Roger (American Dad!)
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|American Dad! character|
|First appearance||"Pilot" (2005)|
|Created by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Voiced by||Seth MacFarlane|
|Occupation||Various (depending on alias)|
Roger Smith is a 4'3" fictional character in the adult animated sitcom American Dad!, voiced by Seth MacFarlane. The character was created and designed by Seth MacFarlane. Roger is a centuries-old grey space alien living with the Smith family, around whom the show revolves. Having lived on Earth since crashing in Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, Roger came to live with the Smiths after rescuing main character Stan Smith at Area 51 four years prior to the beginning of the series.
Roger began the series as a sensitive pushover who is often taken advantage of, cheated, and ridiculed. Over time, the character has become a sociopath, exhibiting increasingly cruel, selfish, devious, and depraved behavior, although the Smith family are curiously oblivious to his nature despite being his most frequent victims, with the sole exception of Stan, who is the only Smith family member aware of Roger's malicious nature. In early episodes of the show, Roger is disallowed from leaving the Smith house in order to conceal his being an alien. This restriction is soon abandoned and Roger begins adopting disguises and fictitious personas in order to have a life outside the house.
Roger's personas have become a major plot device, with his myriad alter egos frequently being the subject or facilitator of an episode's main story or subplot. This also helps to amplify his pansexuality and androgynous nature, which varies dependent on the plot situation and persona he has adopted. Aside from catalyzing the plot or subplot with his various personas, and despite his increasingly evident self-interest, he often serves to counsel the show's main characters, by humorously affirming or bluntly disregarding their opinions.
When voicing the character, MacFarlane speaks in a swish accent intended to resemble Paul Lynde (who played Uncle Arthur in Bewitched). In 2014, Roger was voted "Gayest Cartoon Character of All Time" in a first-ever March Madness style competition held by Logo TV.
Roger is selfish, cynical, cruel, and thin-skinned. Having his feelings hurt usually spurs the creation of his egos and schemes. Roger typically displays a lighthearted, carefree temperament while at the same time engaging in his freakish grossness, outrageous malice, and rascally shenanigans. Crude and brazen, Roger has no qualms with randomly saying and doing whatever is on his mind, having little to no sympathy for anyone who might suffer as a result of his actions, and regularly misleading and finagling others to achieve his desired ends. However, according to the episode "Frannie 911", Roger is not this unpleasant by choice; his species of alien must let all unpleasantries out, for if they don't, it will turn into poison and kill them.
Also according to "Frannie 911", Roger has been on earth for over 60 years, having arrived in 1947 as a result of being tricked, led to believe he was "The Decider" in whose hands the fate of mankind rested, when in fact he was serving the role of a crash test dummy. Earlier, after causing his aunt's spaceship to crash, Roger lived with a family of pioneer fur trappers that died travelling on the Oregon Trail in the episode "OreTron Trail". There is also the possibility, he or another member of his race came to earth in early antiquity, as in the first episode of the 13th season a stone carving is shown depicting an alien looking like Roger squatting above a pyramid with two Egyptians presumably praising him and hieroglyph characters surrounding them. In the episode "Naked to the Limit, One More Time" however, it is evidenced that Roger remains on Earth by will, the episode revealing that he can simply call for his people's spaceship to return him to his birth planet if he so desires.
Details on Roger's actual family and pre-Earth life have yet to be shown on the series. Although in the episode "Lost in Space", a brief clip revealed that prior to Roger's life on Earth, he was involved in a homosexual romantic relationship with another member of his alien race, Zing; however, Roger cheated on Zing, blatantly making out with a human male in front of him. It's also been revealed that Roger has lived on Earth for many years prior to his life spent with the Smith family.
Roger came into contact with the Smith family when he saved Stan's life back when Roger was a fugitive of Area 51 (four years prior to the show's beginnings). Feeling he owed Roger a life debt because of this, Stan rescued him from government capture and allowed him to live in his home. Stan has allowed this in defiance of his employer, the CIA. Roger now covertly lives in the Smith home. Roger uses the Smith's attic as his hideout/room/bar.
After Stan took Roger in for saving his life, he felt that it would endanger him and the rest of his family if it were to be discovered that Roger is an alien and living with them. Consequently, Stan forbade him from leaving the house when the series first began, even in disguise. Confined to the house in the first couple of seasons, Roger was miserable and malcontent. However, Roger is able to skillfully use disguises to exist in the outside world, which has become a major plot device in later episodes. Adding to this, he's created countless alter egos to go along with them.
Roger has, however, abused this practice, leading numerous lives and outrageously deceiving numerous people. In fact, some of Roger's characters are in prison, while others are widely despised, and others somehow have full-fledged human families and are even married; several of his characters somehow have birth children while others are graduates of Howard University. Roger also uses several of these personas to act in a criminal manner, as several of his alter egos have been seen to engage in robbery, sexual assault, police corruption, identity theft, drug trafficking, child abuse and with one persona even admitting to being wanted "for a series of prostitute murders".
As the series has progressed, Roger's personas have developed their own lives that even he can be unaware of and his control has been shown to be tenuous at best. In "The Horse Whisperer" he realizes seconds before walking into a room (to see a horse therapist) that he is the one inside; In another episode both he and Stan express surprise that a character introduced by Roger wasn't one of his personas.
Despite his numerous disguises consisting of only a different set of garment and hair with no effort to disguise his gray skin, non-human face and body features (with some exceptions, like additional body weight, facial hair or wrinkles), Roger has been capable of deceiving virtually every single person he interacts with without ever being discovered as an alien; not even by Stan's colleagues from CIA, who according to him, have "an entire floor" looking for Roger. The Smith family is the only exception; however, for each member of the family there is one individual alter ego they can not recognize as Roger. On top of that, Roger has been sent to the hospital several times over the course of the series, and medical personnel, for some reason, have never found out that he's not a human.
Potential film adaptation
At Comic-Con 2013 on July 20, Mike Barker revealed that an “American Dad!” film centering on Roger and set on his birth planet may take place in the future. Barker did not announce any specifics as it relates to the nature and type of film he and the rest of the show's creators had in mind for the series; however, he strongly suggested that a film is where the show's staff and creators would like to take things. Barker further hinted that an American Dad! film may already be in the works and partially written.
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