Some of the best television shows focus on love, friendship, and the goodness of human nature. They show off how good mankind can be, and the lengths that people will go to in order to be considered good people. These types of shows aim to teach life lessons and good values, hoping to make the world a better place.
It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia is a show that gets as far from this concept as possible.
Following its premiere episode in 2005, It’s Always Sunny has made a point of showcasing some of the most immoral television characters in history. Not a single member of “The Gang” is concerned with being a good person. They would much rather lead their lives as insensitive, self-centered people. The one good-natured thing that comes out of the show is that all the fans get to experience all the hijinks and laugh about it all.
Against all odds, It’s Always Sunny has broken boundaries as a show. From humble beginnings, it has officially become the longest-running live-action sitcom in television history. Despite its cruel subject matter, it has garnered a cult-like status amongst fans.
While the craziness in front of the camera has made the show a popular, there is plenty going on behind the scenes to interest fans. A show that is helmed by a group of friends and family is surely going to be just as crazy behind the camera too.
Here are 20 Crazy Details Behind The Making Of It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia:
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20 The Pilot Only Cost $100
Producing a television pilot worthy of staying on the air must be very nerve-racking for show-runners. However, it must make it seem more viable in the eyes of producers if it was dirt-cheap to produce.
When Rob McElhenney brought his vision of It’s Always Sunny forward, he knew that competing with other big budget sitcoms would be difficult. While some highly-produced network show cost upwards of $500,000 per episode to create, McElhenney went a different route. Allegedly his pilot episode only the cost of pizza for the cast and crew and camcorder tapes.
In order to reduce costs considerably, none of the actors were paid and McElhenney operated the camera himself.
The show has certainly grown in production value since then, but watching a show grow from such humble beginnings is very satisfying.
19 Danny Devito’s Casting Saved The Show
Despite the low production costs of the show, FX was initially not sure if they wanted to continue with it.
While the season one cast of Charlie Day, Kaitlin Olson, Rob McElhenney and Glenn Howerton were hilarious, the network did not have much confidence in their ability to garner ratings. In order to secure a second season for the show, they were asked to procure a “name” to star in the show. This led to McElhenney contacting Danny DeVito, who agreed to be cast in their second season. Due to the network’s demands, if DeVito had not agreed to join the show it would have been canceled.
Considering that DeVito has stuck around for the past eleven seasons, it is safe to say he is enjoying his time as part of The Gang.
18 McElhenney’s Body Transformation
Some artists do some crazy things to their body in the name of artistic expression. This case is certainly one of the strangest.
Ron McElhenney transformed himself in to “Fat Mac” in an effort to prove a point on social commentary regarding actors being too good-looking while on screen – and cites Ryan Gosling and Chris Hemsworth as prime examples. Alternatively, he thought it would be more entertaining if an actor began to let themselves go instead. Over the months, McElhenney slowly gained weight over the show’s episodes, leaving him fully out of shape.
His transformation became complete when he unveiled his brand new look during the season 13 preview. The reign of “Fat Mac” is over, and he has been replaced by washboard abs.
Why did he work so hard on a muscular body this time? To prove a point that it doesn’t make sense for every character to be incredibly muscular either.
17 Hidden Audio Messages
Leave it to “The Gang” to give the audience something to decipher even while an episode is ending.
Following watching an episode of It’s Always Sunny, the viewer is left with an image of the show’s production company. Most network shows end this way in order to show off who made the show.
Not only is there a logo following the show, but gibberish is also heard following each episode.
While some may chalk this up to some more silliness by the show-runners, true fans know what is really happening. If the saying is played backwards, it actually reveals hidden audio messages from the cast. Whether it be an inside joke from the show or an insult to the audience, it is certainly an innovative way to get people talking!
16 The Actors Never Actually Drink On Set
With the show being entirely based on the immoral actions of bar owners, it stands to reason that there would likely be alcohol flowing on set at all times. While this may be the perception, it is actually the exact opposite that occurs.
Kaitlin Olson revealed that there is an absolutely “no drinking on set” rule that must be obeyed. Since the show is near-and-dear to each of the main actors’ hearts, they would never to anything that would jeopardize the show. This includes creating a potentially dangerous situation by drinking on the job.
Kudos to the everyone for thinking responsibly here – the last thing anyone would want is for this show to go under for something so silly.
15 The Game of Thrones CrossOver
Season nine featured an episode co-written by Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D. B. Weiss titled “Flowers for Charlie”. Following their writing credit being released, fans began clamoring for “The Gang” to appear in Westros and to hang out with Daenerys Targaryen. While it has not happened yet, it was also revealed that it was certainly discussed.
Glenn Howerton revealed during a Reddit AMA that some cast members were invited to appear on an episode of the show, but timing never worked out.
