The Gang Makes History
Ahead of the FXX comedy’s record-tying 14th season (premiering Sept. 25 at 10 p.m. ET), EW honors America’s longest running live-action sitcom.
A: Rick Astley
The popular internet trend of Rickrolling has been linked to the use of the singer’s “Never Gonna Give You Up” in a 2005 Sunny episode that reveals Dennis’ (Glenn Howerton) unexpected fandom.
B: Bird Law
Charlie (Charlie Day) may be illiterate, but season 11’s “McPoyle vs. Ponderosa: The Trial of the Century” proves that he’s the “best goddamn bird lawyer in the world.”
C: Chardee MacDennis
Invented by Charlie, Dee (Kaitlin Olson), Mac (Rob McElhenney), and Dennis, this “Game of Games” is a test of the mind, body, and spirit (and now horror, thanks to Danny DeVito’s Frank) that they’ve unsuccessfully tried to sell to Mattel.
D: The D.E.N.N.I.S. System
Dennis Reynolds has always considered himself quite the ladies’ man, and in a season 5 episode, he discloses his creepy foolproof system to seduce any woman: “Demonstrate value,” “Engage physically,” “Nurture dependence,” “Neglect emotionally,” “Inspire hope,” and “Separate entirely.”
E: Emmys Snub
Despite its lengthy run, Sunny has been largely ignored by Emmy voters, earning just three nominations (all for stunt coordination) and no wins. The lack of awards success is parodied in the season 9 episode “The Gang Tries Desperately to Win an Award.”
F: Fat Mac
Noticing that characters often get better looking as TV series continue, McElhenney decided it would be funny if the Sunny cast instead put on weight for season 7. They all passed, but he went ahead with it, gaining 60 pounds—and plenty of laughs.
G: Green Man
In a town known for its mascots (Phillie Phanatic and Gritty), Charlie’s spandex-covered alter ego fits right in.
H: "Hero or Hate Crime?"
After being confronted about his exercise bike, “the Ass Pounder 4000,” during an arbitration over the rightful owner of a winning scratch ticket, Mac finally admits to his friends that he’s gay in this season 12 episode.
In season 5, the gang decides Frank is no longer fun to drink with, so they stage an intervention, which he mistakes for a roast.
J: Jersey Shore
Speaking of meats, the comedy makes a rare trip outside of Philly in “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore.” The season 7 episode is notable for the debut of Frank’s favorite beach snack: rum ham.
K: Kitten "Mittons"
In the market for an “elegant, comfortable mitten” for your pet? Well, after his sleep is disrupted by the cats outside his apartment, Charlie has the perfect product for you.
L: Liberty Bell
The season 4 episode “The Gang Cracks the Liberty Bell” flashes back to tell the story of how “Patrick’s Pub” was instrumental in giving the iconic symbol its signature mark.
Siblings Liam (Jimmi Simpson), Ryan (Nate Mooney), and Margaret (Thesy Surface) are the most notorious members of this inbred milk-loving family that once took the gang hostage.
N: The Nightman Cometh
Adapted from his previous songs “Nightman” and “Dayman,” Charlie’s rock opera was later turned into a real-life musical that the cast (and DeVito’s wife, Rhea Perlman) reenacted around the country. While it is a success in that sense, the performance in the season 4 finale fails when Charlie’s show-ending marriage proposal is declined.
O: "The Gang Runs for Office"
As if politics could get any dirtier, the group stakes its claim in the corruption game when Dennis and Dee run for comptroller. What ensues is an endless cycle of bribes, even costing Charlie his beloved Garbage Pail Kids collection
P: Paddy's Pub
Once hailed as “the worst bar in Philadelphia,” Paddy’s serves as the headquarters for the gang’s various high jinks, hosting such events as strip shows, modeling competitions, and cult meetings (R.I.P. Ass Kickers United).
Q: Quantum Leap
When they experience classic body-switch movie tropes in season 12’s “The Gang Turns Black,” Dee’s theory that they’re dealing with a Quantum Leap situation gets tested by a run-in with the star of the NBC series, Scott Bakula, who is working as a janitor and wishing he could leap back to 1989 when he still hung out with Nash Bridges.
R: Rickety Cricket
Introduced as a clean-cut priest with a longtime crush on Dee, Matthew Mara (Sunny writer David Hornsby) has since seen his life repeatedly ruined by the gang, leaving him now a drug-addicted homeless man.
S: Sweet Dee
The lone female member of the gang, Frank’s daughter and Dennis’ twin sister is often the target of their jokes, especially when it comes to her romantic and professional failures, as well as her resemblance to a bird… Would that make Charlie her lawyer?
T: Thunder Gun Express
The gang loves action flicks, be it Thunder Gun Express, which they rush to see in a season 7 episode, or Lethal Weapon 5 and 6, which they make themselves. (Yes, Mac in the Danny Glover role is as problematic as it sounds.)
U: Chase Utley
Mac has one dream in life: to play catch with Chase Utley. He even wrote to the MLB star, declaring, “I am sure our relationship would be a real home run!” Mac’s wish became McElhenney’s reality in June when the actor caught the first pitch from Utley at a Phillies game.
V: Sigur Rós’ “Varúð”
The season 13 finale, “Mac Finds His Pride,” concludes with Mac coming out to his imprisoned father via a stunning five-minute rain-filled shirtless interpretive dance number to this song from the Icelandic rock band. Frank wasn’t the only one tearing up.
W: The Waitress
Played by Day’s wife, Mary Elizabeth Ellis, since the series debut, the woman of Charlie’s dreams (and stalkings), whose real name is unknown, has been romantically involved with all the male members of the gang at some point.
X: Xmas Special
Danny DeVito has said there’s nothing he won’t do for a laugh on Sunny, and that is on full display in the season 6 holiday special, “A Very Sunny Christmas,” when the legendary actor emerges from a couch naked and greased up.
Y: Yuck Puddle
No one at Paddy’s is more dedicated to their job than Charlie. But no matter how hard the janitor works (as showcased in season 10’s memorable “Charlie Work”), he’s never been able to clean up the bar’s biggest mess: a blob in the men’s bathroom that seems to somehow both move and feed.
For a rich businessman, Frank has some low-class hobbies. Among them are playing “Night Crawlers” with the adult man he shares a bed with (and who might be his son) as well as hanging out under the bridge with people like Z (The Wire’s Chad Coleman). And don’t get us started on Z’s jean shorts.