King of the Hill

King of the Hill Information

King of the Hill is an American animated comedy series created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels that ran from January 12, 1997, to May 6, 2010, on Fox. It centers on the Hills, a middle-class Methodist family in the fictional small suburban town of Arlen, Texas. It attempts to retain a naturalistic approach, seeking humor in the conventional and mundane aspects of everyday life while dealing with issues comically.

Judge and Daniels conceived the series after a run with Judge's Beavis and Butt-head on MTV, and the series debuted on the Fox network as a mid-season replacement on January 12, 1997, quickly becoming a hit. The series's popularity led to syndication around the world, and reruns air every night on Adult Swim. The show became one of Fox's longest-running series, and at the time of its cancellation the second longest-running American animated series. In 2007 it was named by Time magazine as one of the top 100 greatest television shows of all time. The title theme was written and performed by The Refreshments. King of the Hill won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for seven. It is now the third longest running primetime animated series after The Simpsons and South Park.

King of the Hill aired its series finale on September 13, 2009, with four episodes from season 13 unaired. The remaining four episodes aired in syndication on local stations from May 3 to 6, 2010, and on Adult Swim from May 17 to 20, 2010.



In early 1995, after the successful run of Beavis and Butt-head on MTV, Mike Judge co-created the show King of the Hill with former Simpsons writer Greg Daniels. Judge was a former resident of Garland, Texas, upon which the fictional community of Arlen was loosely based; however, the show was based more specifically on Richardson, Texas, a Dallas suburb, as Judge stated in a later interview. Mike Judge conceived the idea for the show, drew the main characters, and wrote a pilot script.

Fox teamed the cartoonist with Greg Daniels, an experienced prime-time TV writer. Greg Daniels rewrote the pilot script and created several important characters that did not appear in Judge's first draft (including Luanne and Cotton), as well as some characterization ideas (e.g., making Dale Gribble a conspiracy theorist). While Judge's writing tended to emphasize political humor, specifically the clash of Hank Hill's social conservatism and interlopers' liberalism, Daniels focused on character development to provide an emotional context for the series' numerous culture clashes. Judge was ultimately so pleased with Daniels' contributions that he chose to credit him as a co-creator, rather than give him the "developer" credit usually reserved for individuals brought on to a pilot written by someone else.

Initial success

After its debut, the series became a large success for Fox and was named one of the best television series by various publications, including Entertainment Weekly, Time, and TV Guide. For the 1997"1998 season the series became one of Fox's highest-rated programs and even briefly outperformed The Simpsons in ratings. During the fifth and sixth seasons, Mike Judge and Greg Daniels became less involved with the show. They eventually focused on the show again, though Greg Daniels steadily became more involved with other projects.

Format change

Judge and Daniels' lessening involvement with the show resulted in the series' format changing to become more episodic and formulaic. Beginning in season seven, the series was taken over by John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who had worked on the series since the second season, and who tended to emphasize Judge's concept of the series as being built around socio-political humor rather than character-driven humor. Although Fox insisted that the series lack character development or story arcs (a demand made of the network's other animated series, so that they can be shown out of order in syndication), Judge and Daniels had managed to develop several minor arcs and story elements throughout the early years of the series, such as Luanne's becoming more independent and educated after Buckley's death, and the aging of characters being acknowledged (a rare narrative occurrence for an animated series). Lacking Judge and Daniels' supervision, the series ceased aging its characters and even began retconning character backstories; in the episode "A Rover Runs Through It", Peggy's mother was abruptly changed from a neurotic housewife with whom Peggy shared a competitive relationship to a bitter rancher from whom Peggy had been estranged for several years.

Facing cancellation

Because it was scheduled to lead off Fox 's Sunday night animated programming lineup, portions of King of the Hill episodes were often preempted by sporting events that ran into overtime; this proved especially problematic during the series's ninth season, during which entire episodes were preempted. Ultimately, enough episodes were preempted that the majority of the series's 10th season was largely composed of unaired ninth-season episodes. Initially, that season was intended to be the final season.

The thirteenth season episode "Lucky See, Monkey Do" became the first episode of the series to be produced in widescreen high-definition when it aired on February 8, 2009.


Although ratings remained consistent through the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth seasons, and had begun to rise in the overall Nielsen ratings (up to the 105th most watched series on television, up from 118 in season 8), Fox abruptly announced in 2008 that King of the Hill had been cancelled. The cancellation coincided with the announcement that Seth MacFarlane, creator of Family Guy and American Dad!, would be creating a Family Guy spin-off called The Cleveland Show. The news came out about the same time that Fox cancelled a recent addition to its animated programming lineup, Sit Down, Shut Up. This was coupled with the revelation that Cleveland would be taking over King of the Hill's timeslot.

