Despite its dark sense of humor and unusual cast of characters, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has managed to find a large enough audience to stay on the air for 13 seasons, and it’s not slowing down any time soon. The show’s strength is that, while it doesn’t have as many viewers as something like The Big Bang Theory, the fans that do watch it really love it.
It’s one of the biggest cult hits on the small screen right now, and after a whopping 13 seasons, it still manages to remain fresh. So, here is The Best Episode In Every Season Of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Ranked.
13 Season 1: “Gun Fever”
In the season 1 episode “Gun Fever,” the Gang decides to buy a gun after Paddy’s Pub is robbed one too many times. On the whole, the first season of It’s Always Sunny is pretty weak, because the characters hadn’t been ironed out yet and they didn’t have the well-crafted plots that later seasons would incorporate.
However, “Gun Fever” does continually escalate the stakes and have a number of surprising twists. Plus, the ways that Charlie, Mac, and Dennis separately react to having a gun in the bar is hilarious, slowly rounding out each character. “Gun Fever” is a pretty great episode.
12 Season 3: “The Gang Gets Invincible”
Inspired by the true-to-life sports drama Invincible, the Gang decides to try out for the Philadelphia Eagles. Mac and Dennis drink and smoke all day, expecting professional-level athleticism to come naturally, while Dee dresses as a man to protest the NFL’s gender bias.
Meanwhile, Charlie and Frank tailgate in the parking lot and Charlie accidentally takes a ton of acid that Frank used to spike his beer. Before long, he’s freaking out in an RV bathroom. Every character has something hilarious going on in “The Gang Gets Invincible,” and the episode also introduced Sunny fans to the extended McPoyle clan.
11 Season 8: “The Gang Recycles Their Trash”
Season 8’s “The Gang Recycles Their Trash” is one of Sunny’s earliest and funniest meta episodes. As the series headed into its eighth season, it fell into all the pitfalls of a show in its eighth year – repeating storylines, bringing back characters that should’ve been left in the past etc. – but it did so while slyly winking to the audience the whole time.
It roughly followed the plot of season 4’s “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis” and constantly made reference to how familiar it all felt. The Gang was becoming self-aware, and in doing so, discovering the key to long-lasting success.
10 Season 2: “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare”
While “Mac Bangs Dennis’ Mom” might have a tighter plot and better character work, “Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare” simply has more hilarious moments, and that makes it the best episode in It’s Always Sunny’s second season.
Every member of the Gang tries to exploit the welfare system – Dennis and Dee by quitting their jobs at Paddy’s and trying to get government benefits, and Mac and Charlie by scheming to get an unpaid worker to clean the bar – and they all end up getting what they deserve. Dennis and Dee get irreversibly hooked on crack (this plot thread continued up to season 8) and Mac and Charlie end up broke and on the run from various pimps.
9 Season 13: “Time’s Up for the Gang”
Before It’s Always Sunny came along with season 13’s “Time’s Up for the Gang,” it was assumed that the #MeToo movement couldn’t be made funny. Simply due to the climate surrounding the movement, turning it into comedy seemed impossible. But It’s Always Sunny found the right perspective – laughing at the movement’s ability to bring down seedy rich men.
Frank spent the whole episode sweating so much that he was down to a bathrobe and every other member of the Gang slowly realized they could be accused at some point. The only person who wasn’t worried was Dennis, who has carefully been covering his tracks for years in anticipation of the #MeToo movement.
8 Season 7: “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore”
The best episodes of not just It’s Always Sunny, but sitcoms in general, have both an A-plot and a B-plot that work. But the Sunny episode “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore” has an A-plot, a B-plot, and a C-plot that all work.
Dennis and Dee discovering that the Jersey Shore is not the magical paradise they remember it to be, Mac and Frank getting lost at sea with nothing but a rum-soaked ham, and Charlie spending the night with the Waitress while she’s high on ecstasy are all hilarious story threads and they comprise an episode that’s unforgettable.
