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12 Details About My Name Is Earl To Help You Build Some Good Karma

In 2003, perennial ne'er-do-well Earl Hickey and his ragtag crew of Camden County misfits arrived on the sitcom scene. When Hickey has a close call with death that costs him a winning lottery ticket, he starts to rethink his crooked ways, thanks in part to a little help from Carson Daly's musings on karma. What follows is a heartfelt and hilarious odyssey in restorative justice as he forces himself to come face-to-face with all of the people he's stolen from, wronged, and generally screwed over through the years.

Starring Jason Lee as the eponymous Earl, "My Name is Earl" was loved by critics and audiences during its four-season run, earning 14 Emmy nominations and 5 wins before it was unceremoniously canceled. Because the world could always use a little more good in it, let's take a look at some "My Name is Earl" details sure to help you build your good karma.

It's set in the same universe as Raising Hope

Fans of "My Name is Earl" were devastated when it ended in 2009. Fortunately for them, Greg Garcia's next project, "Raising Hope," takes place in the same continuity, giving "Earl" fans plenty of reminders of their karmic Camden County adventures. "Raising Hope" follows the Chance family after young Jimmy Chance learns his brief encounter with a death row inmate left him with a daughter to raise. Jimmy lives with his parents and grandmother Maw Maw in the fictional town of Natesville, just a stone's throw from Camden County. 

The later show contains numerous references to the earlier series, often hidden in blink-and-you'll-miss-them moments. Jimmy recounts an episode from his teenage years in "Don't Vote for This Episode" that shows him watching an adult video online that features Joy (Jaime Pressly). Camden County daytime sex worker Patty Weezmer (Dale Dickey) makes an appearance in "Gambling Again." And the "Raising Hope" episode "Hot Dish" makes explicit mention of Earl's stomping grounds in reference to a Camden County muffin bake-off.

Even though the two shows are set in the same universe, "My Name is Earl" is still a TV show within the "Raising Hope" canon, which makes sense for two series so prone to dabbling in the absurd. A poster for "My Name is Earl" can be seen outside the movie theater in "It's a Hopeful Life," and Burt even references the show's cancellation in "Yo Zappa Do: Part 2."

Earl can't take a photo with his eyes open

There's always one person in every group photo who manages to blink at exactly the wrong moment. In Camden County, that person is Earl Hickey, who seems to be physically unable to take a nice photo under any circumstances. Throughout the series, Earl is plagued with this problem, blinking during driver's license photos, mugshots, and even wedding photos. When Randy and Earl have to acquire passports to rescue the deported Catalina from Mexico, Randy solves the eye problem by taping eye photos on top of Earl's eyelids so his eyes are "open" even when closed ("South of the Border, Part Uno"). A slideshow in "Inside Spot" reveals that Earl's trouble taking photos goes all the way back to his childhood, as he even appears with his eyes closed in his baby photo.

Although Earl's blinking might make for some less-than-flattering photos, it turns out he's not alone in his awkward pose. The trope is shared by Forrest Gump, who has his photo taken many times during his colorful life, with each image highlighting his eyelids. The trope can also be found in "How I Met Your Mother," with Marshall blinking in every photo while Barney always manages to look fantastic.

Earl runs out of gas a lot

Earl's ride is a red 1973 El Camino with a single blue door that he got from his old buddy Frank (Michael Rapaport), having taken ownership of the car when Frank went to jail for a heist Earl missed out on to marry Joy ("The Frank Factor"). As a guy who's often down on his luck, it's not surprising that Earl has trouble keeping gas in his tank. Unfortunately, being the skeezy fellow he was before learning about karma, Earl often solved this problem by stealing gas from the Pimmit Hills Trailer Park where he lived with Joy before they split.

Earl never quite seems to shake his bad car karma, which frequently finds him stranded on the roadside –- often when he's on the way to do something important. This often forces him to put in even more effort to cross off items on his karma list, like when he finds himself stranded on the way to dance with Maggy, who he snubbed in eighth grade due to her precocious height ("Number One"). Earl's bad gas luck isn't limited to his own ride either. When Joy steals a delivery truck — driver and all — the truck runs out of gas, forcing Earl on yet another highway trek in search of fuel ("Very Bad Things"). No matter what he's driving, running out of gas often forces Earl to walk, reinforcing the level of effort he's willing to put in to make amends for his past misdeeds. 

Jason Lee didn't always love the mustache

Few men's looks are simultaneously more iconic and divisive than the mustache, and Earl Hickey rocks some of television's most memorable facial hair in "My Name is Earl." In fact, Earl loves his mustache so much that he advises young Alby Tollhurst to grow one as soon as his body is ready ("Boogeyman"). The lustrous mustache is worn combed to the sides, revealing a peek-a-boo look at Earl's philtrum reminiscent of a 19th-century patent medicine salesman's.

