Facts Behind The Longest Running Live-Action Comedy Series: It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

For a show that’s outlasted Cheers, Frasier, and Friends, It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia is marking milestones in TV history. With 12 seasons under their belt and two more on the way, it became the longest-running live-action comedy series since Ozzie & Harriet.

The show’s quality is just as consistent as ever, as fans often refer to the show as “Seinfeld on crack.” The FX series has proven to push boundaries, and they won’t stop anytime soon. So, let’s take a look at some things you may not know about the cult-following sitcom.

There’s a lot to know about the show. So, huff up your glue and see why Mac got fat, or discover the alternate-universe of Sweet Dee.

The Opening Credits Were Filmed For Cheap


The opening credits of the show are nothing but shaky hand-held footage of Philly. Howerton, Day, and McElhenney shot them on a camcorder as they drove around the city. Their opening cost next to nothing, except for putting gas in the car.

Surprisingly, the credits have remained the same since the first season even as the budgets for episodes have increased. It serves as a reminder of the shows humble beginnings.

The Pilot Was Shot For $100

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In the act of desperation, while waiting tables, McElhenney wrote a script. It told the story of two people in which one person confronts the other about dying of cancer, while the other is trying to get out.

That was nothing more than a writing exercise that turned into a short film starring McElhenney, Day, and Howerton. Despite the majority of the film being shot in their apartments, the legend is that they filmed their pilot on a $100 budget.

There Was A Different Dee Before Kaitlin Olson

Besides being on Saturday Night Live and Bridesmaids, Kristen Wiig was almost part of “The Gang.” According to Howerton, Olson and Wiig were in the running for Sweet Dee, but Olson would take on the role.

McElhenney told Olson that he didn’t know how to write for women, but Olson replied by telling him and the writers to write her as they would anyone else. This made her one of the raunchiest women in television.

The Few, But Interesting Cameos On The Show

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It’s fun to see the talent that’s popped up on Sunny. Funnyman Keegan Michael Key plays the host of “Family Fight,” while Sinbad, Dax Sheppard, and Rob Thomas from Matchbox Twenty all made small appearances. Rapper and business phenomenon P-Diddy also made an appearance on the show as a doctor who plays bass.

But, the most difficult to recognize is director Guillermo Del Torro’s brief cameo. The Oscar-winning director plays the McPoyle’s patriarch family member, Pappy McPoyle.

The McPoyle’s Are Based On A Real Family

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The weird, twisted siblings that are the McPoyle family are actually based on real people. McElhenney knew a family of the same name when he grew up in Philly. The real-life McPoyle’s are not psychotic and inbred like they are on the show.

McElhenney borrowed the name and the fact that there were a ton of McPoyle family members to ignite his inspiration. Of course, the rest was up to the creators to flesh out and make them bizarre.

Danny DeVito Saved The Show


It’s Always Sunny is the longest running comedy series, but it wouldn’t have happened without Danny DeVito. After failing to have a core audience in the first season, the network thought it was best to bring in a big name to the cast.

Enter the star from Taxi. The actor became aware of the show because his children were fans. DeVito agreed to guest star for the second season, and the show hasn’t looked back since.

Here’s Why Mac Got Fat

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When season seven hit the airwaves, fans were taken aback by the weight gain from McElhenney. The actor gained an overwhelming 50 pounds in six months. While Mac uses the excuse as a way “cultivate mass,” his motives were to be funny and prove a point.

One of the things McElhenney had noticed in other sitcoms is that the characters get better looking as seasons continue. So, he decided to mock the shows with the weight gain.

It’s Always Sunny In Moscow

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There’s a Russian version of the FX comedy series. The spinoff is named It’s Always Sunny In Moscow, with the fab five getting Russian makeovers. It’s still the same plot about four selfish people and one old guy running a bar.

The bar is even named “Philadelphia” as a homage to the show. However, the subject matter doesn’t transition well with Russian audiences. It’s best to leave things like “night crawlers” and “bird law” with the gang from Philly.

GOT Writers Wrote An Episode

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McElhenney is a fan of Game Of Thrones. The showrunners of the hit HBO show, David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, were invited to write an episode, which they did. The pair wrote the episode “Flowers for Charlie” which satirizes the book Flowers For Algernon.

It was adapted for Charlie’s character, who naively thinks he’s smarter by ingesting a placebo pill. It leads to comedic results, with Charlie creating a contraption to allow spiders to talk with cats.

