open/close all folders
- Face Full of Alien Wing-Wong: An early Running Gag replaced by New Powers as the Plot Demands.
- Failed Attempt at Drama: "I'M LOOKING FOR PEACHES!"
- "DIFFERENT TYPES OF SANDWICHES!"
Toshi: [in Japanese, subtitled] Are we talking online or the real deal?
- In the episode "Roger Passes the Bar", an attractive young woman named Charlotte comes to the Smiths' door. She tells Steve (and his friends) that she's legally required to inform her new neighbors that she's a registered sex offender. In her own words, she's done "an insane amount of stuff [with boys]."
Charlotte: [in Japanese, subtitled] As real as snow melting on bamboo.
Stan: That's not how a straight guy faints. This is how a straight guy faints! [faceplants]
- Towards the end of "A Jones for a Smith", Stan costs Steve a chance to be with a beautiful girl in his class named Jeanine. Her father orders Steve and his family to leave their house after Stan ruins dinner, and Jeanine shows them out by bending her leg around the back of her neck and pointing out the exit with her foot. Steve immediately faints.
- The episode "Daddy Queerest" sees Stan reveal to Terry's homophobic father that Terry is gay. Terry, in response to being outed, faints in a stereotypically feminine fashion, and Stan, drunk off his ass, calls him out on it.
- Fairytale Wedding Dress: Hayley when she was Brainwashed.
- Fall Back Marriage Pact: Turns out Stan has one with his dentist in case he ends up outliving Francine.
- Family-Unfriendly Aesop: In "Can I Be Frank (With You)", the ending invokes this In-Universe with guest star Jon Hamm talking about how domestic "disputes" are none of your damn business, so keep your eyes down and don't get involved.
- Fan Dumb: 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 MacFarlane's other shows. Special shout outs to Hayley 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]Stan: [beat] My mind's a blank.
- Faux Affably Evil: Roger when he's in a manipulative mood. He can act nice if he wants to be at times, before stabbing you in the back and/or abandoning you.
- 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]
- Bullock has a Groin Attack fetish.
- While it's never explicitly stated to be such, Steve has a recurring fascination with robotic women that is usually treated as a real character trait rather than a joke.
- In the episode "I Am The Walrus", Principal Lewis says that he works at the pottery center to pay for his watch fetish.Principal Lewis: Now, if only I could tell time...
- In "Hot Tub" Stan pays quite a lot of attention to Francine's feet...Cee Lo Green: Now he's got lady foot in his mouth!
- Bullock has a Groin Attack fetish.
- 555: The call-in number for the CIA's donation line in "Phantom of the Telethon"Also, Roger's pretend psychiatrist number in "Widowmaker".
- Film Noir: "Star Trek" (title of Season 2, Episode 8) includes a soft trumpet theme in the background, a (seemingly) Posthumous Narration, and heavy references to Sunset Blvd.
- 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.
- His Jerk Ass traits also got Flanderized to sociopathic extremes.
- Steve's obsession with losing his virginity and bratty nature became his defining traits by the 9th season.
- Francine's bitchiness borders on Lois Griffin levels in later seasons primarily if the episode doesn't focus on her.
- Originally, Principal Brian Lewis was portrayed as a fairly confident educator despite having a somewhat checkered past. By the sixth season, he's often portrayed as crazy, drug abusing, and wildly irresponsible and less of a character and more a way to get his voice actor Kevin Michael Richardson to say the weirdest shit the writers can think of. In fact, the show often lampshades that he shouldn't be in the occupation that he's in especially when they've gone as far as to imply that he's also a pedophile!
- Klaus (and Hayley to a lesser degree) became more of a Butt Monkey over time as the show scaled back on how much screentime he would get.
- At this point, Stan is as dumb as Peter Griffin which stems from him falling victim to Aesop Amnesia and how his antics put his family in danger every other episode. Recent episodes have also had him doing and saying things that one would expect from Peter.
