Tropes pertaining to the members of the central Bluth family in Arrested Development. Characters are listen in the order their actors are credited in the opening. Click here to return to the main index.
- Ambiguously Jewish: According to creator Mitchell Hurwitz, "we can't quite decide if the Bluths are Jewish or not." Given the Germanic/Ashkenazic origins of the name "Bluth" and George Sr.'s religious conversion in jail, it seems likely that they're at least half-Jewish on his side.
- Big, Screwed-Up Family: Um, yes.
- Butt-Monkey: Seriously, the Bluths can't catch a break. They've been humiliated on TV, physically beaten, have a horrible track record when it comes to relationships, and their company can't seem to stay afloat even when it looks like it'll pull through.
- Consummate Liar: The narrator implies that this skill is in In the Blood amongst the Bluths.Gob: We did have sex, and I'm not a great liar.
Narrator: Both things he just said were lies.
- Catchphrase: "Ive made a huge mistake", alternatively: "I need a favor!"
- "Well, that was a freebie."
- Clingy Jealous Girl: A recurring problem. Michael with George Michael (in a nonsexual way), he seems to be particularly jealous of George Michael's girlfriend, Ann Veal, for taking his son away from him.
- Dysfunctional Family: It's a Justified Title.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Michael and his siblings were subjected to cruel lessons courtesy of J. Walter Weatherman.
- Also George videotaping and selling Boy Fights between GOB and Michael.
- And Michael being forced to work in the banana stand during heatwaves.
- Family Business: The Bluth Corporation
- Incompetence, Inc.: What Michael tries to prevent, in spite of the rest of his family altogether.
- It's All About Me: All of the Bluths have very self-centered world views (Except Buster), even the comparatively good-natured Michael. George Michael was the notable exception to this prior to season 4, where he also began showing off his selfish side.
- Not Blood Siblings: So many of the show's pairings, mostly one-sided, involve this trope. There's George Michael/Maeby, Steve Holt/Maeby, Annyong/Maeby, Michael/Lindsay, and GOB/Lindsay. Theres even a brief tease of George Michael/Lindsay due to a wacky misunderstanding.
- Parental Incest: One-sided; Buster seems to have a heavy fixation on his mother, Lucille. As a child, he even appeared on a magazine cover with her under the headline "Why I Want to Marry My Mother", which Stan Sitwell will never let them live down.
- Pride: Most Bluths suffer from this Fatal Flaw to some degree.
- Shared Family Quirks: Greed and lying, mainly.
- Static Character: It's right there in the title.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonists: Their corrupt behavior mixed with a social awkwardness causes them to suffer constantly.
Played by: Jason Bateman
The main protagonist of the first three seasons, Michael Bluth is a Nice Guy and the only adult in the family to seem to have any morals.
In Season 4, he is only one of many of the characters who are focused on. Michael spends years finishing Sudden Valley as a pet project after leaving the family for good after the incident aboard the Queen Mary, and racks up $700,000 in debt to Lucille 2. After the death of his mailman, he temporarily lives in his son's college dorm room before getting "mistakenly" kicked out in a vote and moving to Phoenix. In Phoenix, Michael meets with Ron Howard and puts into production a movie about his family. Spoiler Information
- Adorkable: He shows shades off this, especially when flirting with Jessie in "Public Relations".
- Aesop Amnesia: Michael's lesson to be learned at the end of the day is almost always that he suffocates his son too much and puts too much pressure on him, but he never seems to fully learn this, and needs to learn it again.
- Audience Surrogate: He's the embodiment of the normal guy lumped together with a quirky group of amoral and flawed people (though he himself is not without his flaws). Mitch Hurwitz even calls him the audience's "point of entry".
- Being Good Sucks: Especially when everyone else is so immoral. It's toyed with throughout the series (most notably in "Storming the Castle"), but this is what spurs his Character Development in Season 4.
- Benevolent Boss: Hes an honest and reasonable boss, though it has been mentioned that he works his employees too hard and doesn't know how to delegate authority.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Season 4 implies that, after a series of injuries and degradation, he murdered Lucille Austero. Knowing the series, there may be more to it than that, but at the very least he does threaten her.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: While undoubtedly a much better person than most of the rest of his family, he's regularly shown to share the family traits of being a shallow, self-absorbed liar whenever he's around other more "normal" characters. This becomes most pronounced in season 4, which he spends most of away from the rest of the Bluths and shows him at his absolute worst.
- Black Sheep: One in his family, in that he does work hard and is generally a decent person, at least in the earlier seasons.
- Can't Believe I Said That: He often does this before the other party has even left the room, mouthing What is wrong with me? while the other persons eyes are diverted for some reason.
- Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: While this was an element of his relationship with his family in the show's original run, Season 4 plays it particularly hard by indicating that he might be worse off without them.
- Catchphrase: In Season 4, "you're out of the movie!"
- Character Development: At first he's a straight-up Nice Guy, but as the series goes on, he becomes a slightly more flawed character. In Season 4, this is ramped Up to Eleven, and by the chronological end of the season, he's almost nothing like he was before.
- The Comically Serious: He often doesn't react to the weirdest of situations which makes it even more funny.
- Control Freak: While you can't exactly blame him, since the rest of the Bluths are so incompetent and unpredictable that they have to be kept on a short leash at all times for anything to be accomplished, Michael is very controlling of other people's lives. This is best shown in his relationship with George Michael, where his well-intentioned attempts at making his son an accomplished go-getter have resulted in George Michael becoming a timid social outcast under far more pressure than any teenager should be.
- Dating Catwoman: His relationship with Amoral Attorney Maggie Lizer.
- Deadpan Snarker: It would be impossible to suffer his family without a sense of humor.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: Of The Dutiful Son. While he steps up and takes charge of the family business after it falls into financial ruin, it's repeatedly shown that he'd be much better off if he'd simply cut off all ties from them like he was originally planning to. Later episodes also heavily suggest that his primary reason for sticking around is to confirm his own perceived superiority over the rest of the family by saving the company, rather than out of any sort of familial devotion.
- Driven to Murder: He has a motive for the murder of Lucille Austero - getting out of a $700,000 debt.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-Universe, when Tobias jokes about Michael's wife being dead.
- FaceHeel Turn: To an extent in Season 4. He's far from evil, but he becomes extremely petty towards numerous members of his family, and has a strong motive for the murder of Lucille 2.
- Genre Blind: He keeps wanting to think the best of his family.
- Hard Work Hardly Works: Very often the case for Michael. Try as he might, he'll never be able to restore the Bluth Company's success or find happiness for himself.
- He Who Fights Monsters: The longer he stays with the family that he hates, the more he begins to stoop to their lows.
- Holier Than Thou: Sometimes comes across as this. While it's generally justified, considering the rest of his family, he has a bad habit of completely disregarding the occasions when one of them actually makes a legitimate point.
- Honest Corporate Executive: For the most part, although he occasionally slips up. Its especially admirable in contrast to how his (now imprisoned) father handled the position.
- Honor Before Reason: He really should have left years ago and let his family suffer.
- Hypocrite: His own actions often dont line up with the things he judges the rest of his family for doing.
- Narcissist: He might want to save the Bluth company and his family, but he wants to rub it in his family's face even more. This is a large part of why he never moves out (until Season 4, when the family and company are both beyond saving).
- Nice Guy: He's one of the nicest and most moral characters in the show. Completely deconstructed over the course of Season 4, when he becomes much more of a cynical Jerkass. Assuming he murdered Lucille 2, he could qualify as one of the worst in the family.
- Not So Above It All: The stress of being in a family like the Bluths can make even a Nice Guy like Michael slip up. Whenever his son mentions his girlfriend Ann, his reactions are always either unawareness or apprehensiveness, and he makes constant hints and suggestions that hed rather George Michael spent time with himself and drop her altogether. Once he hits a rough patch in Season 4, combined with a increasingly strained relationship with his son, the lack of the rest of his family constantly surrounding him makes his own flaws much clearer.
- Only Sane Employee: Unless you count the occasions where George Michael helps out at the company part time, Michael is the only employee of the Bluth Corporation that seems intent on getting anything done.
- Only Sane Man: Michael is the only Bluth adult without any immediate glaring character flaws. At the beginning of the series, only he, his son, and his niece are considered "normal." Even after his own issues start manifesting, he remains the most rational Bluth (with the exception of his son), and is clearly still a good guy until the end of Season 4.
- Overprotective Dad: After hints of it in the first three seasons, it balloons in Season 4 when he tries to monopolize all of George Michael's time and attention while the latter is in college.
- Papa Wolf: Gets extremely aggressive when he feels that his son is being threatened.
- Parents as People: He is probably the most loving parent in the show, but that doesn't make him a totally great one either, as his constant pressure for George-Michael to succeed has taken a toll in the boy's psyche, making a lonely, nervous wreck, which he realizes many, many times. It's even lampshaded early on that he is, in essence, doing the same to his son that his father did to him.
- Really Gets Around: By the start of the series, he has slept with four women (according to GOB), but over the course of the series he also sleeps with Marta ("Beef Consommé"), Mrs. Baerly ("Shock and Aww"), Maggie Lizer ("Altar Egos", "Justice is Blind", "Hand to God") and Rebel Alley ("Blockheads").
