Funny / Fawlty Towers

  • The famous scene from "Gourmet Night" when Basil's car breaks down and he starts screaming hysterically at it before running off-screen... only to return to hit it with a tree branch repeatedly.
    "Right! That's it! I'm going to give you a damn good thrashing!"
    • The funniest part is when Basil gets in the car and goes crazy, he doesn't turn the key.
    • The UK company Corgi is well-known for its die-cast models of movie and TV cars. When it put out a model of Basil's Austin 1100, of course the car had an accompanying figurine of Basil about to give it a good thrashing.
    • Word of God is that it took forever to find just the right kind of tree branch for the scene, too.
    • The scene is also a Take That! to British Leyland, the manufacturer of the Austin 1100 that Basil hits with the branch.
    • The scene was remade in 2016, in an advert made for the British opticians Specsavers. The advert ends with the elderly Basil Fawlty, whose eyesight is failing, mistakenly giving the car of two policemen a thrashing instead of his own car, which leads to him having to run away from the police, with the slogan "Should've gone to Specsavers".
  • The Major talking to Manuel, thinking he's the moose head. "How ah yoo, suh? I can speek Eenglish! I leehrn it from a booook."
    Major: Japanese, was it?
    Basil: ...Canadian I think, Major.
    Major: Good God, I didn't know Canadians were as clever as that!
    Basil: He's started early...
  • From "Communication Problems", a series of hilarious lines and scenes:
    • Basil makes Mrs. Richards believe her hearing aid is turned down too low... And then screams in her ear once she turns it up. Sybil doesn't even try that hard to stop him, because she's fed up with her too.
    • Mrs. Richards hits her head, and Basil proceeds to pick up a random dust speck and asks, "Is this a piece of your brain?" (That joke nearly didn't make it in, were it not for the efforts of Andrew "Manuel" Sachs.)
    • Basil tells Mrs. Richards that if she gives him any more trouble he'll sneak into her room in the small hours of the morning and stick a bat up her nightdress.
  • "Look, I'm a doctor! I'm a doctor and I want my sausages!"
  • Concussed Basil and the German tourists produces some lines for the annals:
    Basil: Well, I'll just get your hors d'oeuvres. Basil Fawlty: [German accent] Hors d'oeuvres... vich must be obeyed at all times vitout qvestion!
    • "Don't mention the war. I mentioned it once, but I think I got away with it. So it's all forgotten now and let's hear no more about it. So that's two egg mayonnaise, a prawn Goebbels, a Herman Goering and four Colditz salads ... no, wait a minute ... I got a bit confused because everyone keeps mentioning the war."
    • "Will you stop talking about the war!": "Well, you started it!" "We did not start it!" "Yes, you did, you invaded Poland!"
    • Polly tries to stop Basil from imitating Hitler, to everybody's horror, Basil holds a finger underneath his nose and starts to shout in mock German anyway. She promptly makes herself scarce
      Basil: Wait! Wait! I'll do the funny walk!
  • A room with a view:
    Basil Fawlty: That is Torquay, ma'am.
    Mrs. Richards: That is not good enough.
    Basil Fawlty: Well, may I ask what you were expecting to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window? Sydney Opera House, perhaps? The Hanging Gardens of Babylon? Herds of wildebeest sweeping majestically...
    Mrs. Richards: Don't be silly, I expected to see the sea.
    Basil Fawlty: You can see the sea: it's over there between the land and the sky!
    • "No, the radio works. You don't."
  • "This is MINE!" (grins maniacally)
  • Sybil: If I find out the money on that horse was yours you know what I'll do Basil.
    Basil: You'll have to sew 'em back on first!
  • The charade scene: Polly guessing 'small' when Basil pointed at his crotch and 'tart' when he pointed at Sybil.
  • O'Reilly: If the Good Lord—
    Basil: mentioned once more I shall move you closer to him!
  • "I know nothing..."
    • I'm going to sell you to a vivisectionist!
  • "Oh, I could spend the rest of my life having this conversation, now please please try to understand before one of us dies."
  • "Would you care for a rat?"
    • Sybil tries to change the subject as Manuel drags the unconscious Basil from the room... "I'm afraid it's started to rain again..."
    • From the same episode, Basil finding out that Manuel has a rat.
      Basil: You have rats in Spain, don't you, or did Franco have them all shot?
  • "We're about to take the life of a public health inspector and you want to know how's the cat?! It's gone to London to see the Queen!"
  • "YOU PUT BASIL IN THE RATATOUILLE!?!" Even better is Sybil's reaction, to simply assure the inspector that "He's from Barcelona..." Even better, this is the only time in the series that Sybil says the line. You can tell from the audience's reaction that they'd been waiting a while for it.
