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Series / Ted Lasso

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"For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It's about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves, on and off the field. And it ain't always easy, but neither is growing up without someone believing in you."
Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso is a live-action sports sitcom on Apple TV+, developed by Bill Lawrence, Jason Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt, and Joe Kelly. It stars Sudeikis, Hunt, Hannah Waddingham, Jeremy Swift, Brett Goldstein, Phil Dunster, Nick Mohammed, and Juno Temple.

The eponymous Ted Lasso is an American college football coach who is hired as the new manager of the fictional English Premier League soccer club AFC Richmond, despite having absolutely no experience with the beautiful game. The woman who hired him, Rebecca Welton, is deeply resentful of her ex-husband Rupert's infidelity and emotional abuse; since AFC Richmond is the one thing that Rupert truly loved, she's hoping that Ted's coaching will cause the team to tank just so she can spite him. Despite this, Ted is undaunted by his lack of experience, and he sets about bringing his unique style of coaching to the club and works to win over everyone he comes across.

The show was based on a series of adverts for NBC Sports' coverage of the Premier League from 2013 to 2014, where Lasso instead coached Tottenham Hotspur. The series premiered on August 14, 2020. Before season 2 even began filming, Apple renewed the show for a third season, which premiered in 2023; Bill Lawrence has indicated that the show will likely not continue past that point, due to Sudeikis's availability.

Previews: First Look Trailer, Official Trailer.

The series contains examples of:

  • Actor Allusion: There are several allusions that doubles as a Shout-Out to Jason Sudeikis's uncle George Wendt, whose most famous role is Norm in Cheers:
    • Ted entrance into Rebecca's office in "Goodbye Earl" mirrors the Running Gag of Norm's entrance into Cheers.
    • In "Rainbow", the Kebab Shop has a signed photo of Wendt posing at the Cheers bar counter and it's next to a photo of Roy Kent.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the original ads, Ted is portrayed as a stereotypical dumb, obnoxious American. Here, he's a sweet, dogged optimist with major Hidden Depths.
  • All There in the Manual: All of the background players on the team have names and backstories found in Arlo White's commentator notes, though some of them fall under Schrödinger's Canon as outlined below.
  • Always Someone Better: Jamie's fall from grace among his Richmond teammates coincides with the arrival of Dani Rojas, an equally talented and far more likeable player.
  • And Starring: "With Juno Temple".
  • Arc Villain: Rebecca, through most of Season 1, actively attempts to ruin AFC Richmond because she wants revenge on her ex-husband, since he cared more about the team than her. Towards the season finale, Ted's genuine kindness and determination win her over, along with Rebecca admitting that seeing the team fail hasn't made her happy.
    • In season 2, the Arc Villain is Nate, as he starts to become obsessed with his need for attention and lets his newfound authority go to his head.
    • And in season 3 the Arc Villain (and ultimately, overall villain of the series) is Rupert.
  • Artistic License – Law: During Season 3, Michelle begins dating her and Ted's former therapist Dr. Bryanson less than two years after her and Ted's marriage counseling. This would be illegal in real life; under Kansas law (which governs because the counseling took place in that state), therapists must wait a minimum of 24 months following the ceasing of all contact with the patient and have the relationship reviewed before a licensing board before they can date. When asked about this during a Reddit AMA, Brendan Hunt admitted that one of the show's writers erroneously claimed that therapist-client relationships are legal following an 18 month period of not having sessions and the rest of them didn't fact-check it.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The creators are upfront about the fact they don't always use proper British English vocabulary for the dialogue since Americans are the primary audience. The most obvious example of this is the various British footballers, reporters and fans who say "tie" instead of "draw" and "locker room" instead of "changing room".
  • Artistic License – Sports: While it gets the Beautiful Game mostly right, there's a few things that are either done incorrectly or changed for the sake of the show's plot and drama.
    • In Real Life, the Football Association in England requires all managers and coaches have an accredited coaching certification from a governing body that testifies to their association football expertise and credentials. Given Ted's lack of experience or knowledge of the sport, it would be impossible for someone like him to be certified or hired to manage a Premier League club in reality note .
    • Richmond's last game of the season against Manchester City is played at night. In real life, all ten fixtures of the Premier League's final round of games simultaneously kick off at 3pm, well inside daylight hours.
    • While it's played for Black Comedy, a Real Life referee would order a penalty kick to be retaken if the shot were inadvertently blocked by a dog running onto the pitch note . Granted, Dani probably would've been too traumatized to successfully score on the retake, considering that he kicked the ball so hard that the dog died from the impact.
    • Jamie Tartt seems to be unaware that removing his shirt when celebrating a goal is a bookable offence. Granted, Jamie is somewhat Book Dumb, but you'd expect a professional footballer to know that, especially if he's done it in the past, which is implied. The same goes for Zava in the third series; if he does get booked for doing so, it is not stated.
    • In Season 2, Higgins mentions that because the players signed their contracts before Richmond was relegated, they're now stuck paying Premier League rates for a team that's only making a Championship income. In reality, football contracts almost always have clauses specifying that players will have to take a pay cut, commonly a 50% cut to every payment or bonus, if the team gets relegated, thus avoiding this exact scenario note .
    • The club itself doesn't seem to suffer at all from the relegation. Unless a club has a billionaire owner who doesn't care about the profit/loss sheet, a top level club being relegated cause a massive internal shock to the organisation, with staff being fired, other staff being cut to part-time, wages in general being reduced, significant cost savings having to be found and being faced with angry fans, or fans who lose interest and subsequently spend less money with the club, which extends to reduced ticket sales because marquee matches are lost & lowered merchandising and sponsorship revenue. This is somewhat mitigated by the fact that clubs receive parachute payments the first season after being relegated and Richmond gets promoted back to the Premier League on their very first try, so the financial blow wouldn't be quite as dramatic in the long term; plus, Rebecca is repeatedly shown to have an Arbitrarily Large Bank Account thanks to divorcing Rupertnote , so it's possible she just covered any losses.
    • In the Season 2 finale, AFC Richmond are stated to need a single point to secure promotion from the Championship back to the Premier League, with the show acting as if it's their last chance to do so. In reality, the Championship grants automatic promotion to the top two sides, with a third team gaining promotion through a series of play-offs played amongst the next four highest-placed teams. Granted, waiting an entire year to try again would certainly be disappointing, but it wouldn't have been AFC Richmond's last chance as they'd've still been in with a chance via the play-offs.
    • In a non-association football example, Ted is depicted as being the head coach of Wichita State University's American football team before being hired by Richmond. In real life, the school's football program was discontinued in the 1980s. Wichita State is also mentioned to be an NCAA Division II school in the show's universe despite being Division I in real life. This is likely done to emphasize Ted's lack of qualifications for the Richmond job and justify his "winning isn't everything" coaching philosophy, as the best DI athletes often go on to play professionally, and all need to be coached more like professionals.
    • In season 2, a subplot revolves around the hiring of psychologist Dr. Sharon Fieldstone and the impact she makes on the team during her stint. In reality, in-house mental health personnel is a staple in any professional sports club and the notion of a team without their own permanently employed psychologists would be as outlandish as a team without their own physical therapists.
    • In Season 3, Isaac gets a red card and has to cede the captain's armband, which Sam and Jamie then have a friendly little squabble over. Professional football teams have designated second and third captains to whom leadership immediately fall to if the first captain has to leave the field for whatever reason
  • Ascended Fanboy:
    • No matter how much the pub regulars complain to and about Ted, Jeremy and Paul at least acknowledge how cool it is that they're on a first-name basis with the manager of their favorite Premier League club.
    • By the end of the first season, Nate, when Ted and Coach Beard promote him from kit man to assistant coach.
  • As Himself: Real-life football commentators Arlo White and Chris Powell play themselves, providing commentary for all of Richmond's matches.
  • Asshole Victim: When Jamie's abusive, possibly drunk father comes down to Richmond's locker room to taunt him and the team after their FA Cup loss to Manchester City, Jamie finally has enough and punches him right across the jaw. Mr. Tartt is then forced out of the room by Coach Beard, who deliberately hits his head against the door on the way out.
  • Author Appeal: The Richmond players' obsession with high-end sneakers likely comes from Jason Sudeikis being an avid sneaker collector himself (though admittedly players should be invested in their footwear, considering how important it is to their ability to play).
  • Bait-and-Switch: In Season 2, the show leads us to believe that Rebecca is flirting with Ted on Bantr, but the ending of "The Signal" reveals that it's actually Sam.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Throughout Season 1 and the first half of Season 2, everyone wanted Nate to step up and be more confident: Roy demanded he stop reading his roast and do it face to face, Ted and Beard encouraged him to come out of his shell and share his football strategies with the team, and Rebecca and Keeley helped him learn to be more assertive. As a result, Nate went from kit boy to amazing coach... and then the praise went to his head and he turned into a complete asshole.
