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Dee: Are you really going to throw away all your convictions just for a chance to get laid?
It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a critically acclaimed sitcom that began in 2005 and airs on FX, with reruns now airing on Comedy Central as well.
The show goes to great lengths in bringing the Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist to new lows. The three guys one girl structure and selfish characters have led many critics to compare the show to Seinfeld, and was frequently called "Seinfeld on crack" by critics.
The show follows a group of friends, regularly called "the gang," which consists of Dennis Reynolds, Deandra "Sweet Dee" Reynolds, Charlie Kelly, and Mac. They run Paddy's Pub, a struggling Philadelphia dive bar. Dennis is the vain prep from a rich family. Dee is his slutty, shrill and insecure sister. Charlie is the high-strung idiot-savant who is obsessed with the waitress at a coffee shop. Mac is the wanna-be bruiser who is forever stuck in adolescence. In the second season, Danny Devito joins the cast as Dennis and Dee's neglectful father Frank, a shady businessman who is drawn to the gang's depraved lifestyle.
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- Aborted Arc: The revelation that Frank isn't Dee and Dennis's dad, but is Charlie's dad was largely dropped after season three and is rarely referenced since then. In the Christmas Special, however, Charlie's glue-clouded memories imply that Frank visited his mother while she was a prostitute.
- Absurdly Spacious Sewer: In "Thunder Gun Express".
- Accidental Innuendo:
- From "Mac and Charlie Die":
Dee: Charlie, open up! We've got a dick-hole in the bar, I need you to come fill it in!
- "Whack off" is constantly used in "The Gang Gets Whacked". In the same episode Mac claims that he's hard and he'll explode all over anyone who crosses him.
- Charlie and Mac discuss getting cream all over Dennis's face in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off".
- Lampshaded in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", where Mac refers to the trio of guys getting "plowed in the ass" (i.e. screwed over by gas prices) several times and has to clarify that he's not talking about gay sex.
- In "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad" Charlie and Mac talk about getting hard (tough) without having to get stuff (heroin) shoved up their asses. Frank is understandably confused.
- Accidental Kidnapping: Happens a few times. Usually, the gang are just too stupid to notice what they're doing.
- Actor Allusion: In "Sweet Dee has a Heart Attack", Frank escapes a mental institution in the same manner as Chief Broom in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Danny De Vito played a minor character in that movie.
- The Alcoholic:
- The waitress really has a drinking problem.
- Presumably Artemis, who says that she doesn't remember most nights in "Who Got Dee Pregnant?"
- Dee's high school drama teacher. The only reason he was so inspirational back then was because he was drunk all the time, and he's lost any charm or drive he used to have, as Dee discovers.
- Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Happens often.
- All Just a Dream: Mac's centre-ice slapshot in "Mac's Big Break".
- All Love Is Unrequited: Charlie loves the Waitress who couldn't care less about him. The Waitress has a crush on Dennis who couldn't care less about her. Rickety Cricket loves Dee who couldn't care less about him. Sense a pattern here?
- Amoral Attorney: Averted--for once--in that The Lawyer is actually less manipulative and unscrupulous than The Gang...until he's pushed too far.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude: Agent Jack Bauer, Dennis's cat in "Bums: Making a Mess All Over The City".
- Art Shift: On "A Very Sunny Christmas," Frank blacks out after crashing his car and imagines himself in a Rankin-Bass stop-motion Christmas special world.
- Badass Longcoat: The male members of the gang love trenchcoats and dusters. Mac owns a black duster that the other guys covet.
- Batman Gambit:
- The flip-cup challenge at the end of "The Gang Reignites The Rivalry". The gang puts Dee at the beginning of their lineup against the frat boys, knowing that the frat boys would all finish before Dennis, Mac, or Charlie would have to drink, and poisoned all of the beers beforehand.
- Dee pulls off several in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off" to get everyone eliminated so she can win the dance contest. It almost works too except that Rickety Cricket botches her last attempt.
- In "The Gang Finds a Dumpster Baby", Dennis gets into a rivalry with a local environmentalist trying to protect a tree from being bulldozed. So Dennis offers to chain himself to the tree, knowing that the guy would insist on doing it himself. Then, while the guy is chained to the tree all night in the rain, Dennis has sex with his girlfriend. To top it off, he comes back the next day, unchains the guy, and watches the tree get bulldozed anyway.
- Charlie, of all people, plans one in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom." It is almost entirely successful.
- Beach Episode: "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore". Which, in true Sunny fashion, is hardly as sexy, sunny, or fun as any other show would have it.
- Beauty Pageant: "Frank's Little Beauties" is about the eponymous child beauty pageant.
- Berserk Button:
- Charlie loses his sanity at the thought of someone having sex with his mother, which is unfortunate since his mother's a prostitute.
- Dennis also takes any blow to his narcissism very poorly.
- Bindle Stick: Charlie attempts to construct one, with no success.
- Big No: Liam McPoyle, several times.
- Bigger Is Better in Bed: Dennis.
- Big Screwed-Up Family: Frank was a terrible father who relentlessly emotionally tortured Dennis and Dee, and succesfully hooked up with his neice. Their mother was a heartless bitch to Dee. It turns out Charlie is also Franks REAL son., and Dennis and Dee were actually bastard children born from an affair their mom had. Mac was their mother's lover in season 2.
- The Blank: Green Man.
- Booze Flamethrower: In "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis", Mac and then Charlie do this with mouthfuls of gasoline.
- Break the Cutie:
- Matthew Mara (Rickety Cricket) goes from a clean-cut, mature, and successful priest to a crack-addicted street rat who has lost his mind. All thanks to Dee.
- In "Mac Bangs Dennis's Mom," Charlie's plan to get revenge on Dennis and have sex with the Waitress causes her to break down by the end of the episode and have sex with Frank. She enters Paddy's in a state of total hysteria.
- Brick Joke: Frank's rum ham, which is lost and then turns up at the end of the episode.
- Brother-Sister Incest:
- The McPoyles, brother-sister and brother-brother.
- Played with in the Night Man musical, which casts Dee and Dennis as lovers resulting in a kiss being modified into an erotically-charged hug. Dee's also quite concerned that it makes her look like a pedophile.
- In the aptly titled "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" Dennis becomes convinced that he's the father. He's not.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Charlie, who also looks the part.
- Butt Monkey: Dee and Charlie, along with Rickety Cricket (though he does get revenge on the gang in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops" until Frank lacerates his throat with a trash can).
