Charlie has made a ton of hilarious mistakes in It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, much to the rest of the gang’s disdain and the audience’s amusement. His illiteracy has been a long-running gag on the show, often manifesting in gut-busting ways.
From his fascination with a “pirate door” to his concern about his dad being a “cheese mongrel,” there’s no shortage of scenes that highlight Charlie’s unique perspective of the world. The funniest mistakes by Paddy’s Pub’s janitor have unsurprisingly become iconic in the fandom, with errors like “Pepe Silvia” and “money me” becoming even more popular through countless memes.
It’s Always Sunny has changed a lot over the years, but one thing that remains the same is Charlie’s illiteracy and his vehement denial of it. In the season 3 episode “The Gang Solves the North Korea Situation,” his mission to spy on a competitor with Dennis starts to go sideways when he unexpectedly spots a “pirate door.”
He nonchalantly asks a confused Dennis if he thinks “a pirate lives in there,” which understandably prompts a correction that it actually says “private.” The way Charlie tries to evade Dennis’ question about why he would read it that way is even funnier than his initial mistake and all is soon forgotten when they try to kick down the pirate door.
Things aren’t looking too good for Paddy’s Pub in the season 5 episode “The Great Recession.” As the gang tries to determine exactly what each of them contribute to the bar, they turn to Charlie, who admits that part of his routine is to “always make sure” he turns on “the Coors sign” to “let people know” that there are “iced delicious Coors in the bar.”
That sounds reasonable enough, until the rest of the group head outside and realize the sign actually reads “closed” and not “Coors.” Once again, Charlie’s deflection is as funny as the mistake itself, as he defends himself in a nonsensical way by saying it’s hard to read the sign from the inside.
Charlie’s most iconic scene that can be recognized by even those who have never heard of the show is undoubtedly the “Pepe Silvia” conspiracy. It takes place during the season 4 episode “Sweet Dee Has a Heart Attack” when Charlie and Mac learn what it’s like to have jobs that come with a “salary and benefits.”
Unfortunately for Charlie, the mailroom proves too much for him, especially considering he can’t really read or write very well. He freaks out when he realizes that despite several of the letters being addressed to a “Pepe Silvia,” that person doesn’t exist, and so do most of the employees in the corporation that he refers to as a “ghost town.” The likely truth here is that Charlie just doesn’t do his job in the mailroom very well and hyper focuses on uncovering the “major conspiracy” all around him instead.
In the season 15 finale “The Gang Dances Their Asses Off,” Charlie makes an honest mistake and ends up putting Paddy’s Pub as the grand prize for a dance marathon. He explains to the group that he put the bar in the “pride” section of the form, or “things that” he’s “proud of.”
Mac says it best when he screams about how Charlie’s “illiteracy has screwed” up their marketing tactic, turning the whole event into a high-stakes competition they have to win. It’s a ridiculous moment that underscores how even Charlie’s smallest errors can have funny repercussions for the group.
Charlie is overworked and overwhelmed in the season 6 episode “Charlie Kelly: King of the Rats.” Charlie’s tired of bashing rats all day and the gang feels horrible when they realize it’s his birthday. Dee offers to take him to the spa as a treat, which only confuses Charlie who asks if she’s trying to take him “for a spaghetti day.”
Even after seeing what the spa is and having a plate of spaghetti, Charlie still doesn’t understand what exactly is going on. It’s the last straw for Dee when Charlie asks what “the spaghetti policy” is in the establishment, much to the entertainment of fans who likely still regularly quote the hilarious phrase whenever they can.
The season 11 episode “Charlie Catches a Leprechaun” is exactly what it sounds like, except instead of a leprechaun, Charlie just traps a regular person in the bar’s basement. Perhaps the funniest thing about this mistake is that it turns the whole thing into one of the best Mac and Charlie episodes.
Just like Charlie, Mac is convinced that the man knows where they can find a “pot of gold.” Audiences can’t be blamed for feeling bad for the innocent prisoner, that is until it’s revealed who he actually is in a surprising twist towards the end.
Dee and Dennis are momentarily horrified in the season seven episode “The Gang Goes to the Jersey Shore,” as Charlie expresses how thankful he is for their sunblock idea. Dee points out that she never made Charlie a sunblock drink, so he’s just chugging pure sunblock instead of alcohol.
Charlie doesn’t seem bothered, though, as the chemicals have likely altered his state of mind at that point already. He’s too excited to check out the “stray dogs” and “sea specimens” to care about Dennis’ insistence on “soaking up the culture.” It’s a comical contrast of their personalities and priorities, with Charlie predictably feeling content with just staying in one spot throughout the whole vacation.
Dennis finally says that he thinks Charlie “might be dyslexic” in the season 2 episode “The Gang Runs for Office.” When Charlie attempts to help Dennis film his campaign speech, viewers get a good idea of just how little of the English language Charlie truly understands.
Nonsensical lines like “This you should vote me. I leave power. Good.” make up the entire speech. Charlie mouthing the words as an irritated Dennis recites them makes it an especially gut-busting scene. It’s one of the earliest moments that highlight Charlie’s illiteracy and arguably signals the start of the fan-favorite gag.
Bonnie Kelly is one of the best recurring characters in It’s Always Sunny. Despite looking and acting like she’s an innocent mom who just wants the best for Charlie, she can also be quite devious as fans see in the twist in the season 8 episode “Charlie’s Mom Has Cancer.”
During their fundraising event in Paddy’s Pub, Charlie pressures his mom to read a speech that he and Mac wrote for her. It’s clear which part of the speech was written by Charlie, and the lines “Give me money. Money me. Money now. Me a money needing a lot now.” have become iconic in the fandom.
The season 15 episode “The Gang’s Still in Ireland” marks an important event in Charlie’s life, as he figures out exactly who his Irish pen pal really is. When he investigates the mysterious character’s background, he’s surprised to learn that he’s a “cheese mongrel.”
As if to drive the point home, Charlie worriedly asks what he may have done so bad to deserve that title, sometimes interchanging it with “cheese monster.” It’s a hilarious mistake that highlights how he can’t understand and express simple words like “cheese monger,” but can apparently comprehend and fluently speak Irish.
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