20 Hidden Jokes in Arrested Development

While Arrested Development was on the air in the early 2000s, it had a hard time finding regular viewers because the series' comedy was so layered. It wasn’t until the series was available on DVD that audiences could then search for all of its brilliant punchlines. Here are 20 hidden jokes in Arrested Development that you might have missed.

1. Gob’s Monopoly Illusion: Season 1, Episode 1 – “Pilot”

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 – “Public Relations”

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 – “Good Grief”

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 – “Afternoon Delight”; Season 3, Episode 7 – “Prison Break-In”

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

5. Bob Loblaw Attorney At Law: Season 3, Episode 3 – “Forget-Me-Now”

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 played by Scott Baio.

6. Jumping The Shark: Season 2, Episode 13 – “Motherboy XXX”

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.

This is another Happy Days reference: 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 – “Shock and Awe”

Before Maeby Fünke’s fictional counterpart was introduced three episodes later in episode 17, “Alter Egos,” Surely Fünke can be seen on a poster in the background at George Michael and Maeby’s high school.

8. Blendin: Season 1, Episode 14 – “Shock and Awe”; Season 1, Episode 15 – “Staff Infection”; Season 2, Episode 2 – “The One Where They Build a House”; Season 3, Episode 5 – “Mr. F”


Courtesy of Heavy

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,” and in “The One Where They Build a House,” the moving company is called “Blendin Moving and Storage.” Finally, in “Mr. F,” the catering company is “Blendin Catering.”

9. Snoopy: Season 2, Episode 4 – “Good Grief”

The writers introduced the “Christmas Time Is Here” theme from A Charlie Brown Christmas in the episode. 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 – “Amigos!”; Season 3, Episode 3 – “Forget-Me-Now”


Arrested Development is keen on visual foreshadowing and sight gags. 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 Leed, 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,” pointing to Rita’s handicap.

11. Annyong’s Revenge: Season 2, Episode 6 – “Afternoon Delight”

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

12. Buster Is Mr. Roboto: Season 3, Episode 6 – “The Ocean Walker”

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 did the exact same thing.

13. Annyong Goes To The Milford School: Season 2, Episode 6 – “Afternoon Delight”


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

14. H. MADDAZ: Season 1, Episode 16 – “Missing Kitty”

George Bluth Sr. was accused of building mini-mansions in Iraq. The proof of his treason can be found on the family’s yacht. While George and Kitty 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 – “Meet The Veals”

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 – “Amigos!”


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 – “Notapusy”


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 the warfront.

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

18. Spanish/English Dictionary: Season 1, Episode 13 – “Beef Consommé”


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 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 in season two.

19. Workers Love Nellie: Season 3, Episode 11 – “Family Ties”

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 – “Development Arrested”

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 refers to Arrested Development itself, which was enjoying high DVD sales—despite its recent cancellation—when this episode aired in 2006.

Want more Arrested Development? Last year Splitsider found 53 jokes you might have missed. Or you can try your hand at our AD quiz.

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Shout! Factory
10 Surprising Facts About Mr. Mom
Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory

John Hughes penned the script for 1983's Mr. Mom, a comedy about a family man named Jack Butler (Micheal Keaton) who loses his job. To ensure their three kids are taken care of, his wife, Caroline (Teri Garr), goes back to work—leaving Jack to fight off a vacuum cleaner and learn why it's never a good idea to feed chili to a baby.

In 1982, Keaton turned in a star-making role in Ron Howard’s Night Shift, but Mr. Mom marked the first time he headlined a movie, and it launched his career. Hughes had written National Lampoon's Vacation, which—oddly enough—was released in theaters the weekend after Mr. Mom. But Hughes himself was still a relative unknown, as it would be another year before he entered the teen flick phase of his career, which would make him iconic.

In the meantime, Mr. Mom hit home for a lot of viewers, as the economy was on the downturn and more and more women were entering (or reentering) the workforce. But some people think that the movie's ending—which sees the couple revert to traditional gender roles—sidelined the movie's message. Still, on the 35th anniversary of its release, Mr. Mom remains an ahead-of-its-time comedy classic.

1. IT'S BASED ON A TRUE STORY.

Mr. Mom producer Lauren Shuler Donner came across a funny article John Hughes had written for National Lampoon. Based on that, she contacted him and the two became friends. “One day, he was telling me that his wife had gone down to Arizona and he was in charge of the two boys and he didn’t know what he was doing,” Donner told IGN. “It was hilarious! I was on the floor laughing. He said, ‘Do you think this would make a good movie?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, this is really funny.’ So he said, ‘Well, I have about 80 pages in a drawer. Would you look at it?’ So I looked at it and I said, ‘This is great! Let’s do it!’ We kind of developed it ourselves.” In the book Movie Moguls Speak, Donner mentioned how Hughes “had never been to a grocery store, he had never operated a vacuum cleaner. John was so ignorant, that in his ignorance, he was hilarious.”

