Dee: Are you really going to throw away all your convictions just for a chance to get laid?
Dennis: I don't really have any convictions..."The Gang Gets A TV Tropes Page"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a critically-acclaimed sitcom that began in 2005; airing on FX for the first eight seasons and FXX since season nine. Reruns have aired on Comedy Central, MTV2 and Viceland, while the entire series is available for streaming on Netflix (in the US, Ireland, and the UK) and Hulu (Also in the US).The show goes to great lengths in bringing the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist to new highs/lows. The three-guys-one-girl structure and selfish characters have led many critics to compare the show to Seinfeld, and was frequently called "Seinfeld on crack" by critics. Put it this way: If Seinfeld featured amusing jerks, It's Always Sunny features legitimately terrible people.The show follows a group of friends, regularly called "the gang", which consists of Dennis Reynolds, Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds, Charlie Kelly, and Ronald "Mac" McDonald. They run Paddy's Pub, a struggling South Philadelphia Irish-themed dive bar. Dennis is the vain prep from a rich family. Dee is his shallow, shrill, and insecure sister. Charlie is the high-strung idiot savant who is obsessed with the waitress at a coffee shop. Mac is the wanna-be bruiser forever stuck in adolescence. In the second season, Danny DeVito joins the cast as Dennis and Dee's neglectful father Frank, a shady businessman who is drawn to the gang's depraved lifestyle.Has a Shout-Out page. Please give it some love.
This show provides examples of:
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- Absurdly Spacious Sewer:
- In "Thunder Gun Express". Dee gets trapped and ends up being drenched in shit.
- Referenced in "Dee Gives Birth" when Frank and Charlie admit to going in the sewer frequently to look for treasure, grossing out Dennis and Mac.
- In "The Gang Gets Held Hostage" we see the air ducts above Paddy's Pub are incredibly complex, even containing Charlie's hideaway the 'Bad Room'.
- Accidental Innuendo:
Charlie: ....and you're about to see the white-hot cream of an 8th grade boy.
- From "Mac and Charlie Die":Dee: Charlie, open up! We've got a dick-hole in the bar. I need you to come fill it in!
Charlie: (to Mac) (sigh) Okay, I gotta go fill her dick-hole, bro.
- "Whack off" is constantly used in "The Gang Gets Whacked". In the same episode Mac claims that he's hard and he'll explode all over anyone who crosses him.
- Charlie and Mac discuss getting cream all over Dennis's face in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off".
- Lampshaded in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", where Mac refers to the trio of guys getting "plowed in the ass" (i.e. screwed over by gas prices) several times and has to clarify that he's not talking about gay sex.
- In "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad" Charlie and Mac talk about getting hard (tough) without having to get stuff (heroin) shoved up their asses. Frank is understandably confused.
- In "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare", we get this:Dennis: Mac, I think this guy just bent himself over a barrel here.Mac: He did?Dennis: Yeah, for our pleasure.
- The whole "creampie" discussion at Gugino's.
- In episodes like "The Gang Dines Out" and "Thundergun Express", Frank obliviously tells people about how he and Charlie enjoy sleeping together.
- From "Mac and Charlie Die":
- Accidental Kidnapping: Happens a few times. Usually, the gang are just too stupid to notice what they're doing.
- Accidental Misnaming:
- As part of a scheme to get Dennis and Bon Jovi in the same place at the same time, Frank pretends to be an entrepreneur who wants to buy the Philadelphia Soul (an arena football team of which Bon Jovi shared ownership at the time). During the meeting, Frank refers to him as "Von Joni" and then "Bovine Joni."
- In "The Gang Beats Boggs", Dee repeatedly confuses baseball legend Wade Boggs with Dukes of Hazzard character Boss Hogg.
- In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?", Mac describes his costume as "That character from The Lord of the Rings, Vigil Morgenstein."
- The Ace: Country Mac is the inverse of Mac, turning all of Mac's flaws into positives.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: "Flowers for Charlie". The titular character falls into this trope to such an extent that he actually begins to find The Waitress unattractive.
- Adam Westing:
- In "Dee Made a Smut Film", Richard Grieco plays himself as a washed-up actor with nothing better to do than play the title role in The Movie of Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life.
- Comedian Sinbad and Matchbox 20 frontman Rob Thomas play as themselves as abusive mental patients in "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life".
- In "The Gang Turns Black", Scott Bakula plays a washed-up version of himself who is now a janitor in a retirement home.
- Affectionate Nickname: In "The Gang Exploits a Miracle", Dee repeatedly attempts to make Rickety Cricket fall in love with her, because the other members of the Gang said she wasn't attractive enough for him. She addresses him as "Matty" during her last attempt to seduce him.
- Air Quotes:
- The very first episode ("The Gang Gets Racist"), after Mac, Charlie, and Dennis meet Dee's friend Terrell, who is a promoter:Mac: Honestly, I think we should think about hiring Terrell. You heard him! When he's promoting, everybody and they mama's looking to get in!
Charlie: That's true— they do have, uh, "niggers hanging from rafters."note
Waitress: [walks into the scene, having heard Charlie's above comment] Wow. Nice.
Charlie: No... no, that's not what I was—
- Mac, in the Season 1 episode "Underage Drinking: A National Concern", attempting to justify serving alcohol to teens at Paddy's:Dee: We also have a social responsibility to keep teenagers from drinking.
[later, in the same conversation]
Mac: Maybe we have a "social responsibility" [with Charlie also air quoting silently] to provide a safe haven for these kids to be kids.
- The very first episode ("The Gang Gets Racist"), after Mac, Charlie, and Dennis meet Dee's friend Terrell, who is a promoter:
- Air-Vent Passageway: Paddy's Pub has one. The gang has used it to hide in a couple of times. It's apparently so complex that only Charlie knows his way around in it.
- The Alcoholic:
- The waitress really has a drinking problem.
- Presumably Artemis, who says that she doesn't remember most nights in "Who Got Dee Pregnant?"
- Dee's high school drama teacher. The only reason he was so inspirational back then was because he was drunk all the time, and he's lost any charm or drive he used to have, as Dee discovers.
- The gang notes that Country Mac is never without a can of beer in his hand that he drinks from. They suspect that's probably why he fell from his motorcycle which ended up killing him.
- The entire gang, minus Frank, realize that they're alcoholics who will go through terrible withdrawals if they stop drinking. Being drunk is their normal state.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Happens often.
- All-American Face: Invoked in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops"; Mac, Charlie, and Dennis plan to go on stage as eagle-men or "Birds of War" and defeat Foreign Wrestling Heel terrorist, Talibum. The audience is underwhelmed by their performance, and Cricket manages to defeat them all. The audience does get behind Frank when he appears as a literal Garbage Wrestler and defeats Talibum.
- Alliterative Family: Dennis and Deandra Reynolds. According to Frank in "The Gang Gets Analyzed" they were supposed to be triplets and the third kid was going to be named "Donnie" but the fetus was reabsorbed by Dennis and Dee.
- All Just a Dream:
- Mac's centre-ice slapshot in "Mac's Big Break".
- Similarly, the end of the Reunion episode, where a big triumph turns out to be a drunken delusion.
- A good chunk of the plot in "Dennis Reynolds: A Erotic Life." Naturally, it's a much darker spin.
- The ending of "The Gang Turns Black" turns out to be a dream of Old Black Man. However, upon looking into a mirror, he sees Scott Bakula's face.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Charlie loves the Waitress who couldn't care less about him. The Waitress has a crush on Dennis who couldn't care less about her. Rickety Cricket loves Dee who couldn't care less about him. Sense a pattern here?
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: In the episode "Mac and Dennis Break Up", Charlie states that all calico cats are female. While this isn't quite the case, the vast majority of calico cats are in fact female.
- Ambiguous Disorder:
- Charlie is illiterate, delusional, childish, has No Social Skills, obsesses over one woman for more than a decade, is an Idiot Savant, and has a bizarre black and white view of the world and morality. It's strongly implied that he's like this because of brain damage suffered in the womb; his fetus apparently survived an abortion, though Frank argues that it's more likely his mother just got pregnant from someone else immediately after the abortion (which wouldn't be surprising). In addition, both of his (alleged) biological parents are mentally ill (Bonnie with OCD, Frank with psychosis and anxiety), his strongly implied childhood molestation left him with traumatic memories that occasionally rise to the surface (as in "Nightman"), and he's been abusing substances (from glue to turpentine to alcohol, and everything in between) since childhood. He has a lot going on.
- Subverted with Dennis; he's officially diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in "Psycho Pete Returns."
- Ambiguously Bi: A great number of the gang's actions have homoerotic undertones.
- Charlie and Frank have a very strange living arrangement in their apartment. They sleep in the same bed and are committed to continuing that arrangement. They frequently play the game "nightcrawlers," which involves them wriggling around on the ground together. Frank also peeks at Charlie while masturbating. When Charlie fakes his own death, Frank creates a life-sized Charlie doll, pretends that it's him, and possibly has sex with it. In a later episode, Charlie and Frank get a civil union, though only for the insurance. When Frank briefly leaves, Charlie is distraught and makes a plan to get Frank "back into [his] arms." He tells his mother that she doesn't know Frank like he does, and calls her a man-stealer.
- In "The Gang Sells Out" Dennis explains "bottoms," "power bottoms" and "twinks" in graphic detail to Frank and Mac, who listen with great interest. This scene is given a callback in "The Gang Recycles Its Trash," where Dee explains other aspects of gay culture to Frank and later to Dennis. In another episode, Dennis is impressed by Dee's assessment of a gay man and states that he "could never satisfy him."
- In "The Gang Gets Racist," Dennis may or may not have had sex with a man while black-out drunk.
- Mac is obsessed with muscular men and watches action movies specifically to view the physiques of the stars. He's also obsessed with Chase Utley. Mac admits to loving him, but insists that it's a fraternal love, not romantic.
- In "Hundred Dollar Baby," Mac and Dennis train Charlie as an underground street fighter. Mac and Dennis primp Charlie before training by massaging his hand and shoulders respectively. After they insist that Charlie trains without his shirt, they decide to get wasted before they continue training. Charlie motions Dennis to continue the shoulder rub, and Dennis stands suggestively close... while moaning in his ear.
- Lampshaded in "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters" by Frank, who just can't understand this teabagging, male-nipple-rubbing generation. Also subverted, since Frank immediately chalks it up to the generation gap.
- Between Mac and Dennis, especially in the episode "Mac and Dennis Break Up" where the two decide to "take a break."
- Dennis wears a thong while telling Mac he's wearing it for him while Mac presents a towel that insinuates his ass and his enormous penis, and in a later scene Mac pumps a shotgun up and down before firing its liquid into a kneeling Dennis's awaiting mouth.
- In "The Gang Gets Analyzed," Mac picks up a black pen and accuses a therapist of using it to make him think of a penis. He then starts unconsciously stroking and sucking on it. Dennis says that Mac sucks on pens at their apartment so often that he has to hide them.
- In "The Nightman Cometh," Dennis accuses Mac of getting aroused while pretending to rape him.
- In a moment of excitement, Mac actually tries to kiss Dennis.
- In "The Gang Dines Out," Charlie and Frank dine out to celebrate their "anniversary" while Mac and Dennis have their monthly dinner together. Each pair acts like a romantic couple. Also in the episode, several characters try to fondle a hostess by shoving a tip down her blouse, but Mac shoves a dollar bill into a male waiter's pant pocket.
- In "Dee and Dennis' Mom Is Dead", the gang tries to make some new friends and get Mistaken for Gay by every guy they approach. They later find two college guys, tie them up and say they're going to shove stuff up their butts to haze them because "that's what friends do."
- While working as a school janitor, Charlie volunteers to clean facepaint off of a student by bathing him. The principal nixes the idea, so Charlie suggests the kid should bathe himself while he watches.
- A couple of the ways Dennis would haze his fellow fraternity members was by sticking the tip of his dick in their mouths for a short amount of time (while they sleep) and shoving bananas up their butts in front of their best friend.
- In "Thunder Gun Express", the gang talk excitedly about how the male lead "hangs dong" in the movie. In "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs", Dennis says he likes that the Thunder Gun DVD is unrated because of the possibility the dong scene might be a couple of seconds longer.
- In the Gang's poorly shot movie Lethal Weapon 6, an awkward shower wrestling scene between Mac and Dennis is followed immediately by a cut to a strip club. This was done so that the characters could establish that they "aren't gay." Note that this was after a scene imitatating the volleyball scene from , including the music.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Agent Jack Bauer, Dennis's cat in "Bums: Making a Mess All Over The City".
- And Call Him "George"!: In "The Gang Gets Analyzed," Charlie reveals that he's carrying a dead pigeon in his coat. It wasn't dead when he put it in there, but he "might have hugged it too hard."
- And Show It to You: The final fate of the Nightman.
- Arc Words: "The joke's on me" in "The Gang Broke Dee."
- Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Mac takes offense because their PE teacher didn't molest him.
- Armor-Piercing Response: In the Season 12 episode "Dennis' Double Life", Charlie tries, for what seems like the millionth time, to get in the good graces of The Waitress. He invites her to his apartment (and she's literally making him pay for her time) and explains to her how great her life could be, in his view, if they were together. But he does so by hurling insults at her about her current life situation, and essentially telling her "You wouldn't be a piece of shit anymore if you hooked up with me":Waitress: What's so great about me, Charlie? What's wrong with you? Why are you so obsessed with me? I mean, you said it yourself, I'm a mess. So, why don't you just go find somebody better?
Charlie: Well, 'cause there is no one better. And I love you.
- Armoured Closet Gay:
- It's increasingly implied that Mac is this. The Gang flat out lampshades it in "Mac Day" and as far as they're concerned Mac is definitely gay.
- As of Season 12 episode 6, Mac is no longer in the closet.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In "Dee Gives Birth:"Mac: You know, it takes discipline to raise a kid, you know? You gotta set rules - you gotta set ground rules!
Charlie: Set some boundaries! You know, like, uh...don't have them like, doing cocaine! Get them off the internet!
- Artistic License – Geography: In "Mac and Charlie Die," Dee mentions that she ran down Spring Garden Street through Fairmount Park to get back to Paddy's, which is in South Philly. If you look at a map of the city, it becomes obvious how wrong this is, as Spring Garden Street runs east-west through Center City and is already south of Fairmount Park. It's a little surprising that this mistake wasn't caught since Rob McElhenney is actually from Philadelphia in real life.
- Art Shift:
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Subverted. Charlie thinks he's speaking Mandarin, but it turns out to be complete and utter gibberish.
- Attending Your Own Funeral: Mac and Charlie in "Mac and Charlie Die". It's what tips Dennis off that they aren't really dead, as he hears them banging around on the roof and talking. They were watching the funeral through the air vents and speaking at full volume, according to Dennis.
- Author Appeal: In-universe, Mac fills Lethal Weapon 5 and 6 up with so much homoerotic subtext that it gets mistaken for a gay porno.
- Axe-Crazy: The leader of Charlie and Mac's old gang, Psycho Pete, who Charlie describes as "dark and mysterious," murdered and ate his family. It's eventually subverted when it's revealed that Pete had social anxiety and depression. He never killed or ate anyone, and his fearsome reputation is a product of the gang's gossip.
- Award Snub: "The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award" is a commentary on the show's lack of Emmy nominations (although events of the episode would imply that the crew doesn't submit material for nomination) and throws barbs at the shows that, for some reason, do win awards, despite things like tired will-they-or-won't-they plots and laugh tracks.
- Badass Longcoat: Spoofed. The male members of the gang love trenchcoats and dusters. Mac owns a black duster that the other guys covet.
- The episode "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", made during the height of Jersey Shore, immediately sets up the viewer to believe there will be several Take Thats at the guido lifestyle portrayed in the aforementioned show. In fact, the actual episode has nothing to do with this and actually portrays guidos as heroic, friendly and good-natured in their sole appearance in the episode, instead focusing on all the other horrors of the Shore.
- In "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre", it looks like Ryan McPoyle is giving Liam McPoyle oral sex, but it turns out he was just groveling.
- Ballistic Discount: Dennis and Dee do this at a gun show when the seller decides to jack up the price. In response, the seller and everyone else points their guns at them.
- Balloonacy: Charlie fantasizes about having his house getting lifted up by balloons in "The Gang Saves the Day."
- Batman Gambit:
- The flip-cup challenge at the end of "The Gang Reignites The Rivalry". The gang puts Dee at the beginning of their lineup against the frat boys, knowing that the frat boys would all finish before Dennis, Mac, or Charlie would have to drink, and poisoned all of the beers beforehand.
- Dee pulls off several in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off" to get everyone eliminated so she can win the dance contest. It almost works, too, except that Rickety Cricket botches her last attempt.
- In "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby", Dennis gets into a rivalry with a local environmentalist trying to protect a tree from being bulldozed. So Dennis offers to chain himself to the tree, knowing that the guy would insist on doing it himself. Then, while the guy is chained to the tree all night in the rain, Dennis has sex with his girlfriend. To top it off, he comes back the next day, unchains the guy, and watches the tree get bulldozed anyway.
- Charlie, of all people, plans one in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom." It is almost entirely successful.
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love," Charlie hatches a scheme where he seemingly abandons The Waitress for another girl. He was really using her to get The Waitress to beg him to come back out of desperation after a series of accidents makes her realize that she needs him.
