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File:American-Dad 1050.jpg

"Good morning USA,

I've got a feeling that it's gonna be a wonderful day!

The sun in the sky has a smile on his face

And he's shining a salute to the American race.

Oh boy it's swell to say,

Good morning USA!"
Stan Smith singing the show's theme song.

The second cartoon sitcom from the creator of Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane. A pillory of American Ultra-Conservatism played out on Rupert Murdoch's network, it follows the daily life of initially-paranoid and extremely patriotic CIA agent Stan Smith, his over-protective wife Francine, nerdish teenage son Steve, and liberal and rebellious teenage daughter Hayley. The pilot episode explains that, on a mission, Stan uncovered a runaway talking alien named Roger, who lives in the family's attic for protection from getting turned in to the federal agency, until he adapted more to the outside world and became more outgoing through the use of various disguises later in the series. They also have a talking German goldfish named Klaus, who used to be a human.

Early in its run, American Dad was viewed as a clone of Family Guy, but it quickly outgrew this reputation and developed its own identity. It has accomplished this largely by emphasizing story and character development and conspicuously avoiding most of Family Guy's trademark shticks, like the Cutaway Gags, Flashback Twists, Big Lipped Alligator Moments, Overly Long Gags, and its excessive use of Take Thats (though the occasional one does occur). Initially, the show relied on caricatures of political personalities, as well as some of the more visible and controversial aspects of the right wing's policies and ideologies (although granted, usually the Strawman Political version of said policies). Over time, however, as the characters' personalities began to be fleshed out, the show became less and less political in nature, to the point where only a small portion of the episodes featured politics as an active theme. (Curiously, as this was taking place, Family Guy was steadily becoming more political.)

The show began to grow its beard in the two-part episode "Stan of Arabia" midway through the first season. Since then the plots have become more eccentric and arguably more entertaining as a result. The show has shown a willingness to experiment with unconventional storytelling techniques, such as "Star Trek", in which Steve's brief success as a children's author is told in the style of a 1940s Film Noir story, and "Of Ice and Men", which is related as a Princess Bride-style bedtime story told by a years older (and now human) Klaus to his young grandson. The quality varies wildly from episode to episode, but the risks the writers take often lead to excellent stories laced with snappy dialogue and strong performances from the voice actors.

Vote for the best episode here

This show provides one or more examples of:


 Principal Lewis: Is that what you intended to say, Superintendent?!

Superintendent: It's what I super-intended to say.

    • In A Bully For Steve, when Roger plans to photograph Steve's fight:

 Roger: Gonna shoot it in black and white so it looks like Raging Bull. Call it Raging Bully-- OH MY GOD I DID IT!

  • Abuse Is Okay When Its Female On Male: Francine was seen beating Stan for forgetting their anniversary in "Francine's Flashback", Roger even keeps a recording of the precious moment. She was also a little abusive to Steve in "Star Trek". Bullock was shot in the kneecap by his wife for cheating on her. Hayley has shown abusive behavior towards Jeff as well, thought it's not meant to be portrayed as okay, as much as it is meant to show what a doormat Jeff is.
  • Aborted Arc: It hasn't been officially pronounced dead, but part three of the gold turd story has been a long time coming, and given the less than enthusiastic response to the first two parts, it's not certain if the writers intend to continue it.
    • Word of God says that they just can't come up with a third part as good as the first two.
    • It came back into play briefly during season five's "Rapture's Delight," but Roger didn't admit that he was the one who excreted it in "Homeland Insecurity."
    • Also, keep in mind that Christmas Episodes on this show are like Halloween Episodes on The Simpsons. (As in, they're fantasy episodes that tend to be non-canon to the show.)
  • Abusive Parents: Francine, after Steve and Debbie break up.
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Stan, whenever his boss is around, usually followed by a side-order of vanity. Francine will also put him up to it every so often.
  • Actor Allusion: Any time the writers can get Avery Bullock to say something Picard-esque, they will. Best highlighted by his references to "Number One" in One Little Word.
    • On the flip side, they also rely upon this when Bullock is doing completely ridiculous things simply because the imagery of Picard doing something ridiculous is part of the hilarity.
    • In one episode, Klaus tries to get Stan to put him back in a human body and says he'll get a job making animal sounds. "Making animal sounds" is pretty much Dee Bradley Baker's entire job description.
    • There was an episode in which Roger disguised as Stan, but found that he's unable to mimic Stan's voice. Both characters are voiced by Seth MacFarlane.
    • In one episode, Steve sings Scott Grime's hit song, Sunset Blvd. He also says that two movies Scott Grimes was in, Critters and Critters 2, are crappy.
  • A Day in The Spotlight: Stan's Night Out focuses on Stan spending time with his CIA co-workers outside of work. Up until that episode they had just been satellite characters. The episode in question showed that Stan's friends are an irresponsible group of morons with Stan being the Only Sane Man. They do whatever they feel like doing with no consideration for others, and they stoop as low as to lock people in the trunks of their cars when they interrupt their fun.
  • Adult Child: Everyone who works at the CIA ends up being one sooner or later. Notable examples includes shooting tranquilizer darts like spitwads in a classroom, and placing "Shoot Me" signs on others backs. Bullock himself is no exception, though he sometimes has to scold other employees for acting childish... by giving them punishments you'd expect a 5th grade teacher to give her students.
    • The CIA evidently even has a "Show-and-Tell day."
  • Aesop Amnesia: Stan has an inherent resistance to learning lessons, which has been lampshaded more than once.
    • Sometimes he'll forget just part of the lesson as the plot requires; see Surro-Gate.
    • Lampshaded beautifully by the man himself in Phantom of the Telethon: "Lying is wrong! I'd know that if only I'd paid attention to anything that's ever happened to me before."
    • Lampshaded even earlier (and more directly) in Rough Trade: "Roger, there's something you should know about me: I don't learn lessons."
    • Cyborg Stan from the future Lampshaded to Francine that the present Stan will keep letting her down as a husband again.
    • Mostly averted regarding gays, as Stan has come to accept the gay lifestyle (though only by being convinced it's not a choice), gay Republicans, and gays adopting children. However, he had to learn each and every part of that lesson separately.
    • Lampshaded AGAIN at the end of Hurricane, where Stan realizes that he failed to protect his family in a crisis after all his plans failed. Francine tells him the lesson that he should just do nothing, and that way he would be protecting his family. Stan bluntly and defiantly says that they both know he's not going to do that.
  • Alien Among Us: And he's really needy. And drunk. And on every single drug in the world, including Euphoria, the fictional drug from Beverly Hills, 90210.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Roger, so very much. However, it is later revealed that this is justified, as his species needs to "let their bitchiness out", or else it will turn to bile and poison them to death.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: The episode where Stan teaches Jeff to be more assertive, with this Jeff takes the pants in the relationship and treats Hayley more like a servant than a partner. She's more than thrilled with this breakthrough, she even goes as far to giggle at the idea of him turning physically abusive.
  • All Guys Want Cheerleaders: With the exception of his sometimes girlfriend Debbie, Steve directs pretty much all of his attention to scoring dates with the acknowledged popular girls at his school. Most notably, Lindsey Coolidge and Lisa Silver.
    • Played with in The American Dad After School Special. After Steve tells his family about his new girlfriend (the aforementioned Debbie), Stan immediately assumes Steve is dating a cheerleader, and refuses to believe the truth when he is told otherwise.
  • All Just a Dream: Spoofed in Haylias. Wacky hijinks and various forms of Hilarity were involved, and in the end Hayley assumes it was AJAD, which the others happily allow her to believe.
    • Played straight in Irregarding Steve. The beginning of the episode features most of the family being gunned down while Klaus leads Francine to safety in an over-the-top action sequence featuring Mexican vampires and a car chase underwater. It's all Klaus's dream, of course.
    • Basically the driving force behind the plot of Vacation Goo.
    • An Incident at Owl Creek hints at the AJAD ending via its name (an obvious homage to the short story and later Twilight Zone episode "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge")
    • Subverted in Rapture's Delight, despite being set up in such a way that it would pretty much be the only way to undo the Rapture by the end of the episode. The actual ending is that Stan's personal Heaven is exactly identical to the real world the night before the rapture.
    • Played with in Merlot Down Dirty Shame. It's shown that Steve has trained himself to recognize when he's having a lucid dream by setting up a mental signal (namely, a red ball). He mentions this to Klaus, and then harshly refuses to teach him how to do it. Klaus gets his revenge by making Steve think that he's in a dream using said red ball. It ends up with Steve at school in his underwear, with several broken bones, and the girl he has a crush on impaled on a pipe.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: While it has a seemingly fantastical name, the colossal squid Francine devotes her newly-found free time to finding is a real-life cephalopod.
  • Alternate History: When Stan ruins Christmas, it starts a chain-reaction leading to Mondale handing over control of the United States to the communists.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Despite his name, Roger's mannerisms, *ahem* bodily functions and sexual preferences veer between masculine and feminine. Sometimes within an episode.
    • Lampshaded in an episode where it's revealed that all of Rodger's wigs are female except for one "Owen Wilson/Ellen DeGeneres" wig. Also in an episode where Roger goes to great lengths to win an ice skating competition. The prize? A set of female wigs.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Roger, especially on "Roger 'N Me" where he "probes" Stan while the two are having a guys' night out, the episode "Family Affair" where Roger reunites with the family who abandoned him and is shocked and turned on by how cute the family's son has become, and in "Rapture's Delight," where he points out how "hung" the homeless man at the bus station is as he, Francine, and Stan watch everyone ascend into Heaven.
    • On the other hand, Roger did have a crush on Steve's chubby Perky Goth girlfriend, Debbie, as seen in "The American Dad After School Special" and in "The One That Got Away," Roger's split personality Sidney was set to be wed to a young woman before his duel personas clashed, though it was revealed at the end that the young woman had a penis. That being said, Roger could just be Ambiguously Bisexual, though later episodes are kinda phasing out the "bisexual" part and focusing on the gay part, though Roger clearly had a girlfriend (whom he couldn't stand) in "Hurricane!".
    • On the episode that had the subplot of Roger and Klaus vacationing in Europe and joining a group of blonde German girls, Roger openly asks, "Do I even like girls?"
    • It could be similar to Single-Target Sexuality. He does seem to like girls with occasional interest in guys (he follows up the above question with "I must like girls"), but for the most part, the only guy he seems to have been truly interested in is Stan. He's never actively tried to go for a full relationship with a male, while he did so with Debbie and a girl who worked in a department store.
    • In Jenny Fomdabloc, Roger has sex with Snot, though it turned out he was faking it via a hole in his stress ball.
    • In "You Debt Your Life," Roger referred to himself as "fey and pansexual" (much like Andy Dick).
    • In "An Incident at Owl Creek", Roger solicits gay sex at a truck stop restroom and compliments a prostitute on his "oral technique". Of course, this whole episode is a fantasy Stan is having, so that might just be how he perceives Roger's Ambiguous Gay-ness.
    • In "Stanny Tendergrass":

 Steve: I don't like the last half, it's not as effervescent. Nope, the bottom's not for me; I'm what they call a top.

[Roger's eyes widen]

Steve: [...] Sorry, I didn't know you wanted [that soda]. Here, my fingers are still sticky, you can suck on them if you want.

Roger: [staring at Steve's fingers] Well, I'll be upstairs melting pearls on my tummy if you need me.

      • Alluded to again in the same episode:

 Roger: Everyone in the family has one persona they can't see through. [...] Remember that spin the bottle party you went to?

[Cut to Steve about to kiss a girl, only for her to turn into Roger]

Steve: [...] You were Alisa Wilkner?! We went on seven dates!

Roger: Nine. I roofie'd you on two of them, nothing happened. Wink wink.

    • A non-Roger example is Dill, the senator's son Stan tried to arrange Hayley into marrying in "Haylias". At the wedding, he gave a stirring poem dedicated to his best man, which caused him to go into tears, and when asked to kiss Hayley, his response was "Is it mandatory?"
  • America Saves the Day: Stan believes this, even misquoting history to make America look better. In Tearjerker, there is a subversion when he jumps in to save a British secret agent on a snowmobile shouting "Nobody needs America's help... until they need it!" And then said snowmobile crushes the British agent while he's parachuting from a cliff.
  • Amusing Alien: Roger.
  • Analogy Backfire: The show loves these. Most main characters have had one at this point.
    • One of the best examples is done by Stan to himself in the episode "Bullocks to Stan", where Bullock dates Hayley:

 Stan: This man rode me like an animal for three hours! Do you have any idea what that's like?

Hayley: *raises eyebrow*

Stan: And now I'm not hungry.

  • An Asskicking Christmas: Thus far they've included Armageddon, with Stan and Jesus battling the Antichrist, Stan storming heaven to demand God bring him back to life, and Santa Claus swearing revenge on them all for almost killing him and attacking with an army of elves. And promising to do so again next year.
  • And This Is For: We have this exchange from "Bullocks to Stan":

  Stan: This is for treating me like a errand boy! This is for delaying my promotion! This is for disrespecting my daughter! And this is for not letting me stop at the creek for a drink!

  • Animals Hate Him: Steve's luck with animals is horrible, even when he's trying to be nice to them.

  Steve: Why crow why?!

    • In one episode, Steve tries to help a stray cat on three separate occasions, and each time the cat attacks him.
  • The Antichrist: He appeared in the 2009 Christmas episode. It turns out that he's really the exact opposite of Jesus, looks like the Riddler from Batman Forever, has No Indoor Voice, and is annoying as Hell. He strives to be the exact opposite of Jesus, including being a horrible carpenter (which helps the characters escape), and even says the opposite of his quotes

 [[spoiler: The Anti Christ: Condemn them Mother! For they know exactly what they are doing! ...You know? It's the opposite of "Father forgive them for they know not what they do"?

"Thou shalt not not kill!]]

    • He returns as Jeff's adopted son in the 2011 Christmas episode, only this time, he really is straight up Pure Evil. Killing him is the best way for Stan to prove his devotion to the Christian faith again after he got excommunicated. Unfortunately, Nemo ends up getting shipped off to live with Sarah Palin in Alaska, and the only reason Stan got back in the church was because Roger's pimp cup was actually the Holy Grail.
      • The Anti-Christ in "Seasons Beatings" still has the same annoying-as-hell voice as his adult form.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: Devices that Stan procures from or uses at work to resolve plots that would be nearly impossible without it.
  • Area 51: Roger was initially being detained by the government there, but came to live with the Smith family after saving Stan's life while trying to escape.
  • Armoured Closet Gay: Brutally subverted in the episode where Terry's homophobic father, pro football player Tank Bates, come to visit and finds out his son is gay. Stan, no longer homophobic at this point in the series, tries to find the motivation for Tank's homophobia by running through every gay trope one could find on TV finding that Bates subverts them all. Stan ends by claiming in front of a football stadium full of Tank's fans that Tank is a homosexual. It turns out that he isn't.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When Roger's life flashes before his eyes in "You Debt Your Life", he remembers three moments from his life: protesting desegregation at a college in 1960s Alabama, getting the captain of the Exxon Valdez drunk at the wheel, and designing Jar-Jar Binks for George Lucas. He remarks afterwards that he did everything perfectly.
    • Stan says in "My Morning Straitjacket" that rock music is the number one cause of teenage pregnancy, school violence, and leather pants.
    • A short list of some horrible things Roger has done in his "Ricky Spanish" persona: leaving Principal Lewis in Tijuana without ID, murdering Bullock's wife with a katana unprovoked, making a friend serve life in prison, kicking an old lady in the groin, setting fire to a petting zoo, taking photos up an old nun's habit, climbing onto an operating table and defecating into a patient during surgery, stealing a lollipop from a child and... not holding an elevator for someone.
  • The Artifact: Hayley, to an extent. The show was initially envisioned as a modern-day animated version of All in The Family, with ultra-conservative Stan constantly butting heads with ultra-liberal Hayley. As it's turned out, the Hayley-Stan conflict hasn't been nearly as big a factor in the show as was anticipated, and consequently, Hayley's character isn't as important to the show as she might have been.
    • In some episodes like "Fart-Break Hotel", Hayley does not even appear.
    • Lampshaded by Hayley and Klaus in one episode.

 Klaus: HA-HA! I made it into the episode. PAY ME, BITCHES!

Hayley: Me too!

  • Artifact of Attraction: The gold turd.
  • Art Evolution: The pilot episode looks remarkably crude to the rest of the first season, and the first season looks crude until "Stan of Arabia, Parts I and II", which have a similar look to the rest of the series.
  • Art Shift: The B-story of Dungeons and Wagons features Steve, Hayley, and Jeff playing an MMORPG. The in-game segments of this story are done in an elaborate (and very expensive) Animesque animation style.
    • The season 5 opener In Country... Club featured two art shifts: one for Roger's Barbra Streisand-gasm (computer animation) and the other for Steve's flashback.
    • The season 5 Christmas episode "Rapture's Delight," where the post-Apocalyptic world looks like something from "Heavy Metal" (or a 1980s fantasy action cartoon, only with better animation and art).
    • That song about Oliver North. Drawn in a style reminiscent of School House Rock.
    • Stan's hallucination song that he started singing after going crazy by eating Mad Cow jerky resulted in Disney style animals and environments.
    • The Thanksgiving episode "There Will Be Bad Blood" has one when Stan tells his own version of the story of Thanksgiving.
  • Ascended Extra: Jeff, who for the first few seasons was a minor recurring character who was just Hayley's on-again-off-again lover. By marrying into the family he is now a main character living in the house.
  • Ascended Meme: This video in "I Am The Walrus".
  • Aside Glance: Coincides with Didn't Think This Through when Roger realized he said "It's like being in prison and experiencing the thrill of a daily body cavity search."
  • Asian and Nerdy: Toshi.
  • Asian Rudeness: Francine's adopted parents. Subverted slightly when we find out that they are glad Francine married Stan because they know he will look after her. It was also why they didn't give her as much money or help compared to her sister - they knew she didn't need it compared to her sister who was constantly getting into trouble.
  • As You Know: Played for Laughs

 Roger: I can't believe the bullet completely missed Randy and hit Bad Larry who was on the other side. (Stan gives Roger a dirty look) What? Just trying to make sure we're all clear on that!

    • Also in "You Debt Your Life", Hayley mentions Roger's life debt to Stan. Francine says that she knows what it is, but asks Hayley to explain it anyway because she likes hearing about it.
    • And again in "Stan's Night Out": Stan and his CIA co-workers realize their car was stolen and sold to a powerful crime lord. They all express shock at this.

 Stan: Good, we all know who he is, so we don't have to waste any time explaining it to each other.

Custodian: (appearing) I don't know who he is.

Stan: Oh, well let me explain it to you.

