American Dad / Tropes K to O

Tropes A to E | Tropes F to J | Tropes K to O | Tropes P to T | Tropes U to Z
    open/close all folders 

  • Kafka Komedy: A minor version is invoked with Terry's homophobic father, Tank; after claiming Stan and Greg are gay to stall coming out, Tank proceeds to make the situation worse by antagonizing everything Stan does simply because he thinks he is Camp Gay.
    [Stan leaves Greg & Terry's house]
    Tank: Look at him. He's just gonna float away. Float away like a fairy.
    [Stan carries two heavy trash cans to the sidewalk]
    Tank: Look at him! Carrying those heavy trash cans like a girl!
    [Stan moves a giant rock]
    Tank: I bet he wished that rock was a big, naked man!
    [Stan wolf whistles at a lady on a bike]
    Tank: Yeah, whistle a show tune, ya drag queen!
  • Kaleidoscope Hair: Subverted with Roger, who has a collection of wigs that he swaps around for roleplaying. Many of them are different in color.
  • Kansas City Shuffle:
    • Steve's plan in "Bar Mitzvah Shuffle".
    • Roger's plan in "Toy Whorey": when he's trying to get a bottle of wine that only Greg and Terry have, Roger shorts out the Smith house's power with a Rube Goldberg Device saying the two will come over to check on them. Francine takes the wine by force, but when she grabs the corkscrew she triggers a wrecking ball that knocks her out of the way, all so Roger can eat both his steak and Francine's.
  • Karma Houdini: Nearly all the family has gotten away with some horrific crime at some point in the show's run, Roger and Stan being the most frequent offenders. It may be balanced by all of them having Chew Toy traits, however.
    • Roger enslaves a group of foster children to work in inhumane conditions at his vineyard for nearly a year, and gives two of the girls to Steve, who dresses them in skimpy costumes and sexually harasses them. The only punishment? CPS takes them away, which actually makes Roger happy because the wine they made wasn't any good.
    • The Ladybugs have apparently gotten away with killing their members who know too much and continue to cheat on their husbands without any consequences. The worst part is that, apparently, nearly every woman in Langley Falls (except for Francine and Linda) is a member.
    • Francine's friend in "The Kidney Stays in the Picture". It was because of her that Hayley needed a new kidney. She was also the one who convinced Francine to cheat on Stan yet at the end of the episode she gets no comeuppance.
    • Francine rarely has to face the consequence of her excessive spoiling of Roger and her children. For example in "Weiner of Our Discontent", she convinced Stan that he didnít have the right to prevent Roger from having control over all human life. Francine ended up learning the error of her ways when Roger intentionally puts Stan's life in danger.
      • Even when her refusal to discipline her children is an actual plot point, the episode's aesop usually end up being Stan having no right to spend time for himself.
    • Steve in "News Glance with Genevieve Vavance". He goes along with Genevieve Vavance's (one of Roger's many personas) bogus news story that he was kidnapped by Hayley in order to get head with a bunch of girls at his school that were missing him when he vanished due to being embarrassed in his sex-ed class. He later exposes Roger and clears Hayley's name, but he himself is not punished for selling out his own sister for something she didn't even do to begin with.
    • Hayley and Jeff con Stan out of $50,000 which was supposed to be her wedding fund, something that Stan actually approved of. Only for him to find them a month later whoring Jeff out in the desert (they blew through the money running away from Roger but Stan didn't know that). Due to the circumstances of the episode, Stan welcomed them back into his house. However, Hayley and Jeff made entirely no effort to contribute to the point of causing financial troubles by staying up late while blasting the TV keeping Stan up, and eating excessively. The aesop of the episode ended up being how Stan should let Hayley and Jeff mooch off of him because of how low minimum wage is.
      • However, later episodes shows that her family sees her as little more then an irresponsible woman child and have resigned themselves to the fact that they will be taking care of her for the rest of their lives. Though even in that episode, she and Steve ended up being Karma Houdinis.
      • And as of "She Swill Survive", that's Stan's fault.
  • Kent Brockman News: Greg and Terry are low on exposition but high on drama, usually doing their dirty laundry over the airwaves.
    Terry: This recession is affecting everyone; even we're cutting back. Last night we only sixty-eighted.
    Greg: Really? ... that's terrible.
    Terry: [smug smile] Oh well.
  • Kick Me Prank:
    • During the opening, Hayley sticks a peace sign on Stan's back, while Francine takes it off before he even notices.
    • When Stan gets braces, the other employees prank him by sticking "Shoot Me" on his back. He was lucky to be wearing his bulletproof vest.
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Miriam Bullock, off screen by Roger in his infamous Ricky Spanish persona. Lucky for him, Avery is too strung out on drugs to care when Roger later admits it to him.
    • Also, Father Donovan and Jack Smith, but the latter lives on as the new Krampus.
  • Kinky Spanking: In "The Missing Kink", after Francine objects to Stan spanking Steve, Stan spanks her to demonstrate that spanking is harmless. She ends up finding it to be a turn-on.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Both Stan and Francine at times. Also, Toshi and Akiko's Control Freak mother.
  • The Krampus: He's Not Evil, Just Misunderstood. Turns out that Santa Claus is the real "bad guy". He's a Corrupt Corporate Executive who makes all his money in toy shares. "Bad" children buy the most toys, and the Krampus is only trying to set them on the path to being good. Hilariously, Roger points out at the total lunacy of the situation, especially at the reveal of Santa.

