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10 Little-Known Gags and Running Jokes in Arrested Development


Arrested Development is probably one of the most brilliant television shows ever created. There are so many running-jokes and gags that make the show worth watching multiple times in order to really appreciate the layered humor. I’ve probably watched all the seasons about 8 or 9 times so far and I always find something new that I haven’t noticed before. Arrested Development is coming back to Netflix on May 4th, 2013 so that will give you plenty of time to re-watch the seasons from start-to-finish to catch-up and hopefully find more hidden jokes and gags! Here with the help of Reddit’s Arrested Development subreddit, I’ve compiled a list of 10 little known details and references that even seasoned A.D. viewers and fans have never noticed before.

1. "Merry Poppuns" Warning Sign

In Season 3 episode 2 “For British Eyes Only,” Michael Bluth first meets Rita Leeds, but gets hit by the “tourist attraction” Merry Poppuns. The warning sign next to Michael reads:

"Please stay off my landing port...I'm not the tourist killing sort... But if you have a working girl to kill... Please let her stay and I'll do my will"

While this is a fair warning, one of which Michael neglects to follow, it also alludes to the Jack the Ripper reference that Michael Bluth awkwardly uses in trying to offer Rita money for valuable information.


2. Tobias Fünke “blending in” on a Blendin moving truck

Season 2 episode 2 “The One Where They Build a House,” Lindsay Bluth becomes interested in Thomas Jane who she believes to be a movie star. She then finds out that he isn’t a movie star and is a homeless person; however Tom Jane really is a movie star who was just researching the role of a homeless guy. All of this goes over Lindsay’s head in addition to her husband Tobias cleverly blending into the blue truck behind her.

3. “Workers Love Nellie” banner in the Bluth offices

Season 3 episode 11 “Family Ties” is when Michael Bluth hires a woman who he believes to be his sister, when she really was George Sr.’s old prostitute. The Bluth office gives her a warm welcome with an appropriate sign that reads “Workers Love Nellie,” a running-gag of the “Family Love Michael” banner.


4. Operation: Hot Mother script in Maeby’s office

In Season 2 episode 16 “Meet the Veals,” we’re again reminded of Maeby’s movie executive job and she’s seen in her office reading a screenplay titled “Operation: Hot Mother.” Upon closer inspection the script is inspired by a true story, and is written by Sheila Gebler and David Gebler Jr., presumably the mother and son who were from the episode “Motherboy XXX” when Buster crashes into their hotel room.

5. Tobias hiding inside the fireplace

It really takes a trained eye to spot Tobias in this screen shot from season 2 episode 17 “Spring Breakout.” In this episode our narrator Ron Howard makes a comment about shoddy narration, which makes this particular scene especially hilarious as it is never explained as to why Tobias emerges from the fireplace.


6. George Michael’s Monopoly collection

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In the extended pilot of Arrested Development, Gob gives George Michael the board game at the banana stand.


Towards the end of the episode, for a brief moment we see that George Michael already owned 2 Monopoly sets before receiving another from Gob.


7. “Hold on Surely Funke” poster at school

Before Surely Funke is even introduced, in season 1 episode 14 “Shock and Aww” this poster is shown on the wall when Annyong (Annyong!) enrolls to go to school with George Michael and Maeby. This is clever foreshadowing and an amazing detail that I didn’t even notice until my 4th viewing of the seasons.


8. Phallic salt shakers

In season 3 episode 1 “The Cabin Show,” Michael Bluth visits a family-style restaurant named “Swallows.” This particular restaurant is a regular restaurant by day and a sexy, erotic anything-goes restaurant by night complete with a neon sign. I never even knew these details until I learned about them on the Arrested Development subreddit.

9. “…and that’s why you always leave a note.”

J. Walter Weatherman’s influence and scare-tactics have proven to work as we find a note left by George Michael on the fridge behind Buster. It reads: “I finished the milk… Will buy more. –George Michael”


10. Bluth Company offices have cornballers in stock.

In season 2 episode 3 “¡Amigos!” when Michael Bluth works in the supply closet there is a cornballer and cornball mix on the shelf behind Lucille Bluth.


Let me know if you found anything new from re-watching this amazing show!

Claire on February 24, 2016:

there is also a cornballer in maggie lizers house

Pharme358 on July 17, 2014:

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Johnd76 on July 16, 2014:

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Keri Machin from Miami Florida on August 25, 2013:

in order to really appreciate AD you need to know the inside and running jokes. the first time i watched it, not funny... but after a few episodes you start to "get it"

randomman on July 26, 2013:

What makes me laugh about the monopoly gag is that GOB couldn't remember doing that trick before. Hmm, I wonder why... :)

E.Castaneto (author) on June 19, 2013:

Now THAT is amazing! The detail in the show is so deep!

Mech0T1 on June 15, 2013:

This is a small one that I noticed...

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