American Dad! premiered February 6th 2005, directly after the Super Bowl. 15.1 million viewers tuned in to watch Steve Smith attempt to woo a cute girl and end up a power-hungry class president in the end. The rest, of course, is history, and today we enjoy the progressively weirder lives of the (almost) all-American Smith Family.
The show revolves around a wacky family unit made up of four humans, a talking fish and an alien. Stan Smith is the patriarch of the Smith family, working as a highly trained and highly conservative CIA agent. Francine is a loving wife who enjoys indulging her wild side from time to time. Hayley is the eldest child and the black sheep of the family, sitting firmly on the far left in terms of political views. Steve is the youngest, a geeky, awkward teen who will do just about anything to win a girl's heart.
On the non-human side, Klaus is the result of a CIA sabotage mission and a former top Olympic German ski champion, before his mind was switched with that of a goldfish. Last but definitely not least is Roger, a fugitive alien who switches personas and costumes on the fly whenever the situation demands it, or he just feels like getting into a character.
On a show as weird as American Dad!, it's no surprise that there are no shortage of secrets, especially those of the odd variety. So buckle in, and we'll tell you 25 strange facts that not even real fans know about American Dad!
24 Lies! It's All Lies!
If there's one thing that TV shows love more than holiday episodes, it's milestone episodes. The Simpsons celebrated their 300th episode with plenty of hype and pomp. American Dad! did the same, with Fox Network boasting about "Lost In Space" being the show's 150th episode.
Just like they did with The Simpsons, however, Fox lied about the episode number.
You see, Lost In Space was the 151st episode, with "The Full Cognitive Redaction of Avery Bullock By The Coward Stan Smith" being the true 150th episode. The network certainly should certainly know which episode is which! It is generally believed that because "Lost In Space", where Hayley's husband Jeff was abducted by aliens was such a big episode, it was advertised more. Even so, more than one fan lost their credit during trivia night because of this switch.
23 He's Just Not That Into You
Seth MacFarlane, the mastermind behind the hit TV show Family Guy, was one of the main reasons that American Dad! got off the ground in the first place. In fact, American Dad! was always intended to be a replacement for the Griffin family hijinks. This is a surprising fact since, at a glance American Dad! is far more out-there than Family Guy ever was.
Seth, in spite of being one of the main creators of the show, didn't actually push American Dad! until later seasons.
Looking back at how far American Dad! has come, it's really no surprise. The original plots weren't exactly interesting or surprising. Compared to a show that included a super-genius baby and a dimwitted father who managed to find himself in all sorts of weird situations, there's no wonder as to why he lost interest until American Dad! became so much weirder.
22 It's Not Him, It's You
Watching both shows suggested Seth MacFarlane initially preferred his old show Family Guy to the new American Dad! Most of his work during this time almost only centred around voicing the characters such as Stan Smith and Roger. It's no surprise at all though why he chose to focus on his old show, other than the fact that it was the one he became famous for. A switch has become clear lately, as American Dad! has become better-liked in recent years.
On Family Guy, Seth MacFarlane does many of the voices of the main cast, and even for side characters.
He voices Peter Griffin, Stewie, Brian, Quagmire, Carter Pewterschmidt, Doctor Hartman, Seamus, Tom Tucker, and Tom Tucker's son, to name a few of the more reccurring characters. After learning that, can you really blame him for spending more time on Family Guy?
21 Put A Quarter In The Swear Jar
During American Dad!'s time with Fox, no one on the show was allowed to use heavier curse words on air, or at the very least, they were bleeped out. Some fans might have found the implied profanity to be even funnier, but nonetheless American Dad! loves nothing more than pushing boundaries.
This is probably why TBS chose to pick up the program for their network. The change in what the show was allowed to do was described by the creators in the this way: the black sheep of a family finally finds another that finally understands them. Due to TBS' less strict censorship, American Dad! was finally allowed bad words on air, and Hayley was the first to cuss on the show.
20 A Canine Friend
On a different note, it's no secret at all that writers enjoy inserting tributes into work whenever they can. This can be a family member or a close friend, but sometimes, that loved one has paws. In this case, the episode "Stan's Best Friend", which is centred around Stan becoming attached to an adorable beagle puppy, is dedicated to the late dog Freddy Fener.