  • Lack of Empathy: Roger and Stan take this to extremes at times. Roger's mindset got screwed up psychologically the first time he felt for anyone before himself. Roger is also very casual and matter-of-fact about describing himself as a sociopath ("Cops & Roger"). Being a Seth MacFarlane work however, nearly every character displays this trait at times (though it's not as prevalent here as it is on, say, Family Guy).
    • This extends to Roger's whole race apparently.
  • Lantern Jaw of Justice: Stan Smith, an unusual non-superhero iteration. In the episode "Roger Codger", Roger calls Stan a "Lantern-jawed Sasquatch."
  • Large Ham:
    • Stan Smith, as early as the pilot. ("Did somebody order a brand new dog?!")
    • Similar with Principal Lewis, established the same time as Stan. "You can read! The system works!"
    • Roger, but usually only when imitating something from a film or another show.
    • Like father like son for Steve at times.
    • The Antichrist from "Rapture's Delight" (but considering that Andy Samberg — who can be a Large Ham in his SNL sketches — voiced him, that's not a big surprise)
    • Also, Barry, from time to time, thus making it a visual pun. They'll give us boo-boos on our feelings!
    • A strange case is Buckle, the Jewish Ex-Disney Imagineer mountain man introduced in "An Apocalypse To Remember". In his debut episode, he spoke with a normal, albeit gravely voice, but as it was revealed that he went completely off the deep end spending years in isolation, away from any female contact, and being convinced that he and Hayley were supposed to repopulate the Earth after the supposed nuclear war, his voice is firmly established as often being no lower than a booming shout.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: In "Hurricane!" Roger drowns his annoyingly clingy girlfriend. He's then electrocuted by Stan by accident and blackened to a crisp after Stan lets a bear into the house.
  • Last Note Nightmare: After Stan is done singing while hallucinating (The Magnificent Steven) the transition back from his Disney-style vision to the real world features a classic example.
  • Late To The Realization:
    • Stan is frequently subjected to this trope. One example comes from the episode "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man". In that episode, Roger was going through his reproductive cycle, and accidentally eaten all of Francine's potato salad for the pot-luck wake. Scrambling to make more, he realized he was out of mayonnaise, and had to resort to desperate measures. It was not until after the wake that Roger revealed that he made the salad, and that the secret ingredient was his breast milk. Cue Steve, Klaus, Hayley, and Francine recoiling in horror and even vomiting from the news. But it takes Stan a full 90 seconds (the average length for a commercial break to run its course) for him to realize, and take advantage, of the situation.
    • Given a rather hilarious, and subtle, lampshade by Bullock in "Francine's Flashback":
    Stan: Yeah, I'm, uh, laying low. Today is the anniversary of a huge fight me and Francine had last year.
    Jackson: Yeah? What about?
    Stan: Oh, I forgot our anniversary. Huh, I'm never going to do that again.
    [Jackson tries to speak up, but Bullock raises his hand to silence him]
    [long, awkward beat]
    Stan: [realizing] AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!
    Bullock: There it is.
  • Laughably Evil: Roger really leans into trope on occasion. He lacks much along the lines of consistent redeeming aspects and is extremely unempathetic to the atrocities he has committed throughout the show's run. Nevertheless he is as funny as hell and is arguably the show's Ensemble Darkhorse.
  • The Law of Conservation of Detail: In the opening scene of "Why Can't We Be Friends", the rock that Stan throws at Snot is there from the beginning as opposed to being pulled out of nowhere or just showing up.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Lampshaded in "Spring Break-up".
    Partier: Carmen Selectra? Doesn't he mean Carmen ELECTRA?
    Second partier: No! No, he doesn't!
  • Le Parkour: Stan and Francine engage in "freerunning" through apartment buildings with an energetic young couple. Francine makes a game effort for a first-timer, but Stan can barely keep up and falls several floors down a stairwell and breaks his legs (with his shinbone sticking out of one).
  • Let's Get Dangerous: When properly motivated, Hayley has been able to easily compete with, and even overpower, Stan (a highly skilled weapons expert) on several occasions.
  • Let Us Never Speak of This Again: In S3 Ep 01, "The Vacation Goo", the Smiths end up engaging in cannibalism, which they discovered (after the fact) was unnecessary. Francine comments that nothing bonds a family like a dark, horrible secret, which presumably makes the Smiths one of the closest families on Earth.
  • Liar Revealed: Invoked brilliantly by Stan in "Frannie 911". Throughout the episode, Francine had been perpetuating a ruse that Roger had been abducted by murderous kidnappers. She thought Stan would come rushing to his rescue (which would show Roger that Stan cares about him), but Stan never showed up. Eventually, Stan himself lies to Francine, claiming that Roger went back to his home planet, imploring her to get on the roof with him (while she wears a cooking pot on her head, for reception) so Roger can send them a message from space:
    Stan: He said if we went up on the roof, he'd fly over and send us a goodbye message. Of course, you'll have to wear this. [hands Francine a pot]
    [cut to Stan and Francine on the roof, with Francine wearing the pot on her head]
    Francine: [incredulous] Where's your pot?
    Stan: I have these tongs. Ooh, ooh! I'm getting a message! Quick, wave! He wants us to wave! What's he saying to you?
