Fan Dumbinvoked: Mostly The Monomaniac, with a hint of Willfully Blind. In one episode, Stan becomes a fanatic of the band My Morning Jacket, revolving his life over them. When Hayley tries to show him other bands, he calls her a "musical slut".
Fanservice: Francine and Stan both fill out the MILF and DILF roles well. Each get their fair share of sexy storylines including Francine as a scantily clad Bond girl in the James Bond spoof "Tearjerker" and Stan becoming a stripper in "G-String Circus". As a matter of fact, the show has a tendency to feature more strippers (both male and female) than any of Seth Mac Farlane's other shows. Special shout outs to Haley who once became a, you guessed it, stripper; a buff Jesus Christ who rises out of a swimming pool in tiny speedos (seriously, they even made sure his bulge moves around while he walked on the water); Greg and Terry who like to relax in speedos; and the blonde waitresses who engage in sexy antics in the background of a diner while Steve and Roger try to write a porno movie.
Fawlty Towers Plot: Done in the space of a few seconds in Lincoln Lover when Stan's homophobia is uncovered:
Bret: Your son stopped by the office today and dropped off this.
[Bret holds up a picture of Stan and Pat Robertson smiling]
Stan: So it's me and hatemonger Pat Robertson. I met him at some party.
[Bret unfolds it; it's an "Anti-Gay Palooza" pamphlet]
Stan: I was just walking through.
[Bret unfolds it again; it was held and funded by Stan]
Stan: It was just a momentary lapse of judgment.
[Bret unfolds it again; it's the seventh annual convention]
Felony Misdemeanor: Stan makes Steve participate in a Vietnam War reenactment in order to make him sing the National Anthem with more passion. After the reenactment, Steve starts acting as if he actually fought in the War when he suffers from "war flashbacks".
In Not Particularly Desperate Housewives:
Francine: MY ROOOOOAAAAST!!!!
In Threat Levels, when Stan is outraged at liberal reporters moving in:
Francine: You're overreacting... Stan: Overreacting?OVERREACTING?! (headbutts a hole in wall)
The CIA generally qualify for this:
Bullock: They're using [our torture budget] to teach inner city kids (sobbing) to read! [Stan, Duper, Jackson and Sanders smash up everything nearby, while Bullock picks up Dick and throws him through a window]
Fetish: Cornerstone of any McFarlane product for quick and easy gags, some examples:
Flanderization: Roger's antics used to be quite varied, relating to his drinking, scheming with Steve, alien biology, watching trashy reality television, etc. Now virtually everything he does is based on his role playing/dress-up obsession.
Truthfully, he still uses his alternative roles on occasion, just his more "out-open" lifestyle requires him to use his dress-ups alongside it.
Originally Principle Lewis had slightly quirky moments every now and then. By the sixth season, he's less a character and more a way to get his voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson to say the weirdest shit the writers can think of. This isn't at all a bad thing. In fact, this is lampshaded by Steve when Lewis offers to sell him a belt buckle depicting Tweety Bird with bloodshot eyes and a joint in his hand, saying "God is Dead". Steve finds it hard to believe that a person like him is an educator. Lewis states that his job as Principal is more Administrative than Educational.
To add on, Principal Lewis had moments where it was implied he had a checkered past, but overall was a responsible and respectable educator. But more recent seasons show him as crazy, drug abusing, and wildly irresponsible.
In the pilot episode, they were used to provide random gags in the same fashion as Family Guy; luckily, after that episode, the writers banned cutaways in an effort to both distinguish the series from its predecessor and to focus on more character-based humor. It worked...though some of the later episodes slip into the kind of bizarre non sequitur that Family Guy was known for (cf. the Pizza Poppers commercial on "A Boy Named Michael")
They broke this rule in "Naked to the Limit, One More Time".
Flashed Badge Hijack: Stan once proclaims "Official CIA business" to do this to a woman and her sports car. Before she can say anything, he grabs her and tosses her out of the car, then drives off. A moment later he returns and throws her wheelchair out next to her before driving off again.
Foil: The relationship between Steve and Roger, with Steve usually being Roger's foil. They are similar in many ways but different enough to inevitably disagree, leading to the derailment of their schemes and usually some kind of fight.
