Series / Father Brown

"Father Brown is not your average priest."
Sid to Mrs Steel, in "The Rod of Asclepius"
Season 3 regulars: Mrs McCarthy, Lady Felicia, Sid, Father Brown and Inspector Sullivan

A daytime BBC television series inspired by the Father Brown mystery stories written by G. K. Chesterton, starring Mark Williams (whom you might recognise as Arthur Weasley, Brian Williams or part of Paul Whitehouse's team on The Fast Show) as the mystery-solving Catholic priest.

The series is inspired by Chesterton's original stories but is otherwise very different. Whereas the originals were set between 1911 and 1936 and had the good father turn up all over the world, this series is set in the early 1950s and positions Father Brown as the kind-hearted and insightful priest of the fictional parish of Kembleford in the Cotswolds. Five of the early episodes were loose adaptations of Chesterton's stories; the remainder are complete originals.

There is a small regular supporting cast, either associates of Father Brown who help him solve cases, or police who fervently wish he would stop interfering in their work. In the first series they were Mrs. McCarthy (Sorcha Cusack), the holier-than-thou parish secretary; Lady Felicia (Nancy Carroll), a wealthy socialite with a wandering eye and a frequently-absent husband; Sid (Alex Price), a local handyman and petty crook whom Father Brown tries to keep on the straight and narrow; Susie (Kasia Koleczek), a Polish refugee who works as Father Brown's part-time housekeeper; and Inspector Valentine (Hugo Speer), a long-suffering detective. Series 2 rotates out Inspector Valentine for the less-tolerant Inspector Sullivan (Tom Chambers), who in turn was succeeded by the irascible Inspector Mallory (Jack Deam) in Series 4. Series 5 introduced Bunty (Emer Kenny), Lady Felicia's adventurous niece.

The first series aired over two weeks in January 2013, composed of ten episodes. Series 2, 3, and 4 followed in the January of each subsequent year. The first Christmas special was shown in December 2016, with the rest of Series 5 in January 2017. This repeated itself with Series 6, with the first episode being shown on December 18th, before continuing after the holidays on January 2nd.

According to The Other Wiki Father Brown has been sold to 162 territories by BBC Worldwide. Broadcasts across the world include Australia (ABC), Finland (YLE), Sweden (TV 8), Denmark (DR), Norway (NRK) and Iceland (RÚV). In the US, Father Brown has been sold to 40 public television stations with a reach of 30% of all US television households.


  • Accidental Murder: Both deaths in "The Theatre of the Invisible". The first occurs when the killer attempts to stage a hero moment that will allow him to rescue a litter of kittens from a burning house. No one was supposed to be home, but the landlady returned home unexpectedly and died of smoke inhalation. The second occurs when someone attempts to blackmail him over the first. He attempts to stop the blackmailer from drunkenly waking everyone in the house, but accidentally smothers him with a teddy bear.
  • Acquitted Too Late: Played with in "The Shadow of the Scaffold". After Violet is just barely saved from the gallows, she confesses that she did kill her husband Ivan, and for that she feels she doesn't deserve marriage to the prison guard who she had fallen in love with, instead opting to serve the Lord as a nun in gratitude for His having given her her life back.
  • Action Girl: Bunty's waved around a gun, been in a car chase, and kicked down a door all in the name of solving the case. In the Series 5 finale, she even keeps the bad guy at gunpoint.
  • Affably Evil: The murderer in "The Daughters Of Jerusalem". As he prepares to kill Father Brown, he says "I'm looking forward to all this being over. Popping the question... maybe a kiddie or two..."
  • Amateur Sleuth: Father Brown, obviously. However his motivations are different to most amateur sleuths. He does want to help people who have been unjustly accused. However, more unusually, he wants to find the real murderer to give him or her a chance to repent before it's too late. As lampshaded in "The Smallest Of Things":
    Agnes Lesser: I suppose you know you have something of a reputation.
    Father Brown: For good works, I hope?
    Agnes Lesser: I'd say catching murderers is good works.
    Father Brown: I'd prefer to think of it as saving souls.
  • Arch-Enemy: Hercule Flambeau.
  • Arranged Marriage: In the "Labyrinth of the Minotaur" Joan is the bookworm daughter of a millionaire, being pushed into an arranged marriage with a handsome young aristocrat whose family needs money.
    Lady Felicia: An arranged marriage? How very Victorian!
    Davina Malfort: [almost snarling] Unfortunately, not all of us are in a position where we can turn up our noses at "Trade".
  • Artistic License – Pharmacology: In "Bride of Christ", two people are murdered with sodium ferrocyanide covered hard candy. Cyanide would kill most oxygen-breathing organisms, but ferrocyanide would not. And it is stated in the very episode!
  • Ass Shove: Bunty threatens to do this in The Eagle and the Daw.
    Bunty: Father Brown is the best man I have ever met and, if you say one more word against him, I will take your silly little sign and insert it into a place where no-one can read it!
  • Asshole Victim: The first few minutes of a given episode usually show the Victim of the Week being a jerk to various people before getting murdered, to ensure we have a nice long list of possible suspects.
    • Though, in Series 5, this has been drastically shortened to just show an incomplete view of the victim's demise or, in the case of the victim in The Hand of Lucia, the attack that left her blinded in one eye, explaining the stylish eyepatch she's wearing when she next appears.
  • Authentication by Newspaper: In "The Daughter of Autolycus", the kidnappers of Flambeau's daughter send him a photograph of her holding that day's newspaper.
  • Backwards-Firing Gun: In "The Lair of the Libertines", one Victim of the Week is killed when the killer removes the safety catch from his pistol. This causes the firing pin to shoot out backwards when he fires the pistol, hitting him between the eyes.
  • Badass Bookworm: Marianne Delacroix in "The Daughter of Autolycus" is a student of something like medieval history or literature. See also the Damsel out of Distress entry.
