Big things are happening on TV Tropes! New admins, new designs, fewer ads, mobile versions, beta testing opportunities, thematic discovery engine, fun trope tools and toys, and much more - Learn how to help here and discuss here.
These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Audience-Alienating Premise: The show actually got a decent amount of support from the network, considering it lasted 3 years despite being rather expensive to produce. Some have theorized that FOX simply did not know how to effectively advertise the show, Emmy winning or not. It is basically about a family of egotistical yuppies where only one man and his son are sympathetic, and the rest are not. Also, Incest Subtext out the wazoo. This was pointed out in the third season by Michael: "Maybe we aren't as likeable as we think we are."
There's also the business subplots. Not everybody knows how the stock market works.
Better on DVD: or on Hulu, as it were. (And remember to pause whenever a newspaper or other text piece appears on screen — there are always a couple of extra jokes thrown in).
Watching the episodes in quick succession instead of an episode per week makes the countless running gags and brick jokes funnier because the set-ups are fresh in the viewer's mind. The show is also made even more hilarious when you watch the first season and catch all the Foreshadowing of things you now know are to come.
Season 4 is fully aware of this, and features several Netflix-related gags.
The episode "S.O.B.s," which parodies Ratings Stunts by having various overly dramatic and out-of-character events occur. It's never mentioned again, and is implied to be Canon Discontinuity.
False on the Canon Discontinuity, the events of the episode are referenced in season 4 when Andy Richter and his brother Emmett make appearances.
In "Fakin' It", Franklin gets a voice box voiced by Judge Reinhold, and GOB holds a conversation with him. All of his lines are variants on "My name is Judge". Then as Michael leaves, Franklin says "bye!", despite it not being programmed into the card.
Broken Base: Season 4, big time. Should the show have stayed dead? Does the new format work or is it an ambitious failure? Worst season ever or the best?
Crazy Awesome: George sometimes leans into this. The man is clearly insane, doing things like setting up elaborately cruel pranks to teach his children life lessons (including to teach Michael to not teach people life lessons), posing as God in a live painting banquet so he can make a jailbreak, stashing away money in giant banana-shaped food stands, and using his eldest sons to stage "Boy Fights" so he could sell the tapes for money (even though he was already rich as all hell, so said money would be pretty much worthless to him).
Critical Dissonance: Broken Base aside, many fans have enjoyed season 4. Ironically for a show that has been a critic's darling, many TV critics have been underwhelmed by season 4.
Crowning Music of Awesome: David Schwartz's score for the show is almost as riddled with running jokes and clever allusions as the show itself.
His daughter Lucy Schwartz's song "Boomerang" was great enough (and catchy enough) that after hearing it, Mitch Hurwitz actually re-edited the final minutes of the season 4 finale (even bumping The Tag to after the credits) just to include it in the show.
Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Season 4 can come off like this sometimes- namely while the comedy's still there, it's far darker than before, everyone is in a worse position than they were, and the few likable characters take several levels in jerkass.
Discredited Meme: The series' running gags get zigged-zagged all over the place in Season 4.
We wave goodbye to the staircar in episode 1, only to have it come back for one last hurrah in the last episode. Meanwhile, Michael is driving a Google camera car, which is just as ridiculous.
Sudden Valley is finally completed, so it's not just a model home on a barren hill. However, it's an unlivable, inaccessible ghost town.
Tobias is told early on that the way he talks makes everyone think he's gay, and he vows to do something about it. He doesn't, and his Innocent Innuendo lands him on the sex offender registry. He finally learns not to call himself an "analrapist", but "anustart" takes its place.
It looks like George Michael had finally gotten over his crush on Maeby, but he brings her back into his life to try again.
Buster gets a bionic replacement for his hook, but it's even more dangerous.
Ultimately, this is a series about people who don't grow or change.
Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe example. "And secondofly, I know you're the big marriage expert around here. Oh wait, I forgot your wife is dead."
Earworm: The "Mock Trial with J. Reinhold" theme song, as sung by William Hungnote infamous for being one of the worst American Idol contestants ever at the time.
Big Yellow Joint
The opening theme.
"You're a crook/Captain Hook/Judge, won't you throw the book..."
Epileptic Trees: The cliffhanger ending of season 4 involving Lucille 2's apparent murder caused a explosion of theorizing and analysis by fans trying to piece together clues. It's similar to the famous "Who Shot Mr. Burns" cliffhanger in that many of the characters have a motive and opportunity, so nearly every theory can be given at least a scrap of evidence no matter how ridiculous. Note that the WMG page for the show has an entire folder devoted to speculation about it.
Fridge Brilliance: In both episodes featuring Maggie Lizer, the blind lawyer, it made no sense that she would often make eye contact with Michael. Then, it turns out she's not really blind!
