If you think Ted Lasso is life … we agree.
The heartwarming, thought-provoking sports comedy has been celebrated for its lovable characters, penchant for swear words, and accurate portrayal of mental health struggles. But a still-underrated aspect of the show is its attention to detail — as shown by an impressive roster of Easter eggs scattered throughout its 22 episodes.
When we say Easter eggs, we don’t mean the overt pop-culture gags and celebrity mentions that pepper the show’s dialogue. We’re talking about more obscure shout-outs that writers purposefully slip into scenes — both for their own satisfaction and to reward fans who are watching carefully.
Since co-creators Bill Lawrence and Jason Sudeikis have both outed themselves as Easter eggs fans, it’s no surprise that Ted Lasso has its fair share. Here are 20 details that even the most hardcore AFC Richmond fans will have missed.
1. Rebecca and Sam’s rom-com names
If Ted Lasso fans had any doubt that its writers appreciate a good rom-com, the fifth episode of Season 2, “Rainbow,” clears things up. It’s chock full of classic rom-com references and acknowledges everything from “the Three Kates” — Beckinsale, Hudson, and Winslet (rom-com queens) — to iconic movie quotes and common tropes. Most of Ted Lasso‘s rom-com references are easy to pick up on, but others are made for eagle-eyed experts — such as this You’ve Got Mail reference from Season 2.
Notice anything special about Rebecca and Sam’s Bantr usernames? They’re a nod to Joe and Kathleen’s screen names from the 1998 Nora Ephron rom-com starring Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. In You’ve Got Mail, Ryan’s character Kathleen has the screen name “Shopgirl” and Hanks’ character Joe goes by “NY152.” In Ted Lasso, Rebecca moonlights as “Bossgirl” and Sam’s known as “LDN152.” NY and LDN obviously represent the locations of the men, but according to IMDB, the number 152 signifies when Kathleen and Joe meet — an hour and 52 minutes into the film.
2. All the Kansas love
Fans have come to learn that Ted and Jason have a lot in common, including the fact that they’re both proud Kansas boys. Sudeikis, who grew up in Overland Park, shows his hometown some on-screen love whenever he gets the chance.
Ted Lasso also pays special tribute to Kansas City barbecue. You may have spotted the Richmond coach sporting a “JoeArthur Gatestack” shirt, which refers to four iconic Kansas City barbeque spots — Joe’s, Arthur Bryant’s, Gates, and Jack Stack — and was created by Sudeikis’ childhood pal, Brendan Curran.
Ted has a photo of Arthur Bryant’s as his desktop background, and receives a bottle of their barbecue sauce in one of his care packages from home. “You know, this right here is some of the best barbecue sauce in Kansas City, which makes it some of the best barbecue sauce in the world,” he tells Rebecca.
And who could forget Ted saying “barbecue sauce” after throwing the final dart and beating Rupert in Season 1, episode 8, “The Diamond Dogs”? Now that’s love. “There’s an old writing adage of write what you know,” Sudeikis told Kansas City’s KSHB 41. “This one has really resonated …. I’m proud of the fact that folks from back home enjoy all those little touches.”
3. A nod to Saturday Night Live
If Ted’s Episode 1 locker room dance looks familiar, that’s because it pays homage to Vance, Sudeikis’s red tracksuit-wearing move-busting character in SNL‘s “What’s Up With That” sketches.
Though the Vance sketches started in 2009, as Sudeikis told Entertainment Weekly, “It’s the same dance I did when I was 15 years old and one of the few white kids on a basketball team in Kansas City to make my teammates laugh … The irony and the beauty is that I went through all this [comedy] training, did all this stuff, and the same thing that I did at 15 is the same thing I did at the beginning of [Ted Lasso].”
If you’re a fan of the dance, consider following the @dancinglasso Twitter account, which regularly sets Ted’s moves to different songs. It’s delightful.
4. All the Cheers references
Ted’s a fan of the 1982 sitcom Cheers — likely because Sudeikis is a big fan of the show as well. That’s no surprise considering he’s the nephew of actor and comedian George Wendt, who played Norm Peterson on Cheers. Check out the wall of Roy’s favorite kebab place. To the left of our favorite former AFC Richmond player is a signed photo of Wendt, which begins with the word “Cheers.” Aww.
