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Series / Father Brown

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"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.

A Spin-Off series starring Lorna Watson as Sister Boniface from "The Bride of Christ" episode called The Sister Boniface Mysteries begun production in 2020 for the streaming service, BritBox.

According to The Other Wiki Father Brown has been sold to 162 territories by BBC Worldwide. Broadcasts across the world include Australia (The ABC), Finland (YLE), Sweden (TV8), 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.
    • The first victim in "The Bride of Christ" had the poor luck of falling for the trap meant for the killer's intended victim.
    • The Victim of the Week in "The Resurrectionists" dies as the result of a Staircase Tumble after being shoved by someone who was in a state of shock and definitely not intending to kill him.
    • Paulette in "The Mask of the Demon" spends the entire episode thinking that she killed the victim while trying to fend off his unwanted advances. This trope is eventually subverted when Father Brown reveals that she just knocked him unconcious, and that someone else finished him off after she fled the scene.
    • The Victim of the Week in "The Passing Bell" trips and falls on to the blade being held by the man he was attacking.
  • Accidental Public Confession: In "The Mask of the Demon", Inspector Mallory discovers that the Victim of the Week had bugged his own office and turns on the microphone just in time to hear the killer confess to the murder as he prepares to dispose of Father Brown.
  • 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..."
  • Affectionate Pickpocket: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Lisandra hugs the Anglican bishop in gratitude, and uses the opportunity to pickpocket the key to the safe.
  • The Alcoholic: Lady Adams in "The Flying Stars". When she's found drowned in the lake, it's initially assumed that she accidentially fell in while drunk.
  • All Part of the Show: In "The Flying Stars", a cops and robbers comedy play takes place near the end of the episode. Naturally, this means that Lady Felicia frantically running on stage and calling for the police is treated as part of the play's proceedings, as is the murderer coming after her and threatening her at gunpoint to keep her quiet.
  • All for Nothing: Had the murderer not died at the end of "The Flying Stars", he would have found out that his entire murderous plot would have amounted to absolutely nothing in the end - as the diamonds he killed to obtain are nothing more than pretty fakes, the real deal having been pawned off years ago.
  • Always Murder:
    • Usually the case, but averted in "The Wrong Shape", in which was the death was actually suicide despite all appearances to the contrary.
    • In "The Grim Reaper," the death is a legitimate accident, with the victim, a farmer, falling into his own thresher while drunk. However, the victim's doctor falsely confesses to murdering him, as he is Secretly Dying and reasons that a quick death via execution would be preferable to wasting away from cancer, would spare his wife from having to slave over him in his last days, and give the victim's father closure. Father Brown is able to convince him to reconsider.
    • In "The Devil's Dust," what looks like the kidnapping and murder of a teenage girl turns out to be an elaborate hoax perpetrated by the girl herself, in an attempt to escape her overbearing parents and elope with her handsome therapist. When Father Brown tells her in no small terms that the therapist does not return her feelings, she drops the act.
  • 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—but quite understandably for a serious Catholic priest who understands his faith—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.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Lady Felicia. She's made no secret of her attraction for men, but she also shares a kiss and some romantic tension with a female suspect in "The Lair of the Libertines". In a later episode, she is seen reading and enjoying a novel that is in-universe bisexual erotica.
    • Flambeau is no stranger with the ladies but seems almost equally flirtatious with various male characters as well—most notably his male cell block mates in "The Penitent Man". He also tells a closeted male prison guard that "omni-sexuality"note  is "nothing to be ashamed of."
    • Sid has a good deal of this as well. In addition to his Will They or Won't They? relationship with Susie in Series 1 and hookups with female guest characters, his behavior with Inspector Sullivan, Lt.Graham in "Sign of the Broken Sword" and Father Roland in "The Daughters of Jerusalem" can easily be read as flirtatious.
  • And Now You Must Marry Me:
    • Attempted by Mr. Welkin in "The Invisible Man", who manages to get Laura to accept his hand in marriage by blackmailing her with the fact that she's the one who accidentally killed the episode's victim. He eventually backs off after getting a stern dressing down by Father Brown.
    • The victim in "The Mask of the Demon" threatened to have his now wife blacklisted from all the major film studios if she didn't marry him. Naturally she's still nurses a serious grudge over this, making her the prime suspect when he winds up dead.
  • 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 potassium ferrocyanide covered hard candy. Cyanide would kill most oxygen-breathing organisms, but ferrocyanide would not. And it is stated in the very episode!
    • However, Potassium ferrocyanide (K4[Fe(CN)6]×3H2O) can be (and, until 1900, was) used to create its much more lethal cousin, Potassium cyanide (KCN); and the winery's quality control station is a fully equipped chemical lab with everything needed to pull this off.
  • Artistic License – Religion: One that repeats itself throughout the series, though it first becomes obvious in "The Daughter of Autolycus": The series references Roman Catholic Diocese of Gloucester, which doesn't exist. The Roman Catholic diocese covering Gloucestershire is not in Gloucester, or even Bristol (as one might expect) but in Clifton (which is technically in Bristol, but the name of the diocese doesn't reflect that—and in any case it's definitely not in Gloucester).
  • 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.
    • Special mention goes to Audrey MacMurray in "The Laws of Motion", who antagonises enough people in her final few hours that no less than three seperate people make an attempt on her life - one planned, two completely spur of the moment.
    • 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.
  • "Awkward Silence" Entrance: When the obnoxious drunken Jerkass Colonel Bohun drives into an interfaith picnic uninvited in "The Hammer of God", the guests fall silent and watch him with varying degrees of distaste, including the woman he's sexually extorting. However, the string band plays merrily on in the background.
    Bohun: Seems my invitation got lost in the post.
