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American Dad: Tropes A to E
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    A 
  • 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. Or at least prior to Season 10.
      • 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.)
    • There was to be a third part in the Season 2 finale "Joint Custody", but it ended up getting cut for time.
      • Now subverted. We finally got a true third part in the Season 10 finale "Blagsnarst: A Love Story" almost eight years since the last installment in Season 2's "Failure is Not a Factory-Installed Option".
  • Abusive Parents: Francine, after Steve and Debbie break up.
    • Hiko, Akiko and Toshi's mother.
    • You could count Stan's father, abandoning him and his mother to run a life of crime.
      • And Francine's biological parents who abandoned their child just because their flight didn't allow children. Even Klaus, who lived in Nazi Germany, thought that was a horrible thing to do.
  • 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.
  • Adam Westing: At times, it seems like the writers are competing to find the silliest words to shove into Patrick Stewart's mouth. Not that they should stop, of course.
  • Adorkable: Steve. His friends may also count.
  • 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 and 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, of course, 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.
  • Alien Abduction: At the end of "Naked to the Limit, One More Time", Roger shoves Jeff into the tractor beam of the ship sent to rescue him. His fate was shown in the episode "Lost in Space".
  • 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 The 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.
      • Not exactly... in Stan's personal heaven, Klaus is dead.
    • 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.
  • All Periods Are PMS: 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?!"
  • 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.
    • Given the nature of the typical American Dad! Christmas episode, it's understandable that a number of fans were surprised to learn that the Christmas demon Krampus was not a creation of the show.
    • Roger's Ortolan in "In Country...Club" is a real bird, and the means of preparing it is correct as well. Yes, even the napkin bit.
  • 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, then adding "but I knew that".
    • 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 (who turned out to be intersexed).
    • In "Bar Mitzvah Hustle," Roger's plan during Steve's bar mitzvah scam was to sneak off to the bathroom to share a doobie and "an angry handy-J" with the busboy.
    • In Jenny Fomdabloc, Roger has sex with Snot, though it turned out he was faking it via a hole in his "Sons of Tucson" stress ball.
    • In "You Debt Your Life," Roger referred to himself as "fey and pansexual" (much like Andy Dick). Also in that episode, he stays at a YMCA men's locker room (though this was because he thought the place was still renting out rooms) and suggestively comments on a man's genitals after using his towel to wipe the tears from his eyes.
    • In "An Incident at Owl Creek", Roger tries to solicit gay sex at a truck stop restroom twice (and gets punched in the eyes for it) and compliments a blind prostitute on his "expert blowjowski" 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. [...] And 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 Alicia 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?"
  • American Title: Type 2
  • 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.
  • Anachronism Stew: The episode "The Kidney Stays in the Picture" is this for the 1990s. Stan and Francine go back to 1996 to see who Hayley's real father is. The episode takes place in 2012, and Hayley is older than 16. It also makes reference to Elian Gonzales and shows Roger trying to creat MDMA which has been around since the 1970s. The characters are dressed like it's the late 1980s though.
  • Anal Probing: Roger's alien race can acquire a person's memories through probing.
  • 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.
  • And I Must Scream: Played for Laughs in "Familyland," when Roy Family reveals that, 30 years ago, he froze his body but not his mind so that he could watch over his amusement park.
    Francine: You were conscious that whole time?
    Roy: Oh yeah. It was awful.
  • And Then What?: You have to wonder what Hayley’s overall plan is. On one end she seems to be trying to completely ruin Stan’s livelihood, dating and breaking up with his boss, stealing his life savings. Yet at the same time she relies on him completely.
    • She plans on either being a stripper, or whoring out Jeff in the back of gas stations.
    • Steve as well as a lot of his plans revolves around Insane Troll Logic. You have to ask yourself what would he have done if Stan’s fears in Chimdale were proven correct.
  • 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!
  • Animal Chick Magnet: Steve tries this with a weak, elderly dog, and it works in that a girl notices him - to make fun of him.
  • Animals Hate Him: Steve's luck with animals is horrible, even when he's trying to be nice to them.
