The One-Paragraph Pitch That Spawned It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia

The very first inklings of the series pilot came to McElhenney in a dream. “The show started as a night terror, basically,” the actor told Entertainment Weekly. Howerton recalled McElhenney telling him: “I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about this scene and just laughing my a** off” (via It’s Always Sunny Podcast). The scene that would become the impetus for the entire series. McElhenney explained the idea to EW.

“It was just an idea of a guy going over to another guy’s house to ask him for sugar, and the other guy telling him that he has cancer. And instead of the friend being compassionate, he just wants to get the sugar and get out the door.”

This plot was repurposed for the series pilot, and again in Season 1 Episode 4, “Charlie Has Cancer.” Sugar was replaced with a basketball, which “isn’t as good as coming over for sugar,” according to Day, but the premise is essentially the same. The scene played with a style of awkward comedy inspired by “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Howerton said. The earlier episodes of the series are also in keeping with this style, but the guys have done “less and less” of it as the show’s gone on.

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