It has popularized concepts like Kitten Mittens, Rum Ham and Fight Milk. The characters have faked their own deaths, ruined the lives of their friends and family and generally driven each other absolutely crazy. It’s set in Philadelphia and in a lot of ways the city of brotherly love is also a character on the show. It has been on the air since 2005 and is now one of the longest running comedy sitcoms in television history. It’s called It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and it is awesome.
Starring Rob McElhenney, Charlie Day, Glenn Howerton, Caitlin Olson and, of course, Danny DeVito, It’s Always Sunny, at its core, is centered around four friends who own a bar in south Philly who hatch schemes and go on adventures– usually to exploit others and benefit themselves. Often times their schemes and scams blow up in their faces and most of the time their adventures are fuelled by excessive booze and misinformation. Some critics hate it, but most agree it is a hilarious testament to comedic TV.
However, for as popular as it is, what do we really know about this show? Sure the writing is razor sharp, the production is efficient and the cast is talented but very few people know the history and background behind It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia that has made it one of the most successful and long running comedies in years. For example, Paddy’s Pub isn’t an actual bar, in Philly, but two of the show’s stars do own a bar. Also, how much of Charlie’s music is written and how much is actually from his own mind? Let’s take a look at 15 facts you didn’t know about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and learn about how the show came to be, who stars in it, and what exactly makes it so off-the-wall funny.
15. It Was Almost Cancelled
These days it’s one of the longest running shows on cable television and fans flock to their TVs every week when a new season is released. It also has a highly dedicated cult following that re-watches old episodes when they re-air on TV and on streaming services like Netflix.
However, It’s Always Sunny almost got the boot after the first season. Thankfully for fans, the show was renewed last minute when the bigwigs at FX decided to give it another chance. Since then, it has gone from almost being cancelled to being among the most successful shows in FX history. It’s even tied for longest running live action American comedy series with Ozzie & Harriet.
14. Glenn Howerton Really Doesn’t Like His Character’s Personality
It’s no secret that Dennis Reynolds is a manipulative, conniving and downright creepy character. On multiple occasions on the show he has lied to women and had violent outbursts when not getting his way. Many show plots revolve around Dennis hatching elaborate schemes in order to get the girl…because of the implications.
Glenn Howerton has mentioned in an interview that his character’s name was different from his real name, while Charlie Day (Charlie) and Rob McElhenney’s (Mac) characters are named after themselves, because Howerton doesn’t want to be associated with his character, Dennis, or anything that he does. Clearly, Howerton doesn’t want to be linked erotic life memoirs or sketchy dating systems.
13. There Is A Russian Version Of The Show
You’ve probably heard of American TV series airing in foreign countries with dubbed voice overs replacing the American actors so fans from non-English speaking regions can also enjoy popular shows. It’s definitely weird to hear Homer Simpson dubbed in French or George Costanza in Japanese, but it serves a purpose.
However, It’s Always Sunny is flat out a different show, complete with different actors and unique plots, in Russia. V Moskve Vsegda Solnechno aka It’s Always Sunny in Moscow has been been airing in Russia since 2014 and just like its American counter part, it centers around four friends who own a bar. In this Russian version the bar is named “Philadelphia”, but other than that the show is almost identical.
12. The Cost Of The Pilot Was Really Cheap. No, Really.
In an age of cheap cameras, willing friends and a lot of DIY ethic, almost anyone can make a TV pilot that looks semi-professional. Gone are the days when up and coming actors and writers needed connections at TV studios to make their dreams realities.
When the show creators and friends decided they had a good idea for a show, they rounded up their friends to work as the crew and shot the pilot for less than $85 USD. The friends later reported that the mostly costly expenditure during the filming of the pilot were the tapes the crew used. Even to this day, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is one of the cheapest shows produced on TV.
11. Rob McElhenney Was Raised Partially By Two Gay Mothers
Despite the silly antics, off the wall characters and crazy plots, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is surprisingly socially aware and conscious of hot-button topics that are faced by the world every day. Be it race relations, gender politics or even gay rights, It’s Always Sunny has something to say about it and it’s usually enough to make the viewers think.
One of the most recent bold moves on the show was making McElhenney’s character finally come out as gay. Although a shock to viewers, it wasn’t a huge point of controversy on the show. This is probably because McElhenney was raised partially by his two gay mothers in New Jersey. McElhenney is a proponent for gay rights and raised many moral and ethical questions about the issue by having the gang take on the topic in episodes such as “Mac Fights Gay Marriage” and “Dennis Gets Divorced”. It’s Always Sunny is also one of the only shows currently on-air that featured a transgender character.
10. Kristen Wiig Auditioned To Play Sweet Dee
Today we know her as a former start on SNL, a successful comedian and one of the most well known female start in Hollywood. But, back when It’s Always Sunny was first being developed, Kristen Wiig was among the many actresses to audition for the role of Sweet Dee.
Rob McElhenney saw many actresses before settling on Caitlin Olson for the role of “Sweet” Dee Reynolds. In the end, the role came down Wiig and Olson and they were neck and neck according to the show creators. They ultimately chose Olson but as we now know, Wiig auditioned for SNL and the rest is history.
9. Dennis Reynolds Might Be A Serial Killer
Like any popular show, multiple fan theories exist about It’s Always Sunny. One of the most popular, the idea that Mac is actually gay, has been hinted at for most of the series and, after the most recent season, we now know that this theory is confirmed to be true. Another ongoing theory is that Dennis Reynolds is a serial killer.
One common theme in the show is how characters develop. Much like how Mac’s gayness has increased, or Charlie’s illiteracy has gotten worse, Dennis has definitely become more sinister and creepy. Howerton confirmed in an interview that Dennis certainly does have sociopathic tendency. However, he wants to leave it a mystery as to whether or not Dennis spends his off nights from the bar as a serial killer.