  • 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.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Bunty's performance as the Fairy Godmother in "The Tree of Truth". She is very stiff and wooden, and keeps forgetting her lines. Ultimately, she realises how awful she is and feigns illness to allow Mrs. McCarthy who originally read for the role to take over the part.
  • Bad Habits: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", jewel thief Flambeau disguises himself as a priest using a cassock that he stole from Father Brown.
  • Bathroom Breakout: In "The Celestial Choir", the saboteur goes to the toilet and then climbs out the window and goes to sabotage the choir's bus.
  • 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.
    • In "The Cat of Mastigatus", the Victim of the Week is cracked over the skull by a cricket bat in the boiler room of the school.
  • 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.
  • Berserk Button: Do not use Christianity as a justification for cruelty and intolerance in Father Brown's presence.
  • Better Manhandle the Murder Weapon: In "The Numbers of the Beast", the husband of the Victim of the Week is found by Father Brown holding the umbrella she had been stabbed with. He claims he had pulled it out thinking he could save her.
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • The killer in "The Pride of the Prydes" takes this course of action after realising that it's either the scaffold or the lunatic asylum for him, despite Father Brown doing his very best to convince him otherwise.
    • Lenny and Daryl in "The Great Train Robbery" consider Suicide by Cop as an alternative to being hanged for murder once Inspector Mallory has them cornered. Fortunately, they're talked down.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Most episodes to feature Flambeau, apart from the first, have another villain as well. Typically this character is significantly eviler than the master thief himself, necessitating a teamup with Father Brown.
  • Big Eater: Father Brown, while having all the modesty of an ordained priest sworn to poverty/modesty (more precisely, "perfect" charity as he's a diocesan priest), absolutely loves to indulge a good feast.
    • This is one of the reasons (the other being Susie's inability to make any food that isn't Polish) Mrs McCarthy makes extra portions of food.
      • Even so, she also tries to keep him from overindulging, as lampshaded in "The Wrath of Baron Samdi".
    McCarthy: Now don't get used to this. Just because we all thought you were dead doesn't mean you get to stuff your face every day.
    Father Brown: Noted.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: "The Devil You Know" has perhaps one of the most extreme instances of this that can be imagined: a fugitive Nazi posing as a Holocaust survivor.
  • 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.
  • Bookcase Passage: In "The Mask of the Demon", the Victim of the Week has a secret room concealed behind a bookcase that he uses to secretly film his Casting Couch assignations.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Ethel Fernsley in "The Shadow of the Scaffold" is steadfast in her insistance that Violet murdered her son Ivan, refusing to retract her testimony even after Father Brown points out that she physically couldn't have seen Violet washing blood off of herself. She turns out to be right - Violet did murder Ivan, but escapes the scaffold after the police lump his murder in with the rest of Ethel's killings.
    • In "The Prize of Colonel Gerard", Edward is convinced that his uncle, the titular Colonel, delibrately engineered the climbing accident which claimed his father's life. The Colonel uses his final words to confess that he did push his brother, and enjoyed his dying screams.
  • Cain and Abel: Norman and Wilfred Bohun in "The Hammer of God". Wilfred is the modest man of the cloth, whereas his brother is a boorish alcoholic who loves to gamble and is not above forcing a woman to sleep with him in order to pay her husbands debts. Though the episode does play with this trope, revealing that the good brother Wilfred was the one to smash his own brother's skull in, after discovering that Norman enjoyed men as well as women.
  • Canon Foreigner: Aside from Inspector Valentine, based on a character who appeared in the early stories, and archenemy Flambeau,all the supporting cast are original creations.
  • Career-Ending Injury: In "The Laws of Motion", Walter MacMurray's football career ended prematurely after he suffered from a knee injury, making him very amenable to marrying the very wealthy Audrey MacMurray.
  • The Cassandra: Father Brown himself is frequently the Cassandra, especially where Inspector Mallory is concerned.
  • Casting Couch: The Victim of the Week in "The Mask of the Demon" is a film director famous for his use of the casting couch. He films his assignations for his own entertainment and blackmail purposes.
  • Catchphrase: 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. Mrs. McCarthy, while never quite losing her Holier Than Thou-ness, also becomes a bit less insufferably self-righteous and more forgiving. 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. Also justified in being based on the works of G. K. Chesterton.
    • Kembleford's preachers from every Christian denomination all appear together in a later episode, where they attempt to form a coalition against a pagan commune that's recently moved into town - Father Brown, of course, refuses to join, thinking even at the first meeting that they're going to far. The Methodist pastor, Rev. Gillespie, is the Villain of the Week.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Befalls Susie after the first series, along with the rest of the Polish refugee camp.
  • Chocolate Baby: Discussed in "The Devil's Dust". The child of a white woman and a black man is born lily white. The father views this as a God given miracle, considering that by the time of the child's birth the mother was married to a white man.
  • Circle of Standing Stones: The scene of the murder in "The Standing Stones".
  • Circus Episode: In "The Invisible Man", the circus returns to Kembleford and local waitress Laura is held to her promise given in jest the year before to marry the clown or the hypnotist. The clown is murdered; in his dying breath he names the hypnotist. Laura's boyfriend, the clown's girlfriend, and another clown are all suspected.
  • 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.
    • Sid quickly becomes the prime suspect in "The Man in the Tree". Father Brown has to race to find the true culprit before he's formally convicted.
    • When Bunty is arrested for murder in "The Scales of Justice", Father Brown, Mrs McCarthy and Sgt. Goodfellow have to scramble to find the evidence to clear her.
  • Clothing-Concealed 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.
    • In the episode "The Passing Bell", Inspector Mallory questions one of the suspects about her Conspicuous Gloves and becomes increasingly brusque as she hesitates to remove them. Then, he's horrified and apologetic after she shows him badly scarred hands and explains that her abusive husband deliberately burned her and that she needs to wear gloves to deal with the regular and painful sloughing off of skin.