    Steve: Why crow why?!
    • Except for Klaus of course, but he arguably doesn't count, since he has the brain of a human.
    • 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
    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 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.
  • Anti-Villain: Cyborg Stan from "May the Best Stan Win". All he wanted was Francine because she had been dead for 1000 years in his time, and he is far nicer to her than the present Stan in this episode.
  • 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: 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 the integration of The University of Alabama in the 1960s by knocking the books out of Vivian Malone's hands in front of her military escort, getting Joseph Hazelwood — the captain of the Exxon Valdez — drunk at the helm by making him do a beer bong, and having his Jar-Jar Binks character approved by 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 Japanese sword for no reason, making a friend serve life in prison, kicking an old lady in the groin, setting fire to a petting zoo, taking upskirt (up-habit?) photos of a nun, defecating into a patient during surgery, literally stealing candy from a baby, and not holding the elevator for someone.
    • From the Cross Over between this show, The Cleveland Show and Family Guy in the final scene of "Hurricane!":
      Stan: (draws a gun on Cleveland) Looter!
      Cleveland: (draws a gun on Stan) Self defense!
      Peter: (out of nowhere, draws two guns on both) A black and a white talking as if it's normal!
  • 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. The Hayley-Stan conflicts are there in some later episodes, but Hayley's role on the show isn't as strong as it used to be (even though she's now married to her on-again/off-again boyfriend, Jeff, and the two are now living with the Smiths).
    • Lampshaded by Hayley and Klaus in one episode.
    Klaus: HA-HA! I made it into the episode. PAY ME, BITCHES!
    Hayley: HA-HA! 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 with better animation and art).
    • That song about Oliver North drawn like a Schoolhouse Rock short.
    • 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 modeled after the Rankin-Bass animated Christmas specials.
    • Reginald the Koala's debut and backstory in "Family Affair" has this, combined with Technicolor Explosion, in spades.
  • 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".
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Roger has passed himself off for being able to speak Vietnamese, Laotian, Chinese, and Thai by spouting the same Asian-sounding gibberish every time.
  • 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.
    • Played straight in the pilot, where Roger's first lines are him explaining to Stan why he's living with them. However, the way he says it sounds less like As You Know and more like, basically, "I saved your life once now let me borrow your car".
  • 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.
  • An Ass-Kicking 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.
  • 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.
  • Author Tract: The show was meant to be one to demonize "patriots" and conservatives, bit it became much less blatant as the years went on.
  • Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A father/daughter version occurs with Stan and Hayley on various occasions.
  • Ax-Crazy: Roger shows traits of his. Specially as "Ricky Spanish".
    • Barry, when is not medicated.
    • 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.
    • Another episode suggests he spent time touring Italy after college "y'know, stabbing students."
  • 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.

    B 
  • 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.
    • Jeff basically uses the trope name when trying to convince Hayley to adopt a kid in "Season's Beatings":
      Jeff: Sometimes, I feel broken inside, and having a baby fixes everything!
  • 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!!
  • 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.
  • Bait and Switch: Stan describes the movie Boys Don't Cry as the film where Hilary Swank got what she deserved... an Oscar.
  • 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.
    • Daniel, a partner-in-crime of Roger's Ricky Spanish persona, has connections to "The Plantain Republic."
  • Bare Your Midriff: Hayley's standard outfit.
  • Bears Are Bad News/Threatening Shark: They attack the Smith family in "Hurricane!"
    Steve: They're working in tandem!! They're brothers in arms!!
    • In "You Debt Your Life", Stan gets his legs eaten by a polar bear at the zoo.
  • 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.
  • 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 Snot's 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.
    • Let's not forget his wedding planner personality Jeannie Gold who has two adult sons.
    • Roger's rich alter ego Max Jets, who has been in prison for six years, is about to be released, so Roger actually sneaks into the prison to be let out.
  • Bee Bee Gun: Steve tries to use this tactic on Hayley. Needless to say it doesn't go well for him.
