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Series: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

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...

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a critically acclaimed sitcom that began in 2005 and airs on FXX (the first eight seasons aired on the main FX Network, before the Channel Hop), with reruns now airing on Comedy Central as well. The whole series (up to season eight) is available on Netflix in the US, Ireland and the UK.

The show goes to great lengths in bringing the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist to new 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.

The show follows a group of friends, regularly called "the gang," which consists of Dennis Reynolds, Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds, Charlie Kelly, and Mac. 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 (even though their biological father is Bruce Mathis, as seen in "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad"), a shady businessman who is drawn to the gang's depraved lifestyle.

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This show provides examples of:

  • Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In "Thunder Gun Express".
  • Accidental Innuendo: invoked
    • 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.
  • Accidental Kidnapping: Happens a few times. Usually, the gang are just too stupid to notice what they're doing.
  • The Ace: Country Mac is the inverse of Mac, turning all of Mac's flaws into positives.
  • 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.
  • 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 hallucination.
    • A good chunk of the plot in "Dennis Renyolds: A Erotic Life." Naturally, it's a much darker spin.
  • 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?
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Charlie is this trope incarnate. He's illiterate, delusional, childish, has No Social Skills, obsesses over a single woman, is an Idiot Savant who's only skills involve manual labor, 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).
  • Ambiguously Gay/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 apparently play "nightcrawlers" by wiggling around on the ground together. Frank is also peeking at Charlie while masturbating. When Charlie leaves for a while, Frank creates a life-sized Charlie doll and pretends that it's him (and possibly has sex with it, according to Charlie). 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. 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 (which was thought to be Sweet Dee's plan to teach Dennis a lesson on turning the bar into a gay nightclub, but wasn't)
    • 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.
    • Frank has no interest in hanging out with the female models vying for a spot on the billboard. He prefers hanging out with the male models and getting them to degrade themselves.
    • 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," Mac as Nightman must rape Dennis as a little boy so that the latter becomes Dayman. "Dude, do you have a boner?!"
    • In a moment of excitement, Mac actually tries to kiss Dennis.
    • Charlie rants at Mac, "Guys or girls... whatever you're into..." Mac shrugs noncommittally.
    • 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 seem somewhat happy about the fact that the male lead "hangs dong" in the movie. Mac later hangs dong because it was very "Thunder Gun". Dee says it looks like a button on a fur coat. Then her and Charlie remark about how if the dude's dick looks like that, they should get their money back. 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 "Mac Day," the gang recalls that Mac had a full erection while talking about the evils of homosexuality. One of his required activities on Mac Day is greasing up bodybuilders. Charlie finally lampshades it by saying, "I don't know if we've ever come out and said it, but Mac's gay." By contrast, Mac's cousin Country Mac is openly gay and proud.
    • In "The Gang Saves the Day," Mac's vision of heaven has God and angels looking like shirtless body-builders.
    • Mac says that he's watched Dennis do "cool stuff with his dick," referring to how Dennis can go from flaccid to erect and back in seconds.
    • In "Flowers for Charlie," Dennis and Mac sway to "seductive" music with their eyes locked. When Mac moves in, Dennis walks away.
  • 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.
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: Mac takes offense because their PE teacher DIDN'T molest him.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: It's increasingly strongly 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.
  • 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!
  • Art Shift:
    • On "A Very Sunny Christmas," Frank blacks out after crashing his car and imagines himself in a Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special world.
    • Again in "The Gang Saves The Day": Charlie's fantasy is completely animated, inspired by Pixar and parodying Up
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Subverted. Charlie thinks he's speaking Manderian, 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.
  • Axe Crazy: The leader of Charlie and Mac's old gang - Psycho Pete, who Charlie describes as "dark and mysterious" also turns out to have murdered and ate his family
  • Award Snub: invoked "The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award" is a commentary on the show's lack of Emmy nominations (although, as alluded to in the episode itself, this may simply be because they just don't submit any material for nomination) and throws barbs at the shows that, for some reason, do get nominated, despite things like tired will-they-or-won't-they plots and laugh tracks.
  • Bad Ass: Lampshaded in "Mac Day". Everyone in the gang except for Mac thinks Country Mac is bad ass and will comment on it every now and then, while Mac insists he's just reckless.
