Arrested Development is, without a doubt, one of the most beloved sitcoms of all time, and it’s not hard to see why. In addition to the show’s brilliant cast, its whip-smart writing has made it a program die-hard fans can come back to time and time, discovering jokes they missed on earlier watches along the way.
Whether you’re in stitches over Lucille’s hilarious put-downs or can’t get enough of Tobias’ chronic case of foot-in-mouth disease, there’s a seemingly never-ending supply of laughs from this expertly-executed show. Herein, we’ve rounded up the 50 best jokes from Arrested Development’s five seasons. And for more Arrested Development hilarity, check out these 30 Callbacks from Arrested Development You Definitely Missed.
Throughout the show, one of the best running gags is that George Michael (Michael Cera)’s girlfriend, Ann (Mae Whitman), is so forgettable that nobody can remember her name. This phrase is also used to express surprise about George Michael’s continued interest in Ann, despite what everyone else sees as a dull personality.
“I’ve made a huge mistake.”
Whenever Gob (Will Arnett) does something he regrets, like committing to his girlfriend or voluntarily committing himself to a prison, he utters this line. Over the course of the show, he’s not the only one who says it, however: his father, George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor), utters the same phrase when he realizes that he doesn’t actually want to be with his secretary, Kitty (Judy Greer), with whom he’s been having an affair. And for more great one-liners, check out the 30 Funniest Jokes From Parks and Recreation.
“It’s as Ann as the nose on plain’s face.”
When Michael (Jason Bateman) tells his son that it’s clear that he actually cares deeply for his girlfriend, Ann, he accidentally reinforces how dull he believes her to be in the process with this garbled sentence.
“There’s always money in the banana stand.”
Throughout the beginning of the show’s first season, George Sr. repeatedly tells Michael “there’s always money in the banana stand” when the family’s reserves start to look lean. However, what Michael doesn’t realize is that George is hinting at the fact that he’s actually lined the banana stand with $250K in cash—an error Michael comes to regret when he burns the place down. And for more laugh-out-loud humor, check out The 30 Funniest Sitcom Jokes of All Time.
“There’s still plenty of meat on that bone. You take this home, throw it in a pot, add some broth, a potato—baby, you got a stew going!”
Carl Weathers’ thriftiness is one of the funniest recurring plot points in the entire series, as evidenced by this line, in which he discourages Tobias (David Cross) from throwing away a bone after dinner.
“It’s so watery and yet, there’s a smack of ham to it!”
Lindsay (Portia de Rossi)’s lack of domestic skills is hinted at throughout the series, but her shortcomings are made particularly clear when she tries to prepare a meal for Buster (Tony Hale) by putting a canned ham in a pot of water.
“There are dozens of us!”
Tobias’ nevernude affliction may be rare, but he insists he’s not the only one. When he perceives people to be yelling at George Michael for wearing cut-offs in a holiday pageant, he admonishes them by yelling, “There are dozens of us!” Think that’s hilarious? You’ll love these 75 Jokes That Are So Bad They’re Actually Funny.
“I hear the jury’s still out on science.”
When Michael tells Gob that DNA has proven that Steve Holt (Justin Grant Wade) is his son, Gob responds with this hard-to-argue comeback.
“Everything they do is so dramatic and flamboyant, it just makes me want to set myself on fire.”
After seeing a boat full of garishly-dressed men, Lucille (Jessica Walter) replies with this equally-outlandish sentiment.
“Has anyone in this family ever seen a chicken?”
The Bluth family’s chicken dances are a recurring theme throughout the series, with each family member crafting their own wildly incorrect impression of the bird. Michael, not taking too kindly to being called a chicken by his parents and siblings, responds with this quip.
“Unlimited juice? This party is going to be off the hook!”
When Gob invites Buster to his bachelor party, it’s not the stripper Buster’s excited about: it’s the notion that he can drink as much juice as he wants. This line also foreshadows another hilarious plot point: Buster’s future hook for a hand.
“She’s not real. She was made in a cup, like soup. $130,000 cup of soup.”
When George Michael tries to pry information about Maeby (Alia Shawkat)’s parentage out of his grandmother, Lucille, the Bluth family matriarch responds with this quip about her granddaughter’s test tube baby origins.