    Francine: Uh... I guess pretty much the same thing he's saying to you.
    Stan: No, he said everyone would get their own personal message. Adjust your pot. Come on, what's he saying?
    Francine: Um... I uh... I think...
    Stan: Is he saying "We have caller ID?" Is he saying "Next time you kidnap Roger, don't use your cell phone?" Is that his message? [smiles boastfully]
    [Francine's eyes widen as realization sets in]
  • Lifetime Movie of the Week: "A.T. The Abused Terrestrial" parodies the concept; Roger seeks attention from another boy when Steve starts paying less attention to him, but the boy eventually turns abusive and Steve goes to save Roger from him (Roger becomes attached to the abusive boy despite being mistreated).
  • Like Father, Like Son:
    • Or rather, "like daughter." Despite her radically different political views, Hayley's actual personality is very similar to her father, right down to the patronizing way she treats her romantic partner.
    • Subverted with Steve and Stan, and again with Stan's estranged father Jack. Though in this case, it also works in that the failure to have any sort of relationship with their son/father is pretty much the same.
  • Likes Older Women: One episode's side story was about Steve frequently making out with a friend of his grandfather's. And as turns out his best friend Snot does too. The episode even ends with the two declaring that no woman will come between their friendship, right before an elderly woman walks by with an oxygen tank, whom they eagerly chase after.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Lampshaded by Hayley in one episode when Steve is locked in Hayley's closet:
    Steve: Let me out, or I'll rip up all your clothes!
    Hayley: Go ahead! If you haven't noticed, I only wear this one outfit!
    • Done again in "Stanny Boy And Frantastic" with Stan:
      [Stan opens a wardrobe containing only several duplicate suits]
      Stan: Maybe this blue suit, with the white shirt and a black tie? Yeah, that's it!
    • Averted by Roger, who has so many different outfits that at one point, his entire wardrobe floods the first floor of the house.
  • Living a Double Life:
    • Roger and his disguises, to the point of zig zagging.
    • Played straight with Hayley turning out to be a pie maker.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Stan, on several occasions, has been shown to be completely incompetent at most tasks despite working as a CIA agent; in "Fartbreak Hotel", Stan asserts that he is more than capable of dressing himself, but after Francine leaves, he realizes can't remember if navy or black socks go better with his suit and spends the rest of the episode trapped in his room sobbing because he can't figure out which socks to wear.
  • Logic Bomb: In two separate episodesnote , a Smith encounters evidence that one of Roger's personas is actually a real person with a full life; this is their reaction.
  • Lotus-Eater Machine:
    • The focus of S3 Ep 01, "The Vacation Goo". The titular goo is a CIA invention that works like virtual reality and is exploited by Stan (and later the other Smiths) to get some alone time while the family is "experiencing" a family vacation.
    • According to "Rapture's Delight", Stan's vision of heaven is this, despite being dead he's still living his everyday life because it's his heart's greatest desire.
  • Literal Metaphor: In one episode, Francine gets sick of Roger's Jerkass nature and asks him if it would kill him to be nice to a change. As it turns out, Roger's species are Made of Evil and have to let their "bitchiness" out or it will turn to bile and fatally poison them. So, as it turns out, being nice will literally kill Roger.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: The Smiths' neighbor, Linda Memari, who is also in love with Francine.
  • Lost Aesop: In "Hurricane!", a running theme is how, in a crisis, Stan will make decisions that at first sound like they could work, but actually always end up making things worse. When Stan comes to realize this and has a Heroic BSOD, Klaus cheers him up by saying he's got to keep trying 'til he gets it right. So Stan gets up, dusts himself off . . . and just makes everything a whole lot worse while trying to help. The episode closes with Francine telling him to just accept that, in a crisis, he needs to stand back and let others handle things. Stan ponders that for a moment . . . then decides he's not gonna do it for no adequately explained reason. He ends up shooting her by mistake only seconds later, driving home the extent of his incompetence.
  • Love Hurts: The reason why the emperor of Roger's species locked Jeff up and turned his race's mothership into a gigantic shopping mall was to cope with the fact that Roger cheated on him and broke his heart.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: In Season 8, Roger finds himself falling in love with Hayley. At first, he simply has a hard time being around her without acting unnaturally, but when she rejects him after he tells her, his immediate reaction is to shoot her, kidnap her, and tie her to a bed in an abandoned ice factory where he plans to cut off her skin and wear it.
  • Love Martyr: Hayley's long-suffering loser boyfriend Jeff. He even calls her on the phone when she's in the next room because he just wrote her a song about loneliness. This gets him dumped on the spot (and he can't believe she did it over the phone).
    • His persistence eventually pays off when she marries him in season six.

  • Magic Feather: In "The Scarlett Getter" Steve believes wearing a pair of Hayley's panties gives him good luck. After Snot steals them Hayley explains to Steve using an old episode of The Smurfs as an example, that it was really his confidence that gave him luck, not the panties. This trope is subverted when it is revealed Hayley does believe they're magic and beats up Snot and takes back the panties from him.
  • Mail-Order Bride: She's Russian, of course, and she comes with a fidelity contract. Toshi snags her, which is mentioned in a later episode.
