An 'Arrested Development' Timeline: From Birth to the Big Screen

Mitchell+Hurwitz in The 2011 New Yorker Festival:
(EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Mitchell Hurwitz, Portia De Rossi, David Cross, Michael Cera, Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Tony Hale and Alia Shawkat attend The 2011 New Yorker Festival: "Arrested Development" Panel at Acura at SIR Stage37 on October 2, 2011 in New York City. (Getty Images)more pics »
Even if you've never watched one episode of Arrested Development, you likely got sucked into the tornado of cult fandom over the weekend when word spread that the once-cancelled sitcom was set to return to television. With a wildly passionate, banana stand loving fanbase that can tell Michael Cera apart from Jessie Eisenberg without the blink of an eye, it took mere minutes for the story to spread across the annals of the Web.

The entire cast of Arrested Development reunited nearly six years after the show got cancelled to announce the sitcom will return. (Getty Images)
While The New Yorker's Twitter feed initially broke the news, various articles (from IGN to TMZ) rapidly flooded Facebook -- as a point of reference, TMZ's short snippet of a story has over 86,000 "likes." The show may have only lasted three seasons in its initial run, but given its current cult-like following, we imagine the sitcom will fair plenty well when it does return.

But until we await that day, here's an Arrested Development timeline to better help you visualize how the series got to where it is today.

Summer, 2002: The Birth of a Sitcom

Ron Howard originally developed the idea for a comedy he hoped to see shot entirely by hand-held cameras, as if it were a reality TV show. Only, rather than focus on wealthy socialites who get paid to take X-Rays of their butts or former rock stars who can't kick heroin addictions, the actor-director envisioned a highly developed comedy that would feature trained actors with real world talents. In light of the now infamous Enron corporate scandal, a friend of Howards, writer Mitchell Hurwitz, suggested a story built around a "riches to rags" family.

Mitchell+Hurwitz in The 2011 New Yorker Festival: November 2, 2003: The Bluth Debut

The sitcom made its Sunday night debut on FOX, landing the coveted spot following the hugely successful Malcom in the Middle. With critics praising the series as "one of the most original and bright comedies in years," expectations were high. But then came the ratings.

While they weren't terrible by any means, the show didn't put up the numbers FOX execs hoped for. In its second season, Arrested Development averaged 6 million viewers. By the third year, that number had dropped to a dysmal 4 million. In comparison, 9.3 million Americans tuned in this past week to the network's latest hit comedy, Zooey Deschanel's New Girl.

November 2005: The Show Gets Cancelled, Sort Of

Despite winning an Emmy for Best Comedy Series in its second season on TV, the sitcom's future didn't look so bright come fall 2005. After continuing its drop in the ratings, FOX decided that November to reduce the show's third run by nine episodes. Even as enraged fans called and e-mailed network execs to voice their ire, it became increasingly clear that the show was on its last legs.

Jason+Bateman in Jason Bateman Out and AboutFebruary 10, 2006: The Final Episode

The sitcom's three year run came to end via a two hour-long marathon. Running directly opposite the opening ceremonies of the 2006 Winter Olympics, the finale drew a meek 3.3 million viewers.

March 2007: Captured in TIME

More than a year after its last episode aired, TIME magazine listed the show as one of its 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME.

April 13, 2011: Making A Movie

After years of speculation surrounding the prospect of a film adaptation, Jeffrey Tambor -- who played the role of George Bluth Sr. on the show, excited fans when he confirmed in an interview with BlackBook Magazine that a script was in the works. "I think all systems are go, and I think it's very possible that you and I could be talking about the making of this film or even it being made by this time next year," he said.

October 2, 2011: Breaking the Good News, Exploding the Internet

Mitchell+Hurwitz in The 2011 New Yorker Festival: Reuniting for a panel at The New Yorker Festival in the Big Apple, the entire cast was on hand to see the show's creator, Hurwitz, break the wonderful news: Arrested Development would return for another season. Better yet, the 9-10 episode stint would lead directly into the long-awaited film. Although no network has yet to pick up the series, Netflix and Showtime have reportedly expressed interest in the show.

(Two group shots: Getty Images | Jason Bateman: Bauer Griffin)

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