  • Author Appeal: Some of the writers' comes to light in the show. This is made more obvious because they've also turned up in different situations on his other show.
  • Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: A father/daughter version occurs with Stan and Hayley.
  • Ax Crazy: Subversion with Klaus. He might not pose a major threat to the rest of the family, but he threatened Steve and Roger to the point where they hid in the attic for nine months going completely insane, all because they made a practical joke on him. Most of his craziness is however rather harmless.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Reinforced in the episode "Irregarding Steve". Steve and Roger might be the smartest pair in the Smith household, and thus capable of using their intellect to manipulate those less intelligent than them, but when they try to apply their knowledge to the outside world, there is always someone smarter, more clever, and more cruel who will take advantage of their level of intelligence.
  • Babies Make Everything Better : Roger alludes to this during Finances With Wolves when he states, "It's true, the love is instantaneous and unconditional!" while holding a camcorder to video tape his baby sea monkeys in his attic with a sign in the background stating "Maternity Ward"
    • In One Little Word, Bullock's wife who turned Muslim and hates the West turns her back on fundamentalist Islam when she discovers she has a son. This is also beautifully lampshaded by Francine.
    • In Tearjerker, Tearjerker!Roger's plan is foiled by Stan streaming video of celebrity babies worldwide.
  • Back-Alley Doctor: Francine in Helping Handis. Her assistant is Dr. Bearington, a teddy bear. His specialty is hugs.
  • Badass Boast: Klaus delivers one so great at Steve and Roger after they pranked him, it scares them into hiding...Until they remember that he's just a goldfish, so they just put a stack of books atop his bowl to stop him.

  Allow me to impress upon you the severe mistake you have made. For years my conduct has been largely benign. And yet, without provocation, you have severed our détente and forced me to unleash upon you the vengeful flames of a thousand suns. You shall curse your mothers for the day of your birth. So, go now, go, and begin your life of fear, knowing that when you least expect it, the looming sword of Damocles will crash down upon you, cleaving you in twain and as you gaze upon the smoking wreckage that was once your life, you will regret the day you crossed the WRONG FISH!!

  • Badass Damsel: Francine has on more than one occasion been kidnapped and tied up, more often in the earlier seasons. She even comes across, Depending on the Writer, as sweet and caring like the archetype is known for. It generally doesn't stop her from being quite awesome in other areas though.
  • Banana Republic: The small island nation of Isla. When Roger starts running the place, he changes the country's name to Bananarama and decrees the entire island be painted yellow.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Hayley's standard outfit.
  • Becoming the Mask: Eventually, one of Roger's disguises takes on a life of its own. Roger, unaware of this, finds out he's been making withdrawals from his account, and sets out to ruin his life. And they're still the same guy, so that gets interesting.
    • Roger does this quite regularly when in disguise, and it can frequently throw off their plans. For example, while pretending to be Francine's husband, he goes stoic, wipes his glasses, and demands...

  Roger: ...Tell them how you killed our baby.

    • Lampshaded in another episode when Stan and Roger are in trouble...

 Roger: I think I know someone who can help! Let's just pray it's not me!

(cut to Roger sitting at a desk)

Roger: Oh, good, I'm just the receptionist.

    • While parodying thief movies, Roger's shown at Snots bar mitzvah in one disguise, the camera cuts to him in another disguise in a car across the street...

  Roger: Wait, how did I get here?

    • Another, more recent example:

 Roger: You need help. I know a guy. Here's his number.

Stan: This is gonna be you, isn't it? I'm gonna go there and it's gonna be you.

Roger: Strong possibility.

  • Bad Bad Acting: Inverted with Roger in "Vacation Goo." Normally, due to his being Genre Savvy, he is an excellent actor when donning his Paper-Thin Disguise, but when trying to apply for an actual acting job, the only thing that doesn't convince the directors is the fact that Roger cannot shed an actual tear.
    • One episode shows that Stan is such a terrible actor that he can't even pull off being a waiter properly ("It sounds like you're offering me water, but I'm just not buying it."). He asks Roger for help and ends up so good that he edges Roger out for a role in a play that he wanted really badly.
  • The Bechdel Test: On the whole the series fails the test. The vast majority of focus on the show is given to male characters, though there are a few episodes that do pass. Specifically, the b-plot of Helping Handis features several conversations between Francine and Hayley revolving around Francine's choice of being a housewife instead of having a career. Not Particularly Desperate Housewives also passes, as does Fartbreak Hotel. In fact, most of the episodes that do pass have at least one plot line focusing heavily on Francine.
  • Bee-Bee Gun: Steve tries to use this tactic on Hayley. Needless to say it doesn't go well for him.
  • Behind the Black: Done in Stan's Night Out when, upon establishing everyone knows what's happening, a janitor is revealed to have been listening just out of frame, and requires an explanation.
    • Also lampshaded in In Country... Club when Stan criticizes Steve's singing:

 [Sudden cut to Francine]

Francine: I thought it was great.

[Long shot reveals Francine is at the opposite end of the room]

Stan: Have you been standing there the whole time?

Francine: Mmhm.

Stan: That's weird, I had no idea you were there...

  • Berserk Button: "LEFTIES ARE THE DEVIL'S MINIONS!!!"
    • In earlier seasons, just being in Barry's presence set Stan off for no apparent reason. This is even addressed by Stan.
    • Bullock has several of these, ranging for people kissing his ass to stealing his lunch.

 Where. The Hell. Is my SANDWICH?!

    • Among the fandom, calling this show a Family Guy clone typically gets this reaction.
  • Better Than Sex: In "All About Steve", Snot holds up a magazine for nerds called "Wizards and Shut-ins". A section on the cover claimed "500 reasons why Krull is better than sex!"
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In "The One That Got Away", Roger finds some unauthorized charges on his credit card, belonging to some guy named "Sidney Huffman". Instead of calling the police or credit card company, he systematically ruins Sidney's life. Sidney turns out to be a persona of Roger's which had developed into its own alternate personality.
    • Francine, usually closer to Earth and more moralistic than the rest of her family, can snap in rather random and disturbing manners.

  Francine: HUMANS ARE TALKING!!! *smashes Klaus' bowl on the floor*

  • Bi the Way: It's implied that Francine and Hayley are into both men and women. In S4 Ep 06, "Pulling Double Booty" Stan, posing as his double, Bill, mentions that he thinks a waitress is hot to turn Hayley off, but instead she says she thinks so too and proposes they have a threesome.

 Stan (sadly): You used to watch Sesame Street.

    • Francine much more so. Usually just mentioned as part of her party girl past, but it is shown occasionally. The episode "My Morning Straitjacket" had her gladly make out with a female security guard to get Stan backstage at a concert, and at the end of the episode, it's clearly indicated that Stan, Francine, and the security guard had Three-Way Sex. Also, in The Missing Kink she joins a women's softball team to get spanked as a reward for a good play. Yeah...
    • There's also an episode where Steve mentions that he and his (male) friends will sometimes "practice kissing" together.
  • Big Eater: Debbie Hyman and Barry.
  • Big "Never!":

 Hayley: It's not my fault the economy stinks. I didn't vote for Bush!

Roger: Let it go, Hayley.

Hayley: NEVER!!!

  • Big No: Steve, usually. The voice-actor who plays him (Scott Grimes) can get a laugh with one of these alone.
    • Stan does the Skyward Scream bit in All About Steve.
    • In "Not Particularly Desperate Housewives":

 Francine: Roger, no! [the sound of the vacuum exploding] Rooooooooooogggeeeerrrr! [the sound of a timer] My rooooooaaaassssst!

  • Big "Shut Up!": Roger in "The One That Got Away" to his persona when he questioned his plan to steal a $10 pair of gloves, involving buying a $700 necklace to give to his "girlfriend" Judi.
  • Bile Fascination: An In-Universe example.

 Stan: Sorry I took so long to walk inside, I farted in the car and wanted to take a moment to enjoy it.

  • Bilingual Bonus: The Korean on the "Nail Salon" sign in The People Versus Martin Sugar is a Korean transliteration of the English "Nail Salon."
    • Also, during The Worst Stan, there's a sign in a Chinese restaurant that says "mother" or "parent". When does this appear? When a character reveals that they only want be married to have kids.
  • Blatant Lies: Stan spies on the neighbors in a truck with "Surveillance Pizza" on the side.
  • Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: Francine, although mainly through her association with Stan.
    • She's actually a brunette. She dyes her hair.
  • Bond Gun Barrel: One-off parody in Tearjerker. Stan actually gets shot by the barrel and confesses that he always thought that it was a camera or an eyeball or something.
  • A Boy and His X: In this case, Barry and his pet calf Rosie. Later causes a massive dose of horror for Barry when Stan makes him slaughter the poor animal to prove his manhood ("A man kills what he loves before it weakens him!") The examples where Steve has pets actually count as something of an inversion - not only are they spectacular failures but they actually serve to keep him away from manhood.
    • Many of the Steve/Roger subplots can be considered "A Boy and His Alien" (Or "An Alien and His Boy"), especially "A.T. - Abusive Terrestrial".
    • Not to mention a whole side story was devoted to Steve's relationship with an abusive cat, that was only abusive to him.
  • Bread, Eggs, Milk, Squick: An early episode has Francine's friend Julie lamenting over her missing husband:

 He was always there for me, whether I was laughing, crying or having an especially heavy period.

  • Breaking in Old Habits: Surprisingly inverted. Steve's hand is rendered numb, and the standard implication is that he would try to give himself a stranger. However, he is robbed of the sexual experience of getting to second base, because he can't feel anything
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The occasional aside, usually. Except in one rare case when just over half a minute was spent pulling the animated walls away for the sake of a single gag. A mock celebration in Widowmaker for the show's 1000th vagina joke.
  • Breakout Character: Roger.
  • Breast Attack: A stripper accidentally gets her breasts pierced by hypodermic needles, causing her implants to deflate. As soon as that happens, her mind clears and she says, "I remember now! I was going to be a civil engineer!"
    • Also happens to Francine when she and Roger attempt to spice up their mundane lives by attending a party at the French consulate.

  "Roger, that was terrible. We were the only people in period dress and your gibberish got me punched in the boob."

  • Breast Expansion: In the episode Tearjerker, all the gadgets created by S (Steve) are just different vehicles for Breast Expansion technology. As befits a James Bond parody, the fate of the world eventually depends on Stan making a woman's breasts triple in size.
  • Brick Joke: The golden turd.
    • A more subtle one happens in season 1. At one point, Roger expels a lot of xenoplasm on the couch, prompting Francine to flip the couch cushions. About half a season later, when Stan's father comes to visit, Stan says "Steve, I hope you scotch-guarded. We can't flip those cushions again."
    • When the family spends the night in the Arizona desert during "There Will Be Bad Blood", there's a shot of the moon. A second later, an excited cow jumps pole-vaults over the moon and starts celebrating... before drifting off into space. At the end of the episode, the same cow plummets through the atmosphere and lands on Jeff's van, before rolling off and limping away.
    • In the first episode Steve is elected student body president, goes crazy and declares all acts of affection to result in expulsion. The scene cuts to a science teacher telling a frog that it is too dangerous at the moment. In a later episode in season two, Francine is searching for Stan in a motel and walks in on the same teacher and frog.
    • In the episode where Roger hires Hayley as an intern, he mentions that he also hired a small child to watch cartoons for him, but that he was imaginary. At the end of the episode, when Hayley tricks Roger into releasing her from her internship, he looks over his shoulder to see the child shaking his head in disappointment. The boy picks up the TV and slowly walks away and Roger yells out "Hey, wait! That TV's real, I bought that!" as the boy and TV slowly fade away.
    • In one episode, Roger (while high off of marijuana fumes) insists on holding a large bag of cat food because he thinks he'll float away otherwise. A couple of minutes later, some policemen tell him to put his hands in the air; when he does, he drops the cat food and really does float away. Then at the end of the episode, after Stan and Jeff walk off, Roger falls back to Earth.
    • In one episode, after Stan has a near death experience, he mentions that "epiphany isn't just a name that black people give their daughters". Later, after he's begun digging for Oliver North's gold, Greg and Terry arrive to make a documentary on it, stating that journalism is "a young black woman's game" and that they "can't compete with Epiphany Lorenz".
    • In one episode, Stan has real estate agent (and hand model) Barb Hanson sent to Guantanamo so Francine can take her job. Two inmates mention they'll "cut off her pretty hands" that night. In a later episode, we see Barb again during a game show, with a hook where her hand used to be.
  • Broken Aesop: Done deliberately and played for laughs. Often results in massive hilarity.
    • One example exists in Lincoln Lover, which has Stan arguing gays deserve equal treatment, and any prejudice and hatred should be redirected at people such as Democrats.
  • Briefcase Full of Money
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Played for laughs a couple of times with Steve and Hayley.
    • More than hinted at in Stannie Get Your Gun. When Steve is led to believe he is adopted, one of the first things he does is deep kiss a very surprised and repulsed Hayley.

 Roger: Oh WOW. Anything that happens after this is just gravy.

    • And then there's Meter Made, in which Steve takes a nude painting of Hayley (not knowing it's her) and masturbates to it.
  • Brown Note: The kid Roger introduces to Steve, Freddie, is capable of causing a person's eyeball to pop out of the socket with his scream.
  • Buddy Cop Show: Wheels and The Legman takes this to the extreme; they explore pretty much every common Cop show trope available:

 Steve: I’m good cop and Roger’s bad cop. I get to make the wisecracks, but Roger can be sarcastic.

Roger: I get to have the troubled past, but Steve always gets the girl.

Steve: Unless she’s a bad guy, so she can betray him, leading to a gunfight on top of an opera house [...] or a theatre.

  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Stan's idiosyncrasies aside, he's frequently portrayed as fairly competent at his job (or at least no more incompetent than anyone else).
  • Busman's Holiday: Roger goes on a date with a bartender... at the same bar she works at... and makes her serve the drinks. She is visibly annoyed by it.
  • But for Me It Was Tuesday: Stan occasionally displays this attitude involving some of his CIA duties. Both Roger and Francine also rather nonchalently fumble over past events where they have destroyed (or taken) other people's lives as something of a running gag.
  • Butt Monkey: Klaus seems to have become increasingly pitiful as the show has progressed. (Including having a moment in the "Hurricane" episode where the entire family tells him in unison, "Shut up, Klaus!" Followed by having Roger punt him out the door.)
  • Call Back: Lots of them. An especially clever one takes place in Rough Trade when Stan unconsciously duplicates much of Roger's behavior from the first episode.
    • The plot of "Tears of a Clooney" is a call back to "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man", where we learn that Francine's "one free kill" is George Clooney. However, her stated reason changed from anger over Clooney not getting married to his ruining her big break into showbiz.
    • One episode has Stan's half-brother suddenly show up on his doorstep because of a dramatic reason, which may be a call back to Meter Made, where Stan, who is talking to his half-brother on the phone, says they'll stay estranged until his half-brother can come up with a dramatic enough reason to show up.
    • In "Roger Codger", Stan saves Roger by convincing the CIA that an elderly woman is the alien they're looking for. Five seasons later in "You Debt Your Life", Stan and Roger have to go back to Area 51, and the old woman can be seen in a tube of green goo.
      • A two-fer, as what she's in is the vacation goo from the season 3 episode of the same name.
    • In "Season's Beatings" it turns out Nemo is not only an evil child, but he's the Antichrist from "Rapture's Delight" right down to the pajamas and irritating voice.
    • Langley Falls dedicated a huge statue to "The Great Bus Crash of 2010" from the 100th episode, "100 A.D." It depicts the bus at it's initial moment of impact while the people inside are screaming and flailing out of the windows.
    • In "Stan of Arabia Pt.1", Stan says that Bullock is an "Asian chubby chaser"; in "One Little Word", the girlfriend Bullock has Stan look after is an overweight Asian.
    • "Dr. Klaustus" calls back to "Francine's Flashback" (indirectly) in that it is revealed that Jeff doesn't get sexually excited by Hayley but rather by Francine.
    • In "Stan's Best Friend", Stan claims that he has never had a dog since he was a kid. Francine mentions that the family has had two dogs, from two previous episodes. Stan promptly tells her she must have been dreaming.
  • Can't Keep a Secret: Jeff, whether it be a surprise birthday party and present, the ending to a movie spoiler, or that Roger's an alien. If Jeff were Doctor or Religious official, he'd lose his job.
  • Catch Phrase: One of the few animated shows of its kind that don't rely on these. A few phrases pop up multiple times, but they're almost always appropriate to the situation.
    • The early seasons have Avery exclaiming "Capital idea, Smith!" a few times - this is about as close as it gets.
    • Klaus does say "wunderbar"(German for "wonderful") a lot.
    • Can a sound be a catch phrase? If so, Stan's two over-the-top screams count. He has an AAAAAGH!! for pain and an OOOOOOH!! for surprise. The writers actually have names for them in the same vein as the Wilhelm Scream.
    • In one episode Stan said he once tried making a new catchphrase, but it was unpopular. (Except for with Klaus at least.)
      • "Nuh-uh to your uh-huh!"
    • Another episode has Francine trying to leave a mark on the world, and thus tries out catchphrases on Klaus. After coming up with "Things are getting too spicy for the pepper!", it later becomes apparent that it was a Mexican advertising slogan for a pepper and chilli company.
    • "Roger, what the HELL?!?" also seems to recur a few times, as does "Dammit, Roger!", though these aren't catchphrases so much as natural responses to how maddening Roger can be.
    • "Oh. My. God!"
    • Steve sure says "Awesome!" a lot, usually with same enunciation.
  • Category Traitor: Terry is angered that Greg is a Republican (and voted for "He who shall not be named").
  • Cats Are Mean: The sub-plot of episode Choosey Wives Choose Smith. Steve finds a cat who proceeds to torture only Steve for the rest of the episode.
    • Taken to extreme levels in "Stan's Best Friend" when the family gets a new dog. Stan is sure that he couldn't possibly be involved in another dog-related accident. This seems supported by the fact that Kisses narrowly dodges a car accident, only for Kisses to be crushed by a random hot-air balloon manned by pirate cats.
    • Brains, Brains and Automobiles has this with Osama Bin Laden's cat, Buffy. When Bullock finds she hates him without reason, he finds out she thinks he smells weird; after changing his body wash, however, she still avoids him:

 [Bullock throws Buffy's bed through a nearby window, and grabs her face]


  • Cattle Drive: Through city streets, no less. With Stan swatting at invisible owls. In his underwear.
  • Caught on Tape: Roger running someone over while dressed as Kevin Bacon. It's Bacon who gets arrested 20 minutes later across the country in Los Angeles.

 Bacon: "I don't remember doing it, but it's clearly me on that tape!"