- There's also some guy in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis". Frank's van smashes into it on three separate occasions, ending with the van going the way of the Pinto.
- Camp: Electric Dream Machine, the band Charlie and Dennis form in "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person".
- Can't Get Away with Nuthin': Despite blatant sabotage within the referee's field of view, anyone who hits the floor for any reason is disqualified during the dance marathon in "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off".
- Cast Full of Writers: Rob McElhenney (Mac) created the show with the help of Glenn Howerton (Dennis), and the two of them plus Charlie Day (Charlie) have been writing on the show from the beginning. Another staff writer (amongst other things), David Hornsby, plays Rickety Cricket.
- Catch Phrase: Very often discussed and lampshaded.
- Mac starts calling people "bozo" in "The Gang Hits the Road," saying it's his "new thing," then asks Charlie if he thinks it's cool.
- In "Mac's Big Break," Mac becomes fixated on calling people "jabroni," which Charlie thinks is awesome.
- After Franks asks, "What's the action" a few times, Mac derisively asks if he's trying to make it his new catchphrase.
- Mac often says, "Guys, I've got big news!" or some variation thereof when he walks into Paddy's Pub. This is lampshaded in "Chardee MacDennis," when Mac arrives at the bar with no plot hook to deliver, and the gang notes how unusual this is.
- People in the gang often shout "Eyyoooo!" whenever they arrive at Paddy's midway through a scene, often followed (in Mac's case) with "Whats up, bitches?"
- Caught with Your Pants Down: Happens to Charlie. Multiple times.
- Centipede's Dilemma: Dee has a real problem with choking during flip-cup in "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry".
- Chaotic Stupid: When the gang determined that Charlie is the "Wild Card" of the group, Charlie took it as a cue to go completely insane. Not that he had far to go.
- Characterization Marches On: In season one Dennis spent an entire episode feeling very uncomfortable that a sexy eighteen year old high school student was flirting with him. By season six he now boasts that he always dated freshman girls in school, and prefers having sex with girls that are so young he needs to check their ID to make sure they're legal.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- The Nightman Cometh. Well, Chekhov's Musical.
- In "The Waitress Is Getting Married":
Charlie:"I'm gonna pop a quick H on this box, so we all know it has hornets in it."
- Dee wanting to be a surrogate mother. Her pregnancy in season six is actually surrogate--for Carmen, the transsexual.
- Childhood Friends: Mac and Charlie knew each other since they were little kids, and bonded over their terrible home life. After Mac started hanging out with Dennis and the other cool kids in high school, he managed to bring Charlie along into their circle too.
- Class Reunion: "The High School Reunion".
- Cluster F-Bomb: Charlie's mall Santa freak out in the Christmas Special.
- Comedic Sociopathy
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Continuity Cavalcade: "The High School Reunion"
- Continuity Nod:
- In the episode where the gang goes on a road trip, Charlie reveals he has never left the city of Philadelphia in his entire life. When they near the city limits he panics and abandons the trip. Several seasons later in "The Gang Gets Stranded In The Woods", they have him locked in the trunk of their car to keep him from escaping when they go to a party outside the city. This is referenced again in "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", where the gang decides to hit the Shore but first discuss the logistics of knocking out Charlie.
- If a character suffers a bad injury in one episode, it usually carries over into the next.
- The gang makes a promotional tape for Paddy's Pub merchandise in "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens". It seems that they didn't completely record over the footage they recorded in "Franks Sets Sweet Dee on Fire".
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", Charlie wears cutoffs and shows Mac their "advantage"--the ability to pull a wider split, which Dennis showed him in "The Gang Gets Extreme: Home Makeover Edition".
- In "Frank's Pretty Woman", when the eponymous hooker suddenly starts smoking crack, Dennis gets extremely uncomfortable and quickly leaves the room, implying that his addiction from "Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare" is still a problem. Later he talks about how amazing crack is and how much he wants another hit.
- Again in "Frank's Pretty Woman", Roxie's client "Tiger Woods" is actually the same actor hired to impersonate Donovan McNabb in "The Gang Gets Invincible".
- Charlie's small forearm tattoo that he started giving himself in "Dennis and Dee Get a New Dad" is apparently present from that episode forward, though no one ever remarks upon it and it was only established in a blink-and-you'll-miss-it close-up to begin with. It reads "BAD NEW," apparently having been intended to read "BAD NEWS" but never completed.
- In "The ANTI-Social Network", Frank calls himself Dr. Mantis Toboggan, the alias he used in "The D.E.N.N.I.S. System."
- In "Thunder Gun Express," Frank tells a number of stories of events from previous episodes to a boat full of Asian tourists.
- "The High School Reunion" references Mac's dog Poppins and a number of minor characters mentioned in passing in earlier seasons. Dennis ex-wife of two episodes makes an appearance, as does the guy who got a box full of hornets from Charlie for dumping the Waitress. Really, the episode is just wall-to-wall references to past episodes, characters, and relationships.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: In "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters", Mac and Dennis hunt down Rickety Cricket with the intent of teabagging him or gluing pubes to his face.
- Crapsack World: Everyone in the gang is a horrible person. The few good people that appear will often have their entire lives ruined by them.
- Creepy Uncle: Charlie's Uncle Jack.
- Crime After Crime: "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia".
- Criminal Doppelganger: The self-explanatory episode "Dennis Looks Like a Registered Sex Offender."
- Cringe Comedy: The show relies on a lot of this. Particular examples include the Birds of War in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops," the beauty pageant in "Frank Reynolds' Little Beauties," and "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge."
- Critical Research Failure:
- Frank was under the impression that "gay marriage" meant one of the partners had to have a sex change.
- Frank was under the impression that "sex change" meant having ones dick chopped off and sold to the Chinese.
- Charlie seems to think that the way birth works is that the sperm eats the egg, gets strong, and grows into a baby.
- Charlie also seems to think that the smoke from burning trash will turn into stars.
- In "The ANTI-Social Network", Frank thinks that viral videos actually have something to do with disease.
- In "Mac and Dennis Break Up", we learn Mac is convinced that apple skin is diseased and that you can detox by smoking. All the guys think apple seeds are really bad for you.
- Dancing Is Serious Business: In the season finale episode "The gang dances their ass off", where Paddy's Pub hosts a dance-athon for all of Philadelphia, and the winner receives ownership of the entire bar. Sabotage, alliances, and broken kneecaps ensue.
- The Danza:
- Charlie Kelly is played by Charlie Day, Mac is played by Rob McElhenny, and recurring character Artemis is played by Artemis Pebdani.
