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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
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  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The show actually got a decent amount of network support, it lasted 3 years despite being rather expensive to produce, but some theorize that FOX simply did not know how to effectively advertise the show, Emmy winning or not. Basically it's a show about a family of egotistical yuppies where only one man is trying to do the right thing, the rest are either pushovers, flawed to the point of being The Load, or outright unsympathetic characters. The complex narrative, intricate business subplots, and Incest Subtext out the wazoo complicates things further. This was pointed out in the third season by Michael: "Maybe we aren't as likable as we think we are."
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • As a result of Michael's long standing Unintentionally Unsympathetic status, the writers got the hint and made him a blatant Jerkass as seasons went on, as well as giving the Unintentionally Sympathetic Gob a bit more of sympathy.
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    • Pretty much everything about the Season 5 announcement screams, "Yeah, we'll try and keep the Bluths together more." The season 4 remix opening even changes to state such:
      Narrator: Now the story of what happens when the one man who was holding his family together finally let go. And the separate journey that eventually gave them no choice but to come back together.
    • The main criticism of Season Four was that the cast have separate long-winded adventures, barely interact with each other, and the Anachronic Order has the story make no sense until the last third of the season where they finally explain a lot of hanging jokes and plot points. A Re-Cut of the entire season called "Fateful Consequences" attempts to assemble the season into a more chronological order, placing more emphasis on developing 2 or 3 plotlines in each episode while also being quicker to reveal certain twists (Lindsay and Tobias both going to India for a retreat is covered in the same episode, rather than revealing Tobias was also in India two episodes later). This, in addition to shorter episode runtime but more episodes total, makes it more in line with the style of the earlier seasons.
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    • The genuinely shocking and dramatic last seconds of Season 4 are very much diluted by Season 5's reveal of the aftermath, which is awkward and a little sad, but nowhere near as destructive as the abrupt presentation of the scene had implied.
  • Awesome Music: Has its own page. David Schwartz's score for the show is almost as riddled with running jokes and clever allusions as the show itself. His daughter Lucy Schwartz's song "Boomerang" was great enough (and catchy enough) that after hearing it, Mitch Hurwitz actually re-edited the final minutes of the season 4 finale (even bumping The Tag to after the credits) just to include it in the show.
  • Better on DVD: Watching the episodes in quick succession instead of an episode per week makes the countless running gags and brick jokes funnier because the set-ups are fresh in the viewer's mind. The show is also made even more hilarious when you watch the first season and catch all the Foreshadowing of things you now know are to come. Season 4 is fully aware of this, and features several Netflix-related gags.
  • Broken Base: Season 4 was very divisive for the fanbase, especially for its experimentation with narrative style where details of different scenes are gradually filled in over the season. Where some fans greatly appreciated this move, holding it up as innovative and an excellent fit for the Netflix format which encourages binge-watching, others criticized it for making it the first few episodes quite the slog to get through and that the first group's claims of "It gets better" are no excuse for this. The relatively darker mood of the season, due to the main characters often showing themselves from their worst sides, especially Michael, has also been a point of contention.
  • Cargo Ship: George Sr. seems to really enjoy ice cream sandwiches in "Top Banana."
  • Crazy Awesome: George sometimes leans into this. The man is clearly insane, doing things like setting up elaborately cruel pranks to teach his children life lessons (including to teach Michael to not teach people life lessons), posing as God in a live painting banquet so he can make a jailbreak, stashing away money in giant banana-shaped food stands, and using his eldest sons to stage "Boy Fights" so he could sell the tapes for money (even though he was already rich as all hell, so said money would be pretty much worthless to him). This is also deconstructed, as his insane behavior ended up greatly helping shape his ludicrously screwed up family.
  • Critical Dissonance: Broken Base aside, many fans have enjoyed season 4. Ironically for a show that has been a critic's darling, many TV critics have been underwhelmed by Season 4.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Any time someone other than George Michael mentions Michael's late wife Tracy. Their comments are invariably so painfully insensitive to someone who lost a beloved spouse (even Lucille liked her!) less than two years ago, that Michael evidently just lists them with the family's other exasperating traits he can't do anything about.
