With the days counting down until the fourth season premiere on the 26th May, there’s never been a better time to revisit what may possibly be the greatest sitcom ever made. Packed to the brim with subtle jokes and references, new jokes are being discovered even now years after its cancellation (For instance, whilst writing this with A.D playing in the background, I noticed that Buster retrieves a Bart Simpson doll from the claw machine on his first attempt, possibly referencing Dan Castellenata’s appearance as well as FOX ); in the spirit of this, here is a collection of twenty of the best jokes that may have flown under the radar on your first (And twelth) viewing.
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(I know that there are probably hundreds more I’ve missed, so feel free to post your favourite)
The Spanish-to-English dictionary definition of "Hermano" in "Beef Consommé" shows illustrations depicting Michael and GOB as "Hermanos," Lindsay for "Hermosa" and Tobias for "Hermafrodita." Also surreptitiously inserted is Buster’s “Hey Brother” (Heno Hermano).
In "The One Where They Build the House" Michael and GOB face off against each other using a giant fake rock and over-sized ceremonial scissors. Ron Howard’s narration closes with: "Unfortunately, the whole incident was covered by the paper."
In reference to George Sr. using J. Walter Weatherman’s disability to teach the children twisted lessons such as always leaving a note, in ‘Pier Pressure’ we can see that this lesson has been passed down to George Michael.
Teamocil was discontinued because it caused a complete shutdown of the pituitary gland; this can actually lead to arrested development.
In ‘The Cabin Show’ Tobias works at a restaurant called ‘Swallows’. As a result his nametag reads as “Tobias Swallows”. His manager? “David Spitz”.
In ‘Afternoon Delight’, Michael asks Oscar to give Lucille some “Afternoon Delight” as a stress reliever but Oscar misconstrues the ‘Delight’ to be in reference to a strain of marijuana, saying “I’ll put it in her brownie.” Michael reacts with disgust; in the background of this scene is another subtle reference to sodomy.
Also in ‘Afternoon Delight’, when the vandalised Banana stand is retrieved from the water, you can read graffiti on the side that says “Get you Bluths – Hello.” This is of course foreshadowing for the big reveal in the season finale where it’s revealed that Annyong’s name is actually “Hello” and he’s been orchestrating his revenge for the family stealing the frozen banana stand idea from his grandfather.
Each time G.O.B appears on his Segway, he instantly changes the subject, turning his ‘Segway’ into a ‘Segue’.
Each time the narrator refers to Maeby, he always uses the phrase “George Michael’s cousin Maeby”, which can be interpreted as “George Michael’s cousin, Maybe”, for obvious reasons.
Oscar's prison inmate ID is #24601, which is Jean Valjean's prison ID from Les Miserables; this has also been referenced in The Simpsons, South Park and ALF, amongst others.
In “Good Grief” (Season 2, episode 4), the combination P 22 55 appears on a wall behind George Sr. When he’s incarcerated in the Mexican Jail. In the seventh episode of season 3 (‘Prison Break-In’) this code appears again as George Sr.’s ankle bracelet unlock code. The code itself is a reference to the publication date of the first “Peanuts” strip, one of many ‘Peanuts’ references littered throughout the show, including Buster’s genitalia being referred to as a ‘Linus’ and his balls as ‘My Charlie Brown’s.’
Always striving for his father’s affections, G.O.B even replicates his father’s iconic frozen banana portrait.
There's a shot of George Sr.'s computer of “Nellie Bluth” where ‘consultant’ is actually misspelled as "conslutant", setting up the big reveal later that she is actually a prostitute and not Michael's long lost sister.
Any time the family is under surveillance, the authorities are using a van with the company name ‘Blendin’ upon it... Blend In... Geddit?
Early in ‘Motherboy XXX’ a ‘P’ falls off of the bag on G.O.B’s Seway, spelling ‘resident’ instead. Later, when Lucille and George Michael are wearing Sailor outfits, there’s a very subtle callback to the missing ‘P’ – Their outfits say U.S.S ENTER RISE.
The family would eat Friday Dinner at a restaurant named Miss Temple’s and Sunday brunch at ‘Skip Church’s’; meaning they skip church on Sunday to go to brunch and miss Friday night temple to go to dinner... Apparently the writers of AD aren’t the biggest fans of theological institutions.
Tobias likes to relax with a tome called ‘Acting: Like a Man’.
Moses Taylor, star of ‘Wrench!’ and staunch gun advocate is an obvious swipe at N.R.A buttpuppet Charlton Heston, taking the names “Moses” from “The Ten Commandments” and ‘Taylor’ from ‘The Planet of the Apes’. As an added extra, ‘Tantamount’ means equivalent to, as in the equivalent to ‘Paramount Pictures’. That’s all me, baby.
Lucille 2 goes to “The Plumb Clinic” to assist with her vertigo; A Plumb is defined as “A weight on the end of a line, used especially by masons and carpenters to establish a true vertical.”
In “Afternoon Delight,” it cuts to GOB in the middle of a sentence, saying, “-king 63 hundred dollar suit. Come on!" Later in the episode, there’s a flashback to the first half of his sentence: “No, Al. I want to spill booze all over my fu…”. “Yeah, Arrested Development got the word “Fucking” aired uncensored, albeit in a disjointed manner. The link is HERE.