  • Befriending The Enemy: In the episode Bully For Steve Stan takes the role of a childhood bully in an egregious attempt to make Steve stand up for himself. An oblivious Francine suggests Steve try to make friends with his new bully. When he attempts to do so, Stan goes along with it...and then continues beating him up, scolding him for not getting the point yet ("You can't reason with a bully!").
  • 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?!
    • Anytime Hayley is dumped, a rampage ensues.
    • Among the more rabid members of the fandom, calling this show a Family Guy clone (despite being made by the same guy and coming off as a warped take on The Simpsons and Wait Til Your Father Gets Home) 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: 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*
  • Bigger on the Inside: The Smith's backyard has been shown many times to be a standard-sized pool, a tool shed, and Steve's Treehouse- three things not out of place for a standard American household to have. Roger somehow managed to turn it into a small amusement park featuring beer rides that send you through a mountain cave, a large lazy river of booze, a large Tiki idol that spouts beer, henna tattoo stands, 3 porta-potties, a crane for bungee jumping, a pyramid of beer kegs with Donkey Kong on the top, a full-sized performance stage built into the back porch, and numerous tents and chairs.
  • 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.
    • However, in the episode Killer Vacation, Hayley is relieved at the fact that she wont have to sleep with a swinger woman in order to re-kindle the flame between her and Jeff (though Jeff wasn't so lucky with the woman's husband...)
    • 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.
    • There's also an episode where Steve mentions that he and his (male) friends will sometimes "practice kissing" together.
      • Also on the topic of Steve, he and Klaus frequently have one-night stands with each other. One's a fish, so don't even ask me how that works.
      • And, on the subject of Klaus, in a recent episode, Klaus and Roger have admitted to "fooling around". Klaus suggests doing it again, only for Roger to point out it was just a "ten-time thing".
  • Big Eater: Debbie Hyman and Barry.
  • Big "NEVER!":
    Hayley: It's not my fault the job market sucks. I didn't vote for Bush!
    Roger: Let it go, Hayley.
    Hayley: NEVER!!!
    • In S1 Ep14, "Stannie Get Your Gun", when Bobby the Bullet is fired and told to give up his costume.
  • 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 Sidney 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.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Francine in later seasons.
  • 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.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: One possible explanation for Roger's general behavior.
  • Blunder Correcting Impulse: Stan tries to give a rousing speech to the recently disbanded neighborhood watch committee, who have formed a rebel alliance against Roger after he took over the home owner's association . However, he keeps stumbling over his words until he's reduced to awkwardly repeating the word "bosom." Haley then takes over for him out of pity.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: The Escape from Pearl Bailey ends with Steve and his friends rallying at the mob they were running away from. From what is heard, it doesn't end well.
  • 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: Klaus was the intended Breakout Character, but it was Roger and Steve that ultimately won the fanbase.
  • 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 realizes that she should be working as 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."
    • And again in a brief bit in one episode where Stan accidentally elbows Francine's boobie.
  • 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 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.
    • When the family goes on vacation, the CIA orders Stan to kill a wanted criminal who's been hiding himself as the activities director at the resort. Things go bad and the criminal gets a gun and shoots Francine. She's saved by the giant blinged out "HOODRAT" chain she was wearing underneath. Stan once again thanks Hip Hop music.
    • In the episode "With Friends Like Steve's", Stan says that there are certain things you either know or you don't "like sexing a chicken". While this seems like a simple poultry fornication joke, a later episode has Steve winning a job in a factory because of his rare, innate ability to identify the gender of baby chicks.
    • Steve's backup dancing in various episodes after he declares it to be his dream in the third season - "Good, but doesn't draw focus."
    • In "The Adventures of Twill Ongenbone And His Boy Jabari Francine", at the start of the episode Stan rants at Roger about why Roger doesn't deserve his Oscar (mostly because it's Cuba Gooding Jr.'s, who Stan deeply respects, and Roger just bought it off eBay). When Cuba Gooding Jr. is killed during the events of the episode's A-plot, Stan can somehow sense what just happened despite being nowhere near the area. And at the end of the episode he steals the Oscar back from Roger and returns it to Cuba during his funeral.
  • 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.
