It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has no shortage of memorable characters in its arsenal. Even just the five main characters are some of the most dynamic charismas in television, but none come close to the complexity (if that’s what we should call it) of Charlie Kelly.
In case you’re not fully aware of who Charlie is, at one point in the show he had never left Philadelphia, had never eaten a pear, and thought that the twist at the end of The Sixth Sense was that the guy in the toupee was Bruce Willis. Who would’ve thought that a dyslexic, cat food-eating, green-man-wearing, drink-chugging janitor would be one of the most entertaining people on television? Charlie may be the butt of many of the gang’s jokes, but he also is one of the most empathetic and quite honestly the only one who’s remotely a good person.
Performer Charlie Day has far and away had the most fruitful career since the show's inception, aside from maybe Danny DeVito, but that’s a completely different story. It could be because filmmakers have realized how talented Day is, but the writing and performance of the character have undoubtedly led to the actor’s success.
With such a complex character, there are bound to be a few things that plainly just don’t make sense. Picking apart a show as silly as this may seem pointless, but when a series airs for so long, it seems inevitable that its expert fans will catch plot holes, inconsistencies, and bogus science.
Let’s look at 20 Things That Make No Sense About Charlie.
Charlie isn’t as big with the ladies as Dennis is, but he does have one lovely lady on his mind-- constantly, in fact: The Waitress. Having gone to high school with the Gang, she has numerous restraining orders against Charlie since he consistently stalks her.
Even with these restraining orders in place, Charlie continues to purposely come into contact with the Waitress, often by pretty brutal actions, including pretending to be in recovery for addiction and also inviting her to an amateur play he had written only to propose to her. Charlie should probably have been arrested for many things throughout the show’s history, but this is far and away the most consistent and downright creepy.
In the season 11 episode “McPoyle Vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century”, Charlie is Bill Ponderosa’s lawyer and is trying to get him acquitted of the charge of spiking the McPoyle wedding’s milk and thus causing one of the McPoyle siblings to stab the other in the eye. You know, typical wedding things.
Charlie uses his useless and random knowledge in Bird Law to try and get his defendant off the hook. The most curious thing is when Charlie seems to be quite articulate in the avian legal system. He then withdraws any bit of confidence when he is confused when the professor in birds he brought can’t "speak pigeon," which, of course, no one can.
On more than a few occasions, Charlie has been told that he smells overwhelmingly of cheese. This is probably due to the the fact that he is known to eat cheese as a snack, particularly in extremely stressful situations.
Michael Keegan-Key makes a guest appearance as a game show host during the episode “The Gang Goes On Family Fight.” In the episode, Charlie is shown a bowl of cottage cheese and has absolutely no idea what the substance is but claims it as “an enticing bowl of white.” For someone who loves cheese and devouring it at the most inopportune times such as Charlie does, it’s pretty hard to believe that he wouldn’t have encountered cottage cheese in his life. That said, he had no idea what a pear was, so who knows.
Charlie’s diet and lifestyle would be deemed far from healthy by any healthcare professional. He often eats things that are thought to not be edible and does very minimal exercise, yet in the episode “Hundred Dollar Baby” he’s shown to have some pretty incredible talents.
Charlie is able to pull Mac and Dennis in a pickup truck, which on average weigh around 5,000 pounds without anything in their bed, while training to be an underground boxing contender. Mac and Dennis are awed by Charlie’s raw strength which will surely come in handy during his matches, but his dabbling in PEDs sadly ends Charlie’s boxing career before it ever began.
In the same episode listed above, Mac and Dennis learn that what Charlie lacks in fighting technique he makes up for in endurance. They train Charlie to endure acts of violence by hitting him over the head with beer bottles and chairs to mimic the hits he’ll take in the ring.
That episode isn’t the only time that Charlie has survived something he probably shouldn’t have. In “Charlie Gets Crippled” he walks away after having Dennis hit him with his car and in “Gun Fever” he is quite literally shot in the head without any lasting consequences. Mac and Dennis have said that Charlie is virtually impossible to injure, and the evidence seems to have proven them right.
Let’s assume that each season of It’s Always Sunny lasts a year, that means that Charlie Kelly has worn the same pair of shoes for 13 years! On Instagram Charlie Day took a picture of his infamous shoes with the caption, “Sunny season 13! I bought these kicks in 2004 and I’ve worn them in pretty much every Sunny episode since.”
