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.

10 Products for a Better Night's Sleep

Amazon/Comfort Spaces
Amazon/Comfort Spaces

Getting a full eight hours of sleep can be tough these days. If you’re having trouble catching enough Zzzs, consider giving these highly rated and recommended products a try.

1. Everlasting Comfort Pure Memory Foam Knee Pillow; $25

Everlasting Comfort Knee Pillow
Everlasting Comfort/Amazon

For side sleepers, keeping the spine, hips, and legs aligned is key to a good night’s rest—and a pain-free morning after. Everlasting Comfort’s memory foam knee pillow is ergonomically designed to fit between the knees or thighs to ensure proper alignment. One simple but game-changing feature is the removable strap, which you can fasten around one leg; this keeps the pillow in place even as you roll at night, meaning you don’t have to wake up to adjust it (or pick it up from your floor). Reviewers call the pillow “life-changing” and “the best knee pillow I’ve found.” Plus, it comes with two pairs of ear plugs.

Buy it: Amazon

2. Letsfit White Noise Machine; $21

Letsfit White Noise Machine
Letsfit/Amazon

White noise machines: They’re not just for babies! This Letsfit model—which is rated 4.7 out of five with nearly 3500 reviews—has 14 potential sleep soundtracks, including three white noise tracks, to better block out everything from sirens to birds that chirp enthusiastically at dawn (although there’s also a birds track, if that’s your thing). It also has a timer function and a night light.

Buy it: Amazon

3. ECLIPSE Blackout Curtains; $16

Eclipse Black Out Curtains
Eclipse/Amazon

According to the National Sleep Foundation, too much light in a room when you’re trying to snooze is a recipe for sleep disaster. These understated polyester curtains from ECLIPSE block 99 percent of light and reduce noise—plus, they’ll help you save on energy costs. "Our neighbor leaves their backyard light on all night with what I can only guess is the same kind of bulb they use on a train headlight. It shines across their yard, through ours, straight at our bedroom window," one Amazon reviewer who purchased the curtains in black wrote. "These drapes block the light completely."

Buy it: Amazon

4. JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock; $38

JALL Wake Up Light Sunrise Alarm Clock
JALL/Amazon

Being jarred awake by a blaring alarm clock can set the wrong mood for the rest of your day. Wake up in a more pleasant way with this clock, which gradually lights up between 10 percent and 100 percent in the 30 minutes before your alarm. You can choose between seven different colors and several natural sounds as well as a regular alarm beep, but why would you ever use that? “Since getting this clock my sleep has been much better,” one reviewer reported. “I wake up not feeling tired but refreshed.”

Buy it: Amazon

5. Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light; $200

Philips SmartSleep Wake-Up Light
Philips/Amazon

If you’re looking for an alarm clock with even more features, Philips’s SmartSleep Wake-Up Light is smartphone-enabled and equipped with an AmbiTrack sensor, which tracks things like bedroom temperature, humidity, and light levels, then gives recommendations for how you can get a better night’s rest.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Slumber Cloud Stratus Sheet Set; $159

Stratus sheets from Slumber Cloud.
Slumber Cloud

Being too hot or too cold can kill a good night’s sleep. The Good Housekeeping Institute rated these sheets—which are made with Outlast fibers engineered by NASA—as 2020’s best temperature-regulating sheets.

Buy it: SlumberCloud

7. Comfort Space Coolmax Sheet Set; $29-$40

Comfort Spaces Coolmax Sheets
Comfort Spaces/Amazon

If $159 sheets are out of your price range, the GHI recommends these sheets from Comfort Spaces, which are made with moisture-wicking Coolmax microfiber. Depending on the size you need, they range in price from $29 to $40.

Buy it: Amazon

8. Coop Home Goods Eden Memory Foam Pillow; $80

Coop Eden Pillow
Coop Home Goods/Amazon

This pillow—which has a 4.5-star rating on Amazon—is filled with memory foam scraps and microfiber, and comes with an extra half-pound of fill so you can add, or subtract, the amount in the pillow for ultimate comfort. As a bonus, the pillows are hypoallergenic, mite-resistant, and washable.

Buy it: Amazon

9. Baloo Weighted Blanket; $149-$169

Baloo Weighted Blanket
Baloo/Amazon

Though the science is still out on weighted blankets, some people swear by them. Wirecutter named this Baloo blanket the best, not in small part because, unlike many weighted blankets, it’s machine-washable and -dryable. It’s currently available in 12-pound ($149) twin size and 20-pound ($169) queen size. It’s rated 4.7 out of five stars on Amazon, with one reviewer reporting that “when it's spread out over you it just feels like a comfy, snuggly hug for your whole body … I've found it super relaxing for falling asleep the last few nights, and it looks nice on the end of the bed, too.” 

Buy it: Amazon 

10. Philips Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band; $200

Philips SmartSleep Snoring Relief Band
Philips/Amazon

Few things can disturb your slumber—and that of the ones you love—like loudly sawing logs. Philips’s Smartsleep Snoring Relief Band is designed for people who snore when they’re sleeping on their backs, and according to the company, 86 percent of people who used the band reported reduced snoring after a month. The device wraps around the torso and is equipped with a sensor that delivers vibrations if it detects you moving to sleep on your back; those vibrations stop when you roll onto your side. The next day, you can see how many hours you spent in bed, how many of those hours you spent on your back, and your response rate to the vibrations. The sensor has an algorithm that notes your response rate and tweaks the intensity of vibrations based on that. “This device works exactly as advertised,” one Amazon reviewer wrote. “I’d say it’s perfect.”

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

The Hilarious Andy Bernard Blooper You Can Actually See in The Office

Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
Ed Helms as Andy Bernard in The Office.
NBCUniversal Media, LLC

You'd be hard-pressed to find someone who doesn't love the humor of The Office, and even the cast themselves couldn't get enough of the sometimes cringe-worthy comedy. In a past interview, Ed Helms, who played the hilarious Andy Bernard, revealed the one scene he just could not stop laughing in during filming.

As Looper reports, the actor stopped by The Dan Patrick Show in 2018 to talk all things Dunder Mifflin. When asked if he had a hard time keeping the laughter to a minimum, Helms revealed there had been a number of times he couldn't keep a straight face. In fact, he had to hide from the camera in one scene to mask his laughter, which made it into the final cut.

"I was a disaster. Just breaking all the time. Steve Carell, he just slays me," Helms said. "A lot of times, if I was doing a scene with Steve, I would have to look at his chin. Because I couldn't look him in the eyes. I would lose it." When looking back on the holiday episode "Secret Santa," the actor recalled, "I had to duck behind a plant. You can see in the actual episode in the background. And, by the way, that was like take 30 because I had been laughing in every single take."

If you look closely at the moment where Kevin sits on Michael's lap, you can also see Mindy Kaling failing to hide her laughter in the background. This scene really had the Dunder Mifflin crew losing it, just like the fans watching from home.

[h/t Looper]