  • Polly: Mr. Fawlty, please put the bottle down.
    Basil: What is it?
    Basil: What is it?!
    Polly: Kurt is drunk!
    (Basil promptly drops the bottle)
  • From the "Kipper and the Corpse
    Doctor: Are you telling me you didn't realise this man was dead?
    Basil: Well what was I supposed to think? I mean people don't talk that much in the morning! I was just delivering a tray! I mean, if the guest isn't up and singing "Oh What a Beautiful Morning" am I supposed to immediately think 'oh, there's another one snuffed it in the night?! Another name in the Fawlty Towers book of rememberance! I mean, this is a hotel, not the Burma Railway! It does actually say hotel outside, or perhaps I should be more specific! Hotel for people with a better than 50% chance of making it through the night! What?! What are you all looking at me like that for!
    Sybil: Basil... you've got a kipper sticking out of your jumper.
    Basil: Oh there it is! I've been looking for that!
  • Mrs. Tibbs: "You're awfully cheerful this morning!
  • Leeman's work colleague: "What's he doing in there (the washing basket)?"
    Basil, oblivious: "Well, not much."
  • Basil, post-realization: "Oh! Oh... Mr. Leeman!"
    Polly: "We thought you said, 'the linen!'"
  • In "Gourmet Night', Basil's argument with Ronald Heath, a Bratty Half-Pint who complains that the chips are in the wrong shape:
    Basil: What shape do you usually have? Mickey Mouse shape? Smarties shape? Amphibious landing craft shape? Poke in the eye shape?
    Ronald: God, you're dumb.
    Mrs. Heath Oh, now!
    Basil: Is there something we can get you instead, Sonny?
    Ronald: I'd like some bread and salad cream.
    Basil: To eat? Well, there's the bread, and there's the mayonnaise.
    Ronald: I said, "Salad cream," stupid.
    Basil: We don't have any salad cream. The chef made this freshly this morning.
    Ronald: What a dump.
    Mr. Heath This is very good.
    Mrs. Heath He likes salad cream.
    Ronald: That's puke, that is.
    Basil: At least, it's fresh puke.
    • Before that : "These eggs look like you laid them"
  • In "The Wedding Party", the entire 'batteries' scene.
    • "I know what people like you get up to and I think it's disGUSting."
    • Sybil's obnoxious laugh, for which Basil apologizes.
    Basil: Her finishing school was bombed.
    • This exchange:
      Basil: (pokes head into office) They're going!
      Sybil: What?
      Basil: They're going! (runs off)
    • Basil's considerable discomfort with the French woman trying to seduce him.
    Mrs. Peignoir: Ah, Mr. Fawlty, I shall sleep au natural tonight.
    Basil: ...uh, good idea.
    Mrs. Peignoir: But it is not so much fun on your own...
    Basil: Oh, well, one can always pretend...
    • Afterward, when talking to Sybil and hastily trying to explain who could be knocking at their door.
    Basil: Probably some key who forgot the guest to their door.
    Guest: Is the room airy?
    Basil: There's air in it.
  • From "Basil the Rat":
    Basil: (bursts into the room shouting) That's the poison one, the cat had it!
    Sybil: (as Basil is leaving without paying any attention to her) Poison? Basil-?
  • Practically any scene with The Major is hilarious, but he has one line that's so jaw-droppingly offensive, and delivered with such panache you can't help but die laughing. Such as his story about the time he took a girl to a cricket game:
    The Major: And the strange thing was... throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as niggers. No, no, no, I said. niggers are the West Indians. These people are WOGS! No, no, no she said, all cricketers are niggers!
    • Then he got to the punchline: "I wish I could remember her name... she's still got my wallet!"
  • The fire drill from "The Germans" — while suffering from a severe case of "Funny Aneurysm" Moment after the real-life hotel burned to the ground — is still one of the best scenes in the series. It starts with Basil setting off the burglar alarm while getting the key to the fire alarm, thus forcing everyone to believe the drill has begun; this leads to a debate over the time the drill is supposed to be and what the bell sounds like. Then Manuel starts a fire in the kitchen, and everybody else — even Basil — assumes it's only the drill, even after Basil sees a smoldering Manuel emerge from the kitchen.
    Manuel: IS FIRE! IS FIRE! IS FIRE! [Basil pushes him back into the flaming kitchen]
    • Also, Sybil's repeated phone calls to Basil while he's trying to put the moose's head up: "I was just doing it! I was just doing it you stupid woman! I just came over here to be reminded by you to do what I was already doing. I mean what is the bloody point of reminding me to do what I'm already doing, I'm doing it aren't I?"