The players involved with the movie told Donner and Hughes they thought it should be a TV movie. Hughes had a TV deal with Aaron Spelling, who came aboard to executive produce. “Then the players involved were upset because John was writing out of Chicago instead of L.A.,” Donner said in Movie Moguls Speak. “They fired John and brought in a group of TV writers. In the end, John and I were muscled out. It was a good movie, but if you ever read John’s original script for Mr. Mom, it’s far better.”

2. JOHN HUGHES REJECTED THE IDEA OF DIRECTING MR. MOM.

Stan Dragoti ended up directing the film, but only after Hughes turned it down, because he preferred to make his movies in Chicago, not Hollywood. “I don’t like being around the people in the movie business,” Hughes told Roger Ebert. “In Hollywood, you spend all of your time having lunch and making deals. Everybody is trying to shoot you down. I like to get my actors out here where we can make our movies in privacy.” Hughes remained in Chicago and filmed his directorial debut, Sixteen Candles, there.

3. MICHAEL KEATON GOT THE ROLE BECAUSE OF NIGHT SHIFT.

In 1982’s Night Shift, Keaton’s character works at a morgue and starts a prostitution ring with co-worker Henry Winkler. Donner had an agent friend, Laurie Perlman, who represented the not-yet-famous actor. She contacted Donner and pitched Keaton to her. “’Look, I represent this guy who is really funny. Would you meet with him?’" Donner recalled of the conversation. "So I met with him. Usually I don’t like to do this unless we’re casting, but I met with him because she was my friend. And then she said, ‘You have to see this movie Night Shift that he’s in.’ So I went to see Night Shift, and midway through I couldn’t wait to get out of that theater to give Mr. Mom to Michael Keaton. Fortunately, he liked it."

Keaton told Grantland that he turned down one of the main roles in Splash to play Jack Butler. “I just remember at the time thinking I wanted to get away from what I’d just done on Night Shift,” he said. “I thought if I do it again, I might get myself stuck. So then Mr. Mom came along. So I said no [to Splash] so I could set up this framework right away where I could do different things.”

4. THE FILM BROKE NEW GROUND.

Teri Garr, Michael Keaton, Taliesin Jaffe, Frederick Koehler, and Martin Mull in Mr. Mom (1983)
Shout! Factory

In 1983, more women stayed at home than worked, so it was a novelty for a man to be a stay-at-home dad. Today, an estimated 1.4 million men are stay-at-home dads, and 7 million men are their children's primary caregiver. “Mr. Mom became part of the vernacular,” Donner told Newsweek. “Mr. Mom represented a segment of men who were at home dealing with the kids who, up until then, really hadn’t been heard from. That’s what really told me about the power of film, because it spoke for a lot of men. It also helped women, because I think that women sometimes, if you’re a housewife, you’re not really appreciated for what you do. This sort of made women feel better about what they did because they knew that men were understanding it.”

5. TODAY, “MR. MOM” IS CONSIDERED A PEJORATIVE TERM.

More than 30 years after the film’s release, stay-at-home dads feel the term “Mr. Mom” should die. The National At-Home Dad Network launched a campaign to terminate the phrase and instead have people refer to men as “Dad.” In 2014 Lake Superior State University voted to banish “Mr. Mom” from the lexicon.

“At least, the pop-culture image of the inept dad who wouldn’t know a diaper genie from a garbage disposal has begun to fade,” wrote The Wall Street Journal, after declaring “Mr. Mom is dead.”

6. TERI GARR DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS A MESSAGE MOVIE.

The movie redefined gender roles, but when the producers pitched the premise to Garr, they hid the plot reversal. “They just told me it was about a guy who does the work that a woman does, because it’s so easy,” she told The A.V. Club. “And I went, ‘Oh, yeah. Ha ha.’ It’s so easy. All the women I know who stay home and take care of their kids, they go, ‘Oh yeah, this is easy.’ Hmm.”

7. MARTIN MULL IMPROVISED THE “220, 221” LINE.

The quote everyone remembers from the movie comes from Jack, holding a chainsaw, standing next to Ron Richardson (Martin Mull) and discussing what kind of wiring Jack will use in renovating the house: “220, 221, whatever it takes,” Jack says.

“We’re doing the scene and it was okay,” Keaton told Esquire. “And I remember saying to the prop guy, ‘Go find me a chainsaw.’ When he comes back with it, he says, ‘You wanna wear these?’ And he holds up some goggles. I go, ‘Yeah.’ You know, they make me look crazy. And when Martin shows up, I know I should look under control, I’m not sweating it. I’m a dude. So we’re standing there, Martin pulls me aside and says, ‘You know what you ought to say? When I ask about the wiring, you oughta just deadpan: ‘220, 221.’ I died. It was perfect. I may have added ‘whatever it takes.’ But it was his.”