  • Beta Couple: AFC Richmond's Director of Football Operations, Leslie Higgins, has been married to his wife Julie for almost 30 years. They're raising five sons and by all accounts are a loving and happy couple who welcome their home to the team. This is in contrast to recent divorcees Ted and Rebecca, Beard's toxic on-and-off with Jane, and new couple Roy and Keeley. Lampshaded when Rebecca is considering meeting with her dating app match and complains that Keeley and Leslie are comfortable telling her to go for it because they're both in annoyingly perfect relationships. The show rebuts that claim about Keeley and Roy (since he isn't giving her any space) but not about Leslie and Julie.
  • Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head:
    • Ted's son Henry employs this sort of language when he throws a tantrum, and Ted threatens to copy him if the Richmond team doesn't stop speaking cryptically around him.
    • So does Jamie in 2x05 in attempt to get Roy to coach him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Particularly with Dani Rojas. In particular, his post-Earl shower in 2x01 has him frantically reciting the Ave Maria in Spanish.
  • Bittersweet Ending: All three seasons end this way:
    • Season 1 ends with Richmond getting relegated after a Hope Spot where it looked like they might be able to stay in the Premier League, while Roy has suffered a Career-Ending Injury and Jamie is back at Manchester City with his every move being criticized by his abusive father. However, thanks to Ted's influence, the team is overall much happier and emotionally healthier, Rebecca is now fully supportive of Ted and the club, and Ted expresses optimism that they will bounce back and ultimately "win the whole fuckin' thing."
    • At the end of Season 2, Richmond wins promotion back to the Premier League, but Nate has betrayed Ted and gone to work for Rupert, and Roy and Keeley's relationship is on uncertain ground.
    • Season 3, and the series as a whole, ends with Richmond narrowly missing out on the Premier League title, but still securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League, Nate redeeming himself and returning to the Richmond coaching staff, Rupert finally being exposed to the public for his true nature, and Rebecca finding new love. However, Ted chooses to leave Richmond and return home to his family, much to the sadness of all of his British friends and colleagues. Coach Beard also decides to stay in England to be with Jane, meaning the two of them won't work together any longer. Nevertheless, Ted's positive influence has left a lasting impact at AFC Richmond and the club, with Roy as the new manager, will continue to honor his legacy and lessons going forward.
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: Spouse variation. Ted and Rebecca help each other cope with their respective recent divorces.
  • Booked Full of Mooks: When Ghanian multibillionaire Edwin Akufo tries to convince Sam Obisanya to leave AFC Richmond and sign on with his team, he takes Sam to an art museum to have a chat. Midway through, Edwin reveals that he rented out the whole museum for the day and everyone else there (even a man Edwin claims is actually Banksy) is an actor.
  • Book Ends:
    • Each season opens and ends with an extreme close up of a character's face. In Season One it was Rebecca, in Season Two it was Nate, and in Season Three it was Ted.
    • The second season also begins and ends with Dani taking a penalty kick.
  • Both Sides Have a Point: In regards to Ted's "winning isn't everything" and "teaching life lessons" coaching philosophy. On the one hand, giving Sam a birthday party and gifting him snacks from his home country of Nigeria helps the guy get over his home-sickness and he starts playing to his potential. On the other hand, Beard points out that Ted's blasé attitude towards the possibility of relegation blinds him to the fact that relegation has serious financial ramifications for both the club and players. Justified since Ted's coaching style was developed for lower-division college students, who face different types of pressure than professional players do.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In season 1 episode 9, Ted starts telling Beard a joke, "What does a British owl say?" but Beard is deliberately ignoring Ted for... reasons. It's not until episode 5 of season 2 that Beard reminds Ted that he never delivered the punchline. When Ted does deliver that punchline, Beard laconically deadpans, "Worth the wait".
    • One that literally takes the entire length of the show to land. In the beginning of the very first episode of the series, Rebecca fires coach George Cartrick for his poor winning record, his jerkass behavior, and the fact that he wears shorts that are so small and tight that he exposes himself. In the final episode of the series, when coaching West Ham in the climactic game, Cartrick is knocked to the ground by Rupert and indeed ends up exposing himself; on national TV, no less.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: The players will sometimes needle Ted for being American. Roy mocks him by putting on a (dreadful) cowboy accent, and Jamie pointedly says, "who cares, it's just practice" (it's called "training" in the UK).
    • It's also a reference to Allen Iverson's infamous Practice Rant, which Ted Lasso then performs almost word-for-word.
  • British Brevity: Though an American show, it takes place in Britain and is capped at only 10 episodes for the first season (though even American shows on streaming channels are often only 10 episodes or so long).
  • Brits Love Tea: A point of contention between Ted and the British characters. He hates it and thinks it's a great big joke that the Brits are playing on the world. Subverted by Dr. Sharon, who is revealed to hate tea, immediately endearing Ted to her.
    Ted: Be honest with me. It's a prank, right? The tea? Like when us tourist folks aren't around, y'all know this tastes like garbage.
    Roy: No. I love it!
    Ted: You don't love it. It's pigeon sweat!
  • Bully Turned Buddy:
    • Jamie puts down Sam a lot in the first season, so much so that Sam tells Ted, "Nobody has ever made me feel as bad about myself as Jamie did." But Jamie standing up for Sam's cause and recognizing his growth as a player makes them more friendly, so much so that Jamie wears Sam's number while playing for England in Season 3, since Sam wasn't chosen for the Nigeria team.
    • Colin and Isaac bullied Nate in the first season, but come to respect him as assistant coach and are the ones to ask him back to Richmond in Season 3.
    • Nate is horrible to Will in Season 2, taking out his own self-loathing on the new kitman. Nate's first step towards making amend with Richmond is to clean up the locker room and leave an apology note for Will in Season 3, and Will is one of the ones to ask Nate back.
  • Call-Back:
    • Roy and Keeley's reactions to Ted's antics:
      • Keeley, episode 1: I never know how to react when a grown man beatboxes in front of me.
      • Roy, episode 9: I never know how to react when a grown man does The Carlton in front of me.
    • Jamie making the extra pass that he never would at Richmond, winning the game for Manchester City and relegating Richmond in the process.
    • Ted's reaction to drinking fizzy water in the first and last episodes of the first season.
    • In season 2 episode 8, Sharon watches Lust Conquers All: All-Stars. One previous winner is Danthony, who Jamie got Voted Off the Island against in his reality TV stint.
    • Keeley's Easily Impressed reaction to Higgins' unhelpful anecdotes:
      • Season 2, episode 11: "God, I wish I could write fiction."
      • Season 3, episode 2: "God, I wish I could read lips."
    • Roy’s first piece of coaching advice to Jamie (season 2, episode 6) is to “be a prick” during matches but “only when it is appropriate” and he will know when that is when he is given a signal. In the next match, this signal is revealed to be his coaches all flipping him the bird in perfect unison. A year later (season 3, episode 7), Jamie says that he is reluctant to give his opinion on why the team is failing with their current game plan because he “don’t want everyone to think I’m being a prick”. Cue everyone in the locker room all instantly flipping him the bird (almost in perfect unison).
  • The Cameo:
    • Independent singer and busker Cam Cole plays himself and rocks the house in "For the Children".
    • Singer Fleur East appears as herself hosting Lust Conquers All a couple of times in season 2.
    • Referee Mike Dean officiates the FA Cup semifinal.
  • Canis Latinicus: The Pretentious Latin Motto of AFC Richmond, painted on the wall of the locker room, is "Gradarius Firmus Victoria", which doesn't mean anything, but is meant to be a garbled rendition of 'slow and steady wins the race'.
  • Character Development: A big focus of the show is how Ted's positive attitude doesn't just improve the team, but helps the various players become better versions of themselves. Jamie loses his It's All About Me attitude, Roy finds healthier ways of managing his anger, etc.
    • Kind of horrifically subverted with Nate's arc, where his inner Jerkass tendencies come to the fore over the second season.
  • Children as Pawns: Although Rebecca deeply wanted to be a mother, Rupert always claimed he didn't want children and so they didn't have any. Soon after their divorce, he gets his new girlfriend pregnant and gloats that he just didn't want to have children with her. Later, he takes his baby daughter to Rebecca's father's funeral knowing it will upset her.
  • Chilly Reception: The members and fans of AFC Richmond were not particularly happy at first to have an American with no experience of The Most Beautiful game being made coach, believing, not without reason, that he'll end up dragging them all down. They change their tune soon, as he gets results and due to him being a total Nice Guy.
  • Christmas Episode: The show has two of them:
    • "Carol of the Bells" focuses on Ted and Rebecca spending Christmas together, Roy and Keeley having to host Phoebe after her mother needs to work an emergency surgery, and Higgins and his family throwing their annual Christmas party for all of Richmond's international players.
    • "The Missing Christmas Mustache" is a noncanonical claymation short set during "Carol of the Bells" that features Ted trying to recover his missing mustache before his Facetime with Henry.
  • Clothing Reflects Personality:
    • In Season 2, each of Richmond's coaches dresses differently for matches.
      • Ted dresses in business casual, opting for a sweater over slacks and a dress shirt rather than a full suit because he's easy-going and not coaching from a position of superiority.
      • Beard wears training gear as he's very laid-back and doesn't care too much about clothing beyond appearing presentable.