Then in the episodes where she returns and is pregnant, she meets with Michael no less than twice to go drinking, which won't harm her baby because she's not pregnant.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: Lucille constantly calls Lindsay fat. It's treated negatively in universe, but it's still deeply uncomfortable to watch knowing that Portia De Rossi went public about her struggles with anorexia after the show ended.
Additionally, all the jokes about G.O.B.'s brief marriage and divorce have become somewhat bitter in light of the actors playing G.O.B. and his wife (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) announcing their Real Life breakup in 2012.
George Michael's confusion of The Wizard of Oz with Oz led him to be terrified of prison. Over the course of the fourth season, he commits such massive fraud that it's almost a given that he's going to jail.
Invoked in-universe: G.O.B. braodcasts a libelous video of Steve Holt that opens up with the line "Steve Holt is a bastard"...immediately after Steve Holt opened up to the entire school about his paternal abandonment issues.
From Season 4: George Michael is tired of his Unfortunate Name. His father offers to call him Boy George, but George Michael knows that that's even worse. He winds up using the alias George Maharis. Fans were quick to do the research, discovering that George Maharis was a 60's TV star who was entangled in allegations of sexual impropriety just like George Michael and Boy George.
Season 4 also involves a minor character named Perfecto Telles who is Maeby's boyfriend and Lucille Austero's adopted son. In Real Life, Perfecto Telles was a hairdresser who George Maharis was caught having sex with.
Lucille's jokes about Lindsay being fat sound escpecially mean since Portia De Rossi admitted to suffering from eating disorders.
She's now married to Ellen DeGeneres. Which, incidentally, means that her spouse is gay.
Oscar's and George's Sr.'s actor Jeffrey Tambor had twin children born in 2009.
Try hearing Gob and Franklin's signature song without thinking of "Accidental Racist", which may be impossible if you've watched the show afterward.
The Running Gag of how plain and unmemorable Ann is, when it's now impossible not to hear her as Katara.
Hollywood Homely: George-Michael's girlfriend Ann is often treated like this by Michael. While not particularly unattractive, she has a dowdy appearance and appears very unemotional and bizarre, failing to make any lasting impression on people in-universe.
Hollywood Pudgy: A few characters, notably Michael, make jabs indicating that she's fat. She's somewhat round in the fact but that's about it.
Gob. He's probably the most openly antagonistic of the main cast members, but he really does try to please his parents, and is deeply insecure due to his harsh upbringing. It would probably make it into Tear Jerker territory if it wasn't so damn funny.
Lucille actually inches toward this in season 4 due to an implied Freudian Excuse from herAbusive Parents. She also finally starts to realize that her children actually do hate her, or just don't care.
Maeby Funke. If you take away her resourcefulness, cunning, deceitfulness and rebellious attitude, you'll see a young girl horribly neglected by her self-centered parents and is desperate and will do anything to get some kind of attention from them.
Lindsey and Tobias are both horribly neglectful towards their family (especially their daughter) and are massive Attention Whores, but Lindsey has huge self-esteem problems because of her emotionally abusive mother and Tobias isn't knowingly mean just completely out of his depth and desperate to fulfill his dream of being an actor.
Gene returns in season 4. Uncle Jack, however, does not.
Rewatch Bonus: A lot. You'll never catch all the subtle jokes, set-ups, and foreshadowing on a first-time viewing. Season 4 takes it Up to Eleven due to being shown in Anachronic Order. For example, Lindsey's spotlight episode is completely different on a second viewing once you know Tobias was just barely off-screen the whole time.
The Rita Leeds arc once it's revealed that she's an MRF and not a spy.
Stealth Pun: So stealthy it might not even count. In the season 4 episode "Red Hairing", Herbert Love - the Herman Cain-esque politician - gives a necklace to Lindsay that he bought at Brother Brothers Pawn Shop. If you do a little word association, "Brother Brothers" becomes "Cain Hermanos", a joke that not only works on its own, but also references what they're satirizing and uses one of the show's running jokes to do it. That might be a stretch, but if it is, that means the Arrested Development made a perfectly-working three-level joke on ACCIDENT.
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".
Values Dissonance: In the episode "Sad Sack", aired in 2004, Maeby pretends her mother is a Transsexual to make Steve Holt stop liking her. She uses the horribly offensive slur words "tranny" and "shemale" to describe her - but the offensiveness of the words is not acknowledged, and they're treated casually. In the 2010s, this would be virtually unthinkable.
The Woobie: George-Michael. Especially in the pilot.
His father as well. In fact, many of the Bluths could be considered this due to their abusive and/or neglectful upbringing.
Poor Steve Holt(!), probably the Bluth family member with the least amount of negative traits. All he wanted to do was reconnect with his father.
Oscar due to constantly being framed, manipulated, and abused by his criminal brother. Reaches it's zenith in season 4 where George Sr. twists Oscar's genuine desire to mend their relationship for a Get Rich Quick Scheme.