For such a horrifically dark creation, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia has done pretty well for itself. It’s found an audience of millions and managed to get itself renewed to fifteen seasons, making it the longest-running live-action sitcom in the history of American television since The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet way back in the ‘50s and ‘60s.
That’s not bad for a show about the antics of a bunch of debauched alcoholics : a filthy, cheese-eating, rat-slaughtering janitor; a sex-crazed, perverted sociopath; a delusional, closet-gay devout Christian; a mean-spirited wench; and the coke-sniffing, whore-banging, booze-swilling human epitome of awful and disgusting behaviour.
It’s fair to say that It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a pretty savage show. So, without further ado, here are the fifteen most savage moments from the history of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.
15. Charlie reveals the truth to Ruby Taft
When Charlie and Dee are invited out to dinner and wooed by the rich Taft siblings, Dennis, Mac, and Frank worry that it’s all a part of a She’s All That or Dangerous Liaisons kind of scheme to get the dopiest, poorest peasants and bring them into a high society cocktail party to laugh at them.
As Dennis explains to a typically clueless Mac, “Cruel Intentions? She’s All That? Can’t Buy Me Love? Almost any movie made in the late ‘90s? Guys, guys, these are the games that rich people with nothing but time on their hands play with people that they perceive to be below them. That girl is just toying with Charlie. She’s gonna crush him.”
Of course, the irony at the end was that Dee’s boyfriend was playing those games with her when the guys weren’t looking out for her because they don’t care, and Charlie was actually playing a game with his girlfriend and toying with her to get the attention of The Waitress.
Ruby Taft actually did really like Charlie and Charlie didn’t care as long as it got him what he wanted, and that’s what’s so savage about this. Old Charlie can be quite smart sometimes, especially when it comes to tricking The Waitress.
14. The gang burns all their enemies alive
In the season 9 finale “The Gang Squashes Their Beefs,” the gang invites all their various enemies from over the years — Rickety Cricket, the McPoyle brothers, the Ponderosas, Frank and Charlie’s penny-pinching landlord Hwang — over to Mac and Dennis’ apartment for Thanksgiving dinner.
They spend the whole episode trying to squash their beefs and make peace, but they just end up creating more beefs, and then a fire breaks out. They trap everyone in the apartment with the fire and leave them to burn horrifically.
They decide they don’t need to squash their beefs as long as they have blankets to keep them warm in their apartment, another WaWa to get their sandwiches from, and a store where they can buy their DVDs. But this decision comes at the cost of Cricket’s face.
13. Mac’s Lethal Weapon blackface
If you’ve ever wanted to see Mel Gibson and Danny Glover reteam as LA cops Martin Riggs and Roger Murtaugh for another Lethal Weapon movie, it’ll probably never happen. But you need to look no further than It’s Always Sunny for a wonderful alternative.
They’ve given us, not just Lethal Weapon 5, but Lethal Weapon 6 as well. It may not star Gibson and Glover, but it does star Mac and Dennis. Mac does not feel right portraying the African-American character of Murtaugh in his own Caucasian skin, so he dons some blackface to make it more accurate (and shamelessly racist).
The Always Sunny team got away with it once, so they decided to roll the dice and do it again a few years later, this time having the gang tour the offices of various potential investors to screen clips of the movie and leave them very confused and offended.
12. The D.E.N.N.I.S. System
In the episode “The D.E.N.N.I.S. System,” Dennis Reynolds teaches you how to pick up chicks. The D.E.N.N.I.S. System is a systematic approach to the seduction, neglect, and love of women.
The steps are thus: Demonstrate Value (show them you’re a good guy), Engage Physically (have sex, basically), Nurture Dependence (play your cards wisely with the attachment that comes after sex), Neglect Emotionally (show them you won’t always be there for them), Inspire Hope (apologize, promise to change, and have sex again), and then Separate Entirely (at which point they’ll supposedly be pining after you and you can get them back any time you want to).
According to Dennis, it’s foolproof. The last three steps are a little on the psychopathic side of things, but the first three can actually be applied in real life.