- In-universe example in "Mac and Charlie Write a Movie", where Mac and Charlie want the lead to be played by Dolph Lundgren. When they try to pitch it to Dennis, Charlie insists on the lead character also being named Dolph Lundgren. Mac argues that this would be confusing.
- Date Rape:
- The sales pitch scene in "The Aluminum Monster vs. Fatty Mc Goo" implies that Dennis has raped (or at least molested) several women in the past. At one point he says, "Okay. I'm not gonna take no for an answer, because I just refuse to do that. Because I'm a winner, and winners... we don't listen to words like 'no,' or 'don't,' or 'STOP!'" Later he says that the words "please don't do that" have never worked on him.
- In "The Gang Buys a Boat," Dennis explains that he likes taking women out onto the ocean alone because they'll always put out, due to "the implication" that something bad could happen if they refuse. Mac is creeped out by the strategy, but by the end of the episode is making a very overt attempt to do the same thing.
- Dead Air: Occurs during Dee and Dennis's podcast recording in "Mac's Big Break", prompting Frank to call in guest Rickety Cricket.
- Dead Baby Comedy
- Those dick towels they were trying to market? You can buy them, but don't Google them.
- Greenman, which has not only been defictionalized, but is well on its way to cultural phenomenon status.
- Recipes for "milk steak", a dish Charlie apparently made up in "The Waitress Is Getting Married", have appeared online.
- Depraved Bisexual: The McPoyle brothers.
- Digital Piracy Is Evil: On the second season DVD extras, Rob McElhenny jokingly asks viewers to neither pirate the episodes nor lend the DVD to their friends, but to make their friends buy their own copies. So he can get really, really rich.
- Dirty Coward: Mac, Dennis, and Charlie always flee from confrontation.
- When someone tries to mug them in an alleyway, they throw Dee to the ground and bolt, abandoning her.
- When the guys realize that they don't have enough money to cover their restaurant bill, they agree to solve the problem like they solve every problem, and promptly run away.
- When Mac and Charlie don't have enough money to pay the dozen prostitutes they've hired, they run away, still wearing their top hats and tails.
- The Ditz: Dee's soldier boyfriend Ben.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- The lyrics to Night Man (the second half of them, anyway) sound like an account of someone (possibly Charlie, since he did write the song) getting molested in his sleep by a man who broke into his room. It has been lampshaded.
- Politically: In "The Gang Solves The North Korea Situation," the gang's dilemma with the Korean restaurant is made to parallel US-Korean relations. The owner, "Mr. Kim," is suspected of "enriching" his beer.
- In "The Gang Goes Jihad," where the gang's issues with an Israeli who buys the land their bar is on and later builds a wall around it, parallels the Israel-Palestine dilemma. The Israeli reminds the American characters that their country was also created by stealing land.
- In "The Aluminum Monster Vs. Fatty McGoo", the slave labor conditions are even described as like a concentration camp, with the loud speaker blaring German propaganda, and the workers being described as Eastern Europeans. This is sort of Lampshaded when Mac says "The German war propaganda was a nice touch."
- Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That: In a flashback in "Charlie Has Cancer", Mac punches Dee in the face when she grabs him from behind. This is foreshadowing for him doing the same thing to Carmen in public, causing a couple of guys to chase him over what they think is a hatecrime. A conversation with Dennis suggests this is a common problem;
Mac: She grabbed me from behind. It was instinctual.
- Dumbass DJ:
- The Q Crew.
- In "Mac's Big Break", Dee and Dennis host a radio show where they discuss issues and current events, but the pair quickly devolve into this.
- Dyeing for Your Art: Rob Mc Elhenney gained 50 pounds in order to prove a point about sitcoms for season 7.
- Eats Babies: Sweet Dee, or at least, claims to eat them, bitch!
- Episode Title Card: Often used for gags, as the title will reveal the Foregone Conclusion to what the gang has just discussed.
- Europeans Are Kinky: The episode "Mac and Charlie Die" is heavy on this trope.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Shortly after suggesting the gang hold an involuntary wet tee-shirt contest by locking the doors and hosing down all the women in the bar, Frank finds out that one girl in the bar is actually twelve years old. He immediately throws himself in front of the hose to keep her from getting wet.
- Every Car Is a Pinto: Subverted when Mac and Charlie try to blow up Dee's car, expecting it to easily go up in flames. They try ramming it into a wall, shoot the gas tank, and finally lob a grenade into it, but it never bursts into flames.
- Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep":
- The Waitress. No one in the gang knows her name, even her Stalker with a Crush Charlie. Dennis labels his sex tape "Waitress (Coffee Shop)." Dee calls her "Waitress" to her face. She reacts with disgust each time this happens. It's later revealed that they all went to high school with her, and Dee was in some of her classes. Even the guy who was engaged to her refers to her as "that coffee shop waitress".
- The Lawyer. No one ever calls him by name, though the gang has fewer interactions with him.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: At least 80% of the episode titles.
- Exiled From Continuity: Averted; Rob McElhenney got the idea for Charlie's "Green Man" persona from an unnamed friend, who donned a green zentai suit while attending a football game with McElhenney. McElhenney would later pay his friend an undisclosed amount of money in exchange for the rights to his "character", so that he could use the concept in later episodes.
- Extreme Doormat: Ben, the soldier that Dee dated in season 5. He was so nice and innocent that she'd tell him to sit and wait for her in the car, in blistering 100 degree weather, for hours on end, with the windows rolled up simply because she didn't mention to roll down the windows. Though he does eventually leave her when it's made clear that she's "a mean person."
- Extreme Omnisexual: Frank is now attracted to pumas, but is no longer attracted to mules.
- Extreme Omnivore:
- Mac's old dog Poppins eats cigarette butts, shampoo and cough syrup, and Dennis wouldn't put bronzer past him either.
- Frank and Charlie eat newspapers, credit cards and hair.
- The Face: Dennis is this, relative to the rest of the group. He frequently proves himself to be the only member of the group who can function in certain social situations, though he is hardly a social person.
- Failure Is the Only Option: The gang's ambitious plans never work out, though occasionally their small plans go off without a hitch, often with glorious results.
- Fake Band: Electric Dream Machine and Chemical Toilet from "Sweet Dee's Dating a Retarded Person".
- Faking the Dead: Subverted when Mac and Charlie do this to supposedly escape Mac's dad, who they think is out to kill them. Later it's revealed that Mac's dad wanted nothing to do with them and no one but Frank actually thought they were dead.