  • Batter Up!: In "The Lepidopterist's Companion", the Victim of the Week dies after being struck over the head with a cricket bat after being mistaken for a burglar. However, he had been poisoned with strychnine before that.
  • Becoming the Mask: The man performing the Dead Person Impersonation in "The Truth in the Wine" comes to believe thoroughly in the dream of the late colonel, and does his best to live a life worthy of the man he's impersonating.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: Jane Milton in "The Last Man" had a weak heart and stopped taking her medication once she decided to commit the murder, knowing her health would fail before she could be arrested and tried. Also attempted by the killer in "The Man in the Shadows". Subverted in "The Grim Reaper" where the doctor, who knows he is probably terminally ill, reasons that it will be better all around if he is tried and executed for murder, saving him from a lingering death and giving the victim's father a target to blame other than himself for his son's death. Father Brown manages to convince him otherwise.
  • Blasting It out of Their Hands: Flambeau's daughter shoots the pistol out of the hand of one of her kidnappers during her escape. When Flambeau expresses incredulity at this, she admits that she had actually been aiming for his head and failed to account for the recoil.
  • Book Safe: In "The Brewer's Daughter", the woman in gaol Father Brown is trying to clear tells him to look for the Holy Grail. It turns out that the key to her father's safe is hidden inside a book titled The Holy Grail.
  • The Boxing Episode: In "The Chedworth Cyclone", Roy Tomkins, a washed up boxer and rival of Jed Cornish - the 'Chedworth Cyclone' - is found dead. Father Brown is drawn into the shady world of London Boxing promoter and racketeer, Denis Nelson, who is involved in illegal betting, fixed fights, and blackmail. Jed, suspected of murder, is arrested and then bailed into the care of Father Brown who uncovers Jed's secret love for Nelson's girlfriend. She has lured a town councillor into a compromising position so Nelson can obtain a boxing venue. Father Brown has to uncover the murderer, ensure a fair fight and break Nelson's hold over everyone.
  • Break the Cutie: Poor Oona in "The Grim Reaper". She bursts into tears in her first scene, and that's before Father Brown believes she's writing poison pen letters, people think she's an adulteress and spit at her in the street - and, oh, her husband has confessed to murder.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aside from Inspector Valentine, based on a character who appeared in the early stories, all the supporting cast are original creations.
  • The Cassandra: Father Brown himself is frequently the Cassandra, especially where Inspector Mallory is concerned.
  • Catch Phrase: Father Brown is prone to say "Seek Forgiveness", or something very similar.
  • Cat Scare: The first episode of Series 2 has a cat jump out of a cabinet, scaring Sid.
  • Character Development: Over the first four series Lady Felicia and Mrs McCarthy grow to like each other more. In Series 5 we see some character development for Father Brown himself- we learn just how much Sid means to him, and see him sometimes become more emotional when he confronts the Villain of the Week and is trying to save their soul.
  • Christianity Is Catholic: Subverted in the first episode, which features members of the Church of England, but on the whole the series tends to feature and revolve around Catholicism, and most of the main characters are Catholic. Of course, since the show openly and clearly revolves around a Catholic priest, this is justified.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Befalls Susie after the first series, along with the rest of the Polish refugee camp.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: The scene of the murder in "The Standing Stones".
  • Clear My Name/Clear Their Name: In "The Owl of Minerva", Inspector Sullivan is framed for murder. After breaking out of gaol, he is forced to team-up with Father Brown and his associates in order to clear his name.
  • Cold Reading: Father Brown accurately pegs this as part of the methodology of Kalon, the leader of the cult-like Church of Apollo. Unfortunately, it manages to work on Suzie, who has been feeling particularly vulnerable, prompting Father Brown and Sid to try and extract her from Kalon's clutches.
  • (Named After A...) Cool Horse: Father Brown calls his bicycle Bucephalus; not a Biblical reference as one would expect, but named after the horse ridden by Alexander the Great.
  • The Corpse Stops Here: In "The Crimson Feather", the initial suspect is found kneeling over the body of the week with blood on his hands. He flees when discovered. It is later revealed that he had found the body and was attempting to put pressure on the wound.
  • Corpsing: Inspector Mallory (somehow) narrowly averts this when he remarks on learning that a Kembleford resident might have been abducted by aliens in The Fire In The Sky.
    Mrs. McCarthy: He did not say "aliens"!
    Mallory: That's a relief. Because I'd send Goodfellow to patrol the outer cosmos but his rocket boots are at the cobblers!
  • Cramming the Coffin: In "The Curse of Amenhotep", the killer attempts to dispose of Father Brown by sealing him inside a sarcophagus.
  • Crash Course Landing: In "The Missing Man", Father Brown has to be talked through landing a light plane after the pilot (a young girl) freezes at the stick. The person talking him down inadvertently makes the 'crash course' joke, and Father Brown mutters several prayers throughout the process.
  • Creepy Catholicism: Prominent in "The Upcott Fraternity", which takes place at the titular Upcott seminary school. The murderer wears a cilice around his leg, leaving a trail of blood.
  • Cricket Episode: In "The Last Man", the arrest of the new cricket captain of Kembleford's cricket team for the murder of the team's fast bowler, and a suicide the year before in the cricket pavilion and a match against a rival village to determine the ownership of the cricket ground finds Father Brown consoling the victim's mother, solving a murder involving blackmail, playing cricket and watching Lady Felicia as the last man of the innings.
  • Crossdresser: The Victim of the Week in "The Missing Man". His crossdressing actually leads to his demise, as the person who shoots him does not recognise him in drag, and shoots him thinking he is a female intruder.
  • Curse Cut Short: Surprisingly, Father Brown utters one of these at the end of the Series 2 episode, "The Mysteries of the Rosary". After finding the titular rosary, he produces the small silver case in which he'd kept it from the lockbox in order to present it to Professor Ambrose. In its place, however, is a note from mercenary-slash-thief Flambeau. Cue the priest exclaiming, "The thieving-"
    • While, judging by the reactions of Bunty and Mrs. McCarthy, he isn't actually interrupted, Inspector Mallory's curse in The Smallest of Things is - from the viewers' point of view - drowned out by the popping of a champagne cork.