7 Season 5: “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops”
The best episodes of It’s Always Sunny are the ones where the Gang tries to put on a show and it goes horribly. In season 5’s hilarious installment “The Gang Wrestles for the Troops,” they put on a wrestling match to entertain America’s veterans.
Meanwhile, Dee has been chatting to a soldier online and looks forward to seeing him in person as he returns from war – until she sees him depart from the bus in a wheelchair. From Frank’s “Trashman” wrestling persona to Dee cutting off the national anthem to Cricket’s terrorist-themed character “the Talibum” winning almost every match, the Gang’s attempts to show their respect to the troops go disastrously.
6 Season 12: “The Gang Goes to a Water Park”
A strong candidate for the best episode of It’s Always Sunny’s twelfth season is “Hero or Hate Crime?,” the episode in which the Gang argued over who was the rightful owner of a lottery scratcher that ended with Mac finally coming out. However, “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” is more of a classic Sunny episode.
It takes a simplistic premise and gives every character something hilarious to do: Charlie and Frank pretend to have AIDS to jump the lines, Mac and Dee get stuck in a water slide with a bunch of kids, and Dennis trains an apprentice in the art of scamming.
5 Season 6: “Mac and Charlie: White Trash”
Of all the topics that It’s Always Sunny has tackled in a satirical way, class is the one where they really hit the nail on the head, because it’s a subject that fit the characters like a glove.
Mac and Charlie were raised working-class and remain working-class; Dennis and Dee were raised upper-class and became working-class; and Frank is rich and successful and couldn’t care less about class. Told through the lens of which pool each character is able to get into, “Mac and Charlie: White Trash” is a hilarious study of the class divide and a classic episode of It’s Always Sunny.
4 Season 11: “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs”
There are many great experimental episodes in season 11 of It’s Always Sunny – from “The Gang Hits the Slopes” to “Being Frank” – but the funniest episode is by far “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs,” simply due to its focus on character.
The relationship shared by Mac and Dennis is the focus here, and the power struggle of their residence in the suburbs reveals the insecurities that mark their friendship. Dennis turns Mac into a stay-at-home spouse, Mac goes stir crazy being stuck in the house on his own, and it escalates into Dennis yelling naked at the neighbor and Mac cooking their pet dog into the mac and cheese.
3 Season 9: “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award”
It’s crazy that It’s Always Sunny has been on the air for so many years, won so much critical acclaim, and yet never won an Emmy. No one is more confused about this than the writers themselves, clearly, because they made an episode about it.
What the Gang realizes at the end of the episode is that awards don’t really matter, because there’s a small, but dedicated group of people who love what they do and will keep coming back. The episode works as both a middle finger to snooty awards voters and a pat on the back to the fans that keep watching and enjoying the show.
2 Season 10: “Charlie Work”
Fans didn’t fully appreciate how much Charlie does to keep Paddy’s Pub afloat until the masterpiece of television that is the season 10 episode “Charlie Work.”
He spends the episode desperately trying to pass a health inspection while the rest of the Gang pull off a ridiculous chicken/steaks/airline miles-related scheme and it’s all shot (or at least edited to look like it was shot) in one continuous long take. Many viewers thought this was an homage to Birdman, because of the long tracking shot and the jazz drums on the soundtracks, but it was actually an homage to True Detective’s first season.
1 Season 4: “The Nightman Cometh”
The season 4 finale “The Nightman Cometh” is the quintessential episode of It’s Always Sunny. Charlie mounts a musical that turns out to be a front to get the Waitress to marry him (all the best Sunny episodes end with a plot twist) and gives roles to the Gang. Being the cartoonish narcissists that they are, the Gang each make the show about themselves.
Mac wears cat eyes and does terrible karate across the stage in an attempt to get the audience to gasp; Dennis constantly breaks character to tell his co-stars how much better he is at acting than them; Dee improvises her own song to avoid sounding like a child molester; and Frank keeps pronouncing “boy’s soul” as “boy’s hole,” despite being constantly corrected.