An unhinged Anglo-Irish sitcom (or perhaps more accurately, an Irish sitcom paid for with British money) by Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews, about a tiny parish on a miserable little island off the coast of Ireland where the Catholic Church has exiled three of its most embarrassing members: the embezzler Father Ted Crilly, the idiotic Manchild Father Dougal McGuire, and the drunken, violent, foul-mouthed skirt-chaser Father Jack Hackett. Their housekeeper is Mrs. Doyle, who is really dedicated to serving tea. The majority of episodes were Fawlty Towers Plots that involved Ted's efforts to either escape from the island or make a nice pile of cash, neither of which he ever succeeded in doing.
A cult hit in Britain and Ireland, the writers never planned to continue it beyond its third season (due to running out of ideas). Star Dermot Morgan (who played Ted) died from a sudden heart attack one day after he finished filming of the final episode, resulting in the common misconception that the show was ended because of this. It is considered one of the most influential sitcoms of all time, so much so that members of the progressive reform movement which swept the deeply religious and conservative Republic of Ireland in the 1990s (the "Shamrock Awakening") are referred to as the "Father Ted Generation".
Flame wars can break out over whether the show should be considered Irish (its writers, cast, settings, exterior locations and humour were all Irish) or British (it was produced by a British company for Channel 4). Though it was long said that Irish national broadcaster RTÉ had turned it down for fear of offending the Church, Linehan and Mathews have always maintained they never even considered offering it to RTE because they wanted it to succeed - it's not for nothing that the British Channel 4 has been affectionately/sarcastically dubbed "the home of Irish comedy".
Came eleventh in Britain's Best Sitcom, and is beloved in Ireland, regularly repeated on Irish television, and lines from the show are quoted about as often as Brits quote Monty Python.
At one point, a musical adaptation ("Pope Ted: The Father Ted Musical") was planned and written by Linehan and Mathews. Linehan, who has repeatedly expressed transphobic views, has since stated that the production was cancelled because the producers were uncomfortable with his campaign against transgender rights.
The entire series is available to watch legally for free on YouTube in some countries.
This show provides examples of:
- Accidental Misnaming: In "And God Created Women", Polly Clarke mishears Ted's surname "Crilly" as "Curly", and Ted does not even correct her until the end of the episode.
- Accidental Pervert:
- Ted on several occasions in the episode "Hell", where he just can't seem to stop catching the inhabitants of the caravan next door in various states of undress.
- Jack on one occasion since he was sleepwalking at the time.Brennan: What would the following describe to you: "Jack", "sleepwalking" and "bollock naked"?
- Although Jack did seem to enjoy the notion, as when Ted admonishes him he gleefully cries "Nudey Father Jack!" The rest of the time he's a fully intentional pervert.
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Ted, at the drop of a hat, more than once.
- Affectionate Parody:
- In "A Song for Europe", Fr. Dick Byrne's dramatic ballad ("When I was young, I had a dream / And though the dream was very small, it wouldn't leave me") is an affectionate parody of 60s MOR ballads by the likes of Lee Hazlewood or Anthony Newley & Leslie Bricusse (especially "What Kind of Fool Am I").
- The writers freely admit that "Speed 3" is a blatant attempt to write a Speed sequel with the lowest possible stakes imaginable.
- Air Guitar: Dougal plays some air guitar to Tina Turner in the first episode. He even mimes putting the guitar back onto its stand!
- The Alcoholic:
- To describe Jack as this would be the understatement of the century. "Drink" is one of the four words in his regular vocabulary, and sobriety, to quote Ted, is like "some mad hallucinogenic" - prior to his sobering-up in "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", he'd been drunk for at least a decade. He can identify bottles of wine just from the sound they make, and can down their contents in a split second while Ted's back is turned.
- Guest character Henry Sellers is also this. A sip of champagne is enough to set him off.Henry: Sack me? Sack me? I made the BBC!
- Ambiguous Syntax: In "The Mainland" Mrs Doyle is fretting and mentions that her friend was robbed on her last visit there. When Ted asks if they got much, Mrs Doyle has to point out that it was she that was robbed off the street.
- Ambiguously Bi: Jack sleepwalks (naked) into Bishop Brennan's bedroom and climbs into bed with him. He later wakes up, makes no attempt to leave and goes back to sleep with him. He was also a huge fan of the St. Tibulus film, which according to Dougal's account, has some gay sex acts in it.
- Ambiguously Gay: Father Noel. He's super camp, and played by gay actor Graham Norton, but is merely characterised as being annoyingly hyperactive.
- Ambulance Cut: When Jack wants a drink, it's best not to interfere.
- Anachronic Order: Series 2 is explicitly set in the then-present day on 1996 with the opening episode, "Hell", taking place on the 19th of July. In the fifth episode, "A Song For Europe", it's mentioned that the competition is in May and there's a six week Time Skip between the last scene and the end credits. The eighth episode, "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", is set during Lent 1996, which began on the 21st of February (Ash Wednesday) and ended on the 7th of April (Easter Sunday). "Rock A Hula Ted", the sixth episode, is implied to take place at some point during the summer of 1996 as well, given that Craggy Island is having a Lovely Girls festival. In Series 3, "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep" aired in March 1998 but is set in the Autumn of 1998.
- And I Must Scream: Father Stone is briefly left immobile with a golf-club in his hand after being struck by lightning.
- Anguished Declaration of Love: Subverted in "Flight Into Terror." When he appears inevitable that their plane is about to crash, one of the young priests admits to his lifelong best friend that he is in love with him and urges Father Ted to let him use the remaining parachute instead. Unfortunately for him, he appears to have misinterpreted whether the other priest's feelings were reciprocal; The Stinger shows the priest and his friend/love interest being the only ones not celebrating when the plane lands safely, now just awkwardly sitting next to each other.
- Annoying Laugh: Father Barty Dunne, as seen in "Competition Time", has a laugh that would not be annoying in itself were it not for the fact that he can't get through a single sentence without breaking down laughing, and when he does finally get to the end of a sentence to explain the joke, it's either completely mundane or falls squarely under "You had to be there (and even then you probably wouldn't have laughed)." Four hours of having to listen to this endless, easily-triggered laughter in the car journey to the parochial house has taken its toll on Henry Sellers.Ted: How long was the car journey-
Sellers: Four hours.
- Are You Pondering What I'm Pondering?: When coming up with a plan to make some quick cash.Dougal: Wait, I'm not so sure about this, Ted. It is a big step, and where are we going to get the guns?
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Ted: Arson, there's one... murder... swearing.
- "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", although equally a reference to the song "Cigarettes and Alcohol".
- "She was on her way to the shop the other day, and a man came over to her, and killed her, and stole her pen!"
- "Feck this and feck that! ... You big bastard! ... You big hairy arse! You big fecker! ... Eff you! Eff your effing wife! ... I'll stick this effing pitchfork up your hole! ... Bastard this! ... Bastard that! ... You bastard! You can't move for bastards in her books - it's wall to wall bastards! You fecker! You bollocks! Get your bollocks out of my face! ... Ride me sideways was another one!"
- Ted listing examples of 'things that are wrong' might also count.
- Artistic License – Animal Care: Largely avoided in "The Plague", but the cage that the Bishop finds seems too small for a rabbit - they need plenty of room to be satisfied about their environment. Rabbit cages should be at least five times larger than the rabbit that goes into them.
- Artistic License – Geography:
- When Bishop Brennan indicates an island off the coast of Suriname on a globe, he points to somewhere in the centre of the USA.
- Father Austin Purcell, the "boring priest," is said to have bored the inhabitants of a Nigerian village to the point that they fled him in a boat and were eaten by alligators. In reality, there are no alligators anywhere in Africanote (though there are crocodiles!).
- Artistic License – Law: In "The Mainland", Mrs Doyle makes reference to a robbery involving one of her friends. Ted asks her if the robbers took much, showing that he knows the correct definition of a robbery, but then it becomes apparent that she thinks "robbery" and "kidnapping" are the same thing ("she was robbed, they stole her"), when in fact they are not.
- Artistic License – Military: Father Williams is shot by a soldier using a Sterling submachine gun. The Sterling was never used by the Irish Army and the FN FALs seen carried by the other soldiers in that scene were replaced by the Steyr AUG in 1988 (though the FAL was still used by reservists until 2001 and still sees limited use by the Navy to this day). Even the British Army phased the Sterling out in 1994, two years before the episode was filmed.
- Artistic License – Physics: In "Flight Into Terror", the plane doesn't immediately depressurise when Father Jack opens one of the emergency doors to parachute out. There is also no mention of Father Ted being exposed to a slipstream when he has to make repairs on the wing while the plane is still thousands of feet in the air.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The ending of "A Song for Europe" contains poor French (using the usual Eurovision fan use of 'nil points' as though it were actual French), poor Dutch (it should be 'Ierland, geen punten', not 'Irlande, nil punten'), poor Serbo-Croatian (it should be 'Irska, nema bodova' not 'Irska, baš bodova') and random gibberish that is supposed to be various European languages.
- Ass Shove: Bishop Facks is subjected to this fate in "Tentacles of Doom" after his habit of repeatedly finger jabbing Jack causes the latter to snap.Ted: (as Bishop Facks is very delicately led to an ambulance by a paramedic) So, Your Grace. The Holy Stone. Will it ... er ... still be a Class 2 Relic when they ... when they ... er ... remove it? (head gestures at the Bishop's posterior)
- Author Tract: Graham Linehan and multiple members of the main cast are atheists and most episodes have some kind of jab or criticism against the Catholic church or Christian beliefs as a whole.
- Awful Wedded Life: John and Mary spend most of their on-screen appearances arguing or attempting to murder the other only to put on a saccharine facade when Ted pops around and to go right back to fighting when the priest is out of earshotnote .
- "Awkward Silence" Entrance: Subverted in an episode. Ted strides into the prizegiving at the King of the Sheep competition and boldly announces that he has evidence the competition is corrupt. The room immediately goes silent - except for one just audible "Fucking hell!"
- Badass Cape: Bishop Brennan was already an intimidating character, but it was the last segment of "Kicking Bishop Brennan up the Arse" showing him with a truly majestic overflowing cape that truly established him as a badass, and it's one of the more memorable parts of the series.
- Badass Preacher: Bishop Brennan (see above).
- Berserk Button:
- Ted learns the hard way never to say "I don't believe it!" in front of Richard Wilson. Truth in Television; Wilson is slightly more amiable than the character of Victor Meldrew, but he still hates people quoting "I don't believe it!" around him. Apparently he only agreed to make his guest appearance in "The Mainland" on condition that he got to beat up the character who said it to him ... which he did.
- Never tell Ted that his Golden Cleric Award does not make him the best priest in the country.
- Bishop Brennan is very punctilious about the correct way to address a Bishop (it's "Your Grace", by the way): "Don't call me Len, you little prick! I'm a BISHOP!"
- Never, ever, ever come between Jack Hackett and alcohol.
- Even Jack is terrified of Ted when the latter is drunk.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: This exchange:Dougal: (Trying to come up with song lyrics) "My lovely horse, I want to hold you so tight, I want to rub my fingers through your tail and... love you all night."
Ted: Dougal, Dougal, stop there. We want to keep out of the whole area of actually being in love with the horse. It's more that we want to be friends with the horse, that we want to jump around with it, and just have a good laugh with it.
- Be Yourself: Ted makes the terrible mistake of giving this advice to Dougal.
- Big Entrance: Bishop Brennan makes an unforgettable entrance running towards the camera screaming with his 10ft-wide cloak billowing behind him once he figures out that Ted really did kick him up the arse.
- Bizarro Universe: The priests of Rugged Island are similar enough to the main priests.
- Blackmail: After a very unsuccessful attempt by the three priests to protest against a film, which makes it popular to the point of people coming from Poland to see it, Bishop Brennan draws up plans to reassign them to unhealthy and/or deadly places around the world. Then Father Jack goes over to the video recorder and plays a tape showing Brennan with his mistress and lovechild. Ted muses on whether they should blackmail Brennan immediately to annul the reassignment, or watch the tape again first.
