|Genre||Adult animated sitcom
Observational comedy turned farce
Political satire (limited to early seasons)
|Created by||Mike Barker
|Voices of||Seth MacFarlane
Dee Bradley Baker
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||9 (See also season numbering discrepancy)|
|No. of episodes||152 (List of episodes)|
Lesley Wake Webster
|Running time||22–24 minutes|
|Production company(s)||Fuzzy Door Productions
20th Century Fox Television
|Picture format||480i (SDTV) (2005–2009)
720p (HDTV) (2010–present)
|Original run||February 6, 2005(sneak preview) and May 1, 2005 (official series premiere) – present|
|Related shows||Family Guy
The Cleveland Show
American Dad! is an American adult animated sitcom created by Mike Barker, Matt Weitzman, and Seth MacFarlane for the "Animation Domination" lineup on Fox.American Dad! is the first television series to have beginnings on Animation Domination and debuted concurrently with that lineup. The series was first shown following Super Bowl XXXIX as a sneak preview on February 6, 2005, but officially premiered on May 1, 2005.
The series focuses on an eccentric motley crew that is the Smith family and their three housemates: Father, husband, and breadwinner Stan Smith; his better half housewife, Francine Smith; their college-aged daughter, Hayley Smith; and their high-school-aged son, Steve Smith. Outside of the Smith family, there are three additional main characters, including Hayley's boyfriend turned husband, Jeff Fischer; the family's man-in-a-fish-body pet, Klaus; and most notably the family's zany alien, Roger, who's "full of masquerades, brazenness, and shocking antics."
Unlike its sister shows, Family Guy and The Cleveland Show, American Dad! is not filled with intentional humor, such as through the use of repeated cutaway gags and straight-out joke-telling deliveries; rather the series typically uses unintentional humor through the nuttiness and oddities of its characters and their circumstances. According to its creators, the show's circumstances typically start out as relatable before entering into wild and crazy extremes, thus an observational comedy-turned-farce. Other plot techniques heavily used by American Dad! have included: plot twists;surreal humor (i.e., randomness and non sequiturs among many); cringe comedy;gallows humor;serial tactics, in which certain circumstances progress across a collection of episodes;political satire (which fell out of regular use after the show's early seasons); etc.
Said Barker, "As weird as we get, it’s always a family story." As opposed to joke references to every pop cultural target possible as existent in MacFarlane's Family Guy material, Barker and Weitzman have structured American Dad! so as to focus on a weird concept in combination with an everyday-life human story that grounds it. In MacFarlane's own words, "We've learned how to make the show feel different . . . and the creative direction of that show has been largely guided by Barker and Weitzman, which has really worked in its favor. They've really taken the reigns on that show and given it its own voice."
American Dad! has been nominated for numerous awards, most prominently two Primetime Emmy Awards and two Annie Awards. Each episode opens with a viewer-discretion-advised warning, informing audiences that the series holds a TV-PG and TV-14 rating for suggestive dialogue (D), offensive language (L), moderate to strong sexual content (S), and graphic violence (V). Since its debut, American Dad! has broadcast 152 episodes (counting the sneak preview predecessor). The series has been renewed through the 2013–14 television season (the show's 10th season).Season 9 began on September 30, 2012, and concluded on May 12, 2013.
American Dad!'s opening music video captures Stan Smith waking up out of bed in the morning, clothing himself and preparing for his job. After collecting his various job paraphernalia from each of his family members and expressing his goodbyes, Stan is shown driving to work. During this whole process, Stan sings the lyrics to the show's opening theme song (the final "Good morning USA" line in the show's opening music video is sung by an unseen ensemble of singers):
- Good morning USA. I gotta' feelin' that it's gonna' be a wonderful day. The sun in the sky has a smile on his face, and he's shining a salute to thee American race. Oh boy, it's swell to say, "Good morning USA." Good morning USA!
In its initial seasons, American Dad!'s opening music video featured a recurring gag that saw a different newspaper headline for each episode, usually featuring a topical satirical joke directed at the United States Government, the media, or current affairs (for example, "Pedophilia Down as Childhood Obesity Goes Up," "Israel Pulls Out of Gaza, Gaza Not Pregnant," or "Economy Takes a Turn, Falls Down Flight of Stairs").
By season 4, however, the show's opening music video had been retooled in this respect, the newspaper gag being replaced by Roger springing out from hiding with a different disguise for each episode's music video (playing off a habit of his in the series). In these moments, Roger sings "Good morning USA!" before Stan angrily shoves him back down into hiding so as not to be seen. This causes Stan to lose control of the vehicle and crash into a flagpole outside the CIA.
Details on main characters
- See also: List of American Dad! characters
American Dad! centers on the domestic life of its title character, Stan Smith, his immediate family, and their three housemates. Stan is the family's breadwinner, a CIA agent, who has an exaggeratedly masculine voice and manner about him. Tending to take extreme measures with no regard for others nor potentially disastrous consequences, Stan is portrayed as insanely drastic; endangering; rash; dog-eat-dog; and both inconsiderate and insensitive of others. In mentality, Stan was initially a staunchly conservative Republican and self-proclaimed American patriot (much more so in the very beginnings of the series, diminished after the first few seasons). His conservatism was treated in the series as severe intolerance and self-abnegating. Stan is married to saner housewife Francine Smith. Paradoxical in character, Francine is the moralist of the Smith household who, at the same time, has an ironic corruptness and fiendish, mean streak about her.
