Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia's Pilot Was Insanely Cheap To Produce

Making an original TV show seems like a daunting endeavor. That's why it's such a feel-good story to hear about the time a group of friends decided to act in and produce their own series, and it ended up turning into one of the longest-running live-action comedies of all time. 

"It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" has become a comedic institution at this point. Over the years, fans have tuned in to watch the Gang get into all sorts of mischief, from selling gasoline door-to-door to getting back at everyone who made fun of them in high school. They've proven themselves to be everyone's favorite sociopaths who care very little for things like empathy or togetherness. 

That was evident from the Season 1 episode when Dennis (Glenn Howerton) stops by Charlie's (Charlie Day) apartment for a basketball. When Charlie reveals he's dying from cancer, Dennis can't wait to get out of there as opposed to comforting his friend. As it turns out, that premise was the first thing Howerton, Day, and Rob McElhenney, who plays Mac, shot to get "It's Always Sunny" off the ground, and they managed to film it for an insanely low price.

It's Always Sunny has come a long way

"It's Always Sunny" started as a series of short films the three main actors wanted to make to get themselves more work. Over time, they realized the shorts worked better as a potential TV show, so they shopped it around to various networks, and the rest is television history. 

When the show was picked up, it was given a budget of roughly $400,000 per episode, which is still vastly lower than what most shows were given at the time (via The Los Angeles Times). However, when the guys were shooting it on their own, they only had somewhere in the area of between $80 and $200 to shoot the pilot, most of which went toward tape for the camera (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The pilot they filmed eventually became the Season 1 episode, "Charlie Has Cancer," with some noteworthy differences, including how in the original pilot, Dennis goes to Charlie's apartment for some sugar whereas, in the actual episode, he wants a basketball. Additionally, the original pilot had the three working as actors in Los Angeles, but that was changed in the actual show to them owning a bar in Philadelphia. At this time, the show was also called "It's Always Sunny on TV."

They took their self-shot pilot to various networks, with FX eventually picking it up.