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It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia Characters Ranked From Horrible To Truly Horrible

When ranking the characters from FXX's "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," the usual metrics don't feel adequate. Rankings typically go from worst to best, but on this show, everyone is some shade of awful. The baseline for its characters is "horrible," with the worst of the worst being outright criminal.

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" debuted on FX on August 4, 2005, with a seven-episode first season that, while it didn't set the world on fire, managed a renewal. Friends Mac (Rob McElhenney), Charlie (Charlie Day), Dennis (Glenn Howerton), and Dennis' twin sister, Dee (Kaitlin Olson)–referred to collectively as "The Gang"–started that first season at Paddy's Pub, which they co-own. Danny DeVito's Frank was added in the second season for some star power. He fits in so well with the original Gang that it seems he's been there all along. The show eventually drew comparisons to "Seinfeld," in that the main characters of both shows are pretty terrible people doing pretty terrible things, though The Gang is much worse.

As noted in The Philadelphia Inquirer in 2020, the show's renewal through Season 18 makes it "the longest-running scripted comedy ever." Besides The Gang, there are several recurring characters, some of whom became more corrupted with long-term exposure to The Gang. Here, then, is our ranking of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" characters from the generally unpleasant to the truly reprehensible.

Gail the Snail

Gail (Mary Lynn Rajskub), who first appeared in the Season 5 episode "The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention," is Dennis and Dee's cousin. She doesn't like when salt is thrown at her, which results in her nickname, "Gail the Snail." Dennis and Dee think she is disgusting because she kinda is. She gives sexual favors to men under the table while in public. She even tries to pleasure her uncle Frank in front of her mother, though as she protests to her mom, he's only an uncle by marriage. 

Gail has gross habits inappropriate for her 33 years, including sucking in her own spit. Perpetually sullen, she lives at home with her mother, Dennis and Dee's Aunt Donna (Nora Dunn). Granted, Gail is arguably the way she is because Dennis and Dee treated her like absolute garbage when they were kids, but she's not around them enough as an adult (from what we're shown) that she should continue to be such a horrible person. And yet she is.

Artemis Dubois

Artemis Dubois (Artemis Pebdani) is a friend of Dee's from acting class. She first appears in the Season 1 episode "Charlie Has Cancer." She soon becomes a better friend of Frank's, sleeping with him off and on. Artemis appears regularly in the first nine seasons, then makes occasional appearances thereafter.

One way viewers know Artemis isn't a great person is that she hangs out with the selfish and shallow Dee. Another is that she sleeps with Frank. We're not talking about a woman of discernment here. Artemis also has a very strong, egocentric personality, which actually makes her fit in with The Gang, as she can be as depraved as they are. For example, in the Season 5 episode "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," Artemis agrees to take Dee's place on a blind date with a soldier, Ben (Travis Schuldt), who's wheelchair-bound. While Dee is put off by the wheelchair, Artemis digs it — but only because that means she can control the relationship.

Artemis is somewhat of an exhibitionist, is extremely open about her body (including the bleached parts) and life, and is generally obnoxious. While most people who meet The Gang immediately or at least are eventually horrified by them, Artemis enjoys their debauchery. She's also been involved in The Gang's filming of their sixth and seventh sequels to "Lethal Weapon." In one of her best horrible moments, Artemis doses Dee, The Waitress, and Charlie's and Mac's moms with ayahuasca in the Season 13 episode "The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot."

The Ponderosas

Bill (Lance Barber) and Maureen (Catherine Reitman) are high school crushes of Dennis and Dee, respectively. They first appear in the Season 6 episode "Mac Fights Gay Marriage."

Dennis and Dee agree to meet with Maureen and Bill and are eager to see them. Although Dee is repulsed that Bill has let himself go since high school–-not to mention he's married with kids–-she still sleeps with him and enjoys the perks of her affair, including a nice car he gives her. What makes him more horrible than just having an affair is that once his wife throws him out, he forces Dee to let him move in by holding the car over her head, tricks her into helping him kidnap his kids, and also has an affair with a prostitute to whom he gave the very same car. Oh, and he wears Dee's robe without permission while he lazes around her apartment. 

Maureen's awfulness is slowly revealed. At first, she seems sweet when she and Dennis reconnect. He's so besotted that he marries her despite her nickname of "Dead Tooth"–she literally has a dead tooth that smells bad. Maureen is also strange. She wears cat pajamas, acts like a cat, doesn't have a job, and worse, is clingy. Dennis wants a divorce, and Maureen threatens to say he beat her if he doesn't leave his own apartment. She hires The Lawyer (Brian Unger), who hates The Gang and saddles Dennis with $90,000 in debt.