5. A Marcus Mumford cameo
Speaking of photos in that sacred kebab shop, a signed photo of Marcus Mumford is up on the wall too. Mumford and Sudeikis, who met when Mumford & Sons first appeared on Saturday Night Live in 2012, have a long history as pals. In 2013, Sudeikis starred in the band’s “Hopeless Wanderer” music video alongside Jason Bateman, Will Forte, and Ed Helms. When it was time to find the sound of Ted Lasso, Sudeikis reached out to Mumford for assistance. In addition to scoring the show, Mumford also wrote the Ted Lasso theme song, so he’s certainly earned that kebab shop glory.
6. Don’t love the player, love the name
Ted Lasso fans are acquainted with the last names of players who get major screen time, such as Kent, Tartt, Obisanya, and McAdoo. But look around the locker room at the jerseys from lesser-known players, and you’ll find a few stealth Easter eggs.
One player’s last name is Cockburn, the family name of Sudeikis’ ex, Olivia Wilde. Another is Kukoč, said to be a reference to former professional basketball player Toni Kukoč. The show’s character Kukoč is #7, which was the real Kukoč’s number when he played for the Chicago Bulls, a team Brendan Hunt (who plays Coach Beard and also writes for the show) stans.
Fans also analyzed a white board in a locker room scene and found a shoutout to one of Sudeikis’ IRL pals, Billy Brimblecom. Sudeikis and Brimblecom met doing improv in Kansas City, and have been friends for more than two decades, KSHB 41 reports. Brimblecom is executive director of the Steps of Faith Foundation, an organization that offers amputees like himself financial assistance for pricey prosthetics. Sudeikis has been a longtime supporter of Brimblecom’s work, and together they host Thundergong! — an annual charity concert that supports the foundation.
7. Weaving in more real-life inspiration
The last names of AFC Richmond players aren’t the only references to real people in the show. Sudeikis has said that Donnie Campbell, his basketball coach at Shawnee Mission West High School, served as inspiration for the character Ted Lasso, but he’s also weaved in references to his life with mentions of Brookridge Elementary School (his former elementary school) and Ted’s former art teacher named Mrs. Scanlon (Sudeikis’ real childhood art teacher).
Ted also calls his upstairs neighbor Mrs. Shipley, which as Sudeikis’ mom told The Arizona Republic is a reference to Sally Shipley, Sudeikis’ high school forensics coach. Kathy Sudeikis also shared that the voice that says “Ruby” at the end of the show’s credits is a shoutout to Jason’s Nana.
8. What’s Dani Rojas singing?
Season 1, Episode 9, “All Apologies” begins with Roy wallowing alone in an ice bath while thinking about his less than ideal performance in the last game. After a quick pep talk from Ted, Roy looks forward to being alone with his sorrows again, but fellow teammate Dani Rojas enters the room and starts running on the treadmill behind Roy and belting a song in Spanish.
It’s not just any song. Dani is breaking the fourth wall by singing Marcus Mumford and Thomas Howe’s “Ted Lasso Theme,” and ends on a big old “siiiiiiii!” — before the show cuts to the intro and the “yeeeahhh” of the real theme song plays.
9. Escape to Victory
There are a plethora of sports references to both real and fictional teams in Ted Lasso. One of the latter is in Season 1, Episode 7, “Make Rebecca Great Again.” When Coach Beard is strategizing and writing names on the white board many fans noticed he wrote the name “HATCH” in the goalkeeper’s spot. In case you had any doubt that was a reference to the 1981 movie, Victory, in which Sylvester Stallone plays a goalkeeper named Robert Hatch, just check the rest of the names on the board. Beard’s got the whole lineup on there. King.
10. The reappearing head coach
Some characters on Ted Lasso are referenced but never seen. Others — like AFC Richmond’s former head coach, George Cartrick (Bill Fellows), who Rebecca fires at the start of the pilot — reappear multiple times. You may have noticed Cartrick’s next gig as a football pundit on Gillette Soccer Saturday, a show on the UK’s Sky Sports, alongside his former charge Roy Kent. That’s real-life host Jeff Stelling challenging the sour-grapes former coach while apologizing for Roy’s language.
11. Deez signs
Not all Ted Lasso Easter eggs are intricately woven into the storyline. Some are as simple and satisfying as the “(Nutz)” written after the “Ds” for defense on the whiteboard behind Coach Beard in Season 2. Puerile, and yet also brilliant.
12. Practice makes perfect
Did you notice Edwin Akufo’s handshake guy, Francis, practicing his handshakes on a skeleton in the back of a scene? I’m telling you, this show is all about the details.
