An unhinged Anglo-Irish sitcom by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, about a tiny parish on a miserable little island off the coast of Ireland where the Catholic Church has sent three of its most embarrassing members: the embezzler Father Ted Crilly, the idiotic manchild Father Dougal McGuire, and the drunken, violent, foul-mouthed skirt-chaser Father Jack Hackett. Their housekeeper is Mrs. Doyle, who is really dedicated to serving tea. The majority of episodes involved Ted's efforts to either get away from the island or make a nice pile of cash, neither of which he ever succeeded in doing.A cult hit in Britain and Ireland, the writers never planned to continue it beyond its third season. Star Dermot Morgan (who played Ted) died one day after finishing filming of the final episode, resulting in the common misconception that the show was cancelled because of this.Flame wars can break out over whether the show should be considered Irish (its writers, cast, settings and exterior locations were all Irish) or British (it was produced by a British company for a British TV channel). Came eleventh in Britain's Best Sitcom. It is very popular in Ireland, regularly repeated on Irish television, and lines from the show are quoted about as often as Brits quote Monty Python.
Brennan: What would the following describe to you; Jack, sleepwalking and bollock naked?
Ambiguously Bi: Following on from this, as Jack sleepwalks (naked) into Bishop Brennan's bedroom and climbs into bed with him. He later wakes up, makes no attempt to leave and goes back to sleep with him.
Buzz Cagney has a gruff, 1930s Chicago tough guy accent.
As part of the Film NoirShout-Out in A Christmassy Ted, Todd Unctious discusses Ted with an old classmate of his from St Colm's. True to the genre homaged, the drunken priest has a stereotypical Southernish, Nevada huckster accent.
Bishop Brennan is very punctilious about the correct way to address a Bishop: "Don't call me Len, you little prick! I'm a BISHOP!"
Never, ever, ever come between Jack Hackett and alcohol.
Even Jack is terrified of Ted when the latter is drunk.
Be Yourself: Ted makes the terrible mistake of giving this advice to Dougal.
Big Entrance: Bishop Brennan makes an unforgettable entrance running towards the camera screaming with his 10ft-wide cloak billowing behind him once he figures out that Ted really did kick him up the arse.
Amazingly, the brick itself is both literal and figurative, as well as being a Chekhov's Brick in that it returns again for a less humorous purpose and yet again for a humorous one.
Britcom: There is a lot of debate over whether it counts as a Britcom or not - the show was a sitcom made for British TV by a British production company but almost everything else about it (writers, actors, setting) is Irish.
To the point where Ted has to make him a chart of things that do not exist. Entries include: Darth Vader, Magnum, P.I. and "non-Catholic Gods."
Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: A sewage lorry with two prominent buttons right next to each other: "Doors open" and "Evacuate sewage tank". What could possibly go wrong?
Captain Obvious, Don't Explain the Joke: Ted explaining why Dougal's comments are stupid. Arguably a case of Rule of Funny; Dermot Morgan usually managed to wring some laughs out of the situation with his exasperated reactions to what Dougal was saying.
The perfectly square bit of dirt pointed out by Ted near the start of the episode "Are You Right There Father Ted?" later comes back to haunt him, as does the massive amount of Nazi memorabilia owned by the priest Ted visits at the beginning of the episode.
Comically Missing the Point: Ted realises the babies entered into Craggy Island's Beautiful Baby contest all have suspiciously similar hairstyles to Pat Mustard. Dougal's first thought is that the babies are all copying his style.
In the same episode, Ted presents Pat's manager with photographic evidence of Pat's indiscretions. Pat's manager responds by telling Ted how much he's willing to pay for the dirty photos.
Compressed Vice: Dougal's passion for rollerblading is not mentioned outside of the episode "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading"; Linehan and Mathews simply thought it would be a funny "vice" for Dougal to have to give up for Lent while Ted gave up smoking and Jack gave up drinking.