- Charlie attempted one in the Season 1 episode "Charlie Has Cancer". He lied to Dennis that he might have cancer and explicitly requested that Dennis not tell anyone, secretly hoping that he would tell The Waitress, who Charlie believed would start dating him out of sympathy (as he noticed her wearing a "Live strong" bracelet).
- Beach Episode: "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore". Which, in true Sunny fashion, is hardly as sexy, sunny, or fun as any other show would have it.
- Beauty Contest: "Frank's Little Beauties" is about the eponymous child beauty pageant.
- Berserk Button:
- Charlie loses his sanity at the thought of someone having sex with his mother, which is unfortunate since his mother's a prostitute.
- Dennis also takes any blow to his narcissism very poorly.
- Don't talk badly about Chase Utley around Mac, or disrespect his physique.
- "Call Charles Grodin a bitter old man again. See what happens!"
- Bindle Stick: Charlie attempts to construct one, with no success.
- Big "NO!": Liam McPoyle, several times.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Dennis.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Frank was a terrible father who relentlessly emotionally tortured Dennis and Dee, and successfully hooked up with his niece. Their mother was a heartless bitch to Dee. It's revealed that Charlie is (probably) Frank's real son, and Dennis and Dee were actually bastard children born from an affair their mom had. Mac was their mother's lover in season 2.
- The McPoyles, who have been interbreeding for a thousand years, and it shows.
- Black Comedy: A staple of the show. Some of the blackest jokes include:
Frank Reynolds: This is dark.Dennis Reynolds: Darkest thing we've ever done.
- In "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", Dee and Charlie believe they ate human meat, and go as far as entering a morgue with the intent to cannibalize a corpse. At the end, Charlie suggests cutting off Frank's calf and eating it, to which Dee responds by moaning "Oh yes."
- The frequent suggestion that Dennis is a date rapist.
- Charlie's stories about the mysterious "Nightman" are strongly implied to be his fuzzy recollections of being molested by his uncle as a child.
- Frank tries to hang himself twice in one episode.
- "The Gang Broke Dee" has the gang go to absurd lengths to crush Dee's dreams purely for entertainment value.
- In "Sweet Dee Gets Audited" the gang holds a fake funeral for the infant Dee carried as a surrogate mother in order to thwart the IRS audit she incurred attempting to claim the child as a dependent. Separately lampshaded by almost every character.
- The Blank: Green Man.
- Blood from the Mouth/Bloody Hilarious: In "Frank's Pretty Woman", Charlie acts like a southern millionaire and for "realism" tries to cough up blood. Too bad he swallows "like, a hundred" blood capsules and projectile vomits blood all over his date.
- Body Sushi: After Frank gets his job back as an executive at Atwater Capital in the "Frank's Back in Business" episode, he meets some potential Japanese investors over a nyotaimori meal.Frank: I want this sushi dinner to be the tits!
Charlie: Okay, so you want it to be really expensive.
Frank: No! No! I mean I want to eat it off some Jap broad's tits!
- Bondage Is Bad: Dennis has been established as more or less a sexual predator. Adding to this characterization is a scene where he reveals that he has a compartment in his trunk filled with duct tape and zip ties because he likes to "bind and be bound."
- Booze Flamethrower: In "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", Mac and then Charlie do this with mouthfuls of gasoline.
- Bottle Episode:
- "CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games" is filmed entirely within the pub and with no additional characters outside of the gang.
- Season 8's "The Gang Gets Analyzed" is filmed entirely in a psychologist's office.
- Season 8's "The Gang Dines Out" is filmed entirely in a restaurant.
- Part two of season 11's "The Gang Goes to Hell" takes place almost entirely in one room on a ship.
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: An elderly, African-American bit character debuts in Season 11, and since no one knows his name, Dennis calls him "Old Man" and Mac calls him "Black Man". Eventually, the name "Old Black Man" sticks.
- Break the Cutie:
- Matthew Mara (Rickety Cricket) goes from a clean-cut, mature, and successful priest to a crack-addicted street rat who has lost his mind, full use of his legs, half his larynx and his right eye. All thanks to Dee.
- In "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom", Charlie's plan to get revenge on Dennis and have sex with the Waitress causes her to completely break down emotionally. At the end of the episode, she enters Paddy's in a state of total hysteria (compared to the start of the episode, when she was amicable even towards Charlie), and, in a fit of manic rage, delivers one of the most infamous monologues in the series' history ("IT JUST FALLS OFF!!!!"). In a later episode, the gang tries to drive the waitress crazy so that she allows Charlie to stalk her again.
- Averted with "Ben the soldier," who is sweet, trusting, lovable, and unselfish to a fault. He also seems to be immune to the antics of the main characters, possibly because he's too naive to realize their motives. Even after being put through the ringer numerous times, he retains his positive and friendly demeanor. At one point he does start to cry when admitting that Dee periodically tricks him into having sex with her.
- Break the Haughty: Dennis holds a very high opinion of his intellect, appearance and status as a ladies' man. When any of these are called into question, the results tend to be spectacular, such as his Golden God speech at the high school reunion, his breakdown on Family Fight, or when he's rejected by both Mac and Charlie's mothers in the episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Brick Joke:
- Frank's rum ham, which is lost and then turns up at the end of "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore."
- Early in the episode "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation," Mac and Charlie remark briefly that they have a hard time determining the age of the Koreans, which becomes a huge plot-point later when the Korean "woman" Charlie proposed to turns out to be twelve years old.
- In "Charlie Rules the World," Frank says "We could all be in a turtle's dream, in outer space!" The end credits just show a giant sea turtle floating in outer space.
- In "Charlie Rules the World," Dennis proclaims that if Charlie ever rules the world, he'll blow himself. Toward the end of the episode, Charlie has become the most powerful player in an online video game world, and Dennis blows another version of himself in an isolation tank-inspired vision.
- In the Season 1 episode "Charlie Has Cancer," Mac punches Carmen the Transsexual and is chased down by two men for committing what they perceive to be a hate crime. Five seasons later, in "The World Series Defense," they beat up Charlie for attacking the "Philly Phrenetic.""Dude, is that a hate crime?""Nah, it's not a hate crime.""You want to hammer his ass anyway?""Definitely."
- In the first part of the two-part high school reunion finale, the gang sees Schmitty's (a former member of the gang played by Jason Sudeikis) name tag and comment that he'll probably skip the whole thing and only show up at the end to "swoop in and bang the grossest chick here." At the end of the second part, right after a very drunken Waitress states that she will have sex with the very next person who speaks to her, Schmitty pops up out of nowhere and says hi to her. She leads him off to have sex, ruining Charlie's chance to finally bang her.
- In "Charlie Work", Charlie for some reason keeps taking the time to slam a particular stool on the ground several times each time he walks past it. At the end of the episode, it provides a final proof of Charlie's Crazy Preparedness by falling apart when Dee sits in it—he knew she would sit on that stool.
- Bring My Brown Pants: Mac's cousin Country Mac visits the gang in "Mac Day". Towards the end of the episode, Country Mac defuses a dangerous situation, while Mac reveals that he may have shit his pants.
- Brother–Sister Incest:
- Teased many times with Dennis and Dee.
- Becomes somewhat canon in "The Gang Broke Dee" where the gang also inadvertently breaks Dennis, who confesses his love to Dee and says that he is the right one for her.
- Played with in the Night Man musical, which casts Dee and Dennis as lovers resulting in a kiss being modified into an erotically-charged hug. Dee's also quite concerned that it makes her look like a pedophile.
- In the aptly titled "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" Dennis becomes convinced, to his horror, that he's the father. The McPoyles respond by telling him to "savor it." Turns out that he's not.
- In "Frank's Back in Business," Dennis wants to help Dee "get off" with him by committing identity theft, and both of them apparently got "jerked off" at a massage parlor.
- The McPoyles, brother-sister and brother-brother.
- Teased many times with Dennis and Dee.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Charlie, who also looks the part.
- Dee and Charlie are the most abused members of the gang.
- Rickety Cricket so much. He's constantly getting manipulated and then rejected by Sweet Dee. After growing out of his childhood infatuation with her, he became a priest, but Dee manipulates him into quitting and rejects him again. All of his interactions with the gang involve him being humiliated and/or horribly injured. In each successive appearance, Cricket's life and physical health degrade a bit more, to the point that he's become a decrepit and psychotic bum.
- There's also some guy in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis". Frank's van smashes into his car on three separate occasions, ending with the van going the way of the Pinto.
- In season 10, it seems the new Butt-Monkey is Dennis. Over the course of the season he ends up: living in Dee's apartment, sleeping with an unattractive woman, getting stranded alone in North Dakota, finding out that most of the women he's dated actually hated him, being diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (which would be a good thing, since he was given medication for it, but he refuses to believe it), crashing his car into a river, spending a night outside, and having a total meltdown on national television.
- Poor Walt in "The Gang Broke Dee". He's an unassuming guy who Dennis recruits to be a man he wants Dee to date to get out of her depression, and belittles him constantly.Frank: Who's the nerd?
Dennis: Who, this guy? This is Walt. Yeah, guy's got no self-esteem, just like Dee, so they're perfect for each other. So after she bombs [at stand-up] tonight, I'll put them together, thereby controlling the situation, and her, as I always have and I always will.
Dennis: Uh Walt, just Walt- Walt's the plan.
Walt: I'm Walt.
Dennis: Yeah, shut up, Walt. They know who you are.
Walt: I'm sorry.
- And later, after Dennis introduces Dee to Walt:Walt: Hi, I'm Walt.
Dennis: She knows your goddamn name, Walt; I said it, like, a thousand times.
- And later, after Dennis introduces Dee to Walt:
- Call-Back: The show has pretty strong continuity, so there are lots of callbacks to previous events (and minor characters occasionally pop back up later as well):
- A minor example: Mac first starts hanging out with Carmen, a male-to-female transsexual, in the episode "Charlie Has Cancer". At one point during the episode, she gives Mac a low-five so hard that it hurts his hand. Later, in "Mac is a Serial Killer", Mac becomes uncomfortable with some of Carmen's masculine tendencies, and he cites the fact that she's "really strong" and that she hurts him when she uses her hands during their make-out sessions.
- In "The Gang Hits The Road", Mac asks Dee why she bought her "crappy little car in the first place." She responds that it's because they rammed her last car into a wall, referencing Mac and Charlie's fake suicide scheme from "Mac and Charlie Die (Part 1)".
- Discussed, with the trope in question being referenced verbatim, in "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6".
- Calvin Ball: CharDee MacDennis, a bizarre board game the gang made up. Playing it and explaining the rules take up an entire episode.
- Camp: Electric Dream Machine◊, the band Charlie and Dennis form in "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person".
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Despite blatant sabotage within the referee's field of view, anyone who hits the floor for any reason is disqualified during the dance marathon in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off".
- Captain Ersatz: The Philly Phrenetic in the World Series episode is an obvious one for the Phillies' real-life mascot, the Phillie Phanatic. It's even lampshaded by Charlie at the end of the episode, when he mentions the legal issues that would arise if they actually depicted the mascot as the Phanatic.
- Cast Full of Writers: Rob McElhenney (Mac) created the show with the help of Glenn Howerton (Dennis), and the two of them plus Charlie Day (Charlie) have been writing on the show from the beginning. Another staff writer (amongst other things), David Hornsby, plays Rickety Cricket.
- Catchphrase: Very often discussed and lampshaded.
- Mac starts calling people "bozo" in "The Gang Hits the Road," saying it's his "new thing," then asks Charlie if he thinks it's cool.
- In "Mac's Big Break," Mac becomes fixated on calling people "jabroni," which Charlie thinks is awesome.
- After Franks asks "What's the action?" a few times, Mac derisively asks if he's trying to make it his new catchphrase.
- Mac often says, "Guys, I've got big news!" or some variation thereof when he walks into Paddy's Pub. This is lampshaded in "Chardee MacDennis," when Mac arrives at the bar with no plot hook to deliver, and the gang notes how unusual this is.
- People in the gang often shout "Eyyoooo!" whenever they arrive at Paddy's midway through a scene, often followed (in Mac's case) with "Whats up, bitches?"
- Dennis has "I don't give a shit," when finding himself getting reeled into one of the others' shenanigans.
- Charlie invokes this in "Charlie Work," making Dennis say "Alright alright alright" literally every time he sees the health inspector.
- Dee frequently says "Oh Goddammit!" or "Oh, my God" after someone (usually Charlie, Dennis, or Mac) annoys her.
- Numerous characters, when presenting something (can be non-physical, such as an idea) to someone else: "Boom."
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Happens to Charlie. Multiple times.
- Centipede's Dilemma: Dee has a real problem with choking during flip-cup in "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry".
- Chaotic Stupid: When the gang determined that Charlie is the "Wild Card" of the group, Charlie took it as a cue to go completely insane. Not that he had far to go.
- Character Development: Deliberately defied. The gang never learn any lessons from their experiences. In fact if anything their morals and mental states degrade further with each passing season.
- Characterization Marches On:
- In the first season, Dee is more often the voice of reason, while in later episodes she becomes just as deranged and pathetic as the guys. This was amended after Kaitlin Olson wanted to do more of "the fun stuff" the boys did and not just have her character boiled down to "Awww, you guyyyys...."
- In the early seasons, Mac is purely interested in women, and his fixation on muscular action heroes is played as a result of being stuck in adolescence. In one early episode, he's shocked that Frank would rather spend time with male models rather than hot girls. In later seasons, however, Mac is increasingly played as a closeted gay man, so he stops expressing interest in women. "Frank Falls Out the Window" lampshades this change, when Mac and Charlie recreate a plot from the second season that has Mac trying to have sex with strippers. Charlies gets confused about why Mac would want to do that, but then recalls that in 2006, Mac was still interested in women.
- Chekhov's Gun:
Charlie: "I'm gonna pop a quick H on this box, so we all know it has hornets in it."
- The Nightman Cometh. Well, Chekhov's Musical.
- In "The Waitress Is Getting Married":
- Dee wanting to be a surrogate mother. Her pregnancy in season six is actually surrogate—for Carmen, the transsexual.
- The Chessmaster: Charlie, surprisingly enough, in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," "Charlie and Dee Find Love" and "Charlie Work."
- Childhood Friends: Mac and Charlie knew each other since they were little kids, and bonded over their terrible home life. After Mac started hanging out with Dennis and the other cool kids in high school, he managed to bring Charlie along into their circle too.
- Class Reunion: "The High School Reunion".
- Cluster F-Bomb: Charlie's mall Santa freak out in the Christmas Special.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Comically Missing the Point:
- In "Charlie Has Cancer", Charlie has a cancer scare. Dee fixates on how awful he'd look without his hair.
- Charlie seems to think the twist of The Sixth Sense is that Malcolm Crowe was played by Bruce Willis the entire time.
- In "Sweet Dee has a Heart Attack", after learning that the government doesn't pay for health care, Charlie and Mac remark that they might as well be living in a Communist, Socialist dictatorship, because free healthcare has always been a totally American concept?
- Coming-Out Story: Subverted in "The Gang Goes To Hell". Played straight in "Hero or Hate Crime?"
- Continuity Cavalcade:
- "The High School Reunion" is just wall-to-wall references to past episodes, bringing back a lot of one-off characters and referencing things that happened before the series and the like.
- In "Thunder Gun Express," Frank tells a number of stories of events from previous episodes to a boat full of Asian tourists.
- "The Gang Recycles Their Trash" is entirely based on continuity nods. The gang starts rehashing their old jokes, causing Dee to keep asking, "Haven't we done this before?" In response, the the gang starts actively recreating some of their past schemes. Many of the jokes from past episodes are recreated with a new twist.
- "Frank Falls Out the Window" features a range of references to previous episodes. Frank and Charlie make Grilled Charlies and Rum Ham before Frank falls out the window and thinks that it's 2006. The gang tries to reenact scenes from early episodes with a new twist to convince Frank that it's still 2006 and get him to give them all his money. Frank gets flashbacks to the original scenes until he finally figures out that it's the present day.
- Continuity Nod:
- In the episode where the gang goes on a road trip, Charlie reveals he has never left the city of Philadelphia in his entire life. When they near the city limits he panics and abandons the trip. Several seasons later in "The Gang Gets Stranded In The Woods", they have him locked in the trunk of their car to keep him from escaping when they go to a party outside the city. This is referenced again in "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", where the gang decides to hit the Shore but first discuss the logistics of knocking out Charlie.
- If a character suffers a bad injury in one episode, it usually carries over into the next.
- Whenever the gang records a video, it's revealed that they've taped over the videos of past episodes. Snippets of previous videos play in the blank spots of the current video.
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", Charlie wears cutoffs and shows Mac their "advantage"—the ability to pull a wider split, which Dennis showed him in "The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition".
- In "Frank's Pretty Woman", when the eponymous hooker suddenly starts smoking crack, Dennis gets extremely uncomfortable and quickly leaves the room, implying that his addiction from "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare" is still a problem. Later he talks about how amazing crack is and how much he wants another hit.
