In Arrested Development, Maeby and George Michael refer to Lucille as "Gangie". The other family members do this too, but usually only when speaking about her to Maeby or George Michael. So this name is clearly being used as a generic word or term of address for a grandmother, like "Grandma" or "Nana". But this usage seems to be unique—or at least, it isn't common enough to have made it into any of the dictionaries I've checked. Which leads me to my questions:

  1. Has there been any in-universe explanation as to how Lucille got the nickname "Gangie"?
  2. Is there any out-of-universe explanation for the name? That is, did the creators of the show ever say how they came up with the name?
  • It's just a nickname, like "Pop-pop".
    – BCdotWEB
    Jul 29, 2018 at 21:11
  • 1
    @BCdotWEB: I know that. But "Pop-pop" is a common nickname with a well-attested etymology; the non-reduplicated form is even in the OED. The origin of "Gangie" is a mystery to me, and that's what I'm asking about.
    – Psychonaut
    Jul 30, 2018 at 5:36
  • I had never heard “Pop-pop” before either. Aug 1, 2018 at 19:43

2 Answers 2


Frannie Halcyon, one of the characters in Armistad Maupin's Further Tales of the City (1982), is called "Gangie" by her grandchildren:

Little Edgar and his sister Anna ran across the brown lawn at Halcyon Hill and accosted their grandmother on the terrace, each tugging joyfully at a leg.

"Gangie, Gangie ... look!"

Frannie set her teacup down on the glass-topped table and smiled at the four-year-olds. "What do you want to show Gangie?"

Little Anna thrust out her tiny fist and uncurled it. A small gray toad, pulsing like a heart, was offered for examination.

The pet name is uncommon enough that a character asks about it later in the novel:

Claire smiled expansively at the twins. "They're just cute as a button, Frannie. What's that name they call you?"

Frannie reddened. "Uh... Gangie. It's just a pet name. Frannie's a little too personal... and Mrs. Halcyon seemed too... formal."

"Gangie," repeated Claire, her dark eyes twinkling with a hint of playfulness. "Sounds an awful lot like Grannie to me."

The character of Frannie Halcyon is a wealthy Californian socialite who "spends most of her day in an oblivious, alcohol-induced haze," so it seems plausible that Lucille's pet name is a reference to Maupin's novels. However, I have not been able to find any confirmation of this online.

  • Upvoted because this explanation seems very plausible. If you or anyone else subsequently discovers proof that the show's creators got the name from the novel, please edit the answer or post a comment, and I'll mark this answer as accepted.
    – Psychonaut
    Nov 28, 2018 at 9:29
  • Yeah, it's not a definitive connection; at best it's a plausible source. When I wrote this answer, I spent some time Googling for an interview or the like where the connection was made explicit, but I wasn't able to find anything. Nov 28, 2018 at 13:39

Names like these sometimes take on the pronunciation that a young child uses, which may not be perfect yet.

This is actually the case in my family, where my great aunt is called "Bojja" because her grandchild couldn't say "Bomma" (the local default name for a grandmother) as a young child. The name stuck.
Similarly, I had an elephant teddybear. The Dutch for elephant is "olifant", but as a young child I could only get to "ojah". That name stuck for years as well.

"Gangie" isn't too far off from "granma/grammy/granny" or similar, if you consider a young child's pronunciation. Keep in mind that names sometimes evolve over time, e.g. maybe a young George Michael said "ganny" but over time it turned into "gangie" because the family kept using it for years. Or, alternatively, maybe because Maeby then further bastardized the existing "ganny" nickname.

Even if I'm correct, it could still be a reference, like Michael Seifert's answer offers. But I just thought I'd add an answer as to why weird names for grandparents are not all that uncommon.

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