    • George Sr. doesn't mind his wife and daughter attempting to use the company medical fundraiser to bankroll their cosmetic surgeries, but gets exasperated that Michael is still going on about ovarian cancer.
    • George Sr., Gob, Lindsay, and Barry all at some point mistakenly call Tracy "Michael's ex-wife" or "Michael's first wife". Michael points out that he's only been married once, and she didn't leave him, she died. Prompting Barry to exclaim in annoyance that he's been claiming credit for handling their divorce.
    • Lindsay defending her failing marriage with Tobias:
      Lindsay: Your marriage wasn't so perfect. I seem to remember you two weren't even speaking near the end.
      Michael: Well, she was in a coma.
      Lindsay: Yeah, I've heard your side of it.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Season 4 can come off like this sometimes- namely while the comedy's still there, it's far darker than before, everyone is in a worse position than they were, and the few likable characters take several levels in jerkass. Most notably Michael, George Michael, Buster and Maeby's storyline ALL have Downer Ending with all of them barely resembles the people they were at season 3.
  • Discredited Meme: The series' running gags get zigged-zagged all over the place in Seasons 4 and 5.
    • We wave goodbye to the staircar in episode 1. Meanwhile, Michael is driving a Google camera car, which is just as ridiculous. Except the Staircar comes back for one last hurrah in the last episode.
    • Sudden Valley is finally completed, so it's not just a model home on a barren hill. However, it's an unlivable, inaccessible ghost town.
    • Tobias is told early on that the way he talks makes everyone think he's gay, and he vows to do something about it. He doesn't, and his Innocent Innuendo lands him on the sex offender registry. He finally learns not to call himself an "analrapist", but "anustart" takes its place.
    • It looks like George Michael had finally gotten over his crush on Maeby, but he brings her back into his life to try again.
    • Buster gets a bionic replacement for his hook, but it's even more dangerous.
    • Despite the sentiment of returning to form of the first three seasons, the first eight episodes of Season 5 still refrain from "putting the band back together". Only George Michael and Maeby can be seen in the Bluth Penthouse, the Bluth Company offices are empty or in the process of being remodelled (and relocated), the Banana Stand is missing and while making the most appearances out of the regular locales of Seasons 1-3, the Model Home is still in a secondary role to the beach house and other new S5-specific locations.
    • Ultimately, this is a series about people who don't grow or change.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • GOB, his puppet Franklin, and Tobias - Tobias is especially notable in that he was originally supposed to be a minor character, but the character left such an impression that he was promoted to main character status.
    • Steve Holt and Gene Parmesan also qualify.
  • Epileptic Trees: The cliffhanger ending of Season 4 involving Lucille 2's apparent murder caused a explosion of theorizing and analysis by fans trying to piece together clues. It's similar to the famous "Who Shot Mr. Burns" cliffhanger in that many of the characters have a motive and opportunity, so nearly every theory can be given at least a scrap of evidence no matter how ridiculous. Note that the WMG page for the show has an entire folder devoted to speculation about it.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The original run of the show was identified by a very brisk pacing of the episodes, with multiple plot lines going on at one that eventually collide, frequent flashbacks to build up twists and Brick Jokes that span multiple episodes and sometimes multiple years. Season four, with its longer episodes, single-character focused episodes and very broad timespan (covering roughly 6 years of material), oddly enough felt a lot slower paced and the multiple plot lines are not even revealed until several episodes later, turning most of an episode into in-jokey Non Sequiturs that won't pay off until later. The recut of Season Four "Fateful Consequences" attempts to fix this.
  • Fridge Brilliance:
    • In both episodes featuring Maggie Lizer, the blind lawyer, it made no sense that she would often make eye contact with Michael. Then, it turns out she's not really blind!
    • Then in the episodes where she returns and is pregnant, she meets with Michael no less than twice to go drinking, which won't harm her baby because she's not pregnant.
    • Maggie's seeing eye dog, Justice, is remarkably undisciplined and ill-behaved for a service dog. Then we find out that not only is Maggie not blind, meaning that Justice is just a regular dog instead of a service one, it's Justice who's blind.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • Lucille constantly calls Lindsay fat. It's treated negatively in universe, but it's still deeply uncomfortable to watch knowing that Portia De Rossi went public about her struggles with anorexia after the show ended.