  • Badass Gay: Mac's cousin, Country Mac. Everyone finds his genuine Bad Assness and being open about being gay to be very refreshing over Mac believing he's the former with little reason and loudly condemning the latter in spite of himself.
  • Badass Longcoat: Spoofed. The male members of the gang love trenchcoats and dusters. Mac owns a black duster that the other guys covet.
  • 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.
    • Again, 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.
  • 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 succesfully 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.
  • Black Comedy: A staple of the show. Some of the blackest jokes include:
    • There was an entire episode where Dee & Charlie wonder if they ate human meat and at the end, Charlie suggests to cut off Frank's calf 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 butty recollections of being molested by his uncle as a child.
    • Frank tries to hang himself twice in one episode.
    • "The Gang Broke Dee" manages to double down on the darker elements of the show well past its own norm, and that's saying something.
  • The Blank: Green Man.
  • 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.
  • 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's Mom," Charlie's plan to get revenge on Dennis and have sex with the Waitress causes her to break down by the end of the episode and have sex with Frank. She enters Paddy's in a state of total hysteria. In a later episode, the gang tries to drive the waitress crazy so that she allows Charlie to stalk her again.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Frank's rum ham, which is lost and then turns up at the end of the episode.
    • Also in the episode "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation," Mac and Charlie remark briefly, early in the episode that they have a hard time determining the age of the Koreans, which becomes a huge plot-point later when the "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?"
    • 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.
  • Brother-Sister Incest:
    • The McPoyles, brother-sister and brother-brother.
    • 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.
  • Bumbling Sidekick: Charlie, who also looks the part.
  • Butt Monkey:
    • 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 it on three separate occasions, ending with the van going the way of the Pinto.
  • 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.
  • Calvin Ball: CharDee MacDennis, a bizarre boardgame the gang made up. Playing it and explaining the rules takes 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".
  • 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.
  • 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 intersted in women, and his fixation on muscular action heroes is played as a result of being stuck in adolescence. In one 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.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The Nightman Cometh. Well, Chekhov's Musical.
    • In "The Waitress Is Getting Married":
    Charlie:"I'm gonna pop a quick H on this box, so we all know it has hornets in it."
    • Dee wanting to be a surrogate mother. Her pregnancy in season six is actually surrogate—for Carmen, the transsexual.
  • 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. Note: Before this, Charlie hadn't even ever paid for healthcare despite always ending up in the hospital, because he had always used a fake name.
  • 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.
  • 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", 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", and 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.
    • 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; 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.
  • Crapsack World: Everyone in the gang (With the possible exception of Charlie) is a horrible person. The few good people that appear will often have their entire lives ruined by them.
  • Creepy Uncle: Charlie's Uncle Jack.
  • Crime After Crime: "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia".
  • 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: invoked
    • Frank was under the impression that "gay marriage" meant one of the partners had to have a sex change.
    • Frank was under the impression that "sex change" meant having ones 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 diseased and that you can detox by smoking. All the guys think apple seeds are really bad for you. The latter has a grain of truth in it as apple seeds contain cyanide...but so little that you'd have to eat a lot of apple seeds.
  • Dancing Is Serious Business: In the season finale episode "The gang dances their ass off", where Paddy's Pub hosts a dance-athon for all of Philadelphia, and the winner receives ownership of the entire bar. Sabotage, alliances, 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.
  • 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.
  • Depraved Bisexual: The McPoyle brothers.
  • 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 their flat.
  • 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 McGoo", 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."
    • 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:
    • 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 hatecrime. A conversation with Dennis suggests this is a common problem;
    Mac: She grabbed me from behind. It was instinctual.
    Dennis: I know that, man. You don't grab.
    Mac: You don't grab from behind!
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Cousin 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 "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.
  • Dumb Is Good: Charlie is the stupidest member of the gang but also the nicest. Played with, as it's strongly suggested that this is because he was the only member who had a semi-decent childhood rather than his low intelligence (which is treated as a negative trait and heavily implied to a mental disorder, not just normal stupidity).
  • 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.
    • No Frank in season 1.
  • Eats Babies: Sweet Dee, or at least, claims to eat them, bitch!
  • Episode Title Card: Often used for gags, as the title will 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*
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: The Waitress, her fiancé, Rickety Cricket, and several others all went to the same high school as the gang.
  • 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.