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: Whenever he thinks the family has hit rock bottom, he claims that he will take his son and leave, however, he comes back every single time he does this, to the point that the family doesn't consider this a threat anymore. The only time they actually feared it was in Season 2's premiere, and even then, it's because he was able to hide the fact he couldn't leave and stayed after being asked to.
- Selective Enforcement: Almost everyone else can be horrible but the moment he does anything immoral, they condemn him for it. To add to it, these immoral actions include not letting Gob have free frozen bananas, trying to seduce Gobs girlfriend whom he frequently neglected and cheated on, and firing an incompetent assistant who was openly disrespectful of him.
- Small Name, Big Ego: In season 4, after he becomes a movie producer (of a movie that hadn't yet, and likely didn't ever, get made).
- Straight Man: Michael is the king of this trope; he's more reasonable than the rest of his family, and not naive like his son.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Generally the only remotely competent and reasonable person in the room at any given time.
- Token Good Teammate: Comparatively, at least. He frowns upon his family's shifty business practices and genuinely wants a better life for his son. He doesn't always uphold the morals he professes, however...
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Throughout the whole series, as a result of dealing with his dysfunctional and highly amoral family, he becomes a little less focussed on being "Mr. Moral", and even tries to abandon his family a few times. He finally does in the Season 3 finale, and perhaps as a result, ends up becomes a complete Jerkass by the end of Season 4.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He has little to no respect for his father and doesnt particularly care if he gets any from him. On the other hand, he does seek validation from the rest of his family as a whole for being the sanest and most competent of them, and never ever gets it.
- White Sheep: Explicitly designated into this role by his family. Subverted HARD in Season 4. Let's just say the huge mistakes kept piling up and it finally drove him to be just as bad as the rest of his family.
Lindsay Bluth Fünke/Cindy Featherbottom
Played by: Portia De Rossi
Lindsay, Michael's twin sister, is a materialistic charity worker whose relationship with her husband is rocky at best. She can act like a Jerkass at times, especially when neglecting her teenage daughter Maeby, but she has a heart of gold. Spoiler Information
- Berserk Button: Dont call Lindsay old.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Ends up becoming this in Season 4 after abandoning her liberal ideals.
- Bourgeois Bohemian
- BrotherSister Incest: Has a crush on Michael, though we only find out after they are revealed to be Not Blood Siblings.
- Although Season 5 reveals she's actually his aunt.
- Call-Back: The surname she chooses as Love's prostitute in Season 4 is "Featherbottom", a reference to Tobias' alter-ego in Season 2.
- Casanova Wannabe: A rare female example. Lindsay considers herself to be irresistible to men, but her track record for successfully seducing any is pretty terrible, with the few she manages to land being complete weirdos, and none of them stick too long.
- The Confidant: Due to being one of the better Bluths, Michael often consults her for advice.
- Crocodile Tears: Parodied in the pilot episode where she attempts this a couple times but is unable to do it.
- Evil Costume Switch/Evil Makeover: In Season 4's "Red Hairing". See Generation Xerox.
- FaceHeel Turn: She abandons Marky and her liberal views to run for Congress in Love's place at the end of her Season 4 storyline.
- French Maid: She dresses as one at the end of "Forget-Me-Now" at Bob Loblaw (whom she was courting)'s request, believing that the costume was for fanservice, but he was actually just asking for her to act as a housemaid.
- Generation Xerox: At the end of her Season 4 storyline, Lindsays abandoned her liberal ideals to become the Republican candidate for Congress in place of the now-comatose Herbert Love. After she makes this decision, she changes her appearance and even her mannerisms to resemble Lucille after she points out, "You're a blonde, WASPy, Orange County princess".
- '80s Hair: In flashbacks. She even won "Best Hair" at school.
- Hands-Off Parenting: Taken to its logical conclusion. In Season 4, she repeatedly forgets that she even HAS a daughter.
- Hypocritical Humor: Makes up a good chunk of her jokes, her page-quote in particular.
- Important Haircut: In season 4, she haphazardly chops off her locks in an attempt to say goodbye to her glamorous former lifestyle when she moves in with a new hippie boyfriend. To her consternation, the bob she ends up with is even cuter than her long hair.
- Jerkass Has a Point/Dumbass Has a Point: Some of her comments about Michael's behavior (namely that he isn't as much of a White Sheep as he thinks he is) arent entirely that far off.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Compared to the other less savory members of the Bluth family, Lindsay has the highest tendency of showing genuine compassion. Michael even seems to hold her in a higher regard than most of the family because of this.
- Lazy Bum: She tends to avoid working constantly. In fact, she literally becomes a bum in Season 4 after hooking up with Marky Bark.
- Lethal Chef: Literally lethal: Lindsay manages to make chicken without cooking it, and then dips it in the defrost water. Soup!
- Ms. Fanservice: A mild example compared to most, but she tends to be shown in provocative clothing and frequently tries (and fails) to seduce men with sultry behavior.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Using up the $100,000 retainer Michael bought the family for Bob Loblaw's representation in Season 3.
- Oblivious Adoption: She was actually adopted by the Bluths at age three.
- Older Than They Look: She's actually three years older than she's been led to believe her whole life.
- Outnumbered Sibling: The only female Bluth child, and she isn't even a blood-related Bluth when it comes down to it.
- Parental Neglect: Is extremely neglectful towards Maeby.
- Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: At the climax of her Season 4 storyline, she ends up demanding PUT! UP! THIS! WALL!
- Put on a Bus: Walks out on the family when she finally gets the kind words from Lucille she's been seeking her entire life, realizes that she didn't really want it after all, and goes off to find her blood relatives instead.
- Really Gets Around: She tries to, but only seems successful at bedding Tobias, and thats saying something. As of Season 4, she finally succeeds with Marky Bark and Herbert Love.
- Revenge Romance: She dated Tobias to make an ex-boyfriend jealous, and married him because she knew itd drive her parents crazy.
- Sexless Marriage: Due to Tobias being a Never Nude.
- The Slacker: Despite being an activist, she barely does anything active. She also detests employment.
- Soapbox Sadie: Parodied. She is in the habit of espousing about causes only to feel superior.
- Spoiled Brat: Though often transparently posing as a Granola Girl.
- Straw Feminist: Played with in one episode, but averted. When she protests against the production of Girl with Low Self-Esteem, at no point does the show treat her as wrong or her complaints treated as selfish. When two characters do accuse her of having selfish reasons (namely Gob and the host of the show, who accuse her of only objecting because she's jealous), the show instead presents them as being chauvanistic and, in the latter's case, a hypocrite as they object to sexualizing men in the same way and is revealed to be a Never-Nude.
George Oscar "GOB" Bluth II/Getaway
Played by: Will Arnett
Michael's older brother, "GOB", short for George Oscar Bluth, is a terrible magician, and the founding member of the Alliance of Magicians. Spoiler Information
In Season 4, GOB gets mistakenly engaged to Ann, but leaves her on the altar as a result of a sabotaged trick. He eventually falls in with the teen singer Mark Cherry and his entourage, acting as their limo driver, "Getaway". However, as a result of his failed bee colonies, they are sent to rehab, and he is left without anyone in the world who cares about him (besides his boss, Steve Holt, whom he continues to ignore). Desperate and addicted to roofies, he attempts to get revenge on Tony Wonder and sabotage his career, but ends up forming romantic feelings for him.
- Accidental Marriage: To a woman who sells trained seals during a drunken one-night stand and an escalating series of dares.
- Accidental Misnaming: Gob is often hit with this, due to his name being an abbreviation of his full name. It is supposed to be pronounced like the name of biblical Job (or, to put it in phonetic terms, /dʒoʊb/), but other people tend to pronounce with a hard G (like /ɡɒb/). This later becomes a Brick Joke, when Gob actually discusses the biblical story of Job with a bartender, but being unable to remember the name of the titular character, and when the bartender tries to correct him, he is confused because he thinks the bartender is constantly saying his name.
- Ambiguously Bi: Develops romantic and sexual feelings for rival magician Tony Wonder in Season Four. Although the entire situation begins as a revenge scheme with both men believing themselves to be straight, they end up genuinely falling for each other and even spend a night together after a succession of increasingly elaborate misunderstandings leads to confusion about their respective identities. Although their first sexual encounter occurs under false pretenses, Gob seems to be genuinely in love with Tony afterward, and the end of the season suggests that their relationship might continue.
- Answers to the Name of God: Or "Answers to the Name of Job". In "Colony Collapse", Gob refers to the Biblical figure Job... and pronounces the name wrong. When someone tries to correct him, he thinks hes being addressed.
- Big Brother Bully: To Buster when they were kids.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: When he tells Michael to date his girlfriend but only because he thinks it wont work out and gets mad when he finds out that Michael banged her.
- Blasphemous Boast: "I am the Amazing Jesus!"
- Black Sheep: Really, since its the Bluths, everyone who doesnt have Michael in their name counts as one (besides maybe Buster), but Gob is the only one considered as such by the entire family, especially as Gob and Michael are often in competition with each other, while Lindsay and Buster dont really factor in to the larger scheme of the Bluth empire.
- Butt-Monkey: Hes been beaten up, tazered, stabbed multiple times, thrown into the ocean, had two of his fingers cut off at one point, and spend two weeks handcuffed and trapped in a storage lock-up as the result of one of his acts going haywire. Not to mention he's The Unfavorite of the family and practically everything he tries to do ends in complete failure.