Freddy was owned and loved by Jonathan Fener, who is one of the writers for the show. The episode shows this well by having a very emotional plot. When the puppy has some misadventures, the Smiths are faced with a hard choice. Stan, however, is classically stubborn on the issue, and refuses to let the poor thing go.
If you haven't seen this one yet, you definitely should grab some Kleenex.
19 All Aboard The Nope Train
Anybody who knows anything about Klaus will know that he is German, which explains the accent he has. Sometimes, in a fit of high emotion, he'll spout German phrases, or delve into his background by cooking German dishes such as pancakes with hazelnuts.
He even ensures that Steve and his friend Snot are very well versed in German culture before he lets them watch a famous movie that he claims can't be enjoyed properly without knowing all background references.
Unfortunately, having a German heritage can lead to some very awkward former occupations by older family members. During one flashback, Klaus reveals that his grandfather was the conductor for the train at a "zoo", which implies that he may have been part of well-known WWII political group. Yikes!
18 The Only Clean One Left
Steve Smith is essentially the archetype for the loser geek trope. He's not even a particularly smart geek, he simply loves to play with toys at 14 years of age, as well as LARPing (Live Action Role Play, for the uninitiated) from time to time. His father, who loves Steve dearly, is devastated that his son isn't as "manly" as he would like, and constantly demands that Steve grow up.
Interestingly, in keeping with the fact that Steve is very much a child both in age and heart, he also happens to be the only Smith who has never actually used the fun, grown-up version of oregano. It is likely though that Stan is more than happy that his son has never used that substance, so he can't really keep disapproving.
17 Soylent Green Is Fish!
Actors of all kinds often end up falling in love with their character one way or another. When this happens, they often become very in-tune with the sort of directions that their character is best pointed in. Sometimes the writers are happy to explore these new ideas, and other times, they feel certain goals are too off base or unsuited for the message they are trying to convey.
Dee Bradley Baker, who has voiced Klaus, the family fish, certainly has an interesting idea on where he'd like to take Klaus one day. He has said that he would like to have Klaus start a fish stick company, despite the fact that he himself is a fish. Clearly Dee feels that Klaus, not being a natural fish, doesn't have the same kind of concern for fish life as one would think.
We'll just have to wait and see if this story arc will ever come to light.
16 Frog In Your Throat?
Anyone can imagine that being a full-time voice actor can certainly wreak havoc on your vocal chords. The actor behind the Dalek voices on Doctor Who readily admits that doing that sinister voice is actually painful, and even the legendary Seth MacFarlane confesses that Stewie's voice can be tough on him as well.
What is very surprising is that being a full-time voice actor can be tough on the rest of your body.
During an extended recording session, Steve's voice actor Scott Grimes suddenly developed a hernia. It seems unbelievable that something that requires the upper part of your body can affect the lower half, but sometimes, an actor must tense up or position their body just so, in order to achieve their intended voice. Still, getting a full-on hernia would still feel baffling for anyone to get while doing a speaking role.
15 Drawing The Line
The writers of any show with offensive material or even heavy subjects generally try to stay within the comfort zone of their actors. Some actors might have much larger comfort zones than others, and even some surprising names seem to have no limit to what they will say to get a laugh.
In a rather hilarious twist, Sir Patrick Stewart seems to be one of the more open individuals.
However, even a man of his calibre and willingness to go to interesting places with his character has his limits. During the production of an episode, the writers managed to find it! When they planned to have Stewart recite a line for Avery Bullock that would imply that he was very deeply weird, the actor insisted on taking a step back. This is the same odd character who runs the CIA where Stan works, and orders increasingly bizarre experiments from the lab, simply for his entertainment.
14 His Bones!?
Roger is a marooned alien from a far away and highly advanced planet. On Earth, he gets into every sort of activity using increasingly ridiculous personas in order to disguise himself, but only the Smith family can still see him. As an alien, Roger also has many abilities that he loves to use when the mood strikes, such as being fireproof and possessing super speed.
Roger's speed nicely explains how he can seem to be everywhere at once, and change a personas' whole costume in an eye-blink.