“I’m a failure. I can’t even fake the death of a stripper.”
When Gob’s bachelor party—actually a ruse to make the family lawyer leave the country—doesn’t go as planned, he gets down on himself with this incredibly niche self-criticism.
“They don’t appreciate him. It’s his glasses. They make him look like a lizard. Plus, he’s self-conscious.”
Lucille prides herself throughout the series on being a good mother, but also offers plenty of put-downs about her children, like this cruel comment about Buster.
“I’m not sure how ‘Solid As a Rock’ helps people forget that we built houses in Iraq.”
When Gob comes up with a poorly thought-out business model using the song “Solid As a Rock” to advertise Bluth homes, Michael makes this well-reasoned argument against his decision.
“Did nothing cancel?”
When Lindsay tells her mother that she has the afternoon free, Lucille delivers this scathing response.
“I know you’re the big marriage expert. Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot: your wife is dead.”
When Michael cautions Tobias and Lindsay against an open marriage, Tobias hits back with this hilariously-inappropriate reply.
When Lucille adopts a Korean son to spite Buster, she assumes he’s simply repeating his own name to everyone he meets, not realizing he’s actually saying “hello” in his native tongue.
“If that’s a veiled criticism about me, I won’t hear it and I won’t respond to it.”
When Lucille feels threatened—either by her children or a menu at an unfamiliar restaurant—she issues the same warning: “I won’t respond to it.”
“I don’t know what I expected.”
When Michael discovers Gob’s dead dove in the freezer, he opens the bag, only to utter this phrase when he realizes he could have expected the outcome.
The phrase repeatedly shouted at members of the Bluth family throughout the season by prison guards ends up being a popular refrain for Michael, as well.
“I deceived you, mom. ‘Tricked’ makes it sound like we have a playful relationship.”
After Michael tricks his mother into throwing a Valentine’s Day party that actually winds up being an anniversary party, he doesn’t mince words when revealing the truth.
“She sometimes takes a little pack of mayonnaise and she’ll squirt it in her mouth all over and then she’ll take an egg and kind of [chewing noises]. She calls it a mayonegg.”
-George Michael Bluth
George Michael gives the members of his family yet another reason to be less-than-thrilled with Ann with this disgusting description of her eating habits.
“If I wanted something your thumb touched, I’d eat the inside of your ear!”
Horrified by being downgraded to a pool membership at their local country club, Lucille berates a waiter with this vivid turn of phrase.
“Oh mom, after all these years, God’s not going to take a call from you.”
When Lucille reveals to Michael that she’s praying that Buster won’t actually have to go to war, Michael responds with this cutting remark.
“She’s not ‘that Mexican,’ mom. She’s my Mexican. And she’s Colombian or something.”
After Lucille asks if “that Mexican girlfriend” kicked him out when Gob shows up unannounced, Gob replies with this less-than romantic response.
“Did you enjoy your meal, mom? You drank it fast enough!”
Lindsay and Lucille’s back-and-forth put-downs about one another’s drinking and eating habits don’t get much better than this quip from the former during a lunch date.
“The one thing I will never do is not tell him that I’m taking him to a cabin in the woods and then not take him!”
When Gob finds out that the Bluth family had a cabin in the woods that Michael was routinely invited to, but never taken to, by George Sr., Gob takes a principled stance on the matter.
“I mean, it’s one banana, Michael. What could it cost? 10 dollars?”
Proving just how out of touch she is, Lucille replies to Michael denying Gob a frozen banana with this bizarre assumption about how much they cost.
“I don’t think us sleeping together is working out. You’re a grown man. You should be living with your mother.”
When sharing a bed with his younger brother isn’t working out, Michael suggests an alternate, Buster-approved sleeping arrangement instead.
“He thinks you’re completely irresponsible. A stay-in-bed mom. Probably because you don’t work and you’re lazy.”
When trying to distance Michael and Lindsay, Lucille comes up with this hilariously creative string of put-downs.
“Why are you squeezing me with your body?”
Michael, unfamiliar with being hugged by his mother, asks her what she’s doing when she tries to comfort him.
