It took 17 seasons (or 15 by some counts — it’s complicated), but finally, American Dad has wound up one of the longest running sagas in television history. It’s the story of Roger the Alien’s golden turd. Begun in season 1, Roger’s turd has been the subject of a recurring story over the course of the last decade and a half. It has incredible powers of evil, similar to the One Ring of Tolkien lore, over those who encounter it. Good people corrupted have lusted and murdered for it. The lump of jewel-encrusted poo has appeared briefly in several episodes, forming a long story arc unfolding over many seasons.
You can follow the saga of the turd in the following episodes:
- Season 1 episode 6: “Homeland Insecurity” – Roger lays the golden turd. Two electrical workers discover the treasure, but only Jim survives, killing his best friend for it. He calls his fiancee only to discover her having an affair.
- Season 2 episode 3: “Failure is not a Factory-Installed Option” – Guilt-laden Jim parks his truck on train tracks, killing himself. The investigating cop on the scene finds the golden turd, and brings it home to show his wife. He quickly regrets tampering with evidence, and decides to turn it in. Instead, his wife puts rat poison in his tea.
- Season 10 episode 3: “Blargsnart: A Love Story” – The cop’s wife is executed for murder. Their son, an important man with presidential ambitions, discovers the turd hidden under a floorboard in their house.
- Season 12 episode 1: “Father’s Daze” – The man and his presidential campaign adviser fight over the turd. They are both killed and the turd is later discovered by a cleaning woman who realizes its true significance. She takes it to the Vatican where the leaders of all the world’s religions decide what to do about this prophesized “turd” of events.
- Season 5 episode 9: “Rapture’s Delight” – In a fanciful Christmas story taking place during the future of the book of Revelations, freedom fighter Jesus returns the turd to Roger. (“Ah, an alien. One of my father’s side-projects”, says a trash-talking Jesus.) Roger uses the turd to power his spaceship, in order to ultimately stop the Anti-Christ. (This episode is not quite in continuity since everyone dies in the end, but could still take place in American Dad’s future timeline as a sort of coda to the turd saga.)
Though it went on like the Song that Never Ends, the turd saga was wrapped up in grand style. I’ve made the argument that American Dad is trying to keep up with Rick and Morty lately in terms of epic storylines with universal consequences. In its own way, American Dad has caught up this year.
We mundanely begin in the Smith family kitchen. The family have been trying for years to get on Family Feud and have finally received their application letter. Famously, Family Feud only send you one application; no second changes. Roger promptly destroys the application in another one of his endlessly destructive gags. The family realizes (via flashbacks) that Roger ruins everything, and banish him from the house.
The screen transitions to the letterbox format, indicating we are about to pick up the saga of the turd.
At the Vatican, the Pope, the Dalai Lama, Beyonce, and other important religious figures discuss how to dispose of the evil golden turd. It can only be destroyed by sending it back through the portal from which it originated — Roger’s ass. Its power to “corrupt and twist the human mind” is the only thing preventing the world from ascending to true peace, but the leaders squabble and fight. None of them can do it; they need a “chosen one”, a person who is immune to the turd’s power. Fortunately, the Knights Turdlar find the chosen one and send her with the turd to Langley Falls in America.
Roger’s not home — he was evicted, remember — but he’s not hard to find. The deed is easily done, and the turd is returned to its origin by the chosen one. The consequences are immediate: a bright wave of light circles the Earth. Utopia! World peace…and Roger’s demise! He shatters into (wink wink) 300 pieces.
There’s a big musical number featuring Patrick Stewart’s CIA director Avery Bullock, who announces there’s no more need for the agency. The song features blink-or-you’ll-miss-them cameos from all sorts of favourite characters from Santa Claus to Alistair Covax to The Weeknd. But the family is bored and can’t stand utopia! Will they selfishly try to restore Roger and end this world peace nonsense? It’s the Smiths; of course they will! Roger’s 300 fragments were scattered by the Knights Turdlar, hiding them in the most inaccessible places on Earth. But Roger’s offspring, Rogu can “probably” sense all of Roger’s bits hidden all over the world.
The story comes full circle when they track down the final and most important piece (the butthole) to Family Feud’s own Steve Harvey. The TV show host isn’t giving it up…not without a Feud! But an unlikely Fast Money victory isn’t the end of the turd’s tale. It always exacts a heavy toll (as the previous episodes in the saga demonstrated). Restoring Roger and undoing utopia has bloody consequences for the Smiths. It’s the kind of death-laden storyline that only a time travel trope can undo! Future Roger needs Past Roger to ensure the turd is never found in the first place, and hopefully also to not get kicked out of the house!
There is one more episode left to go this season, but American Dad demonstrated some epic scale storytelling with “300”. That required epic aspect ratios. Most of this episode is in the standard widescreen, goes letterboxed for the turd saga. It even briefly goes back to full screen when we revisit the origins in season 1. Three aspect rations, one epic episode. What a way to end this long-running story, which was not a turd at all.
…But is the saga really over?