- Bland-Name Product: Eurosong definitely isn't the Eurovision Song Contest. No siree. (In fact, at one point in the series, Ted actually uses the real name, not the in-series one)
- Blatant Lies: Everywhere. "The money was just resting in my account," is a notable one, but a particular gem comes from a phone call between Ted and Brennan.Brennan: Crilly, this is Bishop Brennan.
Ted: Oh feck. (realises what he has done.)
Ted: [in French accent] 'Oo eez zees? Zere is no Crilly eer!
- Boggles the Mind: Dick Byrne manages to spell out "useless, priest, cant, say, mass" in a Scrabble game against Ted.Ted: Oh, I don't know how he did it! He must have cheated!
- Book Ends: The first exchange between Ted and Dougal in the first episode are "Morning, Ted!" and "Morning, Dougal!". The last episode ends with them saying "Good night" to each other.
- The Bore:
- Father Austin Purcell is described by Ted as the most boring priest in the world. When we see him, he has Jack cornered in a storage room, rambling on about how he saved money on his energy bills. According to Ted, the inhabitants of a Nigerian village were so bored by him that they fled in a large boat, which sank quickly and they were subsequently eaten by alligators (despite there being no alligators in Africa!).
- Father Stone. He never says much more than "yes" or "no", never reacts to anything, and never leaves.
- Borrowed Without Permission: Craggy Island is used by the Church as a sort of penal colony on the edge of Ireland. it houses priests who are morally deficient, or else so embarrassing or inept that they can't be seen in a parish where there are people. Father Ted Crilly is there because of a lingering controversy concerning his stewardship of Church funds. Although he always complains that:That money was only ever resting in my account!
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest" closes with Father Jack looking towards the camera and telling the viewer to "feck off".
- Brick Joke: Done both figuratively and literally in "Speed 3".Dougal: THOSE WOMEN WERE IN THE NIP!
Jack: I LOVE MY BRICK!
- Amazingly, the brick itself is both literal and figurative, as well as being a Chekhov's Brick in that it returns again for a less humorous purpose and yet again for a humorous one.
- Boring Religious Service: Apparently, Ted is heavily prone to delivering hours-lasting, boring Mass sermons such as these. Apparently, they're really popular with nuns (which is a problem for Ted when he has to get through a Mass really quick in order to meet a female writer he fancies). In the Christmas special, Ted, suffering from Acquired Situational Narcissism, tries entertaining a party of fellow priests by watching a long Midnight Mass on TV with them, and all of them immediately decide Screw This, I'm Out of Here! (except for Father Todd Unctious). In the series finale, Tedd and Dougal have just come out of church from doing another sermon, when a Grumpy Old Man called Eugene approaches Ted:Eugene: Father, that sermon today. frankly, it bored the arse off me!Ted: Well, Eugene, I'm not here to entertain you! If you want that sort of thing, go and see Jean-Michel Jarre or something.Eugene: What the hell was it all about, anyway?Ted: Well, it was-Eugene: Ah, Jesus! (walks off without even waiting for an answer)Ted: What was today's sermon about, Dougal? Do you remember?Dougal: Sorry, Ted. I was concentrating too hard on looking holy.Ted: To be perfectly honest, I couldn't give a toss.
- Britcom: There is a lot of debate over whether it counts as a Britcom or not - the show was a sitcom made for British TV by a British production company but almost everything else about it (writers, actors, setting) is Irish.
- British Brevity: The show had three seasons plus a Christmas Special, totalling to 25 episodes. Contrary to popular belief, this was the intended total and the show was not cut short due to Dermot Morgan's passing.
- Brits Love Tea: While tea drinking is generally associated with the English, the Republic of Ireland are just about equally notorious. Ireland's obession with tea is represented by Mrs. Doyle. "Tea, father?" "Oh, you will. Go on, go on, go on, go on..."Mrs Doyle: Father, shall I make our fluffy guest a cup of tea?
Ted: He's a sheep, Mrs Doyle, I don't think he'd like it. Unless you have some special "sheep tea".
Mrs Doyle: Yes.
Mrs Doyle: I do have some sheep tea.
Ted Oh, well... give him some of that then.
- Bullying a Dragon: Father Jessop tries this on Father Hackett. His last known location was Jack's underpants hamper.
- Bumbling Sidekick: Father Dougal. Although Rule of Funny can make him a Hyper-Competent Sidekick just as easily.
- Camping Episode: "Hell". Ted, Dougal, and Jack stay in a tiny camper van, exacerbated by the fact that Father Noel Furlong turns up with his youth group.
- Cannot Tell Fiction from Reality: One of Dougal's dumb traits, to the point that Ted has to make him a chart of things that do not exist. Entries include: Darth Vader, Magnum, P.I. and "non-Catholic gods."
- Caps Lock, Num Lock, Missiles Lock: A sewage lorry with two prominent buttons right next to each other: "Doors open" and "Evacuate sewage tank". What could possibly go wrong?
- Captain Obvious:
- Ted explaining why Dougal's comments are stupid. Arguably a case of Rule of Funny; Dermot Morgan usually managed to wring some laughs out of the situation with his exasperated reactions to what Dougal was saying.
- Dougal himself gets in on the action: after an Establishing Shot of a caravan in a field during a shower of torrential rain, he looks out of the caravan window. "Looks like rain, Ted."
- The Casanova: Pat Mustard. He basically has sex with more or less every woman on Craggy Island when doing his rounds.
- Casting Gag: The Similar Squad Rugged Island priests are played by the runners-up in the auditions for Ted, Dougal and Jack.
- Casual Sports Jersey: Father Dougal often wears a football shirt for pyjamas, emphasising his characterisation as an eccentric manchild.
- Catapult Nightmare:
"OH JESUS, WE'RE DEAD! OH, GOD ALMIGHTY!"
- "A Song for Europe:" 'We have to lose that sax solo!'
- He has another one when he belatedly realises what he has done to the prize car given to him for a charity raffle.
- Catchphrase: Several.
- Father Jack: "Drink! Feck! Arse! Girls!"
- Father Ted: "The money was just resting in my account!". Also often "God Almighty!"
- Mrs. Doyle: "Would ya like a cup of tea, Father? Ah go on! Go on! Go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on, go on. GO ON!"
- Father Dougal: "Oh, right"
- Played with in "The Mainland", where Dougal becomes hooked on One Foot in the Grave and subsequently encounters its lead actor. Ted gets the idea that Richard Wilson would find it amusing to have his catchphrase yelled at him; this doesn't go down quite as well as Ted had imagined.
- Celebrity Paradox: Roddy Doyle books are explicitly mentioned to exist in the Father Ted verse and Dougal even directly references The Commitments. Maria Doyle Kennedy, who played Natalie in The Commitments appears as Eoin McLove's PA, Patsy in "Night Of The Nearly Dead". Pat Laffan (Pat Mustard), Rynagh O'Grady (Mary O'Leary), and Jimmy Keogh (Father Fay aka "The Monkey Priest") all appeared in The Snapper, especially with Laffan as a major character.
- Cheating with the Milkman: According to "Speed 3", most of the women on Craggy Island are sleeping with the same milkman.
- Chekhov's Gag: The brick from "Speed 3" manages to be this, a Brick Joke, and a Chekhov's Boomerang all at once. Ted keeps tripping over it, and when this happens at a critical moment, he gets the idea to put it on the accelerator of the booby-trapped milk float so they can get Dougal out safely. When the milk float blows itself and Pat Mustard sky high, the brick eventually falls back to earth and bonks Ted on the head in the final scene.
- Chekhov's Gun:
- "Now Tom, this is the first time you've been trusted with such a large consignment of raw sewage. ... Now, this button opens the doors, and this button shoots the sewage out." You already know what's going to happen, right?
- After Ted fixes the toilet at the beginning of "Tentacles of Doom", he flushes it to make sure it works. The scene cuts to outside the house, where water shoots up out of a square vent. Later on, Bishop Jordan is standing in the front yard directly over said vent as Ted uses the restroom.
- "Honestly, what kind of situation would require the use of a pair of fake arms and a remote-controlled wheelchair? Only, I imagine, a completely ludicrous one!"
- The perfectly square bit of dirt pointed out by Ted near the start of the episode "Are You Right There Father Ted?" later comes back to haunt him, as does the massive amount of Nazi memorabilia owned by the priest Ted visits at the beginning of the episode.
- After seemingly getting away with kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse, a completely inebriated Ted orders Dougal to make hundreds of copies of the photograph he took of the deed, including a 10-by-10, blown-up copy. When Brennan returns to Craggy Island, he eventually sees the incriminating photo, propped up against the side of the parochial house (because Dougal thought that meant 10-by-10 feet), and he realises that Ted did indeed kick him up the arse.
- Chewing the Scenery: It's a little known fact that after every scene with Bishop Brennan, the set had to be rebuilt because he chewed so much.
- Christmas Episode: "A Christmassy Ted", where Ted is awarded the Golden Cleric on Christmas day for covering up a scandal involving him and a number of other priests accidentally wandering into the lingerie section of a department store.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Ted, but especially Dougal, Jack and Mrs. Doyle. Arguably Father Noel Furlong is the biggest cloudcuckoolander of them all.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Ted, to Dougal while trying to write "A Song For Europe". He'd been smoking and drinking a lot at the time. Also a pastiche of the Troggs Tapes.Ted: Just play the f—-ing note!
Dougal: [very nervous] he first one?
Ted: No, not the f—-ing first one! That's already f—-ing down! Play the f—-ing note you were f—-ing playing. I'm playing the f—-ing first one! We have the f—-ing first one!Dougal: So, I...
Ted: Play the f—-ing note you were f—-ing playing! The thing you were just doing! PLAY THE F—-ING NOTE!
- Cold Ham: Father Stone, and the "boring-voiced priest" from the Christmas special.
- Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading".
- Comically Missing the Point:
- Ted realises the babies entered into Craggy Island's Beautiful Baby contest all have suspiciously similar hairstyles to Pat Mustard. Dougal's first thought is that the babies are all copying his style.
- In the same episode, Ted presents Pat's manager with photographic evidence of Pat's indiscretions. Pat's manager responds by telling Ted how much he's willing to pay for the dirty photos.
- Again in the same episode, the priests realise that Dougal's situation is similar to the scenario of a certain action film, but randomly guess the wrong one.
- Also, this little gem from the episode "The Plague", regarding Bishop Brennan's phobia of rabbits:Dougal: [shouting up the stairs] Ted, did Len find the rabbits?
Bishop Brennan: What did he just say?!
Ted: Ah, I can explain...
Bishop Brennan: Did he call me Len again? [shouting down the stairs] You address me by my proper title, you little bollocks!
- When Father Ted sees Niamh Connolly on television spreading crazy conspiracy theories about the Catholic Church, his reaction is, "As if there were anything sinister about that!"
- During the "Lovely Girls" competition.Ted: And, Alice there has a lovely bottom.
Host: Careful there, we don't want to offend any of the girls.
Ted: Quite right. Of course, they all have lovely bottoms.
- Mrs. Doyle and Mrs. Dineen being completely oblivious about the "more than 200 cases of forced transvestism" involving Mr. Sweeney over the course of the previous year.
- Compressed Abstinence: For Lent, Ted decides to give up cigarettes, Dougal rollerblading, and on Jack's behalf, Ted makes a vow that Jack will give up drinking. After they can't go one day without succumbing they call in a specialist, who turns out to be quite insane, and eventually they do a turnaround and indulge these things to a greater degree than they did before.
- Compressed Vice: Dougal's passion for rollerblading is not mentioned outside of the episode "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading"; Linehan and Mathews simply thought it would be a funny "vice" for Dougal to have to give up for Lent while Ted gave up smoking and Jack gave up drinking.
- Confessional: Seeing as the protagonists are priests, it's a given. Ted uses it just to get juicy gossip about his parishioners. Some may say that the use of the confessional is zig-zagged, however, as even though Ted uses it to find out about the affair that Mr. Benson has been having with both his wife's sister and his child's babysitter in "The Old Grey Whistle Theft", we never actually see the inside of a confessional booth at any point in the series.
- Conspiracy Theorist: Niamh Connolly thinks that all the evil in the world has been orchestrated by the Catholic Church. Although given the behaviour of many of the show's clergymen, maybe she has a point...
