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Heartwarming / Arrested Development

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In General

  • When you think about it, the whole basis for the show (for the first three seasons, at least). Michael gives up his chance to get away from his crazy relatives and finally be happy, all because his son was lonely and needed a family.
  • According to The Other Wiki on Michael's character profile: "Michael's wife Tracey died of ovarian cancer two years prior to the first season. Possibly, as a result of this, he is very close to his son, George Michael..." That alone is beautiful right there.

    Season 1 
  • "Pilot": Michael is upset that George Sr. gave the promotion to Lucille instead of him... until he finds out that it was to keep the rest of the family out of jail, as he was led to believe that it's impossible to arrest a husband and wife for the same crime. It was a hilariously misguided plan based on a faulty premise, but his intentions were noble.
  • "Top Banana": Michael and George-Michael's "cathartic burning of the banana stand" is a legitimately heartwarming moment that is ruined a scene later by the revelation that they just torched George Sr.'s cash stash. Still, just focus on how much Michael loves his kid for a second there.
  • "Key Decisions": Heartbreaking and heartwarming all at once: Michael deciding not to get in the way of Marta and GOB's relationship.
    Michael: You gotta put family first. That's the stupid thing I believe.
  • "Charity Drive":
    • Michael chastises Lindsay for getting involved with vapid and shallow charity events, especially when she claims to support the wetlands without knowing anything about the cause. In response, she actually visits the wetlands, but then shows up to the bachelorette auction a mess, with no one wanting to bid on her. Michael, realizing that Lindsay finally made an actual effort to be involved with a charity, bids on her so that she won't be humiliated.
    • George Bluth Sr. occasionally shows that, much as he failed raising his own children, he wants his grandchildren to have a better life, as his reaction to GOB sending George Michael to steal documents from a permit office shows.
  • "My Mother, The Car": The revelation that George Sr. paid off all the other inmates so they wouldn't sexually harass Lindsay when she came to visit him in prison.
    • It's small, but the fact that once GOB figures out that Lucille lied to Michael about who was driving the car, he immediately rushes over to the house, locks Lucille on the balcony, and tells Michael what really happened.
    • Also this line from GOB:
    GOB: There’s no way that you were trying to hurt me. You don’t hate me. Mom hates me. (cheerfully) You kind of like me.
    • "Because we're brothers, Mom, and we kind of like each other!"
  • "Storming the Castle": The end of the episode is a little bittersweet for Michael, but Lindsay does show him some genuine sympathy, and George Michael cuts him some slack for taking the chair from work. The look on GOB's face when he sees that Marta is the assistant Michael got for the show is also very heartwarming, as is his sheer happiness when he approaches his mother afterward. His happiness then inspires Lucille to accept Buster's relationship with Lucille 2 and have a sincerely friendly interaction with the latter. And, after years of stealing from Michael, GOB finally gives something back.
    • Lucille also manages to show some approval for Michael's late wife, saying that Michael was the only one who chose a spouse that she liked. Of course, she has to undercut it by crassly making the death all about herself, but it is nice to know Lucille was able to think about somebody else positively.
  • "Pier Pressure":
    • When Michael catches George Michael in the act of purchasing weed for Buster (who needed it for medical reasons), Buster, not wanting to see his nephew take the rap, steps up, remarking that George Michael was only looking out for him.
    • The ending. Maeby, after spending the day with Lucille and realising how critical she is of Lindsay, tells Lindsay that she is glad to be her daughter and gives her a piece of jewellery that Lucille always kept from her. Lindsay then hugs Maeby and this shows that difficult relationship aside, Maeby and Lindsay do love each other.
    • A small thing, but the flashbacks to the 1981 life lessons show that the Bluth children reacted to the "accidents" by clinging to each other for dear life. In particular, Lindsay is shown reaching out to grab and shield Buster during both incidents.
    • When Michael first comes up with the idea to teach George Michael a lesson, and goes to the prison to recruit his father's help, George adamantly refuses, denying that George Michael would be using drugs at all and telling Michael that he should just speak to his son about any issues instead of trying to scare him. When Michael counters by saying that George never did this, he confesses to Michael that using J. Walter Weatherman to torment them all those years was wrong. When Michael goes through with it anyway, George reinforces the point by using J. Walter Weatherman one last time, with the lesson of, "That's why you don't teach lessons to your son." Given George's disingenuous nature, it's touching to see him genuinely standing up for his grandson, and starting to make amends for what he did to his children growing up.
  • "Public Relations": Michael Bluth gets a publicist to help improve the family's image. He starts dating her but then breaks it off because he is worried about it affecting George Michael. The publicist confronts George Michael and asks him why he is trying to keep his dad from being happy. Michael (without knowing this) takes the publicist out to dinner to try and patch it up where Michael's mother and sister confront her to attack her (she had written an unflattering article about them). Michael tries to stops them, however during the ensuing conversation the publicist mentions what she said to his son.
    Michael: You did? You said that to my son...? (steps back) You're on your own. Ladies?
  • "Beef Consomme": Lindsay helping Tobias get rid of his never-nude affliction, and subsequently proving that - regardless of what she says - she does love him, and their marriage wasn't some sort of cosmic accident.
  • "Shock and Aww": Lindsay misinterpreting George Michael's crush on his teacher as missing his mother has her give a genuinely touching speech about how he can always count on her to fill the role of surrogate mother for him. It doubles as a Funny Moment as in context it also sounds like she's making a pass at him, but it is still a rare and genuine show of motherly affection from her.
  • "Staff Infection": When it is revealed that Michael kept many of George Michael's childhood drawings and crafts in a folder in his drawer at work.
    Narrator: [George Michael] always knew his father loved him. Now he was holding the proof in his hands.
  • "Missing Kitty": The fact that Gob is legitimately heartbroken at having to send George Michael away at Michael's insistence, even if he was introducing him to a fairly unsavory life. The narrator states that Gob does sincerely love his nephew.
  • "Best Man for the Gob": Michael is actually hurt that Gob chooses their father over him to be Gob's best man for his bachelor party, and realizes that Gob is only doing it because he's still desperate for George Sr's approval. After George Sr makes Gob's bachelor party all about pretending to kill a stripper to frame someone else, Michael convinces Gob to stop listening to their father, and Gob tells Michael that he's a good brother and his best man.
  • "Whistler's Mother": After Michael is freaking out about the botched business deal he made, Lucille, in a rare moment, comforts him:
    Lucille: It's going to be alright.
    Michael: Why are you squeezing me with your body?
    Lucille: It's a hug, Michael, I'm hugging you.
    Michael: Yeah, but why?
    Lucille: Because you need your mother right now.
    Michael: But I don't get along with my- Sorry. That was a knee-jerk.
    Lucille: Michael, you made a mistake. You're a human being. But you're so forgiving to everyone else in this family. Try being forgiving to yourself.
  • "Let 'em Eat Cake":
    • The narrator refers to Buster as "someone moderately intelligent", which is about as complimentary as he gets with the Bluths.
    • The family's reaction to Doctor Fishman revealing that George Sr has died (although he actually escaped out the window).

