Stan Smith is the title character and protagonist of the adult animated sitcom American Dad! He is voiced by the series' co-creator and executive producer, Seth MacFarlane.
Stan is the father/husband of the Smith family. As the family's breadwinner, he works for the Central Intelligence Agency. Although he once held the position of a case officer at the CIA, he is now a weapons expert for the agency. Stan often makes the mistake of applying the same extreme measures suited and used for his job in his personal life and with his family.
Stan is portrayed as drastic, endangering, rash, insensitive, inconsiderate, dog-eat-dog, and very masculine. Early on in the series, he was heavily emphasized as a conservative Republican; however, these particular characteristics were toned down after the first few seasons. Stan's exaggeratedly large chin has been described satirically as a "Jay Leno jaw." He usually wears a blue suit with a lapel pin that is a simplified version of the U.S. flag, consisting of three red and white stripes and a blue square.
Stan is married to Francine Smith. He is the father of Steve and Haley Smith. In one episode it is revealed that Hayley may not be the biological daughter of Stan Smith. In "Cock of the Sleepwalk," Stan adopted an unnamed little girl. Also living under Stan's roof are three housemates: Roger, an alien; Klaus, the family's man-in-a-fish-body pet; and Jeff Fischer, who's Hayley's boyfriend turned husband.
Stan wins a radio contest for a trip to Los Angeles by cheating with CIA technology. In Hollywood, Francine mistakes the Walk of Fame for a cemetery while Stan belittles the costumed characters that pose for pictures at the Chinese Theatre. When he slips and avoids a fall, his skill is admired by June Rosewood, an old starlet who annually scatters marbles at the theatre in the memory of her late husband Leonard Zane, and asks him out to lunch, so he ditches Francine while she is occupied.
At June's mansion, his taste for hot dogs reminds her of Leonard. She is further reminded by his other tastes and skill at avoiding falls and believes him to be the reincarnation of him and enlists Stan to finish his final film, Marble Trouble. Stan is doubtful until he observes that Leonard wears a flag lapel pin just like his and decides to finish the final film, suddenly believing that he may actually be Leonard reincarnated. Stan moves into the mansion to live Leonard's life, although he finds that they have to convince the producers to finance the film. His attitude succeeds in convincing them that he is the real thing. Francine arrives and he explains what is happening. Refusing to believe in reincarnation, she tries to pull him away but is nearly chased off until the producers decide to use her in Gloria Delmar's part, another actress in the film that has also deceased.
They finish the film and Stan and Francine are ready to return home, but June can't adjust to Stan's departure. When she finds out that Francine is what is holding Stan from staying with her, she has Francine's trailer hauled away, leaving him behind. He rushes to the mansion searching for Francine, but only finds the help trapped, telling him that June went crazy as he finds out that Leonard also nearly ran away with Gloria, the part that Francine took, and discovers that June drowned both her husband and Gloria off the shore of Catalina Island. Stan finds them on a boat at the marina and frees her, although he falls for being doped and they are both dumped at sea. They awake just as June nearly gets the last laugh. Stan points out that he really isn't Leonard, but Francine shoots down his reality by remembering that they really are reincarnated many times over, dying in a similar manner each time. As they kiss, June leaps into the water to drown with her Leonard and Stan and Francine get to the boat, backing over her by accident and killing her. Stan is willing to dismiss what happened but Francine insists that she wasn't making up a story as they sail into the moonlight.
Meanwhile, Hayley deletes an episode of Bones that Roger wanted to watch at home on the DVR and finds Steve less than sympathetic. He tricks them into entering cages and keeps them captive as part of crate training. He subjects them to hours of Bones, despite their protests that it is inhumane. He later finds that crate training was intended for dogs and is insulted by Hayley. But when he takes Steve's docility as a sign that the training has actually worked, he is fooled and is trapped in the cage as Steve deletes his show.
- Pilot: Tries to help his son Steve win over a girl by rigging the school Body President elections, because "a girl loves a man with powers", and later has her family deported.
- Stan Knows Best: When his daughter Hayley dyes her hair green, Stan shaves her head while asleep. This leads her to leave home and get a job as a stripper.
- Homeland Insecurity: He believes new neighbors from Iran are terrorists, so he locks them in (along with other guests) at a backyard party which he turns into a detention camp.
- Stan of Arabia (Part 1): Killed Jay Leno, but apologized shortly.
- It's Good to be the Queen: Due to being humiliated at his high school prom, Stan vows to show up at Francine's high school reunion with his prom queen wife. However, upon discovering that Betty Sue was the real prom queen, he ditches Francine for her. He later hires a double to go out with Francine instead.
- With Friends Like Steve's: He and (evil) Barry startled two little girls during their tea party just for fun.
- The American Dad After School Special: Stan is disappointed that Steve's girlfriend happens to be fat. Discovering he himself is overweight, Stan becomes anorexic thanks to his obsession with physical appearances.