The Waitress

The Waitress (Mary Elizabeth Ellis) is one of the longest-running secondary characters, appearing in the first episode of the series, "The Gang Gets Racist," and in all 15 seasons. At first, she seems like a decent, or at least normal, person. She works at a local coffee shop Charlie frequents because he's had a thing for her since they were in high school together, but she does not reciprocate; in fact, that she files numerous restraining orders against him throughout the series because he stalks her (fun fact: in real life, Ellis and Charlie Day are married).

She does, however, have a thing for Dennis, which Dennis exploits on occasion even though he has no interest in her. In the Season 2 episode, "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," the Waitress sleeps with Frank in order to hurt Dennis, who has rejected her yet again, but the act only winds up destroying Charlie because Dennis couldn't care less.

In the Season 8 episode "Charlie and Dee Find Love," the Waitress finally gets rid of Charlie, who, it turns out, was secretly taking care of her during his stalking. Without Charlie's machinations, her life falls apart. Rather than get herself together, she lets Charlie resume his stalking at a shorter distance. The tables turn in Season 12 in the episode "Dennis' Double Life," when the Waitress and Charlie finally have sex. He dumps her and she more or less stalks him. The never-named Waitress is also the type of alcoholic who gets mean when she's drunk. She winds up working different jobs because she's a mess.

Charlie's Mom

Bonnie, who first appears in the Season 1 episode "Charlie Got Molested," seems OK at first, but it's not long before her personality flaws pop out. Not only did she cheat on Charlie's father, but it turns out she slept with Frank, who may actually be Charlie's bio-daddy. 

In Season 2's "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," Dennis seeks revenge on Charlie by trying to bed Bonnie, who declines because she's not interested. This actually mitigates her horribleness; turning down the possible sociopath Dennis is a plus. Then, in the Season 6 episode "Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down," Mac's mom becomes Bonnie's roommate and the two get on like a house on fire because they are both racist and xenophobic. This reveal seems at odds with Bonnie's general sweet nature until the viewer remembers she's into jerks like Frank. Other horrible things Bonnie does include faking cancer in Season 8's "Charlie's Mom Has Cancer" to earn money to repair the damage she and Mac's mom did to a church statue and getting involved with Mac's jailbird father, Luther. Bonnie exhibits internalized misogyny in the Season 13 episode, "The Gang Beats Boggs: Ladies Reboot," when she is freaked out that their flight to Los Angeles has two women pilots. She also doesn't think women do math.  

Mac's Mom

Mrs. McDonald (Sandy Martin) is Mac's mom. She rarely talks, preferring to grunt instead. She smokes. A lot. While she gets more of a name than the Waitress, she is still only referred to as "Mrs. Mac" or "Mac's mom." Mac's mom first appears in the Season 2 episode, "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom," wherein Dennis attempts to seduce her and she shoots him down, telling Dennis he's an "ugly man." That's a point in her favor. 

Still, Mac's mom is worse than Charlie's because while Charlie's mom actually seems to like Charlie, Mac's mom is indifferent to Mac. She doesn't hate or love him—she simply doesn't care about him. In Season 3's "Mac Is a Serial Killer," when asked if Mac could, in fact, be a killer, Mac's mom doesn't defend him—she just says, "Yeah." In Season 4's "Mac and Charlie Die (Part 2)," Mac's mom sleeps through his funeral. His outsize devotion to her is returned with nothing.

After she burns her own house down in Season 2, she becomes Charlie's mom's roommate, and they bond over their shared prejudices. It's a blessing that Mac's mom smokes and grunts so much because when she does talk, not much good comes out.

Mac's Dad

Luther McDonald (Gregory Scott Cummins) is Mac's felon of a father who spends quite a bit of time in and out of prison. His first appearance is in the Season 2 episode "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad."

Luther is a drug dealer, a thief, and a bad father. He also doesn't blink so he can appear more intimidating. When Mac tries to reconnect with him in prison, Luther says they can bond if Mac and Charlie smuggle heroin into prison for him. During Season 3's "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender," Luther gets out of prison and asks Mac to help him "take care of some people." Mac and Charlie assume the worst and turn Luther in to the police. Luther was actually making amends, which is a point in his favor. But once Mac and Charlie blab to the fuzz, it's no more Mr. Nice Guy. 

What makes Luther worse than Mac's mom, though, is what happens in the Season 13 episode "Mac Finds His Pride." Frank convinces Mac, who has come out to The Gang as gay, that he needs to come out to Luther as well. Luther mistakenly believes Mac is going to become a father himself, which makes him happy. During the middle of the dance Mac choreographs as his coming out statement, Luther realizes what Mac really wanted to tell him and leaves. Despite Luther having a threesome with Charlie's mom and another man, Luther apparently can't support his son being gay.

