Michael Bluth (born December 14, 1967) is the second oldest Bluth son and the main protagonist of Arrested Development. He is the father of George Michael Bluth. In season 3, it is revealed that there is a typo on his birth certificate, which reads Nichael Bluth. Michael’s wife Tracey died of ovarian cancer two years prior to the first season. Possibly as a result of this, he is very close to his son, George Michael, which is shown partly because, whenever an opportunity to spend more time with his son presents itself to him, he will jump at it (although this time is almost always immediately interrupted). His role in the story is that he is the one son who has no choice but to keep the family together, and he serves as the straight man in the comedy series.
When his father George Sr. goes to jail, Michael becomes head of the family and president of the Bluth Company (and later CEO in Development Arrested). His authority, however, is constantly undermined by his family. Often, when agreeing to something before thinking (trying to be “a good guy”), he mouths behind the person’s back, “What’s wrong with me?” (e.g., with Maggie Lizer). He remained the president throughout season 1, but was replaced by Gob in season 2. As vice president, Michael was the Bluth Company’s de facto head, doing all the work of the president while being scrutinized by the SEC for his father’s crimes. During season 2, Michael regains his position as president when the Bluth company security throws GOB out of the building. In season 3, Michael was firmly in charge again, though the sibling rivalry and family interference did not completely recede. He escapes with his son, and father in-tow, to Cabo; leaving most of the family to fend for themselves.
Michael is generally the straight man in the series. However, creator Mitch Hurwitz says that in some respects Michael is “the craziest one” in that he cannot see much of what happens around him.
Michael is portrayed by actor Jason Bateman. Hurwitz did not know if Bateman was right for the part, as he seemed associated with more conventional sitcoms, but Hurwitz said that in trying out for the part, Bateman “gave this dry, confident performance.” Bateman also explained his performance by saying he could be “naturally… dickish” like his character. Bateman said of his part, “it’s the best job I’ve ever had, hands down,” and it may have also been his most famous one.Bateman and his character were also well received by critic Robert Bianco, who wrote “the key to the show’s success is the hilariously deadpan Bateman.” Bateman won a Golden Globe for the role in 2005, and was nominated for several other awards, including an Emmy.
Michael Bartel plays Michael Bluth as a young man in six episodes. Ryan Slough plays Michael in an episode. In a flashback in the series finale, Brandon Killham plays young Michael Bluth.
Lindsay Bluth Fünke (born 1965 to unknown parents) is the adopted daughter of George Sr. and Lucille Bluth, who raise her and Michael to believe they are twins. She is married to Tobias Fünke and they are the parents of Mae, better known as "Maeby".
Lindsay never finished college, opting to “work” full time for the Bluth Company instead when her father offers her a job. She believes herself to be a dedicated activist, though in reality, she is quite shallow and superficial, mainly supporting current trendy causes for the social status and regularly holding extravagant charity drives–which it is implied raise most of their money from the Bluth Company itself. These causes have included but are not limited to opposing circumcision, anti-war protests, the removal of the 10 Commandments from a courthouse, the right to die (specifically her brother Buster’s), and “Graft Vs. Host” (which her husband was afflicted with). Despite her outward confidence, Lindsay has rather low self esteem, a result of her mother’s constant verbal abuse and her husband’s lack of sexual interest in her. She is portrayed as extremely resentful towards her husband Tobias, to the point of allowing him to fall asleep even though he ‘might die’ if he does in the episode Afternoon Delight.
After agreeing to an open marriage Lindsay is portrayed as attempting promiscuity–flirting with and pursuing relationships with men–usually with little or no success. During the series she becomes interested in and dates characters such as Moses Taylor (star of TV’s Wrench) and Tom Jane (star of Homeless Dad and Junk). In season 3, Lindsay becomes interested in the family’s new lawyer Bob Loblaw, taking a position as nanny to his daughter Hope in an attempt to gain his interest.
In the last episode of season 3, it is revealed that Lindsay is not actually Michael’s twin sister, or even a Bluth at all. She also discovers that she is 40 years old, three years older than she had previously believed herself to be. Feeling that her youthful allure has now escaped her, she becomes desperate to marry a successful man, and divulges to Michael that they are not biological siblings and reveals her wish to divorce Tobias and marry Michael. Michael rejects her offer of marriage, stating that he “is not that into older women.”