- Catchphrase: "I've made a huge mistake" and "Come on!".
- The Charmer: According to Lindsay, when summing up the children, George Sr. says that Michael has the brains, Lindsay the looks, and Gob the charmboth struggle to think of a positive attribute of Busters. It does seem to be largely true, as Gob is, by far, the most successful in the family with the opposite sex, at least in short-term relationships.
- Chewing the Scenery: To be expected when hes doing illusions. Less so when hes just hanging around the house.
- The Dandy: Memorably, in Afternoon Delight, he continually launches onto rants about his expensive suits.
- Drama Queen: Even when he's not attempting to punctuate his statements with magic tricks.
- Dude, He's Like, in a Coma!: In "Righteous Brothers", he kisses his father while the latter was under the effects of the ether he had laced Franklin's lips with.GOB: And guess what else. Dad kissed me!
Michael: How? He looked pretty unconscious in that picture.
GOB: ... I didn't say he was totally into it!
- Epic Fail: His illusions. The more spectacular they're supposed to be, the worse they end up going. At least he managed to make the yacht disappear by sinking it in "Missing Kitty".
- Fingore: In "Sword of Destiny", Buster ends up slicing off his fingers with the titular sword. He gets them replaced, but with the index and middle fingers swapped.
- Friendless Background: At least according to the narrator in S4.
- Gayngst: Parodied, for the most part in Season 5. Notably, to try and suppress his feelings for Tony Wonder, he looks for "conversion therapy", only to instead find himself in a closet conversion store.
- Genius Ditz: For someone who's legitimately a total airhead most of the time, GOB definitely has his moments of surprising insight, and is often the first character to figure out something important. For example, in "My Mother the Car" he's the only member of the family to work out that Lucille framed Michael for her car accident, made more impressive by the fact that he figures the whole thing out just from hearing Michael describe his injuries over the phone. In fact, even in the pilot, he's the first Bluth to realise that the police boats are coming after them, and his attempts to hide George Sr in the Aztec Tomb might actually have been successful if not for the police dogs.
- George Sr. also admits at points that GOB does have some use, such as being the charmer out of his kids and being an asset to their company softball games. He's also second in command of family dirty work after Michael, though this is likely due to Buster and Lindsay being a bastard half-child and adopted, respectively.
- Guttural Growler: Due to being played by Will Arnett, who let's not forget voiced Batman, after all...
- Handsome Lech: Of the Jerkass variety.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He founded the Alliance of Magicians, a guild whose members blackball any illusionist who reveals their secrets. In the first episode, he gets blackballed because the local Fox affiliate reveals the secret behind the Aztec Tomb trick, in which he had hidden George Sr.
- GOB falls prey to this quite often, notably again in Season 4 when his plan to make Tony Wonder fall in love with him (and subsequently break his heart) instead results in GOB falling in love with Tony Wonder.
- Iconic Item: His signature is the Segway scooter he rides around on.
- Insistent Terminology: GOB does not do "tricks," as he sets out in the first words he says on the show."Illusions, Michael. A trick is something a whore does for money. [sees children standing behind him] Or candy!"
- It is also how Michael figures out that the pimp who has been threatening him over the phone was GOB (well, technically Franklin), due to a slip of his tongue that causes him to say that the prostitute he is working with "turns illusions for money." GOB quickly corrects it to "tricks", but does so too late.
- It Is Pronounced Tro Pay: Downplayed. While his name is pronounced the same way as the biblical Job,note it's extremely rare that anyone ever pronounces it incorrectly.
- The exception being that every time someone announces or promotes his act in Season 1, they pronounce it how it's spelled. "A Magician Named Gob!"
- Jerkass: For the most part, he treats his family members terribly and his girlfriends even worse.
- Kick the Dog: To his son Steve Holt in Seasons 3 and 4.
- The Lancer: As much as they don't get along, he and Michael end up teaming up for a number of schemes and plans. In terms of lifestyle, GOB contrasts Michael as the irresponsible playboy to Michael's overprotective widower.
- Large Ham: He hams it up considerably as a performer.
- Leit Motif:
- Luke, I Am Your Father: It transpires that he fathered Steve Holt in high school.
- Malaproper: He is quite prone to this.Gob: But I'm the oldest. The matriarch if you will!
Michael: (amused) Sure, I will.
- Manchild: Not to the same degree as his brother Buster, but hes extremely childish and emotionally immature.
- Manipulative Bastard: Not that hes very good at it.
- Meaningful Name: While he, to some degree, deserves it, his constant suffering draws parallels between him and his namesake Job. Lampshaded in season 4.
- In Season 1, Marta implies that he prefers to have sex while listening to a recording of himself.
- Made more explicit in "Motherboy XXX", when GOB is trying to remember his wife:Michael: You don't remember her at all, do you?
GOB: Hey, it was one night of wild passion!
Michael: And yet, you didn't notice her body.
GOB: I like to look in the mirror...
- In Season 4, when he hooks up with Tony Wonder, he rationalizes it as not gay by having Tony wear a GOB mask.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Many times, including:
- In Top Banana, he was tasked by Michael to mail a letter; in an act of defiance, he dramatically threw it into the sea (after many attempts). It turns out that the letter was an insurance claim for the frozen banana stand, which Michael and George Michael ignited towards the end of the episode.
- In "Queen for a Day", notably because Michael had already solved all of the problems and Lucille 2 had agreed to relinquish ownership of her shares in the company stock. Unfortunately, GOB then managed to convince her otherwise, completely nullifying all of Michael's efforts.
- In "Spring Breakout" when he accidentally drops a cooler full of vital evidence into a swimming pool.
- In Season 4: Filling Sudden Valley with sex offenders.
- Odd Friendship: Him and Tobias get along together arguably better than they do with any other family member, likely because they're both pariahs of the family who chase impossible dreams. When GOB is looking for a friend, Tobias offers up dinner plans after GOB Has already left. Not to mention they started GOBias Industries together. The only reason we don't see it develop is because it's funnier to watch everyone on the show be miserable.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Justified, to differentiate him from his father George Sr and his nephew George-Michael.
- Really Gets Around: Over the course of the series, he's slept with numerous main characters, including Marta, Kitty ("Visiting Ours"), Nazhgalia and Mrs. Whitehead ("Shock and Aww"), Lucille 2 ("Queen for a Day"), his wife ("Motherboy XXX"), Ann Veal ("Colony Collapse") and Tony Wonder ("A New Attitude").
- Sad Clown: Hes usually one of the most brash and humorous members of the family, but as the series goes on it becomes increasingly evident how insecure and emotionally unstable he really is.
- Serious Business: He takes being a magician very seriously. His group The Alliance of Magicians even has the slogan: We demand to be taken seriously. Its just too bad hes not very good at it.
- Speaking of the Alliance, heaven help anyone who reveals the secrets of their illusions: theyre good at keeping non-Alliance magicians from finding work.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Always acts like a big shot (particularly during his stint as president of The Bluth Company where he constantly tells everyone else that he's wearing thousand dollar suits) but no one ever respects him.
- Smug Snake: GOB is cocky and superficially confident, but has no skills whatsoever besides being a third-rate magician.
- Stage Magician: A hilariously incompetent one, but nonetheless.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: The lynchpin of his relationship with Tony Wonder in Season 4.
- The Unfavorite: George Sr. and Lucille treat all their kids like crap, but GOB gets the worst of it by far. While Lindsay and Buster are their respective favorites, both are well aware of how much they count on Michael and are even, occasionally, proud of him and express genuine love for him. They both just consider Gob a nightmare (though in the first two seasons George Sr. occasionally gets moments with GOB that imply he cares about him to a small degree, and loves him more than Buster, who isn't even his child). It probably puts it into perspective how badly hes treated when Lucille claims she treats Lindsay betterthe one she calls fat at least twice an episode.Lucille: If youre saying I play favorites, youre wrong. I love all my children equally!
(flashback to earlier that day)
Lucille: I dont care for GOB.
- At George Sr.'s court meeting:George Sr.: Where the hell is everybody?!
GOB: I'm here, dad.
George Sr.: I can't believe no one showed up!
- When trying to rationalise keeping Lindsay's adoption a secret to Michael:Lucille: And we loved her as much as any of you "normal" kids... more than Gob!
- Funnily enough, while George Sr. is, at his best, neutral towards GOB, his brother Oscar genuinely believes GOB is a good magician, and is confused as to why Lucille doesn't want GOB and Michael on good terms in Season 4.
- In Season 5, as Lucille is explaining Michael the truth about the beach house:Lucille: And we didn't want to bring out those bad old memories. Besides, this place already has enough bad ones for me: My mother died here... GOB was born here.
- At George Sr.'s court meeting:
- Theme Song Reveal: At the end of "The Immaculate Election", when Steve Holt discovers who his father is, an organ version of "The Final Countdown" begins to play.
- Throw the Dog a Bone: George Sr. finally plays a game of catch with his son when they're both in prison, and have a good time of it until GOB is shanked. Season 4, while seeing him at his lowest, also shows him making a genuine friend, and likely falling in love with, Tony Wonder, as well as managing to inadvertently side-step his parents' casual scheme of making him the scapegoat of their wall building escapade.
