Francine was born to Nicholas and Cassandra Dawson. When Francine was a young toddler in "Big Trouble in Little Langley", her parents gave her up to be in first class on a plane. Not much is known about Francine's younger years; however, she was brought up in an orphanage where she was taught that left-handers were the Devil in "Office Spaceman", and was hit with a piece of beef or a mackerel on Fridays whenever she used her left hand. At the age of 7, she was adopted and raised by a Chinese couple, Ma Ma and Bah Bah Ling. Her maiden name is Ling. Through her adopted Chinese parents, Francine has a sister, Gwen, who Stan thinks is "totally hot" and mentions it whenever her sister is brought up in conversation.
When she was about 14 she had an obsessive crush on her algebra teacher, Mr. Feeny. After Francine claimed that they were lovers, he was sent to jail where he committed suicide in the pilot. She also reported being beaten up by a group of popular girls in the school showers in "1600 Candles".
When Francine was younger she had a brief acting career in an episode of the television show Scarecrow and Mrs. King with George Clooney. George stole her line in the show ruining her acting career. Since then she has been passionate about killing him, or at least, making him cry. Which Stan helped her do in "Tears of a Clooney", as a 39th/40th birthday present.
Francine was a wild hippie when younger. In the '80s she slept with Adam Ant, Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and Dexys Midnight Runners. It was around this time that she met Stan, who had just graduated from the CIA academy. The couple met when Francine was hitchhiking and Stan pulled over and gave her a lift. During the trip, Stan swerved to avoid hitting a raccoon, which he did hit. To put the raccoon out of its misery, Stan shot the animal. It may have been the emotion at the time, but Francine was attracted to Stan for the compassion he had shown. This is the key to the plan in "Francine's Flashback" to get her memory back. The couple married soon after. She has 2 birth scars, a caesarian section scar from Hayley's birth and a scar on her perineum from Steve's birth.
Francine is now a typical housewife, who has no long term career but has had a few brief jobs. She complains she rarely has any friends in "Homeland Insecurity" because Stan always scares them away. Although Francine has settled down as a mother, her old personality traits will sometimes flare up, such as when she goes out drinking with an old friend in "The Kidney Stays in the Picture".
In "Pulling Double Booty", Francine tells, what Stan describes as, a "Haunting Scene-let" which indicates that Francine has been in Prison before. She re-enacts a scene about being "shanked in the cafeteria", she does not want the same life for Hayley.
Francine is a stereotypical trophy housewife who generally seems to enjoy her position in life. She has previously criticized Stan for locking her up without any shirts to fold in "Con Heir", as she "hates down time." She is more sympathetic to Hayley's ideologies and Steve's geekiness than Stan although she gives Hayley a cold shoulder when Hayley confesses she believes she is addicted to pot smoking in "A Jones for a Smith". She also has an obsession with keeping Steve as her baby in "Iced, Iced Babies".
However, she has, on occasion, made attempts to break out of her everyday life and try something different. She was:
- A successful Realtor in "Threat Levels".
- A member of "the Ladybugs" club of exclusive women, by faking an affair with a valet in "Not Particularly Desperate Housewives".
- Managed a muffin kiosk at the mall in "Finances With Wolves".
- Obtained an illegitimate doctors degree and acted as a surgeon for the handicapped mafia, in "Helping Handis".
- Involved in car racing and gambling large amounts of money, in "Dungeons and Wagons".
- A surrogate mother in the episode "Surro-Gate".
- A marine biologist in "Stan Time".
- A comedian in "White Rice".
- Concrete saleswoman in "Fartbreak Hotel".
- Receptionist at the CIA in "Flirting With Disaster".
Although often underestimated, Francine has a shockingly dark side. When she hit her mid-life crisis, Francine and Stan orchestrated an elaborate scheme in which Francine posed as George Clooney's girlfriend all for the sake of breaking his heart in "Tears of a Clooney". Another incident of how dangerous Francine can be occurred when she discovered Stan had sent his CIA double Bill, to her high school reunion, in his place. Furious, Francine shot Bill's knee-cap, thinking it was Stan. When she was tired of the demands on her life in "Fartbreak Hotel", she entertained a fantasy of killing the family.