One of his personas ends up playing in Steve's short lived band, and turns out to be an extremely talented drummer. When asked his secret, Roger reveals that his species has no bones whatsoever in their bodies. They are made up almost entirely of cartilage, which gives him his incredible flexibility and speed, as portrayed in this piece by Nick Chamagua.
13 Seems Legit
Sir Patrick Stewart certainly has a ton of fun playing Avery Bullock on American Dad! Avery often has some of the most oddest lines on the show that rival the fast-talking Roger the alien. Stewart has expressed happiness for the role, as it has allowed him to finally explore his more comedic side.
As head of the CIA (in spite of being clearly British), Avery also enjoys indulging in activities that err on a stranger side.
During an episode where Stan needs to stay awake, he goes to his boss for some help on the issue. To Stan's surprise, Avery freely admits to being part of a group of responsible substance users. Later on that same episode, we find Avery apparently during a meeting of his group, where he proudly reiterates that he's a part of a group of responsible users who are currently using while going on with their day-to-day activities.
12 A Real Homebody
During the early development of Roger's character, the writers had a rather long and convoluted story line planned out for him. As Roger must always hide from the CIA and the outside world, he regularly dons personas to disguise himself whenever he goes out.
Originally, the plan was for Roger to be stuck at home while laying low from the government.
He would continue this way for the first season, and during the second he would be discovered and become world famous. By the third season, his fame would wane and no one would care about him being an alien anymore. The fourth was to be about Roger trying all sorts of schemes to become famous again.
It's safe to say that fans are more than happy about Roger's regular adventures today.
11 More To Worry About
Steve identifies as straight, as in he's only attracted to women. Many of his stories centre around this fact, and the lengths that he will go to get a woman's attention. This doesn't mean that it's not occasionally called into question. Of Steve's circle of friends, his best friend is Snot, and on more than one occasion within the show, there have been subtle implications of interest.
During the episode where Jeff is sent 60 years into the future, we find out that Steve and Snot made a pact that if they didn't have girlfriends by 21, they would marry each other. In another episode where Steve dreams about throwing a hot tub party, Steve has a vision of his friend as a beautiful woman.
Before Steve wakes up, Snot points out that he clearly has some stuff to work out between them.
10 May To December
A running gag on Seth MacFarlane's other show Family Guy is that Meg Griffin occasionally goes on dates with Mayor Adam West, a man of an older generation. It seems that this joke was considered hilarious enough to be transplanted onto American Dad! in the form of Hayley and Avery Bullock occasionally going out and having an on-again-off-again relationship.
The relationship isn't that srong, and is made more funny by the fact that Hayley and Avery are almost complete opposites. It also doesn't help that Haley is close with her Dad's boss, which weirds him out to no end when he does find out. It's definitely one of the stranger decisions of the show, so we're not sure how we feel about it.
9 Some Weird Dates
Another funny component to Hayley and Avery's relationship, while already remembering that it's purely physical, is the fact that their "dates" can be very... odd. During an episode where Hayley's ex-boyfriend finds out that he can earn $50,000 if he can stops her wedding (it's a long story), he bites off way more than he can chew.
When the koala ex-boyfriend finds out about the marriage, he happens to be driving a limo with Avery as the passenger.
When the koala explains why he's suddenly taking a detour, Avery begins to reminisce about his more interesting meetings with Hayley. It gets to the point where the koala becomes so fed up that he pulls over, and challenges Avery to a fight over Hayley.
8 A Change Of Luck
Klaus the fish has one of the more interesting backstories on the show, even if he isn't a particularly popular character himself. Decades ago, Klaus perfected an extremely dangerous but also exceedingly cool new ski jump to use for the Winter Olympics. When he went to go represent Germany, he was taken by the CIA and had his mind swapped with that of a goldfish.
His real body, unsurprisingly, became affected in the competition because the mind inside was... a fish.
In the end, the CIA left Klaus in his fish form and stashed his other form deep in the snow, where it wasn't found again for many years. Klaus is understandably bitter about his lot, considering that in many ways, he is still a prisoner of the CIA, even if they are ultimately done with him.
7 Scratch That
As mentioned, Klaus' mind was swapped from his human body into a goldfish. His original form was then stashed in a permanent snow drift after the Olympic games were finished. Many years later, his body is found.