- Too Dumb to Live: When he and Michael went down to Mexico in the past, he did his "chicken dance", which resulted in him getting beaten up by the locals due to it being seen as an insult. He does it again the next time he goes back and gets tackled again (although this time it happened to be his mother's private eye disguised as a local).
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Increasingly desperate for this from his dad as the series progressed.
- What Is This Feeling?: He is confused when the realization that Steve Holt is his son makes him experience an emotion that he can't identify as "envy" or "hungry".Michael: Could it be love?
Gob: I know what an erection feels like, Michael! No, it's the opposite. It's... it's like my heart is getting hard.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheated on Marta multiple times throughout their relationship.
George Michael Bluth
Played by: Michael Cera
Michael's beloved son, George Michael is an Adorkable child who follows in his father's footsteps. He spends most of Season 1 with a hopeless crush on his cousin, Maeby. He starts a relationship with Ann in Season 1's final episode, which continues into Season 2.
In Season 4, he works on some groundbreaking privacy/anti-piracy software called "Fakeblock". Spoiler Information
- Accidental Marriage: With Maeby in the Season 3 episode "Fakin' It". They didnt know the priest was real (and the priest wasn't told it was a mock wedding).
- Adorkable: This is the role that made Michael Cera's career. If only he would be able to play other characters...
- Beware the Nice Ones:
- In "Development Arrested", he punches GOB in the face upon realising that he has been dating Ann behind his back.
- In "Blockheads", he punches his father for the same reason what he realises that he was aware that the two were both dating Rebel.
- The Big Damn Kiss: With Maeby at the end of Season 2.
- The Comically Serious: He tries to be an outstanding man, but his nerdiness and shyness makes it fall flat.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: He turns it into an art form in Season 4. The season finale implies that it will indeed catch up to him.
- Dogged Nice Guy: Towards Maeby. This is part of why he can't stop her from promoting Fakeblock and getting investors on board until it's too late.
- Good Is Not Dumb: He's probably the most likable character and he is an excellent student in school.
- Until season four, when he finally breaks out of his shell, and in the process becomes lying, cunning, and starts sleeping with his father's girlfriend.
- Hollywood Nerd: The nerdiest of the Bluths by far, but he definitely doesn't look it.
- Horrible Judge of Character: At least Michael seems to think so, as his son seems genuinely fond of his family and doesn't want to separate from them.
- Kissing Cousins: With Maeby, whom he develops a crush on.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Maeby's Masculine Girl and George Michael's Feminine Boy
- Missing Mom: Died of cancer two years before the series began.
- Morality Pet: Michael treasures his son quite a lot. When Michael is feeling particularly vindictive towards his family, George Michael tends to try to steer him back.
- Nice Guy: The only Bluth not to do anything horrible over the series. Until Season 4 when he finally lies to his father and starts building a fake company from that lie.
- The Not-Love Interest: It's clear that George Michael is the only person Michael consistently values over the course of the series. When not dealing with his family's antics, Michael's main priority tends to be trying to spend more time with his son.
- Not So Above It All: His Bluth traits start to show during his storyline in Season 4, most notably the power of lying.
- Only Sane Man: Compared to most of his family besides his father, and at first, his cousin.
- Snowball Lie: His Season 4 storyline. What started with him wanting to make a woodblock simulator app ends with him running a massive political scam and being targeted by Anonymous.
- Token Good Teammate: Even more so than his father. George Michael is a sweet and goodhearted kid who always tries to do the right thing and, unlike Michael, doesn't resent the rest of his family for their poor behavior. Subverted in season 4, where he begins to show that he too inherited the family traits of being a lying schemer, it just took him longer to come into them.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: In Season 4, thanks to the classic college experience and his father's continuous need to hang around with him. He's rude and entitled around his friends, and isn't much nicer to his father. Then there's the Fakeblock storyline, which ends with him committing massive fraud.
- White Sheep: Unless you count crushing on his cousin against him (and trying to start a relationship with her), hes by far the nicest, most decent, and most normal of the Bluths. Subverted in Season 4, where after a lot of pushing, his natural Bluth dishonesty comes out.
Mae "Maeby" Fünke/Surely Fünke/Annette Austero
Played by: Alia Shawkat
Michael's niece, Maeby is the daughter of Lindsay and Tobias. A Book Dumb and materialistic girl as a result of her upbringing and neglect as a child. At one point she pretends to be a wheelchair-bound Ill Girl named Surely Fünke (the supposed twin sister of Maeby herself) as a way to cheat on tests and better her grades. In Season 2, she eventually cons her way into a job as a movie producer, despite still being a teenager at the time.
In Season 4, she still yearns for her parents' attention, but still remains neglected. Spoiler Information
- Adorkable: For all her desire to be rebellious, it either blows up in her face or doesn't go as planned.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: A frequent perpetrator of these.
- Book Dumb: In her twenties, she doesnt understand what "solve for X" is even asking, let alone how to do it. In "Pier Pressure", she and her mother are proud of her getting a C minus on a test.Maeby: C minus! C, M-I-N-E-S!
Lindsay: Did you even study?
Maeby: No. I didn't.
Lindsay: Wow. How impressive is that!
- Broken Masquerade: Her job as a movie producer comes to a close when George Michael sends her colleagues invitations to her 16th birthday party.
- Catchphrase: "Marry me!" as a standard deflection, particularly when she illicitly becomes a film executive, or "That was a freebie..." for unusual luck.
- Characterization Marches On: In earlier episodes, Maeby seemed more childish; the second episode showing her jumping on the bed and singing Oops I Did It Again in the shower. This aspect was quietly dropped to focus on how much more adult she was than George Michael.
- Cluster Bleep-Bomb: In Season 4, she curses repeatedly in an awards acceptance speech.
- Consummate Liar: Even by Bluth standards, Maeby is a standout.
- Deadpan Snarker: She's good at quipping, generally at the expense of her parents.
- Deconstructor Fleet: Every aspect of her character is taken apart and examined in the fourth season, and she goes from one of the more successful and well-adjusted Bluth relatives to one of the more pathetic and stranded members.
- Fatal Flaw: For all her independence and intelligence, her need for her parents attention cripples her severely. This gets really bad in Season 4: She repeats senior year multiple times and even follows Lindsay to India because she's so desperate for her parents to notice her.
- Future Loser: A major part of her character deconstruction in season 4. The same qualities that made her a Wise Beyond Their Years, precocious and cool rebel as a teen end up making her come across as a pathetic, stunted Womanchild as an adult.
- High School Hustler: Engages in rather elaborate cons to get ahead or avoid doing work throughout her high school career. It reaches a point where, by season 4, she successfully conned her high school into allowing her to continue attending it into her twenties.
- I Didn't Mean to Turn You On: On a number of occasion in Season 1 and 2 does she say things to George Michael that could be taken for affection while it had nothing to do with it.
- Invented Individual: She lives a double life as a movie producer.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She's a snarky, self-centered and untrustworthy delinquent, but she's also one of the only members of the family consistently shown to have a good heart and is generally always presented fairly sympathetically.
- Killed Off for Real: Invoked by Maeby, who plans to kill off Surely near the end of high school so the other students will be depressed at the school prom.
- Kissing Cousins: With George Michael.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In season 4, tries to seduce a man who she thinks is an undercover cop into sleeping with her so she can blackmail him for statutory rape. However, it turns out that hes really only 17 (his bracelet indicated his membership in an anti-bullying organization) and since shes 23 is arrested and taken to jail by a real undercover cop for being a sexual predator.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Maeby's Masculine Girl and George Michael's Feminine Boy
- Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Maeby shows shades of this, especially in early episodes. Season 4 then heavily deconstructs it; she tries so hard to draw George Michael out of a shell that no longer exists that he decides to part ways with her because all she accomplishes is putting a ridiculously unwarranted amount of pressure on him. Her manic pixie-dom makes it impossible for her to listen to George Michaels objections until he has to forcibly fire her from his company.
- Manipulative Bastard: Not above taking advantage of others' good will for her own benefit.
- Older Than They Look: In Season 4 she managed to redo senior year in high school for five years by posing as 17. Not that anyone isn't suspicious. Rumor around the school is there is an undercover cop among them. Of course Maeby is suspected by a couple of girls because at 23, its getting harder for her to pass as 17.
- One-Hit Wonder: In-universe, "Gangie", the horror movie she made about Lucille, is the only film of hers known to be a success. Ironically, before Lucille was cast it nearly got her fired.
- This may have a bit of Reality Subtext in it, as her role as Maeby is Alia Shawkat's only real claim to fame.
- One Mario Limit: Tell me, where else have you heard the name Maeby?
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Her actual name, Mae, has never been said on-camera, and is only mentioned in her introductory scene. In fact, it's pretty easy to forget that it's a nickname.
- Only Sane Man: Compared to her parents. Compared to most of her extended family, really, rivaled by only her uncle and cousin: She and Michael are the only ones to hold steady jobs (and ironically the one with the best public image; and that's not saying much when aside from Gangie, all her movies were flops), and she is smart enough to not get involved with the family's general craziness. Then she gets a job as a movie executive...
- Out of Focus: Of the nine main characters, Maeby generally receives the least amount of focus.
- Punny Name: You could make a drinking game out of it, but then it would be medically unsound to marathon the whole series.
