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Ranking The Best Episodes Of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia According To IMDb

Most sitcoms peak in the second or third season and then gradually decline in quality from that point forward. Think The Office, That 70's Show, and Arrested Development. But FX's It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia – which follows the insane, selfish, and utterly hilarious exploits of the five buffoons who run Paddy's Pub — only gets better with age. For some reason, we just don't tire of watching Frank, Dennis, Dee, Charlie, and Mac stab each other in the back as they try to better their middling existence as owners of a dumpy Philadelphia bar. 

There's no shortage of riotously funny moments in the show's history, so we went diving into IMDb to find the greatest episodes of a series that's had us holding our sides for over 15 years and counting. From absurd musicals to harebrained schemes and hilarious tantrums, here are the best episodes of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia according to IMDb.

The gang doesn't solve the gas crisis in The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis

In "The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis," Mac, Dennis, and Charlie come to the conclusion that their plans never work because they're not sticking to a formula in which there's a designated brains, brawn, and wild card (Mac, Dennis, and Charlie, respectively). Supposedly, this dynamic will ensure success in any scheme they might concoct, even one that involves trying to turn a profit by selling giant barrels of gasoline.

There are several versions of this plan. One involves trying to store the gas in the basement at Paddy's until the price goes up, but this fails after a gas station attendant demands they stop. Then, they briefly try transporting the gas back by filling their tank and siphoning it out at the bar before realizing they're only wasting money. They then try selling it lemonade stand-style and then door to door, but those plans go exactly as well as you'd expect. Charlie certainly doesn't help because he thinks being a "wild card" means making impulsive, destructive decisions.

At the end of the episode, they decide the only reason they've failed thus far is because they haven't included Frank and Dee as "the muscle" and the "useless chick," respectively. Those two, after trying and failing to surveil Bruce Mathis (Dee's biological dad) upon learning he's giving away Dennis and Dee's inheritance to a Muslim community center, are more than happy to join the moronic scheme.

There's no yuletide cheer in A Very Sunny Christmas

It's probably not surprising that the members of the gang never had a proper Christmas growing up, and therefore, they don't know the meaning of the holiday as adults. Interestingly, Mac and Charlie thought they'd had normal, healthy Christmases as kids. But neither Mac's family's penchant for breaking into other people's homes and stealing presents (which he'd thought was a fun neighborhood tradition) nor Charlie's mom's tradition of bringing multiple "Santa Clauses" back to her room if they agreed to get young Charlie a present were, in fact, normal or healthy ways to celebrate.

Dennis and Dee's problems with Christmas as kids, of course, can be traced back to their father, Frank, who used to buy whatever they wanted ... and then give it to himself. He thought rubbing his ownership of their presents in their faces was hilarious, and they never forgave him for it. Apparently, he did it to others, too, including his old business partner, Eugene, who he also once defrauded. Hoping for revenge, Dennis and Dee track Eugene down and discover he's converted to Christianity and has long since forgiven Frank. Except, you know, not really — he was just pretending so he could get Frank to lower his guard and kill him. It doesn't work, but everyone is hilariously miserable by the end of the episode, one that also include a fantastic claymation sequence and the iconic moment of a naked Frank emerging from a sofa.

The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore pushes Dennis and Dee to their limits

In this Always Sunny episode, Dennis and Dee strong-arm the rest of the gang into going to their favorite childhood vacation spot — the Jersey Shore. Naturally, everyone has the time of their lives ... except them. 

Charlie, who spends much of the day mistaking sunblock for an alcoholic beverage, ends up meeting the Waitress by chance and spending a romantic night with her. But as it turns out, she was high the whole time and rejects Charlie the next morning after waking up sober. And Mac, Frank, and their beloved rum ham drift out to sea after falling asleep on a raft, only to be picked up by a party yacht.

Dennis and Dee, however, are met with disaster after hilarious, terrifying disaster. Some of Dee's hair gets ripped out on a roller coaster, causing Dennis to get sick. At the hospital later, they join up with some partiers, reasoning that their trip couldn't possibly get worse. Only it absolutely can. The "partiers" are, in fact, dangerous criminals who effectively kidnap Dennis and Dee and force them to take angel dust and help them rob a laundromat. In the end, after a truly horrible vacation, Dennis and Dee — the ones who demanded everyone go — are now the ones demanding everyone leave the Jersey Shore asap.

Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games is one of the show's most gleefully insane episodes

When most people are bored, they throw something on TV or read a book. When the gang is bored, they play Chardee MacDennis, a psychotic, violent, three-level game in which the teams drink heavily and deceive, shout at, and abuse each other. Each round begins with the competitors feigning respect before screaming at each other like lunatics. Cheating is allowed if you don't get caught, but asking questions and cursing are against the rules. The prize is that the winning team gets to stomp on the others' game pieces. Needless to say, things get pretty insane. At one point, Frank has to eat the raw ingredients of a cake in order to escape a dog crate he'd been placed in.