  • Exiled from Continuity: Averted; Rob McElhenney got the idea for Charlie's "Green Man" persona from an unnamed friend, who donned a green zentai suit while attending a football game with McElhenney. McElhenney would later pay his friend an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for the rights to his "character", so that he could use the concept in later episodes.
  • 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 homosexual homeless men in "The Gang Goes To The Jersey Shore", what they were doing under the bridge was a bit unpleasant to watch.
  • Fan Film: In-Universe. The gang make two unofficial sequels for the Lethal Weapon series.
  • 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 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 is:
  • Flanderization: Every member of the gang gets more extreme in their characterizations:
    • 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 preppy, 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.
  • Foil: Country Mac. Unlike his cousin, Mac; he is reckless, tough, confident but not cocky, and religious but tolerate. To provide further contrast, Country Mac's open and honest about his sexuality. While Mac prefers to keep things ambiguous.
  • 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 all grown-up now and then, get wedgied.
      • After Dee sings "baby got back", showing off her back; the gang point out the song's about big black female booty and talk about how awesome they think black butts are. Dennis later tries to sleep with a black woman & 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 (who is the daughter of Frank's old boxing rival; they use their daughters to fight one another instead of doing it themselves). 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 (the "Nightman" song) - explains a lot.
    • 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 - 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 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 Friends Who Never Hang: Dennis and Charlie rarely have storylines together without Mac or Frank acting as an intermediary between the two. Averted by Charlie and Dee whose personalities you would think would lead to this, but according to Word of God they actually got many scenes together because Dee's actress was the only one able to be in a scene with Charlie's antics without cracking up.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • Garbage Wrestler: Frank, literally, in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
  • Genre Savvy:
    • The entire crew intentionally tries to invoke tropes in their very lives in some kind of effort to mimic television and movies.
    • In "The Gang Recycles Their Trash" they try to be Genre Savvy about their own Simple Plans and pull off a scheme where they actually learn from their own mistakes. It doesn't help.
  • 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.
  • Good News, Bad News
  • Guttural Growler: Da'Maniac in "The Gang Wrestles For The Troops". He makes another appearance in "Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare".
  • 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".
  • Harmful to Minors: "Charlie Wants An Abortion" and "Underage Drinking: A National Concern".
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: The entire group, with Dennis in particular. Though, the "heroic" part is usually accidental.
  • 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 and in at least one case, saint-like characters have all become just as unsympathetic as the main cast through their attempts to force Kharma on the gang, which always either backfires or just ends up restoring the status quo for next week's episode.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Dennis and Mac, and Frank and Charlie, even though Frank is probably his father, but still won't acknowledge it.
  • 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.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy:
    • Dee's pregnancy was written in because Kaitlin Olson was pregnant. The show did hide her bump before it was revealed she was pregnant. They actually pulled it off, though- watch "Mac and Charlie: White Trash" for some subtle hiding.
    • Mary Elizabeth Ellis doesn't appear much in Season 7 and wears a loose dress to hide her pregnancy.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • I Banged Your Mom:
    • Mac banged Dennis's Mom, in the cryptically-titled episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom."
    • In the same episode, Dennis attempts to bang Mac's mom, and later Charlie's mom, for revenge.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: Frank is introduced in the second season.
  • 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", what seems to be one of the few benevolent moments in Dennis' character arc, he 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.
  • 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 in The Nightman Cometh. Charlie originally cast Dennis as the Night Man in an attempt to avoid this, but Mac begs him to switch parts because the Night Man gets to use karate moves.
    • Dee and Dennis play extras who are husband and wife in "Mac and Charlie Write a Movie".
    • In a season 2 episode, Frank is on a date, and creepily checks out the young waitress. Played by Lucy Devito, Danny's daughter.
  • 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.
  • 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: Charlie gets a janitor job at a local high school in season six; the students take to calling him Professor.
  • 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.
  • 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"
  • In Medias Res: "The Gang Gets Trapped" starts out with Dennis, Dee and Frank trapped inside a family home, in the midst of a plan to steal an expensive vase.
  • Instant Awesome Just Add Ninjas: Mac's fantasy in "The Gang Saves the Day" includes an inexplicable ninja attack.
  • I Take Offense to That Last One: Season 3, Episode 6. Mac walks into the bar, and after some conversation the following conversation takes place:
    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.
  • 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 at the end of the episode which he denies.
  • 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.
  • Is That Cute Kid Yours?: Charlie accuses Frank and the Waitress of being the parents of the dumpster baby... three months after Frank and the Waitress had sex.