      • Nate originally wears a warm-up jacket over a shirt and tie. However, as the season progresses, he switches to a full suit because he wants to project an image of confidence and maturity. As his need for attention increases, the suits become tighter and flashier. In Season 3, however, he steadily reverts back to casual clothing.
      • Roy wears training gear as he's still a player at heart. When he isn't in kit, he wears clothing that's always entirely black or in very dark colors, reflecting his surly, standoffish personality. One episode of Season 3 has him wear a tye-dyed shirt in red, orange and yellow colors that his niece Phoebe made for him, and everyone is shocked by the change.
    • Rebecca and Keeley's opposing senses of style highlight their different personalities:
      • Rebecca's clothes are always elegant, dressy, and somewhat conservative, reflecting her more reserved and formal personality.
      • Keeley, who is younger, bubblier, and less refined than Rebecca, tends to wear loud, fashionably offbeat clothing and frequently incorporates casual items like sweatpants into her wardrobe.
  • Company Credit Card Abuse: The first hint that Keeley's friend Shandy may not be a good fit as an employee at her public relations firm is that she suggests to Keeley that they use the company's credit card to buy themselves mimosas.
  • Cool Car: Quite a few, including Rebecca's Rolls-Royce, Sam's Tesla, and of course Colin's Lamborghini. A Justified Trope as most of the characters are rich or wealthy and can easily afford high-end cars, while less well-off characters like Higgins and Nate are shown driving more modest vehicles. The latter, however, receives a stylish Aston Martin as a gift courtesy of Rupert Mannion in Season 3.
  • Country Matters: Notably averted. Plenty of characters swear a lot, and while said word is considered less vulgar in Britain, it's the only swear word explicitly forbidden by the show's network.
    • However, there is a case of Getting Crap Past the Radar in episode 10 of season 3. Jamie is invited to an “Uncle’s Day” party by Roy’s niece Phoebe. As a gift, he gives Roy a version of his 2014 World Cup shirt and claims he had the “E changed to a U” in Roy's last name on the back. It takes Phoebe a moment to figure out what Jamie means and she charges him a pound for making her think of a bad word.
  • Deconstructed Trope: After Season One demonstrates that Ted's relentless positivity is genuine and has positive effects on most people, Season Two starts to show some of the issues with it. Ted himself is a bit of a Stepford Smiler, repressing his own negative emotions and being scared of going to therapy. Worse, the revealed motivation for Nate's Face–Heel Turn is that he was so bowled over by that kind of positive attention that he felt abandoned when he stopped getting it after his promotion, something Ted seemingly didn't even realise had happened.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: A big part of the first season is Ted and the team breaking down Rebecca's walls and making her part of the family, helping her overcome the trauma of her abusive relationship with Rupert. She wanted to destroy the team, but finally came to understand that she'd just be hurting a lot of innocent people and not really doing anything to Rupert.
  • Destructive Romance: Beard is in a toxic relationship with Jane. He knows she's clingy and jealous and puts him through emotional turmoil, but he can't help but return to her after each of their many breakups.
    Ted: Man, y'all's baggage just matches right up, don't it?
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Two examples from Season 3:
    • After a few hookups, Ted asks Sassy out on a date, only for her to politely turn him down.
    • In the final episode, Roy and Jamie ask Keely to choose between them, and she chooses neither.
  • Did Not Think This Through: It visibly occurs to Nate halfway through the team's calls to find and beat the living daylights out of whoever leaked the news of Ted's mental health that it was probably a bad idea messing with the Team Dad of two dozen athletic, excitable men.
    • In Season 3, during their first game with West Ham, Richmond goes down 2-0. Roy and Beard, feeling that Ted has been too lenient in the lead up, decide to show the security cam footage of Nate ripping up the Believe sign in order to fire up the team. It worked TOO well. The team, outside of Zava who is ambivalent, is absolutely incensed coming out of the half. But telling them at halftime gave them no time to actually come down from the fury, so they end up playing half cocked and reckless. Bumbercatch almost immediately gets a Red Card on a hard sliding tackle, and it all goes downhill from there with everyone, even the nicest players on the team in Sam and Dani, playing like they're ready to fight at any moment. Thus a lesson was learned by Roy, Beard and the audience. Unchecked rage does no one any good.
  • Disappointing Promotion: The first half of Season 2 deals with Roy looking for a new career post retirement from football. He initially takes a job as a pundit on Sky Sports at Keeley's insistence. While popular with viewers because of his profane and straightforward nature, Roy finds he's miserable because he prefers have his head in the game, not looking at it as a spectator. Roy ultimately leaves the pundit gig after realizing he has a better opportunity as an assistant coach for Richmond.
    Roy: I told you, I dunno! All we do is sit around here and guess what a bunch of little pricks are gonna do out there, then we come back at halftime and complain because they didn't do what we thought they'd do! We don't know. Course we don't know. We're not in the locker rooms with them! We're not on the pitch with them! We can't look 'em in the eyes and encourage them to be better than they ever thought they were capable of being! We're just... we're just on the outside. Looking in. Judging them.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • In response to Will giving him a custom Richmond kit that says "Wonder Kid" on the nameplate in what was meant to be an entirely friendly gesture, Nate confronts him privately and threatens to make his life a fucking misery if he ever does anything like that again.
    • Jamie's father screams at him and throws a shoe at his head for passing the ball to a teammate instead of making the game-winning goal himself (worse when you realize that probably half the reason they made the goal is because he passed; Jamie's former team are so used to him being selfish and always taking the shot himself that they disregarded the possibility of him passing).
    • After Roy and Beard show the team the video of Nate destroying the "BELIEVE" sign, the footballers fly into a rage and take that onto the field to use against the blameless players of West Ham, getting violent and with several members of the teams getting red cards.
  • Downer Beginning: Season 2 starts with Dani Rojas accidentally killing a dog that ran onto the field with a penalty kick, an incident that got him in need of professional help.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season 1, episode 5, which ends with Ted realizing he needs to let his wife go and they agree to get a divorce.
    • Season 1, episode 6, when, after months of trying to get Jamie to become a team player, he finally gets through to him only for Jamie to be sent back to Manchester City the next morning.
    • Season 1 as a whole ends with Richmond being relegated after a game against the much better Manchester City, Roy with a potentially career-ending injury, and Jamie being screamed at by his father for making the extra pass to win the game instead of trying to score the goal himself.
    • Season 2, episode 7: Nate has seemingly resolved to stop bullying Colin and Will, only for a single rude tweet to cause him to backslide and threaten to make Will's life "a fucking misery" if he ever embarrasses Nate again.
    • Season 2, episode 8: The team suffers a crushing defeat against Man City, Jaime's father abuses him in front of the entire team in the locker room, and Ted tearfully confesses to Sharon that his father committed suicide when he was a teen.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: Early episodes imply that Higgins' sons don't have much respect for him. By Season 2, however, it's established that he has the most-settled personal life out of all the characters and that his sons adore him.
    • The original NBC Sports shorts show us a very different Ted Lasso. Not only is he completely incompetent at coaching, but unlike in the series he loves tea and thinks that "Earl Grey" (the person he thinks invented it) is a genius. And no, he doesn't realize that "Earl" is a title and not a name.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Rebecca's calm, poised, and scathing firing of Richmond's old coach.
    • Our first exposure to Ted occurs on his plane flight out to England and we see his determined optimism shine in his conversations with Coach Beard. However, when he first returns to his seat we see he is reading The Dharma Bums by Jack Kerouac, strongly suggesting some Hidden Depths to his character. His inability to sleep, which can easily be taken as excitement, is our first nod to his mental health struggles. His philosophy is more solidly laid out in episode 3 during his interview with Trent Crimm, a reporter from The Independent.
    • Roy's reaction to Ted's first press conference in which he angrily tells the team to be quiet and they all listen to him, as well as his colourful language during first practice.
    • Jamie Tartt's self-centered behavior during the first practice.
    • Nate switching from frantically yelling at Lasso and Beard while he mistakes them for intruders to apologizing in an extremely servile way after he realizes they outrank him. Doubles as Foreshadowing for his Character Development as he starts rising up the ranks.
    • Rupert crashing Rebecca's speech at her gala and making it about himself.
    • Dani Rojas's enthusiastic entrance.
    • Keeley's fun-loving yet media-savvy, responsible, and kind personality is established when she walks into the locker room to take Jamie to a waxing appointment to help with his brand, flirtatiously teases the team, and apologizes to Ted for interrupting him. It's cemented when she comes back to get Jamie's phone, during which she plays a couple of jokes on Ted, but also gives him a friendly warning to stay away from Twitter and sincerely welcomes him to England.
    • Dr. Fieldstone introducing herself as a Consummate Professional, but also demonstrating that her cool attitude doesn't make her mean or snobby by asking Ted, Nate, and Beard what their record is in their paper-tossing game and complimenting them on the impressive number.
