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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Occurs in-universe and lampshaded/discussed in "The Nightman Cometh" - the rest of the Gang notes multiple times that Charlie's musical reads more like the account of a child being molested by an adult in his sleep than the romantic epic fantasy he envisioned. This also raises some distressing questions about Charlie and his relationship with his increasingly Creepy Uncle both in and out of universe.
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    • Bruce Mathis is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing no better than the rest of the cast.
    • Dee's increasing Sanity Slippage is a result of the Gang's constant putdowns and dysfunctional family life catching up with her.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Mac definitively coming out as gay in "Hero or Hate Crime?" was done in response to the sizable outcry from fans who were upset by the backpedaling done at the end of "The Gang Goes to Hell," where he once again goes back into the closet after having seemingly finally accepted his sexuality.
    • "Dee Day" could be seen as one for Dee's constant status as a put-upon Butt-Monkey. After over ten seasons of putting up with the Gang's insults, this is the one episode that she manages to get a legitimate win over them.
  • Award Snub: The closest the show has ever come to getting an Emmy has been a few nominations for Stunt Coordination (which it never won). The fact that the show has never been considered for a more prominent Emmy, the cast and crew's indignation over it, and the possible reasons it's been consistently passed over were highlighted in the episode "The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award."
  • Awesome Music:
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    • Sigur Rós' ethereal, heartbreaking "Varúð" serves as the soundtrack for the most moving and shockingly sincere emotional moment in Always Sunny history at the climax of "Mac Finds His Pride."
    • "Riders on the Storm" by The Doors in "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby."
    • "Digging the Grave" by Faith No More in "Being Frank".
    • Somehow, "Together Forever" by Rick Astley in "The Aluminum Monster vs. Fatty Magoo."
    • "Alles Neu" by Peter Fox from the Season 13 trailer.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Mac became this after Season 9, where he went from simply being Ambiguously Gay to explicitly being in a Transparent Closet. While many found the increased focus on his repressed attraction to men to be both hilarious and humanizing, several others argued that Mac's homosexuality was funnier when it was merely implied, not outright stated, and claimed that his character had grown stale and repetitive as his sexuality began to overtake every other aspect of it. Both sides were ultimately appeased when Mac finally came out in "Hero or Hate Crime?", allowing his character to grow beyond his sexuality without discarding it.
    • Mac took another level in this in Season 14, when his being a Love Martyr for Dennis dominated his character for much of the first half of the season, with fans finding the prospect of a needy and (even more) co-dependent Mac either hilarious or undeserving of all the screen time he got and wished he would go back to his earlier Miles Gloriosus characterization.
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  • Bizarro Episode: "The Gang Does a Clip Show" where the Gang ends up altering reality when reminiscing about past adventures.
  • Broken Base: The more humanizing moments given to the Gang, particularly Mac, in the later seasons have proven to be very divisive. While many argue that the audience has spent so much time with the characters that it's natural for them to gain a portion of their sympathy, and that they can still remain as hilariously terrible as they've always been even when given more Pet the Dog moments, others believe that treating them as anything less than irredeemably awful Villain Protagonists is incompatible with the series' tone and humor. "Mac Finds his Pride" in particular has been both hailed as a genuinely beautiful and shockingly nuanced portrayal of a man trying to find balance between his religion and his sexuality and criticized for being jarringly earnest and requiring Mac's dad to be written as an out of character straw man for its plot to work.
  • Catharsis Factor: Dee's aforementioned victory in "Dee Day" is immensely satisfying after watching her put up with so much of the Gang's crap over the years.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A very frequent occurrence on this show. Stand-outs include:
    • Charlie eating cereal and watching cartoons in his underwear while wearing the Nazi uniform cap that belonged to Dennis and Dee's grandfather at the end of "The Gang Finds a Dead Guy."
    • "Frank Sets Sweet Dee On Fire", in which he does so twice.
    • The "Does This Remind You of Anything?" parts of "The Aluminum Monster Vs. Fatty Magoo".
    • Dee literally does in "Dennis & Dee's Mom is Dead".
    • "A Very Sunny Christmas," which crosses the line so many times it's impossible to count.
    • What Frank does to cheer himself up, going off "Mac Kills His Dad". He rents a limo and goes around throwing water balloons full of champagne at homeless people, asking them how they like a taste of the good life.
