Ten years ago this week, a dirty, inexpensive-looking show called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia premiered on FX, then best known for The Shield, Nip/Tuck, and Rescue Me.
FX is still in the Denis Leary business, and even after 114 episodes, It’s Always Sunny is still on (albeit on FXX) and still really good. Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Rob McElhenney, Kaitlin Olson, and Danny DeVito have never lost sight of their “Seinfeld on crack” vision, especially when they’re doing crack. They’re well beyond Larry David’s “no hugging, no learning” decree, and have done some truly reprehensible things in, well, every episode.
But, occasionally, the Gang tries to be good. Their self-involvement tends to get in the way of any half-decent act they might pull, but it’s the thought that counts, right? In honor of Sunny‘s birthday, here are 10 times the Gang tried to be honest people, and how it inevitably went awry.
1. “Charlie Has Cancer”
The good: When Charlie tells the Gang he has cancer, they try to cheer him up.
The not so good: Dennis visits Charlie’s crush, the Waitress, and has sex with her. Later, he reveals that he paid the Waitress to sleep with Charlie, which she didn’t even do.
2. “Hundred Dollar Baby”
The good: Frank offers to become Dee’s boxing teacher after a meth head confronts her.
The not so good: Frank runs into his old boxing nemesis at the gym, who’s now teaching his daughter Brianna to fight. It’s decided that Brianna and Dee will fight in the ring, although not before Dee gets hooked on steroids, thanks to Frank’s impossible demands and ‘roid rages all over Philly. The episode ends as it must, with Frank socking his mortal enemy, who falls onto Brianna. She breaks her neck on a stool, Million Dollar Baby-style.
3. “The Gang Finds A Dumpster Baby”
The good: Dennis wants to save the world after watching An Inconvenient Truth.
The not so good: A hippie named Sage (ugh) calls Dennis a poseur at a volunteer station. As revenge, Dennis offers to chain himself to a tree at a rally to stop it from being cut down. Sage notices that his girlfriend Asriel likes Dennis’ can-do attitude, and he enlists himself instead. And while he’s stuck to a tree, Dennis and Asriel do drugs and bang.
4. “Bums: Making A Mess All Over The City”
The good: The Gang wants to clean the city/get rid of masturbating bums.
The not so good: Dee beats the crap out of a bum; Charlie, Frank, and Dennis pretend to be policeman in an actual cop car, and steal money from a jaywalker; and they nearly blow up a cat. Also, Charlie walks around with a Spin Doctors mix-tape, which is the worst crime of all.
5. “The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition”
The good: The Gang redecorates a family’s home.
The not so good: They want to be Ty Pennington, but their version of being Ty Pennington involves breaking into someone’s house in the middle of night, blasting loud music, dressed all in black, screaming “WHERE’S YOUR DAUGHTER?!” Possessions are smashed, guns are drawn, the Juarezs are made to look more “American,” and a house is reduced to rubble.
6. “The Gang Wrestles For The Troops”
The good: The Gang puts on a wrestling show for the returning troops.
The not so good: Turns out, it’s not so much for the troops as it is an excuse to get literally-insane Da’Maniac to fight Cricket, and dress up like the Birds of War. When Da’Maniac is unable to attend the match, the Birds step into the ring, and get sand thrown in their eyes by “The Talibum,” also known as Cricket. Frank tags in, and smashes him in the head with a trashcan, leaving Cricket half-dead and bleeding out.
7. “Dee Reynolds: Shaping America’s Youth”
The good: Sweet Dee becomes a substitute teacher and tries to inspire her students.
The not so good: She brings them to the bar for a screening of Othello. Oops, it’s Lethal Weapon 5, because the Gang needs an opinion on whether blackface is racist. Dee is immediately fired.
8. “Charlie Kelly: King Of The Rats”
The good: Charlie’s super depressed, so the Gang throws a surprise party for him.
The not so good: Everyone is actually pretty decent this episode! Dennis, Mac, and Dee read Charlie’s dream journal and make sculptures that look like his fantasies… a denim chicken, bird with teeth, and worm hats. Plus, a new ratstick! It’s the most considerate the Gang has ever been, and it came at the expense of thousands of rats.
9. “Charlie’s Mom Has Cancer”
The good: Mac and Frank try to cure Charlie’s mom’s lung cancer.
The not so good: Meeting “Dr. Jinx,” who works inside a shady garage, does nothing. Neither does a trip to church. They thrown a Beef and Bar fundraiser at Paddy’s to help raise funds for Mrs. Kelly, who reads a predictably terrible speech co-written by Mac and Charlie. She breaks down and finally admits she doesn’t actually have cancer; she just needs money after busting a statue at the church. Like terrible mother, like terrible son.
10. “The Gang Saves The Day”
The good: The Gang witnesses an armed robbery and wonders how to stop it.
The not so good: Rather than, y’know, ACTUALLY stop it, they take turns explaining how they would prevent the crime, from Mac fighting off ninjas to Charlie enlisting his rat buddies. Once the Gang snaps back to reality, they do bupkis, except steal a bunch of stuff.