    • Stan bullying Steve in "A Bully For Steve" (Also Principal Lewis drinking a 12-pack of beer and then urinating on the basketball court).
  • Caught with Your Pants Down: The trope around which A Smith in the Hand is based.
  • Celebrity Paradox: An interesting example occurs in American Dream Factory with Steve's band "Steve and the Asstones". Since the songs they play ("Livin' On The Run" and "Sunset Blvd.") were minor hits written and performed by Scott Grimes who voices Steve, it is implied that in-universe, Steve wrote them and therefore they are not hits.
  • Character Development: In the quest to devise better storylines, this has been a necessity. All of the characters have become more complex and multi-faceted as the series has gone along.
    • For example, Klaus seems to have toned down his Jerkass demeanor to an extent, having dropped his affections for Francine and gained a more friendly relationship towards Stan and Roger. He also seems to have become somewhat of a Butt Monkey, developing a more pitiful tone as a result of the family's occasional neglect or mistreatment of him.
  • Characterization Marches On: Roger's people-shy ways in earlier episodes seem strange in light of the surprisingly full life he is later able to lead outside the Smith house thanks to his many disguises and alternate personas. This can actually happen between episodes. The B-plot of Helping Handis involves Roger going complete neat freak and attempting to make the entire house spotless. The very next episode has him quit a fraternity because he's asked to clean. At all. Roger Codger also shows him willing to sacrifice his life for the well being of the Smiths, in contrast to the Comedic Sociopath whose Lack of Empathy is one of his key traits. This was the start of Roger's Flanderization, being the first episode where he leaves the house without his alienbeingness being an issue.
    • Though it overlaps with Character Development more than with Roger, Stan gets this too. For example, a Season One episode has him casually go a strip club with his co-workers, emphasizing some hypocrisy in his conservative persona. A more recent episode shows him being embarrassed when his co-workers basically force him to go along and advising the strippers to get other jobs.
      • In the same episode, Stan complains that Hayley is playing rap music. In later episodes it's revealed that Stan is a fan of hip-hop.
    • In the older episodes, Stan used to talk about his political views a lot, as well as blaming liberals for every problem in the world. In the recent seasons, he hardly ever does this. In fact, the whole premise of the show became The Artifact.
    • Also Stan was more of a Jerkass in earlier seasons, later seasons have him toned down to Jerk with a Heart of Gold while in the past, Stan's self-righteous and large ego would lead him to commit extreme acts of callousness. He seems to have become more aware of the effect of his actions on the family and more willing to lay down his pride to apologize. For example, a season two episode had him drive the whole family to poverty just to take a few dollars off a car payment which he admitted thought would take two years and was amazed when it ended early. The episode ends with him in his new car, bragging about how easy it was, oblivious to or uncaring about the hardships he put his family through. In a season five episode, Stan spends the mortgage on a new SUV, risking the family house and homelessness. He later overhears Francine complaining about him prioritizing a car over his family, and unlike in the former episode, Stan is reduced to tears by this realization of his selfishness showing how his character has evolved
    • In season one, Steve was an easily impressionable kid who listened and followed Stan's words to the letter, parroting his words blindly. Not so much these days.
  • Chekhov's Classroom: Subverted in the episode Stan's Night Out. Stan watches a television show about gardening, where the host says that you can start a lawnmower with the first pull, if you stand on the back wheels. Later, when he's trapped by a ruthless crime lord in a shed, he sees a lawnmower, and proposes a wager; if he can start it ten times in a row, the bad guy will let him go. So, he stands on the wheels, pulls the rope... and the lawnmower doesn't start. Stan makes it out okay, but at the end of the episode he calls the show and threatens the host on air because his advice didn't work.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the episode "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man", Stan mentions that Francine's one free kill is George Clooney. This becomes the plot for the finale of that season, "Tears of a Clooney"
    • In "Hot Water" the can of Spa Down is set up as if it's going to be one of these, but it's subverted when Stan doesn't get to use it.
    • In "Hurricane!" Stan makes a couple of very forced references early on to his "old college javelin", complete with getting a close-up when he says it. Sure enough, later in the episode he tries to use the javelin to save his family from a bear and shark, the key word being tried; he ends up hitting Francine with the javelin instead.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • The beginning of With Friends Like Steve's features Stan showing a variety of CIA maneuvers to a thoroughly bored Steve. The main purpose of the scene being to show the growing disconnect between Stan and Steve, the viewer attaches no additional importance to it, making the episode's climax even more satisfying when Steve is called upon to use practically every skill Stan demonstrated to him earlier in the episode.
    • "My Morning Straitjacket" gives us this bit from Francine (which later becomes relevant):

 Francine: Oh yeah, I used to get backstage all the time. Of course, back then you had to work for it. Not like these sissy giveaways. Oh, you're the 97th caller. Bravo! Hmph. Fit that entire phone in your mouth and you might have been able to run with my crew...

  • Christmas Episode: Four of em so far, each one more outlandish then the last.
    • The first deals with time travel where Stan screws up history which results in Walter Mondale beating Reagan in the presidential election and turning the United States over to the Soviet Union.
    • The second takes place in the afterlife, where Stan is put on trial to determine if he's worthy of a 2nd chance at life. He eventually takes his lawyer hostage and pulls a gun on God.
    • The third depicts the Rapture and Armageddon, where the Anti-Christ literally is everything opposite of what Jesus was, right down to saying the exact opposite of what he would say.
    • The fourth involving Steve accidentally killing Santa (under Stan's goading) and the whole family tries to bury the body in the woods. Santa gets better and declares all-out war on the family. The ensuing battle between Santa's elven army and the Smiths is nothing short of EPIC!
      • The absurdity of each Christmas story even gets lampshaded at the end.

 Jeff: Are all your Christmases this crazy?

Stan: Every year, buddy.

 Roger: Anyway, last night I ate all of your potato salad, and I tried to make more, but there was no mayo, so instead I used... well, pull my finger.

[Francine does so, Roger sprays milk from his breasts; everyone but Stan gags]

Stan: (beat) I don't get it, what's the secret ingredient?

    • In Lincoln Lover, after the Logcabin Republicans perform a two-minute musical piece that explains how gays don't have to be Democrats:

 Stan: [realization] My God. Where did you get this confetti?

    • In Threat Levels, when Stan discovers gay couple Greg and Terry are the new neighbors, and Stan reveals his prejudice:

 Stan: We don't want their kind in this neighborhood.

Francine: You're overreacting.

Stan: Overreacting? Overreacting? Do you know what those two are? Reporters! That's right, Francine, members of the liberal media!

    • In Finances With Wolves:

 (camera pans to stand with "AIDS HOTCAKES" sign)

Jimmy: How come no-one is buying your hot cakes, Mr. Aids?

Mr. Aids: Because I'm Irish, Jimmy. Because I'm Irish.

    • In The Great Space Roaster:

 [The power cuts out, before a warning siren sounds and emergency lights start flashing]

Francine: [distressed] Stan, what's happening?!

Stan: [indifferent] Not much. What's happening with you?

    • In Phantom of the Telethon:

 Terrorist: When you are forbidden to drink, dance or touch yourself, your afternoons are pretty much free.

Roger: You can't touch yourself? How do you masturbate?

      • In the same episode, a flashback reveals Roger is sabotaging Stan's telethon as he stole the idea from him:

 Roger: I WILL BE AVENGED! (leaves, then re-enters) PLEASE CALL ME WHEN DINNER IS READY!

(flashback ends)

Stan: Of course, it's Roger! He's trying to ruin the telethon because I didn't call him when dinner was ready!

    • In Ricky Spanish, when Roger wants Daniel to knock Steve out:

 [[spoiler:Roger: Now it's time to say goodnight, Steve! Daniel?

Daniel: (beat) Oh? Goodnight, Steve.

Roger: Daniel, (sighs) no. [nods at Steve].

Daniel: Oh! Where are my manners? [kisses Steve on the forehead] Goodnight, puddin'.]]

  • Companion Cube: Stan's beloved SIG P220 pistol. Stan loves his sidearm (at least as much as Jayne in Firefly), especially if he gets to use it irresponsibly. He even plays with it like it's some kind of pet in Roger Codger, and isn't at all alarmed when it goes off.

 Stan: Ha-ha!! Made ya laugh!!

  • Conspiracy Placement: Black Mystery Month parodies The Da Vinci Code's use of these.
  • Continuity Nod: Roger's Solid Gold Poop incident comes up again later.
    • In an early episode Stan makes a small offhand Suspiciously Specific Denial about brainwashing Hayley when she was 5. A few seasons later they get around to having a whole episode about this.
    • On occasion, one of the later-season Couch Gag would use one of Roger's disguises from the previously aired episode. Case in point, the Couch Gag for the episode "Jack's Back" had Roger wearing the disguise he wore during the episode "Roy Rogers Mc Freely".
    • A season one episode had Francine living out her dream to run a muffin kiosk at a mall. A few episodes later when she has an outburst about giving up her dreams, Stan wonders when it changed.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: In In Country... Club, one of Roger's methods to get Stan to cough up the Pay-Per-View code is to read the first draft of the Sex and the City movie script.
  • Cool Guns: Very popular in the first season. There's even Stannie Get Your Gun which shows both sides of the American gun law debate, albeit ending with a "guns are good" stance.
  • Couch Gag:
    • A spoof topical newspaper headline. It was once even used to kick-start the episode's plot.
    • Replaced by Roger's alternating hairstyles/costumes from season four onwards.
    • Lampshaded in a Family Guy episode where Joe Swanson takes Stan's place in the first opening and the newspaper reads "Newspaper Gag Fails To Live Up To Expectations".
  • Could Have Avoided This Plot: In "White Rice", Stan is so desperate to avoid discussing difficult issues with Francine that he hires a hypnotist mess with Francine's memories every year. Naturally she's infuriated when she finds out, and to win her back Stan tries out some of the things she mentioned (painting the kitchen, him wearing shorts). However, Francine says that all she really wanted was to actually talk about these things with him; the kitchen looks terrible and the shorts make Stan look boxy. The episode ends with her bringing up the idea of her father moving to town when he retires (which kicked off the episode); Stan agrees to discuss it, Francine says it's a terrible idea, and all is well.
  • Country Matters: In "Threat Levels", Roger is supposed to be working, but is instead talking with a friend on the phone. When Francine reminds Roger to get back to work, Roger tells the person on the phone that his boss is being a real catch you next Tuesday.
    • In the commentary for said episode, Wendy Schall (Francine's VA) was shocked that they got away with that on network TV.
  • Crazy Prepared: Stan keeps a huge assortment of guns everywhere and has a panic room and an investigation room, among other things. Mainly a jab at Stan's paranoia (and therefore that of the perceived "average patriot") but it often comes in handy when resolving plots.
  • Crossover: The end of "Hurricane" brings both Cleveland and Peter (and their flooded houses) together next to Stan and his home.
    • The end of "The Unbrave One" shows that Quagmire was Dr. Vadgers, asking Francine to send him suggestive pictures of herself.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Roger, once. And Barry when not medicated - taken to epic super villain proportions.
    • Also Francine has her moments... let's just say Stan goes to epic extents to stay out of her way when he pisses her off (for very good reasons)
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: Apparently, Mary Todd Lincoln created peanut butter which her husband disregarded as one of her "lunatic concoctions for warding off evil spirits". She also predicted a man would walk on the moon, but got his name mixed up: "Army Neilstrong".
  • Cute Bruiser: Reginald Koala. He even has a theme song.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Used straight and then subverted in Rough Trade. Roger hits Francine and gives her a black eye; to cover, she uses the "walked into a door" excuse. Later, when the police are there investigating a domestic disturbance call (a series of coincidences having led the neighbors to believe Stan is beating Francine), Francine actually does walk into a door(after tripping on the mop) and gives herself another black eye, but the police do not believe her and arrest Stan.

  Francine: I deserved it for leaving the mop out.

  • Cyborg: A cyborg version of Stan from the a thousand years in the future competes with present-day Stan for Francine in "May The Best Stan Win".
  • The Danza: Hayley's on-and-off boyfriend, Jeff Fischer, voiced by Jeff Fischer.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The focus of "A Smith in The Hand".
    • Another one involving Roger's nude painting of Hayley.
    • After Stan and Francine appoint Roger as Steve's legal guardian, Roger hugs Stan and notices that he's erect. Rogers tells him to go take care of it, so Stan and Francine begin to leave the attic. Stan tells Francine that he's got it covered.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: A large part of the reason Hayley goes out with Jeff.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Most episodes feature Stan as the main character, but occasionally someone like Roger or Steve will be given the lead role for variety. The best example is probably Escape from Pearl Bailey, in which the plot is driven entirely by Steve's actions while the rest of the family hardly appears at all. Klaus has by far the fewest of these episodes, with Hayley bringing up the rear (pun intended).
  • Deadpan Snarker: Stan, at times.

 Steve: "Dad, can we go to Graceland?"

Stan: "Steve, if you want to pay your respects to a fat man who died on the toilet, we can visit your Aunt Mary's grave."

    • Roger and Hayley as well.
    • As well as Steve, when he's disappointed, his dreams have been crushed, or he is not happy with the current situation.
  • Dead Baby Comedy: Used sparingly and jarringly, making it all the more effective.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Another animated show that enjoys messing with tropes and using them with shades on.
  • Delayed Reaction: this trope in the episode where stan forgets his anniversary, again. You can see the trope here
  • Deep-Immersion Gaming: The characters playing the MMORPG Dragonscuffle, which even gives Hayley's player character a Chainmail Bikini.
  • Demoted to Extra: Arguably with Hayley. Stan and Hayley were the first two characters created when the show was being planned as an updated All in The Family. Since the second season onward, as characterization and story took precedence over politics, Hayley has been used less and less, especially compared with Steve and Roger. In many episodes, she is lucky if she has similar screen time and lines as Klaus.
    • Incidentially, in "Escape from Pearl Bailey" (S4 Ep05), the episode was mostly focused on Steve being cornered by the Jerk Jocks and Alpha Bitches at Pearl Bailey High, and the other Smiths are seen only once. Not counting Stan and Roger's lines in the new intro introduced for this season, only Stan and Francine each get one line. This is lampshaded in the following exchange.

 Steve: (appearing in a Hopi Indian revenge mask) Got my revenge!

Francine: That's great, honey.

Stan: Well, it was nice of us to acknowledge Steve this week, even if it was only this once.

  • Depending on the Writer: Is Stan a huge Jerkass whose main priority is himself, or is he merely a stubborn individual who nonetheless genuinely cares about his family? There are episodes supporting both viewpoints.
    • Similarly, in some episodes, Hayley is portrayed as genuinely caring and sincere in her beliefs, while in others, she's a huge hypocrite. In both cases, it could be less a case of Depending on the Writer and more "depending on what suits the plot."
    • The commentary for one episode said that the main rules for Stan is that "he tries to keep his country and his family safe" and "he can't be unlikable". How far the writers think "likable" goes does vary a lot.
    • Roger to a similar extent can either be a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who truthfully appreciates his adoptive family deep down, or a borderline sociopath Psychopathic Manchild that near literally lacks the ability to feel for anyone but himself, at least not without severe consequences to his state of mind.
    • Steve is portrayed as physically weak in some episodes, in others he is shown to beat people within an inch of their life. It has to be said that he becomes very focused when he is angry about something/wants to take revenge.
    • Is Francine dumb or a woman of average intelligence?
  • Deserted Island: Appears in Choosey Wives Choose Smith and turns from Castaway to Palm Tree type within seconds.
  • Desperately Looking for a Purpose In Life: Roger, which would explain his penchant for role-playing.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Poor old Steve. Even when he does succeed, something happens to sabotage it. "Spring Breakup" when Carmen Selectra gets crushed after having her breast implants removed, "Big Trouble in Little Langley" where Steve's hand is so numb he can't feel a popular girl's breast, and the popular girl takes it as an insult that her breasts are small, and recently in "A Jones for a Smith," where, because of Stan's crack addiction, a protective father bars Steve from coming near his daughter.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Stan names this trope in S1 Ep04, "Francine's Flashback", when Francine, suffering from Laser-Guided Amnesia, thinks she's back in college and steals Jeff away from Hayley, resulting in this exchange.

 Hayley: My mother stole my boyfriend!

Stan: Your boyfriend stole my wife! Let's get back at them by dating each other!... Wait a minute....Daddy didn't think that one through.

    • Another example comes from Roger, in the Halloween episode. Stan flies in the most dangerous serial killers the CIA had in custody in order to make his haunted house scary, but they really don't do anything in their containers. So Roger, after already provoking the killers by tempting them with Francine, decides to let them out. Roger sadly admits that he doesn't think things through after the Smiths point out that he let loose SERIAL KILLERS.
  • Diner Brawl: Stan vs. Bullock.
  • Discriminate and Switch: Stan is upset when Greg and Terry move in next door. Turns out that Stan doesn't even know they're gay; he's upset because they're quote "members of the Liberal media".
    • Francine gets one too: Steve and Hayley think she's racist for her aversion to Steve's black lab partner, only to find out her hatred is toward left-handed people.
  • Disney Creatures of the Farce: It's obvious that when Francine sings with the bird in In Country... Club, it's a sendup of classic Snow White and Sleeping Beauty moments. Then she drowns the bird, with a creepily apathetic look on her face.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Roger IS this trope to the point where it could easily be named "Roger Smithing."
    • In Stannie Get Your Gun, when Steve eats Roger's cookie and tells him "You snooze, you lose," Roger goes on an elaborate Zany Scheme to convince Steve that he's adopted, dress up in a sailor suit with a blond wig and introduce himself to his "real parents." At the end of the episode, Hayley steals Roger's seat, tells him "The early bird gets the worm," and Roger implies (through his dark reprise) that he's about to do something similar to her.
    • Subverted in Surro-Gate. After Steve and Roger throw Klaus down a water slide, Klaus acts like he is going to unleash one of these, but it ends up being an accidental Paranoia Gambit (accidental in that Klaus merely forgot about it until he was later reminded).
    • In Great Space Roaster, Roger tries to kill the rest of the family, because they insulted him... on the roast he asked for his birthday.
      • Roger is arguably the master of this trope, along with some of the above examples he has falsely labeled Francine as a former mental patient for compromising his dress-up act, destroyed a stranger's life in every manner possible for buying something off of his credit account and tried to destroy the Earth over a verbal insult from Stan though he didn't get very far with this one. And of course when Stan confronted him over the extremes he took against an individual a BABY that had broken one of his collectible ornaments:

 Roger: He started it.

Stan: So you were going to drown him in the river?!?

Roger: Well how do you kill a baby?

    • A non-Roger example comes from the CIA receptionist Lorraine in "Flirting With Disaster"; when Francine gets Lorraine's old receptionist job after the latter becomes Bullock's personal assistant, Francine also takes the role of flirting with the men, much to Stan and Lorraine's chagrin. They then team up to get her fired by hatching a plan - before Stan can frame Francine for stealing Bullock's lunch, however, Lorraine throws acid in Francine's face.
    • In "Merlot Down Dirty Shame", Steve won't stop bragging about how he can lucid dream, and reveals that seeing a red ball lets him know he is dreaming. In retaliation, Hayley and Klaus trick him into to masturbating in the car, showing up to school in his underwear, slapping and insulting his teacher and forcing himself on a girl, which then leads to Steve grabbing the girl and jumping out the window with her to fly, leaving Steve with broken bones and the girl impaled on a broken fence.
    • Roger hunts down five frat guys and kills each one for not paying him the twenty dollars they owed him for driving them to their house in his limo. When Klaus mentions the absurdity of it, Roger retorts "Are you really asking that to the guy who, just last week, killed six people over nineteen dollars?"
  • Distracted by the Sexy:
    • In the James Bond parody, Stan can't stop looking at Francine's chest after she undergoes Breast Expansion.
    • Roger ended up finding a pair of magical pants sewn together by an old gypsy woman, and it made him attractive to "Famous Homosexual Ricky Martin". Rogers eventually tells him the truth about the pants, and Ricky confesses that the same woman made him his shirt. When he took it off, he lost his sexy body and gained a beer gut. Roger steals the shirt and runs off. While walking down the streets of Miami with both the shorts and shirt on, he's causing EVERYONE around him to be distracted, causing multi-car pile-ups, causing helicopters to crash into buildings, causing birds to fly into airplane engines, which causes the planes to crash...
  • Does That Sound Like Fun to You?: In S1 Ep13, "Stan of Arabia Part 2", while in Saudi Arabia, Hayley is chased by the Saudi police of vice and virtue for being in public unaccompanied by a man. She's saved by a man named Kazim, who pretends to be her brother and tells her about getting stoned. Hayley thinks he's talking about marijuana, resulting in this exchange.

 Kazim: You should be more careful around the police of vice and virtue. Do you want to get stoned?