As Charlie points out in the beginning of the episode, it's less of a game and more of a war, and as Dennis points out, he and Dee have never lost to Mac and Charlie. This time, however, Dennis and Dee get caught cheating, which allows the trailing team to tie the game just before the buzzer goes off. Mac and Charlie have victory in their sights for the first time, and Dennis and Dee are afraid their winning streak will be snapped at last. However, Frank flips a coin, which gives the win to Dennis and Dee. They stomp Mac and Charlie's pieces yet again in one of the funniest endings the show has ever had.

Only It's Always Sunny could get away with an episode like The D.E.N.N.I.S. System

We'd known for a while that Dennis Reynolds was a player with questionable habits, but season five's "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System" reveals just how far he routinely goes to get laid. 

If you break his acronymic system down, it's essentially just a quantified list of what jerks do to women all the time. (Demonstrate value. Engage physically. Nurture dependence. Neglect emotionally. Inspire hope. Separate entirely.) Gross, cruel, and immature, yes, but hardly anything criminal. Besides, we learn much more disturbing things about Dennis' conquests later on, like how he secretly films women he sleeps with, sometimes locks them in his room, sends "I consent" messages to his phone from theirs in order to dodge potential legal issues after they hook up, and how he may have actually murdered someone.

But still, there's something chilling about how he breaks down his manipulative approach to women in such cold and almost scientific fashion and then turns it into a system he can remorselessly teach to his idiot friends. Naturally, the rest of the gang decides to try some of Dennis' ideas out in their own romantic lives. It goes well at first, but their victims sniff it out and abandon them all. Their comeuppance is funny and well-deserved, even though you know nobody learned a thing.

Everyone tries too hard in The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award

In this Always Sunny episode, the gang is fed up with being underappreciated and ignored by the Restaurant Bar Association (RBA), which distributes an annual award to eateries around town with the best atmospheres, themes, and unique menu options. When they call to complain, they're informed by a representative that previous attempts to reach and include Paddy's Pub in the running had been rebuffed (the forms had always been returned covered in urine, fecal matter, and racial slurs). The gang insists they were only kidding and are determined to participate for real.

They begin by scoping out the competition. Sudz is a preppy, colorfully lit establishment in which the staff members play characters and act out sappy, sitcom-like scripts about love triangles between each other in order to entertain patrons. The gang finds this gimmicky and obnoxious, but they can't deny it's popular with both repeat guests and with the RBA.

So, they decide to implement a darker, edgier version of this approach back at Paddy's, with predictably hilarious and disastrous results. Nobody can remember lines, ad-libs go into offensive territory, and the vibe attracts the wrong type of crowd. In the end, the gang realizes they are indeed the reason for their own lack of recognition but decide they'd rather be unpopular and true to themselves then fake it for money.

Time's Up for the Gang almost brings an overdue reckoning

There was never much of a chance that a gang — consisting of Frank (a classic chauvinist), Charlie (a stalker), and Dennis (who rivals Barney Stinson when it comes to predatory behavior) — would make it through the #MeToo movement unscathed. Enter the "Sh***y Bar List," an online database of Philadelphia pubs with lousy reputations in the sexism department. To get Paddy's Pub removed, the owners have to attend a sensitivity seminar and pass a test.

The gang goes to the seminar, but their various personality issues prevent them from taking it seriously or understanding anything. Dee begins accusing nearly every man in sight of sexually harassing her. Charlie has a near meltdown after being forced to confront the fact that his stalking of the Waitress constitutes sexual harassment. Even worse, Dennis lectures some attendees on how whether or not a man's behavior is considered inappropriate depends on how attractive he is, how being gay doesn't mean you couldn't possibly commit harassment, and how it's okay to be ugly as long as you play your cards right. 

He then reveals that he guards against legal assault charges by sending himself "consent" forms from the phones of women he sleeps with, all before announcing that he had, in fact, created both the Sh***y Bar List and the seminar in order to lecture local bar owners. It's all at once disappointing, hilarious, and perfectly in character for the sociopathic Dennis.

Mac And Dennis Move to the Suburbs features some epic meltdowns

It all starts with a bet. Frank insists that Mac and Dennis, who've moved to the suburbs to get a place for a reasonable price, won't be able to hack it for a full month on account of their being "city scum." They insist they can. If Frank wins the wager, they have to sleep in bed with an old man for a year. If they win, Frank pays their rent for the same amount of time.

Turns out, Frank is right. Mac and Dennis' initial excitement at the change of scenery quickly evaporates when they're forced to confront long commutes, malfunctioning smoke detectors, obnoxiously polite neighbors, and repetitive meals from Mac, who plays housewife while Dennis works. Both remain determined to last out the month, but their sanity and their relationship begin to spiral out of control.

