Tobias Fünke is the husband of Lindsay Bluth Fünke and the father of Maeby Fünke and is a main character of Arrested Development. He is portrayed by David Cross and appears in 48 episodes of the series.
He was a psychiatrist and "analrapist" but lost his licenses by hurting a man during CPR. He has since been seeking work as an actor, to little success. He aspired to be a member of the Blue Man Group for a while, but they rejected him.
Lindsay married Tobias as a form of protest against her parents, but the two occasionally have intimate moments. Although he repeatedly denies it, he is most likely homosexual. He suffers from a rare medical condition, making him a Never Nude.
At the beginning of the series, Tobias decides that his destiny is to become an actor, and he pursues this career throughout the series without any success. Highlights of his "career" include: being turned down for the role of 'Dr. House'; landing the part of "Frightened Inmate #2" in a prison film, only to get fired for not being able to do the shower scene due to his condition (see below); and attempting to join the Blue Man Group as a standby understudy and, as a consequence, spending part of the second season covered in blue make-up.
In a move inspired by the film Mrs. Doubtfire, Tobias masquerades as a British housekeeper/nanny named "Mrs. Featherbottom" in an attempt to spend time with his wife and daughter after Lindsay kicks him out of the model house. While the disguise fools no one, the family humors him since this gets the housework done.
Although he continually takes very expensive acting lessons from Carl Weathers (the actor who is mostly known from his portrayal of Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise as well as a Marine in Predator), he mainly gets tips on how to make stews from Mr. Weathers. Lindsay continually pokes fun at Tobias' desperation to become an actor, and they split up and reconcile many times over the course of the series.
Tobias suffers from "Never Nude" syndrome (which, as the narrator states, is "exactly what it sounds like") and wears denim cut-off shorts at all times in order to avoid anyone (including himself and his wife) seeing his pelvic area. The condition is similar to severe gymnophobia, although it is portrayed humorously. He conquers this for a time in the middle of the first season, but after a close-up picture of his genitalia is shown on the evening news (where it has been mistaken for a photo showing evidence of WMDs in Iraq), he is driven back to the cut-offs.
Although never formally admitted he has said many things that make people question his sexuality. He makes frequent sexual double-entendres to which he seems completely oblivious. He even records himself saying these clearly homosexual statements and concludes that he is a "Blow Hard", further showing his propensity to be completely ignorant of his actions. Lindsay, who married Tobias to spite her parents, is convinced that her husband is a homosexual. His book, The Man Inside Me, is a cult gay hit, as Tobias wrote on the topic of romantic relationships with only male pronouns, to avoid confusion.
He has experienced sexual difficulties with his wife. This leads to their joint decision to try an "open" marriage, even though Tobias himself acknowledges that this path never works. Tobias doesn't really follow through with the "open relationship", and often stalks his wife covered in blue paint, following her around on her attempted dates hiding in areas that are blue in color in order to remain unseen.
It is often hinted at (though never explicitly stated or fully developed) that Tobias is actually a black man with a skin condition. For example:
- In "Good Grief" Tobias remarks, "I am surprised that she’s going after somebody so similar to my own type," when he learns Lindsay is attempting to have sex with Ice, the family's new black bounty hunter.
- In "Afternoon Delight", the following dialogue occurs between Lindsay and Tobias:
Lindsay: People hear the name Tobias, they think 'big black guy.'
Tobias: Well, obviously, I'm not a big guy.From "Afternoon Delight"
- Notably, he does not point out that he is neither big nor black, just that he is not big.
- In "Afternoon Delight" Lucille tells Michael of her discovery of a "colored man" (Tobias, painted blue) in her apartment.
- In "Notapusy" Lindsay makes a comment about not knowing how Maeby ended up with frizzy hair.
Tobias is very fond of awkwardly rolling or somersaulting into and out of certain situations mainly to show his dexterity and balance though this often backfires. Indeed, Fünke claims to command "cat-like reflexes."
