Charlie Kelly

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Name: Charlie Kelly
Occupation: janitor at Paddys Pub
Title/Rank: none
Location: Philadelphia, USA
Status: Alive
Relationships: Mac (best friend); Dee Reynolds (friend); Dennis Reynolds (best friend); Frank Reynolds (dad?)
Fandom: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia
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Charlie Kelly is one of the five main characters on It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia


Charlie Kelly is a janitor at Paddy's Pub in Philadelphia, and has known many of the gang since High School. He refers to Mac as his childhood best friend. He lives with his roommate Frank Reynolds, who may also be his biological father in a small one room apartment, and regularly abuses drugs. Charlie's poor reading and writing skills are a running joke in the series, with many characters labeling Charlie illiterate. It is heavily implied in several episodes that Charlie was abused as a child.


Charlie is over viewed as the most sympathetic of the gang, in a show that avoids any such sentiment.[1] This could be due to the character's tragic back story, his child-like naivety, or as a result of the popularity of actor Charlie Day. Following the release of Pacific Rim, fan interest in the character increased due to Day's high profile role in that film. [2]

Fan Theories and Headcanons

  • Charlie is actually a Genius - There has been considerable fan discussion of Charlie's mental ability, and episodes addressing his intelligence have only encouraged further discussion.[3][4][5] One outlandish theory suggests that Charlie is actually of average or high intelligence, but he struggles because of his drug abuse and regular head injuries.
  • Neurodivergent Charlie Kelly - Many fans headcanon that Charlie is dyslexic due to his literacy problems in the series. Other fans headcanon that Charlie is autistic.[6]


  • Charlie/Dee is a semi-canonical het pairing of Charlie with Dee Reynolds and often appears as a side pairing in MacDennis works.
  • Charlie Kelly/Mac is the non-canonical slash pairing of Charlie and his childhood friend Mac. Some works are pre-canon, and set before they meet the rest of the gang. Many other focus on them beginning a sexual relationship during the course of the series, and a lot of works include reference to, or instances of substance abuse.
  • Charlie/Dennis is the non-canonical slash pairing of Charlie and his friend Dennis Reynolds
  • Charlie/Scientist pairs Charlie with the scientist who appeared in Flowers for Charlie. The scientist was portrayed by Burn Gorman, the actor who played Hermann Gottlieb in Pacific Rim, a character who was popularly shipped with Charlie Day's Newton Geiszler. So despite the Scientist only appearing in one episode, fans began to ship the two together. Fics ranged from Charlie been dependent on the Scientist for intelligence pills, to fluffy works where the two are in a healthy relationship.
The pairing name for these two is CharBitch, arising from Charlie/Science Bitch.


Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Archives & Fannish Links

Canon Resources


  1. An appreciation: Charlie Kelly of "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" post by atalentforidleness (2008), accessed 1/10/2018
  2. Evolution of sunny fandom, post on Tumblr
  3. How come in 'Charlie Work' Charlie is a genius? discussion on Reddit.
  4. Is Charlie border-line retarded because Dennis shot him in the head in season 1? discussion on Reddit
  5. Stupid writer bitches made Charlie more smarter? discussion on Reddit
  6. Charlie Kelly is autistic a post listing autistic behaviours Charlie exhibits, on Reddit