    • And, in The Sins Of Others, Sid has one after Father Brown follows him to Reese's house. His curse is also cut off by a champagne cork, which he uses to lead him to the party being held there at the time.
  • Curtain Camouflage: In "The Man in the Shadows", Sid is forced to hide behind a curtain when he is snooping around outside the archive and the door opens unexpectedly.
  • Cut Phone Lines: In "The Lair of the Libertines", the phone line to the hotel is cut. Father Brown discovers this just after he finds the first body.
  • Damsel out of Distress: In "The Daughter of Autolycus", Flambeau's daughter Marianne is kidnapped. By the time Flambeau and Father Brown arrive with the ransom, Marianne has already escaped, overpowered her abductors, and tied them up.
  • Dead Person Impersonation: In "The Truth in the Wine", a sergeant took over the identity of a colonel with whom he shared a hospital room. Realising he was dying, the colonel asked the sergeant (who had no family) to take over his identity and return to England to fulfill his dream of turning the family estate into a vineyard. Not having been home to England in decades, he was confident no one would spot the substitution and coached the sergeant on everything he would need to know.
  • Deadly Bath: The second Victim of the Week in "The Theatre of the Invisible" is found dead in a bathtub. It looks as if he has killed himself but, of course, it's Never Suicide.
  • Death by Falling Over: A woman takes a fatal Staircase Tumble after being pushed ten years before the events of "The Smallest of Things".
  • Detective Mole: In "The Standing Stones", the local policeman who is assisting the investigation turns out to be the killer, and in "The Daughters of Jerusalem" the killer is PC Pugh.
  • Dirty Harriet: In "The Crimson Feather", Bunty goes undercover as a burlesque dancer.
  • Disney Death:
    • One Victim of the Week, who appears in "The Devil's Dust", turns out to be alive despite blood-stained clothes making it look like she had been murdered at at least one point in the investigation.
    • Another, in "The Maddest of Them All", wakes up in his coffin during the funeral. Needless to say, he's a bit shaken right afterwards.
  • Disposable Sex Worker: The first Body of the Week in "The Lair of the Libertines" is a prostitute who does not get any lines.
  • Divorce Requires Death: Discussed in "The Flying Stars" when the Victim of the Week insists that she'll die before allowing her husband to divorce her simply because he doesn't want to watch her drink herself to death, mere minutes before she's killed in a scuffle with another person.
    Mrs. Adams: The only way I leave this marriage is in a coffin.
  • Down to the Last Play: In "The Last Man", Kembleford is playing a vital cricket match for ownership of the local cricket ground. With three balls left and six runs needed to win, the opposing team engages in some Unnecessary Roughness to knock out Kembleford's star player with a cricket ball to the head. Kembleford already being a man down, Lady Felicia goes in as last man, and hits a six on the final ball.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: In every single episode, Father Brown plays a key part in solving the mystery of the week. And yet, every single time, the police treat him as some random priest butting in where he doesn't belong. To be fair, they're just following correct procedure, but you'd think that they'd treat him with a little respect, especially in the later seasons where he's developed a slight reputation for solving murders and thefts.
  • Due to the Dead: At the end of "The Wrong Shape", Mr. Quinton's wife scatters his ashes over their deceased baby daughter's grave in a private service, with Father Brown officiating.
  • Dying Moment of Awesome: An understated one during "The Wrath of Baron Samdi" Father Brown realises he has been poisoned, but like the good Christian he is, is not angry or fearful, just a bit surprised. He just has time to ask how the poison was administered, and then, with a beatific smile and chuckle says:
    Father Brown: Mrs McCarthy was right. [beat] Never expected those to be my last words. [collapses to the ground]
    • Also subverted, because he's not quite dead.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: The killer in "The Lair of the Libertines" is ultimately revealed to be this.
  • Elevator Failure: A sabotaged lift is used as a murder weapon in "The Crackpot of the Empire". The killer knew that the victim's selfishness would make him demand to be the first into lift, which then immediately plunged to the bottom of the shaft.
  • Eureka Moment: Not surprising in a mystery series. One notable time is in "The Grim Reaper", when Oona realises there was no chaff in her husband's clothing, which means he couldn't have pushed Albert Tatton into the threshing machine - so he has made a false confession.
  • Evil Counterpart: Kalon in "The Eye of Apollo" is this for Father Brown. Both are devout men of faith, but where Father Brown believes in reason, is kind-hearted and sincere, puts the well-being of his parishioners first and cares only about Suzie's well-being throughout the episode, Kalon is a blind fanatic, is smug and duplicitous, is devoted to his church to the point where he is willing to sacrifice others to protect it, and lusts after Suzie and wants her for himself.
  • The Exiles: Edward and Jia-Li become these in "The Prize of General Gerard". After Jia-Li murders Gerard rather than submitting to being his mistress, she and Edward, who had fallen in love with each other, flee Britain with forged passports. Father Brown, having satisfied himself that Jia-Li was truly repentant for killing Gerard, turns a blind eye to their escape.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The Series 6 episode, The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau. And, as one would expect from Father Brown's arch-enemy/elusive target of redemption, both of them are faked.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: In "The Penitent Man", another convict steals the Medallion of St. Mark of Flambeau while they are escaping from prison. While they are in the tunnels, Father Brown manages to switch it for the worthless copy Flambeau was wearing earlier.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The murderer in the episode "The Face of Death" is definitely this.
  • Fed to Pigs: How the killer disposes of the bodies in episode "The Shadow of the Scaffold". This is discovered when a finger bone with a ring on it is discovered in the stomach of a pig being prepared for tripe.
  • Fiery Cover Up: This is what the killer appears to have been attempting in "The Brewer's Daughter". In reality, it was the reverse. The killer set the fire in such a way as to make it obvious it was arson as part of an elaborate frame-up.
