15 Trivia Tidbits About ‘American Dad’
Seth MacFarlane has had a hand in several animated shows over the years — Family Guy, The Cleveland Show and that reboot of The Flintstones that is presumably buried in an unmarked grave somewhere. But one of the most surprisingly enduring shows to originate in the MacFarlane factory is American Dad!, the long-running, boundary-pushing cartoon sitcom about Stan Smith, a CIA agent boasting a chin that could slice Bruce Campbell in half — and also his family, including his wife, kids and a mischievous alien. Because this show’s been around since the cast of Stranger Things were in diapers, there’s a lot of trivia to cover, such as…
The Pilot Episode Aired After Super Bowl XXXIX
After Family Guy's premiere successfully paired feats of athletic strength with animated fart jokes, American Dad! similarly premiered after the Super Bowl — although, oddly, the rest of the show didn't air until May.
The Events of the Pilot Were Later Dismissed as a Dream
Thor, the 19-year-old dog from the pilot episode (who was “around during the Reagan administration”), was later wiped clean from the series' continuity, along with their pooch Fussy, when the subject of dogs came up in the eighth season — dismissed by Stan as “obviously dreams.”
Klaus Was Originally Going to Be French
Klaus, the goldfish with the brain of an East German Olympian, was “originally supposed to be French” — except none of the actors who auditioned could nail the part. The character was rewritten to accommodate actor Dee Bradley Baker who memorably did a German accent as a vocal warm-up while recording animal noises for Family Guy.
It Was Inspired By the Bush Administration
American Dad! reportedly began with exasperation over the election of George W. Bush. According to MacFarlane, “We 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.”
Roger Was Based on TV Icon Paul Lynde
Fans of 1970s TV likely recognize the inspiration behind Roger the alien’s voice: comedian and game-show staple Paul Lynde.
Patrick Stewart Played Himself in an Episode
Stan’s boss Avery is, of course, played by Star Trek: The Next Generation and Erotic Cake icon Sir Patrick Stewart. In Season Eight’s “Blood Crieth Unto Heaven,” the self-proclaimed “theater genius” got to play himself and introduce the show.
The 150th Episode Was Inspired by an Indie Rock Band
Weirdly, one episode of the show was inspired by Louisville psych rockers Wax Fang. According to co-creator Mike Barker, “While listening to the track ‘Majestic,’ I was struck by an image that would eventually become the centerpiece for the whole episode. The Majestic would be a terrifying creature that would probe Jeff Fischer’s brain and display his memories for his alien captors to see.”
It Changed Networks in 2014
In 2014, American Dad! left the Fox network and moved to TBS, home of Big Bang Theory reruns and weird movie edits.
There’s a Porn Parody That Looks Like a David Lynch Movie
An American Dad! porn parody exists, and it is seemingly very unnerving. There’s a special place in Hell for whoever created that nightmarish Roger costume.
The Show Was Fined By the FCC For Indecency
In 2010, Fox was fined $25,000 by the FCC for a joke involving jerking off a racehorse — money well spent.
An Episode Had to Be Changed Due to a Tragedy
An episode in which Stan is rooting for Virginia Tech during March Madness was altered before it aired following the 2007 mass shooting at the school.
Steve’s High School Was Named After a Legendary Performer
Steve attends Pearl Bailey High School, which is named after the legendary actress and musician who famously starred in the 1967 all-Black production of Hello, Dolly!.
Fans Aren’t Sure If Any of the Episodes After ‘Rapture’s Delight’ Are Real
In the Season Six episode “Rapture’s Delight,” Stan and Francine are left behind, Kirk Cameron-style, during The Rapture — and forced to battle the Antichrist, played by Andy Samberg. In the end, Stan sacrifices his life and ascends to Heaven, where he is able to live out a fantasy version of his previous life, leaving fans confused as to whether or not this was a one-off lark or if every episode post-2009 secretly takes place in the afterlife.
They Briefly Considered Making a Movie
Showrunner Matt Weitzman revealed that there was discussion about making an American Dad! movie, in which the Smith family traveled to Roger’s home planet. But this idea was scrapped in order to “focus on making the season as good as possible.”
The Episode With The Weeknd Was Co-Written With The Weeknd
American Dad! superfan The Weeknd guested in the episode “A Starboy is Born,” crooning about how he’s really a virgin. The Weeknd (aka Abel Tesfaye) earned a writing credit for the episode and was even the one who suggested the whole virgin premise, which producer Joel Hurwitz had also thought of but resisted pitching to the star because he “thought it would offend him.”
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