“A sea of waiters and no one will take a drink order.”
At a party for the Desi Awards, Lucille shows her not-so-subtly racist tendencies by mistaking every Latino man in the crowd for a waiter.
“My illusion, Michael!”
Not content with his magic shows being referred to as “tricks,” Gob repeatedly insists that they’re “his illusions,” to great comedic effect.
“Say goodbye to these!”
Michael’s assistant, Kitty, has two calling cards throughout the show: her gross incompetence and her inability to leave a room without flashing someone and uttering this line.
“She thinks I’m too critical—that’s another fault of hers.”
When discussing Lindsay to Maeby (Alia Shawkat), Lucille delivers this hilariously backhanded burn.
“It’s vodka. It goes bad once it’s opened.”
In an attempt to excuse drinking an entire bottle of vodka to Michael, Lindsay lobs this amusingly-inaccurate “fact” at him.
“Here’s some money. Go see a Star War.”
In an attempt to be maternal, Lucille suggests that her newly-adopted son, Annyong, amuse himself with a single Star War.
“Michael, you can save this family. Please do the right thing. String this blind girl along so that dad doesn’t have to pay his debt to society.”
Rather than having their clearly guilty father spend more time in jail, Gob comes up with a hilarious plan that includes Michael seducing a blind attorney instead.
“I’ve been drinking since before you were born. So, if alcohol is the reason I’m here, I got news for you bub: it’s the only reason you’re here, too.”
Always a beacon of maternal warmth, Lucille (during a stint in rehab) reveals to Michael that alcohol isn’t all bad—in fact, it’s the whole reason he was conceived.
“Maybe it was the 11 months he spent in the womb. The doctor said there were claw marks on the walls of her uterus, but he was our miracle baby.”
-George Bluth, Sr.
George Sr. (Jeffrey Tambor) admits to Michael that Buster’s closeness to his mother started long before he was even earthside.
“And that’s why you always leave a note!”
-J. Walter Weatherman
One of the most hilarious recurring jokes in the entire series is the use of J. Walter Weatherman (Steve Ryan), an amputee, whom George uses to teach the children lessons by convincing them that Weatherman’s arm is blown off because of their negligence, which includes eating ice cream in the car and not leaving notes.
“That’s why she’s been flirting with Gob: she’s trying to prove that she’s closer to my children than I am. But the joke’s on her because she doesn’t know how little I care for Gob.”
Angry that her rival, Lucille Austero (Liza Minnelli), has been flirting with Gob, Lucille Bluth admits that she can’t be made jealous because she doesn’t care for him to begin with.
“As you may or may not know, Lindsay and I have hit a rough patch… I don’t want to blame it all on 9/11, but it certainly didn’t help.”
While it’s clear that Tobias and Lindsay’s marital problems are pretty deep-seated, the oblivious Tobias tries to peg them on September 11th in a hilarious conversation with Michael after announcing the couple’s plan to have an open relationship.
“Don’t call it that.”
Throughout the series—which was on the air at the same time as fellow Fox hit The O.C.—Michael repeatedly stops people from using the phrase “The O.C.” in his presence.
“Great, so now we don’t have a car or a jet? Why don’t we just take out an ad in ‘I’m Poor’ magazine?”
Horrified at her family’s reduced budget, Lindsay makes this hilariously out-of-touch response to Michael.
“Why should you go to jail for a crime someone else noticed?”
The Bluth family’s second lawyer, Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio) makes it clear in his ads that he doesn’t care about his client’s innocence.
“Gene! You got me!”
Whenever Lucille’s inept private investigator, Gene Parmesan (Martin Mull) reveals himself from whatever disguise he’s in, Lucille responds with hilariously disproportionate admiration.
“Army had half a day.”
Not a born liar like the rest of his family, Buster tells his mother that his reason for returning early from basic training is the military’s half-day schedule.
On the Next Arrested Development
-Narrator Ron Howard
One of the series’ best running jokes comes at the end of every single episode, when they tease clips from the next episode that never actually manifest. And for more reasons to laugh, check out The 30 Funniest Movie Lines of All Time.
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