    • Many of the Asopes that Stan learns can be considered broken when you realize that Stan is the only one learning them. Specifically those dealing with either money or family.
  • 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.
    • Brought up again in Killer Vacation. After Steve goes through hell to reach a nude beach, the first thing he sees are his parents. Repulsed, his companion suggests looking at another couple: it's Hayley and Jeff. At first somewhat repulsed, he quickly takes interest.
  • 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.) However, it should be noted he is still treated with a lot more respect and dignity by the family, the writers and the fans in comparison to say, Meg from Family Guy.

    C 
  • 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, in the former she seems solely angry at Clooney for not getting married, while in the latter her main beef with him is that he ruined her big break into showbiz. Anger at his lack of marriage is still a factor, though - her plan is centered around getting together with him so she can break his heart, and she even outright says she's angry that he doesn't have a family who constantly depends on him at the end of the episode.
    • 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.
    • In "Failure is not a Factory-Installed Option", a car salesman manages to get in Stan's head by noting he shaves against the grain. In "The Kidney Stays In The Picture", Stan offers to donate his kidney to Hayley, asking for someone to shave his groin for the operation and noting that he likes shaving against the grain.
    • Principal Lewis's mispronunciation of "cocaine" as "kyou-caine" first comes up in Jenny Frohmdablok, and is later referenced by Superintendent Riggs in Worst Stan
    • In "The Boring Identity" a raccoon that says "remember" appears when Stan regains his memory. The same thing happened in "Francine's Flashback" when she regained her memory.
    • In "The 42-Year-Old Virgin," Roger off-handedly mentions that he fought for the Viet Cong in the 60s. He later played a Viet Cong torturer during a reenactment in "In Country...Club."
  • Calling Your Attacks: Several characters use this when attacking someone
    • Stan has "Meat slap", "Groin Punch" and a lot from 'May the best Stan win'
    • Principal Louis has "Shoulder tap", and "Bitch slap, slappity slap".
  • Captain Obvious:
    • This one:
    Hayley: They think you're Kevin Bacon!
    Roger: Yes, Hayley, I understand things that happen around me.
    • And in another episode:
    Steve: It's the last clue!
    Stan: DUH! REALLY?! Sorry, it's been a really long night.
    • From "Toy Whorey", when the wheels from Stan's SUV have been stolen
    A guy in a car: You can't drive with no wheels.
    Stan: Thank you, genius.
  • Catchphrase: 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]
    Bullock: YOU THINK YOU'RE BETTER THAN ME?! YOU'RE NOT BETTER THAN ME!
  • 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.
    • "Blood Crieth Unto Heaven" starts with Patrick Stewart himself introducing the episode- written as a theatrical play, and the only one of the 12 cocaine-fueled scripts that he found in a dead writer's New York hotel room that he didn't eat in jealousy. Written pretty much in-character as something Bulock himself would do.
  • 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.
      • Not to mention in the first episode, Steve was even more geekier and gawkier than he would be later on. In fact, looking at his initial incarnation in the un-aired test pilot suggests that he wasn't even originally planned to be a cool kid to begin with.
  • 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: 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. Also, he's a piss-poor carpenter.
    • 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.
    • The fifth one involves Jeff adopting the Antichrist.
    • The sixth one involves Steve getting kidnapped by The Krampus to get back at Stan's father, who sealed him away for 50 years and Stan's ensuing efforts to rescue Steve.
  • Clark Kenting: Roger and his various disguises; ties in with Wig, Dress, Accent.
  • Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: Roger becomes excited when he gets the chance to do what he calls "the finger pyramid of evil contemplation".
  • Clock Discrepancy: "The American Dad After School Special": Stan puts an Exploding Collar on his son, set to go off if he doesn't ask a girl out in 24 minutes. As he's running down the street, he remarks that his Timex watch shows he still has 5 minutes left, then immediately sees a newspaper with the headline "Timex Recalls Watches For Being Four Minutes Slow."