Hayley: Yes! Oh, my God! It's been, like, forever.

Kazim:You would like to be buried up to your neck and have a crowd of angry men throw rocks at your head?

 Stan: Oh, I'll tell you what, Francine, why don't you just grab this broom here? I'll bend over and grab my ankles, you can lube up the handle real good and just sweep me out the door!

  Roger: You're going to jail, kid. They're going to take your cherry. Jell-O. Away. In the lunch line. After you're raped. In the shower.

  • Downer Ending: In "Jack's Back", Steve bonds with Stan's estranged criminal father Jack, and Stan is resentful mostly because Jack never taught him how to ride a bike. But when Stan's rusty bike gets fixed up by Jack, he tries to make it to the courthouse to prove his father's innocence, only to get injured and lose consciousness, leading to Jack being hauled off to jail.
    • In "Hot Water", Stan buys a hot tub that not only talks to him, but seduces him in a way to keep him in the tub and have him choose the tub over his family. Eventually, the hot tub grows jealous with rage when Francine shows up to take Stan back and sucks Francine into the tub to kill her when she refused to step into it. Stan comes to save her but literally gets thrown out of the house and lands next to the can of Spa Down. Stan tries to get up so he can stop the hot tub with the Spa Down, but collapses and dies. Cut away to Cee Lo Green (the voice of the hot tub) basically saying Stan's dead, the end.
    • Word of God states that the production staff wasn't sure if the show was going to be renewed for another season, so they planned to have "Hot Water" be the series finale.
  • Drunk with Power: Everyone who's in charge of making announcements over the intercom eventually gets drunk with power, including Steve... and they always forget that it's on when they go on an insulting rant.

 Snot: He's become drunk with power!

Barry: The drunker he gets the better I look.

  • Duck Season! Rabbit Season!: Hayley is working for Roger and trying to get him to sign a form saying she completed her internship for a class. They both end up switching into Roger's various disguises and battling each other, in-persona, until Roger dresses as Hayley and tries to say none of this matters, it was All Just a Dream. Then Hayley dresses as Roger and says she'll never sign the release, causing Roger to forges his own signature on the form.

  Roger: What just happened? Did I win?

  • Dumb Blonde: Judi in "The One That Got Away".
    • Also Francine.
  • Eagle Land: The writers have no problem poking fun at their own country especially if it serves the plot.
  • Easily Forgiven: Sometimes played straight, but just as often subverted or parodied.
  • Easy Evangelism - Played with in Lincoln Lover. Stan is easily able to convince Steve that gays are evil, using only a few sentences, but after Stan changes his opinions of gays, Steve is now hard-wired into believing gays are evil and Stan is unable to convince him otherwise.
    • Again in Red October Sky. Steve is more than willing to join the Red Menace thanks to a little goading from Sergei, but it takes a full day of capitalism complete with thousands of dollars to win him back.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Hayley Dreamsmasher Smith.
    • Steven Anita Smith.
  • Emerging From the Shadows: Haley's gamer avatar is revealed this way.
  • Engineered Public Confession: FIVE times in one episode.
  • Epic Fail: Hurricane! has Stan performing one after another of these. The house gets flooded and turned upside down, Hayley's attacked by a shark, Roger's electrocuted, Stan punches Jeff out for no reason, Steve is mauled by a bear that Stan let into the house to kill the shark, and it ends with Stan harpooning Francine with his college javelin in an effort to kill the bear. The bear even stops and gives Stan a look that says "dude, really?" It isn't until Buckle bursts into the house and shoots the shark, the bear, and Stan, with tranquilizer darts, that things get better. Buckle shot all three because he couldn't tell who was doing the most damage. Just when you think things are finally over, Stan ends up shooting Francine in her other arm with a gun thanks to a Mexican Standoff with Peter and Cleveland at the end of the episode.
    • Stan does this again in "Shallow Vows", when Francine stops her beauty regiment so Stan will have to renew his vows to the real Francine; after deciding she's too ugly and he's too shallow, Stan tries to sneak out before Francine notices, only to make things worse by charging though seated guests, trampling the band playing music and getting a harp stuck on his foot trying to reach the car. Once in the car, he then gets the harp caught on the underside of the car and smashes through the seated guests, hitting several people.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Most commonly used when Stan needs to learn a lesson in tolerance - it will dawn on him in the closing moments, usually causing him to launch into a short Whoopi Epiphany Speech on behalf of the oppressed/misunderstood group he was once prejudiced against.
    • An excellent one occurs in American Dream Factory when The Power of Rock convinces Stan that immigrants from Mexico can be just as patriotic about America as he is.
  • Everything's Better with Chocolate: "These chocodiles, oh my god, these chocodiles Hayley, OH MY GOD."
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A man assumes Stan's "funny story" about losing his passport involves one, since monkeys are funny.
  • Everythings Precious With Puppies: There are TWO episodes involving a puppy. One named Fussy, and one named Kisses.
  • Everything's Worse with Bears / Everything's Even Worse with Sharks: They attack the Smith family in "Hurricane!"

  Steve: They're working in tandem!! They're brothers in arms!!

  • Evil Twin: Inverted with Stan's CIA body double. Technically, Stan would be the evil twin, although Bill begins to reveal an evil nature of his own during his second appearance on the show.
    • One episode featured Stan from the future acting as a foil to present Stan. Both served as the others evil twin up until the climax of the episode. And the whole reason they were fighting was because present Stan didn't appreciate Francine as much as future Stan.
    • Subverted with Steve, who Stan made a clone of in order to test out whether his or Francine's form of parenting was better. Stan's All-Work-And-No-Play parenting style turned the clone evil... An evil clone who juggled the heads of 3 dead cats while taking a bite out of them each time. Stan lampshades the situation.

 Stan: "Why is it that every time I try to better someone, it turns right back around to bite me!?"

 Francine: Steve is too young for a gun, Stan. Promise me you won't get him a gun for Christmas!"

Stan: "I promise I won't get Steve a gun for Christmas!"

*Stan hands Steve a machine gun*

Stan: "Happy Wednesday, son!"

 Francine: (on the phone)...I didn't know what to do, sis! (pause) What? I've never called you 'sis' before? (pause) You're right, it is oddly clunky and expositional! I mean, I know you're my sister, so who am I saying it for? Weird. (later in the same conversation) So, what's going on with you, sis? Are you enjoying being three years younger than me?

Stan: (in the same episode, also on the phone) You should've heard Francine on the phone. She thinks she married a nobody. (pause) I appreciate you saying that, bro. (pause) I've called you "bro" before. That's what we are, we're half brothers. (pause) Well, I don't care how they say it in New Glarus, Wisconsin, where you live on a lake and have nothing in common with me. (pause) Well, then, maybe we should just stay estranged until you can find a dramatic enough reason to show up on my doorstep unannounced!

  • Expy: Snot is a younger and less crude version of Dudley "Booger" Dawson from Revenge of the Nerds. He is even voiced by the same actor, Curtis Armstrong.
    • The Golden Turd sequences might be one to the Giant Chicken fights from Family Guy. They bare no relation to the plot whatsoever, they last at least two-five minutes long depending on the episode, and they both consist of a continuing saga.
    • Judi from "The One That Got Away" is basically Audrey from Little Shop of Horrors, except that Judi isn't as bright and is a Hermaphrodite.
  • Extraverted Nerd: Steve


 Bret: Your son dropped off this.

[Bret holds up a picture of Stan and Pat Robinson smiling]

Stan: So it's me and hatemonger Pat Robinson; I met him at some party.

[Bret unfolds it; it's an "Anti-Gay Palooza" pamphlet]

Stan: I was just passing through.

[Bret unfolds it again; it was held and funded by Stan]

Stan: It was just a momentary lapse of judgment.

[Bret unfolds it again; it's the seventh annual convention]

Stan: (beat) My mind is blank.

  • Faux Affably Evil: Roger when he's in a manipulative mood.He can act nice if he wants to be at times, before stabbing them in the back and/or abandoning them.
  • Fetish: Cornerstone of any McFarlane product for quick and easy gags, some examples:
    • Bullock has a Groin Attack fetish.
      • While it's never explicitly stated to be such, Steve has a recurring fascination with robotic women that is usually treated as a real character trait rather than a joke.
    • In the episode I Am The Walrus Principal Lewis says that he works at the pottery center to pay for his watch fetish.

 Principal Lewis: Now, if only I could tell time...

    • In Hot Tub Stan pays quite a lot of attention to Francine's feet...

 Cee Lo Green: Now he's got lady foot in his mouth!

  • 555: The call-in number for the CIA's donation line in Phantom of the Telethon. Also, Roger's pretend psychiatrist number in Widowmaker.
  • Film Noir: Star Trek includes a soft trumpet theme in the background, first person seemingly Posthumous Narration, and it heavily references Sunset Blvd.
  • Flanderization: Roger's antics used to be quite varied, relating to his drinking, scheming with Steve, alien biology, television, etc. Now virtually everything he does is based on his role playing/dress-up obsession.
    • Truthfully, he still uses his alternative roles on occasion, just his more "out-open" lifestyle requires him to use his dressups alongside it.
    • His Jerkass traits also got Flanderized to sociopathic extremes, possibly to balance the other characters' more sympathetic qualities later on.
      • Originally Principle Lewis had slightly quirky moments every now and then. By the sixth season, he's less a character and more a way to get his voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson to say the weirdest shit the writers can think of. This isn't at all a bad thing.
        • To add on, Principal Lewis had moments where it was implied he had a checkered past, but overall was a responsible and respectable educator. But more recent seasons show him as crazy, drug abusing, and wildly irresponsible.
    • Klaus has also become more of a Butt Monkey over time.
  • Flag Bikini: Obama in a flag speedo.
  • Flashback Cut: Used to embellish character backstories mostly.
    • In the pilot episode, they were used to provide random gags in the same fashion as Family Guy; luckily, after that episode, the writers banned cutaways in an effort to both distinguish the series from its predecessor and to focus on more character-based humor. It worked.
  • Flashed Badge Hijack: Stan once proclaims "Official CIA business" to do this to a woman and her sports car. Before she can say anything, he grabs her and tosses her out of the car, then drives off. A moment later he returns and throws her wheelchair out next to her before driving off again.
  • Foil: The relationship between Steve and Roger, with Steve usually being Roger's foil. They are similar in many ways but different enough to inevitably disagree, leading to the derailment of their schemes and usually some kind of fight.
    • Also Stan and Hayley, who both tend to be similarly minded people on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
    • Also Stan and Jeff, who were both raised by really crappy parents in their youth. Stan grew up to be an ultra-conservative, Jerk with a Heart of Gold who tries to take down anything against his morals. Jeff grew up to be a decent (if Cloudcuckoolander and stoner) man, being able to take any levels of abuse and doing anything to help anyone. Naturally, the two will butt heads when trying to interact.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Stan frequently seems to forget that he's carrying a gun.
  • Forgotten Anniversary: episode 4 is about the second time stan forgot his anniversary.
  • For Halloween I Am Going as Myself: In All About Steve, Roger is so desperate for human contact that the only place he can go outside the house is a sci-fi convention. Of course, this was before he became a master of disguise.
  • Foreshadowing: In "Joint Custody", we learn that Stan looked up to his mother as a role model, to which he admitted it set him back quite a bit. It's not until season 3's "Odepial Panties" that we learn just how far looking up to his mother as a role model set him back.
    • Another, more subtle one occurs in "Finances With Wolves". When stopping the construction equipment from bulldozing a tiny patch of forest, Hayley gets trampled by a herd of different types of wildlife. One of the animals that she gets trampled by is the wolf that will later cause troubles for Roger, and eventually Steve in that episode's B-plot.
  • Former Teen Rebel: Francine is continuously shown to have been a crazy and promiscuous party girl when she was younger until she met the ultra-Conservative Stan, whereupon The Power of Love made her choose a button-down life instead.
    • In S2 Ep10 "Bush Comes To Dinner" then-President George W. Bush brings this trope up to Stan after he angrily tells Hayley that she's a lost cause. Bush reveals that he was a very wild party boy when he was younger (which, sadly, is Truth in Television) and that Hayley, due to her rebellious ways, is not a lost cause, but is on the track to becoming President of the United States.
  • For Want of a Nail: Stan convincing Martin Scorcese in the past to not do drugs forces Stan to go ahead a few years and shoot Reagan to prevent the USSR from taking over the USA.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Francine has a singing version in "In Country... Club" which is then subverted when she drowns the bird singing with her.
  • Furry Fandom: Dick Reynonds, Avery Bullock and even later Reginald Koala (an anthromorphic koala) are members of this subculture as The Missing Kink. Referenced in eariler seasons during a sequence in One Little Word

"I'm a squirrel and that feels fantastic."

  • Future Imperfect: How Stan imagines life after his death in Stanny Slickers II: The Legend Of Ollie's Gold.
  • Gag Boobs: In Helping Handis, some CIA-supplied steroids cause Steve, and later Stan, to sprout comically large breasts. And yes, it's both hilarious and extremely Squicky.
  • Gay Conservative: Explored extensively in Lincoln Lover, where Greg is revealed to be a Log Cabin Republican... and Stan temporarily becomes one.
  • Geek: Steve, Barry, Snot and Toshi are a Four Man Band comprised entirely of geeks who adore Dungeons and Dragons, Star Trek, and World of Warcraft-esque computer games. Thankfully the show doesn't resort to making any one of them a full-time Butt Monkey.
    • Geek Reference Pool: Pretty much every stereotypical geek interest that's out there, Steve has been shown as being into it at some point.
  • Geeky Turn On: Akiko trick-or-treats as Chun Li which Steve finds very... happy. Though given Chun Li's general attire, it may be a turn on in general.

 Steve: Hommina hommina hommina BONER!

  • Gender Incompetence: Averted for the most part. Stan is actually a pretty intelligent and efficient operative in many aspects, but is prone to making snap decisions and his judgement can often be clouded by his political views. Meanwhile Francine is (usually) more rational and has noticeable hidden talents and intellect, but something of a Cloudcuckoolander. Likewise, neither Hayley nor Steve seems especially more intelligent or competent than the other.
  • Gene Hunting: In Big Trouble in Little Langley, Stan gets tired of dealing with Francine's adoptive Chinese parents and goes searching for her biological parents.
  • The Generalissimo: Roger briefly impersonates one of these.
  • Generation Xerox: Stan and Hayley. Despite being polar opposites in their political and social views, they're exactly the same. They're both controlling, obsessed with being right, and tend to treat their partners like crap.
  • Genre Blindness: Steve, who lies on the opposite side of the Idealism-Cynicism scale to the rather dark series; for example, during the conclusion of Brains, Brains, and Automobiles:

 Snot: If only we could thank that magic, mystery underwear salesman.

Steve: Oh, I don't think we've seen the last of him...

[Cut to the salesman sitting in a boxcar train, pale and with a needle hanging out of his arm; he falls out of the train and into a river, where he sinks.]

  • George Jetson Job Security: Stan has been suspended or lost his CIA job several times, yet he's always right back at work the very next episode. Sometimes it's explained in-story, sometimes it isn't.
  • The Ghost: Gwen, the biological daughter of Francine's adoptive parents. Based off what we've heard she's very attractive (Stan calls her "Hot Gwen"), but also very stupid.
    • For a long time, Bullock's wife fit this trope, though she was eventually seen in One Little Word.
  • Glad I Thought of It: The CIA telethon episode.
  • Godwin's Law: Invoked by a man who's just been framed by Stan, and revealed to be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood:

 "What do you think this is, Nazi Germany? Oh wait, that'd be AWESOME!"

  • Going Native: Stan often ends up going full throttle into any subculture he is thrust towards, such as illegal street racing or gay lifestyle. Francine lampshades this in Stan of Arabia.
  • Good People Have Good Sex: Stan and Francine seem to have a healthy, active sex life.
    • Although Stan doesn't believe in the female orgasm.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck: In Ricky Spanish:

 Roger: What the Dickens? I thought you knocked him out, Daniel. [shaking fist] WHAT THE DICKENS?!

  • Goth: Debbie Hyman (see Perky Goth below) is the de facto leader of a brood of goths, who haunt a candlelit stairwell. And believe that dancing to Joy Division is enough to halt a stampede of jocks.
  • Granola Girl: Hayley.
  • The Grim Reaper: Stan's publicity assistant in Deacon Stan, Jesus Man sports a red hooded robe and demonstrates many of the physical attributes usually assigned to the personification of Death, and some of his supernatural abilities (hovering instead of walking, clairvoyance, appearing mysteriously with no visible entry point).
    • He wasn't the Grim Reaper. He was Karl Rove. (aroooooo...)
      • Or as Hayley calls him, "The amoral puppet master behind George W. Bush" (though I always thought that was Dick Cheney)
      • And his design and voice were based more on Emperor Palpatine (especially as "Darth Sidious" with the cloak partially obscuring the face) than on the Grim Reaper.
  • Groin Attack: Stan and Steve are subjected to one every now and then.. usually by each other for ruining a father-son moment by mentioning it. Stan's special CIA martial arts training specifically focuses on kicking people in the groin.
    • Francine chops Stan in the nuts when the two of them playfully dash down the stairs to go answer the door. She said he answered it the last time, and it was her turn.

 Francine: Got ya!

Stan: *huddled over in pain on the floor* Punk!

    • Also invoked in Stanny-Boy and Frantastic about four times.

 Tom: He's right, you can't see a guy get hit in the groin and not laugh.

  • Guns Akimbo: Roger vs. the drug dealers. Stan has done the double once or twice too. Francine even dual wields machetes in the pilot. ("If I die you must protect the clan!")
  • Hand Wave: Stan has an extreme fear of seagulls. The plot of Choosey Wives Choose Smith requires him to interact extensively with seagulls. How to solve the problem?

 Roger: Aren't you scared of seagulls?

Stan: Oh, I got over that.

  • Happily Married: Hayley and Jeff. The events of the 2010 Christmas episode indicate it may actually last.
    • By the end of season 6, this one has been averted and played straight in regards to status quo. Averted in that they're still married and have overcome a few marital issues, and played straight in that the show rarely brings up the fact that they are indeed married (on the infrequent occasions that Hayley and Jeff even appear at all). It's shown that Jeff has seemed to move in with the Smiths, and sleeps in Hayley's room, but most of the time he's nowhere to be seen.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Paco and his entire family while working far below minimum wage in Stan's American Dream Factory. Notably, the relationship changes from Stan not caring to one of great appreciation when he sees how much they love his country, whereby he decides to do them a favour. Arguably Francine is treated poorly enough to be something of a slave to Stan too - she certainly acts like the housewife from any fifties stereotype.
  • "Happy Holidays" Dress: The blue, winter themed dress the Ghost of Christmas Past (formerly a tooth fairy) wears.
  • Healing Hands: Spoofed in the pilot when Roger reveals his race have no such ability. ("And don't expect me to bring him back with that E.T. finger thing because that's a giant load of crap!")
  • Healing Potion: Roger uses one on Stan to regrow his legs, after they've been bitten off by a polar bear. [1]
  • Henpecked Husband: Buckle the Mountain Man, married to Shari.
  • Hentai: Believe it or not, Hentai is referenced in the episode Iced, Iced Babies, where Stan goes to have a vasectomy from a Japanese company, and is asked if he wants to bank some sperm just in case; in addition to a sample cup, he's offered two magazines: "Buxom Octopus Woman" and "Disobedient School Prefect".
    • In another episode Stan hides in a whale skeleton:

 Stan: Let me outta here! *holds up a squid* Squidface does horrible things to me during lights out! Unspeakable things!