  • Finger-Licking Poison:
    • In "The Time Machine", one victim was killed by strychnine placed in the bowl of his pipe.
    • In "The Wrath of Baron Samdi", a musician is murdered when the killer coats the reed of his saxophone in poison. The killer later dusts Father Brown's toothbrush with the same poison.
  • Framing the Guilty Party:
    • The murderer does the 'Frame Yourself' version in "The Brewer's Daughter"; laying out an Orgy of Evidence against themselves, then relying on Father Brown to realise this evidence was planted, and then uncover the second more subtle set of clues planted to implicate someone else.
    • The 'Framing a Known Guilty Party' version happens in "The Hangman's Demise". The Victim of the Week actually commits suicide, but does it such a way as to make it look like murder, and frames someone he knows committed murder years before but whom the police cannot touch.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: In "The Penitent Man", the Victim of the Week is bludgeoned to death by his wife with a frying pan.
  • Genre Savvy: Sister Boniface in the "Bride of Christ" just loves being in involved in a murder mystery. She's even holding a copy of Agatha Christie's "Sparkling Cyanide" when the police come to interview her.
  • Get into Jail Free: In "The Penitent Man", Flambeau frames himself for murder and then pleads guilty to ensure he is placed in the condemned cell at the prison, where he knows a priceless gold medallion is concealed.
  • Giving Them the Strip: After being pinned to a target by a crossbow bolt in "The Lair of the Libertines", Father Brown escapes by taking off his cassock.
  • Go Among Mad People: In "The Maddest of Them All", Father Brown feigns insanity to be admitted into a madhouse for an independent investigation into a murder case which turned out to be not as simple as it first appeared.
  • Gold Digger: The Victim of the Week in "The Curse of Amenhotep" is the much younger second wife of Sir Raleigh Beresford. And by much younger, we mean she is younger that Sir Raleigh's adult son. She admits to her lover that she only married Sir Raleigh to get her hands on his money.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: At the end of "The Penitent Man", a filthy and soaking wet Flambeau comes across a pair of picnickers who are skinny dipping. Flambeau steals the man's clothes, and his car, as he escapes.
  • Good Bad Girl: Lady Felicia is regularly unfaithful to her husband the Earl, but is overall a good person and a steadfast ally of Father Brown.
  • Hat Damage: In "The Lair of the Libertines'', the doctor shoots the fez off Cyrus's head, which serves to show the viewers how heedless of others safety the doctor is. For the rest of the episode, Cyrus's fez has a neat bullet hole in it.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: During the episode "The Daughters of Jerusalem", what was supposed to be a film about African orphans in Swaziland turns into a film. As everyone else erupts in shock and disbelief, Lady Felicia is watching...intently.
    Lady Felicia: *head tilted, wry smile* Well, it certainly is educational.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: In "The Smallest of Things", the killer hides the newspaper that was stolen from the diorama by placing it in one of the other dioramas.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In "The Lair of the Libertines", the Egomaniac Hunter who is stalking Father Brown falls victim to one of the many mantraps they had scattered over the grounds of the hotel.
  • Hollywood Encryption: In "The Judgement of Man" the safe sports a triple DES cipher [1], which is... wrong on many different levels (the fact that DES was invented in the 1970s at IBM isn't even remotely the worst offense).
  • Holier Than Thou: Father Roland in "The Daughters of Jerusalem" is incredibly pious and tends to look down on Father Brown because of it. It turns out to be over-compensating for guilt due to his love for a woman he met while a missionary.
  • Human Mail: In "The Paradise of Thieves", the murderer gained access to the bank vault by having himself shipped in inside a crate supposedly containing pieces of art.
  • Human Sacrifice: In "The Standing Stones", a group of villagers plan to sacrifice an innocent in order to end an outbreak of polio.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: An Egomaniac Hunter does this to Father Brown at the end of "The Lair of the Libertines".
  • Inspector Lestrade: Inspector Valentine. Sullivan is a somewhat lesser example of this. While he does make arrests and attempt to progress the investigation, his knowledge almost always lags behind that of the "meddling" Father Brown. Inspector Mallory is even less competent; while Valentine and Sullivan were generally just a few steps behind Father Brown at every turn, Mallory usually ends up taking the investigation in the completely wrong direction.
  • If Jesus, Then Aliens: Raised in "The Eye of Apollo", where members of the sun-and-astral-spirit worshipping cult challenge Father Brown that, as a Catholic priest, he should be open-minded towards the possibility of otherworldly phenomenon of the type they preach. Father Brown points out that there is a distinction between what is possible and what is probable.
  • Imagine Spot: In order to investigate the murder of an infamous author in The Hand of Lucia and having learned that the case thus far has had parallels with her latest book, Father Brown, Bunty and Mrs. McCarthy read it together in search of clues. In doing so, they each get an Imagine Spot of their own.
    • "Lucia had the power to turn any male sophisticate, any male intellectual into a savage beast..." - Bunty imagines herself in the role of Lucia, lying on a divan while she watches two shirtless men fight each other to the death.
    • "Cardinal Vögel had been humiliated for the last time..." - Father Brown imagines himself walking out of a palace he's just set ablaze and laughing maniacally as the whole place burns down.
    • "Lucia danced all night with the Grand Duke of Luxembourg..." - ...while McCarthy imagines herself (as Lucia) dancing with an amorous duke for all of ten seconds before cutting her imagination short, declaring she needs some air.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: At the end of The Flower of the Fairway, Father Brown - having presumably never played before due to him describing the sport as "a good walk, spoiled" - grabs a golf club from a passing caddy to hit a ball for fun. Not only does he successfully hit the ball on his first try, it sails over the lake and he nails a hole-in-one. Sadly, Mc Carthy and Bunty were too busy trying Hermione's home-made brandy to notice, leaving him to smirk to himself as the show cuts to the credits.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Father Brown identifies the killer in "The Eve of St John" when he realises that the knew the eye colour of the victim despite claiming never to have met them.
