Although the series is set in Philadelphia — aside from the opening credits, most of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is actually filmed in Los Angeles. Even the bar’s iconic exterior is located in Los Angeles in the Starkman Building at 544 Mateo Street. Sure, when summer rolls around we usually hear rumbles of filming here and there, but even then it’s mostly exterior or cutaway shots.
So for Always Sunny fans actually residing in Philadelphia, it’s always pretty exciting in the instance that an episode is actually filmed in and extensively features our fair city (which, another common misconception, Philadelphia is not even mostly let alone “always” sunny) so I thought it’d be fun to go through and round up some of the most Philadelphiest episodes. Still never been to Mac’s Tavern, though. #sorrynotsorry
Season 1: “The Gang Gets Racist”
In the series premiere, in which the gang makes a failed attempt at bolstering up the African American patronage at Paddy’s Pub, a few scenes are filmed at real life Philadelphia Java Company on South 2nd Street in the Queen Village neighborhood — where Charlie first meets and becomes obsessed with The Waitress. Again though, while the exterior is a real place, the interior scenes do not actually take place inside the Philadelphia Java Company, but probably a sound stage somewhere on the West Coast.
Season 2: “Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody’s Ass”
When Dee and Charlie decide that they want to “make a difference” they head to Philadelphia’s historic Love Park right near City Hall, where they attend a rally which turns out to be run by a bunch of actors from New York. Later they return to try to hold their own rally which is cut short by Charlie vomiting on himself.
Season 3: “The Gang Gets Invincible”
In “The Gang Gets Invincible,” Dennis, Mac and Dee try out for the Philadelphia Eagles due to the harassment from Eagles fans because of the New Kids on the Block movie. The gang shows up at Lincoln Financial Field to try out — with Frank and Charlie tailgating — only to be moved to a high school somewhere in Berks County. (Spoiler alert: It was probably L.A.)
Season 4: “Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life”
At the end of the episode, Dee goes to the fountain in Logan’s Square to retrieve coins that she threw in for her dreams of a better life, which she finds out Charlie has been stealing for spies. Meanwhile, Frank shows up with Mac to piss in the fountain as revenge to the kids who bullied him as a child, and Dennis arrives freshly escaped from the mental hospital to bask in the fountain’s healing powers.
Season 5: “The Gang Hits the Road”
When the gang decides to take a road trip, they first make a pit stop at South Philly’s Italian Market, where Charlie eats a pear for the first time (“I EAT STICKERS ALL THE TIME, DUDE”) while Frank and Dennis barter with the “gypsies” for chairs. Fun fact: While there are no gypsies at the Italian Market, often times the produce is of questionable freshness and should be consumed ASAP.
Season 5: “The World Series Defense”
After leaving their World Series tickets in Charlie and Frank’s apartment, which was being fumigated for bed bugs, the gang spends the entirety of the flashback episode attempting to sneak into Citizen’s Bank Park to watch the Phillies in the World series, getting stuck in a linen closet in the “Ollidee Inn.”
Season 7: “Thunder Gun Express”
I listed these pretty much in chronological order, however this is without a doubt the most epic Philadelphia-centric episode in It’s Always Sunny history. In an attempt to get to a screening of the fictional movie, the Thunder Gun Express on time, the Gang resorts to nearly every possible mode of transportation on a tour through Philadelphia.
The geographic narrative doesn’t quite match up, however, as they ostensibly start out in South Philly, then end up on Jeweler’s Row around 8th & Sansom in Center City where Charlie, Dee, and Mac somehow catch a trolley, while all of a sudden Frank is all the way out by 30th Street Station on the Schuylkill River where he hijacks a riverboat tour. After Charlie, Dee, and Mac get off the imaginary trolley that doesn’t exist, they’re only in the Graduate Hospital neighborhood at 10th & Locust (which means that they’ve only actually traveled four blocks) — at which point Charlie and Dee leave Mac behind for being too fat by jumping down into a sewer outside the Locust Bar (one of my favorite dive bars to do karaoke at).
Somehow, they all make it to the TLA — not actually a movie theater, but a music/arts venue which was founded by an experimental group of theater actors that included Danny Devito back in the ’60s, certainly not a coincidence. Also, the TLA is in South Philly, which means that they pretty much went in a complete circle.
Fun fact: A friend of mine who works on Jeweler’s Row was apparently standing just out of shot in the front window of her store while this was being filmed. Here’s some photos and other interesting tidbits about the filming of this episode, via PhillyFilmGirl.
Honorable mention: Season 4: “The Gang Gets Whacked (Part 2)”
I had to include this, for no other reason than filming shut down Market Street, one of the main arteries in downtown Philadelphia, at rush hour while Rickety Cricket beat on trashcans and a horse ran by.
I want more like this!
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