Hopes to keep the show afloat surfaced as sources indicated that ABC (which was already airing Judge's new animated comedy, The Goode Family) was interested in securing the rights to the show, but in January 2009, ABC president Steve McPherson said he had "no plans to pick up the animated comedy."

On April 30, 2009, it was announced that Fox ordered at least two more episodes to give the show a proper finale. The show's fourteenth season was supposed to air sometime in the 2009"2010 season, but Fox later announced that it would not air the episodes, opting instead for syndication. On August 10, 2009, however, FOX released a statement that the network would air a one-hour series finale (which consisted of a regular thirty-minute episode followed by a thirty-minute finale) on September 13, 2009.

The four remaining episodes of the series aired in syndication the week of May 3, 2010, and again on Adult Swim during the week of May 17, 2010.

During the panel discussion for the return of Beavis and Butt-head at Comic-Con 2011, Mike Judge said that there are no current plans to revive King of the Hill, although he wouldn't rule out the possibility of it returning.

Television ratings

Season TimeSlot (ET) Season premiere Season finale TV season # of episodes Ranking Estimated viewers in millions
1st 8:30 pm Sundays January 12, 1997 May 11, 1997 1997 12 #43 8.6
2nd 8:30 pm Sundays September 21, 1997 May 17, 1998 1997"1998 23 #15 16.3
3rd 8:00 pm Tuesdays September 15, 1998 May 18, 1999 1998"1999 25 #104 7.9
4th 7:30 pm Sundays September 26, 1999 May 21, 2000 1999"2000 24 #77 8.7
5th 7:30 pm Sundays October 1, 2000 May 13, 2001 2000"2001 20 #68 9.5
6th 7:30 pm Sundays November 11, 2001 May 12, 2002 2001"2002 22 #90 7.7
7th 7:30 pm Sundays November 3, 2002 May 18, 2003 2002"2003 23 #68 9.5
8th 7:30 pm Sundays November 2, 2003 May 23, 2004 2003"2004 22 #118 6.4
9th 7:00 pm Sundays November 7, 2004 May 15, 2005 2004"2005 15 #110 4.8
10th 7:30 pm Sundays September 18, 2005 May 14, 2006 2005"2006 15 #111 5.2
11th 8:30 pm Sundays January 28, 2007 May 20, 2007 2006"2007 12 #109 5.5
12th 8:30 pm Sundays September 23, 2007 May 18, 2008 2007"2008 22 #105 6.6
13th 8:30 pm Sundays September 28, 2008 May 6, 2010 2008"2010* 24 #95 6.0
*Includes the four unaired episodes that eventually aired from May 3, 2010 to May 6, 2010 on local TV stations.

King of the Hill is rated TV-PG with sub ratings.

The show is rated  PG  for Parental Guidance in North America.

The show is rated  PG  for Parental Guidance in Australia and  PG  in New Zealand for sexual references, with the exception of the season four episode "High Anxiety," which was rated  TV-MA  due to the episode's references to marijuana smoking, murder, gun use, and suicide.

Setting and characters

Opening theme

The opening theme is "Yahoos and Triangles" by the Arizona rock band The Refreshments. For season finales there is a slight variation for seasons 1"12. Season one's finale featured an opening guitar riff one octave higher. Season two's finale added a yeehaw to the beginning and 3"12 finales had the yeehaw accompanied by a dinner triangle. Season 13 and the series finale used the regular theme song. The intro is a montage of Hank, Bill, Dale and Boomhauer drinking starting at dawn. All around them other main characters are doing daily activities while the recycling bin fills with their beer cans. Although the opening was reanimated when the show began using high definition, the content never changes throughout the series even though Buckley, who died in season two, is shown picking up Luanne on his motorcycle.


King of the Hill is set in the fictional Dallas suburb of Arlen, Texas. As seen in the episode, "Hank's Cowboy Movie" the town has a population of 145,300 people. Arlen is located just north of the Brazos River in central Texas. In a 1995 interview prior to the show's debut, Judge described the setting as "a town like Humble" (a suburb of Houston). In a more recent interview, Judge has cited Richardson, Texas, a Dallas suburb, as the specific inspiration for Arlen. Time magazine praised the authentic portrayal as the "most acutely observed, realistic sitcom about regional American life bar none".