    • In "The Scales of Justice", the killer wears gloves to conceal the thumbnail that was ripped off when she dragged the body across the lawn, until she can replace it with a fake nail. As Father Brown points, it could up to six months for the real nail to regrow.
  • 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.
  • Commuting on a Bus: Both Sid Carter and Lady Felicia turn up about Once a Season after their respective departures from the main cast.
  • Confessional: Father Brown's favourite tool against criminals, and the frustration of the police with its seal. Doesn't work on Flambeau though, who treats the absolution like a pretty bauble he can steal.
    • Artistic License – Religion: By canon law, Father Brown does not have to hold the seal of confession if the confessor was not contrite or proved later to have tricked him. Despite this, he tends to hold the seal anyway… however, he also is not willing to give absolution at all if you're not contrite, as Flambeau had to find out.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: In the episode "The Passing Bell", Inspector Mallory questions one of the suspects about her conspicuous gloves and becomes increasingly brusque as she hesitates to remove them. Then, he's horrified and apologetic after she shows him badly scarred hands and explains that her abusive husband deliberately burned her and that she needs to wear gloves to deal with the regular and painful sloughing off of skin.
  • Continuity Nod: A Running Gag during the Inspector Valentine era was Mrs McCarthy's pride in her "award-winning strawberry scones". When the now-Chief Inspector Valentine dines at the rectory in the S8 episode "The Tower of Lost Souls" he asks whether they will be having her award-winning strawberry scones for afters. Mrs McCarthy is clearly delighted that he remembered — and yes, they will!
  • (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!
  • Could Say It, But...: In "The Scales of Justice", Father Brown asks if the evidence presented in the trial is still in the courthouse, only for Bunty's barrister to tell him that it would be completely unethical to tell him that what he he is looking for is in the Storeroom D at the end of the corridor. He then gets up and walks away, 'accidentally' leaving the key lying on the bench.
  • 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.
  • Crusty Caretaker: When a schoolgirl is attacked in "The Cat of Mastigatus", the aggressive, stuttering gardener with metal prostheses on his crippled hands looks a likely suspect, until he turns up dead.
  • 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.
  • Dad the Veteran: Given this is in the aftermath of WWII, there's quite a few around.
    • Colonel Adams from Series 1 episode The Flying Stars.
    • Father Brown is a veteran of both World Wars – the first as a regular soldier in Flanders, the second as an Army Chaplain at a mobile Field Hospital. The first is notable as it made him realise his calling into the priesthood.
  • 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.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Many episodes feature young lovers from opposite sides of the tracks whose elders will stop at nothing to keep apart. Father Brown, of course, always approves, and often officiates the wedding himself.
  • Dead Man's Chest: In "The Kembleford Dragon", the body of Kembleford's stationmaster is found stuffed inside a steamer trunk.
  • 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".
  • Death by Pragmatism: In "Crackpot of the Empire", Father Brown and a number of others are invited to a Nasty Party in an abandoned mill. When it is revealed what is happening, one of the guests—a pompous, bullying, autocrat—demands that they find a way out and orders everyone to search. When a freight elevator is found, he shoves his way past the others to be the first on board. However, the killer has anticipated his actions and the lift is rigged to crash straight into the basement, killing him.
  • Death by Woman Scorned:
    • The motive for the murders in "The Face of Death", where the cheated on party kills both their unfaithful spouse and her lover in revenge.
    • Also the motive for the death in "The Mayor and the Magician", through the killer being dumped was merely the spark which inflammed their lingering resentment over the Mayor forcing them to have the back alley abortion that lead to them being unable to have any further children.
  • Deliberately Painful Clothing: Prominent in "The Upcott Fraternity", which takes place at the eponymous Upcott seminary school. The murderer wears a cilice around his leg, leaving a trail of blood.
  • Delivery Guy: In "The Kembleford Dragon", Father Brown is forced to deliver Pandora's baby when goes into labour unexpectedly: having sent the only other person present to fetch an ambulance. He does a commendable job all things considered, although it is clear he would rather be anywhere else.
  • 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.
  • Disguised in Drag: The murderer in "The Stars of God" is dressed up as a woman as part of his role in an ongoing play. When he realises that Father Brown and Lady Felicia are closing in on him, he flees the scene still dressed in costume and tries to pass himself off as an actual woman in order to avoid detection.
  • Dig Your Own Grave: In "The Devil You Know", a Nazi war criminal holds Father Brown and Inspector Mallory at gunpoint and forces them to dig their own graves, preparatory to killing them.
  • Dirty Harriet: In "The Crimson Feather", Bunty goes undercover as a burlesque dancer.
  • Disappointed in You: In "The Devil's Dust", Mrs. McCarthy raises a mini-mob outcry against a local scientist when his daughter is believed to have come down with radiation sickness, believing her to be at risk of contaminating the village. Afterwards, Father Brown very coldly informs her of just how little he was impressed by this using these exact words. Mrs. McCarthy is left looking like someone just hit her with a goods train.
  • Disguised Hostage Gambit: In "The Jackdaw's Revenge", the murderer does this in an attempt to trick Father Brown into shooting Bunty. She uses a light to blind Father Brown as he enters, and has Bunty trussed standing behind the light, while she is tied in a chair with a bag over her head.
  • Disney Death:
    • One Victim of the Week 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.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau disguises himself as one of the Maltese Guard so he can spy and learn the combination of the safe.
  • 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 Clue: The second victim in "The Face of Death" writes a bloody message on her pillow. But due to her dyslexia she winds up writing the letter 'P' back to front, causing most people to mistake it for the number 9 at first glance.
  • 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.
  • Embarrassing Slide: In "The Daughters of Jerusalem", the Women's Institute is supposed to be watching a film on the educating orphans in Swaziland, only for the film to turn out to a hardcore porno.