This needs to happen immediately! Hopefully the possibility is still on the table for Game of Thrones‘ final season.
14 Charlie Day’s Improvised Songs
Charlie Day may be one of the most hilarious people on the planet. His ability to combine improvisation and musical talent is next to none. While some point to Wayne Brady as a musical genius, Day could give him a run for his money.
Look no further than Day’s improvisation while shooting “The Gang Desperately Tries To Win An Award”. While competing to win the “Philly Best Bar Award”, Charlie performs a musical number to draw attention. What fans did not see were the numerous takes that he did before this, which resulted in everyone on the cast and crew cracking up.
He improvised crazy songs in different musical styles.
Kaitlin Olson Performs Her Own Stunts
Dee is certainly more tough than fans give her credit for.
Not only is Kaitlin Olsen one of the funniest parts of the show, she is also the most dedicated performer.
While most of the stunts seen on the show (such as Rob falling off of a building onto mattresses) is used by a stunt actor, Olson is known for performing most of her own stunts.
Olson is the first to put up her hand to complete the stunt– evn when it is something like running herself head-first into a parked car.
Perhaps she is a glutton for punishment or enjoys the risk, but either way she should be commended. There are very few actors in the world brave enough to do those stunts themselves in the name of comedy.
13 Lack Of Award Wins
Following the recent premiere of season 13, It’s Always Sunny became the longest-running live-action sitcom in American history, edging out Ozzie and Harriet. While this is an incredible accomplishment, the show sure would appreciate some award recognition to go along with it.
Despite the show’s rabid cult following, it has never accomplished much during award season.
In fact, the show only holds three Emmy nominations, and they are all for Stunt Coordination. In an effort to address at the situation, the episode The Gang Desperately Tries To Win An Award was written. While it may poke fun at award ceremonies, the frustration of the cast and crew is evident at their lack of recognition.
Shows of this caliber cannot run forever, and hopefully they get the recognition they deserve before it is too late.
12 Danny DeVito’s Drowning Danger
Perhaps being 73 years old is a good reason to take it easy while on set once and while.
While filming a scene which involved each member of “The Gang” being stuck underwater, it required DeVito to be weighed down. While the shot itself went off without a hitch, he was not able to swim up along with the others once the cameras stopped rolling.
After panicking, safety divers were able to jump in and rescue him.
Ever the professional, DeVito allegedly just calmly walked off set for the day once he was saved.
Things could have certainly go awry here, but medical personnel saved the day. Imagine if this had occurred during the pilot, which was only shot for $100?
11 Charlie Day Actually Tried Rum-Ham
He certainly deserves credit for actually trying it.
This Thanksgiving delicacy made its first appearance in season seven. While this boozy-soaked treat did succeed in letting Charlie “eat his drinks” for the day, it certainly would be disgusting to actually eat. The whole gang may see it as a special treat, but there is no way that someone would actually eat this on their own, right?
Apparently it was too gross for Day.
According to TMZ, while sitting at a restaurant he was offered some pieces of Rum-Ham. Being the fearless comedian he is, Charlie actually tried it, but later lamented that “it was disgusting.” Kudos to him for actually trying this, but it seems like a one-way ticket to a stomach ache.
10 Its Always Sunny in Moscow
It is not uncommon for television markets outside of North America to create international versions of popular shows. There are numerous iterations of international Big Brother reality shows, for example. Who would have thought it would happen to It’s Always Sunny?
In an effort to create a homage to the show, a Russian version called It’s Always Sunny in Moscow was created for fans in Russia. From viewing clips on YouTube , it appears that the show is very similar to the American version, but without all of the extreme craziness.
Even though it does not have the stars fans are used to, it seems that it has developed popularity in Moscow.
In tribute to the show, the Moscow Gang’s bar is even named “Philadelphia.”
9 Every Actor’s Spouse Has Appeared On The Show
It’s Always Sunny certainly has become a real family affair.
In order to maintain the tight comradery of the show, not just any actors can join the cast. Most of the actors who appear are friends of the writers and creators. Furthermore, some of the cast is even made up of spouses of the main actors.
It is no secret that Kaitlin Olson is married to Ron McElhenney, but the rest of the group’s spouses have made appearances over the years. Charlie Day’s wife plays series regular The Waitress, while Howerton and DeVito’s wives have made cameo appearances.
While it certainly must be awkward to watch their spouses do some of the immoral things on the show, they are lucky to get a first-hand look at one of the funniest shows on television.
8 Danny DeVito Joined Because His Kids Love The Show
What would compel an actor in his sixties who rarely does television to join a series as a full-time star?
The first season of It’s Always Sunny was not an overwhelming critical success, which almost resulted in the show being canceled. As reported before, the studio wanted a “big name” to be attached to the project to guarantee ratings. When the show-runners approached DeVito to join, they met with him in his home. During that meeting, the crew learned that DeVito’s children were big fans of the show. Ultimately, this was one of his deciding factors in taking the role of Frank.