  • Mama Bear:
    • In "100 A.D.", Francine actually tries to shoot Jeff Fischer when it appears as though he's willing to dump Hayley in order to collect Stan's $50,000 bounty on them. The idea is actually a ruse he and Hayley came up with in order to get the money and still elope, but he would have been dead had the gun had any bullets in it.
    • In "Season's Beatings" Hayley fights Stan to keep him from killing her adopted baby even though it's revealed he's the Anti-Christ. She takes it to the extreme by shooting Stan to save her child.
    • Lessie the maid acts as one to Cookie, the emotionally deprived, drug-addicted daughter to the senator Stan has been sucking up to. In about half a minute she revives the overdosing Cookie with a shot of adrenaline, asks if she'd like some cake, and simply says "you're a troubled child" when Cookie screams at her.
      Lessie: I washed you in the sink when you were a baby; I ain't gonna let you die!
  • Man Child:
    • According to Hayley, Jeff once had an imaginary friend named Philip, who was the best man at Jeff and Hayley's wedding.
    • Everyone who works at the CIA ends up being one sooner or later. Notable examples includes shooting tranquilizer darts like spitwads in a classroom, and placing "Shoot Me" signs on other's backs. Bullock himself is no exception, though he sometimes has to scold other employees for acting giving them punishments you'd expect a 4th grade teacher to give her students.
      • The CIA evidently even has a "Show-and-Tell day." Which the agents go through with the same (lack of) enthusiasm as an eight-year-old.
        Sanders: [completely monotone] This [medal] was my grandpa's. He got it in the war. He was very brave.
  • Mandatory Line:
    • Lampshaded in "Escape from Pearl Bailey": "Nice of Steve to acknowledge us this week, even if it was only this once."
    • Averted in "Lost in Space." Stan, Francine, and Steve (and Klaus) do not appear.
  • A Man Is Not a Virgin:
    • Initially inverted- Stan tries to impart to Steve that sexual urges are evil and should be repressed (he's also completely against sex before marriage). However, played straight with regard to Stan himself; Stan's lack of sexual experience outside his marriage to Francine is often used to make jokes at his expense, and it is actually what drives the plot of "When A Stan Loves a Woman".
    • Also played with in another episode where Stan's CIA buddies tease Stan about being a virgin... of killing someone. That's right, Stan has never actually personally killed someone before.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Parodied in "Indie Movie" when Steve meets and falls for quirky girl with dyed hair played by Zooey Deschanel while on a Road Trip taking Snot to his estranged father's funeral.
  • Mars Needs Women:
    • Klaus the goldfish is in lust with Francine Smith. True, he used to be human, but still...
    • Reggie the Koala and Hayley have a brief fling in Season 5, though Reggie, like Klaus, used to be human.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Hayley and Steve.
  • Melodrama:
    • Taken Up to Eleven for comedic effect in "A Ward Show." After Steve gets beaten up, Roger (acting as Steve's guardian) reacts with unmitigated despair, to the point where he rips his shirt off in angst and does a Skyward Scream, complete with dramatic music and rain starting to fall inside the house. Not to say that your child/ward getting beaten up isn't a serious matter, but...yeesh.
    • Roger lampshades Hayley's melodrama in the episode "Hurricane!":
      Francine: Hayley, please come with us.
      Hayley: I can't, Mom. What of... the animals?
      Roger: Why, why'd you have to say it like that?
  • Metaphorgotten:
    • From the very first episode, this exchange takes place when Stan tries to explain why Roger can't leave the house.
    Stan: No, Roger, you cannot borrow the car! If my superiors at the C.I.A. found out you were living here, we'd all have our memories erased! Did ya see Memento? It's not as good the second time... the point is you are not allowed to leave the house!
  • Mexican Standoff:
    • Most notably Joanna vs. Stan in "When A Stan Loves A Woman". Apparently "a little gunplay" is something that Stan finds arousing (see Trigger Happy entry).
  • Midair Collision: Happens in the episode "A Ward Show" when Principal Lewis plans to kill himself and Steve by driving his car over the Grand Canyon. However, the white man and black boy they encountered earlier are doing the same thing and the two cars collide into each other in mid-air.
  • Mighty Whitey: Referenced, when Stan escapes on a Predator Drone used as decoration for a float.
    Old Chinese Guy: The dragon awakens! The prophecy has been fulfilled!"
    Chinese Girl: With a white guy riding it. Awesome.
  • Mind Rape: Said word for word by Stan after getting tricked by a car salesman.
    Stan: Son of a bitch, he mind raped me!
  • Mind Screw: Usually interwoven with some audacious plotting. See "Widowmaker" for an example that would make Jonathan Creek and Columbo proud.
  • Miss Conception: Subverted in a Space Whale Aesop kind of way in S1 Ep 07, "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man," due to some alien spawn, Steve's gymnast crush does get pregnant from a kiss.
  • Mistaken for Subculture: An episode had one of Steve's friends under fire for supposedly stealing a classmate's Bar Mitzvah money. When a bunch of bald guys ragged on him for it, he said "But you're skinheads; you hate Jews." Turns out they were just the Lex Luthor fan club; the skinheads were one table over.
  • Mr. Seahorse: Roger and then Steve in "Deacon Stan, Jesus Man"
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • In "A Ward Show", when Roger discovers Steve has been beat up, he performs three Big "NO!"'s, before pulling a Skyward Scream, dramatically tearing his shirt off and screaming through the inexplicable indoor thunder and rain. Cut to Roger and Steve quietly enjoying soup together and calmly discussing it.
