Introduction – Best Father Ted Episodes
In this article, we rank the best episodes of Father Ted in chronological order. Is there a more beloved sitcom than Father Ted? Sure, there are more globally popular comedies, and there are shows which had far more episodes. But in the space of 25 episodes, Father Ted took the concept of three totally different yet equally (and hilariously) flawed priests living with a mad-cap housekeeper in a small Irish parish and created one of the greatest British sitcoms in history.
What’s more, writers Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews chose to end the series before it got stale. This became their only option due to the sudden death of Dermot Morgan one day after filming the final edition. Therefore, fans of the show have only positive memories of the wacky world contained within Craggy Island.
History – Best Father Ted Episodes
From Ted (Dermot Morgan) as the “top” (well, thirteenth) choice for the religious profile programme Faith Of Our Fathers to our hero having the opportunity of his dreams to work in the United States before ultimately turning it down at the last moment, the show delivered plenty of classic moments, hundreds of unforgettable one-liners and a remarkable level of consistency in terms of quality.
In this regular feature, we take a look at the top editions of a particular TV programme. And so today, we’re picking the best episodes of Father Ted. So, what tops our list? Read on to find out!
Best Episodes Of Father Ted – Top 12
12. Are You Right There, Father Ted?
We’ll start with an episode that may not make the airwaves if it was produced in 2020 rather than when it was first shown in 1998, though it makes its main points very well indeed. Ted is tidying the parochial house and picks up a lampshade; he then quickly decides to perform a racist impression of a Chinese person (note that Dougal, played by Ardal O’Hanlon, does not laugh), only for him to discover just as quickly that a Chinese family are walking past and catch him in the act.
Ted’s attempts to clear his name only seem to make things worse, so he eventually holds a diversity celebration (suggested by Dougal), which in itself is a priceless scene. It somehow works, only for more headaches when Ted learns of the death of his friend Father Sheamus Fitzpatrick, who in his will left Ted all of his World War II memorabilia, which borders on Nazi propaganda.
11. The Passion Of Saint Tibulus
My favourite scene from this series one episode comes near the beginning, as Bishop Brennan (Jim Norton) criticises all three Craggy Island priests by reminding them of how they got there in the first place (Brennan to Ted: “You went to Las Vegas whilst that poor child was supposed to be in Lourdes!”). It also features a short yet great sweary chat between John and Mary. They’re a married couple who despise one another but who put on a facade when running their shop to avoid upsetting the priests. To diehards, though, this episode gave birth to the two-part slogan “Down with this sort of thing!” “Careful now!” What was a lazy complaint about a blasphemous film became a very popular tagline for protests across the world. Amongst those who take on a more humorous approach, anyway.
Best Episodes Of Father Ted – Top Ten
This one squeezes into our top ten episodes of Father Ted. Coming towards the end of its run, this edition did something different by spotlighting Mrs Doyle (Pauline McLynn), albeit indirectly. Her TV favourite Eoin McLove (whose chat show was so cheesy that you could have made a butty with it) comes round for tea after she had won a poem-writing competition, but he quickly establishes that his real-life self is far less caring and much more selfish than his on-screen persona. Even so, the major troubles begin when the island’s crew of old women turn up wanting to see Eoin for themselves, and then the plot centres on how Ted and co. can safely remove Eoin and his manager before the old women … kiss him, I guess?
To some people, being stuck on an aeroplane with a bunch of priests is a nightmare in itself. But the real issues for Ted, Dougal and a bunch of their friends in the priesthood come later. Dougal becomes obsessed with a button that has a sign saying “DO NOT PRESS” within the cockpit. He ends up pressing that instead of the emergency button, as a priest acting like a chimpanzee attacks the pilot. In any other series, that sentence sounds ludicrous. But in Father Ted, it’s the backdrop for priests deciding who uses the only two parachutes on the aircraft. That in itself is hilarious. The outcome of that particular scenario is great, but what of Ted and his pals; how do they escape their bizarre dilemma? Watching this edition is the best way to find out.
8. The Plague
Of the three episodes for the nasty Bishop Brennan, this to me is the funniest. It combines two daft elements. One is Jack (Frank Kelly) having a sudden fondness for nude sleepwalking. The other is Dougal’s purchase of a rabbit leading to an influx of rabbits in the parochial house. All at a time when Brennan, who has a huge phobia of the creatures, is visiting to handle Jack’s problem. Dougal has always been dopey, but this edition sees him at arguably his dumbest. There’s his idea to hide the rabbits by putting them in Brennan’s own room (“he’d never look there!”). Or him thinking of how to resolve the rabbit issue leading to him saying “What’s the problem again?”