Creator Mitchell Hurwitz came up with Lindsay as the family’s liberal figure, but Lindsay is also meant to represent a liberal who benefited from her politics more than she sacrificed, due to the image she built. The final episode of the series reveals that had Lindsay been adopted by Stan Sitwell, she would have been named Nellie.
Lindsay was portrayed by actress Portia de Rossi. Having previously appeared in Ally McBeal, she said that she was looking for a new series like it. De Rossi was also attracted to Arrested Development for what she thought was a “fresh new perspective on comedy.” She played Lindsay as someone who “doesn’t have much of a clue but… has a pretty good heart.” She explained her approach by saying that, “with Ally McBeal, we were very rehearsed and staged. But this is a lot looser.” Hurwitz felt that de Rossi made the character somewhat similar to Lucille.
George Oscar “G.O.B.” Bluth, Jr., is the eldest Bluth son and the father of Steve Holt.
By trade a part-time magician, he is a founding member of the “Magicians’ Alliance”, a group that was formed to preserve magicians’ secrets; he was later blacklisted by them for unwittingly revealing how one of his illusions was performed. He is known for incorporating over-the-top theatrics into his magic shows, including pyrotechnics, dance routines, and wind machines. Gob’s tricks rarely work and he often shoots lighter fluid accidentally from his shirt sleeve or collar. He plays Europe's “The Final Countdown" before almost all of his major illusions. In the second season, he became president of the Bluth Company; however, he is little more than a figurehead, as he wields no real power while his brother Michael is still in charge.
George Sr. paid little attention to Gob as a child and has no respect for him as an adult. Gob’s mother openly loathes him. On several occasions, Gob and Michael realized that their rivalry has been nurtured by their father and mother’s manipulations. Gob is known to be the womanizer of the Bluth family. Eventually, Gob discovers that he is the father of the teenage jock Steve Holt. Toward the end of season 1, Gob marries a dealer of trained seals, played by real-life wife Amy Poehler, in a series of escalating dares. She later becomes infatuated with Tobias Fünke, Gob’s brother-in-law, and joins the army in the hopes of avoiding her attraction.
When his confidence is shattered or challenged, he will burst into tears and cry with self-loathing or take extreme measures to cease the disgust he feels in himself. Examples of this include the time when he attempted to hang himself with his belt after being questioned about topics he was ignorant in, or when he ingested a ‘forget-me-now’ pill in order to forget that he has a son. When upset or excited, Gob often fails to use articles or prepositions in his sentences, saying things like “Look at Banner!” and “Still mad me, Michael?” He also has difficulty pronouncing words that begin with the letter “c,” such as circumvent (“ser-sum-vrent”), capability (“crapability”) and consummate (“son-summate”).
Despite Gob’s “womanizing” abilities, he has no real friends; his closest friends are the Hot Cops, a group of strippers that Gob once worked with before almost getting his head blown off while on the job. He uses the Hot Cops in many situations, including a fake drug bust and for fake friends at a bachelor party. His best friend is Michael, though he denies it.
He is also the original creator and inspiration for the Mr. Bananagrabber character. Although he retains most of the rights to the character, he gave away the animation rights to Michael. It was later made into an animated television series that became an infrequent background joke. He also briefly had a ventriloquist act with a stereotyped African-American doll named Franklin Delano Bluth. Gob and Franklin produce an album together named, “Franklin Comes Alive”. He is frequently seen throughout the series getting around on a Segway which has a pouch that says “Gob” on it. Gob’s often repeated lines are “Come on!” and, “I’ve made a huge mistake” which are also used in various forms by himself and other characters.
Gob is portrayed by Will Arnett
.George Michael Bluth (born March 2, 1990) is the teenage son of Michael Bluth. He is a student, and he works at the family frozen banana stand, where he is “Mister Manager.” He is straight-laced and obedient.