    • Done again in "Stanny Slickers 2: The Legend of Ollie's Gold" - in the final minutes, Stan learns that his true legacy is his children, rather than the eponymous gold. The family shares a heartwarming moment. Then:
      Stan: And the robot and piercings are gone by tomorrow or this pit becomes your grave.
    • In "Red October Sky" when Hayley announces to Francine that Mr. Hallworthy has died, she feels sad... until:
      Francine: [happily] Nutty bars! They sell nutty bars now! I asked the man and he got them!
    • In "A.T.: The Abusive Terrestrial", when Roger calls Steve, he is in hysteria about Henry killing him. About five seconds later, he calls again and says that everything is fine.
  • Montages: Usually bizarre and accompanied by lively music.
    • Sometimes they use Night Ranger. Yeah, frickin' Night Ranger.
  • Moon-Landing Hoax: In "Phantom of the Telethon", After the CIA loses funding for torture equipment, Stan hosts a telethon to raise money needed to continue. He opens up to the audience with a joke.
    Stan: This is the very soundstage where we faked the moon landing and the JFK assassination. No, I'm sorry, this is where we planned the JFK assassination.
  • Moral Myopia: "Stan Goes on the Pill" tells up that it's wrong and disrespectful for Stan to pretend to listen to Francine, but it's perfectly okay for her to ignore everything Stan says.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Both Hayley and Francine have been used to cater to a variety of fetishes over the course of the series.
  • Mushroom Samba:
    • "Joint Custody", in which Stan and Roger get high on burned weed.
    • "The Magnificent Steven" when Stan eats Mad Cow-tainted beef and trips in his undies.
    • "My Morning Straitjacket": non-drug related, but when Stan daydreams about My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James.
    • "A Jones for a Smith": Stan smokes crack in his bathroom and sees his world as a commercial for crack as a prescription medication.
    • "100 A.D." when Roger injects amphetamines into his eyes while driving (much to passenger Steve's horror); in "Son of Stan" when Roger uses a bong in order to "think like a stoner" so that he can track down the eloped Hayley and Jeff (when his trip ends, he discovers it took him straight to them, much to his surprise).
    • "For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls": Roger getting drunk on moonshine, and imagining himself in a Donkey Kong scenario dodging liquor barrels.
  • My Beloved Smother:
    • Francine in "Iced Iced Babies".
    • Sublimely inverted by Stan in "Oedipal Panties".
  • Musical Episode: "Hot Water", which serves as a Little Shop of Horrors parody.
    • The episodes "Minstrel Krampus" and "Rubberneckers" also qualifies.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Stan says this exactly world-for-word when he realizes that keeping Steve down from being the alpha-male means he won't become the man Stan wants him to be.
  • Myopic Architecture: In "Toy Whorey", Roger's cliffside estate has the garage doors leading over the cliff, so when he backs up out of the garage he falls over.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: In "Best Little Horror House in Langley Falls", Toshi is ready to kill Steve with a samurai sword for not bringing his sister Akiko home in time at Halloween.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • Roger's past on Earth is referenced and rarely shown, with an exception in the Christmas special "The Best Christmas Story Never". His history on his home planet (including which planet it actually was) is even more rarely referenced and never shown.
    • In one episode, Roger learned that his initial purpose for coming to Earth was to be a crash test dummy for a spaceship that his people were testing, not "The Decider" of the fate of planet as he was told. Stan was less than supportive:
      Stan: [after Roger has spent a month moping in his room] Hey, look who decided to come to dinner!
      Roger: [runs away, crying]
    • We are given a brief glimpse of what seems to be his home planet in a flashback in "Brains, Brains and Automobiles".

  • Narrating the Present: Klaus in one episode. When asked what he was doing he explained he was pretending his life was a DVD and he was doing the audio commentary. Later in the episode Klaus' voice is head narrating over the scene so that we can't hear what anyone is saying. According to Klaus we miss the funniest line in the episode because of this.
  • Neck Lift: Stan, to Roger.
    Roger: You wouldn't kill me; you love me too much!
    Stan: [sighs, calmly grabs Roger's neck and lifts him off the ground]
    Roger: [gasps for breath and attempts, unsuccessfully, to wriggle free]
    Stan: [checks watch as Roger turns blue and goes limp, then lets him go]
  • Nerds Speak Klingon: In "All About Steve", Stan hunts down a domestic terrorist hacker who sends taunting messages that the CIA cannot decipher. Snot recognizes the writing as Elvish and sure enough, the hacker turns out to be a nerdy LotR fan.
    Steve: They're doing a Klingon wedding, followed by a Klingon divorce.
    Barry: Rok-pra!
    Snot: You said it! Get a prenup.
  • Never a Self-Made Woman: Averted in "Fart-Break Hotel". Francine ultimately comes to the conclusion that extreme devotion to family or career/non-family activities to the exclusion of the other is bad. She only becomes happier when she is able to balance the two as she finds fulfillment in both.
  • Never Heard That One Before:
    • During the Halloween episode, we get this exchange between Stan and Terry.
      Terry: Looking forward to your party tonight.
      Stan: It'll scare you straight!
      Terry: [dryly] Every year...
    • During one episode, Snot jokes that when he walks his dog, who's bigger than Snot himself, the two attract comments such as "Who's walking who?"