    • In an early episode, Stan accidentally exposes the whole family to a deadly virus, and they are diagnosed with 24 hours to live. They decide to make the most of their time by watching the complete first season of 24. When the time is finally up, they say their goodbyes and wait for the clock to strike the new hour, as if expecting to just drop dead without question. The clock rings, but Roger tells them that clock is always a little fast. Better give it another minute. The virus was inert, so they weren't in any real danger in the first place.
  • Cloning Blues: Stan uses CIA technology to make a clone of Steve so he could prove to Francine that his way of raising teenagers is the right way.
    • Played in a more depressingly serious manner for Steven and Snot themselves, who went to perverted lengths to acquire the DNA of the two girls they wanted to take to the prom and clone them, only to find that they started off as babies and quickly grew up over the next few days. When Stan learns what they did, he has to kill them off. Even if he hadn't shot them, Steve quickly learned that their bodies begin to shut down once they reach the age of the girls they were cloned from, and his own "daughter" dies before him. Stan caps her anyways just to be sure.
  • Cloudcuckoolander:
  • Combat Pragmatist: Francine. Technically she's a Retired Badass, and in the past she has participated in a fight club (where she pulled out the knife her opponent had stabbed her with and used it to kill her), and been in jail (where she sharpened a plastic fork into a shiv in order to kill someone). And if Stan pisses her off, she will use everything from lamps to cars to beat him up. He does not look good afterwards.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Stan, on a number of occasions:
    • In Deacon Stan, Jesus Man:
    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:
    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.
    • In "Killer Vacation", Stan says "Thanks again, hip hop!" in reference to...well, see the entry for "Noodle Incident".
  • 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.
  • Corrupt Politician: The season 10 continuation of the Golden Turd mini arc sees the old woman being put to death for the murder of her husband, while her son watches. The son eventually finds the golden turd, choosing to ignore his own son's pleas for help outside as he is in trouble himself. He then makes a phone call to someone who has political aspirations to make him president.
  • 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.
    • “Poltergasm":shows us that American Dad can take even legitimate tropes and transform it into The Unfair Sex. In a spoof of the movie Poltergeist, the Smith home is haunted by Francine's unsatisfied sexual drive, so it is up to Roger - as medium Ruby Zeldastein - to eliminate the ghost. The problem is that Francine's unsatisfied sexual drive had nothing to do with Stan, in fact Stan had spent years mastering all of Francine’s likes based on what she told him and her reactions. Literally at the last possible second Francine informed Stan that she wanted to spend more time on fore play something he neglected in his effort to please her.
    • This trope is taken even further given the fact that Stan had to unlearn the things that specifically pleasured Francine to relearn things that pleasured woman in general.
  • 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.
    • The table read special featuring this episode on the volume one DVD of American Dad reveals that the original line was supposed to be "See you next Tuesday" and was changed because the "see" made it painfully obvious that the word "cunt" was being spelled in code.
  • Counting Bullets: Rain Man Barry counts the number of bullets when the boys and the principle are taking cover from gunfire. Only he deliberately gets the principle shot by saying they're out...but they have one bullet left.
  • 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" in a post-9/11 world) 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 the Internet doctor Dr. Vadgers.
  • 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)
    • Arguably Stan himself, when he drops his attitude and starts to focus he is almost unbeatable in a fight.
  • 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 a thousand years in the future competes with present-day Stan for Francine in "May The Best Stan Win".

    D 
  • Damsel out of Distress: 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.
  • A Date with Rosie Palms: The focus of "A Smith in The Hand".
    • After Stan and Francine appoint Roger as Steve's legal guardian (in "A Ward Show"), 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.
    • In a deleted scene from the episode "The 42-Year-Old Virgin," Francine immediately shuts down her Ready for Lovemaking scenario (pours out her wine, extinguishes the candles, throws on a frumpy nightgown, and throws the covers over herself) when Stan comes home and tells her he hasn't killed anyone yet, then the viewer hears a vibrator and Francine tells Stan that it's her pencil sharpenernote . The scene doesn't appear on the TV version for obvious reasons, but is on the DVD.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: A large part of the reason Hayley goes out and marries with Jeff.
    • Stan hates fat people, and Steve starts dating Debbie, a Goth, overweight girl. It causes Stan to diet to the point of anorexia.