- Continuity Nod:
- The VCR that Father Hernandez gives the priests in "The Passion of Saint Tibulus" reappears in later episodes.
- Near the end of "Entertaining Father Stone", Father Stone's parents show Ted a painting their son made of himself with a smiling Father Ted standing behind him with his hands on his shoulders as a mark of how much he looks up to Ted. The painting can be seen on the wall above the fireplace in the parochial house in Series 2 and 3.
- During the Christmas episode, in the scene where he repeatedly talks over Ted, Dougal mentions in passing having to go and feed Sampras, his pet rabbit from "The Plague".
- Corrupt Church: Many of the priests are dodgy characters with various shady dealings:
- Ted once misappropriated some funds from a sick child and went to Las Vegas with the proceeds. When he temporarily gets reassigned to a cushy parish in Dublin, he gets sent back after some irregularities in his expenses.
- Bishop Brennan has been having secret affairs and even has a secret son in America.
- Father Billy "The Spinmaster" is a gambling addict who steals the proceeds from a raffle to pay off his debts.
- Father Williams is caught with a box of guns in his house, implied to be for the IRA.
- "Remember Father O'Reilly? He's in Clare. They moved him after he owned up to that O J Simpson thing."
- Crappy Carnival: Craggy Island Funfair includes such attractions as "Freak Pointing", an ordinary ladder, and a cat spinning on a record player.
- Crazy-Prepared: Who else but Mrs. Doyle would have some special sheep tea?
- Creator Cameo:
- Both Arthur Mathews and Graham Linehan played various parts throughout the series: Linehan plays Father Gallagher, who suggests that the crisis on board the plane could be solved by "having a bit of an old pray" in "Flight into Terror" and Mathews plays Father Ben in the titular self-deprecating Show Within a Show, which appears in the episode "The Plague".
- The show's producer, Geoffrey Perkins, provides the voice of Father Jose Fernandez's translator in "The Passion of St Tibulus".
- Cringe Comedy: Very pronounced in Series 1, with virtually all the humour in "Entertaining Father Stone" and "And God Created Women" being based on this trope. There are still a fair few examples in Series 2 and 3 as well, including Ted trying to brush off the Catholic church's stance on homosexuality to a gay TV producer in "A Song For Europe", the lingerie scene in "A Christmassy Ted", and most of the scenes involving Father "Todd Unctious" — particularly a scene where "Unctious" tries to have a conversation with Ted and Dougal in their bedroom wearing nothing but a pair of tighty-whitey briefs — in the same episode.
- Crossover: With Ballykissangel. Ted has a dream about leaving the clergy for Assumpta with Father Peter also appearing. At least until Dougal ruins the entire thing by waking him to offer him a peanut, which causes Ted to dream about giant peanuts instead.
- Curse Cut Short: A visual example. When Jack is left in a department store creche, he assembles his three favourite words in alphabet blocks. Cut to him with only one gap remaining, "F-CK", hesitating to put down a block with both an "E" and a "U" on it... but he's called away before he can decide.
- Curtain Camouflage:
- An episode where Ted and Dougal play hide and seek in a very small caravan.note
- Father Ted also hides behind a curtain when on the phone with a TV producer to hide from Father Jack in "Good Luck, Father Ted".
- Damned by Faint Praise: "I'd say Father that you might be the second best priest in the country!"
- Deadpan Snarker: Father Jessop, said to be the most sarcastic man in the country, naturally takes this up to eleven. Every sentence that comes out of his mouth is a cutting remark, which has unfortunate consequences when Ted tells Mrs. Doyle to assume he means nothing he says, so that when he pleads with her to get him out of the laundry basket into which Jack has stuffed him, she assumes he's just being snarky as usual.
- Delayed Reaction:
- After getting kicked by Ted in the episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse", Bishop Brennan remains in a state of shocked disbelief for the time it takes him to fly to Rome for an audience with the Pope, at which point he finally snaps out of it with a roar of "He did kick me up the arse!". And then shoves His Holiness out of the way and rushes back to Ireland. Not to mention screaming "God damn it!" in the middle of the Vatican.
- After destroying a car that was sent to be raffled off, Ted is completely calm at first, then abruptly starts freaking out in the middle of the night.
- Delayed to the point of a Brick Joke in "Speed 3", when Dougal delivers milk to women expecting the usual milkman, and walks away entirely oblivious to the fact that they opened the door entirely naked. At the end of the episode, he's just settling down to go to bed when he leaps up shouting "Those women were in the nip!"
- In "Flight into Terror", Ted is too pumped up by being in mortal peril to be scared as he climbs outside of the plane in mid-flight to fix the fuel pump. After fixing it and averting the crisis, he immediately begins freaking out as he remembers his fear of flying.Ted: What am I doing on the feckin' wheels?!
- Department of Redundancy Department:Alan: Well, it's been an easy decision. There's one out-and-out winner; and, rather than waste time with the speech, I'll get on with the job of announcing the winner, who, today, has come first in this competition to see who the winner is in the King of the Sheep competition that we have all come to today, wondering who indeed will it be who wins the prize of King of the Sheep. The winner of this year's King of the Sheep competition is...
Ted: Stop! This contest is a sham, and a fraud, and a... sham!
- Depth Deception: Dougal and cows.Ted: [holding up a toy cow] All right, one more time. These... are small. The ones out there... are far away. Small. Far away. [Dougal shakes his head in bewilderment]
- Given a Shout-Out in the image caption in this BBC article.
- Also voted as one of the top 100 TV moments.
- A 2010 retrospective Father Ted documentary was entitled Small - Far Away.
- Description Cut: While Ted is preparing for the all-priests over-seventy-five indoor football challenge match:Ted: Jack's good, but if anything happened to Nick we'd be up to our necks in flip. And with this new fella on Dick's team, we need Nick at the very peak of his powers.
[cut to Nick lying in a coffin]
Ted: So, there's no way he'll be able to play?
- Didn't Think This Through: After Ted solves the mystery of 'The Beast' in "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep" he walks away victorious...forgetting he bet the entire winter's heating money on Chris winning.
- Dirty Old Man: Father Jack; it's evidently what got him banished to the island in the first place.
- Disrupting the Theater: In "The Passion of Saint Tibulus", Ted and Dougal are tasked by their Bishop to intentionally do this for a lewd film that the Vatican find offensive as a way of dissuading people from watching it. When they go to do so, there's only one other person in the theater, a man and his dog who aren't even paying attention to it. Still the owner of the theater comes by and tells them they're disturbing the guests.
- Distant Reaction Shot: Subject of a brief gag when the bomb finally goes off at the end of "Speed 3". Pat Mustard did say that when the blast went off, they'd hear it at the North Pole...
- The Ditz: Dougal, mostly. He doesn't even understand depth perception. He thought the cows he saw in the distance were actually really tiny cows.
- Doorstop Baby: Subverted and defied in "A Christmassy Ted" when a woman leaves a baby on the doorstep of the parochial house, only to claim it back when she realises she's got the wrong house. Ted then considers all the hilarious japes they could have had if she had left the baby with them. Dougal then points out that it wouldn't have been ''that'' funny.
- Dramatically Missing the Point: In "The Plague", Ted and Dougal ask Tom if he would like to "take care" of the rabbits, i.e. take them in and show affection and love. However, Tom thinks they mean him to kill the rabbits, so that's what he sets about practising for.
- Dream Deception: Ted Crilley pulls this one on Bishop Brennan when he is staying over at the Parochial House. The Bishop's sleep is disturbed by things like Father Jack and lots of rabbits, and it falls to Ted to persuade the Bishop he is still asleep.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Sister Assumpta, who comes over to assist Ted and Dougal with their Lenten vows in "Cigarettes, Alcohol, and Rollerblading". She bathes them in ice, replaces their mattresses with bricks, and shoots at them.
- Duck Season, Rabbit Season:Organiser: Which one of you is Ted, and which is Dougal?
Dougal: I'm Ted, and he's Dougal.
Ted: What? No, no, I'm Dougal, he's Ted.
- Dull Surprise:
- Father Stone. He even underreacts after being struck by lightning. This is intentional.
- The priest with the boring voice in "A Christmassy Ted". Actually comes in useful to distract shoppers so that the priests can escape the lingerie section.
- Dumbass Has a Point: For all his idiocy, Dougal does occasionally come up with a plan or idea that genuinely impresses Ted.
- In "Are You Right There, Father Ted?", when Ted is accused of being racist towards Craggy Island's new Chinese residents, Dougal tells him to hold a presentation praising Chinese culture, as a gesture of good faith. It may count as a subversion, though: when Ted asks Dougal to follow up on his brilliant idea, poor Dougal panics, as he didn't think coming up with a good idea would be so much work. And the Chinese people didn't actually enjoy the presentation, but they appreciated the free drinks afterwards.
- In "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse", Dougal advises Ted that, if he pretends as though he didn't kick Brennan up the arse, the bishop will believe that he had simply imagined it. In fact, this plan works rather well. Ted would've gotten away with the whole thing, had His Grace not seen the blown-up copy of the photo taken of the deed.
- Early-Installment Weirdness:
- Graham Linehan calls himself out on this in the scripts book, noting that the first episode they wrote - "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest", which aired as the finale of season 1 - has some rather weird out-of-character moments, like Ted reciting poetry, Dougal swearing and Ted and Dougal seemingly plotting to kill Jack at the end.
- The first season in general also features a brighter parochial house, a slightly cleaner Father Jack, and much more of an emphasis on Cringe Comedy than the absurd and surreal humour that marked the second and third seasons.
- The first series also plays Ted as more of an Only Sane Man straight man to the antics of Dougal and Jack, particularly in regard to their jobs as priests. For example, in the first season Ted tells off Dougal for admitting that he doesn't take Catholicism seriously, whereas in later series Ted himself is far more relaxed ("That's the great thing about Catholicism: it's all so vague and no-one really knows what it's all about") and more concerned with his own glory or pettiness.
- Easy Evangelism: Somehow, Dougal unintentionally talks a bishop into abandoning religion. In a single (offscreen) conversation. Then again, the bishop was already having a crisis of faith.
- Eccentric Townsfolk: The people of Craggy Island.
- "I hear you're a racist now, Father. ... Should we all be racist now, Father? What's the official line the Church is taking on this?"
- "I don't care who he gets as long as I can have a go at the Greeks. They invented gayness!"
- "Father... I've killed a man."
- John and Mary O'Leary, a couple who run the general store on the island, hate each other and are always encountered just as they perpetrate some violence on each other, and then immediately act as if nothing is wrong.
- Elvis Impersonator: Parodied. Ted comes up with the idea of dressing up as Elvis Presley for an all-priest lookalike competition and shows it off only to discover that Dougal and Jack have ripped the idea off from him. Ted eventually finds a workaround that the three of them enter as a trio with Dougal as Early!Elvis, Ted as Comeback Special!Elvis and an extremely dishevelled Jack as Vegas!Elvis.
- Epic Fail:
- In "Think Fast, Father Ted", an attempt to fix a dent in the car leads to this.
- From "A Christmassy Ted":Mrs Doyle: Father, while you were out for your walk, we had a phone call. I think you were supposed to do a funeral today...
Ted: [gasps] The funeral! I completely forgot about it!
Mrs Doyle: It's alright! Father McGuire said he'd do it.
Ted: That's okay so... [Beat] DOUGAL'S DOING A FUNERAL?! YOU LET DOUGAL DO A FUNERAL?!!
(Cut to a hearse in a grave, on fire.)
Dougal: Sorry about that.
- In "The Night of the Nearly Dead", while Shaming the Mob of elderly fans, Ted points out a time when one lady's husband tried to wash a cup and set the house on fire, and when another's lost a leg trying to make the bed.
- Dougal enters the room with his face completely covered in shaving cream. When Ted points it out to him, he reacts with surprise since he didn't even shave that morning.
- "Eureka!" Moment: Ted wonders what situation could require a remote-controlled wheelchair and a pair of fake arms; he concludes it must be "a completely ludicrous one." Later in the same episode, he laments "I can't believe I'm in this completely ludicrous..." [Beat] "...situation!" Cut to him using both implements in the next shot.
- Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: When Niamh Connolly is shown performing her latest song on TV, there's a woman using sign language to convey the song's lyrics for the deaf. About halfway through, she simply shrugs and gives up translating.
- Everyone Has Standards: Possibly the most unexpected moment in the DVD Commentary is witnessing Linehan and Mathews get hot under the collar about the scene in "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse" in which Ted blatantly lies about not having kicked the Bishop with his hand on his heart, swearing "on God, on my religion", and while standing right next to a crucifix. Not only they say that the crucifix wasn't part of the scene as they had written it, but also feel that even by Ted's standards that's incredibly barefaced.
- Evil Laugh:
- Dougal, while holding the Golden Cleric Award at the end of "A Christmassy Ted".
- Pat Mustard the milkman. Ted sets down the telephone receiver when he starts Evil Laughing, and when we cut back to him (several hours later) later on he's still doing it.
- Dick Byrne. After managing to convince Ted that he is giving up cigarettes for Lent near the start of "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", and encouraging Ted to do the same, he puts the phone down, lights a cigarette and starts laughing evilly.
- Evil Gloating: Engaging in the former leads to Pat Mustard being Hoist by His Own Petard as the explosives-rigged milk float crashes into the Telecom Éireann phone box from which he is calling the parochial house.
- Evil Mentor: Father Jack, in "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest" was apparently one.Ted: A friend of mine, Father Jimmy Rannable studied under him. He told me no one - no one - had so great an effect on him as Father Jack.
Dougal: Jimmy Rannable? Whatever happened to him?
Ted: Do you remember the Drumshanbo Massacre?
Ted: That was him.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse". It builds up to Ted doing just that after losing a bet with Father Dick Byrne.
- Exact Words: Dougal, who struggles to speak to women, is advised by Ted to "always give them what they want." Later in the episode, a woman tells him how much she likes the priests' house...
- The Exit Is That Way:
- A particularly unusual variant occurs with Father Dougal: he walks to the wrong side of an open door, missing an exit that is right in front of him. It's not clear if the writers knew it, but this is similar to a gag in Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (involving Dopey, of course).
- In the Christmas Special when Ted, Dougal and several other priests try to sneak out of a lingerie section of a store that they accidentally wandered into so that it won't cause a public scandal, they hijack a P.A system so they can say the store is closing to lure out the shoppers. However when they start wandering around aimlessly...Ted: (Hijacks P.A) NOT THAT WAY FOR FECK'S SAKE, THE OTHER WAY!!!
- Exposition Diagram: Parodied and subverted in "Speed 3". The priests attempting to help Dougal out are drawing up various diagrams of plans to help out. After Ted has a "Eureka!" Moment and scribbles his plan on the board. His plan is to put the brick on the accelerator, and we then see the board where he has simply written WE PUT THE BRICK ON THE ACCELERATOR.
- Eyepatch After Time Skip: Father Cleary accidentally snaps a bra into his eye when fiddling with it in the lingerie section in the Christmas Episode. When we next see him at Ted's Golden Cleric award ceremony, he's got an eyepatch on.
- Failed a Spot Check: It takes Ted a few minutes before he realises the living room is full of rabbits.
- Failure Gambit: "My Lovely Horse" gets chosen as the Irish entry for the Eurovision Song Contest so that Ireland will lose and will not have to incur the cost of hosting the Contest another year. Mission accomplished, as the song absolutely bombs.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Anything Ted tries to accomplish. Anything.
- Fan Convention: The annual Ted Fest. Distinguished from other Cons by actually taking place on a tiny island off the Irish coast (Inishmore); features a Lovely Girls contest, 5-a-side football, talent show, and drunk students yelling catchphrases ad nauseam.
- Le Film Artistique: The title film in "The Passion of St. Tibulus" is a subtitled French film, and, judging from Ted and Dougal's bewildered conversation the evening after seeing it, it features copious nudity and a plot that makes absolutely no sense. Ted is most puzzled by St. Tibulus wearing so little clothing, noting that "he was from Norway or somewhere, he'd have frozen to death!"
- Film Noir: Part of "A Christmassy Ted", when Father "Todd Unctious" states his motivations.
- Averted with Dougal, whose idiocy was played down less as the series went on with him at times proving smarter than Ted.
- Played straight with Ted's smoking - at first it's something he's occasionally seen doing, but late in Series 2 it turns out that five minutes without a cigarette causes him to break out in a sweat and become unable to think about anything else.
- Also done with Mrs Doyle and her tea-making habits. In Series 1 she makes tea for Ted, Dougal and Jack quite often. In Series 2 she offers them a cup nearly every time she appears and it's revealed she stays awake all night with a fresh cup of tea for each of them just in case they should need it. Then in the Christmas special she freaks out at the new tea machine because she can't cope with the idea never making tea for them, and ends up destroying it to prevent this.
- Also played straight with Jack's physical appearance - at first he was fairly clean but then got filthier-looking and uglier as the series progressed.
- Floating Advice Reminder: In "A Christmassy Ted". During some soul-searching, Ted is laughed at by the ghosts of Mrs Doyle, Father Jack, Dick Byrne, the cast of Ballykissangel... and finally Father Dougal, who doesn't appear to know why he's part of Ted's vision.
- Former Regime Personnel: Father Fitzpatrick is shown to be an avid collector of Nazi war memorabilia. He's also been hiding a former Wehrmacht soldier for the last fifty years.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Combo Ensemble—Ted is sanguine/choleric, Jack is choleric/melancholic, Mrs. Doyle is melancholic/phlegmatic, and Dougal is phlegmatic/sanguine.
- Other characters: Fathers "Todd Unctious" and Noel Furlong are sanguine 1000%, Bishop Brennan is choleric, Father Stack is melancholic, and Father Stone is the ultimate phlegmatic.
- Freudian Excuse: It's implied in one episode that the reason Father Jack drinks so much is to forget that he's on Craggy Island.
- Freudian Trio: The protagonists fit the following arrangement: Jack is the Id, Ted the Ego, and Dougal the Superego (for all his ditziness, Dougal does seem to make more of an effort than Ted and Jack at being a good priest, or at least a good person.)
- Friendly Local Chinatown: Craggy Island has one that Ted was completely oblivious to, due to being at a different parochial house for a few weeks.
- The "Fun" in "Funeral": "DOUGAL'S DOING A FUNERAL?! YOU LET DOUGAL DO A FUNERAL!?!" Cut to the funeral itself, where the hearse is in the grave. And on fire.
- Funny Background Event:
- As Ted suggests that Mrs Doyle is buying more milk just to see Pat Mustard every day, she appears in the back of the shot watering the plants with it.
- In "A Song for Europe," the song names displayed behind the host suggest some pretty amusing unseen entries, including "The Drums of Africa Are Calling Me Home" by Sean O'Brien, and "Sha La La La La La La La La La La La La" by Death Pigs.
- Also in "A Song for Europe," while Ted and Dougal are hearing in all of the various languages that they have scored nothing, Jack wanders off and can be seen sharing a drink with the Belgian team behind.
- Genius Ditz: While mostly a ditz, Dougal often shows signs of intelligence and excellent character judgements.
- Genre Savvy: Cleverly parodied in "Speed 3", when the priests somehow realise that the answer to Dougal's life-threatening situation lies in the plot of an action film, but keep guessing the wrong one, first discussing The Towering Inferno and then watching The Poseidon Adventure ("Gene Hackman plays a priest in it!") in its entirety.
- Geographic Flexibility: The only constant of Craggy Island's geography is that it has no west side - it just kind of broke off during a storm and drifted away. In some episodes it is incredibly tiny; in others it can contain an entire Chinatown that Ted has somehow never heard of. In the case of the Chinatown, Ted had been off at a different parochial house for several weeks, presumably the time it took for the Chinatown to be made.
- The Ghost: Several priests are referenced as one off gags. Father Bigley is the most frequently referenced of these. He apparently looks like he's dead, has blotchy skin and puffy lips and is an avid Dana fan. He also performed OJ Simpson's wedding and is currently in a home due to some fires.
- Gilligan Cut: Ted and Dougal laugh off the idea that a woman can be a solicitor in "Grant Unto Him Eternal Rest".Dougal: If you're a lawyer, I'm Boy George!
[cut to Dougal sitting in a crypt next to Jack's coffin]
Dougal: [singing] Karma karma karma karma karma chameleon...
- Global Ignorance: In relation to the Geographic Flexibility above, when someone asks how to get to Craggy Island it's revealed that the island doesn't appear on any maps and the only way to know when you are near it is when you see British ships dumping nuclear waste. The general rule is that if you are going away from it you are heading in the right direction.Father Ted: We wouldn't be on maps now Terry, we're not exactly New York!
- Gone Horribly Wrong: In "Tentacles of Doom", Ted's main concern is that the Bishops finish blessing a relic and be on their way without noticing any of the ridiculous nonsense that usually happens on Craggy Island. By the end of one day, Bishop Jordan dies of a heart attack indirectly caused by Father Ted, Father Dougal accidentally pokes so many holes in Bishop O'Neill's beliefs that the bishop renounces his faith and becomes a hippy, and Father Jack has become so irritated with Bishop Facks that he has shoved the relic they were blessing up his backside.
- The make-up work on Father Jack, including white and grey blue eyes, crusty lips, strange ruddy spots, stringy hair, and a perpetual snarl makes him quite possibly the ugliest thing to ever appear on TV. Frank Kelly has said that people wouldn't talk to him with his makeup onnote , and Farscape actually based an alien priest on his appearance in the episode 'A Prefect Murder', of which a picture can be found here.
- Pauline McLynn nearly didn't get the part of Mrs Doyle, because they felt she was too pretty. She turned up to a later audition with a terrible case of the flu, and the rest is history.
- Go Mad from the Revelation: After Jack sobers up for the first time in twelve years and Ted and Dougal re-introduce themselves:"Priests? DON'T TELL ME I'M STILL ON THAT FECKING ISLAND!"
- Good Is Dumb: Dougal is a lot more pleasant than the other priests.
- Groin Attack:
- In "Tenacles of Doom", Jack sticks the holy relic up a bishop's backside.
- The premise of "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse" is that Ted has to kick Bishop Brennan where the sun doesn't shine as part of a (enforced) dare.
- Heroic BSoD:
- Played for laughs (naturally) in the "Flight of Terror", when Father Ted climbs outside the aeroplane mid-flight to fix a cable. He's fine until the crisis is over...Ted: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAH! What am I doing on this fecking wheel? AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!!
- He's next seen in the parochial house sitting room, still clinging to the wheel.
- Played for laughs (naturally) in the "Flight of Terror", when Father Ted climbs outside the aeroplane mid-flight to fix a cable. He's fine until the crisis is over...
- Hippie Van: In "Tentacles of Doom", a bishop who has just left the church says he's off to India with "a few friends." These turn out to be a cluster of hippies in a VW microbus, who beckon him in the open sliding door and hand him a joint as they drive off.
- Hollywood Board Games: In "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", Father Ted mentions something mind-boggling about his rival, Father Byrne. Apparently, Byrne managed to insult Ted by forming a phrase in a Scrabble game. Priests are usually fairly knowledgeable people, but this also shows how crafty and spiteful Byrne can get at times.
- Honor Before Reason: In "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep," Ted exposes a scam set up by a sheep's owner to ensure he wins the "best sheep award," resulting in the sheep being disqualified. Afterwards, Dougal reminds Ted that he bet their heating budget on that particular sheep to win, meaning that he caused him to lose it all.
- Horrible Camping Trip: In "Hell", Ted is granted the use of a caravan for the weekend which turns out to be barely large enough to accommodate Ted, Dougal, and Jack. It begins pouring with rain almost as soon as they get settled in (and Dougal has forgotten to pack any board games, reducing them to hide-and-seek and the famous "Small... far away" explanation of perspective), the only nearby attractions are St Kevin's Stump (an ordinary tree stump) and the Magic Road (on which objects roll uphill in defiance of gravity), the caravan turns out to have been double-booked to Father Noel Furlong and his youth group (who cause the caravan to fall on its side with a re-enactment of Riverdance), and Ted and Dougal repeatedly anger a fellow camper who ultimately leaves them stranded on a country road with four slashed tyres.
