When most people think of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia‘s Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), the put-upon janitor of Paddy’s Pub, the first thing that comes to mind is a gas-huffing, rat-killing outcast who lives in squalor while making ends meet by boiling denim and scavenging for eggs. And yes, Charlie is all of those things, but part of what makes him this way is his role as the gang’s undisputed wildcard. Thanks to his lack of social convention, along with his willingness to do absolutely anything he’s talked into (which never seems to be that difficult), he’s cemented his position as the crazy guy who’s ready for anything.
Along with Mac (Rob McElhenney) as the brains, Dennis (Glenn Howerton) the looks, and Frank (Danny DeVito) the muscle, and Dee (Kaitlin Olson) the punchline, Charlie’s role is vital to the group’s dynamic. So, the next time you need to prove you’re ready for anything, let Charlie’s greatest wildcard moments be your guide.
“What’s your spaghetti policy here?”
Anyone can sneak food into a movie theater, even Charlie does it with a little help from Dee and her giant purse. The difference here is that, as a wildcard, you’ll take a Ziploc bag full of spaghetti into a spa, but not without asking if it’s okay. Being the wildcard means being wild and unpredictable, not being rude.
“I’m probably the weirdest guy in the universe, you know.”
Out of everyone who Dee brings along to crash her therapy session, her therapist (Kerri Kenney) is quick to point out that Charlie is well-adjusted, relatively speaking, even with his incredibly unhealthy cat hair obsession. While he may not understand her advice, Charlie shows that you can’t be the wildcard if you’re not in touch with who you are.
“I eat stickers all the time, dude!”
Being a wildcard means constantly being able to surprise people. Like not only eating a pear (for the first time), but the sticker, as well. Why? Because you eat stickers all the time. You’re a wildcard. (Note: probably not the best idea to eat stickers all the time.)
“Cat in the wall, eh? Now you’re speaking my language.”
A wildcard must always be willing and able to unleash a surprising set of special skills when the situation calls for it.
“I think I’ve been poisoned by my constituents!”
When Charlie sets Frank up on a date with a woman to distract him from marrying a drug-addicted prostitute, he dons his millionaire Texan persona (one that will come up here again), and pops a few blood capsules in order to look convincingly sick. Even though he took way, way too many blood capsules, being the wildcard, Charlie sticks to his story, even amidst the fake-blood-spewing chaos. No one ever said being the wildcard didn’t involve some real commitment, no matter how much fake blood is involved.
“Rock, flag, and eagle!”
If you’re like Charlie, you’re likely to be known to have a song in your heart. And if you’re a wildcard like Charlie, you’ll never hesitate to let that song be heard, whatever the occasion. Especially if it’s a song about America.
Of course, not only is this the episode where Charlie got his designation as the group’s wildcard, but it’s also the one where he got to show it off with a proud bit of defiance. From siphoning gas to cutting brake lines, Charlie really lives up to his role as the guy who sits there “looking crazy and capable of anything,” to use Mac’s words. Remember, being the wildcard isn’t just something you dabble in. When you’re the wildcard, you’re the wildcard for life.
“It’s what I do.”
As the gang starts to re-tread certain details from their past exploits, Charlie re-asserts his role as the gang’s wildcard by cutting the brake lines all over again. When you’re a natural-born wildcard, you don’t stop to think about things, you just act. The gang, meanwhile, just uses it as a way to get Charlie out of the picture while letting him remain the wildcard. But don’t let that get you down — you can take the wildcard out of the situation, but no one can take the wildcard out of you.
This is an updated version of an article that originally ran in February 2016.