- Just like with Lewis, Bullock's Cloud Cuckoo Lander tendencies became much more profound as the series went on. To the point where in later seasons he now feels less like a character and more like an excuse for the writers to have Patrick Stewart say the most insane and asinine crap that they can think of (and expect the audience to laugh simply because the joke is that Picard is the ones saying these lines).
- 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.
- Flag Bikini: Obama in a flag speedo on the episode "An Incident at Owl Creek."
- Flashback Cut: Used to embellish character backstories mostly.
- In the pilot episode, they were used to provide random gags in the same fashion as Family Guy; luckily, after that episode, the writers banned cutaways in an effort to both distinguish the series from its predecessor and to focus on more character-based humor. It worked... Though somewhere around either the 7th or 8th seasons, later episodes would slip back into the kind of bizarre non sequiturs that Family Guy was known for (such as the Pizza Poppers commercial on "A Boy Named Michael" and Oh Mama! on "Fight and Flight").
- 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.
- "42-Year-Old Virgin" has Stan trying to enter a carnival to catch up with the villain of the episode, a child molester who's kidnapped Steve and his friends, and arguing with the ticket booth to be let in. After driving to the store, buying a can of soda, driving back, and chugging the entire thing to get a discount on the ticket, his CIA buddies and Roger arrive, the former two getting in for free by simply flashing their CIA badges (to which Stan replies "that bums me out"). Then it's taken to parodying lengths when Roger follows them in by simply flashing his wallet and identifying himself as a wallet-owner.
- 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 realize after a second he's in the back seat of his own car.
- Forgot I Could Fly: Stan frequently seems to forget that he's carrying a gun.
- Forgotten Anniversary: The episode "Francine's Flashback" is about the second time Stan forgot his anniversary.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: In "All About Steve", Roger is so desperate for human contact that the only place he can go outside the house is a sci-fi convention. This was before he became a master of disguise.
- Foreshadowing: In "Joint Custody", we learn that Stan looked up to his mother as a role model, 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 Ep 10 "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 Scorsese 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. Specifically the timeline of changed events is: Stan convinces Scorsese to give up drugs, meaning he never makes Taxi Driver. Meaning John Hinkley, Jr. never becomes obsessed with Jodie Foster, and so never tries to assassinate Ronald Reagan to impress her. Reagan, in turn, loses his re-election to Walter Mondale due to not having the added popularity from surviving an assassination attempt. And Mondale, in turn, hands the United States over to the Soviet Union two months into his Presidency.
- Framing the Guilty Party: Sort of used in one episode, when a series of improbable events happened to make Stan look like a wife-beating child molester. Stan's solution was to find somebody who, while innocent, deserved the punishment anyway. They wound up framing it on a co-worker of Roger's who had screwed him over. The fact that the police found (legal) neo-Nazi apparel—and that the detective in charge of the case was a Holocaust survivor—was a rather handy bonus.
- Another bonus: Stan specifically describes his plan in a way that seems to point to the U.S. overthrowing Saddam Hussein, who likewise deserved to get overthrown even though he was innocent of the specific crime he was accused of.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: Roger's golden turd is visible in the new title sequence (from Season 4 on).
- French Maid Outfit: Francine wears one in "A Smith in the Hand". A blonde stripper wears a similar outfit to Francine's in "Stan Knows Best".
- 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".Partygoer: "I'm a squirrel and that feels fantastic."
- Full-Name Ultimatum:
- Hayley, Stan, and Francine all address Steve as "Steven Anita Smith" at different times, when they're pissed at him.
- Francine addresses her daughter as "Hayley Dreamsmasher Smith"'s excessive piercings in "Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie's Gold".
- Roger invokes this trope strangely in "Office Spaceman". While pretending to be "photographer Parker Peters," he's hired by the CIA.Bullock: [to Stan] You'll be answering to Peters now. Give him anything he needs.
Roger: What's your name?
Stan: [bitter] ... Stan.
Roger: Hmm... I already know a "Stan." I'm gonna call you "Mortimer." Now run and fix me a coffee, Mortimer. [beat] ... today, Mortimer James! [to Bullock] I add the middle name when I'm disappointed in him.