- Humiliating Wager: The title character was famously made to kick Bishop Brennan up the arse as the forfeit for a lost football match between elderly priests (technically Ted's team won the match, but he was disqualified for cheating).
- Hypocritical Humour:
- Mrs Doyle hates the language in modern novels; in fact she hates it so much that she spends five minutes using all of the language that she hates.Mrs Doyle: "Ride me sideways" was another one!note
- Another example from Mrs Doyle is her talk of how much she hates sex. "..can you imagine Father, your husband, with his lad in his hand, ready to do the business, wanting you to degrade yourself...Get a good mental picture there!" Ted is eating a sausage at the time.
- In "Speed 3", after Ted confronts Pat Mustard about using his job as a milkman to father illegitimate children across Craggy Island, suggesting that he should be more careful in the bedroom, Pat turns it around and asks if Ted's suggesting that he use artificial contraception?note Ted: Yes, I ... (Beat) No, I ... If you're going to be ... of course ... Oh just feck off!
- Mrs Doyle hates the language in modern novels; in fact she hates it so much that she spends five minutes using all of the language that she hates.
- Hypothetical Fight Debate: A meta example. Ardal O'Hanlon was once asked who would win in a fight between Dougal and Thermoman. He responded that it would be a tough call, with both characters being good-natured pacifists, but ultimately backed Dougal to win since he has God on his side.
- I Did What I Had to Do: The whole of "Think Fast, Father Ted", where Ted holds a raffle in order to raise money to repair the leaking roof, is riddled with this. But not more so than in the case of the raffle's DJ, Father Billy O'Dwyer, who ends up stealing the raffle money to pay off the debts run up by his huge gambling problem.
- Ignorant About Fire: In an episode, Ted reminds one of the island women of the time her husband tried to make his own tea and burnt down the house.
- Ignore the Disability:
- "IT'S A WIG!"
- "How's the son?"
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Usually played for laughs, but one notable groaner is this:Father Dougal: Remember when he was drunk, and he went off with Sister Roberta?
Father Ted: God yes, the Blue Nun.
- Incoming Ham: When Bishop Brennan realises that Ted did kick him in the arse in "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse" and returns to Ireland, he gets a truly spectacular entrance◊.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
- Done many times. In the second episode, used repeatedly to try to get away from the painfully boring Father Stone.
- In "A Christmassy Ted", the priests try to wriggle their way out of watching a televised Mass through this. One of them says they have to console a death row inmate.
- Inept Talent Show Contestant: "My Lovely Horse". Notably, done specifically to lose the Eurovision Song Contest for Ireland, which at that point was tired of being nearly bankrupted by the cost of repeatedly hosting.
- Informed Attribute: We all know that Larry Duff is "great fun". Unfortunately, he's never in a situation to demonstrate it.
- Injury Bookend: In "Are You Right There Father Ted?" Mrs Doyle falls down the stairs and hurts her back, leading to trouble walking, a hunched posture, and inability to do most of her usual work. Ted tries to help (against her violent protests) but just makes it worse. At the end of the episode, she trips, falls down the stairs again, and is cured.
- Innocent Bigot: Ted during "Are You Right There Father Ted?". A lot!
- Innocent Innuendo: "Oh, Pat was wondering if he could put his massive tool in my box?"
- Insane Troll Logic:
- In "Think Fast, Father Ted", they damage a car they're about to raffle off. Dougal thinks that cheating in the raffle to get the money back would be morally wrong. Ted convinces Dougal otherwise with this brilliant deduction:Father Ted: Dougal, seriously, listen: if Bishop Brennan finds out we wrecked the car, he will kill us. And murder is a terrible, terrible sin, Dougal. So, by committing this little sin, we'll actually be saving a bishop's soul.Father Dougal: (thinks about it for a second) Fair enough then, Ted.
- Also that claim that Greeks invented gayness.
- In "Think Fast, Father Ted", they damage a car they're about to raffle off. Dougal thinks that cheating in the raffle to get the money back would be morally wrong. Ted convinces Dougal otherwise with this brilliant deduction:
- Intelligible Unintelligible: Father Fey, the "Monkey Priest," communicates entirely in monkey-like hoots and whoops. He is completely unintelligible to the audience, but everyone in-universe understands him perfectly. He is even considered eloquent.
- Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Ted, apparently, doesn't seem to know the difference between China and Japan, since he adds a slide of Mr Miyagi to his presentation on Chinese culture.
- Iron Butt-Monkey: Father Larry Duff, who seems to at best have terrible luck, and at worst suffer horrific injuries, almost every single time Ted calls him.
- I Was Having Such a Nice Dream: Used in "A Christmassy Ted". Ted's dreaming about taking Peter Clifford's place in Ballykissangel and has just started kissing Assumpta when he's rudely awoken by Dougal offering him a peanut. When Ted actually goes back to sleep, he's dreaming about being chased by giant peanuts instead.Dougal: TED! TED! Would you like a peanut?
- I Will Only Slow You Down: Part of the war movie parody in the Christmas special, after a priest is hit in the eye by a snapping bra strap.
- Jerkass: Bishop Len Brennan, Father Jack Hackett, Father Dick Byrne, Father Fintan Stack, Father Damo Lennon, Eoin McLove. Father Ted Crilly himself can also be one to an extent.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ted zigzags around this trope. There are times when he displays real kindness and humanity (talking a priest out of suicide) only for an ulterior motive to be revealed (the priest owed him money). That said, he does seem to care about Jack and Dougal and even possess genuine faith (he's noticeably horrified when Dougal expresses disbelief - though this is just more of the same high-handed hypocrisy).
- Just Plane Wrong: "Flight Into Terror" is RIDDLED with this.
- The plane is a BAe 146 viewed from the outside, but the interior is of a much larger wide-body aircraft. Of course, the interior of a BAe 146 isn't nearly big enough for a soundstage.
- Who keeps parachutes on passenger aircraft? You can't evacuate a plane in mid-air.
- The doors on a passenger plane cannot possibly open in mid-air like they did in this episode, they aren't designed to do that. There is no way that Jack could have gotten out with the drinks tray then. This also means the scene where Ted climbs on the outside of the plane in mid-air is implausible.
- Kavorka Man: Pat Mustard, the disgustingly sleazy milkman who somehow manages to seduce every woman on his route. And have children with a lot of likenesses to him with them.
- "Knock Knock" Joke: Dougal tells Ted a particularly awful one at bedtime.Dougal:Knock-knock, Ted.
Ted: Who's there?
Dougal: Father Dougal McGuire!
Ted: Good night, Dougal.
- Knife-Throwing Act: A knife throwing act is one of the things that Ted interrupts by phoning Larry Duff's mobile, to Duff's inevitable detriment.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Ted may well be the best example of this trope since Moe from The Three Stooges.
- Lack of Imagination: Discussed when Ted is discussing with Dougal what his three wishes would be.Ted: And what would your three wishes be?Dougal: Oh, no, I'm happy enough, really.Ted: You wouldn't want anything?Dougal: No, I don't think so. I can't think of anything, anyway.Ted: You wouldn't, say, want a big car to drive around in?Dougal: Oh-ho, wow! That'd be fantastic! Driving around in a big car - that'd be brilliant!Ted: What would be your second wish?Dougal: Oh, that'd be fine. The car'd be fine.Ted: You wouldn't like to be a rock star or something, like Elvis?Dougal: Oh-ho, God, yeah! I'd love to be a rock star like Elvis or something! That'd be brilliant!Ted: So, uh, your third wish, if you had one?Dougal: Oh, no, that'd be fine. If I had a big car and I was Elvis that'd be grand.Ted: You wouldn't like, say, um... this cup?Dougal: Oh, God, yeah! I'd love that cup! If I had that cup and I was Elvis in a big car, that'd be fantastic!Ted: You've never had much imagination, have you?Dougal: You're right there, Ted.''
- Lampshade Hanging: Father Jack frequently exits from the living room by screaming and jumping through the window. This gets lampshaded in the Christmas special, where he attempts to do so only to bounce back from the glass. Ted remarks to the room "We thought he was jumping through the old window a bit too often... That's why we had the plexiglass put in"
- Lampshaded the Obscure Reference:Ted: I am fearless. Like that film with Jeff Bridges.
Dougal: I haven't seen that one.
Ted: Not a lot of people have, Dougal, so it's probably a bad reference.
- Also the inspiration for the in-universe "My Lovely Horse" - a B-side to a runner up in A Song for Norway sung by a band no-one has ever heard of (Nin Huegen and the Huguenotes) in 1976, released shortly before everyone involved in writing, performing, producing, distributing and publishing the song was killed in a plane crash. Dougal must be one of the very few owners of this record and even he has only listened to the B-side once.Ted: ...so it would be fair to say that not a lot of people have heard this song?
- Subverted, as later in the episode the song is revealed to be fairly well known.
- Also the inspiration for the in-universe "My Lovely Horse" - a B-side to a runner up in A Song for Norway sung by a band no-one has ever heard of (Nin Huegen and the Huguenotes) in 1976, released shortly before everyone involved in writing, performing, producing, distributing and publishing the song was killed in a plane crash. Dougal must be one of the very few owners of this record and even he has only listened to the B-side once.
- Large Ham: Everyone. Every extra, every one-scene character, will act as though they are chewing 900lbs of pork. The world of Father Ted is a quintessential World of Ham. But for specific examples:
- Bishop Brennan has to be in RRRRROME tomorrow to meet with the holy father!
- Ted, when he gets angry or excited.
- One of the priests stuck in the lingerie section in the Christmas special has an exciting dramatic voice played for laughs.Father Reilly: [loudly] Ted! Were you asking for a dramatic, exciting voice!?
Father Fitzgerald: No. He said boring. He wanted a boring voice.
Father Reilly: In that case, you must excuse me for my impetuous interruption!
- DRINK! FECK! ARSE! GIRLS!
- Honourable mention to the bigoted woman from "Are You Right There, Father Ted?", whose hatred of the Greeks causes her to undergo a total, Basil Fawlty style meltdown.
- Late to the Punchline: Usually Dougal getting a joke very, very late.
- Left the Background Music On: Played with in the "Sheep" episode, with Dougal's BBC sound effects record.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: Was the whole plot of "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up the Arse", where Father Ted tried to, well, kick Bishop Brennan up the arse.
- Long Speech Tea Time: Ted's Golden Cleric acceptance speech goes on forever.
- Low-Speed Chase: In "Speed Three", Father Dougal is trapped on a milk float that will explode if the speed drops below four miles an hour. Among other chase tropes, includes a scene where the float is careering towards a huge pile of cardboard boxes, and Ted has to move them out of the way... one by one. Before crashing straight through them in his own car.
- Manchild: Father Dougal. His Rugged Island counterpart Father Cyril McDuff and the delinquent Father Damo are just as big. Eoin McLove manages to be an even bigger one.
- The Masochism Tango: John and Mary try to keep up a Happily Married façade in front of the priests but the rest of the time it's blindingly obvious that they completely and utterly loathe each other. The first time they're introduced, Mary's put John in hospital with a knife wound.
- May–December Romance: Sixty-something year old Pat Mustard and many of the women on Craggy Island whom he had affairs with on his milk rounds, and who subsequently became pregnant with his children. As they were able to have children, they were presumably much younger than Pat Mustard.
- Used in the episode "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading". The priests try to give up their vices for Lent, but soon go into withdrawal and hallucinate one another as the objects of their addiction (giant talking cigarettes or pints of Guinness) speaking gibberish.
- In his DVD commentary co-writer Graham Linehan points out that this is a fairly routine gag until we get to see Dougal's point of view - Ted as a giant rollerblade shoe.
- Megaton Punch:
- Bishop Brennan manages to launch Ted several feet through the air, although this was likely not with a punch but with a high-powered kick up the arse, as Ted had done to him.
- Father Jack's response to hearing that Father Stone is visiting is to punch Ted out of the window.
- Men Can't Keep House:
- When Mrs. Doyle has a night out, Ted and Dougal manage to start a fire in their attempt to make a cup of tea, and run around in a blind panic.