  • Engineered Heroics: In "The Theatre of the Invisible", Jeremy Mayhew-Bowman's engineered heroics result in Accidental Murder. He arranges a house fire while the boarding house is empty, so he can dash in and save some kittens and impress Bunty. However, the landlady had returned home early as was caught in the trap and killed.
  • 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.
  • Everybody Did It: In "The Standing Stones," every significant witness and a whole smattering of background characters turns out to be in on the murders... with the exception of the eccentric old hermit who seemed the most likely suspect at first. In fact, he's the group's next target.
  • Everybody Lives:
    • Nobody dies in "The Celestial Choir"; the mystery revolves around the identity of the saboteur trying to prevent the Kembleford choir from performing at a competition.
    • Also a few episodes revolving around thefts, usually involving Father Brown's Friendly Enemy Hercule Flambeau.
  • Exact Time to Failure: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Lisandra poisons Father Brown with a dose of thallium that will kill him in 35 hours if he does not receive the antidote. Exactly how she calculated the correct dose to do this is not explained. It is possible she was just being dramatic, as the number 35 held special significance for her, and she had no intention of giving him the antidote anyway.
  • 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.
  • Fake Gunshot: In "The Flower of the Fairway", someone attempts to set up an alibi for the murderer by establishing a fake gunshot. They do this by tying a firework to golf ball and driving it over the clubhouse. This not only makes it appear the murder happened later than it did, but obfuscates the method because the victim was not shot but stabbed through the throat by a broken golf club.
  • Fakin' MacGuffin: In "The Penitent Man", another convict steals the Medallion of St. Mark off 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.
  • Faking the Dead: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau fakes with death with some strategically placed explosives and some pig offal to make it appear he had been killed by his own bomb. At the end of the episode, he fakes his death again and Father Brown performs a fake funeral to persuade the mobsters who are on his tail that he really is dead.
  • 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.
  • Feuding Families: The Moore and Blackstone families in "The Resurrectionists" have been feuding for as long as anyone can remember. Naturally, Alexander Moore and Catherine Blackstone wind up falling in love with each other. However what the two lovers didn't realise was that his mother and her father are siblings, making them first cousins. This revelation leads to tragedy once Alexander's mother finds out about the relationship.
  • 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.
  • Food Slap: In "The Kembleford Dragon", Mrs. Webb tosses a glass of water in the face of the odious Buddy Arnold during a heated town meeting.
  • 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.
    • In "The Penitent Man," Flambeau has a friend fake his own death, following which Flambeau pleads guilty to his murder so he can search for a valuable artifact hidden in a prison's death row. His plan to get out is unfortunately compromised when his accomplice is actually murdered by his greedy wife, who wants the medallion for herself.
  • Friendly Enemy: Father Brown and Flambeau full-stop. Even though their goals are at odds, they very much enjoy each others company and often seek each other out. They bring out the best in each other to the point where threatening Father Brown is an instant Berserk Button for Flambeau.
  • Friend on the Force: Although the various inspectors, come round to Father Brown's way of thinking eventually, Sergeant Goodfellow is always affable and ready to help. Occasionally, he even goes behind his superiors' backs to help - including smuggling Father Brown in and out of a prison cell after he is accused of murder in "The Eagle and the Daw", all without Inspector Mallory noticing.
  • 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.
  • Golf Clubbing: In "Flower of the Fairway", the first Victim of the Week is cracked over the head with a five iron and then has his body dumped in the water trap.
  • 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. It's implied, in fact, that the Earl cheated first.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Brown. He tries his absolute best by his parish, the people in his life and God. His sleuthing is, in a sense, also a part of this, as his goal is not human justice, but saving souls.
    • Go and Sin No More: The effect of Father Brown's sleuthing in more than one case; the assigned penance after a confession he takes can range from turning oneself in to letting them go so they live a redeeming life.
  • Grande Dame: A few show up over the course of the series. Lady Felicia is on her way to this and can put on a magnificent show of hauteur when it suits her. Also, Mrs M is more than capable of pretending to be one when one of Father Brown's subterfuges require it; she can even adopt a passable RP (for a short while anyway) to make it convincing.
  • Ground by Gears: In "The Grim Reaper", the Victim of the Week Alfred Tatton is pushed into a threshing machine.
  • Guilt-Ridden Accomplice: The Victim of the Week in "The Sins of Others." A young up-and-coming lawyer who served as Sid Carter's defense attorney on an assault charge, he was paid under the table by a rich, powerful judge to deliberately lose the case to protect the true perpetrator, none other than the judge's own deeply disturbed son. His conscience gets the better of him after Sid gets out of jail, and he announces his intent to go to the police, at which point the judge and his wife have him killed and frame Sid once more to get him out of their hair for life. Fortunately, they are Out-Gambitted by Father Brown, who tricks the entire family into confessing in front of Inspector Mallory.
  • Had to Come to Prison to Be a Crook: Sid Carter is a Lovable Rogue with sticky fingers and a mischievous streak, but "The Sins of Others" shows that after spending a year in jail for a crime he didn't commit, he comes out hardened, dour, and ready to kill, showing none the sense of humor and cheekiness he once had.
  • A Handful for an Eye: In "The Devil You Know", the murderer is forcing Father Brown and Inspector Mallory to dig their own graves at gunpoint. When the killer is focusing on Father Brown, Mallory tosses a spadeful of earth into the killer's face. While the killer is blinded, Father Brown and Mallory bolt.
  • Hand on Womb: In "The Kembleford Dragon", Father Brown deduces that Mrs. Webb is pregnant because she keeps touching her belly. She is doing this deliberately so she can fake a pregnancy to allow her to appear later with a baby.