He is reunited with his cousin Maeby in the first episode, and develops a crush on her after she forcibly kisses him (to teach their parents a lesson for not letting them spend more time together, although it fails because their parents are entirely oblivious to it). His nervousness around Maeby and his wrestling with his emotions becomes one of the recurring themes surrounding George Michael. In the second season, he starts dating a girl named Ann, a devout Christian whom his father and Maeby dislike. Season 2 ends with George Michael and Maeby kissing, to his delight. After the incident, the two try to avoid each other for much of the third season. Later in the season, he and Maeby accidentally get married during what they believed was a fake wedding for Alzheimer’s patients in hospital.
They also kiss passionately when George Michael, suspecting Maeby may be adopted, tells her they might not be related by blood. When his uncle Tobias, oblivious to their secret, proves to them both that Maeby was their naturally born daughter it becomes more cause for consternation to George Michael for the remainder of the series until the final episode when it is revealed his aunt Lindsay was herself adopted, thus eliminating any blood ties between the two erstwhile cousins. He ultimately decides to escape to Newport by stealing his uncle Gob’s boat, feeling he doesn’t belong there anymore. Upon learning of Lindsay’s origins, he reconciles with his father and finally reveals his feelings for Maeby. Both realizing that further contact with their dysfunctional family is more trouble than it’s worth, they escape to Cabo with $500,000 and a house waiting for them, not knowing that George Senior has escaped to the same destination with the same plan.
Besides his crush on his cousin, George Michael is also shown to be extremely close to his father, Michael, presumably as a result of the death of his mother.
George Michael is portrayed by Michael Cera, and in flashback sequences by Christian Lavery.
Mae “Maeby” Fünke (born September 22, 1990) is the teenage daughter of Lindsay and Tobias. Maeby’s conception is an unanswered question and running joke throughout the series. In the first season, Lucille hints that Maeby is a test-tube baby; this is again implied by Tobias in Out on a Limb in season 2. In the penultimate episode, Tobias confirms that Lindsay had Maeby, showing a graphic baby photo album; the final episode reveals that Maeby is biologically related to neither Steve Holt nor George Michael because her mother, Lindsay, was adopted by the Bluths. Maeby attended a progressive school before her parents moved in with Michael. When she enters the public school system, her grades plummet. She loses interest in school and looks for new ways to shock her woefully neglectful parents. In one instance, Maeby swindles her peers out of charity money by pretending to be a wheelchair-bound girl named “Surely” who suffers from a rare, debilitating illness called “B.S.” Maeby also cons her way into a job as a movie executive and maintains the charade (with increasing professional success) for several months. She gets fired when George Michael sends invitations to her sixteenth birthday party to all the other studio executives in her address book, but her boss wants her back when he realizes what a celebrity she’s become.
Maeby and George Michael spend most of the series battling mutual feelings of romantic love for each other. Because the model home is so cramped, Maeby and George Michael share a bedroom. Forced proximity and the American remake of “Les Cousins Dangereux” lead to their first real kiss, after which the mortified kids start avoiding each other. Maeby legally marries George Michael when a “fake” wedding ceremony to entertain Alzheimer’s patients goes wrong. In the penultimate episode, everyone except George Michael forgets Maeby’s sixteenth birthday, and he spends most of the episode attempting to arrange a celebration for her. Maeby is touched by the kindness George Michael has shown her; when George Michael explains how she may not be related to the Bluths at all, the two share a passionate kiss (and, it is mentioned, reach Second Base). In the final episode, “Development Arrested”, the two are definitely in a relationship, but Maeby remains conflicted (despite Tobias’ evidence of birth photos, she still wants to make out with George Michael in the privacy of their room). In the end, she pitches her life story, as an idea for a new television show, to her boss Ron Howard, who says that her story may be better as a movie.
Maeby’s knack for stumbling into incestuous relationships unwittingly is a running joke throughout the series. In the first season, she sings an unintentionally provocative duet with her uncle Michael and kisses George Michael in a futile attempt to shock her parents. During her estrangement from George Michael, Maeby distracts herself by dating Steve Holt, who turns out to be Gob’s son and Maeby’s first cousin. Maeby ends up slipping Steve one of Gob’s “forget-me-nows" to avoid having sex while tricking Steve into thinking they had.
