20 Brilliant Jokes Hidden in Arrested Development

Saeed Adyani, Netflix
Saeed Adyani, Netflix

When Arrested Development first began its television run on November 2, 2003, it had a hard time finding regular viewers because the series' comedy was so layered. It wasn’t until the show was released on DVD, and then streaming, that audiences began to notice—and search for—its many brilliant hidden punchlines. To celebrate Arrested Development's 15th anniversary, here are 20 hilarious jokes you might have missed the first time around.

1. GOB'S MONOPOLY ILLUSION // SEASON 1, EPISODE 1

Gob performs an illusion for George Michael where he turns a $20 bill into a Monopoly board game. Gob asks him if he has the board game and George Michael responds, “I think I might.” Later we see George Michael rummaging in the attic in front of a stack of Monopoly board games.

2. BUM GETS BALLOON // SEASON 1, EPISODE 11


Screen grab via Netflix

George Michael explains how he “managed” to send a homeless man away from the banana stand without hurting his feelings. Later, a homeless man is shown with a Bluth’s Bananas balloon with the “Mr. Bananagrabber” logo on it.

Further into the episode, a newspaper headline reads “Bum Gets Balloon.”

3. ICE THE BOUNTY HUNTER // SEASON 2, EPISODE 4


Screen grab via Netflix

Gob hires a bounty hunter named Ice to follow Michael. There are two shots of Ice’s ad in the phone book. One for his bounty hunter job with the caption, “Put Your Problems On Ice,” and another for his party-planning job with the caption, “You Can’t Have A Party Without ICE.”

There’s also a Gene Parmesan ad in the Bounty Hunter section of the phone book.

4. AFTERNOON DELIGHT TURTLE // SEASON 2, EPISODE 6 & SEASON 3, EPISODE 7


Screen grab via Netflix

The image of a slow-moving turtle on Uncle Oscar’s marijuana package foreshadows the death of Buster’s turtle, named Mother, the following season.

5. BOB LOBLAW, ATTORNEY AT LAW // SEASON 3, EPISODE 3

Bob Loblaw, the Bluth family’s new lawyer in season three, was played by actor Scott Baio. He makes a Happy Days reference: “Look, this is not the first time I’ve been brought in to replace Barry Zuckerkorn. I think I can do for you everything he did. Plus, I skew younger. With juries and so forth.”

Barry Zuckerkorn was played by Henry Winkler, who of course played Fonzie on Happy Days, and was somewhat replaced with Fonzie’s cousin Chachi Arcola, who was of course played by Scott Baio.

6. JUMPING THE SHARK // SEASON 2, EPISODE 13

In yet another Happy Days reference, Barry Zuckerkorn meets with Gob, Buster, and Michael at a pier. They thought they found Buster’s hand inside of a shark, but it was a false alarm. Barry leaves to go to Burger King and jumps over the dead shark on the pier. It's a sly  nod to the time Fonzie once jumped over a shark cage while on water skis, thus coining the phrase “jumping the shark” in reference to the quality of a TV show going downhill.

7. HOLD ON SURELY FÜNKE POSTER // SEASON 1, EPISODE 14


Screen grab via Netflix

Three episode before Maeby Fünke’s fictional counterpart, Surely, was introduced in season one, a poster featuring Surely Fünke can be seen in the background at George Michael and Maeby’s high school.

8. BLENDIN // SEASON 1, EPISODE 14; SEASON 1, EPISODE 15; SEASON 2, EPISODE 2; SEASON 3, EPISODE 5


There’s a running joke where all the secret surveillance teams use the word “Blendin” in their fake company’s name. In “Shock and Awe,” it’s Blendin Mobile Pet Grooming. In the episode “Staff Infection,” it’s Blendin Electric Company, in “The One Where They Build a House,” the moving company is called Blendin Moving and Storage and in “Mr. F,” the catering company is Blendin Catering.

9. SNOOPY // SEASON 2, EPISODE 4

The writers introduced the “Christmas Time Is Here” theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas in the episode in the season two episode "Good Grief!" When George Michael is walking home from the banana stand after getting dumped by Anne, you can see a giant red doghouse with a sleeping beagle on top of it in the background.