- The episode "Mac is a Serial Killer," Dee is approached by a pimp named Pepperjack in a park. He says that she could be his "top ho" if she would just "get off that crack." Dee responds "I don't smoke crack! Well, there was that one time..." referencing the episode "Dennis and Dee Go On Welfare" where Dennis and Dee intentionally get addicted to crack to get more welfare benefits.
- In "Frank's Pretty Woman", Roxie's client "Tiger Woods" is actually the same actor hired to impersonate Donovan McNabb in "The Gang Gets Invincible".
- Charlie's small forearm tattoo that he started giving himself in "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad" is apparently present from that episode forward, though no one ever remarks upon it and it was only established in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it close-up to begin with. It reads "BAD NEW," apparently having been intended to read "BAD NEWS" but never completed.
- In "The ANTI-Social Network" and "The Gang Beats Boggs," Frank calls himself Dr. Mantis Toboggan, the alias he used in "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System."
- Also in "The ANTI-Social Network", after being shushed by a stranger, Dennis remarks that the stranger didn't know who he was, and how he might be a man with a "trunk full of duct tape and zip ties". Come "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge", it's revealed that Dennis does indeed have a secret compartment in his trunk full of duct tape and zip ties.
- "The High School Reunion" references Mac's dog Poppins and a number of minor characters mentioned in passing in earlier seasons. Dennis' ex-wife of two episodes makes an appearance, as does the guy who got a box full of hornets from Charlie for dumping the Waitress. Really, the episode is just wall-to-wall references to past episodes, characters, and relationships.
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love," Mac mentions the wrestler "The Maniac" from "The Gang Fights for the Troops" and says he has to get "greased up," which the Maniac announces in the episode. The Maniac also returns in "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare."
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love," Dennis defends his pale complexion by saying that he hasn't had time to "get a base" and later winds up in a tanning salon. This is a callback to "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby," in which Mac takes the baby to a tanning salon "just to get a base."
- In one episode, Dee wants to go to a Josh Groban concert and meet the guy. She says she wants to "pop" because he loves his ladies to "pop". In "The Gang Saves the Day", Dee fantasizes about marrying him and one of the reasons he likes her is stated to be because she pops.
- In Mac's dream heaven in "The Gang Saves the Day" he sees Rex, the male model about whom Mac said, "His bird won't quit."
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters", Mac and Dennis hunt down Rickety Cricket with the intent of teabagging him or gluing pubes to his face.
- The Corrupter: The gang's terrible influence has a habit of ruining the morals of anyone else who crosses their path.
- Crapsack World: Actually averted if you think about it. While almost all of the Gang' associates are horrible people, it is made very clear that this is mostly due to the Gang's extremely negative influence on their lives. From what little of the world we see outside of the Gang's little bubble it appears to be virtually identical to our own, and we even meet several kind and successful people who were lucky enough to not have met the Gang. The show isn't about how terrible the world is, it's about how terrible the Gang is.
- Creepy Uncle: Charlie's Uncle Jack.
- Crime After Crime:
- Happens to the gang in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia."
- What Dennis, Dee, and Frank do in "Charlie Catches a Leprechaun."
- Criminal Doppelgänger: The self-explanatory episode "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender."
- Cringe Comedy: The show relies on a lot of this. Particular examples include the Birds of War in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," the beauty pageant in "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties," and "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge."
- Critical Research Failure:
- Until being corrected, Frank was under the impression that "gay marriage" meant one of the partners had to have a sex change. Frank was also under the impression that "sex change" meant having one's dick chopped off and sold to the Chinese.
- Charlie seems to think that the way birth works is that the sperm eats the egg, gets strong, and grows into a baby.
- Charlie also seems to think that the smoke from burning trash will turn into stars.
- In "The ANTI-Social Network", Frank thinks that viral videos actually have something to do with disease.
- In "Mac and Dennis Break Up", we learn Mac is convinced that apple skin is poisonous. All the guys think apple seeds are even more so, and freak out and try to induce vomiting when Dennis swallows one.note Mac then suggests that Dennis smoke some cigarettes to "suffocate the bacteria in [his] stomach."
- Dancing Is Serious Business: In the episode "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off", where Paddy's Pub hosts a dance-athon open to all of Philadelphia. The Serious Business is justified in that Charlie (Mac: "Your illiteracy has screwed us yet again!") accidentally advertised the prize of the contest as ownership of the entire bar. Alliances, sabotage, and broken kneecaps ensue.
- The Danza: In-universe example in "Mac and Charlie Write a Movie", where Mac and Charlie want the lead to be played by Dolph Lundgren. When they try to pitch it to Dennis, Charlie insists on the lead character also being named Dolph Lundgren. Mac argues that this would be confusing.
- Date Rape: A Running Gag for Dennis is his predilection for dates that get into a grey area for date rape.
- Dead Air: Occurs during Dee and Dennis's podcast recording in "Mac's Big Break", prompting Frank to call in guest Rickety Cricket.
- Death by Falling Over: When Frank sucker-punches Bobby, his old boxing rival, Bobby's fall knocks over his own daughter, and she lands neck-first on a wooden stool (with a loud cracking sound), presumably ending up paralyzed at best.
- Delinquents: Mac and Charlie were this throughout their childhood / teenage years. Flashbacks to them at the age of 8/9 show their main hobbies as throwing rocks at trains / cats and burning trash.
- Delusions of Eloquence: Charlie when he pretends to be a lawyer.Charlie: [airily] Then I will just regress, because I feel like I have made myself entirely redundant.
Lawyer: Yes, you have.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Mac plays with this more than once with phrases like "More better" and "More bigger."
- Depraved Bisexual: The McPoyle brothers.
- Didn't We Use This Joke Already?: The Cold Open to "The Gang Recycles Their Trash", which is very similar to the dialogue that opens "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis". Dee even lampshades, "All of this, I've heard all of this before." This was done deliberately by the creators, who got annoyed when a few fans thought they were running out of material.
- Did They or Didn't They?: Charlie and Dee in "The Gang Misses the Boat." They make out, we cut to commercial, and their next scene together is painfully awkward.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: One of the first conversations in the series involves Mac, Dennis, and Charlie tripping over themselves to prove they're not racist to a black man that Dee's hired.
Frank: Sorry, sorry, that was a mistake. The janitor got ahold of the PA system. Puerto Rican guy, heh! Y'know, the kids are great. I love the kids. Not in a sexual way, no. I was married twenty years, and she was a bitch, but she was old. I never had a problem getting it up with her.
- A brilliant one in "Frank Reynold's Little Beauties", when he realizes his mic is on backstage while he's talking about necrophilia:
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: On the second season DVD extras, Rob McElhenny jokingly asks viewers to neither pirate the episodes nor lend the DVD to their friends, but to make their friends buy their own copies. So he can get really, really rich.
- Dirty Coward: Mac, Dennis, and Charlie always flee from confrontation.
- When someone tries to mug them in an alleyway, they throw Dee to the ground and bolt, abandoning her.
- When the guys realize that they don't have enough money to cover their restaurant bill, they agree to solve the problem like they solve every problem, and promptly run away.
- When Mac and Charlie don't have enough money to pay the dozen prostitutes they've hired, they run away, still wearing their top hats and tails.
- Disability as an Excuse for Jerkassery: Charlie as a real (temporarily) handicapped individual attempting to be a loud, angry handicapped war veteran, hoping they'd respect the war veteran part.
- Disposable Vagrant: Charlie and Dee, looking for someone they can kill in order to find out what human meat tastes like but without getting in trouble, happen upon a homeless guy and invite him back to Charlie's apartment.
- Distaff Counterpart: In the two-part season 11 finale we learn that Dee has her own version of Dennis' "Implication" — the "Insinuation".Dee: "It's like, when I'm alone with a guy and we're messin' around he gets all skittish about banging. So then, I insinuate that it would be a shame if my account of what happened was different from his and he ended up getting a call from the sherriff. You know what I mean? And boom, we plow."
- Distracted by the Sexy: "Storm of the Century" has Mac, Dennis, and Charlie completely disregarding the Weather Report's warnings of a Category 5 snowstorm due to their wandering eyes focusing entirely on the well-endowed meteorologist Jackie Denardo. The guys subsequently channel surf to the Spanish station, where they fixate on the equally-chesty weather girl Evita Sanchez. Then they spend a bit of time flipping back and forth between forecasts. Naturally.
- The Ditz: Dee's soldier boyfriend Ben.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The lyrics to Night Man (the second half of them, anyway) sound like an account of someone (possibly Charlie, since he did write the song) getting molested in his sleep by a man who broke into his room. It has been lampshaded.
- Politically: In "The Gang Solves The North Korea Situation," the gang's dilemma with the Korean restaurant is made to parallel US-Korean relations. The owner, "Mr. Kim," is suspected of "enriching" his beer.
- In "The Gang Goes Jihad," where the gang's issues with an Israeli who buys the land their bar is on and later builds a wall around it, parallels the Israel-Palestine dilemma. The Israeli reminds the American characters that their country was also created by stealing land.
- In "The Aluminum Monster Vs. Fatty Magoo", the slave labor conditions are even described as like a concentration camp, with the loud speaker blaring German propaganda, and the workers being described as Eastern Europeans. This is sort of Lampshaded when Mac says "The German war propaganda was a nice touch."
- Also in "The Aluminum Monster...," Dennis invents dress orders that don't match the reality of their demand, which is much like the centrally planned economy of the Soviet Union.
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That:
Mac: She grabbed me from behind. It was instinctual.
- In a flashback in "Charlie Has Cancer", Mac punches Dee in the face when she grabs him from behind. This is foreshadowing for him doing the same thing to Carmen in public, causing a couple of guys to chase him over what they think is a hate crime. A conversation with Dennis suggests this is a common problem.
Dennis: I know that, man. You don't grab.
Mac: You don't grab from behind!
- Given a subtle continuity nod in "A Very Sunny Christmas" when Mac, whilst attempting to pry Charlie off of a shopping centre Santa Claus, elbows a woman in the face on instinct when she runs behind him.
- Dramatic Thunder: In "The Gang Goes to Hell", Dennis pursues a young woman on a cruise ship, but he comes off more as a stalker/rapist than anything. When he finally talks to the girl, he flirts with her in a hallway and tells her things like "I've been watching you" and "There's nowhere to go", all while a violent storm punctuates everything he says.
- Dropped a Bridge on Him: Country Mac in "Mac Day". He falls from his motorcycle. He wasn't going particularly fast, or swerved or anything, he just tipped over the left some seconds after he started moving. The gang assumed he was probably going to be fine until it's revealed that it killed him.
- Dumbass DJ:
- The Q Crew in "The Gang Dances their Asses Off."
- In "Mac's Big Break", Dee and Dennis host a radio show where they discuss issues and current events, but the pair quickly devolve into this.
- Dumbass Has a Point: When Mac is called upon to defend Creationism, he does a surprisingly good job by neatly sidestepping the issue of proving Creationism. Instead, he points out that Dennis and Dee don't know jack shit about how evolution actually works, so their "faith" in it is no more valid than his faith in Creationism. Dennis states that he knows there's a problem with Mac's argument, but doesn't know enough about the issue to dispute it.
- Dumb Is Good: Charlie is the stupidest member of the gang but also the nicest. However, the gang as a whole are simultaneously among the worst people on the show and the dumbest.
- Dwindling Party: "Thunder Gun Express." First Dennis gets abandoned in traffic. Then Frank can't make it onto the train. Mac is too fat to fit into a storm drain. Finally, Dee gets her shoe stuck in a grate in the sewer, leaving Charlie all alone. However, all of them (except Frank) get to the movie theater anyway.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first season.
- Characterization wasn't set on the main characters: Charlie was more of an awkward loser than a semi-literate lunatic, Dee is the Only Sane Man, Dennis is vain but not a borderline sexual offender, and Mac isn't a Small Name, Big Ego.
- The Episode Title Card appeared after the show's title, making one of the show's signature kind of gags practically impossible.
- Frank wasn't introduced until the first episode of season two.
- Eats Babies: Dee uses this as a threat in "The Hundred Dollar Baby," paraphrasing Mike Tyson.Dee: I will eat your babies, bitch!
- Episode Title Card: Often used for gags, as the title will either quote the preceding dialogue almost verbatim ("Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass") or reveal the Foregone Conclusion to what the gang has just discussed.Frank: I want in on this action because I am bored to death sitting here.Dee: No, that's a bad idea. Usually when you get involved, somebody gets hurt.Frank: That's ridiculous. I'm just palling around with the guys. How's anyone gonna get hurt?*cut to title card: "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire"
- Epic Tracking Shot: In "Charlie Work", Charlie has to deal with a health inspector, The Gang's new scheme and an insistent truck driver. It's an homage to True Detective. Dennis continually delivering "All right, all right, all right" in the style of Matthew McConaughey is a clue to this.
- Europeans Are Kinky: The episode "Mac and Charlie Die" is heavy on this trope.Mac: Europe leads the way in sexual experimentation, and it's time we caught up.
- Even Evil Has Standards: The gang almost has no morals whatsoever.
- Shortly after suggesting the gang hold an involuntary wet T-shirt contest by locking the doors and hosing down all the women in the bar, Frank finds out that the Korean girl Charlie put in the contest as an opening act is actually twelve years old. He immediately throws himself in front of the hose to keep her from getting wet. In addition to that, Charlie may be a loud, disgusting, barely-literate slob, but he didn't have sex with the 12-year-old Korean girl.
- In "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare", Mac is disgusted that Dennis and Dee are going to commit welfare fraud so they can get money to finance their dream careers, as he feels welfare is only for those who are poor and desperate, like drug addicts and those too mentally or physically disabled to contribute to society.
- The gang doesn't like Nazis. Charlie and Mac decide that they can't sell Nazi paraphernalia to actual Nazis, but don't mind profiting off of it by selling it to a museum. Dennis also doesn't take finding out his grandfather was a Nazi too well.
- Frank is usually the only voice of concern towards the treatment of Rickety Cricket; he tells Mac and Dennis that man-hunting Cricket will drive him over the edge and helps him get them off his back, reacts with worry when he slashes Cricket's throat while wrestling, and even ignoring Dee's (and Cricket's own) objections and an impending storm to bring Cricket to a hospital after shooting him in the hand.
- Everyone Went to School Together: Almost becomes a Running Gag. While we know from his introduction that Rickety Cricket went to high school with the Gang, later episodes gradually reveal that a sizable chunk of the supporting cast did as well, and the Gang are simply too self-centered to remember. This reaches its apex in "The High School Reunion", which is a Continuity Cavalcade featuring every character previous stated to be a classmate.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Subverted when Mac and Charlie try to blow up Dee's car, expecting it to easily go up in flames. They try ramming it into a wall, shoot the gas tank, and finally lob a grenade into it, but it never bursts into flames.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
- The Waitress. No one in the gang knows her name, even her Stalker With a Crush Charlie. Dennis labels his sex tape "Waitress (Coffee Shop)." Dee calls her "Waitress" to her face. She reacts with disgust each time this happens. It's later revealed that they all went to high school with her, and Dee was in some of her classes. Even the guy who was engaged to her refers to her as "that coffee shop waitress".
- The Lawyer. No one ever calls him by name, though the gang has fewer interactions with him.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: At least 80% of the episode titles.
- Extreme Omnisexual: Frank is now attracted to pumas, but is no longer attracted to mules.
- Extreme Omnivore:
- Mac's old dog Poppins eats cigarette butts, shampoo and cough syrup, and Dennis wouldn't put bronzer past him either.
- Frank and Charlie eat newspapers, credit cards and wolf hair.
- Eyepatch of Power: Discussed by Mac and Dennis who don't understand why Liam doesn't just get a regular eye-patch.
- The Face: Dennis is this, relative to the rest of the group. He frequently proves himself to be the only member of the group who can function in certain social situations, though he is hardly a social person.
- Failure Is the Only Option: The gang's ambitious plans never work out, though occasionally their small plans go off without a hitch, often with glorious results.
- Fake Band: Electric Dream Machine and Chemical Toilet from "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person".
- Faking the Dead: Subverted when Mac and Charlie do this to supposedly escape Mac's dad, who they think is out to kill them. Later it's revealed that Mac's dad wanted nothing to do with them and no one but Frank actually thought they were dead.
- Fan Disservice:
- Frank, completely naked, rips open a couch and slides out of it in "A Very Sunny Christmas." It looks like the sofa is giving birth to him. Re-used by Fox for the launch of the show's new home, FXX (re-launching from Fox Soccer), when footage of a soccer game is cut off by this very scene.
- The two homeless men having sex under a pier in "The Gang Goes To The Jersey Shore."
- Another homeless man masturbating in the alley behind Paddy's Pub in "Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City."
- Fan Film: In-Universe. The gang make two unofficial sequels for the Lethal Weapon series.
- Fanservice: The gang often deliberately invokes this, hiring attractive when when trying to "sex up" their current schemes. Due to the ambiguous sexualities of the gang's male members, this occasionally includes equally naked men as well.
- Fantasy Sequence: The premise of "The Gang Saves the Day". The Gang is caught in a convenience store robbery, and imagine how they'd save the day.
- Mac imagines he obliterates ninjas with his karate while struggling to insert puns in his Bond One Liners, then ascends to a homoerotic heaven.
- Sweet Dee imagines she kills the whole gang, blames everything on the robber, gets into witness relocation and becomes a huge star.