  • In-Series Nickname: You'd find it difficult to find an instance in which Inspector Mallory doesn't call Father Brown "Padre".
  • Intoxication Ensues: In "The Lair of the Libertines'', the hostess at the hotel feeds Father Brown a fruitcake laced with opium. This makes father Brown very woozy and he quickly passes out.
  • It May Help You on Your Quest: The slingshot Father Brown confiscates from a boy in "The Lair of the Libertines" later helps to save the lives of Lady Felicia and Mrs. McCarthy.
  • It's Personal: Inspector Mallory towards the end of "The Wrath of Baron Samdi":
    Mallory: You're all suspects in the murders of Joseph Sinclair and Father Brown. My sergeant's going to search you and your belongings. And whichever one of you did it, I'm personally going to see that you hang.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: In "The Sins of Others", the murderer snatches Sid's gun off him and attempts to shoot him with it. Father Brown then hold out his hand, showing a handful of bullets. Father Brown had unloaded the gun when he took it off Sid earlier in the episode, and no one had ever checked if it had been reloaded.
  • Janitor Impersonation Infiltration: In "The Owl of Minerva", Sullivan and Sid pose as window washers in order to break into the police station.
  • Jerk Ass: Inspector Mallory is almost always in a bad mood and needlessly unpleasant to everyone.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: In the first episode, the loutish Norman Bohen is taunting the Catholics present at the Anglican vicar's party about their religious differences, and makes dismissive reference to the pomp and ceremony of Catholicism. While Father Brown's parishioners react with great offense, Father Brown himself has a look on his face that suggests that he thinks Bohen has a little bit of a point.
  • Laxative Prank: In "The Time Machine", a girls spikes her sister's water bottle in an attempt to cause her to lose a race. Unfortunately, this act coincides with her sister keeling over from a dose of strychnine.
  • "L" Is for "Dyslexia": Lucia and Lady Margaret Galloway in the Series One episode "The Face Of Death". It's the fact that Lucia inherited the condition from her mother that leads Father Brown to solve the mystery.
  • Light Is Not Good: Kalon, the sinister cult-leader in "The Eye of Apollo", wears beautiful and pristine white robes, in contrast to Father Brown's scruffy black cassock.
  • Little "No": Father Brown in "The Hammer of God" when he notices a key discrepancy between the church clock and his pocket watch right before the climax.
  • Locked in a Freezer: In "The Paradise of Thieves", Father Brown and Sid get locked in a bank vault and are in danger of suffocating. In working out how to escape, Father Brown also works out the solution to the Locked Room Mystery.
  • Locked Room Mystery:
    • "The Curse of Amenhotep". The Victim of the Week is found alone in a room that was locked from the inside. It turns out that she was poisoned earlier. The poison caused hallucinations that made her lock herself in the room where she succumbed to the poison.
    • In "The Paradise of Thieves", the Victim of the Week is found locked inside a bank vault. Suspicion naturally falls upon the only person with keys to the vault. Father Brown believes him to be innocent and sets up to discover how this seemingly impossible crime could have been committed.
  • Love Makes You Evil: In "The Theatre Of The Invisible", Jeremy - the new producer of the Up To You radio quiz - kills both the landlady of a Kembleford boarding house and Richie Queenan - the quiz's announcer - after becoming infatuated with Bunty. However, Father Brown's summation reveals the eventual double murder to be an accident (He failed to account for Mrs. Rudge returning home early, just as his wax-and-gravel smoke trap kicked in; his original scheme was that he'd run into an empty house to rescue some kittens and have Bunty be impressed by his heroics) compounded by necessity (After smothering Richie, he made it look like suicide by dumping him in a bath surrounded by drugs and wine; filled with cold water to delay rigor mortis and tuning the radio in the room to a frequency whose broadcasts would only begin hours later to give himself an alibi).
  • Loveable Rogue: Sid is constantly getting involved in petty crime. In more than one case he is suspected of killing the Victim of the Week, but Father Brown and Lady Felicia both consider him indispensable. As the series goes on Sid is much less involved in petty crime, but still has a dodgy reputation.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: In "The Labyrinth of the Minotaur", an aristocratic family are keeping their mentally defective son hidden away inside their manor to avoid scandal to the family, albeit in very comfortable quarters. While not directly connected to the murder, the secret does serve to muddy the waters and make the truth harder to find.
  • Mercy Lead: The Egomaniac Hunter gives one to Father Brown in "The Lair of the Libertines": giving him the time it takes them to finish loading their rifle in which to run.
  • Mystery Magnet: Father Brown is always nearby when the bodies drop. Notably lampshaded by an annoyed Inspector Sullivan in "The Upcott Fraternity", which is set at Brown's alma mater.
    Inspector Sullivan: Father Brown... I guess I shouldn't be too surprised.
    • and further lampshaded by Inspector Mallory in "The Resurrectionists":
      Inspector Mallory: I'd like to find a quieter patch. [beat] Like the centre of Glasgow.
  • Mythology Gag: Sid is so named because he's broadly similar to Bert, a Canon Foreigner in the 1954 movie, who was played by Sid James.
  • Naked People Are Funny: When Father Brown, Lady Felecia and Mrs Mccarthy are stranded in the middle of nowhere, Mrs McCarthy is shocked when a man wearing nothing but a fez wanders past and greets her politely. He turns out to be a naturist staying at a local hotel.
  • Nasty Party: In "The Crackpot of the Empire", Father Brown is one of the guests invited to a 'Welcome Home' party being held for a comedian recently released from an insane asylum. However, the invitations were fake and someone starts picking off the guests one by one.
  • Never Suicide: Averted in "The Wrong Shape", where it turns out that Mr. Quinton had already committed suicide before someone tried to murder him, but the would-be killer didn't realize it.
  • Obfuscating Disability: The killer in "The Shadow of the Scaffold". Father Brown discovers this when he realises that they could not have seen what they claimed to have witnessed unless they were standing up.
