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The 15 Best Episodes Of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Ranked

Very few television shows are anywhere near as brazen as It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Some of the plotlines found throughout the series are seriously messed up and yet many consider it to be one of the best TV comedies of the 21st century. Were it not for its wonderful cast of characters though, that might not be the case.

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Dee, Dennis, Mac, and Charlie are all incredibly dysfunctional human beings with some rather severe emotional and psychological problems to contend with. Frank, on the other hand, is just a senile old man who’s looking for a chance to relive his wasted youth. Together, they’ve shared plenty of wild and inappropriate adventures; the best of which are some of the funniest to have ever appeared on television.

Updated August 1, 2021 by Tom Bowen: Despite almost two years having now passed since the show’s fourteenth season premiered, there’s still no word on when season fifteen of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia will finally be released. While the long wait may be frustrating to some fans though, they can at least take some solace in the fact that it is definitely on the way. Until it arrives, there are plenty of fantastic episodes of the show that deserve to be rewatched, many of which seem to get funnier and funnier with each subsequent viewing. Likewise, for those who’ve never seen It’s Always Sunny and want to find out what they’re missing out on, these episodes are arguably the best place to start.

15 CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games (S07E07)

The gang doesn’t really do things in half-measures, as evidenced by their version of board game night. CharDee MacDennis is a brutal and depraved game with some of the most ridiculous rules and challenges imaginable and yet it somehow manages to remain perfectly in keeping with the gang’s usual antics. That is to say, that it’s both hilarious and shocking in equal measures.

Frank’s naivety at first seems like a bit of a handicap to his new teammates, but it’s through his diligence and astute powers of perception that he’s able to draw The Leprechauns level. Even with the odds no longer stacked against them, however, Charlie and Mac still end up losing out, with the Golden Geese once again emerging victorious from the game of games.

14 Time’s Up For The Gang (S13E04)

Much like South Park, It’s Always Sunny has never shied away from taking a satirical swipe at topical and highly sensitive issues in its episodes, nor has it ever attempted to gloss over how depraved and inappropriate the gang can often be. The Me Too and Time’s Up movements take center stage this time around and once again demonstrate just how out of touch the Paddy’s proprietors really are.

The sexual harassment seminar serves as the perfect backdrop against which to remind viewers of just how messed up the gang really is. The episode also reminds viewers that men can also be the victims of sexual harassment and abuse, something that can often be overlooked. Of course, the gang learns nothing from the experience and the whole thing is eventually revealed to be yet another one of Dennis’ insane and immoral schemes.

13 The Gang Goes To A Water Park (S12E02)

When it comes to overused sitcom tropes, the central characters visiting a water park is definitely pretty high up on the list. It’s perhaps understandable why too, given the many opportunities for comedy that such a setting presents. Granted, most of these tend to involve toilet humor, but It’s Always Sunny at least tries to put its own spin on things.

Mac and Dee get stuck in a water slide and end up causing a massive pile-up, while Dennis’ pursuit of his next potential victim is interrupted when he thinks he’s found himself a new protege. The hilarious climax, which ends with a mad panic to escape from a pool full of Frank’s blood serves as a fitting end to a terrible trip, although Mac does manage to sit on a drain during the chaos, which seems to make him happy, at least.

12 Hero or Hate Crime? (S12E06)

There’s an argument to be made that It’s Always Sunny is at its absolute best not when its characters are acting crazy, but when they’re given an opportunity to demonstrate just how warped their mindsets are through their dialog. Like the episode where the gang goes to therapy over some dishes or the time when they hold a mock trial over eating cereal while at the wheel, Hero or Hate Crime? does exactly that.

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During the act of saving Mac from a falling piano, Frank uses a homophobic slur, prompting the gang to ask themselves the titular question. There’s also an argument over a winning lottery ticket, as well as the mystery of why Charlie decided to intentionally tread in dog crap. Dennis also sinks to some old lows, this time trying to score points with a 20-year-old coffee shop waitress in the build-up to her 21st birthday.

11 Charlie Work (S10E04)

Just as the waitress doesn’t appreciate all of the strange things that Charlie does for her (as evidenced by the season 8 episode with the Taft family), the gang is completely oblivious to the hard work that Charlie puts into the day-to-day running of Paddy’s Pub. Charlie Work paints a pretty clear picture in that regard, although, sadly for him, the gang is too preoccupied with their chicken, steak, and Airmiles scam to even notice.

For Paddy’s Pub to pass an inspection on a normal day would likely be challenging enough, but to do so while they’re in the middle of yet another ridiculous and illegal scheme seems like the very definition of an impossible task. Against all the odds, however, Charlie is somehow able to pull it off, despite him having to contend with his friends’ insane antics and Dee’s complete and utter incompetence.

10 The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award (S09E03)

Upon realizing that Paddy’s is one of the only bars in Philly to have never won an award, the gang tries to emulate one of their rivals with hilarious and catastrophic results. Charlie has little interest in their endeavors, however, and instead opts to write a special song for the occasion. It’s certainly memorable, although perhaps not quite what the gang was hoping for.

Mac’s inability to understand even the simplest of concepts and Dee’s incessant vanity may have caused a lot of the problems, but none of the gang really come out of this episode smelling like roses. Dennis is his usual neurotic self while Frank’s perverse nature yet again shines an ugly light on proceedings. Unsurprisingly, they don’t win the award and end up spitting on the judges in order to make them leave.

9 Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare (S02E03)

Fed up with being pushed around by Frank, Dennis and Dee decide to quit their jobs and sign up for welfare. Unfortunately, they don’t quite meet the criteria and so come up with a scheme to help them game the system. Things don’t quite go to plan though and the siblings end up developing a rather nasty drug problem instead.

