It’s hard to believe, but “American Dad!” has been on the air for 14 seasons: The show first premiered in 2005 on Fox, as part of their new “Animation Domination” block with fellow Seth McFarlane comedies “Family Guy” and “The Cleveland Show.”
But after 11 hilariously underrated seasons, Fox decided to part ways with the Smith family. Rather than let it die, TBS picked up the series in 2014 for a 12th season, and quickly renewed it for seasons 13 and 14. Over its entire run, “American Dad!” has treated audiences to an absurdist and often sharply satirical examination of family, friendship, and patriotism.
If you don’t have time to plow through the show’s 200+ episode backlog, or just lost touch with it along the way — here are 5 great episodes that are definitely worth a visit.
‘The Two Hundred’
Season 13, Episode 10
200 episodes is a milestone not a lot of television shows have, or will ever, hit. And with the pretty ingenious celebration “American Dad” pulled off for their 100th episode (killing 100 characters), expectations for this benchmark were high. Cleverly, the show leaned on the apocalyptic themes of the widely accepted fan-favorite episode “Rapture’s Delight.”
In “200,” we watch a tattooed Stan set out to find the other Smiths after an unidentified entity known as “The Two Hundred” has turned Langley Falls into an apocalyptic wasteland — and all the citizens, led by Principal Lewis, into savage cannibals. But the highlight, of course, is getting treated to a montage of Roger’s most memorable personas.
Season 5, Episode 16
The entire “American Dad” ensemble have their comedic attributes, but some just have better chemistry together than others. Anytime we can get a Francine/Roger plotline, we know we’re in for a hilarious ride.
With Stan and Steve on a bonding road trip to find parts to build Stan’s dream car, a Delorean, Roger, Francine and Hayley are left to find their own fun. Both feeling like Hayley isn’t very exciting, Roger talks Francine into crashing a masquerade ball at the French Ambassador’s mansion. When things inevitably go wrong, they return home to find Hayley has gone on her own little escapade — ending with magician David Blaine locked in their freezer.
Season 8, Episode 17
One of “American Dad’s” secret weapons, and one of the reasons it stands out from any other animated comedy, is extraterrestrial Roger and his many personas. It’s worth tuning into each episode just to see what personality he’s going to pull out of his closet and how it’s going to mess things up. And, safely hidden behind these facades, Roger pulls off some pretty nasty deeds — so discovering Roger has a persona even he thinks crosses the line makes this a tantalizing story from the get-go. As Ricky Spanish, Roger is the most hated man in town, and has ruined the lives of everyone who’s crossed his path — and so, Roger and Steve spend the hour righting the wrongs caused by his destruction.
‘Blood Crieth Unto Heaven’
Season 9, Episode 10
Animated shows often don’t get the credit they deserve when it comes to smart storytelling and risk-taking. Easily dismissed as frivolous and dumb, these “adult cartoons” very frequently make brilliant riffs on modern culture and society. This episode spoofs an unusual, and pretty highbrow, source: The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tracy Letts play “August: Osage County.” Francine throws a birthday party for Stan, which brings back bad memories of when his father abandoned him.
‘My Morning Straitjacket’
Season 6, Episode 7
One of the simpler premises in the “American Dad” repertoire, which is possibly why it works so well. Stan disapproves of Hayley’s choice in music (and pretty much anything, really) but in his efforts to ban her from listening to her favorite group, My Morning Jacket, he himself becomes obsessed with their poetic lyrics. What follows is Stan becoming on of the band’s biggest groupie, reveling in the feelings he never learned to properly have. The episode is aided with trippy visuals that give credibility to the show’s visual world and style.