After getting kicked by Ted in the episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse", Bishop Brennan remains in a state of shocked disbelief for the time it takes him to fly to Rome for an audience with the Pope, at which point he finally snaps out of it with a roar of "He did kick me up the arse!". And then shoves His Holiness out of the way and rushes back to Ireland.
After destroying a car that was sent to be raffled off, Ted is completely calm at first, then abruptly starts freaking out in the middle of the night.
Alan: Well, it's been an easy decision. There's one out-and-out winner; and, rather than waste time with the speech, I'll get on with the job of announcing the winner, who, today, has come first in this competition to see who the winner is in the King of the Sheep competition that we have all come to today, wondering who indeed will it be who wins the prize of King of the Sheep. The winner of this year's King of the Sheep competition is...
Ted: Stop! This contest is a sham, and a fraud, and a... sham!
The nun who comes over to assist Ted and Dougal with their Lenten vows. She bathes them in ice, replaces their mattresses with bricks and shoots at them
Early-Installment Weirdness: Graham Linehan calls himself out on this in the scripts book, noting that the first episode they wrote - "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", which aired as the finale of season 1 - has some rather weird out-of-character moments, like Ted reciting poetry and Ted and Dougal seemingly plotting to kill Jack at the end. The earliest episodes also feature a brighter parochial house, and a slightly cleaner Father Jack.
Easy Evangelism: Somehow, Dougal unintentionally talks a bishop into abandoning religion. In a single (offscreen) conversation. Then again, the bishop was already having a crisis of faith.
John and Mary O'Leary, a couple who run the general store on the island, hate each other and are always encountered just as they perpetrate some violence on each other, and then immediately act as if nothing is wrong.
Dick Byrne. After managing to convince Ted that he is giving up cigarettes for Lent near the start of "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", and encouraging Ted to do the same, he puts the phone down, lights a cigarette and starts laughing evilly.
A particularly unusual variant occurs with Father Dougal: he walks the wrong side of an open door, missing an exit that is right in front of him.
In the Christmas Special when Ted, Dougal and several other priests try to sneak out of a lingerie section of a store that they accidentally wandered into so that it won't cause a public scandal, they hijack a P.A system so they can say the store is closing to lure out the shoppers...however when they start wandering around aimlessly...
Ted: (Hijacks P.A) NOT THAT WAY FOR FECKS SAKE, THE OTHER WAY!!!
Exposition Diagram: Parodied and subverted in "Speed 3". The priests attempting to help Dougal out are drawing up various diagrams of plans to help out. After Ted has a Eureka Moment and scribbles his plan on the board. His plan is to put the brick on the accelerator, and we then see the board where he has simply written WE PUT THE BRICK ON THE ACCELERATOR.
Fan Convention: The annual Ted Fest. Distinguished from other Cons by actually taking place on a tiny island off the Irish coast (Inishmore); features a Lovely Girls contest, 5-a-side football, talent show, and drunk students yelling catchphrases ad nauseam.
Averted with Dougal, whose idiocy was played down less as the series went on with him at times proving smarter than Ted.
Played straight with Ted's smoking - at first it's something he's occasionally seen doing, but late in Series 2 it turns out that five minutes without a cigarette causes him to break out in a sweat and become unable to think about anything else.
Also done with Mrs Doyle and her tea-making habits. In Series 1 she makes tea for Ted, Dougal and Jack quite often. In Series 2 she offers them a cup nearly every time she appears and it's revealed she stays awake all night with a fresh cup of tea for each of them just in case they should need it. Then in the Christmas special she freaks out at the new tea machine because she can't cope with the idea never making tea for them, and ends up destroying it to prevent this.
Also played straight with Jack's physical appearance - at first he was fairly clean but then got filthier-looking and uglier as the series progressed.
Four Temperament Ensemble: Combo Ensemble—Ted is sanguine/choleric, Jack is choleric/melancholic, Mrs. Doyle is melancholic/phlegmatic, and Dougal is phlegmatic/sanguine.
Other characters: Fathers Todd Unctious and Noel Furlong and are sanguine 1000%, Bishop Brennan is choleric, Father Stack is melancholic, and Father Stone is the ultimate phlegmatic.