Together, Stan and Francine have two teenage offspring: (1) Hayley, their new-age hippie daughter and college-aged oldest. Intuitive and insightful, Hayley is often able to grasp the hidden, inner, and obscure nature of situations. She is passionate, insistent, and vocal in her beliefs. In mentality, she is characterized as being virtuously liberal. As such, she was commonly at odds with Stan in the show's beginnings; (2) Steve, the high-school-aged baby of the family, is portrayed as an enthusiastic, ambitious and wimpy nerd. Despite his nerdiness, Steve is all too often a showman full of conceit. He is usually accompanied by his equally uncool friends: "Snot," Steve's closest friend with whom he shares a bromance, the two once even sharing in a kiss together in the episode "License To Kill"; Toshi, who is Asian American and only speaks Japanese; and Barry, who is morbidly obese with an inarticulate, strident, and sloppy vocal quality. Steve has often tried to be popular with the opposite sex and for several episodes had an obese girlfriend, which Stan disapproved of. Steve has made constant attempts to live up to his father's expectations but can never measure up to the high standards put in place for him.
Outside of the Smith family, there are three additional main characters, two of which are non-human species. These three characters include: (1) Roger, a zany, depraved, devious, and cruel alien. While known to the Smiths as Roger, its worth noting that this character lives numerous lives under numerous alter egos, in which he is named differently. Stan rescued Roger from government capture and harbors him in the family's attic. As a former fugitive from Area 51, Roger is covertly living in the Smith home. Stan has allowed this in defiance of his employer because he owes Roger a "life debt"; (2) Klaus, the family's hapless, saturnine, and consultative pet goldfish, who is full of sage advice. A man in a fish body, the CIA implanted the brain (and presumably vocal cords) of an East German Olympic ski jumper into a fish, thereby creating Klaus; (3) Hayley's mellow, stoner boyfriend (later whipped husband), Jeff Fischer, who is shown to be infatuated with Hayley's mom, Francine, having made subtle passes at her on many occasions.
Some recurring themes have included: Stan's attempts to get Steve to mature in a masculine way that does not embarrass him as a father, often expressed judgmentally and tyrannically so by Stan (e.g., the episode "Toy Whorey," in which Stan will stop at nothing to get Steve laid, going so far as forcing Steve onto a long expedition with him across the nation to find a female for Steve to have sexual relations with. As another example, the episode "The Magnificent Steven," in which Stan imposes laborious and burdensome tasks on Steve and all of his friends so as to get them to grow up); Roger's desires to establish a life outside of the Smith house—early on in the series (e.g., "A.T. the Abusive Terrestrial"); Francine's desire to improve the family's lifestyle in some way (e.g. "Dungeons and Wagons"); Hayley's desire to rebel against her father's politics (e.g. "Stan Knows Best"); Steve's showy conceit that reveals his musical performing side; Steve's randomly expressed inner urban side, sometimes revealed in his performing of R&B songs or expressing himself with other popular forms of African American entertainment (i.e., the episode "Spelling Bee My Baby" in which Steve misspelled his words in a spelling bee by instead spelling random Tyler Perry and Madea films); Steve's desire to lose his virginity or at least "get some boob" (e.g. "Big Trouble in Little Langley"); etc.
The Smith family resides on 43 Cherry Street in the fictional suburb of Langley Falls, Virginia. It is worth noting that there is an actual city known as Langley (home to the headquarters of the CIA, which is where Stan works in the series) and another city known as Great Falls, both communities located in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Smiths and their three housemates live in a large, two-story residence with a basement and an attic. In addition, the Smith house is apparently enhanced with numerous secret rooms, facilities, and large habitats, usually only seen once for each (i.e., the episodes "Of Ice and Men," "The Missing Kink," "The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock by the Coward Stan Smith," etc.). The house is also shown to be filled with many pitfall traps, one of which is filled with alligators and another named by Stan as the "Pit of No Return."Greg and Terry are a gay couple that live across the street from the Smiths. Within the neighborhood, they are portrayed as running a neater and tidier home than the Smiths. Greg and Terry are also the local news anchor for W-ANG-TV. Also in the area is the high school attended by Steve, Pearl Bailey High School.
American Dad! has commonly made use of farces as most of the predicaments that befall the show's main characters have escalated into the extremes, to the point of getting outrageously out of hand. For example, in the episode "Home Wrecker" (season 7), Stan and Francine's marital harmony breaks down from a difference of opinion on remodeling the house. It gets to the point where they divide the house in two, each decorating their half of the house in their desired fashion. Not satisfied with this however, they both attempted to drive the other out of the home and eventually erected a colossal block wall, dividing the two halves of the house. The rest of the family members were forced to spend one holiday after the next alternating between Fran's and Stan's place (the sides of the house treated as distant homes). As another example, in the episode "Stan's Food Restaurant" (season 7), Stan asked for help from Roger in starting his own restaurant. As things progressed, Roger began making heavy changes in the layout, eventually kicking Stan out of the project. Stan retaliated by opening his own restaurant next door, which became a smashing success. Roger retaliated by blowing up Stan's restaurant and destroying his own in the process. Stan threatened to kill Roger, but backed down after Roger pulled a gun on him and told him to relax.