The Real Life Romances

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Many of the actors on It’s Always Sunny are real-life couples. You may already know that Charlie and the Waitress are married in real life. But, what’s even odder is the thought of Mac and Dee getting together.

Interestingly enough, Rob and Kaitlin have been married since 2008. Finally, for Dennis and his misogynist psychopathic ways, Howerton is married to actress Jill Latiano, who was the poor pharmacist in “The D.E.N.N.I.S System.”

Their Stuntman Inspired An Episode For Season 9

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Despite the show’s cult-following status, they’re used to being the underdogs. So, when it came time for Emmy nominations, their stuntman got a nomination for Outstanding Stunt Coordination for a Comedy Series.

After losing out, they decided to write an episode that took a jab at the Emmys and their loser status. With a catchy jingle from Charlie, it turned out to be great. They were even asked to pose for the cover of Emmy magazine.

David Hornsby Is Married To A Deschanel

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Actor David Hornsby plays Rickety Cricket. He also serves as a writer and producer on the show. But, what fans may not know is that Hornsby is married to Bones star Emily Deschanel.

His sister-in-law is none other than Zooey, and he’s the cousin of singer Bruce Hornsby. Considering he’s a guy who plays a priest and eventual street rat, he has a pretty interesting backstory.

Danny DeVito Almost Drowned

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In the season 11 finale, an underwater scene was filmed. The characters were submerged several feet below, but DeVito had to be weighted down to shoot the scene. As soon as cameras stopped rolling, the cast made it to the surface, except for DeVito.

The actor struggled to submerge, but thankfully, there were safety divers to help DeVito to the surface. It’s good to know that everyone was okay, and Frank is still around.

The Messages Behind RCG Productions

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Every episode ends with a confusing piece of backward audio. Those messages are recorded by Rob, Charlie, and Glenn, with a new phrase for each season. Various fans have played the hidden message in reverse trying to decode the hidden signals.

The message in season two is “Is a brown, is a brown, is a brown,” whereas season five is “Next stop- brown town.” Despite having a fascination for the word “brown,” they occasionally switch it up.

The Star Of The Wonder Years Directed Some Episodes

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Outside of being the main character on The Wonder Years, Fred Savage had a role in Austin Powers: Goldmember. Since then, he has directed numerous episodes of Sunny, and works as a producer too.

Savage told NPR that he wanted to work on the show because he saw his “worst qualities” in the characters. McElhenney hired him because he “wanted to know if he loved Becky Slater or if it was just Winnie all the way.”

It Took Awhile For Dennis To Become Who He Really Is

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There’s a reason why Dennis is, well, a sociopath. Howerton plays the Golden God with a high performance every time, but he was a little cautious having his character go down that path.

But, he has always stated that he always knew that was where the role would end up. “I always knew he was a socio; I just wasn’t ready to go all the way with it at first.” It’s been worth the wait to say the least.

The Name Behind Dennis

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McElhenny uses a variation of his name for Mac and Day uses his real-life name for Charlie Kelly. But, fans wonder why Glenn Howerton doesn’t use a variation of his name.

The actor has revealed in interviews that his name on the show is Dennis so he could distance himself away from the character as much as possible. With the Golden God becoming more psychotic as each season progresses, it’s easy to see where the actor is coming from.

Charlie Day Has A Talent In Music

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The show has had its fair share of catchy musical numbers, like “The Nightman Cometh” and other songs from various episodes. But it turns our Charlie Day himself has performed them all. According to Howerton, the gang tries to write the songs together, but Charlie takes over.

Not only that, but he came up with some exciting tunes like telling the bar industry to go “you-know-what” themselves. Hopefully, as more seasons come, Charlie has more musical ideas coming down the pipeline.

Rob & Kaitlin Own A Bar In Philly


Some high school friends of McElhenney floated the idea of buying a bar. So, he and Olson came to an agreement to fund a sports bar in Philly called Mac’s Tavern.

It opened in 2010 and the dishes include Mac’s chili and Sweet D’s turkey BLT.

The Cast Knows How The Show Will End

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It seems as if the showrunners have an idea of what the endgame will be. During an interview with IMDb, Kaitlin Olson said, “I know pieces. My husband likes to keep me in the dark. It’s a fun thing to do.”

Depending on who you ask, comedy shows don’t have the best track record for finales. Seinfeld’s finale was considered a disappointment, but the characters could come to terms with their horrible acts.