  • 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).
    • 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.
      • The fact that Stan, the ultra-conservative gun-toting super-patriotic moron is the Only Sane Man should speak leagues about his friends.
    • "Lost In Space" focuses exclusively on Jeff's abduction by Roger's species, and his attempt to escape back to Earth. None of the other characters except Hayley and Roger even appear in the episode.
  • 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.
    • Along with Klaus:
    Stan: This is what Roger does? He just sits here and watches this crap all day? What am I missing?
    Klaus: An elevated blood-alcohol content.
  • Deconstructor Fleet: Another animated show by Seth MacFarlane that enjoys messing with tropes and using them with shades on.
  • Delayed Reaction: Happens in "Francine's Flashback".
  • 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.
    • Since Hayley married Jeff Fischer, the writers seem to be making an effort to include her more along with Jeff, but even then the subplots don't rely on Hayley's leftist views as much as they focus on problems with their marriage. There have been at leat a few sub-plots on Hayley and Jeff's lack of a satisfying sex life.
    • 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 Steve to acknowledge us this week, even if it was only this once.
  • Department of Redundancy Department:
    • The "Mountaintop Spa on top of a Mountaintop" from "Tears of a Clooney".
    • Also, Francine's "creative" similies skills in "The Scarlette Getter":
      Francine: Those two are stuck on each other like gum on a hot summer sidewalk on a summer afternoon. (beat) I'm sorry, I'm taking a creative writing class and I can't turn it off. Like a fire hydrant... gushing onto a hot summer sidewalk... my words cascading like water onto a hot summer sidewalk. A cat skitters by! Each step a relief... cooling it's paws from the hot summer sidewalk. [...] Just hearing his name makes me hot. ...like a hot summer sidewalk. An ice-cream man saunters—
      Roger: Okay.
  • Depending on the Writer: Is Stan a huge Jerk Ass 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 PsychopathicManchild 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.
  • Deus ex Machina: The ending of Adventures in Hayleysitting.
  • Did Not Get the Girl: Poor old Steve. Even when he does succeed, something happens to sabotage it. "Spring Breakup" when he gets Carmen Selectra wanting him big-time just before she's crushed by a falling scaffold, and "Big Trouble in Little Langley" where a popular girl lets him grope her breast, but his hand is numb from anesthetic so he says "I can't feel anything" and she thinks he's insulting her by saying she has small breasts.
    • Done rather cruelly in the Halloween episode. Steve and Toshi's sister, Akiko, hang out on Halloween night. The chemistry between them increases, and when Steve finally get's Toshi's blessing after being persistent, Akiko ditches Steve for a nine-year-old kid who appeared with no foreshadowing.
    • Just about as bad is "A Jones for a Smith", where Steve meets a hot new girl at school who is completely horny for him, and her father is totally fine with it (as long as they use protection). Unfortunately, when the families get together for dinner, Stan is freaking out due to a crack addiction and manages to offend the father, who refuses to let Steve anywhere near the girl ever again. Steve spends the rest of the episode glaring at Stan and saying things like "You ruined a sure thing, old man!" and "I will hate you for the rest of my life."
    • Inverted in "Spelling Bee My Baby" where he and Akiko get together at the end.
  • 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.
  • Disposable Vagrant: Reginald was little more than an unwanted, unloved homeless man before volunteering for a CIA experiment that switched his mind with that of a koala bear. The procedure was a success and he was hired by the CIA as an operative due to the distracting nature of his new form.
  • 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 boasts that he's trained himself to recognize lucid dreams and then insults Klaus when he asks Steve to teach him the trick (he's also a jerk to Hayley). They make Steve think that he's lucid dreaming when he's really awake, which results in his ultimately jumping out the window with a girl in an attempt to fly, breaking several of Steve's bones and getting the girl impaled on a fence post, him later mentioning that her parents are going to press charges for attempted murder. In fairness to Klaus and Hayley, they didn't encourage Steve to do any of this, and Hayley started questioning if the prank was going too far.
    • 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?"