- Fell Off the Back of a Truck: $25,000 worth of cocaine belonging to some mobsters in "The Gang Gets Whacked".
- Five Bad Band:Lampshaded throughout "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" as the gang argues over which role they fill in the band. The final version is:
- Flanderization: All the main characters, notably:
- Charlie, who went from "somewhat awkward, sometimes loud, and occasionally dim-witted, with a mild crush on this one waitress" to "entirely illiterate and completely insane with No Indoor Voice." The fact that he's constantly ingesting hazardous materials and putting himself in situations that cause him harm might justify his deteriorating mental state.
- Frank has intentionally flanderized himself over the course of the show. At his introduction, he's a shady businessman who wants to live the gang's depraved lifestyle. His hair becomes increasingly wild between each season, and his behavior becomes more depraved. By Season 5, he's a complete mess.
- For Doom the Bell Tolls: In "A Very Sunny Christmas" when Charlie goes berserk and in "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" when Dennis thinks he's the father of Dee's baby.
- Foreshadowing: Old high school friend Schmitty is mysteriously absent at the high school reunion, but Mac remarks that he'll probably show up at the last possible second to take the most disgusting girl present home. Guess what happens.
- Freudian Excuse:
- Mac's father was a meth dealer who was in prison for most of Mac's life and his mother did not care about him at all - he constantly seeks approval and attention.
- Charlie was an abortion survivor (may or may not have contributed to his impaired mental faculties) with no father (though Frank may be Charlie's missing father), an OCD, overbearing, and sexually promiscuous mother, and was most likely molested as a child (the "Nightman" song) - explains a lot.
- Dennis has a completely amoral father figure (Frank) and a mother who believed he could do no wrong and openly and heavily favored him to Dee - he believes that he is a perfect human being and is overall sociopathic.
- Dee also has Frank as a father, and her mother criticized everything about her, made it known that Dee was unwanted (despite that she and Dennis are fraternal twins) and favored Dennis over her - she has very poor self esteem (aided by way of having to spend most of her teenage years walking with heavy braces due to Scoliosis) and a laundry list of neuroses.
- Friendship Moment: The entire group trying their hardest to be less cynical for just one day and coming together in "Charlie Kelly King of the Rats" to give Charlie a good birthday.
- Gambit Pileup:
- Subverted in the episode "Who Pooped The Bed?" where Artemis believes that the whole gang is involved in one of these to frame each other for pooping in Frank and Charlie's bed. Frank then reveals that he did all of the poops, because "poop is funny!"
- Played straight in "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Garbage Wrestler: Frank, literally, in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
- Genre Savvy: The entire crew intentionally tries to invoke tropes in their very lives in some kind of effort to mimic television and movies.
- Good Cop, Bad Cop: Mac and Dennis decide to go with the Good Realtor/Bad Realtor routine when trying to sell a house. They lampshade their strategy by assuming the names Hugh Honey and Vic Vinegar. The results are predictably disastrous.
- Good News, Bad News
- A Handful for An Eye: Rickety Cricket throws sand into Charlie's eyes twice during the wrestling match in "The Gang Wrestles for the Troops".
- Harmful to Minors: "Charlie Wants An Abortion" and "Underage Drinking: A National Concern".
- Heroic Sociopath: The entire group, with Dennis in particular. Though, the "heroic" part is usually accidental.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Some of the gang's most frequent victims, in particular Rickety Cricket, Dennis and Dee's biological father Bruce, the Waitress and the Lawyer, often end up stooping to very low levels to seek retribution, usually in the form of the same kind of underhanded schemes that the gang is known for. These initially decent and in at least one case, saint-like characters have all become just as unsympathetic as the main cast through their attempts to force Kharma on the gang, which always either backfires or just ends up restoring the status quo for next week's episode.
- Hidden Wire: Charlie wears one during his Serpico shtick in "Bums: Making a Mess All over the City". The problem is that it's just a normal, full-size tape recorder with a normal, full-size microphone attached to it.
- Hide Your Pregnancy:
- Dee's pregnancy was written in because Kaitlin Olson was pregnant. The show did hide her bump before it was revealed she was pregnant. They actually pulled it off, though- watch "Mac and Charlie: White Trash" for some subtle hiding.
- Mary Elizabeth Ellis doesn't appear much in Season 7 and wears a loose dress to hide her pregnancy.
- Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: In the episode "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", Mac and Dennis... are manhunters. Their quarry is Rickety Cricket.
- Hypocritical Humor: A frequent source for laughs.
- In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry", Dennis loudly rants about how other people have no respect as he destroys a near-stranger's house, and reprises his rant after the person whose house he destroyed comes back upset.
- Mac accuses Carmen's husband of being gay because he married a post-op transsexual, when he himself had sex with Carmen pre-op.
- In "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off", a hobo tells Rickety Crick (also homeless) to "Shut up, street-rat!"
- In "Mac and Charlie: White Trash", Mac and Charlie declare the public pool to be full of disgusting people while chugging beer in public, burping, and throwing the cans all over the place.
- I Banged Your Mom:
- Mac banged Dennis's Mom, in the cryptically-titled episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom."
- In the same episode, Dennis attempts to bang Mac's mom, and later Charlie's mom, for revenge.
- Idiot Savant: Charlie on "Sweet Dee Dates a Retarded Person": "Keyboards just make sense to me."
- I Love the Dead: Discussed by Frank and a mortician in "Frank's Little Beauties".
- I'm a Humanitarian: Frank tricks Charlie & Sweet Dee into eating human meat after they wouldn't stop raiding his fridge. They soon start to crave it non-stop. It turns out that Frank actually fed them racoon meat, and their intense hunger is caused by a tapeworm.
- I'm Standing Right Here: While in the waiting room at the hospital in "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Dennis and Dee construct a painstakingly detailed narrative involving a teenage part-time job giving way to a downward spiral of cocaine habits, studio apartments, single motherhood, and HIV contractions based on a somewhat frumpy-looking woman sitting in there with them. She points out that she can hear everything, but admits that their assessment is not especially inaccurate.
- Incestuous Casting:
- Dennis and Dee in The Nightman Cometh. Charlie originally cast Dennis as the Night Man in an attempt to avoid this, but Mac begged him to switch parts because the Night Man gets to use karate moves.
- Dee and Dennis play extras who are husband and wife in "Mac and Charlie Write a Movie".
- Incredibly Obvious Bug: "Is that a baby monitor?"
- Inherently Funny Words: "RUMHAM!!!"