  • Oh, Crap!: For Inspector Mallory "In the Wrath of Baron Samdi" Mallory realises that Father Brown wasn't actually murdered by the poison, but the post mortem that Mallory ordered will definitely do the trick.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Gerald Firth, shot in the head by a sniper during the war. After managing to survive and make a recovery, albeit suffering from delirium in the process, he gives himself a name by which he's known for the majority of the episode in which he features: Kalon.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: In "The Sins Of Others" you can see that the normally polite Father Brown is feeling the strain when he almost barks at Inspector Mallory.
    • In "The Resurrectionists, he does shout at Inspector Mallory for making jokes about the exhumation and theft of a body. Even Mallory is cowed by the normally mild-mannered father turning on him.
  • Orgy of Evidence: During The Summation in "The Brewer's Daughter", Father Brown points out that the sheer amount evidence uncovered was unlikely unless the murderer was attempting a frame-up. The killer was attempting to invoke this trope by framing herself, and relying on Father Brown to then uncover the evidence she had left implicating a second suspect.
  • Pinned to the Wall: In "The Lair of the Libertines", the killer prevents Father Brown from leaving the hotel grounds by using a crossbow bolt to pin his cassock to a target.
  • Pocket Protector: In "The Penitent Man", Flambeau is saved from a warder's bullet by the gold medallion he is wearing around his neck.
  • Poisoned Chalice Switcheroo: Father Brown pulls this in "The Man in the Shadows" with a slight twist as he does it to save a life. Knowing that a Soviet agent has put cyanide in her tea so she won't be taken alive, he asks her for some sugar and then switches teacups with her while her back is turned.
  • Plague Doctor: In "The Alchemist's Secret", the eponymous alchemist is dressed this way in the flashback that open the episode. The main suspect later hallucinates a vision of the alchemist who - when he removes his cowl and mask - turns out to be himself. It is learning of the alchemist's garb that allows Father to deduce that secret is actually a weaponized version of The Black Death.
  • Playing Against Type: Wynford Collins, the antiques dealer in The Tanganyika Green was played by comedian Miles Jupp.
    • And, although he's got more acting roles under his belt already (such as the Harry Potter series and Doctor Who), Mark Williams could also count as this.
  • Plot Driving Secret / Red Herring: With Father Brown being a crime mystery series, it's safe to assume that both of these pop up frequently. However, in "The Deadly Seal", the culprit - Natasha, Lady Felicia's goddaughter - decides to abuse Father Brown's status as The Confidant in order to throw investigators off the scent of the murder. By telling Father Brown in a confessional that Bishop Talbot was to be assassinated the following morning, Natasha forces the Catholic priest into a religious dilemma. Being unable to break the "seal of the confessional" and explain the situation, he elects to attempt to avert the assassination. While he succeeds, the episode reveals that the false confession was a ruse to hide the true plot; for her to kill Talbot's chauffeur/bodyguard on behalf of his wife, who in turn made a pact to kill Natasha's father who had abused her as a child, somewhat mirroring Strangers On A Train.
  • Police Are Useless: The local police generally need resident Amateur Sleuth Father Brown to find evidence and solve murder cases for them. Inspectors Valentine and Sullain at least try to investigate and sometimes are on right trail.
    • Inspector Mallory is this trope. He barely investigate, tries to close cases with the laziest explanation, has to be pushed to investigate further, misses obvious clues, gets furious at anyone questioning him, and obstructs Father Brown at every opportunity. Disliked by other officers for his attitude and incompetence, the episode The Smallest of Things implies he was transferred to Kembleford to be less of an embarrassment to the police force than he was at his former position.
    • Averted with Sgt. Goodfellow who tends to notice things Mallory misses and is willing to help Father Brown whenever he can.
  • Politically Correct History: Generally averted, though Father Brown's own political and spiritual attitudes can be a bit closer to the twenty-first century than you might otherwise expect from a 1950s Catholic priest. In the very first episode, "The Hammer of God", Philip Walker is frightened that Brown will expose his then-illegal relationship with Norman, explicitly mentioning chemical castration; instead, Father Brown assures him that such business is his own, and promises that he won't try to convert Philip when next they meet.
    • A notable example is when a good character actually blackmails someone over the fact that he is homosexual. She will give the money to a good cause, but even so...
    • The episode "The Last Man" touches on attitudes towards gays and Indians.
    • Strongly averted in "The Wrath of Baron Samdi" when the black characters can't rent a room in Kembleford.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Discussed by the show-runners here and here. Essentially, a lot of the main changes between the original stories and this adaptation are for reasons of cost and to adapt the show in such a fashion that it fits into the modern television landscape.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: When Sid Carter gets out of prison in "The Sins of Others", Mrs McCarthy remarks that she expected him to be a bag of bones, but instead he is in very good physical shape. He replies that there was nothing else to occupy his time inside, so he did a lot of push-ups.
  • Protect This House: Or more specifically, Protect This Churchyard. When a coffin is dug up, Father Brown is quietly outraged that the peace of the grave has been violated and sets up a rota to keep watch in case the graverobbers come back. They do.
  • Put on a Bus: Over the course of the show's run thus far, the lead detective in Kembleford's police force - the main non-villainous foil for Father Brown's sleuthing - has made way for a successor twice. Inspector Valentine, after taking the credit for the convictions made with the Father's help, landed a promotion to the rank of Detective Chief Inspector which necessitated a move to London so he could serve in their Metropolitan Police at the beginning of Series 2. His replacement, Inspector Sullivan is later replaced by Inspector Mallory in Series 4.
    • Sid Carter gets put on the proverbial bus twice. In Series 4, he was accused and convicted of assaulting Judith Miles - who was a prostitute at the time - and, despite Father Brown's best efforts, spent an entire year in jail. After being exonerated from the main case of The Sins Of Others, he decides to leave Kembleford and spend some time travelling the world.
