This is a hugely objective list of 42 of Arrested Development’s embarrassing wealth of clever one-liners and exchanges, which was whittled down from an original list of 100. (You’re welcome.) According to Mitchell Hurwitz, each episode contains thousands of jokes, so it would be hard to include all of them. In patrticular, no list could ever do justice to the great, great Charlize Theron in Monster cutaway from Season 3, which almost gave me a heart attack the first time I saw it.
After polling friends and the internet, this is what I came up with. You’ll notice a lot of Lucille (the gay favorite), Tobias and G.O.B. and no George Michael, who really was the Ringo of AD. Poor Ringo.
Maeby: Do you guys know where I can get one of those gold necklaces with a “T” on it?
Michael: That’s a cross.
Maeby: Across from where?
Do I believe that Maeby wouldn’t know what a cross is? No. Is it hilarious anyway? Absolutely.
Lindsay: I care deeply for nature.
Michael: You’re wearing ostrich-skin boots.
Lindsay: Well, I don’t care about ostriches.
Lindsay is like a walking PETA target.
Michael: Mom, after all these years, God’s not going to take a call from you.
Well, God is very busy talking to Mike Huckabee. It might be hard to get him on the phone.
Michael: Can’t a guy call his mother pretty without it seeming strange?
Buster: Amen. And how about that little piece of tail on her? Cute!
Michael: I’ve opened a door here that I regret.
So many great incest references, so little space.
Lucille: I don’t criticize you! And if you’re worried about criticism, sometimes a diet is the best defense.
Just reading this makes me want to stress eat.
Michael: Why are you squeezing me with your body?
Lucille: It’s a hug, Michael. I’m hugging you.
Michael makes her sound like a boa constrictor. This is probably accurate.
Tobias: Well, Michael, you really are quite the Cupid, aren’t you? I tell you, you can sink your arrow into my buttocks any time.
Michael: Okay, you know what you do? You buy yourself a tape recorder, you just record yourself for a whole day. I think you’re going to be surprised at some of your phrasing.
The best part of Tobias’ findings will come later. Tobias, you blowhard!
G.O.B., on Steve Holt’s paternity: I hear the jury’s still out on science.
Poor Steve Holt. On the plus side, at least he’s great at saying his own name.
Lindsay: Did you enjoy your meal, Mom? You drank it fast enough.
Lucille: Not as much as you enjoyed yours. You want your belt to buckle, not your chair.
Lucille should be on The Biggest Loser. Everyone would lose all the weight.
Lucille: What are you doing home?
Buster: Army had half a day.
Anytime Buster refers to it as “army” is pure gold, especially when he makes it sound like day camp.
G.O.B., on Lucille getting her driver’s license “renewed”: She didn’t. I dummied her up a new one. Not my best work, though. She wanted to look 48. I nearly airbrushed her into oblivion. Ended up checking ‘albino’ in the form.
Can you check albino? Is that a thing?
Lindsay, on her new outfit: I guess [Mom] wanted me to have something new. Sweet old thing.
Michael: Only two of those words describe Mom, so I know you’re lying to me.
One of the many, many fantastic throwaway lines.
Lucille: I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.
Wouldn’t it be great to interrogate Lucille? And by that, I mean get drunk with her.
Lindsay: I hate the Wetlands. They’re stupid and wet, and there are bugs everywhere, and I think I maced a crane, Michael.
Lindsay really is the female John Muir. And that crane detail just kills me. (Also, I realize I don’t have enough Lindsay on this list, and I sincerely apologize.)
Lindsay: Oh, hi, Mom. I have the afternoon free.
Lucille: Really? Did nothing cancel?
Yet another example of a line that can be read in two ways, both of them hilarious.
Lucille: It’s not fair to Buster. He’s a nervous wreck right now. He’s going into the Army, for God’s sake.
Michael: You volunteered him.
Lucille: I knew you were going to throw that in my face.
To be fair, everything Lucille ever says should go on this list.
Tobias: I’m afraid I just blue myself.
I know I’m going to get crap for not putting this higher, but Tobias has so many great lines and I didn’t want to put all of them up top. We must be slightly egalitarian.
Lucille: He’s had business classes.
Buster: Oh, wait, wait, wait, wait. 18th-century agrarian business, but I guess it’s all the same principles. Let me ask you, are you at all concerned about an uprising?
I just… no words. Buster Bluth and his 10,000 degrees slay me. Sometimes I’m concerned I am Buster Bluth.
Buster: Sister’s my new mother, Mother. And is it just me or is she looking hotter, too?
This + the hot ham water comment. Such a great episode.
G.O.B.: Not tricks, Michael, illusions. A trick is something a whore does for money.
One of many lines that makes me feel really weird for being attracted to G.O.B..
Lucille: Get me a vodka rocks.
Michael: Mom, it’s breakfast.
Lucille: And a piece of toast.
Breakfast of champions. I want to be Lucille Bluth when I grow up.
Buster: That’s what you do when life hands you a chance to be with someone special. You just grab that brownish area by its points and you don’t let go no matter what your mom says.
IMO, this will always be Liza Minnellis’ best role. No disrespect meant, Broadway nerds.
Lucille: Is this why you wanted to fight this thing? So you could run off with this great redwood of a whore?
What a great turn of phrase. I’m having “Great Redwood of a Whore” put on my tombstone.
