Arrested Development: Best Running Gags and Trivia

Arrested Development, the amazing show that ran from 2003 to 2006 (with additional seasons released on Netflix eventually) has legions of devoted fans. Packed with hilarious running jokes, foreshadowing, and some of the greatest characters ever seen on TV, many feel that the three seasons it originally ran for was far too short. In 2013, Netflix answered peoples prayers and added a fourth season, and Season 5 is on its way. Here are some of our favorite moments from the first three seasons.

Check out some of the funniest stories, trivia, and running gags we could find, plus some great photos and videos!


How did they come up with the idea for the zany Bluth family? Find out next!

Creating the Bluths

arrested development royal tenenbaums

Well-known director Ron Howard came up for the idea of a sitcom shot as a documentary. Show creator Michael Hurwitz wanted to create a TV series that would be loosely based on JD Salingers “Catcher in the Rye” Glass family. However, when The Royal Tenenbaums came out, he felt that he couldn’t compete with the movie (as his vision was too similar.)

He ended up falling back on Ron Howard’s vision, changing the family from a group of New York intellectuals to a bunch of Californian fools, and created this iconic show. Jason Bateman, who plays Michael, describes the show as “The Royal Tenenbaums shot like Cops.”


Ever notice something strange about some of the characters? There’s a good answer for that on the next

Changing Characaters

arrested development switched characters

Arrested Development often switches out sets and characters without explaining it. For example, in the pilot, almost everything is different than in the rest of the series – the house they’re in, Tobias’s glasses, George Michaels skin color. Later in the series, the character Ann is played by two different girls, while Marta, G.O.B and Michael’s shared love interest, is played by no less than three different actresses.


What were some legal issues the show faced in the beginning? See next to find out!

Development Almost Arrested

arrested development motherboy

Arrested Development is the name of a band. The show had to pay band members $10,000 for the use of the name in order to proceed with filming. They poke fun at that in the Motherboy episode, when they show a photo of the fictional band of the same name. The band members are cast members of the show made up to look like a heavy metal band. 


Maeby Surely Funke? What’s with the name? 

Surely You’re Joking!

arrested development surely funke

Maebys name is a constant joke throughout the show. When she introduces herself to her cousin, George Michael (who develops a raging crush on her, another running plot line) he asks if she’s his cousin to which she replies, “Maybe.” That can be read as her saying her name, or saying that she is maybe his cousin – which ends up being a fun plot twist in season 3.

Later in the show, she creates an alter-ego for herself, Shirley (spelled Surely, an obvious play on her own name) who suffers from a fictional disease, aptly called “BS”. Surely raises money for her cause through the school.


Did we almost have a show with no Tobias? Find out on the next!

Talented Tobias

arrested development tobias

Dave Cross’s character Tobias was only meant to be an occasional character. However, audiences loved him so he was written into the show more frequently, bypassing Fox’s “no mustache, no hats, no fluffy shirt” rule for men in comedy. Some of the best gags in the show focus on his hilarious clueless character and his frequent double entendres.


Check the next for some of our favorites!

Tobias’s Best Moments

arrested development carl weathers tobias funk

One of the most hidden, funniest, and strangest Tobias Funke jokes is that he is actually a black man. The show continually makes hints to it which seem like they could be indicative of his lack of self-awareness, but Alia Shawkat, who plays Maeby, revealed that it was actually intentional on the part of the writers. Some great examples include:

Tobias: I am surprised that she’s going after somebody so similar to my own type.
(From the episode “Good Grief”, when Lindsay is flirting with Ice the bounty hunter).

Lindsay: People hear the name Tobias, they think ‘big black guy.’
Tobias: Well, obviously, I’m not a big guy. I’m not a Carl Weathers, par example. (from the episode “Afternoon Delight”)


How did they choose their chicken dances? We tell you on the next!

Unfamiliar With Barn Animals

arrested development chicken dance

The Bluth family appear to have never seen a chicken, as evidenced by their “Chicken Dance”. Each family member has their own dance, none of which actually resemble a chicken. The shows creators simply told the actors to impersonate a chicken, badly, and each actor did as they saw fit. G.O.B.s character created a cocky chicken, while Lucille’s chicken was meant to look a little tipsy.


Ever noticed a Monopoly box in the show and wondered why? We’ll tell you about it next.

Monopoly Money

arrested development monopoly

G.O.B frequently conned  George Michael out of money, replacing it “magically” with a game of Monopoly. In the above photos, you can see George Michael next to a stack of Monopoly boxes, presumably given to him by G.O.B. Check out this clip below:


Where did Lupe take sartorial cues from? We tell you, next.

Lupe’s Lookbook

arrested development lupe

Lupe, Lucille’s housekeeper, is often shown wearing Bluth family knockoffs, several months out of season. For example, she wears a Thanksgiving sweater on Valentines day and a Halloween sweatshirt on Christmas.


Who did G.O.B marry, and what was their real-life connection? Find out on the next!

