Now the story of a wealthy family who lost everything — and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together. It's Arrested Development.
Arrested Development is a single-camera Sitcom, debuting in 2003, which was hailed by critics (and Emmy voters) during its initial run as the best new comedy in years, but ended up becoming the best TV show nobody was watching.The show follows the farcical exploits of a wealthy family grappling with the loss of their fortune as the family patriarch is arrested for numerous dubious dealings involving the family business and Saddam Hussein. The show's tone is dry and fast-paced, tempered with a voice-over documentary-style narration*
and coupled with Running Gags, Brick Jokes, nested flashbacks, and other complex narrative structures.Michael Bluth is the Only Sane Man in a family that doesn't know how to live frugally; he is trying to keep the company afloat and the family together, but his siblings live their lives on a whim. His older brother GOB (George Oscar Bluth II — pronounced "jobe", like the biblical Job) is a mostly incompetent magician who performs illusions. Michael's twin sister Lindsay is a fair-weather activist for whatever cause happens to catch her attention at any given moment; her husband, Tobias, is a former psychiatrist turned aspiring actor (and is in denial about his obvious homosexuality). Michael's younger brother, Buster, is a bizarre Man Child who still lives with his mother, Lucille (who is constantly drinking and critical of everything and everyone). Michael's father, George, is enjoying his time in prison. Michael's well-behaved, but also quite awkward and confused son, George-Michael, and Lindsay's rebellious and Street Smart daughter, Maeby, frequently steal the show; the rest of the family is ignorant of the USTbetween them.Arrested Development garnered critical acclaim (and Emmy awards) during its run, but it struggled with low ratings and numerous schedule changes. While it's considered Screwed by the Network by some (a common occurence with Fox shows), the show did manage to get three seasons and fifty-three episodes under its belt before ending (rather than being cancelled). Series creator Mitch Hurwitz was offered the opportunity to move the series to Showtime, but he declined, since he felt the show had run its course.A movie based on the series, which will involve the show's original cast and many of the same writers and producers, is currently in production. An abbreviated fourth season — consisting of Days in the Limelight which will bring the audience up to speed with the five missing years of the family's lives — will be produced to lead into the movie. In an interesting twist, the fourth season will be exclusive to Netflix. It will consist of 15 episodes, and is set for a May 26, 2013 release date.The show has a Wikion Wikia in addition to the in-universe-styled fansite The Balboa Observer-Picayune. The wiki with the most comprehensive coverage of Arrested Development, however, is often Wikipedia itself.There is a Recap page listing the show's episodes and the tropes used in each of them (still in development).
Arrested Development in general provides examples of the following tropes:
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Abusive Parents: George Sr. and Lucille Bluth have treated all of their children with varying degrees of abuse, which continued (to an extent) well into their adulthood:
Michael and Gob were constantly played against each other (and occasionally manipulated into physically fighting each other. Said fights were videotaped and sold later as Boyfights) because George believed it to be a way of preparing them for conflict in life. They were also constantly undermined to keep them working for George's approval (Gob' desire to pursue a career in magic is constantly mocked, and his parents make it clear that he is The Unfavorite; Michael had a ridiculously extreme work ethic instilled in him, and George would often shoot down his ideas for the family business, regardless of what he thought of them).
Lindsay is often reminded of the fact that she has never really achieved anything, and Lucille constantly makes cracks about her weight since she was very young. Her abuse is probably the darkest when it is learned that she is adopted, and Lucille admits they didn't want her and only adopted her to spite Stan Sitwell, who had been trying to adopt her himself.
Buster was made to have a crippling overdependence on his mother, only for her to discard him whenever she considers him to be an inconvenience or imposition; George is also highly disdainful of his lack of independence and maturity.
George would also traumatize his children by making them associate certain unwanted behaviors with severe mutilation, in order to teach them "lessons" (such as leaving a note when they run out of milk).
They have also spoiled all of their children except Michael to the point that they have virtually no work ethic, which most of the siblings would consider a form of abuse.
The episode in which Justine Bateman appears is called Family Ties.
In the episode "In God We Trust", Lucille Two says the line "There's places to go! People to see!" before falling down due to her vertigo and old age. This is a reference to when she starred in a production of "Forbidden Broadway". Costar Ann-Margaret sings a spoof of the song "Bye Bye Birdie" called "Bye Bye Thirty", which is about aging.
There are actually several brilliant references to Liza Minelli's musical and stage career in scenes involving Lucille Two.