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: Officer Turlington, IRS/Spa Inspector/ Officer of Internal Affairs, who usually shows up to give the characters a really good, in-universe Mind Screw. As it turns out, he's just having a hell of a difficult time with his personal life as do the Smiths with their criminal activities, as demonstrated in "Meter Made", "Live and Let Fry", and "Chimdale".
  • New Job Episode: Stan in "Meter Made"; Roger and Francine from time to time.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands:
    • Roger is this trope. His notable abilities include being buoyant enough to be used as a raft ("Choosy Wives Choose Smith"), resistance to fire ("Big Trouble In Little Langley") and becoming immune to gravity when he inhales marijuana smoke ("Joint Custody"). He can also probe people to gain all their memories ("Roger 'N' Me"), and can move "Really, really fast," showing us how he faked the death of one of his own personas by opening up a manhole cover, pulling out a body double mannequin, going back down into the sewer, coming back out with red paint and various other colors and is able to decorate the body with enough time to reflect on his creation before a bus ran it over, all within a split second ("Jenny Fromdabloc").
  • News Travels Fast: When Hayley breaks up with Bullock on live TV, the news ticker at the bottom reports in exact and greater detail about the break-up more than even Bullock himself is learning as he's having the conversation with Hayley.
  • Nice Hat: Hayley (bandana) and Jeff (fishing hat). Jeff once took Hayley on a date to a store that specializes in fishing hats (she was not happy). Also, there's a nice bit of continuity during the episode "Honey, I'm Homeland", in which Hayley wears one of Jeff's hats to avoid being recognized while spying on her father (even though Jeff is in no way part of the episode).
  • The Nicknamer:
    • Stan, in "Roy Rogers McFreely", assigns nicknames to the members of his resistance group:
      Stan: We already lost Old Guy— we're not losing Speakerphone note !
      Hayley: Dad... they have names.
      Stan: There's no time for names! Come on! Jugs (Hayley), Nerd (Steve), Gays (Greg and Terry), to the van!
    • Roger often gives people patronizing nicknames, such as "Redbeard Raccooncoat" for Buckle, and "Grandma Chase-Em-Away" for Stan's mother.
  • Nightmare Face:
    • Francine's face after the CIA secretary uses acid to attack her. Played with in that for nearly the entire episode, her face is concealed from the audience through methods from facing the opposite direction to having her face concealed by a desk lamp. She's practically The Faceless... until the camera cuts to her at the end.
  • Nightmare Fuel: In-universe example with "Vacation Goo". When Francine decides to take the Smith family on an actual vacation and not one that is a virtual simulation, the experience turns out to be so traumatizing that they decide the only way to take quality family vacations is to do it through a virtual simulator.
  • Nightmare Fetishist: Francine is really happy that Stan has the blood of a man he killed on his hands, and has him carry her up to the bedroom, after he boops her nose with blood.
  • Ninja Log: Robert Patterson can replace himself with Cardboard Cutouts of himself without people noticing.
  • No Bisexuals:
    • Stan purchased a gaydar watch from Sky Mall, which is 45% straight, 45% gay, and 10% curious.
    • Hayley has hinted a couple of times that she might be bisexual, most prominently in "Pulling Double Booty", where she suggests having a three-way with a waitress and Bill the Double (actually Stan impersonating Bill).
      • And in "Haylias", when Hayley tells her parents that she's moving to France to have an affair with many men and even experiment with a woman named Simone.
  • No, Except Yes: When Roger and Stan are competing as restaurateurs, Roger tries to steal customers from Stan by wearing a sandwich board that reads "Free refills on everything, food and drink excluded."
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Numerous times throughout the series, including: Francine beating up Stan for forgetting their anniversary, which was so brutal, it was filmed for an episode of Cops. Stan has beaten up Bullock, an elderly security guard, and a meter maid in three separate episodes. Hayley also beat Snot to within an inch of his life after she learned he stole her lucky panties, although Snot seemed to have enjoyed it.
  • No Man of Woman Born: In an early episode, an attractive classmate of Steve's agrees to go out with him, but only if he finds someone to go out with her wholly unattractive friend. His attempts to hook her up with a guy are unsuccessful to say the least.
    Steve: It's like there's not a human being alive that would go out with that girl.
    Roger: [walks into Steve's room] Hello.
  • Nobody Ever Complained Before: When Stan goes to Heaven and is denied a chance to return to life, he pulls out his gun and threatens to shoot. Everyone laughs and points out that Earth Guns don't work. The Bailiff pulls out a Heaven Gun and mentions that these do. Stan immediately grabs the gun and threatens to shoot his now-hostage lawyer. Everyone is shocked as Stan runs away. One guy complains.
    [Stan grabs the gun; various reactions of gasping and other comments from the crowd]
    Bystander: Why do we have those again?
    [Stan runs away with his lawyer as a hostage]
    Bystander: Seriously, why do we have Heaven Guns? I don't mean to be that guy; I'm happy here... but why is this not an issue?
  • Nobody's That Dumb: In season 12 "CIAPOW", when Stan and his friends are trying to avoid the police in Thailand, Hooper's idea of a safehouse is taking refuge in a Burger King restaurant thinking that since it's a U.S. corporation it's technically U.S. soil. Despite the Burger King cashier's lack of education, even he pointed out Hooper's flawed logic.