- Initiation Ceremony: In "The Gang Reignites the Rivalry", Frank and Dennis visit Dennis's old fraternity house to find that the current hazing rituals involves lots and lots of tazing.
- Innocent Bystander: The unnamed guy in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis" who constantly had bad things happen to him thanks to The Gang.
- Innocent Inaccurate: The Christmas "traditions" of Mac's and Charlie's family.
- In-Series Nickname: Charlie gets a janitor job at a local high school in season six; the students take to calling him Professor.
- Intercourse with You: Charlie denies that the lyrics to his song Night Man have anything to do with a guy coming into his room in the middle of the night and raping him. Though given how the show has strongly implied that he was routinely sexually molested by his uncle, the song takes on a dark overtone.
"Every night, you come into my room and pin me down with your strong hands
- In Medias Res: "The Gang Gets Trapped" starts out with Dennis, Dee and Frank trapped inside a family home, in the midst of a plan to steal an expensive vase.
- Irishman and a Jew: In a strange sort of meta-example, It's Always Sunny can be seen as the boisterous, overconfident Irishman to Seinfeld's nebbishy, whiny Jew.
- I Take Offense to That Last One: Season 3, Episode 6. Mac walks into the bar, and after some conversation the following conversation takes place:
Mac: It's not a jacket, it's a duster. It's like a jacket, only it's longer, thicker, and far more badass. I look like Lorenzo Lamas, and women find it irresistible.
- It's Always Spring: It's always a sunny, warm day outside, despite the fact that Philadelphia can get quite cold. Even when news reports warn of a huge storm bearing down on the city, the weather is perfect and Frank notes, "It's warm as shit!" Only the direct-to-DVD Christmas episode has the cast actually start wearing winter clothing, and even then the weather is still sunny. The pilot for the show was titled It's Always Sunny on Television, referencing this trope directly.
- Is That Cute Kid Yours: Charlie accuses Frank and the Waitress of being the parents of the dumpster baby. Six months after Frank and the Waitress had sex.
- Ivy League for Everyone: Dennis and Dee went to University of Pennsylvania. Dennis graduated. Dee did not. "The Lawyer" attended Harvard Law.
- Jacob Marley Apparel: Invoked by Dee and Dennis when they dress up Frank's old business partner to try and give Frank a scare in "A Very Sunny Christmas".
- All the main characters.
- Dennis has developed a carefully-formulated system for emotionally abusing all of the women he dates.
- Frank stole Dennis and Dee's Christmas presents for years.
- Colin, a guy who Dee dates for a bit. Dennis describes him as an '80s movie stereotype.
- Juggalo: Portrayed in "Dee Reynolds: Shaping America's Youth".
- Kangaroo Court: The gang seems to be under the impression that you can "call Kangaroo Court" to invalidate a trial.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: All four of them.
Charlie: This bar runs on trash. It's totally green now.
- Large Ham:
- Dee's theater friend, Artemis, normal and while acting. This causes Dee to initially mistake a melodramatic but real breakdown for a line-reading.
"VIETGODDAMNNAM IS WHAT HAPPENED!"
- Large Ham Radio: Dennis and Dee in "Mac's Big Break", of the Dumbass DJ variety.
- Lies to Children: "A Very Sunny Christmas" reveals that Mac's and Charlie's families had very interesting "Christmas traditions". Mac's family would have to go to a strange house and open all the gifts and leave before the family who lived there could catch them (this was Mac's father's rationalization for why there were never presents at the Mac household--another family had stolen theirs in a big loop) and several Santas would come to cheer up Charlie's mother on Christmas morning (read: customers seeking Mrs. Kelly for her services as a prostitute).
- Lighter and Softer: Charlie's song "Day Man", when compared to "Night Man".
- Limited Wardrobe:
- Ben is always seen wearing the jean shorts that Frank gives him in his first episode.
- Charlie is the only main cast member seen wearing the same clothes over and over, emphasizing his poverty. In one episode he states that he repairs his old clothes rather than buy anything new. Notable favorites include his black and red horse t-shirt, green army jacket and long thermal underwear. Some of these clothes are Charlie Day's actual property.
- Love Martyr:
- Charlie's mom is attracted to men who treat her like crap. Even Frank admits that he's a little ashamed at how bad he has to treat her to keep her interested.
- Rickety Cricket to Dee.
- Lower Class Lout: The whole gang, including the Ivy League-educated Dennis and Dee.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Averted, in all cases the fathers are either unaware of, or are denying their fatherhood.
- Made of Iron:
- Poppins, Mac's dog, seems to have been on death's door for a decade.
- Agent Jack Bauer, the indestructible junkyard cat that Dennis briefly adopts.
- The Messiah: Bruce Mathis, though he ultimately disowned his long lost kids when he realized how depraved they were and how being around them (and Frank) was causing him to become just as bad as they were.
- Miles Gloriosus: Mac, frequently seen busting out faux-karate moves and displaying various martial arts regalia. In actuality, he flees from confrontation and gets beaten up in fights. Charlie suggests that he take at least one karate class if he's going to claim to be a master at it.
- Mistaken for Gay:
- Three times in one episode.
- In "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell," Dennis and Mac's Colonial counterparts are mistaken as "sodomites."
- In one episode Dennis and Charlie think Mac is having sex with the waitress while dressed like Dennis and Charlie due to some sort of twisted gay obsession for them. It Makes Sense in Context... sort of.
- In "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge", Dennis is mistaken for gay by the woman he tries to seduce due to his makeup, girdle, and an accelerated version of the D.E.N.N.I.S. system.
- Mistaken for Murderer: The episode "Mac is a Serial Killer." He's actually banging a pre-op transsexual.
- Mistaken for Racist:
- "The Gang Gets Racist" has the gang encounter Dee's new black friend and constantly blunder into racially insensitive statements, only to immediately cringe at the realization.
- In "The Gang Goes Jihad," the gang constantly police each other's statements so that they don't come across as anti-semites, even though there's no one else around to hear them.
- Mondegreen Invoked. Frank's song in The Nightman Cometh has the line "You gotta pay the troll toll to get into this boy's soul." Frank's pronunciation sounds more like "boy's hole," and he refuses to enunciate any better.
- Monochrome Casting: Philadelphia is less than 50% white, but you'd be hard-pressed to find many minorities on the show. Lampshaded in the first aired episode, when the gang is worried that they'll be Mistaken for Racist because they have no black patrons. They ask a black friend of Dee's, who tells them that black people don't like Irish pubs. They hire him to try to get more minorities in the bar, but he takes it in an unexpected direction.
