The Ted Lasso Episode You Didn't Know Was Based On A True Story

Before the AppleTV+ sports comedy "Ted Lasso" swept the Emmys with a whopping 20 nominations (and 7 wins), the kind-hearted mustachioed man and his crew of footballers already had a place in our hearts. The fish-out-of-water football coach has a way of winning people over, as he proves time and time again throughout the series — and the audience is no exception.

Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis) is a lovable American football coach who's tasked with leading an English football club to victory. Or so he thinks. In reality, he's been hired by club owner Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham) in the hopes that his Midwestern charm will fail, and his lack of knowledge will tank the team. But kindness has a way of persevering in Lasso Land, which is one of many things that makes this show so irresistible. Given, ya know, the state of the world, it's no wonder "Ted Lasso" is thriving.

Like other feel good comedies that surged in quarantine, it's easy to get attached to such a hopeful world. It's not all sunshine and flowers of course — the second season digs in deeper, no less warm but a little more complex as it explores the cost of kindness. But at its core, "Ted Lasso" is a warm escape into kindness, one that believes people can become better and demonstrates an environment that helps them grow. The series constructs a world so hopeful and warm that it feels much too good to be true — so naturally, we gotta ask the question: is "Ted Lasso" actually based in truth?

The True Story of Ted Lasso

Do you consider commercials to be real life? Because in that case, "Ted Lasso" is indeed a true story! But in the case of actual logic, then no, "Ted Lasso" isn't based in real life — though it does have a couple of very real influences.

The show comes from Sudeikis, Brendan Hunt (who also plays Ted's assistant coach, Beard), Joe Kelly, and Bill Lawrence, and though it premiered in 2020, the titular character has been around for nearly a decade. Back in 2013, NBC produced several commercials to promote the channel's coverage of the English Premier League. Sudeikis starred as Ted Lasso, the head coach for London's Tottenham Hotspur F.C who had absolutely no idea what he was doing. Sound familiar? The commercials eventually went viral, Sudeikis never really let go of the character, he brought the idea to his eventual producing partners and thus, the beloved comedy series was born. But the inspiration doesn't stop there.

According to Goal, Ted Lasso was created with a few real life coaches in mind, including Liverpool F.C. coach Jürgen Klopp, Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola, plus a sprinkle of Sudeikis' own childhood, his high school basketball coach Donnie Campbell. The way that Ted speaks, with his niche sayings and memorable aphorisms, is partially based on Campbell. Sudeikis described his former coach in a "Today Show" segment:

"A fella from a small town in Kansas who spoke in those aphorisms, like, 'Sudeikis, you look more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs.'"

The Inspiring Tale of Karaoke Night

Speaking of stories making their way into the series, Klopp and Guardiola's influence goes well beyond the characteristics of Coach Lasso. They're the reason Ted has his signature mustache! Plus, stories of their coaching approaches and experiences also gave the Lasso writers further inspiration, and they even helped with the plot of "Make Rebecca Great Again," an episode that serves as a major turning point for many characters. 

The seventh episode of the first season sees Lasso's AFC Richmond facing off against a rival team with a 60-year winning streak on them. After a major triumph, the team goes out to celebrate in musically thrilling fashion — karaoke. The story beat comes from a real life instance of Klopp taking his team out for a karaoke celebration (via Echo). That's right, karaoke night has roots in real life! Sudeikis said, "Man, when I heard about him taking his squad to go do karaoke, I was like, 'Hellooooo, story idea.'"

The Liverpool bonding night made the rounds on social media, allowing the world to see their singing abilities in action. The equally fun performances showed off lots of range, but obviously, nothing compares to what the "Ted Lasso" episode brought out of professionally trained singer, Hannah Waddingham. As Rebecca, she blew everyone away with a memorable rendition of "Let It Go," beginning what will hopefully remain a tradition of her singing each season. This happens to also be another great example of how much range the series itself contains. The same scene that injects pure joy with Waddingham's performance is also extremely revealing about the painful emotions Coach Lasso has been hiding away from everyone, including himself. And to think, all of it came from a tiny anecdote about a team bonding over karaoke.