Series / The Flying Nun
Rico: Sister Bertrille! You''re flying!
Sister Bertrille: Don't be silly, Rico! Whoever heard of a flying nun?!

The Flying Nun was a sitcom produced by Screen Gems for ABC, based on the now-forgotten book The Fifteenth Pelican by Tere Rios. The sitcom ran for three seasons, and produced 82 color episodes from 1967 until 1970.

The star was a young Sally Field (post-Gidget), who played a spunky novice nun assigned to the Daughters of Charity convent in Puerto Rico. As a novice, Sister Bertrille, as she was called, wore a white habit robe with a heavily starched winged cornette.

Due to some Artistic License Physics that beggar suspension of disbelief, Sister Bertrille was so petite that she was able to fly in a slight breeze. "When lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag, anything can fly." And once the breeze caught her cornette...

Every week Sister Bertrille would solve a new problem for the people of San Juan, due to her ability to fly. How this novice can be more effective and nurturing than all the middle-aged experienced nuns at her convent is interesting to note.

It should also be noted that flying amongst nuns is an unusual habit.

Tropes featured include:

  • Absentee Actor: "The Dumbest Kid In School" is the only episode where Sally Field doesn't appear, in spite of playing the character after whom the series is named.
  • Baseball Episode: "The Big Game".
    Reverend Mother Plaseato: We shall... pray... for your eyesight, Mr Umpire!
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Funny Foreigner Sister Sisto. Although technically not a foreigner since she is Puerto Rican.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: As much as Carlos complains about Sister Bertrille getting him into trouble, he feels worse without her around.
    Carlos: When she's around I tell her to get lost, but when she does I go looking for her!
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Sister Bertrille really tries to avoid showing people she can fly.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Usually, as is typical in a convent. But in one episode, an old boyfriend who fears his rejection caused Sister Bertrille to become a nun refers to her by her birth name of Elsie.
  • First-Name Basis: Most of the nuns address Carlos as Señor Ramirez. Sister Bertrille, being a very close friend, is the only one who calls him Carlos.
  • Foreign Language Tirade: Carlos occasionally slips into these when particularly frustrated with Sister Bertrille's latest mess.
  • Give Me a Sign: Carlos's nearsighted uncle is convinced he's going to die in a week after seeing a giant white bird flying above him. Guess who the 'bird' was....
  • Hide Your Pregnancy: During the series' run Sally Field became pregnant, and obviously it couldn't be written into the show, so...
  • Hollywood Nuns / Christianity Is Catholic: Played straight in that the show involved nuns in a cloister and that they were truly Catholic, with the varying degrees of ages. The show's technical consultant was a U.S. Catholic advisory office for radio and television at the time, whose help made the setting and the characters (save the flying part) authentic and believable.
  • Hypno Fool: One episode has a dentist (Bernie Kopell) cross this one with a bizarre "Freaky Friday" Flip: He uses hypnosis to make Sister Bertrille and the Mother Superior think they're each other. Hilarity, of course, ensues when a visiting Father (Paul Lynde) is observing the convent.
  • Narrator: Episodes are usually introduced by Sister Jacqueline, although some episodes are set up by Carlos, and even a few by Reverend Mother Plaseato herself.
  • Never Win the Lottery: In one episode, Sister Betrille returns a lost lottery ticket to a poor couple, who come to believe the ticket is blessed to win after accidentally witnessing her flying off.
  • Nice Hat: So nice, it lets her fly!
  • Nuns Are Funny: Much of the series' raison d'être.
  • Odd Friendship: Novice nun Sister Bertrille's closest friend is Carlos, an agnostic playboy who owns a casino.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Sister Sisto.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Despite being old-fashioned and somewhat strict, the Reverend Mother is a generally kind and reasonable woman who genuinely wants the best for Sister Bertrille and the convent.
  • Smurfette Principle: Inverted with Carlos.
  • The Other Darrin: Psychiatrist Father Lundigan is played by John Astin in his first appearance, but when he returns a season later he is played by Paul Lynde.
  • Thieving Magpie: In one episode, a crow takes off with a $5,000 donation check made out to the convent.
  • Title Drop: The page quote in episode "Operation: Population," as Sister Bertrille gets a lift while demonstrating a pogo stick to a young boy.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Carlos and his cousin Luis.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: It shows Sister Bertrille walking with her welcoming party back to the convent.
  • Wunza Plot (Nunza?)