Tobias Onyango 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 59 episodes of the series.
He was a psychiatrist and therapist (with Tobias claiming to be the first "Analrapist") but lost his licenses after harming a man during CPR. He has since been seeking work as an actor, though with 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 psychological condition, making him a Never Nude.
From 1994-1998 Tobias attended the University of Pennsylvania. He was a member of the Tau Epsilon Phi fraternity, a fact that is both unfortunate and surprising given his hilarious nature and the fraternity's innate aversion to fun and laughter. In Boston he was both a psychoanalyst and a psychotherapist and thus claimed he was the world's first "analrapist." He lost his licenses after harming a sleeping man with unnecessary CPR. He moved to California with his wife and daughter to figure out his next steps. ("Pilot") He continued to use his education to assist those in the Bluth family, but never to any good outcome. In 2012 as part of a work-release program from prison Tobias worked for Lucille Austero at Austerity. ("Smashed")
After moving to California in 2003 Tobias decided that his destiny was to become an actor, and he pursued this career for several years 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.
Past 2006, Tobias continues to pursue his career in acting. He appears in another episode of Scandalmakers and works for tips as a sidewalk character posing as The Thing from Fantastic Four. ("The B. Team") ("A New Start") He also appears on several Miracle Network shows and in G.O.B.'s Jesus' crucifixion illusion. ("Colony Collapse") He also stages Fantastic 4: An Action Musical. ("Smashed")
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. ("Sad Sack") He reveals this to Lindsay at Spring Break. ("Spring Breakout")
Tobias has said many things that make people question his sexuality, and he is shocked to hear when Lindsay tells him that the family thinks he's gay. He blames this on how "romantic" he is and even though he is now aware of what people think of him, he does not change. ("Indian Takers")
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. ("Let 'Em Eat Cake")
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. ("The One Where Michael Leaves") 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. ("The One Where They Build a House")
Tobias has a relationship with recovering drug addict DeBrie Bardeaux, though the physical nature is never explained. His sexuality is made even more ambiguous as DeBire is mistaken for an elderly man by a doctor. ("A New Start")
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, though this also works as a reference to his sexuality.
- 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"
- Importantly, 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.
- The cover of Tobias' book The Man Inside Me shows a black man hidden by a white man.
- In "Red Hairing," the narrator states that the black politician Herbert Love reminded Lindsay "so much of Tobias when they first started dating."
- In "Smashed" Tobias' middle name is revealed to be Onyango. Onyango is a name used by Luo People in Kenya and Uganda. Notably, Barack Obama's father's middle name is Onyango.
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")
Tobias and Lindsay decide to call off their relationship again. To take advantage of his new mantra "a new start" (represented on his license plate as ANUSTART) Tobias finds Lindsay' copy of Eat, Pray, Love and travels to India where he is hit by a bus and spends two weeks in a hospital. He returns to America and he and Lindsay buy a mansion on a NINJA loan. Tobias takes Lindsay to a method acting clinic (which turns out to be the Garden Grove Methadone Clinic) and he meets DeBrie who tells him she was Sue Storm in Fantastic Four. At C.W. Swappigan's. Tobias finds that he has fallen for her, and the two runs off together without discovering that Lindsay and Marky Bark has done the same.
Hoping to capitalize on her old role, DeBrie and Tobias takes to street performing as Sue Storm and the Thing, but they are repeatedly sued by Marvel for copyright infringement. The duo is soon in a dire financial state, and DeBrie's health deteriorates and she is rushed to the hospital by Tobias. Here he turns down a $120,000 job offer from Lucille Austero. This is the last straw for DeBrie, who leaves him for good.
Tobias tries street performing solo as the Thing for short while in a desperate bid to keep his actor dream alive, but is only met with more lawsuits. Tobias now finds out that he can't remove his costume without help, and hoping to get Maeby's assistance, he heads for her last known address in Sudden Valley. Unbeknownst to Tobias, Maeby has rented the house to the filming of John Beard's To Entrap a Local Predator: Orange County Edition: Super Creep, and he accidentally walks in on the trap set by the film crew, and, eager to meet his daughter and getting his costume removed, he manages to unwittingly digging himself deeper by shouting unfortunate double ententes such as "Is there a little girl alone here?" and the equally incriminating "Daddy needs to get his rocks off." Without ever realizing what he has gotten himself into, Tobias finds himself arrested and registered as a sex offender.("A New Start")
Tobias goes to prison but gets out on work release to Austerity where he is reunited with DeBrie. Because Argyle will not let them be together, Tobias pitches the idea for Fantastic 4: An Action Musical. He also acts as theralyst to Lucille Bluth. He spends time with the reluctant DeBrie during rehearsals and the show is performed the night of Cinco de Cuatro. DeBrie, however, gets her hands on Dr. Norman's discarded pills and crashes. So Tobias tries to fill in the role as Sue Storm himself, by applying a layer of bluebody-paint. But due to an old reflex he also accidentally paints his face blue. Things doesn't get better when he accidentally boards Marky Bark's boat. ("Smashed")
Marky, meanwhile, has mixed up Lindsay's luggage-bag with Tobias' and placed the bomb he was planing to put on the Love float on his boat, with Tobias aboard. The explosion sinks Marky's boat. ("Queen B.")
Tobias' focal episodes of Season Four are "A New Start" and "Smashed". He also appears in "Borderline Personalities", "Indian Takers", "The B. Team", "Colony Collapse", "Red Hairing", "Queen B.", "A New Attitude", "Señoritis", "It Gets Better", and "Off the Hook".
- His last name, Fünke, indicates German heritage, though the name's spelling is also a pun on the adjective "funky." In German, the name actually means "spark".
- Tobias only appears in 59 episodes of Arrested Development.
- → See and enjoy 682 pictures of Tobias Fünke at Images of Tobias Fünke.
|Main Arrested Development Characters|
|Buster • G.O.B. • George Michael • George • Lindsay • Lucille • Maeby • Michael • Tobias|
|Ann • Annyong • Barry Zuckerkorn • John Beard • Kitty • Lucille 2 • Lupe • Mort Meyers • Oscar • Rebel • Steve Holt • Officer Taylor|