- Also used to remove the zombie-horde of old women looking for Eoin McLove.Mrs. Doyle: Stop! Stop! Ladies! It's after seven o'clock. I think your husbands might be wondering where their breakfasts are!
Father Ted: Mrs. Doyle's right! Remember last year, Mrs. Dunn, when your husband tried to wash a cup, and burned the house down. And Mrs. Collins, when Mr. Collins tried to make the bed on his own ... [dramatic pause] ... and lost a leg.
- Metaphorgotten: In the Christmas special, when Mrs Doyle is describing the process of making tea:Mrs Doyle: The playful splash of the tea as it hits the bottom of the cup. The thrill of adding the milk, and watching it settle for a moment, before it filters slowly down, turning the tea from dark brown to a lighter brown. Perching an optional Jaffa Cake on the side, like a proud soldier, standing to attention beside a giant ... cup of tea.
- Mirror Character: Ted's bitter rivalry with Dick Byrne appears to be borne of the fact that they're carbon copies of one another, even extending to their fellow-priests — a violent elderly alcoholic and a young idiot who live with them in an identical house.
- Misplaced Wildlife: Father Purcell is said to have so bored the inhabitants of a Nigerian village that they fled in a big boat and were eaten by alligators. There are no alligators in Africa.
- Mistaken for Racist: Zig-zagged with Ted in "Are You Right There Father Ted?". He does an impression of Chinese people which genuinely is racist, but his sincere attempts to make amends are torpedoed due to a hilarious series of misunderstandings."I hear you're a racist now, Father!"
- Mood Whiplash: Played for Laughs with the two Craggy Island locals who accuse Ted of being racist. After Ted angrily dismisses them and goes back inside the parochial house, the pair calmly discuss the local news.Ted: I am not a racist, alright?! God! [leaves]
Mrs. Carbury: Feckin' Greeks!
Colm: How's Mary?
Mrs. Carbury: She's fine. She got that job, after all.
- Moral Guardians: In one episode, "The Passion of St. Tibulus", Ted and Dougal are forced by Bishop Brennan to protest a film that the Church finds objectionable. They achieve exactly the opposite effect intended, convincing no-one to their cause and raising so much publicity that it becomes the most popular film ever shown at that cinema.Brennan: People are coming all the way from Gdansk to see the film!
- Mouth Full of Smokes: Ted at the end of "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading".
- Mundane Made Awesome: Ted leading a group of priests lost in a store's lingerie department to safety to avoid a possible scandal is treated as a war-movie parody of a unit stuck deep in enemy territory. The final scene of the priests walking out of an exit is played with dramatic music and slow-motion, which makes it look like Ted is throwing his men out of an airplane like they are paratroopers.
- Mushroom Samba: Jack tends to hallucinate whenever he drinks Toilet Duck. He sees Ted as incredibly creepy when holding up three fingers.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Ted, after his prayer to have Father Stone go away by any means results in Stone getting struck by lightning.
- Naked People Are Funny:
- Poor Mrs Millet in "Speed 3" answers the door in the nude because she expects her milkman to be Kavorka Man Pat Mustard. She gets Dougal instead, although it takes him several hours to process what he's seen.
- In "Hell", Ted and Dougal wander into the wrong caravan while a naked man walks out of the shower. He later chases after them while wearing only a Modesty Towel and he winds up clinging to Ted's car for several miles after his towel has fallen off.
- Nice Mean And In Between: Dougal is fairly nice and pleasant, despite his dim-witted nature. Alcoholic Jack is prone to violent rages, which makes him mean. Finally, Ted, who is a corrupt schemer with sympathetic moments, comes off as in-between.
- Nice Character, Mean Actor: In "Night of the Nearly Dead", Eoin McLove's onstage persona is the son any mother would love to have, a charmer who loves homemade cakes and pies and comfy jumpers. When the cameras are off, he is a sulking, petulant Manchild who hates the middle-to-old-aged women who make up his core audience, is rude and abrasive to Mrs. Doyle when he visits Craggy Island after she wins his poetry competition (the fact that she baked a hand-knitted jumper into the cake she serves him does not help), and openly steals two suitcases' worth of odds and ends from the parochial house while it is besieged by thousands of his fans. (Although he does have an excuse for both his tendency to aim his music at an older crowd and his bad temper when the cameras are off: as he tells Ted and co., "I have no willy.")
- Nightmare Fuel: In-universe, Dougal thinks The Love Bug was so scary, he had to sleep in Ted's bed that night.Dougal: C'mon, Ted: a Volkswagen with a mind of its own. That's pretty scary.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Henry Sellars = Henry Kelly, Eoin McLove = Daniel O'Donnell, Niamh Connolly = Sinéad O'Connor, Bishop Brennan = Bishop Éamon Casey (who also had a secret son; condoms in Ireland were briefly nicknamed "Just In Caseys").
- No Full Name Given: Mrs. Doyle. Whenever anyone says her first name, it's drowned out by a conveniently timed stock sound effect.
- No Indoor Voice: Father Jack "FECK! DRINK! ARSE! GIRLS!" Hackett.
- Noodle Incident: Many.
- The "Blackrock incident" that got Dougal sent to Craggy Island.Bishop Brennan: The amount of lives irreparably damaged...
Dougal: They were only nuns.
Bishop Brennan: Nuns are people too! My God, the strings I had to pull to stop the Vatican getting involved!
- We only see the end of the funeral Dougal did, which somehow ended with the hearse in the grave, on fire.
- The "Sealink incident", which we are told involved Dougal and the controls of a Sealink ferry, although Noel Furlong tactfully shushes Dougal before he can give too many details.
- In "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", they seem determined to push this trope to its breaking point:Father Ted: Dougal, Dougal, do you remember Sister Assumpta?
Dougal: Er, no.
Father Ted: She was here last year! And then we stayed with her in the convent, back in Kildare. Do you remember it? Ah, you do! And then you were hit by the car when you went down to the shops for the paper. You must remember all that? And then you won a hundred pounds with your lottery card? Ah, you must remember it, Dougal!
[Dougal shakes his head]
Sister Assumpta: And weren't you accidentally arrested for shoplifting? I remember we had to go down to the police station to get you! And the police station went on fire? And you had to be rescued by helicopter?
Father Ted: Do you remember? You can't remember any of that? The helicopter! When you fell out of the helicopter! Over the zoo! Do you remember the tigers?
[Dougal shakes his head some more]
Father Ted: You don't remember? You were wearing your blue jumper.
Dougal: Ah, Sister Assumpta!
- And, of course, the Lourdes incident involving Ted, a trip to Las Vegas and a sick child whose money he allegedly took. All we know is that the money was just resting in his account. The implication is probably that the Church had mistakenly trusted Ted with funding for the girl's pilgrimage to the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Lourdes to seek healing there, but it's never spelled out.
- The infamous "wedding in Athlone" which led to Jack being sent to Craggy Island.
- Whatever Jack got up to with Sister Imelda, the "Blue Nun" note .
- From "Are You Right There Father Ted":Dougal: It's like that time we put on that variety show, and you did that impression of Stephen Hawking.
Ted: He was the last person you'd expect to turn up. That was a million to one chance. God, he can fairly move that wheelchair when he's angry...
- Ted mentions that a friend of his, Father Jimmy Ranable, was a student of Jack's in his heyday. Dougal asks what happened to Jimmy and Ted tells him that "the Drumshanbo massacre" was his doing.
- Another priest is mentioned as having been "involved in that whole OJ Simpson thing".
- Yet another priest was once caught smuggling arms into Iraq.
- Father Bigley is stated to be in a home because of some fires. The only detail we're given is Ted denying that it had a anything to do with him being a Dana fan.
- The "Blackrock incident" that got Dougal sent to Craggy Island.
- Not That There's Anything Wrong with That: When Father Ted comes across a gay musical producer in the episode 'A Song for Europe'."Still it must be fun though... not the... y'know... but... well... having boyfriends when you're a man and the general rough and tumble of homosexual activity."
- Not This One, That One: When Father Ted and Dougal go on a caravan holiday, they are terribly excited at the size of the caravan they've borrowed, but discover that it's not theirs, it's just so big it's totally concealing the shed-sized caravan they actually got.
- Not What It Looks Like: Ted was a huge victim of this throughout the series.Ted: I can explain. [Beat] Actually, no, I can't.
- Nun Too Holy:
- Virtually every priest or nun in the series, definitely including the protagonists. Father Ted is a gambling-addicted embezzler, Father Jack is a foul-mouthed, violent, alcoholic womaniser, and Father Dougal openly mocks the teachings of the church.
- Many of the one shot clergy members crank this up to eleven. Examples include Father Williams, who was caught with a box of machineguns in his house and is shot by the Army over it, Father Billy, "The Spinmaster", a gambling addict who owes some dodgy types a large amount of money and ends up stealing the Craggy Island Parochial House new roof fund, Father "Todd Unctious", who tries to steal Ted's golden cleric award and steals another priest's clothing "because it seemed to be the way things were going", and the thoroughly vile Father Fintan Stack.
- One-Hour Work Week: The priests' parish duties are virtually non-existent. Ted says about two Masses (one on a mobile altar being towed by a tractor), has some bishops to stay once, and eagerly tells Dougal all the salacious details a parishioner had just given him in confession in one episode.
- One-Joke Fake Show: Father Ted parodied itself this way, with the characters watching a series called Father Ben consisting of one-line inanities.Father Brendan: God, Ben, I'm such an eejit, I've put the shorts on me head!
- Only Sane Man: Zig-Zagged. The Only Sane Mantle is passed around like a ball. It is sometimes held by Ted, however, if the circumstances are sufficiently amusing, it will pass to Mrs. Doyle, Dougal, Bishop Brennan, an Islander, a visitor to the island, and even Jack in a couple of episodes, unless it suits the comedy to have nobody display any kind of sanity at all.
- Only Shop in Town: The shop run by John and Mary seems to be the only one on Craggy Island.
- Out-of-Character Moment: "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep" reveals that on leap years Jack turns into a cheerful, free-spirit whenever it's Autumn. Ted laments that it doesn't last long. (The episode was set in 1998, a common year, so at least Ted was treated to a bonus manifestation of this phenomenon.)
- Jack also gets a moment in the second-to-last episode where he suddenly recites poetry. In the script book, the writers admitted that it was a sign they had completely run out of ideas for jokes, as you can only use the "a comedy character suddenly and randomly acts out-of-character as a throwaway joke" gag once.
- Overly-Long Gag: Mrs Doyle trying to get Fr. "Todd Unctious"' name by sheer blunt-force guessing, suggesting random combinations of names and random words. And (apparently) succeeding.
- Overly Narrow Superlative: It's amazing how simply changing a word of any ordinary bit of hyperbole to "priest" has this effect. "The most sarcastic man in Ireland" wouldn't cause you to bat an eyelid, but "the most sarcastic priest in Ireland"...
- Pac Man Fever: Dougal and Damo are seen playing Street Fighter II (fairly current at the time), but with Atari style joysticks.
- Parachute in a Tree: In one episode, during a flight emergency, Jack takes the plane's two parachutes and attaches the second one to the drinks trolley. As the credits roll, we see Jack and the trolley both stuck in the tree, with Jack vainly trying to reach it.
- Pardon My Klingon: "Feck" to non-Irish viewers. Feck is a mild curse in Ireland. Interestingly enough, the word has its own history completely unrelated to the err..other F word, although it is commonly used as a milder version of it (the Catholic Irish use it in place of the other word, so it doesn't count as the sin of swearing and they don't have to tell it in confession).
- Pass the Popcorn: In "Night of the Nearly Dead", hordes of middle-aged women have descended on the Parochial House to see crooner Eoin McLove, and have punched through the front door to grab him after he retreats back into the house. Ted, Dougal, and McLove's manager Patsy are trying to break the women's grip on McLove, while Jack... fetches a chair and a drink and sits back to watch.
- Patriotic Fervour: Well, Francophile fervour. The decidedly un-French Jack's insistence on standing for the French national anthem is exploited when Ted needs to find a way to stop him crushing another priest by sitting on him.