    Season 2 
  • "Sad Sack": When George, Sr. find out that his wife is in love with Oscar and that Michael can get out of legal trouble if he turns George in. He proceeds to tell Michael to make a deal for himself as he (George) has no more love in his life. The episode ends with George waiting in the attic for the police to show up. Michael comes up and tells him that he did not turn him in, and he is sorry that George feels he has no love in his life.
    George: I-I don't feel that way anymore. (hugs Michael) Thanks. It's been a long time since someone stuck up for me (kisses Michael on the forehead).
  • "Afternoon Delight": Lucille is genuinely happy when Buster comes back to the penthouse, assuming he had left his army training.
  • "Switch Hitter":
    • When Maeby realises she's become a successful film executive, the first thing she does is get a job for her Dad. Whatever her intentions, the immediateness of it is touching.
    • Yes it was funny and awkward, but Michael kissing his son on the cheek was very, very cute.
    • The ending of the episode switches between this and a Funny Moment:
      George Sr: I'm proud of you.
      Michael: Really?
      George Sr: Yep. See ya (sprints off).
  • "Queen For A Day": Michael was frustrated that he specifically ordered his family not to sell their shares as soon as they were unfrozen (even though he hypocritically bought a new car with his share). However, he then discovered that Buster, whose relationship he had ruined so that Buster would be able to clean up the mess the others had created, was the only one who read the note and refrained from spending any of the money because he didn't want to hurt the family. Michael proceeds to tell Buster that he'll sort everything out for him, and that it's okay for Buster to continue pursuing Starla.
    Michael: You know, uh, I-I want you to forget about what I said. I was wrong, you two belong together. I’ll take care of Lucille 2 for you.
  • "Motherboy XXX": When Buster and Michael crash the Motherboy dinner-dance to rescue George Michael from Lucille, knowing how humiliating Motherboy is; Buster also crashes the party because he's angry at Lucille for rejecting him because of his hook prosthetic. At the end of all the mayhem they cause, he volunteers himself to dance with Lucille 2 in George Michael's place. He then asks his mother if she'd still dance with him, even with his hook. She puts her scarf around his neck, tells him that he can be Captain Hook and she Peter Pan, and they dance together.
    Buster: Yes. I am no different. I am the same old Motherboy, but George Michael still has a chance. Take him.
  • "Spring Breakout": George Michael rekindling his romance with Maeby.
    George Michael: You're like this flower, and I know it's Springtime, but I'd just hate to see you get plucked by someone who doesn't even care that you're blossoming.
  • "Righteous Bothers":
    • Subverted by George Sr at the end of the episode. He breaks up GOB and Michael's fight in front of the courthouse (again), and tells them that brothers should stick together no matter what. He then turns himself in so that the family will be free of his crimes, and says that he doesn't want them to visit him in prison this time. And then we see this flashback of George pulling up next to Oscar, who was on his way out of town for good:
    George: Why don't you turn me in so you can get the reward, so you can take care of the family.
    Oscar: Why would you do that for me?
    George: Because we're brothers.
    Narrator: Later, while George Sr was shaving his unconscious brother's head, he wondered whether there really was a reward, and if there was a way he could get it.
    • GOB and Michael forgiving each other at the end of the episode:
    GOB: You know it's true... Everything I do... I do it for you...!