DeVito’s addition to the show was certainly welcome, and set the show up for success in the future.
It also made him very popular at home!
7 The Show Started as a Nightmare
Sometimes the inspiration for a show comes from a long-time dream of a writer. In this case, it literally came from a nightmare!
The inspiration for the pilot episode of the show – where Charlie reveals he may have cancer only to deal with an insensitive Dennis at every turn – came from a bad dream. McElhenney dreamed up what it would be like to not receive any sympathy after a potential fatal diagnosis, and began writing the episode. The pilot fully encapsulates the insensitivity of The Gang, as no one gives Charlie any sympathy.
After conceiving the idea, he brought it right to Day and Howerton. Knowing his good friends well, he said “I knew that nobody else would think that was funny except Glenn and Charlie.” Well, he was wrong about that part.
6 Kaitlin Olson Originally Turned The Show Down
It would be very difficult to imagine this show without Sweet Dee, but it almost happened.
As Kaitlin Olson revealed in an interview, her character was originally written very differently. Instead of messy, rude, aggressive Deandra that fans know today, she was envisioned as the total opposite. Dee was initially meant to be seen as “the voice of reason” on the show, while all the men would be the immoral ones.
According to Olson, this is due to McElhenney not knowing “how to write about a woman.”
This resulted in Olson not wanting to take the role.
Thankfully, clearer heads prevailed, and she ended up liking the final writing product. As fans of the show, it would be impossible to imagine Dee any other way than the monster that she has become.
5 Why Mac and Dee will never be together
Even though Olson and McElhenney are married in real life, we obviously do not expect their characters to hook up any time soon.
The characters of Mac and Dee could not be any more different than their real-life counterparts. Mac and Dee despise each other, while they have two children together in real life. However, the dynamic between the two characters is actually one of their favorite parts of the show. Olson feels that having them be romantically involved would ruin what has been built over thirteen seasons.
Of course, Mac came out as a gay man in season 12, so that door is firmly shut.
Considering that some of the funniest moments of the show come from how little The Gang cares about Dee, it would not be the same if she got together with one of them.
4 Pacific Rim Crossover In “Flowers for Charlie”
Outside of It’s Always Sunny, Charlie Day has achieved some success as a film actor as well. One of his biggest calling cards was being a part of the action-film Pacific Rim. As an inside joke, there were numerous crossovers to his role in the film in the episode “Flowers for Charlie”.
This episode involves Charlie taking a pill which increases his intelligence.
It features a cameo appearance by Burn Gorman, who starred in the film alongside Day.
While neither men have the starring role in the film, seeing them work together in a different capacity was a nice nod to the film.
In addition, Pacific Rim was directed by Guillermo del Toro, who also guest-starred on It’s Always Sunny.
3 McElhenney Kept Waiting Tables During Season One
Everyone wanted to believe in the possible success of the show, but they still needed to keep their options open.
Despite FX picking up the show for it’s first season in 2005, no one was certain that it would be successful. In fact, numerous shows get canceled following their first season every year. Co-creator Rob McElhenney wanted the show to succeed, but also was not making enough from the show the first year to support himself.
He had to keep his job as a server as a safety net.
Thankfully the show took off in the second season, which meant he was able to produce the show full-time.
2 Fred Savage Directed Multiple Episodes
Kevin Arnold from The Wonder Years was behind the camera for some of The Gang’s hijinks. Who would have thought someone so pure and wholesome would be responsible for some of this craziness!
Following a career as a famous child actor, Savage ventured into directing television.
While first spending his time on family-friendly shows, he eagerly tried to break in to the adult market. It’s Always Sunny gave him his first chance, and he would go on to direct eighteen episodes beginning in season three.
How did he get the job? Savage maintains that it is all because of McElhenney’s love for The Wonder Years.
While he may portray the image of being wholesome when on camera, Mr. Savage is certainly not afraid to get his hands dirty!
1 The Seinfeld connection
It stands to reason that two of the best comedy shows in history would also share the same shooting location.
This past season saw It’s Always Sunny relocate its shooting location to Studio City, California. While moves like this are not uncommon in television, this did result in the show sharing television history with another very important show.
It’s Always Sunny now shoots on The Radford Lot, which was the home of Seinfeld from 1990 to 1998.
Famously, Seinfeld has one of the highest-viewed series finales of all time, which was filmed on this exact lot. While this show has not achieved the same ratings as Seinfeld, it has been running longer.
Being a fan of Seinfeld himself, when McElhenney learned this he responded on his Instagram by saying “No pressure.”
Do you have any trivia to share about It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia? Let us know in the comments!