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Arrested Development Main Characters Ranked By Likability

"Arrested Development" tells the story of a wealthy family who lost everything, and the one son who had no choice but to keep them all together, as narrator Ron Howard reminds viewers at the start of each episode. The series initially ran for three seasons, from 2003 to 2005, on Fox before getting the ax. There were many factors behind the cancellation, including low ratings, but the beloved series developed a loyal cult following. "Arrested Development" brought home six Emmy during its initial run and was nominated for many more awards. Beyond that, the series frequently finds itself included in best-of retrospectives, like this one from Rolling Stone.

Netflix revived "Arrested Development" for a fourth season in 2013 and once more with a two-part fifth season released in 2018 and 2019. The Netflix seasons of "Arrested Development" were less warmly received, and a "remix" version of Season 4 under the title "Fateful Consequences" was even released as a replacement in an attempt to fix some of the issues fans took with the original cut. Despite these problems, the Netflix "Arrested Development" seasons weren't without merit, and they in no way erased the greatness of the first three seasons.

The Bluth family is fun to watch in part because of how terrible most of them are as people. The extravagant lifestyle they were accustomed to leaves them disconnected from the reality of the everyday world. While they might not be one of the likable TV families out there, they are one of the funniest. With that in mind, here are the main characters of "Arrested Development" ranked by likability.

1. Maeby

Maeby Fünke, played by Alia Shawkat, is the often-overlooked daughter of Lindsay and Tobias, and the much pined after (maybe) cousin of George Michael. She comes off the best in this extended family of buffoons and is the most likable character through and through. That said, Maeby being the most likable doesn't mean that she's the best person. She does more than her fair share of lying and manipulation, but the people she takes advantage of (often her parents) are usually in the wrong.

Maeby's more questionable actions and ruses typically result in a net positive or are to the detriment to less likable characters, all of which serves to get viewers on her side. Aside from Michael, Maeby is the most grounded and down-to-earth character on the show, which goes a long way in terms of likability when the rest of the cast is populated by out-of-touch, wealthy charlatans. There is a sense that Maeby is only really looking out for herself at all times but in a family this dysfunctional, who could blame her?

2. Tobias

Tobias Fünke, played by David Cross, is often cringey and always clueless, but he's hard not to love. He's a terrible parent, a failure in all his aspirations, whether they be acting or psychiatry, and he messes things up for himself and everyone around him constantly. All of these faults could potentially render a character thoroughly unlikable, but Tobias powers through those issues with a smile. What keeps Tobias likable despite it all is his sense of innocent optimism, which largely offsets his buffoonery.

Unlike many characters on "Arrested Development," Tobias rarely wishes anybody any ill will. He causes problems for those around him, to be sure, but he often does so unintentionally, which cannot be said of most members of the Bluth family. Tobias is also a rather put-upon person who is treated terribly by those closest to him and the butt of many jokes, both of which engender sympathy for him in his struggles. Though he has moments of selfishness, like everyone in the series, Tobias usually seems to be one of the kinder characters on the show.

3. Michael

Michael Bluth, played by Jason Bateman, is the straight man to the weirdos that make up the rest of his family. He provides the narrative center that enables the rest of the cast to ham it up in over-the-top roles. For the dynamics of the Bluth family to work as well as they do, Michael needs to remain a likable and relatable everyman. More often than not, Michael suffers at the hands of the nonsense caused by those around him, rather than causing said nonsense himself. His relatability and the way he genuinely cares for his son, George Michael, make Michael an inherently likable leading character.

Michael becomes slightly less likable when he makes decisions out of spite and shows a degree of selfishness, as all of the characters on the show do from time to time. It can be frustrating to watch Michael return to the Bluth family repeatedly despite his frequent promises to walk away for good. 

When romantic partners enter the equation, Michael's less scrupulous side tends to rear its head. Getting into love triangles with both George Michael and his brother, Gob, see Michael at his least likable as he sacrifices his usually strong moral standing for the sake of romance. Michael's status as a widower — George Michael's mother passed away before the start of the series — lends a strong core of sympathy for him that is never lost, even when he chases other women while at odds with his brother or son.

4. Buster

Buster Bluth, played by Tony Hale, is the youngest of the Bluth siblings and the definitive "mama's boy" of the bunch. If it is possible for a family comprised entirely of black sheep to still have a black sheep, it would be Buster. He is a weirdo with a frequently off-putting personality, but behind it all is a sense of innocence. Buster helps his parents, and Lucille in particular, pull off numerous unsavory acts. Still, he is more often than not unaware of the consequences of his actions and being manipulated by his mother.

Since Buster is innocent and naive to a fault, Lucille takes advantage of him at almost every turn, using him as a lackey to do her bidding because he doesn't know any better. He is more a victim of Lucille's manipulative ways than he is any sort of wrongdoer. Beyond that, Buster is usually portrayed as sympathetic and rarely veers into any outright unlikeable territory. The development of Buster losing his hand in an accident with a loose seal, which hilariously rhymes with Lucille, makes for plenty of great comedic moments and also earns the youngest Bluth sibling even more sympathy.