In the episode "Queen For A Day", Liza's Lucille Two character goes into Tobias's nightclub and hears him singing "New York, New York". She exasperatedly says, "Everybody thinks he's Frank Sinatra." This is a reference to how Liza actually recorded the song two years before Frank Sinatra.
Aesop Amnesia: Michael frequently learns that he shouldn't be so overbearing toward George Michael and should let him have fun. He forgets this just as frequently. Probably deliberate since Michael is kind and well-functioning compared to his family, but is still pretty flawed.
Similarly, there are several occasions when it dawns on Lindsay that she should actually pay attention to her daughter. By the next episode, she's gone back to being obliviously neglectful.
Adults Are Useless: Almost everyone in the Bluth family is a dysfunctional incompetent who either deliberately or unconsciously destroys everything good that ever happens to them. The exceptions? The teens. George Michael almost single-handedly runs the frozen banana stand that's the family's only steady source of income while Maeby bluffs her way into a studio producer job which she succeeds in until discovered (through George Michael's gaffe, so even the kids aren't perfect)
She gets it back when Hollywood execs go nuts over the teenage wonder, so in this case the adult cluelessness works in her favor.
(running into members of their family while skipping work)
Maeby: What are they doing here?
George Michael: They're grown-ups, they're allowed to have fun whenever they want! We're kids, we're supposed to be working!
Artistic License: The Queen Mary actually is welded to the dock, and actually had all the boilers and engine components removed before being docked.
Attack of the Political Ad: When George Michael lets Gob do an ad for his school president campaign, Gob pretty much attacks George's rival, Steve Holt, on the grounds that he doesn't even know who his father is. It turns out Gob is Steve Holt's biological father.
Big Bad: Lucille, who was behind pretty much all of the Bluth Corporation's illegal activity. Foreshadowed by her "dealing with" Michael's math teacher when he was a child.
Blah Blah Blah: The lawyer's commercial sounds like "You don't need doublespeak; you need Blah Blah Blah!" He's actually saying "Bob Loblaw," who becomes a recurring character and also runs the Bob Loblaw Law Blog.
Brick Joke: Several, although "light treason" comes to mind.
Dr Fünke's One Hundred Percent Natural Good Time Family Band Solution.
The entire third season is made of these:
The series premiere and series finale both began with this exchange (first/last):
Michael: What comes before anything? What have we always said is the most important thing?
George Michael: Breakfast/Family.
GOB's girlfriend at the end of the season, the third place contestant in the beauty pageant.
On seemingly dozens of occasions, Oscar very obviously insinuates that he is Buster's father rather than his uncle ("If only my father were here." "...Maybe he IS..."), but Buster remains completely oblivious until, offhandedly, Oscar refuses to "share his Pop Secret (brand popcorn)" with Buster. "Pop Secret? ...Is Oscar my real father!?"
In the first and last episode of the 1st season George Sr. says
George Sr.: I have the worst * Bleep* attorneys
Butt Monkey: Tobias, Buster — both before and after he lost his hand, Ann.
Cant Get Away With Nuthin: Anytime Michael indulges himself or ever puts himself first (only a handful throughout the series) it has terrible consequences that are immediately revealed to his family who use the occasion to declare him just as bad as the rest of them (who ALWAYS indulge themselves and put themselves first).
Can't Get in Trouble for Nuthin': Maeby's attempts at teen rebellion tend to fail miserably. At best, they're not even noticed. At worst, her parents want to be included.
Casting Gag: One episode had Tobias roleplaying with a relationship counselor played by Mr. Show co-star Bob Odenkirk.
A late episode has Michael believe a prostitute is in fact his sister. She's played by Justine Bateman, Jason Bateman's sister.
Bob Loblaw, played by Scott Baio, replaces Barry Zuckercorn, played by Henry Winkler.
As is Larry, George Sr's surrogate in the third season.
Coattail Riding Relative: Virtually the entire family coasts on George Sr.'s and Michael's business successes. Tobias, being especially pathetic, even occasionally tries to jumpstart his nonexistent showbusiness career by exploiting GOB's equally nonexistent fame.
Though later episodes made painstaking efforts to sum up the episode thus far when returning from act breaks, presumably to catch viewers who might have been flipping channels.
The Continuity Lockout is less about the plot and more about missing those sneaky little hidden jokes. For instance, if you miss the first couple episodes, you'll have no idea why the family is always driving a staircar everywhere.
Double Meaning Title: The show is about a family with several children in different degrees of arrested development, who own a development company whose president gets arrested, and the character development that ensues only after this arrest.
And their home building company struggles for three years with a deadlocked development project.