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: In a flashback in "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau attempts to hide in a wardrobe to avoid Lisandra's father. When the father opens the door, the naked Flambeau is clutching a straw hat in front of himself to preserve his modesty.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: "Blood of the Anarchists" goes for two: just because someone who is a gigantic asshole has some Hidden Depths doesn't make them not still a gigantic asshole, and that social activism that hurts the same people it professes to help, such as that practiced by the eponymous anarchist organization, isn't worth it.
  • 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, 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.
  • I Have Brothers: Lady Felecia, which is used to explain her having a number of unladylike skills. In the Cricket Episode "The Last Man'', she is sent in to bat in a Down to the Last Play moment and scores a six off the final ball to win the match. She then explains that her four brothers used to use her to practice their bowling, and she became an adept batsman in the process.
  • I Have Your Wife: In "The Jackdaw's Revenge", the murderer kidnaps Bunty and threatens to kill her if Father Brown does not resign from the priesthood.
  • 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, McCarthy 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.
  • Impoverished Patrician: The Adams family in "The Flying Stars" are revealed to be in such dire financial straits that they'd pawned the titular Stars off years ago to make ends meet.
  • I Never Said It Was Poison: Father Brown identifies the killer in "The Eve of St John" when he realises that they 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 a Costume Party, I Swear!: The Asshole Victim in "The Scales of Justice" throws a The Great Gatsby-themed party but tells his brother the theme is the Teddy Bear's Picnic. As a result, the brother arrives dressed in a teddy bear costume while everyone is in Roaring Twenties finery.
  • 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.
  • Jerkass: 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.
  • Karma Houdini: Apart from the ones featuring Flambeau, Father Brown fails to get his man in only a single episode, "The Fire in the Sky." It's downplayed, however, for a number of reasons: first, this is one of the episodes where the victim was a worse person than the killer - an abusive father who had poisoned his pregnant daughter to spite her boyfriend, whom he hated, then tried to blackmail the killer, the family doctor, into helping him cover up his crime. Second, Father Brown speculates that he will effectively be imprisoned by paranoia for the rest of his life, constantly looking back over his shoulder for the law and never being able to stay in one place for long.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: The villain in "The Daughters of Jerusalem" is attempting to invoke this on his targets, three women who, twenty years prior, had perjured themselves in court and sent the killer's father to the gallows for a murder he didn't commit. He kills two of them himself and leaves evidence at the scenes implicating the third, hoping to send her to the same fate his father suffered. He likely would've gotten away with it, too, had he not tried to also silence Father Brown once the latter got too close to the truth, leading the priest to cleverly out-gambit him.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Poor Mrs. Webb in "The Kembleford Dragon" has wanted a child for decades with no success, only for her philandering husband to impregnate not her, but one of his numerous much younger mistresses. She drowns him in a bucket when she finds out about it.
  • 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.
    • In "The Queen Bee," a beekeeper's adopted son spikes his mother's drink with laxatives in retaliation for her nagging him, but when she turns up murdered, Inspector Mallory treats the prank as a serious attempt to poison her and uses it as evidence against him, which underscores just how dangerous this trope can be in real life.
  • "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. Sure enough, it turns out that the true villain arranged for accomplices to smuggle him into the vault ahead of time in a package that his intended victim was expecting (and thus didn't find suspicious), killed him, and then broke out.
    • In The Eye of Apollo, the victim dies after falling from a window in a locked room. Though it turns out that there was no 'locked room' at all in this mystery. The killer merely pretended that the door was locked so that he could send Father Brown to fetch the keys kept downstairs, which gave him enough time alone to dart into the room and throw her out the window himself.
    • In "The Blood of the Anarchists", the first Victim of the Week is found slumped dead over his typewriter with a gun at his feet in an outbuilding with a window that doesn't open and a door bolted from the inside. However, Father Brown notices that there is a not enough damge to his head for him to been shot with the gun pressed his head.
  • Loophole Abuse: While Father Brown's vows prevent him from going to the police when people admit to him that they're murderers, it doesn't stop him from encouraging other people who know about or are witnesses to do so.
  • Lotsa People Try to Dun It: In "The Laws of Motion" no less than three seperate groups make an attempt on the victim's life in the span of a single day - with two of the attempts being spur of the moment decisions at that.
  • 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.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident:
    • The killer in "The Daughters of Jerusalem" plans to dispose of Father Brown by causing him to have a fatal tumble in his wheelchair, which can be easily passed off as an unfortunate accident when the time comes to investigate.
    • In "The Prize of Colonel Gerard", the Colonel pushed his brother off the cliff they were both climbing, and managed to pass the whole thing off as an unlucky climbing accident.
    • The plot of the killers in "The Laws of Motion" involved staging a car accident to mask the fact that the body in the wreckage was killed before the race began. What they didn't count on was someone else tampering with the victim's car in their own attempt to cause the victim to get into fatal accident.
  • Mama's Baby, Papa's Maybe: In "The Devil's Dust", the missing girl's father is revealed to be not the man her mother is married to, but a family friend who her mother slept with before she got married.
  • May–December Romance:
    • Leonard Quinton and his much younger mistress in "The Wrong Shape". Though as the episode progresses it becomes apparent that he only started a relationship with her in a vain attempt to distract himself from other stressors in his life.
    • Dr Crawford and Oona in "The Grim Reaper", leading to false rumors that she's having an affair with a much younger man.
    • Audrey (December) and Walter (May) MacMurray in "The Laws of Motion". Even Lady Felicia congratulates Audrey on being able to snag such a looker.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: In "The Curse of Amenhotep" the killer is over the lake where he deposited Amenhotep's body when his boat sudden stops, and begins to rock as he tries to steady himself. He falls in and is pulled down and drowned by reeds wrapped around his ankles. A ghostly voice is heard by the victim saying "Amenhotep" and then the victim's name while this is happening.