    • The Gang having the Paddy's Pub gloryhole double as a Confessional booth so they can trick Psycho Pete into confessing to multiple murders and even cannibalism to Rickety Cricket. He didn't even do it — it was a rumor the Gang spread about him in high school. Cricket then doubles down by saying a confession would be free, but anything else would have a price.
    • In "PTSDee", Dee tricks a male stripper into shoving his crotch into his estranged daughter's face during a performance as revenge for him calling her his "rock bottom".
    • Every instance of Dennis talking about emotionally manipulating women or outright coercing them into having sex with him.
    • Mac and Dee donning Blackface to portray African-American characters when the Gang makes their sequels to Lethal Weapon
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The Gang's a group of hilarious assholes, but they are certainly not the type of people you'd ever want to come into contact with in real life. If they aren't stabbing each other in the back, they'll basically ruin the life of anyone unlucky enough to cross paths with them. Moreover, the fact that the Gang will never get past their multitude of issues nor get ahead in life does eventually wear a little thin. YMMV because part of the fun of the show is that you can enjoy these terrible things happening to the gang because they absolutely deserve everything that happens to them.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: While fans agree that most characters are jerks, Charlie is usually considered the Token Good Teammate of the Gang. The truth is that he has done many terrible things like his friends (sometimes with them, sometimes by himself) and tends to get a free pass because he's insane and out of touch with reality.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Rickety Cricket, especially once he evolved into the Chew Toy of the series. He toes the line between sympathy and depravity and is a hoot whenever he appears.
    • Artemis, for being one of the Gang's most likable and easy-going allies.
    • The Lawyer has gained a following due to being one of the only outsiders who's gotten a handle on how to deal with the Gang's outrageous behavior, trumping them (almost, as per "McPoyle vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century") every time since the entire Gang is legally clueless.
    • Ben the soldier, despite not being the brightest bulb on the tree, is liked for being one of the few genuinely nice and good characters on the show who hasn't had his life ruined by The Gang, in part because he's Too Dumb to Fool.
    • Country Mac is a one episode character but quickly became beloved due to being a badass who even the Gang can't help but admire. Many wish he hadn't been killed off at the end of his debut episode.
    • Roxy from "Frank's Pretty Woman", thanks to Alanna Ubach's outrageous performance and memorable lines.
    • As of "Mac Kills His Dad", the Ponderosas have become this due to somehow being even more of a dysfunctional family than the Reynolds.
    • Da'Maniac, the insane former pro-wrestler played to perfection by "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and yet another reason to mourn Rowdy's untimely passing.
    • Although she only speaks a few words and has about five minutes of screentime, Mac's unnamed dancer partner (played by professional ballerina Kylie Shea) in "Mac Finds his Pride" was an instant hit with viewers thanks to her incredible dance performance in what is almost certainly the most moving moment in the show's entire 13-year history.
  • Fountain of Memes: Every single one of the main five has provided a boatload of quotable lines that continue to be referenced all across the web.
  • Friendly Fandoms: With Pacific Rim, due to the presence of Charlie Day (and the fact that Newt is basically a smarter and saner version of Charlie).
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • When "Charlie Got Molested" aired it was a standard humorous misunderstanding plot (except with child abuse) in which the Gang mistakenly believed Charlie had been molested. Later once it starts being implied he was actually molested, the episode becomes harsher. This is particularly true of the ending where he talks about going somewhere and crying now that everyone in his family believes he was molested. Then comes Season 13, when it's revealed he was flat-out raped at one point... by none other than Dee. Not only that, both Dee and his implied abuser, Uncle Jack, are present in the room during the scene in which Charlie is confronted about his alleged molestation in Season 1.
    • Any scene featuring the saintly Bruce Mathis is now very uncomfortable after Stephen Collins was revealed to have molested/exposed himself to at least three underage girls, especially since a big part of Bruce's character is that he's great with children. And of course, there's this exchange:
      Dee: What are you expecting to find?
      Frank: Lot of shady shit.
      Dee: Like what?
      Frank: Like maybe Bruce is banging dudes!
      Dee: Why would that be shady?
      Frank: Maybe the dudes are babies!
      Dee: What?! Bruce is not banging any baby dudes!