- Narm: In-universe example with "The Nightman Cometh". Charlie's play got a lot of laughs, much to his dismay.
- Nazi Grandpa: Dennis and Dee's grandpa asks Charlie, whom he mistakes for Dennis, to get his old army uniform while spouting antisemitic curses. No points for guessing which army.
- Never Learned to Read: Charlie's reading and writing skills are almost non-existent. It's often suggested that he has a learing disability.
- In "The Great Recession," Charlie reveals that he turns on the "Closed" sign in the bar every morning, believing it to say "Coors."
- Charlie's script for Dennis's commercial in "The Gang Runs For Office" hardly counts as English.
- Charlie reads the "Private" sign on a door as "Pirate" and wonders if a pirate lives behind it.
- Charlie's lyric sheet for "Night Man" seems to be a rebus of simple pictures and barely decipherable English words (with letters written backwards and mis-formed and all).
- Charlie unknowingly signs a contract agreeing to give Paddy's over to the winner of a dancing contest (mistaking the word "prize" for "pride" while signing the pub up to host the contest). At the end of the episode, Mac proclaims that Charlie really needs to learn how to read.
Mac: Goddammit, Charlie! Your illiteracy has screwed us again!
- Never Speak Ill of the Dead:
- In "A Very Sunny Christmas", Frank says this of the business partner he embezzled his fortune from, although he doesn't know that the guy is actually alive and Dee was speaking ill of Frank in any case.
- Charlie yells out in anger in "Mac and Charlie: White Trash" when Dee says she hopes that Mac and Charlie die like trash bags like a kid from their childhood did.
- No Animals Were Harmed:
- Because Agent Jack Bauer... *huh* ... is indestructible!
- Also played straight with Mac's extremely old dog Poppins.
- Noodle Incident:
Mac: Bro, half the stories you just read us were total bullshit!
- No Social Skills:
- "Dennis and Dee's Mom Is Dead" demonstrates that Dennis, Charlie, and Mac seem to think that male camaraderie mainly encompasses a combination of the physical abuse of Jackass and the very worst college fraternity initiations, Up to Eleven.
- In "The Gang Gets a New Member", the guys treat something as simple as adding a new member--their old high school friend Schmitty--to the group with the gravitas of inducting him into some kind of creepy secret society, not to mention expecting him to show up to the bar to hang out all day by some specific time. Schmitty finds it very strange.
- No, You: The waitress's only retort when drunk, apparently.
- Of Corpse He's Alive: In "Dee Gives Birth", Dennis and Dee try to get rid of an apparent corpse that gets put in Dee's hospital room by sticking sunglasses on him and tying his and Dennis's wrists together so that they wave in unison. The similarity to Weekend at Bernies is acknowledged.
- Only One Name: Until season 7, we don't find out Mac's complete last name, much less his first. Even in the credits to "Lethal Weapon 5" he's only listed as "Mac". It's finally revealed in episode 7.12 as Ronald McDonald, which explains why he prefers "Mac."
- Only Sane Man: Sweet Dee in the first season usually plays this role. Actress Kaitlin Olson managed to remove the characterization by the second season, and since then Dee has been just as dumb, belligerent and crass as the rest of the gang.
- Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Fairly often in "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
- Parental Incest: Frank, Charlie's biological father, marries Charlie in season six. Though, thankfully, they don't have sex.
- Le Parkour: Rickety Cricket, of all people, pulls it out in "Mac & Dennis: Manhunters".
- The Password Is Always Swordfish: The password to the orgy is "orgy" (though, from the bathrobe-buffet-party looks of things, no one was getting turned away).
- Phrase Catcher:
"God damn it, Charlie!"
- The Plan: Charlie tries one in the episode "Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom".
- Power Trio: Many attempted invocations in 'The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis'.
- Pretty Fly for a White Guy: L'il Kev from "Sweet Dee is Dating a Retarded Person". However, he is portrayed much more sympathetically than the main cast.
- Racist Grandma: In "Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire", Mac, Charlie and Frank go to a nursing home looking for scandal. What they find is a sweet, slightly loopy old woman. Who hates the blacks.
- Rashomon Style: In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?" the gang attempts to recall who had sex with Dee at their Halloween party with wildly differing recollections of the events of that night by the various characters..
- Real Life Writes the Plot:
- According to The Other Wiki, the character of Green Man and the setting for his introduction in "The Gang Gets Invincible." Rob McElhenney said that the idea for Green Man came about when, after attending a Philadelphia Eagles game, a friend of his suddenly stripped down and donned a green lycra bodysuit in the middle of the parking lot. He ran around the lot and gave everyone he came across a high five, which created a huge outburst of excitement, as everyone wanted to be photographed with the man. This event prompted chants of "Green Man! Green Man!", which supposedly went on for several hours, and inspired McElhenney to incorporate the character into the show somehow.
- Kaitlin Olson's pregnancy was explained as her reviving her effort to become a surrogate mother for cash.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After Frank insults Dennis' nose:
Dennis: "My nose was crafted by the gods themselves, Frank. My body was sculpted to the proportions of Michelangelo's David. You, on the other, well... you're a pit of despair. Frank, you disgust me. You disgust everyone. And you will never... ever be on that billboard."
- Refuge in Audacity: The defining quality of the humor.
Dee: I'm sorry! I'm a little bit preoccupied with being worried about being killed by the mob because a homeless priest ran off with all of our drugs!
- Refuge in Vulgarity: For a while their ads for the show featured people simply listing off every single offensive and taboo topic that has been shown on the series, ending with the reader saying that they most certainly would never want to watch it.
- Reunion Revenge: Dee uses this as justification for hanging out with the old cool clique in "The High School Reunion" when she really just wants to be on their good side.
- Rock Opera: The Nightman Cometh.
- Room Full of Crazy: Charlie pulls one together when he goes crazy working for an office in "Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack".
- Running Gag:
- Calling Dee a bird. Examples include:
- In "the Gang Gives Back," Mac says that Dee looks like Big Bird in her canary yellow pantsuit.
- In "Mac is a Serial Killer," Mac and Dennis accuse Dee of looking like Larry Bird. She counters that they look like Larry Bird, which doesn't have the same effect.
- Subverted in another episode, where Dee predicts that the guys are about to call her a bird again. Charlie retorts that he was going to say "fish" this time, because her eyes are so far apart.
- In "Who Got Dee Pregnant?", Dee gets progressively more bird-like in each retelling of the Halloween story, until Mac's version, in which she's an actual ostrich.