- Dennis imagines he's shot, and is then nursed back to health by Jackie Denardo, until she herself gets crippled and he Mercy Kills her rather than return the favor, mainly because her boobs got smaller.
- Frank imagines that he gorges on free hot dogs while the robber kills the rest of the gang.
- Charlie imagines he protects The Waitress, making her fall in love with him. They live out a happy life closely modeled on Up, only with more janitors and rats.
- Fell Off the Back of a Truck: $25,000 worth of cocaine belonging to some mobsters in "The Gang Gets Whacked".
- Five-Man Band: Lampshaded throughout "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" as the gang argues over which role they fill in the band. The final version: Dennis is The Looks, Charlie is The Wild Card, Frank is The Muscle, Mac is The Brains, and Dee is The Useless Chick.
- Five-Second Foreshadowing: In the beginning of "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs", Liam McPoyle screams at Mac and Dennis that he has no depth perception as a result of losing an eye. This leads right into a gag in which he attempts to revoke their video store membership by cutting their card with a pair of scissors, but can't line the card up with the scissors and misses completely.
- Flanderization: Every member of the gang gets more extreme in their characterizations. Justified, as their continuing mental degredation and violent, destructive, co-dependent relationships are accentuated by their alcoholism.
- Charlie, the dim-witted loser with a crush, becomes an illiterate and completely insane stalker prone to screaming inappropriately. The fact that he's constantly ingesting hazardous materials might justify his deteriorating mental state.
- Mac started out as a fairly normal Irish Catholic wanna-be bruiser, but his fixation on karate and fitness, as well as his homoerotic undertones, have become very exaggerated.
- Dennis starts out as a vain prep, but has become Flanderized into a sociopathic and narcissistic sexual deviant and borderline rapist.
- Originally the voice of reason, Dee's insecurity, shrillness and alcoholism are all played up in later seasons.
- Frank has intentionally Flanderized himself over the course of the show. At his introduction, he's a shady businessman who wants to live the gang's depraved lifestyle. His hair becomes increasingly wild between each season, and his behavior becomes more depraved. By Season 5, he's a complete mess.
- Possibly lampshaded by Dennis in "The Gang Misses the Boat" when ranting about how bizarre the gang has become. "By the way, all of us have become so goddamn weird!"
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: In "A Very Sunny Christmas" when Charlie goes berserk, and in "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" when Dennis thinks he's the father of Dee's baby.
- Foreshadowing: Some examples include:
- "High School Reunion 1 & 2"
- Old high school friend Schmitty is mysteriously absent at the high school reunion, but Mac remarks that he'll probably show up at the last possible second to take the most disgusting girl present home. Guess what happens.
- Mac tries to tell Charlie they're not going to get wedgied because they're adults now. They get wedgied.
- After Dee sings "Baby Got Back", showing off her actual back, the Gang point out that the song is about "big black female booty" and talk about how awesome they think black butts are. Dennis later tries to sleep with a black woman and comments on her butt.
- "The Anti-Social Network," Dennis says, "I could be a man with a fistful of hammers, a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties." In "The High School Reunion part 2", he reveals he actually has a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties.
- In a flashback in "Charlie Has Cancer", Mac punches Dee in the face when she grabs him from behind. This is foreshadowing for him doing the same thing to Carmen in public.
- In "Hundred Dollar Baby," Dee, in a steroid-induced rage, says "I'm going to paralyze that bitch!" about the girl she is set to fight against (the daughter of Frank's old boxing rival). At the end of the episode, Frank ends up punching his rival, who falls into his daughter; when she falls, her neck directly lands a stool and a snapping noise is heard, heavily implying that she ended up paralyzed after all.
- "High School Reunion 1 & 2"
- Foreign Wrestling Heel: In "The Gang Wrestles For The Troops," Rickety Cricket gets the persona of "America's most hated terrorist, the Talibum!" He quickly Becomes The Mask, knocking Dee down with a chair as she sings a pre-match song and taking down Dennis and Charlie by throwing handfuls of sand in their eyes.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Charlie is sanguine, Dennis is choleric, Mac is melancholic, Frank is choleric/sanguine, and Dee is phlegmatic.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In "The Gang Saves the Day", each of the main characters imagines how they would ideally react during a convenience-store robbery. Dee's segment sees her become an acclaimed actor as part of her witness protection. We see a short clip of what is apparently the highest-rated sitcom of all time, Covington's House, and during the credits, two men are listed as "Load wipers".
- Freudian Excuse:
- Mac's father was a meth dealer who was in prison for most of Mac's life and his mother did not care about him at all. He constantly seeks approval and attention.
- Charlie was an abortion survivor (may or may not have contributed to his impaired mental faculties) with no father (though Frank may be Charlie's missing father), an OCD, overbearing and sexually promiscuous mother, and was most likely molested as a child.
- Dennis has a completely amoral father figure (Frank) and a mother who believed he could do no wrong and openly and heavily favored him to Dee. At the age of fourteen, the school's librarian raped him, and it's implied he doesn't feel emotions after this incident. He believes that he is a perfect human being and is overall sociopathic.
- Dee also has Frank as a father, and her mother criticized everything about her, made it known that Dee was unwanted (despite the fact that she and Dennis are fraternal twins) and favored Dennis over her. She has very poor self esteem (aided by way of having to spend most of her teenage years walking with heavy braces due to Scoliosis) and a laundry list of neuroses. The gang considers it their duty to beat her down emotionally.
- The Friends Who Never Hang: Generally averted as every potential duo in the Gang gets a few episodes together, but Dennis and Charlie rarely have storylines together without Mac or Frank acting as an intermediary between the two, and Mac and Dee only have a handful of episodes centering around just the two of them.
- Friendship Moment:
- The entire group trying their hardest to be less cynical for just one day and coming together in "Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats" to give Charlie a good birthday.
- The Christmas special ends with the gang all commiserating their terrible holiday by throwing rocks at trains together. The episode ends with a flashback of Mac and Charlie as kids walking off arm-in-arm.
- The end of "The Gang Dines Out" almost involves a Frank and Charlie vs. Dennis and Mac brawl, but they become distracted when a waiter falls over due to Dee tying his shoelaces together. While the waiter writhes on the ground in pain, the gang all exchange compliments and toast each other.
- Funny Background Event: Compared to the rest of The Gang, Dennis is by far the most believable in social situations where they inevitably have to lie to someone. Also inevitably, someone (usually Charlie) will screw things up by suddenly making a ridiculous comment, and Dennis can often be seen struggling to hide his frustration in his facial expression and/or body language.
- Gainax Ending: The season 10 finale, "Ass Kickers United," ends with Jojo floating through space on the back of a giant turtle, a Call-Back to the season 8 episode "Charlie Rules the World" in which Frank states that we could all just be "a turtle's dream in outer space."
- Gambit Pileup:
- Subverted in the episode "Who Pooped The Bed?" where Artemis believes that the whole gang is involved in one of these to frame each other for pooping in Frank and Charlie's bed. Frank then reveals that he did all of the poops, because "poop is funny!"
- Played straight in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Game Show Appearance: "The Gang Goes on Family Fight."
- Garbage Wrestler: Frank, literally, in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
- Genuine Human Hide: It's hard to hear since the main characters constantly yell over one another, but in the episode "Hundred Dollar Baby", Dee threatens to rip Charlie's face off, make a shirt out of it, and wear it.
- Gilligan Cut:
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", with the entire gang (save for Frank, who's fine being lower class) becoming obsessed with coming off as classy and sophisticated. At the public pool, Dennis and Dee are trying to relax:Dee: Ow! What the hell?! What was that?!
Dennis: What happened?
Dee: [picks up an object that hit her] That's a rock, Dennis! These kids are throwing rocks at each other for fun! What kind of savages throw rocks at each other to have fun times?!
[cut to Mac and Charlie doing exactly that]
- In the episode "Frank Sets Sweet Dee On Fire", Dee is trying to become famous for being a "dirty drunken whore [like Paris Hilton]" by club-hopping every night. Dennis, however, is the one who builds a reputation around the Philadelphia clubs, and thus proposes to use his connections to make Dee famous:Mac: I don't think Dee's that desperate to get famous. I mean, nobody's that pathetic.
[cut to Dee and Dennis in a nightclub]
Dee: I can't believe how famous I'm about to be!
- Several episodes incorporate a Gilligan cut as a Smash Cut to the title card after the Cold Open:Dennis: We got big dreams, Mac. We're gonna go follow 'em.
Mac: You guys have nothing without this bar.
Dennis: Don't worry about us, Mac. We'll be just fine.
[cut to title card: "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare"]
Dee: You think I wouldn't know if the guy I'm dating is retarded?
[the guys look at her incredulously]
Dee: There is no way that I am dating a retarded person.
[cut to title card: "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person"]
Frank: I want in on this action because I am bored to death sitting here.
Dee: No, that's a bad idea. Usually when you get involved, somebody gets hurt.
Frank: That's ridiculous. I'm just palling around with the guys. How's anybody gonna get hurt?
[cut to title card: "Frank Sets Sweet Dee On Fire"]
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", with the entire gang (save for Frank, who's fine being lower class) becoming obsessed with coming off as classy and sophisticated. At the public pool, Dennis and Dee are trying to relax:
- Glad I Thought of It: Dennis does this on more than one occasion.
- Good Cop/Bad Cop: Mac and Dennis decide to go with the Good Realtor/Bad Realtor routine when trying to sell a house. They lampshade their strategy by assuming the names Hugh Honey and Vic Vinegar. The results are predictably disastrous.
- Gratuitous Ninja: Mac's fantasy in "The Gang Saves the Day" includes an inexplicable ninja attack.
- Guttural Growler:
- Da'Maniac in "The Gang Wrestles For The Troops". He makes another appearance in "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare".
- Mac invokes the trope in "The Gang Saves The Day".
- A Handful for an Eye: Rickety Cricket throws sand into Dennis and Charlie's eyes during the wrestling match in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
- Dee uses a similar strategy to get herself and Dennis away from violent criminals in "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore." Bonus points for using sand she and Dennis were being forced to dig for a grave at the time.
- Harmful to Minors: "Charlie Wants An Abortion" and "Underage Drinking: A National Concern".
- Heroic B.S.O.D.: Charlie experiences one when he discovers that his mother is a former prostitute. After getting over it after a few minutes by "burying it down deep" (and also refusing to fully believe it), he gets another, much worse BSOD when he sees a mall Santa while shopping with Mac (triggering memories of numerous men dressed as Santa coming to his house one by one on Christmas mornings, presumably taking turns with Bonnie).
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The entire group, with Dennis in particular. Though, the "heroic" part is usually accidental.
- Herr Doktor: Dr. Albert Zimmerman in the episode "Psycho Pete Returns", who treated Frank at the "nitwit farm", speaks with a German accent and exhibits many qualities of this trope.
- Heteronormative Crusader: Mac is outspokenly against homosexuality, despite increasingly apparent hints that he's Armoured Closet Gay.
- He Who Fights Monsters:
- Some of the gang's most frequent victims, in particular Rickety Cricket, Dennis and Dee's biological father Bruce, the Waitress and the Lawyer, often end up stooping to very low levels to seek retribution, usually in the form of the same kind of underhanded schemes that the gang is known for. These initially decent characters have all become just as unsympathetic as the main cast through their attempts to force karma on the gang, which always either backfires or just ends up restoring the status quo for next week's episode.
- Inverted with the McPoyles, who try to morally compromise the gang on a regular basis. As warped as the gang can be, the McPoyles are worse.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners:
- Dennis and Mac, though the "heterosexual" is increasingly debatable, at least on Mac's part.
- Frank and Charlie also, even though Frank might be his father but won't acknowledge it.
- Mac and Charlie because they were childhood friends before meeting the Reynoldses, occasionally comes back when Dennis and Dee act stuck-up from their perceived upper-class upbringing and alienate the more "white-trash" Mac and Charlie.
- Hidden Wire: Charlie wears one during his Serpico shtick in "Bums: Making a Mess All over the City". The problem is that it's just a normal, full-size tape recorder with a normal, full-size microphone attached to it.
- Holy Burns Evil: In "The Gang Goes to Hell," Frank's cross necklace burns his skin, causing the gang to wonder whether he's pure evil. It turns out that Mac put battery acid on the back to convince Frank to change his godless ways.
- Horror Hunger: Charlie and Dee get "The Hunger" in "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters" after eating human meat. Frank later reveals it was raccoon meat, and their inexplicable hunger probably means they have tapeworms.
- Human Notepad: Charlie in "The Gang Gets Held Hostage". It's a ruse just so he can fart in Mac's face.
- Humans Are Bastards: It's hard to feel sorry for even the more sympathetic characters, since they're all assholes in one way or another, most of whom will lie to, manipulate, and/or hurt other people in a heartbeat to get what they want. The only unarguable exception is Ben the soldier, whose virtue and goodness really stand out amongst a cast full of sociopaths, maniacs, and bigots.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In the episode "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", Mac and Dennis... are manhunters. Their quarry is Rickety Cricket.
- Hypocritical Humor: A frequent source for laughs.
- In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry", Dennis loudly rants about how other people have no respect as he destroys a near-stranger's house, and reprises his rant after the person whose house he destroyed comes back upset.
- Mac accuses Carmen's husband of being gay because he married a post-op transsexual, when he himself had sex with Carmen pre-op.
- In "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off", a hobo tells Rickety Crick (also homeless) to "Shut up, street-rat!"
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", Mac and Charlie declare the public pool to be full of disgusting people while chugging beer in public, burping, and throwing the cans all over the place.
- Mac and Charlie suspect a kid is a threat to the school because he wore all black and was playing a violent video game. Later they remember that they like violent games and movies and don't want to kill people.
- During a flashback in "Frank's Brother", Frank talks about opening an integrated Jazz club where "blacks and whites can get along". He then adds "No Orientals, though".
- In "Reynolds v. Reynolds", the Catholic Mac's desperate attempt to prove evolution isn't real involves Aristotle being labeled a 'bitch' by Gallileo for proving geocentrism wrong. Gallileo rather famously was tried as a heretic for this belief (among other reasons) by....the Catholic Church.
- I Banged Your Mom: In the cryptically-titled episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," Mac bangs Dennis and Dee's mom, Dennis tries to bang Mac's and later Charlie's mom as revenge, and the Waitress bangs Frank to get back at Dennis.
- Iconic Sequel Character: Frank is introduced in the second season.
- Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Most episodes usually start with The Gang.. (ex. "The Gang Dines Out") or have one or more members named (ex. "Mac and Dennis Break Up").
- Idiot Savant: Charlie in many episodes. It's occasionally revealed that underneath Charlie's dopey exterior is a Jerk Ass Magnificent Bastard.
- In "Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person," he's a musical prodigy. He writes an entire musical in a later episode.
- He engineers a series of gambits in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," "Charlie Has Cancer" and "Charlie and Dee Find Love" in efforts to bang the Waitress.
- In "The Gang Exploits a Miracle," he becomes an effective Charismatic preacher.
- In "Charlie Rules the World," Charlie becomes the most powerful player in an MMO, turns Dee into his personal slave and nearly takes control of Paddy's Pub.
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love", Dennis—in what seems to be one of the few benevolent moments in his character arc—keeps an eye on Charlie's budding relationship for fear that the rich girl Charlie met is using him for some cruel prank, when it turns out she honestly loved Charlie, and Charlie was actually using her as part of an underhanded plan to get with the Waitress.
- I Love the Dead: Discussed by Frank and a mortician in "Frank's Little Beauties".
- I'm a Humanitarian: Frank tricks Charlie & Sweet Dee into eating human meat after they wouldn't stop raiding his fridge. They soon start to crave it non-stop. It turns out that Frank actually fed them racoon meat, and their intense hunger is caused by a tapeworm.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: In the episode "The Gang Gets Held Hostage" Frank shoots at the McPoyles at near point-blank range without hitting anyone.
- I'm Standing Right Here: While in the waiting room at the hospital in "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Dennis and Dee construct a painstakingly detailed narrative involving a teenage part-time job giving way to a downward spiral of cocaine habits, studio apartments, single motherhood, and HIV infection based on a somewhat frumpy-looking woman sitting in there with them. She points out that she can hear everything, but admits that their assessment is not especially inaccurate.
- Incestuous Casting: Invoked a few times in-universe. Dennis and Dee play the Dayman and his love interest, respectively, in "The Nightman Cometh" (Charlie originally cast Dennis as the Nightman in an attempt to avoid this, but Mac begged him to switch parts because the Nightman gets to use karate moves). Dee and Dennis also play extras who are husband and wife in "Mac and Charlie Write a Movie," and when the Gang film Lethal Weapon 6, Dennis plays the character Riggs, who is engaged to Murtaugh's daughter, played by Dee (but Mac takes over the role before the two characters must kiss during their wedding).
- Incredibly Obvious Bug:
- "Is that a baby monitor?"
- Charlie's Serpico-inspired wire is a tape recorder duct-taped to his chest and a full-size microphone sitting in front of him. It fools precisely nobody.
- Inherently Funny Words: "RUM HAM!"
- Initiation Ceremony:
- In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry", Frank and Dennis visit Dennis's old fraternity house to find that the current hazing rituals involves lots and lots of tazing.
