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Arrested Development Wiki

Prison Break-In

"Prison Break-In"
Directors: Robert Berlinger — Writer: Karey Dornetto — Aired: December 12, 2005 — Icon-image      

"Prison Break-In" is the seventh episode of Arrested Development's third season.

Michael is worried when he learns that Lucille is dating the warden behind his father's back; Buster's new turtle gets into "Uncle-Father" Oscar's stash; the family plans a benefit for Tobias' life-endangering hair transplant.


Michael Bluth paid an unexpected visit to his mother. Lucille immediately figured he wanted something, since he had been ignoring the family in favor of Rita lately. Michael reminded her that his relationship was over, and he thought it was for the best. But actually, he was so devastated by the breakup that he had broken out the old guitar.

Buster, meanwhile, was excited about the new pet turtle he had brought home in an incredibly misguided attempt to make his mother jealous. He had named the turtle Mother, and stored it in a box that Oscar had left behind. A box that Oscar used to store his medicinal marijuana. Michael reminded Lucille that he needed her because he was the co-chair of the Bluth Foundation Dinner. He wanted to avoid a previous debacle in which the family couldn’t agree on which disease to raise money for and sent out invitations that read, “Disease: TBA”. They ended up raising $25,000 to fight TBA. And then did it again the next year. When donors finally found out, they nearly rioted.

Lucille assured Michael that he had nothing to worry about because Warden Gentiles, the man who formerly ran George’s prison, was the new co-chair. And at that moment, the good warden was installing cameras in Lucille’s penthouse because of George Senior’s frequent escape attempts. And also so he could study George further because he was the main character in the warden’s screenplay, New Warden. Although George insisted that, thanks to his new hobby of making papier mache copies of his own head, he was now happy at home. Lucille raved that the warden was letting them hold the dinner in a new wing of the jail, and after dinner, everybody would get to spend the night in a cell.

So Michael went home to complain to Lindsay. This disappointed Maeby, as she had met with Warden Gentles to use his prison as a film location. Lindsey excitedly told Michael about this year’s disease, GVH, or Graft Versus Host, an insidious disease which Tobias was currently suffering from. His hair transplant was rejecting his body, meaning that Tobias had to remove his hair graft or die. Lindsay, of course, was making Tobias keep the hair until the benefit dinner. Tobias, growing sicker by the second, didn’t mind so much, since he got to star in the video G.O.B. was making for the dinner.

Michael began to worry that Warden Gentiles was using Lucille, but Lindsay figured he just liked her. George Michael came down and announced that he was going to skip the gala this year. What he didn’t say is that it was because he was having trouble looking directly at his dying uncle.

Buster was also feeling abandoned by Mother, his now dead turtle. But at that moment, his true father, Oscar, returned, looking for his weed. When he learned that Buster’s turtle ate it all, he tried to leave, not wanting to be seen by George Buster begged him to stay, telling him he could hide in one of G.O.B.'s tricks. And Maeby, bored by New Warden, asked George Michael to read it. And Michael raced to warn his mother of Warden Gentiles’ intentions. Michael found them having a romantic meal inside the prison. Lucille told Michael she was trying to seduce the warden, not the other way around.

Michael rushed home to tell G.O.B. and Lindsay what he had learned. Overhearing a conversation about something that wasn’t natural, George Michael perked up, asking if they were discussing a law that bans cousin love. He had read New Warden, and took it as a subtle signal from Maeby about their future, particularly after reading a part about what happens when two people share a bunk. Realizing that nobody else would help, Michael decided to approach Buster about interrupting Lucille’s plans.

But Buster didn’t care either. So Michael decided to tell George. He wasn’t exactly devastated. Mainly because he knew about it already. Michael, putting the dinner and the model heads together, figured out George was planning a new escape attempt. Which he was, with Lucille calling him from the prison to tell him the code for removing his ankle bracelet. Then she told George that if he was now free, so was she. And she was spending the night with the warden.

An ambulance arrived to take Tobias and Lindsay to the charity dinner. George Michael also said he was going so he could support Maeby. Feeling rejected by his family, Michael decided to stay home and read. But the family had no books. So Michael found New Warden and sat down with it. And that’s when Michael learned Warden Gentiles’ true intentions. He was merely using Lucille to get even with George. Also, he had given her chlamydia.