Creator Mitchell Hurwitz named the character after his daughters Maisy and Phoebe. Hurwitz acknowledged the peculiar result of this blending, saying “It just seemed like crazy extra fun to think of weird names. I don’t want us to become too self-conscious about it but, yes, we do have some strange names.” Incidentally, she is often described as George Michael’s “Cousin Maeby,” a play on words making reference to the fact that they may not be related. Maeby was initially imagined as a pseudo-conservative, to be a deliberate foil to her activist mother Lindsay, but eventually re-imagined to be a troublemaker in other ways. In making Maeby an opposite to George Michael (she is bolder and not at all reverent towards her father), Hurwitz thought this also contributed to the idea of George Michael and Maeby developing a romance.
Maeby is portrayed by Alia Shawkat. Shawkat tried out for the part with Michael Cera, who plays George Michael, in Los Angeles, and the creators thought they both did well. The two were the first to join the cast. For her role as Maeby, Shawkat won a Young Artist Award in 2005 and was nominated for Screen Actors Guild Awards in 2005 and 2006.
Byron “Buster” Bluth is the youngest son of George Sr. and Lucille, though it is later revealed that his biological father is actually George Sr.’s identical twin brother Oscar (the two share obvious personality traits and a mutual habit for awkwardly giving people shoulder massages).
Buster is a professional student, having completed coursework in cartography, Native American tribal ceremonies, 18th century agrarian business principles, and archaeology. Archival footage indicates his participation in various university medical studies, such as sleep deprivation studies. As the baby of the family, he idolizes his brothers Gob and Michael. In the second season premiere, Lucille signs Buster up for the United States Army, although his training is unsuccessful.
Buster is immature and socially inept but, as indicated by the narrator in Season 2, more intelligent than his siblings Gob and Lindsay. He has frequent panic attacks, hates both closed and open spaces, is terrified of sheep, seals, and birds, and is wrathful towards his Korean-born adopted brother, Annyong. In keeping with his socially stunted character, Buster demonstrates various childlike nutritional sensitivities: for instance, he becomes hyper from the sugar in juice and irritable after eating cheese; he also takes frequent naps. He has an unhealthy attachment to his domineering mother Lucille, who won’t let him go in the sun, swim in the ocean, or stand on their balcony in windy weather. George Sr. makes reference to the “claw marks” left on Lucille’s womb after she gave birth to Buster. He sometimes tries to assert his independence by defying his mother’s orders, as when he dates her rival, Lucille Austero. He has an alienating habit of greeting people with shoulder massages, and commonly addresses his relatives by their relation to him (for example, Gob and Michael are greeted with “Hey, brother” and Oscar is greeted with “Hey, uncle-father Oscar.” Steve Holt is greeted with “Hey, possible nephew”). In Season 2, Buster’s left hand is bitten off by a “loose seal” (note the pun on “Lucille”), and in subsequent episodes he wears a trans-radial prosthetic on his left arm, first a hook and later a prosthetic hand.
Buster is portrayed by Tony Hale. Entertainment Weekly selected Buster as the uncle for “The Perfect TV Family”.
Tobias Fünke is the husband of Lindsay Bluth and the father of Maeby Fünke. He was the chief resident of psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital until he lost his license for giving CPR to a man who was not actually having a heart attack. At one point, he was licensed as both an analyst and a therapist, supposedly making him the first licensed “analrapist” (pronounced ə-nal-rə-pist). Tobias is very fond of awkwardly rolling or somersaulting into and out of certain situations mainly to show his dexterity and balance though this often backfires. Indeed, Fünke claims to command “cat-like reflexes.”
At the beginning of the series, Tobias decides that his destiny is to become an actor, and he pursues this career throughout the series without any success. Highlights of his “career” include: being turned down for the role of ‘Dr. House’; landing the part of “frightened inmate number two” in a prison film, only to get fired for not being able to do the shower scene due to his condition (see below); and attempting to join the Blue Man Group as a standby understudy and, as a consequence, spending part of the second season covered in blue make-up. In a move inspired by the film Mrs. Doubtfire, Tobias masquerades as a British housekeeper/nanny named “Mrs. Featherbottom” in an attempt to spend time with his wife and daughter after Lindsay kicks him out of the model house. While the disguise fools no one, the family humors him since this gets the housework done.