10. ARM OFF AND WEE BRAIN BUS STOP BENCHES // SEASON 2, EPISODE 3 & SEASON 3, EPISODE 3


Screen grab via Netflix

Arrested Development is keen on visual foreshadowing and sight gags, as evidenced by the episode where Buster is sitting on a bus stop bench with an ad for Army Officers. The way he’s sitting on the bench obscures most of the ad’s lettering, so it reads “Arm Off” instead. This foreshadows Buster’s missing hand a few episodes later.

Similarly, after being drugged, Michael Bluth’s love interest in season three, Rita Leeds (Charlize Theron), is left on a bus stop bench with an ad for Wee Britain in Newport Beach. Again, the way she’s sitting on the bench hides most of the ad and now reads “Wee Brain,” referring to the fact that—unbeknownst to Michael—Rita is mentally challenged.

11. ANNYONG'S REVENGE // SEASON 2, EPISODE 6


Screen grab via Netflix

A full season before it’s revealed that the Bluth's adopted son Annyong wants revenge on the family for what they did to his grandfather, the banana stand was vandalized with the words “I’ll get u Bluths –Hello.” In the third season finale, it was also revealed that Annyong’s real name was Hel-loh. Annyong is the Korean word for “Hello.”

12. MR. ROBOTO // SEASON 3, EPISODE 6

Buster’s hook gets caught in the dashboard of the stair car because he was doing the robot to Styx’s “Mr. Roboto.” In 1999, Tony Hale, who plays Buster, appeared in a Volkswagen commercial where he also rocked out to "Mr. Roboto."

13. ANNYONG GOES TO MILFORD // SEASON 2, EPISODE 6


Screen grab via Netflix

After adopting Annyong to make Buster jealous, Lucille sends her new son to the prestigious Milford School, where its founder Earl Milford believed “Children should be neither seen nor heard.” After this episode, Annyong is rarely either seen nor heard from on the TV series.

14. H. MADDAZ // SEASON 1, EPISODE 16


Screen grab via Netflix

George Bluth Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) was accused of building mini-mansions in Iraq. The proof of his treason can be found on the family’s yacht. While George and his secretary Kitty (Judy Greer) are in bed together, one of the red coolers full of evidence is labeled “H. MADDAZ.” Its reflection in the mirror next to the bed, reads “SADDAM H.” for Saddam Hussein.

15. OPERATION: HOT MOTHER // SEASON 2, EPISODE 16


Screen grab via Netflix

As a movie studio executive Maeby Fünke is seen reading a script titled “Operation: Hot Mother.” In episode 13, “Motherboy XXX,” Michael and Buster’s plan to get George Michael away from Lucille and out of the annual Motherboy contest is called “Operation: Hot Mother.” On the script Maeby is reading, the subtitle reads “Inspired by a True Story.”

16. MEXICAN SILENT FILM // SEASON 2, EPISODE 4


Screen grab via Netflix

One of the best recurring jokes is Gob’s chicken dance. In the episode “Amigos!,” a fictional Mexican silent film features someone doing Gob’s chicken dance and getting shot for it. Will Arnett, Jason Bateman, and Tony Hale are featured in the silent film.

This is part of a bigger joke involving hiding the Arrested Development cast in cameo roles throughout the series.

17. BRITISH SOLDIER // SEASON 3, EPISODE 4


Screen grab via Netflix

Another example of hiding the cast is a brief clip in the fictional war movie A Thoroughly Polite Dustup. Tony Hale plays the British soldier who says goodbye to his nurse before going off to war.

Later in season three, Hale’s Buster and his nurse have almost the same exchange in episode 12, “Exit Strategy.”

18. SPANISH/ENGLISH DICTIONARY // SEASON 1, EPISODE 13


Screen grab via Netflix

Gob doesn’t know the meaning of the Spanish word hermano, which means brother. The page where Hermano would appear in a Spanish/English dictionary features an image of Michael and Gob with mustaches.

On the same page, above Hermano is the Spanish word hermafrodita, which means hermaphrodite, with an image of Tobias (David Cross) wearing cutoff shorts.

Below hermano is the Spanish word hermosa for "beautiful," with a picture of Lindsay next to it. Underneath hermosa is the word hielo, which is Spanish for ice and refers to the bounty hunter/party planner Ice we meet in season two.

