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After 12 seasons, ‘It’s Always Sunny’ could be nearing its end

Spoilers for the most recent season of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia below.

The beloved cult classic It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia recently wrapped its 12th season, and the show’s future has never looked more unsteady.

This most recent season was one of experimentation — a musical, a true crime documentary spoof, an episode centered around Cricket, a one-camera sitcom, etc. But the season also saw a fair amount of introspection from some of the show’ most stubborn characters.

In one of the season’s best episodes, “Hero or Hate Crime?,” Mac decided to come out to his friends, marking the end of one of the show’s long-running jokes about everyone except for him acknowledging he was gay. The moment may have seemed insignificant for the rest of the Gang (again, they already knew, and didn’t care), it was a surprisingly meaningful and touching moment from a show not known for its heartwarming qualities.

The developments of Dennis, however, have far more dire implications and felt far less authentic. The first odd moment seemed to come as Dennis, perhaps the show’s most well developed character and an out-and-out sociopath, admitted that he has feelings during “The Gang Tends Bar.” It was a very out-of-character moment for a man who once claimed that he had to carry onion in his pocket in case he needed to fake emotion.

Even if the creators envisioned this as something of a setup, the season’s finale seemed to come even further out of left field. The episode, “Dennis’ Double Life,” delves into the realization that Dennis has fathered a child. At the end of the episode, after numerous attempts to dodge the responsibility, Dennis decides to leave the Gang and to be a real father to his son. The episode’s airing coincided with news pieces about that Glenn Howerton, the actor who plays Dennis and co-created/co-writes the show, would be taking an “extended hiatus” that could become permanent.

Fans have been theorizing how It’s Always Sunny would end for the past few years as the show lurches slowly toward the possibility of “jumping the shark.” Through a combination of fantastic writing and high-quality acting, the show has managed to avoid such a fate. But now fans have suddenly been handed this rather sudden notice that the show might be over. And if Sunny were to continue without Dennis, it is hard to imagine that the show could possibly maintain any semblance of its previous quality.

This is a remarkably difficult realization for those who have either followed from the beginning or have become obsessive fans thanks to the show’s constant presence on Netflix. For me, it is hard to acknowledge the possibility that my favorite TV show could be on the chopping block and that it was partially the fault of my favorite TV character.

Still, if this is the end, Sunny should be proud to have gone out on such an experimental note. It would be easy for a show like this to have played it safe, but the stars of Sunny were never content on doing such a thing. Not every joke landed perfectly, but one has to applaud the effort of these remarkably talented comedians to play outside the box. It was an obscene, silly and typically hilarious season of Sunny. If this is the end, one would be hard pressed to ask for a better season to go out with.

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