Exploring the odd relationship between Game of Thrones and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia


Game of Thrones has been compared to many shows over the years. Many have compared it with Vikings, for example, the History Channel’s first scripted show. And for a while, critics everywhere were asking if HBO’s Westworld could be “the new Game of Thrones.” It’s a giant show, so comparisons are natural.

One show you wouldn’t think had much in common with Game of ThronesIt’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, FXX’s long-running comedy about a group of morally bankrupt urbanites. And yet, there’s a surprising amount of cross-pollination between the two shows. Why? Let’s look into it.

The Game of Thrones showrunners once wrote an Always Sunny episode

Always Sunny has been on the air for over a decade—it’s in its twelfth season now. That’s a very long time in the TV world, and it seems like, at some point during that period, Game of Thrones co-creators David Benioff and Dan Weiss became fans. They even wrote an episode for the show’s ninth season: “Flowers for Charlie,” where lead character Charlie Kelly (Charlie Day) undergoes an experiment to make himself smarter. A clip:

“Flowers for Charlie” aired in October of 2013, a few months after Game of Thrones Season 3 wrapped up over on HBO. So by this point, Benioff and Weiss had a full-time job. They didn’t have to seek out writing gigs if they didn’t want to.

Day talked to IGN about how Benioff and Weiss came to write the episode. Apparently, they met Always Sunny creator and star Rob McElhenney (Mac) at a party, told him they were fans, and one thing led to another.

For their part, the Always Sunny cast seem like they’re fans of Game of Thrones, too. Here, McElhenney and Day put a lot of thought into who they would play if they were on the show.

And so the relationship began.

Several Game of Thrones writers have made cameo appearances on Always Sunny

Just last week, the second episode of Always Sunny’s twelfth season—”The Gang Goes to a Waterpark”—aired on FXX. Both Benioff and Weiss had cameo appearances. You can see Benioff, playing a bossy slide operator, in the trailer below.

And that’s not the only time a Game of Thrones writer has turned up in Philly. Bryan Cogman, the guy behind episodes like “Kissed by Fire” (aka “The One the Jaime’s bathtub Speech”) and “The Laws of Gods and Men” (aka “The One with Tyrion’s Trial”) appeared as an insurance adjuster in “The Gang Goes to Hell: Part 2,” the Always Sunny Season 11 finale.

And Benioff and Weiss would like to return the favor and give cameos to Day and McElhenney, according to the below interview with TMZ.

Will that actually happen? It’s hard to tell, but Benioff and Weiss are known to hand out the odd cameo every now and again, so it’s possible.

And so the relationship deepened.

A longtime Always Sunny director is working on Game of Thrones Season 7

A while back, we reported on the four directors who will be working on Game of Thrones Season 7: Jeremy Podeswa, Mark Mylod, Alan Taylor and Matt Shakman. Podeswa, Mylod, and Taylor had all directed episodes of the show before, but Shakman hadn’t. He’ll be directing episodes 4 and 5 of Season 7. Why had the producers chosen him for the job?

It becomes clear when you consider that Shakman has directed 42 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, far more than any other director. He’s directed other things as well, including Six Feet UnderMad Men and Fargo. But knowing their histories, it’s a good bet that Benioff and Weiss came to know him through Always Sunny.

And so the relationship is complete. What other fruit might it bear by the time the two shows are over? As usual, the internet can be counted upon to provide an answer.