Few shows have stayed on the air as long as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia without losing what made the series so great in the first place. The sitcom, which debuted back in 2005, is currently in its 13th season on FXX.
Once again, the Gang is up to their old shenanigans. Even after 140 episodes and counting, It’s Always Sunny rarely seems to repeat itself. On the rare occasion that a repeat occurs, as seen this season with “The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot", it’s almost always on purpose — which only adds another layer of hilarity for those who watch the show on a regular basis.
Of course, It’s Always Sunny was far from a runaway hit. After the first season, the sitcom teetered on the edge of cancellation only to be brought back to life by Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds. The show had a small cult following that has grown exponentially over the years. It has permeated pop culture in numerous ways, from kitten mittens and Green Man to bird law and Dayman. Like any great show that fans obsess over, It's Always Sunny has no shortage of behind-the-scenes stories. Many of these have been confirmed by the cast, while others seem to have been misconstrued over the years or simply assumed by the casual viewers.
Frrom the show's humble beginnings to the reason behind Rob McElhenney's epic weight gain, let's take a look at 20 Things Everyone Gets Wrong About It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.
20 The McPoyles met their demise in the apartment fire
It’s Always Sunny has no shortage of bizarre side characters who pop back up every few seasons. Such was the case with Liam and Ryan McPoyle, who appeared sporadically throughout seasons one through nine. They last appeared in “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs,” where they are invited over to Mac and Dennis’s apartment for a Thanksgiving dinner under the hopes that they can all make amends.
Inevitably, things go off the rails and the Gang ends up locking their guests in the apartment when it goes up in flames. It’s easy to assume that the twins might have met their demise, especially when they’re noticeably absent from the season eleven episode “McPoyle vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century". However, it's been briefly mentioned that the twins are still alive, even though we haven't seen them in years.
19 Frank is Dennis and Dee's father
Frank Reynolds first popped up in season two of the show as the father of Dee and Dennis Reynolds. While there might not be much of a physical resemblance, it wasn’t hard to believe that Frank raised the twins — as Dennis and Dee are just as despicable and self-involved as their father. However, those who have been paying close attention know that Frank isn’t actually their biological father, just their legal guardian.
Dennis and Dee’s real father, Bruce Mathis, even popped up in a couple of the earlier seasons.
It’s also been revealed that Frank is almost certainly the biological father of Charlie, but it’s not something the Gang likes to talk about.
18 “The Gang Beats Boggs” was based on a real-life record
The season ten opener found the Gang boarding a plane for a cross-country flight to try to beat the record of former Major League Baseball player Wade Boggs. That record involved seeing just how many drinks they could consume, which was based on the legendary stories of Boggs’ real-life exploits. The number they settled on for the episode was 70 drinks, and the fact that Wade Boggs himself agreed to participate in the show seemed to solidify this mythic story as fact.
In an interview for the show, Charlie Day said that while they were on set, Boggs told him his actual record was 107. While that may be closer to the truth, it probably would have made the already unfathomable episode seem that much more ridiculous.
17 Bird Law is make-believe
Charlie might not be the most literate of the Gang — not that he would even know what that word means. Yet the King of the Rats still fancies himself as a bit of a legal scholar. His specialty? Bird Law, of course. The Gang often scoffs at the idea of Bird Law, believing it to be another figment of Charlie’s outlandish imagination. In this regard, Charlie might actually be closer to the truth than his friends realize.
While there are plenty of regulations that protect wildlife in general, birds enjoy their own U.S. federal law with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918.
This law protects over 800 species of birds, many of which are native to Philadelphia.
This probably isn't what Charlie has in mind while talking about Bird Law, but that doesn't mean it's totally make-believe.
16 Danny DeVito joined the show because he was a fan
Most fans of It’s Always Sunny know that Danny DeVito wasn’t always a member of the Gang. Instead, he first popped up as Frank Reynolds during the second season. McElhenny and the others were worried how DeVito would fit into the series, but when they were given the ultimatum to add a star or face cancellation, they decided to welcome DeVito to the team.
While it's been said that DeVito joined the show because he was a fan, the reality was that John Landgraf, the president of FX, was already friends with DeVito. This, coupled with the fact that DeVito's kids were\ fans of the show, is what led the veteran actor to sign on for the sitcom.
15 The pilot was shot for just $200
People love a good underdog story, which is why it is often said that the pilot for It’s Always Sunny was shot for $200, but that's not quite accurate. What McElhenney, Howerton, and Day originally made was closer to a short film or a TV movie, which they titled It’s Always Sunny on TV.
