Best Episodes Of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia: Top 5 Misadventures, According To Fans

“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” debuted on August 4, 2005. Dennis, Sweet Dee, Charlie, and Mac began their long-running comedy misadventures with a seven-episode season that earned little fanfare. The show really blossomed in the second season with the addition of Danny DeVito as Frank Reynolds. However, their dark humor and portrayal of people that give in to their worst instincts would grow into one of the most beloved episodic comedies of all time. If the characters on “Seinfeld” are selfish, then the gang is outright villainous. Even though audiences love the gang, their exploits frequently harm others with lasting consequences that often become a running gag in the best episodes of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”.

One example of this is seen in the character of Matthew “Rickety Cricket” Mara. First seen in season two’s episode seven, he is originally a priest that admits his long-time crush on Sweet Dee. Needless to say, things don’t go well for Cricket and he loses everything. Each subsequent appearance of Cricket, he gets progressively worse going through poverty, drug addiction, and even physical disfigurement all as a result of the gang’s influence on his life. If the gang is so despicable in intent and deed, then why do audiences connect with them?

More than half (51%) Americans “always” or “often” root for the bad guy or gal when watching a movie or TV show. In a recent survey of 2,011 U.S. adults, three in five (60%) say they watch a series or movie just for the villain. More than three-quarters (77%) also note that a villain can make or break the picture. Overall, a quarter of people tend to prefer villains to heroes. Among those 497 pro-evil people, Gen Z respondents (late ’90s babies) attribute this preference to villains’ complexity (69%), while millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) could relate more to their backstory (50%).

Delving deeper with additional research has revealed some interesting conclusions. A recent study finds there’s a perfectly scientific explanation for why we’re drawn to evil characters like Darth Vader, the Joker, or Professor Moriarty — we relate to them more! Researchers at the Association for Psychological Science reveal that when viewers share similarities with villains like Cersei Lannister, they often find the villains surprisingly likable, in spite of their dastardly deeds on screen. We have a natural attraction to potentially darker versions of ourselves in fictional stories.

It’s Always Sunny has us join the gang as late 20-somethings along with Frank, a wealthy retiree (and mentor/father/stepfather to the gang) and follows them through almost two decades of growth and change during their lurid escapades. Currently still airing new episodes at the time of this article’s publishing, nearly every episode is lauded as a classic, and it was a challenge to discover the top five best episodes of “It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia”. Thanks to our sources we were able to do just that! Let us know your favorites in the comments below!

The cast of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" arrives at the world premiere of "Cowboys and Aliens" in 2011
The cast of “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” arrives at the world premiere of “Cowboys and Aliens” in 2011 (Photo by CarlaVanWagoner on Shutterstock)

The List: Best Episodes of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Per Fans

1. “Charlie Work” Season 10, Episode 4

This ambitious episode has a lot going for it. “Charlie puts in the titular elbow-grease to prepare for a health inspector visit while the rest of the gang focus on a hare-brained scheme involving steak, chickens, and airline miles. “‘Charlie Day, my man, what a performance, absolutely mind-blowing,’ writes an IMDb user. ‘Writers, directors, actors, kudos to you,'” mentions TV Insider about a review.

Further explanation of this highly celebrated episode is as follows: “The episode title, ‘Charlie Work,’ is a reference to all the janitorial and maintenance work Charlie takes care of that the rest of the group is unwilling to do. The episode is critically acclaimed and regarded as the best in the series, and it’s fun to watch Charlie’s concern over the inspection and his frantic attempts to make sure it passes – he’s a very different Charlie from the incompetent one audiences usually see. It’s also notable for a 10-minute-long shot,” according to Collider.

On the surface, this show might seem like little more than people shouting at each other. But a closer look reveals deeply nuanced comedy that fuels the chaos. “And part of what makes it daring and glorious is how surprising and low-key it can be simultaneously. ‘Charlie Work’ is the ultimate example of this. It is an episode with an entire third-act homage to Alejandro González Iñárritu’s ‘Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)’ which might be one of the funniest scenes ever committed to television, and it is all in service of passing a health inspection. ‘Charlie Work’ is the ultimate high-brow and low-brow crossroads. That is an intersection ‘It’s Always Sunny’ thrives at, maybe more than any other live-action, half-hour comedy in existence,” adds /Film.

2. “The Nightman Cometh” Season 4, Episode 13

As arguably the most well-known episode of the series, “There isn’t a weak link in It’s Always Sunny, but Charlie Day is the show’s most reliable secret weapon for sneak attack comic developments, never more than when he allows us a peek inside the wondrously unsettling hellscape that is Charlie Kelly’s mind. That Charlie is a musical prodigy is just another of the crossed wires inside Charlie’s head, as evidenced by this tour de force musical interlude where Charlie’s tortured childhood and scarred psyche inform his latest composition: a creepily symbolic stage extravaganza called ‘The Nightman Cometh,'” details EW.

Episodes that provide insight into the gang’s psyches are some of the funniest, and this episode is a prime example. “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, though, if the lyrics to the Nightman songs are anything to go by, it seems safe to assume that it wasn’t pleasant. ‘The Nightman Cometh’ isn’t Sunny’s only musical episode, but it’s the one the show will be remembered for, and for good reason. The songs, the sets, Dennis’s Dayman codpiece — it’s all hilariously wrong yet so undeniably perfect that the cast even took it on a brief cross-country tour,” explains Vulture.