- The gang sets one up to welcome Schmitty into the gang, but he finds it hilarious and doesn't take it seriously, getting him immediately kicked out.
- In Medias Res: "The Gang Gets Trapped" begins with some of the gang trapped in the closets of a rich Southern family that just arrived home. Whereas most episodes start with someone bursting into the bar after hearing news they can exploit, this one unusually just has them argue about the unseen events that led up to this, Reservoir Dogs-style.
- Innocent Bystander: The unnamed guy in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" who constantly had bad things happen to him thanks to The Gang.
- Innocent Inaccurate: The Christmas "traditions" of Mac's and Charlie's family. Mac doesn't realize that his father was burglarizing neighbors, while Charlie doesn't realize that his mother was a prostitute.
- In-Series Nickname:
- "Sweet Dee" for Dee.
- Charlie gets a janitor job at a local high school in season six; the students take to calling him Professor.
- The rest of the Gang will occasionally call Dennis "Den."
- Mac is a nickname; his real full name is Ronald McDonald.
- Mac, Charlie and Dee had derisive nicknames from the popular kids in high school; Mac was Ronnie the Rat (because he was a "narc"), Charlie was Dirtgrub (because of his poor hygiene), and Dee was the Aluminium Monster (because of her back brace).
- Rickety Cricket (real name Matthew) due to having loud rickety leg braces as a kid in school, the gang is the only people who still call him this.
- Ingrid Nelson, a former friend of Dee's from school was nicknamed "Fatty Magoo" because of her obesity. Sometime between high school and her debut episode, she lost it all. Dee still desperately tries to keep the nickname going but is usually shot down by other people lampshading how it no longer makes sense.
- Insane Troll Logic: Displayed prominently whenever Dennis talks about relationships, whenever Mac talks about toughness or being a badass, whenever Frank talks about business, and whenever Charlie talks about anything.
- Insistent Terminology: In the first part of "The Gang Gets Whacked", the Gang has to make $25,000 in less than a week to pay the mafia for drugs that Charlie and Dee unknowingly stole. Dennis' role involves selling his "services" to old women at a country club:Dennis: No, I'm not prostitute, okay? There's no banging old ladies and dudes. I will be providing a very important service, however, as what I would like to be called a "handsome companion."
Charlie: To dudes?
Dennis: No, not to dudes. To old, fancy, rich ladies who want to do classy, exotic, fancy things with me.
Mac: Great. Dennis, you keep banging dudes.
- Intercourse with You: Charlie denies that the lyrics to his song "Night Man" have anything to do with a guy coming into his room in the middle of the night and raping him. Though given how the show has strongly implied that he was routinely sexually molested by his uncle, the song takes on a dark overtone."Every night, you come into my room and pin me down with your strong hands
I try to fight you
you come inside me
you fill me up and I become the night man"
- Ironic Name: "Sweet" Dee is anything but.
- I Take Offense to That Last One!:
- In "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation" when Mac walks into the bar wearing a new coat:Mac: It's not a jacket, it's a duster. It's like a jacket, only it's longer, thicker, and far more badass. I look like Lorenzo Lamas, and women find it irresistible.
Dee: Well, that part's simply not true.
- In "The Gang Group Dates":Dennis: You get your self-worth from when you convince yourself that you're tough and that you're straight.
Mac: I am tough.
- In "The Gang Spies Like U.S.":Dennis: He'll love how "pretty" and "blond" you are.
Dee: Don't do that! I'm blond!
- From "Charlie Rules the World":Charlie: You think I'd give up all this for lunch?! You stupid, fat bitch.
Julie: I'm not fat.
- In "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation" when Mac walks into the bar wearing a new coat:
- I Think You Broke Him: "The Gang Broke Dee", right as Dennis is about to tell them what he thinks happened to Dee, it cuts to the episode's title card. Later in the episode, it is suggested that gang ended up breaking Dennis as well.
- It's Always Spring: It's always a sunny, warm day outside, despite the fact that Philadelphia can get quite cold. Even when news reports warn of a huge storm bearing down on the city, the weather is perfect and Frank notes, "It's warm as shit!" Only the direct-to-DVD Christmas episode has the cast actually start wearing winter clothing, and even then the weather is still sunny. The pilot for the show was titled "It's Always Sunny on Television," referencing this trope directly.
- Its Pronounced Tro Pay: Frank names his club after his girlfriend, "Shadynasty." It's pronounced "Shuh-Dynasty," not "Shady Nasty" as one patron guesses.
- It Tastes Like Feet: In the episode "How Mac Got Fat", a customer at Paddy's complains that his drink tastes like bleach. And it's not a case of simply using an example of something that would presumably taste bad; he's actually correct, as Charlie confirms that he is indeed dipping the glasses in bleach "to clean them faster."
- Ivy League for Everyone: Dennis and Dee went to University of Pennsylvania. Dennis graduated. Dee did not. "The Lawyer" attended Harvard Law.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Invoked by Dee and Dennis when they dress up Frank's old business partner to try and give Frank a scare in "A Very Sunny Christmas".
- All the main characters are combative, petty and cruel to everyone.
- Colin, a guy who Dee dates for a bit. Dennis describes him as an '80s movie stereotype.
- Jerkass Ball: Charlie at the end of "Charlie and Dee Find Love". After revealing his romance with Ruby was a gambit to get the Waitress to lift her restraining order, which is in-character for him, he then, for no real reason, kicks the sobbing Ruby while she's down by high-handedly berating her for acting like a rich slut in front of all her family and friends. Not only was Ruby the picture of sweetness, Charlie's usually portrayed as the most moral and compassionate of the group by far.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably all of them. Although there's no doubt that they display extreme narcissism, they also seem to genuinely care for each other. Dennis's obsession with seeing Dee looked after when she's giving birth; Charlie and Mac wanting to step up to be fathers when they realise that none of the men Dee has dated seem to be fit parents; holding hands with one another before they think they're about to drown; their complete acceptance of Mac's homosexuality-it's rare, but sometimes they show the sliver of possibility of good nature.
- Juggalo: Portrayed in "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth". Charlie mistakenly refers to him as a "juggler".
- Juggling Loaded Guns: The gang in general, but Frank in particular.
- Kafka Komedy: Ben Smith, Dee's boyfriend throughout Season 5, is a legitimately good-hearted, caring man who treats Dee like a queen even though she constantly puts him through the ringer. He's also gorgeous with a "stupid"note body, but Dee pushes him away because she's paranoid that he's using some sort of elaborate scheme to get in her pants, just because Dennis revealed that he's been doing the same thing to other women. While this is one of the more blatant examples in the series, there are many instances of characters outside of The Gang getting screwed over because they unknowingly made the mistake of being nice to the main cast.
- Kangaroo Court: The gang seems to be under the impression that you can "call Kangaroo Court" to invalidate a trial.
- Karma Houdini: Just about anyone who's even more of a Jerkass than the gang and succeeds in screwing one or more of them over. The gang themselves arguably apply when they ruin any character who has an even bigger Butt-Monkey status.
- Katanas Are Just Better: Mac argues with Charlie over whether his katana is superior to Charlie's pistol, though Mac calls it a "saber."
- Kavorka Man: In spite of being a spastic weirdo, Charlie gets several very attractive girls interested in him, but he cruelly spurns them all, usually to continue stalking the Waitress.
- Kayfabe: Frank refuses to believe that pro-wrestling is fake.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: All four of them.Charlie: This bar runs on trash. It's totally green now.Dennis: How is burning trash green?Charlie: I could stick it in a landfill, where it's gonna stay for millions of years, or I could burn it up and let it disappear into the sky where it turns into stars.Mac: That doesn't sound right, but I don't know enough about stars to dispute it.
- Kiss Diss: Mac tries to kiss Dennis on two separate occasions, only for Dennis to move out of the way both times.
- Landlord: Hwang, Charlie's landlord from the episodes "Gun Fever" and "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs."
- Large Ham:
- Dee's theater friend, Artemis, normally and while acting. This causes Dee to initially mistake a melodramatic but real breakdown for a line-reading.
- Charlie:"VIETGODDAMNNAM IS WHAT HAPPENED!""ROCK, FLAG AND EEEEAAAAAAGLLLLLLLEEE!""THIS ISN'T OVER UNTIL I SAY IT'S OVERRRRRR!""YOU ALL WANT A GO AT SERPICO, IS THAT IT?!"
- "The Nightman Cometh" is just a smorgasbord of ham. Especially with Mac — he doesn't chew the scenery as much as devour it.
- Large Ham Radio: Dennis and Dee in "Mac's Big Break", of the Dumbass DJ variety.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: "The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award" is about the gang trying to get an award for their bar, but it's also about how the show has never won an Emmy. There are a number of meta-references to the show itself and the sitcom genre:
- Dennis suggests that Mac and Dee get some sexual chemistry, which they both find revolting. The two actors married each other behind the scenes.
- The gang states that Dee should be less funny and instead be boring and wholesome, because people hate funny women. This is a reference to how Dee was originally intended to be the voice of reason until Kate Olsen protested and made the character funnier.
- Charlie decides to write a song for the bar, because the bar has no song. The show uses stock classical music as its theme. Also referencing "The Nightman Cometh", where Charlie writes a musical, which is generally considered the show's best episode and the one most deserving of an award.
- The characters discuss the behavior of rival bars, which are all generic tropes used by mainstream sitcoms, and note how the gang does not conform to them.
- In one of the rival bars, the gang notes that the colors are far too bright. The patrons in said rival bar also react to the bartenders' goings on, laughing or saying "Awwww" in unison, and Dennis notes the weirdness of the fact that they have one black bartender surrounded by whites.
- Lies to Children: "A Very Sunny Christmas" reveals that Mac's and Charlie's families had very interesting "Christmas traditions". Mac's family would have to go to a strange house and open all the gifts and leave before the family who lived there could catch them (this was Mac's father's rationalization for why there were never presents at the Mac household—another family had stolen theirs in a big loop) and several Santas would come to cheer up Charlie's mother on Christmas morning (read: customers seeking Mrs. Kelly for her services as a prostitute).
- Lighter and Softer: Charlie's song "Day Man", when compared to "Night Man".
- Like an Old Married Couple: Mac and Dennis are described this way In-Universe.
- Limited Wardrobe:
- Ben is always seen wearing the jean shorts that Frank gives him in his first episode.
- Charlie, more than any of the other main cast members, wears the same clothes over and over, emphasizing his poverty. In one episode he states that he repairs his old clothes rather than buy anything new. Notable favorites include his black and red horse t-shirt, green army jacket and long thermal underwear— he also wears the same undersized brown-and-black necktie when a situation calls for formal attire. Some of these clothes are Charlie Day's actual property.
- Long Song, Short Scene: Most of the stock music is relegated to scene transitions, only playing for a few seconds. The full songs are typically 2-3 minutes in length.
- Love Martyr:
- Charlie's mom is attracted to men who treat her like crap. Even Frank admits that he's a little ashamed at how bad he has to treat her to keep her interested.
- Rickety Cricket to Dee.
- Lower-Class Lout: The whole gang, including the Ivy League-educated Dennis and Dee (although Dee dropped out while Dennis graduated). Frank is actually incredibly wealthy, but chooses to live this way because it's fun.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Averted, in all cases the fathers are either unaware of or are denying their fatherhood.
- Bruce Mathis fulfills this trope when he tracks down Dennis and Dee on MySpace. Of course, they quickly alienate him by being their completely terrible selves.
- Made of Iron:
- Poppins, Mac's dog, seems to have been on death's door for a decade.
- Agent Jack Bauer, the indestructible junkyard cat that Dennis briefly adopts.
- Maintain the Lie: When Frank suffers a fall out the window and thinks it's 2006, the gang decide to play along to get a second chance at tricking Frank into giving them money. The ruse includes pretending Dennis and Dee invented smartphones and hiding any news of the present.
- Make-Up Is Evil: In Charlie's musical in The Nightman Cometh, Mac (as the Nightman) and Frank (as the Troll) are the most heavily made-up of the actors on stage. (Frank has prosthetic ears and nose, and Mac has some killer winged eyeliner).
- In "Charlie Has Cancer", Dennis and Charlie have an argument which culminates in Charlie telling Dennis that "sometimes you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelette":Dennis: Oh, so you're throwing down life lessons now?
Charlie: I'm throwing down eggs!
- In the Season 12 episode "Making Dennis Reynolds a Murderer", Mac and Charlie try to explain why hard evidence of Maureen's death having nothing to do with Dennis was left out of an "Unsolved Mysteries" type crime documentary:Mac: It's sorta like eating a bag of chips. It's never gonna actually make you full, and at the end you're sick, but you wanna go back for more.
Charlie: You want more chips. Murder is chips.
- In "Charlie Has Cancer", Dennis and Charlie have an argument which culminates in Charlie telling Dennis that "sometimes you gotta crack a few eggs to make an omelette":
- Miles Gloriosus: Mac, frequently seen busting out faux-karate moves and displaying various martial arts regalia (in one episode, he turns his spastic martial arts moves into a dance). In reality, he flees from confrontation and gets beaten up in fights. Charlie suggests that he take at least one karate class if he's going to claim to be a master at it.
- Minority Show Ghetto: Discussed in "The Gang Desperately Tries to Win Award," where bars are a thinly veiled allegory for sitcoms. Dennis says that "black bars" don't win awards. He doesn't know why. They just don't.
- Mistaken for Gay:
- In the pilot, Dennis deliberately ramps up his Camp Straight tendencies in order to get more tips and attention from Paddy's gay customers.
- In "Charlie Has Cancer", a woman at the free clinic assumes Dennis is gay and waiting for his HIV results.
- In "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell," Dennis and Mac's Colonial counterparts are mistaken for "sodomites."
- In "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge", Dennis is mistaken for gay by the woman he tries to seduce due to his makeup, girdle, and his use of an accelerated version of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system.
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love," Mac is revealed on video to be greased up and wrestling with another man in a position that looks like he's being anally penetrated. Mac tries to protest, but the gang says that there's really no other way to interpret the video.
- Mistaken for Murderer:
- The episode "Mac is a Serial Killer." He's actually banging Carmen the Transsexual again.
- Mac's dad in "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender" and "Mac and Charlie Die."
- Mistaken for Racist:
- "The Gang Gets Racist" has the gang encounter Dee's new black friend and constantly blunder into racially insensitive statements, only to immediately cringe at the realization.
- In "The Gang Goes Jihad," the gang constantly police each other's statements so that they don't come across as anti-semites, even though there's no one else around to hear them.
- The B plot in "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters" Dee and Charlie are trying to decide which body to eat at the morgue and they worry about being racist because they both think the white guy looks tastier.
- Invoked. Frank's song in "The Nightman Cometh" has the line "You gotta pay the troll toll to get into this boy's soul." Frank's pronunciation sounds more like "boy's hole," and he refuses to enunciate any better.
- In "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", Dennis, Mac, and Charlie attempt to sell gasoline door-to-door. Charlie, for no good reason, adopts a southern accent during their first attempt at a sale. When he tells an older woman that they wanna "fill [her] up," his accent causes her to believe he's saying "feel [her] up," and she calls the police.
- When the gang decides to sell Paddy's, Frank tells them that before they do so, they need to be "wooed" by the potential buyer. Charlie thinks he's saying they should get some "wood."
- Money, Dear Boy: An in-universe example. One episode has Frank getting mugged and chasing off his would-be attackers with guns. He's invited to go on TV and tell his story, which turns him into a minor Philadelphia celebrity when he insists that everyone buy as many firearms as possible, whipping up the city (and the Gang themselves) into a frenzy about their Second Amendment rights. It all culminates with Frank organizing a major rally at City Hall, with everyone marching with their new guns. At the end of the episode, Frank tells the others that he has no intention of going to the rally. He then reveals that he doesn't care about the Second Amendment at all—it turns out that he had bought a stake in Gunther's Guns, and deliberately manipulated everyone by playing on their fear to make himself a fortune. The show concludes with Frank, having recently purchased hundreds of water filters, parlaying his celebrity to hawk said filters by claiming that Philly's water is "90% toxins."
- Multi-Part Episode: "Mac and Charlie Die Parts 1 and 2", "The Gang Gets Whacked Parts 1 and 2", "The High School Reunion Parts 1 and 2", and "The Gang Goes to Hell Parts 1 and 2".
- Musical Episode:
- "The Nightman Cometh". The first half is about the making-of, while the second half is the performance.
- "The Gang turns Black" has the gang turning into black people after watching The Wiz and constantly bursting into song. However, they are the only characters other than Scott Bakula to do this, which just makes them look like weirdos to others.
- Mystery Meat: Charlie and Dee become obsessed with the incredibly delicious meat Frank gives them.
- Names To Run Away From Very Fast: The boat the gang buy in "The Gang Buys a Boat" is called The Drowning Sailor.
- Narm: In-universe example with "The Nightman Cometh". Charlie's musical got a lot of laughs, much to his dismay.
- Nazi Grandpa: Dennis and Dee's grandpa asks Charlie, whom he mistakes for Dennis, to get his old army uniform while spouting antisemitic curses.