“That was a little ad-lib that we just threw in, but every carpenter or construction person I’ve ever worked with, they’re always quoting that line from Mr. Mom,” Mull told The A.V. Club.

8. MR. MOM OUTGROSSED HUGHES’S OTHER 1983 SUMMER MOVIE—VACATION.

Mr. Mom only opened on 126 screens on July 22, 1983, but managed to gross $947,197 during its opening weekend. Once the film went wide a month later to 1235 screens, it hit number one at the box office and spent five weeks at the top. By the end of its run, the film had grossed just shy of $65 million, making it the ninth highest-grossing film of 1983 (just between Staying Alive and Risky Business). National Lampoon’s Vacation, Hughes’s other film that summer, came out July 29 and ended its theatrical run with $61,399,552 (at its height, it showed on 1248 screens). Vacation finished the year in 11th place.

9. THE MOVIE LED TO HUGHES BEING CALLED “A PURVEYOR OF HORNY SEX COMEDIES.”

During a 1986 interview with Seventeen magazine, Molly Ringwald asked the writer-director why he never showed teen sex in Sixteen Candles or The Breakfast Club. “In Sixteen Candles, I figured it would only be gratuitous to show Samantha and Jake in anything more than a kiss,” he said. “The kiss is the most beautiful moment. I was really amused when someone once called me a ‘purveyor of horny sex comedies.’ He listed The Breakfast Club and Mr. Mom in parentheses. I thought, ‘What kind of sex?’ Yes, in Mr. Mom there’s a baby in a bathtub and you see its bare butt.”

10. MR. MOM WAS MADE INTO A TV MOVIE AFTER ALL.

In the beginning, producers wanted Mr. Mom to be a TV movie, not a feature film. But a year after the film came out in theaters, ABC produced a TV movie called Mr. Mom, with the same characters and premise. Barry Van Dyke played Jack and Rebecca York played Caroline. A People magazine review of the movie stated: “They and their three kids are immediately likable … But it goes downhill from there as the script lobotomizes all its characters. Here’s a textbook case in how TV takes a cute idea—and a script that does have some good lines—and leeches the wit out of it.”

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Central Press/Getty Images
Ernest Hemingway’s Guide to Life, In 20 Quotes
Central Press/Getty Images
Central Press/Getty Images

Though he made his living as a writer, Ernest Hemingway was just as famous for his lust for adventure. Whether he was running with the bulls in Pamplona, fishing for marlin in Bimini, throwing back rum cocktails in Havana, or hanging out with his six-toed cats in Key West, the Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning author never did anything halfway. And he used his adventures as fodder for the unparalleled collection of novels, short stories, and nonfiction books he left behind, The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms, Death in the Afternoon, For Whom the Bell Tolls, and The Old Man and the Sea among them.

On what would be his 119th birthday—he was born in Oak Park, Illinois on July 21, 1899—here are 20 memorable quotes that offer a keen perspective into Hemingway’s way of life.

ON THE IMPORTANCE OF LISTENING

"I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen."

ON TRUST

"The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them."

ON DECIDING WHAT TO WRITE ABOUT

"I never had to choose a subject—my subject rather chose me."

ON TRAVEL

"Never go on trips with anyone you do not love."


Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. [1], Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN INTELLIGENCE AND HAPPINESS

"Happiness in intelligent people is the rarest thing I know."

ON TRUTH

"There's no one thing that is true. They're all true."

ON THE DOWNSIDE OF PEOPLE

"The only thing that could spoil a day was people. People were always the limiters of happiness, except for the very few that were as good as spring itself."

ON SUFFERING FOR YOUR ART

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

ON TAKING ACTION

"Never mistake motion for action."

ON GETTING WORDS OUT

"I wake up in the morning and my mind starts making sentences, and I have to get rid of them fast—talk them or write them down."


Photograph by Mary Hemingway, in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston., Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON THE BENEFITS OF SLEEP

"I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I'm awake, you know?"

ON FINDING STRENGTH 

"The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places."

ON THE TRUE NATURE OF WICKEDNESS

"All things truly wicked start from innocence."

ON WRITING WHAT YOU KNOW

"If a writer knows enough about what he is writing about, he may omit things that he knows. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one ninth of it being above water."

ON THE DEFINITION OF COURAGE

"Courage is grace under pressure."

ON THE PAINFULNESS OF BEING FUNNY

"A man's got to take a lot of punishment to write a really funny book."


By Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. - JFK Library, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

ON KEEPING PROMISES

"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."

ON GOOD VS. EVIL

"About morals, I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after."

ON REACHING FOR THE UNATTAINABLE

"For a true writer, each book should be a new beginning where he tries again for something that is beyond attainment. He should always try for something that has never been done or that others have tried and failed. Then sometimes, with great luck, he will succeed."

ON HAPPY ENDINGS

"There is no lonelier man in death, except the suicide, than that man who has lived many years with a good wife and then outlived her. If two people love each other there can be no happy end to it."

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