Arlen includes settings such as Rainey Street, where the Hills reside, and Strickland Propane, Hank's employer. Also included are parodies of well-known businesses, such as Mega-Lo Mart (a parody of Walmart), Luly's (a parody of Luby's), Bazooms (a parody of Hooters), and 61 Flavors (a parody of Baskin-Robbins). Most of the children in the show attend Tom Landry Middle School (named after the former Dallas Cowboys coach). Not long before the series premiered, an elementary school named after Tom Landry opened in Irving, Texas, a suburb of Dallas, where the Dallas Cowboys have played. Likewise, the local elementary school is named after Roger Staubach. Early in the series, the school is referred to as being in the Heimlich County School District (according to markings on the school buses), though in later seasons this is changed to Arlen Independent School District. The school's mascot is a longhorn steer. The local country club is the Nine Rivers Country Club, though this club's membership is almost exclusively made up of Asian-Americans. The "Devil's Bowl", where Lucky races his truck, is actually a race track in Mesquite, TX, a suburb of Dallas. When Bobby tries to impress Connie's delinquent relative Tid Pao in episode 128 "Bad Girls, Bad Girls, Whatcha Gonna Do?", he takes her to The Pioneer Woman's Museum, a parody of the real-life Woman's Collection Archive permanently housed at Texas Woman's University whose flagship campus is in Denton, Texas. In Season One, Hank plays golf with Willie Nelson, who is from Abbott, Texas, at the Pedernales Golf Course, which is a reference to the Pedernales River in the Texas Hill Country in Central Texas.


Main article: List of King of the Hill characters
King of the Hill depicts an average middle-class family and their lives in a typical American town. It documents the Hills' day-to-day-lives in the small Texas town of Arlen, exploring modern themes such as parent-child relationships, friendship, loyalty, and justice. As an animated sitcom, however, King of the Hill's scope is generally larger than that of a regular sitcom.