American Dad! plots are generally teeming with surreal humor and nonsensical elements. Many of the occurrences, circumstances, and behaviors are unrestrainedly preposterous, senseless, and illogical. For example, in disguising and presenting himself in alter ego, Roger has sometimes completely transformed several of his physical features somehow: At one point in the episode "Spelling Bee My Baby," he showed up vastly heavier, legitimately so—evidenced by his expanded face and other exposed body parts—appearing as a morbidly obese lady in a Hawaiian getup. In the episode, "Stan's Food Restaurant," he appeared in a businessman disguise, vastly older with wrinkles. As further examples of surreal humor: In the episode "Hurricane!" (season 8), a ferocious bear who was on the attack randomly articulated human words at one point, verbally mocking Stan for missing him in a gunshot; in the episode "Why Can't We Be Friends?" (season 9), the hallways of the Smith house transformed into dark and dangerous ghetto alleyways for every time Roger ambushed, stole money from, and even tried to forcibly rape Jeff Fischer; in the episode "The Missing Kink," Steve and family fish Klaus were shown competing in a one-on-one basketball game between each other, the score said to have been nearly tied at 11 to 10. Also in this episode, the Smith house was shown to consist of a never-before-seen underworld to which various friends and acquaintances of the Smiths party and frolic; in the episode "The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock by the Coward Stan Smith," it was revealed that Stan has a never-before-seen secret control room hidden underground just beside the house. The control room door's exterior side is camouflaged with the grass surrounding it. The room is filled with highly advanced, state-of-the-art equipment. Access to the control room was achieved through a handprint reading device that extended from the ground when Stan extended his arm/hand; etc.
- Non sequitur
- Among one of the many forms of surreal humor and nonsense elements that have been used by American Dad! is the non sequitur. In the past, this has arisen when the show's focus has become sidetracked by entirely unknown and unrelated characters in circumstances that are irrelevant to the episode's main plot. Typically when this has happened, it is after the show has maintained focus on its main characters for much of the episode; following this, the scenes randomly lose focus and become deeply wrapped up into the lives of never-before-seen characters who are non-central to the plot. A prime example of this took place in the episode "Homeland Security" (season 1). As opposed to the show's scenes maintaining focus on the show's main characters, attention was redirected deep into the lives of unknown characters who gained possession of Roger's transforming feces turned gold. As another example, in the episode "The Missing Kink," the show's focus is sporadically sidetracked with brief scenes revolving around the life of a drug abusing bird and Francine's inexplicable ability to both understand and communicate with the bird's chirping.
Plot twists and unexpected elements
The series has abounded with random, unexpected occurrences and surprise plot twists as result of the characters and the very makeup of the program. For example, in the episode "The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock by the Coward Stan Smith," Steve referred to Roger for help in dealing with a school bully. Because Steve was able to correctly predict Roger's original game plan of handling the situation himself under an alter ego, Roger threw him a curveball: he not only hired someone else, Stelio Kontos (originally from the episode "Bully for Steve"), to handle Steve's problem, but hired him to bully Steve in combination with Steve's original bully. As another example, in the episode "The Vacation Goo" (season 4), Francine became frustrated that she could not get the family together for Sunday night dinner. For family time, Stan suggested a vacation, and the Smiths have a great time in Maui as a family. This is up until Roger shuts down the mechanism Francine and the kids are all attached to so as to believe they are all on vacation. Francine and the kids then learned that Stan had been programming a pseudo-vacation every year in a contraption dubbed "the goo chambers." After learning of this, Francine demanded that the family go on a real vacation. Twice they appeared to do so, first skiing, then to Italy, until it is ultimately revealed that they were in the "goo chambers" all along, with Steve and then Hayley having programmed the vacations, respectively. In the episode "Spelling Bee My Baby" (season 9), Steve deliberately misspelt his words in a spelling bee so as to express his love for Akiko (who was also competing), instead spelling random Tyler Perry/Madea films.
Another plot technique used by American Dad! has come in the form of serial episodes. On several occasions, a circumstance has expanded and progressed across a collection of episodes. As an example, one of Hayley's temporary breakups with Jeff expanded across a string of episodes, in which she instead temporarily dated a man-in-a-koala bear-body, Reginald Koala—known for his very urban mannerisms and behaviors. As another example, since the 9th season episode "Naked to the Limit, One More Time" (February 17, 2013), Jeff Fischer has been missing. In this episode, Jeff was blindsided when Roger hurled him into a spaceship. This spacecraft sent by Roger's fellow alien species was intended to return him to his home planet. Before Jeff knew what hit him however, Roger had casted him into the spaceship and stayed behind. The spaceship immediately took off and Jeff was not seen until several episodes later, that being the "Lost in Space" episode (May 5, 2013). On episodes that aired in-between the two aforementioned episodes, allusions to the ongoing plotline in question were made. For example, in the episode "Spelling Bee My Baby" (March 24, 2013), Hayley was shown hopelessly holding out hope for Jeff's return. In the episode, Roger and Stan were on a mission to rush Hayley through her grieving process so she'd be willing to be their tennis official. As of the end of the show's 9th season, Jeff still has yet to return to Earth.