Matthew "Rickety Cricket" Mara

Another of the Gang's high school friends/victims, Matthew Mara (David Hornsby) is a priest who is absolutely ruined by The Gang. Because he had to wear leg braces, they called him "Rickety Cricket." He loves Dee even after all the terrible things she and the rest put him through. 

Cricket first appears in the season two episode "The Gang Exploits a Miracle," as Father Mara. He comes to Paddy's to see a stain that allegedly looks like the Virgin Mary. Dee pretends she is in love with him so he will bless the stain. Instead, he leaves the priesthood for her. From there, it's a complete slide into debasement. Cricket eventually gets addicted to PCP and crack, spiraling until his life is ruined. Cricket ends up homeless and suffers indignities such as having his legs broken and half his face burned. He's a disaster, but he almost always willingly gets into these messes because he loves Dee.

All of this seems like he should be a sympathetic figure, but he's not such a saint. In Season 3's "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off," Cricket enters a dance marathon in hopes of winning Paddy's Bar and getting revenge on The Gang. Instead, he fails, and in an attempt to kneecap another dancer, strikes Dee's knees instead. In Season 7's "The High School Reunion," Cricket pretends he's gotten his life back together, but he's just there to pickpocket everyone. He also seems to sport new injuries with every appearance, even if they don't happen on screen. Poor Cricket's a big bag of awful.

The McPoyles

Led by fraternal twins Liam (Jimmi Simpson) and Ryan (Nate Mooney), the McPoyles are an awful family and the main nemeses of The Gang. They first appear in season one's "Charlie Got Molested." Their patriarch is Pappy McPoyle, played by Guillermo del Toro, who first appears in Season 8. 

Charlie and Mac know the McPoyles from grammar school. The McPoyles are known for inbreeding, drinking milk, unibrows, and eczema. They're also known for hating The Gang, especially Charlie, who foils their heinous get-rich-quick scheme in "Charlie Got Molested." Mac describes the McPoyles as smelling like "unwiped a**holes" in school, and they don't seem to have gotten better as adults. There are so many of them that it's hard to keep track.

Besides the inbreeding and the lack of personal hygiene, the McPoyles are the most horrible of the secondary characters because they want to take over the world. Well, Liam does. In Season 8's "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre," Liam plans to marry Maureen in order to "taint" the bloodlines of the "outside" world with McPoyle blood and the McPoyles can then reign supreme. Of course, things go catastrophically wrong courtesy of Bill Ponderosa, and Liam winds up losing an eye. Ryan also notes that there were once thousands of McPoyles. Considering how many are usually around when one shows up, that's not hard to believe. The get-rich-quick scheme, by the way, was framing an old coach for molestation of them when they were kids. The McPoyles are almost evil. They're only less horrible than The Gang because they get less screen time. 

Charles Rutherford "Charlie" Kelly

It seems only natural that the truly horrible characters in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" should be the five main characters that make up The Gang, as they're the ones we spend the most time with and they're also the ones who ruined so many of the other characters on this list.

First up is Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day), who formerly co-owned Paddy's Pub but is now relegated to "Charlie Work"–basically the dirty jobs no one else wants to do but that Charlie perversely loves, such as cleaning the bar's restroom and keeping the basement rat-free. Sometimes pitiable and almost lovably bizarre, he's the least despicable of the gang—but also still pretty darn awful. 

Charlie is more or less illiterate—it's his mistake that leads to Paddy's being put up as a prize in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off"—and believes all sorts of weird conspiracies. He stalks The Waitress, and his demented schemes frequently go awry. In Season 4's "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis," Charlie gets into character as the "Wildcard" of The Gang, forgetting, as he usually does when he's in character, that he's not actually a Wildcard. The end result of a scheme to hoard gas and sell it at inflated prices comes to ruin when Charlie, in the back of the van The Gang has loaded up with gas cans, notes that he's cut the brake lines, yells, "Wildcard, b*tches!" and jumps out the back. Everyone bails out and the van crashes and explodes. In Season 15, it's revealed in "The Gang Buys a Roller Rink" that Charlie's irresponsibility led to Dee becoming a monster.

Ronald "Mac" McDonald

Next up is Ronald McDonald (Rob McElhenney), who goes by Mac for obvious reasons. Mac is gay, although he spends most of his time denying it until Seasons 11 and 12. Because of his Catholic upbringing and his mom's xenophobia, he sometimes says anti-Semitic things.

Mac is extremely insecure, which he masks by working out and constantly referring to how buff he is. He often tries to prove he's smart, too, although he's not that bright. Given his mother's indifference and his father's imprisonment, it's not surprising that Mac took refuge in his Catholicism, but he uses the Bible in self-serving ways and discards its teachings when it suits him. Mac's a hypocrite, in other words.