    • In "The Gang Saves the Day", we see Mac's homoerotic idea of Heaven where God and angels are all buff, shirtless men who invite him to laugh at sinners with them. This becomes a lot less funny after the next time we see how Mac visualizes God in "Mac Finds His Pride", where God is now a beautiful woman who comforts and accepts him in one of the show's biggest Tearjerkers. The latter episode also makes a point of driving home how painful it was for Mac to reconcile his religion with his sexuality, making the scene in "The Gang Saves the Day" even sadder.
  • Genius Bonus: "Mac Finds his Pride" opens with Mac sitting on the floor surrounded by peaches. While many people caught the Shout-Out to Call Me by Your Name, there's also a peach seller in the US called "Mac's Pride."
  • Growing the Beard: The show really came into its own during the second season, adding Danny DeVito as a contrast to the main four, turning Dee away from the Closer to Earth trope and generally going for a more manic, darker, exaggerated tone.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • For some, Dennis's "implication" speech when buying a boat loses its Crosses the Line Twice humor when recalling that serial killer Oba Chandler used the exact same logic; he lured women onto his Tampa Bay boat, steered them far from shore and raped them, knowing there was no way they could refuse or escape. Three of these victims (a mother traveling with her two teen daughters) were later killed in a rather gruesome fashionnote .
    • In Season 1, Dee refuses to kiss a high school student on the grounds that statutory rape isn't a line she is willing to cross. In Season 4, she makes it very clear to the audience of The Nightman Cometh that she would "never have sex with a child." In Season 13, she accidentally sleeps with a teenager after mistaking him for another woman's husband.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight:
    • The episode where Mac and Dee become the adoptive parents of a baby they found in the dumpster is this now that Rob McElhenney and Kaitlin Olson have children together.
    • In "The Nightman Cometh", Mac says the line "Laughs are cheap, I'm going for gasps." Come "Mac Finds His Pride", the next time he gives a performance in live theatre, and he's sure got those gasps.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • At this point in history, it's pretty jarring to discover Dennis blasting "Never Gonna Give You Up" in his car is not a reference to the Rickroll... because it pre-dates the meme by two years.
    • In the episode "The Gang Saves The Day", Charlie's fantasy is a parody of the Disney/Pixar movie Up. 6 years later, Always Sunny and Up are now under the same roof at The Walt Disney Company following their purchase of 21st Century Fox, the legal owners of Always Sunny.
    • A year after the episode "The Nightman Cometh" premiered, there was a movie released that bore a striking similarity to the titular play.
    • Uncle Jack bragging about his big, masculine (and totally real) hands in "McPoyle vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century"? Funny. Donald Trump almost quoting him verbatim in a presidential debate a few weeks later? Hilarious.
    • A prominent part of Charlie's America song in "Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody's Ass" is the words "rise up". Bonus points for Charlie singing them basically the same way Lin-Manuel Miranda does in Hamilton's death song.
    • "The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation" had Mr. Kim as a Crosscast Role four years before Margaret Cho played Kim Jong-Il on 30 Rock.
    • An M. Night Shyamalan movie about a guy who runs on all fours? You don't say.
    • In "Chardee MacDennis 2: Electric Boogaloo", Frank's team flag resembles the flag of Nazi Germany but with the swastika made up of for capital 'F's. A similar flag is used by the Facebook Polandball community where the swastika is made up of four 'F's in the same style as Facebook's logo note 
    • "Charlie Has Cancer" features a flashback where Dee approaches Mac with mistletoe only to get punched in the face by him. This was in Season 1, a full year before their actors started dating in real life.
    • "Charlie Catches a Leprechaun" has Dennis's attempt to implement a "mobile bar" to pick up customers and serve them beer on Saint Patrick's Day failing because he insists on an online pay system through social media rather than letting the customers pay cash. A few years later, mobile pay systems such as Venmo and Apple Pay became mainstream and caused cash transactions to decline, so Dennis' Complexity Addiction ends up coming off as his idea just being ahead of its time.
    • Mac compares Dee to a fish at one point because "her eyes are so far apart, like they're on both sides of her head." Kaitlin Olson later played a whale shark named Destiny in Finding Dory who fits this exact description.
    • After the COVID-19 pandemic, "The Gang Gets Quarantined" is somewhere between this or "Funny Aneurysm" Moment.
  • Hollywood Homely: Zig-zagged with Dee and Charlie. While they are played by the pretty Kaitlin Olson and the adorable Charlie Day, their long list of character flaws and poor personal hygiene routinely earns them scorn from the other members of the Gang. Dee in particular manages to entice several potential romantic partners before later driving them away with her awful personality. Although worth noting is that Olson much prefers playing the "ugly Dee" over a standard closer-to-Earth female character.
