YMMV / Fawlty Towers

  • Alternate Character Interpretation: Maybe Basil is the way he is because of the stress of trying to run a business with little to no help from his inattentive wife? She mostly scoffs that he's not doing enough, while never doing any work herself.
  • Catharsis Factor: The one episode where Basil escapes his usual comeuppance and Sybil is left to deal with all the consequences.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The Major's cheerfully casual racism really shouldn't be funny, but... yeah.
    I took her to see India at the Oval... and the strange thing was that throughout the morning she kept referring to the Indians as 'niggers'! No, no, no, I said. Niggers are the West Indians. These people are WOGS!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Veteran actor David Kelly — not the late UN weapons inspector — appears in one episode for six minutes. Andrew Sachs claims that those six minutes of David Kelly are just about all that fans of the show ever talk to him about. The six minutes also follow David Kelly more than anything else he's ever done. It's even more of a testament to Kelly's performance that this takes place in what is generally regarded as the show's worst episode.
  • Fight Scene Failure: Mr. Hutchinson beating up Basil Fawlty in "the Hotel Inspectors". Seriously, it looks like William Shatner choreographed the fight.
  • Friendly Fandoms: Fans of that other show John Cleese was on are almost always fans of this show as well.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: One of the best scenes in the whole series is where Manuel sets fire to the kitchen during a fire drill. The real building (for exteriors, anyway) burned down in 1991.
  • Heartwarming Moments: In "The Anniversary", Basil displays some out-of-character thoughtfulness by arranging a surprise party to celebrate Sybil's and his 15th wedding anniversary. Not only does he invite six mutual friends of theirs to the party, he also asks Manuel to prepare a proper Spanish paella for the anniversary meal. Of course, Sybil drives off in a huff to spend the day golfing before any of this can happen, but still...Basil showing respect for both Sybil and Manuel in the same episode is quite something.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Basil the Rat", Manuel gets a pet rat, and when the health inspector comes, Polly tries to explain that "Basil" is a nickname for the hotel's ratatouille.
  • Internet Backdraft: For reruns at least, it appears that the infamous racism from "The Germans" has been removed, killing the joke and also removing an opportunity to poke fun at actual racists, which led to complaints on the internet and in the media (on grounds of humour and not racism).
  • Jerkass Woobie: Basil. He's an unquestionably horrible human being to be sure, but he's married to an equally horrible (if more socially adept) woman, many of the customers he acts so put upon by really are obnoxious and irritating, and the universe just enjoys watching him suffer.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Despite O'Reilly being a bit of an Irish stereotype, he's beloved by Irish fans.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The climax of "The Germans" and indeed most of the show is actually making fun of racist attitudes. Hasn't stopped the former from being popular among people with those views, which alarms John Cleese.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: Fawlty Towers' use of broad humor based on obnoxious behavior, slapstick, and shock has been so influential that the series may seem a bit stale to some modern viewers. Of course, just as many will argue that, while often imitated, nobody could hope to do better.
  • Special Effects Failure: In "Basil the Rat", most of the shots of Manuel's pet "filligree Siberian hamster" used a real rat, videotaped separately from the main action and edited in. In a scene where the rat scurries across the floor it's obviously a model pulled by a nylon cord, but the main fx failure occurs in the final scene in which the rat pops its head out of a biscuit tin that Polly is presenting to the health inspector. In this scene the rat is a very unconvincing puppet with a rotating head which is operated from beneath the tin by Connie Booth. In a way the bad sfx only makes the scene all the funnier.
  • Testosterone Brigade: Polly has quite a few admirers for her beautiful blonde hair, and Adorkable Girl Next Door personality.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: See Internet Backdraft.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Cleese and Booth were already reluctant to do the second series because they were afraid the expectations would've been too high to satisfy, and refused to do any more episodes after that for the same reason.
    • Writer Richard Curtis claimed that the only reason Blackadder was conceived as a period piece was because of his belief that any sitcom just set in modern times couldn't hope to follow up this one. Tropes Are Not Bad, indeed!
  • Values Dissonance:
    • The Major's conversation with Basil about explaining the difference between "wogs" and "niggers" to his ex-girlfriend. These slurs are seen as far more inappropriate than they were when the show first aired and would probably never fly on any modern show. Indeed, by 2013, the BBC started censoring the scene on re-airs, causing some Internet Backdraft from purists. They're uncensored on the DVD and on Netflix though, fortunately. Even in-universe the fact he's so matter-of-fact about it is the entire joke.
    • Sybil comes across even worse to modern audiences due to the lack of work she actually does around the hotel. In the 70s, she wouldn't be expected to take much of a role in the business beyond helping out occasionally. To modern viewers, she comes across as incredibly lazy and irresponsible.
    • In the first episode, both Sybil and Basil compare Manuel to a trained monkey.
  • Vindicated by History: The series (the first season in particular) was lambasted by British TV critics, who did not find it inspired or funny at all. Gradually it became a cult series and eventually the most popular, critically acclaimed and often repeated British sitcom of all time.