Hank Hill
Henry Rutherford "Hank" Hill, the family patriarch, is the assistant manager of Strickland Propane, and a salesman of "propane and propane accessories.," He is obsessed with his lawn, propane (which he sometimes pronounces with the stress on the second syllable), the Texas Longhorns, and the Dallas Cowboys. Embarrassed and ashamed of his narrow urethra, he is uncomfortable with intimacy and sexuality; despite this, he has a healthy relationship with his wife and the rest of his family. Hank's catchphrase is "I tell you what," typically tacked onto the end of a sentence; other common utterances include "bwah!" when startled, a sotto voce "ugh" when disgusted, and "I'm gonna kick your ass!" when angered, though he is rarely moved to the point of actual physical violence. In contrast to his emotional distance from members of his family, he dotes unashamedly on his aging bloodhound, Ladybird, as well as his pickup truck. Hank is voiced by series co-creator Mike Judge.
Peggy Hill
Margaret J. "Peggy" Platter Hill, a substitute Spanish teacher who actually has a poor grasp of the language (she pronounces it phonetically as "es-puh-nole"), has won the Tom Landry Substitute Teacher of the Year award for 3 consecutive years. Peggy is also a freelance newspaper columnist, real estate agent, notary public, and Boggle champion. She often displays her naiveté and arrogance with an inflated sense of her intelligence and appearance. She considers herself knowledgeable, clever, and very physically attractive, although she has on occasion noted her self-consciousness of her unusually large (US women's size 16.5) feet. More often than not, Peggy's ego will preempt better judgment, leading to actions that, while initially "helping" her, ultimately lead her down a path of agonizing realization of what she has done. In the first season, Peggy's everyday shirt was white. From the second season forward, the shirt changed from white to green. Peggy is voiced by Kathy Najimy.
Bobby Hill
Robert Jeffrey "Bobby" Hill, the son of Hank and Peggy, is an overweight, prepubescent 13-year-old, who wants to be a famous prop comic when he is older. Although he is not particularly attractive or intelligent, Bobby has an excellent sense of self-esteem; he is not ashamed of his body or his often sub-par performance in sports or other activities. Bobby lacks his father's athletic prowess and dislikes most sports, but has participated, typically peripherally, in wrestling, baseball, and track at Tom Landry Middle School and has also attempted to play football and soccer. He is, however, an excellent rifle marksman and has won 2nd place at the annual father"son shoot off. He has an offbeat sense of humor that clashes with Hank's more collected and conservative manner. Such sentiments are fueled by Bobby's interest in activities more traditionally considered to be feminine, such as cooking, high fashion, and dolls. Hank's discomfort with Bobby's proclivities is a regular narrative element in the series, and is manifested with remarks like "That boy ain't right." Pamela Adlon provides Bobby Hill's voice, a role for which she won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance in 2002.
Luanne Platter
Luanne Platter (named after the Lu Ann Platter from Luby's) is Peggy's niece. Sensitive and a bit of an airhead, her conflicts most often stem from her inability to think for herself, and from her naiveté, which allows others to take advantage of her. She follows a very specific pattern in the men she dates, which are usually all the wrong kinds. She grew up in a trailer park, and came to live with the Hills after her mother, Leanne, was sent to prison for stabbing Luanne's father (Peggy's brother) with a fork. Her full name is Luanne Leanne Platter, as is heard on the episode "Edu-macating Lucky." Late in the show's run, she marries Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt and has a daughter, Gracie, with him. Luanne's character voice was provided by Brittany Murphy, who died on December 20, 2009, at the age of 32, roughly 3 months after King of the Hill's last episode aired on September 13 of that year.
Dale Gribble
Dale Alvin Gribble is Hank and Peggy's next door neighbor, and one of Hank's friends from high school. He is an exterminator, bounty hunter, chain smoker, gun fanatic, and paranoid believer in most conspiracy theories. Because of his distrustful nature, he will frequently use the alias "Rusty Shackleford." Dale is married to Nancy Hicks Gribble, and is oblivious to the fact that Nancy had cheated on him for most of their marriage, and that their son, Joseph, was actually fathered by John Redcorn. Dale has an unsuccessful pest extermination company called Dale's Dead Bug. Some of Dale's catchphrases include "s'go" (shortened from "let's go"), "sh-sh-shaa" when he feels accomplished, "wingo!" when he becomes excited, and "gih!" when surprised. Voiced by Johnny Hardwick, Dale is named after Dan "Gribble" Costello, a close friend of Mike Judge.
Bill Dauterive
William Fontaine "Bill" de la tour Dauterive was Hank's best friend in high school and now lives across the alley from him. In high school, Bill was extremely fit, athletic, and competent with a full head of hair, but he is now overweight, balding, and emotionally needy. He holds the fictional MOS of barber in the U.S. Army. Bill is eternally melancholy and lovelorn; he pines constantly for his ex-wife, Lenore, and is attracted to Peggy. He often uses pity as a device to garner attention from his friends and neighbors. He occasionally gets involved in crazy schemes, either by himself or with Dale, Boomhauer, or both, which often end badly for him. A native of Louisiana, Bill speaks fluent Cajun and has only one surviving relative by blood, his cousin Gilbert. Bill is voiced by Stephen Root.
Jeff Boomhauer
Jeff Boomhauer (who is always addressed only by his last name) is another of Hank, Dale, and Bill's friends from high school. He has a deep suntanned complexion and speaks in a rapid-fire, nearly incomprehensible mumble. According to the commentary on the "Pilot" episode DVD, Boomhauer's unique speaking style was inspired by a voicemail left on Mike Judge's answering machine. When he sings, however, he is clearly understood. Additionally, Boomhauer speaks French fluently and clearly. Like Hank, he often tacks "I tell you what" to the end of his sentences; he also uses "dang 'ol" and "Dad gum" liberally when he speaks. He has a brother named Patch (who also speaks in a similar fashion). Boomhauer is a committed bachelor, shown to be quite promiscuous with his many girlfriends. In Episode 13.20, "To Sirloin with Love," it is revealed that Boomhauer is a Texas Ranger. Prior to this, he was hinted to be an electrician on workers' compensation. Boomhauer's driver's license is shown in the series finale, confirming his full name. Mike Judge provides the voice of Boomhauer.
Cotton Hill
Cotton Hill, Hank's father, is a deranged, politically incorrect misogynist with a hair-trigger temper. His shins were blown off in World War II by a "Japan man's machine gun" and his feet were reattached to his knees, resulting in a short height and stilted gait. Despite his disability, he eventually reaches the rank of Colonel in the State Militia, and is addressed as such by his friends and Dale Gribble. In episode No. 126, "Returning Japanese," it is revealed that Cotton became romantically involved with a Japanese nurse during his service in World War II resulting in the birth of his first son, Junichiro. After divorcing Hank's mother, Tilly, he marries a much younger, soft-spoken, busty blonde candy striper named Didi, an elementary school classmate of Hank's. Didi later gives birth to Cotton's third son, who he names G.H., or "Good Hank" implying that his middle son is "Bad Hank." Thoroughly contemptuous of Peggy, he never calls her by name, instead calling her "Hank's wife" to her face. Cotton often makes references to his possibly dubious wartime heroism, including his killing of "fitty (fifty) men." Despite his less-than-amiable personality, Cotton seems to have a softer side for Bobby, frequently mentioning he is proud of the boy and even taking the blame when Bobby accidentally burns down a church. Cotton spends most of his free time playing checkers and hatching absurd schemes (such as taking a speedboat to Cuba to kill Fidel Castro) with his war buddies at the VFW. By the middle of the series, Cotton is shown to have outlived all of his war buddies. Cotton himself dies, not once but twice, in episode No. 218, "Death Picks Cotton," after first suffering severe burns, then an allergic reaction to shrimp during a tirade at a Japanese restaurant. In the episode "Chasing Bobby," Peggy states that Hank's greatest fear is that Cotton will die without telling Hank that he loves him, which is exactly what occurs. Cotton's dying wish, to destroy Hank's new shed, is carried out by Dale after Cotton's death. In the episode "Serves Me Right for Giving George S. Patton the Bathroom Key," Hank completes a list of embarrassing tasks left to him by Cotton, including his last request to have his cremated remains flushed down a toilet that General George S. Patton once used, which Hank and his friends honor. Toby Huss voices Cotton Hill.
King of the Hill also featured numerous celebrity guests during its run, including Alan Rickman, Burt Reynolds, Michael Keaton, George Strait, Andy Dick, Dale Earnhardt, Trace Adkins, John Force, Renée Zellweger, Owen Wilson, Topher Grace, Brad Pitt, Johnny Knoxville, Nathan Fillion, Lindsay Lohan, Lucy Liu, Reese Witherspoon, Jeff Goldblum, the late John Ritter, Jerry Lambert, Lisa Kudrow, Laura Linney, Johnny Depp, Ben Stiller, Billy Bob Thornton, Dax Shepard, Meryl Streep, Debra Messing, Jennifer Aniston, Maura Tierney, Brendan Fraser, Kid Rock, Snoop Dogg, Christina Applegate, Chris Rock, Kathy Bates, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Bernie Mac, Wyatt Cenac, David Cross, Kelly Clarkson, Paul Giamatti, John Goodman, Rue McClanahan, Drew Carey, Danny Trejo, Matthew McConaughey, Don Meredith, Green Day, No Doubt, Willie Nelson, Dennis Hopper, Chuck Mangione, Stephanie Hodge, Milla Jovovich, Danny Masterson, Laura Prepon, Alyson Hannigan, Jamie Kennedy, Randy Travis, Pamela Anderson, Carmen Electra, George Foreman, Marg Helgenberger, Tone L?c, the Dixie Chicks, Christopher Lloyd, Randy Savage, Dusty Hill (playing himself as Hank's cousin), and Jason Bateman. In the later seasons, Tom Petty had a recurring guest role as Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt, who married Luanne and had a daughter with her.