  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In one episode, Hayley needs internship credits and works at Roger's bar in the attic; when Roger refuses to sign her papers, the two get into an Instant Costume Change battle, rapidly cycling through personas. Hayley resolves the conflict by dressing as Roger and saying "I'll never sign your form, Hayley!", prompting Roger to dress as Hayley and say "Well then I'll just forge your signature!" After she walks off with the signed form, Roger asks "What just happened? Did I win?"
    • In "May the Best Stan Win", Stan defeats Cyborg Stan using one of the ludicrous made-up martial arts moves that Cyborg Stan taught him to keep Stan busy so he could try to steal Francine.
  • Historical In-Joke: Ever wondered if George Washington Carver really invented peanut butter? See Black Mystery Month. There are other allusions throughout the show too, such as the truth behind Ollie North's gold, Reagan's assassination attempt and the rise and fall of disco music in the 1970s.
    • Also played with in The Best Christmas Story Never. Stan goes back in time to stop Jane Fonda from ruining Christmas and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which leads to America being taken over by the Soviets. To put the timeline right, he must shoot President Reagan.
    • In this universe, Francine, after having a one-night stand with apparently the entire band, inspired Dexys Midnight Runners to write the song "Come on Eileen" (they couldn't remember her name).
  • Homage: Steve's plan in Bar Mitzvah Shuffle is presented in the exact same fashion as plans are presented in Ocean's Eleven.
    • The poison drinking scene in With Friends Like Steve's is a direct nod to The Princess Bride.
    • In I Can't Stan You, Stan sends people to the corn field motel when he overhears them criticizing him.
  • Hot Mom: Francine. Stan's mother Betty also qualifies.
  • Housewife: Francine is an extreme parody of this. In the Thanksgiving episode she was obsessed with having the most number of burners on her stove, and upon entering an enormous magnificent mansion, all she can think about are the burners.
  • Hug and Comment: Roger does this to Francine.

 Francine: (Hugging Roger) Oh, Roger! You're back.

Roger: And you're starting to get lunch lady arms.

 Roger: Something about your story seems... fishy.

Steve: [...] Klaus, you’re going to face the scales of Lady Justice!

Roger: We know you’re gill-ty!

Steve: Like it or not, fish, you’re on the hook for this one!

Roger: Your days of crime are H2Over!

    • Even brought back up in their own episode "The Case of Grandpa’s Key"; Stan plays a Composite Character of Wheels and The Legman. Since he is Steve’s dad and he rides a novelty unicycle, he names his character Poppa Wheelie.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Barry has commented on Debbie's weight a few times and once said that fat people disgusted him.
    • "A world without children. Future generations will thank us."
  • I Call It Vera: Stan's gun's name is Gun.
  • I Banged Your Mom: Used as a Running Gag when Stan becomes Steve's bully to toughen him up. Done to the point that even the mother does it referring to herself.
  • I Can Explain:

 Francine: "Oh, has my pie fairy godmother finally arrived? ...Hayley?"

Hayley: "Mom! It's not what it looks like.. Uhh, I was cooking meth!"

Francine: "Oh really? Then where's your muriatic acid?"

    • In Phantom Of The Telethon, when Stan and co get excited about torturing a terrorist:

 Stan: I get to strap him to the waterboard!

Dick: I get the car battery

Saunders: I wanna slather him in oil and make love to him all night long! [he realizes people are looking] Oh, I'm on the phone.

  • If I Wanted X, I Would Y
  • I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!: Francine uses this trope several times in S5 Ep07, "My Morning Straitjacket" to get Stan backstage at a concert. A montage shows her flirting and flashing her way past several levels of security (including a lesbian security guard).
  • I Have No Son: Stan disowns Steve upon realizing that he is a total Geek.
    • Inverted when they think Roger died, Stan acts like a jerk about it, and Steve shouts "I have no father!"
  • I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy: While Stan doesn't exactly treat Francine brilliantly a lot of the time, whenever he believes she may be happier with someone else he is willing to let her go. Naturally it always works out however.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Played with nicely in Haylias, in which a too well mind-programmed Hayley turns on Stan and chases him back to their house. Stan tries to reason with her as she hold him at gunpoint, making a last gambit with a heartfelt confession and apology on trying to control her happiness. It fails, she proceed to shoot him anyway mid-sentence. Luckily for Stan, he manages to survive with just a concussion, with the brush of death he had allowing the program in Hayley to be completed and bringing her back to normal with no memory of the true reason she was trying to kill him.
  • Imagine Spot: Director Bullock has one of these in the season five episode, G-String Circus:

  Bullock: [To Stan] The C in CIA doesn't stand for crestfallen. [To himself] But what if it stood for cat?

  • Incest Subtext: Hoooo boy. Virtually every member of the Smith household has had at least one scene built on this trope, and more often than not it's a great deal more than subtext. Comes to a head in "Virtual In-Stan-ity" when Stan takes control of a girl's body and tries to sleep with Steve (!) to get closer to him.
  • Incurable Cough of Death: Hayley coughs early in Tears of a Clooney; minutes later, she is suddenly stricken with cancer (though she ultimately beats it).
  • Informed Ability: Roger has a Masters degree in City Planning. He can tell you where to build a convention center, but can't tell when he's being played for a fool by a fish.
  • Ink Suit Actor: Avery Bullock looks more than a little like Patrick Stewart. And you'd never guess who voices him.
    • What makes it more conspicious is that in Family Guy, Patrick Stewart has appeared as himself in Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, as Jean-Luc Picard in at least one Cutaway Gag, and as Avery Bullock in a dream sequence, and in all cases the character model was exactly the same: no changes at all apart from clothing, proving once and for all that Avery Bullock is Patrick Stewart in everything but name, parodying himself to great effect.
    • There are also some cameos by some people that work on the show. Those scientists about five tropes up? The one in the mech is Mike Barker and the other is Matt Weitzman, the co-creators of the show.
    • Principal Lewis is basically the animated version of Kevin Michael Richardson.
    • And Snot's name and design are based on his voice actors most famous role, Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.
  • Inner Monologue: Crops up more than average, especially in episodes centering on Stan.
  • Innocent Innuendo: Or not so innocent. When Stan's teammate, Jim, uses his Casanova skills to seduce his way out of the bad guys' hideout and to safety. When Stan gets home, he hugs his wife.

 Stan (still hugging): If I smell at all like sex it's because of Jim.

(Francine opens her eyes and gets an odd look on her face)

Stan: His hips never stopped moving as we porked our way through 200 miles of jungle. It was magnificent.

    • "This is the only photo from our honeymoon where you can't see Vag. [beat] You remember Vag, our native guide?"
    • In Stanny Tendergrass Steve throws out half of a can of soda and tries to justify it:

 Steve: I don't like the last half, it's not as effervescent. Nope, the bottom's not for me; I'm what they call a top.

[Roger's eyes widen]

  • Interspecies Romance: Hayley and Reginald The Koala.
  • Intoxication Ensues: During a daring escape from a burning barn full of dope in Joint Custody this happens to Stan and Roger, who ride out the episode with some hilarious stoner behaviour, and manage to resolve the plot by accident.
  • Invoked Trope: When an awkward fight between Stan, Steve, and Stan's dad starts in the kitchen, Francine points out that this is when Klaus would usually come in and say something funny for comic relief, the joke being that he doesn't make it until the end of the scene, despite Francine's repeated invoking.
    • And in Iced, Iced Babies, Roger wants to discuss an intellectual article, but Francine and Stan point out that Roger is only good for spitting out cutesy one-liners and that he's "the Adam Sandler of the house."
  • I Owe You My Life: Stan owes Roger a life debt after he saves him at Area 51. It's finally repaid (twice) in the episode Debt of Your Life, however.
  • Issue Drift: Inverted; the show has arguably become less political than originally intended, though it's still pretty heavy on it.
  • I Told You So: The episode "Four Little Words" centers on Stan's increasingly over-the-top efforts to keep from having to hear this from Francine.
  • It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe, Stan decides to get a head start by hating on a singer before he gets popular.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Stan even converts his backyard into a fully-fledged prison when he convinces himself the new neighbours are terrorists.
    • And in the same episode he uses the technique on himself.
  • Jerkass: Stan and Roger. And when they put aside their differences and get together...
    • With Roger, the Jerkass trope actually has some justification. In "Frannie 911," it's revealed that for Roger's species, their "bitchiness" takes the physical form of a poisonous bile if they don't vent it out on others on a frequent basis. It would literally kill Roger to be nice. That said it's not as if he has a hard time doing it.
    • Tank Bates, Terry's father. Tank understands completely that homosexuality is not a choice and he is still disgusted by it. Tank doesn't care how much stress it caused Terry to keep his homosexuality from him, wishes he never knew, and proceeds to act like Terry doesn't exist when he's finally been outted. Conversely, this episode plus later ones involving Stan's father have resulted in Stan and Terry being fairly amicable with each other.
  • Jerkass Realization: A recurring plot point that makes Stan repetant of his callous ways. Roger has a few moments of this as well, even if he is just as likely to fake one to get his way.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stan... most of the time. Also, Francine's adoptive parents. While Stan doeshave good reasons to complain about them, they ultimately save his life during a fire.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Roger plays this a lot, a few episodes hint to Hidden Depths that possibly explain his personality issues, only for them to turn out as Blatant Lies and for Roger to simply be an out and out Jerkass For the Lulz. Stan also has occasional shades of this (particularly in earlier episodes) though he does seem more capable of genuinely seeing the error of his ways.
  • Jesus Was Way Cool: In a Christmas episode, the Rapture occurs and Stan and Francine were left behind. Jesus comes back to lead people against the Anti Christ. He doesn't have his superpowers (except for being able to withstand freezing temperatures and Walk On Water), but it's still a badass. He's hunky and charismatic and actually front flips onto the Anti Christ's shoulder and snaps his neck with his thighs. He's also allowed to date this time and Stan calls him the best guy Francine could ever end up with.
  • Just Like Making Love:

 Jack: Now son, breaking in to a safe is like making love to a woman.

Stan: So, we should just pound on it for like two minutes?

Jack: No... you need to gently work the dials till she surrenders...


  • Kafka Komedy: A minor version is invoked with Terry's homophobic father, Tank; after claiming Stan and Greg are a gay to stall coming out, Tank proceeds to make the situation worse by antagonizing everything Stan does simply because he thinks he is Camp Gay.

 [Stan leaves Greg & Terry's house]

Tank: Look at him. He's just gonna float away. Float away like a fairy.

[Stan carries two heavy trash cans to the sidewalk]

Tank: Look at him! Carrying those heavy trash cans like a girl!

[Stan moves a giant rock]

Tank: I bet he wished that rock was a big, naked man!

[Stan wolf whistles at a lady on a bike]

Tank: Yeah, whistle a show tune ya drag queen!

  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Subverted with Roger, who has a collection of wigs that he swaps around for roleplaying. Many of them are different in color.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Steve's plan in Bar Mitzvah Shuffle.
  • Karma Houdini: Nearly all the family has gotten away with some horrific crime at some point in the show's run, Roger and Stan are probably the most recurring examples however. It may be balanced by all of them having Chew Toy traits however.
    • One notable example: In order to fix the course of history, Stan had to make the assassination attempt on Ronald Regan because John Hinkley was never motivated to do it. History was fixed (with some added benefits of making it easier to buy guns) and Stan didn't have any repercussions happen to him for trying to kill Regan.
  • Kent Brockman News: Greg and Terry are low on exposition but high on drama, usually doing their dirty laundry over the airwaves.

 Terry: "This recession is affecting everyone, even we're cutting back. Last night we only sixty-eighted.

Greg: "Really? ...That's terrible."

Terry: *smug smile* "Oh well."

  • "Kick Me" Prank:
    • During the opening, Hayley sticks a peace sign on Stan's back, while Francine takes it off before he even notices.
    • When Stan gets braces, the other employees prank him by sticking "Shoot Me" on his back. He was lucky he was wearing his bullet proof vest.
  • Lack of Empathy: Roger and Stan take this to extremes at times. Roger's mindset got screwed up psychologically the first time he felt for anyone before himself. Roger is also very casual and matter-of-fact about describing himself as a sociopath ("Cops & Roger"). Being a Seth MacFarlane work however, nearly every character displays this trait at times (though it's not as prevalent here as it is on, say, Family Guy).
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Stan Smith, an unusual non-superhero iteration.
  • Large Ham: Stan Smith, as early as the pilot. ("Did somebody order a brand new dog?!")
    • Similar with Principle Lewis, established the same time as Stan. "You can READ!!!!" "The system WORKS!!!!!!!!"
    • Avery Bullock.
    • Roger, but usually only when imitating something from a film or another show.
    • Like father like son for Steve at times.
    • The Antichrist from "Rapture's Delight" (but considering that Andy Samberg -- who can be a Large Ham in his SNL sketches -- voiced him, that's not a big surprise)
    • Also, Barry, from time to time, thus making it a visual pun. They'll give us boo-boos on our feelings!
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In Hurricane! Roger drowns his annoyingly clingy girlfriend. He's then electrocuted by Stan by accident and blackened to a crisp after Stan lets a bear into the house.
  • The Last Horse Crosses the Finish Line: Stan is frequently subjected to this trope. One noteworthy example comes from the episode "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man". In that episode, Roger was going through his reproductive cycle, and accidentally eaten all of Francine's potato salad for the pot-luck wake. Scrambling to make more, he realized he was out of mayonnaise, and had to resort to desperate measures. It was not until after the wake that Roger revealed that he made the salad, and that the secret ingredient was his breast milk. Cue Steve, Klaus, Hayley, and Francine recoiling in horror and even vomiting from the news. But it takes Stan a full 90 seconds (the average length for a commercial break to run its course) for him to realize, and take advantage, of the situation.
    • Given a rather hilarious, and subtle, lampshade by Bullock in "Francine's Flashback":

 Stan: Ya, I'm uh laying low. Today is the anniversary of a huge fight me and francine had last year.

Johnson: Ya what about?

Stan: Oh I forgot our anniversary. Huh, I'm never going to do that again.

(Johnson tries to speak up, but Bullock raises his hand to silence him.)

(A long, awkward Beat)

Stan (realizing): AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!

Bullock: There it is.

 Partier: Carmen Selectra? Doesn't he mean Carmen ELECTRA?

Second partier: No! No, he doesn't!

  • Le Parkour: Stan and Francine engage in "freerunning" through apartment buildings with an energetic young couple. Francine makes a game effort for a first-timer, but Stan can barely keep up and falls several floors down a stairwell and breaks his legs (with his shinbone sticking out of one).
  • Let's Get Dangerous: When properly motivated, Hayley has been able to easily compete with, and even overpower, Stan(a highly skilled weapons expert) on several occasions.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In S3 Ep01, "The Vacation Goo", the Smiths end up engaging in cannibalism unnecessarily. Francine comments that nothing bonds a family like a dark, horrible secret.
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: "A.T. The Abused Terrestrial" parodies the concept; Roger seeks attention from another boy when Steve starts paying less attention to him, but the boy eventually turns abusive and Steve goes to save Roger from him.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Or rather like daughter. Despite her radically different political views, Hayley's actual personality is very similar to her father, right down to the patronizing way she treats her romantic partner.
    • Subverted with Steve and Stan, and again with Stan's estranged father Jack. Though in this case, it also works in that the failure to have any sort of relationship with their son/father is pretty much the same.
  • Likes Older Women: One episode's side story was about Steve frequently making out with a friend of his grandfather's. And as turns out his best friend Snot does too. The episode even ends with the two declaring that no woman will come between their friendship, right before an elderly woman walks by with an oxygen tank, whom they eagerly chase after.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded by Hayley in one episode when Steve, locked in Hayley's closet, threatens, "Let me out, or I'll rip up all your clothes!" to which Hayley responds "Go ahead! If you haven't noticed, I only wear this one outfit."
    • Done again in Stanny Boy And Frantastic with Stan:

 [Stan opens a wardrobe containing only several duplicate suits]

Stan: Maybe this blue suit, with the white shirt and a black tie? Yeah, that's it!

  • Living a Double Life: Roger and his disguises, to the point of zig zagging.
    • Played straight with Hayley turning out to be a pie maker.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Stan, on several occasions, has been shown to be completely incompetent at most tasks despite working as a CIA agent; in "Fartbreak Hotel", Stan asserts that he is more than capable of dressing himself, but after Francine leaves, he realizes can't remember if navy or black socks go better with his suit and spends the rest of the episode trapped in his room sobbing because he can't figure out which socks to wear.
  • Logic Bomb: In two separate episodes[2], a Smith encounters evidence that one of Roger's personas is actually a real person; this is their reaction.
  • Lotus Eater Machine: The focus of S3 Ep01, "The Vacation Goo". The titular goo is a CIA invention that works like virtual reality and is exploited by Stan (and later the other Smiths) to get some alone time while the family is "experiencing" a family vacation.
    • According to Rapture's Delight, Stan's vision of heaven is this, despite being dead he's still living his everyday life because it's his heart's greatest desire.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: The Smiths' neighbor, Linda Memari, who is also in love with Francine.n
  • Lost Aesop: In "Hurricane!" a running theme is how, in a crisis, Stan will make decisions that at first sound like they could work, but actually always end up making things worse. When Stan comes to realize this and has a Heroic BSOD, Klaus cheers him up by saying he's got to keep trying 'til he gets it right. So Stan gets up, dusts himself off . . . and just makes everything a whole lot worse while trying to help. The episode closes with Francine telling him to just accept that, in a crisis, he needs to stand back and let others handle things. Stan ponders that for a moment . . . then decides he's not gonna do it for no adequately explained reason.
  • Love Martyr: Hayley's long-suffering loser boyfriend Jeff. He even calls her on the phone when she's in the next room because he just wrote her a song about loneliness.
    • His persistence eventually pays off when she marries him in season six.
  • Magic Feather: In "The Scarlett Getter" Steve believes wearing a pair of Hayley's panties gives him good luck. After Snot steals them Hayley explains to Steve using an old episode of The Smurfs as an example, that it was really his confidence that gave him luck, not the panties. This trope is subverted when it is revealed Hayley does believe they're magic and beats up Snot and takes back the panties from him.
  • Mail Order Bride: She's Russian, of course, and she comes with a fidelity contract. Toshi snags her, which is mentioned in a later episode.
  • Mama Bear: In "100 A.D.", Francine actually tries to shoot Jeff Fischer when it appears as though he's willing to dump Hayley in order to collect Stan's $50,000 bounty on them. The idea is actually a ruse he and Hayley came up with in order to get the money and still elope, but he would have been dead had the gun had any bullets in it.
    • In "Season's Beatings" Hayley fights Stan to keep him from killing her adopted baby even though it's revealed he's the Anti-Christ.
  • Mandatory Line: Lampshaded in Escape from Pearl Bailey: "Nice of Steve to acknowledge us this week, even if it was only this once."
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin: Initially inverted- Stan tries to impart to Steve that sexual urges are evil and should be repressed. However, played straight with regard to Stan himself; Stan's lack of sexual experience outside his marriage to Francine is often used to make jokes at his expense, and it is actually what drives the plot of When A Stan Loves a Woman.
    • Also played with in another episode where Stan's CIA buddies tease Stan about being a virgin... of killing someone. That's right, Stan has never actually personally killed someone before.
  • Mars Needs Women: Klaus the goldfish is in lust with Francine Smith. True, he used to be human, but still...
    • Reggie the Koala and Hayley have a brief fling in Season 5, though Reggie, like Klaus, used to be human.
  • Menstrual Menace: In S4 Ep01, "1600 Candles," Stan and Francine recall Hayley's first period, in which they are cowering against the wall with Stan holding up a fork in defense, as Hayley screams, "What do you mean every month?!"
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • From the very first episode, this exchange takes place when Stan tries to explain why Roger can't leave the house.