  • 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".
  • Jerkass:
    • 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Arguably Charlie. While he can be just as vicious as the rest of the gang at times, he's still the most moral member and is the only one who considers the feelings of others.
  • Juggalo: Portrayed in "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth".
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: The gang in general, but Frank in particular.
  • 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.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Barbra Reynolds, mother of Dennis and Dee, ex-wife of Frank.
    • Pop-Pop, Dennis and Dee's Nazi grandfather.
  • Landlord: Hwang, Charlie's landlord from the episode Gun Fever.
  • Large Ham:
    • Dee's theater friend, Artemis, normal and while acting. This causes Dee to initially mistake a melodramatic but real breakdown for a line-reading.
    • Charlie:
  • 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:
    • 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.
    • 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 them.
  • 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".
  • Limited Wardrobe:
    • Ben is always seen wearing the jean shorts that Frank gives him in his first episode.
    • Charlie is the only main cast member seen wearing 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. Some of these clothes are Charlie Day's actual property.
  • 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.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Averted, in all cases the fathers are either unaware of, or are denying their fatherhood.
  • 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.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Mac, frequently seen busting out faux-karate moves and displaying various martial arts regalia. 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: In-Universe. Disscussed (in "The Gang Desperately Tries to Win Award") by Dennis who says that "black bars" don't win awards.
  • Mistaken for Gay:
    • In "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell," Dennis and Mac's Colonial counterparts are mistaken as "sodomites."
    • In one episode Dennis and Charlie think Mac is having sex with the waitress while dressed like Dennis and Charlie due to some sort of twisted gay obsession for them.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mondegreen 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.
  • Mystery Meat: Charlie and Dee become obsessed with the incredibly delicious meat Frank gives them.
  • Narm: In-universe example with "The Nightman Cometh". Charlie's play 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.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    Mac: Goddammit, Charlie! Your illiteracy has screwed us again!
  • 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 Trope 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.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: 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.
  • Mondegreen Invoked. Frank's song in The Nightman Cometh has the line song "Nightman" makes it sound like he wants to be raped by a burglar, but Charlie is baffled and offended by the accusation. When the song gets expanded into the musical "The Nightman Cometh," the cast assumes that practically everything in the musical is a metaphor for rape, which further infuriates Charlie.
  • No Animals Were Harmed:
    • Because Agent Jack Bauer... *huh* ... is indestructible!
    • Also played straight with Mac's extremely old dog Poppins.
  • 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!
  • 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's only retort when drunk, apparently.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 episode 7.12 as Ronald McDonald, which explains why he prefers "Mac."
  • Only Sane Man: 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:
    "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.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fairly often in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
  • Parental Incest: Frank, Charlie's biological father, marries Charlie in season six. Though, thankfully, they don't have sex.
  • Le Parkour: Rickety Cricket, of all people, pulls it out in "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters".
  • 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.
  • Phrase Catcher:
    "God damn it, Charlie!"
    "So stupid, Charlie..."
    Rickety Cricket's "gotta keep it sexy, keep it sexy!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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, who very rarely suffers from Catholic guilt and otherwise does not seem to live a Catholic lifestyle in the slightest.
  • "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.
  • 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 her 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. They later kick her out of the clique because they thought she slept with Cricket. And the whole gang plot their revenge; all for different reasons and fail miserably twice, one time without even realizing it.
  • Rock Opera: The Nightman Cometh.
  • 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 McGoo 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.
      • "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.
      • "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.
      • In "Reynolds vs. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense," it's revealed that Dennis has several bench warrents for sexual misconduct.
      • In "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens," Dennis tells The Lawyer that he'll sneak into his house and "ease into her real nice" while she's sleeping so both spouses will be cheating on each other.
      • In "High School Reunion Part 2", Dennis gets rejected by a married black woman because she thought he was gay. His Response? To go and get some tape & twist-ties from his trunk.
      • 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.
    • Mac's delusions of super-fitness and his borderline-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.
  • 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."
  • Schemer: Frank is a self-styled schemer, but the entire gang hatches plots in virtually every episode, usually with dismal success.
  • 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." Lampshades in an episode where a reviewer describes how customers often have to serve themselves because the gang is too busy arguing about something to notice.
  • Self-Deprecation:
    • 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-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 Bad Ass 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 they're 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.