On the cartoon's distinguishing serial technique, co-creator Mike Barker has explained:
- We just try to obey basic rules of continuity. We try to avoid stories where a character is taking a big step like marriage and then not going back to it. I think by doing that, then in the future when we have big changes, the audience knows that they’re going to be living with those changes for a while. So it’s not just a thrown-away bit. It kind of endows that story beat with more power because it’s going to last. It’s not just going to be a reset button.
Much of the wit used in American Dad! has come in the form of gallows humor as many of the predicaments and circumstances have made fun of the characters in life-threatening, disastrous, terrifying, and traumatic situations. As an example, the episode "A Ward Show" (season 8) is chocked full of suicide and murder: Roger became Steve's legal guardian and responded to him getting picked on at school by rigging the teachers' cars with explosives and killing them all. Later on in the episode while Principal Lewis was driving his vehicle with Steve as the passenger, he informed Steve that he was about to drive off the Grand Canyon in a murder-suicide. This culminated in Roger's saving the day, his love supernaturally allowing the car to fly once Principal Lewis drove off the Canyon; however, another vehicle with a random white man and a black boy in it (opposite of Principal Lewis, a black man and Steve, a white boy) had also, coincidentally enough, driven off the opposite side of the Grand Canyon in a murder-suicide attempt. This resulted in a midair collision between the car with Principal Lewis and Steve in it and the car with the white man and black boy in it.
American Dad! has also used much cringe comedy as circumstances and behaviors on the series have all too often been presented with humorous forms of repulsion, depravity, indecency, and bad taste. The show's creators have stated that if material attracts laughter combined with groans, it's a shoo-in for American Dad! As an example, in the episode "The Scarlett Getter" (season 8), Steve magically started having good luck whenever wearing his sister Hayley's panties. As another example, on more than one occasion, Stan has flexed and showed off his derrière at his own children, Steve and Hayley, once even making attempts to get them to grab onto it. In the episode "Great Space Roaster," Stan remarked, "Steve, don't steal glances. If you want to check out my meatballs in this thing, go right ahead. I'm your dad." In the episode "Why Can't We Be Friends?" as Steve turned around and walked away from an upset Stan who had just finished scolding him, Stan quietly admired his son's derrière, remarking to himself, "Kid's got his mother's ass." Further, in the episode "Pulling Double Booty" (season 5), Hayley was seen making out with a man that was identical to her father. Mistaking him for Stan, Francine disgustedly passed out. Stan later revealed the look-alike to be a body double of his, named Bill, who worked for the CIA. Hayley was convinced that Bill was the one and if he dumped her, she would go "maximum insane": She would kill Bill, burn down the neighborhood, and rape Roger according to her. While the four spent time together at the beach, Stan gave Bill a detailed account of Francine's sex drive, leading Bill to seduce and attempt to have sexual intercourse with Francine. Stan later kicked Bill out of his house. He then passed himself off as Bill to Hayley. With Hayley under the impression that Stan was Bill, the two traveled to a romantic resort. Enraged at the mere thought of having sex with her father, Hayley burned down the entire forest they went hiking in.
Season discrepancy and installments by airing dates
Season numbering discrepancy
There are 2 popular conflicting reports and beliefs as to the number of seasons American Dad! has had. The two claims diverge by one season. The discrepancy emanated from the unconventional scheduling of the program's first 7 episodes. The first 7 episodes began with a sneak preview that aired on February 6, 2005; the remaining 6 episodes aired from May 1, 2005 to June 19, 2005. The series then went into a summer hiatus before returning under a conventional television schedule from September 11, 2005 to May 14, 2006.
One of the beliefs is: A.) Season 1 is a combination of both the first 7 episodes and the following 16 episodes, despite the separation of these two episode collections by a summer hiatus. Under this system, season 1 is uncharacteristically longer in contrast to the rest of the show's seasons, consisting of 23 episodes. The other belief is: B.) Season 1 ended after the program's first 7 episodes leading into the summer hiatus, then season 2 picked up when the following 16 began that September. Under this system, season 1 is uncharacteristically shorter in contrast to the rest of the show's seasons, consisting of only 7 episodes.
Commentary from American Dad! co-creators Matt Weitzman and Mike Barker has largely been consistent with the prolonged season 1 numbering scheme: on September 28, 2012, the two were interviewed and reported that they had 20 episodes completed for the then imminent "2012-13 eighth season," and were in the process of doing early work on the show's "2013-14 ninth season." However, reports from Fox Broadcasting Company/the show's official website have been consistent with the shortened season 1 numbering scheme: in listing all the episodes from the 2012-13 season, the show's official website reports each as existing within the show's "ninth season."
Season installments by airing dates
- See also: List of American Dad! episodes
Of the two conflicting numbering schemes, Wikipedia follows the shortened season 1 numbering system:
- American Dad (season 1), airing from February 6, 2005–June 19, 2005
- American Dad (season 2), airing from September 11, 2005–May 14, 2006
- American Dad (season 3), airing from September 10, 2006–May 20, 2007
- American Dad (season 4), airing from September 23, 2007–May 18, 2008
- American Dad (season 5), airing from September 28, 2008–May 27, 2009
- American Dad (season 6), airing from September 27, 2009–May 16, 2010
- American Dad (season 7), airing from October 3, 2010–May 22, 2011
- American Dad (season 8), airing from September 25, 2011–May 13, 2012
- American Dad (season 9), airing from September 30, 2012–May 12, 2013
Origins and progression
When asked what first spurred the idea for American Dad! Seth MacFarlane answered, "It was right after the election, and me and co-creator Matt Weitzman were so frustrated with the Bush administration that we would just spend days bitching and complaining, and we figured we should channel this into something creative and hopefully profitable."American Dad! had a mid-season debut. It was first shown directly following Super Bowl XXXIX as a sneak preview on February 6, 2005.