- Failure is not a Factory-Installed Option: Stan leaves his family and drives them to bankruptcy, bringing them to do all sorts of terrible things to get their money back. At the end of the episode, it turns out this was all a ruse by Stan in order to afford a new car.
- Four Little Words: After a plan to get Bullock on a date goes horribly wrong, Stan convinces Francine she murdered her friend and brings her into spiralling guilt (to the point where she leaves the country). All this was done just to avoid hearing "I told you so" from Francine. This is often looked at by many as his Moral Event Horizon.
- I Can't Stan You: After eavesdropping on his neighbours he discovers how they really feel about him. So he has them evicted in order to live free of criticism.
- Meter Made: Stan becomes a meter maid to be taken more seriously and have power, later turning his job into a scam by spending the money from the meters.
- Dope & Faith: After making friends with an atheist named Brett, Stan does everything in his power to make him believe in God (such as destroying his home, getting him fired, and causing a divorce in his family). Instead of his intentions, Brett attempts to commit suicide and ends up becoming a Satanist. This is often seen by many as his Moral Event Horizon.
- Surro-Gate: Stan kidnaps Greg and Terry's baby and the children of a lesbian couple and heads to the Nebraska boarder, where gay couples have no rights.
- Oedipal Panties: Francine discovers than Stan has been abducting all dates of his mother, believing that they would all break her heart like his father, and putting them on an uncharted island in order to be close to her and tries to abduct her actual boyfriend Hercules.
- 1600 Candles: He and Francine just stood around while bullies were giving his son Steve a swirly.
- Bully for Steve: He bullied Steve in an attempt to toughen him up, which subsequently caused Steve to hire Stan's bully, Stelio Kontos to brutalize him in turn.
- Hot Water: Stan buys a Hot Tub which encourages him to do bad things, such as choosing it over his family which drives them away. Many would say that this is where Stan crosses the Moral Event Horizon, even though this episode is considered non-canon.
- Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure: After Stan learned that Steve and Snot's prom dates Honey and Glitter were clones that they had illegally created using CIA technology, Stan proceeded to hunt down and try to kill both of them; and Stan not only did it just to avoid losing his job if the CIA found out, but he also treated it as though the clones didn't qualify as human beings despite the fact that his beloved pet dodo was also a clone.
- Buck, Wild!: When Steve comes along with him on a business hunting trip, he tells him he must kill animals to become a man. Guilt leads Steve to run away into the wilderness to nurture the deer fawn whose parents he accidentally killed. Eventually, Stan realizes his son has become a man by showing mercy (by not letting the animals kill him), but only in the woods where they will never go back.
Lately, I've been thinking about all the people I've had to kill. God, the first five, ten times you take a life, it's eerie. You remember every detail: I can see all their faces; one had a beard. Each time I pulled the trigger, I tied a little knot in my memory that no amount of whiskey could loosen. Of course, eventually, I've stopped caring. Now, I can put a bullet through a man's head while figuring how much KFC to pick up on my way home — it's usually no more than a bucket. The sick part is, I've come to love it. Snuffing out lives, I crave it. I feel like an angel of death, the messenger of eternal darkness, a merciless demon with an unquenchable - oh, they've just put more orange chicken in the buffet, gotta run!
Insanely drastic and rashly so, Stan at times acts on his first impulses which typically result in extreme measures. Often, his extreme measures are of a conspicuously destructive, disastrous, offensive, or life-threatening nature to others. Very inconsiderate, Stan never stops to think about the feelings, needs, or welfare of others, even in circumstances in which it's obvious that others have been/could be severely negatively impacted. Moreover, Stan often proves to be insensitive, completely unfazed when fully conscious of the distresses, displeasures and sufferings brought upon and felt by others. As examples:
In the episode "The People vs. Martin Sugar," Stan hits a real federal marshal in the back of the head with a stone just so he can get to wear his jacket and pose as a real marshal himself. In the same episode, he refused to let the rest of the jury go home if they didn't vote Roger guilty, despite him being the only one who thought so and thus being in the minority of the verdict. It is also indirectly stated that he has been known to stab the babies of men and women who don't have regular childcare so they can be eligible to stay on the jury.
- The scene in which the Shrink uses water drops to illustrate Chaos Theory to Stan is a parody of a similar scene from Jurassic Park.
- Stan says, "Frankly, my ants, I don't give a dam!", a parody of the quote, "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn" from Gone with the Wind.
- Bird Flu
- Brian Boyle reported at the 2014 New York Comic Con that Stan's near-death escape is based on his own father's similar experience.
- The locomotive tender on the model train bears the number A113.
- Stan mentions Back to the Future after originally claiming not to be familiar with the film in "Delorean Story-an".
- During Stan and Francine's train ride, they pass a crime scene with a decapitated figure in a thong.
- Stan expresses concern that Welcome to the Dollhouse in his theater is not what he expected. The film contains many adult themes, including rape, pedophilia and alcoholism.
- Stan infects Brett's restaurant food with bird flu, an epidemic which has spread in recent years.