- Pet the Dog:
- Jack leaving his fortune to Ted and Dougal in his will... as long as they spend the night next to his body when he dies.
- Despite saying outright that he absolutely hates Ted and everything about him, Brennan still shows genuine concern when he thinks Ted's been hurt.
- Perma-Stubble: Jack in many of the later episodes.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The three priests don't do much by way of priestly activities like conducting services. This was apparently a deliberate ploy by writers Graham Lineham and Arthur Mathews, as they felt that it would be too predictable. As it is, we do see Ted preparing for a Mass (in a manner similar to a boxer readying himself for a fight) a couple of times, and the only time we ever see him saying Mass is played for laughs as he's doing it on a mobile altar being towed by a tractor. He's also never seen taking confession, although he does talk about doing so on one occasion which shows that he clearly uses the confessional as a source of gossip. With the exception of the aftermath of that funeral, Dougal and Jack are never seen doing any priestly things although there are plenty of Noodle Incidents (see above). Justified by Dougal's status as The Ditz and Jack as The Alcoholic - you wouldn't want them doing any priestly work either. The implication is that all three of them have been Reassigned to Antarctica.
- Jack is, theoretically, a retired priest, and Ted and Dougal are, theoretically, his caretakers. In practice, Craggy Island is a place where particularly unpleasant priests are sent to see out their days, with keepers selected from otherwise undesirables. Leads to We Want Our Jerk Back! when Jack gets too sick for Ted and Dougal to look after any more, and a much younger (and even less pleasant) priest is sent to Craggy Island for them to keep.
- Lampshaded when Dougal becomes a milkman and Ted is unable to think of any parish duty that would prevent him from doing so.Dougal: I'd love to be a milkman for a while. That'd be fantastic. God knows I do flip-all around here...
- It's pretty clear, though, that all three priests know very little about Catholicism. Jack is permanently drunk, Dougal is the resident ditz and even Ted refers to God in a context that hints that he believes that other gods exist, in addition to flouting or contradicting Catholic views on homosexuality, contraception and papal infallibility. At one point, it's made clear that he doesn't even know the birth name of the Pope.
- Pocket Protector: In "Old Grey Whistle Theft", we hear that the eponymous whistle saved the life of a previous owner. He was being executed by the British, and all the bullets hit the whistle, and bounced off. Subverted in that the British simply reloaded and shot him again.
- Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure: You'd think a priest of all people could answer a general knowledge question about the pontiff born Karol Wojtyła. You'd be wrong...Eoin: What is Pope John Paul II's birth name?
Ted: [weakly, after a pause that lasts for the entire length of the end credits] Jim?
- The Pratfall: Mrs. Doyle wins a date for tea with her idol, TV heartthrob Eoin McLove. When she meets him, she begins shaking uncontrollably, then goes rigid as a board and falls right over on her arse.
- Precision F-Strike:
- The show largely substitutes the dialectal (and much softer) "feck" in place of the F-bomb, but one memorable instant occurs in "Chirpy Burpy Cheap Sheep", uttered by show creator Graham Linehan.
- "Just play the fucking note!"
- "KICK THE FUCKING BALL!"
- Properly Paranoid:
- Ted tears the place apart like a madman searching for a bug placed by the Rugged Island priests... who are indeed spying on him in their ice cream van outside.
- He also instructs Dougal to guard the corner flags against theft. It's obviously just to keep him out of the way while making him feel useful, but Dougal takes it seriously — and turns out to be right in doing so when Byrne sends Cyril to steal one as a souvenir. That said, Ted may well have known that Dick would try to do such a thing...
- Protest By Obstruction: Ted and Dougal chained themselves to the railing in front of a cinema. Backfired spectacularly as their protest against The Passion of St. Tibulus made the film a huge success.
- The Psycho Rangers: The Rugged Island priests. Dick is basically a more evil version of Ted and his two companions are almost exactly like Dougal and Jack.
- This Is Reality: Invoked by Ted in "Going To America". Dougal thought that Kurt Cobain survived after "blowing his head off with a shotgun", only to be told by Ted that "he died".
- Really Dead Montage: Not for Ted but for Dermot Morgan himself.
- Reassigned to Antarctica:
- Seems to be the point of the Craggy Isle parish - Ted for misappropriating funds, Dougal for the "Blackrock Incident", Jack for a sexual dalliance with a nun (and the "wedding in Athlone").
- In between Seasons 2 and 3, Ted somehow gets back into good graces with the Church, being sent to a nice parish in Dublin and going to Paris for Church functions. As soon as an accountant queries his expenses, however...
- Reckless Gun Usage: John in one scene, after the island is gripped by hysteria after a whistle is stolen, mentions that he keeps his shotgun cocked and armed so he can get the drop on him. He then demonstrates poor trigger discipline, waves it around like a Majorette's baton, and points it at Ted, whilst slamming it down on the counter at the same time. We hear it go off when Ted leaves the shop, thanks to Mary attempting to wrestle in from John's grasp.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Zigzagged - at first Ted appears to be the more sensible, level-headed one, until one realises that he cares more about material possessions and wealth than spirituality and is perfect willing to throw away any scruples he might otherwise have in order to pursue some shallow goal (which is sometimes money but may also be beating Dick Byrne in some childish challenge), whereas Dougal for all his ditziness at least makes more of an effort to be a good priest or at least a good person (even though Ted knows more about how a good person is normally defined); moreover, he is also calmer and less excitable than Ted.
- Refuge in Audacity:
- Dougal figures that Ted Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse is so ridiculous, Brennan himself wouldn't believe it. Sure enough, Bishop Brennan gets kicked up the arse and it only occurs to him that this is what happened when he's in the Vatican having an audience with the Pope, upon which he runs full pelt back to Ireland, where Ted is able to convince him that Ted kicking the Bishop up the arse is too ridiculous to have actually happened, which the bishop believes ... until he sees a giant photograph of the act.
- Father "Todd Unctious", and how he infiltrates the trio's house comes down to this.
- Reliably Unreliable Guns: Averted by John's shotgun. He slams it down on the counter, causing Ted to jump, but it doesn't go off. John finds this hilarious.
- Repeated Cue, Tardy Response: Ted needs to hold a raffle for a prize that isn't his to give away, so he rigs the draw by giving Dougal the winning ticket. Dougal remains oblivious after the number is called several times, responding only when Ted addresses him directly. Better still, Ted gave Dougal the ridiculously easy number to remember of eleven, only for Dougal to falter by reading it upside-down.
- Reset Button: Unusually played at the beginning of an episode rather than at the end. "A Christmassy Ted" has a reference to all charges against Ted over the "Lourdes thing" (the offence that got him sent to Craggy Island) being dropped. The first episode of the next series, "Are You Right There, Father Ted?" shows him enjoying luxurious surroundings at a nice parish in Dublin ... before an accountant discovers irregularities in the parish accounts, sending him right back to Craggy Island.
- Rousing Speech: When the priests are lost in the lingerie section in "A Christmassy Ted", the youngest one, Father Deegan, breaks down in a panic and says that he's only been out of the seminary for two weeks and now he won't get a good posting, etc. In a parody of a WW2 movie, Ted becomes A Father to His Men and gives him one of these:Ted: Listen to me. I'm gonna make you a promise. One day, you and I, we're gonna be in that new parish of yours, sipping iced tea on the lawn. And this will all be just a memory. Can you hold out on that thought? Can you? Can you do that for me? [Father Deegan nods bravely] Good man.
- Extra funny since Father Deegan is played by a pre-fame Kevin McKidd, who years later would be Lucius Vorenus.
- Rule of Funny: As per Graham Linehan's over-the-top Signature Style. He's stated in interview that when everyone knows how farce comedy works and everything is running on the Rule of Funny anyway, attempting to make the scenarios at all "realistic" is just patronising and detracts from the potential humour. Hence things like the perfectly square bit of dirt, which he could have come up with a credulity-stretching Hand Wave for, but why bother? Without one, the setup for the joke is a surreal sight gag in itself.
- Running Gag: Too many to list, but here are a few examples:
- Ted calling Father Larry Duff on his mobile just when he's doing something important or dangerous and messing him up because of it. On one occasion he fell off a cliff while trying to find his phone. Another time he lost a ten thousand pound contest which required intense concentration.
- Any other priests that Ted calls tend to end up seriously injured or dead due to their phone ringing at an inconvenient time.
- Mrs. Doyle's constant tea offering is one of the most famous running gags. Her dedication to tea making is frankly disturbing. She asks over and over and over. Once, she asked via a very large series of written signs when the music was up too loud to talk. Another time when Ted came downstairs in the middle of the night, she was standing perfectly still next to the door holding a tray of tea, six inches from Ted's face when he turned the light on. She also offered tea to a man who had just explained he was deathly allergic to it, although he left before she could really press him. In fact, she tends to aggressively push various foods and drinks on people, but tea is the go-to.
- People on Craggy Island sure do jump out of windows a lot...
- John and Mary, the "loving couple" that keep trying to kill each other.
- Mrs. Doyle falling off the window bench whenever she stands on it to clean something or hang something up.
- Ted would like you to know that that money was just "resting in his account".
- Sarcasm-Blind: Mrs Doyle and Dougal both struggle with the concept.Ted: Mrs. Doyle, I know it's a bit confusing, but the trick is to do the opposite of what Father Jessup says.
- Sarcasm Mode: Father Jessup, "the most sarcastic priest in Ireland", appears to be in it all the time. It backfires on him horribly.
- Say My Name: Bishop Brennan does this when he's in pure rage mode, after realising that Ted really did kick him up the arse.CRILLY!!
- Scatting: The priests' performance of "La Marseillaise" in "A Christmassy Ted" is an incoherent mumble with no distinct words, English or French. (Although the mouth movements of at least one priest do roughly correspond with the French words.)
- "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: The mysterious sheep-eating beast, described by Dougal as follows:They say it's as big as four cats! And it's got a retractable leg so it can leap up at you better! And it lights up at night, and it's got four ears - two of them are for listening and the other two are just kind of backup ears. And its claws are as big as cups, and for some reason it's got a tremendous fear of stamps! And Mrs Doyle was telling me it's got magnets on its tail, so if you're made out of metal it can attach it to you! And instead of a mouth it's got four arses!
- Incidentally, four-arsed creations became a recurring theme on South Park some years later.
- Separated by a Common Language: In "Cigarettes And Alcohol And Rollerblading", the phrase that forms (in Ted's mind at least) from John's cigarette smoke takes on a whole new meaning if you're American.
- Senior Sleep-Cycle: Father Jack seemingly spends his entire life sleeping when he isn't drinking or yelling obscenities.
- Serious Business:
- "There's nothing at all stupid about the All-Priests Over-75's Five-a-Side Football Championship Match! Against Rugged Island." (Or the All Priests Stars in Their Eyes Lookalike Competition, for that matter.)
- The theft of a whistle prompting Craggy Island's one policeman to start doing helicopter sweeps and the Islanders to start locking themselves in the basement in case they're brutally murdered.
- According to Ted, only Priests' Socks are actually black. All other "black" socks are just really, really, really, really, really, REALLY dark blue.
- In "A Song for Europe", Ted's Atomic F-Bomb speech when they can't write the song ("Just play the f***ing note") is a shout out to a legendary 1970 rehearsal tape of The Troggs having a studio bust-up.
- The mad woman shouting "Feckin' Greeks!" looks (and flails) just like Maria von Trapp singing "I Have Confidence".
- Speed 3.
- In Series 3, the farmer who hires two idiots to frighten his sheep, so that he can stage its recovery and win the competition - and therefore a lot of money - with it, is called Fargo. Doubles as Foreshadowing for The Reveal.
- The two idiots are themselves a shout out to money-obsessed schemer Brian Quigley's two dozy incompetent henchmen in Ballykissangel (another more mainstream Irish comedy-drama). Assumpta Fitzgerald and Father Peter Clifford also appear in one of Ted's dreams, before Dougal wakes him up to offer him a peanut.
- What's more, the two idiots are named Hud and Giant, after films about cattle ranchers.
- The very first episode features a shout out to the 'Dueling Banjos' scene from Deliverance, coupled with scenes of the Craggy Island Fun Land and a man dancing a jig in the background of the duel.