- Negative Continuity: Subverted. The Gang distinctly believe that the world works like this, and while episodes are all mostly stand alone, it becomes increasingly apparent that every bad decision the Gang makes has lasting effects that they seemingly subconsciously remove from their memories. In reality, the series has incredibly tight continuity, and builds up countless Call Backs and Continuity Nods over time.
- Never Bring a Knife to a Gun Fight: Mac argues that his sword is a better weapon than a pistol because he will dodge incoming fire as he approaches for a slash. Charlie shows that he can defeat that tactic simply by moving his pistol slightly.
- Never Learned to Read: Charlie's reading and writing skills are almost non-existent. It's often suggested that he has a learning disability.
Mac: Goddammit, Charlie! Your illiteracy has screwed us again!
- In "The Great Recession," Charlie reveals that he turns on the "Closed" sign in the bar every morning, believing it to say "Coors."
- Charlie's script for Dennis's commercial in "The Gang Runs For Office" hardly counts as English.
- Charlie reads the "Private" sign on a door as "Pirate" and wonders if a pirate lives behind it.
- Charlie's lyric sheet for "Night Man" seems to be a rebus of simple pictures and chicken-scratched words.
- Charlie unknowingly signs a contract agreeing to give Paddy's over to the winner of a dancing contest (mistaking the word "prize" for "pride" while signing the pub up to host the contest). At the end of the episode, Mac proclaims that Charlie really needs to learn how to read.
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead:
- In "A Very Sunny Christmas", Frank says this of the business partner he embezzled his fortune from, although he doesn't know that the guy is actually alive and Dee was speaking ill of Frank in any case.
- Charlie yells out in anger in "Mac and Charlie: White Trash" when Dee says she hopes that Mac and Charlie die like trash bags like a kid from their childhood did.
- Averted in "Mac Day." After Country Mac gets killed, Mac specifically points out at the small funeral they hold for him that he is probably going to burn in hell for being "queer", and the rest of the gang admit they didn't like his actions quite as much as they did before since he got killed by them.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: In "The Gang Gets Quarantined", the main characters plan to enter a singing contest being judged by Boyz II Men. In order to increase their chances of winning, they come up with a fake backstory for themselves, which involves them being "religious, stuttering army carnies" (who also sing).
- No Animals Were Harmed: Played straight with Dennis' cat Agent Jack Bauer and Mac's dog Poppins, but averted in other episodes.
- No Bisexuals: As Mac's Transparent Closet becomes more and more obvious, the rest of the Gang unanimously agree that he's gay. Despite him showing interest in and having sex with women several times in the past, the possibility of him being bisexual isn't even considered. Considering it's the Gang we're talking about, though, it's not really that surprising.
- No Ending: Lampshaded in "Charlie Rules the World." Dennis states, "Sometimes things just... end." The show then cuts away to credits.
- No Indoor Voice: Charlie in particular, but everyone in the gang is prone to shouted arguments in public places.
- Non-Fatal Explosions: Charlie and Mac are disappointed that a hand grenade can't blow up a car. When Charlie tells Mac to walk up to it to shoot the fuel tank, he explains that any explosion "will just push us out of the way".
- Noodle Incident:Mac: Bro, half the stories you just read us were total bullshit!Dennis: Yeah man, but I did bang that girl in the fountain! That story was true, the hot dogs, the oatmeal, everything!
- In "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare", Frank somehow got stuck in a playground coil in nothing but his underwear. It's never revealed why this happened.
- No Social Skills: The Gang in general. Known sociopaths are better at socializing than these people:
- "Dennis and Dee's Mom Is Dead" demonstrates that Dennis, Charlie, and Mac seem to think that male camaraderie mainly encompasses a combination of the physical abuse of Jackass and the very worst college fraternity initiations, Up to Eleven.
- In "The Gang Gets a New Member", the guys treat something as simple as adding a new member—their old high school friend Schmitty—to the group with the gravitas of inducting him into some kind of creepy secret society, not to mention expecting him to show up to the bar to hang out all day by some specific time. Schmitty finds it very strange.
- And than there's Frank, who hangs out with the Gang for the express purpose of being a complete psychopath.
- No, You:
- The Waitress' only retort when drunk, apparently. From two different scenes in the episode "Who Pooped the Bed?":Dee: And you. You shouldn't be drinking in a shoe store.
Waitress: You shouldn't be drinking in a shoe store.
Dee: You have a bad attitude when you're drinking.
Waitress: You have a bad attitude when you're drinking, you huge-footed slut.
- Dee towards Dennis, while both are robbing Frank's house:Dennis: I'm a man and I'm strong. I can carry heavy things. You're a woman, you're weak, and you can't.
Dee: You're a woman and you're weak.
Dennis: That doesn't make any sense.
Dee: You don't make any sense.
- Dee again, to Rickety Cricket:Frank: Cricket, tell Dee how much you think she's ugly.
Dee: That's not gonna make any sense, Frank. He doesn't think I'm ugly; he's madly in love with me.
Cricket: Don't flatter yourself. I'm over you, sister.
Dee: [shocked] Since when?!
Cricket: Since I found out you are a WHORE!
Dee: Okay, well maybe you're a whore, you stupid, ugly, homeless bitch!
- The Waitress' only retort when drunk, apparently. From two different scenes in the episode "Who Pooped the Bed?":
- Of Corpse He's Alive:
- In "Dee Gives Birth", Dennis and Dee try to get rid of an apparent corpse that gets put in Dee's hospital room by sticking sunglasses on him and tying his and Dennis's wrists together so that they wave in unison. The similarity to Weekend at Bernie's is acknowledged.
- Attempted with Rickety Cricket in order for the gang to save their own asses in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
- Oh, Crap!:
- The end of "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", where the titular duo corner Rickety Cricket and Dennis seductively says, "Guess it's just us. It's just you and us, and a couple pairs of sour... sweaty... balls." Cue end credits.
- In "The Great Recession", Mac and Dennis are inspired by a restaurant they frequent to start "Paddy's Dollars", an incentive to get customers to use real money to buy Paddy's Dollars that only work at Paddy's Pub. The plan backfires when Mac and Dennis forget to charge the customers for buying more Paddy's Dollars, and the customers just keep recycling the Paddy's Dollars without actually spending any real money. The look on Mac and Dennis's faces when they realize they screwed up is definitely Oh, Crap!.
- The Oldest Profession:
- Dennis temporarily works as a prostitute in "The Gang gets whacked"
- Dee is mistaken for a prostitute by a pimp named Pepper Jack in "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire".
- Charlie's mom is a (former) prostitute.
- Frank attempts to marry one of his prostitutes in "Frank's Pretty Woman."
- Old Friend, New Gender: Parodied in "The High School Reunion", where Frank steals a woman's name tag.
- Once an Episode: A character will exclaim "GODDAMMIT!" in exasperation.
- One-Hour Work Week: Though the bar's schedule allows the gang to have daytime hours off, they're frequently shown going out at night, even to other bars, and are rarely ever seen interacting with their own patrons. This might be part of the reason why they never seem to make any money.
- The Oner: "Charlie Work" features an extended single shot of a Crazy-Prepared Charlie expertly directing Dee, Dennis, Mac and Frank around the bar in order to successfully hide problems from a health inspector during a surprise visit right before she can notice them and pull off a Zany Scheme involving a steak delivery man. There are a few cuts disguised by a closing door, but each single shot is still reasonably long.
- Only Known by Their Nickname:
- Rickety Cricket, which he hates. When Charlie and Dee are waiting impatiently for him to come back from selling their cocaine, and he knocks on the door saying "It's Matt... Matthew Mara!" they don't even recognise the name.
- In "Charlie and Dee Find Love", Dennis gets a phone call, but his only response to the caller introducing themselves is to respond, "Who?" This happens about three times before he figures out it's the Waitress, and exasperatedly shouts, "Next time, just call yourself 'the Waitress'!"
- Only One Name: Until season 7, we don't find out Mac's complete last name, much less his first. Even in the credits to "Lethal Weapon 5" he's only listed as "Mac". It's finally revealed in "The High School Reunion" to be Ronald McDonald, which explains why he prefers "Mac."
- Only Sane Man:
"You're escalating shit. We immediately escalate everything to a 10. It's ridiculous. I mean somebody comes in with a preposterous plan or idea and than suddenly everyone's on the gas, nobody's on the brakes, nobody's thinking!"
- Sweet Dee in the first season usually plays this role. Actress Kaitlin Olson managed to remove the characterization by the second season, and since then Dee has been just as dumb, belligerent and crass as the rest of the gang. In later episodes, any member of gang can play this role depending on the subject of the episode.
- "The Gang Gets Trapped" highlights the importance of an Only Sane Man; Dennis comments on how the Gang's problems stem from the fact that they don't have a set person to reign in the others when they do stupid shit:
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fairly often in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
- Most of the gang at various points attempts to use a fake accent, especially Dee. It is pretty much always absolutely terrible, especially Dee.
- Opaque Lenses: In "Pop-Pop: The Final Solution", Mac's sunglasses allow him to look at someone without them seeing his eyes. He uses it to assess threats.
- Out of Order: "A Very Sunny Christmas" was released on DVD during season five, but airs on TV and streaming services as the finale of season six. Although the show swaps the order of episodes all the time, what makes this jarring is that Mac's house, including his old bedroom, are perfectly intact despite burning to the ground in the episode aptly titled ""Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down".
- Pædo Hunt: Frank accidentally ends up agreeing to host a child beauty pageant and spends the whole episode trying to make it clear that he isn't a "diddler." It turns out the real diddler is the inspector investigating the pageant, who is arrested by the FBI at the end of the episode.
- Papa Wolf: Frank runs into his old boxing rival, Bobby, in the episode "Hundred Dollar Baby", and eventually challenges him to a boxing match. Bobby refuses until Frank threatens Bobby's daughter, which fires him up and drives him to accept Frank's challenge.
- Parental Incest:
- Frank, who is probably Charlie's biological father, marries Charlie in season six (as part of a scam). Thankfully, they don't have sex.
- Invoked by Dee, who hires a male stripper to give a lap dance to his daughter.
- Le Parkour: Rickety Cricket, of all people, has become a parkour expert after being relegated to living on the streets, for no reason that's made obvious to the viewer.
- The Password is Always "Swordfish":
- The password to the orgy is "orgy" (though, from the bathrobe-buffet-party looks of things, no one was getting turned away).
- Dennis correctly guesses that the entire gang uses "Paddy's Pub" as their password.
- Philadelphia: Obviously, given the title of the show. The main setting, Paddy's Pub, is in South Philly where the gang lives, but their misadventures sometimes take them all over the city.
- Phrase Catcher:
- Nearly everyone in the Gang has shouted "Goddamn it, Charlie!" during his inevitable moments of stupidity.
- Likewise, anyone who's upset at Dee (even for something that's clearly not her fault) is quite likely to say something along the lines of "Dee, you bitch!"
- Pizza Boy Special Delivery: Offhandedly mentioned by Frank during the episode "The Gang Gets Quarantined", after he berates Dee for trying to order pizza (while the five main characters are secluding themselves in a bar to avoid a flu epidemic):Frank: You can't do that! This is a quarantine! Nothing goes out, nothing comes in! Especially a pizza guy, going house to house, handling money, banging lonely broads! They're filthy!
- Placebo Effect: In "Flowers For Charlie", Charlie and Mac disscuss the possibility the pills are just placeboes. It turns out they are.
- The Plan: Charlie tries one in the episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Politicians Kiss Babies: Parodied in an episode, where Mac tries to get a woman to give her baby to him so that Dennis can kiss it. Naturally, she's a little weirded out.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Charles Gounod's "Funeral March of a Marionette" appears in "Frank Retires". Although the song is, like all the music on the show, in the public domain and fairly standard stock music, most people just think it's the theme to Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
- Power Trio: Many attempted invocations in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis."
- Pretty Fly (For a White Guy): L'il Kev from "Sweet Dee is Dating a Retarded Person". However, he is portrayed much more sympathetically than the main cast.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: In "Mac and Charlie Die", Mac's dad is doing pull-ups Sarah Connor style when the guards come to let him out.
- Product Placement: Kicks in after a few seasons.
- The bar suddenly has a bunch of Coors promotional items. There's a joke about Charlie turning on the "Coors" sign, which turns out to be a "Closed" sign.
- One episode has the Mac and Dennis visiting Dave and Busters and trying to emulate its Power Card system. There's some Biting-the-Hand Humor about how Mac and Dennis think it's a classy place, ordering red wine and saying, "You can't get a better steak in an arcade environment!"
- Dee shows up with a bag and beverage from Subway. Another episode has a scene taking place in a Subway.
- In "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs", there's an FX display in the opening scene, with the company logo and a Sons of Anarchy poster.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Charlie, towards Santa, in "A Very Sunny Christmas":Charlie: Did you fuck... my... mom?
- Racist Grandma: In "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire", Mac, Charlie and Frank go to a nursing home looking for scandal. What they find is a sweet, slightly loopy old woman. Who hates the blacks.
- Raised Catholic: Mac. A frequent joke, as he's very preachy but fails to realize how hypocritical his actions are (or he just doesn't believe the rules actually apply to him, as in "Charlie Wants An Abortion").
- "Rashomon"-Style: In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" the gang attempts to recall who had sex with Dee at their Halloween party with wildly differing recollections of the events of that night by the various characters.
- Reading the Stage Directions Out Loud: At the end of Charlie's play in "The Nightman Cometh".Mac: Stage freeze!Dennis: Don't say "stage freeze". Just do it.
- Realistic Diction Is Unrealistic: Averted. The show features a great deal of overlapping and shouted-over dialogue, some of it improvised, some awkwardly disjointed or repeated.
- Reality Ensues:
- In "The Gang Misses the Boat" Frank tries to join a new "gang" and create the same situations the old gang went through. Whereas the real gang manage to keep running a bar even when they're doing things that should definitely cost them their license in reality, after one night with Frank, the new gang has not only lost their license but is facing a $75,000 fine.
- During the episode "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Charlie and The Waitress bond over a mutual love of the beach. They spend a night together, laughing and frolicking, and Charlie thinks he's finally broken through and earned her affections, thanks in part to the magical and romantic nature of the beach. Turns out she was high on ecstasy, and she immediately returns to the status quo of being repulsed by him.
- In "The Gang Broke Dee" we get to see what years of constant put downs Dee suffered at the hands of the gang brings. It results in Dee suffering from self-esteem issues and clinical depression that reach to the point of her being suicidal.
- Reality Is Unrealistic: In "Mac and Charlie Die" (part 1) the two characters attempt to destroy a car with a hand grenade. It doesn't even come close, as hand grenades are for anti-personnel purposes, not high-yield explosives. They then buy a handgun and try to Shoot the Fuel Tank, which they are stunned to see has no effect other than leaving a few bullet holes in the car body.
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- According to The Other Wiki, the character of Green Man and the setting for his introduction in "The Gang Gets Invincible." Rob McElhenney said that the idea for Green Man came about when, after attending a Philadelphia Eagles game, a friend of his suddenly stripped down and donned a green lycra bodysuit in the middle of the parking lot. He ran around the lot and gave everyone he came across a high five, which created a huge outburst of excitement, as everyone wanted to be photographed with the man. This event prompted chants of "Green Man! Green Man!", which supposedly went on for several hours, and inspired McElhenney to incorporate the character into the show somehow.
- Kaitlin Olson's pregnancy was explained as Dee reviving her effort to become a surrogate mother for cash.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Frank insults Dennis' nose:Dennis: "My nose was crafted by the gods themselves, Frank. My body was sculpted to the proportions of Michelangelo's David. You, on the other hand, well... you're a pit of despair. Frank, you disgust me. You disgust everyone. And you will never... ever be on that billboard."
- Refuge in Audacity: The defining quality of the humor.Dee: I'm sorry! I'm a little bit preoccupied with being worried about being killed by the mob because a homeless priest ran off with all of our drugs!
- Reunion Revenge: Zig Zagged. Dee uses this as justification for hanging out with the old cool clique in "The High School Reunion" when she really just wants to be on their good side. So the rest of the gang try to get their revenge without her. They later kick her out of the clique because they thought she slept with Cricket. And the whole gang plot their revenge together; all for different reasons and fail miserably twice, one time without even realizing it.
- Rewatch Bonus:
- In "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System", Dennis tells Charlie to win a prize at the Waitress' carnival booth (where she works) and give it to "the bustiest woman [he] can find" (on the grounds that "[his] indifference to the Waitress will only make [him] more attractive to her"). When they get to the fair, it turns out that there are no prizes at her booth, and we find out that Charlie instead, again at Dennis' behest, paid a carny to stab the Waitress so he could save her. It's possible to miss the fact that the Waitress having a booth with no prizes forced Dennis to make an adjustment to the plan, presumably off-screen, on one's first view of the episode.
- In "A Cricket's Tale", Rickety Cricket hallucinates that a full grown dog is a beautiful human woman named Belle. He falls in love with her, and at the end of the episode, makes out with "Belle" in front of his brother and father, much to their disgust. Watching the episode a second time makes some of Belle's dog-like qualities more obvious; for example, she claims that Danny kicks at her if he catches her sleeping at work and calls her a bitch. The way she puts her hands on Cricket's chest when they make out is also very similar to the way a dog does when playing with a human.