  • Meaningful Name: Sgt. Goodfellow may not have any great detective skills himself, but is a decent chap who wants to see the right person brought to justice (in contrast to his superiors, especially Mallory, who go with their first instinct and inevitably get it wrong), who will listen to Father Brown and is willing to bend the rules to help.
  • Mercy Kill:
    • In "The Pride of the Prydes", the son of the woman who supposedly cursed the Pryde family shot her through the heart to spare her the fate of being burned alive at the stake. In the present day, Lady Lavinia attempts to poison Jago to spare him the fate of being hung at the scaffold for his crimes.
    • The Anti-Villain in "The Angel of Mercy" is an "angel of death"-type Serial Killer.
  • 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.
  • Mind Your Step: In "The Queen Bee", the Victim of the Week is climbing a ladder when the top rung comes away and they fall off (non-fatally). It is later revealed that her son had sawn through the bottom rung as a practical joke: expecting for it snap as she stands on it and for her fall over. However, she placed the ladder upside down.
  • Miscarriage of Justice: In "The Tower of Lost Souls", Inspector Valentine discovers that one of his previous investigations (while Father Brown was away in Rome) sent an innocent man to the gallows. At least with Father Brown's help, he is finally able to collar the actual culprit.
  • Miss Conception: In "The Kembleford Dragon", Pandora had been told be her aunt that she shouldn't kiss a man because she could "get in the family way". So she was very careful not to kiss Ben Webb while having sex with him. She returns to Kembleford pregnant.
  • Mistaken for Cheating: In "The River Corrupted", Mrs. Barford believes her husband Roger to be cheating on her with a girl young enough to be their daughter, as she used to work at his factory, during which time their were seen speaking in secret a number of times, before she became visibly pregnant and he found her a job somewhere else. This led to her killing her husband in jealousy. In reality, the girl was his daughter from a fling from before their marriage, they had only became aware of each other very recently, the pregnancy was by another man, and Roger didn't tell his wife about this because she's sterile and he believed that knowing he had had a kid by someone else would have devastated her. When this comes to light, she doesn't take it well.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", when Lisandra and Flambeau are in bed together in Italy, Lisandra covers herself with a bedsheet to preserve her modesty. Flambeau, on the other hand, seems to have gone Right Through His Pants.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Bunty Windemere, tall, stacked, and endlessly flirtatious. She even goes undercover as a stripper in one episode.
  • Münchausen Syndrome: The killer in Shadow of the Scaffold. All of her victims are those who threaten her charade.
  • Mugged for Disguise: In "The Man in the Tree", the Father Frank that the cast had been interacting with for most of the episode turns out to be an imposter wearing the real deal's stolen cassock. Though in the imposter's defense, he didn't actually intend to steal the man's identity — he stole the clothing so that he could escape from the train he was on undetected, and was forced into assuming the man's role after running into Father Brown and Mrs. McCarthy.
  • Murder the Hypotenuse: The killer's motive in "The Eye of Apollo". The killer offed his 'astral partner' so that he could run off into the sunset with Suzie.
  • Mystery Magnet: Father Brown is always nearby when the bodies drop. It's lampshaded by all three resident inspectors at least once.
    • Inspector Valentine rather tiredly notes in "The Bride of Christ":
      Inspector Valentine:note  I already thought I'd find you here.
    • An annoyed Inspector Sullivan continues the list 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 finally, Inspector Mallory in "The Resurrectionists":
      Inspector Mallory: I'd like to find a quieter patch. [beat] Like the centre of Glasgow.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • In "The Wrong Shape", Leonard Quinton is consumed by guilt over prescribing Thalidomide to his pregnant wife for her morning sickness, which resulted in their daughter being born severely deformed and dying at barely 3 months old. This guilt eventually drives him to take his own life.
    • In The Maddest of All, Dr Miller has never forgiven himself for his drink driving causing the car crash which killed his wife and left his son severely brain damaged. The events of the episode are due to him trying to fix the latter, by any means possible.
    • Dr Crawford in "The Grim Reaper" deeply regrets not being able to do more to help Alfred's mother, which is why Alfred can easily persuade him into prescribing him more and more painkillers. In the episode proper, Dr Crawford experiences the second greatest failure of his life - inadvertently causing Alfred to fall into the wheat thresher. The guilt over this drives him to attempt to be convicted for Alfred's "murder", in the hope that him being hung will give Alfred's father some sort of peace.
  • 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 Felicia 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.
  • New Old Flame: In "The Face of the Enemy", an old flame of Lady Felicia's—who may or may not be a Soviet spy—attempts to persuade her to leave her husband and run away with him.
  • Nice Hat: Father Brown's cappello romano is rather spiffing, and he's hardly ever seen without it except when Church law or custom requires him to wear some other headgear. Lady Felicia and Mrs McCarthy also sport a variety of interesting 1950s hats.
  • Not So Different: The murderer in "Blood of the Anarchists" and his Asshole Victim. The former is the vengeful husband of a woman killed in a workplace riot incited by the latter, a firebrand anarchist spokesman. However, he crosses the line when he attempts to also eliminate his target's innocent daughter as Revenge by Proxy. When found out for this, he attempts to commit suicide, only for Father Brown to finally defeat him by pointing out that doing so would make him identical to his nemesis - not only harming innocent people for a vague greater good, but also doing everything he can to dodge responsibility for doing so. The murderer surrenders.
  • 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.
  • Office Golf: Inspector Mallory is seen doing this when he hopes to gain membership to an exclusive golf club in "The Rod of Asclepius".
  • Off with His Head!: "The Resurrectionists" starts with a young man on a motorcycle being decapitated by a low hanging branch. However, this turns out to be a case of Faking the Dead.
  • 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.
  • Once a Season:
    • A story involving the jewel thief Flambeau, which also deviate from the series' usual Always Murder mode.
