An episode of American Dad that you absolutely should see is “Rabbit Ears,” the fourth episode of Season 14. In this episode, Stan stumbles upon a secondhand TV and becomes consumed by a TV show from the 1960s. As Stan’s reality blurs, he struggles to distinguish between his own life and the show.
Meanwhile, Roger assumes a baby’s persona, successfully diverting the Smith family’s attention toward himself. The shocking disclosure that American Dad is a meta-show, with a family entrapped within the television, takes a grim detour from the series’ typical humor.
This twist, reminiscent of narratives like The Truman Show, provides a similarly disquieting critique of the dangers of widespread surveillance.
American Dad: 17 Best Episodes
American Dad! has etched its mark in the annals of pop culture, amassing over 300 episodes and still counting. But which ones truly represent the series’ finest?
Here, we present our selection of the top must-watch American Dad!” episodes.
17Poltergasm (Season 9, Episode 2)
In the “Poltergasm” episode from Season 9, Stan and Francine’s marital disputes take center stage. Francine’s unresolved bedroom needs materialize into a threatening spirit, forcing her to confess her dissatisfaction to Stan.
Stan, shocked by his wife’s revelation, collaborates with Francine to enhance their bedroom dynamics, rescuing Mauricio. The AV Club lauds this racy “American Dad!” episode for addressing sexuality within sitcom boundaries while stretching them to accommodate character-based comedy.
16Fart-Break Hotel (Season 6, Episode 9)
In “Fart-Break Hotel,” Francine takes the spotlight as the Smiths venture to a luxury hotel. Overwhelmed and emotionally drained, Francine decides to adopt the persona of a late concrete saleswoman, Sarah Blanche, leaving her family to pursue her own interests.
This episode cleverly employs time travel, guest stars, and provides unexpected heartfelt moments. It showcases Francine’s struggle with domestic monotony, and her adventure ultimately helps her appreciate her family’s significance in her life. This emotional and existential journey makes it a notable character study for Francine, arguably the most undervalued “American Dad!” character.
15Ricky Spanish (Season 7, Episode 17)
As per Roger, “Ricky Spanish” is his worst persona ever, known for being a pathological liar and thief who has caused harm to every Langley Falls resident. His reappearance in Season 7 incites a town-wide riot.
In the debut episode of the infamous character, Steve persuades Roger to become Ricky again and apologize to his victims. Despite Steve’s faith in Roger, Ricky’s deceitfulness emerges, leading to a surprising betrayal that makes this one of the most memorable Roger episodes.
14Old Stan in the Mountain (Season 7, Episode 11)
“Old Stan in the Mountain” centers on Stan tackling a curse that causes him to age quickly. Inspired by Stephen King’s “Thinner,” the episode imparts a valuable lesson: everyone, regardless of age, can achieve what they set their minds to. This realization helps Stan understand his mistakes, even if he still missteps, like nearly killing Hayley and Steve under a false euthanasia suspicion.
The subplot, where Roger, assisted by Francine, comically attempts to steal a former lover’s hair for a vibrant red wig, delivers the majority of the laughs.
13Stan-Dan Deliver (Season 11, Episode 8)
American Dad often parodies popular films, and it’s intriguing to watch Roger mentor a group of disadvantaged inner-city children, mirroring Stand and Deliver. Assuming the alias Stan-Dan Deliver, Roger’s unconventional teaching methods bewilder Steve, who yearns for expulsion.
While Stan and Francine grapple with retirement plan issues, it’s Roger’s intricate tightrope walk as a teacher that spices up this episode. By the end, Steve is unsure whether Roger is a brilliant mentor or a mere prankster.
12A Piñata Named Desire (Season 6, Episode 11)
American Dad often excels when Stan and Roger become rivals, and “A Piñata Named Desire” tests their acting prowess. Initially, Roger aims to hone Stan’s acting skills, but they end up vying for the same stage role.
Roger’s performance as an acting coach and actor offers comedic gold, but the explosive final showdown between him and Stan leaves the Smith family astounded. Notably, “A Piñata Named Desire” introduces us to the unforgettable “Pudding Man.”
11Stanny Tendergrass (Season 4, Episode 11)
In the episode “Stanny Tendergrass,” Stan tries to recapture his youth by becoming a member of a bluegrass band, regardless of his complete lack of musical skill or experience.
His growing obsession leads him to ignore his family and job, triggering inevitable mayhem. Simultaneously, Roger develops an obsession with a local girl scout troop, setting off his own sequence of comedic blunders. This episode showcases the show’s signature humor and satire.
10OreTron Trail (Season 13, Episode 11)
In a fan-favorite twist, Roger, usually selfish and arrogant, shows vulnerability and desperation. When he joins Steve for a fun sleepover and plays the violent video game “The Oregon Trail,” he is traumatized. The game reminds Roger of his past family during America’s pioneering era and their gruesome deaths.
Consequently, he chooses to kidnap the entire Smith family, confining them in Steve’s computer to save them from a similar fate. Luckily, there seems to be a way out through Steve’s video game.