Also Stan and Hayley, who both tend to be similarly minded people on the opposite ends of the political spectrum.
Also Stan and Jeff, who were both raised by really crappy parents in their youth. Stan grew up to be an ultra-conservative, Jerk with a Heart of Gold who tries to take down anything against his morals. Jeff grew up to be a decent (if Cloud Cuckoo Lander and stoner) man, being able to take any levels of abuse and doing anything to help anyone. Naturally, the two will butt heads when trying to interact.
Follow That Car: Hilariously subverted when in one episode, Stan hops into the back of a car intending to follow out the trope as normal, only to find he is in the back seat of his own car.
Foreshadowing: In "Joint Custody", we learn that Stan looked up to his mother as a role model, which he admits set him back quite a bit. It's not until season 3's "Oedipal Panties" that we learn just how far it set him back.
Another, more subtle one occurs in "Finances With Wolves". When stopping the construction equipment from bulldozing a tiny patch of forest, Hayley gets trampled by a herd of wildlife. One of these animals is the wolf that will later cause troubles for Roger and Steve in the episode's B-plot.
Former Teen Rebel: Francine is continuously shown to have been a crazy and promiscuous party girl when she was younger until she met the ultra-Conservative Stan, whereupon The Power of Love made her choose a button-down life instead.
In S2 Ep10 "Bush Comes To Dinner" then-President George W. Bush brings this trope up to Stan after he angrily tells Hayley that she's a lost cause. Bush reveals that he was a very wild party boy when he was younger (which, sadly, is Truth in Television) and that Hayley, due to her rebellious ways, is not a lost cause, but is on the track to becoming President of the United States.
For Want of a Nail: Stan convincing Martin Scorcese in the past to give up drugs forces Stan to jump ahead a few years and shoot Reagan to prevent the USSR from taking over the USA.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Roger's golden turd is visible in the new title sequence (from Season 4 on).
Friend to All Living Things: Francine has a singing version in "In Country... Club" which is then subverted when she drowns the bird singing with her.
Furry Fandom: Referenced during a sequence in One Little Word
"I'm a squirrel and that feels fantastic."
Future Imperfect: How Stan imagines life after his death in Stanny Slickers II: The Legend Of Ollie's Gold.
Gag Boobs: In Helping Handis, some CIA-supplied steroids cause Steve, and later Stan, to sprout comically large breasts. And yes, it's both hilarious and extremely Squicky.
Gay Conservative: Explored extensively in Lincoln Lover, where Greg is revealed to be a Log Cabin Republican... and Stan temporarily becomes one.
Geek Reference Pool: Pretty much every stereotypical geek interest that's out there, Steve has been shown as being into it at some point.
Geeky Turn-On: Akiko trick-or-treats as Chun Li which Steve finds very... happy. Though given Chun Li's general attire, it may be a turn on in general.
Steve: Hommina hommina hommina BONER!
Gender Incompetence: Averted for the most part. Stan is actually a pretty intelligent and efficient operative in many aspects, but is prone to making snap decisions and his judgement can often be clouded by his political views. Meanwhile Francine is (usually) more rational and has noticeable hidden talents and intellect, but something of a Cloud Cuckoo Lander. Likewise, neither Hayley nor Steve seems especially more intelligent or competent than the other.
Gene Hunting: In Big Trouble in Little Langley, Stan gets tired of dealing with Francine's adoptive Chinese parents and goes searching for her biological parents.
Generation Xerox: Stan and Hayley. Despite being polar opposites in their political and social views, they're exactly the same. They're both controlling, obsessed with being right, and tend to treat their partners like crap.
Snot: If only we could thank that magic, mystery underwear salesman. Steve: Oh, I don't think we've seen the last of him... [Cut to the salesman sitting in a boxcar train, pale and with a needle hanging out of his arm; he falls out of the train and into a river, where he sinks.]
Goth: Debbie Hyman (see Perky Goth below) is the de facto leader of a brood of goths, who haunt a candlelit stairwell. And believe that dancing to Joy Division is enough to halt a stampede of jocks.