- In "Mac and Dennis: Manhunters", Dee, along with Charlie, becomes ravenous after eating what she thought was human meat. While eating meat sandwiches, she starts to peck at her food in large bites like a bird.
- Dennis's creepy fixation with sexual conquest, to the point of being a borderline rapist.
- In "Fatty McGoo vs the Aluminum Monster," Dennis says, "I'm not going to take no for an answer because I just refuse to do that because I'm a winner and winners... we don't listen to words like 'no' or 'don't' or 'stop!' Those words are just not in our vocabulary."
- Dennis states in "The Gang gets a Boat" that women always put out on boats because of "the implications." He has to repeatedly insist that he wouldn't actually rape the women on the boat.
- In "The Storm of the Century", Dee accuses Dennis of raping girls in the bunker.
- "The Anti-Social Network," Dennis says, "I could be a man with a fistful of hammers, a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties." In "The High School Reunion part 2", he reveals he actually has a trunk full of duct tape and zip ties.
- "How Mac got Fat," Mac comments, "Dennis always tells me, 'Never let someone else's resistance keep you from getting what you want.'"
- Mac's delusions of super-fitness
- Calling Dee a bird. Examples include:
- Sassy Black Woman: The nurse Dennis has to deal with in "Dee Gives Birth".
- Schemer: Frank is a self-styled schemer, but the entire gang hatches plots in virtually every episode, usually with dismal success.
- Seinfeldian Conversation: The gang will easily get sidetracked and discuss in detail the most bizarre things, such as the difference in the gay community between bears, twinks, and "power-bottoms."
- Sexy Backless Outfit: Dee attempts to invoke this in "The High School Reunion" to point out the fact that she no longer has a back brace.
- Ship Tease/Ship Sinking: In "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", Charlie runs into the Waitress on the beach. Not only does she not insult him, they actually spend a fun, romantic night together. She was on ecstasy and has no love leftover in the morning.
- Shirtless Scene:
- Dennis has one of these in almost every episode of the third season.
- And then Mac has a very memorable one in the season 7 finale...
- Shout-Out: So many that they have their own page.
- Show Some Leg:
- Dee seduces the city comptroller in an attempt to get bribe money. She also seduces Rickety Cricket in an attempt to get the gang's wall stain blessed as a miracle.
- In a rare male example, Dennis often tries to seduce his way through life, with varying degrees of success. He successfully seduces Margaret McPoyle when she and her brothers take the gang hostage, but it doesn't help; due to her deafness she has no idea that the sex is a ploy for his freedom. Charlie and Mac compete with Dennis trying to seduce a bank executive into giving them a loan.
- In an episode fueled by one revenge plot after another, Dennis tries to seduce Mac's mom, then, later, Charlie's mom. He fails both times ("I don't find you attractive.").
- A Simple Plan: Always, always goes horribly wrong.
- Slapstick Knows No Gender: Dee is more likely to suffer physical pain than the guys in the show. She has had her leg shattered by homeless people, her face smashed in by a metal folding chair, poisoned, and set on fire twice.
- Sleeps with Everyone but You: The Waitress will sleep with anyone but Charlie.
- Sleeves Are for Wimps: Nearly all of Mac's shirts are either sleeveless or made sleeveless so as to show off his guns.
- Small Name, Big Ego:
- Dennis is a handsome ladies' man, but his own opinion of his sexual mystique is inflated to godlike proportions.
- Mac has a touch of Small Name, Big Ego regarding his combat skills, which in actuality are almost nonexistent.
- Smart Ball: All five of the main characters are insane idiots, but someone is bound to find the current scheme and/or actions of another character to be crazy, weird or stupid. Sometimes this goes hand-in-hand with the character saying or knowing something legitimately intelligent.
- Smash Cut: In "The Gang Dances Their Asses Off", whenever someone is challenged to a dance-off, we only see the first few seconds before a smash cut to the results.
- Snap Back: While the show usually features a surprising amount of continuity for a sitcom, one episode ends with Dennis and Dee addicted to crack. A later episode mentions all the off-screen therapy they had to go through to break the habit.
- Somethings Different About You: Parodied in "The High School Reunion", where Frank steals a woman's name tag.
- Soundtrack Dissonance:
- All the theme music is easy listening production music.
- At the end of "Frank's Pretty Woman," Roy Orbison's song players over the gang dragging a dead prostitute into the hallway and ditching her.
- Special Edition Title: "A Very Sunny Christmas" features the exact same shots of Philadelphia, but with the buildings decked out in Christmas lights, et cetera.
- The Sponsor: Charlie's court-ordered AA meetings become a lot more voluntary when The Waitress offers to be his sponsor. Unfortunately she's only doing it to get closer to Dennis and drops Charlie when it doesn't work out.
- Stalker with a Crush: Charlie, for the Waitress.
- Stockholm Syndrome: Referenced in "The Gang Gets Held Hostage," when most of the gang mistakenly believe that it's a physical illness.
Mac: Oh my god, he's burning up! Clearly Charlie is coming down with a nasty case of Stockholm Syndrome!
- Straight Gay:
- Dee's friend from acting class who acts as Paddy's promoter in the pilot.
- An executive for the chain restaurant trying to buy out Paddy's Pub. After learning his orientation, the gang concludes that he must be a "bear" and then launch into a graphically detailed discussion of gay culture, leading to a Stealth Hi Bye on the part of the executive.
- The Straight Man: Dee. The reason she gets so many scenes with Charlie is because she's the most successful at remaining deadpan when he starts riffing off the cuff. The guys are pissing themselves with laughter off-camera when he does this.
- Stylistic Suck:
- Charlie's play, "The Nightman Cometh".
- The investor video in "Paddy's Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens" is impressively bad.
- The gang's amateur film, Lethal Weapon 5.
- Summation Gathering: In "Who Pooped the Bed?".
- Super Identikit: A police sketch artist draws a perfect picture of a guy Dennis and Charlie are trying to track down in "The ANTI-Social Network". The astonishing thing is that the pair were describing the guy with blurbs like "He had an annoying nose. It was the kind of nose you just want to smack."
- Super OCD: As revealed in "Mac's Mom Burns Her House Down", Mrs. Kelly has a habit of flicking lightswitches, locking doors, et cetera in sets of three before she goes to bed "so Charlie doesn't die". It's apparently infectious, as Charlie and Mac find out.
- Surrounded by Idiots:
- Dennis comments that he and Dee are in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia".