While the welfare slaves and spending spree subplots each provide some great moments, it’s Dennis and Dee’s escapades that really make this episode so memorable. Up until this point, their reckless actions had gone more or less unpunished and so to see them having to face some fairly life-changing consequences this time around felt a lot like karma finally catching up with them.

8 The Gang Gets Analyzed (S08E05)

One only needs to watch a few episodes of the show to realize that each of the gang has a lot of issues, although it’s nice to have them all laid out in just one place. From Frank’s first kiss to Mac’s issues with his weight, each of the vignettes used to explore their many problems is punctuated with fantastic humor and some wonderfully bizarre revelations.

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That the gang would go to such lengths to determine who has to wash the dishes says a lot about the group dynamic, as too do Dennis’ attempts to position himself as a co-therapist of sorts. It does all work out in the end though, with everybody but Dee coming away from the therapy session with a smile on their faces.

7 The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis (S04E02)

The gang has come up with plenty of get-rich-quick schemes over the years, but none have been quite as memorable as their door-to-door gas sale venture. Armed only with Dee’s life savings and Frank’s creepy panel van, they purchase several trash cans worth of gas in the hopes of flipping it for a healthy profit. Predictably, perhaps, both their plan and the van go up in flames.

It’s an episode that’s packed with funny moments; from Mac, Dennis, and Charlie attempting to seduce a bank clerk in order to get approved for a loan to Frank’s continued obsession with his dead wife’s lover Bruce. It all ends with Charlie living up to his wildcard status and Dee once again finding herself severely out of pocket.

6 Mac & Dennis Move To The Suburbs (S11E05)

After Dee gets fed up with Mac and Dennis staying at her place, the pair end up moving to a little house in the suburbs. What starts out as their dream home though quickly becomes a nightmare and pushes both men to the very brink of insanity. Unfortunately, an ill-conceived bet with Frank means that leaving just isn’t an option and they’re forced to stick it out to avoid having to share a bed with Dee and an old man.

The tragic demise of their new dog Dennis is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this episode’s many messed up moments, but there’s plenty of humor sprinkled in there too which serves to break up the darkness just a little. As an added bonus, the old man from the bet goes on to become a semi-regular character in later episodes of the show.

5 Thunder Gun Express (S07E11)

With the president in town and the streets of Philly gridlocked, the gang risk missing out on the biggest action movie of the summer. Every avenue they take seems to lead to yet another roadblock and they’re forced to separate along the way. Amazingly, however, they all make it to the movie theater just in time. Well. Apart from Frank, that is; although despite being arrested for stealing a boat, the old man still has one last trick hidden up his sleeve.

Listening to Frank regaling a group of Chinese tourists with tales of the gang’s past adventures really does put some of the show’s ridiculous episodes into perspective; this one included. What’s more, seeing how quickly the gang are willing to abandon each other shows just how selfish and uncaring each of them really is.

4 A Very Sunny Christmas (S06E13)

While most Christmas episodes are packed full of holiday cheer and feel-good moments, A Very Sunny Christmas is instead one of the darkest and most depressing episodes of the show to date. The gang is all forced to reflect on how crummy their childhood Christmases were and they ultimately end up getting held up at gunpoint by one of Frank’s old business partners.

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That Mac’s father is a criminal, Charlie’s mom is a whore and Frank is a terrible father isn’t really news to the audience at this point. Seeing the true extent of these things is really quite shocking though and goes a long way to explaining why the gang is all as messed up as they are. The episode’s highlights include Frank getting sewn naked into a sofa, Charlie attacking Santa, and the gang celebrating Christmas Day by throwing rocks at trains.

3 The D.E.N.N.I.S. System (S05E10)

Dennis regularly displays sociopathic tendencies throughout the series, whether by taking advantage of ‘the implication’ attached to a situation or demanding that women sign contracts and other legally binding documents. The true scale of his issues doesn’t really come to light though until he unveils his foolproof pickup techniques to the rest of the gang.

The Dennis system is problematic on a number of levels and perfectly captures how misguided and manipulative Dennis is when it comes to hooking up with women. That both Mac and Frank each have their own systems for swooping in once Dennis has ‘separated entirely’ shows that they too are a little clueless when it comes to the opposite sex.

2 Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth (S06E09)

Having quit their jobs at Paddy’s in the previous episode, Dee and Charlie find employment at a local high school. While the former is filling in for her former drama teacher, Charlie instead uses his experience and enthusiasm to land a role in the school’s custodial department. Back at the bar, Dennis and Mac can’t agree on whether or not their homemade Lethal Weapon movie is appropriate for the modern era and decide that they need a few more opinions in order to make the final call.

Those hoping to watch this episode on Netflix or any of the other major streaming platforms are out of luck, as it’s one of several episodes of the show to have been pulled for its inclusion of blackface. Some may argue that it’s used satirically to highlight how problematic and offensive the practice is rather than as a means of ridiculing people of color. Given recent events though, it’s perhaps understandable why decision-makers might have opted to err on the side of caution.

1 The Nightman Cometh (S04E13)

Charlie’s mother’s profession clearly had a big impact on the way that he turned out, but there’s a side to his childhood that manages to be darker still. It’s never implicitly stated what happened between Charlie and his uncle Jack, although if the lyrics to the Nightman songs are anything to go by, it definitely wasn’t pleasant.

These experiences are ultimately what inspired Charlie’s rock opera, which he uses to try and finally win over his soulmate. When all’s said and done, it’s a bizarre yet surprisingly moving performance with some hilarious moments and brilliant dialogue. Sadly, however, it’s not enough to impress the waitress and she storms off after declining his marriage proposal.

NEXT: The Best South Park Episodes, According To IMDb

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