Initially, it was a replacement for the originally failed series Family Guy (1999-2002). American Dad! was originally intended to be Fox's answer to the hordes of fans left behind from the original failure of Macfarlane's previous animated venture. Just three short months after American Dad!'s debut however, Family Guy was revived, leaving American Dad! with a formidable expectation: the burning question of whether or not the series could distinguish itself from its counterpart and succeed on its own merits. Instead of taking over creative direction of the series, MacFarlane left the job largely in the hands of Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman so as to distinguish American Dad!
The popularity of MacFarlane and his involvement with the predecessor have led to prejudgments of American Dad! many of these prejudgments even predating the series. Critics had already written off the show prior to its birth as nothing more than a pale imitation of Family Guy and MacFarlane’s attempts to get his old show back on the air. One example, prior to the American Dad! series debut, a writer of The Washington Post published a piece that reads "But those same executives have also given MacFarlane a whole new animated half-hour to play with in the disappointing American Dad! The new series officially premieres in May but has a sneak preview tomorrow night in the coveted post-Super Bowl time period . . . The look and pace of American Dad! is the same as Family Guy."
In actuality, however, the program's beginnings take cues from the TV series All In The Family, almost a farcical animated version of the live action sitcom. Making use of political satire, exaggerated conservatism and bigotry, the show was said to have originally even been inspired by All in the Family. In American Dad!'s initial seasons, however, MacFarlane was described as focusing more attention on his coexisting obligation of Family Guy. This was to the extent that American Dad! was completely secondary to him, and he didn't understand the show. Because he wasn't getting the show at the time, he was described as "just going along for the ride." Likewise, the rest of the show's creators Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman were also trying to figure out the show and where it was going.
After American Dad!'s initial couple of seasons and as it progressed, the show began to increasingly develop its very own distinct approach and identity, distinguishing it from all other programs on the air. Standing out from its counterparts increasingly with each passing season, the series has been described as eventually becoming the weirdest show in network prime time. It's been characterized as serving up distinguishing blasts of surrealism. As the series progressed, MacFarlane realized that Mike Barker and Matt Weitzman were on to something uniquely appealing; moreover, he realized they were on to something that sharply contrasted from Family Guy, which audiences appreciated.
After the show's first several seasons, MacFarlane not only came to fully understand and appreciate American Dad!'s value but also came to consider himself a huge fan of the series. Taking note of increased enthusiasm for American Dad! and the "Roger" character from fans via his Twitter, MacFarlane began putting considerable amounts of his time and efforts into the series, more so in the last several seasons than ever before (this observation made in fall 2012). In describing American Dad! comedy styles, Barker noted that it's not as reference-laden as Family Guy or South Park. He added that American Dad!'s humor more frequently derives from "the human condition and emotions that everyone can relate to: ego, the feds, etc. And for that reason, I think our humor is a little more evergreen."
Among some of American Dad!'s notable progressions from its very early stages have included:
A) the creators learning quickly that political banter between Stan and Hayley had only "a limited shelf life." Creators described the approach as not providing them as much as they originally thought it would. Said co-creator Matt Weitzman, "There are times when we still have that kind of dynamic between them, but not nearly what it was in the first season. And I think the show, honestly, has grown and benefited from it, because that would have gotten boring after a while."
B) the fact that Roger was better suited with a running gag of alternate disguises and allowed to exist outside of the Smith house. The show's original concept basically portrayed him as being similar to Alf, having him sit in the house all day while commenting on life. The creators, however, have stated that the character was far too much fun to keep restricted to the house, and having him interact with different people provided for lots of material. The creators have further appreciated the direction of Roger for the fact that he almost serves as a different guest star for each episode what with his many alter egos. The show's staff believe this element of the show examples MacFarlane's versatility as he voices Roger and his countless alter egos.
C) Steve's later and present design. His original design was less soft, more mature, and more manly. He was voiced by Ricky Blitt. Halfway through production however, Steve's voice actor was switched to Scott Grimes, and his design was made to be softer, more endearing, and cuter as a sharper contrast to his father Stan's rugged masculinity. This was done also to make Steve less comparable to Neil Goldman from Family Guy.
Episode creation process
Developing plot lines and scripts
On developing screenplays for American Dad! episodes, co-creator Mike Barker revealed that he and the rest of the show's staff never know when and from where plot line ideas will emerge. "Just as an example," Barker explained, "All About Steve is an episode where Stan wants his son to be more of a jock and more like he was when he was his age. That whole episode came about from one of our writers Dave Hemingson coming into our office, telling us he just visited the dentist and he may need to get braces. And the idea of a grown man with braces appealed to us, and we just decided what if we put Stan in braces, and he understands for the first time what it's like to feel like a geek."