- Riddle for the Ages: In "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life", Charlie and Dee decide to "walk a mile in each other's shoes." When Charlie explains how he sleeps at night and why he urinates in a bucket instead of a toilet, all he tells Dee is "You do not want to use that bathroom." We never find out what this means.
- Rock Opera: The Nightman Cometh, written by Charlie.
- Room Full of Crazy: Charlie pulls one together when he goes crazy working for an office in "Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack".
- Running Gag:
- Calling Dee a bird:
- In "the Gang Gives Back," Mac says that Dee looks like Big Bird in her canary yellow pantsuit.
- In "Mac is a Serial Killer," Mac and Dennis accuse Dee of looking like Larry Bird. She counters that they look like Larry Bird, which doesn't have the same effect.
- Subverted in another episode, where Dee predicts that the guys are about to call her a bird again. Mac retorts that he was going to say "fish" this time, because her eyes are so far apart.
- In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?", Dee wears an angel costume to a Halloween party, but the gang calls it a bird costume, and it gets progressively more bird-like in each retelling of the story, until, in Mac's version, she's an actual ostrich.
- In "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", Dee, along with Charlie, becomes ravenous after eating what she thought was human meat. While eating meat sandwiches, she starts to peck at her food like a bird.
- In "The Gang Saves the Day," Dee imagines that Josh Groban sings a song about how beautiful and not like a bird she is.
- Dennis's creepy fixation with sexual conquest, to the point of being a borderline date rapist:
- His D.E.N.N.I.S. System is a method for getting women to fall in love with him using lies and emotional manipulation.
- In "Fatty Magoo vs the Aluminum Monster," Dennis says, "I'm not going to take no for an answer because I just refuse to do that, because I'm a winner and winners... we don't listen to words like 'no' or 'don't' or 'stop!' Those words are just not in our vocabulary."
- Dennis states in "The Gang gets a Boat" that women always put out on boats because of "the implications." He has to repeatedly insist that he wouldn't actually rape the women on the boat.
- In "The Storm of the Century", Dee accuses Dennis of raping girls in the bunker.
- In "The Anti-Social Network," Dennis says, "I could be a man with a fistful of hammers, a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties." In "The High School Reunion part 2", he reveals he actually has a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties. He's fetching them because he's angry that a woman rejected him.
- In "How Mac got Fat," Mac comments, "Dennis always tells me, 'Never let someone else's resistance keep you from getting what you want.'"
- Dennis's practice of recording all of his sexual conquests without their knowledge is brought up in a number of episodes. In "Charlie and Dee Find Love," he claims that he has running cameras in his bedroom at all times.
- In "Charlie Rules the World," Dennis brags about "entering" a date with "almost no resistance." In his video of the evening, he's also seen pushing her head down to crotch level. Though he gets it in return when he enters the astral plane and British Dennis, after giving him a haircut and some sage advice, does the same thing to him.
- In "Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense," it's revealed that Dennis has several bench warrants for sexual misconduct.
- In "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens," Dennis tells The Lawyer that he'll sneak into his house while his wife is sleeping and "ease into her real nice" so both spouses will be cheating on each other.
- In "The Gang Squashes Their Beefs", Frank wonders why Dennis always tries to get people to sign a contract. Dennis says the fact that it is in writing means they have to do whatever they agreed to.
- In "The Gang Goes to Hell", Dennis' attempt at flirting through invoking "the implication" gets him tossed into the brig.
- Mac's delusions of being tough, his Catholicism and his homoerotic fixation on the physiques of other men.
- Sweet Dee's cars constantly being stolen and destroyed by the rest of the gang. Lampshaded in "Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense."
- The gang apparently only owns one VHS cassette and simply tapes over it repeatedly. Whenever they show a new video, snippets of past videos from previous episodes bleed out around the edges.
- Calling Dee a bird:
- Sad Clown: Invoked in "The Gang Broke Dee."
- Sassy Black Woman:
- The nurse Dennis has to deal with in "Dee Gives Birth".
- The case worker in "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare".
- Scary Black Man: Two different bit characters fit this trope:
- In "The Gang Runs For Office", the union representatives intimidate Mac with a large black guy named Marvin, whose only line in the episode is a threat to stab Mac in his throat.
- In "The Gang Gets Invincible", the coach for the public Eagles tryouts is a big, intimidating black man who screams at the top of his lungs roughly 80% of the time he talks.
- Z, played by Chad Coleman, is the scariest member of the creepy people who hang out under the bridge.
- The Scapegoat: When in doubt, blame Sweet Dee.Dennis: Facebook is connecting everyone these days. People are showing up to a bar that doesn't even have a sign and serves only one old-timey, disgusting drink that nobody likes! Goddamn, I hate gin! Dee, you bitch!
- Schemer: Frank is a self-styled schemer, but the entire gang hatches plots in virtually every episode, usually with dismal success.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!:
- Mac in "Frank's Back in Business":Asian boy: Oh, hey. You must be Mr. LeFevre.
Dennis: Yeah, that's me.
Asian boy: Surprise! I'm all yours. I was told there'd just be one, but I can take both of you. Might get a little sore, but I'll manage.
Mac: Okay, well... I'm outta here.
- Mac has also done this at least twice (episodes "The Gang Runs for Office" and "The Gang Exploits a Miracle") by loudly exclaiming that he's "washing [his] hands" of the situation.
- In "Frank's Pretty Woman", The Gang attempts to give a makeover to Frank's new girlfriend. They take a genuine interest in helping her, even though she's, in Dennis' words, "unspeakably crass." However, the minute she calls Dennis "baby dick," he decides he's done.
- Mac in "Frank's Back in Business":
- Seinfeldian Conversation: The gang will easily get sidetracked and discuss in detail the most bizarre things, such as the difference in the gay community between bears, twinks, and "power-bottoms." Lampshaded in an episode where a reviewer describes how customers in the bar often have to serve themselves because the Gang is too busy arguing.
- The guys making fun of Dee's appearance is a Running Gag, though Dee looks exactly the same as her actress.
- In the season where Mac gets fat, the cast repeatedly mock his disgusting appearance, which was the whole point.
- Before the 8th season, the ad campaign portrayed the cast as having in fired and replaced by some b-grade celebrities and wash-ups. In the extended promo, each cast member is shown desperately trying to cling to their old job, having nothing else to do. The promos end with the cast watching the new cast and saying how much they prefer their replacements.
- Self-Parody: "The Gang Recycles Their Trash", which constantly has the Gang commenting on how similar the events are to previous episodes involving the Gang having a wacky scheme, and trying to skew the team dynamics so they come out on top. This was in season eight, typically around the point sitcoms start to run out of ideas, and the episode ended up being a bit of metacommentary on storytelling patterns and the need for shows to stay fresh.
- Self-Serving Memory:
- In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?", the gang tries to find out the answer to the title by a recalling events from Halloween night, leading to a "Rashomon"-Style series of stories. Mac remembers being more of a badass who helped Charlie beat up on a dude. Dennis remembers the peacock lady being more interested in him and scoring with her and Charlie thinks he made out with The Waitress.
- Dennis wasn't as popular back in high school as he thought he was, mainly because he'd claim to be a golden god (metaphorically speaking) while having nothing to back up his claim. In "Underage Drinking: A National Concern", he calls the rest of the gang out for over-romanticizing their high school experiences.
- The gang dances at the end of "High School Reunion 2". At first, we see a choreographed dance number. Then it cuts to how they're actually dancing and it looks like a chaotic mess. They are later surprised that no one else liked their dance.
- Sequel Episode: there's quite a big number of those:
- "Gun Fever 2: Still Hot" (season 9) to "Gun Fever" (season 1).
- "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6" (season 9) to "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth" (season 6).
- "The Nightman Cometh" (season 4) to "Sweet Dee is Dating a Retarded Person" (season 2).
- "Pop-Pop: the Final Solution" (season 8) to "The Gang Finds a Dead Guy" (season 1).
- "The World Series Defense" (season 5) and "The Gang Gets Stranded in the Woods" (season 6) both deal with the Gang's fondness for the Philadelphia Phillies.
- "The Gang Gives Back" (season 2) is a sequel to "The Gang Goes Jihad", which precedes it by a couple of episodes.
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Dee attempts to invoke this in "The High School Reunion" to point out the fact that she no longer has a back brace.
- Ship Tease/Ship Sinking: In "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Charlie runs into the Waitress on the beach. Not only does she not insult him, they actually spend a fun, romantic night together. She was on ecstasy and has no love leftover in the morning.
- Dennis tells Dee that after looking through a series of guys, he's found out that he is really the perfect guy for her despite being her twin brother. She responds by telling him to "suck a dick" and kicking him down the stairs.
- Charlie and Dee get a Did They or Didn't They? in "The Gang Misses the Boat."
- Shirtless Scene:
- Dennis has one of these in almost every episode of the third season and several other episodes.
- Mac has a very memorable one in the season 7 finale.
- Shoot the Fuel Tank: Subverted when Mac and Charlie attempt to blow up Dee's car this way (or more accurately, by shooting the fuel cap) and it doesn't work.
- Show Some Leg:
- Dee seduces the city comptroller in an attempt to get bribe money. She also seduces Rickety Cricket in an attempt to get the gang's wall stain blessed as a miracle.
- In a rare male example, Dennis often tries to seduce his way through life, with varying degrees of success. He successfully seduces Margaret McPoyle when she and her brothers take the gang hostage, but it doesn't help; due to her deafness she has no idea that the sex is a ploy for his freedom. Charlie and Mac compete with Dennis trying to seduce a bank executive into giving them a loan.
- A Simple Plan: Always, always goes horribly wrong.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Charlie feels attraction towards the Waitress and only the Waitress. He only ever pursues other women in schemes to try to make her jealous, which fail miserably.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Dee is more likely to suffer physical pain than the guys in the show. She has had her leg shattered by homeless people, her face smashed in by a metal folding chair, poisoned, and set on fire twice.
- Sleeps with Everyone but You: The Waitress will sleep with anyone but Charlie.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Nearly all of Mac's shirts are either sleeveless or made sleeveless so as to show off his guns.
- Skewed Priorities: Frank is willing to waste God knows how much money just for the pleasure of mocking an animal rights group, but is simultaneously too greedy to pay a few cents for a toll road.
- Small Name, Big Ego:
- Dennis is a handsome ladies' man, but his own opinion of his sexual mystique is inflated to godlike proportions. This apparently stretches back to high school, when he would walk around claiming to rule the school as a golden god, while all the actual cool kids would laugh at him behind his back.
- Mac has a touch of Small Name, Big Ego regarding his combat skills, which in actuality are almost nonexistent.
- Smart Ball: All five of the main characters are insane idiots, but someone is bound to find the current scheme and/or actions of another character to be crazy, weird or stupid. Sometimes this goes hand-in-hand with the character saying or knowing something legitimately intelligent.
- Smash Cut: In "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off", whenever someone is challenged to a dance-off, we only see the first few seconds before a smash cut to the results.
- Snapback: While the show usually features a surprising amount of continuity for a sitcom, there is some snapback.
- "Dee and Dennis Go On Welfare" ends with Dennis and Dee addicted to crack. They're fine by the next episode, though there have been a handful of callbacks.
- Mac's seventh-season weight gain snaps back in beginning of season eight, in which he makes reference to his sudden and disappointing weight loss.
- Lampshaded in "The Gang Gets Analyzed" when Mac and the therapist discuss his sudden weight loss. It turns out Dennis secretly gave him pills that made Mac lose his appetite so he'd get thin again.
- So Bad, It's Good: In-universe, the gang's amateur film Lethal Weapon 5. All of the teenagers who watch it are shown laughing and getting really into it and one of them says that it's "the best movie ever."
- The Sociopath: Dennis. He manipulates, exploits others, barely shows any empathy, and thinks that others are strange or incompetent for not sharing his bizarre ideas. He has a rigid, egotistical view of himself and the world, flipping out at the slightest break from his narrowly defined idea of life. In season 10, he's diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
- Soft-Spoken Sadist: Dennis during his creepiest moments.
- Son of a Whore: It becomes increasingly apparent that Charlie's mom was a prostitute throughout his childhood without him ever being the wiser.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- All the theme music is easy listening production music.
- At the end of "Frank's Pretty Woman", Roy Orbison's song plays over the gang dragging a dead prostitute into the hallway and ditching her.
- In "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Dennis and Dee are forced at gunpoint to participate in an armed robbery and to bury a doctor killed in cold blood while The Go-Go's "Vacation" plays in the background.
- "The Gang Saves The Day" sees Dennis smother Jackie Denardo with a pillow, killing her to the sound of "Walking on Sunshine" by Katrina & The Waves.
- On more than one occasion, Tchaikovsky's "Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy" plays over a dramatic scene.
- The ending to "Charlie's Mom Has Cancer" has Dennis and Dee digging up their dead mother's grave to find some supposed money, only to open the casket and merely find their mom's skeleton. The two break down upon seeing her while Frank gloats that he got them back for calling him senile. The cheery, upbeat "Clique Chic" plays over this.
- Special Edition Title:
- "A Very Sunny Christmas" features the exact same shots of Philadelphia, but with the scenery decked out for Christmas.
- The eighth season Halloween episode features scary music and red titles over a black screen instead of the standard title sequence.
- Season 11 gets two variations: "The Gang Hits the Slopes" references 80's films with block text over a shot of people skiing as electric guitar plays, and "Being Frank", with the credits appearing over Frank's reflection as he gets reading for the day, with delicate piano music playing rather than the usual tune.
- Speech-Centric Work: Much of the show's humor is based on the bizarre conversations the gang have with each other.
- The Sponsor:
- Charlie's court-ordered AA meetings become a lot more voluntary when The Waitress offers to be his sponsor. Unfortunately she's only doing it to get closer to Dennis and drops Charlie when it doesn't work out.
- Frank becomes a sponsor, but he feels that his only responsibility is to support his charge's every whim to make him feel better.
- Staging an Intervention: In the aptly titled "The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention", The Gang feels as though Frank is "going off the deep end," doing things like trying to have sex with his sister-in-law. They attempt to help him see what he's become, but unfortunately, The Gang's idea of doing so is to scream "Intervention!" repeatedly and make loud wailing noises (like a siren) while they insult him. They also try to stage impromptu interventions on Charlie for being illiterate, and Mac for banging Gail the Snail.
- Stalker With a Crush:
- Charlie, for the Waitress.
- The Waitress herself, for Dennis. He says that he has to keep changing his number but she always finds out his new one.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Referenced in "The Gang Gets Held Hostage," when most of the gang mistakenly believe that it's a physical illness.Mac: Oh my god, he's burning up! Clearly Charlie is coming down with a nasty case of Stockholm Syndrome!
- Stock Music: The soundtrack and theme song consist of this, probably as a holdover from the show's low budget starting out.
- Stout Strength: Asserted by Mac in Season 7 when he gains 70 pounds of fat and says that the extra bulk makes him more powerful. He claims to be "cultivating mass." In Season 8, he's very disappointed to have lost the weight.
- Straight Gay:
- Dee's friend from acting class who acts as Paddy's promoter in the pilot.
- An executive for the chain restaurant trying to buy out Paddy's Pub. After learning his orientation, the gang concludes that he must be a "bear" and then launch into a graphically detailed discussion of gay culture, leading to a Stealth Hi/Bye on the part of the executive.
- Mac's cousin Mac turns out to be gay, much to the collective acceptance of The Gang. Well, everybody except Mac.
- The Straight Man: Dee. The reason she gets so many scenes with Charlie is because her actress is the most successful at remaining deadpan when he starts riffing off the cuff. The other guys are usually pissing themselves with laughter off-camera when he does this.
- Strange Minds Think Alike:
- Dennis and Dee independently have the exact same reaction to Charlie's plan of opening a leather shop in Arizona. Dennis points it out.
- Dennis and Frank separately insist that the other must visit their restaurant table and "pay their respects," rather than the other way around.
- Mac won't let Dennis eat apple skins because he believes them to be poisonous. Later, Dennis eats an apple seed and Charlie tells him to induce vomiting because he believes the seed is poisonous. And when Frank asks why Dennis in vomiting, Charlie tells him that he ate an apple seed, Frank gives a shocked look, implying that he believes it's poisonous too. Mac also believes this, telling Dennis to smoke some cigarettes so the smoke will suffocate the bacteria from the seed.
- Strange-Syntax Speaker: Frank tries it in "CharDee MacDennis: The Game of Games", as part of the titular game's rules is that no one is allowed to ask questions during the game; however, there are clock stoppages where this doesn't apply:Frank: Can... questions now I ask that clock stop-ed?
Dee: Okay, just 'cause you jumble up the words doesn't make it not a question.
- Stylistic Suck:
- Almost everything Charlie writes is either completely illegible or completely insane, often both. The best example of this would be his song "The Nightman"—Charlie claims it is about the nightman filling him up and he becomes the spirit of the nightman, but the lyrics sound like they are more about a man breaking into his house and raping him. Later when Mac hands Dennis Charlie's lyrics, Dennis asks if it is a page from a coloring book. His musical, "The Nightman Cometh", is an equally strange tale, made worse by The Gang's poor acting and Dee's paranoia about being viewed as a pedophile.
- Throughout the series, The Gang attempts to make movies, video presentations, and commercials. Almost all of them are littered with bad acting and non-sequiturs, as well as sporadic snippets of clips from their previous ventures that they couldn't be bothered to erase.
