Just recently, the hilarious American dad! was renewed for its 20th and 21st seasons, extending its legacy as one of the longest-running shows in television history. Over this period, certain episodes stand out as being particularly exceptional; they’re the ones who most perfectly marry belly laughs with powerful character development, dragging Stan, Francine, Roger, and the other characters into situations that are both absurd and harrowing.
And of course, fans took to IMDb to weigh in on their favorite episodes of the prolific series.
ten “The Pleasure of Rapture”, 8.9
In this wild and gleefully blasphemous dispatch of Christianity, Stan and Francine find themselves left behind after being kidnapped on Christmas Day. Not very happy with the situation, Stan runs away to try to be accepted in paradise. However, when Francine is kidnapped, Stan must use all of his strength – and Jesus’ help – to save her and defeat the Antichrist. This episode of American dad! is so good thanks to its ridiculous script, irreverent humor, and epic feel, including its climactic fight between the Son of God and his unholy opposite. There are also hilarious parodies of classic movies such as The ten Commandments, Monty Python and the Holy Grailand The road warrior spread in.
9 “Bunny Ears”, 8.8
After acquiring an old television, Stan becomes dangerously obsessed with a bizarre 60s show that draws him into its disturbing world. Meanwhile, Roger turns into a baby and the family is forced to take care of him. Strongly inspired by both The twilight zone and Hugh Hefner playboy after dark, this episode stands out for its spooky atmosphere, mysterious plot, and surreal upheaval of the family unit. It also includes memorable guest appearances from Ed Asner, Chris Pine, and Fred Savage, as well as striking animation that evokes the bizarre black-and-white worlds of the shows it pays homage to.
8 “The Two Hundred”, 8.7
The 200th episode of American dad! is an epic post-apocalyptic adventure that follows Stan, Greg and Roger as they embark on a quest to find the missing Smiths. To do so, they must cross Langley Falls which has become a decaying wasteland at the hands of an unknown entity dubbed “The Two Hundred”, and ward off a population reduced to barbarism.
The episode, which parodies the TV series the 100 and the video game Fallout 4, is beloved due to its rich world-building and character development. It also includes the added fun of seeing Principal Lewis become the savage leader of a group of cannibals.
7 “For Whom the Sleigh Bell Rings”, 8.6
parody both A Christmas story and the bloody fantasy film 300, this holiday episode chronicles the chaotic chain of events that occur after Stan ignores Francine’s advice and gives Steve an assault rifle for Christmas. Things immediately go awry when Steve accidentally shoots a mall Santa; when it turns out that the victim was actually the real Santa, Christmas’ future is in jeopardy. While certainly gross, the episode’s mix of bloody action and absurdist comedy is pretty compelling. A climactic battle filled with flying reindeer, armed elves, and a massive snowman, all deployed by a seriously vengeful Santa Claus, is particularly thrilling.
6 “Lost in Space”, 8.5
After being forced onto a slave spaceship by Roger in a previous episode, Jeff Fischer finds himself desperately trying to escape his confinement. To do this, he sets out to prove to aliens the power of love, using his relationship with his wife Hayley Smith as an example.
Although the episode mostly discounts the rest of the main characters, it has a refreshing uniqueness for the way it promotes Jeff to be the main focus throughout. The detailed animation is also delightful, including unique areas aboard the spaceship that further intrigue the sci-fi story and environment.
5 “Tearjerker”, 8.5
A parody of the James Bond movies, this episode stars Stan as a 007-type secret agent who must stop the titular madman, played by Roger, from taking over the world. The villain’s plan? Kidnapping celebrities, replacing them with robots, and making movies so sad everyone will cry to death. A major pleasure of the episode is identifying the parallels between the main characters and their Bond counterparts; for example, Francine as the archetypal Bond girl and Hayley as a version of Miss Moneypenny. Far from being a lazy parody, the episode has the distinction of being a quirky and at times subversive engagement with 007 conventions.
4 “Personal Assistant”, 8.2
Roger firmly believes that his many different personalities are essential to the health of Langley Falls. Stan disagrees, saying they get in the way of family time. The two find out who’s right when Stan is forced to replace Roger and his personality while the alien recovers from emergency surgery. This 250th episode of American dad! is praised for both its humor and poignant family drama, with Stan and Roger coming to a deeper understanding of each other through their bonded struggles. There’s also the equally satisfying subplot, in which Steve goes to great lengths at Principal Lewis’ request to win a contest with his school choir.
3 “The Not Included”, 8.2
Not wanting to let their nervousness define their lives, Steve and Snot decide to throw a big party for all the other uncool students at their school. Unfortunately, the event is so aberrant that it tears apart the space-time continuum, altering Steve and Snot’s future. As the boys struggle to correct the course of their lives, Roger becomes obsessed with something far less important: that a waitress failed to compliment her order after praising Hayley’s. This episode is notable not only for its time-consuming sci-fi premise, but for the way it humorously contrasts such a cosmic scenario with the relatively minor subplot incident. There’s also a fun sequence to Sia’s hit song “Chandelier” that will have viewers trying to sing along to the melody through their heartbreaking laughter.
2 “Great Space Roaster”, 8.2
On his birthday, Roger is hungry for roasting, not food variety. However, when he ends up taking his roast’s vicious jokes too personally, he gets angry and decides to kill the Smith family. Filled with clever references and parodies, the episode sends all of The Dean Martin Show and Martin’s latest celebrity roast to the classic sci-fi horror flick Extraterrestrial. Plus, there’s an undeniable thrill in watching the already unhinged Roger completely stand out from the pack, before he’s redeemed in a wry and touching way. The references to Thread, Grey’s Anatomy, Hannah Montanaand Beverly Hills, 90210 further contributing to the episode’s appealing eclectic tone.
1 “In Country…Club”, 8.2
For Stan, being a true American patriot means loving the national anthem and having experienced war. In order to make Steve understand this, Stan takes him to a Vietnam War reenactment where he can sing the anthem to a group of veterans. Things don’t go as planned, however, when Steve has an unexpected war flashback and is committed to a mental hospital. The episode is impactful for its surprisingly emotional and nuanced exploration of post-traumatic stress disorder, and for its amusing references to a host of Vietnam War movies, including The deer hunter, Revelation now, Sectionand Full Metal Jacket. The subplot, in which Roger acquires a pet bird and tries to get the house cable code so he can watch Barbara Streisand’s special, offers a healthy dose of levity.
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