      • The time Polly answers the phone:
    Polly: Hello, Fawlty Towers. Oh, hello Mrs. Fawlty—
    Polly: Yes, he says he's doing it now.
    Basil: I wish it was this one. [Violently hammers the nail into the wall]
    • "Would you like the hotel moved a bit to the left?"
    • "I wish it was an ingrowing tongue."
    • "WE'RE HAVING IT!!!!"
    • The Major repeatedly insisting there are burglars about.
    • Then when he realises the hotel is on fire and is trying to smash the glass over the fire alarm button, Sybil rings again!
    Basil: <picks up receiver> Hello?! <smashes glass with receiver> Thank you! <hangs up>
    • After Basil finally gets everyone clear about the fire drill and what the bell sounds like, he announces that they'll be holding the actual drill in a few seconds. Everyone just stays in the lobby staring at him:
    Basil: ... What are you doing? I mean, are you all just going to stand there?
    Male Guest: What do you suggest?
    Basil: Well, couldn't one or two of you go into the bar and a few into the dining room, I mean, use your imaginations?
    Female Guest: [Confrontational] Why?
    Basil: Well, this is supposed to be a fire drill!
    Male Guest: There's only a few seconds.
    Basil: ... Right, right, well stay where you are, because obviously if there was a fire, you'd all be standing around like this in the lobby, wouldn't you?! I don't know why we bother, we should let you all burn.
  • Duck's off, sorry.
  • Sybil: Did you put the lid back on the tank, Basil?
    Basil: Yes, that's why I've been on the roof the last 20 minutes dear.
    Sybil: And you took the pigeons out?
    Basil: No I left them in, they're nearly done.
  • Basil: Go get me a hammer.
    Manuel: Ah... hamma sandwich!
    Basil: No, no a hammer!
    Manuel: My... hamster?
    Basil: No! How can I knock a nail in with your hamster? Well I could try...
    • This becomes so much funnier after the whole Siberian Hamster bit, seen below.
  • Basil: Polly cannot cope!
    Sybil: Well she can't fall over waiters or get herself jammed under desks or start burglar alarms or lock people in burning rooms or fire fire-extinguishers straight in her own face, but I should think the hotel could do without that sort of coping for a couple of days, what do you think Basil?
  • "No, no, I don't want a debate about it, Mr. O'Reilly. If you're not over here in 20 minutes with my door, I shall come down there and insert a large garden gnome in you. Good day." And at the end of the episode, that's exactly what he leaves to do. "And then I might go to Canada..."
  • The end of "The Hotel Inspector".
    "Good afternoon, gentlemen. And what can I do today for you three gentlemen? (Beat) AAAAH-!!!!"
  • "Can't we get you on Mastermind Sybil? 'Next contestant, Sybil Fawlty from Torquay, specialist subject: the bleeding obvious'?"
  • In "Gourmet Night", when one of the guests tells Polly that there is a hair in the mousse:
    Polly: Well don't talk too loud, everybody will want one!
    Guest: WHAT?!?!
  • Basil uses flash cards to direct Manuel to take suitcases to room 7... and Manuel promptly uses one to say "OK". Cleese looks honestly surprised, too.
    Basil: He thinks 'boff' is a locale.
  • This interchange, a blooper from "Basil the Rat".
    Manuel [Andrew Sachs]: Is pigeon!
    Basil: It's a rat!
    Manuel: [Out of character, realizing he's flubbed his line] No, it's not a pigeon; it's a hamster.
    [Sachs grins sheepishly, and Cleese — still in character — stares dumbstruck into the camera after hearing "Manuel" properly speak a full sentence in English]
    • Another blooper from "The Anniversary" has Sybil slamming the door in her husband's face so hard that the entire wall moves (if you watch the episode, they intentionally zoom the camera on Basil so the wall is out of shot). Cleese does a double take... and immediately begins "checking the joists".
  • Sybil takes over:
    Basil (to Sybil) I fought in the Korean War, you know. I killed four men.
    Sybil: (to guests checking in) He was in the Catering Corps. He used to poison them.
  • Basil instructing Manuel over the phone to tell one of the builders: "You are a hideous orangutan."
    • That whole scene is just gold, Manuel trying to greet them, and keeps pronouncing the name wrong — "You men with Orraly!"
    Worker (After another informs that he means O'Reilly): Yes, that's right. We are Orraly men! (under his breath) Thick as a plank...
    • When Sybil freaks out and attacks O'Reilly with an umbrella.
