After three barely-watched seasons on FOX, the wonderfully off-beat Arrested Development finally picked up an audience on DVD and Netflix, even earning enough fans to be brought back for a fourth season on the fledgling streaming service.
While the show is charming and funny in spades, it’s the Bluth family that really sets it apart from other sitcoms. Instead of a loving, nuclear family at its center, the Bluths are backstabbing, selfish, and hopelessly complicated.
For anyone who hasn’t watched and re-watched the series over the years, it may be difficult to keep track of who is who over the years, so we’ve compiled a handy guide to the Bluth family, just for you!
George Bluth, Sr.
Portrayed by: Jeffrey Tambor
George Sr. is the family’s patriarch, whose illegal development dealings with Saddam Hussein and the Iraqi state kick off the events of the show – he is arrested and, to the horror of his family, the company’s assets are also frozen. George Sr. is the biological father of G.O.B. and Michael. With his wife, Lucille, he adopted Lindsay when she was three years old. His youngest son, Buster, is actually the child of George Sr.’s identical twin brother, Oscar.
While in prison, George Sr. flirted with gangs, but then became a convert to the Jewish faith, or his interpretation of the Jewish faith. A spiritual leader, he created a series of videos about his religious experience and knowledge (or lack thereof). George escaped from prison and hid in the family’s model home, where he dressed in the only thing available: his late daughter-in-law’s maternity clothes.
George Sr. has developed many money-making schemes of varying success and legality, including the Cornballer (available in Mexico) and Father B’s Enlightenment Colony for Executives, in which C-suite suits are sweated out in a make-shift sauna until they’re willing to spend thousands of dollars on lemonade.
Portrayed by: Jessica Walter
The manipulative matriarch of the Bluth family, Lucille is the mother of G.O.B., Michael, and Buster and the adoptive mother of Lindsay and Annyong. Lucille is highly judgmental of other people, and often criticizes Lindsay’s weight.
Lucille lives with her grown son Buster in the Balboa Towers, and pays for her expensive lifestyle with company money. She drunkenly adopts Annyong, a young Korean boy, and then decides to shower him with affection, just to make Buster jealous.
George Sr. claims that Lucille was the mastermind behind his criminal endeavors (although George can’t be entirely trusted, either). Although Lucille uses deception and blackmail to force others to do what she wants, she does not always get her way – she shames Michael into organizing a surprise party for her, twice, and no one shows up either time.
Portrayed by: Jeffrey Tambor (again)
Oscar Bluth, Michael’s uncle, is often mistaken for George Sr., his identical twin brother. The only difference between the two is that Oscar, living a stress-free lifestyle making lemonade and smoking pot out of a trailer, has managed to keep his hair. Oscar met Lucille while he was serving over in Vietnam and she was a member of the USO. However, she left him for his more successful and more ruthless (and wealthier) brother. Oscar and Lucille have had an on-and-off again relationship throughout the years, and Oscar is the secret father of Lucille’s third son, Buster.
Oscar is a lover and oft-time partaker of marijuana. His distinguishing feature from his twin brother was his long hair, but in a surprisingly successful attempt to avoid prison, George Sr. shaved Oscar’s head and Oscar was taken to prison in his place. George Sr. uses Oscar’s similar appearance to his advantage on multiple occasions, manipulating his brother in order to avoid unpleasant situations.
Lindsay Bluth Fünke
Portrayed by: Portia de Rossi
Lindsay Bluth Fünke is Michael’s twin sister – at least that’s what she believes until it is revealed that she was adopted by George, Sr. and Lucille Bluth in order to upset George’s competitor Stan Sitwell (Ed Begley Jr.). She married Dr. Tobias Fünke, a crackpot psychiatriast, in an act of rebellion and had one daughter with him, Maeby. Their marriage is fraught with problems, including Tobias’s questionable sexuality and status as a “Never Nude” (he wears jean cut-offs at all times).
Lindsay is a socialite with a social justice streak – she enjoys an expensive lifestyle while running fundraisers for charities such as H.O.O.P. (Hands Off Our Penises, an anti-circumcision campaign). She protests against the Girls with Low Self-Esteem videos and other various fashionable causes throughout the show. She also cooks a mean hot-ham-water.
Portrayed by: Jason Bateman
The second son of Lucille and George Sr., Michael is the center of the show as he tries to keep his family together. After his father goes to prison, he is in charge of the family company, but determined to keep the practices legal.
Michael was married to Tracey Bluth, and they had one son, George Michael, before Tracey died. He fell in love with G.O.B.’s girlfriend, Marta (played variously by Patricia Velasquez, Leonor Varela, and an unknown actress), but when he fights with his brother over her, she is displeased with them both. He dates Maggie Lizer (Julia Louis-Dreyfus), a lying lawyer who pretends to be blind and tricks Michael into thinking that she is bearing his child, and almost marries Rita (Charlize Theron) whose British accent distracts others from MRF-status.
Michael’s family often dismisses him and claim he tries to take the moral high ground in order to feel a sense of superiority over them – they also think he is a chicken and mock him with their own variations of the chicken dance. When Michael discovers that he and his son are sleeping with the same woman, Rebel Alley (Isla Fisher) he tries to manipulate George Michael into leaving her – maybe he is a Bluth after all.
George Oscar “Gob” Bluth, Jr.
Portrayed by: Will Arnett
“Gob” (short for George Oscar Bluth, Jr.), is the eldest son of George and Lucille, and the older brother of Michael, Lindsay, and Buster. Lucille’s least favorite child, Gob is a magician who founded the Alliance of Magicians, an organization that those who reveal the tricks of the trade, but he was promptly kicked out of the Alliance when a news crew revealed his trick on television.