    • Early in Series 5, Lady Felicia leaves England owing to her husband becoming Governor of Northern Rhodesia
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: After hearing the confession of Norman Bohen's brother in "The Hammer Of God" and the reasons why he committed the crime and doesn't feel guilty about either the crime or the possibility that Elizabeth could hang for it because the events were divinely guided, Father Brown yells, "God! Is not! Your scapegoat!!" The fact that this is pretty much the only occasion over the course of the whole series in which the sleuthing priest raises his voice in anger/outrage, it isn't just the punctuation that emphasises the line.
  • Race Against the Clock: In "The Shadow of the Scaffold", Father Brown has three days (as authorities wait for the results of her pregnancy test to come back) to solve a murder before the woman convicted of the crime hangs.
  • "Rear Window" Homage: "The Daughters of Jerusalem," where Father Brown is laid up with a broken leg.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Although they're rarely happy for the interference, Inspector Valentine and Inspector Sullivan know that a good Amateur Sleuth is worth listening to. Contrast with Sullivan's successor Inspector Mallory, who definitely isn't one of these.
  • The Reason You Suck:
    • Father Brown delivers one of these speeches at the end of "The Curse of Amenhotep" to try to improve someone's attitude and behavior. It's pleasingly effective.
    • In "The Wrath of Baron Samdi" a distraught Sid unleashes one of these on Inspector Mallory:
      Sid: You are nothing but a Keystone Cop. Useless, incompetent, lazy...
  • Recurring Riff: The show's main theme is used in various forms and tempos as dramatic incidental music during many of the episodes.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: Used by the killer in "The Lair of the Libertines" to ignite a Vapor Trail that destroys a motorbike and nearly kills Lady Felecia and Mrs McCarthy.
  • Revealing Injury: The final piece of evidence Father Brown uses to identify the killer in "The Crimson Feather" is that one of the suspects has not removed their gloves since the body was discovered. When the gloves are removed, there is a deep cut on the murderer's palm from the shard of broken mirror they used to stab the victim.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: A fake UFO is used to create a diversion for a jail break in "Fire in the Sky".
  • Shaming the Mob: Father Brown does this in "The Standing Stones", delivering a speech to a group of villagers who were planning a human sacrifice in an attempt to stop an outbreak of polio. While it does not sway the leader, it gives most of them pause, and make one of them switch sides and cut Father Brown's bonds so he can escape.
  • Shoot the Builder: "The Alchemist's Secret" opens with the alchemist murdering the architect and leaving his body sealed in the secret room in the university (along with the box containing the eponymous secret), after having been assured that the builder have been 'dealt with'.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: In "The Prize of General Gerard", Father Brown compares Edward to Hamlet, suggesting that like the Melancholy Dane, Edward was pretending to be insane as part of his plan to avenge his father. Edward believed that his uncle Gerard killed his father and seduced his mother. Turns out he was right.
  • So Much for Stealth: The 'stepping on a twig' version happen to Inspector Sullivan in "The Owl of Minerva" as he is sneaking up on a secret meeting being held by Father Brown. Fleeing, he runs straight into the murderer.
  • Staircase Tumble: A woman dies from falling down a staircase ten years before the events of "The Smallest of Things". An attempt to reopen the investigation into her death leads to a murder in the present-day.
  • Stalker with a Crush: The murderer in "The Crimson Feather" is revealed to be this. Having accidentally made a confession of love to the wrong woman, they killed her before the woman humiliate them by revealing their obsession. A stack of unsent love letters addressed to their true object of desire was found in their room after they confessed.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Happens in "The Bride of Christ" as Father Brown is questioning a couple of nuns. Both nuns are surprised when Father Brown takes off as they're admitting their sins.
  • Stylistic Suck: In "Fire in the Sky", Father Brown and several other characters go to see a B-Movie called Monsters from Mars. The small snippet that gets shown features bad acting, shoddy production values and obviously cheap special effects.
  • Suicide, Not Murder: Happens in "The Hangman's Demise". The Victim of the Week commits suicide in a manner designed to look like murder, and leaves evidence framing one of his friends. Overlaps with Framing the Guilty Party, because the reason he did it was that he had learned his friend had committed a murder years ago and gotten away with it. By making him out to have committed this murder, he was attempting to ensure the friend would still go to the gallows.
    • Happens again in "The Eagle and the Daw". This time around, the victim's framing someone for providing evidence that got the victim's lover convicted. Unfortunately, the intended patsy just so happens to be Father Brown.
  • Touché: A silent one during the verbal duel near the end of "The Eye of Apollo". After Father Brown insists the falsehood of a central tenet of Kalon's religion, the cult leader's immediate comeback causes Brown to adopt a facial expression that could only suggest this.
    Father Brown: There are no astral spirits!!
    Kalon: Says the man who believes in virgin births.
    Father Brown: [lengthy pause, with a touché look on his face] ...sorry.
    • There is a double meaning to this example, however, since Father Brown also says this before delivering Kalon with conclusive proof that his religion actually is based on nothing more than the delusions of a fevered and damaged mind: Kalon's religious symbol, which be believes to have been delivered to him by the aforementioned astral spirits, is in fact based on nothing more than his confused reaction to a doctor's stethoscope while under medical treatment.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork:
    • A one-sided version; Inspector Valentine gets very irritated with Father Brown's nosing into his job, but recognises that the priest often knows what he's doing.
    • Valentine's replacement, Inspector Sullivan, arguably has a dimmer view of Brown's involvement. In the eight episodes in which he's led the police side of the investigation, from "Maddest Of All", up to the penultimate episode of Series 2, "The Grim Reaper", he's done little else but insist that the sleuthing be left to the pros. In the last episode of Series 2 "The Laws of Motion",he actually arrests Father Brown. Inspector Sullivan, has his own instance of this in "The Eye of Minerva". Having been made the scapegoat in a conspiracy initially involving a journalist and being charged with - and almost convicted for - murder, Sullivan makes his way back to Kembleford for two reasons: the town is the only place where he can prove his innocence and, whether he likes/approves of it or not, he knows that Father Brown's tendency to meddle will work out as more a help than a hindrance.
