Best Father Ted Episodes – Top 12 Ranked

Best 12 Episodes Of Father Ted
Image Source: Daily Express

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 have had far more instalments and, consequently, a far larger history. 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 (a decision which seemingly 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

From Ted (Dermot Morgan) being the “top” (well, thirteenth) choice to be on the religious profile programme Faith Of Our Fathers to our hero being given 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

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 brilliantly foul-mouthed interchange between John and Mary, 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 intended to be a half-hearted complaint about a blasphemous film has since become a very popular tagline for protests across the world (amongst those who take on a more humorous approach, anyway).

10. Night Of The Nearly Dead

This one squeezes into our top ten amongst the best 12 episodes of Father Ted. Coming towards the end of its run, this edition did something different by spotlighting a focus on 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 repertoire 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?

9. Flight Into Terror

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 involving the detestable Bishop Brennan, this to me is the funniest. It combines two ridiculous elements. One is Jack (Frank Kelly) developing 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 dim-witted, 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 his deliberation of how to resolve the rabbit invasion resulting in him saying “what’s the problem again?”

7. A Song For Europe

We occasionally 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 qualification event 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 essentially stealing its background tune. But problems arise on the night when the lads realise that the original song is actually quite famous. Matters are made worse when Byrne’s shot at glory ends up being surprisingly 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 12 episodes of Father Ted.

6. A Christmassy Ted

Every great sitcom needs a Christmas special, and Father Ted was no exception. This has numerous plots that dovetail into 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 have admitted 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 from a storytelling standpoint. I also feel that it’s one of the few episodes which loses its impact upon repeated viewings. However, it’s still very entertaining and one of the funniest hours of scripted festive telly you will ever see.

5. Entertaining Father Stone

The first series is understandably 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 generally the most boring company imaginable. 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 incredible guilt, 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.

4. Hell

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. Which makes this a treat right from the start, when Ted scolds Dougal for using language influenced by Roddy Doyle. Their holiday turns into a disaster when they inadvertently snoop on a besotted couple several times. Then, their caravan ends up being incredibly tiny (Dougal: “It is bigger than last year’s one!”).

From there, there’s the surprise arrival of the hilariously-annoying Father Noel Furlong (Graham Norton) and friends. This results in a horrendously irritating first and only night at the camp-site. Also, this episode is also 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.

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 relentless 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 in this offering from the third series, and this feels like one of their biggest episodes 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 beginning).

We also have the third and final appearance by Graham Norton as Father Noel Furlong, who steals the show with his insane antics while he, Ted, Dougal and Furlong’s associated are stuck in “The Very Dark Caves”. A must-see edition that I’ve only briefly touched upon here. This is also the episode that made me a fan of Ted in the first place back in 1998, and I actually unexpectedly met Norton the very next day, meaning that I unintentionally mimicked the plot in real life!

2. Speed 3

It’s hard to pinpoint the most ludicrous aspect of this episode. Is it the fact that the priests have a new, lecherous milkman, Pat Mustard, who beds every female that he visits? Alternatively, is it that Pat seems responsible for an influx of babies with facial hair in Craggy Island? Is it that Dougal, who can barely measure up in his own vocation, 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 combination of them all, and when you throw in added elements like Jack suddenly finding a new pet in the form of a brick (which he quickly loses interest in) and the multi-hour discussions on how to save Dougal seemingly resulting in “another mass” as their best option, this is tremendously entertaining.

1. New Jack City

There’s something unusual for our top choice in the best 12 episodes of Father Ted. Namely, that it’s an edition that the writers themselves weren’t massively keen on, even suggesting it was their least favourite of all. 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 it losing any value whatsoever. Jack contracts a self-explanatory syndrome known as “hairy hands” which results in him going to St. Clabbert’s, essentially 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 aggressive insults into brilliant threats. This is the best way to introduce newbies to Father Ted. After they watch this gem, they’ll become regular viewers.

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So, those are our thoughts on the best episodes of Father Ted of all time! But what do you think? Let us know by leaving a comment below!