    • Jan Maas bluntly telling Colin that he's the only one who played poorly, which Sam quickly explains is not Jan being rude, just him being Dutch.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Well not so much "evil" per se, but George Cartrick is shown to be nothing more than a complete and utter prick in every appearance he has in the series, making everyone else miserable. But in the Season 3 Finale, when Rupert orders him to have West Ham take out Jamie, he staunchly refuses as he has far too much respect for the game of football itself to sink to that level.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Zig-Zagged. Keeley, Roy, Jamie, and many of the AFC Richmond players are shown or implied to Really Get Around, but they also have a much easier time attracting willing sexual partners than the average person due to being wealthy celebrities, while more "normal" characters like Ted, Nate, and Beard don't seem to have sex all that frequently. Rebecca also has a fair amount of sex in Season 2, but it's played as her trying to "get back out there" after her divorce over a year prior, and she ultimately realizes that she needs to be on her own for a while longer.
  • Everyone Owns a Mac: This being an Apple TV+ show, all the characters are regularly seen typing away on Macs and using iPhones, often with the logo visible.
  • Evil, Inc.: Richmond's former main sponsor, Dubai Air, is a shady company owned by an even shadier company. Cerithium Oil is responsible for major environmental damage in Nigeria and bribes the local government to look the other way. When Sam pulls out of an ad campaign after finding out about it, their executive casually demands that Rebecca oust him from the team.
  • Expy Coexistence:
    • AFC Richmond is heavily based on Crystal Palace FC (with their stadium Selhurst Park even standing in for Nelson Road Stadium), but Crystal Palace still exists in the show's universe.
    • In "Do the Right-est Thing", Rebecca brings her goddaughter Nora by the "Dolls of England" shop. When Nora pokes fun at the brand (apparently, every character is an orphan), Rebecca concedes that "the Americans do the 'historical doll' concept better".
    • Dubai Air is a nod to Real Madrid sponsor Fly Emirates. Their parent company Cerithium Oil is a fossil fuel giant with an industry-typical history of environmental atrocities, very much like Gazprom, who have been involved multiple teams over the years, most notably Chelsea. Since both clubs exist in the show and are way out of Richmond's league, it's to be assumed their sponsors do too.
  • Fast-Food Nation: Invoked. Before warming up to Ted, Roy frequently insults him and his American background by making references to McDonald's (i.e. "I hope you choke on a Big Mac").
  • Fauxshadow: Throughout season 2, Richmond owner Rebecca has a growing infatuation with a match on the new anonymous dating app, Bantr. There are several teases that it might secretly be Ted she's chatting with, such as when the scene cuts from her sending to a reply to Ted looking down at his phone (with the screen not visible), and the fact that she gets no new messages while AFC Richmond is playing. Episode 6 reveals it's actually Sam, whose protest against their previous sponsor's polluting subsidiary led to Bantr becoming their new sponsor.
  • Female Gaze: The show has much more male nudity than female, and very often for the benefit of the female characters. Although it has the excuse of being partly set in a men's locker room there are several scenes which call attention to the disparity:
    • Jamie keeps a topless photo of his model girlfriend Keeley in his locker, which we don't get to see until after Ted has already covered her bare breasts with masking tape.
    • Although we learn that there exist topless photos of Rebecca, which Keeley demands to see, they are hidden from the audience's view (although Keeley is very impressed by them).
    • Roy does not bother to put on a shirt as he dashes outside the stadium to look for Jamie, leading Keeley (who is arriving) to quite shamelessly leer at him.
    • Rebecca happens to head down to the locker room just as most of the players are changing, leading to several butt shots as they hastily get dressed. Notably, this is the only time we see explicit nudity in the locker room during the entire first season.
    • There's another butt shot in "The Signal" when Rebecca's booty call has gone into the kitchen without bothering to put on any clothes (meanwhile, Rebecca is wearing a nightie even though she's still in bed). He is seen by three women, including Rebecca's mother, who makes a comment about "biscuits" as the camera cheekily pans down to show his naked rear.
  • Fictional Counterpart:
    • AFC Richmond parallels with Crystal Palace FC, as both are London-based Premier League clubs with long histories but very little glory, and red-and-blue colour schemes. Ironically, Crystal Palace still exist in the show's verse, as they are Richmond's first opponents during Ted's tenure.
    • Lust Conquers All, the trashy reality TV dating show Jamie winds up in as of season 2, is a very obvious knockoff of Love Island.
    • In addition to its similarities to Gazprom, Cerithium Oil is a clear stand-in for Shell Oil, both being oil companies with seashell namesnote  that have massively polluted Nigeria.
  • Fictional Social Network: Season 2 introduces Bantr, a newly-released dating app that Keeley arranges to sponsor Richmond. The idea is that unlike most dating apps, it doesn't have the option to upload pictures, so people can only connect through conversations.
  • Fish out of Water: Ted's a Division II gridiron football coach from Kansas, who ends up working in the world's biggest league for the other kind of football.
  • Foot-Dragging Divorcee: Downplayed, because Ted signs his divorce papers relatively quickly, but he spends a whole episode angsting about it and it hits him really hard, so much so that he starts having panic attacks.
  • Foreshadowing: Storylines are planned out quite far in advance, so the show often hints at future events through small lines and details:
    • The Reveal in "Man City" that Ted's father committed suicide is repeatedly foreshadowed. Ted mentions in season 1 that his father passed away when he was 16, while in the season 2 premier he tells Jamie that his father "was a lot harder on himself than he ever was on me" and noncommittally stays silent when Jamie tells him he's lucky for that; in that same episode Sharon says her favorite book is The Prince of Tides, which is also about a sports coach with a suicidal relative. "Carol of the Bells" also shows him watching George Bailey's suicide attempt in It's a Wonderful Life with a mournful expression.
    • Isaac had a tendency of taking losses too personally, such as when Jamie returned to Richmond and apologized for his behavior, only for Isaac to snap that it was his fault Richmond got relegated. (Mind you, Jamie was on the opposing team in that match, which meant it was his job to score points on the Greyhounds.) This becomes a minor character arc for him in "Rainbow", when Roy reminds him that, as important as it is to try and win the matches, football is still just a game that you are meant to enjoy playing.
    • Nate has a few Played for Laughs outbursts in season 1 and early season 2 that actually foreshadow his Face–Heel Turn in mid-season 2. Notable examples include him furiously calling Rebecca a shrew when he thinks he's being fired, his joke that they should just show Dani his paycheck to motivate him to play better, and his micromanaging of Will, the replacement kit manager. According to his actor, Nate choosing not to get up to dance with the team at the gala in season 1 is also an early hint at Nate's more calculating, power-hungry side.
    • Colin being gay and in the closet is hinted at a couple of times in Season 2 before being confirmed in Season 3. Most obviously, he immediately blurts out that Bantr is spelled like the gay hookup app Grindr in "Do The Right-est Thing", but he's also the only character wearing a vest in "No Weddings and a Funeral" as a nod to Simon Callow's character in the titular film, who is known for wearing elaborate vests and is openly gay. Season 2 also more generally hints that Colin is hiding something from the team: he's the only character other than Ted who is repeatedly shown having therapy sessions with Dr. Sharon, his performance on the pitch suffers throughout the season, and he struggles with self-esteem issues and insecurities about his place on the team that have no clear origin.
  • Found Family: With Ted at its heart. The second season Christmas Episode tells us that the Higgins household has had an open invitation for any players unable to have dinner with their own to come and have Christmas dinner with them every year, but that virtually no one ever took them up on it. This year, every international player shows up, forcing the family to hastily improvise seating for twenty. No one minds.
  • Greek Chorus: Commenters Arlo White and Chris Powell go far beyond merely commenting Richmond's games. Sometimes they share the honor with the pub regulars.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Ted learns one in each of the first two seasons:
    • Season One: While having a "winning isn't how we measure success" philosophy works well with amateur sports, in professional sports, particularly ones with a promotion/relegation system like the Premier League, winning and losing does matter because the players' and clubs' careers and livelihoods depend on success. Therefore, you have to prioritize the team's success over individual players' feelings.
    • Season Two: Positive thinking can't fix all of your personal issues and there are times when you need to be a little selfish and vent some of your negative emotions so you can be mentally healthier.
  • Haunted Headquarters: The club's treatment room is considered cursed, so players do their best to avoid going inside. Ted eventually leads a ceremony to rid it of bad spirits.
  • Heart Is an Awesome Power: Everyone underestimates Ted when they meet him, but almost everyone also ends up liking and rooting for him. The show is a powerful advocate for positive thinking generally and also for a version of masculinity that provides loving and supportive relationships. Very nearly everyone in Ted's life is living a better version of their lives because of his unwavering support.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ted and Coach Beard have this going on. They've evidently worked together a long time, have reams of inside jokes and word games, and often communicate with a single look. Plus the fact that Coach Beard seems to have happily uprooted his entire life in America to move to the UK with Ted, even while being unsure that it's a good idea. It's later revealed that they first became friends when they were both playing college football and Ted supported him even after Beard stole his car after a prison term, meaning Ted isn't just Beard's friend, Ted basically saved his life. This chemistry is helped out by the fact that Jason Sudeikis and Brendan Hunt are long time friends and colleagues in real life.
