‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ Cold Opens, Ranked
Some of the most memorable moments in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia have taken place before the opening credits even start, which means the show probably holds the record for the fastest a character has done something awful in a sitcom. Here’s the cream of that morally questionable crop…
Charlie Goes America All Over Everybody’s Ass
Included solely because of Charlie's (Charlie Day) delivery of the fateful words, “We’re gonna go America ALL OVER THEIR ASSES.” They should add that somewhere in the anthem. U! S! A! Char! Lie! Day!
Who Pooped the Bed?
Ditto for Dennis’ (Glenn Howerton) “It's not the poop. It's the mystery behind the poop.”
Reynolds v. Reynolds: The Cereal Defense)
Frank (Danny DeVito) unsuccessfully trying to use a tape recorded by Charlie as a GPS navigation system + Dennis eating cereal from a bowl in his car, thus confirming he really is a psychopath = the dumbest traffic accident ever. This episode could end right here, and it’d still be an all-timer.
Dennis Gets Divorced
Maureen Ponderosa (Catherine Reitman), rest her soul, was such a memorable character, but it’s Dennis getting carried away with the pretend choking that really sells this one.
Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack
Sweet Dee (Kaitlin Olson) having a heart attack alone isn’t funny; Dennis’ dismissive “What is her problem?” immediately followed by the title of the episode is. Heads up: This show loves that little trick, as we’ll see many more times below.
Frank Sets Sweet Dee on Fire
Sweet Dee Gets Audited
Sweet Dee’s smug “You guys all better eat a dick, ’cause Sweet Dee beat the system” is a reminder that she’s an asshole too, and the cut to the title is so incredibly satisfying. The show’s secret weapon is its ability to deliver a karmic payoff within the first two minutes.
The Gang Misses the Boat
Sometimes the title gag is a little too clever for the show’s own good. You actually can get the entire gist of this episode from this one short clip: They go to insane lengths to make themselves believe they haven’t missed the boat (literally and metaphorically), but it’s obvious that they did miss the boat. It’s like they’re providing their own CliffsNotes versions.
The Gang Exploits the Mortgage Crisis
This one provides some insight into the show’s creative process when Dennis suggests taking Frank’s house scheme and Dee’s surrogate pregnancy scheme and somehow merging them while Charlie says, “Let’s just stick with one; it’s cleaner.” This is also the first, but not last, instance of Frank’s fixation with “flushing” people down the drain.
The Gang Desperately Tries to Win an Award
Another meta one in which the Gang insists they don’t care about never having been nominated for
an Emmy the Best Bar Award, while making it very clear that yes, they very much do. The show got its first Emmy nom for this season, so their desperation worked (it was for Outstanding Stunt Coordination, but still).
Mac and Dennis Buy a Timeshare
Often, while trying to pull off a scam, the Gang ends up on the receiving end of a completely different one, like when Dennis and Mac (Rob McElhenney) willingly get involved with a pyramid scheme because “people like us, we don’t get got, we go get,” which the title screen immediately proves wrong.
Mac and Dennis: Manhunters
Included because of Frank mistaking the plot of First Blood for his real life. We’d absolutely watch a full Rambo series remake starring DeVito.
Paddy’ s Pub: Home of the Original Kitten Mittens
Charlie’s WTF “Kitten Mittens” ad and the rest of the Gang’s stunned silence is a reminder that, although these characters are all weirdoes, one of them is weird on a whole other level.
Bums: Making a Mess All Over the City
The Gang Gives Frank an Intervention
So many classic Frank moments in one short clip: the wine in a soda can, the reveal that the party he was “pre-gaming” for was a family member’s funeral, the phrase “Flush that turd down the drain!” referring to the deceased — the basic essence of Frank Reynolds is right here.
The Nightman Cometh
This earns a top three spot because of Mac reacting to the news that Charlie earnestly wants to put on a musical with the phrase that defines not just his character but the entire Gang: “Who versus? Who are we doing it versus?”
Mac and Charlie Die
Charlie and Mac trying to frame Mac’s dad for threatening to kill them, only for their lies to blow up in their faces, is like a little mini episode of its own, culminating in what would be the single greatest cut to a title screen in this entire series if it wasn’t for...
Mac Kills His Dad
You just know Mac’s “I’m gonna save my dad’s life” is gonna be directly followed by the words “Mac Kills His Dad” on the title screen, and yet, it still works every time. You might notice that no cold opens after Season Ten made it into this list. That’s because, after this one, they probably knew they’d perfected this joke format and didn’t even try to top it.
Special mention, though, for “A Monkey Could Do Dee's Job” followed by “The Gang Replaces Dee With A Monkey” from the latest season.
Thumbnail: Disney-ABC Domestic Television