Fox’s American Dad! panel at Comic-Con International opened with a dance number, with all the producers, writers and cast performing to a "We love you" ‘60s-themed song, which they gave to the audience as their expression of love.
Following the musical bit, co-creator and actor Mike Barker (Terry Bates) introduced the panel: co-creator and actor Seth MacFarlane (Stan), co-creator Matt Weitzman, writer Jordan Blum, and actors Dee Bradley Baker (Klaus), Rachael MacFarlane (Hayley), Scott Grimes (Steve) and Wendy Schaal (Francine).
"We love you,“ Barker said. “We've got a lot of exciting stuff planned for this season. Because we were so vulnerable, now we have to cover it in character and jokes.”
"We start out our season Sept. 30 with an episode where Roger hires Hayley to sing at her bar, and that happens to coincide nicely with … you have a new album coming out?" Barker said, turning to Rachael MacFarlane.
"I have news, everyone,” she replied. “Hayley Sings comes out Sept. 25, and it's my very first record. We're so unbelievably excited.”
Weitzman provided further clues about the upcoming eighth season, saying, "We have another Christmas episode. In this case it's going to be a musical. I don't know if you know the concept of Krampus, which is kind of Austrian anti-Santa kind of a demon. He's going to be voiced by Danny Glover, which is awesome. Stan lets out this Christmas demon, and he steals Steve, and Stan has to go and rescue him."
"We also have Nathan Fillion, Will Forte, Rupert Grint, John Hamm, Allison Brie, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Charlie Day and more," Barker said rolled out a preview reel.
Introduced by Patrick Stewart, the voice of CIA Deputy Director Avery Bullock, the video featured, among other clips, glimpses of Roger in a dozen different roles, Stan failing in his attempt to jump the Grand Canyon, and Stan spanking Francine.
Asked whether they would ever produce an American Dad video game, as the show has a good deal of violence, Seth MacFarlane said, "I'm a peaceful guy, I'm not a violent person. I've never even been in a fight. The last game I played was Pitfall Yeah, sure, why not? Let's do one."
Asked by a little kid why Stan always tries to kill his children, Grimes replied, "When you're a parent you'll understand."
Addressing the darkness and absurdity of the Christmas episodes, Weitzman said, “We're trying to get as dark as we can until it's actually light again."
"This Christmas we're going to break into your house and steal your presents,“ Barker added. “Not the characters, us. That's how dark we're going to get. It's a musical, with the music composed by Asa Taccone, and with the great soul singer Charles Bradley playing the singing parts of Krampus. I think you're going to like it. "
Turning to criticism of the show, Weitzman answered, "It's not like we try to make the most controversial story out there, we just want to tell stories that make us laugh and that are funny, and sometimes those stories end up being controversial. We go to the funny first, and sometimes that leads us to the controversial."
Asked why, in flashbacks, the mother characters on his shows always seem to be depicted as drug addicts, porn stars or prostitutes, and whether that reflects a personal issue, MacFarlane answered, "Hmm, it's a good point. The mom characters in both shows do tend to have dark pasts. No, my mom was not a porn star. Maybe she had been known, from time to time, to partake in some life additives." His sister Rachael MacFarlane interrupted with “Uh, next question!“
Another fan wondered whether there will be an episode about Roger’s trip to Earth, and whether speed is his only superpower. "Every episode is about Roger's trip to Earth, in a way,“ Barker replied. “If you want to know the details, like if he had to line up in a certain boarding line before he got on the ship, or was there any problem with the ticket, were his papers in order, and all of that is something we haven’t really explored yet."
“This season we might see a little of Roger's home world,” Weitzman offered.
"Oh, are we going to let them know that?“ Barker said. “Yeah, this season one of our main characters leaves this planet.”
"As far as special powers, he's kind of evolved,“ Weitzman said. “He can't be burnt or drowned, or shot. … Oh, wait, I'm giving something away I shouldn't.”
MacFarlane was asked of all the characters he has created, which one he’d like to hang out with and why. "I don't know, maybe Roger,“ he said. “There's no accountability whatsoever. You could pretty much do whatever you wanted. ‘No accountability Roger, that's what they call me,‘ doesn't exactly roll off the tongue but, we're working on a shorter version.”
Asked what the next chapter of “The Golden Turd” would be about, he said, "We can't tell you that. … I think David Letterman gave it away last night."
"We can tell you that Klaus' original body gets discovered in this upcoming season.,” Weitzman added.
“’The Golden Turd' will be back,“ Barker promised, “until it gets cut."
Asked whether any of the voice cast ever refused a line of dialogue, Weitzman answered, "Patrick Stewart said no, at one point, ‘I'm not saying that.‘ And it was a line that turned Avery Bullock into a pedophile. And he turned to me and said, 'You know, I've got to say, Bullock will do just about anything. He'll do drugs, he'll consort with prostitutes, but I don't feel comfortable with him as a pedophile.' And I said, ‘You know, you're absolutely right, there's got to be something sacred for his character.‘ So that's the only time someone has objected to something."
On a show known for pushing the boundaries of taste, what’s the most outrageous bit that ended up on the cutting-room floor because it went a bit too far?
"There's this bit where we say, ‘I just wanted to get it over with so much that I poured mayo on your back,‘” Barker divulged. “We're still fighting with Standards over that so we'll see."
American Dad! returns Sept. 30 at 9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.