    • All the jokes about G.O.B.'s brief marriage and divorce have become somewhat bitter in light of the actors playing G.O.B. and his wife (Will Arnett and Amy Poehler) announcing their Real Life breakup in 2012.
    • The scene in which Tobias, as Mrs. Featherbottom, crashes into the table of the model home is quite uncomfortable to watch after Robin Williams' death.
    • Maeby's only successful movie during the original run of the show was Gangie. Guess what actress hasn't found success outside the context of her role on the show (no, not Jessica Walter)?
    • Bob Loblaw and Lindsay's numerous miscommunications aren't nearly as funny after many fans took Scott Baio's response to the death of his old Happy Days co-star Erin Moran as saying she deserved an early death because of her drug problems, which he then hotly insisted wasn't what he meant.
    • In "Everyone Gets Atrophy" of Season 5, Michael wonders if he might have been too verbally hard on Rebel. Afterwards, the show became Overshadowed by Controversy in the aftermath of Jessica Walter accusing Jeffrey Tambor of harassing her on set, and Jason Bateman got accused of attempting to brush her feelings aside during an interview.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In Season 4, George Michael starts using the alias George Maharis, noting that at least that name hasn't been tainted by any sex scandal (unlike George Michael and Boy George). It's likely that most people would definitely not be aware of the origins of that name, and how it's also related to a sex scandal.
    • Set in Orange County, California, the show occasionally inserts references or jokes that only someone familiar with the Southern California area would know about or get:
      • In Season 5, a sign at a Bluth party reads "Mother's Chicken Nuggets." The font and red color match Mother's Market, a chain of organic markets in the Orange County area.
      • Buster thinks he's woken up in Mexico, but he's really in Santa Ana, which is a city known for its high percentage of Latino residents (78% as of 2010).
      • The Magic Castle is a real place, serving as a social club for local magicians and a venue for their shows.
      • Michael claims he's going to Pea Soup Andersen's while following George south to Mexico. Both P.S. Andersen's locations are north of Orange County, allowing George Michael to easily pick apart Michael's Blatant Lies.
      • Wee Britain is a parody of ethnic enclaves. The most well known enclave in Orange County is Little Saigon which is located in Westminster, California which was named after the same named city in the United Kingdom.
      • Rita's "little missions" is another clue that she's not who she appears to be. Building miniature Missions is an assignment that many Orange County children had to do in grade school.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Let's just say that the constant Executive Meddling wasn't exactly what the creators had in mind when they came up with the title Arrested Development or the numerous jokes based on the title (such as the newscast by John Beard announcing "Arrested Development").
    • Lucille's jokes about Lindsay being fat sound especially mean since Portia De Rossi admitted to suffering from eating disorders.
    • Several plot arcs in Season 4 (the government building a wall along the Mexican border, privacy protection on social media) now seem eerily prescient, and not nearly as absurd as the show presented them as.
    • During a cameo by Rance Howard in Season 5, Ron Howard says that his father "may not say a lot, but we're glad he's still around." By the time Season 5 was released, Rance had passed away.
    • The "No touching!" Running Gag revolving around George Sr.'s imprisonment became a lot less funny when Jeffrey Tambor was accused of sexual assault.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Maeby and Lucille were always implied to have a better relationship than with the rest of the family, which was mentioned in earlier seasons, this becomes rather sweet considering that in the infamous interview promoting Season 5, where Jessica Walter breaks down remembering an unfortunate event with Tambor, Maeby's actress, Alia Shawkat was the only one defending Walter, her fictional Gangie.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Through Foreshadowing and jokes that soon enter the annals of Arrested Development's Running Gags.
    • A good part of the humor in Lindsay and Tobias' relationship is that he's living in a Transparent Closet. In Real Life, Portia De Rossi (who plays Lindsay) came out as a lesbian after the show ended. She's now married to Ellen DeGeneres. Which, incidentally, means that her spouse is gay.
    • Oscar's and George's Sr.'s actor Jeffrey Tambor had twin children born in 2009.
    • Try hearing Gob and Franklin's signature song without thinking of "Accidental Racist", which may be impossible if you've watched the show afterward.