19. WORKERS LOVE NELLIE // SEASON 3, EPISODE 11


Screen grab via Netflix

Recurring banner jokes are scattered throughout the series. In Season 3, episode 4, “Forget-Me-Now,” the Bluths make Michael a banner that reads “Family Love Michael.”

In episode 11 “Family Ties,” Michael mistakes his father’s regular prostitute for an office efficiency manager. To welcome her into the office, the workers make a banner that reads “Workers Love Nellie.”

The episode also features a reference to the actress who plays Nellie, Justine Bateman (Jason's sister), who was on the TV series Family Ties.

20. TV DVD SALES HEADLINE // SEASON 3, EPISODE 13


Screen grab via Netflix

In the season three finale, there’s a Variety headline that boasts of Rita’s newfound success as a Hollywood movie executive. Underneath that headline is a smaller one that reads “TV DVD Sales Enjoy All Time High.” This is a reference to Arrested Development itself, which was enjoying high DVD sales—despite its recent cancellation—when this episode aired in 2006.

This article originally appeared in 2013.

15 Fascinating Facts About Schindler’s List

Universal Pictures
Universal Pictures

In 1993, Steven Spielberg’s Schindler’s List brought to the screen a story that had gone untold since the tragic events of the Holocaust. Oskar Schindler, a Nazi party member, used his pull within the party to save the lives of more than 1000 Jewish individuals by recruiting them to work in his Polish factory. Here are some facts about Spielberg’s groundbreaking film on its 25th anniversary.

1. The story was relayed to author Thomas Keneally in a Beverly Hills leather goods shop.

In October 1980, Australian novelist Thomas Keneally had stopped into a leather goods shop off of Rodeo Drive after a book tour stopover from a film festival in Sorrento, Italy, where one of his books was adapted into a movie. When the owner of the shop, Leopold Page, learned that Keneally was a writer, he began telling him “the greatest story of humanity man to man.” That story was how Page, his wife, and thousands of other Jews were saved by a Nazi factory owner named Oskar Schindler during World War II.

Page gave Keneally photocopies of documents related to Schindler, including speeches, firsthand accounts, testimonies, and the actual list of names of the people he saved. It inspired Keneally to write the book Schindler’s Ark, on which the movie is based. Page (whose real name was Poldek Pfefferberg) ended up becoming a consultant on the film.

2. Keneally wasn't the first person Leopold Page told about Oskar Schindler.

The film rights to Page’s story were actually first purchased by MGM for $50,000 in the 1960s after Page had similarly ambushed the wife of film producer Marvin Gosch at his leather shop. Mrs. Gosch told the story to her husband, who agreed to produce a film version, even going so far as hiring Casablanca co-screenwriter Howard Koch to write the script. Koch and Gosch began interviewing Schindler Jews in and around the Los Angeles area, and even Schindler himself, before the project stalled, leaving the story unknown to the public at large.

3. Schindler made more than one list.

Liam Neeson, Agnieszka Krukówna, Krzysztof Luft, Friedrich von Thun, and Marta Bizon in Schindler's List (1993)
Universal Pictures

Seven lists in all were made by Oskar Schindler and his associates during the war, while four are known to still exist. Two are at the Yad Vashem in Israel, one is at the US Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C., and one privately owned list was unsuccessfully auctioned off via eBay in 2013.

The movie refers to the first two lists created in 1944, otherwise known as “The Lists of Life.” The five subsequent lists were updates to the first two versions, which included the names of more than 1000 Jews who Schindler saved by recruiting them to work in his factory.

4. Steven Spielberg first learned of Schindler in the early 1980s.

Former MCA/Universal president Sid Sheinberg, a father figure to Spielberg, gave the director Keneally’s book when it was first published in 1982, to which Spielberg allegedly replied, “It’ll make a helluva story. Is it true?”

Eventually the studio bought the rights to the book, and when Page met with Spielberg to discuss the story, the director promised the Holocaust survivor that he would make the film adaptation within 10 years. The project languished for over a decade because Spielberg was reluctant to take on such serious subject matter. Spielberg’s hesitation actually stopped Hollywood veteran Billy Wilder from making Schindler’s List his final film. Wilder tried to buy the rights to Keneally’s book, but Spielberg and MCA/Universal scooped them up before he could.