And then, just when they're about to murder each other, Frank, Dee, and Charlie arrive to congratulate them on their victory — the month is over. Dennis and Mac are suddenly friendly again ... until they realize that Frank only agreed to pay their rent at this place for a year. They take the loss to avoid 11 more month of hell.

There's plenty to enjoy in this episode, but the best parts are Dennis' temper tantrums, which get more and more over the top as he loses his mind. Any Dennis meltdown is worth a watch, but these are probably the funniest.

The Gang Goes to a Water Park is a perfect storm of madness

Even when the gang is just looking to have some fun, they can't help being vindictive and insane. In "The Gang Goes to a Water Park," Dennis ends up finding a young protégé in the form of a 12-year-old girl. He teaches her how to steal out in the open and get away with it, and she becomes the master by using his lessons to rob his own locker. Meanwhile, Mac and Dee get trapped in a slide with a bunch of kids. It'd make for a good horror story if their hysterical performances didn't make it so funny.

At the same time, there's even more hilarious horror when Frank and Charlie, having set out to ride everything at the park, come upon a not-yet-opened water slide. Not seeing why a slide would need to be "turned on" like a roller coaster, the two hop on, only realizing on the way down that water slides require, well, water. Without it, the friction tears their backs open, pouring blood into the pool below. That'd be bad enough, only the "gruesome twosome" spent the day skipping to the front of lines by saying Charlie has AIDs, allowing him to go first as part of a Make-a-Wish-style program. The sight of "AIDs blood" in the water sends everyone into a panic, clearing the pool immediately.

Hero or Hate Crime features a major reveal

Whenever the gang goes to some kind of professional to settle their disputes, it never ends well. Therapists, lawyers, and judges alike have given up on these hysterical psychopaths in disgust and shock. Fortunately for us, this Always Sunny episode is no different, although it does have an important ending.

In the beginning of "Hero or Hate Crime," Mac is chasing a scratch-off lottery ticket that's slipped out of Dee's purse when a piano almost falls on top of him. Frank saves his life by shouting out a warning to him that includes a certain slur for gay people. Yes, that one.

The gang goes to an arbitrator to determine both who owns the scratch-off ticket (which nobody has even bothered to activate, making it likely worthless) and to settle whether or not Frank is, as the title suggests, a hero for saving Mac's life or a bigot for involving an offensive slur in the process. The ownership of the ticket itself is a mess to sort out due to various revelations. But it's the second issue that makes the episode memorable, in that Mac finally admits he's gay. Both we and the gang had suspected it for some time, but it was a disarmingly triumphant and heartfelt moment nonetheless.

The song from The Nightman Cometh is a hilarious earworm

Sing it with us: "Dayman, ah-ah-ahhhhh! Fighter of the Nightman. Ah-ah-ahhhh!" 

Sorry about stuffing that tune into your head, but everyone loves the most famous song from Charlie's absurd "Nightman" musical. It's about, well, a Dayman, played by Dennis, who fights a Nightman, played by Mac. Frank plays a troll, one who levies a toll on anyone who wants to get to "the boy's soul" (although, much to Charlie's irritation, Frank keeps accidentally saying "boy's hole"). Dee plays the princess, whose lines also seem pretty inappropriate in regards to kids, and when she ad-libs some lyrics explaining her character isn't a pervert, that enrages Charlie more.

In the end, though, despite the audience laughing at what the gang intended to be serious, Charlie descends onto the stage, dressed in a yellow outfit. He then proposes to the Waitress, who'd only attended on the condition that Charlie never speak to her again afterwards. Needless to say, she rejects his marriage offer and storms out, ending the episode.

It's one of the most bizarre and hilarious episodes the show ever did. It's also so popular that the actors led a crowd in a brief rendition of the song at the 2011 Comic-Con, and "Dayman" was adapted for the stage in real life.

The unbroken shot in Charlie Work is mind-blowing

We know, we know. One-shot scenes can be a little gimmicky. But look no further than the opening of Touch of Evil, that ambush scene from Children of Men, and ... let us check our notes here ... an episode of FX's It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia for proof that it can be mesmerizing when done right.

It might seem weird that the high-water mark of a show known for being riotously funny is one of the least traditionally funny episodes there is. That's not to say that season 10's "Charlie Work," in which Charlie frantically gets the pub in shape for an in-process health inspection without the inspector realizing, isn't hysterical. It is. There are plenty of hilarious lines and moments, like the opening scene when Charlie rushes to warn everyone about the impending surprise inspection and stumbles upon the rest of the gang stuffing dozens of chickens into cages to pull of an air mileage scam (don't ask).

But it's the mind-blowing craftsmanship of the episode, featuring the aforementioned, unbroken, seven-minute inspection sequence that make it so memorable. It's one of those things they must've rehearsed a hundred times to pull off so seamlessly, and it shows.