George needed to escape, but his papier mache heads would never fool the cameras. So he searched through G.O.B.’s magic stuff to find something he could use. And he did. Oscar, lying unconscious in one of G.O.B.’s cages, having been knocked out when Buster tried to stuff him in there to hide him. George then ordered G.O.B. to get his magic stuff out of the penthouse, which allowed George to hide in the magic box and then escape.

Michael found G.O.B. at the model home and implored him to help him break into the prison to save Lucille. And Buster found Oscar, who once again had been shaved to look like George. Oscar pleaded with Buster to set him free, which he did. But the police quickly arrested Oscar.

And the guys arrived at the prison to stage their break in. G.O.B. donned George Michael's jet pack, but forgot to strap it on. As a backup plan, he had drawn the prison blueprints on his stomach. Upside down. To read them, G.O.B. had to lie on the ground so Michael could straddle him in a very compromising position. A prison guard found them, but thought they were part of the gala and ordered them inside.

Inside, George Michael was inviting Maeby to pick a cell to share with him that evening. And in the warden’s office, guards led Oscar into Warden Gentiles’ office. In the dining hall, G.O.B.’s video began playing. An incredibly graphic video that featured Tobias spurting blood and picking off scabs. When the patrons learned that removing his hair plugs would cure Tobias, the crowd began to grow unruly. Very quickly, a riot broke out.

Michael caught up with his mother in a conjugal visit trailer and begged his mother not to go through with her plans. When she resisted at first, Michael told her about Gentiles’ screenplay. Which she already knew about. In fact, she gave him the chlamydia. George broke into the trailer and demanded that Lucille give their relationship one last shot. Then Warden Gentiles came in and asked if George was in here, who was being deloused at the moment? George admitted that it was Oscar, and told the warden that if he freed Oscar and gave George and Lucille one hour alone, they could call everything even. The warden agreed.


  • Ken Kimmins as Dr. Carr
  • Hector Atreyu Ruiz as Prison guard
  • Cameron Covell as Boy prisoner #1
  • Andrew Vo as Boy prisoner #2
  • Ruby Jossen as Girl Lucille
  • MacKenzie Hannigan as Boy Gentiles
  • Sema'Jay Hall as African-American boy inmate

Recurring themes[]


  • Prison Break - The title of this episode is a play on the title of the currently-running drama Prison Break on FOX, which became quite successful in Arrested Development's timeslot. There are several jokes about it in this episode.
    • George Michael says "I’m just burnt out on prisons lately," a jab at the success of Prison Break.
    • G.O.B. draws a map of the prison on his stomach, which is part of his break-in plan. The main character in Prison Break has a blueprint of the prison tattooed over his body, which is part of his escape plan.
    • G.O.B. suggests that breaking into prison is a lot easier than breaking into a Jamba Juice. In the Prison Break episode English, Fitz or Percy, the main character reminds everyone how hard it is to break out of prison by saying "We're not breaking out of a Jamba Juice."
    • Tobias calls himself "T-bag" in this episode, which is the name of a prisoner on Prison Break and elicits discomfort from George Michael because of the double entendre reference to the slang term teabagging. This is reinforced when Tobias tells George Michael not to "leave your Uncle T-Bag hanging."
    • Riot - The riot in the episode is a reference to the Prison Break episode "Riots, Drills and the Devil".
  • Seinfeld - Upon reading “shrinkage,” George believes someone saw Seinfeld the night before. In the episode "The Hamptons" (aired May 12, 1994), George worries that women don’t know about penile “shrinkage” occurring after coming out of a pool.
  • Superman - When Michael asks why Lindsay is making Tobias keep the hair, she responds by saying "Did you see the attention Superman’s wife got?", referring to Christopher Reeve, who played Superman, and later became a spokesman for the disabled after becoming quadriplegic.

Callbacks/Running Jokes[]