5. Spielberg refused to accept a salary for making the movie.

Though Spielberg is already an extremely wealthy man as a result of the many big-budget movies that have made him one of Hollywood’s most successful directors, he decided that a story as important as Schindler’s List shouldn’t be made with an eye toward financial reward. The director relinquished his salary for the movie and any proceeds he would stand to make in perpetuity, calling any such personal gains “blood money.” Instead, Spielberg used the film’s profits to found the USC Shoah Foundation, which was established in 1994 to honor and remember the survivors of the Holocaust by collecting personal recollections and audio visual interviews.

6. Before Spielberg agreed to make the movie, he tried to get other directors to make it.

Part of Spielberg’s reluctance to make Schindler's List was that he didn’t feel that he was prepared or mature enough to tackle a film about the Holocaust. So he tried to recruit other directors to make the film. He first approached director Roman Polanski, a Holocaust survivor whose own mother was killed in Auschwitz. Polanski declined, but would go on to make his own film about the Holocaust, The Pianist, which earned him a Best Director Oscar in 2003. Spielberg then offered the movie to director Sydney Pollack, who also passed.

The job was then offered to legendary filmmaker Martin Scorsese, who accepted. Scorsese was set to put the film into production when Spielberg had an epiphany on the set of the revisionist Peter Pan story Hook and realized that he was finally prepared to make Schindler’s List. To make up for the change of heart, Spielberg traded Scorsese the rights to a movie he’d been developing that Scorsese would make into his next film: the remake of Cape Fear.

7. The movie was a gamble for Universal, so they made Spielberg a dino-sized deal.

When Spielberg finally decided to make Schindler’s List, it had taken him so long that Sheinberg and Universal balked. The relatively low-budget $23 million three-hour black-and-white Holocaust movie was too much of a risk, so they asked Spielberg to make another project that had been brewing at the studio: Jurassic Park. Make the lucrative summer movie first, they said, and then he could go and make his passion project. Spielberg agreed, and both movies were released in 1993; Jurassic Park in June and Schindler’s List in December.

8. Spielberg didn't want a movie star with Hollywood clout to portray Schindler.

Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson auditioned for the role of Oskar Schindler, and actor Warren Beatty was far enough along in the process that he even made it as far as a script reading. But according to Spielberg, Beatty was dropped because, “Warren would have played it like Oskar Schindler through Warren Beatty.”

For the role, Spielberg cast then relatively unknown Irish actor Liam Neeson, whom the director had seen in a Broadway play called Anna Christie. “Liam was the closest in my experience of what Schindler was like,” Spielberg told The New York Times. “His charm, the way women love him, his strength. He actually looks a little bit like Schindler, the same height, although Schindler was a rotund man,” he said. “If I had made the movie in 1964, I would have cast Gert Frobe, the late German actor. That’s what he looked like.”

Besides having Neeson listen to recordings of Schindler, the director also told him to study the gestures of former Time Warner chairman Steven J. Ross, another of Spielberg’s mentors, and the man to whom he dedicated the film.

9. Spielberg did his own research.

In order to gain a more personal perspective on the film, Spielberg traveled to Poland before principal photography began to interview Holocaust survivors and visit the real-life locations that he planned to portray in the movie. While there, he visited the former Gestapo headquarters on Pomorska Street, Schindler’s actual apartment, and Amon Goeth’s villa.

Eventually the film shot on location for 92 days in Poland by recreating the Płaszów camp in a nearby abandoned rock quarry. The production was also allowed to shoot scenes outside the gates of Auschwitz.

10. The little girl in the red coat was real.

Promotional image for 25th anniversary rerelease of Schindler's List.
Universal Pictures

A symbol of innocence in the movie, the little girl in the red coat who appears during the liquidation of the ghetto in the movie was based on a real person. In the film, the little girl is played by actress Oliwia Dabrowska, who—at the age of three—promised Spielberg that she would not watch the film until she was 18 years old. She allegedly watched the movie when she was 11, breaking her promise, and spent years rejecting the experience. Later, she told the Daily Mail, “I realized I had been part of something I could be proud of. Spielberg was right: I had to grow up to watch the film.”

The actual girl in the red coat was named Roma Ligocka; a survivor of the Krakow ghetto, she was known amongst the Jews living there by her red winter coat. Ligocka, now a painter who lives in Germany, later wrote a biography about surviving the Holocaust called The Girl in the Red Coat.

