The 15 Funniest Running Jokes in ‘Arrested Development,’ Ranked
From "No touching" to inaccurate chicken impressions, we look back on the best recurring bits from the Bluth family.
The final episodes of Arrested Development come to Netflix today and while the Bluth family may not be as beloved as they were in the early aughts, there’s no doubt that Arrested Development remains one of the funniest and smartest shows of this century. And while there are countless things we will miss about the Bluths, one of the biggest things has to be the show’s brilliant ability to create a running joke that only gets funnier with time. In anticipation of the upcoming season, we decided to list the 10 funniest recurring jokes because no show in history does running jokes better than Arrested Development.
15.”Always Money in the Banana Stand”
No matter what happens to the Bluth family, they can always rely on their trusty banana stand to bail them out. Unless Michael burns it down without realizing there were thousands of dollars lined in the walls.
14. “I’ve Made a Huge Mistake”
Approximately half of what GOB says became a recurring joke (the guy knows how to deliver a killer catchphrase) but none more so than this matter-of-fact declaration of regret, which ends up getting used by nearly every member of the Bluth family.
13. “Hey Brother”
What starts as a simple way for Buster to greet GOB and Michael eventually becomes one of the more consistent laughs in the show. The best example? Buster greeting Oscar with “Hey father-uncle-dad” when he’s unsure which of the twins is his real dad.
12. Chicken Dance
The Bluths are rarely on the same page about anything but one thing they all (except, of course, Michael) have in common is that they have no fucking clue how a chicken sounds or acts. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.
11. Lucille/Loose Seal
Needlessly elaborate wordplay is often looked at as a lesser form of comedy but on Arrested Development, it’s an art form. Case in point: the show spends almost two seasons building a joke around the fact that Lucille and “loose seal” sound similar. The craziest part? It totally pays off.
When George Michael gets his first girlfriend, his dad is less than impressed by his impressively boring significant other. But rather than voice his disapproval, Michael hides his skepticism by simpling saying “her?” anytime his son begins singing her praises. As the rest of the family meets her, they have a similar reaction and the joke eventually heightens to literal Biblical proportions.
9. Buster’s Hand
In possibly the most elaborate joke set-up in TV history, the show secretly let us know that Buster was destined to lose his hand long before it actually happened. And then once he lost it to a “loose seal” (see above), the show then used that as an opportunity to give him increasingly cartoonish hand replacements, including a hook, which is also a running joke.
8. “Marry me!”
When Maeby gets a job as a studio executive despite not being old enough to drive, she uses this phrase to change the subject whenever anyone mentions how young she looks. And like any great Bluthism, it eventually gets used by a variety of family members.
7. Gene Parmesan
When you’re a family that deals in shady business as much, you’re going to want to have a damn good private investigator. Unfortunately for the Bluths, they have arguably the world’s worst private investigator in Gene Parmesan, as he continually dresses in laughably bad disguises while asking Michael for money.
6. The Family Car
In the pilot episode of Arrested Development, the Bluth family has their company plane taken away after George’s arrest. However, they do get to keep the plane stair car, which Michael ends up using for much of the first three seasons. In the fourth season, Michael upgrades to the Google Maps car, ensuring that the Bluths will never have a sensible mid-sized vehicle.
5. “No Touching”
During George’s time in jail, every time one of his family members visit, one of the guards has to tell them “no touching.” On the surface, there’s not much to this joke but the show uses repetition so well and brings back the joke just enough where it gets funnier each time.
In an attempt to get Buster jealous, Lucille adopts a young teen from Korea named Hel-loh but the classically ignorant Lucille thinks his name is Annyong, which actually means “hello” in Korean. Eventually, the entire family believes his name is Annyong, which leads to him finally revealing his real name to the very confused family.
Anytime the Bluths have a big family event, they are guaranteed to make a banner and as the show heightens the absurdity, the banners get more and more ridiculous, to hilarious effect (You’re Killing Me, Buster is an all-time classic).
2. Always Leave a Note
George is not a good father and his lack of parenting skills is perhaps best captured by his constant employment of J. Walter Weatherman, a one-armed man he uses to teach his kids mundane life lessons by pretending to have his arm ripped off.
1. “I’m a Monster!”
After Buster loses his hand and replaces it with a hook, his entire family is terrified. And whenever he feels that his hook causes him to lose touch with his humanity, he melodramatically declares, “I’m a monster!”