 Stan: You can't leave the house, the C.I.A. will erase our minds! You ever see the movie Memento? Wasn't quite as good the second time.


Stan (cnt'd): Anyway, you can't leave the house.

  • Mexican Standoff: Most notably Joanna vs. Stan in When A Stan Loves A Woman. Apparently "a little gunplay" is something that Stan finds arousing.

  Stan Smith: Francine, this happens every time! First you pull out a gun and threaten to shoot me. Then I pull out my gun. Eventually, your arm gets tired, you leave, and we have passionate "nobody-got-shot" sex.

  • Mighty Whitey: Referenced, when Stan escapes on a Predator Drone used as decoration for a float.

 Old Chinese Guy: "The dragon awakens! The prophecy has been fulfilled!"

Chinese Girl: "With a white guy riding it... Awesome."

  • Mind Rape: Said word for word by Stan after getting tricked by a car salesman.

 Stan: Son of bitch, he mind raped me!

  • Mind Screw: Usually interwoven with some audacious plotting. See Widowmaker for an example that would make Jonathan Creek and Columbo proud.
  • Miss Conception: Subverted in a Space Whale Aesop kind of way in S1 Ep07, "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man," due to some alien spawn, Steve's gymnast crush does get pregnant from a kiss.
  • Mister Seahorse: Roger and then Steve in "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man"
  • Mood Whiplash: In A Ward Show, when Roger discovers Steve has been beat up, he performs three BigNo's, before pulling a SkywardScream, dramatically tearing his shirt off and screaming through the inexplicable indoor thunder and rain. Cut to Roger and Steve quietly enjoying soup together and calmly discussing it.
  • Montages: usually bizarre and accompanied by lively music.
    • A good example is shaded in Pulling Double Booty. ("Haha - you thought they got top hats!")
    • Sometimes they use Night Ranger. Yeah, frickin' Night Ranger.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both Hayley and Francine has been used to cater to a variety of fetishes over the course of the series.
  • Mushroom Samba: Joint Custody when Stan and Roger get high on burned weed.
    • "The Magnificent Steven" when Stan eats Mad Cow tainted beef and trips in his undies.
    • "My Morning Straitjacket" Non-drug related but when Stan daydreams about My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James.
    • "A Jones for a Smith" Stan smokes crack in his bathroom and sees his world as a commercial for crack as a prescription medication.
    • "100 A.D." when Roger injects amphetamines into his eyes while driving (much to passenger Steve's horror); in Son Of Stan when Roger uses a bong in order to "think like a stoner" so that he can track down the eloped Hayley and Jeff (when his trip ends, he discovers it took him straight to them, much to his surprise).
    • "For Whom The Sleighbell Tolls" Roger getting drunk on moonshine in, and imagining himself in a Donkey Kong scenario dodging liquor barrels
  • My Beloved Smother: Francine in Iced Iced Babies.
    • Sublimely inverted by Stan in Oedipal Panties.
  • Musical Episode: Hot Water, which serves as a Little Shop of Horrors parody
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Stan says this exactly world-for-word when he realizes that keeping Steve down from being the alpha-male means he won't become the man Stan wants him to be.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits: In "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls" Toshi is ready to kill Steve with a samurai sword for not bringing his sister Akiko home in time at Halloween.
  • Mysterious Past: Roger's past on Earth is referenced and rarely shown, with an exception in the Christmas special The Best Christmas Story Never Told. His history on his home planet (including which planet it actually was) is even more rarely referenced and never shown.
    • Roger has been recently informed that his initial purpose for coming to Earth was to be a crash test dummy for a spaceship that his people were testing, not The Decider of the fate of planet as he was told. Stan was less than supportive.
    • We are given a brief glimpse of what seems to be his home planet in a flashback in "Brains, Brains and Automobiles".
  • Narrating the Present: Klaus in one episode. When asked what he was doing he explained he was pretending his life was a DVD and he was doing the audio commentary. Later in the episode Klaus' voice is head narrating over the scene so that we can't hear what anyone is saying. According to Klaus we miss the funniest line in the episode because of this.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Averted in "Fart-Break Hotel". Francine ultimately comes to the conclusion that extreme devotion to family or career/non-family activities to the exclusion of the other is bad. She only becomes happier when she is able to balance the two as she finds fulfillment in both.
  • Never Heard That One Before: During the Halloween episode, we get this exchange between Stan and Terry.

 Terry: Looking forward to your party tonight.

Stan: It'll scare you straight!

Terry: (Dryly) Every year...

  • New Job Episode: Stan in Meter Made; Roger and Francine from time to time.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: Roger is this trope. His notable achievements include being buoyant enough to be used as a raft (Choosy Wives Choose Smith), resistance to fire (Big Trouble In Little Langley) and becoming immune to gravity when he inhales marijuana smoke (Joint Custody).
    • "How did you know I was fireproof? Even I didn't know! Wait, you did know right? I'm gonna go with yes to preserve the friendship"
    • Roger can also probe people to gain all their memories (Roger 'N' Me).
    • Well, he IS supposed to be a crash test dummy.
    • Roger apparently can now move "Really, really fast", showing us how he faked the death of one of his own personas by opening up a manhole cover, pulling out a body double mannequin, going back down into the sewer, coming back out with red paint and various other colors and is able to decorate the body with enough time to reflect on his creation before a bus ran it over, all within a split second.
    • In the first episode, Roger spontaneously fires some green alien goop from his pores that gets on everything. He casually remarks that this happens "every ten hours, like clockwork." After the pilot this is never mentioned again.
  • News Travels Fast: When Hayley breaks up with Bullock on live TV, the news ticker at the bottom reports in exact and greater detail about the break-up more than even Bullock himself is learning as he's having the conversation with Hailey.
  • Nightmare Face: Francine's face after being disfigured by acid.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-Universe example with "Vacation Goo". When Francine decides to take the Smith family on an actual vacation and not one that is a virtual simulation, the experience turns out to be so traumatizing that they decide the only way to take quality family vacations is to do it through a virtual simulator.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Francine is really happy that Stan has the blood of a man he killed on his hands, and has him carry her up to the bedroom, after he boops her nose with blood.
  • No Bisexuals: Stan purchased a gaydar watch from Sky Mall, which is 45% straight, 45% gay, and 10% curious.
    • Hayley has hinted a couple of times that she might be bisexual, most prominently in Pulling Double Booty, where she suggests having a three-way with a waitress and Bill the Double (actually Stan impersonating Bill)
      • And in Haylias, where Hayley tells her parents that she's moving to France to have an affair with many men and even experiment with a woman named Simone.
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: When Stan goes to Heaven and is denied a chance to return to life, he pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot. Everyone laughs and points out that Earth Guns don't work. The Bailiff pulls out a Heaven Gun and mentions that these do. Stan immediately grabs the gun and threatens to shoot his now-hostage lawyer. Everyone is shocked as Stan runs away. One guy complains.

 (Stan grabs the gun; various reactions of gasping and other comments from the crowd)

Bystander: "Why do we have those again?"

(Stan runs away with his lawyer as a hostage)


Bystander: "Seriously, why do we have Heaven Guns? I don't mean to be that guy, I'm happy here... but why is this not an issue?"

  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Numerous times throughout the series, including: Francine beating up Stan for forgetting their anniversary, which was so brutal, it was filmed for an episode of Cops. Stan beating up Bullock, an elderly security guard, and a meter maid in three separate episodes. Hayley beating Snot within an inch of his life after she learned he stole her lucky panties, although Snot seemed to have enjoyed it.
  • Noodle Incident:

  Stan: "That's the 2nd time my life has been saved by hip-hop. *camera zooms in on his face* But that's a story for another day..."

    • When Haley returns from being sabotaged by Stan:

 (Hayley appears holding bloody pickaxe, wearing torn clothing and a shackle on her ankle)

Stan: (gasp) You escaped the pit of no return?! How'd you get past my-

Hayley: They're all dead, Dad.

Stan: Even the younglings?

Hayley: I even made a wallet from their hides.

      • This is done again in the following episode when Hayley escapes being trapped in the basement:

 Hayley: Hello father! Wondering how I escaped from the basement?

Stan: No, not really.

Hayley: Oh. (beat) ...but it involved training rats.

    • In Virtual In-Stanity:

 Klaus: You're really gonna kill five people over twenty dollars?!

Roger: Are you really asking that to the guy who, just last week, killed six people over nineteen dollars?

  • Noodle Implement: Toshi's coconut girlfriend in "Failure Is Not A Factory-Installed Option." Whether or not Steve, Barry, and Snot also have one is never made clear.
    • Another example is from American Dream Factory's B-story, where Roger enters carrying an abacus, an octopus and a hairdryer, but fails to explain the obscure thing he's doing because whatever Steve's doing with his guitar "looks more interesting."
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy: Stan takes in a stripper who's the same age as Hayley purely for non-sexual reasons.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Patrick Stewart, as American CIA head Avery Bullock, makes no attempt to conceal his British accent. This is lampshaded in at least one episode.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Exaggerated with Hayley. If a boy dumps her, she will go on a destructive rampage. It's getting to the point where the police tell Stan and Francine that if she gets dumped again, Hayley will have to go to prison.
  • Not So Different: A defining point between Stan and Hayley's political views in early episodes. Actually, Stan has this chemistry with nearly all of the Smiths, whenever you wonder how he came to be a family man, the others will show they can be just as immoral or insane as he is.

 Travis: *to Stan and Francine* You're both complete lunatics! You two were made for each other!

  • No Woman's Land: Saudi Arabia turns out to be one in Stan of Arabia, much to Francine's frustration and Stan's delight.
  • Object Tracking Shot: Done with Steve's pubic hair a la the feather scene from Forrest Gump in 1600 Candles.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: Francine's adoptive parents basically force their views/lifestyle on Stan whenever they visit, much to his displeasure.(Francine's adoptive parents are Chinese)
  • Offing the Offspring: Stan tries to do this to Steve and Haley in "Old Stan in the Mountain", when he mistakenly believes they're going to do him in.
  • Oh Crap:

 Steve: [To the cat that has been viciously attacking him all episode, and has now appeared to die in his arms] Poor Simon... you're in a better place now. You look so peaceful; almost as if you're sleeping... [beat] Oh, shit. [Cue mauling]

  • Oh Look More Rooms: Explored in Toy Whorey when Roger goes to fetch wine, only to pass through several ridiculous rooms.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations: A moment from Pulling Double Booty provides the page quote for that article.
    • Also done in Stannie Get Your Gun. It's even somewhat lampshaded by Roger ("I just love it when crap lines up like that.")
  • One-Scene Wonder: Avery Bullock usually has very little screen time: he often utters the best lines of the episode and promptly disappears.
    • Principal Lewis is very quickly becoming this as well.
  • One We Prepared Earlier: American Dad premiered with one of these. Subsequent episodes would show the origins of various character relationships in Flash Back (such as the fifth episode, Roger Codger, which flashed back to how Roger came to live with the Smiths).
  • Only Sane Man: Hayley usually emerges as the only sane woman a lot of the time. Sometimes falls to Steve.
  • Operator From India: In Four Little Words, Francine is teaching English to a village of Indian children. The phrase she is teaching them to say is "Thank you for calling Apple tech support".
  • Opposed Mentors: played with this. Stan and Francine wanted to raise Steve different ways, and Steve ended up with a clone, allowing both parents to try their own ways. It turned out neither one alone worked.
  • Oscar Bait: Mercilessly spoofed with Oscar Gold, the Show Within a Show in Tearjerker.
  • The Other Darrin: Reggie the Koala gained a new voice actor in Season 5; the two actors don't sound particularly alike.
  • Our Nudity Is Different: Played for Laughs in an early episode in the series, where Stan sets up a deal with Ikea to refurnish all of Iraq so it looks like "your first apartment". This cues a Cutaway Gag of a citizen appreciating 80s lifestyle look of his new home, before being appalled at his wife's blatant display of nudity and telling her to put some clothes on. She's fully clothed except for her eyes, so she covers up her eyes and immediately trips over a table.
  • Out of Focus: After Hayley got married, she and Jeff were gone from the show for quite a few episodes. Probably due to her status as The Artifact, and there being less dynamic plots to write for her, as opposed to the other family members.
  • Outside Inside Slur: Inverted Trope. Francine is starring in a comedy based on her adoptive Chinese family. Her mother -- in the show -- calls her a "reverse banana": white on the outside, yellow on the inside (i.e., actually Asian) as a compliment.
  • Overly Long Gag: Mostly avoided, but one does occur in Finances With Wolves during a very long sequence where Stan tries to park at the mall.
    • Also the "Golden Turd" sequences. Arguably not a gag, but still...
    • In "Weiner of Our Discontent", Stan laughs for a full 30 seconds in a manner seen previously in Family Guy. The gag was so long that, according to the DVD commentary, Seth MacFarlane was exhausted due to performing the entirety of the laughing in single takes.
    • Con Heir drags the same lengthy gag into the episode three times.

 [Francine tells Stan that his family's love makes him the richest man in the world]

Stan: [picks up phone] Hello, Bill Gates? Turn's out I'm the richest guy in the world because I have an adoring wife and a loving family! [...] Hello? Unicef? I'd like to donate some of my immense riches. What's that? Children are still starving in Africa because wife love is worthless to you? What an odd policy!

[Later, when Stan quits his job for adventure]

Francine: Oh! Adventure?! Hold on. [picks up phone] Hello, Mastercard? Do you accept payment in the form of adventure? [...] Hello, colleges? I'd like to pay my son's tuition, but I don't have any money, but my husband is rich in adventure!

[Later, when Stan discovers his father chose a life of crime over him]

Jack: Oh, hold on one second. [picks up phone] Hello, French Riviera? Yes, can I buy a Chateau with my son's love?

Stan: Yes! Yes! We all know the bit!

    • When Stan gets cottage cheese on himself in "Delorean Story-An".


  • Papa Wolf: Terry and Greg, surprisingly enough.
    • Stan for all his Jerkass tendacies does play this trope straight a fair few times as well.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Roger seems to be recognizable as an alien only when he's stark naked. Putting on any kind of clothing seems to render him completely indistinguishable from humans, despite people occasionally mentioning he is not flesh coloured, doesn't have a nose, and is 'oddly proportioned'. Toshi seems to know but doesn't seem to care, as he refers to Steve's "Uncle Roger" as "alien in a wig." Of course, since no one understands Toshi (because he speaks Japanese), it didn't make any real difference.
  • Parental Incest: Subverted. Hayley falls for Stan's double in S4 Ep06, "Pulling Double Booty," which Francine first mistakes for Stan. Later, Stan must impersonate the double for plot reasons.
    • S3 Ep 11, "Oedipal Panties" focused on Stan's relationship with his mother, which takes on some really Squicky overtones.
    • Also a quick one-off joke in S1 Ep04, "Francine's Flashback":

 Hayley: My mother stole my boyfriend!

Stan: Your boyfriend stole my wife! Let's get back at 'em by dating each other. (Beat) Wait a minute... Daddy didn't think that one through.

  • Patriotic Fervour: Stan veers between honourable and despicable, but prides himself on being a true patriot.
  • The Password Is Always Swordfish: Subverted, Roger needs to know a password one a split-personality of his set up and tries "password" but it fails. The actual password is "password1"
  • Perky Goth: Steve's girlfriend Debbie has an obsession with death and the dark side but is otherwise friendly and cheerful.
  • Periphery Demographic: In "Lincoln Lover", Stan writes a play about Abraham Lincoln's relationship with his bodyguard to try and encourage traditional Republican values, but unwittingly wrote it to look like there was homosexual subtext between the two men, giving it a strong following in the gay community.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: A number show up, for various reasons.
  • Playing Against Type: Half the things Avery Bullock says are hilarious simply because they sound so bizarre coming out of Patrick Stewart's mouth.
    • Picture Picard saying this to his crew and try to keep a straight face. "Gentleman do what ever it takes to empty our coffers: lapdances, champagne dances, shower dances. Oh, the things you can buy for a hand full of bills. It makes me excited. It gives me these chills. They'll be filcher rubs, breeders, hambones and tweeners, zobos and debos and blorps that go 'eenahs'. For a one dollar bill you can pull down their zippers. I am the Snorlax, I speak for the strippers!"
  • Please Wake Up: S3 Ep10, "Tearjerker", a James Bond spoof, features Roger as the titular villain, in which he tries to take over the world using the ultimate Tear Jerker movie, "Oscar Gold" about a mentally retarded, alcoholic, Jewish boy and his cancer ridden puppy during the Holocaust . After being foiled by Stan, he reveals as he's escaping that he has a backup plan for an ever sadder movie; six hours of a baby chimp trying to revive its dead mother.
    • When the mother of the squirrels that lives in their yard dies, the "slow" one thinks she's sleeping/hiding.
  • The Power of Hate: Played with. Apparently Roger's "bitchiness" is an actual physical element of his species that will convert into a poisonous bile unless he expresses this trope in full throttle. Naturally The Power of Love is toxic to them.
  • The Power of Rock: Stan becomes more in touch with emotions beyond anger and outrage when he is exposed to the music of My Morning Jacket during My Morning Straitjacket.
  • Pretty in Mink: Stan buys Francine a mink stole in one episode. Hayley's avatar in Dragonscuffle has a white fur collar. Greg Corbin has a white fur coat and hat he wears in one of the Christmas episodes.
  • Primal Scene: In "I Am the Walrus" Stan tricks Steve into catching him and Francine having sex so he can re-establish alpha male dominance of the household.
  • Product Placement: Mr Pibb (now known as Pibb Xtra) is given centre stage as the B-plot of A.T. The Abusive Terrestrial and is mentioned in several other episodes as well. Other references to real life products or shows are also in abundance.
    • Also parodied in Black Mystery Month when for no reason at all Stan and Steve discuss their plan in a Burger King and Steve asks why they had to go there. Stan procceeds to tell him that "The economics of television have changed" before giving a fake smile to the camera and saying in a pained voice "Have it... YOUR way".
    • Actually, this is an incredible throw-back to the pilot. The first commercial that aired after the theme song was for Burger King, who was the main sponsor of the show when it first aired.
    • The episode "Red October Sky" is filled with a number of product placements relations to capitalism.
    • They had an entire episode dedicated to nothing but Stan becoming obsessed with the band My Morning Jacket, with a bunch of their songs being played, and the lead singer making a guest appearance.
  • Properly Paranoid: Stan has been proven right at least half of the time, which is just enough times to continue being this way.
  • Punctuated for Emphasis: Stan Smith deals in these from time to time.
    • As does Steve in Dope & Faith. LAVATE. LAS. MANOS!!!
    • Also Played Literally in "A Piñata Named Desire"
  • Punny Name: S3 Ep 10, "Tearjerker", a James Bond spoof, features Francine as a Bond girl spoof named Sexpun T'Come.
  • Queer People Are Funny
  • Quietly Performing Sister Show: Fits this trope to a T. Not nearly as much publicity or as many viewers as Family Guy, but a respectable and satisfied audience nonetheless.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Stan at the end of "Bullocks to Stan".
  • Reality Warper: Explored in Toy Whorey, when Steve disappears into his imagination and as does Stan later. Taken to the extreme with Roger in the same episode; when fetching wine, Roger goes into the attic and somehow goes through to a wine cellar, before exiting the cellar to his garage in the mountains, where he picks one of his vintage cars, where he drives over a precipice immediately outside, causing an explosion.
  • Real Life Relative: Hayley is voiced by Seth MacFarlane's sister Rachael.
  • Really Gets Around: Almost every reference to Francine's past indicates that she was the loosest woman in Langley Falls, revealing to Stan that she actually has North America's largest sex garden, with one rosebush for each of her partners in When A Stan Loves A Woman.
    • Hayley is also stated to be like this, but she has a monogamous relationship with Jeff for most of the series and is now married to him.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: When it is revealed that Stan has never actually killed anyone before, everyone is either disgusted or severely disappointed in him. Everyone except Hayley, that is... and the newfound respect she gains for Stan because of this is treated in-show as a bad thing.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Stan gives Roger a pretty brutal one:

 Stan: You're nothing but a worthless sack of fatass!