One example of Mac's religious hypocrisy is in the Season 6 episode "Mac Fights Gay Marriage." In previous episodes, Mac dated a trans woman, Carmen (Brittany Daniel), but they broke up before she had gender affirmation surgery. When he runs into her after the surgery, he finds she's married to another man. Because Carmen didn't immediately come running back to Mac after the surgery, Mac decides she is in a "gay marriage." He proselytizes to her to protect the sanctity of marriage, but really, he's just jealous.

Despite the fact that Mac is horrible and self-centered, when he comes out to his father in "Mac Finds His Pride" only to be rejected, it's heart-wrenching. Fortunately, he soon goes back to being his hypocritical, funny self.

Frank Reynolds

Frank Reynolds (Danny DeVito) is Dennis and Dee's legal father, but not their biological dad. Their mother lied to them about their parentage because of Frank's wealth. It's possible he's Charlie's biological dad, though, from a one-night stand he had with Bonnie. Despite the non-biological connection, Frank continues to hang out with The Gang and occasionally act as Dennis and Dee's father figure.

Frank likes prostitutes, drugs, and depravity. Although he's rich, he chooses to live in squalor with Charlie. Frank frequently goads on the schemes of the others, but he almost always has his own angle. He's so out of control at one point that in Season 5's "The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention." he tries to hook up with his deceased wife's sister, Donna, and winds up messing around with Gail the Snail. He is always drunk. He also takes a weird shine to eggs, which becomes a running gag.

Like several of the main gang, Frank's committed numerous crimes, including illegal gambling, illegally owning firearms, brandishing firearms, and assault. He's also the grossest of the bunch. In Season 4's "Who Pooped the Bed?" Frank and Charlie, who share a sofa bed, wake up each morning to find a turd between them. They drag Mac, Dennis, and Artemis into finding the culprit, but after taking the stool to be analyzed and other shenanigans, Frank finally admits he's the one who's been defecating in bed every night. When asked why, he gleefully says, "Because poop is funny!"

Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds

Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds (Kaitlin Olson) is the twin sister of Dennis Reynolds. She's often pejoratively called a "bird" by the others. In the Season 15 episode "The Gang Buys a Roller Rink," it's revealed that Dee was once a beacon of sweetness and light until an accident caused by Charlie's recklessness resulted in her hitting her head and becoming the vain and shallow woman we all know and love.

Dee is an aspiring actress and stand-up comedian, but she's terrible at both. Because Dee is ignored and belittled by The Gang because she's a woman, she is determined to prove herself. This frequently involves Dee doing something incredibly selfish and damaging, such as how she started Rickety Cricket on his downward spiral.

One of Dee's biggest horrible moments, though, was referenced in season nine's "Gun Fever Too: Still Hot," when Dee fails a background check to buy a gun because she'd once set someone on fire and wound up in an institution. Another horrible moment from Dee occurs when she tricks the Waitress into getting her a job in the Season 3 episode, "The Gang Sells Out." Dee soon shirks her duties, guzzles beer, and generally acts unethically. Charlie shows up and gets hired, and soon after, Dennis works there, too. Under Dee's tutelage, Dennis acts just as unethically. Before long, not only do they all get fired, but they get the Waitress fired, too.

Dennis Reynolds

Dennis Reynolds (Glenn Howerton) is Dee's twin brother. He is by far the worst of all The Gang for a major reason: He's most likely a rapist and quite possibly a serial killer.

Dennis, like Dee, is vain, superficial, and easily angered. He's obsessed with having as much sex as possible, too. Even after his disastrously brief marriage to Maureen Ponderosa, he sleeps with her again in "The Maureen Ponderosa Wedding Massacre" because she's fixed her teeth and gotten breast implants.

In Season 5's "The D.E.N.N.I.S System," Dennis breaks down his seduction techniques, which include emotional manipulation. In Season 6's "The Gang Buys a Boat," Dennis tells Mac bringing women on the boat they bought will help with seduction because of "the implication" of what could happen if the women say no. Mac is horrified when he figures out what the implication is.

Dennis continues to get worse as the seasons progress. In "The Gang Gets Analyzed" from Season 8, Dennis tells the therapist how he gave Mac "Mexican ephedra" when Mac gained weight so he'd get thin again. He didn't care about Mac's health, just that he personally found Mac "gross." In Season 15's "The Gang Makes Lethal Weapon 7," Dennis learns that by parroting younger women's ideologies back at them, he can have more one-night stands.

As for confirming whether Dennis is a serial killer, Rob McElhenney told Rolling Stone, "I think we're about as close to it as we all feel comfortable." The world may never know.