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  • Acceptable Targets: Used with varying degrees of intensity: the more the writers hate it, the meaner they'll be. So far, everything has been ripe for parody.
  • Anvilicious: Surprisingly averted. It doesn't go nearly as far as the recent episodes of Family Guy do and is all the better for it.
    • Parodied in an episode where, after Francine is worried that her and Stan's new friends might get an abortion, he says...

  Stan: They won't, (looks at camera and smiles) because they're awesome! (nods)

  • Alternative Character Interpretation: Is Francine a sensible mom/wife or is she an insane dumb blonde? Or sometimes both?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Any scene involving Reginald the Koala. They don't make sense even if you know his origin.
    • Roger's bad tortillas cause him to evacuate 'a turd of solid gold' which becomes the MacGuffin in a very bad B-movie - causing two overly long scenes in unconnected episodes where characters we've never seen before kill each other for said golden turd. Fans generally have found them confusing rather than funny.
      • This later turns out to be a Brick Joke, which took about four years to finish.
    • Not to mention the beginning to Irregarding Steve. Without warning, terrorists kill everyone as Klaus and Francine escape through an underground tunnel. They're suddenly in a car driving off as Klaus is in a mech, explaining that "[he's] Max Hammer. And [he's] here to save the world!" After escaping Mexican vampires, they discover the lost city of Atlantis after driving the car off the cliff into the ocean. They begin to kiss as it's revealed to be a daydream by Klaus.
    • In early seasons, Klaus would be a One-Scene Wonder who came right out of nowhere and disappeared. If you didn't know who Klaus was, you'd see the character as a Big Lipped Alligator Moment.
    • The fake commercial for crack on A Jones for a Smith. Yeah, it was funny because Stan was imagining the whole thing and it does serve as a bit of satire about America's tight laws for illegal drugs vs. their lax laws on prescription drugs (which can be abused just like the illegals), but the main question is: Did it have anything to do with the plot (other than to be funny)?
    • MIND QUAD.
    • Stan's extended headtrip when "describing" what he sees when listening to "Touch Me I'm Going To Scream (Part II)" by My Morning Jacket in the similarly-named episode My Morning Straitjacket. At one point, lead singer Jim James becomes the face in the sun and when he opens his mouth, Stan comes sliding down a sunbeam in a reclined position.
    • The 1000th vagina joke celebration, to an extent. Where the heck did that come from...?
    • In Home Wrecker, after Stan and Francine demolish the wall separating their halves of the house, part of the ceiling caves in and Roger falls through, dressed in a wedding gown, alongside a blow-up sex doll that's also in a wedding gown. And the episode ends with two agents from INS asking "Where is she?", which leads to Roger screaming "Run Annabelle!", and letting the air out of the doll. As it blows away the agents chase after it while firing their guns.
    • Home Wrecker also completely derails from the plot a few minutes in when everyone breaks out into a song and dance number called "Stan and Frannie" (a parody of "We Go Together" from Grease that mainly consists of gibberish). The song ends about a minute in as Roger went to see Greg & Terry's new kitchen, at which point more plot-irrelevant nonsense occurs when everyone descends into a stereotypical televangelist theme that results in Jeff speaking in tongues, before they all leave followed by a marching band playing "When The Saints Go Marching In".
    • In "The Unbrave One": Maybe baby.
    • The end of "The Unbrave One". Francine steps into Steve's room drunk, and Roger walks in and sings a song. Then a random guy on the street and his lady friend come in and they all start singing along, with the last line being sung by the woman. And she's got the voice of a man.
    • It was Witches.
  • BLAM Episode: Hot Water, the Season 7 premiere. It's a hip-hop musical/horror story about Stan buying a hot tub that turns out to be sentient and a serial killer, and by the end it kills Principal Lewis, Francine, and Stan.
    • Word of God says the episode was written because the writers thought that American Dad was going to get canceled, so they made this episode as a series finale. When news hit that the show wasn't going to be cancelled, they made this the season premiere.
    • Tearjerker, a James Bond spoof with all the family members playing different characters.
  • Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch: People will occasionally accuse American Dad of being a Family Guy rip-off due to the fact that both shows are animated Dom Coms created by Seth MacFarlane (with MacFarlane providing voicework for the father characters), but anyone who has seen even a single episode of both shows can tell you that American Dad does NOT have the same humor style as Family Guy.
  • Crazy Awesome: Roger can be this at times, thanks to his vast array of personas. One example is when his persona "Jeanie Golde" tells Steve and Haley to go buy a good present for their parents renewing of vows. When they come back with a $30 thimble, Jeanie "leaves" and his other persona Valik, some sort of Spanish/Mexican thug for hire arrives and slashes Steve across the chest with his knife. Once Francine arrives, Jeanie comes back and tells Steve to bite down on a stick as she begins to sew shut the wound, disinfect it, bandage it, then kiss it. All before telling Steve not to go into shock because "today is not about [him]."
    • Principal Lewis. He gets into fistfights with dogs.
  • Crowning Moment of Awesome: Roger gets high off a face full of cocaine and takes on four thugs with their own weapons. Specifically, he takes out three while dual wielding an Uzi and a Sawed-Off Shotgun, then runs out of ammo. Just as the fourth and final guy is about to execute him with an assault rifle, the bathtub from the upper floor falls on him and kills him, since he'd previously nearly destroyed the ceiling with all the rounds he fired.
    • Doubles as a Crowning Moment of Funny as well, along with that entire episode.
    • Stan getting into an epic battle with Bullock, made even better with Klaus's DVD commentary.
    • Wheels And the Legman.
    • Brainwashed Hayley beating Stan to a bloody pulp in wedding dress and with her hair wet and messy.
    • When Stan starts bullying Steve to get him to stand up for himself. Steve finally decides to stand up for himself in his own way; he hires Stan's childhood bully to kick Stan's ass.
    • Toshi saving Stan, Francine, and Roger from serial killers in a scene like something from an anime in the 2010 halloween episode.
    • The entire battle sequence from For Whom The Sleighbell Tolls.
    • Roger kicking his abusive friend Henry in the groin and knocking over his bike in a mock Not Afraid of You Anymore scene.
  • Crowning Moment of Funny: Roger: Can you help me? I'm not drunk.