    Stan: Hooper, this isn't a safe house. It's a Burger King!
    Hooper: It's a U.S. corporation, Stan, which makes it technically U.S. soil. They can offer us asylum.
    Burger King Cashier: Welcome to Burger King. May I take your order?
    Hooper: We're C.I.A. agents, and we require asylum. You know, 'cause this is American soil?
    Burger King Cashier: I grew up in a pile of straw. The only education I have is one week of Burger King training, and even I know that's not how the international justice system works.
    (Stan, Jackson, and Dick glares at Hooper)
    Burger King Cashier: But would you like to try our new "berry good" milkshake?
  • Noodle Incident:
    Stan: That's the second time my life has been saved by hip-hop. [camera zooms in on his face] But that's a story for another day...
    • When Hayley returns from being sabotaged by Stan:
      [Hayley appears holding bloody pickaxe, wearing torn clothing and a shackle on her ankle]
      Stan: [gasp] You escaped the pit of no return?! How'd you get past my-
      Hayley: They're all dead, Dad.
      Hayley: I made you a wallet out of their hides. [casually tosses wallet to Stan]
      • This is done again in the following episode when Hayley escapes being trapped in the basement:
      Hayley: Hello, father! Wondering how I escaped from the basement?
      Stan: No, not really.
      Hayley: Oh. [beat] ...but it involved training rats.
    • In "Virtual In-Stanity":
    Klaus: You're really gonna kill five people over twenty dollars?!
    Roger: Are you really asking that to the guy who, just last week, killed six people over nineteen dollars?
    • A series of short flashbacks is shown during the episode "Four Little Words", depicting the four instances in which Francine said the phrase Stan hates to hear from her: "I told you so." First, a British double-decker bus that has crashed through their garage, with Stan dressed as a palace guard; second, the Smith family gathered around their pool, which is on fire; third, Stan losing a game of chess (badly) to a chicken; fourth, two men having died from being hanged off the ledge of a bridge at (per the sign shown) "Stan's Xtreme Bungee Xperience."
  • Noodle Implements:
    • Toshi's coconut girlfriend in "Failure Is Not A Factory-Installed Option". Whether or not Steve, Barry, and Snot also have one is never made clear.
    • Another example is from the "American Dream Factory" B-story, where Roger enters carrying an abacus, an octopus and a hairdryer, but fails to explain the obscure thing he's doing because whatever Steve's doing with his guitar "looks more interesting."
  • No-One Could Survive That:
    • Played for Laughs in "For Black Eyes Only", where it is revealed that Tearjerker survived falling into a volcano. You can survive a volcano if you fall in at just the right angle, apparently.
    • At one point, Stan wants to make sure that someone he kills will stay dead, so he shoots him, caps him after he goes down, throws him off a cliff, runs him over with his SUV six times, feeds him to an alligator, kills the alligator, and then has the gator made into a handbag, boots, a tie, and a belt.
  • Not Distracted by the Sexy:
    • Stan takes in a stripper who's the same age as Hayley purely for non-sexual reasons (then takes in several more, also for non-sexual reasons). He doesn't so much as imply that he's attracted to them at all.
      Stripper 1: Hey, has Stan tried to rape either of you guys yet?
      Other strippers: No.
      Stripper 1: That's weird, right?
    • In "Stan Time", Roger and Steve attempt to write porn films. While trying to visualize in a diner, they don't notice two busty blonde ice cream shop waitresses playing around in sexually suggestive situations.
      Waitress: [in a sexy voice] If there's anything else you need... anything... just call us. And I mean anything.
      Roger: What's wrong with you? You get a dollar every time you say the word "anything"?
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Patrick Stewart, as American CIA head Avery Bullock, makes no attempt to conceal his British accent. This is lampshaded in at least one episode.
  • Not Good with Rejection: Exaggerated with Hayley. If a boy dumps her, she will go on a destructive rampage. It's getting to the point where the police tell Stan and Francine that if she gets dumped again, Hayley will have to go to prison.
  • Not So Different: A defining point between Stan and Hayley's political views in early episodes. Actually, Stan has this chemistry with nearly all of the Smiths; whenever you wonder how he came to be a family man, the others will show they can be just as immoral or insane as he is.
    Travis: [to Stan and Francine] You're both complete lunatics! You two were made for each other!
  • Not What It Looks Like: In "Rough Trade", Stan goes through a series of these type of events, due to an unlikely number of independent circumstances coming together. It starts when Roger, stressed from being overworked, accidentally strikes Francine, while Stan's been drinking to mask his depression. When a drunken Stan answers the door with Francine and her new shiner, the neighbors put 2 and 2 together. And that's just the first of many coincidences in this episode that implicate Stan.
    Francine: Hello, Linda.
    Linda: My god, what happened to your eye?!
    Stan: [drinking, wearing only a tank top and underwear] Yeah... what did happen to your eye?note 
    Francine: I, uh... walked into a door...
  • No Woman's Land: Saudi Arabia turns out to be one in "Stan of Arabia", much to Francine's frustration and Stan's delight.
  • No, You:

  • Object Tracking Shot: Done with Steve's pubic hair a la the feather scene from Forrest Gump in "1600 Candles".
  • Obnoxious In-Laws:
    • Francine's adoptive parents basically force their views/lifestyle on Stan whenever they visit, much to his displeasure (Francine's adoptive parents are Chinese). Ends up being a subversion, however, as Francine's parents actually like Stan simply because he makes Francine happy.