- Quirky Curls: Her hair is very curly.
- The Ugly Guy's Hot Daughter: It's a wonder how Maeby manages to be as good-looking as she is with Tobias as a father. This helps fuel the ongoing discussion of whether or not he really is her father. He is.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In Season 4. Her insistence on breaking George Michael out of his shell and promoting Fakeblock, which she only did because she wanted to help, will probably get him, and possibly her, indicted for fraud.
- She only leased the model home to "To Entrap A Local Predator" because she needed the money, and it seemed harmless at the time since she assumed it'd be empty, but Tobias ends up as a registered sex offender when he comes to visit.
- Wise Beyond Their Years: She's much savvier than you'd expect a teenage delinquent to be, to the point of being able to successfully moonlight as a major film executive for several years.
- Womanchild: Becomes one in season 4. Despite now being an adult woman, she's still dead set on acting out to earn her parents' attention, to the point of deliberately staying in high school well after she was legally allowed to in the hope of them noticing and saying something about it to her.
- Younger Than They Look: Managed to land a job as a producer by acting older than she was.
- She manages to top herself in season 5 by successfully posing as a 65-year-old in order to live in a high-class retirement home.
Byron "Buster" Bluth
Played by: Tony Hale
Michael's brother, Buster is an adult man who often acts like a child. He has severe Mommy Issues, and has a relationship with his mother's best friend Lucille Austero. Spoiler Information
- Abandoned Catchphrase: "Hey [brother / uncle / nephew / x]" appears to have been left behind in the show's original run.
- Accidental Murder: Ends up killing a considerable number of people for the army, due to his lack of knowledge that the drone was not a simulation. He is horrified upon learning the truth.
- Alliterative Name: Byron "Buster" Bluth.
- Ambiguous Disorder: He has a childish understanding of the world, suffers from crippling panic attacks and is dependent on other people to look after him. No one's as troubled by this as they should be.
- An Arm and a Leg: Loses his hand when a loose seal bites it off.
- A Degree in Useless: Instead of getting a real job, Buster has spent most of his adulthood bouncing between graduate degrees in fields like Archeology, Cartography, Native American Tribal Ceremonies and 18th Century Agrarian Business.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: How GOB, Michael and Lindsay see Buster. While the other three, for all their faults, are capable of at least having adult conversations with each other, Busters arrival is like that of a helpless child showing up.
- Artificial Limbs: Wears a Hook Hand after losing his real one to a seal. The army later gives him a freakishly large bionic hand in Season 4.
- Basement-Dweller: Still lives with his mother while in his thirties.
- Berserk Button: Calling him a monster in Season 4.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He puts Herbert Love in a coma at the Cinco de Cuatro party after being continually treated like dirt by him. Season 5 further reveals that he killed both his grandmother (as a child) and Lucille Austero.
- Butt-Monkey: A socially awkward and nerdy Nervous Wreck, Buster was too sheltered by his mother to survive the real world. Plus he's the only one to have permanently lost a limb.
- Catchphrase: "Hey, brother/hermano/nephew/etc. ..."
- After he loses his hand and requires a hook prosthetic: Im a monster!
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Buster's easily the most educated of the Bluth kids, but at the start of the show has almost zero real world experience, making him think that the army gives out plush dolls for accomplishments.
- Cluster Bleep-Bomb: Several in "Bringing Up Buster", when he's letting his siblings know how he really feels about Lucille.
- Creepy Uncle: To George Michael occasionally.
- Drunk on Milk: Lucille 2 gets him in a drunken state with juice box fruit drinks.
- Father, I Want to Marry My Brother: "Why I want to marry my mother, by Buster Bluth, age 10."
- Hook Hand: He gets one after a seal bites off his hand in Season 2.
- Hidden Depths: Despite his childish, and rather innocent behavior, his attempts to be funny and witty often comes across as highly disturbing. The narrator also implies that he is actually more intelligent than both Gob and Lindsay.
- This is born out by his characterization and backstory. Notably, he is the only Bluth who's graduated college (albeit with useless degrees), and tends to screw up due to a lack of real world experience, not intelligence. With Michael, he's also the only Bluth to have some idea of what a chicken is.
- Incest Subtext: With his mother. His relationships with Lucille 2 and Ophelia Love fall apart because he wants them to mother him, rather than be his girlfriend.
- Just a Stupid Accent: Buster thinks that Spanish is English with a Mexican accent.
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Note the Leitmotif whenever Buster talks to Oscar in season two.
- Manchild: Downplayed in that it's heavily implied he hates being stuck with Lucille and wants to escape her controlling tendencies. Part of him might want to get away from Lucille, but he's so desperate for a mother figure that he'd rather stay with her than be alone.
- MayDecember Romance: With Lucille Lucille Two Austero.
- Meet My Good Friends "Lefty" and "Righty": Season 4 gives us "Light Drizzle" and "Thunder," his remaining hand and his oversized prosthetic, respectively."You see, Light Drizzle will just annoy you, but Thunder will eff you up."
- Momma's Boy: With a vengeance.
- Nice Guy: He really is, but it only shows when he isn't a nervous wreck.
- Odd Name Out: He's the only male Bluth we meet not named Michael, Oscar, George or some combination thereof.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: People who have only seen a few episodes probably had no idea that Buster wasnt his actual name, since Byron is only ever mentioned in the caption text of his introductory scene in the pilot.
- Out of Focus: In season four; reality interfered to make it so. Tony Hales cumbersome schedule during the filming of season 4 is the reason for his character arc being mostly divorced from the rest of the family members.
- Parental Incest: Played with.Lucille: You know, [Buster's] damaged goods. He was born with a hole in his heart.
Lucille 2: Well listen, Lucille, Im gonna fill that hole, 'cause we're in love!
Lucille: Oh, please! You're no more in love with him than I am!
Buster: (quickly) Okay, we're all saying some things we're going to regret.
- When arguing about dating Lucille 2 with his mother:Buster: I saw [GOB] last night at the Playtime Pizza Theater, on my date. Of which I have another one tonight, and I'm going to continue dating, Mom!
Michael: Heh, sounded a little bit like "dating Mom".
Buster: Yeah, it's starting to feel a little like it...
- And when Lindsay starts taking care of him in Season 3:Buster: Sister's my new mother, Mother! And is it just me or is she looking hotter?
- When arguing about dating Lucille 2 with his mother:
- Psychopathic Manchild: Downplayed, then subverted. In his Season 4 focus episode, "Off the Hook," Buster gets a job as a drone pilot for the army, and takes great glee as he gets to fly out and shoot people and places up, including weddings and hospitals. But then he finds out that the drone-controls are not a video game and that he has been shooting at real people the whole time. He reacts to this new knowledge with shock and disgust before going all out in a violent panic attack.
- On the other hand, his untapped wellspring of violent anger toward his mother has been a part of his character from his first focus episode, Season 1's "Bringing Up Buster," and in "The One Where Michael Leaves" Michael takes him fairly seriously when he hints that he might kill her ("Maybe Buster killed her already"). In "Good Grief" we find out that the family has been lying to keep him happy since childhood because of the destruction he can wreak when especially upset. The show is not oblivious to the risk inherent in arming such an unstable person with a hook or an oversized prosthetic, his breakdown in Season 4 was an obvious homage to Psycho, and by the end of the season he has not only beaten Herbert Love badly enough to put him in a coma but is the prime suspect in the murder of Lucille Austero, whom he blames for turning Lucille against him.
- Now played straight as of the Season 5 finale, where it's revealed that not only did he kill his own grandmother, but also Lucille Austero.
- Sanity Slippage: After Lucille is sent to prison in Season 4.
- Start of Darkness: Season 5 reveals he murdered his grandmother in cold blood over a simple misunderstanding, and Lucille's reaction was to hypnotize him into believing Lucille murdered her and Buster is just taking the blame to protect her, allowing him to contextualize himself as a hero rather than a killer.
- Token Good Teammate: Buster may be immature and maybe a tad awkward, eccentric and introverted, but he's not as selfish and self-absorbed as most of the Bluth Family and is generally innocent to his family's antics.
- White Sheep: For all his flaws, Buster is the only Bluth who is never actively malevolent, exploitive, or manipulative, and he is notably less selfish than the rest of the family. For instance he is the only family member who follows Michael's order to not sell their stock, and he is shocked when he finds out that the drone has been controlling was not a video game. In fact, by the end of Season 4, he's the only Bluth who can really be considered this, due to his nephew finally starting to lie. Averted by the end of Season 5, with the revelation that he killed both his own grandmother and Lucille 2.
Tobias Onyango Fünke/Mrs. Featherbottom
Played by: David Cross
Michael's brother-in-law, Tobias is Lindsay's husband. An ex-psychiatrist who was drummed out of the profession following his license being revoked as a result of misinterpreting what he thought was a heart attack. He then decides that his true calling is acting, even though he is terrible at it. He has trouble bonding with his daughter, and constantly makes homosexual innuendos in his speech, even though he insists he isn't gay. He is also a "Never Nude", a condition that prevents him from ever being fully naked. Spoiler Information
In Season 4, he becomes romantically involved with a former actress and methadone addict named DeBrie Bardeaux. Spoiler Information
- Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: For Maeby.