 Stan: If my terminology is correct, I'm a powertop.

Terry: I'll get my coat.

    • The family's birthday roast of Roger, especially the repeated reveals with the checkbook.
    • Stan not realizing he's talking to a lesbian couple. His reaction is classic

 Allison: Al is short for Allison. I'm a woman

Stan: Love the long hair look on men. Grown up Jesus had long hair but his breasts weren't as luscious-- HOLY SHIT, YOU'RE A WOMAN!

 Stan:*he gets maced* MY EYES! *he stumbles back into a door* MY BACK! *he notices his plant is dying* MY BEGONIA! *he bumps into his radio alarm clock, turning it on* MY SHARONA! *he bumps into the TV, turning it on* MY BEST FRIEND'S WEDDING! AH! MY EYES AGAIN!

  • Ear Worm: Stelio. Stelio Kontos.
    • Guns make holes in your body, through which you can't potty, just your blood and guts spill out! Bambi's mom could still munch grass, Tupac would be tappin' ass, if you hate guns!
    • We're red and we're gay, we're red and we're gay, we're red and we're gaaay!
    • OOOOOLLIE NORTH! -bum- OOOoOLLIE NORTH!
    • El gato, el gato, el gato no es bueno...
    • Again, Hot Water in its entirety.
    • Doin' it, doin' it, d-d-d-doin' it, doin' it, doin' it...
    • I made it rain, I made it rain, I made it rain on dem boys!
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Roger. Not Klaus as the writers might have been hoping.
    • Agent Turlington is practically made of the stuff that leads to this trope.
    • Principal Lewis.
    • Don't forget THE ANTI-CHRIST
    • Roger's one-time persona "Jeannie Gold" has a small, but noticeable following, to the point that there's a facebook page dedicated to him/her.
    • Debbie.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The message of Shallow Vows would seem to be "It's okay to be shallow as long as your partner is equally shallow."
    • Alternatively, "It's okay to be flawed as long as you're honest about those flaws and your partner accepts those flaws in terms and as part of the relationship."
  • Fridge Brilliance: Why does Langley Falls have a werewolf hunter? Because we know that they have an actual werewolf problem!
  • Fridge Horror: What if all of Roger's species is just like him?
      • Roger was about as worthless as a crash test dummy for one reason or another, considering how he acts it's not too far a leap of logic to believe they're worse.
    • Everything about Barry once his true evil genius personality is revealed.
    • What if Katie's musical cue was her farting all the time?
    • At the end of Son Of Stan, it's possible that Steverino survived.
    • Francine wants Stan and her to be buried hand in hand in a heart-shaped coffin when they die. That's really cute... until you start wondering what will happen if one of them dies ten years after the other.
      • The end of the episode shows that they both died in 2067.
    • The implication that if Stan took control of parenting Steve, he'd turn out just like Steverino.
      • The episode, of course, argues that Steverino just came out wrong. Even when Stan shows him kindness, he's a sadistic attempted murderer.
    • Also counts as Fridge Squick, but imagine how long Snot must have been stuck under Mr. Tuttle.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment - Lampshaded in the commentary for "Irregarding Steve", where Stan says "Death has better things to do, like remembering Tony Curtis already." The writers said that they prayed that Tony Curtis wouldn't die any time near that episode's airing.
    • But now Tony Curtis is dead as of 2010, officially making that line this trope.
    • The 2005 episode "Stan Knows Best" makes fun of how inexpensive community college is (Hayley's teacher refusing to grade her paper because she doesn't have the $85.00 for tuition [after Stan announces that he's not giving Hayley any more money for school], so Hayley takes a job as a strip club waitress -- and later a stripper -- to pay for college). In recent years, community colleges have faced major cutbacks, and tuition has skyrocketed. Tuition has nearly doubled in California in just four years.
  • Genius Bonus: The documentary style voice at the end of "Ricky Spanish" was done by an actual documentary VO actor.
  • Gorn: Has indulged in this as of late, though thankfully not as much as Family Guy.
  • Growing the Beard - Midway through season one, after the Stan of Arabia two-parter, though most people think this is for the best, since "American Dad"'s earlier episodes were okay, but not as good as pre-cancellation Family Guy.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In "Daddy Queerest," a drunken Stan mistakes Nelson Mandela for Morgan Freeman. It is somewhat funny due to Mandela's and Freeman's similarities in appearance, but it really becomes Hilarious in Hindsight when you realize that the episode came on seven months before the release of the movie Invictus. Take a wild guess as to who's plays Nelson Mandela in that movie.