Though magical, the look was not without its cost. The role apparently required Jason Lee to sport the 'stash for up to seven months out of the year, with the actor reporting his mustache fatigue to Digital Spy in 2008. According to Lee, the look required constant trimming and grooming, with the actor calling it a "commitment." Worse, the mustache became so legendary that it eclipsed Lee in popularity. Complaining to Digital Spy, Lee remarked that Earl's facial hair was "more recognized than I am!" Speaking to The Nine Club, Lee claimed he had to start growing it out about seven weeks before each season began filming and called shaving it at the end "the best part." Even so, it was worth the headache, with Lee calling it "the best mustache on television" next to Tom Selleck in "Magnum, P.I."

Earl's life is inspired by reality

"My Name is Earl" creator Greg Garcia has a knack for writing quirky, blue-collar, salt-of-the-earth types with a surprising amount of nuance for the half-hour comedy format. That's because he draws on his own life experience. Although Garcia grew up in fairly comfortable middle-class Virginia neighborhoods, many of the people and places in "My Name is Earl" take their names from those he knew growing up, according to The Washington Post. When asked by Vulture why he prefers to write blue-collar characters, Garcia remarked that he simply finds "a dirty house with just normal people" more interesting than "some family with money that has it all together."

Garcia also asked his writing team to pull from their own life experience when writing episodes. Explaining the process in a Paley Center panel, Garcia said he would ask the writers to consider some of the things they'd done wrong that they wish they could make amends for. For example, the episode "BB," which sees Earl making up for shooting a girl with a BB gun, was taken from a writer's experience shooting someone in the neck. Garcia rewrote the BB shot target to a less "mean" spot on the girl's body, causing the writer to realize this meant his own behavior was even worse than Earl's.

Earl almost started a movement

Earl's list may have been inspired by Carson Daly and based on a somewhat self-serving view of karma, but it always seemed to remind him that life isn't just about looking out for yourself. And if the show had continued, it would have eventually revealed that Earl started his own benevolent movement –- at least, according to a Reddit AMA with Greg Garcia. When asked if Earl ever finished his list, Garcia expressed disappointment at the unfinished story. 

According to Garcia, his original vision was not for Earl to finish the list, but to instead pass the torch, igniting a karma-inspired movement. While working on a tough item, Earl would have encountered someone with their own list seeking to make amends with him. While trying to understand how they got the idea, Earl would have discovered that his own list had "started a chain reaction," and that in the end, "he's finally put more good into the world than bad." The revelation would have freed Earl to move on with his life at last knowing his karma was sound, giving him -– and the rest of the world –- a well-deserved happily ever after.

Earl Jr.'s dad would have been someone famous

One of the overarching mysteries left hanging at the end of "My Name is Earl" pertains to the parentage of Earl Jr. Initially fairly pregnant when she convinces Earl to marry her, Joy gives birth to a son named Dodge, whose parentage is also unknown until Earl sets out to find his father in "Dodge's Dad." But while Dodge's paternity always seemed up in the air, Earl Jr.'s was pretty clear, since Joy had been seeing Darnell at the time.

The end of the show's final episode, "Dodge's Dad," finishes on a cliffhanger when a DNA test ultimately reveals Earl to be Dodge's true father and Earl Jr. not to be Darnell's son. In his Reddit AMA, Garcia explained that while the writers never decided on Earl Jr.'s paternity, "the talk in the writers room was that Earl Jr.'s Dad was going to be someone famous." Specifically, Earl Jr. was intended to be the product of a fling with someone passing through Camden County. Since the writers never landed on a name, fans have been free to speculate through the years, although Garcia floated the names of Lil John and Dave Chappelle as two possibilities. Inspired by Garcia's suggestion, one Redditor even went to great lengths to academically sleuth out the answer, ultimately arriving at one of the Baha Men, who beat out Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, and Dr. Dre as candidates.

The show was accused of being about Scientology

It's no secret that Scientology is more represented in the world of show business than among the general population, with the likes of Tom Cruise, Elisabeth Moss, and Kirstie Alley famously connected to the belief system. "My Name is Earl" star Jason Lee and his now ex-wife Carmen Llywelyn were also involved with the religion for many years, with Llywelyn later denouncing Scientology in a 2015 Gawker essay while citing it as partially responsible for the couple's divorce. Lee shortly followed suit, telling The Dentonite in 2016 that he was no longer a Scientologist. 