The project never aired, but it was used to shop around the concept to various networks.
Day has also said he doesn't know where the $200 price tag came from, as the project likely cost a lot less, with their only real expenses being the camcorder tapes and pizza. The actual pilot was obviously made on a much bigger budget and had a different story. However, they did end up using parts of the unaired pilot for the season one episode “Charlie Has Cancer”.
14 The show is extremely controversial
We could fill an entire list with the despicable things the Gang has partaken in. In fact, we have. But that still doesn’t come close to cataloging all the obscene things these bar owners have done over the past thirteen years.
From pretending to have cancer to faking the funeral of a baby, one would think that It’s Always Sunny would find itself coming under fire on a regular basis. As controversial as many of these topics may be, the show doesn’t actually make a lot of headlines for how obscene it is. In an interview, Day and Howerton have attributed this to the fact that the characters are often the butt of the joke. They may do horrible things, but the audience is always left laughing at the Gang more than anyone else.
13 Charlie is an only child
Charlie being an only child isn’t just a mistake that a lot of the viewers seem to make; it’s one that the makers of the show have been guilty of as well. The only family that Charlie seems to have throughout the series is his mother and his creepy uncle. In reality, Frank is most likely his biological father, which also likely makes Dee and Dennis most likely his step-siblings.
In season one of the show, it’s mentioned that Charlie has a younger sister.
She may even appear during Charlie’s intervention without ever being mentioned. For the sake of simplicity, this plot point may have been purposefully ignored by the writers ever since.
12 The series is shot in Philadelphia
While they do a great job of making the series look like it’s set in South Philly, the majority of the show is actually shot in Los Angeles — which helps explain why it’s quite literally always sunny in “Philadelphia.”
Of course, there are a number of iconic locations that had to be shot in The City of Brotherly Love. Otherwise, it makes a lot more sense for the series to be filmed in Southern California. Even the exterior of Paddy’s Pub is filmed just outside of downtown L.A. — which might ruin a bit of the show's magic for some. That being said, Rob McElhenny and Kaitlin Olson opened a real bar in Philadelphia back in 2010, which they titled Mac's Tavern.
11 Everyone was friends before the show began
With McElhenney, Howerton, and Day being a part of the series from its very inception, it’s easy to think that everyone in the Gang was friends before the show began. Excluding Danny DeVito, of course, who didn’t pop up until season two.
While the three male stars were friends before the show was ever picked up, Kaitlin Olson was actually not a part of the original group.
In the unaired pilot, this character was instead played by McElhenney’s then-girlfriend Jordan Reid. However, the two broke up before the show was ordered by FX, leading to Olson's eventual casting. Olson was even hesitant to take the part, as Dee was originally going to be the "straight" character. Thankfully, Olson was able to bring her own brand of outstanding cringe-comedy to Dee, making her the dirtbag we know and love today.
10 The characters were always going to own a bar
What would It’s Always Sunny be without Paddy’s Pub? The dive bar has been featured in nearly every episode of the series to date, and it’s hard to imagine another line of work for these self-centered lowlives.
The original idea for the show wasn’t going to revolve around bar owners at all, but rather a group of aspiring actors. This was a sitcom scenario that felt all too familiar. Since a big part of the concept was about a group of friends who have nothing much to do with themselves during the day, McElhenney and the others eventually switched the characters' professions from acting to bartending. That certainly hasn't stopped the Gang from putting on a number of theatrical performances throughout the series.
9 It was always set in Philadelphia
Rob McElhenney may indeed be a Philadelphia native, but the show originally wasn’t conceived to take place in his hometown at all. Instead, the unaired pilot took place in Los Angeles, which only made sense as McElhenney and the others actors were struggling to break through in Hollywood at the time.
After the series was picked up by FX, the concept went through a number of changes.
Apparently, there were too many sitcoms set in Los Angeles being made at that time and they wanted the show to better differentiate itself. Therefore, the story was eventually relocated to the East coast, and the title was also changed from It’s Always Sunny on TV to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
8 They aren't sober on set
There seems to be no substance that the Gang wouldn’t be willing to put in their bodies, but seems like their favorite indulgence by far is whatever they have behind the bar at Paddy’s Pub. A number of the episodes are committed to chronicling the Gang’s unhealthy relationship with drinking, and all the actors play being inebriation so convincingly that it’s not hard to imagine that there might be some real drinking going on behind the scenes.
