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The One Where Michael Leaves

"The One Where Michael Leaves"
Directors: Lee Shallat-Chemel — Writer: Mitchell Hurwitz & Richard Rosenstock — Aired: November 7, 2004 — Icon-image      

"The One Where Michael Leaves" is the first episode of Arrested Development's second season.

George Sr. is at large, making Michael next in line to be prosecuted for the Bluth Company crimes. Meanwhile, Michael is vexed to find that the family is fine without him, and police mistake Oscar for George Sr. and arrest him.


To Phoenix[]

Hours after learning his father had escaped prison, Michael Bluth and George Michael drive in the family's Mercedes to Phoenix to start a new life. Realizing their family wouldn't understand the importance of his departure, Michael returned to tell them in person. They don't seem to need him, which slightly hurts. After hitting the road again Michael is pulled over by the police, routinely checking in on George Bluth's license plates. The officer informs Michael that his father has been caught.

At the police station, Michael finds out that is was Oscar who was apprehended, not George. Before he can hit the road Barry informs Michael that he must not leave California as the government wants to charge him with aiding and abetting his father. He can, however, pay bail before leaving.

To proud to ask for help, Michael tries to track down the company checkbook. His mother doesn't have it, nor does Lindsay nor G.O.B.. Returning to the model home, Michael decides to search inside the walls of the model home for evidence hidden by his father. Instead he finds Tobias who advises him that asking for help isn't a sign of weakness.

Suddenly called to the hospital, Michael breaks and asks his family for the checkbook. G.O.B. reveals that he found a briefcase containing a contract between George and Saddam Hussein, but that it had gone missing. George, disguised as Oscar, had stolen it in the family's moment of grief.

Father's Brother[]

With his identical twin brother on the lam, Oscar Bluth was violently arrested by the police. At the police station he informs Lucille that his trailer has been impounded and that he is homeless. Lucille, annoyed by Buster's recent attitude allowed Oscar to move in as a father figure for Buster. Oscar hinted that he was more than just a father figure.

At the apartment Buster and Oscar bond, to the annoyance of Lucille. While heading out for groceries, a Michael Moore impostor asks Lucille if she'd sign Buster for the the army. She says yes.

A Blue Man[]

Given the master bedroom of the model home, Lindsay and Tobias decided to give their relationship another try. Both were overcome with fear so they decided to attempt an open relationship. After inadvertently flirting with a realtor Lindsay bragged to Tobias and Maeby about finding a date. A dejected Tobias walked along the waterfront and found a sign advertising a group for men feeling blue.

The flyer turned out to be an ad for the Blue Man Group and Tobias was mesmerized by the group and decided to audition to become an understudy. After painting his entire head and torso blue Tobias had a discussion with Michael before heading to the audition.

Lindsay, meanwhile, met the realtor for a date. To calm her nerves about the open relationship, she took a shower. As it turned out, the realtor was only interested in showing her the house, not dating her.

On the way to his audition Tobias was hit by a distracted Barry Zuckerkorn. Dr. Fishman informed the family that "it looks like he's dead" but Michael had him clarify that Tobias' blue paint looks like he's dead, but he will actually make a full recovery. The family grew violently upset.

From Iraq[]

After vowing the leave the family, Michael is replaced by G.O.B. as the president of the Bluth Company. Within his first hours G.O.B. causes thousands of dollars of damage by turning the Bluth Company offices into a relaxed party office. His flashy magic showmanship allowed him to dazzle the board.

While attempting to hang a picture in his office, G.O.B. discovered a metal briefcase containing a contract signed by both George Bluth and Saddam Hussein hidden in the wall. Although he was cocky about his competence to Michael earlier, he finally decided to ask Michael for advice while at the hospital for Tobias.


  • Ed Helms as James
  • Steve Tom as Board Member
  • Bill Rutkoski as Man
  • Lynne Marie Stewart as Joyce
  • Mari Ueda as Barrista
  • Tracy Howe as Sheriff

Recurring Themes[]


  • Blue Man Group - Tobias first sees the Blue Man Group in this episode and although he paints himself blue, he mentions that he has not yet even auditioned to be an understudy.
  • Chemical Ali - FOX 6's report on the Bluth-built American homes in Iraq claims that one of the houses shown is the "former home of Chemical and Mrs. Ali."
  • Friends - The title is a play on Friends-style episode titles, which usually start with the phrase "The One Where."
  • Kegel exercise - Lindsay's exercise video is actually for Kegel exercises, a set of exercises designed to strengthen and give voluntary control over the pubococcygeus muscle; the exercises are used to increase sexual gratification.
  • George W. Bush - G.O.B. sat with the Saddam documents for seven minutes; George W. Bush sat reading a children's story for seven minutes after being told of the September 11, 2001 attacks.
  • Michael Moore - The documentary filmmaker is a spoof of Michael Moore, whose documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, included a segment in which he asked senators to enlist their sons or daughters in the army.
  • University of California, Irvine - The Blue Man Group flier says they are scheduled to perform at the university, specifically the UC Irvine Bren Center.