During the 2012-13 season, Barker revealed that much of his inspiration for American Dad! plots comes through listening to music. In particular, he credited music from Wax Fang for his inspiration. Said Barker, "There's just something so inherently cinematic about Wax Fang's music. [Scott] Carney's voice is stunningly clear and dramatic. And his lyrics are specific enough to build stories around while staying flexible enough for different interpretations." Barker added that through listening to the Wax Fang track Majestic, he was able to come up with major plot elements for the episode "Lost in Space" (this episode features the Wax Fang songs Majestic and At Sea).
Barker added that once he and the rest of the show's staff get the idea for the plot line, they spend a couple of weeks in a room with all the screenwriters. There, they break the story and make sure that each act of the two act breaks are strong. As another procedure, Barker stated that they make a point of twisting the story in such a way so as to make audiences come back for more after the commercial break.
The final process, Barker explained, is sending a screenwriter out to write the script. The screenwriter gets two weeks to write the script. The script then comes back. Barker explained that they then all edit and rewrite it, "hopefully keeping as much of the first draft as we can and punching the jokes and making sure all the motivations are there, and then we take it to the table and read it."
When Barker was asked what his favorite part was in the American Dad! creation process, he answered, "I like the story breaking process, personally. Coming up with the stories. To me, that's the most gratifying."
Barker and Matt Weitzmann have stated that they are accustomed to feeling scruples with adding certain material into the plots, but always following this up by going ahead with incorporating the material anyway. They added that their goal is to create laughs combined with groans and going over the line.
Editing, completion, and deadlines
Barker has explained that because American Dad! creators are working in animation as opposed to live action, they have the ability to redraw and rewrite up until the show is aired. This is as opposed to live action where individuals must shoot the show and work with whatever has been put together in the editing room long beforehand.
Barker has also stated, "It's really hard to accept anything less than perfect when you start to get wrapped up in this process of being able to constantly make changes. Eventually you have to kind of bring down the hammer at the color stage and live with what you've got."
Barker has explained that, ultimately, the creation process of an American Dad! episode is completed upon the producers' say-so, not anyone else's.
When American Dad! co-creator Matt Weitzman was asked what his favorite part was of the show's creation process, he answered, "I probably enjoy the editing process a lot. I think I like the fine tuning of things and making things happen just so. Making the episode just kind of pop in its own subtle ways."
American Dad! creators have revealed to working significantly in advance of newly broadcasted episodes. As many as 20 to 42 unaired episodes are typically ready for finishing touches. Barker explained that a key to this system is making sure that the writing is timeless, as opposed to topical and contemporary. He added that if any material within the script deals with contemporary issues, the creators have to hope that they're also contemporary issues two years down the line. When asked if this has ever been a problem, Barker answered in the affirmative and explained:
- Harriet Miers was, like, the White House Press Secretary, I think, and we had a joke about her. (Miers was a former White House Counsel, who was briefly nominated for the Supreme Court by President George W. Bush.) And I remember watching on air and having to Google who our own joke was, because it had been so long since the joke was pitched. But in terms of stories, we’re less likely to be burned by a current-event issue no longer being current.
- Seth MacFarlane voices Stan Smith (father/husband) and Roger (alien)
- Wendy Schaal voices Francine Smith (wife/mother)
- Scott Grimes voices Steve Smith (Stan and Francine's son)
- Rachael MacFarlane (Seth MacFarlane's sister) voices Hayley Smith (Stan and Francine's daughter)
- Dee Bradley Baker voices Klaus Heissler (the Smiths' man-in-a-fish-body pet)
- Jeff Fischer voices Jeff Fischer (Hayley's boyfriend turned husband)
- Patrick Stewart voices Deputy Director Avery Bullock (Stan's CIA boss)
|Seth MacFarlane||Wendy Schaal||Scott Grimes||Rachael MacFarlane (Seth MacFarlane's sister)||Dee Bradley Baker||Jeff Fischer|
|Stan Smith, Roger||Francine Smith||Steve Smith||Hayley Smith||Klaus Heissler||Jeff Fischer|
Ratings for American Dad!'s sneak preview predecessor
American Dad! premiered along with "Animation Domination" and was the first program to have its beginnings on that lineup. The series officially premiered on May 1, 2005; however, the series also had a sneak preview episode that predated its official series premiere. The sneak preview episode was aired directly following Fox's broadcast of Super Bowl XXXIX on February 6, 2005. The sneak preview episode aired alongside The Simpsons. The sneak preview debut pulled in 15 million viewers, with 23 million viewers overall. The show returned on May 1, 2005, with the episode "Threat Levels," obtaining 9.47 million viewers, after the season premiere/revival of Family Guy.