11. The gang salts Gail the Snail
There’s a lot of nasty stuff that happens in “The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention.” Frank shows up wasted at his brother-in-law’s funeral to try and hit on his widow and ends up getting a handjob under the kitchen table from his niece.
Meanwhile, Dennis and Dee are forced to spend time with their cousin Gail, who they call “Gail the Snail,” and explain to Charlie that they used to have to throw salt at her to get rid of her. And to top it all off, the gang gave the world the idea of disguising your wine in a Diet Coke can.
But the most savage moment of all came when Charlie lashed Gail the Snail with salt to get rid of her. At first, he thought that sounded like a mean thing to do, but in the end, he’s driven to do it.
10. Dennis and Dee’s welfare scam
Of all the memorable Always Sunny quotes that fans cite endlessly, this is possibly the one that gets used the most and it never gets old. “Hi, I’m a recovering crackhead and this is my retarded sister. We’d like some welfare, please.”
What is so hilarious about this scheme is that it hinges entirely on Dennis pretending to be addicted to crack in order to get welfare payments. In the end, he genuinely does end up addicted to crack and he doesn’t get any welfare.
It’s a classic example of the Always Sunny formula. They almost always get their comeuppance for doing something awful — and doing something stupid in the process, like underestimate the power that crack cocaine has on your body.
9. “Wildcard, bitches!”
In the meta season 4 episode “The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis,” the members of the gang assess their different positions within the group and the various problems with their overall methods in coming up with schemes and especially in their execution. They decide that Charlie is the wildcard.
He takes the role a little too seriously, as he does things that make no sense and endanger everybody. As a part of the oil scheme, Charlie dresses up like a rich Texan and puts on his best Southern drawl, which according to Dennis, sounds like Foghorn Leghorn.
All of this would’ve been fine if he hadn’t cut the brakes on their van, yelled out, “Wildcard, bitches!” and jumped out the back, leaving the rest of the gang for dead.
8. Frank makes Dee dig up her mother’s corpse
When Dee makes fun of Frank and says he’s losing his mind, he hatches a scheme to convince her that her mother — his ex-wife — left behind a huge stash of treasure when she died, all under the guise of him “losing it.” He leads her all around Philadelphia in search of this treasure and they end up at Dee’s mom’s grave.
Frank tells her to get digging and starts going at the six feet to her coffin. And when she reaches the coffin and pops it open, she finds no treasure — only her mother’s decaying skeleton. Then Frank starts laughing and reveals his plan all along.
So, Dee, quite rightly, points out the sheer insanity of Frank’s plan — “you made me dig up my dead mother because I said you were losing it?” A truly savage Always Sunny moment.
7. Dee tricks a male stripper into grinding on his own estranged daughter
You’d better not cross Sweet Dee. Like Eric Cartman when he killed Scott Tenorman’s parents and ground them into a chilli that he fed to Scott, Dee will hold a serious grudge and in the end, will have her revenge.
In the episode “PTS-Dee,” a male stripper who bangs her arrives at Paddy’s Pub to tell her that she was his “rock bottom” and the reason he’s decided to stop having meaningless sex and reconnect with his estranged daughter.
So, Dee diabolically concocts a plan to get the stripper to perform at Paddy’s and have him grind his junk in his daughter’s face. That on its own isn’t all that bad — but imagine the ensuing fallout of their already strained relationship. Brutally savage. Seriously, do not cross Dee.
6. The gang poisons a fraternity
Flip, flip, Flipadelphia! Flip, flip, Flipadelphia! In the episode “The Gang Reignites the Rivalry,” the gang has their ten-year ban from a flip cup tournament after they poisoned the other team, so they dive into their training for this year’s game.
However, throughout the episode, they get sidetracked from their actual rivals in the tournament as they find new rivals in a college fraternity. They kick Mac and Charlie out of their party right as they were about to get lucky with some college girls, and they taser Dennis and Frank.
So, they challenge the frat guys to a game of flip cup that they lose miserably. And just when we think the gang have been defeated by this douchey frat yet again — it’s revealed that the gang has poisoned them! Hah-hah! It’s savage, diabolical, and satisfying.
