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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.
  • 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.
  • Award Snub: The closest the show has ever come to 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:
    • Charlie. To most fans, his stupidity, incoherent Angrish screeching, and generally disgusting lifestyle are either the best or the worst parts of the show.
    • 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.
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  • Bizarro Episode: "The Gang Does a Clip Show" where the gang ends up altering reality when reminiscing about past adventures.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • Charlie and Frank.
    • Country Mac. It's even lampshaded, with the Gang noting what an insane badass he is.
  • Critical Research Failure: In "PTSDee", Dennis and Dee both claim that Channing Tatum played G.I. Joe. G.I. Joe isn't a character, it's the name of the team the series is based on (Channing Tatum played Conrad "Duke" Hauser in the 2009 film). Likely intentional, as it's very in-character for both of them to make that kind of mistake.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: A very frequent occurrence on this show. Stand-outs include:
    • "Frank Sets Sweet Dee On Fire", in which he does so twice.
    • "A Very Sunny Christmas," which crosses the line so many times it's impossible to count.
    • 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".
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    • 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."
    • 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.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: The Gang are hilarious dicks but they are certainly not the type of people you'd ever want to come across if they exist in real life. If they are not busy stabbing each other in the back, they'll do to others who are unlucky enough to stumble across them. When a serial killer is portrayed more sympathetically than our heroes, you know how bad these Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists are. Moreover, the fact that the Gang will never get ahead in life, ever, can wear a little thin eventually.
  • Ear Worm:
    • Day Man! (uh-AAH-uhhh), Fighter of the Night Man! (uh-AAH-uhhh)
    • Flip, flip, flip-a-delphia! Flip, flip, flip-a-delphia!
    • The "Birds of War" theme performed in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
    • Boom, I got your money! Boom, I got your credit card!
    • All the '60s stock music used as scene transitions, especially "Blue Blood", "Derby Day", "Captain's Table", "On Your Bike", and "Take the Plunge". And a special mention to "Grand Central", which played in the Christmas special when Charlie goes berserk at the mall.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Rickety Cricket and Artemis.
    • Dennis and Dee's biological dad also counts. Or did...
    • The McPoyles.
    • Despite only showing up a few times so far, 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.
    • Agent Jack Bauer, the indestructible junkyard cat.
    • 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 Crazy Awesome Badass Gay.
    • The Ponderosas count as of "Mac Kills His Dad". They're somehow 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.
  • Fair for Its Day: Earlier episodes involving Carmen probably couldn't get away with a lot of their subject matter (for instance, the heavy use of the word "tranny", the fact that she was played by a cisgender actress, or the implication that sleeping with her meant that Mac was gay), but Carmen herself is a remarkably positive depiction of a trans woman, avoiding any of the usual Drag Queen stereotypes and ending up in a loving relationship that is treated as a sincerely happy ending. It also helped that the group belittling her are consistently portrayed as terrible people. One notable joke involving her transgender status ended at Mac's expense since the bystanders were rightfully offended that Mac believed it justified hitting her.
  • 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 everyone in his family believes he was molested.
    • 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 most people caught the Shout-Out to Call Me by Your Name, there's actually a genuine 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:
    • 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 loves children and is great with them. 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!
    • For some, Dennis's "implications" for buying a boat lose even its Crosses the Line Twice humor when recalling that an actual 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 gruesome fashionnote .
  • 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 you've sure got those gasps, buddy.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • 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 premiered, there was a movie released that bears a striking similarity to The Nightman Cometh.
    • 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.
    • 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 to resemble Nazi Germany where the swastika is made up of four 'F's in the same style as Facebook's logo. This was used as a Take That! towards Facebook's reputation of banning Polandball pages as well as their No Swastikas rule.
    • Re-watching any of the awkward and cringe-inducing moments between Charlie and the Waitress are even funnier after knowing that their respective actors are Happily Married in real life. Imagine them shooting "The Nightman Cometh" where Mary Elizabeth Ellis has to angrily say "I will never marry you." to her husband. This can also apply to any of the abuse Mac inflicts on Dee (who are also married in real life) and "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System" where the pharmacist Dennis harasses throughout the whole episode is played by Glenn Howerton's wife.
  • 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.
    • Averts this trope with Margaret McPoyle who is hideous. As it turns out Margaret McPoyle is played by the very attractive Thesy Surface under a lot of makeup.
    • The Waitress gets this treatment, too, from just about everyone besides Charlie (who is, interestingly enough, played by Mary Elizabeth Ellis's real-life husband). Shallow Dennis talks about her as if she were downright repulsive, but she is actually quite pretty.
  • Ho Yay: Constantly between Mac/Dennis. You may as well call them the show's Official Couple.
  • 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.
    • 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 is mostly a joke stemming from the fact that 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.
    • The Trash Man.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Pepper Jack.
    • Dr. Zimmerman. Also notable that Dr. Zimmerman was actor Aubrey Morris's final on-screen role prior to his death in 2015.
    • Guillermo del Toro as the roaring, maniacal Pappy McPoyle.
  • Replacement Scrappy: While Cindy's character was genuinely necessary to fill Glenn Howerton's absence in Season 13, it also deliberately invoked this trope — a new character played by a well-known celebrity, made to fill a void yet always feels somewhat out-of-place. However, 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:
  • Rewatch Bonus: A lot. If you're not paying attention you'll miss a bunch of character important lines, hints at future events, and small, easy-to-miss jokes. For example, "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" is even funnier upon rewatch because you know that Dee's lying about one of the gang being the father of her child.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season 13 was much less well-received by fans, due in large part to Dennis's absence and Cindy being considered a poor substitute (though this was intentional), as well as the comedy getting a more mixed to negative reception than in earlier seasons. 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 the show's usual subversive, cynical edge.
  • Signature Episode: "The Nightman Cometh" is probably the most well-known episode and is frequently cited as one of, if not the best episode so far.
    • As far as signature scenes go, Dennis' implication speech marked a turning point for his character from "pervert dickhead" to "sociopathic monster."
  • Spiritual Successor: The show is frequently described as Seinfeld, only with everything cranked Up to Eleven.
    • It's also been referred to as a deconstruction of Friends.
    • The show's signature black humor, its manic approach to storytelling, and its fearless usage of satire have led many to describe it as a live-action South Park.
  • Squick:
    • Nearly every moment with the McPoyles.
    • 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. Though the episode was also funny, it's a shame this never came to pass.
    • Charlie and Dee working at a high school, which lasted for all of two episodes.
    • 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 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.
  • Values Dissonance: "Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person" would have to be given a different title if it were made in The New '10s, due to the word "retarded" being considered a slur. Glenn Howerton acknowledged it in an interview.
  • The Woobie:
    • Charlie the Butt-Monkey is often so pathetic that the viewer is intended to feel sorry for him and the Gang is even moved to pity him on a few occasions. In contrast, Dee is another Butt-Monkey, but she's so shrill and spiteful that she often brings her misfortunes on herself (though she still gets some sympathetic moments; as such, she counts more as a Jerkass Woobie).
    • Rickety Cricket, who is introduced this way and grows steadily 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.

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