Buster: Mom signed me up for the army, just because the fat man dared her to.
Michael Moore, ruining America’s families.
G.O.B.: I’m a failure. I can’t even fake the death of a stripper.
G.O.B., on being a pageant judge: You can’t believe what it does for your sex life.
Michael: I don’t want to hear it.
I don’t want to say it. First place chick is hot, but has an attitude, doesn’t date magicians. Second place is someone weird usually, like a Chinese girl or a geologist. But third place, although a little bit plain, has super low self-esteem. So I step in and, uh, lay her crown upon my sweet head.
I give up. G.O.B. My body is ready.
Lucille: I don’t have the milk of mother’s kindness in me anymore.
Michael: Yeah. That udder’s been dry for a while though, hasn’t it?
Ew. Just, ew.
Mrs. Featherbottom: Ok, who’d like a banger in the mouth? Oh…right, I forgot; here in the states you call it ‘a sausage’ in the mouth.
We just call it a sausage.
Mrs. Featherbottom really could be her own column.
G.O.B.: Franklin said some things Whitey wasn’t ready to hear.
Michael: G.O.B., weren’t you also mercilessly beaten outside of a club in Torrance for that act?
G.O.B.: He also said some things that African-American-y wasn’t ready to hear either.
I have a friend who went as Franklin a couple Halloweens ago. Still my favorite Halloween costume ever.
George Sr.: All right, now look, just because a woman gets pregnant doesn’t mean you have to marry her. Too many lives have been ruined because some cheap waitress at a HoJo said she used an IUD.
Lucille: It was Stuckey’s.
George Sr.: But I believed you!
George and Lucille, the great American love story. (Also, George Sr.’s line about doing the ‘time of [his] life’ always kills me.)
Lucille: Stop playing with Mother’s rape horn. Yes, I have a rape horn, Michael, because you took away my mace.
Buster: Yeah, like anyone would want to “R” her.
For me, the best part is the way Jessica Walter says “rape horn.” Her line readings were on point.
Lucille: What’s Spanish for “I know you speak English?”
This line got even better when it found it’s way into the Lucille/Mitt meme.
Tobias: Even if it means me taking a chubby, I will suck it up!
I saw someone with this on a t-shirt once. I don’t know why you’d walk out in public like that, but I approve.
George Michael: And yeah, she was really looking forward to seeing me in my Uncle Sam outfit in the get-out-to-vote assembly tomorrow.
Maeby: Wasn’t that supposed to be before the election?
George Michael: Yeah, they had to postpone it when that foreign exchange student parked too close to the gym.
Tobias: As you may or may not know, Lindsay and I have hit a bit of a rough patch.
Michael: Really? When did that start?
Tobias: Well, I don’t want to blame it all on 9/11, but it certainly didn’t help.
No one gives these lines enough credit for being hilarious. Such a perfect encapsulation of the neuroses of post-9/11 America. (Also, if you haven’t read Ken Kalfus’ A Disorder Peculiar to the Country, you should. It’s the world’s only 9/11 satire, and it’s bizarre, biting and wonderful.)
Mrs. Veal (and Ann “Egg” Veal): Teach me the ways of the secular flesh.
Thanks, Ione Skye, for giving us the best pick up line ever. You gotta lock that down.
Tobias: I’m afraid I prematurely shot my wad on what was supposed to be a dry run if you will, so I’m afraid I have something of a mess on my hands.
Michael: There’s so many poorly chosen words in that sentence.
Tobias Funke, a true wordsmith. He reads my soul.
Kitty: Say goodbye to these, because it’s the last time!
For my money, the best running joke in AD history. (“Steve Holt!,” “That’s why you always leave a note!,” “Marry me!” and “Her?” also get esteemed honorable mentions in this category.)
Lucille: Did that Mexican girlfriend of yours kick you out?
G.O.B.: She’s not that Mexican, Mom, she’s my Mexican. And she’s Colombian or something. Anyway, it’s over.
Lucille: You’ve got three days.
G.O.B.: Hey … if I can’t find a horny immigrant by then, I don’t deserve to stay here.
Marta really was a lucky girl.
Buster/Franklin: I don’t want no part of yo’ tight-ass country club, ya freak bitch!
Fact: When I started writing this, I intended this quote to be first. It’s just… perfection.
Tobias: Okay, Lindsay, are you forgetting that I was a professional twice over: an analyst and a therapist, the world’s first “analrapist.”
One of the many things that I adore about Arrested Development is that it can successfully make jokes about rape and incest — because Mitchell Hurwitz doesn’t make rape or rape victims the butt of the joke (see: Daniel Tosh). The target is Tobias Funke, and his all-encompassing cluelessness. (See also: #12, which is more about building the bizarre, Oedipal relationship between Buster and Lucille than anything else.)
Michael (to G.O.B.): Get rid of the Seaward.
Lucille: I’ll leave when I’m good and ready.
The reason that this is the greatest Arrested Development joke of all time is that it perfectly encapsulates everything that makes AD great. You can watch certain episodes dozens of times and still not pick up on its incredibly subversive humor. (Clearly the network didn’t, or it wouldn’t have let the joke air.) This is why the show is such a phenomenon on DVD — because it rewards your attention and obsession with gems like this. So much care just to set up one hilarious joke. AD, we didn’t even know what we had.
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