Grail in the Garbage: In "Return of the Bling," Roger finds what is apparently the One Ring near the site of a plane crash...and then promptly throws it away.
Roger: "It turns you invisible in the middle of nowhere? What good is that? Where were you when I farted at Danny's wedding?"
Grandfather Clause: The "Terror Alert" indicator on the family Fridge is a relic from the 2000s, but is still there in the 2010s despite the fact that Obama retired it. In newer episodes it's missing it's arrow as a subtle joke.
Gratuitous Spanish: That weird song Roger listens to during the chase scene in Roy Rogers McFreely, which is set to the tune of the Mexican Hat Dance and full of nonsensical Spanish phrases.
Grey and Gray Morality: Stan vs his Conscious in "Cock of the Sleepwalk" while killing 100 people had clearly effected Stan as he himself Lampshaded the fact that Good Stan was too nice since he got Stan fired there was no money coming in to supplement the excessive amount he was giving away. In the end itís hard to know who to root for as while Stan did intentionally put his family in danger to prove a point. Good Stanís approach would have eventually ruined them financially.
This also leads to another Broken Aesop about how Stan is the only one in the family who isnít allowed to spend money excessively.
Groin Attack: Stan and Steve are subjected to one every now and then.. usually by each other for ruining a father-son moment by mentioning it. Stan's special CIA martial arts training specifically focuses on kicking people in the groin.
Francine chops Stan in the nuts when the two of them playfully dash down the stairs to go answer the door. She said he answered it the last time, and it was her turn.
Stan: *huddled over in pain on the floor* Punk!
Also invoked in Stanny-Boy and Frantastic about four times.
Growling Gut: This happens to Stan, Roger, and Hideki in "Independent Movie," not from hunger, but because their guts were telling them how to be successful in their new invention idea.
It happens to Roger again at the beginning of "Wheels and the Legman and the Mystery of Grandpa's Key" due to the restaurant Roger ate at prior to the episode.
Tom: He's right, you can't see a guy get hit in the groin and not laugh.
Guns Akimbo: Roger vs. the drug dealers. Stan has done the double once or twice too. Francine even dual wields machetes in the pilot. ("If I die you must protect the clan!")
Tom: He's right, you can't see a guy get hit in the groin and not laugh.
Hair Trigger Sound Effect: A wolf howl could be heard every time a character mentioned Karl Rove *howl* during "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man". Stan and Steve can both hear it, flashing a look of wonder and worry in their eyes.
Hand Wave: Stan has an extreme fear of seagulls. The plot of Choosey Wives Choose Smith requires him to interact extensively with seagulls. How to solve the problem?
Roger: Aren't you scared of seagulls? Stan: Oh, I got over that. (casually takes a bite out of a seagull)
Happily Married: Hayley and Jeff. The events of the 2010 Christmas episode indicate it may actually last.
By the end of season 6, this one has been averted and played straight in regards to status quo. Averted in that they're still married and have overcome a few marital issues, and played straight in that the show rarely brings up the fact that they are indeed married (on the infrequent occasions that Hayley and Jeff even appear at all). It's shown that Jeff has seemed to move in with the Smiths, and sleeps in Hayley's room, but most of the time he's nowhere to be seen.
Happiness in Slavery: Paco and his entire family while working far below minimum wage in Stan's American Dream Factory. Notably, the relationship changes from Stan not caring to one of great appreciation when he sees how much they love his country, whereby he decides to do them a favour.
Happy Holidays Dress: The blue, winter themed dress the Ghost of Christmas Past (formerly a tooth fairy) wears.
Healing Hands: Spoofed in the pilot when Roger reveals his race have no such ability. ("And don't expect me to bring him back with that E.T. finger thing because that's a giant load of crap!")
Healing Potion: Roger uses one on Stan to regrow his legs, after they've been bitten off by a polar bear.note Season 6, episode 12, "You Debt Your Life".
Hentai: Referenced in the episode Iced, Iced Babies, where Stan goes to have a vasectomy from a Japanese company, and is asked if he wants to bank some sperm just in case; in addition to a sample cup, Stan is offered two magazines: "Buxom Octopus Woman" and "Disobedient School Prefect".
