This list was made three weeks ago after I watched the season finale of American Dad and came to the realization that it was going to be the last new episode to ever air on Fox. It seemed like a good time to go back through all the episodes of a show that I care deeply about and list my top ten favorites. I have spent the last three weeks trying to list them in order of preference, but it was just too difficult and I have decided to present them here in the order in which they first aired on Fox. I hope you enjoy my choices and if you have any ideas of your own about the best episodes or complaints about the ones I chose feel free to post them in the comments and I will gladly continue the discussion with you.

As a note, I could have easily listed on here any and all of the Christmas Episodes, but that would have been a cop out right? Still the fact that this show is able to consistently produce amazing Christmas Episodes is something to be honored. Maybe next time I’ll put them in order of best to worst, at least if not next time then at least as soon as Christmas time rolls around.



Bullocks to Stan

This was the episode that made me realize how truly special American Dad was as a show. While every episode before it had at least one moment that made me praise the latest offering from Seth Macfarlane, “Bullocks to Stan” was the first time everything that American Dad brought to the table was successfully on display and working towards a single goal. The best part of the episode is the Meta joke about Klaus doing DVD commentary for his day to day life coming back during the final fight in a way that obscures us hearing “the funniest joke of the episode.” Both giving a proper send up of DVD commentary tracks and cementing the claim that it is in fact the best joke of the episode.

Finances with Wolves

Every member of the Smith household has a storyline in Finances with Wolves. That’s six distinct plotlines in just twenty-two minutes of television. I can’t think of another television show that ever did something as ambition and it is made even better by the fact that it succeeds on all fronts. Even if it wasn’t so successful in its ambitions Finances with Wolves would be up for consideration just for the simple fact that this is the episode where Klaus escapes his fishy fate and winds up back in a human body. It also features one of my favorite uses of music. Klaus celebrates his new found humanity, as the front man of an Earth, Wind, and Fire cover band, to the song “September,” then the scene fades from the montage  to Stan singing the chorus of the song and wondering how it got stuck in his head.

Tears of a Clooney

Is it wrong to like an episode purely because it acknowledges the passage of time? I ask because that’s primarily why this episode has stuck with me as a great half hour of television. The fact that Stan’s efforts to help Francine break George Clooney’s heart take place over the course of a year is a fine example of great storytelling, especially when too often in the realm of animated sitcoms, events have a tendency to happen conveniently fast. Since the writers decided to treat operation: Tears of a Clooney like it was happening  within the confines of the real world, showing just how much time,  planning, and manpower would be required to pull off a mission of such scale, everything seems that much more plausible thus increasing  the enjoyment factor of the proceedings.

The B-story is also exceptional in the fact that it too contains a fully realized narrative when it could have easily been marginalized to provide more breathing room for Francine’s quest for vengeance, again deviating from the norm in terms of animated television. Not to mention the fact that Roger’s attempts at using orphans as slave labor in his backyard vineyard and Haley’s brush with a terminal disease are the places where the writers find room to inject jokes into an otherwise serious episode.

Everything comes to a beautiful conclusion when the episode delivers its message about not dwelling on past missed chances and instead being thankful for that which you have. It’s also nice how the events are bookended by Francine’s birthday.

Stanny Slickers II: The Legend of Ollie’s Gold

It would be easy to say that this episode is on the list purely because of how good the Schoolhouse Rock parody is. While that is definitely the high point of the episode for me, the fact that it is surrounded by so much greatness, is the reason why when I want to hear about the great man that is Oliver North. I watch the entire episode instead of just going on YouTube. The episode is chock full of dark, funny, and smart jokes.  Beginning with little Matty on the scene of a horrific traffic accident, moving through the great visual joke of the EMT describing his date to a co-worker before asking about his Dad’s funeral, then there all the tropes about documentary filmmaking, “here’s looking at you gold,” a chilling look at a future without Stan, an invitation to breakfast with a geologist, and a fireman with a plan to get the gold for himself, once “these white folks go to bed.” “Stanny Slickers” is a fine example of American Dad correctly firing on all cylinders, with the added benefit of it being one of the few times Stan is overwhelmingly right in the face of his family’s doubts. 