Gob is the father of Steve Holt, after he impregnated her mother in high school, but he remains unaware of this until Holt reaches adulthood. He dates Marta, a woman who Michael falls in love with, and has had relationships with Kitty (Judy Greer), his father’s secretary and lover. Gob has been married once, but it was on a dare, and he does not even know his wife’s name (though she’s played by Arnett’s actual wife, Amy Poehler, though they have since divorced). Gob develops feelings for rival magician Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller), and the two accidentally consummate their relationship on the night of “Cinco de Cuatro.”
Portrayed by: Tony Hale
The youngest Bluth brother, Buster allegedly spent eleven months in Lucille’s uterus because he didn’t want to leave. Buster was raised unaware that his biological father is his uncle Oscar. A neurotic momma’s boy, Buster continues to live with his mother well into adulthood, always feeling entirely dependent on her. Buster’s Oedipal complex affects his dating life: he dated and lived with Lucille Austero (Liza Minneli), his mother’s best friend (who he referred to as Lucille 2) and slept with Ophelia Love (Garcelle Beauvais), another woman he sees as a maternal figure.
The juice-loving Buster is a graduate student, although he joins the Army to spite his mother. After defiantly going into the ocean for the first time, Buster’s hand is bitten off by a seal, and replaced by an unfortunate hook.
Dr. Tobias Fünke
Portrayed by: David Cross
Dr. Tobias Fünke is the husband to Lindsay and father of Maeby. A self-proclaimed “analrapist” – that is, an analyst and a therapist – Tobias lost his medical license when he attempted CPR on a man who was not dying. He then pursued his newfound aspiration of being a professional actor. During his failed acting career, Tobias takes acting lessons from Carl Weathers (Carl Weathers), is the understudy for the Blue Man Group, and writes/directs/stars in Fantastic 4: An Action Musical as The Thing.
Tobias is the author of the best-selling book The Man Inside of Me. His possible homosexuality, and the constant stream of homoerotic malapropisms strain his marriage with Lindsay. After she kicks Tobias out of their house, he pretends to be Mrs. Featherbottom, a Mrs. Doubtfire-esque British housekeeper, to stay with his family; they go along with his obvious ruse because he cooks the food and washes the laundry.
George Michael Bluth
Portrayed by: Michael Cera
George Michael grew up over the course of the four seasons of Arrested Development, from an awkward and terrified teenager into an awkward and terrified young adult. The son of Michael and Tracey Bluth, George Michael was raised to believe that family is the most important thing (and breakfast is the most important meal).
George Michael worked for the family Banana Stand in high school and was an avid Star Wars fan. He also developed an unfortunate crush on his cousin, Maeby Fünke – the two share romantic moments, but do not realize that they are not biologically related. He also dates Ann (Mae Whitman), who no one in his family seems to remember.
In college, George Michael creates an app called FakeBlock which is revealed to be a wood block simulator for the iPhone. Embarrassed that he shares his name with pop singer George Michael, who was outed after being arrested on a lewd acts charge, he chose to go by the name of George Maharis, unaware that an actor named George Maharis was also arrested for lewd acts in a public restroom.
Portrayed by: Alia Shawkat
Maeby Fünke is the rebellious and sarcastic daughter of Lindsay and Tobias Fünke. Both of her parents attempted a hands-off approach to parenting, which has made Maeby independent and resourceful. The Bluth family spent $130,000 on expenses to conceive her, but seem content to ignore her as she makes her way through adolescence.
While still in high school, Maeby becomes fumbles her way into becoming a film executive at Tantamount Studios, and quickly becomes known for her catchphrase, “Marry me!” She is fired when George Michael accidentally reveals that she is celebrating her sixteenth birthday. George Michael’s crush on her complicates their relationship as cousins, and the two kiss on multiple occasions, even when they do not know they are not biologically related. Maeby has also kissed Steve Holt, who she did not realize is also her cousin, and Annyong, who is legally her uncle.
Hel-loh “Annyong” Bluth
Portrayed by: Justin Lee
Adopted by a drunken Lucille in order to spite Buster, Hel-loh is known as “Annyong” (a variation on “Annyeoung”, the Korean word for “Hello”). At first, he speaks no English. Lucille favors Annyong as a way to upset Buster, but she later tires of him and sends him to board at the Milford School. But instead of going, Annyong hides in the walls of Lucille’s apartment and acts as a mole for law enforcement in order to revenge his family, who owned the original boardwalk Banana Stand that was put out of business by George, Sr.’s better-marketed version.
Portrayed by: Justin Grant Wade
Steve Holt (STEVE HOLT!) is Maeby’s high school crush, and is known for shouting his own name enthusiastically (STEVE HOLT!). He acts in Tobias’s production of Much Ado About Nothing as Beatrice, wearing Lindsay’s dress. George Michael sees Steve as a rival for Maeby’s affections and runs against him for class president; George Michael’s uncle Gob makes his campaign video, which attacks Steve for not knowing who his father is. Steve wins the election, but turns down the position, saying that he plans instead on finding his father – who, as it turns out, is Gob.
Steve Holt (STEVE HOLT!) is also Maeby’s cousin, although like George Michael, they are not biologically related, as her mother Lindsay is adopted. He goes prematurely bald in season 4, which causes both Gob and Maeby to not recognize him.
Franklin Delano Bluth
Portrayed by: Himself
Franklin Delano Bluth is the racist puppet that Gob attempts to use as a ventriloquist puppet. However, no matter who is allowing Franklin to talk – G.O.B., Buster, or George Sr. – he makes incredibly inappropriate and profane comments. He is the co-star (with Gob) of the CD Franklin Comes Alive. The police also seem to regard Franklin as a real person, and he is charged in the kidnapping of Lucille.