13. Bernard Actually
Time to talk about rom-coms again. In Season 2’s Christmas episode, “Carol of the Bells,” Roy, Keeley, and Phoebe pull a Love Actually by standing in front of Phoebe’s bully’s door and delivering a crucial message via large notecards. But that bully’s name, Bernard, was also an intentional nod to Love Actually‘s director, Richard Curtis.
Bernard is the son of Emma Thompson and Alan Rickman’s characters in the 2003 rom-com, but the name Bernard is reportedly given to an unlikeable character in every Richard Curtis screenplay. Why? When Curtis was in college, his girlfriend left him for a guy named Bernard.
14. The ultimate ‘ussie’
The dentist Roy and Keeley find in that Christmas episode turns out to be the mom of Tommy, a recurring kid character who took a photo with Ted — not a selfie, an “ussie” — on their flight to London. The dentist played by Claire Skinner, who is the real-life mom of ussie kid actor Bill Skinner. Just think of all the ussies those two have taken together IRL.
15. Higgins and the hometowns
Remember that heartwarming Christmas dinner speech Higgins made for his massive table of guests? He made sure to list all the hometowns of the players in attendance — which, according to the LA Times, were the real hometowns of all the actors in the scene. Awww.
16. Bearding Man
The Season 2 episode “Beard After Hours” not only tells us about Coach Beard and his inner turmoil over the course of one long night in London; it also reveals that Beard’s a Burner. A large print from Burning Man is shown in his living room. Beard pays his respects to the Man, which is the version from 2002, which as any veteran Burner will tell you was one of the best years to go.
Beard actor and Ted Lasso co-creator Brendan Hunt is a Burner too. Hunt told the New York Observer that a short one-man play he wrote and performed in 2014, Absolutely Filthy, was inspired by “dancing alone at Burning Man” during a dust storm shortly before sunrise. Likewise, the plot of “Beard After Hours” seems to reference the kind of eventful evenings that are common at the annual event — from the colorful shiny pants Beard receives as a gift to the random rave filled with hula hoops.
17. The obscure organ
In the same episode, Beard wins the respect of an entitled bunch of Oxford graduates in a fancy club by claiming to be a professor at Merton College. Why Merton, one of the smallest of the 39 colleges that make up Oxford University? The answer may lie in Beard’s reference to the sound of the “Dobson organ” in Merton’s chapel.
Dobson Organ Company, which did indeed build that organ in 2013 and was thrilled to be referenced in the show, is headquartered in Lake City, Iowa, across the state line from Brendan Hunt’s alma mater, Illinois State. Which makes the Merton organ Ted Lasso’s most obscure American shout-out yet … at least, until Season 3.
18. Easter eggs of success
The Season 2 finale, “Inverting the Pyramid of Success,” features several Easter eggs related to the title. As on the plane to London, Coach Beard is once again seen reading Jonathan Wilson’s book Inverting The Pyramid: The History of Soccer Tactics. We see Nate studying a framed “Pyramid of Success” (signed by UCLA basketball coach John Wooden) that hangs on Ted and Beard’s office wall. There’s even a theory that the three time jumps at the end of the episode — 5 days later, 3 weeks later, 2 months later — signify the “Pyramid” formation (2-3-5) inverted.
The “Pyramid of Success” has a special place in Sudeikis’ heart. His aforementioned high school basketball coach, Donnie Campbell, was a big Wooden fan. As heard in an episode of The Lead podcast, Campbell loved inspirational quotes, and used the Pyramid of Success to teach Sudeikis and his players. Sudeikis also says he used a laminated Pyramid of Success poster and dry erase marker to teach improv teams.
19. Mom’s trip to Spain
In the Season 2 finale, Roy hands Keeley two actual paper plane tickets to Marbella, Spain — where Goldstein used to work at a strip club that his dad bought. When she asks if anyone still uses printed tickets anymore, he says they’re from his travel agent, Kathy, who’s “old school.” Anyone know an old-school travel agent named Kathy? Come on down Jason’s mom, Kathy Sudeikis.
20. Nate in the frame
Ted Lasso saw plenty of character development in Season 2. The most stomach-churning example was Nate’s transformation from one of the show’s kindly underdogs to its next big villain.
When the credits rolled on Season 2, a chilling final image of Nate the Formerly Great staring into the camera not only lingered with fans, but also mirrored the season’s opening shot. In a post-finale tweet, actor Nick Mohammed, who plays Nate, explains that the two shots were intentional and scripted.
“In the final shot the light in Nate’s eyes has supposedly ‘gone out,'” Mohammed wrote.
Merton alumnus and Burning Man veteran Chris Taylor contributed to this report.