The Dragon: The Bluth's (Fake) Uncle Jack "Bullet" has a large, strong man named "Dragon" who carries him around and throws him at his enemies.
El Spanish O: In one episode, George Bluth is mistaken for his brother while in Mexico. He tries to explain that they want his "brothero." It's even funnier that he puts the accent over the "e" (like you would if it were a real word in Spanish), so he's saying "bro-thero" instead of "brother-o".
End of Series Awareness: through out the whole run, as its viewership was small enough that it was always on thin ice.
Faux Documentary: The show is shot with handheld cameras, and nothing is shown outside the realm of what could be captured with a camera crew following the main characters and supplementary photography (at one point Kitty's claims that George Sr. was going to give her the company result in the series' only "footage not found" (apart from a callback at the end of the episode and a reference to the "great times" in Lindsay's and Tobias' marriage). The idea was much more explicit in the first half-season, when the "footage" briefly went static in a car accident, and a judge forced the camera to leave the courtroom.
The show more or less abandons the concept temporarily whenever they want to feature flashbacks of the adult characters as children. The clips are shown with a fake super 8 filter. This is probably a stylistic choice.
In commentary on the pilot they discuss the documentary style they wished to mimic since it was so popular at the time. Although it wasn't held very strictly, they used digital cameras and had a rule to follow the action rather than lead it. There's at least one instance of a boom mic being used as a gag.
Fauxtivational Poster : George Michael has a poster thats says "Fun and Failure They both start out the same way"
Foreshadowing: For example, count how many times in the 1st and 2nd season we see Buster alongside artificial hands.
Including his hand chair. After discovering that it was given to Lupe's family, Buster says "I never thought I'd miss a hand so much"- a full six months before he does.
In the very first episode, Michael's mother complain that someone cut the foot off her fox fur.
The second season premier features a newscast which briefly mentions a seal attack.
He also wins a stuffed seal from a claw machine. And briefly imitates the claw with his left hand
And let's not forget the season two episode where Gob "helps" George-Michael by attacking his candidacy opponent (Steve Holt), by pointing out that Steve doesn't even know who his father is, while simultaneously reminiscing about the anti-abortion girlfriend he had didn't have in high school. Well, Steve Holt's parentage gets revealed during The Tag. Guess who...
"For British Eyes Only" manages to doubly foreshadow a later reveal.The episode begins with a flashback to an earlier conversation where Michael responds to his son telling him he has a stupid girl problem with: "I don't even have a girl, much less a stupid one." Later in the day Michael meets a women named Rita. Who is mentally retarded.
Another incidence foreshadowing the same reveal is when Rita sits on a bus stop bench that says "Wee Britain" in a way that it ends up appearing as "Wee Brain".
And also when Trevor confronts Michael, asking "How would you like someone going after some stupid person in your family?"
Maeby is introduced as "[George Michael]'s cousin, Maeby," which could also be written as "[George Michael]'s cousin, maybe" since they weren't actually biological cousins.
more overt in the previous line:
George Michael: Aren't you my cousin?
Gob says he "could be a father" in "Best Man for the GOB". He is.
Michael noticing similarities between the model home and the palaces of Saddam Hussein in Season One.
Repeatedly through the seasons, it is hinted that Maeby isn't George Michael's cousin, which turns out to be true, but not in the way in which it was repeatedly hinted. In the last season, there are several foreshadows revolving around Michael's mysterious sister N Bluth which resolves to be that Lindsy is really 3 years older than Michael and adopted, therefore making Maeby biologically unrelated to the Bluths.
Fake Buzz: Maeby drinks some virgin martinis and thinks she's drunk. George Michael tries to explain that "virgin" means non-alcoholic, but the venture is fruitless. Another time when Maeby and George Michael find some of Gob's fake wine (wine bottles filled with water). They drink it and think they are drunk. This leads them to get to second base.
Golden Moment: Occurs almost entirely with Michael and George Michael, his son. Lampshaded when while making snacks with his father at the end of an episode George Michael remarks that he doesn't need his dad to stay out of his life, he's the biggest part of his life. Michael states, referring to the snack they are making, "That's a little cornball, son."
"Public Relations": Michael hires a woman to handle public relations for the Bluth family, then after dating her finds their relationship becoming very public.
"Making a Stand": Gob makes a banana stand, then unites with Michael to make a stand against their father.
"Exit Strategy": The second-to-last episode, in which the Bluths go to war-torn Iraq (argued to be war torn due to a lack of an exit strategy) to find the evidence that exonerates their father (giving the show an exit strategy).