Freudian Trio: One could argue that the protagonists fit the following arrangement: Jack is the Id, Ted the Ego, and Dougal the Superego(for all his ditziness, Dougal does seem to make more of an effort than Ted and Jack at being a good priest, or at least a good person.)
Genius Ditz: While mostly a ditz, Dougal often shows signs of intelligence and excellent character judgements.
Genre Savvy: Ted himself. One example from "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse", after Dougal assures a nervous Ted that Bishop Brennan, who hates Craggy Island, will most likely never have a reason to come back. The phone at once begins to ring.
Geographic Flexibility: The only constant of Craggy Island's geography is that it has no west side - it just kind of broke off during a storm and drifted away. In some episodes it is incredibly tiny; in others it can contain an entire Chinatown that Ted has somehow never heard of. Whether the island is in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland varies whenever comedically convenient - it is a nuclear waste dumping ground for the British government and the British Army and the IRA feature (very briefly) in one episode, but in others it is explicitly named as part of Ireland and whenever the police appear they are clearly the Garda Síochána rather than the RUC.
Global Ignorance: In relation to the Geographic Flexibility above, when someone asks how to get to Craggy Island it's revealed that the island doesn't appear on any maps and the only way to know when you are near it is when you see British ships dumping nuclear waste. The general rule is that if you are going away from it you are heading in the right direction.
Father Ted: We wouldn't be on maps now Terry, we're not exactly New York!
The make-up work on Father Jack, including white and grey blue eyes, crusty lips, strange ruddy spots, stringy hair, and a perpetual snarl makes him quite possibly the ugliest thing to ever appear on TV. Frank Kelly has said that people wouldn't talk to him with his makeup on, and Farscape actually based an alien priest on his appearance in the episode 'A Prefect Murder', of which a picture can be found here.
Pauline McLynn nearly didn't get the part of Mrs Doyle, because they felt she was too pretty. She turned up to a later audition with a terrible case of the flu, and the rest is history.
Heroic BSOD: Played for laughs (naturally) in the "Flight of Terror", when Father Ted climbs outside the aeroplane mid-flight to fix a cable. He's fine until the crisis is over...
Ted: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! What am I doing on this fecking wheel? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!
He's next seen in the parochial house sitting room, still clinging to the wheel.
Honor Before Reason: In "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep," Ted exposes a scam set up by a sheep's owner to ensure he wins the "best sheep award," resulting in the sheep being disqualified. Afterwards, Dougal reminds Ted that he bet their heating budget on that particular sheep to win, meaning that he caused him to lose it all.
Horrible Camping Trip: In "Hell", Ted is granted the use of a caravan for the weekend which turns out to be barely large enough to accommodate Ted, Dougal, and Jack. It begins pouring with rain almost as soon as they get settled in (and Dougal has forgotten to pack any board games, reducing them to hide-and-seek and the famous "Small... far away" explanation of perspective), the only nearby attractions are St Kevin's Stump (an ordinary tree stump) and the Magic Road (on which objects roll uphill in defiance of gravity), the caravan turns out to have been double-booked to Father Noel Furlong and his youth group (who cause the caravan to fall on its side with a re-enactment of Riverdance), and Ted and Dougal repeatedly anger a fellow camper who ultimately leaves them stranded on a country road with four slashed tyres.
Humiliating Wager: The title character was famously made to kick Bishop Brennan up the arse as the forfeit for a lost football match between elderly priests (technically Ted's team won the match, but he was disqualified for cheating).
Hypocritical Humour: Mrs Doyle hates the language in modern novels, in fact she hates it so much that she spends five minutes using all of the language that she hates.
Mrs Doyle: "Ride me sideways" was another one!
That line was actually ad-libbed by Pauline McLynn and caused Dermot Morgan to break up. If you watch closely you can see that the scene is cut just as he is about to laugh out loud.