In another episode Stan hides in a whale skeleton:
Stan: Let me outta here! *holds up a squid* Squidface does horrible things to me during lights out! Unspeakable things!
Hillbilly Moonshiner: One of the Christmas specials has Roger learning how to make moonshine from a hillbilly named Bob Todd after his alcoholism gets so bad that the stuff at the liquor store can't satisfy him. The liquor store clerk told him the guy was a blind four-armed satyr, which he isn't but the hallucinations from his booze make him look like that.
"Just look at Helen Keller. Deaf, dumb and blind, and she wrote that whole diary in her little attic during World War II. She doesn't sound so dumb to me."
Historical In-Joke: Ever wondered if George Washington Carver really invented peanut butter? See Black Mystery Month. There are other allusions throughout the show too, such as the truth behind Ollie North's gold, Reagan's assassination attempt and the rise and fall of disco music in the 1970s.
Also played with in The Best Christmas Story Never. Stan goes back in time to stop Jane Fonda from ruining Christmas and inadvertently sets in motion a chain of events which leads to America being taken over by the Soviets. To put the timeline right, he must shoot President Reagan.
In this universe, Francine, after having a one-night stand with apparently the entire band, inspired Dexys Midnight Runners to write the song "Come on Eileen" (they couldn't remember her name).
Hoist by His Own Petard: In one episode, Hayley needs internship credits and works at Roger's bar in the attic; when Roger refuses to sign her papers, the two get into an Instant Costume Change battle, rapidly cycling through personas. Hayley resolves the conflict by dressing as Roger and saying "I'll never sign your form, Hayley!", prompting Roger to dress as Hayley and say "Well then I'll just forge your signature!" After she walks off with the signed form, Roger asks "What just happened? Did I win?"
In "May the Best Stan Win", Stan defeats Cyborg Stan using one of the ludicrous made-up martial arts moves that Cyborg Stan taught him to keep Stan busy so he could try to steal Francine.
Homage: Steve's plan in Bar Mitzvah Shuffle is presented in the exact same fashion as plans are presented in Ocean's Eleven.
The poison drinking scene in With Friends Like Steve's is a direct nod to The Princess Bride.
In I Can't Stan You, Stan sends people to the corn field motel when he overhears them criticizing him.
The plot of Hot Water references Little Shop of Horrors, made obvious by the name of the store Stan buys the tub from - Little Shop Of Hot Tubs.
House Wife: Francine is an extreme parody of this. In the Thanksgiving episode she was obsessed with having the most number of burners on her stove, and upon entering an enormous magnificent mansion, all she can think about are the burners.
Ho Yay: An In-Universe example kicks off the plot of "Lincoln Lover"; Stan makes a play about Lincoln's bodyguard. He intends the characters to be Heterosexual Life-Partners but includes lines like "I was his bodyguard...and he was my everything!" and ends with him recreating the famous scene from The Bodyguard with Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You" playing. It's a smash hit with the local gay Log Cabin Republicans.
Francine: (Hugging Roger) Oh, Roger! You're back. Roger: And you're starting to get lunch lady arms.
Hugh Mann: After tricking Stan into switching bodies in "Da Flippity-Flop," Klaus claims that he'll be able to flawlessly impersonate him. However, after saying only "Hi!" to Francine and Hayley, they immediately know what's happened.
Hurricane of Puns: Frequent in Wheels and the Legman parts, such as when they interrogate Klaus:
Roger: Something about your story seems... fishy. Steve: [...] Klaus, youíre going to face the scales of Lady Justice! Roger: We know youíre gill-ty! Steve: Like it or not, fish, youíre on the hook for this one! Roger: Your days of crime are H2Over! Steve: That doesn't even make sense! Roger: Fish live in water!
Even brought back up in their own episode "The Case of Grandpaís Key"; Stan plays a Composite Character of Wheels and The Legman. Since he is Steveís dad and he rides a novelty unicycle, he names his character PoppaWheelie.
Hypocritical Humor: Barry has commented on Debbie's weight a few times and once said that fat people disgusted him.