    • When Basil calls and says it's him, Manuel thinks he's someone asking to talk with Basil, and gets increasingly frustrated until he waves the phone around to demonstrate that Basil's not there. And then throws the phone over the counter in panic once he gets it.
  • The ending of "The Psychiatrist" where Basil, after one mishap too many, just... collapses into himself and starts hopping about with his arms over his head. The psychiatrist walks past him with the immortal line "I'm on holiday..."
  • "It's perfectly Sybil! Simple's not well! She's lost her throat and her voice hurts. The doctor came this morning and said it was a bit serious, not a lot, a bit, she started to puff up, he's coming back later this afternoon and it's best for her to be on her own! Now what is so peculiar about that?" "Her driving around in the town."
    • "I'll just pop upstairs and ask her to stop dying, and you can all come up and identify her!"
  • "I'll call O'Reilly, you go and see if the roof's still on." [...] (to O'Reilly) "Oh, up to your usual standard I suppose, the odd hole in the floor, the odd door missing but nothing you can't be sued for!"
  • "Got to shoot him Fawlty!" "Ah not- not, legal anymore, Major. Murder, actually."
  • Basil kisses Sybil on the cheek to distract her:
    Sybil: What are you doing?
    Basil: I'm kissing you dear.
    Sybil: (gives him a suspicious, confused look) Well don't.
  • "You speak German?" "Oh, German! Oh, I'm sorry, I thought there was something wrong with you!"
  • The way Basil shakes his fist at the flower pot at the end of A Touch of Class is epically funny, every single time.
  • The running gag with the painting and Mr. Wareing who keeps trying to order his drinks coming together after the chaos is over. Fawlty, dejected that he's scared off his high class guests, finally tries to hang up Sybil's painting, only for Mr. Wareing to come in and loudly demand his drink. Basil snaps, smashes the picture on the floor, and frog-marches him back into the bar.
  • Mr. Hutchinson from "The Hotel Inspectors" asks Basil Fawlty if the hotel has a table tennis table - the reply is priceless (and was cited by John Cleese as a personal favorite line of his):
    Basil: Indeed we do. It is not ... in absolutely mint condition. But it certainly could be used in an emergency.
  • Polly: Mrs. Fawlty told me to give him one!
    Basil: I know how she feels!
  • Basil tells his wife that the chef is completely hammered on the evening of a very important dinner. Sybil expresses astonishment and incredulity.
    Basil: You're right. Maybe it's a dream.
    [Basil slams his head into the counter three times]
    Basil: ... Nope, it's not a dream, we're stuck with it.
  • Manuel serves a guest a salad, then takes it away and stares at it in surprise. Basil sets the salad back down, listens to Manuel for a bit, then takes the salad away and stares at it with him. He sets it down again and Manuel starts pointing at it and imitating an insect.
  • "Anything could have happened in there!" "Well, he was dead.""A man is a man, Mrs. Fawlty!"
  • Basil's snarky attitude towards Sybil's nurse. Gets even funnier when he's concussed and says right to her face that she's ugly.
    Basil: My God, you're ugly, aren't you?
    Sybil: Basil?
    Nurse: I'll get the doctor.
    Basil: You need a plastic surgeon, dear, not a doctor.
  • After getting a good look at one of Polly's risque drawings, Basil picks up the phone and absent-mindedly says "Fawlty Titties".
  • Manuel's off-screen feud with Terry during Basil and Sybil's anniversary. Culminates in a brief shot of them throttling each other on the kitchen floor.
  • Basil's bawling when he believes that he's blown it with a hotel inspector.
  • Basil and Polly's argument about whose fault is O'Reilly's screwup:
    Polly: You hired O'Reilly!
    Basil: Oh, I see, it's my fault, is it? Oh, of course. There I was thinking it was your fault because you'd been left in charge, or Manuel's for not waking you, and all the time, it was my fault! Oh, it so obvious now, I've seen the light! Well, I must be punished then, mustn't I? (Basil starts smacking his own backside) You're a naughty boy, Basil! (Basil starts hitting his head) Don't do it again!"
    • Even before that:
    Polly: It's not my fault! He forgot to wake me!
    Basil: Who forgot to wake you?!
    Polly: ...It is my fault.
    Basil: MANUEL!
  • Sybil's crowning moment of snark probably comes when Basil is attempting to cheer up Manuel when he's acting depressed over losing his pet "hamster":
    Basil: Manuel, my wife informs me that you are "depressed". Now depression is a very bad thing. It's like a virus, it gets inside of you and one day you wake up and you just can't face life any more!