  • Bad cover-up - Lindsay says "She just called to ask me to bring her a tube of vag... is... table paste. Hi, George Michael," trying to cover up what she was really saying when George Michael walks in the room. This directly mirrors Tobias' "Oh! So now you're mocking me, you Selfish Cun...try... music loving lady. Hello, Maeby" line from "Beef Consommé".
  • "Big Yellow Joint" - The song from "Pier Pressure" is heard repeatedly in this episode. This song is occasionally heard in the background throughout the series, usually used during scenes involving drug use (which is no exception for this episode).
  • Free Chicken illusion - The cage in Buster's room was for the trick that G.O.B. did in "For British Eyes Only". Lucille told G.O.B. to put the cage in Buster's room in that episode.
  • Forget-Me-Now (pill)" - During the flashback to "Visiting Ours", some extra footage is added on at the end where G.O.B. tries to get knocked out so he doesn't have to see his parents having sex. He says to the old warden, "I’ve got a thing of pills in my pocket. I don’t suppose I could convince you to grab me one?" referring to the roofies (or "Forget-Me-Nows," as he calls them) he carries around with him in his pocket.
  • G.O.B. Witnesses - G.O.B. refers back to "Visiting Ours" when he saw his parents having sex when he was detained against their conjugal trailer. At the end of this episode, the very same thing happens again.
    • The conversation that Michael and G.O.B. have about G.O.B.'s sense of propriety when it comes to his parents having sex is very similar to a conversation they had in "Visiting Ours", as Michael points out during the scene.
  • "Her?" - Michael says "Her?" when Lindsay tells him that Warden Gentiles might be interested in Lucille. Later, the Narrator says "Her" when Michael realises that Lucille is trying to seduce the warden.
    • When George hears that Lucille plans on spending the night with the Warden, he says "Him?"
  • "Hey" - Buster greets Oscar with “Hey, Uncle/Father." He later greets who he thinks is George with "Hey, Father/Uncle Dad.”
  • "I'm having the time of my life" - George says this about his current situation under house arrest. He had said the same thing in the "Pilot".
  • Insensitivity about Michael's wife's death: In the flashback, George Sr. finds that someone has suggested ovarian cancer for the Bluth Foundation benefit, and says "Gee, I wonder who that was," looking at Michael.
  • Jetpack - The jetpack from "Mr. F" makes its second appearance in this episode.
  • New Warden - Warden Gentiles's screenplay was first seen in "Staff Infection" when he tried to get Tobias to hand it over to Carl Weathers.
  • Stair car - The guard says that stair car parking is not permitted at the prison, referring to "Visiting Ours" when an inmate escapes by running on the stair car stairs. An inmate once again tries to escape by running up the stair car, though doesn't make it this time.
  • Star Wars Kid - George Michael's Star Wars re-enactment video from "The Immaculate Election" is seen again in this episode.
  • Switch - This is the second time George shaves Oscar's head and switches places with him in order to escape. This first happened in "Righteous Brothers".
  • "That was a freebie" - George says "That was a freebie" when he discovers Oscar knocked out in the cage. Later, G.O.B. says the same thing when he and Michael get let into the prison by the guard. "That was a freebie" was first said by Lucille in "The Cabin Show". Maeby later says the same thing in "Development Arrested".
  • The Man Inside Me - The only books in the Bluth house are copies of Tobias’s book The Man Inside Me, first seen in "Let 'Em Eat Cake", labeled with the sticker “Free with purchase of any other book (or magazine).” This would seem to indicate that Tobias has lost/thrown away his copy of Acting: Like a Man.
    • Michael refers to this book after reading New Warden screenplay, he says "I wish I'd read The Man Inside Me."
  • Is Tobias gay? - Numerous jokes are made in this episode about Tobias' questionable sexuality.
    • Tobias wonders why Warden Gentiles is interested in Lucille, saying "The guy runs a prison, he can have any piece of ass he wants."
    • Tobias refers to the gala as the "gay-la."
    • Tobias tells George Michael not to "leave your Uncle T-Bag hanging."
  • Turtle - Buster has a pet turtle in this episode, which he names Mother, part of the running gag about Buster's disturbing relationship with his mother. Buster first mentioned he wanted a pet turtle in "For British Eyes Only".
    • In "Afternoon Delight", a symbol used for the drug was a picture of a turtle who had just taken some Afternoon Deelite, with a snail riding on it saying "Whee!" This picture can be seen on the box that Buster puts it in, and eventually plays out in the show when Buster's turtle consumes the marijuana that Oscar left behind.

Hidden/Background Jokes[]