  • Hourglass Plot: Jamie and Nate. In Season One, Jamie is a talented star striker but also a conceited bully who resists Ted's influence, while Nate is the abused but sweet-natured kit boy who flourishes under Ted's support. By the end of Season Two, Jamie has Taken A Level In Kindness, realised he's not irreplaceable, made amends with the rest of the team, and come to appreciate Ted's leadership versus Nate whose gained acclaim for his coaching tactics but has Taken A Level In Jerkass, started bullying other team members, and ultimately betrays Ted. For bonus points, both of their issues stem from problematic relationships with their fathers.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When the scene cuts to Rupert watching the game in the season one finale, he responds to the commentator's mention of Roy being extremely slow by saying it's because Roy's an octogenerian. Rupert is probably thirty years older than him.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: It's revealed that Ted and his wife are experiencing marriage problems and the reason he took the job in England was to move away and give her "space". Eventually, Ted realizes he needs to let her go for her to be happy, even though he is still in love with her and it hurts him deeply.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Nate's dad is shown to be a stern man who is very critical and difficult to please. However, he is completely right when he tells Nate that he's letting the praise he's gotten for his coaching in the FA Cup go to his head and he needs to keep his ego in check.
  • Like a Son to Me: Fathers and sons are an important theme in the show, between Ted's father dying by suicide when Ted was 16, Jamie's and Nate's more abusive fathers, and of course Ted's son, Henry. Naturally, this overlaps with the Family of Choice theme to give us this trope, as older men come to be father figures to the younger men on the team. This is most prominent with the relationship between Jamie and Roy after the latter offers the former extra training, but the episode "Sunflowers" highlights two other examples as well. Higgins offers to show Will around Amsterdam and he's delighted, and Higgins shares his love of jazz with the younger man, who takes a liking to it. Meanwhile, Trent Crimm reveals to Colin that he's known for quite some time that the younger man is gay, and is also gay himself, and they spend the evening commiserating over the difficulties involved with that.
  • Liquid Courage: A particularly dark example, with Ted recounting after having found his father post-suicide and having called 911, he got one of his father's Coors Lights and drank it before phoning his mother. Note that this happened when Ted was sixteen, meaning this may have been his first time drinking alcohol.
  • Meaningful Echo: Trent Crimm always announces himself as "Trent Crimm, The Independent". Toward the end of the Season 2 finale, the line is altered a bit during his talk with Ted because Trent was fired from his reporting job for revealing an anonymous source. But now he's "looking for something different. Deeper." He's now "Trent Crimm. Independent.".
  • Modeling is Glamorous: Nate is set up on a date with Anastasia, a bombshell supermodel, at an exclusive club. Nate takes her to his favorite Greek hole-in-the-wall, but she (overdressed and overglammed) thinks it's dumpy and ditches him to hang out with similarly posh-looking people.
  • Moving Right Through: After Jamie scores the go ahead goal during AFC Richmond's FA Cup match against Tottenham Hotspur, Nate turns to Ted expecting a celebration embrace. Instead, Ted rushes past him to embrace Roy, because it was Roy's coaching that led to Jamie scoring the goal.
  • Mutually Unequal Relationship: Played for Drama in Season 2. Thanks to Nate's past as a bullied kit manager with a Friendless Background and his relationship with his emotionally distant father, he latches onto Ted as a Parental Substitute and craves his constant attention and affection. However, while Ted certainly cares a lot about Nate as both a friend and a valued assistant, his responsibilities to the players, the rest of the staff, and his actual family, plus the need to take care of his own mental health issues on top of this, means that he just can't give Nate the amount of attentiveness and praise he desires. As a result, Nate, whose own mental health has deteriorated, deludes himself into believing that Ted "abandoned him" and ultimately betrays him by leaking his panic attacks to the press and quitting Richmond to manage West Ham United under Rupert.
  • Multinational Team: Realistically so, as this is a Premier League football team. The AFC Richmond lineup includes Sam Obisanya, Tommy Winchester, and Babatunde from Nigeria (Isaac McAdoo also has Nigerian ancestry but is a native Londoner and so would likely be qualified to play for both England and Nigeria — assuming he has not already represented one or the other, which is not stated), Dani Rojas from Mexico, Richard Montlaur from France, Thierry Zoreaux from Canada, Colin Hughes from Wales (could be considered both international and not), Jan Maas from the Netherlands, Tyler Shannon from Bolivia, Robbie Roberts from Zimbabwe, Declan Cockburn from Jamaica, and Moe Bumbercatch from Switzerland (although he is probably a dual citizen as he speaks with a native British dialect, in addition to which no-one realises that he's Swiss until he reveals that he's playing for that country's national team). And at least one Englishman (Jamie), with Roy being mentioned as being a former England international. Season 3 adds Zava, whose nationality is not specified but is implied to be Polish, as he speaks with a vaguely Central/Eastern European accent, is heard mumbling in Polish at one point, and has a child named after a Polish Easter celebration.
  • My Local: The Crown & Anchor Pub in Richmond, frequented by the staff and players of Richmond AFC as well as their fans. As with Cheers, it is "played" in exteriors by a real place, The Prince's Head in Richmond, but interiors (though modeled on those of the actual pub) are shot on sets. (The real-life pub has a Ted Lasso corner with pictures and memorabilia from the show.)
  • Mythology Gag: In Season 2, after Ted sees the tension between Jamie and the other players during training, he decides to introduce the players to his alter-ego "Led Tasso". Cue the next training session, where Ted comes out acting like a vicious and short-tempered Drill Sergeant Nasty—a riff on how he was depicted in the original "Coach Lasso" advertising campaign.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: The show was advertised as a goofy comedy spinoff of a popular ad. While it does have a goofy sense of humor, it's also a surprisingly insightful exploration of leadership, masculinity, and relationships.
    • The second season trailer offered this small but Hilarious in Hindsight gem: In the "butts on three" scene at the end of the trailer Roy has been digitally edited out of the scene, presumably because that would have revealed that Roy joins the AFC Richmond coaching staff which doesn't happen until the end of episode 5. What makes it particularly funny is that not long after, a bizarre conspiracy theory emerged that Roy Kent was a CGI character rather than played by an actual human being. Comedian that he is, Brett Goldstein responded in an entirely appropriate way.
  • Newscaster Cameo: Several sports announcers make appearances as themselves:
    • Sports broadcasters Arlo White and Chris Powell appear as themselves in several episodes as the commentators for AFC Richmond's matches.
    • ESPN's Scott Van Pelt appears in the pilot announcing Ted Lasso's hiring at AFC Richmond on a segment of Sports Center.
    • Real life Soccer Saturday hosts Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara play themselves. After Kamara's retirement in 2022, he's replaced by Paul Merson in Season 3.
    • Footballer-turned-pundit Ian Wright and sports presenter Seema Jaswal appear as themselves hosting a commentary show (Forza Love of the Game) in "The Signal".
    • Ex-England striker-turned-Match Of The Day presenter Gary Lineker makes an appearance alongside ex-France striker Thierry Henry during Beard's Day in the Limelight.
      Beard: Shut up, Thierry Henry!
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • Roy Kent is intentionally based on Manchester United legend Roy Keane. This emerged from writer/comedian Brendan Hunt's earlier days in the troupe "Boom Chicago" where he performed an imitation of Roy Keane. When Ted Lasso was developed, Roy Kent was created having a similar personality, role in the team, and style of play.
    • Dani Rojas is largely inspired by Javier "Chicharito" Hernández, another joyfully exuberant Mexican striker. The production team even gave the character number 14, Chicharito's number, in his honor.
    • Jamie Tartt is a clear send-up of real-life Manchester City player Jack Grealish, right down to the haircuts and Book Dumb reputation.
    • Keeley Jones is named after and inspired by the well-known Page 3 girl Keeley Hazell. Interestingly, Hazell actually plays the recurring character Bex on the show and joined the writing staff in Season 3.
    • Zava's legendary talent, diva reputation, penchant for scoring acrobatic goals, history of frequently transferring clubs, habit of referring to himself in the third person, and overall appearance are all lifted directly from Zlatan Ibrahimović.
    • As he progresses in his descent to the dark side, Nate's appearance changes to resemble José Mourinho. Like Nate's new persona, Mourinho is a tactical genius, but also egocentric, prone to acid quips and sometimes downright rude. In particular, Nate's hair color and style, and choice of dark shirts with suits, are all reminiscent of the Portuguese manager.
    • Sam speaking out against Ceritihium Oil and UK immigration policies parallels Marcus Rashford, a similarly young and idealistic player focused on political activism. (In Rashford's case he criticised the British government for its policies on food poverty and universal credit). Like Rashford, Sam also experienced racist backlash as a result of his advocacy.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The story of the best concert Ted ever attended (The Beastie Boys) somehow involves the O.J. Simpson trial, but Ted gets cut off before he's able to explain.
    • Ted apparently has a great story about how he wore pajamas to his high school prom and ended up in jail for the rest of the night, but again, Rebecca cuts him off as she's too busy to hear it.
    • While walking Dr. Sharon home after she's hit by a car, we cut back to them to hear the end of a story where Ted's friend somehow pranked someone into eating Vaseline.