Still, Lee's connection to the religion when "My Name is Earl" came out caused some critics to speculate that Garcia might also be one, and the show was secretly a vehicle for Scientologist propaganda (via The Guardian). Co-star Ethan Suplee also has connections to the Church of Scientology, making the idea seem more plausible (per The New York Times). When Alec Baldwin chimed in ahead of the 2008 Emmys, Garcia had enough, addressing Baldwin and the controversy directly in Gawker. "I am not currently nor have I ever been a Scientologist," Garcia wrote. "Maybe you should have done some research that extended past the comments section of Defamer before you crafted your insult." According to the showrunner, the rumor originated in The Mirror and spread from there despite having no merit to it.

Earl and his family appeared on Family Feud

It's always fun when popular comedy characters show up on a game show. Fans of "My Name is Earl" were treated to a one-of-a-kind installment of "Celebrity Family Feud" in 2008 when Camden County's quirky crew showed up to compete.

Hosted by Al Roker, the episode pitted Earl and his friends as the Hickey family against representatives from Camden County, with the Hickeys playing for the Family Crisis Resource Center of Cumberland, Maryland because "they're on my list," as Earl put it. Earl, Randy, Joy, Crabman, and Catalina comprised the Hickey family while Camden County included Tim, Patty, Kenny, Wilfred Dierkes, and Nescobar-a-Lop-Lop. Sadly for Earl, Camden County wiped the floor with Team Hickey, who offered answers like "licorice sticks" and "mustache" when asked to name something that makes more noise the older it gets. Clearly, the group wasn't cut out for such intense lines of questioning.

Earl may have finished his list

Despite Greg Garcia's Reddit AMA claiming the contrary, there's pretty compelling evidence in "Raising Hope" that Earl may have eventually finished his list after all. The brief reference is hidden in the background of the later series' pilot episode. As Jimmy's murderous baby mama is sitting down at the Chances' kitchen table, a local news anchor on the TV behind her buzzes, "In lighter news, a small-time crook with a long list of wrongs he was making amends for has finally finished. And you'll never guess how it ended." Virginia turns off the TV before we can find out more, so any further details are left to the viewers' imaginations.

The series hides another clue to Earl's story in the episode "Throw Maw Maw from the House, Part One," with some fans claiming it hints at a darker ending for the antihero. The Chance family moves Maw Maw to a place that's suspiciously called the Earl J. Hickey Memorial Nursing Home. Fans have latched onto this and other clues — like Burt's anger at the show's cancellation and the movie poster — to come up with some pretty wild speculations. Theories include that Earl's life was adapted into a Hollywood production, that he went into witness relocation, or even that Earl was murdered by someone he wronged.

There's still hope for a My name is Earl revival

While it was once true that a show's cancellation meant it was gone for good, in the era of streaming, beloved shows are brought back all the time –- sometimes years after their cancellation. With shows like "Fuller House," "Criminal Minds," "Arrested Development," and "Veronica Mars" paving the way, fans of the Hickey family are still holding out hope that Earl will finally get a chance to finish his list. And as it turns out, the show's original cast and crew have been dreaming of a revival for years. 

Jason Lee has been supportive of a potential mustache revival since 2011 when he told E! News he had already spoken to Garcia about putting together a wrap-up feature of some kind, and perhaps even a movie. When prodded about her interest in a revival in 2017, Jaime Pressly responded to Entertainment Tonight, "I don't know anybody who was a part of that show that wouldn't go back and do it again," insisting that Garcia could get the ball rolling with a mass email. Maybe a little more good karma is exactly what the world needs right now.

Darnell is a genius

While Earl Hickey is the hero of his own story, the one character who consistently shines as the best in the trailer park is the Crabman, AKA Darnell Turner, AKA Harry Monroe. Despite his humble existence as Joy's husband and the Crab Shack cook, Darnell (Eddie Steeples) is a man of many secrets that are frequently hinted at throughout the series.

Crabman is a virtuoso cellist and Rhodes scholar who graduated from college at only 14 years old ("My Name is Alias," "Buried Treasure," "Dodge's Dad"). He can identify 254 varieties of cheese in a blind taste test, is an expert-level martial artist in three different styles of combat, and can speak seven languages including Hebrew, Aramaic, Russian, and French. Sent off for spy training as a child by his secret government agent dad Thomas Monroe, Darnell turned his back on the assassin life and entered witness protection after refusing to take out a nine-year-old world leader. 

Despite all of his many talents, Crabman is easily one of the most chill characters in Camden County, and he seems more than happy to trade everything for a simple life with Joy and his adopted sons.