  • Ho Yay: Constantly between Mac/Dennis, so much so that the creators have claimed their relationship to be effectively a romantic one that neither is entirely conscious of.
  • Idiot Plot: Most of, if not all, of the plots. It helps that they're all just the kind of idiots the plot requires.
    Dennis: I'm just saying that the plan was genuinely dumb! ... As many of our plans are, I now realize.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Really, everyone in the Gang qualifies as this. They're all terrible, terrible people, but they're also just so pathetic that you really have to feel for them at times. Of special note are Mac and Dee, whose deep-seated insecurities and self-hatred become more and more apparent as the series goes on.
    • Dee is the group's Butt-Monkey as well as The Friend Nobody Likes, and it's clear all she really wants is to win the Gang's approval. However, she's so shrill and spiteful that she often brings her misfortunes on herself.
    • Mac even more so than Dee, who come Season 13 has clearly made an active effort to improve his physical stature, one of his largest insecurities, and is all but invalidated by the Gang. One of the most important points in Mac's character arc is that he wants to be accepted by people, but he especially wants the love of his father, who had been absent during his childhood. Mac choreographed a stunning performance, only for his father to walk out halfway through. Mac actually predicted the rejection and worked it in his performance, expressing his genuine heartbreak.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Charlie. He's been shipped with all 4 of the other members of the Gang (yes, sometimes even with Frank), the Waitress and even with Science Bitch (an unnamed scientist in "Flowers For Charlie" who gave him fake intelligence pills). Though admittedly, the last one stems from the fact that their actors (Charlie Day and Burn Gorman) played the Fan-Preferred Couple scientists in Pacific Rim.
  • Love to Hate:
    • While this could be applied to every member of the Gang, Dennis in particular qualifies. While he's by far the least sympathetic member of the Gang, he's also a hilarious Large Ham who has provided a countless number of the show's most quotable lines.
    • Bill Ponderosa also qualifies. While he's quite possibly the only person in the world who could accurately be described as worse than the Gang, he's also a riot every time he appears.
  • Magnificent Bitch: Abby is a con artist who Dennis meets at a water park. Scamming Dennis into giving him money by acting as his neglected daughter in front a woman he was trying to seduce, Dennis takes an interest in her, and decides to take Abby under his wing. After being taught to steal right in front of the victim's face by Dennis, the two go on a scamming spree throughout the water park, putting all the valuables in a locker. Eventually, Abby tells Dennis that she's being forced to leave by her mother, and gives Dennis a memento as thanks for being the first adult to care about her. When Dennis confronts who Abby said was her mother, Dennis finds out that the woman isn't Abby's mother at all, and that Abby took the opportunity to swipe the locker key from Dennis and make off with all their stolen goods for herself, further impressing him.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Agent Jack Bauer. Not surprising given that the cat is canonically indestructible.
    • Mac's dog, Poppins, who is as invincible as the aforementioned Jack Bauer.
    • The Trash Man as he defeated the Talibum, who managed to beat up the Birds of War and Dee.
      • This later extended to Danny Devito himself.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The show has gotten both praise from racists and criticism from activists for its occasional depictions of Blackface and Brownface with Dee's acting characters and the Gang's Lethal Weapon sequels. Both sides completely miss the point that, not only are the characters all terrible racists, but the portrayals are depicted as offensive In-Universe, with bystanders of all races reacting to the acts with horror and anger.
  • Newbie Boom: There are a lot of Vinesauce fans who got into this series due to Vinny and Joel's frequent references to Frank as the Trashman.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Pepper Jack, the smooth-talking pimp who tries to chat up Dee and is bribed with Dennis' Fraggle Rock thermos.
    • Dr. Zimmerman, since it was was Aubrey Morris's final on-screen role prior to his death in 2015.
    • Guillermo del Toro as the roaring, maniacal Pappy McPoyle.
    • The cop in "Thundergun Express" who urges the Gang on to see the movie, citing the impressiveness of the dong scene.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Cindy's character, while genuinely necessary to fill Glenn Howerton's absence in the first episode of Season 13, was a deliberate invocation of this trope — a new character played by a well-known celebrity, made to fill a void yet always feeling somewhat out-of-place. Many viewers who got the joke still hated the character regardless.