We often see Ted in a not-so-friendly rivalry with Father Dick Byrne of Rugged Island. Their feud peaks when both enter A Song For Europe, the prelims for Eurovision itself. Ted and Dougal come up with a terrible song titled My Lovely Horse. The track improves once they “pay tribute” to a past record by stealing its tune. But problems arise on the night when the lads realise that the original song is quite famous. Matters are made worse when Byrne’s shot at glory is actually good. Anyone who watches this episode will never forget the lyrics, and especially the mock video, for My Lovely Horse. Yet somehow it sits within the bottom half of our list for the best episodes of Father Ted.
Every great sitcom needs a Christmas special, and Father Ted was no exception. This has numerous plots that link with one another. But the one which stands out the most to fans is Ted, Dougal and six other priests all being stuck in a lingerie department (“Ireland’s biggest lingerie department, I understand”) of a major retail store.
Even the writers said this went on a bit too long. The episode is more than double the runtime of a normal episode. Plus, Linehan and Mathews say this wasn’t their strongest work. I also feel that it’s one of the few episodes which loses its impact after multiple viewings. However, it’s still very entertaining and one of the funniest hours of festive telly you will ever see.
Best Episodes Of Father Ted – Top Five
The first series is the weakest of the three that the show ran for. But it does produce this absolute gem, which is only the second episode. Father Stone visits the priests, but he sucks the air out of every room he is in. Stone says nothing, does nothing and is simply very boring. Making matters worse, he stays for days and even weeks on end for his annual visits. It reaches the stage where Ted prays for an act of God to resolve the issue. And, funnily enough, shortly thereafter, lightning literally strikes Stone on a crazy golf course.
From there, Ted feels guilty, especially when Stone’s mother reveals how much her son worships him. The same can’t be said for Stone’s father, whose brutal rant at his son’s expense is darkly hilarious. It’s tough for a new sitcom to produce a classic edition based largely on non-action. But that’s what the writers managed here.
It’s hard to imagine what priests get up to when they go on holiday. But it’s even harder to imagine a scenario where three priests head off together for a caravan trek. This is a treat right from the start, when Ted scolds Dougal for using language akin to Roddy Doyle. Their holiday turns into a disaster when they snoop on a kissing couple several times. Then, their caravan ends up being very tiny (Dougal: “It is bigger than last year’s one!”).
From there, there’s the surprise arrival of the very annoying Father Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) and friends. This results in an awful first and only night at the campsite. Also, this episode is memorable for Ted saying to Dougal “These (toy cows) are small, but the ones out there are far away” in a line that has since become legendary, and one which would only make sense in the world of Father Ted. So, this is terrific, but it just escapes our top quarter for the best 12 episodes of Father Ted.
Best Episodes Of Father Ted – Top Three
3. The Mainland
Father Ted works partly because, in Ted’s own little world, everybody has some sort of strange character trait, whether it be repeated laughing, incredible dullness or endless sarcasm. This usually makes Ted the only sane person in the area, but what happens when he and the gang venture into the real world? That’s what happens here, and this feels like one of their biggest episodes. This is partly due to a cameo by Richard Wilson (Dougal first brings him up by saying “He’s mad, isn’t he? ‘I don’t believe it’ he says”, which almost cracks Ted up right at the start).
We also have the third and final episode for Graham Norton as Father Noel Furlong, who steals the show with his insane antics while he, Ted, Dougal and Furlong’s associates are stuck in “The Very Dark Caves”. A must-see edition with plenty of other highlights. This is also the episode that made me a fan of Ted in the first place back in 1998, and I actually met Norton the very next day!
2. Speed 3
It’s hard to pick the silliest aspect of this episode. Is it the fact that the priests have a new, horny milkman, Pat Mustard, who beds every female that he visits? Or is it that Pat caused an influx of babies with facial hair on Craggy Island? Is it that Dougal, who can barely measure up in his own job, replaces him? Or is it that Mustard re-enacts the Speed plot by leaving an explosive device underneath the milk float?
It’s probably a mix of them all. Also, Jack suddenly finds a new pet in the form of a brick (which he quickly loses interest in). And the long chats on how to save Dougal lead to “another mass” as their best option. This is tremendously entertaining.
Top Ranking – Best Father Ted Episodes
There’s something odd about our top choice in the best episodes of Father Ted. Namely, that it’s an edition that the writers themselves didn’t enjoy, even suggesting it was their least favourite. But to diehard fans of the series, this perfectly sums up Father Ted’s surreal universe. This is one that I love watching over and over without losing any value whatsoever.
Jack contracts “hairy hands” which results in him going to St. Clabbert’s. This is a care home for priests with bizarre health issues. In his place, we get the unforgettable Father Fintan Stack. He’s an incredibly selfish and ignorant priest. Why? He plays loud music at all hours of the day, drills holes through walls and insults everyone around him.
But he has a calm approach towards the chaos he creates. Not to mention a total lack of empathy for those living in the parochial house. And also his delivery of lines like “If you ever say that to me, I’ll put your head through the wall”. And “If you don’t like it, tough. I’ve had my fun, and that’s all that matters”. This turns what could be cold and harsh insults into hilarious threats. This is the best way to introduce newbies to Father Ted. After they watch this gem, they’ll become regular viewers.