In "Speed 3", after Ted confronts Pat Mustard about using his job as a milkman to father illegitimate children across Craggy Island, suggesting that he should be more careful in the bedroom, Pat turns it around and asks if Ted's suggesting that he use artificial contraception?
I Am Not Spock: Severely affects the entire cast. If you were an extra in this show that's all you're ever going to be. Graham Norton averts it by simply carrying his persona to the talk-show circuit. Some of the cast who are in stand-up avert it (such as Ed Byrne), although Ardal O'Hanlon may not be so lucky. (That said, there are far worse shows to be forever tied to.)
This got so bad that Pauline McLynn (Mrs Doyle) refused to appear in the documentary about the show.
In an In-Universe example, Richard Wilson plays himself in one episode, and is driven into a rage by Ted saying 'I don't believe it!' to him.
I Did What I Had to Do: The whole of "Think Fast, Father Ted", where Ted holds a raffle in order to raise money to repair the leaking roof, is riddled with this. But not more so than in the case of the raffle's DJ, Father Billy O'Dwyer, who ends up stealing the raffle money to pay off the debts run up by his huge gambling problem.
Innocent Innuendo: "Oh, Pat was wondering if he could put his massive tool in my box?"
Insane Troll Logic: In "Think Fast, Father Ted", they damage a car they're about to raffle off. Dougal thinks that cheating in the raffle to get the money back would be morally wrong. Ted convinces Dougal otherwise with this brilliant deduction:
Father Ted: Dougal, seriously, listen: if Bishop Brennan finds out we wrecked the car, he will kill us. And murder is a terrible, terrible sin, Dougal. So, by committing this little sin, we'll actually be saving a bishop's soul.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ted zigzags around this trope. There are times when he displays real kindness and humanity (talking a priest out of suicide) only for an ulterior motive to be revealed (the priest owed him money). That said, he does seem to care about Jack and Dougal and even possess genuine faith (he's noticeably horrified when Dougal expresses disbelief).
Just Plane Wrong: In "Flight Into Terror", the plane is a BAe 146 viewed from the outside, but the interior is of a much larger wide-body aircraft. Of course, the interior of a BAe 146 isn't nearly big enough for a soundstage.
Kavorka Man: Pat Mustard, the disgustingly sleazy milkman who somehow manages to seduce every woman on his route. And have children with a lot of likenesses to him with them.
Lampshade Hanging: Father Jack frequently exits from the living room by screaming and jumping through the window. This gets lampshaded in the Christmas special, where he attempts to do so only to bounce back from the glass. Ted remarks to the room "We thought he was jumping through the old window a bit too often... That's why we had the plexiglass put in"
Bishop Brennan has to be in RRRRROME tomorrow to meet with the holy father!
Ted when he gets angry or excited.
One of the priests stuck in the lingerie section in the Christmas special has an exciting dramatic voice played for laughs.
Father Reilly:[loudly]Ted! Were you asking for a dramatic, exciting voice!? Father Fitzgerald:No. He said boring. He wanted a boring voice. Father Reilly:In that case, you must excuse me for my impetuous interruption!
The Masochism Tango: John and Mary try to keep up a Happily Marriedfaçade in front of the priests but the rest of the time it's blindingly obvious that they completely and utterly loathe each other. The first time they're introduced, Mary's put John in hospital with a knife wound.
May-December Romance: Sixty-something year old Pat Mustard and many of the women on Craggy Island whom he had affairs with on his milk rounds, and who subsequently became pregnant with his children. As they were able to have children, they were presumably much younger than Pat Mustard.
Mean Character, Nice Actor: Suffice it to say, when Ted envisions Jack as a friendly, nice-looking old man in a rocking chair singing "In Apple Blossom Time", it was still Frank Kelly.
When Mrs. Doyle has a night out, Ted and Dougal manage to start a fire in their attempt to make a cup of tea, and run around in a blind panic.
Also used to remove the zombie-horde of old women looking for Eoin Mc Love.
Mrs. Doyle: Stop! Stop! Ladies! It's after seven o'clock. I think your husbands might be wondering where their breakfasts are!
