YMMV / Father Brown

The short stories

  • Acceptable Religious Targets: Being to some extent an Author Tract in favor of Catholicism, this sometimes pops up, often combined with Acceptable Ethnic Targets.
    • Calvinism and its associated sects are portrayed as self-righteous, morbid, and borderline misanthropic. Father Brown goes so far to say that Presbyterianism isn't really Christianity (in an ironic twist on No True Scotsman).
    • New religious movements are portrayed as faddish occupations for bourgeois people who want to be trendy and modern. If their leaders are present, they're either villains, Straw Hypocrites, or both.
    • Atheism is almost always referenced as a quirk of the French national character, and predicated on their sentimentalism: in one story, a French atheist feels so strongly about it that he kills a man simply for being an avid patron of religious societies. Any other atheists are scientists whose overly-mechanistic view of the world makes them lack in common sense.
    • Non-Abrahamic religions are given the Hollywood Voodoo treatment, as was typical for Europeans at the time. Chesterton admits that any "tribal" practices in his stories are made up and have little, if any, elements of truth to them, but they still play up stereotypes for all they're worth.
    • Hinduism and Buddhism are sometimes criticized as excessively nihilistic and world-denying. This one is a clear case of Writer on Board, as Chesterton makes a similar criticism in his non-fiction and apologetic works.
    • The Church of England is subtly mocked in some stories as an inferior version of Catholicism that stole a lot of the Roman Church's property in England. In "The Vampire of the Village," Father Brown pokes some fun at the fact that "England does not know much about the Church of England," referencing its rather complex history of schism and doctrinal differences. This comes off as more of an Affectionate Parody than the others, which isn't surprising given that many of Chesterton's close friends were Anglican (and he himself was at one point).
  • Accidental Innuendo: The Red Moon of Meru features a doctor peddling the then-popular, now long discredited practice of measuring intelligence by the curves of a person's head. He walks up to a fashionable lady and offers to "feel her bumps".
  • Anvilicious: Father Brown is a priest, so he does quite a lot of sermonizing and moralizing, giving out Kirk Summations, You Are Better Than You Think You Are speeches and sometimes a few The Reason You Suck speeches. Some stand strong today, while others tend to be a victim of Values Dissonance.
  • Fridge Logic: In the first story, when Flambeau asks for the package, he reveals that he actually swiped it some time ago in the next sentence. Why would he then stay with Father Brown and ask for it at all? It's possible that, being a Gentleman Thief and all, he simply wanted to enjoy The Reveal and mock the celibate dreaming simpleton Father Brown by outsmarting him. It would be out of character; for example, at one point he lists various types of people that can be profitably robbed or swindled, along with the appropriate setting for the crime in each case.
  • Genius Bonus: If you want to solve the mystery of "The Actor and the Alibi" ahead of Father Brown, detailed knowledge of The School for Scandal would serve you good.
  • Once Acceptable Targets: Chesterton's willingness to capitalize on popular (in his day) stereotypes of Africans, Chinese people, Indians, and Jews have not aged well at all. See Values Dissonance, below.
  • Spoiled by the Format: The first mystery, "The Blue Cross", is told through the Sympathetic P.O.V. of the great French detective, Valentin. So when the unremarkable, seemingly bumbling priest (who isn't even named Father Brown untill near the end) solves the mystery, it would've been a huge shock to readers when it was first published in a magazine. But the most likely place for a modern reader to pick up this story isn't titled The Complete Detective Valentin Stories, so it ain't that much of a surprise.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Flambeau is mentioned to have "casually and almost abruptly fallen in love with a Spanish Lady".
  • Uncanny Valley: Evoked in several stories, e.g., "The Head of Caesar."
  • Values Dissonance: Chesterton's racial and national attitudes were actually very moderate for the early twentieth century, but some will often strike a sour note for modern readers in the midst of his most enjoyable works, as for example in "The God of the Gongs." His religious views, on the other hand, were entirely conscious, and will strike the reader as either refreshingly forthright or offensively aggressive, according to taste.

The TV series

  • Harsher in Hindsight: The season one episode, The Man in the Tree comes across as this with the revelation that Sid has spent a year in jail in series 5.
  • Moral Event Horizon: The staff of St. Bridgit's Moral Welfare, featured in "The Bride of Christ", cross it through their stealing babies from their mothers over any moral deformity, and they even had at least some of said mothers locked up in insane asylums, effectively scarring them for seven life terms. Worse, the murders of the week took place because of it—the murderer of the week happened to be one of their victims. It's telling that even Father Brown thought the whole operation was morally reprehensible, well beyond anything he had ever encountered as an amateur sleuth.
  • Narm: The second death in "The Crackpot of the Empire" would have been a lot scarier if they hadn't used the TIE-fighter noise for the victim's dying scream.
  • Running Gag: At this point Lady Felicia screaming bloody murder at each body is becoming a borderline one.