The One That Got Away

Otherwise known as the one where Roger finally becomes accountable for the consequences of his actions. Maybe this episode means so much to me because I somehow missed watching it when it first aired and didn’t see it until my first rewatch of the series on Netflix back in 2011. Even if that is the case, this is one of those episodes that I keep coming back to when I need something to help me kill some time when I’m doing my laundry. The episode is such a departure from the norm of American Dad episodes, in that it primarily focuses on just one plot and that Roger is the main character rather than existing just to complicate things for another member of the family. The narrative is also handled amazingly well with the parallel telling of Roger’s involvement in ruining Sydney Huffman’s life in the first act and then the viewer getting to experience the same events from Sydney’s perspective in act two. 

Though only seen briefly the focus the rest of the episode is on the Smith family becoming addicted to “the four toned succubus” that is the game Simon and being saved by Klaus in a move that takes him somewhere unknown where he becomes King. 

Add into the mix John DiMaggio as a hit man who brings his kids to work, and uses passwords requiring letters and numbers. Plus one of sweetest and dumbest love interest characters ever to grace the small screen and you’re left you with one of the funniest and most touching episodes of American Dad.  

Don’t just take my word for it though here’s the last exchange between Roger (as Roger) and Judy 

Roger: You know, I don’t have any genitals?

Judy: That’s okay, I have both. 

See truly a moving story.

Escape from Pearl Bailey

Debbie! Yes, Steve’s on again off again, overweight, goth girlfriend of plot convenience is presented at her most developed in this episode. This is great considering how big a fan I am of Lizzie Caplan after her time on the failed CBS show, “The Class” and how well the episode treats a teenage relationship. The episode also presents a very good revenge story that feels inspired by Kill Bill and features Steve donning a Hopi Indian revenge mask as he subjects the tormentors of his girlfriend to Buffalo Diarrhea, Reverse Liposuction, and Herpes. Then it seamlessly  transitions into a parody of “The Warriors” where the  cracks created between Steve, Snot, Toshi, and Barry,  because of Steve’s relationship, are healed because the  friends are forced to work together, against the threat of mob violence. The homages just keep on coming with the ending being a direct retelling of the end of “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.” This episode is just so full of plot and here I was thinking it could be placed on the list for being the first and only time that Principal Brian Lewis’ daughter is acknowledged. 

An Incident at Owl Creek

Poop in the pool has been a staple of comedy ever since a baby Ruth was dropped into the country club swimming pool back in “Caddyshack.” The fact that this episode’s foundation is built upon such a heavily tapped well, and still is worthy enough to be in my top ten episodes of the show should be  indicative of how good a show American Dad is. The episode starts out with the well established “Stanism” of wanting to keep up appearances. Then it traffics in one of my favorite things about American Dad by bringing back Buckle, the mountain man from “An Apocalypse to Remember,” as a new neighbor throwing a pool party. Stan is so worried about his family embarrassing him that when he turns out to be the one that drops the ball, it’s a poetic scene. The way that Stan is then forced to run away from his problems because his pool dookie goes viral is made even funnier when we spend an extended sequence with a man who thought he recognized Stan at the Barber Shop. The man with a seemingly unhealthy relationship with his cat ultimately winds up dead, punctuated with the most chilling line from Stan in “You had to remember.”  From there Stan realizes he can’t run from his problems and decides that the only way to solve his conundrum is to force universally liked President Obama to also drop a deuce in a pool, thus making the act acceptable. The shift in plot to that of a heist movie  is handled remarkably well, and if you don’t shed a  tear when Klaus is shot by the secret service for  attempting to give Obama a diarrhetic pill then you  plain just don’t have a heart. The end reveal that the whole ordeal was an “extended dream sequence” is made perfectly acceptable when Stan listens to the advice of Dream Obama and still ends up pinching the fateful loaf, thus securing Barack Obama’s place on Stan’s list of people who’ve lied to him in his extended fantasy sequences. Overall, not a bad first showing for Barack on American Dad in the post Bush years.