- Stupid Evil: The gang is basically this. Dennis thinks that he's a Magnificent Bastard, but in reality he's just as idiotic as the others.
- Summation Gathering: In "Who Pooped the Bed?".
- Super Identikit: A police sketch artist draws a perfect picture of a guy Dennis and Charlie are trying to track down in "The ANTI-Social Network". The astonishing thing is that the pair were describing the guy with blurbs like "He had an annoying nose. It was the kind of nose you just want to smack."
- Super OCD:
- As revealed in "Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down", Mrs. Kelly has a habit of flicking lightswitches, locking doors, et cetera in sets of three before she goes to bed "so Charlie doesn't die". It's apparently infectious, as Charlie and Mac find out.
- Miss Kelly also made Charlie get vaccinated every month and wear bubble-boy suits every flu season.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- Dennis comments that he and Dee are in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia".
- Dee at the end of "Who Pooped The Bed?" where when Frank reveals he was the one who pooped the bed, and did so because "poop is funny". All the guys laugh about it while Dee can only shake her head and say, "I hate my life."
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- In "Frank's Little Beauties", Frank obliviously invests in a child beauty pageant that's under investigation— the former investor was accused of sexual misconduct towards the contestants. As a result, Frank is overly paranoid about being seen as a pedophile and naturally dips into this trope more than once. Lampshaded by Mac:Frank: This is bad! We gotta definitely write a song about how we do not diddle kids! [singing] Do not diddle kids... it's no good, diddling kids...
Mac: There is no quicker way for people to think that you are diddling kids than by writing a song about it!
- In "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6", there's a scene with Riggs (Mac) and Murtaugh (Dennis) in a strip club:Murtaugh: I sure am glad we came to this strip club, Riggs. I do like looking at beautiful, naked women.
Riggs: [smiling] That's because we're not gay.
- In "Frank's Little Beauties", Frank obliviously invests in a child beauty pageant that's under investigation— the former investor was accused of sexual misconduct towards the contestants. As a result, Frank is overly paranoid about being seen as a pedophile and naturally dips into this trope more than once. Lampshaded by Mac:
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Dee in "The Gang Gets Invincible." Of course it doesn't end well.
- Tap on the Head:
- Charlie's preferred solution to dealing with a journalist he kidnapped — knock him out with a bottle, inducing Easy Amnesia about the whole thing. The rest of the gang aren't convinced that that's how it works. It isn't.
- In "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life", Frank knocks Dennis out. He spends the next 24 hours hallucinating.
- Take That!:
- Dennis and Mac deal pretty vicious jabs to Sex and the City in "Who Pooped the Bed?".
- "The Gang Desperately Tries to Win an Award" has some jokes regarding award shows and the stereotypical sitcoms that get nominated.
- Tar and Feathers: "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
- Tempting Fate: At the end of some of the Cold Openings, one or more members will say something going against the title of the episode:Mac: "I'm gonna go save my dad!"(Title appears: Mac Kills His Dad)
- Terrified of Germs:
- Frank, oddly enough, becomes extremely afraid of germs in "The Gang Gets Quarantined" after an acquaintance dies from the flu.
- Miss Kelly used to have her and Charlie wear bubble boy suits every flu season and had him get vaccinations every month.
- Third-Person Person: Pepper Jack, a pimp that appears in "Mac Is a Serial Killer".
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: One of the show's favorite tropes.
Dee: GET ON YOUR KNEES, BITCHEEEESSSSSSSS!!
- Mac's traditional greeting is "What's up, bitches?"
- In "The Gang Gets Held Hostage":
Charlie: "Wildcard, bitches!"
- Viet-GODDAMN-NAM'S WHAT HAPPENED! NOW GET ME A BEER, BITCH!
- In "The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis":
Dee: "I will eat your babies, bitch!"
- Dee in "Hundred Dollar Baby" when threatening a rival boxer.
Frank: "What the hell is that?"Dennis: "You know what it is, bitch! BANG! BANG!"
- The Lead Boy/Dayman (Dennis) in "The Nightman Cometh" before killing Antonio the Troll (Frank) with a gun.
- Theme Twin Naming: Dennis and Deandra Reynolds.
- This Loser Is You: The whole gang, pretty much, but especially Charlie.
- Title Drop: Almost. Dee's mom complains about Dee's skin and tells her that "There is a sun in Philadelphia."
- Title In: The Cold Open to each episode begins with the opening dialogue playing over black title cards with "[Time]", "On a [day]", "Philadelphia, PA". This is played with in "Mac's Banging The Waitress", when Mac's intro to a video he's filming gives a Narration Echo to the title cards. "OK, it's 2:30... on a Wednesday... Philadelphia PA. Hello America, it's Mac here..."
- Toilet Humor: Invoked in "Who Pooped The Bed?", The culprit repeatedly pooped the bed simply because "poop is funny." The rest of the gang agrees, much to Dee's disgust.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Charlie, who often comes off as the nicest/most innocent member of the Gang, at the end of "Charlie and Dee Find Love," reveals that he was only dating a girl to make the Waitress jealous, and does so very publicly and insults her considerably.
- Too Much Information: Artemis, to some guys she wants to impress: "I have a bleached asshole!"
- The Tooth Hurts: Subverted; Mac takes a pair of pliers to Charlie's mouth as part of a plan to fake their deaths. Despite a dramatic buildup to ripping out a tooth... it just sort of slips out, to the surprise of both of them. Charlie then casually picks two more out with his fingers and examines them.Mac: Dude, you should really brush your teeth more, because that is not normal.
- Trademark Favorite Food:
- The McPoyles have the strangest fascination with milk, going as far as to pour it over their wounds. They also pour it on one another and themselves in celebration at parties, as if it's champagne.
- There are a few references to Charlie's favorite food being "milk steak," which is apparently a steak boiled in milk. He also appears to be addicted to cheese, to the point where if he's near any, he can't stop himself from eating it.
- Frank seems to like eggs (usually hardboiled) and is referenced in a few episodes. His interest in eggs occasionally goes beyond him just eating them; for example in "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens", he creates a green-painted "Paddy's Pub" egg as merchandise for the bar.
- Tragic Dream: Dee in the first few seasons was obsessed with trying to become a famous broadway actress. Eventually she is told she's too old and to give up and become a drama teacher instead.
- Training Montage: Charlie and Dee train for their fights in "Hundred Dollar Baby" while simultaneously taking fistfuls of steroids.
- Triang Relations: A type 5, with Charlie, The Waitress and Dennis. Charlie is obsessively in love with the Waitress, who despises him. She in turn has a crush on Dennis, who is aware of it and uses it to manipulate and degrade her as well as Charlie. Given the Crapsack World the show takes place in, these crushes are manipulated by the participants and outsiders constantly.
- True Companions: Dysfunctional ones but a fellowship nonetheless.
- Trunk Shot: POV from the critic Charlie kidnapped in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia", and his neighbor.
- Twofer Token Minority: Tyrel, Dee's friend from her acting class in "The Gang Gets Racist" is a gay black man.
- Two Lines, No Waiting: Used occasionally, usually with the cast being herded into Dennis, Mac & Dee and Frank & Charlie. Lampshaded at the beginning of "The Gang Exploit the Mortgage Crisis", when Dee comes in to the bar talking about her plans to surrogate a child and Frank comes in talking about the house he just bought. The rest of the gang vote on which issue they're going to pay attention to, with Dennis mentioning that focusing on one would be "cleaner" considering that it would be difficult to "work the two together".
- Uncanny Valley Makeup: Frank gets stage makeup done by a mortician in "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties" to hide his excessive bruises. He overdoes it, making Frank look like a living corpse.
- Underdressed for the Occasion:
- The gang shows up at a funeral in their everyday casual wear because Frank told them they were going to a barbecue.
- Mac's idea of formalwear is to wear a tie over a short-sleeve polo shirt.
- The Unfavorite: Dee, in her mother's eyes. She claims in her will that Dee was "a mistake," while the same will speaks highly of Dennis. Dee lampshades the fact that this makes no sense, since she and Dennis are twins.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Rickety Cricket, who really wasn't Dee's friend at all but rather the only person in school pathetic enough to allow her to manipulate him.
- Unnecessary Roughness: In "The Gang Gives Back."
- The Unreveal:
- In "The High School Reunion", the fact that everyone has to wear name tags means we finally find out Mac's full name. However, the high school didn't even make a name tag for the Waitress.
- When the Waitress calls Dennis, he asks who it is and says that he doesn't recognize the name. We cut to the Waitress talking to him, but she does not repeat her name, so it remains a mystery.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: All of them. When you feel sorry for the serial killer who crosses paths with the gang, your characters are bastards.
- Verbal Tic:
"I'm gonna pop my shirt off."
- Frank's Jersey accent comes out when he pronounces "whore" as "hoor." This is something of a running gag done by Danny DeVito throughout his career.
- The gang also tends to use the word 'pop' as a verb a lot.
- "Move past it," "Can we just move past it?" etc are used constantly.
- Viewers Are Morons: A Discussed Trope in "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 6." Mac keeps improvising As You Know dialogue and has to be repeatedly told that the viewers aren't as dumb as he is.
- Villainous Breakdown: Dennis experiences these a few times.
- When he's rejected by his old fraternity, he becomes increasingly unhinged, screaming in harsh falsetto that they're all "idiots!" and he's "a goddamn legend!"
- When he's rejected by the wife of the man who had sex with his prom date at his high school reunion, he rushes out to his car fetches items including ropes and duct tape. When questioned, he begins screaming that he needs his "tools" and that he needs to "bind and be bound."
- When he discovers that he's getting lower and lower rates in a dating website, he increasingly becomes obsessed in a quest of affirmation as a “five-star man.” He coaxes his dates into giving him good rates (effectively scaring them away), tries to apologize to the waitress (and ends up insulting her), and finally storms at Paddy's like crazy, shouting all the girls out since he doesn't need their approval.
- Visions of Another Self: The gang's made-up story of themselves in revolutionary times in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell." Among other things, Dee is enslaved to Dennis as a witch.
- Vomit Chain Reaction: Dee merely gagging in "Mac Fights Gay Marriage" is enough to set off Mac's gag reflex.
- Vulgar Humor: For a while their ads for the show featured people simply listing off every single offensive and taboo topic that has been shown on the series, ending with the reader saying that they most certainly would never want to watch it.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Charlie's musical "The Nightman Cometh" turns out to be one of these (to the Waitress, of course). Three guesses as to how she answers.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: Charlie realizes he doesn't love the waitress and she's "a bitch" after they sleep together.
- Wearing a Flag on Your Head: Charlie wears an American flag bandana in "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass".
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Hawkey of the Yellow Jacket Boys.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Mac, still stuck on adolescence, desperately seeks the approval of his creepy wayward father Luther. While Luther is in prison, Mac tries unsuccessfully to show him that he's "hard." When Luther first gets out of prison, Mac becomes emotionally invested in getting his parents back together, sputtering, "This is about happy boys!" He even tries to bond with his father by driving him to the houses of everybody who was responsible for getting him convicted. In the end of "Mac & Charlie Die Part II," Luther leaves a note telling Mac that he still loves him, even though Mac has driven him away with his constant screw-ups.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?:
- In an isolation tank, Dennis has a vision of a British version of himself imparting wisdom. A scene later, he bursts into Dee's apartment using a different and really awful British accent. The rest of the gang stop him and ask what accent he's trying to do. Dennis admits that it sounded better in his head.
- In "Char Dee Mac Denis 2: Electric Boogaloo," Level 2 requires the players to spin a globe and speak in the accent of wherever they land for the entire round. Mac and Charlie land on Brazil and can't do it so they end up doing one that sounds more like Los Angeles Mexican. Dennis and Dee get Philadelphia and not only is Dee's accent not even close to Philadelphia, it doesn't sound like anything real.
- Wham Episode: Dennis' Double Life Charlie sleeps with the waitress and realizes it's not everything he hoped for. Dennis may be gone from the gang for good after leaving to raise his son.
- When All Youhave Is A Hammer: Frank has a Smith & Wesson Model 19 Snubnose that first appeared in "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass" and has popped up randomly ever since. Whenever he whips it out something or worse, someone, is going to get shot. A lot. Except when he misses every shot in "The Gang Gets Held Hostage" in his one-sided gunfight against the McPoyles.
- Whole Plot Reference:
- "Flowers for Charlie" is a whole plot reference to Flowers for Algernon. Fittingly, the main character in the book is also called Charlie, and the film adaptation is called Charly.
- "The Gang Gets Held Hostage" is Die Hard in the bar.
- "Making Dennis Reynolds a Murderer" is one to Making A Murderer, with Dennis as Steven Avery and Charlie as Brendan Dassey. The scene in which Frank blurts a confession into a hot mic while supposedly using the restroom is a reference to The Jinx, another True Crime documentary series that came out around the same time.
- Widget Series: Dancing Man's public-access TV show, which is just a man dancing shirtless on green-screened backgrounds. The gang finds it oddly fascinating.
- Wild Card: Charlie. Made explicit in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis."
- William Telling: Dee and Frank are stopped in the act in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell". They were about to try to do it with a blunderbuss.
- With Friends Like These...: One wonders why the gang stays friends despite all the times they've screwed each other over.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Constant as the gang consider themselves far more intelligent and capable than they are. Dee thinks she's a smart and sophisticated gal, Dennis is a charming ladies' man, Mac The Ace and Charlie a clever guy when they're a bunch of sociopaths.
- The gang try to do a "surprise home makeover" on a Hispanic family but with their dark clothing and talk of "taking care of things," the terrified family thinks they're about to be murdered.
- Dennis assumes he'll be welcomed back at his high school as a "golden god," unaware he was just a loser in school.
- In "The Gang Turns Black", the gang try and fail to decide how to turn back, using series like Quantum Leap and The Wiz as references. None of them get any closer and it's revealed at the end that it was All Just a Dream from Old Black Man.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge", the Waitress is so drunk and depressed that she says she'll have sex with whoever talks to her next. Charlie is right in front of her and is about to speak...and then Schmitty appears out of nowhere and says "hi".
- Dee in "The Gang Broke Dee". Dee overcomes her depression to become a successful local comedian, eventually getting offered a gig on Conan. Turns out the whole thing was a Xanatos Gambit by Mac, Charlie and Frank, just to show that it could get worse.
- In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry", Mac and Charlie are approached by two college women at a "paint party"- that is, both couples paint each others' scantily clad bodies and then take a shower together to wash it off. Mac and Charlie get done being painted by the two women and are set to paint them in return, but are approached by two of the frat guys who force them to leave, since they're not in the frat.
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Dee and Dennis pull a largely unsuccessful one on Frank in "A Very Sunny Christmas".
- You Are Fat: In "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", regarding Mac:Dee: Get in the Goddamn car, you fat, fat ass, FAT, FAT ASS!!
- You Go, Girl!: Dee joining in on the football try outs just to prove that a girl can be more fit and capable than Mac and Dennis. She gets farther than either of them, but it didn't change their opinion of her at all. Of course, it doesn't help that she broke her foot right after revealing herself to be a girl.
- You Keep Using That Word:
- The gang keeps referring to price haggling at a flea market as "bartering". Unless they're actually exchanging goods for other goods, the word they're looking for is "bargaining". And of course, everyone there selling something is a gypsy...
- Dee accuses Charlie of this in "The Nightman Cometh," regarding his use of the word metaphor. The live version of their dialogue had her saying this verbatim.
- Your Other Left: "A Very Sunny Christmas":Charlie: How is this? This look better?
Mac: Uh, no you gotta move it a little to the left.
Charlie: Alright, there we go. [moves wreath to his right] How's that?
Mac: No, your other left.
Charlie: Uh... my other left? I only have one left.
Mac: It's just an expression. Just... move it to the other direction. [motions left]
Charlie: What would that expression be for? For someone who has two lefts?
Mac: N— no... just move it the other way. Move it the other way!
Charlie: Towards your left!
Mac: Your left and my left are the same 'cause we're facing the same direction!
Charlie: [makes buzzer noise] We're two different people; we can't have the same left!
- You Wanna Get Sued?: The "Philly Phrenetic" in "The World Series Defense". At the very end of the episode, Charlie states that it's really the Phanatic, and that he's only saying "Phrenetic" to avoid a lawsuit from MLB.
- Younger Than They Look: In "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation", Charlie and Dennis meet a Korean girl who they eventually discover is only 12 years old. The actress portraying her was 24 at the time.
- Your Head A-Splode: Happens to Colonel Cricket when Frank manages to get the blunderbuss unjammed in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell."
- You're Not My Type: In "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom", Dennis tries to seduce Mac's mom and later Charlie's mom to get back at each of them for two different transgressions. He fails both times because neither woman finds him attractive, and they each tell him so as plainly as possible.
- Zany Scheme: At least one per episode. It always goes horribly, horribly wrong.
- In The Gang Gets Trapped, the episode begins halfway through one of their zany schemes, the context of the situation revealed gradually. After acquiring an Indiana Jones costume, the gang argue about who should wear it and split it up. Dee tells them about a vase auctioned off to a family, and the gang decides to steal it back for the museum that sold it to them in the first place.