- Ambiguously Brown: As white as he appears, there are repeated hints that he is actually a very pale black man.
- "Afternoon Delight" has two big ones: when he enters Lucilles penthouse while painted blue, and she explains the situation to Michael thus: "There is a colored man in my kitchen." And when Lindsay says that the name Tobias makes everyone think of a "big, black guy", Tobias admits that he is "not a big guy."
- In "Good Grief", Tobias expresses surprise that Lindsay is chasing a black bounty hunter named Ice, "somebody [his] own type."
- "Red Hairing" has Lindsay falling in love with Herbert Love, a black, bespectacled, bald politician, specifically because he reminds her of Tobias back when they started dating.
- His middle name, Onyango, is a Kenyan surname.
- Ambiguously Bi: Word of God says Tobias thinks he's straight, and he did elope with Kitty, but it's hard to ignore his constant gay innuendos and detailed knowledge of gay culture.
- In late Season 3, he's adamant that "Girl Michael", his date, is in fact, a woman, even though he's very obviously a man.
- Even his relationship with the washed-up actress DeBrie Bardeaux is put into question when a doctor at a hospital mistakenly thinks she is an elderly man.
- On the other hand, season 5 reveals he has a son he conceived prior to his marriage to Lindsay.
- The Artifact: Played for Laughs in season 5. Tobias is not a Bluth and, throughout most of the series, is only considered a part of the family through his marriage with Lindsay. By season 5, Lindsay is set on divorcing him, he generally forgets that his daughter Maeby even exists, and Lucille, his main connection to the Bluths in season 4, no longer accepts him as her therapist. Throughout the season, he clings desperately to whatever meager role he can to remain a part of the family, mostly by (poorly) impersonating one of the actual Bluths when they're not around.
- Bad "Bad Acting": Any of his attempts at acting.
- Be Careful What You Wish For: In season 4. As the narrator notices, Tobias does finally get a starring role in a TV show like he always wanted. Unfortunately, this is John Beards To Entrap a Local Predator.
- Beware the Nice Ones: In one episode, Tobias enters the same prison as George Sr. Tobias uses his therapist training and counselling 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".
- Breakout Character: He was originally planned to have a smaller role, but was bumped up to main character due to his actors' performance.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: He's skilled as a psychiatrist and a physician but is too obsessed with the delusion that he was meant to be an actor to ever function as a breadwinner. Even George, who hates his guts, admits he is good.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's legitimately skilled as both a psychiatrist and a physician, but is far more focused on his hopeless acting career and is very camp.
- Camp Straight: Whatever his sexual orientation, Tobias has a taste for fashion and theater, things typically associated with Camp Gay men.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: The most divorced from reality of the whole family, which is saying a lot. (Of course, he has no Bluth bloodand neither do his wife and daughterbut even so )
- The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: He often gives out psychiatric advice to other characters while failing to realize that same advice is applicable to him.
- Creepy Uncle: To George Michael occasionally.
- Determinator: Deconstructed in season 4. Tobias desperately believe he must keep his dream alive and he will succeed if he keeps trying hard and don't budge, however, he soon crosses the line between positive thinking and delusion as it's clear to everyone else that he is ruining his own life (especially since he is implied to actually be a rather good therapist) by pursuing a career he has no chance to succeed on against the advice of his friends and family.
- Dude, Not Funny!: In-universe in "¡Amigos!":Tobias: And second-of-ly, I know you're the big marriage expert! Oh, I'm sorry — I forgot, your wife is dead! (long pause) ...I'm sorry. That was 100% inappropriate, and I do apologize profusely... I'm... Ohhh...
- Everyone Knew Already: Mrs. Featherbottom. He's the only one who doesn't realize this.
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Hes a Never-Nude, which is just what it sounds like.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Season 5 has him discover he has a son named Murphybrown who he is eager to groom into a version of himself, which technically makes Tobias a Reality Forbidding Father.Tobias: I want to hear about your dreams.
Murphybrown: I don't know, I'm really good at computers. It's fun too, kind of like the only time I feel alive.
Tobias: No, no, your dreams. Not what you think will make you rich, your passion.
Murphybrown: Oh, maybe also like maybe being a doctor for animals, or their dogs. Cause sometimes if I look at an animal there's like a special connection
Tobias: DREAMS! Dreams! I didn't ask what part of an animal you want to touch!
- Genius Ditz: He is clueless about anything other than psychology, where he is surprisingly competent.
- Giftedly Bad: Despite the fact that he could make a very decent living for himself and his family as a doctor, he continues to desperately try to fulfill his dream of being an actor, a field he has absolutely no talent in. It gets a deconstructive twist that shows just how deep his delusion is in Season 4 as he utterly ruins the recovering drug addict DeBrie's life by dragging her along in his pursuit of his hopeless fantasy.
- G-Rated Drug: Justified in Season 4. He begins to regularly visit a methadone clinic, convinced it is an acting clinic called "Method One", and begins ingesting methadone samples, which he calls "acting juice".
- Hands-Off Parenting
- Heävy Mëtal Ümlaut: His last name "Fünke". "Funke" (Spark) is a common German name but "Fünke" is unheard of. Seems like the writers wanted to give Tobias an obvious German background.
- Informed Ability: According to Lindsay, he was a passionate human rights activist when she first met him but this has since faded. Not once do we ever get to see him take a remote interest in human rights.
- Innocent Innuendo: This is a big part of his character. Practically every other line of his is a homosexual innuendo, and as confirmed in Season 4, he legitimately has no idea that his dialogue sounds incriminating. In Season 4, reality finally ensues when his innuendo leads a team of newscasters to mistake him for a pedophile, which eventually gets him sent to prison.
- Innocently Insensitive: Tobias comes off as well meaning most of the time, but his decision to prioritize his nonexistent acting career over all of his loved ones ends up constantly making things worse for the rest of the family.
- Irony: David Cross, a very talented actor, portrays a man who cannot act for his life.
- Kavorka Man: He did land Lindsay. But to be fair, she did marry him only to spite her parents.
- Keet: Always ridiculously chipper no matter how bad of a hand life (or more accurately, his actions) deals him.
- Large Ham: When he gets acting roles, he really gets overemotional.
- Mistaken for Pedophile: Tobias, in his usual bumbling fashion, manages to accidentally get involved in John Beards To Catch a Predator ripoff. And, not realizing what he has gotten himself into and bumbling further along, he inadvertently digs himself deeper by saying things like Is there a little girl alone here? and, equally incriminating, Daddy needs to get his rocks off. (It Makes Sense in Context.) As a result he is arrested and registered as a sex offender.
- Naked People Are Funny: After being cured as a Never Nude in "Marta Complex", he overcompensates by coming down to the kitchen table at breakfast completely naked.
- Parental Neglect: Is extremely neglectful towards Maeby. Much less so with his illegitimate son, with whom he reconnects during season 5, much to Maeby's disgust.
- Phrase Catcher: In season 4, "anus tart", due in part to his Vanity License Plate ("A NU START"... without spaces). Lucille calls him this without having seen it.
- The Problem with Pen Island:
- He is an analyst and a therapist; therefore, his business cards say "analrapist". For which he was almost arrested. He admits that the cards were a mistake and even adjusts the portmanteau to "theralyst" when his credentials are brought up in season 4.
- In season 4 as he decides to try for a new start, he celebrates the occasion by having a Vanity License Plate with the words "A NU START" made. It doesn't look too good without the spaces either.
- Also his T-shirt during the season 5 finale, supposed to be about the environment, simply says "USE LESS" in all caps and a very small space between the words.
- Shower of Angst: A Running Gag has Tobias weeping loudly in the shower whenever something upsets him.
- Small Name, Big Ego: He truly believes that he's a gifted actor, despite all evidence saying otherwise.
- That Came Out Wrong: Subverted in that he is seemingly oblivious and the other characters rarely acknowledge it. Lindsay usually reacts by rolling her eyes in resignation, while Michael attempts to point this out a few times but even when taking his advice and recording himself, Tobias is unsurprisingly unable to see what's wrong."We need to talk. Man on man."
- Transparent Closet: Even the family in-universe snickers behind his back about it. Lindsay actually has to tell him this straight to his face in season 4.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Balding, unattractive glasses, and refuses to be naked.
- The Unfettered: The quality that makes him as unsympathetic as the rest of the family. While comparatively kind and well meaning, Tobias' ignorant refusal to accept that he has no acting talent and put his actual skills to use to earn a considerable amount of money for the family ends up making him come off as a selfish idiot. It gets even worse in season 4, where he singlehandidly destroys a woman's life in pursuit of his dream.
- Unnecessary Combat Roll: Parodied. When standing up from a sofa, getting onto a stage, attempting to evade a blind woman whose house he's just broken into at close quarters... Tobias is extremely fond of these. Unfortunately, they're incredibly awkward and usually land wrong, so he more often than not ends up lying on his side rather than coming back to upright. But you have to hand it to the guy, he is agile, and silent as a cat!
- Wholesome Crossdresser: His stint as Mrs. Featherbottom, and a later attempt to impersonate Lucille, were done to reconnect with Maeby and help Buster, respectively.
George Oscar Bluth, Sr./Father B.