100 A.D.

The ninety-seventh episode of the series is a great celebration of ONE HUNDRED episodes of American Dad. I’m sorry I had to mention that, but its part of what makes the episode that much more enjoyable. It somehow makes all of the satire about celebrating the 100th episode more gratifying and lends a deeper air of importance to the fact that they will be killing 100 characters over the course of the episode.  The actual story is the latest volume in the ever continuing Jeff/Haley romance and even though it could have coasted on the death counter or the celebration aspect of the episode they instead decided to tell a great story as well. It wasn’t until I rewatched all the episodes in 2011 that I realized just how big a part of the world of American Dad Jeff Fisher actually is, and the marriage between him and Haley just feels like the natural progression of that story. Of course Stan would disagree and when he offers up the money he intended to give Haley as reward money to anyone who can stop their pending nuptials the episode truly gets going, it enters into laugh out loud territory. Not only is the episode which features Jeff finally getting one over on Stan, but it feels like a reward for all the fans considering just how many one off characters they collected together from over the years to kill in the bus crash, that nets 97 of the deaths. One of those marked for Death is Bret, Stan’s satanic best friend from episode 45: “Dope and Faith.” Maybe it’s because my roommate and I had just watched the episode the night before on syndication (prompting me to believe the episode had somehow done it on purpose) but that moment was made even funnier when he explained who he was despite everyone in the room being acutely aware of his identity. Even if I hadn’t just watched it. I would have known who he was, so hopefully that was a feeling for most of the AD fan base and not just an isolated incident for me.

License to Till

Even though I’ve never seen it, I am almost eternally thankful for “She’s All that.” I know that the story of turning a person from rags to riches is as old as “Pygmalion,” but there are times when it feels like the Freddie Prince Jr. / Rachel Leigh Cook film indicated to creators that the age old story would  play for the modern audience. If all of that is true, then that is why we have this episode of American Dad.  Klaus betting Roger that he can’t make Steve popular is the origin of some of the funniest vignettes in the entire run of American Dad. Plus this episode not only introduces Reshma, who is one of the funniest one off characters the show has ever had “When these come in they’re all yours,” but also brings back another one off character, John Cho’s, Vince Chung, and gives him one of my personal favorite monologues when he tells Steve he thought they would be such great friends and that would result in Vince sharing his darkest secret with him. The moment is made even better by confirming the audience’s worst fears when it reveals that if we want to know his secret we just have to visit “” The episode also features Stan misinterpreting Francine’s wish to be surprised, to mean scared and their escalating war to outdo one another starts simple with “Peabo Bryson on the Damn Stereo” and ends with the death of the midget assassin. Plus, you also have the most stereotypical representation of Judaism in Snot’s farmer Uncle Solomon, H. Jon Benjamin, as a talking cabbage, and the song “My Dick” by Mickey Avalon.


Lost in Space

As  I referenced in my explanation of “100 A.D,” had I not just finished  watching the entire series for a second time before  this episode aired I probably wouldn’t have been as excited about an episode that was all about Jeff as I  was. Luckily FOX decided to promote it as the 150th episode of American Dad, despite it being the 151st, so I’m sure that plenty of people ended up tuning in anyway. The best part about this episode is the fact that even if you had never watched an episode of American Dad before, you would probably find something about it entertaining. It’s just such a great episode in every possible way. Guest stars include Sean Hayes, Sinbad, Michael McKean, and Paget Brewster. The music is exceptional and includes the ever popular “The Majestic” in one of the best animated sequences the show has ever produced. The episode also features some great character development by giving an explanation for just how deeply Jeff actually loves Haley and also adds some more information about a young Roger.  However, what really elevates the episode for me is  not just how many original character designs they used  to represent the slaves onboard the spaceship, but  also how they worked hard to make sure that each  member of Roger’s species looked unique. It would have been easy for them to just present them all looking exactly like Roger, but the care put into making them all individuals was truly appreciated. Of course all of that wouldn’t mean much if the story wasn’t as great as it is. The creators of American Dad really outdid themselves with Lost in Space and the fact that they can still continue to improve on it is a huge reason why it is my favorite animated show on television.