However, the actors have said numerous times that no matter how real these moments may look, they’re never actually drinking on camera. Not only would this make an entire day of shooting infinitely more difficult, but it would be a serious insurance liability as well.
7 Where Dayman came from
The season four finale, titled “The Nightman Cometh,” is easily one of the most popular episodes of the series. It follows Charlie as he attempts to direct a rock opera with the Gang filling out the cast, including Dennis in the role of the Dayman and Mac taking on the part of the Nightman. The story and songs became such a hit that they were even turned into a real stage musical, which the cast performed live in a number of cities.
Many fans forget that the idea for the musical actually came an entire season earlier.
The iconic Dayman song was even performed previously by Dennis and Charlie in the episode where Dee is dating a rapper whom the gang suspects may be mentally challenged.
6 Charlie doesn’t know how to drive
Charlie may be the most caring member of the Gang, but in a lot of ways, he’s also the most incompetent. He can barely read, he doesn’t exactly have the best memory, and he's spent the majority of his life too afraid to leave Philadelphia. One reason for this is because Charlie seems like he doesn’t know how to drive. This is probably for the best considering that he can't tell the difference between the words "Coors" and "Closed".
However, in an earlier episode of the show, Charlie does successfully get behind the wheel. Since then, we've been led to believe that, instead of Charlie not knowing how to drive, he simply forgets how to from time to time.
5 McElhenney only gained weight because it was funny
What’s kept It’s Always Sunny such a big hit over the years is the show’s willingness to take risks. The writers are not afraid to make a musical, or confine a story to a single location, or shoot an entire episode as if we were inside the mind of Frank Reynolds. This audacity was never more apparent than when Rob McElhenney decided to put on 50 extra pounds for season seven.
It might seem like McElhenney was just doing the stunt for some additional viewers and to milk a few extra laughs out of each episode.
In reality, McElhenney has said that the real reason he gained the weight was because the stars on other successful sitcoms only seem to get more attractive as the show progressed, which is rarely the case in real life.
4 A lot of the show is improvised
As absurd as a lot of plot lines of It’s Always Sunny can be, the dialogue of the show comes across as extremely naturalistic. Characters mumble, they talk over each other, and they don’t always make a ton of sense. It might seem like the actors are just spitballing with one another until they get the funniest take. Kaitlin Olson previously worked as an improv comedian, after all.
However, while the show may seem heavily improvised, the actors have said that much of the dialogue comes straight off of the page. As most of the stars work both in front of and behind the camera, they have the ability to change lines whenever they want to, but making the dialogue seem so spontaneous and naturalistic is ultimately a testament to the cast’s acting abilities.
3 Critics don’t like it
Despite being on the air for over 13 years, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has failed to win a single Emmy. In fact, the show has never even been nominated for Outstanding Comedy or Outstanding Writing. Instead, the sitcom has only received recognition for Outstanding Stunt Coordination three years in a row — which they've also failed to win. This might seem like critics don’t like the show nearly as much as the fans do.
In reality, the series has received critical acclaim throughout its run, resulting in near-perfect scores on Rotten Tomatoes.
McElhenney, Howerton, and Day even poked fun at their lack of Emmy nominations in the season nine episode “The Gang Desperately Tries to Win an Award".
2 Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis met while working on the show
Most fans of the show know that Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson are married in real life. Such is also the case with Charlie Day and Mary Elizabeth Ellis — who plays the recurring character of the Waitress and Charlie's unrequited love interest throughout the series.
Because McElhenney and Olson met while working on the show, it’s easy to assume the same for Day and Ellis. However, these two had actually met years before while working in theatre in New York City. They even appeared together as creepy siblings in an episode of Reno 911! before It's Always Sunny even began. Day and Ellis married just a year after the long-running sitcom debuted, and they have been together ever since.
1 McElhenney, Howerton, and Day write all the episodes
With McElhenney serving as the series creator and Howerton and Day working as executive producers, the trio has maintained a ton of creative control over the sitcom ever since It’s Always Sunny began.
In the first few seasons of the show, almost all of the episodes were either written or conceived by McElhenney, Howerton, or Day — which is no small feat. That trend has actually not continued on throughout the later seasons.
Even though the tone of the show still largely feels the same, new writers continue to be brought in every season.
This season, only one episode will have been written by McElhenney and Day, which will be the season finale, titled “Mac Finds His Pride.”
Which one of these It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia myths did you think was true? Let us know!