Not only does this not make sense in terms of the show’s reality, but even in our reality; keeping a pair of sneakers intact for more than a decade is a darn near impossible task and an achievement that deserves recognition. The work that Charlie is seen doing in the show is quite disgusting at time, so these shoes have been through quite a lot and are maybe more tough than Charlie.
Charlie doesn’t seem to be afraid of many things, having come into contact with rat kings, leprechauns, criminals, and zombies. Two things Charlie is afraid of: people’s knees and Lizards, and your guess as to why is probably as good as anyone’s. In the episode “The Gang Gets Invincible” we learn of Charlie’s fear of lizards when Frank mistakes him for the amphibian while he’s dressed as Green Man. Charlie screams, “Where? Where? I hate Lizards!”
Similarly, while making an online dating profile for him in “The Waitress is Getting Married”, Mac and Dennis ask him some questions and learn that his favorite food is “milksteak,” his favorite hobby is magnets, his likes are ghouls, and most curiously his dislikes are people’s knees. He then demands to the duo, “Cover your knees if you’re gonna walk around in here.”
Charlie’s crimes are pretty numerous, but few are as bad as the time he abducted and tormented a "Leprechaun" in hopes to be told where his pot of gold is. The man claims he isn’t the mythological creature but Charlie (and eventually Mac) refuse to believe him and begin to spray him with a hose and threaten him.
In Charlie’s defense, he had been drinking green paint all day since that’s how he thought you make beer green. Also in his defense, the man they believed to be a Leprechaun was actually a pickpocket who had been stealing wallets from Paddy’s for years. However, the law probably wouldn’t allow for such acts to be done to a mere pickpocket. It's another of the many times Charlie has somehow eluded jail.
You’d think that if someone were in love with a person so much they’d propose, they’d know their real name. That’s not the case with Charlie, who consistently refers to her as The Waitress. Many fans theorize he knows her name. He seems very upset when Dennis admits he doesn’t know it and Charlie also has her listed as his emergency contact, but neither of these definitely prove he knows it since he solely calls her The Waitress.
Audiences thought they had learned it in the episode “High School Reunion”, when Frank sneaks into the reunion by stealing the name-tag of Nikki Potnick. The Waitress then shows up and claims that they didn’t have her name-tag at the desk. Viewers claimed they solved the mystery, though Glenn Howerton revealed on Twitter that the Waitress is not Nikki Potnick.
It wouldn’t be Charlie if he followed a task to completion. During the episode “Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad”, Charlie decides he wants to look tougher and thinks a tattoo should do the trick.
The tattoo is across the inside of his forearm and reads “BAD NEW” in an extremely childlike font. Charlie gave himself the tattoo with the tools consisting of ink and a paperclip. It was almost certainly meant to read “BAD NEWS” but he was stopped short of finishing. He may not be the brightest bulb, but even Charlie knows that all he would need is one more letter to finally end the piece, right?
This is a question that has bewildered fans for years. All signs point to yes, but many devotees still claim it isn’t so. The short of it is that Charlie’s mom has told him that she and Frank and were intimate many years ago. After she got pregnant, Frank demanded she get rid of it but “it didn’t take” and three months later Charlie was born.
However, Charlie’s mom was a night-worker when she was younger, so many fans assert that the odds are not in the favor of Charlie being Frank’s son. They do seem very alike and live pretty comfortably together. For their sake, because of what the entry below would imply, they better hope it’s all a coincidence.
In the episode “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” Charlie and Frank get married strictly for insurance purposes. Charlie wants Frank’s health insurance since he doesn’t have any and Frank wants to know that if he went into a coma Charlie would be the one who has power of attorney.
This doesn’t sit well with Mac, who is rigorously religious and believes gay marriage to be a sin. What the gang should have been more mortified about was the fact that there is a very real possibility that Frank and Charlie had just married their son and father, respectfully. Charlie has done some pretty awful things, but even the potential of marrying his parent is far past the line-- yet it happened.
In the first season, Charlie reveals that he has a younger sister who was involved in an unfortunate incident. She’s never mentioned again, though, and none of the gang ever ask about her.