- Future Imperfect: How Stan imagines life after his death in "Stanny Slickers II: The Legend Of Ollie's Gold".
- Gag Boobs: In "Helping Handis", some CIA-supplied steroids cause Steve, and later Stan, to sprout comically large breasts. And yes, it's both hilarious and extremely Squicky.
- Gay Conservative: Explored extensively in "Lincoln Lover", where Greg is revealed to be a Log Cabin Republican... and Stan temporarily becomes one.
- Geek: Steve, Barry, Snot and Toshi are a Four Man Band comprised entirely of geeks who adore Dungeons & Dragons, Star Trek, and World of Warcraft-esque computer games. Thankfully the show doesn't resort to making any one of them a full-time Butt Monkey.
- Geek Reference Pool: Pretty much every stereotypical geek interest that's out there, Steve has been shown as being into it at some point.
- Geeky Turn-On: Akiko trick-or-treats as Chun-Li, which Steve finds very... happy. Though given Chun-Li's general attire, it may be a turn on in general.Steve: Hommina hommina hommina BONER!
- Gender Incompetence: Averted for the most part. Stan is actually a pretty intelligent and efficient operative in many aspects, but is prone to making snap decisions and his judgement can often be clouded by his political views. Meanwhile Francine is (usually) more rational and has noticeable hidden talents and intellect, but something of a 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.
- The Generalissimo: Roger briefly impersonates one of these.
- Generation Xerox: Stan and Hayley. Despite being polar opposites in their political and social views, they're exactly the same. They're both controlling, obsessed with being right, and tend to treat their partners like crap.
- Genre Blindness: Steve, who lies on the opposite side of the Idealism-Cynicism scale to the rather dark series; for example, during the conclusion of "Brains, Brains, and Automobiles":Snot: If only we could thank that magic, mystery underwear salesman.
Steve: Oh, I don't think we've seen the last of him...
[Cut to the salesman sitting in a boxcar train, pale and with a needle hanging out of his arm; he falls out of the train and into a river, where he sinks.]
- Gentle Touch vs. Firm Hand:
- Season 6 "Son of Stan", follows this conflict point by point when Stan and Francine fight over how to raise Steve. They decide things by creating a clone of Steve called Stevearino and raising each their way. Under Francine's lenience, Steve becomes a lazy, ungrateful, entitled Jerk Ass, while under Stan's hardness, Stevearino becomes a murderous psychopath. Naturally, the two come to see the value in each others' parenting style, and agree to work together more.
- Season 7 "Gorillas in the Mist" sees Stan deciding to go the excessively Gentle Touch route and treat Steve as more of a buddy than a son. Eventually, he learns that parents cannot afford to be Better as Friends with their kid, since they have to shape their well-being, and regains his Firm Hand.
- George Jetson Job Security: Stan has been suspended or lost his CIA job several times, yet he's always right back at work the very next episode. Sometimes it's explained in-story, sometimes it isn't.
- The Ghost:
- Gwen, the biological daughter of Francine's adoptive parents. Based off what we've heard she's very attractive (Stan calls her "Hot Gwen"), but also very stupid. She finally appears in the episode "Now and Gwen", and is indeed beautiful but more larcenous than stupid.
- For a long time, Bullock's wife fit this trope, though she was eventually seen in "One Little Word".
- Gibberish of Love: In "The Scarlett Getter", Stan meets his very attractive former colleague Scarlett Reynolds after 20 years without having seen her. He's so enamored with her that most of what he says to her consists of nonsense and/or disparaging comments about his wife Francine and their marriage:Scarlett: Are you still working at the CIA?
Stan: Hardly working or am I hard? I'm hard! How are you?
Scarlett: Great. I left the agency after boot camp, and I know I work in the private sector.
Stan: [laughs nervously] Privates!
Scarlett: You look great. We've gotta catch up!