    • In the pilot episode, Roger insists that "we can't all be like those anorexic aliens in the James Cameron movies!" Nearly half a decade later, the then-secretive "Avatar" was released, featuring a race of creatures who were both extremely thin and, unlike his previous aliens, were specifically designed to inspire Perverse Sexual Lust in humans.
    • The season five finale "The Great Space Roaster" was about the family doing a roast on Roger for his birthday (with unexpected results). Seth MacFarlane (the voice of Stan and Roger) became the roast master for three of Comedy Central's roasts (David Hasselhoff -- which, sadly was the last time Greg Giraldo appeared before his suicide, Donald Trump, and the recent one with Charlie Sheen).
    • In Francine's Flashback, an amnesiac Francine runs off with Hayley's boyfriend Jeff to watch the Burning Man event. Stan then absent-mindedly suggests to Hayley that they get back by dating each other. In Pulling Double Booty, Hayley dates Stan's double Bill (whom Francine initially mistakes for Stan, causing her to freak out over the supposed incestuous relationship). At the end, Stan must fill in for Bill to prevent Hayley from being crushed.
    • In "Stan Knows Best", Stan shows off wigs based on the hairs of Republican first ladies, including Nancy Reagan, Barbara Bush, and Maria Shriver, to which Stan comments "Stay tuned." Something tells me what Stan's implying won't be happening anytime soon.
  • Ho Yay: Several times with Stan and Roger, always played for laughs.
    • Roger also has several of those moments with Steve, not to mention a bazillion one-off characters.
    • Les Yay: Linda Memari kissing Francine.
    • Snot randomly kissing Steve.
    • In-Universe, Stan's play "Lincoln Lover." Stan intended the title character as Lincoln's Heterosexual Life Partner but it didn't come off that way to audiences.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Steve frequently falls into this.
    • Roger started off this way in early episodes, due to his secluded lifestyle and loneliness. As the series developed however, nearly all of his sympathetic background is subverted, not only does he now live a very healthy outside life, he actually utilizes false backstories (or at least skewed ones) to manipulate others, transforming him into a straight Jerkass.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Barry, when he's not on his medication.
  • Memetic Badass: Stelio. Stelio Kontos.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Francine's biological parents abandoning her as a baby because babies can't ride first class without even batting an eye, then they wouldn't save Stan from being trapped under a wooden beam in his burning house because they didn't want to become a liability.
    • Roger has crossed this line so many times it's just easier to say he's a bad person. Granted, his species has to let all their bitchiness out or else their body converts it to poisonous bile, but there's a line between being bitchy and being an irredeemable monster, and Roger has crossed that numerous times just For the Evulz. There's also his alternate persona "Ricky Spanish", so horrible and monstrous the sight of him caused everyone in Langley Falls to form a citywide manhunt so they could get their hands on him.
    • Stan has had quite a few. See "Homeland Insecurity", "Failure Is Not A Factory-Installed Option", "Widowmaker" and "Surro-Gate" for shining examples.
  • Most Annoying Sound: MYAAAAAAAH! MYAAAAAAAAH! MYAAAAAAAAAH!
  • Narm: When the illegal immigrants that include Haley's ex-boyfriend at the end of one episode are about to be deported, right when ICE intends to do it, they sing America the Beautiful in Spanish to save their own skin, everyone's touched and ICE changes their mind about deporting them. It's probably the corniest ending of an episode the series had.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Roger still alive with his face sliced off and most of his organs removed after being dissected by alien hunter Scarlett Reynolds.
    • The reveal of Francine's face which had been horribly damaged after Lorraine threw acid at it in "Flirting With Disaster".
    • Stan's Body Horror when he has anorexia is listed below, but it's so frightening it could be listed here.
    • What happens when a rat drinks Roger's eggnog?
    • The inside of Roger's mind. It's rather disturbing, examples including the Steve-Hayley-Klaus fish that hatches from a weird bird's egg, shrieking at him. Then Stan walks through a dark swamp with trees shaped like Roger (as he's trying to find Francine), which are oddly designed. Finally, Stan walks into a cave and sees Jiminy Cricket from the Disney version of Pinocchio (who is actually Roger's conscience, who is dying of neglect) moaning, "Kill me!" The scene was quickly turned to Lightmare Fuel when Stan also finds Tom Skerritt wrapped up like a bug in a spider web, moaning, "Get me work!"
    • Kisses, after being "revived" by a crazy old woman. The poor dog looks like it crawled straight out of Hell!
    • The ending to Iced Iced Babies:

 Francine: You can stay right here. With mommy. Forever.

      • To add even more creepiness to the above line, this is the expression that Francine had on her face when she was speaking it.
    • Stan's anorexic body in The American Dad After School Special is practically Body Horror. There's also Fridge Horror when it's revealed that Stan's personal trainer, Zack, doesn't exist, meaning that Stan has been that skinny and talking to himself for days and the family didn't notice until after Stan got fired -- or, rather, the family did notice, but the viewer wasn't aware.
    • Seeing Steve and Hayley's future in the episode where Stan searches for Oliver North's gold. Hayley has piercings everywhere, as well as tattoos all over her body, like a prison inmate, and Steve's girlfriend is a (noticably lifeless) robot so far in the Uncanny Valley it hurts.
    • In "Cops And Roger" Roger kills dirty cop Chazz, resulting in his head violently exploding with blood flying everwhere, complete with a Gross Up Close-Up.
      • It actually imploded. Which is worse.
    • Steverino.
    • Hayley's flashbacks to being brainwashed as a child.
    • The second part of the Golden Turd saga. It's just...creepy.
    • From Toy Whorey, Stan takes Steve down to Mexico so he can lose his virginity and become a man. One of the brothels they visit houses a man with hand puppets, dolled up like prostitutes. One of them has an actual mouth full of teeth and slithers its tongue in a seductive manner.
  • Paranoia Fuel: A very intentional line from "Hurricane!": "Remember when everyone when was worried about anthrax and dirty bombs a few years ago, even though they should be far, far more worried about it now? Trust me, I know what I'm talking about."
  • Rescued From the Scrappy Heap: Klaus wasn't well-liked early on. However, after "Finances with Wolves," his crush on Francine and his creepy pervert side was dropped and his The Woobie traits were played up, making him much more bearable.
    • People seem to be tolerating Reginald more, probably because his appearances are now brief and infrequent.
  • The Scrappy: Reginald the Koala, due to his Spotlight-Stealing Squad tendencies, being written like a bad fan-character, and general unfunniness.
    • For some it's more a case of They Changed It, Now It Sucks. Reginald was cool when he first appeared, talking with a smooth baritone voice and having his own theme song. In his subsequent appearances they replaced his original voice actor with a far less charismatic sounding one. In other words, he used to be Isaac Hayes and now he's Marlon Wayans!
      • He also got a completely pointless Story Arc where he tried to hook up with Hayley. It was like a bad fan-fic came to life.
    • Some fans are starting to see Roger as this, due to his increased role as the Spotlight-Stealing Squad, his Jerkass nature, some of his jokes being generally unfunny and that in the new opening credits, Roger now interrupts and takes over the theme song from Stan at the end.
  • Seasonal Rot: Some believe that this has happened to season six, claiming an increase of Refuge in Vulgarity and less talented writers.
  • Squick: Stan gleefully giving his mother a bath while singing about scrubbing her VJ.
    • Steve and Stan with huge boobs.
    • A sickly mother cat giving birth to 3 kittens in front of an awakening Francine from "Less Money, Mo' Problems".
    • Mr. Tuttle, who is morbidly obese.
    • The brothels in Toy Whorey. Stan and Steve's first stop is to the home of fat, old hooker with both her legs missing, slapping a tortilla between her thighs as if she's cooking them.
  • Tear Jerker: There are a few moments that verge on being crowning moments of heartwarming but there are even more that are invoked by one character to elicit sympathy from the others, which usually completely fail, especially if it's Roger because it's better that way.
    • There's an episode called this too. The segment with Oscar Gold is such a simultaneously great parody and deliberately terrible imitation of "triumph over adversity" pictures like The Waterboy that it's definitely another awesomey McCrowny moment.
    • Stan's flashbacks to Hayley when she was a child.
    • Here's two; Francines tearful regret of her lack of a tighter family in "Vacation Goo" and Roger's song in "AT the Abusive Terrestrial". For the first, the fact that many families drift apart from one another very much is really a downer and very relatable. The second, much like the first, is also relatable. Also McFarlane's singing really sells this.
      • Roger's song is downright heartbreaking if you've lost a friend, or have grown apart from one. And it's coming from Roger, of all people.
      • It's a parody of a song from Toy Story 2, what did you expect?
      • Being Roger, he ruins it. "Well, that didn't solve anything. Guess I'll go get hammered."
    • In the episode in which Steve and Roger go to New York, there is a very strange subplot featuring anthropomorphic squirrels. However, this subplot takes two turns towards Tear Jerker: first, the mother squirrel yelling at one of her sons ("Don't you yell at him, Gilbert! He's your brother! Ya have to take care of your brother!") and said squirrel's subsequent expression when his "special" brother is described as his mother's "knight in shimmering armour". Secondly, the squirrels' mother dying. Ouch.