9The Unincludeds (Season 11, Episode 11)
In “The Unincludeds,” Steve and Snot host a party aiming for social elevation. However, their wealthier future selves warn them that popularity could jeopardize their success, leading to futile attempts at appearing “uncool.” Despite their consistent portrayal as nerds, they can’t escape their newfound popularity. The irony adds lightness to their heavy situation, as per Den of Geek’s review.
A hilarious subplot further strengthens the episode, featuring Roger seeking petty revenge on a waitress who neglected to compliment his meal. Despite disguising himself for a second visit, her continued indifference leads to a heated response from Roger.
8Dope and Faith (Season 3, Episode 3)
Stan attempts to convert his new atheist friend to Christianity by placing him in escalating perilous situations, but his plans go awry. Meanwhile, Steve gets embroiled in gang activities while pretending to exist in the Harry Potter universe.
This episode captures Stan’s character essence, showing how his good intentions can sometimes lead to catastrophic results for his loved ones. Stan is portrayed at both his best and worst, but fortunately, he learns the vital lesson of respecting everyone’s autonomy in living their lives.
7Vision: Impossible (Season 10, Episode 9)
In a unique twist, American Dad’s creators endowed Roger, the flamboyant, drug-addicted alien, with the ability to foresee people’s futures. After an unexpected accident, while encouraging the Smiths to embrace spontaneity, he develops temporary clairvoyance upon touch.
The Smiths, being rigid, naturally exploit Roger’s power to ensure their continuous safety, incessantly querying him about their impending death. However, when Roger loses his psychic abilities, the family grapples with the uncertainty of the unknown.
6Bar Mitzvah Hustle (Season 3, Episode 3)
“Bar Mitzvah Hustle” exhibits American Dad’s knack for humorously handling intricate themes. The episode revolves around Steve’s attempt to fund his upcoming bar mitzvah by creating a faux autism charity.
As Steve’s plot starts spiraling, the lies and deceit pile up, drawing him deeper into the charade. Concurrently, Stan and Roger launch their own comedic and chaotic bar mitzvah scheme.
5Lost in Space (Season 9, Episode 18)
In this episode, Jeff Fischer finds himself amidst aliens on a spaceship, having been deceived by Roger, and he must navigate his way back home.
The charm of this episode lies in witnessing Jeff’s introspection to win Hayley’s affection. Observing him acknowledge his shortcomings humanizes him further. He consciously decides to improve, making him even more appealing.
4The Two Hundred (Season 11, Episode 10)
The 200th episode of “American Dad!” parodies post-apocalyptic series like “The 100” and “Mad Max” following a nuclear event that obliterates most life. Amidst the ruins of Langley Falls, now home to cannibals and looters, Stan ruminates over his paternal and marital shortcomings.
The highlight is the reveal that the feared Two Hundred group consists of two hundred versions of Roger, who, unsurprisingly, ignited the apocalypse by accident. The episode stages a reunion of popular Roger personas, including Dr. Penguin, Reaganomics Lamborghini, and Ricky Spanish.
3Hurricane! (Season 7, Episode 2)
“Hurricane!” disrupts the Smith household, compelling the family to unite against bears, sharks, and Stan’s counterproductive rescue attempts. Fox Entertainment’s president Kevin Reilly’s idea of a crossover with Seth MacFarlane’s other animations led to this episode featuring cameos from Peter Griffin and Cleveland Brown. MacFarlane shared with The Hollywood Reporter that Reilly’s proposal for a type of crossover rarely seen on TV intrigued them.
Each show released its hurricane-themed episode as part of Fox’s “Night of the Hurricane” crossover event. The “American Dad!” episode outshone the others, scoring an 8.0 rating on IMDb, surpassing “Family Guy’s” 6.6 and “The Cleveland Show’s” 6.4. Critics commended the disaster film storyline and the climactic standoff between Stan, Peter, and Cleveland, leading Peter to declare it as “classic ‘American Dad!'”
2Rabbit Ears (Season 14, Episode 4)
“Rabbit Ears” stands apart from the usual “American Dad!” episodes, reducing the comedy in favor of a suspenseful, mysterious ambiance. Stan uncovers an old TV and becomes engrossed in an enigmatic show, entering its monochromatic television realm.
The episode, best described as “unsettling,” mirrors an episode of “The Twilight Zone” rather than a traditional “American Dad!” installment, leaving much unresolved with a somber twist ending. Despite its deviation from the norm, “Rabbit Ears” received critical acclaim, ranking as the second-highest episode on IMDb at 8.8, and is often considered the best episode since the show transitioned to TBS.
1Rapture’s Delight (Season 5, Episode 9)
Regarded as the best “American Dad!” episode, “Rapture’s Delight” encapsulates everything fans cherish about the show. It tracks Stan, denied entry to heaven during the Rapture, and left on Earth with Francine, who deserts him for a resurrected Jesus. The impending Armageddon and mankind’s fate loom as Jesus battles the Antichrist, humorously voiced by Andy Samberg.
Its high production value and resemblance to a compelling apocalyptic movie make this episode the top-rated one on IMDb and a favorite among TV critics. The AV Club praises its escalation from a standard episode to a parody of post-apocalyptic films coupled with a literal depiction of the Book of Revelation.
American Dad: The History of the Golden Turd (Mashup)