At Charlie's intervention, we see two women who aren’t part of the main cast, though neither of them speak nor are named. Later in the episode, Charlie tells the McPoyles that his sister was at the intervention. The two woman were the only women at the intervention who weren’t already known and were younger than Charlie. It seems as though the gang just wants to make the mystery of Charlie’s sister as ambiguous as possible.
There certainly is something problematic about Charlie’s deciphering of words and letters. Many of the gang attribute this to dyslexia, though Mac swears it's a full-fledged intellectual disability. Charlie mistook a “Coors” sign to read “closed,” once bet the bar as a wager in a dance competition because he couldn’t read the contract, has scripts for plays written in nonsensical gibberish, and his “Dram Bok” (Dream Book) is just children’s drawings.
Charlie was never big into education and doesn’t have post-secondary schooling, but with this much trouble reading and writing, it's surprising that no one decided to test him for dyslexia-- among many other things.
Sure, falling asleep in a tiny apartment that’s surrounded by angry feral cats while lying next to your father may not be the easiest thing in the world, but it sure isn’t a reason to eat cat food. When Dee is trying to live like Charlie and Frank, she witnesses their nightly routine which consists of eating a can of cat food so that you feel “nice and sick” and fall asleep quite easily. Dee is obviously suspicious of the routine, but Charlie responds with, “I’m not an idiot, there’s a reason to do the things I do.”
Surely falling asleep in conditions such as Charlie’s aren’t the most ideal, but most doctors would probably be willing to recommend many things other than cat food to cure Charlie’s insomnia.
Charlie put an equal amount into Paddy's Pub, but somehow got stuck with doing the “Charlie work.” Let’s leave it to Charlie to explain what "Charlie work" is, while telling his therapist: “Well, Charlie Work is, like, you know... like basement stuff, cleaning urinals, uh, blood stuff, your basic slimes, your sludges, anything..."
Charlie did sell most of his shares to Mac and Dennis for half a sandwich, but this doesn’t explain why he was stuck with the chores from the beginning. Most likely, Charlie was the only one who was willing and this is stuff that needs to be done to keep the bar running.
Charlie plays instruments quite well on various occasions, and even wrote and directed a play based off his hit song, “Dayman”. Charlie has been seen playing the keyboard, the harmonica, the saxophone, and the bugle. On top of all of this, he is able to recognize and imitate that the beep on a carbon monoxide detector is a G Sharp, proving to the gang that Charlie has perfect pitch.
Charlie has no formal training with music, and even comments about how his talents are solely natural: “Keyboards just make sense to me.” There’s a lone guitar sitting in Charlie’s apartment often, which would bring one to assume it to be the fifth instrument he plays, though he has never been seen using it.
The episode “Charlie Work” is the highest rated episode on the show. Many think it to be a version of Birdman while others see it more as a play on True Detective. Regardless of its origin, it’s brilliant.
The episode shows Charlie getting the bar through a health inspection and is filmed in the style of a “one-take" as if it has no cuts. Not only is the episode a technical feat, but it shows just how in charge of the gang Charlie really is. Because of Charlie’s ability to keep the gang in order and pass the inspection, the audience learns that Charlie and his "Charlie work" has single handedly kept the bar open for years. Without him the bar would have most definitely have crumbled.
Sure, Charlie may not be able to pass a physical, but he is in relatively good shape when we consider the things he’s done. The substances that Charlie puts in his body should have stark consequences. These things include PEDs, copious amounts of drinking, glue, spray paint, regular paint, and an assorted variety of other substances.
Not only does he partake in these , but in the episode “A Very Sunny Christmas” we learn that Charlie’s dangerous glue-related habits formed at a young age; something that could cause severe brain damage. Charlie may not be the smartest on the bunch, but he’s far better off than he scientifically should be.
We’ve all heard the saying that you can’t break up with your friends, but Charlie probably should have a long time ago. Charlie takes abuse from the all members of the gang-- not as directly as Dee, but he’s always getting the short end of the stick when it comes to being part of the crew.
Sure, maybe some of it is deserved as he’s a self-proclaimed “wild card” who constantly messes up the gang’s schemes. Nonetheless, Charlie is probably the most morally acute of the group, but the way he’s treated doesn't reflect that. Being the most morally acute in this group of friends, though, really isn’t saying much.
What makes the least sense to you about Charlie in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Let us know in the comments.