  • Oblivious Guilt Slinging: In season one, Rebecca hired Ted to ruin the club so she could get back on her ex but Ted keeps being so kind to her, bringing her sweets every morning and all, that she has a harder and harder time believing in her plan. It eventually leads her to undergo a Heel–Face Turn and root for the club herself.
  • Odd Friendship: Rebecca and Keeley.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • When Ted snaps and yells at Jamie, or when he pulls out Led Tasso, everyone is shocked In-Universe and out. He's always positive and supporting, so when he pulls out the asshole, it's pretty shocking. In the first case, it was largely because of his failing marriage, but also because Jamie needed an attitude fix. It's so out of left field that it ends up breaking Jamie's hold over the team.
    • In the season one finale, Ted's insistence on keeping Roy on the field even though he's hurting the team finally makes Coach Beard yell at his friend that yes, winning does matter in a professional sports league. It's the only time we ever see Beard get angry at Ted and it shocks Ted into silence.
    • Considering his easygoing Nice Guy personality, it's pretty shocking when Sam gets insubordinate with Ted and storms out of training in "Lavender" because he thinks that Jamie is returning to the team, even letting loose some profanity.
      • Sam completely loses his shit to an even greater degree in Season 3 after his restaurant gets trashed by hooligans who take offense to his outspoken nature on how Nigerian refugees are being denied entry into the country. Isaac goes from annoyed to utterly shocked (along with everyone else) at this outburst. Luckily, Sam's father happened to show up at this exact moment (there were already plans for him to arrive in the country around that time) so he could give his son a desperately needed talk.
  • Opposites Attract:
    • The bubbly, cheerful, blonde Keeley with the surly, hot-headed, dark-haired Roy.
    • Downplayed with Colin and his boyfriend Michael, who couldn't care less about football while Colin has dedicated his life to the sport.
  • Plot-Inciting Infidelity: It was the rage over Rupert's constant infidelity throughout their marriage that lead Rebecca on the mission to destroy AFC Richmond by hiring Ted. Most likely Rupert's cheating also led to her getting his football club in the divorce settlement.
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • In Season 1, just as Jamie is starting to come around to Ted's coaching and the lessons he's been trying to teach him, Rebecca terminates Jamie's loan and gets him sent back to Manchester City as part of her efforts to sabotage the team. Rebecca lies to Ted and says it was Manchester City's request. Jamie, knowing it was Richmond who terminated the loan, thinks it was Ted's doing and reverts back to his Jerkass behavior until the beginning of Season 2.
    • Big time in season 2. In one season we have Ted avoiding therapy with Sharon until his anxiety struggles grow too great to handle; no-one (aside from Higgins) willing to warn Beard that his relationship with Jane was an unhealthy one; Nate mistakenly believing that Ted no longer cares about him due to reduced communication between the pair all season (Word of Saint Paul notes that the pair deliberately had no one-to-one scenes together until the finale); and the coaching team failing to nip Nate's increasingly mean behavior in the bud or investigating his own obvious mental health issues, leading to Nate's growing isolation and ultimately abandoning the club.
  • The Power Of Potential:
    • Ted's talent as a coach is recognizing and encouraging the potential for growth in others, as seen with multiple characters throughout the series:
      • Early on, Ted pinpoints Roy as the "first domino [that needs] to fall" in order to change the Greyhounds' team culture as a whole. Ted helps him recognize his ability to step up as a leader and look after others' well-being, which gets Colin and Isaac to stop bullying Nate. In Season 2, after Roy's retirement as a player, Ted, seeing Roy's potential as a coach, gives him the opportunity to coach Isaac. This encourages Roy to realize he wants to "look [players] in the eyes and encourage them to be better than they ever thought they were capable of being", joining the Richmond coaching staff.
      • In turn, Roy's recognition of Isaac's passion and growth after he stops bullying Nate is what leads him to promote Isaac to team captain.
      • Jamie was already a talented player, but a shallow, selfish one who wanted to outshine everyone else. After two seasons of Ted and others helping him learn to rely on his teammates, learn when to and when not to be cocky, and confront his abusive father, by Season 3 he is the Voice of Reason suggesting that the other players use him to make passes instead of him being the one to make the goal.
      Ted: (to Jamie, in Season 1) [I]f you just figure out someway to turn that 'me' into 'us'...the sky's the limit for you.
      • Other players like Sam, in Season 1, and Colin, in Season 3, are able to better play to their potential when they get the support they need.
      • Zig-Zagged with Nate Shelley. Nate was the meek, neurotic, bullied kitman when Ted met him. Ted recognized Nate as a potential genius in strategy, but just needed more support. Season 1 plays this straight, ending with Nate getting promoted to Assistant Coach, but gets deconstructed in Season 2, as Nate's development as a coach dovetails with a descent into self-hatred-induced Acquired Situational Narcissism, ending with Nate as lead coach for a rival team. Season 3 reconstructs this as Nate learns some humility in his relationships with Rupert, Jade, and his distant father, learning that success and kindness/love are not mutually exclusive and that he never needed to be impressive or aggressive to get what he needed.
    • Rebecca similarly recognizes that model Keeley Jones would make a good PR person for Richmond, despite a lack of qualifications. When Keeley becomes successful enough to start her own PR firm in Season 3, she tries to pay it forward by doing for her model friend Shandy what Rebecca did for her. Shandy subverts this by being too much of a loose cannon to properly develop under Keeley, forcing Keeley to fire her.
  • Power of Trust: After spending two seasons using his philosophy to bring the Richmond team together into a cohesive unit that always trusts and loves each other, Ted actually begins using that trust in his final football strategy, Total Football. At its core, the strategy disregards typical formation in favor of having each player make their own decisions, which requires two-way trust; anyone breaking formation has to trust that the others will fill in the gap as needed, and everyone else has to trust that the individual player is making a good decision and support them in whatever way is best in the moment. It takes a lot of time (and some unorthodox training strategies), but by the finale, the team has become a cohesive unit where each player has complete trust in each other to do what's right for the game. Trent Crimm lampshades it when he realizes that Ted's strategy just might work after previously doubting it.
    Trent: The Lasso Way! You haven't switched tactics in a week.
    Ted: I haven't?
    Trent: No! You've done this over three seasons!
    Ted: I have?
    Trent: Yes! By slowly but surely building a club-wide culture of trust and support through thousands of imperceptible moments all leading to their inevitable conclusion, Total Football!
  • Product Placement:
    • As is par for the course for an Apple TV+ show, everyone uses Apple phones, tablets, and computers.
    • Defied when it comes to the team in Season 1 and 2. Most company names associated with AFC Richmond are fictional, down to the brand that makes their kit. In Season 3, Nike stepped on board to produce the team's kit. With this change, the team also gained Nando's as a sleeve sponsor.
    • In Season 3, the Premier League gave permission for the show to display authentic logos, brands, and kits associated with the league and its teams as well as incorporate genuine archive footage in episodes.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: a subtle, Downplayed example; Rebecca encourages Nate to find his own private psych-up ritual to increase his confidence. What he settles on is sizing himself up in the mirror, aggressively spitting on his reflection, and walking away. It doesn't project real confidence as much as self-loathing.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many American viewers were unaware that Soccer Saturday is a real pundit show in the UK and believed the name was an example of the writers ignoring British English vocabulary.note 
  • Red and Black and Evil All Over: Everything about West Ham in the third season, despite their official colors being claret and blue. Rupert's office in particular looks like a mix between Palpatine's Coruscant office and the Death Star's throne room (note the similar circular window with an irregular design) and when he stalks onto the field in the final episode, he's dressed all in black with a flowing coat that makes him look Darth Vader-ish. The backdrop for their press conference might as well be bracketed with spearmen.
  • Rewatch Bonus: Nate's character arc was planned out well in advance, meaning it's possible to go back through the series and see how his descent into cynicism and betrayal of Ted was seeded from the very beginning.
  • Running Gag:
    • After giving up his office to Dr. Sharon, Higgins is seen doing his work in various ridiculous and undignified places throughout Season 2, such as a janitor's closet or the players' conditioning room. Usually accompanied by him knocking over his pen cup as he insists the awkward accommodations are no problem.
    • Ted's hatred of tea and sparkling water.
    • In the first season, Roy being called old. It stops in Season 2 because he's retired and is no longer being compared to his much younger teammates, though Jamie still gets in the occasional crack at Roy's age.
    • Colin's horrendous driving.
    • People correcting each other's pronunciation of Johan Cruijff's last name.
    • Two characters having an emotionally intense conversation in the boot room, followed by the reveal that Will was also in the room the entire time.
    • Group huddles being broken with just about any cheer other than the typical "team name On Three" format, such as "Richmond on 12," "Butts on 3," "Richmond on C," and " 'I love you guys so very much' on 3."
  • Schrödinger's Canon: Arlo White posted a series of tweets in character with commentary notes on the Richmond players towards the end of Season 1. Its canon status is ambiguous because Season 2 confirmed some of the notes as canon (Isaac being the official locker room barber and Colin knowing every word to every Drake song) but contradicted others (Bumbercatch's first name is different, and several of the international players Higgins hosts in "Carol of the Bells" are listed as being from England).