"Justice is Blind": Maggie Lizer's dog Justice is blind and Maggie can see.
"Queen for a Day": For the one day that Tobias owns the bar "The Queen Mary" he has it (accidentally) renamed "Tobias is Queen Mary".
Tobias: I guess I can have them remove the Mary.
"Missing Kitty": George Sr.'s secretary Kitty is missing.
The episode "Good Grief", centered around the Bluths' different reactions to hearing about the "death" of George Sr. This episode features homages to Peanuts including a beagle lying on the roof of a red doghouse, using music directly from the Charlie Brown specials, and being titled after main character Charlie Brown's catchphrase.
Don't forget the Charlie Brown Depressed Walk wherein the character walks slowly with their head down with the aforementioned music, just like in the specials.
"Family Ties": Michael Bluth (played by Jason Bateman) investigates into whether or not a woman he just met has family ties to him as his sister. She is played by Justine Bateman, who has family ties to Jason Bateman (she's his sister), and also starred as Mallory Keaton on the TV show "Family Ties".
George Sr. has a habit of swapping identities with his twin brother Oscar by force, either by putting on a wig or shaving his brother's head.
Tobias has treated himself to four thousand hair plugs, which resulted in him nearly dying as the transplant was rejecting his body. He also sported a classy wig while disguised as Mister Featherbottom. Erm, misses!
Then there's Buster and Lucille. On the episode "Motherboy XXX,"*
The XXX is actually a roman numeral 30, but the double entendre does not fall on deaf ears.
Buster tells Michael, "Whenever she'd [Lucille] change clothes, she'd make me wait on the balcony until zip-up – and yet anything goes at bath-time".
Plus there's also:
Buster: Sister's my new mother, Mother! And is it just me, or is she looking hotter, too?
GOB: You know that Kitty is starting to sound pretty damn sexy to me. Maybe I oughta...
Michael: ...That was Lindsay.
In the final few episodes there are two other examples: Michael hires a prostitute (to manage the company) because he thinks she is his long-lost sister, and then in the finale we learn that Lindsey tries to make a move on Michael and GOB tries to move in on her. Also Michael and Tobias do some spooning (same-sex in-laws count as incest, right?).
The gag involving Michael's hired prostitute gets infinitely better when you realize the actress that plays her is Jason Bateman's sister, Justine Bateman. And even better than that when the show starts deliberately calling attention to the Casting Gag.
Another honourable mention would have to be Michael and Maeby singing "Afternoon Delight" together.. Only to find out a little too late what the subtext of the song is.
And Lindsay and George Michael doing the same thing later in the episode to get back at Michael and Maeby, not having stayed long enough to find out what the song is about. Although as of the season finale, neither of these pairings are technically incest.
Played with when Lindsay offers to be a mother-figure for George Michael and he mistakes it for a proposition.
Insistent Terminology: They're not tricks. They're illusions. Used to G.O.B.'s chagrin in "Family Ties," among other episodes.
Though oddly enough, he eventually talks about a prostitute "turning illusions," the exact reason he gave in the pilot for why he doesn't like to say "tricks."
Intercourse with You: Afternoon Delight. After figuring it out, George-Michael and dad find it too vague to mind singing it.
Lady Drunk: Lucille is almost never seen without a drink in her hand.
Lampshaded The Obscure Reference: The episode "S.O.B.s", Tobias brings up someone named Freddie Wilson while talking, prompting the other characters to say they "don't get that reference". This doubled as an in-joke about how some people thought the show's inability to gain mainstream appeal was caused by its numerous and sometimes obscure jokes about pop-culture and topical references.
The second season provides one whenever Oscar and Buster spend time with each other and start talking about fathers.
Lemony Narrator: The amount of times Ron Howard breaks the fourth wall probably counts in the hundreds.
Leno Device: Jim Cramer is shown talking about the Bluth company on his show and in a later episode makes a live appearance. John Beard is an actual Fox local anchor and is presented as an exaggerated version of himself. Beard has been cast in several series either as a generic anchor or As Himself.
Lethal Chef/Cordon Bleugh Chef: Lindsey, who starts off with such delights as Hot Ham Water and "Cream Soda" (soda water with cream in it), before "advancing" to raw chicken served in the water it was defrosted in. Not to mention her tendency to leave the stove on and then wander off...
Lies to Children: Thanks to Lucille's insane lies to cover up her alcoholism, Lindsay has grown up believing that vodka goes bad if not finished the day it's opened and that wine only becomes alcohol if left to sit.
George Michael's cousin Maeby. As in, his cousin, maybe. (Turns out she's not.)