    • The Running Gag of how plain and unmemorable Ann is, when it's now impossible not to hear her as Katara. Mae Whitman later reunited with Michael Cera in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World as an evil ex-girlfriend exacting revenge.
    • The scene in which Maggie interrogates Buster is a lot funnier to watch now that Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Tony Hale star together in Veep.
    • George Sr.'s Season 4 storyline eventually comes down to him adjusting to life as a woman after most of the testosterone in his body was replaced by oestrogen. Jeffrey Tambor would later star in the TV show Transparent, where he plays a transgender woman.
      • Speaking of which, Oscar's hair greatly resembles Maura's on Transparent, and that's not counting the many times either he or George Sr. cross-dressed.
      • On top of that, both the Bluths and Transparent's Pfeffernans are well-off, out-of-touch Orange County families led by a business-minded patriarch.
      • It may be worth pointing out that Transparent creator Jill Soloway revealed that she explicitly wrote the part of Maura with Tambor in mind. It's entirely possible that season 4 is what inspired his casting in the show (Tambor had also previously portrayed transgender judge Alan Wachtel on the police procedural Hill Street Blues).
      • And we're sure a wrestling fan cannot hear Larry Middleman's voice without thinking of John Laurinaitis.
    • Mae Fünke's nickname is Maeby. So, in other words, she wants you to call her Maeby.
    • In Season 4, Tobias briefly strikes up a friendship with a washed-up actress who played Sue Storm in an awful low-budget Fantastic Four movie in the 1990s, and Hilarity Ensues when he tries to make money by dressing as The Thing for tourists. At the time, that subplot was a rather esoteric jab at The Fantastic Four, Roger Corman's 1994 movie adaptation that was so bad that it was never released. But two years after that episode, the Four were thrust back into the public spotlight again after Josh Trank's Fantastic Four (2015) ended up as one of the biggest flops of The New '10s after a bizarre Troubled Production. With that in mind, watching the show's merciless mockery of the Fantastic Four is even funnier. Adding to the hilarity is the fact that Josh Trank appeared in that very episode.
    • A brief flashback in "Motherboy XXX" shows Tobias despondent after apparently failing to secure the title role on House, M.D., which had just premiered to critical acclaim at about the same time as Season 2 went into production. A few years later David Cross, the actor who plays Tobias, married one of the series regulars on House, Amber Tamblyn (who played House's medical student Martha Masters in the final two seasons of the show).
    • David Cross gets his own chance to play the one decent guy in a family of rich jerks on Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.
    • The Myth Arc of the show's original run turns out to be all about a wealthy real estate broker coming under government investigation for possible dealings with Saddam Hussein and the government of Iraq. When rewatching the show after 2017, it's hard not to think about another wealthy real estate broker who wound up under government investigation for possible dealings with Vladimir Putin and the government of Russia.
    • "Here's some money, go see a Star War" is funnier now that Ron Howard is directing a Star War, also including a lead named Tobias. Not to mention that Season 4 revolves around a large celebration on May 4th ("Cinco de Quatro"), a date informally observed as a holiday by many Star Wars fans (as in "May the Fourth be with you").
  • Hollywood Homely: George-Michael's girlfriend Ann is often treated like this by Michael. While not particularly unattractive, she has a dowdy appearance and appears very unemotional and bizarre, failing to make any lasting impression on people in-universe.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: A few characters, notably Michael, make jabs indicating that Ann is fat. While the actress isn't exactly slender, she wouldn't be considered overweight by normal standards.
  • Informed Wrongness: Michael gets pissed at Gob in Season 4 because he filled Sudden Valleys with sex offenders. The problem is: Sudden Valley actually was a real estate disaster, far away from everything, in an economy where no one wanted to buy a new house, let alone one that is still waiting for the nearest city to expand enough to incorporate it. Gob tapped an unknown marketing and managed to sell every single one of the houses that Michael never could.
  • Jerkass Woobie:
    • Gob. He's probably the most openly antagonistic of the main cast members, but he really does try to please his parents, and is deeply insecure due to his harsh upbringing. It would probably make it into Tear Jerker territory if it wasn't so damn funny.