Tobias suffers from “never-nude” syndrome (which, as the narrator states, is “exactly what it sounds like”) and wears denim cut-off shorts at all times in order to avoid anyone (including himself and his wife) seeing his pelvic area. The condition is similar to severe gymnophobia, although it is portrayed humorously. He conquers this for a time in the middle of Season 1, but after a close-up picture of his genitalia is shown on the evening news (where it has been mistaken for a photo showing evidence of WMDs in Iraq), he is driven back to the cut-offs.
Although never formally admitted, he has said many things that make people question his sexuality. He makes frequent sexual double-entendres to which he seems completely oblivious. Michael advises him to record himself saying these clearly homosexual statements, and Tobias concludes that Michael is a “blowhard”, further showing his propensity to be completely ignorant of the implications of his utterances. Lindsay, who married Tobias to spite her parents, is convinced that her husband is a homosexual. His book, The Man Inside Me, is a cult gay hit, as Tobias wrote on the topic of romantic relationships with only male pronouns, to avoid confusion. He has experienced sexual difficulties with his wife. This leads to their joint decision to try an “open” marriage, even though Tobias himself acknowledges that this path never works. Tobias doesn’t really follow through with the “open relationship”, and often stalks his wife covered in blue paint, following her around on her attempted dates hiding in areas that are blue in color in order to remain unseen. Although he continually takes very expensive acting lessons from Carl Weathers, the actor who is mostly known from his portrayal of Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise as well as a Marine in Predator, he mainly gets tips on frugality from Mr. Weathers. Lindsay continually pokes fun at Tobias’ desperation to become an actor, and they split up and reconcile many times over the course of the series.
Tobias is played by David Cross.
George Oscar Bluth, Sr., called “Pop-Pop” by his grandchildren, is the head of the Bluth family and the husband of Lucille Bluth. George Sr. was the CEO of the Bluth Company, which he founded. However, after years of “creative accounting” practices, he became the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and was imprisoned. While in prison, George Sr. continues to try to exert control over the company, often using Gob to undermine Michael’s authority.
George Sr. escapes to Mexico with a briefcase filled with evidence of his dealings with Saddam Hussein. In season 2, George Sr. fakes his death in Mexico and returns to America to hide in the attic of the Bluth model home. Early in the third season, after being discovered among the Blue Man Group in Reno, Nevada, he is placed under house arrest. He told Michael that he had been set up to build homes in Iraq by a group of British contractors operating out of “Wee Britain”, and admits that he may be guilty of “light treason.” By the end of the series, however, it is revealed that he is under the control of his wife, Lucille. He escapes to Cabo with Michael and George Michael following the party.
George Sr. is also the inventor of The Cornballer, a faulty product which has been banned in numerous countries. He has a religious awakening twice on the show, once becoming Jewish after a period of isolation and selling a video series entitled “Caged Wisdom”, and once becoming a devout Christian after reading a pamphlet in a garbage bag while hiding in the attic. George Sr. was born in Cleveland, OH on 5 August 1947.
George Sr. is portrayed by Jeffrey Tambor.
Lucille Bluth is the matriarch of the Bluth family, portrayed by Jessica Walter. She is the mother of Gob, Michael, Buster, and the adoptive mother of Lindsay and Hel-loh “Annyong” Bluth, as well as wife to George Sr. Her grandchildren are George Michael Bluth, Steve Holt (Gob’s son) and Maeby Fünke and they call her “Gangy” . She carried on an affair with George, Sr.’s twin brother Oscar.
Lucille is accustomed to an opulent and decadent lifestyle, which she funds with misappropriated Bluth Company money. She treats herself to repeated spa treatments and face lifts, and is known to abuse alcohol and prescription drugs and to mistreat her housekeepers. According to the narrator, she has never made eye contact with a waiter. Lucille is extremely manipulative, narcissistic, domineering, and she emotionally abuses her children. She furtively wrests control of the Bluth Company board from Michael. She has a tight grip on her youngest son Buster, who, as a result of his mother’s dominance and sheltering, is unstable, socially inept, and prone to panic attacks. She also insinuates that her daughter Lindsay is fat and lazy. She has also admitted that she never cared for Gob. In the finale, it is revealed that she is the mastermind behind the Bluth Company’s illegal actions.
Lucille is last seen making a run from the SEC on board the Queen Mary, after Annyong turns in evidence against her.