Stan: Come over for dinner! I'm married, but most people get divorced these days! [laughs nervously]
- Gilligan Cut: In the episode "Kiss Kiss, Cam Cam", Stan and Francine attend a baseball game together, but have trouble finding things they both like at the concession stand.Francine: How about these gender-neutral pink baseball caps?
Stan: [laughs] You're hilarious! [continues laughing]
[cut to Stan and Francine in their seats, each wearing one of the pink caps]
- Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: Subverted in the episode "Star Trek":Steve: [narrating] I had rooms filled with the finest antiquities. Rooms devoted to girl-on-girl action. [Steve walks into a room with two beautiful, scantily-clad women playing a game of chess] ... scintillating.
- Glad I Thought of It: The CIA telethon episode.
- A Glitch in the Matrix: In "The Vacation Goo", Francine thinks the fact that Steve has an attractive girlfriend is proof that she's not in the real world.
- Godwin's Law: Invoked by car salesman who's just been framed by Stan, and revealed to be a member of the Aryan Brotherhood:Car salesman: What do you think this is, Nazi Germany? Oh wait, that'd be AWESOME!
- Going Native: Stan often ends up going full throttle into any subculture he is thrust towards, such as illegal street racing or gay lifestyle. Francine lampshades this in "Stan of Arabia".
- Gone Horribly Right:
- In "The Boring Identity", Francine gets Stan to act kinder and more sensitive by telling him that he's a wonderfully nice person (as opposed to the Jerk with a Heart of Gold, at best, that he really is) after he suffers from amnesia. The plan works perfectly... until Stan breaks up with Francine because he feels they're not compatible.
- "The Missing Kink" focuses on Francine's attempts to open Stan's mind sexually after he refuses to spank her in bed because it's "sinful." She succeeds, and Stan becomes crazed with sexual passion to the point where there's apparently nothing he won't try.Stan: I've got to bring Francine home and let her know I've found my kink!
Roger: I'm proud of you, Stan. So, which kink is it?
Stan: All of them!
- Discussed in the episode "Vision: Impossible", after Roger gains psychic powers, and his desire for the family to take him seriously come to fruition.
- Gonk: The Summoner from "Lost in Space."
- Good People Have Good Sex: Stan and Francine seem to have a healthy, active sex life. Although Stan doesn't believe in the female orgasm.
- Gorn: Has indulged in this during the mid-2010s, though thankfully not as much as Family Guy, though time will tell whether or not it goes too far.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: In "Ricky Spanish":Roger: What the Dickens? I thought you knocked him out, Daniel. [shaking fist] WHAT THE DICKENS?!
- Goth: Debbie Hyman (see Perky Goth below) is the de facto leader of a brood of goths, who haunt a candlelit stairwell, and believe that dancing to Joy Division is enough to halt a stampede of jocks.
- 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 its arrow as a subtle joke.
- Granola Girl: Hayley.
- 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.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: One newspaper gag reads "Girlfriend Dumped After Asking 'Who's in World Series Bowl?'"
- Grey and Gray Morality: Stan vs his conscience in "Cock of the Sleepwalk". 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.Francine: Cup check!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.
- 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!")
- Gun Twirling:
- Of all the characters in the show to employ this trope, it's not the trigger happy Stan or any of his CIA co-workers. In the episode "Lincoln Lover", Greg performs a song and dance about how people such as himself can be both gay and Republican. He twirls revolvers that he uses to light a candle, explaining that, per the theme of the song, he likes guns (Republican values) and also scented candles (gay culture values).
- Roger goes through a "fashion montage" in the episode "Joint Custody", trying to decide which alien bounty hunter character he should use while hunting down Jeff. He dresses up as Boba Fett, Greedo, and a Predator. While dressed as Boba Fett, he twirls his gun while looking at himself in the mirror.
- 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?Stan: Hey, there is good news. I overcame my fear of seagulls. [casually takes a bite out of a dead 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
- Henpecked Husband: Buckle the Mountain Man, married to Shari.
