Created by Mike Barker, Seth MacFarlane, and Matt Weitzman, American Dad debuted in 2005 and continues to be one of the longest-running animated TV shows on record. The popular series follows the personal and professional exploits of Stan Smith (MacFarlane), a conservative CIA operative tasked with keeping the United States safe while protecting his family members.
The show has earned four Primetime Emmy Award nominations during its 19-year run and recently scored a 2024 nomination for Outstanding Achievement in Casting from the Casting Society of America.
Speaking of casting, American Dad has introduced several iconic recurring characters in the past that have not been seen in a very long time. Whether it’s Terry Bates or Akiko Yoshida, fans of the show have begun to voice their desire to see long-lost American Dad characters return in some form.
With American Dad recently concluding Season 18, it’s time to give a heartfelt shoutout to the 8 best characters who haven’t been spotted on the show in roughly a decade — and need to come back.
8 Terry Bates
Last Seen in Season 10, Episode 1 (2014)
Voiced by series co-creator Mike Barker, the glaring absence of Terry Bates in American Dad has made the show demonstrably worse over the past ten years. Terry was Greg Corbin’s lover and co-anchor on Channel 3 News. The two often traded witty banter and wildly inappropriate details about their life on air to total strangers, which was a source of great humor.
As Stan’s next-door neighbor in the acclaimed adult animated show, Terry becomes a dependable friend and quasi-family member who the Smiths can lean on. Sadly, Stan wasn’t as committed to his surrogate daughter, Liberty Belle, and his French bulldog, Heath Ledger.
In his final appearance on the show, Terry left Greg, Liberty, and Heath to follow the band 311 on tour. Unfortunately, the reason Terry was written off the show related to Barker’s departure from the series over creative differences. It therefore might be difficult to bring him back, but that doesn’t mean fans don’t miss the character.
7 Father Donovan
Last Seen in Season 7, Episode 7 (2011)
Portrayed by Martin Mull in 10 episodes, Father Donovan remains one of the most beloved American Dad characters. Father Donovan serves as the priest at the First Episcopalian church attended by the Smiths family.
In a cynical, nihilistic loss of faith, Father Donovan stops believing in God and begins to act sinfully despite maintaining his role in the church. He even goes so far as to prepare to have an affair with Francine.
Father Donovan was given an unceremonious sendoff in Season 7, Episode 7, “Seasons Beatings.” The holiday episode finds Stan being banished from the church, which leads to Father Donovan being beaten to death onscreen.
Considering the large scar on his chest revealed in the episode “Dope & Faith,” one might assume Father Donovan would die from a heart attack. Instead, the fan-favorite character was fatally battered off the show, leaving many to mourn Father Donovan’s fate. There’s no returning for the priest, it seems.
6 Gretchen Grossbard
Last Seen in Season 8, Episode 1 (2012)
Voiced by Sherry Weston and Laura McCreary, Gretchen Grossbard appeared in a dozen episodes of American Dad from 2008 to 2012. Gretchen is an elderly woman who is friends with Grandpa Smith, Stan’s fake father. In the episode “Con Heir,” Gretchen famously seduces Steve Smith (Scott Grimes) and Snot Lonstein (Curtis Armstrong), although their romances are never consummated.
With several other appearances over the next four seasons, Gretchen continued to make her presence felt in such memorable episodes as “Phantom of the Telethon,” in which she serenades her sister. Gretchen may not be as popular a character as Terry or Father Donovan, but the fact remains that she has not been seen on the popular Seth MacFarlane TV show for 12 years, with her final appearance coming in the Season 8 premiere, “Love, AD Style.”
5 Debbie Hyman
Last Seen in Season 15, Episode 21 (2020)
Lizzy Caplan voiced the role of Debbie Hyman in American Dad, a polarizing character who became less visible as the show progressed. Debbie is Steve’s classmate and on-and-off girlfriend who detests gym class and would rather hide out in the air vents to avoid athletic activity. During her arc, Debbie has a running gag of breaking and making up with Steve time and again.