George Sr., while under house arrest, hires a man to wear a camera and a microphone and relay his words to the rest of the family during a consultation with a lawyer. The guy's name is Larry Middleman.
Metaphorgotten: Gob, on after the seal that bites off Buster's hand gets its flipper eaten by a shark.
"Poor little guy. He's probably out there somewhere, swimming around in circles, freaking out his whole family."
Muscles Are Meaningless: Lucille seems to be stronger than she looks, she can break through a barricaded door with little difficulty.
Buster: It's not the pronunciation I was worried about.
Not Blood Related: George Michael desperately looks for evidence that he and Maeby are Not Blood Related. In the end, it turns out that they're not... because Lindsay isn't.
Also, the Bluth's "uncle" Jack Bullet, who they exclusively refer to throughout the episode as as "Fake Uncle Jack", likely because a major plot point of the episode is his sexual desire for Lindsay.
"...and remember, he's not really their uncle."
When it's revealed that Lindsay is adopted, she comes on to Michael and Gob comes on to her.
Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught: Most of the conniving characters have no qualms about their schemes and are only concerned by the repercussions if they get discovered. As Bob Loblaw summarizes it "Why should you go to jail for a crime somebody else... noticed?".
The Not Secret: Tobias' "Mrs. Featherbottom" act isn't fooling anyone. It doesn't help that it's a transparent rip-off of Mrs. Doubtfire (with a bit of Mary Poppins thrown in). But the family agrees to humor him because he is actually quite effective at doing all the housework.
One Steve Limit: Averted. Lucille Bluth's best friend/social rival is Lucille Austero, played by Liza Minnelli. When the name confusion is not being Played for Laughs, the show refers to her as Lucille Austero, or Lucille Two. To a lesser degree, there's a bit of a theme with the names of most of the male Bluths. There's George Sr, Oscar, George Oscar (GOB), Michael, and George Michael. The only one to escape this is Buster.
Tobias also has a brief relationship with a transvestite (whom he believes to be a woman) bodybuilder named Michael.
On The Next: subverted; they're almost always one-off jokes based on hanging plot threads of the episode they accompany. Of course, there are a few Double Subversions where the preview is actually true...
The Other Darrin: At least three different actresses played GOB's girlfriend, Marta. It doesn't help that one spoke perfect English while another had an accent...
Police Brutality: A running gag in which George Sr. or Oscar (or one disguised as or mistaken for the other) gets tackled by police and a second later, one officer clubs him on the head with a nightstick.
As well as GOB getting tazered.
Primal Scene: In Visiting Ours, GOB unfortunately witnesses his parents getting it on when he is detained against the window of the conjugal trailer they're in. It happens again in Prison Break-in.
The Problem with Pen Island: Tobias' previous employment before becoming an actor was as a self styled analyst/therapist which he whimsically titled as "Analrapist". Needless to say, Tobias was mostly unaware of this trope being in effect when people reacted with shock upon seeing his business cards as he pronounced it differently than you'd imagine so didn't see an issue until later.
Reality Subtext: A number of examples. Besides several Actor Allusion(s), there's the fact that Portia di Rossi is a lesbian and her character on the show is married to Transparent Closet resident Tobias. There's also frequent references to the show's declining ratings coupled with Biting-the-Hand Humor toward Fox. The episode S.O.B.s is one of the more blatant examples. Finally, the character Nellie, whom Michael apparently erroneously believes is his long-lost sister, is played by Jason Bateman's sister Justine.
More examples: the season 2 subplot about the development being cut from 22 houses to 18 refers to the second season being cut to 18 episodes, and the several references to musicians having rights to certain titles (Motherboy, Use Your Illusion, etc) is in regards to a lawsuit from the band Arrested Development.
Remember the New Guy: Franklin, GOB's puppet was apparently used sometime before the beginning of the series. However, the cast as a whole seemed to suddenly remember him all at the same time, on the episode of his debut.
The Resolution Will Not Be Televised: The movie seems like the likely stage for resolution and results of major plot threads such as Kitty making off with a great deal of George Sr's sperm.
Running Gagged: Maeby used to say "Marry me!" whenever her coworkers thought she looked too young to be working to remove suspicion. One of her coworkers takes the offer a little too seriously, and she stops afterwards.
Share Phrase: On top of the show's numerous Borrowed Catchphrases, Lucille, GOB, Michael, and Maeby all say "That was a freebie" in the third season, with about equal distribution (Maeby says it in two separate episodes, but Michael said it in the first season).