Father Ted: Mrs. Doyle's right! Remember last year, Mrs. Dunn, when your husband tried to wash a cup, and burned the house down. And Mrs. Collins, when Mr. Collins tried to make the bed on his own...*dramatic pause*...and lost a leg.
Mistaken for Racist: Ted in "Are You Right There Father Ted?", due to a hilarious series of misunderstandings.
Dougal: C'mon, Ted: a Volkswagen with a mind of its own. That's pretty scary.
No Celebrities Were Harmed: Henry Sellars = Henry Kelly, Eoin McLove = Daniel O'Donnell, Niamh Connolly = Sinéad O'Connor, Bishop Brennan = Bishop Éamon Casey (who also had a secret son; condoms in Ireland were briefly nicknamed "Just In Caseys").
The "Sealink incident," which we are told involved Dougal and the controls of a Sealink ferry, although Noel Furlong tactfully shushes Dougal before he can give too many details.
In "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading"—where they seem determined to push this trope to its breaking point:
Father Ted: Dougal, Dougal, do you remember Sister Assumpta?
Dougal: Er, no.
Father Ted: She was here last year! And then we stayed with her in the convent, back in Kildare. Do you remember it? Ah, you do! And then you were hit by the car when you went down to the shops for the paper. You must remember all that? And then you won a hundred pounds with your lottery card? Ah, you must remember it, Dougal!
[Dougal shakes his head]
Sr. Assumpta: And weren't you accidentally arrested for shoplifting? I remember we had to go down to the police station to get you!... And the police station went on fire? And you had to be rescued by helicopter?
Father Ted: Do you remember? You can't remember any of that? The helicopter! When you fell out of the helicopter! Over the zoo! Do you remember the tigers?
[Dougal shakes his head some more]
Father Ted: You don't remember? You were wearing your blue jumper.
Dougal:Ah, Sister Assumpta!
And, of course, the Lourdes incident involving Ted, a trip to Las Vegas and a sick child whose money he allegedly took. All we know is that the money was just resting in his account.
How Jack got to Craggy Island: the infamous "Wedding in Athlone". Nobody tells what happened, but Brennan mentions "the strings I had to pull to stop the Vatican getting involved."
No Name Given: Mrs. Doyle. Whenever anyone says her first name, it's drowned out by a conveniently timed stock sound effect.
One-Hour Work Week: The priests' parish duties are virtually non-existent. Ted says about two Masses (one on a mobile altar being towed by a tractor), has some bishops to stay once, and eagerly tells Dougal all the salacious details a parishioner had just given him in confession in one episode.
Overly Narrow Superlative: It's amazing how simply changing a word of any ordinary bit of hyperbole to "priest" has this effect. "The most sarcastic man in Ireland" wouldn't cause you to bat an eyelid, but "the most sarcastic priest in Ireland"...
Parachute in a Tree: In one episode, during a flight emergency, Jack takes the plane's two parachutes and attaches the second one to the drinks trolley. As the credits roll, we see Jack and the trolley both stuck in the tree, with Jack vainly trying to reach it.
Pardon My Klingon: "Feck" to non-Irish viewers. Feck is a mild curse in Ireland. Interestingly enough, the word has its own history completely unrelated to the err..other F word, although it is commonly used as a milder version of it.
Pass the Popcorn: In "Night of the Nearly Dead", hordes of middle-aged women have descended on the Parochial House to see crooner Eoin McLove, and have punched through the front door to grab him after he retreats back into the house. Ted, Dougal, and McLove's manager Patsy are trying to break the women's grip on McLove, while Jack... fetches a chair and a drink and sits back to watch.
Patriotic Fervour: Jack's insistence on standing for the French national anthem is exploited when Ted needs to find a way to stop him crushing another priest by sitting on him.
Pet the Dog: Jack leaving his fortune to Ted and Dougal in his will... as long as they spend the night next to his body when he dies.