  • 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.
  • Shirtless Scene:
    • Dennis has one of these in almost every episode of the third season.
    • And then 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.
  • Shout-Out: So many that they have their own page.
  • 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.
    • In an episode fueled by one revenge plot after another, Dennis tries to seduce Mac's mom, then, later, Charlie's mom. He fails both times ("I don't find you attractive.").
  • A Simple Plan: Always, always goes horribly wrong.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The order of most common Smart Ball holder to least common goes Dennis —> Dee —> Mac —> Frank —> Charlie, however, this can change at a moment's notice.
  • 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.
    • One episode 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.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In "Mac and Dennis Break Up", Mac is convinced apples have to be pealed because their skin is poisonous. Later, Dennis eats an apple core, and Charlie is worried because he thinks the core is poisonous.
  • 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.
  • Son of a Whore: Charlie
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • All the theme music is easy listening production music.
    • At the end of "Frank's Pretty Woman," Roy Orbison's song players over the gang dragging a dead prostitute into the hallway and ditching her.
  • Special Edition Title:
    • "A Very Sunny Christmas" features the exact same shots of Philadelphia, but with the buildings decked out in Christmas lights, et cetera.
    • The eighth season Halloween episode features scary music and red titles over a black screen instead of the standard title sequence.
  • 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.
  • Stalker with a Crush:
    • Charlie, for the Waitress.
    • The Waitress, 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!
  • 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 she's the most successful at remaining deadpan when he starts riffing off the cuff. The guys are 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.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Charlie's play, "The Nightman Cometh".
    • The investor video in "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens" is impressively bad.
    • The gang's amateur films, Lethal Weapon 5 and Lethal Weapon 6.
  • 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. invoked
  • 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".
    • You get the feeling Dee is thinking this 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", and 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. As a result, he is overly paranoid about being seen as a pedophile and naturally dips into this trope more than once.
  • 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".
  • 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.
    • Mac's traditional greeting is "What's up, bitches?"
    • In "The Gang Gets Held Hostage":
    • In "The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis":
    Charlie: "Wildcard, bitches!"
  • 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 Dee 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.
  • Token Good Teammate: Charlie's the closest thing to a good guy the Gang has. At the very least he's the only one who actually cares about the feelings of others.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Charlie, usually the nicest one in the group, 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.
  • 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.
  • Tragic Dream: Dee in the first few seasons was obsessed with trying to become a famous broadway actress. Believing exploiting unemployment checks and becoming a crack addict was exactly what she needed to reach her dreams. Eventually she is told she's too old and to give up and become a drama teacher instead.
  • Training Montage: When Charlie and Dee train for their fights by 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 of It's Always Sunny, 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: Thanks to the large number of references to the then current events of the Turn of the Millennium. The show debuted during that decade, as such many episodes make references and jokes that seem to be ripped from that decade's headlines, such as references to the gas crisis, terrorism, waterboarding, Hurricane Katrina, North Korea, the bar getting a new flatscreen TV and Blu-ray player, just to name a few.
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • Visions of Another Self: The bar's made-up historical story.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Why Do You Keep Changing Jobs?: "The Waitress", although her changes of job are usually explained (and often the gang's fault). She loses her job as an actual waitress when Starbucks puts her coffee shop out of business, then she loses her job managing a chain pub when the gang manipulate her into hiring them and all do predictably awful jobs.
  • 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.
  • 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. She get offered a gig on Conan. Turns out Frank, Charlie, and Mac Xanatos Gambit the whole situation using a shitload of actors, just to show that it could get worse.
  • 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 Imagined It: So did Dennis meet Sinbad and Rob Thomas or not due his injury in "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life"?
  • 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.
  • You Wanna Get Sued?: The "Philly Frenetic" in "The World Series Defense". At the very end of the episode, Charlie states that it's really the Fanatic, and that he's only saying "Frenetic" to avoid a lawsuit from MLB.
  • Younger than They Look: Sun Li who upon discovery of her age by the gang (12) causes them to cut all ties with her.
  • 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.

    Creator/FXAmerican Horror Story
The Irate GamerComedy SeriesThe Jeffersons
The IT CrowdTurnOfTheMillennium/Live-Action TVIt Takes a Thief (2005)
It's About TimeAmerican SeriesIt's Garry Shandling's Show

alternative title(s): Its Always Sunny In Philadelphia
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