    • Following their respective departures from the main cast, Sid Carter and Lady Felicia each reappear roughly once a series.
  • 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.
  • OOC 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.
  • Parental Marriage Veto: In "The Flying Stars", the Adam's are very against their daughter Ruby marrying her penniless, Communist lover. Though Colonel Adams later reveals that he was against the match because the was counting on Ruby marrying into money to secure her future, as the family had long lost all the wealth they did have.
  • Pantomime Animal: In "The Tree of Truth", Father Brown and Sid play the Daisy the Cow in the Christmas pantomime.
  • Parasol of Pain: In "The Numbers of the Beast", the Victim of the Week is stabbed through the heart with the tip of an umbrella.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: Bobby and Joan in "The Labyrinth of the Minotaur" are first more or less shoved together by their mother and father, respectively, as an example of Nobility Marries Money, but end up becoming genuinely interested in each other. By the end of the episode, they're engaged on their own terms.
  • Phone-In Detective: In "The Daughters of Jerusalem", Father Brown is laid up with a broken leg. He solves a series of murders from his bedroom with Mrs. McCarthy, Lady Felicia and Sid doing his legwork for him.
  • 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.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: The robbers in "The Great Train Robbery" who abduct Mrs McCartney and Lady Felecia to cover their getaway soon regret it. The two women are soon directing their behaviour and dictating the ransom note.
  • Pocket Protector: In "The Penitent Man", Flambeau is saved from a warder's bullet by the gold medallion he is wearing around his neck.
  • Poison-and-Cure Gambit: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Lisandra poisons Father Brown with a poison that will take 35 hours to kill him. She says she will provide him with the antidote if he persuades Flambeau to surrender the stolen holy artifact to her.
  • 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: With Father Brown being a crime mystery series, it's safe to assume that both of this pops up frequently, along with Red Herring. 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 Sullivan 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. In the next episode, "The Flying Stars", when he catches James trying to flee the scene in drag, the only thing he comments on is how his brogues would give him away quite easily ("And if you wanted to pass incognito, you should really have changed your shoes.").
    • 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. And then played with when Mrs. McCarthy is notably unnerved by the group...because they're all (white characters included) open voodoo practitioners, and she is a good Christian woman thank you very much.
    • Both averted and played straight in "The Mask of the Demon". Rex Bishop is only acting in the victim's movie due to the victim blackmailing him over his sexuality. However, Lady Felicia convinces him to bring Father Brown into the loop about the blackmail by assuring him that the Father is the last person who'd be bothered about his secret. Father Brown winds up finding and burning the incriminating evidence, knowing it will bring Rex peace.
    • Averted in "The Fire in the Sky" and "The Angel of Mercy;" even Brown, progressive for his time as he is, is shown to be deeply uncomfortable with abortion in the former and assisted suicide in the latter.
  • 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.
    • Ability over Appearance: In the same pragmatic vein is the choice of casting Mark Williams for the role of Father Brown; while Williams is the opposite in just about everything concerning physical appearance to GKC's description of Father Brown (Mark is 6'1" and a greying ginger with green eyes), his skill, erudition and sense of humour landed him the role without audition.
  • 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.
  • Public Secret Message: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Father Brown sends a desperate message to Flambeau by placing an extremely cryptic advertisement in the newspaper's classifieds.
  • 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.
  • Quick Nip: In "The Scales of Justice", Bunty's barrister quicks taking nip from a hip flask while conducting her defense, until Mrs McCarthy confiscates it from.
  • 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" Speech:
    • 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 Felicia 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.
  • Rich Suitor, Poor Suitor: in "The Pride of the Prydes", Bunty Pryde is torn between the gentlemanly, filthy rich Marquess she's betrothed to and the penniless lawyer who she's having a fling with. She end up choosing the lawyer, though by the time she makes up her mind his financial situation has been turned on its head due to Father Brown revealing that his father is the rightful inheritor of the Pryde assets.
  • Riddle for the Ages:
    • "The Deadly Seal" leaves open the question of whether the murderess's pedophilic uncle confessed his crimes to Father Brown, who did nothing about it, or if the uncle was lying to taunt his niece.
    • Just what is "The Alchemist's Secret," anyway? The ability to truly turn lead into gold, as the murderer believes, or a sample of an ancient bioweapon, as Father Brown does? Brown manages to convince the killer to back down owing to the possibility of it being the latter, but the audience never learns for sure.
  • Running Gag: At this point Lady Felicia screaming bloody murder at each body is becoming a borderline one.
    • People mistaking Mrs. McCarthy's goddaughter for a boy in The Bride of Christ, and her outrage over it. Becomes far less funny when the delusional murderer that the baby is her long lost son, and promptly absconds with the child.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax:
    • A fake UFO is used to create a diversion for a jail break in "Fire in the Sky".
    • "The Time Machine" features a rare heroic example - a young scientist claims to have invented a working time machine, which he announces that he will use to prove his father's suicide was actually a murder. Of course, the time machine does not actually work but is really an extremely elaborate feint (complete with setting every clock in the house wrong beforehand to throw off all the suspects' sense of time) intended to make the killer panic and incriminate themselves. The killer (the scientist's cousin, as it turns out) panics, all right... and kills the scientist too to shut him up.
  • Screaming Woman: Almost without failnote , Lady Felicia will discover the Body of the Week. If she does, entirely without fail, she will scream bloody murder (pun intended). It's a wonder Nancy Carroll still has a voice.
  • Setting Update: The original books have a Genteel Interbellum Setting (which was the present day when they were written); the series is set in the early 1950s.
  • 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'.
  • Shotgun Wedding: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", after being caught seducing the daughter of the head of Unione Corse, Flambeau says 'shotgun wedding' would be an understatement to describe the circumstances of his marriage.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: In "The Prize of Colonel 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.
