"If I had to deal with the pressure, I'd crack and end up as a high school water polo coach": The time James Hetfield guested as a weird version of himself on American Dad

James Hetfield/American Dad
(Image credit: YouTube/Fox/Getty Images/Christian Petersen)

So far as metal-friendly American animated comedies go, most people will likely think of Metalocalypse or Beavis And Butt-Head, maybe even The Simpsons at a push. But as it turns out, you should probably add American Dad! to that list, as the show has delighted in chucking both metal songs and references to our world in its 20 season run. 

From satanic guitar solos to a sequence set to Deftones' Change (In The House Of Flies), invocations of "Anaal Nathrakh" as a magic spell to characters singing Linkin Park's In The End, the show has subtly waved the flag for metal numerous times across its run. 

But perhaps the most bizarre instance came in 2016, when Metallica's own James Hetfield guest-starred in the show for the episode The Life Aquatic With Steve Smith. Rather than a Simpsons-style cameo however, Hetfield appears as a fully-fleshed character - albeit one that is basically "super weird James Hetfield". 

Coach of the school water polo team, Hetfield introduces himself by name before insisting that he definitely isn't the James Hetfield from Metallica, "even though I look and sound like him and have all his guitars."

Of course, he immediately drops a hint that he is the same James Hetfield - "the point is, if I had to deal with the kind of pressure that guy's under, I'd crack and end up as a high school water polo coach". 

sure enough as the episode goes on we get more hints, as well as plays of All Nightmare Long and Master Of Puppets long before Stranger Things brought it back into the cultural zeitgeist. It's a bizarre appearance, but works well for the wacky world American Dad! inhabits. 

So far as why James Hetfield pops up in American Dad! though, the singer did admit in a 2013 interview with Collider that he loved the show. "I love Family Guy, I love American Dad; I love stuff like that," he says. "It's another level. It's hilarious. It makes me laugh."

So there you have it: American Dad isn't just metal-friendly, it's Metallica-approved. 

Watch Hetfield introduce himself in the clip below:

Rich Hobson

Staff writer for Metal Hammer, Rich has never met a feature he didn't fancy, which is just as well when it comes to covering everything rock, punk and metal for both print and online, be it legendary events like Rock In Rio or Clash Of The Titans or seeking out exciting new bands like Nine Treasures, Jinjer and Sleep Token.