Though Ted is occasionally shown to say Mass (including once on a mobile altar being towed by a tractor), and once talks about a confession he took, Dougal and Jack are never seen doing any priestly things. Justified by Dougal's status as The Ditz and Jack as The Alcoholic - you wouldn't want them doing any work either. The implication is that all three of them have been Reassigned to Antarctica.
Jack is, theoretically, a retired priest, and Ted and Dougal are, theoretically, his caretakers. In practice, Craggy Island is a place where particularly unpleasant priests are sent to rot with keepers selected from otherwise undesirables. Leads to We Want Our Jerk Back when Jack gets too sick for Ted and Dougal to look after any more, and a much younger (and even less pleasant) priest is sent to Craggy Island for them to keep.
Lampshaded when Dougal becomes a milkman and Ted is unable to think of any parish duty that would prevent him from doing so.
Dougal: Ooh, I'd love to be a milkman for a bit. There's feck all to do around here...
It's pretty clear, though, that all three priests know very little about Catholicism. Jack is permanently drunk, Dougal is the resident ditz and even Ted forgets that the church traditionally has condemned homosexuality, has papal infallibility and even says that God is the most forgiving "of all gods".
Ted doesn't agree with many aspects of religion and even implies he's only a priest because it was traditional in his family for the least intelligent brother to become a priest. He also says 'the pope says things he doesn't really mean'.
"Night of the Nearly Dead" reveals that despite being a Catholic Priest, Ted doesn't even know the birth name of the Pope.
The Pratfall: Mrs. Doyle wins a date for tea with her idol, TV heartthrob Eoin McLove. When she meets him, she begins shaking uncontrollably, then goes rigid as a board and falls right over on her arse.
Reassigned to Antarctica: Seems to be the point of the Craggy Isle parish - Ted for misappropriating funds, Dougal for the "Blackrock Incident", Jack for a sexual dalliance with a nun (and the "Wedding in Athlone").
Reckless Gun Usage: John in one scene, after the island is gripped by hysteria after a whistle is stolen, mentions that he keeps his shotgun cocked and armed so he can get the drop on him. He then demonstrates poor trigger discipline, waves it around like a Majorette's baton, and points it at Ted, whilst slamming it down on the counter at the same time.
Red Oni, Blue Oni: Zigzagged—at first Ted appears to be the more sensible, level-headed one, until you realize that he cares more about material possessions and wealth than spirituality and is perfect willing to throw away any scruples he might otherwise have in order to pursue some shallow goal(which is sometimes money but may also be beating Dick Byrne in some childish challenge), whereas Dougal for all his ditziness at least makes more of an effort to be a good priest or at least a good person; moreover, he is also calmer and less excitable than Ted.
Dougal figures that Ted Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse is so ridiculous, Brennan himself wouldn't believe it. Sure enough, Bishop Brennan gets kicked up the arse and it only occurs to him that this is what happened when he's having an audience with the Pope, upon which he runs full pelt back to Ireland, where Ted is able to convince him that Ted kicking the Bishop up the arse is too ridiculous to have actually happened, which the bishop believes.... until he sees a giant photograph of the act.
Father Todd Unctious, and how he infiltrates the trio's house comes down to this.
Reset Button: Unusually played at the beginning of an episode rather than at the end. The episode 'A Christmassy Ted' referred to all charges against Ted over the 'Lourdes thing' dropped (the original offence which got him sent to Craggy Island). The first episode of the next series showed him at his luxurious new parish...before an auditor discovers irregularities in the parish accounts sending him right back to Craggy Island.
Rule of Funny: As per Graham Linehan's over-the-top Signature Style. He's stated in interview that when everyone knows how farce comedy works and everything is running on the Rule of Funny anyway, attempting to make the scenarios at all "realistic" is just patronising and detracts from the potential humour. Hence things like the perfectly square bit of dirt, which he could have come up with a credulity-stretching Hand Wave for, but why bother? Without one, the setup for the joke is a surreal sight gag in itself.
