Few sitcoms have reached the heights of cultishness that Arrested Development has. If someone asks if you’ve watched Arrested Development and you haven’t, lie. It’s for your own safety and social standing. But, as soon as you have some free time, do yourself a favor and go and binge watch it immediately. The first time you watch it, you’ll probably pick up on half of the jokes. It is with the subsequent rewatches (of which there will probably be many) that you start to realize how layered and intricate the jokes on Arrested Development tend to be. Sure, they’re going for the face-value laugh, but the cast and crew are also playing the long game. Between characters like J. Walter Weatherman or Carl Weathers and running gags like the Peanuts walk, these references delight fans new and old alike.
With a lesser show, recurring jokes could feel lazy, like a crutch for writers who are struggling to come up with fresh material. However, with Arrested Development, the jokes are either still funny in their original forms, or they evolve into something uniquely hilarious with each new layer. Let’s take a look at some of the best recurring jokes (besides the ones mentioned above) from the first four seasons. There are too many to be covered in one post, so be sure to leave your favorite bits in the comment section.
One of the jokes with the biggest payoffs is Buster’s eventual loss of his hand. Set up in the first episode of season two with a news report about a seal attacking a swimmer, there are many hints along the way through season 2 about Buster’s fate. The biggest bit of foreshadowing happens in the episode “Amigos,” when Buster is reunited with his hand chair that Lucille had given to her maid, Lupe. Buster laments that he “never thought he’d miss a hand so much.” When Gob releases the seal back into the ocean (despite its new taste for human blood) in “Hand to God,” he tells the seal that “you’re back in the real world. You’re not going to be hand-fed anymore.” Ouch.