|Season||Timeslot (ET)||# Ep.||Premiered||Ended||TV Season||Rank||Viewers
|1||Sunday 9:30 pm||23||
|2||Sunday 8:30 pm||19||
|3||Sunday 9:30 pm||16||
|6||Sunday 9:30 pm
Sunday 7:30 pm
|7||Sunday 9:30 pm||18||
|8||Sunday 9:30 pm||TBA||
Awards and nominations
|Year||Award||Category||Recipients and nominees||Outcome|
|2005||Teen Choice Awards||Choice Summer Series||American Dad!||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice V-Cast||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2006||Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animated||American Dad! for episode "Homeland Insecurity" (1.6)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Animated Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2007||Annie Awards||Best Writing in an Animated Television Production||Dan Vebber for episode "The American Dad After School Special" (2.2)||Nominated|
|GLAAD Media Award||Outstanding Individual Episode||For episode "Lincoln Lover" (2.4)||Nominated|
|Golden Reel Award||Best Sound Editing in Television Animated||American Dad! for episode "Dungeon and Wagons" (2.5)||Nominated|
|2008||Teen Choice Award||Choice TV: Animated Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2009||Prism Award||Comedy Episode||For episode "Spring Break-Up" (3.16)||Nominated|
|Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program||American Dad! for episode "1600 Candles" (4.1)||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Animated Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2010||Annie Awards||Directing in a Television Production||Pam Cooke and Jansen Lee for episode "Brains, Brains & Automobiles" (5.4)||Nominated|
|Artios||Outstanding Achievement in Casting||Linda Lamontagne||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Animated Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2011||Teen Choice Awards||Choice TV: Animated Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
|2012||Primetime Emmy Awards||Outstanding Animated Program||American Dad! for episode "Hot Water" (7.1)||Nominated|
|2012||POPrepublic.tv IT LIST AWARDSM||Favourite International TV Show||American Dad!||Nominated|
Crossovers with MacFarlane's other animated shows
Characters from Family Guy and The Cleveland Show have made crossover appearances in American Dad! and vice versa. At the very beginning of the 2011-12 television season, Animation Domination used a corresponding theme for all three programs in which the same hurricane had hit.
- Brian Griffin made a brief cameo in the American Dad! episode "The People vs. Martin Sugar" as Stan's #1 Fictional Dog. Brian carelessly asked Stan, "Do I know you?" before walking away. Stan replied by shouting "Stop pretending I don't exist!"
- Brian had an epiphany in the Family Guy episode "Excellence in Broadcasting," in which he changed his political views to republican conservatism. Once he realized this, a cutaway gag displayed Stan Smith sitting on the couch supposedly watching Brian and telling him, "Good. Good for Brian."
- In the Family Guy episode "Lois Kills Stewie," Stan and Deputy Director Avery Bullock attempted to catch Stewie for breaking into the CIA where Stewie mistook Stan for Joe Swanson.
- In the American Dad! episode "The Worst Stan," Steve and Roger were watching a fictitious episode of Family Guy featuring Stewie and Brian going to Miami to enroll in Florida State University. While viewing this, Steve questioned how a baby and a dog were able to get on an airplane.
- At the end of the Family Guy episode "Meet the Quagmires," Peter commented that everything is back to normal. That's when Roger entered the living room and said, "Who ate all the Pecan Sandies?" a reference to the American Dad! pilot.
- In the first Family Guy Star Wars special "Blue Harvest," Roger was seen as one of the various aliens in the Mos Eisley cantina.
- In the third Family Guy Star Wars special "It's a Trap!" Roger made a cameo as an Imperial Officer. He was sent to meet Darth Vader (played by Stewie) when he arrived at the second Death Star. Upon encountering Roger, Stewie remarked, "Did we run out of our own characters?" Elsewhere in the episode, Klaus played Admiral Ackbar.
- In the Family Guy episode "Killer Queen," Barry was shown as one of the fat kids that sat next to Peter Griffin.
- In the Family Guy episode "Foreign Affairs," Bonnie remarked to Lois before having an affair, "Joe just isn't the same man I married." The American Dad! opening sequence from the early episodes (in which the running gag was that of a newspaper headline, not the later version with Roger in costume) was then shown, Joe acting as Stan.
- At the beginning of the American Dad! episode "The Return of the Bling," Klaus proclaimed that he was ready to pretend going to school if someone was ready to pretend seeing his bus outside. He had a Family Guy lunch box and was wearing a baseball cap with Brian Griffin on the front.
- At the end of the American Dad! episode "The Unbrave One," Glenn Quagmire was portrayed as a mysterious Internet doctor, Dr. Vadgers, whom Francine kept emailing for results on her pregnancy.
- At the beginning of the Family Guy episode "Bigfat," Peter Griffin had a dream in which the Smiths had moved into Cleveland Brown's old house. The dream concluded with Stan shooting and killing Peter for sharing information on Roger being an alien. Hank Hill from King of the Hill would later appear in another dream from the same episode.
The Cleveland Show
- In The Cleveland Show episode "Gone With the Wind," Quagmire told Cleveland that after he dropped Loretta's coffin at the funeral home, he was heading to Langley Falls for a background gag in a bachelor party scene in American Dad!
- In The Cleveland Show episode "Ain't Nothin' but Mutton Bustin'," Rallo has a belt buckle of Roger that he was looking to replace after winning his first mutton busting competition at the fair.
- Roger was shown on a stained glass window in The Cleveland Show episode "Jesus Walks."