- 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's skeleton:Stan: Let me outta here! [holds up a dead squid] Squidface does horrible things to me during lights out! Unspeakable things!
- Highly Conspicuous Uniform: Stan, in a strange variation. He doesn't wear non-camouflaged clothes when the opposite would be appropriate; he wears camouflage or monochrome uniforms in situations during which they don't help at all. Stan is married to his job, so it comes through in his everyday life when he sometimes dresses like a soldier to accomplish mundane tasks. In the episode "Widowmaker", for example, he changes into an all-black sneaking suit with a balaclava while trying to avoid being seen by Francine and her friend while they're talking in the kitchen, even though it's the middle of the day. Unsurprisingly, Francine notices Stan in the room without even looking in his direction.
- 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.
- Historical Character Confusion: Stan tries to encourage his son and says:Stan: 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.
- 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.
- "Independent Movie" is a bit of this and a bit of Deconstructive Parody to American independent movies. They use tropes and cliche plots(the plot of the story being basically Steve and his friends decide to take Snot in a road trip to get to his distant father's funeral) to play with them, but also takes it's care including shots and sequences that wouldn't be in any other episode but this one.
- Housewife: Francine is an extreme parody of this. In the Thanksgiving episode she was obsessed with having the most number of burners on her stove, and upon entering an enormous magnificent mansion, all she can think about are the burners.
- 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.
- Hug and Comment: Roger does this to Francine.Francine: [hugging Roger] Oh, Roger! You're back.
Roger: And you're starting to get lunch lady arms.
- 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.
- Humongous Mecha:
- In "Rough Trade", complete with Billions of Buttons. Stan has no hope of piloting it, since his manual was destroyed by monkeys. Monkeys with amazing hair.
- Francine has also has an encounter with one in "1600 Candles" when she uses brownies as leverage and excites Stan's co-worker.
- Francine uses one to fight Stan's teenage female avatar during the episode "Virtual In-Stanity".
- 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!
- Hypocrite: In "100 A.D.", Francine is beyond pissed off when she finds out that Jeff Fischer is willing to break up with Hayley for $50,000. In a previous episode ("Chimdale"), Francine almost let Hayley die for $1,800.
- 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.
- 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, and demands that the family text her on her sidekick when they're done shopping.
- 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.
- I Call It "Vera": Stan's gun's name is Gun.
- I Banged Your Mom: Used as a Running Gag when Stan becomes Steve's bully to toughen him up. Done to the point that even Francine does it, referring to herself.
- I Can Explain:Francine: Oh, has my pie fairy godmother finally arrived? ... Hayley?
Hayley: Mom! It's not what it looks like. I was cooking meth!
Francine: Oh really? Then where's your muriatic acid?
Stan: I get to strap him to the waterboard!
- In "Phantom Of The Telethon", when Stan and co get excited about torturing a terrorist:
Dick: I get the car battery!
Sanders: I wanna slather him in oil and make love to him all night long! [he realizes people are looking] Oh, I'm on the phone.
- If I Wanted X, I Would Y
- I Have Boobs, You Must Obey!: Francine uses this trope several times in S5 Ep 07, "My Morning Straitjacket" to get Stan backstage at a concert. A montage shows her flirting and flashing her way past several levels of security (including a lesbian security guard).
- I Have No Son:
- Stan disowns Steve upon realizing that he is a total Geek. He's also done the same to Hayley more than once.
- Inverted when they think Roger died, Stan acts like a jerk about it, and Steve shouts "I have no father!"
- I Just Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
- While Stan doesn't exactly treat Francine brilliantly a lot of the time, whenever he believes she may be happier with someone else he is willing to let her go. Naturally it always works out however.
- Hayley plays this trope straight when Snot (believe it or not) breaks up with her.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
- In "Honey, I'm Homeland", Hayley tries to break Stan's radical anti-capitalist brainwashing by reminding him of times that she pissed him off with her leftist, hippie lifestyle, such as when she filled his gas tank with sugar so he'd be forced to bike to work, and when, for Career Day, she told her class that he introduced crack and AIDS to the ghetto.