Roger: (gasps in horror)

Stan: You're lazy, you're a chubbo, you lie, you cheat, you eat all our food, you're a drunk, you never wash your wigs, but you strut around like you're Mary Queen of Scots, Brangelina, and Jesus all rolled into one. Well, you're not! You're a big fat nothing!

  • Reference Overdosed: Just without the Cutaway Gags found on Family Guy.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Crops up all the time. Often used as an excuse for plot-related Fridge Logic.
  • Religion Is Magic: Christianity is parodied in this fashion; nowhere is this more obvious than in Dope & Faith.
  • Revenge Myopia: In "Escape from Pearl Bailey", the popular kids swear revenge on Steve and his friends for Steve's revenge plot against Lisa Silver and her friends for Debbie's class presidential campaign getting sabotaged, and persist even after Steve realizes it was his friends who did it, and apologizes for it.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Steve goes on a non-lethal one after Lisa Silver and her friends humiliate Debbie with an embarrassing website and cost her the school election. It turns out that Lisa and her friends were innocent. It was Snot, Toshi, and Barry who set the website up because they were sick of Steve spending all his time with Debbie.
  • Robot Girl: Steve's somewhat unnerving gradual conversion of a vacuum cleaner into an artificial mate during Stannie Slickers II to the point where it can perform... well, it's Steve so you can probably figure out the rest.

  "Last night I got a dusty pinky."

 Francine: [muttering] Goddamn Rube Goldberg... family of flies... 600 bucks of dominoes...

  • Running Gag: The writers get their fill with the many vagina jokes that pop up (so much so that one episode broke from the plot to have a "1000th Vagina Joke" celebration). They try to go for the Once Per Episode approach.
    • One of the more subtle ones involves Francine's habit of using a lamp whenever she hits someone.
    • Another involves the humorously infantile nature of the C.I.A (Show and tell, nap time etc)
    • A recent one is Roger and Steve taking cases as Wheels and The Leg-Man, complete with theme music and opening sequence.
    • Stan being in a scene reading a book with a title that describes what he is doing or whatever he will do next. "Reading With One Hand" and "Nude From the Waist Down" are recent examples.
    • Stan randomly pulling out his gun to scare people.
    • In the later seasons, Stan would start sending picture messages on his cell phone to two black employees working at an airport terminal, and them commenting on each one.
  • Sadist Show: While not quite as prominent an example as Seth's other shows, there's some frequent Dead Baby Comedy and the majority of the cast are less than morally sound to say the least.
  • Samurai: Toshi becomes one for Halloween and tries to kill Steve for not bringing his sister home in time. He then quickly kills five armed escaped serial killers proving Katanas Are Just Better.
  • Sanity Slippage: Stan suffers from this once his neighbors and family made fun of him in "I Can't Stan You".
  • Sapient Cetaceans: The show portrayed a program that both trained dolphins to help on missions and taught humans to speak dolphin, but it turns out all they want to do is talk about fish. Even after the titular CIA agent's son is rescued by them at the end of the episode he just ends up getting pissed off because the dolphins won't shut up about mackerel.
  • Say My Name: Exasperatedly shouting Roger's name whenever he screws something up (add "what the hell?!" when he's a Jerkass for no reason) seems to be the entire family's Catch Phrase.
  • Scenery Censor: In G-String Circus, Stan covers up the strippers nudity just so that we won't see it.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Stelio! Stelio Kontos!
  • Screaming At Squick: Stan after he learns that Hayley was sleeping with Bullock.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: Principal Lewis was depending on the 50 grand reward money for finding Haley when she ran away to get married to Jeff. When he finds out that the reward has been claimed, he leaves with this line.

 WHAT!? I was depending on that reward money! I can't go back to work, I left a deuce on my desk! *rips off his suit and flips everyone off* FUUUUUUUCK! Y'ALL!

  • Sdrawkcab Name: In "Dungeons and Wagons", Steve's friends get tired of him lording his stronger MMORPG character over them, and learn that they can kill him instantly just by saying his name backwards.
    • Later that same episode, Hayley and Jeff go on a quest to find a way to bring Steve's character back. They arrive at Castle Roodpart. Hayley initially assumes it's just the developers making a crude joke and Jeff starts musing if it's explained in the World Building, only for Hayley to interrupt: "Crap, it's 'trapdoor' spelled backwards." No points for guessing what happens next.
  • Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Roger frequently manages to utilise one of these (given his multiple dress up personas, he is likely come to be accustomed to it).
  • Secret Test of Character: Francine attempts one in "Shallow Vows", and it backfires spectacularly. When Stan says that they married for looks, she stops doing her daily exercise and beauty regimens for the two weeks before their vow renewal ceremony, and show up overweight, hairy, and gap-toothed, causing Stan to flee. Stan tells Klaus that he does love Francine but can't get past her appearance, so he has the CIA detach his retinas so he can be with her again. Things are great for a while (he becomes much more attentive and considerate), but Francine admits that she can't get over the blindness and accepts that she's just as shallow as Stan, so they both go back to normal at the end of the episode.
    • Parodied in Bullocks to Stan. Bullock dates Hayley and puts Stan through hell; when Stan finally snaps and nearly kills him, Bullock congratulates Stan and says that the whole ordeal was a test he was putting him through to see if Stan would stand up to him. However, it is clear from the context that the whole "test" explanation is a face- and life-saving lie.

  Avery: My only regret is that I didn't get to jump through this pane of break-away glass! *Running leap! Smack! Avery pulls out his gun and shoots the glass a few times, then manages to jump through it.*

  • Self-Plagiarism: Frequently accused of being this to Family Guy, mostly thanks to the near-identical premise and animation style. This accusation is often related to Complaining About Shows You Don't Watch.
  • Self-Serving Memory: A flashback-less example. Roger once explains that the reason for his lack of commitment to the Smith family is due to being abandoned by his initial adoptive family. When we finally meet said family, it is revealed their abandonment was in fact due to Roger's already established obnoxious and abusive treatment of them. Just for good measure, he is also hinted at having a crush on their son now that he's teen aged.
  • Series Continuity Error: Happens a lot but can be dismissed with the Rule of Funny.
    • In "42-Year-Old Virgin", Stan claims to have never killed anyone. But "Stan of Arabia" he breaks Jay Leno's neck; he kills Jackson's double at the beginning of "It's Good to Be Queen"; he accidentally disintegrates one of his co-workers in "I Can't Stan You"; in "An Apocalypse to Remember", Stan shoots down someone who was hang gliding; in "Con Heir" he shoots a painter. In the initial sequence for this joke, the funny background events show that he has never personally killed people (ie pulled the trigger on a gun) however he has been responsible for the deaths of others through accidents or what have you.
    • However, the episode "Haylias" ends with Stan having suffered evident selective memory loss, which could explain his assertion that he has never killed anyone.
    • Another possibility is that Stan has never killed anyone he was assigned to kill, only erroneous or accidental targets.
    • Also the first season develops Roger's experience with the outside world and learning to use disguise. Later episodes feature flashbacks that show Roger has utilized costumes to live a plausible social life since the fifties.
    • Also, Roger doesn't know what happened to Stan's skating partner in "Of Ice and Men", but he learned all of Stan's memories in "Roger 'N' Me".
      • Or he just doesn't care, which is par for his character.
    • In the pilot episode, Roger (after getting sneezed on) says he's supposed to bring pneumonia back to his planet, but in the second episode, Roger claims that his species is immune to all human ailments (except for an unexplained cold sore). On top of that, "Weiner of Our Discontent" reveals that Roger was the crash test dummy for a new model spaceship and possibly died upon impact, meaning that his planet doesn't want him back.
    • Roger was not being sarcastic at all, and therefore consistent with his character.
  • Series Fauxnale: The first episode of season 7 was made when the producers were afraid the show wouldn't be renewed, and intended it to be the finale in that instance. Since the show was renewed, it was used as a non-canon season premiere.
  • Serious Business: In one episode, Stan is going for jury duty and asks Francine to manage his fantasy basketball team. After they have a minor quibble over his line-up, he says "You know what, just have Steve do it." When he gets back, Francine tells him that Steve only understood the "fantasy" part and tried to add three griffins and an ogre. Stan grumbles "Fucking nerd", and later Francine tells Steve that his actions have made the family weaker as a unit.
  • Sexy Santa Dress: Two teenage orphan girls were forced to wear them when Steve and Roger were using orphans as slave labor.
  • Sexy Shirt Switch: Roger wakes up wearing Stan's shirt in Roger 'N' Me. Also happens with Bullock and Hayley in Bullocks to Stan.
  • Shaggy Frog Story: From "White Rice":

 Francine: Are you sure about all this?

Roger: Remember when Rudy from The Cosby Show got old and stopped being cute? I brought them Raven-Symone! Saw her on a Philadephia playground and knew she was a star, snatched her right up! Six months later, her parents saw her on TV and realized she was still alive... did some time for that. So, you ask, am I sure about this? I dunno.

  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Played for laughs in S4 Ep01, "In Country... Club", where Steve develops PTSD after participating in a Vietnam War reenactment.
  • Shout-Out: Lots of references, but possibly the only show to do a meta-Shout-Out ("He's like America - the guy!")
    • In the first season, Stan talks to his gun.
    • Another from season four after Roger brutalizes Steve's pets then hits him with a steel chair: "Haha - just like in the movies, bitch!"
    • In another we get to meet Stan's father. He is a sturdily built guy who worked for the CIA, and wears an eye patch over his left eye. When he sees Roger for the first time, he pins him to the ground and draws his pistol, to which Roger replies "Someone want to tell Snake Plissken to get off of me?"
    • The One The Got Away has this when Roger ruins a thief's life; in an attempt to sabotage his relationship, he meets with his girlfriend only to find she's a ditzy, thin blonde with a very high voice and she's dating a short dork with big glasses.
    • In the episode where Roger and Francine go wine tasting, Roger's disguise is very similar to Paul Giamatti in Sideways. The resort also bears several similarities.
    • Multiple shout outs to E.T., including one scene where Roger is hiding in a pile of stuffed animals in Steve's closet.
    • Roger's situation in "Stan of Arabia" appears to be a Shout-Out to Arabian Nights: Roger wants to avoid sleeping with the man who bought him, so he (Roger) keeps the man distracted by telling him stories.
    • "The Great Space Roaster" has references the Alien series during the space based conclusion; examples include a monster performing an EnemyRisingBehind and the protagonist wielding a flamethrower and wearing a vest with very revealing underwear.
  • Side Effects Include: The fake medical commercial for crack in A Jones for a Smith.
  • Sitcom Arch Nemesis: Chuck White is this to Stan in "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man".
  • Skyward Scream: "Why, crow, WHY?!"
  • Snowball Lie: Stan runs on these, best showcased with the appropriately winter-themed episode Of Ice And Men.
  • Soapbox Sadie: Hayley
    • And of course, Stan literally gets up on a soap box in Camp Refoogee and preaches about America's ignorance of Africa's strife.
  • SoCalization: At least two episodes feature characters buying Chocodiles at the store. Since the mid-90s, Chocodiles have only been available on the West Coast (the show is set in Virginia).
  • The Sociopath: In Series 6, Roger acknowledges that he is one.
  • Solid Gold Poop: Roger's solid-gold, diamond-encrusted turd.
  • Something Completely Different: The non-canon James Bond spoof Tearjerker and the possibly non-canon post-Apocalyptic fantasy Rapture's Delight.
  • SORAS: Toshi's little sister, Akiko, was depicted as an 8-year-old in her first appearance ("American Dream Factory"). Two seasons later, she's shown as being around the same age as Steve and Toshi in her next appearance ("Weiner of Our Discontent").
  • Sorry I Left the BGM On: When Francine gets mixed up with a secret society of housewives known as the Ladybugs, she's introduced to an asian member who has an oriental theme play whenever she enters the scene. When she becomes enticed by Francine's involvements that lead her to become a member of their society, she gives a long smile and just freezes for a minute while the music plays. Francine begins to check her watch, wondering when the music will finally end. Said music also plays when she farts.
  • Spiritual Successor: After people got over the "Family Guy knockoff" phase, it's generally been agreed upon by fans to be the spiritual successor to the older episodes of Family Guy in terms of writing quality, character development, and storyline depth (you know, before it started pandering to the Lowest Common Denominator).
  • Split Personality: Roger develops one in The One That Got Away.
  • Squirrels in My Pants: In Bully for Steve, Stan recalls that Stelio Kontos, a bully from when Stan was in high school, forced Stan to keep a live bat in his underpants, in which he later states that the bat gave him a nasty case of "ass rabies"
  • Status Quo Is God: Taken to such ridiculous extremes that the show is practically parodying this trope. To cite one example: In Stannie Get Your Gun, Hayley unintentionally shoots Stan and paralyzes him; later in the episode, Stan is shot again, and the second bullet fixes his condition by dislodging the first bullet.
    • Stan appears most affected by this, as no matter how many lessons he learns in any given episode, he's back to his usual Jerkass self by the next episode.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Stan is often shown as having chauvinistic attitudes towards women, which is why he's so frequently at odds with Hayley.
    • This is why he loved being transferred to Saudi Arabia in "Stan of Arabia".
    • This is also why he loves Francine so much, as this is her fate, which often leads to a breakout episode/moment for her character, much to Stan's dismay.
    • Additionally, Stan tries to force this upon Hayley in Haylias.
  • Stealth Pun: The secondary story of Widowmaker revolves around bees. Think about that one for a minute.
    • Also "Joint Custody". One of the plot points deals with drugs. You can guess what the other plot point deals with.
  • Stock Scream: The one Seth recorded for Stan is so hilariously over-the-top, it should turn up in films next to the Wilhelm scream.
  • Stoners Are Funny: The focus of S2 Ep19, "Joint Custody", when Stan and Roger gets trapped in a barn full of marijuana that catches on fire, and they get extremely high.
  • Stop Being Stereotypical: In the Halloween episode, Toshi's mother got him a Samurai costume to "respect his heritage". He refuses to wear it, shouting "I will not be a cliché!" He ends up donning the costume to hunt Steve down for breaking a promise to bring Toshi's sister home by sunset.
  • Stop Helping Me!: In "Hurricane!", despite Francine's pleas, Stan continues to try and save his family from the disaster...only it makes things worse, such as bringing in a bear to kill the shark that is attacking them, since they are "natural enemies", but the two predators work together instead.
  • Strawman Political: Anything vaguely political is usually guilty of this, but in a good way.
    • Some episode are worse than others. In one episode, Stan sees some example of a Democrat welfare program from Obama, which he says is bad because throwing money at everyone will make them lazy. Roger them substantiates this point, by mentioning he and his adopted babies are abusing welfare and being lazy. Obvious point, it's wasteful for people to take taxed money they don't need. Stan then decides this means helping people in any way is evil. The episode spends the next 30 minutes showing how stupid this is and it is highly frustrating seeing Stan continually lose all common sense and almost let his daughter die over an obviously wrong principle that Republicans don't actually believe. At no point are any successful government welfare programs mentioned after the initial bad example, so, though this clearly wasn't their intention, Obama loses this round
    • Still, the show is considerably more balanced and bipartisan with its humor than Family Guy.
  • Swapped Roles: The focus of S1 Ep 17, "Rough Trade". Stan is under house arrest for DUI (thanks to Roger) so Roger gets a job at a car dealership while Stan stays home and drinks while watching TV.
  • Take That: Took a shot at its own sister show in one episode, showing how unnatural the setups for Family Guy's cutaway gags would sound in context:

 Roger: (responding to an odd statement made by Francine) Well, that was about as obvious as the setup for the sequel at the end of Batman Begins.

Stan: What are you talking about?

Roger: You know, when Inspector Gordon gives him that Joker playing card?

Stan: Well, what does that have to do with Francine?

Roger: What about her?

Stan: You sounded like you were going to say something important about Francine.

Roger: Ummm... no. Nope, don't think so.

Stan: Oh... okay.

(awkward silence)

    • A recent episode involves Roger dressing up as a girl and tricking Snot into thinking they're having sex. He does this by substituting a stress ball with a hole in it. After the ball has been violated multiple times throughout the episode, we learn that it's a promotional item for Sons of Tuscon, a sitcom that replaced American Dad on the Fox schedule in 2010. The writers add insult to injury by having Roger remark that he doesn't remember Sons of Tuscon at all, a reference to the fact that the show was canceled after only a month. Don't mess with American Dad's time slot.
      • And as a final bit of rubbing in, there's a scene where Roger puts the "used" stress ball in the dishwasher, then walks away while humming the American Dad theme song.
    • When Roger and Stan go visit a Horse Whisperer, there are nothing but pictures of famous horses who he has spoken with in the past adorning his office walls, including an autographed picture of Hillary Swank.
    • One episode has Steve receive a bunch of fireworks from Francine's parents and lights one off in the house, prompting the following line from Francine's dad:

 "This one is called The English Patient: It looks beautiful, but takes a long time for an unsatisfying payoff."

  • Taking You with Me: When Principal Lewis loses his job, his house, and all his friends thanks to Roger's meddling as a legal guardian, Lewis decides to take Steve to Arizona... to die together in suicide by driving off the Grand Canyon.
  • The Talk: "You see, Steve, when a man and a woman are in love (or very drunk), they..."
  • Talking Is a Free Action: Stan lampshades this. He coaches Roger to finally beat Barry so he doesn't lose his high school wrestling record. Barry had Roger pinned and the referee counted to two. Stan told him to start using his incredibly powerful legs and to escape before the referee politely waits for their conversation to be over before he counts to three.
  • Talking to Himself: Seth MacFarlane voices both Stan and Roger, who have many, MANY scenes together. In fact, there are several entire episodes that are mainly just the two of them.
  • Teens Are Monsters: The Flashback Cut portrayal of puberty for the Smith family children in 1600 Candles. Steve had done some questionable things before too - he completely loses it when he grows Gag Boobs in Helping Handis and pushes a bookcase onto his wheelchair-bound father in Stannie Get Your Gun.
    • To be fair, he thought his dad had stolen him from his real family when he was a baby.
  • Tempting Fate: In Finances With Wolves, when Greg and Terry are in their yard:

 Greg: Well, another successful trip to Brad's Cactus Shack!