Callbacks/running jokes[]

  • Abbreviated cursing - Buster abbreviates the word "rape" to "R." He previously abbreviated the word "screwing" to "essing" in "Pier Pressure", and later abbreviates "bitch" to "B" in "Ready, Aim, Marry Me".
  • Ann is bland - Maeby reveals that Ann's school picture was captioned "Not pictured."
  • Blender - Lucille interrupts Michael's speech with a blender.
  • Blue paint - For the first half of Season 2, blue paint (usually in the form of a randomly-placed blue hand print) can be seen in the background on the walls of the Bluth model home.
  • Bluth Company Board/workers are incompetent - The board approves G.O.B. as the president of the company after he performs a magic trick for them.
  • Cloudmir Vodka - One of the cases of alcohol G.O.B. steals from Lucille is Cloudmir Vodka.
  • Buster's real father - Several hints are made that Oscar is Buster's real father, each accompanied by the same dramatic music and knowing glances between Oscar and Lucille:
    • When Buster says that they told him his father was at the police station, Oscar suggestively says, "Did they?"
    • Oscar suggestively agrees that Buster needs "a father figure."
    • When Oscar suggests that Buster should grow his hair long, Buster notes, "Then I'd look like you." Oscar responds, "More than you'll ever know."
  • "Doesn't matter" - When George Michael tells the family he and Michael are going to Phoenix, Michael responds, "Don't tell them where."  Michael then cuts off George Michael's response by saying, "Doesn't matter why."  This is similar to the scene in "Top Banana" where George Michael refers to himself as Mr. Manager.  In that scene, Michael cuts him off and says, "Doesn't matter who."
  • Hiding in the walls - The narrator mentions that George Sr. has a tendency to hide things inside walls. This was previously shown in "Top Banana", in which he lined the walls of the Banana Stand with $250,000.
  • A huge mistake - When Michael announces to the family that he's leaving, he tells G.O.B. to bail himself out next time, rather than coming to him and saying, "I've made a huge mistake." G.O.B. denies ever saying that he made a mistake, asking what he would have made a mistake about. Later, when Michael realizes that George Sr. has gotten away with the evidence, G.O.B. tells him, "You've made a huge mistake."
  • Lindsay's nose - Michael reveals that Lindsay's nose is fake, and that she used to have a larger nose when she was younger. This is referenced numerous times in later episodes.
  • Michael's Shirt - Tobias accidentally soils Michael's shirt with blue paint forcing him to change just as G.O.B. did with red paint in Missing Kitty.
  • Never Nude - Tobias is wearing his cutoffs when he informs Michael that he has a gig as an understudy of a performance art group.
  • Pilot callbacks
    • Lindsay is wearing a "H.O.O.P" t-shirt during the Monkey Freedom Rally set-back. H.O.O.P. is her anti-circumcision movement, mentioned several times in Pilot.
    • Michael and George Michael are once again leaving for Phoenix, Arizona, like they almost did in the "Pilot".
    • This episode's ending is identical to the ending of the "Pilot".
  • Phone - This is the first episode in which G.O.B.'s inability to operate the company phones is displayed.
  • George Michael tips his hand when making a phony phone call to Lucille's pretending to be Dr. Bluman's office, conceding they'll just get a hold of Michael in Phoenix (he would have no knowledge of this and his father's departure moments before). He had previously done this at a younger age, referring to his father as "Dad" while impersonating the Jerky Boys during a business meeting in "Burning Love".
  • Police brutality - Whenever Oscar is arrested by the police, he is beaten over the head with a baton by Officer Taylor, who always says "Yeah" after doing so. This happens four times in the episode.
  • Rape horn - Lucille mentions she has a rape horn, a possible callback to Buster's "rape whistle" in "Charity Drive".
  • Tobias is gay - Numerous jokes are made regarding Tobias' sexuality.
    • Tobias "accidentally" sets off Lucille's rape horn just before Michael mentions that Lindsay thinks he's a homosexual.
    • Tobias says it's "nice to be back in a queen," referring to sharing a queen bed with his wife.
    • Tobias says, "No, I'm afraid I just 'blue' myself."
    • When Lindsay walks in on Tobias in the bedroom, he is seen practicing her "EZ-Keglin" Kegel exercise tape.
  • Wig - George Sr.'s technique of using a wig to disguise himself while escaping is shown several times throughout the course of the series.
  • "Wonderful things" - Michael says "He said some wonderful things" in regards to Tobias' "I just blue myself" line. Michael said the same thing about George Sr.'s "Daddy horny" line in "Visiting Ours".
  • George Sr. doesn't like Oscar - When George Sr. is disguised as Oscar, he says, "Well I'm going to go, you don't need a piece of **** uncle hanging around."
  • "Who wants to go to the hospital?" - This begins a running gag in which Tobias ends his storyline for each episode by going to the hospital. It is repeated several times in Season 2.
  • "I am having the time of my life" - Said by Barry Zuckercorn in the "On the next" part of the show. Referring back to when George Sr. is first visited in prison by Michael where he says the same thing, as well as the same gestures and greetings toward another inmate.
  • Twin Beds - In the "On the Next" part of the show, Lindsay is admitted to the hospital with a fever and ends up on a bed close to Tobias, calling back to the beginning of the episode when Michael criticises the couple for sleeping in separate twin beds

