Jurassic World isn’t as iconic. Pratt successfully exited TV and jumped on to two huge film franchises, something that Howerton himself was hoping to achieve. Not only did Pratt swoop Star-Lord from Howerton, he also snatched the role of Owen right from underneath him.
Do you know any secrets we forgot to include about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Sound off in the comment section!
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