"We get it! You're a Jewish farmer!" Says Toshi, whose entire bit of humor centers around him playing out every Japanese stereotype imaginable.
"A world without children. Future generations will thank us."
Hayley herself is Not So Different from her dad in the early seasons. In one episode, she complains about how the mall is making people materialistic, greedy, and corporate as she complains it in her blackberry.
In "Stannie Get Your Gun," Stan and his NRA buddies recite a pledge about how they will always be vigilant in protecting their neighbors, while Terry is outside pleading for help as someone makes away with his CD collection.
Francine:"Oh, has my pie fairy godmother finally arrived? ...Hayley?" Hayley:"Mom! It's not what it looks like.. Uhh, I was cooking meth!" Francine:"Oh really? Then where's your muriatic acid?"
In Phantom Of The Telethon, when Stan and co get excited about torturing a terrorist:
Stan: I get to strap him to the waterboard! Dick: I get the car battery! Saunders: I wanna slather him in oil and make love to him all night long! [he realizes people are looking] Oh, I'm on the phone.
I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Francine uses this trope several times in S5 Ep07, "My Morning Straitjacket" to get Stan backstage at a concert. A montage shows her flirting and flashing her way past several levels of security (including a lesbian security guard).
"I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Played with nicely in Haylias, in which a brainwashed Hayley turns on Stan and chases him back to their house. Stan tries to reason with her as she hold him at gunpoint, making a last gambit with a heartfelt confession and apology on trying to control her happiness. It fails, she proceed to shoot him anyway mid-sentence. Luckily for Stan, he manages to survive with just a concussion, with the brush of death he had allowing the program in Hayley to be completed and bringing her back to normal with no memory of the true reason she was trying to kill him.
Idiot Ball: In "Stannie Get Your Gun," Stan stages a robbery at the house to motivate Hayley into firing a gun. It all goes smoothly...until Stan and the "robber" celebrate their successful ploy right in front of the house. Where Hayley can clearly see and hear them.
In "Stan of Arabia", Francine goes to jail for a variety of Muslim related charges (revealing too much skin, singing, dancing etc) ALL of which could have been easily avoided had Francine retained some of that common sense she usually has
Indecisive Parody: Several episodes don't seem to know whether to play the Aesop straight or mock it. Almost any episode involving Hayley and Roger heavily lampshades their hypocrisy and Jerkass tendencies for laughs for example, but Stan learning to respect them is still usually played straight.
Injury Bookend: In "Stannie Get Your Gun," Stan is paralyzed from being shot. After some hijinks and character development, he gets shot again, which cures his paralysis.
Imagine Spot: Director Bullock has one of these in the season five episode, G-String Circus:
Incest Subtext: Hoooo boy. Virtually every member of the Smith household has had at least one scene built on this trope, and more often than not it's a great deal more than subtext. Comes to a head in "Virtual In-Stan-ity" when Stan takes control of a (robot)girl's body and tries to sleep with Steve (!) to get closer to him.
Incurable Cough of Death: Hayley coughs early in Tears of a Clooney; minutes later, she is suddenly stricken with cancer (though she ultimately beats it).
What makes it more conspicious is that in Family Guy, Patrick Stewart has appeared as himself in Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, as Jean-Luc Picard in at least one Cutaway Gag, and as Avery Bullock in a dream sequence, and in all cases the character model was exactly the same: no changes at all apart from clothing, proving once and for all that Avery Bullock is Patrick Stewart in everything but name, parodying himself to great effect.
There are also some cameos by some people that work on the show. Those scientists about five tropes up? The one in the mech is Mike Barker and the other is Matt Weitzman, the co-creators of the show.
And Snot's name and design are based on his voice actors most famous role, Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.
Inner Monologue: Crops up more than average, especially in episodes centering on Stan.
Innocent Innuendo: Or not so innocent. When Stan's teammate, Jim, uses his The Casanova skills to seduce his way out of the bad guys' hideout and to safety. When Stan gets home, he hugs his wife.
Stan (still hugging): If I smell at all like sex it's because of Jim. (Francine opens her eyes and gets an odd look on her face) Stan: His hips never stopped moving as we porked our way through 200 miles of jungle. It was magnificent.
