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Unintentionally Unsympathetic / American Dad!

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While this show is usually regarded as the superior animated series created by Seth MacFarlane, when compared to Family Guy it seems to do a worse job with making their characters likable when they're supposed to be (especially in the later seasons).

  • In general, the Smith family is this; Stan has an Ambiguous Disorder and a Freudian Excuse for Insane Troll Logic. His family gleefully exploit this to get him to do what they want, however they only complain when it becomes inconvenient to them (and while it does quickly escalate as seen in Designated Villain and Strawman Has a Point his actions usually start off relatively minor). Yet they have no problem shoving those same inconveniences onto him. Furthermore they seem to be actively stopping Stan from getting better as every time he tries to get help for himself or a least spend a little time for himself they completely fall apart do to either their complete inability to fend for themselves or their unwillingness to. For specifics
    • Francine: The show treats them as a Right Way/Wrong Way Pair and while Stan is Jerkass their relationship assuredly All Take and No Give. Francine excessively spoils the kids and gives Stan a What the Hell, Hero? anytime he tries to discipline them. However she immediately performs an Opinion Flip-Flop the moment Stan stops being an Overprotective Dad because that means that she’s forced to bear the brunt of Roger, Steve and Hayley’s antics. And even then she still finds away to way foist the responsibility onto someone else, usually Steve.
      • It's not just their kids. Francine desperately tries to put a stop to Betty Smith’s My Beloved Smother antics yet sees nothing wrong with her parents. Their sex life is a one-way street and even then she’s not satisfied.
      • It’s reached the point where Francine shows a surprising callousness to Stan’s wellbeing. Not only has she convinced him to allow Roger to have control over his life, she’s forced him to repeatedly make Heroic Sacrifices. While they started small such as giving up time, money, or decisions that didn’t involve her, in recent episodes they have evolved to his life and even his immortal soul.
      • She also comes across as a Dirty Coward in "Finances With Wolves". While we're supposed to feel sorry for her that Stan doesn't want to fund her muffin kiosk, she loses sympathy for stealing the money and acting dismissive of him for the rest of the episode. She does the same thing in "Surro-Gate", becoming a surrogate for Greg & Terry behind Stan’s back then using the fact that she was pregnant and it could hurt the baby to stop Stan from being angry at this.
      • In "Man in The Moonbounce", Stan has a mental breakdown and it's suggested he take some time off so he can relive his childhood. This causes a problem as Stan took care of the family's finances. Instead of taking care of the finances herself, she has Steve do them. This causes Steve to age horribly. It gets so bad that Stan is forced to take over the finances again, resulting in things returning to the status quo at the beginning of the episode. At no point during the episode does Francine try to take responsibility for the family's finances so Steve and Stan are less stressed, even after it's made clear the stress is having a detrimental effect on them.
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    • Steve has fallen victim to this as of late due to his Flanderization making him a very obnoxiously bratty pervert who can’t seem to tell reality from fantasy making him a danger both to himself and others due to either ignoring the dangers around him or dishing out Disproportionate Retribution. His recurring Did Not Get the Girl and "Well Done, Son!" Guy storylines also get very old fast due to the Reset Button being pressed every. Single. Time. at the end of these episodes, making them feel entirely pointless.
      • Anytime they try to play the Not So Different card between Stan and Steve. We have been repeatedly told how horrible Stan's life is, with "I Ain’t No Holodeck Boy" showing just how horrific it was. So comparing his experience with Steve’s doesn’t hold water. For example, in "Chimdale", Steve learns that he has scoliosis and must wear a back-brace When he learns that Stan is bald, it is treated as Parental Hypocrisy when he refuses to tell anyone yet tells Steve that it is what's on the inside that counts. However, the reason Stan is bald is that the stress of his mother’s emotional manipulation disfigured him, causing horrible acne (and the need for braces as he would grind his teeth). Stan was ridiculed his entire life and it was only an experimental cure (that caused his baldness) that stopped it. Compared to that, Steve’s six weeks is a mild inconvenience.
      • This is also the reason any time Steve has a Freak Out such as in "Son of Stan", or goes through a Heroic BSoD such as in "Man in the Moonbounce", he come across more pathetic then sympathetic. In the former, Stevearino becomes a murderous psychopath because Stan was overly strict. While in the latter, Steve takes up his father's duties after he goes to jail, from which the responsibility causes him to age prematurely. However, the reason Stan went to jail is that he was told to get in touch with his inner child for mental health because he spent his childhood as his mother's slave. So once again, Steve can handle for a few months something Stan had to go through his entire life.
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    • This is why Hayley is considered Rightly Self-Righteous. She comes across as a Bratty Teenage Daughter who uses her left-wing beliefs to manipulate her parents into letting her mooch off of them and letting her do what she wants.
  • For all the times where Stan's shown to be a Designated Villain dealing with Informed Wrongness, there are just as many instances (if not more) where he ends up being cast in a negative light despite the show trying it's damndest to portray him as being in the right:
    • "The Scarlett Getter": Stan spends most of the episode fantasizing about Scarlett to his wife Francinenote  and sets Roger up to be killed for dating her, only to learn that she was just using him to capture Roger.
    • "Old Stan in the Mountain": Stan gets cursed into old age after showing No Sympathy to the elderly, and becomes so disillusioned that he brutally stabs Hayley & Steve when he believes they're gonna kill him. Not helped is how the episode ends with him suffering no consequences for what he did to them and being hexed again this time turning black implying that he already forgot/failed to once again learn the lesson he was supposed to about not being an uptight bigot.
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    • "The Mural of the Story": He lets Hayley take the blame and become a pariah for his own mess-up of a mural, then goes as far as ruining Hayley's face to make her unrecognizable and avoid admitting guilt. He also manages to suffer no repercussions for any of his actions when he finally does own up.
  • Roger also counts in the extremely rare instances where he's not supposed to be seen as a Hate Sink mainly for how the show just expects us to blindly side with him in these instances and forget all the countless times where he's been shown to have no redeemable qualities to speak of. Not helped is his Flanderization into being a complete psychopath who very rarely suffers any consequences for his actions nowadays. Additionally, he suffers from the same problem that Stan does where any lesson he's learned will be all but forgotten by the next episode.
  • The Smiths in "Family Affair". The episode treats Roger hanging out with different families as if it's cheating but instead it makes the Smiths come off as possessive and clingy because Roger has other friends.

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