Running Gag: Too many to list, but here are a few examples:
Ted calling Father Larry Duff on his mobile just when he's doing something important and messing him up because of it. On one occasion he fell of a cliff while trying to find his phone. Another time he lost a ten thousand pound contest which required intense concentration.
Mrs Doyle's constant tea offering is one of the most famous running gags. Her dedication to tea making is frankly disturbing. She asks over and over and over. Once, she asked via a very large series of written signs when the music was up too loud to talk. Another time when Ted came downstairs in the middle of the night, she was standing perfectly still next to the door holding a tray of tea, six inches from Ted's face when he turned the light on. She also offered tea to a man who had just explained he was deathly allergic to it, although he left before she could really press him.
People on Craggy Island sure do jump out of windows a lot...
John and Mary, the 'loving couple' that keep trying to kill each other.
Sarcasm-Blind: Mrs Doyle and Dougal both struggle with the concept.
Scatting: The priests' performance of "La Marseillaise" in "A Christmassy Ted" is an incoherent mumble with no distinct words, English or French. (Although the mouth movements of at least one priest do roughly correspond with the French words.)
Scooby-Doo Hoax: The mysterious sheep-eating beast, described by Dougal as follows:
Incidentally, four-arsed creations became a recurring theme on South Park some years later.
Separated by a Common Language: In "Cigarettes And Alcohol And Rollerblading", the phrase that forms (in Ted's mind at least) from John's cigarette smoke takes on a whole new meaning if you're American.
Senior Sleep Cycle: Father Jack seemingly spends his entire life sleeping when he isn't drinking or yelling obscenities.
"There's nothing at all stupid about the All-Priests Over-75's Five-a-Side Football Championship Match! Against Rugged Island." (Or the All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition, for that matter.)
The theft of a whistle prompting Craggy Island's one policeman to start doing helicopter sweeps and the Islanders to start locking themselves in the basement in case they're brutally murdered.
According to Ted, only Priests' Socks are actually black. All other "black" socks are just really, really, really, really, really, REALLY dark blue.
In Series 3, the farmer who hires two idiots to frighten his sheep, so that he can stage its recovery and win the competition - and therefore a lot of money - with it, is called Fargo. Doubles as Foreshadowing for The Reveal.
The two idiots are themselves a Shout-Out to money-obsessed schemer Brian Quigley's two dozy incompetent henchmen in Ballykissangel (another more mainstream Irish comedy-drama).
One particular Shout-Out was lampshaded in the script itself:
Ted: I am fearless. Like that film with Jeff Bridges.
Dougal: I haven't seen that one.
Ted: Not a lot of people have Dougal, so it's probably a bad reference.
Shur Fine Guns: Averted by John's shotgun. He slams it down on the counter, causing Ted to jump, but it doesn't go off. John finds this hilarious. Although it's implied that John was just messing with Ted, and that, contrary to his claims, the gun wasn't cocked or even loaded.
Snipe Hunt: In the All-Priests Over-75s football match, Ted gives Dougal the task of guarding the corner flags against theft. This becomes relevant when Dick Byrne sends the equally-inept Cyril to steal one as a souvenir.
Springtime for Hitler: "My Lovely Horse" gets chosen as the Irish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest so that Ireland will lose and will not have to incur the cost of hosting the Contest another year. Averted, in that the plan succeeds spectacularly.
Spot of Tea: While tea drinking is generally associated with the English, the Republic of Ireland are just about equally notorious. Ireland's obession with tea is represented by Mrs. Doyle. "Tea, father?" "Oh, you will, you will, you will."
Head Milkman: You'd better get going. Milk goes sour you know - unless it's UHT milk, but there's no demand for that because it's shite.
Strange Minds Think Alike: Weird example in "Speed 3" when Ted's think-tank team of priests seem to independently work out that the episode is a Whole Plot Reference to an action film and the answer must lie in such a film, yet constantly pick the wrong ones which bear no relevance to the crisis, such as The Towering Inferno. More hilariously, they only pick The Poseidon Adventure because Gene Hackman plays a priest in it. He doesn't even say Mass!