    • Lucille actually inches toward this in season 4 due to an implied Freudian Excuse from her Abusive Parents. She also finally starts to realize that her children actually do hate her, or just don't care.
    • Maeby Funke. If you take away her resourcefulness, cunning, deceitfulness and rebellious attitude, you'll see a young girl horribly neglected by her self-centered parents and is desperate and will do anything to get some kind of attention from them.
    • Lindsey and Tobias are both horribly neglectful towards their family (especially their daughter) and are massive Attention Whores, but Lindsey has huge self-esteem problems because of her emotionally abusive mother and Tobias isn't knowingly mean, just completely out of his depth and desperate to fulfill his dream of being an actor.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "I've made a huge mistake".
    • "I don't know what I expected." Preceding the line is Michael finding a paper bag labelled "DEAD DOVE DO NOT EAT" and looking into the bag anyway. "Dead Dove, Do Not Eat" has become an official tag on Archive of Our Own as a way to warn readers that a story has problematic elements in it and those elements are being played completely straight.
    • "I mean, it's one [X]. What could it cost, ten dollars?" An unaware Lucille essentially summing up just how out-of-touch wealthy people can be, with people often substituting Banana and the price for something else.
    • There's always money in the banana stand...
    • "There are dozens of us! DOZENS!!"
    • "Just [X], and baby, you've got a stew going!"
    • Hello darkness my old friend... (Mariachi band playing "The Sound Of Silence")
    • The .gif of GOB dancing with playing cards.
    • The $5,000 dollar suit is a popular reference, and has popped up in Left 4 Dead and Costume Quest, among others.
    • "Bees?", especially with Cards Against Humanity fans, where it's often used as a nonsequitur response.
    • "If you're saying I play favorites, you're wrong! I love all of my X equally! *earlier that day...* I don't care for [insert an X-es name here]."
    • "Here's some money. Go see a Star War."
    • "COME ON!"
    • Replying to a suspect "I didn't [X]" claim with Ron Howard's "they did" narration.
    • "What a fun sexy time for you."
    • "I have the worst fucking attorneys" and "There's a good chance I may have committed some light... treason" have seen some resurgence following the 2017 Russia Investigation.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • Some fans feel that John Beard and his goons crossed it in "A New Start" by basically framing Tobias for pedophilia and then kicking the crap out of him for no reason.
    • Similarly, Michael's Season 4 storyline deals with his descent from a Nice Guy to an all-out asshole after various failures. Perhaps the first sign of this is him ripping up Tobias' contract moments after he signs it in "Smashed".
    • Season 4 ends with Lucille 2 killed, and every Bluth family member with a motive for the murder. Whoever did it, this is certainly their Moral Event Horizon.
    • Lucille 2 herself crosses it in "Off the Hook" when she manipulates Buster into getting drunk (on juice) and missing his mother's trial, while attending herself to ensure that Lucille would be incarcerated, essentially ruining Buster's life in the process.
  • Narm:
    • In rare case of one work making another Narmy, many have reported being unable to take the song "The Sound Of Silence" seriously after its usage in the show as Gob's Leitmotif.
    • The same goes for "The Final Countdown," which went from "epic" to "hilarious" for many fans after being used as the centerpiece in Gob's lame magic shows.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • In-universe, Buster's arm after losing his hand is treated like this by most of the other characters, particularly Gob. And while it's usually given a Gory Discretion Shot whenever he's not wearing his hook or a prosthesis, it's still visibly bloody in "Motherboy XXX" and other episodes immediately following the accident. Gob's very visceral freak-out at this point is not so much funny as real enough to sell it.
    • George's attempted suicide in the Season 5 episode Sinking Feelings could be considered as uncharacteristically dark for the series, and rather sudden for first-time viewers to boot.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Private investigator Gene Parmesan. Jack Dorso, too.
  • Overshadowed by Controversy: Season 5 was marred by the sexual harassment accusations leveled against Jeffrey Tambor that got him fired from Transparent, which occurred after the season was largely already shot. In addition, a disastrous cast interview for The New York Times included Jessica Walter breaking into tears when describing Tambor's treatment of her during an argument on-set. Critics accused the Walters' costars Bateman, Hale and Cross of trying to downplay the incident at the expense of Walters' feelings. Backlash ultimately caused the rest of the press tour to be canceled, and it overshadowed the show's premier.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
    • Yes, years before and in another universe, Scott Pilgrim and Roxy Richter used to date.