   Mama! There's a storm coming, mama~ (Giggle.) Oooh, scary~ Scary storm's up there, mama~ Ha! Mama! Mama, you're hiding from me! Mama's hiding from Arnie~ I know that! (Laughter.) Mama? (Kneads at her chest.) Mama?!

    • That whole subplot was actually "What's Eating Gilbert Grape" with squirrels.
    • The DeLorean episode in which Steve leans out of the car while sleeping and accidentally hits a hare. Turns into a dark subversion of The Tortoise and the Hare, in that the tortoise sees his friend's body and cries over him, saying that he always respected him. The episode ends with the tortoise dragging the hare's (eventually mangled) body over the finish line before crying.
    • Stan realizing that he hasn't been there for any of Steve's big moments.
    • "Stan's Best Friend" the whole freaking episode! Stan's story of how he lost his dog Freddie(especially sad because he dosen't underscore it with a joke) Stan agonizing over the decision to take Kisses off life support, it especially hits home if you've ever lost a pet you were close to.
    • Barry having to kill the calf he bonded with.
    • But the BLAM Episode "Tearjerker" is NOT this, despite the title.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The episode "Lincoln Lover" briefly features a play with an obese man wearing underpants and a stovepipe hat tossing joints of meat around the stage while reciting advertising slogans. He then accuses us all of being slaves, and a mirror is lowered with the word "slave" written on it, as sheep noises play. Stan is suitably unimpressed.
  • The Untwist: "The Vacation Goo" reveals that everytime the Smith family thinks they've gone on a vacation, Stan's actually put them inside virtual reality machines that create the illusion of being on vacation. After Francine finds out and insists Stan take them all on a real vacation, Steve and Haley take their own turns putting the rest of the family in the virtual reality goo so they can get some time alone. Eventually they go on what appears to be a real vacation, which goes horribly for everyone, and it turns out that . . . it's just a real sucky vacation. Francine didn't put the rest of the family in the goo machine to teach them a lesson or anything like that; their vacation just sucked. It's considered one of the weakest episodes in the series.
  • The Woobie: Jeff, Hayley's downtrodden on-off boyfriend now husband, though only time will tell if it lasts.
    • Klaus at times due to his desperation for affection (this is actually toned down from the deleted scenes).
    • Sidney Huffman Roger's split personality formed from his few redeeming aspects, that ultimately had his entire life destroyed by the latter, and then himself due to his nice guy persona "cramping his style".

Notes

  1. Which includes Dick preferring a bullet in the groin over holding a conversation with her
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