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Arrested Development Week: Top 10 Recurring Jokes

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On Sunday, Netflix will unleash the newest set of Arrested Development episodes on the world, an event almost 10 years in the making. Over the next few days, leading up to the new episodes, we'll be revisiting some of our favorite moments from the cult television comedy culminating in a running diary as we binge-watch the new episodes on Sunday.

Today, we look at 10 of our favorite recurring jokes from the series, in no particular order. Share yours in the comments and be sure to explore both NPR's mapping and the Recurring Developments map of recurring jokes from the series, essential, fun tools for any AD fan.

"I've made a huge mistake"

One of the great quotable lines among hundreds of quotable lines from the series, it also perfectly captures the Bluth family's nature of making a big mistake and then dooming itself to repeat it over and over.

Chicken dance

Nothing captures the Bluth siblings constant need to antagonize and yet still be so ridiculous and wrong like their varying depictions of how a chicken acts.


One of the series' simplest jokes that pays off the best: one simple response that manages to so easily scrape beneath the veneer and show the hilariously mean nature of the Bluth family (even Michael).

The Bluth Stair Car


A sight gag that never gets old, especially when it helps a prison break.

The Buster "Hey Brother" and Shoulder Rub

One of the most awkward acts from the show's most awkward character, a gag that only gets funnier when Buster has to don the hook once he loses his hand to the seal.

"Light treason"/Iraq

While this reference may date the show, it's far less egregious and more lasting than, say, its "Star Wars Kid" reference. (I'd also argue that AD still handled any "dated" reference more deftly than most other shows.) From the cooler that read "Hussein .S" in season one to a direct "Fallujah" reference in season three, the show managed to find a funny way to reference a major world event - that still lingers 10 years later - and make it relevant to the story line rather than a way to simply frame the time period of the series.

Lindsay's charities

Not only ridiculous but occasionally contradictory, Lindsay's efforts show her more charitable side rarely go off without a hitch. And the names of these charities never stop being funny.

Tobias' Blue Man phase

While there are many running gags with Tobias, the most notable one being his "nevernude" standing, it's his Blue Man phase as he preps for a Blue Man Group tryout that brings some of the funniest, most absurd laughs and little joys, like random blue handprints in the background.

References to Peanuts

There's an underlying fatalism of failure to AD that gives it an edge, the same feeling one gets from reading Peanuts as they get older. There's an added edge of meanness to everything people say to Charlie Brown, much the way the Bluths seem to rarely have any redeemable qualities. Yet these are always draped in laughs so that, unless you stop to study it, you sometimes barely notice it. Maybe that's why the Peantus references are so funny. Or maybe they're funny without that edge. Either way, they're great homages to a comic strip that's influenced more comedy than we'll ever know.

G.O.B., the bad magician

Like Tobias being an awful actor and Lindsay being an ineffectual and hypocritical charity volunteer, Gob's magic is rarely, if ever, effective. The lone exception: blowing up the family's yacht for a Spring Break crowd. Still, even a broken clock is right twice a day and Gob will continue to languish as a lower-tier performer of tricks illusions. Fun additional read: The A.V. Club dives a little deeper today into bad magicians in pop culture.

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No comments? Come on!

Say goodbye to these.

There's always money in the banana stand.

No touching!

Rita corny, Michael.


And that's why you always leave a note.

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This page contains a single entry by Marcus Gilmer published on May 20, 2013 12:00 PM.

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