Self-assembly, the process by which objects initially distributed at random arrange into well-defined patterns exclusively due to their local mutual interactions without external intervention, is generally accepted to be the most promising method for large-scale fabrication of functional nanostructures. In particular, the ordering of molecular building-blocks deposited at solid surfaces is relevant for the performance of many organic electronic and optoelectronic devices, such as organic field-effect transistors (OFETs), organic light-emitting diodes (OLEDs) or photovoltaic solar cells. However, the fundamental knowledge on the nature and strength of the intermolecular and molecule-substrate interactions that govern the ordering of molecular adsorbates is, in many cases, rather scarce. In most cases, the structure and morphology of the organic-metal interface is not known and it is just assumed to be the same as in the bulk, thereby implicitly neglecting the role of the surface on the assembly. However, this approximation is usually not correct, and the evidence gathered over the last decades points towards an active role of the surface in the assembly, leading to self-assembled structures that only in a few occasions can be understood by considering just intermolecular interactions in solid or gas phases. In this work we review several examples from our recent research demonstrating the apparently endless variety of ways in which the surface might affect the assembly of organic adsorbates.