Some tattoos — like ones in honor of Arrested Development — are like long-running, inside jokes meant only for those who are in the loop. In fact, given that the show was hugely underrated at its onset, it’s actually surprising that so many people have gotten tributes to Arrested Development tattooed on their bodies. Then again, its fans tend to be pretty diehard, so maybe it’s not that unbelievable after all. It’s just that sort of eclectic comedy, consisting of gags that only true devotees can appreciate. Look at these tattoos that show why it’s always important to leave a note, and maybe you’ll see why.
Arrested Development premiered in 2003 to a lot of fanfare and a very small audience. Despite critical acclaim, the series floundered in ratings, and after the third season’s episode order was cut by half by the network, the show was unceremoniously canceled, leaving viewers and critics with a cliffhanger that would hang on until Netflix revived the series years later in 2012. So how did it make it from the bone pile of “before their time”/”canceled too soon” series to one of the most acclaimed American sitcoms of the 2000s? As Lucille Bluth would say, “I don’t understand the question, and I won’t respond to it.”
Though its strange charm is hard to pin down, the show’s influence has bled into every aspect of American pop culture, so it’s only natural that it made its mark on body art, too. While Arrested Development centers around the absurd, high-functioning dysfunction of Michael Bluth, the eldest son and de facto patriarch after his father George’s imprisonment for “light treason,” Michael’s mother, siblings, and in-laws are so much more compelling in all their ridiculousness, and it shows when you take a glimpse into the world of Arrested Development tattoos.
The series’ quotable quips and seasons’ long easter eggs have contributed to its popularity, pushing it into the realm of body art. The most popular, by far, is when most members of the Bluth family, horrified, utter, “I’ve made a terrible mistake.” Those mistakes can range from realizing that swallowing a key won’t get you out of a maximum security prison for a magic trick stunt — excuse me, I mean an “illusion” — to figuring out your girlfriend’s mysterious acronym-studded bracelet isn’t actually a part of a British spy conspiracy, but just her medical ID band.
Or take these infamous Never Nude tattoos, like the one with a traditional panther for a body, for example. If you’re new to the Arrested Development apocrypha, you might wonder what’s the big deal with a pair of Daisy Duke cutoff jeans? A Never Nude, as described by the show’s one and only Tobias Fünke (aspiring actor and former “Analrapist” — which he will assure means he is both a psychoanalyst and therapist) is a person suffering from a pathological aversion to being nude, hence the cutoffs. This must be a real-world condition, given that so many have tattoos of claiming that “There are dozens of us,” which is just another marker of how it left a strong impression on people’s lives.
To see more silly traditional tattoos, make sure to drop by these tattooists Instagrams. If you want to show your love for Arrested Development, like all these other hardcore fans out there, go get a piece featuring the Banana Stand or perhaps a Loose Seal of your own.
That's the end of this episode of What We're Watching, our series where we explore the depths of nostalgia by looking at tattoo tributes to the shows and movies we're currently (re)watching. If you liked seeing all these body art homages to Arrested Development, do yourself a favor and check out these other posts about Barbarella, Big Trouble in Little China, Dollhouse, Showgirls, The Evil Dead, Twin Peaks, and The X-Files.