    Season 3 
  • "For British Eyes Only": When Michael tells his father that a mysterious British man has threatened "someone stupid in our family", George immediately says he's going to change his plea to guilty, even though it would mean returning to jail. Michael assumes the threat was meant for Buster, but George suggests Gob could be the target, and actually seems worried - insulting as it it for Gob that his father openly thinks he's stupid, it's the only time in the entire series when George shows any sign of caring about his oldest son.
  • "Prison Break-In": When George Sr. breaks in to prison to stop Lucille from sleeping with Stefan Gentles, and tells her that however lousy their marriage is he doesn't want it to be thrown away.
    George: No one is breaking this family apart, no one.
  • "Making a Stand": Near the end of the episode, in the Gambit Pileup, when George Sr reveals that GOB told him about his and Michael's plan, Michael attacks GOB, and the two brothers brawl. The fight moves onto the balcony, where Michael is thrown off the side of the balcony, seemingly to his death. The whole thing was set up by Michael and GOB to teach George a lesson, but what's heartwarming is that in that moment, seeing his son thrown over the balcony, George cries out in genuine emotion, "NO!", showing his Hidden Depths.
  • "Development Arrested": When George Michael finally admits his love for Maeby to his dad, and Michael, instead of being offended and judgmental like George Michael expected him to be, understands his son's feelings and only objects to the relationship because it might screw up their familial bond, which would last longer than any fling would.

    Season 4 
  • "A New Start": Blink and you'll miss it at the beginning: Michael has named two streets after his late wife and son in the Sudden Valley neighborhood. Tobias drives down Tracey Lane and onto George Michael.
  • "Smashed": The narrator being a nice guy and, while admitting that the Fantastic Four play wasn't very good, he admires their hard work on it and decides to put the play as background for the credits and lets them sing.
  • "Queen B.":
    • At the end of the episode, Lucille is in her Darkest Hour, having realized that her husband has been deceiving her, the man she would be able to love is cheating on her and all her kids either hate or don't care for her, she even bemoans the fact that she is tired of being the villain, but an unintentional Rousing Speech from Tobias leads her to decide to put her life back together, thank Lucille 2 and go back to rehab.
    • At the end of the episode, when Tobias and Marky realise that Lindsay is on Herbert Love's float running for Congress (essentially a betrayal from Marky's perspective), a float which they believe they have just bombed, their first instinct is to desperately try to warn her, despite her essentially betraying their trust and joining the one person she had promised Marky to help stop.
  • "A New Attitude": Episode 11 with Gob and Tony Wonder admitting that they have feelings for each other (whether the feelings are of friendship or of love is not 100% clear) and just their whole bonding process, which started more as them trying to avenge each other for whatever reasons but actually grew into something fantastic.

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