G.O.B and His Wife

arrested development gob wife

G.O.B meets his “accidental” wife (whose name is never actually revealed) while looking for a one night stand. In real life, G.O.B, played by actor Will Arnett, and his wife, played by Amy Poehler, were married.

G.O.B and his wife get married in a series of escalating dares that culminates in their marriage. His wife ends up falling in love with Tobias after seeing him play in  Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution. She and G.O.B eventually get divorced.


Aside from supplying George Michael with Monopoly money, how does G.O.B spend his days? 

Magic Man

arrested development illusions

G.O.B is a terrible but enthusiastic magician. His illusions (“Tricks are something whores do for money” is his famous quote) often feature excess amounts of fire, flying pigeons, failure, and “The Final Countdown” by Europe. His greatest “illusion” is where he makes the Lucille, his families yacht, disappear…by blowing it up and sinking it. Yikes.


Ever noticed a red dog house? Read on for this funny tidbit.

A Very Charlie Brown Bluth

arrested development sad walk

When a character is despondent, he or she is often seen shuffling home, shoulders slumped, head down, with the theme from “A Charlie Brown Christmas” playing, in perfect imitation of Charles Schultz’s comic strip. In a one scenes, you can even see the iconic red doghouse with a dog lying on top as George Michael dodders by.


What is one of the most frequently used words in the beginning of each show?

Main Man Michael

arrested development michael bluth

Michael Bluth, the middle child, is a central focus of this show. As one of the only stable characters determined to keep the family afloat, he is constantly battling frivolous siblings, incarcerated parents, and model homes that constantly fall apart. Understandably, most episodes begin with the words “Michael.”


Where do we see Buster losing his hand? Read on for the funny answer.

On The Next Arrested Development

arrested development on the next

Nearly every episode ends by showing scenes from next weeks episode, none of which are actually featured in the next episode itself. For example, Buster losing his hand happens entirely in the “next on Arrested Development” part.


How did Liza Minelli end up on the show? The answer will definitely surprise you.

Ron Howards Babysitter

arrested development liza minelli

Lucille 2 is played by Liza Minelli, who was the show’s narrator Ron Howard’s childhood babysitter. They were having trouble casting the role, so he asked her to do it as a favor. Liza is Judy Garland’s daughter, and in one episode she tells G.O.B that he “has no courage” in reference to The Wizard of Oz, which starred her mother.


Is that a real news anchor on TV? We tell you about him, next!

Hey, you look familiar!

arrested development john beard

The news anchor who is commonly seen on TV throughout the series is real life anchor John Beard. He can be seen in various moments throughout the series, dining at the same restaurant as the Bluths (“Missing Kitty), or at the Save Our Bluth’s party (S.O.B.s)


Who’s following the Bluths? Find out next.

Stealthy Surveillance

arrested development blendin

Throughout the show, there is a running joke about the conspicuous surveillance team that follows the Bluths. It is always featured with some variation on the name “Blendin” – “Blendin Mobile Pet Grooming” (“Shock and Aww”), “Blendin Electric Company” (“Staff Infection“), and “Blendin Catering” (“Mr. F”).


What are some of the more interesting things Buster has studied? We tell you, next.

A Class of His Own

arrested development buster scholar

Byron “Buster” Bluth has studied almost everything, including 18th-century agrarian business education and cartography. However, he is highly incompetent at both those fields of study, unable to navigate the Bluth family yacht despite studying maps, and, despite his family believing in him, unable to run the business with his knowledge of 18th century farming.

He has also taken part in many studies, including a sleep deprivation study, and a hemispheroctomy surgery, which would surgically disable half his brain.


How did Tobias support his family? Check the next page for the funny answers!

Former Doctor Funke

arrested development tobias doctor

Tobias Funke used to be a doctor until he was disqualified for preforming unnecessary CPR on a sleeping man. When he hands Lindsay a note, it is “From the desk of Dr. Tobias Funke.” It is crossed out to say “From Tobias Funke”, reflecting his career change – from failed doctor to failed actor.

Tobias spends the series trying to find luck as an actor, with very little success.


We know he can’t ever be naked. Is that a real thing? We tell you, next.

Never Nude

arrested development tobias never nude

Tobias is a never-nude, meaning he refuses to be seen without some sort of clothing on (making the logistics of fathering a child rather difficult.) It is a real-life condition called gymnophobia, which is a fear of being naked. Tobias suffers from an extra-severe form of this disorder.


Why did the Bluth’s adopt Annyong, and whats a funny coincidence about his name?

Annoying Annyong

arrested development annyong

Annyong Bluth, Lucille’s adopted Korean child, was brought into the Bluth clan when Lucille angrily signed adoption papers after Buster refused to eat his cottage cheese. Annyong is the Korean word for “hello”, and it is later revealed that his actual name is “Hel-lo”. The Bluth’s lack of cultural awareness is another running gag, with the characters being unaware of most cultures outside of their own.

