9 Reasons American Dad Is Much Better Than Family Guy

Family Guy Became Predictable And Formulaic, American Dad! Continues To Innovate

American Dad! vs Family Guy: which is better?” It’s a debate that’s frankly not held enough. Many have preconceptions about American Dad! couched in their established bias towards Family Guy, and thus won’t even entertain the question. Well, it’s time to cast off that prejudice. Today, we’re going to learn why American Dad! is the best.

Most people recognize that each show has its star: Roger and Stewie, respectively. But too often, the rest of the casts are ignored. Peter has grown into a funny character over time, but there really aren’t any other characters on Family Guy who carry much weight. That is most definitely not the case on American Dad!. There are few (if any) lame characters on the show. Roger alone offers more funny personas than the entire cast of Family Guy.

1. There Are Really No Bad Character Pairings

There Are Really No Bad Character Pairings

When you think of memorable character pairings in Family Guy, you probably go immediately to Brian and Stewie, and that’s it. In American Dad!, however, there are many examples of dynamic interaction between two characters: Steve and Roger, Francine and Roger, Stan and Roger, Stan and Francine, Haley and Steve, Stan and Jeff, all of them are fascinating to watch (except Klaus, everyone knows he’s pointless).

There are innumerable instances in which the characters in American Dad! have paired off with uproarious results, but the same can’t be said for Family Guy

2. It’s Grounded In Character Relationships

It's Grounded In Character Relationships

In addition to boasting superior, funnier character interplay, American Dad! also has a deeper driving force than Family Guy: the characters’ relationships. Stan’s fraught relationship with and alienation from his kids (and his shortcomings as a husband) give the show more depth. The character relationships matter.

Not ony that, but they often drive the narrative. Sure, this happens with Brian and Stewie, but those episodes are less organic. They just exist to exist. There really isn’t another meaningful dynamic between characters in the show. American Dad! has plenty. And without Stan’s disapproval of Steve, we wouldn’t have Stelio Kontos or his badass theme song. That would be a tragedy beyond measure.

3. American Dad! Isn’t Afraid To Take Risks With Fantastic Stories

American Dad! Isn't Afraid To Take Risks With Fantastic Stories

Okay, so Family Guy doesn’t necessarily limit itself to realism: Stewie has driven a car, Peter’s head has exploded a number of times, and Brian is a talking dog. But American Dad! has more science fction elements, with alien abductions, body swapping, clone storylines, and a whole lot more.

This makes for a broader range of storytelling. Sure, Peter has preposterous fights with a giant chicken, but there’s never a story arc built around that (also, please don’t do that Family Guy, that sounds awful). There are full episodes of American Dad! that take place in space, or that revolve around Stan using secret CIA technology to control a female teenage android and take his son to prom. It’s less restricted in what it can do, and that keeps it fresh, even after all these years. 

4. Family Guy Became Predictable And Formulaic, American Dad! Continues To Innovate

Family Guy Became Predictable And Formulaic, American Dad! Continues To Innovate

Family Guy almost always plays out the same. Some outlandish shenanigans ensue, and they somehow lead to a tangentially related A-plot. For example, in “Airport ’07,” Peter siphons gas out of Quagmire’s plane to make his pickup fly truck, causing Quagmire to get fired. The rest of the episode revolves around the guys trying to win Quagmire’s job back.

While American Dad! occasionally is structured this way, it’s also never afraid to experiment structurally and formally. And in fact, there are full episodes that seem to exist in alternate realities, like “Rapture’s Delight,” which takes place in a post-apocalyptic world and utilizes thematic elements reminiscent of a graphic novel. It’s unique and wholly different, but still engaging and, most importantly, funny. That’s what happens when you have well-rounded characters that serve as more than joke machines.  

5. There’s An Incredibly Deep Bench Of Well-Developed Characters Who Can Carry An Episode

There's An Incredibly Deep Bench Of Well-Developed Characters Who Can Carry An Episode

A Meg episode, or a Chris episode, or a Brian episode — pretty much anything that isn’t a Peter or Stewie episode makes you want to turn the channel. That really doesn’t happen in American Dad!. Even if the subject character of a particular episode is less interesting (like Jeff, for instance, who has always felt a little flat), the storyline and interplay between that character and others is almost always great.

There are some incredibly memorable moments from “Joint Custody,” in which Jeff’s dad frames him for his own drug dealing operation. Night Ranger, man. Night Ranger.

6. Roger Smith Is The Greatest Animated Character Of The Past 20 Years

Roger Smith Is The Greatest Animated Character Of The Past 20 Years

Seriously, Roger is amazing. One could make the argument that Roger’s characters alone make American Dad! better than Family Guy. Dr. Penguin, Martin Sugar, Chex LeMeneux, Ricky Spanish (hopefully you read that in a sinister whisper), all of them serve to bring variety and hilarity to American Dad!.

Roger is, by default, extremely dynamic, and his characters remain inventive and engrossing, each with a detailed life of their own. His casual sociopathy makes for some fascinating storylines, and there’s no doubt he’s one of the most unpredictable wild cards on television. 

7. The Call-Back Gags Are Impeccably Well Done

The Call-Back Gags Are Impeccably Well Done

American Dad! has some truly engaging subplots and call-back references. The recurring Golden Turd, the return of old Roger characters (especially in “The Two Hundred,” where all of Roger’s personas produced by the hadron collider at Langley Quantum Labs come charging into battle), and the intermittent appearance of Reggie the Koala – who was so popular he became a series regular – all serve to remind us American Dad! knows how to keep a joke going.

Family Guy has had instances of this, like Buzz Killington (who eventually disappeared), or the giant chicken (who, let’s be honest, has gotten really stale), but they’re less impressionable, and almost always poorly done. Really, how many times can we listen to the sound Peter makes when he skins his knee?

8. The Peripheral Humor Is Top Notch

In Family Guy, the humor flows almost exclusively from cheap cutaway gags that have nothing to do with the plot, or the characters on the show. In American Dad!, the world is more robust, allowing for great humor from external sources.

Whether it’s the insane Principal Lewis yelling, “Oh sh*t!” as he witnesses a kid get eaten by a werewolf janitor, or a child reporter in his innocent voice proclaiming, “I stepped on a eye,” the ancillary humor is just gold. It never misses the mark, and the same cannot be said for Family Guy.

9. The Ensemble Works Better Together

The Ensemble Works Better Together

The character humor in Family Guy is driven by individuals: Peter is funny, Stewie is funny… end of list. But their humor isn’t really interactive. Sure, Brian and Stewie pair off, but it’s not really their companionship that generates the humor (at least, not in most cases). It’s the “inherent” humor of a talking dog hanging out with a talking baby. 

However, the interactions of all the characters in American Dad! is its strength, and it’s not just Wheels and the Legman. The Smith family have a number of zany adventures together, like the Season 3 episode, “The Vacation Goo,” in which the entire episode revolves around the familial relationship, making for dynamic interplay between all of the main cast. Everyone feels real, even if they’re ridiculous, and the history of their relationships inform the comedy.