Main article: List of King of the Hill episodes

Home media

The first six seasons were released on DVD by Fox Home Entertainment. The seventh season was originally going to be released in late 2006 but due to low DVD sales, the release was cancelled. This has caused an outrage amongst fans of the show, many of them have sent letters to Fox and started online petitions to get the rest of the series out on DVD. However, the complete series is available for streaming on Netflix and Amazon Instant Video in the United States. In November 2011, all seasons became available for download on the iTunes Store.


  • 1998 BMI TV Music Award by Roger Neill, John O'Connor and Lance Rubin.
  • 1999 Emmy for Outstanding Animation lasting under an hour for episode "And They Call It Bobby Love".
  • 2001 Annie Outstanding Individual Achievement for Voice Acting by a Female Performer in an Animated Television Production by Kathy Najimy.
  • 2002 Emmy for Outstanding Voice Over by Pamela Adlon for Bobby Hill.
  • 2003 Environmental Media Award in television episodic-comedy category for I Never Promised You an Organic Garden.
  • 2003 Annie Writing in an Animated Television Production by Norm Hiscock for "Bobby Goes Nuts".
  • 2005 Annie Voice Acting in an Animated Television Production by Brittany Murphy.
  • 2005 Annie Writing in an Animated Television Production by Etan Cohen.

See also

  • Television in the United States
  • List of animated television series
  • King of the Hill (soundtrack)

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