  • Self-Applied Nickname: While conversing with José Mourinho over the phone in a promotional extra, Ted comments on Mourinho's nickname, "The Special One", asking how he got it. Mourinho says he gave it to himself. Lasso is impressed, and comments that in elementary school he tried to get his classmates to call him "Turbo". At the end of the call, Mourinho obliges Ted by calling him "Turbo".
  • Separated by a Common Language: Ted repeatedly struggles with the differences between US and UK English, with Coach Beard helpfully providing translations such as: coach/manager, practice/training, cleat/boot, trunk/boot, etc.
  • Sequel Hook: The first season ends with two of them. Roy's future as a player uncertain after his injury in the final match. Meanwhile, Rebecca refuses to accept Ted's resignation as manager and the two of them agreeing to win promotion back to the Premier League the next season, then win it all once the team is back.
  • Ship Tease: The show repeatedly teases us in Season 2 with the possibility that Rebecca's Bantr partner is actually Ted, as we occasionally move to him putting his phone away after a scene where Rebecca has been chatting with her real partner.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While at the bar in episode 1 of Season 2, Ted and Beard's banter from "Can I get real a second" to "Put down your beer and tell your buddy how you feel a second" is a spoof of George Washington's lines in "Right Hand Man" from Hamilton.
    • The same conversation also contains this exchange:
      Ted: [about the idea of bringing in a sports psychologist] It just kinda puts a little knot in my belly. I'm not sure why.
      Beard: Sounds like it might be your favorite Gin Blossoms song.
      Ted: "Follow You Down"?
      Beard: No, "Hey Jealousy".
      Ted: No, "Hey Jealousy" is their best song. My favorite song of theirs is "Follow You Down". You don't know that story?
    • Roy and Jaime each have their own Crowd Chant, Roy's to the tune of "The Quartermaster's Store" and Jaime's to the tune of "Baby Shark". Sam later gets one to the tune of "Seven Nation Army".
    • While pulling a Drill Sergeant Nasty on the team in season 2, episode 3 and having them run laps, Ted tells them they'll be so dehydrated, they'll look like trees from any Tim Burton movie, even Dumbo (2019).
    • Most of the Roy/Keeley/Phoebe plot in "Carol of the Bells" is this to Love Actually, particularly the group knocking on random doors to find a dentist and reenacting the cue card scene.
    • "Rainbow" contains a plethora of lightly altered iconic romcom quotes from When Harry Met Sally... ("I'll have what he's having.") to Jerry Maguire ("Shut up. You had me at coach."). Additionally, Rebecca's Bantr match has the username "LDN152", similar to "NY152", the male love interest's nickname in You've Got Mail. She herself goes by "Bossgirl", similar to the female love interest's screen name, "Shopgirl".
    • There are a few references to A Wrinkle in Time; Ted gives Roy a copy of the book and the latter later reads it aloud to his niece Phoebe, Trent Crimm is revealed to be familiar with the book and its themes, and Sam is also seen reading a copy while he's on the exercise bike.
    • In "Beard After Hours", after luring away a private club's check-in woman with a false story about her apartment burning down, Beard quotes Fight Club: "Tomorrow will be the most beautiful day of [her] life". The elevator music playing while he recites the quote is also taken from the film.
      • Another scene in that same episode, which features three angry soccer hooligans walking down a starkly lit alleyway intent on violence, shares its framing and cinematography with a similar scene from A Clockwork Orange.
      • In the private club, Beard gives his name as "Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus," which is Elvis Costello's birth name.
    • In "Tan Lines", Beard gives us his Doc Brown impression from Back to the Future.
    • In "Two Aces" , "Reason You Suck" Speech given by Ted to Jamie Tartt (that one about practice), is basically a retelling of one of the most memorable speeches in NBA history (given by absolutely wasted Allen Iverson). Here's the comparison.
    • In "Goodbye Earl", Ted makes a reference to Tom Cruise's ponytail in Magnolia and later that episode we hear the theme song of that movie playing when Rebecca breaks up with her date.
    • In "Smells Like Mean Spirit", Ted quotes Jesus Christ Superstar ("What's the buzz? Tell me what's happening.") and Nate quotes The King and I ("Getting to know them. Getting to know all about them. Getting to like them.").
    • In “Big Week,” the song “Fist Fight!” by Crisis of Conformity plays during the team’s anger montage. The song originated from a Saturday Night Live sketch that Jason Sudeikis had a small (but memorable) part in, in which the aforementioned (fictional) punk band (Fred Armisen, Ashton Kutcher, Dave Grohl, Bill Hader) reunites for the wedding of the lead singer’s daughter.
    • In "Sunflowers", B.J. Thomas' "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head" plays during the scene where Jaime teaches Roy how to ride a bike. The same song played during the bike-riding scene in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
    • A few to Star Wars in Season 3. Rupert starts wearing more and more black, and in the final episode where he invades the field to argue with his coach about doing something very illegal, he's all in black, including a long trenchcoat that makes him look like Darth Vader. Also, his new office at West Ham has a circular window with an asymmetric interior design that makes it look like the viewing window from the Emperor's throne room on the Death Star in Return of the Jedi.
    • In Season 3, Ep.3 Zava poaches what would have been an amazing goal by Jamie. The setup of that play is very similar to a famous incident where Nani poached a beautiful goal from his Portugal teammate Cristiano Ronaldo. Made worse by the fact that since Nani was offside, the goal was completely invalidated as opposed to just credited to a teammate.
  • Shown Their Work: Brendan Hunt and several of the writers are big soccer fans and they show it by making several references and jokes based on the English Premier League's culture and history.
  • Show Within a Show: Lust Conquers All, the Love Island-esque reality show Jamie takes part in early in season 2.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: The show leans very much on the idealistic side.
  • Soccer-Hating Americans: Downplayed. As a dedicated American football coach, it's understandable that Ted has little knowledge about soccer and indeed that is the reason he's chosen to coach Richmond. However, Ted's personality is such that he never shows any disdain for the sport, he's just woefully ignorant. Coach Beard, similarly, never disdains the sport, and is shown doing his own research on it.
  • So Proud of You:
    • Roy to anyone who breaks something, whether in rage or by accident. (Nate accidentally shattering the glass door with his elbow, Isaac throwing a chair at the TV in anger, Phoebe breaking Ted's nose...)
    • Ted pulls this on Jamie in the final episode for passing to his teammate, even though it cost Richmond the game and relegation. Jamie is visibly touched.
    • After doubting himself for half of season 2, Nate steps up during the Tottenham match and begins making calls to shift to defense. The team ends up winning, and Roy fucking Kent tells him he did a good job afterwards.
  • Springtime for Hitler: The entire reason Rebecca hired Ted. She wanted to ruin the team as it was the only thing her ex-husband ever loved. Thus, hiring an American with zero soccer experience seemed just the way to do it, only for him to start winning and be incredibly difficult for her to dislike. Ends up subverted as at the end of the season, the team has lost but Rebecca has realized her plan would have harmed scores of people who worked for and loved the team. She thus turns down Ted's resignation and wants his help making the team into true winners.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Many of the Brits, but especially Rebecca when provoked by reporters or Rupert.
  • Superficial Suggestion Box: Ted starts a suggestions box when he becomes AFC Richmond's manager. Aside from one serious suggestion to fix the water pressure in the locker room showers, most of the players just use it to anonymously insult Ted (except Roy who signed his).
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • In "Two Aces", the team prepares a sacrificial bonfire in hopes of ending the curse of the stadium's training room. The players all gather in the locker room and take turns placing personal items in a bin to light on fire. As Ted prepares to set the bin ablaze, Coach Beard suddenly speaks up and suggests it might be a better idea to light it on the pitch where it won't be a fire hazard. Everyone agrees and they move the ceremony outside.
    • In the season 1 finale the team is relegated to the English Championship League, but the players' contracts were negotiated while at the Premier League where teams get more revenue from TV and sponsor deals. Consequently, the organization is now under some financial pressure.
    • In season 2 episode 8 Richmond faces Manchester City in the FA cup semifinal. While they had previously held their own against a second-string XI (with the relegation decider at the end of Season 1 being something of a dead rubber for City, who'd already been confirmed as champions), this time they face City's full-strength first XI, and suffer a 5-0 defeat.
    • For all his support of his coaching style, Coach Beard finally has to spell out to Ted in "All Apologies" the realities of their new situation when Ted claims he doesn't care about winning or losing, just improving the players: The players in question here are not college students playing football before they graduate and go on to normal lives but professionals whose careers and livelihoods will be affected by Ted's decisions and Ted has to start thinking more like a professional coach than a mentor.
    • In "Beard After Hours", Coach Beard does a Trash Landing to escape a man trying to beat him up. While he manages to avoid serious injury, he's still in serious pain because he just fell several stories and struggles to move.