After losing his job and medical license in Massachusetts, Tobias, Lindsay and Maeby moved back to California. At George's retirement party he accidentally boarded a group of actors protesting the yacht club's ban on gay marriages at sea. From spending the day with the actors, he realized he wanted to become an actor. ("Pilot") He begins his acting career by auditioning for a Fire Sale commercial but overacts and is passed up for Lindsay's accidental realistic approach. ("Top Banana")
Tobias continues to pursue his love for acting by directing Maeby's high school's rendition of Much Ado About Nothing, casting Steve Holt as the female lead. ("Bringing Up Buster") Tobias and Lindsay see a marriage counselor but Tobias takes the chance to practice acting in a role reversal. ("Visiting Ours") When the Living Classics pageant rolls around, Tobias reveals his Never Nude affliction to George Michael. ("In God We Trust") Tobias tries to show an interest in Maeby's life and buys a "leather daddy" outfit, which leads him to an underground leather bar. ("Storming the Castle") When Michael hires a publicist to revamp the Bluth's image, Tobias is instructed to go demand his medical license back. Instead he becomes an acting student under Carl Weathers. ("Public Relations")
Tobias has highs and lows as moves out of Lindsay's bedroom but is offered the role of Frightened Inmate #2 from Carl Weathers. ("Marta Complex") Lindsay and Tobias make amends and she helps him get over his Never Nude issue for his new role. ("Beef Consommé") He then checks himself into George's prison to research the role. ("Staff Infection") George trades Tobias for a pack of cigarettes, but Tobias rebounds by accidentally talking White Power Bill into killing himself and becomes "Dorothy", the leader of the inmates. ("Missing Kitty")
Tobias and Lindsay pay George Michael to tutor Maeby. ("Altar Egos") Tobias uses his cat-like agility to break into Maggie Lizer's house to recover evidence for George's trial. ("Justice Is Blind") Tobias tries to strike back up the Dr. Fünke's 100% Natural Good-Time Family Band Solution for the sake of saving his relationship, but ends up flirting with G.O.B.'s wife. ("Best Man for the Gob")
Tobias and G.O.B. decide to make some money by starting a company, Gobias Industries but Michael passes them up on investing. ("Whistler's Mother") Tobias becomes a security guard at the mall to prove to Lindsay that he is manly. ("Not Without My Daughter") Lindsay does return to him when it turns out he is making money from his self-help book The Man Inside Me. ("Let 'Em Eat Cake")
Tobias and Lindsay decide to try an open relationship. Sad that Lindsay finds a date within the first 10 minutes, he happens across the Blue Man Group and decides he wants to be a member. ("The One Where Michael Leaves") Tobias auditions for the BMG and stalks Lindsay while wearing blue makeup. ("The One Where They Build a House") Tobias dresses in blue paint, hoping the BMG will call him as an understudy, but is mistaken for George by Ice and is tackled. ("¡Amigos!") Tobias is flattered that Lindsay would go after someone so similar to himself, in Ice. ("Good Grief")
Tobias starts working out and accidentally photographs himself in the bathtub. Close-up photos of his scrotum frighten every echelon of the US government. ("Sad Sack") Tobias, in blue paint, visits Lucille to keep her company but she mistakes him for a colored man and blows her rape horn in his ear, making him temporarily deaf. He is hit by a high Lucille due to his deafness. ("Afternoon Delight") Tobias hangs out at Tantamount Studios spreading the name "Fünke" which only helps his daughter Maeby Fünke secure a job there as a movie exec. ("Switch Hitter")
When Bluth Company stokes are unfrozen, Tobias buys the Tobias is Queen Mary club and turns some gangsters (actually Hot Cops hired by Lindsay to frighten Tobias) into dance evangelists, until they are beaten by a real gang. ("Queen for a Day") Jealous that his wife is dating Moses Taylor, Tobias spends Michael's $5,000 on a drugged Lindsay at a bachelorette auction. ("Burning Love") Tobias goes on the date package from the auction alone, then goes on it again with Michael who is distracting him from the fact that Lindsay is on a date with Jack Dorso. ("Ready, Aim, Marry Me")
