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Top Banana

"Top Banana"
Directors: Anthony Russo — Writer: Mitchell Hurwitz & John Levenstein — Aired: November 9, 2003 — Icon-image      

"Top Banana" is the second episode of Arrested Development's first season.

Michael puts George Michael in charge of the Bluth Frozen Banana Stand, and his son subsequently burns down the stand. Elsewhere, Tobias auditions for a commercial, and Lindsay inadvertently gets the part.


Bananas Flambé[]

John Beard of FOX 6 reports that The Banana Stand has been burned down.

A week earlier, Michael meets with his father at prison to ask where his flight records are located. George Sr. asks Michael to get his former bunkmate T-Bone, a "flamer", a job at The Bluth Company, but Michael refuses.

George Michael tries to find time away from Maeby so Michael makes him manager of the Banana Stand. When Michael finds his family lying around the model home he decides that Maeby should work at the Banana Stand to avoid becoming lazy. At the Banana Stand, Maeby regrets her decision and convinces George Michael to take some money from the register to go play ske-ball.

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Michael heads over to his mother's apartment to ask her about the location of the flight records. She refuses to tell him but he later thinks of a ruse to get Lucille to lead him to the records: he warns her of an IRS audit on her furs. Lucille has Luz take all her furs to the storage unit where the flight records are kept. Michael tracks Luz and finds out T-Bone has burned the unit down.

Michael is confronted by G.O.B., who wants to be given some responsibilities. Michael asks him to mail a single letter. Michael then heads back to prison to make a stand against his father, who tells him "there's always money in the Banana Stand". The next day T-Bone begins working at the Banana Stand, as hired by George Sr., so Maeby and George Michael take off to have lunch. At the restaurant, George Michael realizes they are doubling their losses by throwing away bananas for every dollar they take and begins to panic.

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Michael then finds T-Bone at the Banana Stand and heads to the beach to clear his head. Michael then receives a call from Maeby, warning that George Michael is about to burn down the Banana Stand. He agrees to help him as a sign of defiance against George Sr. While they watch it burn, Michael asks G.O.B. if he has mailed the stand's insurance check. G.O.B. had hurled it into the sea, and flees Michael on his Segway.

Michael cockily eats an ice cream sandwich at prison and tells his father that the Banana Stand has been burned down. George becomes angry, and tells Michael there was $250,000 lining the walls of the Banana Stand.

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Fire Sale[]

Tobias heads out into the world to find an audition. Michael shows him a flier for an open casting call for a "fire sale" TV advertisement. Tobias auditions for the ad as if it were a real fire. When the casting director Roger Danish sees Lindsay's reaction to the sale, he gives her the part. Lindsay celebrates her new job and Tobias is seen crying in the shower. Lucille takes her daughter out to lunch, and the two make jabs at each other throughout the lunch.

The next day, Linsday oversleeps and misses the ad taping. Tobias misses his call from Roger Danish because he was crying in the shower again.


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  • Patrice O'Neal as T-Bone
  • Scott Atkinson as Roger Danish
  • Lillian Hurst as Luz
  • Kendall Clement as Fireman
  • Monika Jolly as Waiter
  • Clayon Staggs as Clerk

Recurring Themes[]

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On the next Arrested Development...[]

  • "G.O.B. protests the pet store's frozen-dove exchange policy, and Michael, realizing the banana stand is the only profitable part of the Bluth Empire, decides to rebuild."


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  • Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne - Tobias says that with Lindsay working as an actor as well, they're like "the Lunts", referring to the legendary theatrical husband-and-wife duo of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne.
  • Steve Martin - Tobias says "Excuse Me" in a way imitating Steve Martin's trademark catchphrase, but his motions actually emulate Martin's character from the "Wild and Crazy Guys" sketches with Dan Aykroyd on Saturday Night Live.
  • "Taking Care Of Business" - This song by Bachman Turner Overdrive plays while the banana stand burns.

Callbacks/Running Jokes[]

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  • "Doesn't matter" - When George Michael refers to himself as Mr. Manager, Michael cuts off his next line by saying, "Doesn't matter who."  This is similar to the scene in "The One Where Michael Leaves" where George Michael tells the family that he and Michael are going to Phoenix.  In that scene, Michael cuts him off and says, "Doesn't matter why."
  • Dove - This is the first of many instances of G.O.B. keeping a dove inside his suit jacket for use in a illusion, and unfortunately also the first of many instances of accidentally causing its demise.
  • Fireball - G.O.B.'s fireball illusion screws up in this episode, something which later became a running gag in "Burning Love", "Sword of Destiny" and "The Ocean Walker". When the lighter fluid is detected he always replies with "But where did the lighter fluid come from?", which becomes a running gag along with the failure of the illusion.
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  • Ice cream sandwich - George Sr. first mentions his love affair with ice cream sandwiches here, one that is revisited in later seasons.
  • In the banana stand - George Sr. hides $250,000 in the banana stand, a fact that is mirrored in "Spring Breakout".
  • Missed phone call - Tobias is offered his first big break in the commercial for South Coast Boutique, but misses the phone call. In "Afternoon Delight", he misses a call for his next big break, the Blue Man Group's call to perform with them.
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  • Trick v. Illusion - G.O.B. refers to the fireball as his "least consistent trick." However, in the "Pilot", G.O.B. got angry whenever anyone referred to his magic as a "trick," correcting him with "illusion." G.O.B. is inconsistent about this throughout the series, illustrating G.O.B.'s short attention span and hypocrisy.
  • Gangie - The scene between George-Michael and Maeby in the restaurant is the first time we hear the name Lucille's grandchildren use to refer to her, Gangie.
  • "No Touching" - This line is repeated many times later in the series.
  • Lindsay can, at one point, be seen reading a magainze with a photo of Portia de Rossi on the cover. The magazine's logo is covered by the words "my mag."
  • Maeby is bad at math - Maeby thinks that throwing away bananas at the banana stand will balance out the money she's taking.
  • Mr. Manager - Michael and George Michael call George Michael this even though Michael doesn't like the term.
  • Notes - The bag with the dead dove is labelled "DEAD DOVE - DO NOT EAT!"