8. Charlie Day Writes Most Of His Own Songs
Like the crazy schemes, constant binge drinking and the slew of odd one-off characters, another reoccurring theme of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are Charlie’s odd and interesting songs. In episodes like season four’s “The Nightman Cometh” feature many songs written bar janitor Charlie Kelly and feature lyrics shedding light on his tragic and disturbing childhood. What few fans know is that Charlie Day actually writes and sometimes improvises all of the music Charlie plays in the show.
During his formative years as a student both in high school and in college, Day was active in the theater scene and learned to sing and play music from an early age. When it came time to flesh out and develop Day’s character on the show, writing and performing his own music became one of the many strange and mind-boggling things Charlie would often do throughout the episodes.
7. The Gang Never Drinks On Set
It’s no secret that one of the biggest reasons the gang from It’s Always Sunny seems to find themselves in lots of trouble is because they are constantly drinking. While most standard bartenders abstain from drinking on the job, the crew at Paddy’s Pub is often seen cracking beers, slamming shots and praising the many positives of wine in a can.
However, all is not what it seems. According to his Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) when Glenn Howerton was asked how often the cast drinks on set he responded, “We NEVER drink on set. It’s bad for insurance and we would NEVER want to put the show at risk…. NEVER!!!!!”. So, the next time you see an episode where the gang is enjoying a cold one after a scam or some well deserved rum ham, be assured that they’re not really drunk.
6. Rob McElhenney Actually Owns A Bar In Philadelphia
Not unlike his TV alter-ego, Rob McElhenney does actually own a bar in Philadelphia. Unfortunately, “Paddy’s Pub” is not a real bar in the city of brotherly love. Thankfully Mac’s Tavern is a fully functioning bar in the Old City section of Philly where fans of the show and sports fans a like can come together to enjoy food and drinks.
The sports bar opened after the show’s rise to success in 2010 and has been serving patrons for over seven years. It was opened by McElhenney and Olson, as well as a few of their close friends. Restaurant goers can enjoy a wide array of drink specials and go crazy for the chicken wings. But, don’t go expecting milk-steak and jelly beans.
5. Former Child Star Fred Savage Directed Many Episodes
While the bulk of the writing and episode creation comes from the twisted brains of McElhenney, Howerton, and Day, they do share the directing roles with a number of talented and great minds. Interestingly, many of the early episodes, especially seasons three through five, were directed by someone who is no stranger to TV.
Former child-star Fred Savage directed a number of episodes. Fans of older sitcoms will remember Savage as Kevin from The Wonder Years, a classic show from the 80s and 90s which chronicled Kevin’s life as he grew up through the late 60s and early 70s in middle America. As Savage grew older he transitioned from life in front of the camera to behind and he directed such classic episodes of It’s Always Sunny as “The Gang Gets Invincible”, “Mac and Dennis: Man Hunters” and “The Gang Hits the Road”.
4. Every One Of Sweet Dee’s Cars Has Been Stolen Or Destroyed
Like Mac’s homoerotic tendencies, Charlie’s illiteracy and Dennis being a manipulative psychopath, another ongoing trend on the show has been the gang’s mistreatment of Sweet Dee. They have cheated her out of money, destroyed her relationships and constantly say she looks like a bird. Mac, Charlie, Dennis and Frank have also stolen or destroyed every single car she has owned on the show!
Thanks to the gang, Dee’s first car was destroyed when Mac and Charlie decided to use it to fake their own deaths in season four. Later, in season five, when the gang hits the road for the Grand Canyon, they pick up a hitchhiker and thanks to Charlie, he gets away with her car while she, Frank, Mac and Dennis are asleep in the U-Haul. Lastly, in season eight, Mac and Charlie destroy another one of Dee’s cars when they are trying to escape from a wedding that they believe to be infested with zombies.
3. The Show Was Originally About Four Struggling Actors Living In LA
Like many actors starting out, it was hard for McElhenney, Howerton and Day to get a break in Hollywood, where they all met and eventually became close friends. Knowing that they all wanted to make and star in a show, they wrote down their ideas. The original concept was different from what we now see today.
The original pilot was a little different than what we’ve become used to today. For example, the show originally about a group of actors, not bar owners. The show also went through a title change — from “It’s Always Sunny on TV” to “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. As we already know, being cheap and savvy filmmakers, the friends made the pilot for next to nothing and tried to sell it to different networks. In the end, the show was picked up by FX and the setting was changed to McElhenney’s hometown of Philadelphia.
2. The Creators Really Like The Name Of The Show
It probably seems like chump change for them now, but in the early stages of development the writers were offered $500 to come up with a title that the executives liked better than “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”. But, Howerton, Day and McElhenney were so attached to the name that they stuck with it, despite the lucrative offer.
The show creators do love the name, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t other potential titles. Other titles included, “It’s Always Sunny on TV”, which was adapted from a favorite song of the creators. It is also the title of the original pilot. Another potential title was simply “Jerks”, which may fit considering the subjects of the TV show.
1. Some Of The Cast Is Actually Married In Real Life
Mac and Sweet Dee are constantly attacking each other, fighting, making fun of each others’ appearances and generally going at it like cats and dogs. Charlie, on the other hand, obsesses over the Waitress to the point where she had a restraining order put on him early on in the show. But, things aren’t always as they seem in real life.
That’s right, the one of the creators and stars, Rob McElhenney, and his co-star, Kaitlin Olson, not only get along well off-screen, they got married in 2008. Not only are they married, but also have two children. In addition the Waitress doesn’t mind Charlie being around her when they are not on camera. The two have actually been married for a few years. I guess it goes to show you that you can stalk the love of your life and still end up tying the knot.