Sibling Rivalry: Quite a few, among them Gob and Michael, George and Oscar, Buster and Annyong.
Side Effects Include...: When Tobias and Lindsay performed as a singing hippie duo hawking drugs for a pharmaceutical company a years ago, a young Maeby would deliver the side effects in between songs.
Sixth Ranger: Oscar, who first appears late in the first season.
Standardized Sitcom Housing: One of the most surprising aversions, considering the family business and how self-aware the show is. The couch is off in a corner and it's possible to go from the front door to the kitchen without passing through the living room. The actual model home used in the pilot had a grand spiral staircase...leading to an unfinished attic.
Stealth Insult: Michael can't go two lines without laying one of these down on his family.
Lucille: It's so nice not to have to worry about contraception anymore. The doctor says that I couldn't be a mother now if I tried.
Verbal Tic Name: Parodied with "Annyong", who always repeats this name back to anyone who says it- since it's Korean for "hello". Lucille actually just didn't care enough to actually learn his real name: Hel-Lo.
Narrator: Michael was trying to include his brother in the business, at his father's request. Michael: So, the last couple of months have seen us hemorrhaging money... (piles of change suddenly burst from Gob's sleeves) Narrator: But he was finding himself overwhelmed by the change.
“Well Done Son” Guy: Subverted in that right until the end they keep working for approval from their father (or in GOB's case for both his father's and Michael's).
There is also the fact that George deliberately undermined his sons to keep them working for his approval, as he believed it built character.
Batman Gambit: Michael attempts several of these. A failed example includes when Michael tries to break up GOB with Marta by putting her in the magic act.
Beware the Nice Ones: In one episode, Tobias (best known for homosexual innuendo), enters the same prison as George Sr. Tobias uses his therapist training and counseling skills to unintentionally convince the most powerful inmate to kill himself, and then heads a new prison gang centered around Wizard of Oz imagery, whose members were called "friends of Dorothy."
He was certainly the most feared analrapist in the prison.
In the final episode George Michael punches GOB out cold when he realizes that his uncle has been dating Ann behind his back.
Bilingual Bonus: The painters reminiscing about the Baby Buster videos such as "Too Old To Breastfeed"
Gob: Please refrain from discussing or engaging in any sort of inter-office *bleep* ing, or s*bleep* ing, or finger*bleep* , or *bleep* sting or *bleep* eeing or or even *bleep* . Even though so many people in this office are begging for it. And if anybody does anything with my sister Lindsay, I'll take off my pants, I'll sh*bleep* . And I'll personally *long bleep* .
Buster (Impersonating Lucille): I'm an uptight [bleep] BUSTER! [Longer bleep] YOU OLD HORNY SLUT!
Nellie: We're gonna have some ground rules first, OK? No *bleep*ing, *bleep* *bleep*ing, or *bleep*asting. And no *bleep*ing unless you're wearing a *bleep* *bleep* or you *bleep* before you *bleep* me. And if this winds up on the web, I will *bleep* you in the *bleep*.
Coincidental Broadcast: Subverted. Wayne Jarvis tells Michael that GOB is "on the news! Right now!", and turns on the TV. They then wait several minutes for the segment about him to come up.
Cold Turkeys Are Everywhere: Parodied after a loose seal with a yellow bow tie bites off Buster's hand: he sees reminders of it everywhere, from his hand chair to his stuffed seal with a yellow bow tie to the words on his clock "ALARM OFF" minus the first two letters.
The representative trying to keep him alive does it too.
Gambit Pileup: In "Making A Stand", George Sr. attempts to carry out a illegal deal with a Columbian cartel by using GOB to unwittingly launder the money and distracting Michael by playing him against GOB. In response, Michael makes a plan to convince his father that the cartel have kidnapped him after Michael caught on and called the deal off to teach him a lesson. However, after GOB tells George Sr. the full details of the plan less than a minute into its setup, George Sr. plants his go-to scare tactic amputee J. Walter Weatherman in the group to give him a means to teach them a lesson about teaching their father a lesson. After finding out that GOB ruined their scheme, Michael gets into a fight with him which spills onto the balcony, where Michael falls over the railing. Once George Sr. runs out to the balcony in shock, Michael comes up from his hiding place behind the railing to teach George Sr. the lesson about pitting GOB and him against each other that they had originally planned... at which point the police, investigating the commotion upstairs, break in and shoot Buster's hand off- his fake hand, which he had been passing off as his good hand by concealing his real hand under his hook all along, teaching them all the lesson he'd been trying to teach the entire episode about using amputees to scare people.