Strawman Political: Played for laughs with Bishop Brennan who is designed to represent the worst aspects of the Catholic Church in Ireland. He is rude, a bully, a hypocrite (He lives in glamourous surroundings and a woman in a hottub while the priests barely scrape by) and has a secret child living in America.
Streisand Effect (In-Universe): The church's protests at "The Passion of St. Tibulus" result only in the film's overwhelming popularity.
In the Christmas Special, Ted announces that he is looking forward to "A nice quiet Christmas with no unusual incidents or strange people turning up. That would suit me down to the ground."
In "The Mainland" when Ted suggests he say "I don't believe it" to Richard Wilson. According to Dougal, "Serious Ted, that is a fantastic idea. This is one of those times when I'm absolute one hundred million per cent sure that you'd be doing the right thing. I can safely say you definitely, definitely won't regret doing that!"
When describing the Beast of Craggy Island, one of Dougal's lines was meant to reveal that "instead of a mouth, it's got two faces." Ardal O'Hanlon didn't think this was funny, and when filming was taking place, decided to change the line to "instead of a mouth, it's got four arses," getting an uproarious reaction from the audience which immediately convinced the producers that the altered line should be left in.
"'Ride me sideways' was another one!" was an Ad Lib by Pauline McLynn — you can see Dermot Morgan trying not to laugh.
"Competition Time" is the one episode where Ted and Co. are better off than when it began.
Similarly, one of Larry Duff's appearances leads to a completely different priest being horrifically injured/killed rather than him.
Trope Codifier: Father Ted builds on earlier more mainstream TV sitcoms about priests, religion, and religious hierarchy, taking the themes and settings of earlier shows like Bless Me Father and Oh Brother! and taking them Up to Eleven and beyond. Without Derek Nimmo's relatively innocuous portrayal of a Church of England vicar in an otherwise anodyne sixties sitcom, there might have been no "Father Ted".
The Troubles: Averted. Admirably for a show with this setting and one that was made when it was, the Troubles practically never feature. The only times they are even mentioned is on the front page of a copy of the Irish Independent Ted is seen reading in one episode, and in a brief scene where Fr. Larry Duff is late for a picnic with Ted because the priest who was driving them over had been stockpiling machine guns for the Provos.
Too Soon: The original script for the final episode, "Going to America", ended with Father Ted contemplating suicide. However, when Dermot Morgan died the day after filming was completed, that ending was quickly replaced with a montage of scenes from previous episodes.
T-Word Euphemism: In one episode, Mrs Doyle has been reading the works of a lady novelist staying at the parochial house and is shocked by the language. She refers to "the F-word", but this being Father Ted has to clarify "The bad F-word. Not feck. Worse than feck."
The Unfettered: Father Jack is completely unafraid to say what little he has on his mind.
"Feck". (Not invented by the series, commonly used in Ireland)
In one episode Ted goes to a park in which one is forbidden from swearing. He's called a "fupping backstard" and a "pedrophile", among other things.
Unwitting Pawn: Ted and Dougal become this for Irish Eurosong selectors in "A Song For Europe".
We Want Our Jerk Back: At first Ted and Dougal are thrilled when Jack gets a contagious disease and has to be sent away. Then it turns out his replacement takes Jack's Jerkass qualities Up to Eleven until they're driven to kidnap him back.
X Must Not Win: In the episode Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading, after being goaded into giving up something for Lent by Father Dick Byrne, Ted gives Dougal a lecture on the importance of Lent, something far more important than the sacrifices made by Jesus as the latter points out, but beating Dick Byrne at his bet.
You Look Familiar: Irish comedian Jon Kenny played a cinema owner in "The Passion of St Tibulus" and a Eurosong MC in "Song for Europe" (in the latter role, he was filling in for Steve Coogan who pulled out at the last minute).
Pauline McLynn played Mrs Doyle in every episode, but as she only had a few lines in "Flight Into Terror" they also let her play one of the nuns throwing paper at Ted.