It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a fun show to rank because due to its episodic nature, things start fresh in pretty much every episode. Thus, the episodes can stand on their own merits and not have to tie into some larger narrative. I’ve already ranked every season of the show, so now it’s time to look at the 10 best episodes of It’s Always Sunny. Keep in mind that this isn’t the 10 best moments, but the best overall episodes. I whittled this list down from more than 25 initial nominees, so I’m sure you’ll disagree with at least a few of my choices. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City
Paddy’s Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens
The Gang Gets Racist
Thunder Gun Express
10. The D.E.N.N.I.S. System
Season 5, Episode 10 — This episode is great because it dives a little deeper into Dennis’ predatory tactics on picking up women. Even better, as the episode wears on, it becomes clear that not only do the rest of the guys understand the D.E.N.N.I.S. system, but they’ve been taking advantage to get each other’s sloppy seconds, thirds, and fourths.
Dennis: “You’re gonna wanna nurture that dependence that she’s feeling on you now, guys. Have her car towed, or you could slash her tires. Either way, make her dependent on you for rides. Or you can use my personal go-to, which is to create a fictional angry neighbor who’s threatening her and tell her you’ll take care of ’em. Hit up a payphone so that she can’t trace the calls back to you, give her a call, and say something along the lines of, ‘I’m watching you, you bitch. You’re gonna die tonight!'”
Dee: “Oh, for Christ’s sake, you’re a complete sociopath!”
Dennis: “Don’t interrupt.”
9. The Gang Buys a Boat
Season 6, Episode 3 — It’s a pretty decent guarantee that I’ll love any episode that has a titled starting with “The Gang,” because it implies all of the characters working together(ish) toward a common goal. That goal is almost always insane, but still. In this episode, everyone pairs off to prepare the new boat in different ways. Two of my favorite moments are Dee’s inflatable tube man dancing and Dennis’ conversation with Mac about “implied danger.”
Ted Sally (boat salesman): “What is it you guys are looking for?”
Mac: “Let’s talk needs, please, I’d like to talk needs first. Now, I have the need for speed. It’s very important, it’s inherent, there’s nothing I can do about it, so speed is a must.”
8. Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs
Season 11, Episode 5 — Most of the later season episodes have been average at best, but “Mac and Dennis Move to the Suburbs” is a standout for me because it so deftly riffs on modern psychological horror films and boring, suburban, married relationships — which are two things you normally wouldn’t pair together. Dennis absolutely losing his mind with rage always makes for great comedy, and his ranting and raving in traffic spoke to me on an emotional level.
Dennis: [honking car horn] Aw, merge! Merge! You had your… Come on, you got it, you have to seize the goddamn gap! People are so goddamn inefficient. Oh, goddammit! I don’t care if you’re old, seize the gap! You old, fat bitch! You fat bitch!”
7. The Gang Gets Analyzed
Season 8, Episode 5 — Similar to other classic episodes, “The Gang Gets Analyzed” uses a completely trivial fight as a launching pad for commentary on something topical — in this case, therapy. The one-on-one sessions really illuminate some of the dark inner-workings of our characters, and the ending suitably undermines everything.
Charlie: “Dennis, can I give you some advice?”
Dennis: “Absolutely not.”
6. The Gang Dances Their Asses Off
Season 3, Episode 15 — In the season three finale, Charlie accidentally puts the bar up as a prize in a dance competition. The best part of the episode is how different members of the gang form alliances and try to take each other down, rather than actually work together to keep the bar. The dance battles are absolutely amazing.
Dee: [reading Charlie’s dance contest entry] “Place, Paddy’s Pub. Time, Saturday. Date, with Charlie Kelly. Prize, Paddy’s Pub!?”
Dennis: “Whoa, dude, you put the bar up as a prize?”
Charlie: “No, I listed it in the ‘pride’ section, the place where you list what you have pride in.”
Dee: “That’s a ‘Z,’ Charlie!”
Frank: “Didn’t you read the damn thing?”
Charlie: “I gave it a once-over!”
Mac: “Oh, that’s it! Your illiteracy has screwed us again!”
5. Dennis and Dee Go on Welfare
Season 2, Episode 3 — Pretty much any pairing of characters on It’s Always Sunny can lead to some great laughs and insanity. But Dennis and Dee might make my favorite “team,” thanks to their history as siblings and more vindictive nature than the rest of the characters. These two are definitely Frank’s kids. Every scene in this episode is fantastic, from the two of them chilling on the sidewalk, to Dee pretending to be a mentally handicapped person, to them ending up hooked on crack.
Dennis: [to welfare caseworker] “Hello. Hi, um, I’m a recovering crackhead. This is my retarded sister that I take care of. I’d like some welfare, please.”
4. Who Pooped the Bed?
Season 4, Episode 7 — “Who Pooped the Bed?” is a great riff on “Clue,” which is one of the reasons why I love it so much. Artemis also makes a phenomenal appearance toward the end as she tries to put the pieces together. I personally loved the re-enactments of everyone “doing the deed.” This episode obviously stems from Frank and Charlie’s weird roommate relationship, which is a source of comedy the show taps into in great ways.
Frank: “Because poop is funny!”
3. Reynolds vs Reynolds: The Cereal Defense
Season 8, Episode 10 — Not only is this episode another great example of pitting Dennis and Dee against each other, but it also turns the bar into a courtroom. Mac takes on the role of judge and bailiff, because of course he does, and everyone constantly switches sides… because of course they do. Mac’s argument against historical science is bulletproof.
Dennis: “I want to scratch everybody’s eyes OUT OF THEIR SOCKETS!”
2. Chardee MacDennis: The Game of Games
Season 7, Episode 7 — This episode made me want to create my own combo drinking/insult/trivia board game. I just love the contextual history you get as the gang plays through — how Dennis and Dee always win, how the rules change as everyone gets drunker and drunker, and how they originally got so bored as to make the tiebreaker a coin flip. I think the best part is how seriously they take everything.
Dennis: [chucking beer in Frank’s face] “Shut up, dog!”
1. The Nightman Cometh
Season 4, Episode 13 — I don’t think many people would argue with this one. I come from a theatre background, so obviously all of the little in-jokes hit for me. I also love Charlie’s attitude as the writer/director/star. He’s a triple threat. Everything from the costuming to the makeup to the scoring to the songwriting is so perfect. And frankly, everyone is phenomenally well-cast in their roles.
Mac (Nightman): “Where’s the boy?”
Dennis (Dayman): “The boy is gone.”
Mac: “You can’t tell me what to do.”
Dennis: “N- I didn’t tell you what to- You’re skipping a line, dude.”
Mac: “Yeah, uh… You can’t tell me what to do.”
Dennis: “You’re still skipping the same line.”
Mac: “Just move past it cause I can’t remember.”
Dennis: “God, it’s crazy how much better I am at acting than you.”
And there you have it, the 10 best episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Let me know your thoughts in the comments below, and check out my other tv rankings!