- 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.
- Taken to literal lengths by Francine towards Stan, who has amnesia, in the episode "The Boring Identity". To help Stan remember that he works for the CIA, she attempts to trigger his self-defense instincts... by pummeling him with punches and kicks, hoping that he'll fight back on reflex alone ("Like in The Bourne Identity!"). He doesn't, and the guests at the wedding they're attending are horrified at Francine's beatdown on Stan.
- Said word for word by Stan to Bond-girl parody Sexpun T'Come in the episode "For Black Eyes Only", after his former wife has been cloned and "Blacked up" in the words of the main antagonist, Black Villain.
- I Never Said It Was Poison: Spoofed in "Black Mystery Month." Steve goes to the museum, only to find that it's a crime scene and the detective gets incredibly suspicious when Steve mentions details that are clearly visible.Detective: I'm afraid the curator has been murdered.
Steve: Oh my God, someone killed him?!
Detective: Funny, I never said he was murdered.
Steve: Yes... yes, you did. God, he's wedged into the mouth of a giant bust of George Washington Carver!
Detective: That's classified, how do you know that?
Steve: Uh, I can see it from here.
[the detective takes half a minute confirming that the body is visible from where Steve is standing]
Detective: Okay, that checks out.
- 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.
- Ignore the Fanservice: In one episode, Francine tries to sweet talk some CIA scientists into giving her a top-secret formula. She tries brushing the straps of her dress off her shoulders, and shimmying off her panties and tossing them at the scientists, but they don't react at all. When she mentions she has brownies, however... BROWNIES!!
- Imagine Spot: Director Bullock has one of these in the season five episode, G-String Circus:Bullock: [to Stan] The "C" in "CIA" doesn't stand for "crestfallen." [to himself] But what if it stood for cat?
- Immediate Self-Contradiction:
- Stan is at a nightclub trying to pick up women in the episode "When a Stan Loves a Woman" (Francine had divorced him so he could have sex with another woman):Stan: [sees a beautiful woman] Target identified. Time to turn on the charm. [walks up to her]
Woman: Hi, I'm—
Stan: INTERCOURSE! I'M GOING TO HAVE INTERCOURSE WITH YOU!
- During the episode "Dungeons and Wagons":Klaus: Please, let me play!
Steve: I don't think you're ready yet.
Klaus: Not ready? I've been watching you for four years!
Steve: Night time! [places a sheet over Klaus' fishbowl]
Klaus: I'm not a parrot! That trick won't work on— [snores]
- Stan is at a nightclub trying to pick up women in the episode "When a Stan Loves a Woman" (Francine had divorced him so he could have sex with another woman):
- 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 laternote , she is suddenly stricken with cancer (though she ultimately beats it).
- 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 lampshade their hypocrisy and Jerkass tendencies for laughs for example, but Stan learning to respect them is still usually played straight.
- Informed Ability: Roger has a Masters degree in City Planning. He can tell you where to build a convention center, but can't tell when he's being played for a fool by a fish.
- 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.
- Ink-Suit Actor:
- Avery Bullock looks more than a little like Patrick Stewart. And you'd never guess who voices him.
- What makes it more conspicuous is that in Family Guy, Patrick Stewart has appeared as himself in Not All Dogs Go To Heaven, as Jean-Luc Picard in at least one Cutaway Gag, and as Avery Bullock in a dream sequence, and in all cases the character model was exactly the same: no changes at all apart from clothing, proving once and for all that Avery Bullock is Patrick Stewart in everything but name, parodying himself to great effect.
- There are also some cameos by some people that work on the show. Those scientists about five tropes up? The one in the mech is Mike Barker and the other is Matt Weitzman, the co-creators of the show.
- Principal Lewis is basically the animated version of Kevin Michael Richardson.
- And Snot's name and design are based on his voice actors most famous role, Booger in Revenge of the Nerds.
- Inner Monologue: Crops up more than average, especially in episodes centering on Stan.