- The first ever crossover with all three of MacFarlane's series occurred in "Night of the Hurricane," in which a hurricane stormed through the towns of Stoolbend (The Cleveland Show), Quahog (Family Guy) and Langley Falls (American Dad!). In the first part of the crossover "The Hurricane!" Channel 6 News reporter Larvell made a meta-reference to the event, stating that the hurricane would make its way through Stoolbend, Quahog and finally Langley Falls. The actual crossover of the event took place at the end of the final part the American Dad! episode "Hurricane!" In this scene, Stan faces Cleveland Brown and Peter Griffin in a standoff after the hurricane had passed.
|DVD Name||Release dates||Ep #||BBFC/IFCO/ACB rating||Additional information|
|Region 1||Region 2||Region 4|
|Volume One||April 25, 2006||April 24, 2006||May 24, 2006||13||12/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes all 7 episodes of Season 1, and 6 of Season 2 ("Pilot" through "Stan of Arabia: Part 2"). Special features include commentaries, featurettes, and animatics. It was renamed 'Season 1' on region 2 and 4. When a compilation comprising Volumes 1–3 were released in the UK, Season 1 was renamed to Volume 1 much like its US counterpart.|
|Volume Two||May 15, 2007||May 28, 2007||May 21, 2007||19||12/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes the remaining 10 episodes from Season 2 and the first 9 episodes from Season 3 ("Stannie Get Your Gun" through "The Best Christmas Story Never"). Special features include commentaries on all episodes, featurettes, multi-angle scene studies, and deleted scenes. An uncensored audio track is also available on the episode "Tears of a Clooney".|
|Volume Three||April 15, 2008||May 12, 2008||May 14, 2008||18||15/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes the remaining 10 episodes from Season 3 and 8 of the first 9 episodes from Season 4 ("Bush Comes to Dinner" through "Frannie 911"), though "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever" does not appear on the DVD. Special features include commentaries on all episodes, unrated audio, table read, and deleted scenes.|
|Volume Four||April 28, 2009||April 20, 2009||November 18, 2009||14||15/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes the remaining 8 episodes of Season 4 (including "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever") and the first 6 episodes of Season 5. Bonus features include commentary on every episode, storyboards/animatics, multi-angle scene studios, deleted scenes and optional censored audio. On the Region 2 DVD release a typo was made on the back cover.*|
|Volume Five||June 15, 2010||June 14, 2010||November 3, 2010||14||15/15/M||This 3-disc boxset includes the remaining 14 episodes from Season 5. Special features include commentaries on all episodes, deleted scenes, and a Power Hour Drinking Game.|
|Volume Six||April 19, 2011||June 27, 2011||July 13, 2011||18||15/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes all 18 episodes from Season 6. Special features include commentaries on selected episodes, deleted scenes, and the making of the episode "Rapture's Delight".|
|Christmas with the Smiths||N/A||November 7, 2011||November 30, 2011||2||15/15/M||Exclusive to the UK and Australia, it includes two Christmas episodes, "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever" and "Rapture's Delight".|
|Volume Seven||April 17, 2012||May 14, 2012||May 16, 2012||19||15/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes all 19 episodes from Season 7, along with commentaries on select episodes, deleted scenes, American Dad! at Comic-Con 2010, and "I ❤ Patrick Stewart".|
|Volume Eight||TBA||August 8, 2013||TBA||18||15/15/M||This 3-disc box set includes all 18 episodes of Season 8.|
- The Volume One release was retitled Season One for the Region 2 and 4 releases, however the subsequent releases retained the Volume titles.
- On the packaging for the Season 1 release on Region 2 DVD, there was no mention of audio commentaries or some of the bonus features, leading many to mistakenly believe they had been omitted from the release.
- The Region 2 and 4 DVDs do not have censored audio tracks on any episodes; however, Volume 3 has so-called "uncensored tracks" on the set (probably an error from the transfer because the tracks are already automatically uncensored on the set).
- The Volume 4 DVD release blurb contained information on the episode "Phantom of the Telethon," which was instead featured on Volume 5.
- On Volume 6, despite claims of being uncensored, the bleeps from "Home Adrone", "My Morning Straitjacket", and "G-String Circus" are not removed.
Following each episode's ending credits is a live action video of a uniformed police officer representing the Underdog Productions logo. The officer states something different in each brief segment. What is said by the officer is random and nothing particularly unique or relevant to the corresponding episode.
The final frame of the introduction was changed four seasons beyond the first season. At the end of the credits in the first season, all that could be seen was a big “American Dad!” logo in front of the American flag. In all subsequent scenes, this logo was shrunk to fit the names to the series creators on the same screen.
- "Interview: The Creators of American Dad". IGN. 2006-04-24. Retrieved 2013-05-04.
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- McFarland, Kevin. "“The Full Cognitive Redaction Of Avery Bullock By The Coward Stan Smith” | American Dad | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2013-04-30.
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- "Watch American Dad! – The Wrestler Season 7 Episode 12 - Online Business Blog | Online Business Blog". Lynnpatt.com. 2012-03-08. Retrieved 2013-04-01.
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- "Breaking News - FOX Salutes 'American Dad' by Moving Up Its Timeslot Beginning Sunday, May 1, on Fox". TheFutonCritic.com. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
- "Best & Worst: Post-Super Bowl TV". Zap2it. Retrieved 2012-11-01.
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- Buy American Dad! – Volume 6 (3 Disc Set) @ EzyDVD
- American Dad DVD news: Announcement for American Dad – Volume 6 | TVShowsOnDVD.com
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|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: American Dad!|
- American Dad! on Fox.com
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- American Dad! at the Internet Movie Database
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- American Dad! at TV.com
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