    • In Lincoln Lover, Stan loses the chance to speak at a conservative convention to competitor Nancy Calliope. Near the end, when Stan attends the convention:
    Man 1: Stan, Nancy Calliope has been kicked out of The Langley Conservatives.
    Stan: What? Why?
    Man 1:We just found out her second car is a Prius!
    (everyone nearby gasps)
    Man 2: Terrorist!
    • When Stan is talking about embarrassing things from his childhood in "I Can't Stan You," he says: "When my parents wouldn't let me have a fourth cupcake, I burned down their summer home. When caught, I framed my favorite grandfather. I don't know why I did it."
  • 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 shorts sewn together by an elderly, ambiguously Romani fortune-teller, 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...
    • Two more Roger examples:
      • "Family Affair": When Roger is telling off the family that left him at the gas station, the parents' son, Tyler, comes home. Roger goes to tell him off — and can't get over the fact that Tyler grew up to be cute.
      • "You Debt Your Life": Roger (who's staying at a YMCA men's locker room) cries over Stan replacing him with Andy Dick. He reaches for something to wipe his tears — and gets the end of a towel worn by the faceless man next to him. Roger immediately stops crying as he stares at the man's genitals and suggestively comments, "Good for you."
  • 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?
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man":
    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!
    • Steve's angst over not developing a "big boy butt", his stuffing the seat of his pants to compensate for the lack of shape, and popular members of the opposite sex making dumb jokes about his flat butt? Sounds like the male equivalent of A-Cup Angst doesn't it?
    • When Cyborg Stan and Francine go through a "Chocolate Tunnel of Love" in "May the Best Stan Win", Francine says "I was scared at first, but once I relaxed, I was surprised how much I liked it!"
  • The Doll Episode: The B-story of "Stan's Food Restaurant". Steve dates a girl who owns a doll she believes to be a living person. Naturally, this interferes with all of Steve's attempts to score with her.
  • Don't Sneak Up On Me Like That
  • Donut Mess with a Cop: In Rough Trade, Roger wonders if there's a donut shop nearby when a bunch of cops appear. Stan doesn't get it.
  • Double Entendre: S3 Ep 10, "Tearjerker", a James Bond spoof, features Francine as a Bond girl spoof named Sexpun T'Come.
  • Double Standard: The high majority of Aesops are directed to Stan, and at times Steve (Roger rarely learns but that's more intentional). Francine and Hayley often prove sociopathic, self serving and hypocritical, but are almost always designated as long suffering Straight Men for putting up with Stan, with similar plots even having their agenda flip flopped solely so they are right. This is especially prominent in later seasons, where Stan borders Straw Loser territory.
    • In the episode "Don't Look a Smith Horse in the Mouth" Stan bets fifty grand on a horse to keep his car. While that's not a good reason, at least it was an actual reason. Francine is allowed to be totally angry about it. But in an earlier episode, she did the exact same thing. She bet fifty grand (and lost it) in a street race. Yet she is treated with complete sympathy, while when Stan does it, he's an awful person. In addition, she was betting it for the thrill.
    • Another example is the fact that when Francine's memory was erased Stan spent the entire episode trying to win back her affection. Yet when Stan gets amnesia Francine spent the entire episode brainwashing him to be her ideal husband. Their relationship with their parents could also be considered this. Francine is considered normal and Stan is seen as a huge jerk for not putting up with it. However Stan's relationship with his mother is considered freaky and the audience is meant to sympathize with Francine for having to deal with it.
    • Both have fell victim to the same Aesop about spending time with the family over themselves on separate occasions, however while Stan's case ended with him sacrificing his entire means of alone time to please Francine, Francine's ended with her still getting granted some form of compromise, complete with mock-You Go Girl monologue.
  • Double Standard: Abuse, 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 as it appeared on "COPS: Langley Falls".
    • 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.
      • Actually, the abuse from Bullock's wife was not technically shown as okay since the joke was that Bullock really needed to go to the hospital and Francine was even telling Stan he could. Stan just decided to pick the worst time to stop being the Yes-Man.
  • Double Subversion: Roger likes these.