"Development Arrested", to a lesser extent.
Hit Me Dammit: Buster spends an episode trying to get into a fight only to drop and curl into a ball when the time finally comes.
Homosexual Reproduction: Maggie Lizer was a surrogate mother of a gay couple, who used a material mixed from the sperms of both of them.
Rita: (A Brit, played by the South African Charlize Theron) I just hate when they get Yanks to play British people.
Incestuous Casting: Justine Bateman, sister of Jason Bateman, plays a character who falls in love with Jason's character. It's also played with, where Jason's character believes that Justine's character is his sister (which turns out to be false).
"Marry me!" (Pause) "That's weird on so many levels."
Leaning on the Fourth Wall: The late season three episode S.O.B.s is chock full of references to the show's failing ratings and involves the characters pleading for support and trying to seem more relatable, while simultaneously stating that they would not be able to do a Channel Hop should they ultimately be canceled, and, by the end, openly accepting the show's impending cancellation.
When they discuss the idea that there is a mole with a listing device in the company in 'Mr. F', the cameras focuses on each cast member, ending with George Sr.'s surrogate and then finally with a wide cast shot of the conference room with a studio mic hanging overhead that gets quickly pulled away.
Littlest Cancer Patient: Parodied in the first season: Maeby pretends to be a terminally ill student named Surely Fünke so that the school will hold fundraisers for "her" and she can abscond with the money.
Literal-Minded: The doctor: We've lost him. It looks like he's dead. He's going to be all right.
Meaningful Name: Sitwell repeatedly has problems with the adjustment of his eyebrows.
Lucille: Michael, I was almost attacked last night in my own home! I walk in, and there's a colored man in my kitchen. Michael: "Colored"? What color was he, exactly? Lucille:Blue!
No Such Thing as Bad Publicity: In-universe. Maeby produces an American remake of a French film about cousins dating. A religious group (led by the girlfriend of Maeby's cousin George-Michael) protests the film and turns it into a hit.
Played with: A female attorney who can actually see claims to be blind in order to get the sympathy of her jurors; the Bluths try to expose her fake disability, but fail spectacularly because (only) on the day that they decided to prove she was not blind, she actually was temporarily blind due to an accident. She regained her sight in full the following day.
Maeby pretends to be a disabled girl called Shirley spelled Surely to get people to give money to her. Also Buster pretending to be in a coma to avoid testifying against the family.
Out-of-Character Alert: Michael goes to visit his father in jail. However, George Sr. tricked his twin brother Oscar into taking his place, and Oscar tries to convince Michael of this. When Michael doesn't believe him, and leaves to follow through on his plans with George Michael, Oscar tells him "I understand. Your child comes first." This is proof enough for Michael.
Peking Duck Christmas: Not the holiday precisely, but a similar idea. The setting has two Punny Name restaurants. One is called Skip Churches and is a Sunday Brunch place where Christians go in lieu of church. The other is Miss Temple's, a Chinese restaurant frequented by Jews in lieu of synagogue.
Platonic Prostitution: In "Family Ties," Nellie's customers never seem to want to have sex with her, and just need to talk about their deep-seated emotional problems: George Bluth sobs about his inability to make Oscar jealous with his money, GOB sobs about his inability to get Michael's approval, and, when she is inadvertently hired as an in-house prostitute for the whole Bluth company, she is concerned about the company's morale because the employees all just wanted to cry to her.
Plucky Office Girl: Kitty has used her position as one of these to get enough information on everyone to perfectly manipulate them all. Problem is, she's crazy, so how well this works is left up to the viewer.
Prison Episode: The first season has George, Sr. in prison. However, as part of an "illusion," his son GOB goes to prison for an episode to prove he can escape in 24 hours time. He escapes when an inmate shivs him and he's taken to a hospital.
Recognition Failure: When Lindsay is trying to meet men, she is enticed by a bearded homeless fellow described as having the rugged, unkempt appearance of a movie star. When she finds out he's just homeless, she leaves. However, it turns out that the homeless man is actually Real Life actor Thomas Jane, doing some Method Acting character research for a couple upcoming movies by posing as homeless. When Lindsay finds this out, she is enticed again. Tom Jane is confused that she doesn't know who he is, but seems pleased that she thinks he's gross.
Red Herring: The Mr. F the CIA is using as a mole is Mr. Fünke.
Right Hand Versus Left Hand: A good handful of episodes has the family business being messed up by this happening within the Bluth Company, but this trope is at it's most noticeable when the finale reveals that the CIA East put George Sr. up to building houses in Iraq and the CIA West pressed charges against George Sr. for building houses in Iraq, both without consulting each other.