- Innocent Innuendo:
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.
- 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.
- From "Francine's Flashback":Stan: 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:
[Roger's eyes widen]
- 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.
- Insistent Terminology:
Roger: Where are you hiding Osama?! We broke the code; we know he's here!
- Throughout the episode "Dr. Klaustus", the titular character insists that he's not a fish; he's a man in a fish's body.
- During the episode "Bush Comes to Dinner", Roger and Steve think they've found Osama Bin Laden:
Danny: I don't know what you're talking about! I'm a med student at Georgetown!
Roger: Well, terrorist, you leave us no choice. We will now torture you... in my backless chair.
Steve: ... that's a stool.
Roger: [slaps Steve] It's a backless chair! Don't diminish my invention!
- Interspecies Romance:
- Hayley and Reginald The Koala. Roger and Kim Kardashian the alien.
- Also, Steve and Klaus, at times. One time Steve got the "ick" from "spending time" with Klaus.
- In the Past, Everyone Will Be Famous: In one episode, Stan is sent to the past to discover the true meaning of Christmas, but it goes awry when he tries to fix the problem himself. While in the past, he manages to bump into Jane Fonda, Donald Sutherland, AND Martin Scorsese in the same day
- Justified, since he believes Jane Fonda ruined Christmas with the start of political correctness, and goes to Hollywood to kill her.
- 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 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.
- It's Popular, Now It Sucks: In-universe, Stan decides to get a head start by hating on a singer before he gets popular.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Stan even converts his backyard into a fully-fledged prison when he convinces himself the new neighbors are terrorists.
- And in the same episode he uses the technique on himself.
- Jerk Ass: Stan and Roger. And when they put aside their differences and get together...
- With Roger, the Jerk Ass trope actually has some justification. In "Frannie 911," it's revealed that for Roger's species, their "bitchiness" takes the physical form of a poisonous bile if they don't vent it out on others on a frequent basis. It would literally kill Roger to be nice. That said it's not as if he has a hard time doing it.
- Tank Bates, Terry's father. Tank understands completely that homosexuality is not a choice and he is still disgusted by it. Tank doesn't care how much stress it caused Terry to keep his homosexuality from him, wishes he never knew, and proceeds to act like Terry doesn't exist when he's finally been outted. Conversely, this episode plus later ones involving Stan's father have resulted in Stan and Terry being fairly amicable with each other.
- Jerkass Realization: A recurring plot point that makes Stan repetant of his callous ways. Roger has a few moments of this as well, even if he is just as likely to fake one to get his way.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Stan... most of the time.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Roger plays this a lot, a few episodes hint to Hidden Depths that possibly explain his personality issues, only for them to turn out as Blatant Lies and for Roger to simply be an out and out Jerk Ass For the Lulz. Stan also has occasional shades of this (particularly in earlier episodes) though he does seem more capable of genuinely seeing the error of his ways.
- Jesus Was Way Cool: In a Christmas episode, the Rapture occurs and Stan and Francine were left behind. Jesus comes back to lead people against the Anti Christ. He doesn't have his superpowers (except for being able to withstand freezing temperatures and Walk on Water), but it's still a badass. He's hunky and charismatic and actually front flips onto the Anti Christ's shoulder and snaps his neck with his thighs. He's also allowed to date this time and Stan calls him the best guy Francine could ever end up with.
- Jock Dad, Nerd Son: A constant source of contention between Steve and Stan Smith. Stan constantly tries to help his son with various "masculine" activities to avoid letting Steve repeat the same poor experience Stan had in high school. In fact, both provide the image page of this trope.
- Jump Scare: Twice in Best Little Horror House In Langley Falls involving Buckle's haunted house and its setup.Goblin: I'll fucking kill you!
Goblin: I'll skin you alive, you filthy whore!!
- 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.
- Just Like Making Love:Jack: Now son, breaking in to a safe is like making love to a woman.
Stan: So, we should just pound on it for like two minutes?
Jack: No... you need to gently work the dials till she surrenders...