Creative direction of American Dad! has largely been guided by Barker (prior to his exit from the show in season 10) and Weitzman as opposed to MacFarlane, resulting in a series that is different from its counterparts. Unlike MacFarlane’s other shows, Family Guy and, to a lesser extent, The Cleveland Show, American Dad! does not lean as heavily on the use of cutaway gags, and is less concerned with conventional “setup-punchline” jokes, instead deriving its humor mostly from the quirky characters, the relationships between family members, and the relatively relatable plots. While the core issues and resolutions are relatable in most episodes, the show nonetheless weaves in fantastical elements, pitching the tone of the show somewhere between observational comedy and farce. The plots are often absurd, but grounded by family stories and real-world issues
American Dad! has been nominated for numerous awards, most prominently four Primetime Emmy Awards and two Annie Awards. In June 2013, it was awarded as top television series by the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers. Since its debut, American Dad! has broadcast 276 episodes (as of August 26, 2019). The total number of seasons and organization of episodes within these seasons are in dispute because of a discrepancy in how official sources report this information. One model suggests the first season of American Dad! comprises the first 7 episodes, while another model suggests the first season comprises 23 episodes.