    • The guy who takes Maeby's "Marry me!" seriously? It's Howard Wolowitz.
    • There's a slew of office workers NBC viewers might be familiar with in early Season 2: The guy who Lindsay thought she had a date with? Andy Bernard. Phyllis worked for the Bluth Company before tranferring to Dunder Mifflin. Kevin worked as a gun shop owner who sold a rifle to Tobias. Darryl worked as a security guard at a movie studio where Tobias was looking for a role.
    • Remember the incredibly ugly woman GOB tried to set up Michael with in "Shock and Aww"? Iqbal Theba, better known as Principal Figgins from Glee.
    • There's also a blink-and-you'll-miss-it shot of Andy Samberg at the tail end of the season 2 finale, as a stage manager for the Blue Man group.
    • Bob Odenkirk has a cameo as a marriage counselor. If you didn't already know him and David Cross from Mr. Show, you certainly do now in the wake of Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
    • Kenneth Parcell from 30 Rock appeared twice as a waiter.
    • The first actress to play Ann Veal later became better known as Zoe Graystone.
    • Sue Sylvester shows up in season one as Cindi Lightballoon.
  • Seasonal Rot: Season 4 was subject to a lot of criticism. The change in overall style of the season with each character getting A Day in the Limelight largely separate from the rest of the family essentially removed the family interactions that defined the show. In addition the longer episodes on Netflix (30-35 minutes vs. 22 in network tv) slowed down the trademark fast pace, leading many to complain of it being boring. Talk of Season 5 was primarily about trying to fix those issues, and getting the family together for more than a couple of scenes.
  • Special Effect Failure
    • Uncle Jack is wearing a hilariously obvious fake muscle suit.
    • No one even bothered to make Buster really look like he lost his left hand, and Tony Hale isn't just hiding his hand in his sleeve: in addition to his left arm "growing" noticeably longer (except when he wears certain prosthetics) , on some occasions where his nub is shown, such as in "The Ocean Walker", his fist can clearly be seen, despite being pixelated.
  • Spiritual Adaptation: In addition to being a hilarious sitcom in its own right, Arrested Development is also probably the best comedic reimagining of Classical Greek tragedy that you'll see on the small screen. It could easily be a modern retelling of Aeschylus' The Oresteia (with a few elements of the Theban trilogy thrown in), with the Bluths standing in for the House of Atreus. All the tropes are there: intergenerational conflict, random mutilation and disfiguration, a powerful Big, Screwed-Up Family's fall from grace, a complex web of backstabbings and infidelity, an ambitious scheming matriarch manipulating a clueless patriarch behind his back, an Only Sane Man son trying to right his parents' wrongs, boatloads of Incest Subtext, and a surreal courtroom trial at the climax—all set against the backdrop of a brutal war in Asia Minor (though one involving battle tanks instead of a big wooden horse).
  • Squick: "Sounds like you saved enough skin to make ten new boys."
  • Suspiciously Similar Song: Subverted at first in "Making a Stand", where a montage of stills is put to several different songs made for the series in an attempt to "make it funny". At one point, The Narrator mentions that it was "pretty funny to Yellow Submarine... but who could afford it?", at which point the music cuts out. Parodied later in the episode with a second montage set to a similar-sounding "Yellow Boat".