Francine was also independent and strong willed and didn't allow others to push her around. In "Stan of Arabia: Part 2" she sang, complaining about Saudi Arabia's treatment of women, which gets her arrested. In "Shallow Vows" she is shown to tolerate being a housewife as long as she is being taken care of and suggests she will leave Stan if he becomes incapacitated.
Francine also had a tendency to be extremely obsessive sometimes to the point of threatening loved ones or even mutilating herself to reach her goal. When she was desperate to have another baby in "Iced, Iced Babies", she actually aimed a gun at her own husband though she deliberately missed when she fired it. She even chopped off her own hand in "Tears of a Clooney" when Stan handcuffed her to a pole because she was determined to destroy George Clooney. When she was obsessed with something it seemed that only Stan could calm her down. Despite having somewhat disdain over her family when they refuse to keep their resolutions, Francine is shown to be visually in shock over her entire family's fake deaths in "Finger Lenting Good".
Francine doesn't seem to have any problem with killing small animals to make food as shown in "Live and Let Fry" when she attempted to deep fry a baby chick alive and later on deep fried a rabbit. In "In Country...Club" she drowned a small bird for Roger to eat even though she liked singing with it.
In "1600 Candles" and "Pulling Double Booty" she stated that she's been in prison and described what a horrible experience it was but never said why she was sent in the first place, although in "Family Affair" she admitted to the family that she stabbed her college roommate which could be the reason she went to prison.
Hobbies and talents
Being a housewife, Francine doesn't appear at first to have many talents besides cleaning and cooking. However as the series has shown she can speak Mandarin, French and Spanish. In "Tears of a Clooney" she can also drive motorcycles with professional skills, and is apparently trained or self-taught in both armed and unarmed combat. Francine is also a moderately skilled actress and singer, having performed as Mrs. Potts in 'Beauty and the Beast', had a bit part of "Scarecrow and Mrs. King" and spent a year posing as a George Clooney's girlfriend, in an attempt to destroy him. Francine is also a somewhat trained/self-taught ER surgeon, having spent time as a doctor of the Handicapped Mafia in "Helping Handis". In "Stanny-Boy and Frantastic", when she and Stan were invited to do free running from rooftops of abandoned buildings, Francine was able to do free running better than Stan.
- In "A.T. The Abusive Terrestrial", Francine's favorite beverage is Mr. Pibb.
- Francine is revealed to be left-handed in "Office Spaceman", or was until the nuns of the orphanage that raised her warped her mind into believing left-handers are the Devil's people. Eventually she breaks free of this belief and makes more of an effort to work her left hand again.
- Francine is not a natural blond but a brunette, which most likely explains why her son Steve is a light brunette, and daughter Hayley is a darker brunette who seems to have more of Stan's hair color. Before she got a new hairdresser in "Star Trek", her dark roots were visible.
- Apparently Francine is one of the few women in Langley Falls not having an affair, as most other women belong to the Ladybugs who compare notes on their affairs.
- She is dressed as the Statue of Liberty and uses the torch as a flamethrower in the online game American Dad vs. Family Guy Kung-Fu II.
- She weighs 109 lbs according to her driver's license and her birthday is September 26th. in "Shallow Vows".
- She has a fear of needles in "American Dream Factory". However, she previously used a needle to place stitches in Blind Jimmy's arm in "Helping Handis" and again later in "Bar Mitzvah Hustle".
- Francine reveals in "Stanny-Boy and Frantastic" that she carries a stick of butter in her purse in case of emergency after an incident when she was eight years old and got her head stuck in a stair banister.
- In "Dungeons and Wagons", she pierced her navel like her daughter.
- In occasions, Francine is depicted as being physically weak. In "Homeland Insecurity", she pointed a gun at Stan and couldn't hold it up for more than a minute. And in "Frannie 911", she carries Roger with obvious struggle. In "Cops and Roger", Francine and Roger are mugged and the former cannot do a thing to stop it.
- Francine admits in "Dr. Klaustus" that she takes fifty dollars from Stan's wallet every week to buy drugs.
- It is revealed in "Great Space Roaster" that Francine dislikes Rachael Ray.
- Francine hints that she lost her virginity to a group of angry construction workers in "The Scarlett Getter".
- In "The Adventures of Twill Ongenbone And His Boy Jabari", Francine hikes up her dress to show Steve she doesn't have a tattoo stating that she hates him, demonstrating that she occasionally goes without panties.
- In "The Missing Kink", she developed a spanking fetish.