"This is the only photo from our honeymoon where you can't see Vag. [beat] Ah, Vag, the little island boy who served as our tour guide."
In Stanny Tendergrass Steve throws out half of a can of soda and tries to justify it:
Steve: I don't like the last half, it's not as effervescent. Nope, the bottom's not for me; I'm what they call a top. [Roger's eyes widen]
Also, Steve and Klaus, at times. One time Steve got the "ick" from "spending time" with Klaus.
Intoxication Ensues: During a daring escape from a burning barn full of dope in Joint Custody this happens to Stan and Roger, who ride out the episode with some hilarious stoner behaviour, and manage to resolve the plot by accident.
Invaded States of America: One episode has a Set Back What Once Went Wrong plot where it is shown that a Walter Mondale presidency would have resulted in the Soviets perpetrating a full-scale conquest of America. Stan has to help the president he idolizes, Ronald Reagan, prevent this turn of history, but the method of fixing history is not one that he will enjoy...
In another episode, a cyborg Stan from the future mentions that Canada and Mexico will team-up to invade the US.
Invoked Trope: When an awkward fight between Stan, Steve, and Stan's dad starts in the kitchen, Francine points out that this is when Klaus would usually come in and say something funny for comic relief, the joke being that he doesn't make it until the end of the scene, despite Francine's repeated invoking.
And in Iced, Iced Babies, Roger wants to discuss an intellectual article, but Francine and Stan point out that Roger is only good for spitting out cutesy one-liners and that he's "the Adam Sandler of the house."
I Owe You My Life: Stan owes Roger a life debt after he saves him at Area 51. It's finally repaid (twice) in the episode You Debt Your Life, however.
I Should Write a Book About This: The final episode of the show's run on Fox note "Blagsnarst, A Love Story" literally ended with Stan finish reading a book titled "American Dad! on Fox".
Issue Drift: Inverted; the show has arguably become less political than originally intended, though it's still pretty heavy on it.
I Told You So: The episode "Four Little Words" centers on Stan's increasingly over-the-top efforts to keep from having to hear this from Francine.
It's a Wonderful Plot: The "Dreaming Of A White Porsche Christmas" episode is this doubly over. First, Stan wishes he could live Principal Lewis' life, only to find out he's no longer married to Francine and Steve and Hayley are no longer his kids. Stan figures he has to "learn a lesson" in order for the wish to be undone. True to plot, Stan ends up realizing how important his family is, and an angel shows up to restore things... only Stan is reunited with an entirely different family, Klaus is a normal fish, and Roger lives with them under the guise of a mall optometrist. It turns out this new family is Stan's actual family, while Francine, Hayley, Steve, and Klaus were part of a previous attempt at this trope and thus the "cautionary family." Turns out the original angel in charge of Stan's first lesson died before it could things were set straight and Stan forgot all about his original family. The problem is that Stan actually wants Francine and the others back.
Tank Bates, Terry's father. Tank understands completely that homosexuality is not a choice and he is still disgusted by it. Tank doesn't care how much stress it caused Terry to keep his homosexuality from him, wishes he never knew, and proceeds to act like Terry doesn't exist when he's finally been outted. Conversely, this episode plus later ones involving Stan's father have resulted in Stan and Terry being fairly amicable with each other.
Jesus Was Way Cool: In a Christmas episode, the Rapture occurs and Stan and Francine were left behind. Jesus comes back to lead people against the Anti Christ. He doesn't have his superpowers (except for being able to withstand freezing temperatures and Walk on Water), but it's still a badass. He's hunky and charismatic and actually front flips onto the Anti Christ's shoulder and snaps his neck with his thighs. He's also allowed to date this time and Stan calls him the best guy Francine could ever end up with.
Jump Scare: Twice in Best Little Horror House In Langley Falls involving Buckle's haunted house and its setup
Just Between You and Me: Lampshaded in For Black Eyes Only, the sequel episode to Tearjerker. Black Villain has Stan all tied up on a conveyor belt, and casually asks him if he wants to hear about his convoluted evil plan before he kills him. Stan eagerly says "Sure!", and Black Villain turns on a video at a conveniently placed TV next to him.