    • Inspector Mallory's even less agreeable to Father Brown's sleuthing than Sullivan was. If it weren't for his sergeant going behind his back half the time, Father Brown wouldn't be able to ensure that the right suspect even got charged.
  • Thanatos Gambit: In "The Three Tools of Death", the Victim of the Week killed himself to ensure his surviving family wouldn't be left with his debt.
  • The Bus Came Back: Sid Carter returns, only to become one of the prime suspects in The Sins Of Others, complete with a Time Passage Beard to show his year in a jail cell.
  • Trigger Phrase: In "Sins of the Father", the murderer hypnotises one of his patients into going into a trance whenever he hears a particular piece of music and killing whoever is playing it, and then sends the sheet music to the man's son to practise for a music competition. He did not foresee his patsy later coming on someone else playing the same piece of music.
  • Turn in Your Badge: In "The Blue Cross" Father Brown is told by his unamused bishop that he is going to lose his parish.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: In "The Owl of Minerva", Father Brown and Inspector Sullivan are cornered by the murderer and another member of the conspiracy, only for the other member to turn out to be an inspector from Special Branch who arrests the murderer.
  • Underside Ride: Inspector Sullivan does this to escape in "The Owl of Minerva"; clinging to the underside of the van that is supposed to be transporting him to prison.
  • Unnecessary Roughness: In "The Last Man", a vital cricket match comes down to three balls left and six runs to win. The opposition bowler deliberately bowls a ball at Kembleford's star player's head to knock him out.
  • Vapor Trail: In "The Lair of the Libertines", the killer punctures the petrol tank of the motorcycle being used to leave the hotel. When is runs out petrol and stalls, the killer ignites the trail of petrol with a Reusable Lighter Toss. The bike explodes, barely missing incinerating Lady Felecia and Mrs McCarthy.
  • Vehicular Sabotage:
    • The Victim of the Week in "The Laws of Motion" has the brake lines of her car cut while she is participating in a hill climb.
    • In "The Judgement Of Man", Sid makes the seemingly inconsequential announcement that the sparkplugs from the Rolls Royce have been stolen. It isn't until later in the episode that things become clearer. Although never depicted on-screen. it's safe to assume that Chip, aka Flambeau, stole the sparkplugs so that he would be able to befriend Lady Felicia to the extent that she would invite him to the Belvedere Gallery.
    • In "The Sins Of Others" a hired assassin cuts the brake lines of a sports car and nearly wipes out most of the regular cast.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: For two people who make a big show of how much they don't like each other, Mrs. McCarthy and Lady Felicia do seem to spend an odd amount of time hanging out together.
  • Vorpal Pillow: A blackmailer who is passing-out drunk is smothered to death with a teddy bear in "The Theatre of the Invisible".
  • Waking Up at the Morgue: Happens to Father Brown in "The Wrath of Baron Samdi" when he is drugged with a poison that lowers his heart rate to the point where he appears to be dead.
  • Wardens Are Evil: In "The Penitent Man", one of the warders smacks Flambeau in the face for his smart mouth when he first arrives in prison, and then takes every opportunity to torment him about his upcoming execution. The prison governor is a closeted homosexual who attacks Flambeau when Flambeau calls him on it.
  • Wham Episode: The episode "The Eye of Apollo" in Season One is a great deal more intense and darker than most of the other episodes in the series.
    • The “Sins Of Others” in Series Five is even Darkerand Edgier. It opens with a revelation about one of the regular characters. The very first face we see, emerging from the darkness, has an unexpected Beard of Evil. We learn that Father Brown’s heart has been quietly breaking during Series Five, making it all a little Harsher in Hindsight. The whole episode is full of Adult Fear for him, and he worries that he is beaten, not just as an amateur detective, but as a moral teacher. That’s just for starters. For heavens sake, there is an armed assault on Father Brown's garden and the very uncharacteristic sight of two of the series regulars holding guns and threatening in all seriousness to use them. Add in the brutal beating of a prostitute desperate for a better life, and it’s hardly cosy afternoon TV. Beyond the Darkerand Edgier aspects there’s also an underlying theme of parental love – people willing to do anything for their children – shown in three different examples.
  • Wham Line: Towards the end of "The Wrath of Baron Samdi":
    Tommy Sinclair: [to Father Brown] And you're not going to be able to tell on me either. [beat] You won't be able to, not after the poison I gave you.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Father Brown to Mrs. McCarthy in "The Devil's Dust" for her bigoted remarks at the atomic emergency meeting.
  • Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: Father Brown and Mrs McCarthy visit a underground bar for crossdressers in "The Missing Man". Father Brown works out what sort of club it is fairly quickly, but Mrs McCarthy remains in the dark.
  • Whodunnit to Me?: In "The Prize of General Gerard", Father Brown was evidently poisoned by cut-up tiger whiskers in his fish soup, and insisted on finishing the murder investigation, declaring that he was beyond hope and at least he can could function until he died. Turns out he didn't eat the fish soup; he was faking being poisoned because he reasoned that the killer was a person of conscience because he(or as it turned out, she) had researched a possible cure for the poison and even offered it to Father Brown.
  • Wife Husbandry: "The Prize of General Gerard"; Gerard made it clear to Jia-Li, his Chinese-born adopted daughter, that he only brought her to England so that, once she was old enough, she would become his mistress, and even planned to have his nephew Edward committed to an asylum when he found out the truth. Jia-Li and Edward by this time were in love with each other, and Jia-Li murdered Gerard rather than submit to his desires.
  • Wrench Whack: In "The Laws of Motion", the Victim of the Week is done in with a blow to the head from a lug wrench. The killers then plan to make it look like she died in a car accident.
  • The X of Y: So many examples: "The Daughters of Jerusalem", "The Owl Of Minerva", "The Curse of Amenhotep", "The Rod Of Asclepius" ....
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Inspector Mallory, who seems born to say a line like this, says it in "The Resurrectionists". With good reason. A headless body is no longer headless.