5. George Michael

George Michael Bluth, played by Michael Cera in an early breakout role, is the son of series lead Michael. If this ranking were only considering the first three seasons of "Arrested Development" that aired between 2003 and 2005, then George Michael would be a strong contender for the number one spot on this ranking of the most likable characters. The show's initial run on Fox portrayed George Michael as an extremely likable and sympathetic young man. It was easy to feel bad for and root for George Michael as he came of age within the majorly dysfunctional Bluth family.

However, when taking the Netflix-revival seasons into account, George Michael doesn't come off nearly as well. The character changed a great deal between the initial run of the series and the years-later resurrection, and not particularly for the better. George Michael's innocence and sympathy were largely erased in the newer seasons of "Arrested Development." While the father-son bond between Michael and George Michael made for a strong foundation relationship in the first three seasons, that too was partially erased in the newer seasons. Having George Michael be at odds with his father for so much of the revival did not work out in either of their favors.

6. Lindsay

Lindsay Bluth-Fünke, played by Portia de Rossi, is the mother of Maeby, the wife of Tobias, and the twin sister of Michael, or so viewers were led to believe for much of the show until questions of adoption arose in Season 3. While Lindsay is far from being the least likable Bluth, she's pretty far from being the most likable one too. She is out of touch and vapid, largely due to her upbringing and the extravagant wealth that she was accustomed to.

When it comes to familial relationships, Lindsay is one of the most self-centered characters on the show. She routinely treats her husband and daughter like garbage, though she does occasionally show them the slightest bit of warmth in special moments. Lindsay also shows considerably more warmth to Michael, her supposed twin, than she shows to her other siblings the majority of the time. However, she is less incompetent than Buster and less morally dubious than Gob. Beyond that, Lindsay occasionally commits her attention towards philanthropy, which also helps to make her a bit more likable, even though those efforts rarely pan out as intended.

7. Gob

Gob Bluth, played by Will Arnett, is the least liked of the Bluth siblings by his parents. As such, he does the most to earn their approval. Gob will sink to lows that the other Bluth children never would, both for his own personal gain and to curry favor with George Sr. and Lucille. As a result, Gob does plenty of terrible things throughout the series, and his incompetence often makes bad situations even worse.

Unlike the incompetent exacerbation of characters like Tobias and Buster, Gob often lacks the pure intentions that keep the others likable. In fact, he frequently acts from a place of malice. Gob will stab anyone in the back for self-advancement and often seeks petty revenge over even the smallest perceived slight. 

There is a sadness to Gob and desperation behind his attention-seeking attempts at earning the approval that goes some way toward making him sympathetic at times. Unfortunately, he stretches that sympathy past its breaking point most of the time. He womanizes, plots revenge, acts with ill intent, and will stoop lower than his siblings, all of which make him less likable but does make him an extraordinarily funny character.

8. George Sr.

George Bluth Sr., played by Jeffrey Tambor, is the patriarch of the Bluth family and the root cause for all of their financial and criminal troubles. He is cunning, manipulative, and possesses a total disregard for legality and morality. He spends the vast majority of the series either in jail or in hiding from the authorities. There are times when he seems to be acting out of the kindness of his heart to the benefit of his family members, but he is almost always revealed to have a dastardly ulterior motive at the end of the day.

He is also a literal war criminal who dabbled in some "light treason" when he sold plans to and then built houses for Saddam Hussein. His outrageous crimes seem to know no end, and he always has lucrative goals in mind. At the very least, George Sr. seems to marginally care about his family and bothers to put up a friendly, welcoming facade, while the same cannot be said of his wife.

9. Lucille

Lucille Bluth is the matriarch of the Bluth family and was played by the late, great Jessica Walter, who passed away in 2021. From the outset, Lucille was written to be the most unlikable character possible. Much of the humor surrounding Lucille is derived from how uncaring, out of touch, and frigid she is at every turn. She knows exactly how to cut her children down to size with the perfect, scathing comment or rebuke.

Beyond her icy personality, Lucille is complicit in all of George Sr.'s crimes, though she manages to stay out of jail. "They can't arrest a husband and wife for the same crime" may have been a misconception held by George Sr., but Lucille manages to avoid jail time for her crimes regardless. Lucille doesn't bother with the friendly front that George Sr. puts forward, instead opting to be openly callous to her family and everyone else around her. 

She doesn't seem to genuinely care about anyone, least of all her children. However, she does occasionally show affection towards her husband, his brother Oscar, and others, such as the private investigator Gene Parmesan. Lucille is thoroughly unlikeable, and that is precisely what makes her character so memorable and such an essential part of "Arrested Development."