    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.
    • All of the Steve Subplots end this way, either with him Did Not Get the Girl, ending up in a horrible painful situation, or both.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the episode "The Adventures of Twill Ongenbone And His Boy Jabari", Steve's teacher Mr. Brink kills himself by jumping out of the window after hearing Stan's monologue of wanting to kill himself.
  • 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 forge his own signature on the form.
    Roger: What just happened? Did I win?
  • Dumb Blonde: Judi in "The One That Got Away". Francine from time to time.
  • Dumb Dodo Bird: "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure" introduces "Darren" a dodo bird cloned by the CIA in who has to be constantly kept from getting itself killed. At the end he's struck by lightning and incinerated.
    • Also Francine.
  • Dystopia: Steve and Snot's school prom had a Cyber Punk "Dystopian Nights" theme to it, complete with flaming barrels for warmth scattered among the dark, dingy streets. It was a scene right out of Blade Runner.

    E 
  • Eagleland: 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.
  • Elseworlds: "Hot Water" can be considered one, and "Blood Crieth Unto Heaven" certainly counts.
  • Embarrassing First Name: Schmuely "Snot" Lonstein.
  • 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! (the third part of the Seth MacFarlane cartoon-crossover trilogy) 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.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: When Stan tries searching for Oliver North's gold, Francine tells him it's just a myth, "Like unicorns or speed-reading".
  • Everythings Better With Chocolate: Roger's love of Chocodiles as seen in the pilot episode and "Brains, Brains, and Automobiles."
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: A man assumes Stan's "funny story" about losing his passport involves one, since monkeys are funny.
  • Evil Is Petty: Roger is a living embodiment of this trope. Examples include convincing Steve he was adopted for eating his cookie, trying to blow up the Earth just because Stan insulted him, and trying to kill the entire family when they gave him a birthday roast that he himself asked for.
  • 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 help someone strengthen their core, it turns right back around to bite me!?"
  • Eviler than Thou: In "Decon Stan, Jesus Man", Stan tries to do better than his rival, who presented as so conservative, he makes Stan look sane by comparison.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While not really evil per se, both Stan and Hayley are fanatical in their political views. They are either self-righteous fanatics at best and hypocrites at their worst. But Stan is appalled when it's revealed that Francine's biological parents left her at the airport because their flight didn't allow children (even Klaus — who lived in Germany during its Nazi regime — is disgusted that a couple would just abandon their baby and not feel any remorse) and Hayley herself was shocked when the group of environmentalists she joined were planning to blow up a mall (with Hayley backing out because she doesn't want to kill innocent people just to further her cause).
    • Stan also got another one with Jeff's father. While it is true that Stan despises Jeff through and through, but even he is shocked that his own father not only openly mocks him all the time but also plans to FRAME him for drug smuggling, and GET the reward money from him.
    • Parodied in one episode, when Hayley and Roger got into a battle of making up new personae. Roger claims to be a hitman for the Armenian Mafia and kills Hayley's character; she responds by pretending to be the Armenian matriarch, who coldly informs him that their group doesn't kill women and throws him out.
    • In one episode, Roger's persona split in two just of because how bad he become.
  • Exactly What I Aimed At: Francine invokes this trope in Iced Iced Babies.
  • Exact Words:
    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!"
  • Excited Show Title!: The show is officially titled American Dad!, with the exclamation mark.
  • Expansion Pack Past: Roger. Especially after we find out he's actually been on Earth for over sixty years (he was the alien that crashed in Roswell.)
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Roger, when he isn't playing dress-up.
  • Exposed to the Elements: A one-time character in an episode is a cheerleader in the appropriate outfit asking Steve why he stopped rummaging through her trash. Note how the rest of characters are dressed for winter but not her.
  • Exposition: Lampooned often.
    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!
    • And then in a later episode, we do meet Stan's half-brother... who is a Native American who lives in Arizona.
  • 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.
    • With his rotund stomach, white shirt, and green pants, Barry bares at least a passing resemblance to Seth's own Peter Griffin.
  • Extraverted Nerd: Steve


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