Played by: Jeffrey Tambor, Seth Rogen (Young George)
Michael's father, George Sr. is an abusive father and the initial head of the Bluth company. While he is sent to prison for embezzling investors in the first episode, he continues to run the company from prison. Spoiler Information
In Season 4, he moves to Oscar's property on the border of Mexico and the US in order to construct "the Wall", a wall across the border to keep out immigrants. He also sets up a get-rich-quick scheme, which he dubs the "Sweat and Squeeze", and goes by the name Father B. Spoiler Information
- Abusive Parents: Is emotionally abusive to all his children.
- Affably Evil: He's a lot less openly hostile than Lucille and even sometimes manages to come off as caring, but is still an abusive father and a Corrupt Corporate Executive.
- Affectionate Nickname: His grandchildren call him "Pop-Pop", which is subverted in some contexts where it means or is perceived to be a sexual euphemism instead.
- And Starring: With Jeffrey Tambor.
- The Bad Guy Wins: At the end of Season 2. Just after he "turns himself in", it's revealed that he sent Oscar to prison in his place, and the real George Sr has escaped and become part of the Blue Man Group.
- Big Bad: He's ultimately the antagonist of the show, Affably Evil as he may be. Subverted in Season 3, as he really was being controlled, not only by the CIA and Saddam Hussein, but also by the real Big Bad, Lucille Bluth.
- Big "NO!": In "Making a Stand", when GOB throws Michael over the edge of the balcony (as part of a Gambit Pileup).
- Breakout Character: George Sr. was originally planned to have a smaller role, but was bumped up to main character due to his actors' performance.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He's absurdly buffoonish and more than a little crazy, but his scams have a distressingly high success rate, and only tend to fail due to his family's meddling.
- Cassandra Truth:
- His claims that he was set up turn out to be true - the CIA set him up to make the model home in Iraq though a British building company.
- He claimed that he though Saddam Hussein was the Soup Nazi. Considering Achmed (the real Saddam Hussein) is played by Larry Thomas, who plays the Soup Nazi, he can hardly be blamed.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive
- Decoy Leader: George might have been the acting CEO of the Bluth Company, but Lucille was the one who pulled his strings.
- Dirty Old Man: His adultery is an open secret within the family, and he even had money stored away for his prostitute habit.
- Disney Death: Briefly at the end of Season 1, when the Bluth family is led to believe that he died of his heart attack, when in fact he escaped through the window.
- Faking the Dead: After his escape to Mexico, he bribes the local authorities to stage his funeral.
- Hidden Depths: Letting out a Big "NO!" and showing genuine horror when Michael is seemingly thrown to his death due to George's manipulating him and GOB in "Making a Stand" shows that he cares about his children more than he lets on.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: In "Meat the Veals", it was his idea to coat Franklin's lips in ether. This is used against him by GOB in "Righteous Brothers".
- Is This Thing Still On?: A variant in "The Ocean Walker": George, thinking aloud from the penthouse bedroom, reveals his and Lucille's plans, not realising Larry, his surrogate, was still repeating what he was saying.George and Larry: Yeah, with the exception of the retard thing. Oh, God. Tell me you didnt just say that.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: At times, he shows he does care about his kids and grandchildren, like bribing the prisoners to not catcall at Lindsay when she enters the prison in "My Mother, the Car", and getting really angry at Gob when he reveals that he has outsourced a shady and possibly criminal task that George wanted him to do, to George Michael.
- Leitmotif: An oriental tune is playing whenever he appears on screen.
- Manipulative Bastard: Completely willing to manipulate his children and grandchildren for his own benefit.
- Mean Boss:
- During his time as the CEO of the Bluth company, he treated many of his employees poorly. Case in point, the way he treats Ira Gilligan in "Best Man for the GOB". Or the fact that he once fired an employee for roasting him at a Bluth Christmas party. Or the fact that in "Family Ties", it's shown that he once held what he called "Black Fridays", where he fired all of the employees at once (but only after safely securing all valuables from the office, with the employees' help).
- He also cruelly shot down every idea Michael suggested just to keep him looking for approval, even when he admits the idea (changing the name of Sudden Valley) was good.
- Murder Is the Best Solution: Poisoned two of Michaels teachers when he received failing grades, and attempts to do it again to Donny Richter.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Just when it seems like he's doing something to benefit the family and help them out by turning himself in and showing genuine kindness for his brother in "Righteous Brothers", it's revealed that it was all part of a plan to send Oscar to prison in his place.
- Papa Wolf: Or Pop-Pop Wolf, as one does not mess with George Michael.
- Parental Favoritism: He favours Lindsay, Michael and even GOB over Buster. Of course, it turns out that Buster isn't actually his son, but Oscar's, so this makes perfect sense. Best seen in a flashback to the morning of the boat party in "Justice is Blind", when he actually strangles Buster with his tie.George: Hey, enjoy yourself tonight because you are out of here. (tightens Buster's tie) I'm not going to spend my retirement watching you wipe your nose on your sleeve.
Buster: (choking) I can't breathe, Dad!
George: Neither can I.
- Sanity Slippage: During Season 2, he gets pretty stir crazy from being trapped in Michaels attic for too long.
- Smug Snake: Is quite corrupt but not at all smart about it (case in pointhe chooses an appropriately Amoral Attorney who is a complete incompetent).
- Time-Shifted Actor: In Season 4, Young George is played by Seth Rogen in flashbacks.
- Too Dumb to Live: His legal counsel is constantly feeding him bad advice and George realizes it after it's too late. Then we get to see said legal counsel (Barry Zuckerkorn) and we can see that his legal counsel is indeed horrible. George insists on sticking with him anyway (and the rest of the family besides Michael never tells him to wake up and fire Barry).
- Turn to Religion: Parodied when George Sr converts to Judaism and later, Christianity. He doesn't take these conversions seriously enough to actually, er, learn anything about either faith.
- Twin Switch: Very fond of doing this with Oscar, especially to move the plot along. This ends up taken quite literally in Season 4, where George Sr. starts acting like Oscar, and Oscar starts acting like George Sr. It's implied that ingesting maca root reversed the brothers' testosterone and estrogen levels, causing them to slowly take on the other's characteristics over time.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Exploited. He deliberately keeps shooting down both GOB and Michael's ideas and play them out against each others because it motivates them to work harder and cheaper to get his approval. Michael grows out of it, GOB not so much.
- Your Cheating Heart: Was commonly cheating on Lucille with, among many others, his secretary Kitty Sanchez.
Played by: Jessica Walter, Kristen Wiig (Young Lucille)
Michael's mother, Lucille is the Evil Matriarch of the family. She manipulates all of her children and grandchildren, and is having marital trouble with George Sr. Spoiler Information
In Season 4, she is held trial for stealing the Queen Mary, and because none of her family showed up, gets sent to a "country-club style" prison. In an attempt to get out of prison, she becomes the main villain in Tobias' musical.
- Abusive Parents: Is emotionally abusive to all her children.
- Affectionate Nickname: Is called "Gangie" by her grandchildren, which becomes a bit less sweet when Maeby appropriates it for the horror-movie antagonist also based on her.
- Alcoholic Parent: While not perhaps a straight-up alcoholic, she certainly likes a drink.
- And Starring: And Jessica Walter.
- Being Evil Sucks: Comes to the conclusion of this at the end of season 4. Upon realizing how her children despise her and how alone she feels, after everything she had to go through during those five years, Tobias accidentally gives her a Rousing Speech on how she pushes people away and hides herself to avoid hurting herself, which leads her to admit she is tired of it.Lucille: I'm so tired of being the villain.
- Big Bad: In "Development Arrested", we discover that she is behind all of the corruption in the Bluth company, and had been The Man Behind the Man for George for years. She's competing for the role with Saddam Hussein himself, and still manages to overtake him as the primary antagonist.
- Break the Haughty: Lucille's five years between season 3 and 4 made her go through a lot. She realized all her children already had divided her things for when she was away, literally no one of her family showed up at her trial, when she made new friends in prison, they soon turned on her and tried to kill her with uncooked noodles and learns she is the inspiration for the "Gangie" franchise. In Cinco de Quatro, she also realizes her husband lied to her again just to not spend time with her and the other man she liked cheated on her. Although it takes a while, the stress eventually gets to her and starts breaking her to realize that Being Evil Sucks.Lucille: I was about to cry for the first time in sixty years.
- Character Development: Receive this at the end of her season 4 storyline after Tobias tells her she isn't the villain but the "invisible girl". Most notably her act of committed herself to rehab and try to apologize to Lucille 2.
- The Chessmaster: All of the manipulation and deceit in the company is thanks to her. And she's been doing this for years.
- Control Freak: She revels in keeping her kids in line, even as adults.
- Cool Old Lady: Seems to be regarded as this by the college students who witness her drinking Kitty under the table in "Spring Breakout."Lucille: No thanks. I have to get back to rehab.
Frat Boy: She's in rehab!
- Disproportionate Retribution: When he was in school, Michael once came home crying that a teacher had failed him, and now his life was ruined. His mother promised to take care of it. The teacher was never heard from again.
- Dragon-in-Chief: She's second-in-command to George... and has been pulling his strings the whole time, acting as The Man Behind the Man, and controlling his actions from the very start.
- Drama Queen: She has a penchant for calling Michael and hollering about the most mundane of things (mostly related to things that Buster is doing that aren't pleasing her). She usually drags him away from something that would be more demanding of his attention otherwise."Everything they do is so dramatic and flamboyant, it just makes me want to set myself on fire."