- You get the feeling Dee is thinking this at the end of "Who Pooped The Bed?" where when Frank reveals he was the one who pooped the bed, and did so because "poop is funny", and all the guys laugh about it while Dee can only shake her head and say, "I hate my life."
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: In "Frank's Little Beauties", Frank obliviously invests in a child beauty pageant. As a result, he is overly paranoid about being seen as a pedophile and naturally dips into this trope more than once.
- Sweet Polly Oliver: Dee in "The Gang Gets Invincible." Of course it doesn't end well.
- Take That: Dennis and Mac deal pretty vicious jabs to Sex and the City in "Who Pooped the Bed?".
- Tar and Feathers: "The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell".
- Third Person Person: Pepper Jack, a pimp that appears in "Mac Is a Serial Killer".
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: One of the show's favorite tropes.
- Mac's traditional greeting is "What's up, bitches?"
- In "The Gang Gets Held Hostage":
Dee: GET ON YOUR KNEES, BITCHEEEESSSSSSSS!!
- Viet-GODDAMN-NAM'S WHAT HAPPENED! GO GET ME A BEER, BITCH!
- In "The Gang Solves The Gas Crisis":
Charlie: "Wildcard, bitches!"
- This Loser Is You: The whole gang, pretty much, but especially Charlie.
- Title Drop: Almost. Dee's mom complains about Dee's skin, and tells Dee that "There is a sun in Philadelphia."
- Trademark Favorite Food: The McPoyles have the strangest fascination with milk, going as far as to pour it over their wounds.
- Tragic Dream: Dee in the first few seasons was obsessed with trying to become a famous broadway actress. Believing exploiting unemployment checks and becoming a crack addict was exactly what she needed to reach her dreams. Eventually she is told she's too old and to give up and become a drama teacher instead.
- Training Montage: When Charlie and Dee train for their fights by taking fistfuls of steroids.
- Triang Relations: A type 5, with Charlie, The Waitress and Dennis. Charlie is obsessively in love with the Waitress, who despises him. She in turn has a crush on Dennis, who is aware of it and uses it to manipulate and degrade her as well as Charlie. Given the Crapsack World of It's Always Sunny, these crushes are manipulated by the participants and outsiders constantly.
- True Companions: dysfunctional ones but a fellowship nonetheless.
- Trunk Shot: POV from the critic Charlie kidnapped in "Paddy's Pub: The Worst Bar In Philadelphia", and his neighbor.
- Underdressed for the Occasion:
- The gang shows up at a funeral in their everyday casual wear because Frank told them they were going to a barbecue.
- Mac's idea of formalwear is to wear a tie over a short-sleeve polo shirt.
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Rickety Cricket, who really wasn't Dee's friend at all but rather the only person in school pathetic enough to allow her to manipulate him.
- Unnecessary Roughness: In "The Gang Gives Back."
- The Un-Reveal: In "The High School Reunion", the fact that everyone has to wear name tags means we finally find out Mac's full name. However, the high school didn't even make a name tag for the Waitress.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: All of them. When you feel sorry for the serial killer who crosses paths with the gang, your characters are bastards.
- Verbal Tic:
- Frank's Jersey accent comes out when he pronounces "whore" as "hoor." This is something of a running gag done by Danny DeVito throught out his career.
- The gang also tends to use the word 'pop' as a verb a lot.
"I'm gonna pop my shirt off."
- Villainous Breakdown: Dennis experiences these a few times.
- When he's rejected by his old fraternity, he becomes increasingly unhinged, screaming in harsh falsetto that they're all "idiots!" and he's "a goddamn legend!"
- When he's rejected by his old prom date at his high school reunion, he rushes out to his car fetches items including ropes and duct tape. When questioned, he begins screaming that he needs his "tools" and that he needs to "bind and be bound."
- Vomit Chain Reaction: Dee merely gagging in "Mac Fights Gay Marriage" is enough to set off Mac's gag reflex.
- Wacky Marriage Proposal: Charlie's musical "The Nightman Cometh" turns out to be one of these (to The Waitress, of course). Three guesses as to how she answers.
- We Hardly Knew Ye: Hawkey of the Yellow Jacket Boys.
- Widget Series: Dancing Man's public-access TV show, which is just a man dancing shirtless on green-screened backgrounds. The gang finds it oddly fascinating.
- Wild Card: Charlie. Made explicit in "The Gang Solves the Gas Crisis."
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Mac, still stuck on adolescence, desperately seeks the approval of his creepy wayward father Luther. While Luther is in prison, Mac tries unsuccessfully to show him that he's "hard." When Luther first gets out of prison, Mac becomes emotionally invested in getting his parents back together, sputtering, "This is about happy boys!" He even tries to bond with his father by driving him to the houses of everybody who was responsible for getting him convicted. In the end of "Mac & Charlie Die Part II," Luther leaves a note telling Mac that he still loves him, even though Mac has driven him away with his constant screw-ups.
- You Imagined It: So did Dennis meet Sinbad and Rob Thomas or not due his injury in "Dennis Reynolds: An Erotic Life"?
- You Keep Using That Word:
- The gang keeps referring to price haggling at a flea market as "bartering". Unless they're actually exchanging goods for other goods, the word they're looking for is "bargaining".
- Dee accuses Charlie of this in "The Nightman Cometh," regarding his use of the word metaphor. The live version their dialogue had her saying this verbatim.
- Younger Than They Look: Sun Li who upon discovery of her age by the gang (12) causes them to cut all ties with her.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In "The High School Reunion Part 2: The Gang's Revenge", the Waitress is so drunk and depressed that she says she'll have sex with whoever talks to her next. Charlie is right in front of her and is about to speak...and then Schmitty appears out of nowhere and says "hi".
- Yet Another Christmas Carol: Dee and Dennis pull a largely unsuccessful one on Frank in "A Very Sunny Christmas".
- You Are Fat: In "The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore", regarding Mac:
Dee: Get in the Goddamn car, you fat, fat ass, FAT, FAT ASS!!
- You Go, Girl!: Dee joining in on the football try outs just to prove that a girl can be more fit and capable than Mac and Dennis. She gets farther than either of them, but it didn't change their opinion of her at all. Of course, it doesn't help that she broke her foot right after revealing herself to be a girl.
- You Wanna Get Sued?: The "Philly Frenetic" in "The World Series Defense". At the very end of the episode, Charlie states that it's really the Fanatic, and that he's only saying "Frenetic" to avoid a lawsuit from MLB.
- Zany Scheme: At least one per episode. It always goes horribly, horribly wrong.