Check Out All Of Our TV Lists!
- Best Black Lightning Episodes Ranked
- Best The Good Place Episodes Ranked
- Best Lucifer Episodes Ranked
- Best Killing Eve Episodes Ranked
- The Best Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Tales
- Best Umbrella Academy Episodes Ranked
- Best Taskmaster Series Ranked
- Top 10 Glee Performances
- Best Once Upon A Time Episodes
- Best Warrior Nun Episodes Ranked
- Best Shadow and Bone Episodes Ranked
- Best It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia Episodes Ranked
- Every Sarah Paulson ‘American Horror Story’ Character Ranked
- Best Good Omens Episodes Ranked
- Best Snowpiercer Episodes Ranked
- Best Ash vs Evil Dead Episodes Ranked
- Best SpongeBob SquarePants Episodes Ranked
- Best Peaky Blinders Episodes Ranked
- Best Torchwood Episodes Ranked
- Best Wizards Vs Aliens Episodes Ranked
- Best Kitchen Nightmares Episodes Ranked
- Best Adventure Time Episodes Ranked
- Best Welcome to Wrexham Episodes Ranked
- Best Grand Tour Specials Ranked
- Best The Cleaner Episodes Ranked
- Best What’s New Scooby Doo Episodes Ranked
- Best Scooby Doo Mystery Incorporated Episodes Ranked
- Best Lucha Underground Episodes Ranked
- Best Star Wars: Rebels Episodes Ranked
- Best Carnival Row Episodes Ranked
- Best Star Wars: The Clone Wars Episodes Ranked
- Top 5 Outrageous US Office Michael Scott Moments
- Best Merlin Episodes Ranked
- Best Clarkson’s Farm Episodes Ranked
- Best Horrible Histories Episodes Ranked
- Best Ghosts Episodes Ranked
- Best 24 Episodes Ranked
- Best You Episodes Ranked
- Best Breaking Bad Episodes Ranked
- Best Big Bang Theory Episodes Ranked
- Best Cleveland Show Episodes Ranked
- Best Formula One: Drive to Survive Episodes Ranked
- Best Doctor Who Christmas Special Episodes Ranked
- Best Midnight Club Episodes Ranked
- Best That Mitchell and Webb Look Episodes Ranked
- Best Haunting Of Hill House Episodes Ranked
- Best Peep Show Episodes Ranked
- Best Mandalorian Episodes Ranked
- Best Hell’s Kitchen Episodes Ranked
- Best Ted Lasso Episodes Ranked
- Best Come Dine With Me Episodes Ranked
- Best Better Caul Saul Episodes Ranked
- Best X-Men: The Animated Series Episodes Ranked
- Best Agent Carter Episodes Ranked
- Best Elementary Episodes Ranked
- Best Iron Fist Episodes Ranked
- Best Sandman Episodes Ranked
- Best His Dark Materials Episodes Ranked
- Best Sarah Jane Adventures Episodes Ranked
- Best Elite Episodes Ranked
- Best Wentworth Episodes Ranked
- Best Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D Episodes Ranked
- Best Toast Of London Episodes Ranked
- Best Friday Night Dinner Episodes Ranked
- Best IT Crowd Episodes Ranked
- Best The Boys Episodes Ranked
- Best The Inbetweeners Episodes Ranked
- Best Taskmaster Episodes Ranked
- Best Stranger Things Episodes Ranked
- Best Handmaid’s Tale Episodes
- Best Derry Girls Episodes Ranked
- Best Gravity Falls Episodes Ranked
- Best Simpsons Episodes Ranked
- Best Family Guy Episodes Ranked
- Best Mr Robot Episodes Ranked
- Best South Park Episodes Ranked
- Best Rick And Morty Episodes Ranked
- Best Travel Man Episodes Ranked
- Best American Dad Episodes Ranked
- Best Fleabag Episodes Ranked
- Best US Office Episodes Ranked
- Best Brooklyn Nine-Nine Episodes Ranked
- Best Punisher Episodes Ranked
- Best Modern Family Episodes Ranked
- Best Luke Cage Episodes Ranked
- Best That ‘70s Show Episodes Ranked
- Best Jessica Jones Episodes Ranked
- Best After Life Episodes Ranked
- Best Daredevil Episodes Ranked
- Best Cuckoo Episodes Ranked
- Best Friends Seasons Ranked
- Best Sex Education Episodes Ranked
- Best Witcher Episodes Ranked
- Best Top Gear Challenges
- Best Grand Tour Episodes Ranked
- Best Futurama Episodes Ranked
- Best I’m A Celebrity Moments – Top 10 Ranked
- Best What We Do In The Shadows Episodes Ranked
- Every Sherlock 2010 Episode Ranked
- Best Taskmaster Tasks Ranked