King of the Hill is an animated sitcom centered on the Hills, a middle-class American family seeking humor in the mundane aspects of life.
O1 — Beavis and Butthead
O2 — THE SIMPSONS
O3 — hank hill title sequence
O4 — original hank sketch
In early 1995, after the successful first run of Beavis and Butt-Head on MTV, Mike Judge decided to create another animated series, this one set in a small Texas town based on an amalgamation of Dallas suburbs, including Garland, Texas, where he had lived, and Richardson. Judge conceived the idea for the show, drew the main characters, and wrote a pilot script.
Fox was uncertain of the viability of Judge’s concept for an animated sitcom based in reality and set in the American South, so the network teamed the animator with Greg Daniels, an experienced prime-time TV writer who had previously worked on The Simpsons. Daniels rewrote the pilot script and created several important characters who did not appear in Judge’s first draft, including Luanne and Cotton. Daniels also reworked some of the supporting characters (whom the pair characterized as originally having been generic, “snaggle-toothed hillbillies”), such as 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 cultural conflicts. Judge was ultimately so pleased with Daniels’ contributions, he chose to credit him as a co-creator, rather than give him the “developer” credit usually reserved for individuals brought onto a pilot written by someone else.
After its debut, the series became a large success for Fox and was named one of the best television series of the year 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 refocused on it, even while Daniels became involved with more and more projects.
Judge and Daniels’ reduced involvement with the show resulted in the series’ format turning more episodic and formulaic. Beginning in season seven, John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky, who had worked on the series since season two, took it over completely, tending to emphasize Judge’s concept that the series was built around sociopolitical 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).
O5 — hank and nancy hill
O6 — hank and bobby hill
O7 — hank and ladybird the dog
O8 — full hill family
King of the Hill is set in the fictional small town of Arlen, Texas. The show centers around the Hill family, whose head is the ever-responsible, hard-working, loyal, disciplined, and honest Hank Hill (voiced by Mike Judge). The pun title refers to Hank as the head of the family as well as metaphorically to the children’s game King of the Hill. Hank is employed as an assistant manager at Strickland Propane, selling “propane and propane accessories”. He is very traditional and moral, and he takes exceptionally good care of his dog, Ladybird, which he treats, more often than not, as a member of the family and as a human. Hank is married to Peggy Hill (née Platter) (voiced by Kathy Najimy), a native of Montana, who is a substitute Spanish teacher, although she has little grasp of the language; she has also found employment and avocation as a freelance author, Boggle champion, notary public, softball pitcher and real estate agent. Her overconfidence and trusting nature often leads her into getting involved in complex schemes that Peggy does not recognize as criminal or irresponsible until it is too late.
Hank and Peggy’s only child, Bobby Hill (voiced by Pamela Adlon), is a husky pre-pubescent boy who is generally friendly and well-liked, but not very bright, and often prone to making bad decisions. Throughout the series, Peggy’s niece, Luanne Platter (voiced by Brittany Murphy), the daughter of her scheming brother Hoyt (guest voiced by Johnny Knoxville in “Life: A Loser’s Manual”, the 12th season finale) and his alcoholic ex-wife Leanne (voiced by Adlon in “Leanne’s Saga”), lives with the Hill family. Naïve and very emotional, Luanne was originally encouraged to move out by her Uncle Hank, but over time, he accepts her as a member of the family. Over the course of the series, Luanne works as a beauty technician and puppeteer at a local cable access TV station. Luanne later marries Elroy “Lucky” Kleinschmidt (voiced by Tom Petty), a snaggle-toothed layabout who lives on the settlements he earns from frivolous lawsuits.
Hank has a healthy relationship with his mother, Tillie (voiced by Tammy Wynette, later Beth Grant and K Callan), a kind woman who lives in Arizona. Hank is, at first, uncomfortable with his mother dating Gary Kasner (voiced by Carl Reiner), a Jewish man, but he has warmed up to Gary by the time they get married. In contrast, Hank has a love/hate relationship with his shin-less father, Col. Cotton Hill (voiced by Toby Huss), a hateful veteran of World War II who verbally abused Tillie during their marriage, leading to their divorce. Cotton, who spends most of his time at strip joints, later marries the much younger Didi (voiced by Ashley Gardner), a candy striper who attended kindergarten with Hank.
09 — the hill residence
10 — arlen, texas
11 — strickland propane
12 — texas suburb, inspiration for arlen
In the opening sequence, Hank joins Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer at the curb outside his house in the morning. When he opens his can of beer, the playback speed increases greatly and depicts other main and secondary characters carrying out various daily activities around them in a time-lapse. Meanwhile, the four continue drinking beer and a nearby recycling bin fills with their empty cans. When Peggy brings a bag of garbage out to Hank, the other three leave and the playback returns to normal speed as he takes it to the trash can and gathers with Peggy and Bobby.
The opening theme is “Yahoos and Triangles” by the Arizona rock band The Refreshments. For season finales there is a slight variation for seasons 1–11. Season one’s finale featured an opening guitar riff one octave higher. Season two’s fifteenth episode has the three note guitar. Season two’s finale added a “yeehaw” to the beginning, the 3–11 finales accompanied the “yeehaw” with a dinner triangle, and the Season five finale has the first part of the full version of the theme song, with the exception of the season six, season ten, season twelve, and season thirteen finales. Season 13 and the series finale used the regular theme song. Two 1998 and 2004 Christmas episodes also featured jingle bells in the background.
King of the Hill is set in the fictional town of Arlen, Texas, an amalgamation of numerous Dallas suburbs including Garland, Richardson, Arlington and Allen. In addition to drawing inspiration from the DFW Metroplex, Judge has described Arlen as “a town like Humble” (a suburb of Houston). Time magazine praised the authentic portrayal as the “most acutely observed, realistic sitcom about regional American life bar none”. As seen in the episode, “Hank’s Cowboy Movie” the town has a population of 145,300 people.
Though the location is based on suburbs of the DFW Metroplex, the physical location of Arlen is never specified in the series, other than it is in Texas. Similar to the location of Springfield on The Simpsons, the location of Arlen within Texas is arbitrary based on the needs of a particular episode’s plot, and multiple episodes give mutually exclusive information as to Arlen’s geographic location within the state. For example, one episode indicates that it is just north of the Brazos River in central Texas. Other episodes place it near Houston or Dallas, while others feature trips to Mexico and back taking place within a matter of hours. The area codes on the Strickland Propane trucks is “409,” indicating a setting of Galveston, Port Arthur, or Beaumont. Three episodes give conflicting ZIP codes for the Hill residence: In the Season 12 episode “Raise the Steaks” Hank receives a letter with his ZIP code 74301 which in real life is the town of Vinita, Oklahoma, while in the episode “Hank’s Choice” the ZIP code is 78104, indicating that the Hills live in Beeville, Texas. In Season 7 episode “Goodbye Normal Jeans” Bill writes Dale a check for a million dollars. Bill’s checks has his address with ZIP code 71304, an unassigned Arkansas ZIP. The address of the First National Bank of Arlen is different but illegible (7?1?? possibly, 72196 which would also be an unassigned Arkansas ZIP).