The play within the show aspect of this episode highlights some top-tier comedy. “Pretty much every line of the play is incredibly memorable, from Frank’s ‘troll toll’ song to Dee trying to use her time on-stage to find potential boyfriends. And of course, there’s Charlie trying to use the very end of the play to propose to the Waitress, who’s only there in the first place because Charlie promised to leave her alone forever if she showed up. He of course doesn’t follow this rule, and she rejects him immediately,” offers CBR.

 3. “Mac & Charlie Die” Season 4, Episode 5/6

The macabre is not off limits as seen in this set of two episodes. “Sunny’s finest hour (literally… it’s a two-parter): One storyline revolves around Mac and Charlie clumsily faking their own deaths to try and elude Mac’s recently paroled father, whom they claim has threatened to ‘rape [them] so hard the room would stink.’ The other plot concerns the discovery of a glory hole in the pub men’s room — which sets Dennis and Frank on a desperate quest to have anonymous sex with strangers. The supersized episode bounces from one well-executed set-piece to another: an Eyes Wide Shut-esque orgy, a pathetic fake funeral, and a climactic (so to speak) moment when Dennis tries to use the bathroom’s new accoutrement,” claims by Rolling Stone.

Talking about their favorite aspects of the episodes, many “believe it to be one of the best things the show has done. Most episodes involving Mac’s parents hating him or the characters being so brutally dumb are hilarious, and this may be the best of both,” exclaims ScreenRant.

This episode reaches farcical levels of absurdity as one source states: “Though they are technically two separate episodes, Mac & Charlie Die feels more like one extended episode that’s been cut in half. In it, Mac and Charlie decide to fake their own deaths after getting on the wrong side of Mac’s father, Luther, but it’s Dee who ends up paying the price once all’s said and done. The delinquent duo decides to destroy her car as part of their cover story, though not before pulling out some of their teeth for the crime scene investigators. They then end up hiding out on the roof of Paddy’s and in the pub’s vents, where, among other things, they’re able to witness their own memorial service,” adds GameRant.

4. “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award” Season 9, Episode 3

Charlie Day, in his role as Charlie Kelly, has created numerous classic moments of comedy. “Anytime Charlie gets to demonstrate his musical talents is a wondrous treat. During this episode, we are treated to two songs, written and performed by the artist himself. For some reason, he gets it in his head to do a Best Song as well, which confounds the others. The intended Best Song is a charming little ditty à la Randy Newman. The one he actually performs for the Paddy’s patrons is after escaping the basement where Frank locked him so he wouldn’t do the song. He’s filthy and high from sniffing spray cans, and his song is nothing like the original,” explains Tell-Tale TV.

The rest of the gang shines bright in this episode as well. “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,” offers GameRant.

Meta-humor also abounds in this episode, “‘The Gang Tries Desperately To Win An Award’ is actually a meta-commentary about the fact that at the time, the series hadn’t won any awards despite being a long-running hit. The Gang becomes tired of not being recognized and tries to change things up to give patrons what they think they want. The problem is, they try to emulate a successful bar full of charming, funny friends who have a great, lovable dynamic. The Gang are horrible people who are constantly at one another’s throats, so this understandably doesn’t go well,” as detailed by CBR.

 5. “The Gang Goes to a Water Park” Season 12, Episode 2

The majority of episodes take place either at Paddy’s Pub or on-location throughout Philly. It is the latter that sets the stage for this hilarious water park episode. “‘The Gang Goes To A Water Park’ is just what it sounds like, with Frank and Charlie being the only ones who really get to partake in any traditional waterpark fun. That is until Frank decides to go down a Thundergun-themed ride that doesn’t have any running water, and it goes just about as horribly as one would expect. Dee and Mac attempt to go down the Kiddy Twister despite being far too big, and end up getting stuck inside for a majority of the episode. Meanwhile, Dennis teaches a young girl who he sees stealing how to steal- but even better. She becomes so good that she actually cons him at the end of the episode,” comments CBR.

Part of the charm of the show is that they aren’t afraid to show the gang in crowded places, a decision that somehow makes this ludicrous program more grounded in reality. “The gang’s day at a water park goes spirals out of control as Frank and Charlie embark on an ill-fated quest ride every ride — one that ends in gory fashion at an under-construction slide — while Mac and Dee get stuck in a tube,” as written by TV Insider.

This is certainly considered one of the best of the best episodes. “In one of the most rewatchable Always Sunny episodes, the gang decides to spend a day in a water park, but as can be expected, they each have an ulterior motive… ‘The Gang Goes to a Water Park’ has plenty of fantastic moments, especially with the group split up. This presents plenty of opportunities for trouble and hilarity, from a pileup of kids and a trickle of urine in the slide with Mac and Dee to Frank wrecking his back by going down a new slide that wasn’t ready for the public yet and didn’t have any water,” states Collider.

 You might also be interested in:


Note: This article was not paid for nor sponsored. StudyFinds is not connected to nor partnered with any of the brands mentioned and receives no compensation for its recommendations.



  1. All of the first season are classics! They start of by showing what kind of show it’s gonna be with the 1st episode, The Gang gets Racist. Then it goes into abortion, underage drinking, manipulating a granddaughter of a dead guy, gun control and molestation.

  2. Kitten mittens is my favorite episode with the gang dances there asses off a close second.

Comments are closed.