Terry: Can you believe they were giving away razor blades?

Greg: I'll just turn on our new lemon juice waterfall!

(Stan proceeds to hit the cacti, bounce off of the razor blade pile and then land in the lemon juice fountain)

  • That Didn't Happen: Stan and Roger have a one-sided version of this in Roger 'N' Me; Roger wants to tell about how he and Stan "became best buddies", but Stan doesn't.
  • That Makes Me Feel Angry: Apparently, anger is the only emotion Stan is capable of expressing.
  • The End - or Is It?: Spoofed in Tearjerker. The last shot is of a volcano, and as "THE END" is displayed, the title character's hand comes out of the crater and a question mark appears. A few seconds later, he falls back into the volcano and the question mark disappears.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Not that he needed it, but Stelio Kantos beats up Stan while a nearby stereo plays the Ominous Latin Chanting of his name in the background. He hits the Stop button when Steve motions to him that his job was done.
  • Theres No Kill Like Overkill: When Stan tries to set up Principal Lewis with a wife and get him to settle down, Lewis brings up his old prison bitch Tracy in a conversation. When setting up his wedding, Stan reintroduces Tracy, and Tracy reveals that he's already married to Lewis, according to prison rules. Stan tries to handle the situation by taking Tracy to Lewis' home one night, then shooting him in the back. He takes the body to a cliff and throws it off the edge, then drives down and runs it over back and forth repeatedly, then letting an alligator eat the corpse, then shooting the gator and making a gatorskin handbag out of it. Too bad for Stan, that Tracy survived the whole ordeal.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Used by Roger a lot.
    • Also used once by Klaus: "Fabulous Thunderbirds, bitches!"
  • Time Travel: In '"May The Best Stan Win" a Cyborg version of Stan from a thousand years in the future travels back in time to woo Francine.
    • In "Fartbreak Hotel" Steve falls in love with a painting of a girl by Patrick Nagel and travels back to 1981 using the same method Christopher Reeve used in Somewhere in Time to find her. He soon discovers to his horror that Nagel drugged him and painted him nude and that he is the girl in the painting! Later in the episode Francine takes a new identity and becomes a successful businesswoman ten years in the future but she is unhappy and misses her family. She travels to the past like Steve and warns her younger self not to leave them.
    • In the first Christmas episode, the Ghost of Christmas Past takes Stan back to the 1970s where he gets Martin Scorsese to give up drugs, leading to America being taken over by the Soviet Union. The only way to get things back to normal is for Stan to go back to the 80's and shoot Ronald Reagan.
  • Title Drop: "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man."
    • Also...

  Stan: I... am Stan of Arabia!

  • Token Minority: Greg and Terry, the local gay couple. Their token-ness is blatantly poked fun of in various episodes.

 Terry: Why are we always holding hands?

Greg: How else will everyone know we're a gay couple?

  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Daughter/mother example with Hayley and Francine.
  • Tonight Someone Dies The 100th episode, "100 A.D." The episode starts off with a message that says 100 characters will die. The final body count: 1 dog, 98 one shot characters from previous episode (96 of them killed in the same bus crash) and the manager of a motel that appeared earlier in the episode.
    • Except Agent Duper, who was a recurring character earlier, suddenly killed and is brought back as a clone directly after 100AD to set up the premise of the episode.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Stan frequently. Also a case of Status Quo Is God, since his mistakes are rarely brought up again. Also worth noting Stan is quite capable physically and (most of the time) mentally, but could be charitably called inept when it comes to his family.
  • Took a Level In Badass: In the post-apocalyptic world of "Rapture's Delight", Stan becomes a one-armed, hook-handed bounty hunter. It's even more awesome than it sounds.
    • Toshi in "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls". He becomes a samurai for Halloween and tries to kill Steve because he didn't bring his sister Akiko home in time. Then he kills five escaped serial killers before they murder Stan, Francine and Roger.
    • Jeff in For Whom The Sleighbell Tolls. During the assault on the Smiths, Santa offers Jeff the Golden Compass bear helmet he wanted for Christmas in exchange for joining him and betraying the Smiths. He walks over to him and appears to have accepted, but then proceeds to headbutt the spiked helmet into Santa's back. Jeff then drags an injured Stan to safety, and says to him that he did it for his wife Hayley. He then joins the family in battle with Santa's elf army, until Santa is forced to call off the attack because the sun came up, and he only had until sunrise to accomplish his goal.
  • Took a Level In Kindness: during the course of the show, Stan went from a Strawman Political Jerkass to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
  • Took a Level In Jerkass: Roger however, went from a somewhat obnoxious sloth to an apathetic psychopath (with a later In-universe explanation that Roger HAS to be a jerkass in order to biologically survive.) Steve also seems to be leaning this way albeit Depending on the Writer.
  • Too Much Information: In one episode, Francine talks about how strippers will do anything for money, "And then sometimes when you're rolling around on the floor making out with another girl, some guys will throw out money, then pick it back up and throw out the same singles again! Like I'm blind! Like I don't have peripheral vision!" Cut to Roger and Klaus, wide-eyed and silent.
  • Tracking Device: Stan planted a tracking device in both Hayley and Steve when they were both born.
  • Troll: Roger. How much varies from episode to episode.
  • Turn the Other Cheek: Jesus tries this on Stan after he hits him in Rapture's Delight, only to be hit again.

  "Ow! My other cheek!"

  • Transparent Closet: Roger switches between this, Camp Gay, and Depraved Homosexual. It all depends on the episode. However, we can probably say by this point that if there is still a closet, it is pretty damn imaginary.
  • Twin Switch: Stan's double Bill begins dating Hayley, but then poses as Stan in order to try to sleep with Francine. After removing Bill from the picture, Stan must then pose as Bill in order to keep Hayley's heart from being broken.
  • Twist Ending: many of the better episodes use improbable plot resolutions that are much more amusing with repeated viewings.
    • 100 A.D. has one.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Typically when this trope is used, the A story will focus on Stan and the B story will focus on either Steve or Roger.
    • Five Lines, No Waiting: The initial premise of Finances With Wolves, where Francine, Steve, Hayley, Roger, and Klaus each have their own plots that intersect at various points. Stan is prominent, but doesn't have his own actual plot.
  • Two-Person Pool Party: Stan and Roger in S2 Ep20, "Roger 'n' Me".
  • Two-Timer Date: Stan attempts to pull off one of these in One Little Word. While he and Francine are trying to enjoy a romantic weekend in one lakeside cabin, Stan must keep his boss's mistress supplied with cigarettes in the cabin across the lake.


  • The Unintelligible: Inverted with Toshi. He only speaks Japanese, but it's subtitled, so the audience can understand him but none of the characters can. This is lampshaded a few times, such as when Toshi mentions that he is haunted by the disembodied spirit of a 12th century samurai. When the spirit talks to him in Japanese, Toshi can't understand it properly.
    • He can also speak Russian and in one episode Francine ends a phone conversation with him with "Bueno gracias." Though the last may just be another joke about everyone perpetually misunderstanding him.
    • He actually speaks English at one point, after Snot yells at him to learn the language: "EAT... MY... BOWLS!"
  • Unreliable Narrator: Done in "The American Dad After-School Special". Throughout the episode, Stan is becoming ludicrously overweight despite all his exercise, apparently because his family is sabotaging him (injecting lard into his celery) to teach him a lesson about his hatred of fat people. Just before the commercial break, we see that Stan is in fact ludicrously underweight, having developed anorexia, and his family was trying to keep him from starving himself to death.
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Hayley credits this as the reason behind Stan and Roger's hostility in one episode, telling them to just fuck already and get over it. At the end of the episode, the two get arrested for public indecency[3] and, as they're being carted off, praise one anothers' acting talent; Hayley smugly tells Francine I Told You So.
  • Unstoppable Rage: At least two separate episodes show Hayley as being capable of this. One happens when she gets dumped. The other takes place when she becomes hormonal as a result of going through puberty. "What do you mean 'the rest of my life'?"
    • Francine is also capable of this, two prominent examples being when she screams at Stan for ruining her plan to break George Clooney's heart, and when after discovering that Stan tricked her into believing she committed murder, her response to him is angry to the point of psychotic.
  • Ultimate Gamer 386: Steve Smith
  • Ultimate Job Security: Steve's teacher in Toy Whorey:

 Teacher: [pointing to "Tenure" written on board] And that's why it's virtually impossible for me to get fired, no matter what I do. [flying-kicks a student in the face]

  • The Untwist: Played for Laughs. In the end of the episode "Roy Rogers MacFreely", the titular Roy Rogers turns out to be...Roger.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Stan Smith, though he is shaping up to be a fairly sympathetic character. True, he retains some Jerkass qualities, but enough episodes end with *him* delivering the Aesop or at least on the moral high ground for him to go beyond just being an Expy of Peter Griffin or, worse -- Jerkass Homer.
    • Roger seems to be filling this role in more recent seasons.
  • Unusual Euphemism: In "Iced, Iced Babies" Stan says that when Francine goes through menopause her "uterus will fall like Saigon, and Steve was the last chopper out."
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The B-Plot for "Stan Time" features Roger and Steve trying to write a porn film but unable to come up with a script, while completely ignoring the sexual antics of two young blonde waitresses.
    • More recent episodes have him sidetracked in his quest for boob, though - even to the point where he'll ignore it altogether.
    • Nobody seems to particularly care that Klaus and Reginald can talk.
  • Very Special Episode: Subverted. Some episodes give the appearance of this before descending into chaos, as seen in Season Two's The American Dad After School Special, where Stan forbids Steve to date Debbie because she's overweight, then Stan realizes that he's fat too and becomes anorexic.
    • Also "A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial", which deals with spousal abuse in a surprisingly realistic way
  • Villain Protagonist: Zig-zags. More than a few episodes are centered around stopping Stan from doing something terrible, and it's revealed fairly often that, while he does a lot of the things he does because he genuinely believes that everything he does is justified by the situation, he's done more than a few things that are just downright horrible, like the time he tried to get a guy to believe in god and ultimately ended up ruining that man's life and killing his family, to the point that the man had a near death experience, got to meet god long enough to be sent to hell, and came back as a worshipper of Satan. Stan's involvement in this trope can be best summed up with one scene: "I'm not a monster... am I?" *a human skull falls out of his furnace, which Stan quickly kicks back in*
    • One of the most extreme examples of this came from a Christmas Episode, where Stan accidentally killed himself, went to heaven, and found out that his family would die because of his actions. In the scenes that follow, Stan ends up fighting his way to confront God and holds him at gunpoint, demanding that he changes what is going to happen. God calls Stan out as a serious control freak, states that the very behavior that has brought him to this point is what has caused all of his problems and Stan isn't even slightly sorry for his obviously evil actions, and when Stan tries to argue, God says that Stan is holding a gun to God's head, demanding that he do as Stan wants. Even God can't come up with a better metaphor than that. Que Stan's My God, What Have I Done??
  • Vocal Evolution: Three characters come to mind when re-watching the pilot episode: Steve, Stan, and Klaus. All three had prominently deeper voices. Steve and Klaus's voices slowly increased in pitch, while Stan's became more refined in its quality.
  • Volleying Insults: We get this little exchange between Stan and Hayley in "Stannie Get Your Gun":

 Hayley: You're such a fascist!

Stan: Peacepusher!

Hayley: Murder!

Stan: Hermaphrodite!

    • A few moments later, we they continue exchanging:

 Hayley: Gun toting maniac!

Stan: Beatnik!

Hayley: Warmonger!

Stan: Chupacabra!

  • Vomit Shots: One of the most recurring events in the series is for one of the characters (usually Stan or Roger) to vomit violently due to various reasons. It can be discreet, indiscreet, or outright over the top.
    • A couple people throwing up is all it takes to start a chain reaction of people throwing up in Mexico, where apparently they collect it and resell it as horchata.
  • We Are Experiencing Technical Difficulties: Twice in "Bar Mitzvah Hustle" - first, Steve falls out of Roger's attic while pitching his plan for revenge. It immediately cuts to a Technical Difficulties screen, then replays the scene with a badly injured Steve. Later, Stan and Francine come in to retell their misadventures on the way to a pitch meeting. Stan then points out Plot Hole after Plot Hole in his story, then gives it the Screw This, I'm Outta Here into another Technical Difficulties screen. Both times, it's made to look like the cartoon is being shot on a sound stage.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back: In Frannie 911, Roger is forced to become nice, but when the family discovers that being nice is actually harming his health, they beg him to go back to being a jerk.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: Steve. He tries to get his dad to respect him multiple times... the results are mixed.

 Steve: Are we having a father/son moment?

Stan: *hits Steve in the crotch* We were, you ruined it by mentioning it.

    • Stan's relationship with his own father has elements of this as well.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In "Of Ice And Men", Svetlana, the Russian mail-order bride, marries Toshi after he steals her away from Snot. Nothing else happened to her. She's never seen again. This is lampshaded in a later episode when the topic of girls comes up and Toshi says "Didn't I used to have a wife?"
    • The Golden Turd Saga. Each time, someone would come across it and they become entranced by it, even doing drastic things to keep it. The last one featured the policeman's wife about to poison her husband when he suggested getting rid of it. The writers intended to show what happened next in a later episode but they weren't able to due to time constraints on episodes. It's been several seasons since the last one, so the viewers are just left wondering what happened.
    • If one accepts that everything after the Apocalypse episode exists in Stan's Heaven then it was seen being used as the fuel for Roger's ship to get Stan and Jesus to the final battle with the Anti-Christ and to rescue Francine before Stan's death and gaining his heavenly reward.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Everyone calls everyone else out on a pretty regular basis. Especially when it's one character's turn to be more heroic than usual.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Done very sparingly, and (usually) effectively; the show still manages to put its own unique twist on things even when it's largely basing its plot on an existing story. An excellent example is Irregarding Steve, which not only features Steve and Roger in a take-off on Midnight Cowboy, but has a running B-story which recreates What's Eating Gilbert Grape with squirrels.
  • Wham! Line: "Now picture that boy [that was cut from the team by his dad] is you." -Steve
    • Lampshaded in "Return of the Bling" when Roger bites Stan's finger off, the only reason being "It was in the movie."
  • What Could Have Been: According to the commentaries, the original plan for Roger would've been that season 1 would've had him be stuck in the house all the time, but get fed up with it in season 2 and try the disguises. They would've worked until season 3, where Roger gets revealed in public and it becomes a giant media scandal. But by season 4, everyone would've gotten used to aliens and stopped caring, making Roger try to become the hot new story with schemes. Also, Klaus would've become a more mobile animal in Finances With Wolves, but didn't for some reason.
    • In 1600 Candles" Klaus spends the episode in a hamster ball though. "Check me out! I'm MOBILE!!"
  • What Does She See in Him?: Played with for Stan and Francine. More evident in early episodes where Stan is more malevolent and chauvinistic, often leading Francine to suffer or be belittled in his antics (the smitten Klaus asked this multiple times and at one point was close to wooing her in a new human body). In later episodes however Stan becomes slightly more sympathetic while more enthasis is put on Francine's own unpleasant tendacies the former has to endure.
    • One early episode has this driving the main plot, with Francine's memories reverting to the state she was in during college, and Stan tries to win her back over, but she's put off by his being a "narc" as well as his violent attitude and rudeness.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: Stan makes Steve participate in a Vietnam War reenactment in order to make him sing the National Anthem with more passion. After the reenactment, Steve starts acting as if he actually fought in the War when he suffers from "war flashbacks".
    • In Not Particularly Desperate Housewives:

 Francine: MY ROOOOOAAAAST!!!!

    • In Threat Levels, when Stan is outraged at liberal reporters moving in:

 Francine: You're overreacting...

Stan: Overreacting? OVERREACTING?! (headbutts a hole in wall)

    • The CIA generally qualify for this:

 Bullock: They're using [our torture budget] to teach inner city kids (sobbing) to read!

[Stan, Duper Jackson and Sanders smash up everything nearby, while Bullock picks up Dick and throws him through a window]

 [a voiceover of a lighthearted flashback plays as Stand pummels the elderly man]

Lady: Dad, you're 76, just retire! Mark and I would love for you to live with us!

Guard: Well, I can't leave the museum, Sheila, they need me!

Lady: But these are your golden years! You should be enjoying life with your family!

Guard: (laughs) I never stopped enjoying it Sheila... in a way, those paintings are my family...

  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Early in The Magnificicent Steven, Steve expresses an irrational fear of moths. Sure enough, later in the episode, he has to face a swarm of moths as part of the story. (Lampshaded by him saying, "Why did it have to be moths?")
    • Even better is Stan's bizarre, occasionally referenced aversion to seagulls. He even has nightmares about them ("Seagulls!? Francine - this time they could drive!")
  • Why Don't You Marry It?: Stan snaps this about Best Buy when a guy talks about the the pay benefits they gave.
  • Wig, Dress, Accent: Roger makes extensive use of these and could arguably fit into Paper-Thin Disguise territory from time to time. The show has even pointed it out by having him choose a disguise from an automatic rotating wardrobe full of outfits, and again in The One That Got Away when Roger changes into about a dozen of his characters in half a minute.
  • A Wizard Did It: Roger has fooled Steve with these several times - once when Steve believed he was an actual Potter-esque wizard. Steve sometimes gets his revenge.
  • A Worldwide Punomenon: They crop up semi-frequently, but Bullock pulls an epic one in Tearjerker.
  • Yandere: Francine has shown these tendencies towards her son, not wanting any other woman to get closer to him.
    • Stan gets this way when someone starts dating his mother.


    • Not to mention the rest of her family. Let's face it, she's not far away from snapping at any time.
    • Roger definitely fits this. He's either crying for the family to love him or trying to kill them. Sometimes both in the same episode. Also, you could probably argue for Cute and Psycho or Tsundere depending on the writer.
    • And then there's Hayley. If she's the one who breaks up with her boyfriend, no big thing. If she is the dumpee, cue the rampage. It's gotten to a point where the police have issued Stan an ultimatum: One more meltdown and she goes to prison.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Roger would kill a child (an infant, actually). For accidentally breaking a leg off of one of his collection of crystal spiders.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Let's face it. If there's even the slightest hint that Steve may get the girl, something always happens to ruin it.
  • Year Inside, Hour Outside: In The One That Got Away, Klaus is zapped into another dimension at one point. When he returns moments later, he claims to have been gone 60 years (and become the king of whatever place it was that he was visiting).
  • You Do NOT Want to Know: The website of Roger's persona in "Shallow Vows" allegedly has some awful images on it:

 Roger: The second rule you can read on my website. You have to be 18 to log on. I have some sexy barnyard stuff on there that is not for everyone, I could get in a lot of trouble. If you do decide to check it out you're gonna have to clear your history right away- you may need to un-install your browser. I'm telling you, scrub that thing clean. If you think you're being too cautious you're not. They will take us both to jail.

  • Your Mom: In the episode Bully to Steve, Stan bullies Steve to make him tougher. He makes several Your Mom comments towards him, which are likely true.


  1. Season 6, episode 12, "You Debt Your Life".
  2. "Shallow Vows" and "I Am the Walrus", for the curious
  3. They were trying to out-act one another in a love scene and ended up simulating sex on-stage
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