  • Sibling Murder:
    • Occurs in "The Hammer of God".
    • Part of the backstory in "The Prize of Colonel Gerard". Colonel Gerard murdered his own brother, passing his death off as an unfortunate climbing accident, in order to get his hands on his fortune and his wife.
  • Sickbed Slaying: In "The Cat of Mastigatus" the would-be killer, on discovering the victim was still alive, sneaks into her hospital room and attempts to finish the job with a Vorpal Pillow.
  • Slipping a Mickey: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Lisandra drugs the thermos of tea she gives Father Brown. This knocks out both Father Brown and Flambeau and allows her to steal the key.
  • 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.
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: In "The Missing Man", a pilot returns from the dead after eight years as Father Brown is about to marry his wife to his brother, entering the church as Father Brown speaks these words.
  • 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 could 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.
    • In "The Face of the Enemy", Lady Felicia's New Old Flame takes advantage of the cover of a cloud of steam to vanish during his Train-Station Goodbye with Lady Felicia.
  • Stocking Mask: Worn by the robbers-turned-kidnappers in "The Great Train Robbery".
  • Stolen by Staying Still: In "The Two Deaths of Hercule Flambeau", Flambeau and his accomplice stage an elaborate crime scene, including knocking out the guards, to make it appear that a crown has been stolen from the safe, when the safe has actually not been opened. They know that Father Brown's investigation of the 'theft' will allow them to actually gain access to the safe and steal the crown.
  • 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 by Cop: The kidnappers in "The Great Train Robbery" plan to do this when Inspector Mallory surrounds their house with armed police. They even unload their guns so they cannot accidentally harm any policemen in the process. Fortunately, they are talked out of it
  • 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.
  • Surprise Incest: Occurs in "The Resurrectionists", where a pair of lovers turn out to be cousins who never knew that their parents were siblings.
  • Sword Cane: A sword cane is used as the murder weapon in "The Dance of Death" and as part of an elaborate Frame-Up.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: The killer in "The Bride of Christ", who had her baby forcibly taken from her and was thrown into a mental asylum thanks to orders given by the second (and intended) victim of the episode, and has completely lost touch with reality due to the resulting trauma. Father Brown is visibly heartbroken for her when the truth finally comes out.
  • Tainted Tobacco: In "The Time Machine", one Victim of the Week is killed when the killer places several drops of strychnine in the bowl of his pipe.
  • Talking with Signs: In "The Tree of Truth", Bunty claims to have laryngitis and communicates with Mrs. McCarthy by a series of pre-prepared signs, having already predicted everything Mrs. McCarthy is going to say.
  • Tampering with Food and Drink: In "The Blood of the Anarchists", Titan—who is allergic to nuts—is murdered by someone spiking his hip flask with crushed almonds.
  • A Taste of the Lash: In "The Cat of Mastigatus", Father Brown that a boys school has a secret history of inflicting terrible Corporal Punishment on boys using a modified taws called 'the cat of mastigatus', that leaves permanent scars and permanently crippled the hands of one boys.
  • 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.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: The audition montage in "The Tree of Truth", which ranges from the unsuitable, to the terrible, to the misguided (one man is auditioning for the role of Prince Charming, which is played by a woman).
  • 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.
  • 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 for a wartime head injury.
  • Trail of Blood: In "The Passing Bell", Father Brown follows a trail of blood to find the Body of the Week hidden out of sight in the corner of the belltower.
  • Train Job: In "The Great Train Robbery" a pair of train robbers create a red signal to stop a train, and disconnect the private carriage attached to the rear of the train. When the train pulls off, they board the left behind carriage to steal the owner's jewels.
  • Train-Station Goodbye: There is a train station goodbye between Lady Felicia and her New Old Flame at the end of "The Face of the Enemy". He then uses a cloud of steam to pull a Stealth Hi/Bye and board the train.
  • 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.
  • Trophy Wife: A gender flipped variant is seen is "The Laws of Motion". It's clear to everyone but Walter MacMurray that his wife Audrey only married him to have a pretty young thing to show off to her peers.
  • Troubled Sympathetic Bigot: Mrs. McCarthy wears any number of prejudices on her sleeve, sometimes to Father Brown's gentle or even pointed displeasure. She's usually proven dead wrong by the end of the episode and, after choking down her Humble Pie, tries to make amends.
  • 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.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: In The Maddest of All, Dr Millard has been experimenting on his patients for years. The murder in the episode was a result of one of these experiments going awry.
  • 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 Felicia 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 spark plugs 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 spark plugs 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.
    • In "The Celestial Choir", a saboteur cuts the fuel line on the coach transporting the Kembleford choir to the competition.
  • 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".
    • In "The Cat of Mastigatus", the would-be killer, realising that the victim was still alive, sneaks into her hospital room and attempts to finish the job with a pillow.
    • In "The Queen Bee", the Victim of the Week, who is laid up in bed with a broken leg, is smothered with a pillow.
  • 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.
  • The West Country: Kembleford has to be the most crime ridden, let alone deadliest, village in Gloucestershire.
  • 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 Darker and 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 Darker and 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.
  • Wounded Gazelle Gambit: A hastily improvised one occurs in "The Blood of the Anarachists". Angus, the murderer, is attempting to climb across the wall to the bedroom of his intended final victim Magdalena when he falls and is badly injured. When found, he says that Magdalena pushed him; hoping to get her convicted of the other murders and hanged.
  • 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.
  • Writing Indentation Clue: In "The Devil You Know", Father Brown rubs a pencil over the notebook of the Victim of the Week to bring up most of a note he had written and then torn out and sent to the War Office.
  • 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.
  • You Must Be Cold: In "The Dance of Death", Bunty's current beau (who is blind) takes off his tail coat and puts it on her (she is wearing an evening gown) after they have a blazing row in the garden.


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