  • Retroactive Recognition: Quite a few minor characters from early episodes are played by then-unknown celebrities:
    • Tammy from "Underage Drinking: A National Concern" is played by Jaimie Alexander years before her roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Blindspot.
    • One of the strippers in "Charlie Gets Crippled" is Tiffany Haddish.
    • The woman Dennis flirts with in the Season 2 finale is Yara Martinez, who plays a major character in Jane the Virgin.
    • Asriel, the Granola Girl who Dennis bangs in "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby", is played by Jackie Tohn.
    • Future Joss Whedon Production Posse member Fran Kranz has a small role in "Who Pooped the Bed?" as the Econ student who just wants to see some poop.
    • Richie from "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth" is played by Paul Walter Hauser, now known for his roles in Oscar-nominated films I, Tonya and Richard Jewell.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season 13 was less well-received by fans, due in large part to Dennis's reduced number of appearances (only being in 6 out of the 10 episodes) as well as a perceived inconsistency with the quality of its comedy. Even the generally well-received finale had its criticism from detractors who saw the show's sincere and guileless acceptance towards Mac's struggle with his sexuality as incompatible with its usual subversive, cynical edge.
  • Signature Scene:
    • Dennis' implication speech, due to marking a turning point for his character from "perverted dickhead" to "sociopathic monster."
    • In terms of episodes, "The Nightman Cometh" is probably the most well-known one and is frequently cited as one of, if not the best episode of the series.
    • The infamous "Pepe Silvia" scene from "Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack" is one that even people who don't watch the show are familiar with.
    • The Trashman scene from "The Gang Wrestles For The Troops" is this to Vinesauce fans.
  • Squick:
    • Nearly every aspect of Charlie and Frank's living habits. Charlie has such bad oral hygiene that he can effortlessly pull out his teeth without feeling anything, and he presumably doesn't change or wash his underwear as it started to fall apart after a failed attempt at a wedgie. Frank poops wherever he feels like it because it's funny to him, and he clips his toenails with a steak knife which he also uses to peel fruit.
    • Gail the Snail giving Frank, her uncle, a handjob under the table. Thankfully, they aren't biologically related.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" the episode begins with the guys discussing a plan to spend the night at the city museum, dodging security and generally enjoying themselves. This quickly gets pushed aside once Dee tells them one of them got her pregnant and they spend the rest of the plot trying to figure out who. While the episode was good, it would have been interesting to see the museum hijinks come to pass.
    • Charlie and Dee working at a high school, which lasted for all of two episodes.
    • During the season finale of "Dennis's Double Life", there could've been a good season worth of the Gang adjusting to not having Dennis in their lives and a nice change of formula. That potential got squashed in the span of one episode when Dennis returned, which is acknowledged in the same episode.
    • The premise of "The Gang Does a Clip Show" involves the Gang altering reality through false memories, but half of the run time is wasted on being an actual clip show.
  • This Is Your Premise on Drugs: The show has been described by many as "Seinfeld on crack."
  • Too Cool to Live: Country Mac. But it's less an example of him being killed off because he will make the Gang look bad in comparison and more because it's an unspoken rule that no one cool can be a part of the Gang.
  • Unpopular Popular Character:
    • Charlie and Dee are at the bottom of the Gang's personal pecking order, and are constantly abused both physically and verbally as a result. Despite this, both are beloved characters who have provided a countless amount of the series' most quotable lines, with Charlie in particular becoming something of an unofficial mascot to the series.
    • Mac undergoing visible Character Development and gaining a more sympathetic portrayal overall directly coincides with him becoming more openly hated by the rest of the Gang.
  • The Woobie:
    • Charlie is somewhere between this and Jerkass Woobie. He's a Butt-Monkey and is often so pathetic that both the viewer and even the Gang themselves are inclined to feel sorry for him on a few occasions; that said, he still willingly participates in amoral behavior and has done his own share of despicable acts over the course of the series.
    • Rickety Cricket is introduced this way and steadily gets worse with each appearance.
    • Psycho Pete, who instantly jumped from The Dreaded into this trope with the reveal that he is a sad, lonely Gentle Giant who desperately craves friendship, developed anxiety and suicidal tendencies and the rumor about him killing his family is false.
    • Ruby Taft, a Spoiled Sweet rich girl who gets used and slut shamed by Charlie in a rather cruel way.

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