  • Uncanny Valley: Something about pre-haircut Lindsay in Season 4 is just off, with some combination of her wig showing off a lot of forehead and what seems to be really unhealthy-looking makeup, which makes Portia de Rossi look very different. This may be intentional, considering that Lindsay is supposed to have had some work done, but it's still odd.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Gob is clearly not supposed to be liked all that much by the audience considering he is one of the bigger jerks in the show which is no small feat, but given how he’s spent his entire life being The Unfavorite to everyone and a lot of his actions are the result of trying to get some sort of acceptance in his twisted view, it's also easily understandable why he's like that.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Conversely, while Michael is supposed to have the audience feel bad for him due to being forced to put up with all the craziness his family causes, his behavior shows that he isn't really that much better than the rest of his family. Even before taking a major Jerkass level in the fourth season he could often act pretty smug and pulled some pretty despicable acts himself, such as sleeping with the teacher his son had a crush on and then setting Gob up as a scapegoat when he found out, and agreeing to let Uncle Jack have sex with Lindsay completely without her consent or knowledge. He also repeatedly treats George Michael just as roughly as his own father treated him and his siblings and though he’d often come to the realization that he was acting just like his own father and promise to do better from then on he almost always winds up forgetting this by the next episode, and that doesn't even take into account how he's often treated Ann like crap for no reason just because she was dating his son. This list on CollegeHumor even takes a look at TV characters who show signs of this trope, with Michael earning a no. 3 spot.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Gob is hated by pretty much everyone in the show, including his own mother (and with good reason), but as noted under Ensemble Dark Horse he's one of the most popular characters on the show amongst viewers due to his hilarious Cloud Cuckoolander personality.
  • Values Dissonance: In the episode "Sad Sack", aired in 2004, Maeby pretends her mother is Transgender to make Steve Holt stop liking her. She uses the offensive slur words "tranny" and "shemale" to describe her - but the offensiveness of the words is not acknowledged, and they're treated casually. As transgender people are no longer Acceptable Targets, these jokes can seem cruel and dated when watched today. Later seasons don't use the slurs (aside from a Call-Back in form of Tobias wearing the "Shémale" T-shirt from that episode).
  • Values Resonance: A big part of this show's continuing popularity. It first aired in 2003, but its merciless mockery of the excess and corruption of America's corporate elite seems to have really caught on with Americans in the years after the 2007 Recession, when making fun of the rich became even more of a national pastime than it had been before. This arguably goes double for the later episodes dealing with the Bluth family's shady dealings with the government of Iraq. After US President Donald Trump and his family came under investigation in 2017 for possible dealings with the government of Russia, the idea of a wealthy family of real estate brokers engaging in business deals with a historical enemy of the United States suddenly didn't seem so ridiculous.
  • Vindicated by History:
    • The show never really caught on when it was first airing, rave reviews kept it going for three tumultuous seasons. But after it ended the show exploded as one of the highest DVD sales and even managed a few syndication deals (100 episodes are considered the standard for a syndicated show, 65 at minimum, Arrested Development had 53). This lead to be revived as a Netflix show for the fourth season.
    • Season 4 itself. When it premiered many fans said the show should have stayed dead. However, this backlash eventually died down. This may be at least partially due to how many jokes were structured to make sense only after the full season had been viewed. Once the season got a Recut, many viewers began to appreciate the twists and Rewatch Bonuses that were lost when watched in chronological order.
  • The Woobie: George-Michael. Especially in the pilot.
    • His father as well. In fact, many of the Bluths could be considered this due to their abusive and/or neglectful upbringing.
    • Poor Steve Holt(!), probably the Bluth family member with the least amount of negative traits. All he wanted to do was reconnect with his father. Once he ages, he becomes a genuinely good man, but is unrecognizable and unwanted company to everyone in the Bluth family.
    • Oscar due to constantly being framed, manipulated, and abused by his criminal brother. Reaches its zenith in season 4 where George Sr. twists Oscar's genuine desire to mend their relationship for a Get Rich Quick Scheme.
    • DeBrie, a drug addict who is either being wrongly supported to near-abusive levels or put down in cruel ways, by Tobias and Lucille, respectively. She really needs help, but whenever she tries to get her life together, Tobias interferes trying to use her old Sue Storm role to try to make it as an actor, often ignoring what she wants or needs and making her life constantly worse.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • Seth Rogen playing a younger George Bluth Sr. in flashbacks in Season 4, due to bearing little resemblance to Jeffrey Tambor. That said, those who have seen Tambor in his younger days in films such as ...And Justice for All will note that he did bear at least a passing resemblance to Rogen.
    • Even more pronounced in the second half of season Season 5 with Taran Killam as a young George Sr., and especially Cobie Smulders as a young Lucille. It later turns out that this is actually from a Show Within a Show, making it an in-universe example of both this trope and Adaptational Attractiveness.

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