Lucille eventually tires of him and sends him to the Mole School, whose motto is “Children Should Neither Be Seen Nor Heard”. His name, Annyong, is spelled quite similarly to “annoying” – hardly a coincidence as his character is rather irritating.


What were Fox’s concerns about having Charlize Theron on the show, and how did the show get around them? Find out, next!

Mental Development Arrested

arrested development rita

Rita, Michael’s mentally arrested love interest, is played by the beautiful Charlize Theron. When her uncle shows a “before” photo of an ugly Rita, it is actually a photo of Charlize Theron in Monster, a role she famously gained 30 pounds for.

Fox initially didn’t want her wearing so many hats, fearing that people wouldn’t recognize her as the Academy Award winner she was. She used the hats to make it seem like they contained cameras to spy on Michael, which played into the Bluth family belief that she was a spy.


What did Tobias do after every audition he attended? 

Vanity Plate Enthusiast

arrested development vanity plate

Tobias Funke loved making vanity plates for his cars. He would get them for each role he tried out for, such as “INM8 2”, and also for House, MD, which he auditioned for in real life. And of course, his ill-advised “A Nu Start” plate can’t be forgotten.


Anything worth mentioning about the Bluth’s design style? See the funny photos next!

A Valiant-ish Effort

arrested development banners

The Bluths were big on decorating with banners. However, they were often badly written, hastily re-done, and with twelve being shown throughout the series. Memorable ones include their “Mission Accomplished” sign, “Family Love Michael”,  “Michael L<3ve Marry”, and all of Lucille’s messages to Buster, including, “You’re Killing Me Buster” and “You’re Kidding Me Buster”, almost always re-purposed from older banners.


Where else can you see the Bluth family make other cameos?

Prolific Actors


arrested development cameos

There are many places in the show where the Bluth family make cameos in unexpected places. For example:

  • In the Spanish dictionary that defines “hermano” as “brother”, there is an illustration of Michael and G.O.B as “hermanos”, or brothers. On the same page, you can see Tobias as the example for “hermafrodita”, and Lindsay for “hermosa”, or beautiful.
  • A fictional Mexican silent film from the 1920s features G.O.B.s chicken dance, and all three Bluth brothers are actors in the film.
  • Another fictional film, the 1940s war epic “A Throughly Polite Dustup” features Tony Hale (who played Buster) as a soldier bidding his nurse farewell. A season later, Buster has the exact same interaction with a real nurse.


What about the bench advertisements? We tell you what you may have missed on the next page.

Creative Foreshadowing

arrested development foreshadowing

Arrested Development loved its sight gags. One is the frequent use of characters obstructing letters in a sign to create foreshadowing. For example, when Buster is sitting on a bench with an ad for army recruitment, he blocks the letters so the sign simply says “Arm Off” (one of the many hints at his eventual lost hand.)

We also see Rita sitting on a bench and obstructing the words “Wee Britain” so it simply says “Wee Brain.” Too bad Michael didn’t realize that earlier.


Anything interesting about G.O.B.s Segway? See the next page for the answer!

Segwaying into a Conversation

arrested development segway

G.O.B loves showing up unexpectedly on his Segway. Every time he does, he immediately changes the subject, effectively “segueing” into what he wants to talk about.


Where does Lucille 2 go to the doctor? We tell you, next!

Balancing Act

arrested development vertigo

Lucille 2, played by Liza Minelli, suffers from acute vertigo. She goes for treatment at the Plumb Clinic, likely chosen for its name as a plumb is another word for a carpenters level.


What was the real-life inspiration for the banana stand? Find out next!

Based On a True Story

arrested development banana stand

Bluths Banana Stand was well-known for many things – as a place for G.O.B to steal money from the family, for George Michael to build character, and for always having money in it, but did you know it was inspired by real-life events? Writer Michael Hurwitz and his brother opened a cookie stand in Los Angeles called The Chipyard. He ended up hating it, and it inspired the idea of the mind-numbingly boring job of working in the banana stand.

Copycat Bluth’s Banana Stands have popped up all over the world as promotion for the fourth season. If you were in LA, New York, or London in the past two years, you could have had your own Bluth’s Frozen Banana!


Were there hints to Buster losing his hand before it happened? Find out, next!

Losing a Hand

arrested development hand foreshadowing

Buster loses his hand in one of the funniest gags of the show, but did you know there was tons of foreshadowing to this moment? Some of the funniest examples include:

  • in episode 1, Season 2 (The One Where Michael Leaves), the news anchor on TV can be heard talking about a seal attack.
  • In episode 3, (Amigos!) Buster sees his old hand chair and says, “I never thought I’d miss a hand so much!”
  • Probably in the most complex backstory, G.O.B was briefly married to an unnamed seal dealer, who, before their divorce, was sent to serve in Iraq. During her absence, G.O.B decides to release her seals he was meant to watch “from whence they came”. One eventually ate Buster’s hand.


Check out these funny videos we found!

We found a great video of the best Arrested Development quotes of all time. Check it out and tell us what you think!

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