  • Swear Jar: Roy has to pay his niece Phoebe £1 for every time he swears in front of her. As of "Lavender" (the second episode of series 2), he owes her £1,236 (and later in "Carol of the Bells", it's implied that this is a monthly tab).
  • Take That!:
    • When a reporter for The Sun introduces himself at a press conference, the rest of the reporters groan.
    • In the season 2 finale, Piers Morgan reaches out to Keeley after Ted's mental health issues became public and wants to milk some good TV out of it. Keeley is having none of it.
    Keeley: Fuck you, Piers Morgan.
  • There Are No Therapists: Strongly averted at the start of season 2, as AFC Richmond hires Dr. Sharon Fieldstone, initially for a one-time gig to help Dani following his traumatic penalty incident. However, the other players' strong demand for her expertise quickly shows that having a full-time psychotherapist should be as self-evident for a professional sports team as a full-time physician, which quickly lead to her being hired for the rest of the season. Played straighter by Ted himself, as he spends the majority of the season avoiding scheduling an appointment with her, despite his divorce in season 1 being so traumatic as to cause him panic attacks. He eventually schedules one after having another panic attack during a critical game, this time caused by his trauma over his father's suicide.
  • Titled After the Song: Several episodes are named after songs:
    • Season 1, episode 7 is "The Diamond Dogs".
    • Season 1, episode 9 is "All Apologies".
    • Season 2, episode 1 is "Goodbye Earl".
    • Season 2, episode 4 is "Carol of the Bells".
    • Season 2, episode 5 is "Rainbow" after the The Rolling Stones song "She's A Rainbow", which plays several times in the episode.
    • Season 2, episode 11 is "Midnight Train to Royston" after Gladys Knight's "Midnight Train to Georgia".
    • Season 3, episode 1 is "Smells Like Mean Spirit" after Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit".
    • Season 3, episode 2 is "(I Don't Want to Go to) Chelsea".
    • Season 3, episode 12 is "So Long, Farewell" from "The Sound of Music". Bonus points because the song is actually performed during the episode, effectively making it a musical Title Drop.
  • Title Drop: Episode titles frequently show up in the episode.
  • Toy-Based Characterization: Ted's son Henry sends him a collection of his army men toys to "keep him safe" while he's away coaching in England. This shows Henry and Ted's relationship to be a strong one. He also keeps one of them nearby when he's particularly stressed (i.e. when he has to sign finalize his divorce). Ted later gives individual army men to certain people he meets in order to give them similar support, showing Ted's ability to reach out and care, and how Ted feels about the person in question:
    • Rebecca receives a rifleman to protect her in the divorce papers separating wake of all the bad publicity around her divorce. It also symbolizes that she herself is on the attack, as she is secretly trying to sabotage the team to get back at her ex-husband.
    • Sam receives a machine-gunner kneeling and taking aim to protect him as he transitions to a new country, symbolizing thoughtfulness. Sam's polite refusal to take the toy, since as a Nigerian he doesn't have a great history with the U.S. Army, shows he has a strong moral code, foreshadowing his protest of the team's sponsor in Season 2 for its direct role in polluting his country.
    • Jamie receives a scout with binoculars, symbolizing that Ted is still looking out for Jamie, even when he's playing for another team.
    • Dr. Sharon receives the radioman in the Season 2 finale, showing how Sharon got Ted to talk about his issues and that even though Sharon is moving on to another job, Ted wants to keep the lines of communication open.
  • Truth in Television: Gillette Soccer Saturday is an actual television show that airs on Sky Sports and features hosts Jeff Stelling and Chris Kamara. And, yes, it is called Soccer Saturday since, as Keeley explains to Ted, Brits love alliteration.
  • Under Strange Management: the series is about an American Football coach who is hired to coach an Association Football team by an owner who wishes to sabotage the team to spite her ex-husband. He does about as well as you'd expect initially, but he eventually has some success when he focuses on building a good culture while leaving the actual on-field decisions to more knowledgeable assistants.
  • Unexpectedly Dark Episode: While the show has always featured some dramatic storylines, "Man City" in season 2 is basically a nonstop chain reaction of downers. Sharon gets hit by a car and Ted goes to pick her up from the hospital while Roy is busy dealing with Phoebe getting suspended from school due to his constant swearing rubbing off on her. Consequently, they both miss the last training session before the semifinal against Manchester City, and Ted is unhelpful and distracted during the match itself. Without proper leadership or preparation, Richmond stands no chance against Man City and loses the game by a humiliating 5-0, which leads Jamie's abusive father to rub the loss in Jamie's face until Jamie has a breakdown in front of the entire team, which leads Ted to call Sharon and tearfully admit that his own father killed himself when Ted was 16.
  • Unseen Pen Pal: In Season 2, Keeley encourages the unattached members of Richmond's team and management staff to join Bantr, a dating app based solely on anonymous text-based communication. While Rebecca initially scoffs at the idea and is having a fling with someone in real life, she develops a bond with user LDN152 note , who turns out to be Sam Obisanya, a star player and her employee who is nearly 30 years younger than her (but still above legal age). When the two decide to meet in person and realize the truth, Rebecca initially shuts it down due to their professional relationship, but the two find their chemistry too intense to ignore. She later breaks it off because she realizes she is not ready to get hurt again after her messy divorce.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy:
    • A variation occurs with Jamie in that it's revealed in episode 6 that he became the type of player he is to avoid constantly being called "soft" by his estranged father. This led him to become a dominating Jerkass that had long since forgotten about his mother's wish to simply play the game and be happy doing so.
    • Nate's desire for his parents (but particularly his clearly more withholding father) to be proud of him drives a lot of his ambitious behaviour in Season 2. When he draws attention to the fact that he got his photograph in the paper his father scolds him for a lack of humility. It's no wonder that he responded so badly to what he perceived as Ted not noticing or praising him any more after previously being so effusive about it.
  • Wham Episode:
    • Season 1, Episode 6. After half a season of working with Jamie, Ted finally gets through to him, only to return to work the next day and find that Jamie has been sent back to Manchester City.
    • Season 1, Episode 10. After a season of having the specter of relegation looming over their heads, Richmond are indeed relegated during their final game.
    • Season 2, Episode 6. Where to begin... Jamie and Roy figure out a way to work together, Nate steps up as a member of the coaching staff, Richmond upsets the heavily favoured Tottenham Hotspur to reach the semi-finals of The FA Cup, we find out that Sam is Rebecca's mystery man (unknown to either of them), and Ted has a panic attack related to fatherhood that finally leads him to make an appointment with Sharon.
    • Season 2, Episode 8. Dr. Fieldstone gets hit by a car (she gets better though), Sam and Rebecca find out they're each other's mystery match and eventually hook up, Ted comes clean about his panic attacks to his coaching staff, Richmond suffers a crushing defeat at Wembley, Jamie has a major falling out with his father, and Ted reveals his father had killed himself.
    • Season 2, Episode 11. Sam gets an offer from an African billionaire to play for his team in Morocco, Keeley and Roy's relationship is at a critical junction after they reveal instances of other characters making moves on them, and Nate makes a full Face–Heel Turn by secretly going to Trent Crimm and telling him about Ted's secret panic attacks in a bid to ruin Ted's reputation and get more acclaim for himself.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math: In Season 2, Higgins reveals that he and his wife have been married for 29 years. In the Season 1 finale, Mrs. Higgins revealed that her eldest (Lindsay) was born out of wedlock, which would make him at least 30. Not only does the actor who plays him look to be in his 20s, but there would be a 13+ year age gap between him and his next eldest brother.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • In the Season 1 finale, Richmond are down 1-0 when everyone learns that Crystal Palace has managed to defeat Norwich City by enough goals to force a scenario where Richmond can avoid relegation with a draw. The team quickly uses the "Ted Lasso Special" trick before stoppage time runs out and Dani manages to score the equalising goal. Unfortunately, while everyone is celebrating the goal, Manchester City quickly kicks off and takes advantage of the distracted Richmond team to score a last second goal that gives them the win and dooms Richmond to relegation.
    • In Season 2, Richmond manages to pull off an upset win against Tottenham Hotspur in the quarterfinals of the FA Cup, providing the main characters with not only their biggest victory in the entire show but also the chance to prove themselves in a rematch against Manchester City. The very next match, Richmond once again loses to Man City, cutting their attempt at a triumphant comeback off at the knees. And just to twist the knife, it's not a close game like the last time the two teams faced off — Richmond gets thrashed in a devastating 5-0 loss.
    • Twice in Season 3. First, the team obtains Zava and starts going on a crazy win streak. But then, they take on West Ham, lose badly and start a skid which even leads to Zava deciding to outright retire which results in an even worse losing skid. But then after Ted gets an epiphany and learns Total Football, and gets the team to come around on it they go on a MONSTEROUS win streak, finishing the season winning 18 Games in a Row! Unfortunately Manchester City was able to win their last game as well, holding onto a one point lead in the League and the Premier League Title.


Video Example(s):


AFC Richmond Attends a Funeral

The football club is forced to dress formally for a funeral by their team captain. Rebecca is touched that none of them showed up in sneakers or trainers.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ForcedIntoTheirSundayBest

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