- "Plague": Tom's going to take care of rabbits and thinks about using hammer, baseball bat, chainsaw and katana in that very order.
- One particular Shout-Out was itself lampshaded:Ted: I am fearless. Like that film with Jeff Bridges.
Dougal: I haven't seen that one.
Ted: Not a lot of people have Dougal, so it's probably a bad reference.
- In "Think Fast, Father Ted", Dougal compares their plan to fix the parochial house's roof (by holding a raffle) to a crime film:Dougal: You know what this is like, Ted? This is like The Sting, and you're Robert Redford and I'm Paul Newman.
- Shown Their Work: In "Hell", Dougal's diary lists July 19th as the day the name of the chocolate bar Marathon became Snickers. This line seems to be played for laughs, but this change did indeed occur on July 19th 1990.
- Similar Squad: The Rugged Island priests. They live in the same type of house as Ted, Dougal and Jack and have almost the exact same personalities, except that Dick Byrne is even more of a Jerkass than Ted is.
- Sinister Minister: Ted, Jack, and Bishop Brennan aside, several on and offscreen priests have incredibly shady dealings going on. At least two are Arms Dealers, another was involved in some sort of massacre, and another is a pyromaniac.
- Sir Swears-a-Lot: Two of the four words in Father Jack's usual vocabulary are "Feck!" (in common use in Ireland, and as close as the series can get to F-bombs without falling afoul of broadcast regulations) and "Arse!" They are second and third only to "Drink!" in frequency of use.
- Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Dick Byrne, along with the rest of Rugged Island's Psycho Rangers.
- Sleepless Alarm Clock: In the episode "Kicking Bishop Brennan Up The Arse", Ted talks to Dougal about whether or not to go through with kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse. He then tells Dougal "Let's get some sleep" and turns off the light, only to see that it's already daybreak, then he tells Dougal "At least we can get a few hours of sleep" when his alarm clock goes off.
- Small Reference Pools: In "Night of the Nearly-Dead", Ted's specialist subject on Eoin's television quiz was William Shatner's Tek Wars.
- Snipe Hunt: In the All-Priests Over-75s football match, Ted gives Dougal the task of guarding the corner flags against theft. This becomes relevant when Dick Byrne sends the equally-inept Cyril to steal one as a souvenir.
- Socially Unacceptable Collection: Father Fitzpatrick's collection of WWII Nazi memorabilia.
- Status Quo Is God: The start of Series 3 sees Ted transferred to a luxurious parish in Dublin, having redeemed himself by hosting the 1997 Comic Relief telethon, only for him to be transferred straight back to Craggy Island once it's discovered that he had again been embezzling the Church's money for personal use.
- Stay in the Kitchen: Ted and Dougal and even Mrs. Doyle towards Laura Sweeny, unable to believe that she was Jack's solicitor.
- Stock "Yuck!": Ultra Heat Treated milk.Head Milkman: You'd better get going. Milk gets sour you know - unless it's UHT milk, but there's no demand for that because it's shite.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: Weird example in "Speed 3" when Ted's think-tank team of priests seem to independently work out that the episode is a Whole-Plot Reference to an action film and the answer must lie in such a film, yet constantly pick the wrong ones which bear no relevance to the crisis, such as The Towering Inferno. More hilariously, they only pick The Poseidon Adventure because Gene Hackman plays a priest in it. He doesn't even say Mass!
- Straw Feminist: Niamh Connolly is stridently anti-Catholic - as befits her status as a thinly-veiled parody of Sinead O'Connor:Connolly: And the Church in Ireland actually shut down a lot of the factories that were making the potatoes and turned them into prisons for children.
Ted: There you go! She says that like there's something sinister about it!
- Strawman Political: Played for laughs with Bishop Brennan, who is designed to represent the worst aspects of the Catholic Church in Ireland. He is rude, a bully, a hypocrite (he lives in glamourous surroundings, soaking in a hottub with a woman, while the lower-ranked priests barely scrape by) and has a secret child living in America.
- Streisand Effect (In-Universe): The church's protests at "The Passion of St. Tibulus" result only in the film's overwhelming popularity.
- Suicide Mission: When Ted and Dougal really manage to piss Brennan off, Ted fears they will be sent off to do missionary work somewhere especially dangerous, with the ultimate aim of getting some of the natives to sacrifice them to Volcano Gods.Brennan: Ah, there's a lovely little island off the coast of Suriname, and they have a couple of tribes there — you're going to love this! — and they have been knocking the shit out of each other since 1907! And we have never found the right man to bring them together in the spirit of Christian harmony, but I think that you, Ted, are the man.
Ted: Well...thanks very much.
Brennan: Don't thank me, don't thank me...by the way, do you know how to make arrows?
- Suspiciously Specific Denial:
- "It's not a knifewound."
- "No Father, 'tis me money; just didn't want to sign the forms."
- Super Window Jump: Practically a Running Gag.
- Henry Sellers, whenever he falls Off the Wagon.
- Ted, when he chickens out of kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse. He walks straight back in through the door, dusting himself off and denying he'd done any such thing.
- Father Jack does it so often Ted replaces the window with Plexiglass.
- Take That Me: The Show Within a Show Father Ben. Dougal especially finds The Ditz character Brendan hilarious.
- Tempting Fate:
- In the Christmas Special, Ted announces that he is looking forward to "A nice quiet Christmas with no unusual incidents or strange people turning up. That would suit me down to the ground."
- In "The Mainland" when Ted suggests he say "I don't believe it" to Richard Wilson. According to Dougal, "Serious Ted, that is a fantastic idea. This is one of those times when I'm absolute one hundred million per cent sure that you'd be doing the right thing. I can safely say you definitely, definitely won't regret doing that!"
- That Makes Me Feel Angry:"OOH, I REALLY HATE FATHER DICK BYRNE!"
- The Thing That Would Not Leave: Father Stone's fondness for staying for days or weeks on end, bringing long, awkward pauses with him.
- They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: They Call Me Bishop Brennan
- This Is Reality: Several times, where dramatically or comedically required, Ted makes comments along this line:Ted: This is the real world!
Dougal: [playing with a magnetic fishing game] Oh you're right there Ted.
- Throw the Dog a Bone:
- "Competition Time" is the one episode where Ted and Co. are better off than when it began.
- Similarly, one of Larry Duff's appearances leads to a completely different priest being horrifically injured/killed rather than him.
- Totally Radical: Intentionally so. While working on "My Lovely Horse", Dougal makes a stilted attempt at rapping, prompting Ted to tell him to forget about his "Icy Tea" and "Scoopy Scoopy Dog Dog".
- Training from Hell: Parodied when the priests give up cigarettes, alcohol and rollerblading for Lent. The nun sent to then wakes them early, bathes them in ice, drags them from a tractor, shoots at them with a revolver and makes them sleep on bricks.
- Tropaholics Anonymous: Father Jack, having lost his glasses, sees a sign on a door and can only make out one word on it: "Drink?" After wandering in the full message is revealed: "Had enough of drink? Visit Alcoholics Anonymous today."
- Trope Codifier: Father Ted builds on earlier more mainstream TV sitcoms about priests, religion, and religious hierarchy, taking the themes and settings of earlier shows like Bless Me Father and Oh Brother! and taking them up to eleven and beyond. Without Derek Nimmo's relatively innocuous portrayal of a Church of England vicar in an otherwise anodyne sixties sitcom, there might have been no "Father Ted".
- Truth in Television: remarkably many of the outlandish events depicted in the series were based on real life. The bishop having a secret love child with his housekeeper was based on the real life Bishop Casey scandal. It is implied Father Jack has lecherous intentions towards the adolescent schoolgirls he was teaching and beat the male pupils, many instances of which were later revealed. The Republic of Ireland did indeed repeatedly win the Eurovision Song Contest and eventually entered a joke song performed by a puppet so they would not be stuck with the expense of hosting it again. A priest smuggling weapons to IRA terrorists and sheltering Nazi war criminals were also incidents taken from real life.
- T-Word Euphemism: In one episode, Mrs Doyle has been reading the works of a lady novelist staying at the parochial house and is shocked by the language. She refers to "the F-word", but this being Father Ted has to clarify "The bad F-word. [Not feck] Worse than feck."
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: Ted in a lift in "A Song for Europe" after hearing what he planned to use as a backing track.
- The Unfettered: Father Jack is completely unafraid to say what little he has on his mind.
- Mrs Doyle's first name is never mentioned, except for two occasions in "The Mainland", when an alarm bell and a dropped tray prevent the viewer from hearing it.
- The scripts book reveals that her name is Joan, but that the writers decided never to mention it in the series in order to add an element of mystery to it.
- Also, Mrs. Doyle very nearly talks about her husband in one episode, before abruptly cutting herself off.Mrs. Doyle: This reminds me of the time me and my husband... I've said too much.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Father Ted, while he isn't the worst, is still an egotistical crooked jerk. Perhaps best exemplified with his highly vitriolic award speech in "A Christmassy Ted".
- Unusual Euphemism:
- "Feck". (Not invented by the series, commonly used in Ireland)
- In one episode Ted goes to a park in which one is forbidden from swearing. He's called a "fupping backstard" and a "pedrophile", among other things.
- Unit Confusion: Ted drunkenly requests that Dougal get two hundred copies of the photo of him kicking Bishop Brennan up the arse for all his friends and a large one "ten by ten" for himself. He likely meant ten inches by ten inches, but Dougal being Dougal, comes back with one ten by ten feet.
- Unwitting Pawn: Ted and Dougal become this for Irish Eurosong selectors in "A Song For Europe".
- Vow of Celibacy:
- Bishop Brennan apparently has a mistress and a son, as shown in a holiday video tape found in his bag. The main characters use this tape as blackmail when Brennan threatens to reassign them somewhere even worse.
- Ted himself is tempted when he falls for Polly Clarke, until she decides to become a nun. He also has fantasies about Assumpta from Ballykissangel.
- Jack is stated to have had an affair with a nun known as "The Blue Nun" and is a general horndog.
- Watch The Paintjob: Happens in "Think Fast, Father Ted" with a Rover
- Waving Signs Around: "Careful now!" "Down with this sort of thing!"
- Wearing It All Wrong: One episode opens with a Self-Parody joke about Ted and Dougal watching an episode of Father Ben, in which Ben's junior priest Brendan is wearing a pair of shorts on his head.
- We Want Our Jerk Back!: At first Ted and Dougal are thrilled when Jack gets a contagious disease and has to be sent away. Then it turns out his replacement takes Jack's Jerkass qualities up to eleven until they're driven to kidnap him back.
- What Measure Is A Nonhuman: More like "What Measure is a Nun" in Dougal's mind.
- Wheelchair Antics: From one episode: "Honestly, what kind of situation would require the use of a pair of fake arms and a remote-controlled wheelchair? Only, I imagine, a completely ludicrous one!"
- When All You Have Is a Hammer…: "Is there anything to be said for saying another mass?"
- Where the Hell Is Springfield?: Craggy Island is off the West coast of Ireland, but apparently appears on no maps. Getting there involves heading West from Galway until one comes across British ships dumping nuclear waste in the area. For some reason, the general idea is if you're heading away from Craggy Island, you're going in the right direction.
- Whole-Plot Reference: "Speed 3", more or less.
- Wrong Genre Savvy: Ted and his fellow priests just can't work out where they've heard the plot of the episode "Speed 3" before.
- X Must Not Win: In the episode "Cigarettes and Alcohol and Rollerblading", after being goaded into giving up something for Lent by Father Dick Byrne, Ted gives Dougal a lecture on the importance of Lent, something far more important than the sacrifices made by Jesus as the latter points out, but beating Dick Byrne at his bet.
- Your Approval Fills Me with Shame: In one episode, Ted is seen doing a racist "Chinaman" impression through the window of the church by a group of Chinese passers-by. He runs after them to apologise, only to be stopped by a couple of locals who applaud him for "standing up" to them and ask how they, too, can become full-time racists. Ted is horrified.
- Zombie Apocalypse: Spoofed in the main plot of "Night of the Nearly Dead", in which hordes of elderly women descend upon the parochial house to get a glimpse of singer Eoin McLove.