    • Inverted, similarly to the above (but for different reasons), with Stan's mother. She doesn't have any problems with Francine, but Francine hates how close Stan is to his mother and often feels as if she's being pushed aside as the main woman in Stan's life when she visits.
  • Off Model: In the opening of season 1 through 3, Stan doesn't have eyebrows half the time, making his face look weirdly goofy.
  • Offing the Offspring: Stan tries to do this to Steve and Haley in "Old Stan in the Mountain", when he mistakenly believes they're going to do him in.
  • Oh Crap!:
    Steve: [to the cat that has been viciously attacking him all episode, and has now appeared to die in his arms] Poor Simon... you're in a better place now. You look so peaceful; almost as if you're sleeping... [beat] Oh, shit. [Simon opens his eyes and attacks Steve]
    • Stan in "Wiener of Our Discontent" when he finds out that Roger actually does have a "Fortress of Solitude".
  • Oh Look, More Rooms!: Explored in "Toy Whorey" when Roger goes to fetch wine, only to pass through several ridiculous rooms.
  • One Dialogue, Two Conversations:
    • A moment from "Pulling Double Booty" once provided the page quote for that article.
    • Also done in "Stannie Get Your Gun". It's even lampshaded by Roger ("I just love it when crap lines up like that.")
  • One Steve Limit: Averted for a gag in "Adventures in Hayleysitting," where Hayley and Jeff search the neighborhood for Steve and call out his name, only to be answered by another guy named Steve.
  • One We Prepared Earlier: American Dad! premiered with one of these. Subsequent episodes would show the origins of various character relationships in Flashback (such as the fifth episode, "Roger Codger", which flashed back to how Roger came to live with the Smiths).
  • Only Sane Man: Hayley usually emerges as the only sane woman a lot of the time. Sometimes falls to Steve.
  • Operator from India: In "Four Little Words", Francine is teaching English to a village of Indian children. The phrase she is teaching them to say is "Thank you for calling Apple tech support".
  • Opposed Mentors: Played with. At one point, Stan and Francine argued over the proper way to raise Steve; Stan decides to clone his son, allowing both parents to try their own ways as a single parent to Steve and his clone respectively.
  • Oscar Bait: Mercilessly spoofed with Oscar Gold, the Show Within a Show in "Tearjerker".
  • Our Nudity Is Different: Played for Laughs in the pilot episode, where a Cutaway Gag shows a Muslim man being appalled at his wife's blatant display of nudity and telling her to put some clothes on. She's fully clothed except for her eyes, so she covers up her eyes and immediately trips over a table.
  • Out of Focus:
    • After Hayley got married, she and Jeff were gone from the show for quite a few episodes. Probably due to her status as The Artifact, and there being less dynamic plots to write for her, as opposed to the other family members.
    • Klaus seems to be the one who suffers this trope worst of all. There will only be about one episode per season that actually puts central or significant focus on him and in other episodes, he'll only get two or three lines and that's it.
  • Outside Inside Slur: Inverted. Francine is starring in a comedy based on her adoptive Chinese family. Her mother — in the show — calls her a "reverse banana": white on the outside, yellow on the inside (i.e., actually Asian) as a compliment.
  • Overly Long Gag:
    • Mostly avoided, but one does occur in "Finances With Wolves" during a very long sequence where Stan tries to park at the mall.
    • In "Weiner of Our Discontent", Stan laughs for a full 30 seconds in a manner seen previously in Family Guy. The gag was so long that, according to the DVD commentary, Seth MacFarlane was exhausted due to performing the entirety of the laughing in single takes.
    • Con Heir drags the same lengthy gag into the episode three times.
    [Francine tells Stan that his family's love makes him the richest man in the world]
    Stan: [picks up phone] Hello, Bill Gates? Turn's out I'm the richest guy in the world because I have an adoring wife and a loving family! [...] Hello? Unicef? I'd like to donate some of my immense riches. What's that? Children are still starving in Africa because wife love is worthless to you? What an odd policy!
    [later, when Stan quits his job for adventure]
    Francine: Oh! Adventure?! Hold on. [picks up phone] Hello, MasterCard? Do you accept payment in the form of adventure? [...] Hello, colleges? I'd like to pay my son's tuition, but I don't have any money, but my husband is rich in adventure!
    [later, when Stan discovers his father chose a life of crime over him]
    Jack: Oh, hold on one second. [picks up phone] Hello, French Riviera? Yes, can I buy a Chateau with my son's love?
    Stan: Yes! Yes! We all know the bit!
    • In "Meter Made", Francine picks up Stan's khakis, and loose change falls out of the pockets for ten seconds while Francine and Stan watch it happen in silence.
    • "Delorean Story-An" features one involving cottage cheese.
    • In "Four Little Words", there's a short sequence during which Stan does nothing but adjust the position of the driver's seat in Francine's car with a bored, blank expression on his face the entire time. At the end of the gag, a midget pops out of the steering-wheel airbag and strangles Stan.
  • Overnight Age-Up: Stan pulls one of these on Steve (who had already been regressed to a young child by Francine) with an aging serum , but adds an extra dose to age him to 21 years old in an effort to dodge dealing with another child going through puberty. He put in too much, resulting in Steve transforming into an old man.