11. The movie wasn't supposed to be in English.

For a better sense of reality, Spielberg originally wanted to shoot the movie completely in Polish and German using subtitles, but he eventually decided against it because he felt that it would take away from the urgency and importance of the images onscreen. According to Spielberg, “I wanted people to watch the images, not read the subtitles. There’s too much safety in reading. It would have been an excuse to take their eyes off the screen and watch something else.”

12. The studio didn't want the movie to be in black and white.

The only person at MCA/Universal who agreed with Spielberg and director of cinematography Janusz Kaminski’s decision to shoot the movie in black and white was Sheinberg. Everyone else lobbied against the idea, saying that it would stylize the Holocaust. Spielberg and Kaminski chose to shoot the film in a grimy, unstylish fashion and format inspired by German Expressionist and Italian Neorealist films. Also, according to Spielberg, “It’s entirely appropriate because I’ve only experienced the Holocaust through other people’s testimonies and through archival footage which is, of course, all in black and white.”

13. Spielberg's passion project paid off in Oscars.

Schindler’s List was the big winner at the 66th Academy Awards. The film won a total of seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director awards for Spielberg. Neeson and Ralph Fiennes were both nominated for their performances, and the film also received nods for Costume Design, Makeup, and Sound.

14. Schindler's List is technically a student film.

Steven Spielberg gives a speech
Nicholas Hunt, Getty Images

Thirty-three years after dropping out of college, Spielberg finally received a BA in Film and Video Production from his newly minted alma mater, Cal State Long Beach, in 2002. The director re-enrolled in secret, and gained his remaining credits by writing essays and submitting projects under a pseudonym. In order to pass a film course, he submitted Schindler’s List as his student project. Spielberg describes the time gap between leaving school and earning his degree as his “longest post-production schedule.”

15. Spielberg thinks the film may be even more important to watch today.

In honor of the film's 25th anniversary, it's currently back in theaters. But Spielberg believes that the film may be even more important for today's audiences to see. "I think this is maybe the most important time to re-release this film," the director said in a recent interview with Lester Holt on NBC Nightly News. Citing the spike in hate crimes targeting religious minorities since
2016, he said, "Hate's less parenthetical today, it's more a headline."

Additional Sources:
The Making of Schindler’s List: Behind the Scenes of an Epic Film, by Franciszek Palowski

An earlier version of this article appeared in 2015.

The Most-Searched Holiday Movie in Every State, Mapped

iStock.com/chrispecoraro
iStock.com/chrispecoraro

Do you live in a Gremlins state or a Home Alone state? StreamingObserver is here to tell you. The streaming-industry site recently used Rotten Tomatoes and other public data sources to figure out the most popular Christmas movies in each state. Spoiler: It’s a Wonderful Life isn’t quite the Christmas classic you thought it was.

The list takes some liberties with what might be considered a “Christmas” movie. Die Hard (a favorite in Missouri and Wisconsin) made the list, as did Batman Returns (California’s most-searched movie) and Edward Scissorhands (popular in Nevada and Arizona). They aren’t quite the traditional Hallmark holiday fare, but they each include at least some nod to the Christmas season.

Then there’s the more standard Yuletide entertainment, like A Christmas Carol (Tennessee’s favorite) and Frosty the Snowman (South Dakota's pick). Christmas in Connecticut, oddly enough, is Montana’s favorite (unclear whether that’s the 1945 film or the 1992 TV movie), while Connecticut’s favorite is the 1983 Eddie Murphy film Trading Places. The Apartment, The Snowman, Miracle on 34th Street, and The Best Man Holiday also make an appearance. Seven states list Gremlins as their favorite, while six chose Home Alone and three chose Scrooged.

The data is based on Google searches, rather than surveys, so it's possible that the movie at the top of each state's list isn't so much beloved as it is curiosity-inspiring. It's possible that all these people are Googling Gremlins, then deciding not to watch it. But we feel fairly confident saying a lot of people will be watching Die Hard this Christmas season. (Tip: You can't stream it on Netflix right now, but you can rent it on Amazon.)

The 2018 results are fairly different from StreamingObserver's 2016 data, which you can compare here. Do you agree with your state's preferences?

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