To Klaus' great delight, he finds out that his body was very well preserved by the snow. He begs Stan to bring him back to the CIA and return him to his body, but Stan stalls on this, because he simply doesn't want to.
At long last, Francine takes Klaus' side and convinces Stan to do the switch. By the time they get there though, the ice that preserved Klaus' body has melted due to being poorly stored, and the scientists in the lab are using the ice that's left and putting it in their drinks.
That's just disappointing.
6 Such A Sweet Machine
Roger is well known for not only being extremely sassy, but also to be very, very mean. One of his favourite pastimes is to insult everyone around him, calling their accomplishments useless, or just telling the Smiths that they have no class. This is easily dismissed as Roger simply being a terrible person, but it turns out there's a deeper reason for all his petty remarks.
Roger's species has a strange biological need to express their meanness.
If they don't, it builds up in them like a toxin. This will eventually lead to them becoming ill and then passing away if they don't stay consistent. For some strange reason, when Roger vows to be a better person and becomes sick because of it, he doesn't just tell the Smiths about his species inability to stop being mean.
5 Stan Is All Talk
Stan's job at the CIA as a secret agent might sound like a dream job for some. Unfortunately, there is a very obvious side for any hopeful agent to consider, and that is the fact that while in the line of duty, they may have to cause trouble.
Thankfully, even though Stan is good at causing damage, he has never actually finished the job at any point in the show.
That's right: Stan Smith, an agent who is supposedly awesome at his job and completes dozens of dangerous missions per year, had never ended someone in the four seasons the show had run at that time. This comes out when he goes to play a card game with his CIA friends and Roger. By the end of the episode, this problem is fixed, and Stan is relieved that he no longer is just all talk.
4 Run, Steve, Run!
Roger is well known to not be to most moral of individuals. He regularly breaks the law, and has no issue whatsoever breaking societal norms in order to get what he wants. He even exercises his lack of inhibitions on his surrogate family, happy to manipulate them and even cause them problems at almost the drop of a hat. As mentioned before, Roger dons personas in order to go out into the world undetected.
The Smith family, however, can always spot Roger even when no one else does.
For the Smiths, it's hard to miss a grey alien in a wig. There is one persona though for each of the Smiths that not even that person can see through. For Steve, it was a girl his age at a party, which is just Roger in disguise. For the first time, we got to see how the world actually sees Roger, which is as his actual persona.
3 His Exercise Issue
During an episode where Stan fails the CIA obstacle course, he begins to eat less and work out excessively. The episode shows the audience that Stan is becoming fatter, and when the next drill comes around, he barely makes it three steps without falling.
Convinced that he is overweight, Stan goes home feeling terrible, only to find his family sitting in the kitchen to stage an intervention.
The episode gets very creative in describing Stan's personal issues about his health, but the tone and focus are actually done quite well. His family only want what's best for him, and they help him get back on the right track to health. Sometimes, the humor can also hide some pretty well-meaning content.
Bravo, American Dad!, for really making your fans think.
2 Not A Fan Of The Man
Seth MacFarlane is a very well known to be very liberal-minded when it comes to politics. So when President George Bush was first elected in 2001, he was very disappointed with his current government.
After a few years of writing about the then-President on his main show Family Guy, using hilarious cutaways to show the man in a less-than-scholarly light, he and his fellow producers came up with American Dad! as a way to vent their frustrations.
This is why American Dad! plots often centred around the arguments between extreme liberal Hayley and her conservative father. It didn't take long though before the writers realized that they'd pulled out all the comedy from that cliche dynamic. Thankfully, they've moved on to more interesting comedic pastures.
1 A Lifetime Of Therapy
Many of Steve's story lines centre around the fact that he and his friends can almost never find a girl to go out with them. This is especially true concerning Steve's regular crushes on the more popular girls in his high school.
Every once in a while though, he gets lucky and receives a little attention, but never anything more.
This might explain his rather disturbing subconscious attraction towards his own mother. In one episode, he states that his favourite girl name is Francine, which is the same as his mother. We also see a split-second image of Francine dancing in front of group of men, which Steve considers an issue he needs to deal with later.
Lastly, while singing to his dad about what a terrible husband Stan is to Francine, Steve outright says "If she wasn't my momma..." Feel free to rinse all the weird off before moving on.