Lindsay and Tobias bond when they break into Maggie Lizer's house and discover that she is actually pregnant. ("Out on a Limb") Tobias and Lindsay continue to bond over the baby that isn't theirs, nor Michael's (as they all assume.) ("Hand to God") Tobias meets up with Carl Weathers at a Burger King and signs his family's story rights away for the chance to portray George Bluth in the Weather-directed episode of Scandalmakers. While preparing, he discovers George hiding in the attic. ("Motherboy XXX")
Lindsay kicks Tobias out of the house and he dons a Mrs. Featherbottom disguise to see Maeby and prove to his family that he is a talented actor. ("The Immaculate Election") Michael gives Tobias a job as his assistant because Lindsay is tired of Mrs. Featherbottom's constant presence. George has Tobias deliver a video tape to the Bluth Company employees and Tobias unwittingly helps the FBI. ("Sword of Destiny") Tobias struggle to juggle his Mrs. Featherbottom character and his real identity, desperate for someone to realize it is him. They enjoy his servitude too much to give it up, but Michael finally gives up the gig when he needs to know where George Michael went. ("Meat the Veals")
Tobias and Lindsay film Men with Low Self-Esteem during Spring Break and Tobias meets Phillip Litt, a fellow Never Nude. ("Spring Breakout") Tobias is given an opportunity to perform with the Blue Man Group in Las Vegas so he and Kitty abscond to Nevada. ("Righteous Brothers")
Tobias jumps at the chance to appear with G.O.B. in his Free Chicken illusion so he gets hair plugs to look like his brother in law. ("For British Eyes Only") Tobias attempts to help Buster overcome his fear of Lucille and loose seals by using his Analrapist skills. ("Forget-Me-Now") Tobias begins to lose control of his hand muscles, but he helps Ann prepare for the Miss Inner Beauty pageant, shoving George Michael to the side. ("Notapusy")
An FBI agent named Frank asks Tobias to be a "mole" for the family, but Tobias thinks it is an acting gig. Donning a mole costume, Tobias destroys Tiny town. ("Mr. F") Tobias' paralysis worsened to the point where he needed a wheelchair, which he sometimes fell out of. ("The Ocean Walker") The Bluth family held a fundraiser for Tobias' Graft Versus Host disease, which was caused by his hair plugs. All he needed to do to be cured was have them removed. ("Prison Break-In")
Lindsay attempts to divorce Tobias so she can date Bob Loblaw but Bob acts as Tobias' attorney. ("Making a Stand") Tobias attempts to teach Maeby some discipline by making her assemble glitter-filled gift bags for casting directors. ("S.O.B.s") Tobias befriends a priest named Ben and they protest to keep the comatose Buster alive. This causes a fight between Tobias and Lindsay, and Buster demands they fake their marriage for the sake of the whole family. ("Fakin' It")
Tobias meets a "girl Michael" at the gym and takes a liking to her. Lindsay meets her/him too and they converge on a date, and end up bonding with their anger toward "girl Michael." ("Family Ties") Tobias refuses to betray his family for Wayne Jarvis but is conned into participating in a "scrapbooking" event led by Detective John Munch. ("Exit Strategy") Tobias organizes George's exoneration party on the RMS Queen Mary and hires the Hot Cops as entertainment. ("Development Arrested")
|Teaser poster, featuring Cutoffs||Character poster|
- His last name, Fünke, indicates German heritage, though the name's spelling is also a pun on the adjective "funky."
- Tobias does not appear in the Season One episodes "Key Decisions", "Charity Drive", "My Mother, the Car", "Pier Pressure", and "Shock and Aww".
- → See and enjoy 518 pictures of Tobias Fünke at Images of Tobias Fünke.
|Main Arrested Development Characters|
|Buster • G.O.B. • George Michael • George • Linsday • Lucille • Maeby • Michael • Tobias|
| Ann • Annyong • Barry Zuckerkorn • Bob Loblaw • Ice • Kitty • Larry Middleman • Lucille 2 • Lupe|
Maggie Lizer • Marta • Mort Meyers • Oscar • Rita • Stan Sitwell • Steve Holt • Tony Wonder • Uncle Trevor • G.O.B.'s wife