Hidden/Background Jokes[]

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  • During Tobias's audition scene, Lindsay and Roger Danish mention how ridiculous their hair was back in high school, which is ironic given they are both sporting ridiculous hair styles in this scene.
  • Bluths using hammers - When Michael is reparing the banana stand, he has already put two nails in the same place and is preparing to add a third in the same spot at the end of the scene.

Foreshadowing/Future References[]

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  • Light treason - Although the reason George Sr. wants to burn the evidence of the flight records (and Lucille tries to keep it from Michael) is never officially explained in this episode, we later learn in "Let 'Em Eat Cake" about George Sr. committing "light treason" overseas. This is the first subtle hint towards it.
  • Never Nude - Tobias is wearing cutoffs while in the shower, a first clue to his condition as a never-nude.
  • Lindsay orders Bananas Foster for dessert, a flaming dessert, foreshadowing the banana stand being burned down at the end of the episode.


→ See more quotes from "Top Banana" at Transcript of Top Banana.

George Sr: There’s always money in the banana stand.  

Guard: No touching!  

Lucille: Luz, that coat cost more than your house! Oh, that’s how we joke. She doesn’t even have a house.  

Tobias: Oh, my God, we’re having a fire. Sale. Oh, the burning! It burns me! Evacuate all the schoolchildren!  


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  • The episode is set up as a mystery of the Banana's Stand's fire, and multiple red herrings are introduced:
    • T-Bone is introduced as "a flamer", which is later confirmed to mean "an arsonist". T-Bone also burns down the storage unit.
    • When Maeby gets a job at the Banana Stand, Lindsay says "If I know my daughter, that stand won't be there in a week."
    • G.O.B.'s fireball illusion malfunctions, and G.O.B. calls it "my least consistent trick".
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  • Buster does not make an appearance during the episode.
  • This episode is well-regarded among fans, and rivals "Bringing Up Buster" as the favorite among early episodes.
  • The ending of this episode marked the first time that an episode revealed a major twist in the plot that changed the meaning of the episode upon another viewing. This is a trait that later became a hallmark of the show.
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  • The title refers to George Sr.'s position within the family, as well as to the banana stand.
  • This is the first time the theme song is heard, though it sounds slightly different in this episode from later ones because volume levels on certain instruments hadn't fully been worked out. In this episode, an electric guitar is prominent in the theme song.
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  • This is arguably the second time we see the character T-Bone, but the first time we see him portrayed by Patrice O'Neal. In the "Pilot", he is played by another, uncredited, actor.
  • This is the only time we see Luz as Lucille's housekeeper. By "Charity Drive", she had been replaced by Lupe.
  • The uncredited guard at the prison who yells "No touching!" in this episode appears several more times, most notably in "Visiting Ours" and "Not Without My Daughter".
  • This episode is rated TV-PG-DL.


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  • At the beginning of the episode, as Michael is talking to his father in prison, the couple in the background sit down at a table and start having a conversation. In the next shot, the same couple arrive at the table and sit down.
  • In the scene after Lindsay gets the role in the commercial and she and Michael are in the kitchen, the scene opens up with Lindsay taking flowers out of a bag and arranging them in a vase. The camera cuts to Michael and then back to Lindsay where the flowers are back in the bag.


→ See more images from "Top Banana" at Category:Images from Top Banana.

1. "Pilot"
2. "Top Banana"
3. "Bringing Up Buster"
4. "Key Decisions"
5. "Charity Drive"
6. "Visiting Ours"
7. "In God We Trust"
8. "My Mother, the Car"

  9. "Storming the Castle"
10. "Pier Pressure"
11. "Public Relations"
12. "Marta Complex"
13. "Beef Consommé"
14. "Shock and Aww"
15. "Staff Infection"
16. "Altar Egos"

17. "Justice Is Blind"
18. "Missing Kitty"
19. "Best Man for the Gob"
20. "Whistler's Mother"
21. "Not Without My Daughter"
22. "Let 'Em Eat Cake"

Season OneSeason TwoSeason ThreeSeason FourSeason Five