- Drives Like Crazy: Was featured on the show World's Worst Drivers and has no qualms about running down someone she thinks is one of her kids to "give [him] a little scare."
- Evil Is Petty: Starts up the "Cinco de Cuatro" holiday so there would be no party supplies left for the Hispanic community to celebrate Cinco de Mayo the next day.
- Evil Matriarch: After her reveal to be the second-in-command to George.
- Evil Old Folks: An elderly woman without an ounce of decency inside herself.
- Fur and Loathing: Promotional photos show her with a mink coat draped over her shoulders (which might seem like Pretty in Mink out of context), and in addition to her attitude, one episode she wears a fox scarf and says that PETA complained because her dog needed some air.
- Glamorous Wartime Singer: In Vietnam.
- Lady Drunk: Though, according to Michael in "Spring Breakout", Lucille is still verbally abusive to her children when she's sober.
- Lady Macbeth: Revealed to be the second-in-command to George behind the whole company illegal deal and is the mastermind behind the Wall storyline of Season 4.
- Living Emotional Crutch: For her son Buster.
- Mama Bear: She may not be nurturing, but when Michael was wrongfully suspended, his algebra teacher (who got him in trouble) mysteriously disappeared.
- Manipulative Bitch: She is called out for being this in My Mother, the Car since she uses every opportunity to play her children against another.
- Muscles Are Meaningless: Lucille seems to be stronger than she looks; she can break through a barricaded door with little difficulty.
- My Beloved Smother: Mainly to Buster.
- Racist Grandma: Especially toward her hired help, Luce and Lupe.
- Rich Bitch: Oh yes, and she enjoys being rich.
- Smug Snake: She tends to be this, especially towards Lucille Austero, when she wants to look more impressive.
- Time-Shifted Actor: In Season 4, Young Lucille is played by Kristen Wiig in flashbacks.
- Unknown Rival: Towards her friend and neighbor Lucille Austero, who seems to be completely oblivious towards their rivalry (especially in the first three seasons).
- Villain Protagonist: In Season 4, she has already been outed as the Big Bad, and the one who had been manipulating George from the start, but she remains a main character, getting her own story arc like the others. She's not a Token Evil Teammate though, because the family has already gone their separate ways at this point.
- The Woman Behind the Man: The majority of George Sr.'s truly despicable business actions were at her insistence.
- Zip Me Up: A recurring theme of hers is having Buster zipping up her dresses.
Other Bluth Family Members
Hel-loh "Annyong" Bluth
Played by: Justin Lee
Michael's adopted brother, Annyong is a Korean boy adopted by Lucille late into Season 1 to teach Buster a lesson. "Annyong" is actually the Korean word for "hello", which Lucille (and subsequently, the rest of the family) assume is his name. He is Put on a Bus in Season 2, when Lucille sends him to boarding school.Spoiler Information
- Annyong Younger Sibling: To Buster.
- Best Served Cold:
- Spends months living with the Bluths, and later hiding in the walls, waiting for his chance to get revenge on the Bluths for destroying his grandfather's business.
- Gets a piece of this himself on Season 4 when he's footed with a $700 bill for using the Bluths' membership card, and gets deported. "Goodbye, Annyong."
- Chekhov's Gunman: He is all but forgotten about by the family after he is Put on a Bus, but ends up causing Lucille's eventual downfall aboard the Queen Mary.
- Foreshadowing: In Season 2 he can be seen wearing a mole t-shirt.
- Funny Foreigner: Oh, those Koreans!
- Kilroy Was Here: In a clever bit of foreshadowing in Season 2, when the banana stand is retrieved from the ocean, a message can be seen on it, which reads: "I'll get u Bluths - Hello". It's not until Season 3 that we discover that he's actually a mole for the SEC and his real name is Hel-loh.
- Older Than He Looks: He's actually 18 in Season 1, a fact which is only known by Lupe and makes him eligible to take the money from his trust fund.
- Pokémon Speak: Inverted. Everybody assumes that he's continually saying his name, but "annyong" is actually just the Korean word for "hello". His real name is Hel-loh, which loosely translates to "one day". This is illustrated when Michael takes a date to a Korean restaurant, and when he walks in the door, everyone says "Annyong!" Presumably he understands them, because he waves back to them. Why he never explained this to the rest of the family is a mystery, but perhaps he was just snickering behind their backs.
- Put on a Bus: Lucille mentions she sent him off to a boarding school. He was actually hiding in the walls to gather evidence to exact revenge on the Bluth family.
- Spell My Name with an "S": Due to "Annyeong" being the most common spelling of the Korean word. Also applies to his real name, which is usually Romanized "Haru".
- Who's on First?: The Korean words "Annyong" ("Hello") and later "Hel-loh" ("one day") lead to funny conversations.
Oscar George Bluth
Played by: Jeffrey Tambor
Michael's uncle, Oscar is George's identical twin brother. Spoiler Information
- Butt-Monkey: Constantly gets mistaken for George Sr. by the cops, and is the victim of three Twin Switches by George Sr. so the latter can avoid prison.
- Important Haircut:
- Very important, as his hair is the only thing distinguishing him from George Sr. George Sr cuts Oscar's hair while he is unconscious in the Season 2 finale, and Oscar is sent to prison in George's place because of this. Due to the effects of stress, which George had previously theorised about, it didn't grow back.
- However, after escaping from prison in "Prison Break-In", it did grow back, but George shaves it again in that episode. In "Development Arrested", George pays for him to get another haircut and puts him in his place aboard the Queen Mary. This one stays permanent throughout Season 4.
- Luke, I Might Be Your Father: Believes he is Busters father and anvilizes this idea through the show.
- Polar Opposite Twins: With his twin brother, George.
- Running Gag: His constant semi-cryptic (to eventually blatantly-obvious) messages implying he is Buster's true father.
- The Sixth Ranger: Introduced in season 2 after never being mentioned prior, but becomes a fairly consistent presence within the family afterwards.
- The Stoner: He is constantly either in a state of being high or looking for ways to getting high.
- Took a Level in Badass: Becomes much more assertive and commanding in Season 4, to the point that he fools everyone when he pretends to be George Sr.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Over the course of "Borderline Personalities" after a full year of working the sweat lodge and the sudden discovery that George Sr had only bought the land to build the Wall, he gets fed up with George Sr.s Twin Switch act, and exploits it for his own ends instead. He also rekindles his affair with Lucille, but starts one with Lucille 2 at the same time.
- Twin Switch:
- George Sr. cons him into taking his place in prison in "Righteous Brothers".
- He does it again in "Making a Stand", when Oscar returns to the penthouse to grab a box of marijuana he had left there (which Buster's turtle had since eaten).
- George does it again in "Development Arrested", where he pays for Oscar to get a haircut and then "invites" him to the boat party aboard the Queen Mary while he escaped to his house in Cabo, Mexico.
- George Sr. later pulls it again as a part of his Sweat and Squeeze scheme in "Borderline Personalities", forcing Oscar to sit in the sweat lodge while he cons the executives with lemonade. However, once Oscar learns that George had only bought the property on the border of America and Mexico to build the Wall, he turns the tables on George Sr and exploits this for all its worth.
Franklin Delano Bluth
Played In-Universe by: GOB, George Sr and Buster
GOB's politcally incorrect puppet, first brought in to "hip up" his magic act in "Meat the Veals". In "Righteous Brothers", GOB convinces Michael to invest in a Franklin CD, "Franklin Comes Alive" to break down racial barriers.
- Demonic Dummy: A comically racist variation of this.
- Jive Turkey: Talks like this, no matter who puppeteers him.
- Leitmotif: "Franklin's Brown Sugar", a little funk-esque track.
- No Indoor Voice: He also talks this no matter who puppeteers him.
- Race Lift: Temporarily. When GOB puts Franklin in a washing machine at a laundromat to remove the ether from his lips, he accidentally bleaches him and has to have him re-dyed.Franklin, by GOB: (in British accent) You've ruined the act, GOB.
- Remember the New Guy?: In "Meat the Veals". Possibly Justified, as he was only known to any of the Bluths (besides GOB) from one family party, which ended poorly for everyone, so it makes sense they'd try to forget about Franklin.
- Unwitting Pawn: When George Sr. coerces GOB to cover his lips in ether to knock out Lucille and kidnap her.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: One of the few characters/Running Gags to not return in Season 4. Word of God is he will return in the possible Season 5.
Played by: Maria Thayer
Michael's deceased wife and George Michael's mother.
- The Ghost: She never makes an on-screen appearance during the first three seasons. She finally makes a brief appearance in Season 4, where she and an infant George Michael participates in a 1992 advertisement for George Bluth's "Babytock!" product.
- Heroes Want Redheads: Michael has a tendency to fall for redheads as they remind him of Tracey.
- High-School Sweethearts: Michael had been in love with her since high school, and married her in his sophomore year of college.
- The Lost Lenore: To Michael. Her death is the main reason why he is so protective towards and possessive of George Michael.
- Speak Ill of the Dead: A somewhat inverse example is a Running Gag. The other Bluths were all apparently very found of her while she was alive and have nothing but positive things to say about her, but they are also very insensitive towards Michael regarding her death.