  • Uplifted - G.O.B. says the video starring Tobias and his disease will be "very uplifting", right after saying this he walks up behind Tobias and hits the button on the newly installed wheelchair elevator on the second floor; accidently causing Tobias to be lifted up and launched out of his wheelcair down to the first floor below, the wheelchair then falls on top of him, injuring him further.
  • Franklin - While rifling through G.O.B.’s “magic stuff,” George, briefly holds up Franklin.
  • Candyball machine - G.O.B. makes the candy ball machine disappear. A few seconds later, it can be seen in the background lying on the floor in the office.
  • Hand - When Buster picks up the turtle, its left hand falls off (the same hand that Buster lost in "Out on a Limb").
  • Happy Days - When G.O.B. mentions "Happy Days star Donny Host," the Narrator corrects him with "It's Most." Ron Howard, who voices the narrator, was also a cast member on the show, alongside recurring actors Henry Winkler and Scott Baio.
  • Marijuana - The Narrator refers to Oscar being “knocked out by a powerful lid.” “Lid” is an older slang term for a bag of marijuana.
    • Buster puts his turtle Mother in Oscar’s box of Afternoon Deelite (label seen in "Afternoon Delight").
    • Oscar says he couldn’t leave a little “bud” (marijuana) behind which Buster misinterprets as "friend."
    • Oscar wants to cremate Buster's turtle, as it has consumed his marijuana.
  • Ovarian cancer - When the Bluths are deciding what disease to raise funds for, George reads the suggestion ovarian cancer and wonders out loud, "Gee, I wonder who that was" and the camera locks onto Michael looking askance, implying his late wife Tracy died of it.
  • Prison is like school - George Michael, who used to be afraid of prisons, remarks that the new prison "isn't that bad. It's a lot like school, except it's air conditioned". In fact, the room which they walk by is labeled "Classroom".
  • P2252 - The code that unlocks George's ankle bracelet is the same as the “code” seen on a Mexican wall in "Good Grief".
  • Ready, Aim... Marry Me! - A poster for Uncle Jack’s film (from the episode "Ready, Aim, Marry Me") can be seen in Warden Gentiles’s office.
  • Seeing the inside - In his video, G.O.B. remarks about Tobias, "We couldn't see what was really inside, but lately that's all we've been able to see". Tobias is reading his book The Man Inside Me, introduced in "Let 'Em Eat Cake".
  • Startled Straight - Maeby says that Warden Gentiles spoke at her school for a Startled Straight assembly. Startled Straight is a reference to the Scared Straight program, first mentioned in the show in "Notapusy".
  • Woodblock - George Michael is holding a wood block, first seen in "Best Man for the Gob", when he wanted to join Dr. Fünke’s 100% Natural Good-Time Family-Band Solution.
  • Young Girls - When G.O.B. is moving the cage out onto the street, he gets distracted by a group of young girls, allowing George to escape unnoticed. G.O.B.'s attraction to younger girls has come up several times on the show, most notably in "Shock and Aww", "Notapusy" and "Development Arrested".
  • Jetpack - While G.O.B. is being beaten by the guards while seeing his parents having sex. A prisoner escapes using the jetpack that G.O.B. and Michael tried to use to break into the prison earlier in the episode.


→ See more quotes from "Prison Break-In" at Transcript of Prison Break-In.


  • Although this episode's production code suggests it is the eighth episode of the season, it should in fact be the seventh one (which it was aired as), as the episode begins by mentioning that Michael had just broken up with Rita, which happened in the previous episode "The Ocean Walker", and Tobias has his hair plugs removed in the next episode, "Making a Stand".
  • The title of this episode is a reference to the Fox drama Prison Break. The title also refers to how Michael and G.O.B. try to break into the prison, with George successfully doing so at the end.
  • This is the only episode of Season Three to have received a TV-PG rating when it aired, despite the references to marijuana and chlamydia.
  • In a recent interview, Jessica Walter said this was her favorite episode of the show. Link here.
  • James Lipton stars again as Warden Stefan Gentles, who hasn't been in the show since the Season One episode "Altar Egos". This is his third appearance in the show.
  • Oscar makes his second appearance in Season Three, with only a total of three appearances throughout the season. This is the only episode in the season where he has his distinctive long hair.


  • In the beginning of the episode, Michael drops his guitar and knocks over his music stand. In the next shot of Michael, the stand is again upright.
  • When George Michael discovers Tobias in his cell, Tobias points to the cell on the left and says "Oh, she’s in the next cell." However, the shot before of George Michael walking in shows two random extras in the cell on the left (It is possible Tobias is talking about the cell on the right, though he did indicate to the left when he said that line, or that he doesn't actually know where Maeby really is).


→ See 67 pictures from Prison Break-In at Images from Prison Break-In.

1. "The Cabin Show"
2. "For British Eyes Only"
3. "Forget-Me-Now"
4. "Notapusy"
5. "Mr. F"

6. "The Ocean Walker"
7. "Prison Break-In"
8. "Making a Stand"
9. "S.O.B.s"

10. "Fakin' It"
11. "Family Ties"
12. "Exit Strategy"
13. "Development Arrested"

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