Risky Business Dance: In "Development Arrested", Ted is dressed like Tom Cruise (sunglasses, collar up, no pants) under the "Risky Business" banner. He can be heard saying "I couldn't see through the glasses and I slid into the ladder", implying he (unsuccessfully) attempted to re-create the famous "sliding in front of the stairs" scene from the movie, in front of the ladder.
Rummage Sale Reject: Rita's style of dress veers in this direction. But it's to be expected, due to "MR F"
Gob: So, a young neighborhood tough by the name of Steve Holt's gonna be here any minute...
Michael: Your son.
Gob: According to him...
Michael: And a DNA test.
Gob: I heard the jury's still out on science.
Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Lucille uses a lie like this to cover up the fact that her children's Nana died, and she's been keeping the inheritance money they want for herself. By this point in their lives, the kids know not to believe her. This just makes Lindsay try even harder to find out what happened in order to get the money.
Shout Out: Tobias gets license plates made in the name of his hopeful roles, one of which says "DR HOUSE" .
Sitcom Archnemesis: Lucille II is this in Lucille's opinion and Stan Sitwell is this to George Sr. In both cases, the detested person is a really decent person, but is treated as a nemesis because the Bluth in question attributes their own kind of motivations to them.
Suspiciously Similar Song: Subverted at first in "Making a Stand", where a montage of stills is put to several different songs made for the series in an attempt to "make it funny". At one point, The Narrator mentions that it was "pretty funny to Yellow Submarine... but who could afford it?", at which point the music cuts out. Parodied later in the episode with a second montage set to a similar-sounding "Yellow Boat".
Take That: Done in-universe, oddly enough, when the narrator spends a good bit of an episode knocking the narration of a rivaling show, Scandalmakers.
In the Season 2 blooper reel, you can hear David Cross tell off Fox's marketing team for its failure to market the show despite its great reviews and numerous awards and nominations. The best part is that he does it while half-dressed in his Mrs. Featherbottom costume.
That Came Out Wrong: The show specializes in these, usually half a dozen per episode from Tobias (who doesn't realize what he's said), but often from Michael as well (who only notices it half the time).
Translation By Volume: Talking unnaturally loudly or slowly tends to be how the Bluths attempt to communicate with the various Spanish-speaking characters.
Twin Switch: George Sr. often tricks his twin brother Oscar into serving prison time in his place. Despite the frequency with which this happens, both Oscar and the police fall for it every time.
Oscar: Oh, stupid Oscar, when are you going to learn that there's no such thing as free shrimp?
George Sr. finds himself on the receiving end when the mexican police confuse him for Oscar, wanted for drug charges. He eventually convinces them of his real identity. That's when they remember he's the cornballer.
Twincest : Lindsay tells Michael she's "always been attracted to [him]" seconds after finding out they aren't blood relatives.
Unusual Euphemism: When George Michael says that he has Pop-Pop in the attic, Michael thinks he's talking about sex. Later episodes show that Michael may have been justified in assuming this, since other characters use it to mean exactly that.
Invoked and subverted by Maeby, who wants Steve Holt to think Lindsay is her father, not her mother. She goes so far as to buy her mother a shirt with a label "in French":
Maeby: "It's pronounced 'Shemalé'."
Barry Zuckerkorn apparently seeks out this trope, exclusively:
Barry: Hey, you’re not one of those silly men that’s dressed like a woman, are you?
Prostitute: No, baby, I’m the real thing. (Barry floors it and drives away.)
Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: With the exception of Michael and George Michael, everyone is a lazy, self-involved Jerkass. Michael, for all he really, really tries to be a good person and caring father, occasionally succumbs to hypocrisy and selfishness. This is Lampshaded in "S.O.B."
Wallpaper Camouflage: Reoccurring trope. Tobias' blue paint, from his stint as a Blue Man Group understudy, allows him to camouflage against any blue background. He also camouflages himself against a glitter background using Lindsay's diamond lotion in order to spy on her.
Buster's Milford Academy training allows him a high degree of skill in blending into the background of any situation.
We Should Get Another Tape: Trope Namer is George Michael's eventual response to the running gag where any recording always runs on to footage he shot of himself re-enacting scenes from The Phantom Menace.
What Happened to the Mouse?: Parodied. Annyong disappears between the first and second seasons, never to be seen again... until one On The Next gag toward the beginning of the third season reveals that he had been hiding in the walls *
but you have to wait for it.
. He reveals himself as a spy in the final episode.