Because most TV shows are viewed through the vantage point of the protagonists, we tend to see those characters as maybe a little bit morally better than they actually are. However, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia flips that script around and shows us five people who are unapologetically the worst human beings imaginable. It's why we've decided to pick Sunny for our "Who's The Actual Worst Person" series, but add a little bit of a twist. Instead of picking which character is the most morally awful, we're going to be asking who is the LEAST awful. Granted, the characters in Sunny have committed so many atrocities against humanity that asking this question is akin to playing "which wild animal would you prefer to eat you alive" but, we're going to do our best to parse through the insanity anyway.
Off the bat, I'm eliminating Dennis from contention as he's far and away the evilest. He's basically Patrick Bateman running a pub, having claimed that a woman's head in the freezer is the ultimate symbol of love and is implied to be a serial rapist. Frank isn't as bad, but the deeper we go into his past, the more horrible shit we find, and I'm willing to bet that we're not done digging. So that leaves us with Dee, Mac, and Charlie, and I think a pretty good case could be made for all three of them.
The Case For Dee
If the series ended after the first couple of seasons, then Dee would be the winner of this contest, no problem. She starts off as the most grounded character, but only morphs into the terrible sociopath that we recognize her as now after years of constant belittlement by the gang. Dee proverbial shift from Anakin into Darth Vader (Darth Birder?) finally comes to a head in the season 9 episode "The Gang Broke Dee," where Dee is so accustomed to the gang's insults and poor treatment that she is eating a cake out of the trash and joking about throwing herself in front of a bus.
In fact, many of Dee's actions are rooted, less in malice, but in overcoming the traumas of being bullied. She wore a back brace in high school, for example, and it is her pain of feeling unattractive and unwanted in high school that leads her date abusive men like Bill Ponderosa. Does that make Dee any less of a monster when she tries to break up the waitress, and her fiance in "The Waitress Is Getting Married"? Well, not much, but we can at least understand her pain.
There are even times "Sweet Dee" does live up to her nickname by being truly sweet. Take the time Dee is hitchhiking with a runaway who is looking to make it big in Los Angeles. Out of pure compassion, she lays down some hard truths in an effort to stop him from making a huge mistake.
Or maybe she's just projecting. Still, Dee has shown random acts of kindness in the past, and as such, we have to consider that Dee might be the least awful of the gang.
The Case For Charlie
If most of Dee's transgressions against society are a by-product of insecurity, then Charlie's come from merely being simple-minded. After all, capturing a Leprechaun is the type of fun kids are after when they eat Lucky Charms, but put that into actual practice, and you get this:
Charlie can't read and, as such, is easily manipulated by the rest of the gang into doing into a majority of his most heinous actions. You get the sense that if Charlie were a little bit smarter, or a little bit more mentally stable, that he might even be a good guy.
Charlie is at his most problematic, and very much within his own agency, in his dealings with The Waitress. That said, while his love for her should never be considered an excuse to stalk her and meddle with her life, we can at least acknowledge that his actions do come from love. Yes, again, I know that's not an excuse, but this is a "least awful" competition, and when compared to the rest of the gang, whose sexual endeavors are almost all entirely self-motivated, it's at least worth noting that Charlie loves someone beyond himself.
It's almost sweet, even, when Charlie gives Brad a package of hornets, after learning that Brad has broken The Waitress' heart.
You also have to give props to Charlie for being the only one who cares about the bar. If morality is simply a matter of virtue, then Charlie-stans can at least take solace in the fact that he works so hard, taking care of all the handy-work and janitorial duties required to keep the bar afloat. Charlie loves things, and in a group as psychopathic as this, that says a lot.
The Case for Mac:
Mac's case is a tricky one. He's done some horrible things. He started a fitness cult that got everyone murdered. He attempted to reconcile with his father, ultimately putting his father in a position to be murdered (he lives). He fed Dennis his own dead dog.
But aside from the few instances listed above, Mac is mostly an accomplice to the schemes of the others, especially for Dennis. His bouts of rage and machismo are a result of trying to hide his homosexuality and the feelings of guilt he has towards it from his catholic and abusive upbringing. When Mac finally comes out of the closet, his character softens a bit as well.
But even before that Mac has some moments of genuine altruism and sweetness. For example, he buys a wedding dress simply because of an emotional connection, and he tries to get his mother and Charlie's mother to become friends. The worst things Mac does are usually to himself. His obsessive weight loss and weight gain, and bids for acceptance are all part of coping with his childhood.
Personally, Mac is my pick for the least reprehensible Sunny character. Yeah, they're all monsters, but Mac at least is like the cute, furry kind of monster who doesn't really want to scare you. (Like Sully from Monsters Inc. or Cookie Monster if you're not a cookie.) Then again, get enough cookies in Mac, and who knows what he's capable of?
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Top Image: FXX