Hidden/background jokes[]

  • Contract - When G.O.B. finds the incriminating contract between George Sr. and Saddam Hussein it appears to be signed in blood.
  • Hair - Several scenes after Lucille says Buster is uncontrollable and will now no longer help brush her hair, it is noticeably more of a mess than usual.
  • Never Nude - Tobias can be seen wearing his cut-offs as he walks around the model home in blue paint.
  • Sign - At her "Monkey Freedom Rally," Lindsay holds a sign that reads "Free this orangutan." The fact that orangutans are apes, and not monkeys, serves to reinforce Lindsay's ignorance.
  • Staring - When Michael and George Michael return to the penthouse, George Michael can't help but stare at Lindsay's nose, now knowing that it's fake. Lindsay covers her nose with her hand and nervously walks away.
  • Notice Board - As Tobias approaches the notice board on which he sees the Blue Man Group notice, the narrator says "Lindsay had met someone, and [Tobias] hadn't". Just prior to reaching the notice board, Tobias walks past and glances at what appears to be two men in a relationship. This is mirrored in the episode "Burning Love", where he again approaches a notice board, this time passing a female couple.

Foreshadowing/future references[]

  • Blue Man Group - Michael pretends to be a doctor named "Dr. Bluman" on the phone to Lucille, hinting at the upcoming storyline with Tobias joining the Blue Man Group.
  • Seal Attack - While Buster is combing Oscar's hair, John Beard reports, "And a seal attack. Meet one surprised bather, coming up!" The camera then pans to Buster. This foreshadows Buster's attack by a seal in "Out on a Limb".
  • Adopted - When George Michael and Michael are driving to Phoenix, George Michael asks if Lindsay is not his real aunt, possibly hinting that Lindsay was adopted.
  • Oscar - During the final scene at the hospital, Buster is clearly uncomfortable with the way Oscar is massaging his shoulders, a hint that it is George Sr. disguised as Oscar.


Michael: You haven’t auditioned yet?

Tobias: Oh, no, no. I’m not in the group yet. No, I’m afraid I just blue myself.

Michael: There’s got to be a better way to say that.  

→ See more quotes from "The One Where Michael Leaves" at Transcript of The One Where Michael Leaves.


  • Although this episode begins on the same day that "Let 'Em Eat Cake" left off, it was in fact filmed several months later, which is why some of the characters (notably Lindsay and the kids) look different.
  • This episode marks the start of several new storylines, including Tobias and Lindsay's open marriage, Tobias joining the Blue Man Group, G.O.B. being in charge of the Bluth Company, and Oscar moving in with Buster and Lucille.
  • Michael makes a hole in the wall with a sledgehammer. This hole remains for the rest of the season, although half of it is covered by a cabinet.
  • Ian Roberts makes his second appearance as Dr. Fishman, also known as "the literal doctor" and Dr. "Wordsmith."
  • Jay Johnston returns as Officer Taylor, the police officer who hits Oscar over the head. He later plays a large role in the episode "Hand to God".


  • When the family sees Lindsay in the shower and goes downstairs to leave, someone (possibly a crew member) can be seen in the mirror sitting down in the background.
  • When Oscar is at the police station, he can be seen wearing George Sr.'s wedding ring.
  • The document which G.O.B. finds inside the briefcase does not actually have Arabic writing. The non-English text is Persian.


→ See 123 pictures from The One Where Michael Leaves at Images from The One Where Michael Leaves.

1. "The One Where Michael Leaves"
2. "The One Where They Build a House"
3. "¡Amigos!"
4. "Good Grief"
5. "Sad Sack"
6. "Afternoon Delight"

  7. "Switch Hitter"
  8. "Queen for a Day"
  9. "Burning Love"
10. "Ready, Aim, Marry Me"
11. "Out on a Limb"
12. "Hand to God"

13. "Motherboy XXX"
14. "The Immaculate Election"
15. "Sword of Destiny"
16. "Meat the Veals"
17. "Spring Breakout"
18. "Righteous Brothers"

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason Five