Although she technically appears briefly after Season 4, the cameos are fairly cosmetic. For instance, Debbie appears in a crowd scene in “100 A.D.” and appears briefly in “300,” a retrospective that finds Stan reliving his past.
As such, Debbie has not been a substantial character since 2009’s “Bar Mitzvah Hustle.” It’s not just a shame that such a funny character like Debbie has been absent for so long, it’s losing a talented comedic actor like Caplan that makes Debbie’s absence so painful.
4 Reginald Koala
Last Seen in Season 10, Episode 15 (2015)
Voiced by Donald Fullilove and Erik Durbin, Reginald Koala is one of the most popular American Dad recurring characters. Reginald was a homeless man who agreed to participate in a new experiment conducted by the CIA.
The experiment turned Reginald into a Koala Bear and tasked him with using his cuteness and cuddly side to infiltrate enemy territory. Given the similar experiment Klaus endured, Reginald should have been a much bigger mainstay.
Reginald appeared in 36 episodes of the long-running animated show from 2007 to 2015, and remains sorely missed to this day. Watching Reginald try to reconcile his urban idioms and street-wise behavior with his task of acting adorably led to some of the biggest laughs on the show. Although a similar dynamic takes place with Klaus’ dark Germanic background, if any character deserves a rousing return to American Dad, it’s Reginald Koala.
3 Sergei Kruglov
Last Seen in Season 14, Episode 3 (2019)
Voiced by Steve Hely, Sergei Kruglov is a member of the KGB who was captured by American forces in 1988. When Sergei is forced to swap places with Stan as part of a prisoner exchange program, Sergei moves to Langley Falls and vows to serve Stan a “stew seasoned with revenge” for having his life disrupted. Fans never got to see him serve such swift justice, leaving many reeling over Sergei’s prolonged absence.
Infatuated with teaching the tenets of communism to Steve, Sergei befriends Stan’s son and slowly indoctrinates the boy by building him a rocket ship. Meanwhile, Sergei cannot stomach his wife leaving him for a tennis salesperson and detests his son’s job selling Halloween costumes to dogs, leading to a psychological breaking point no fan of the show can forget. Although Sergei appears in a still photo in Season 15, for dramatic purposes, his last appearance came in Season 14.
2 Bah Bah Ling
Last Seen in Season 11, Episode 10 (2016)
Tzi Ma voiced the role of Bah Bah Ling in 13 episodes of American Dad between 2007 and 2016. Bah Bah is the adoptive father of Francine Smith and is married to Mah Mah Ling (Amy Hill). When first introduced, Bah Bah and Mah Mah seem more supportive of their biological daughter Gwen, although they warm up to their adopted American daughter as time passes.
In one example of bridging cultures, Bah Bah races to rescue Steve from a blazing house fire in the episode “Big Trouble in Little Langley,” proving that he considers Stan to be a genuine family member. One of Bah Bah’s last storylines involved hosting Thanksgiving dinner for Steve and Francine in “Kung Pao Turkey,” another beautiful example of cultures coming together in a melting pot of culinary customs.
1 Akiko Yoshida
Last Seen in Season 15, Episode 3 (2020)
Voiced by Grey DeLisle and Grace Park in the two-decade-long TV cartoon, Akiko Yoshida is Toshi Yoshida’s younger sister. Unlike her sister, Akiko is fluent in English and is a perfect speller.
She was introduced in Season 2’s “American Dream Factory,” where she is seen trying out for Steve’s band. The droll interplay between Steve and Akiko on the show has left many fans wondering why Akiko has been missing from the show for so long.
Although Akiko was briefly spotted in a flashback during Season 18’s “Saving Face,” she has only made two official appearances on the show since Season 12 in 2017. Akiko’s most lasting moment on American Dad came in the 2013 episode “Spelling Bee My Baby,” in which Akiko is kidnapped by Francine.
The episode ends with Akiko and Steve confessing their mutual love to one another and showcasing their feelings by deliberately misspelling their words in the spelling bee to avoid a winner. If Akiko doesn’t deserve a return and a better send-off by American Dad, no one does.
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