5. Mac pretends to have chemotherapy
In “Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life,” Mac and Frank come up with an ingenious way to invent a memoir full of fake stories and get away with it, unlike the guy who wrote A Million Little Pieces. As Mac told Dennis, “dude, you don’t wanna end up like that Million Little Pieces guy, okay? Oprah made him look like a total dick.”
Mac and Frank’s solution is to simply take all the stories that Dennis made up about waking up in a rehab center with the wounds of Jesus Christ and working alongside Jon Bon Jovi as his sexual advisor and find a way to make them really happen.
And how does Mac plan to get a meeting with Bon Jovi? By shaving his head, hopping in a wheelchair, and pretending to have cancer, of course. His plan is foiled when Bon Jovi’s representative tells him that if he was really going through chemotherapy, he would’ve lost his facial hair, too. Oh, Mac.
4. The implication
In the episode “The Gang Buys a Boat,” a conversation between Mac and Dennis reveals Dennis’ true motivations behind the purchasing of a boat.
As he explains to Mac, “the whole purpose of buying the boat in the first place was to get the ladies nice and tipsy topside, so we can take ‘em to a nice comfortable place below deck and, you know, they can’t refuse, because of the implication.”
Then Mac admits, “you had me going there for the first part…the second half kinda threw me.” So, Dennis of course explains, “well, dude, think about it: she’s out in the middle of nowhere with some dude she barely knows. You know, she looks around and what does she see? Nothin’ but open ocean. ‘Ahh, there’s nowhere for me to run. What am I gonna do, say no?’”
At this point, everyone in the audience (and Mac) are pretty uncomfortable and worried. But Dennis doesn’t see it that way. He thinks it’s very simple.
3. Dee and Charlie head to a morgue to eat a dead body
In “Mac and Dennis: Manhunters,” Frank is sick of Dee and Charlie eating all the strange meats that he goes out on the streets of Philly and hunts for. So he convinces them that they’ve eaten human flesh. After that, hey can’t get human meat out of their minds.
Even monkey has no flavor to them, so they decide that if they want their hunger quenched, they’re going to have to give in to their cravings and eat a human being.They grab a case of beer and head down to the morgue with a hotplate to pick a corpse to eat.
They get racist in their decision over whether or not to eat the white guy or the black guy. But then Charlie decides, “cannibalism? Racism? Dee, that’s not for us. You know? Those are the decisions that are best left to the suits in Washington. Okay? We’re just here to eat some dude.”
2. The baby funeral
In the episode “Sweet Dee Gets Audited,” Dee is found out for scamming the audience out of welfare money to raise a baby that she doesn’t have. To get her out of it, Dennis and Frank put on a funeral at Paddy’s for the fake, dead baby.
Dennis himself calls it “the darkest thing we’ve ever done.” He and Frank use the funeral service as a platform to promote the products manufactured by their shell corporation, Wolf Cola. Dennis uses chilli powder to get Dee to cry, although this makes her eyes bleed.
Then Mac and Charlie show up to overthrow the event and tip the coffin. It contains the dog carcass that had turned to, in Mac’s words, “hot soup” in the sunlight out in the alley. All in all, the whole thing is pretty horrible to watch, but that’s the Always Sunny way!
1. Dennis threatens to skin Dee and turn her into luggage
We’ve seen Dennis’ psychopathic side come through a big handful of times in all the years that It’s Always Sunny has been on the air. But none more frightening or overt as in season 10’s “Psycho Pete Returns,” when he told his sister Dee that he would skin her and make a collection of luggage out of her sheered skin.
Glenn Howerton went into a long, extended rant that was so harrowing that it was hilarious. “Dee, I swear you would be of more use to me if I skinned you and turned your skin into a lampshade. Or fashioned you into a piece of high-end luggage. I can even add you to my collection.”
Then Dee asked, “are you saying that you have a collection of skin luggage?” to which Dennis replied, “of course I’m not, Dee. Don’t be ridiculous. Think of the smell. You haven’t thought of the smell, you bitch! Now, you say another word and I swear to God, I will dice you into a million little pieces. And put those pieces in a glass box that I will display on my mantle.”