The protagonist of the show, Hank is a propane salesman who loves his job nearly as much as he loves his family. He's pretty introverted and can't cope with emotion very well, but he's clearly the most level-headed of the cast. Voiced by series creator Mike Judge.Tropes associated with Hank:
Aesop Amnesia: Half the episodes in the entire show couldn't happen if Hank didn't forget the many, many times he learned to accept Bobby for who he is, or realized that his father was a selfish jackass.
Badass: Frequent ass kicker of both the figurative and literal varieties? Check. More physically fit than just about any other character in the show? Check. Survived a tornado by grabbing onto a freaking telephone pole? Check.
Big Applesauce: Hank was born in the ladies' room at Yankee Stadium. He is not pleased to learn about it.
You do not want to threaten his wife, son, or niece. It won't end well at all.
Also disrespecting propane in any way.
Don't do anything to his lawn.
Boring but Practical: To the fullest possible extent. Hank actually prefers the boring, mundane parts of whatever he's involved in and would be happier if the "fun" or "exciting" parts could be downplayed or removed entirely.
Born in the Wrong Century: Wonders when people stopped believing in hard work, honesty, decency, modesty, and plain old common sense. Of course, Hank's definition of decency, modesty, and common sense are all rather skewed.
Hank is one despite being married and in his forties (since "chaste" does not mean the same thing as "celibate"). He has the same obliviousness to female attention, whether from his wife or any other woman. He is quite embarrassed by any display or mention of sexuality (male or female), and runs out screaming when he accidentally enters the porn section of a video store; in what is perhaps the best illustration of this side of his character, when he meets two young female nudists, he winds up giving them a sales pitch on the benefits of propane heating for their summer home.
Lampshaded in one episode where Buck says, "Oh, don't worry Hank, I know you don't have sex." A clearly annoyed Hank says, "Well, that's not quite…" before deciding to leave well enough alone.
Hank does display some more "standard" male traits now and then; in "Luanne Virgin 2.0", when he sees Peggy in a wet baptismal gown, underwear visible, he takes her back to their truck to (symbolically) deflower her again.
Chick Magnet: Hank is occasionally this, much to his chagrin.
Death Glare: This, and a well placed threat, is his favorite tools when dealing with abrasive jackasses.
Dope Slap: Occasionally hands them out to Bill or Dale, usually in the form of arm punches.
Embarrassing Tattoo: Has one on the back of his head that has Bill's name on it as thanks to the latter for bailing him out during a farewell party during their younger days (though Hank got the tattoo while he was drunk and cannot remember why when he found out), though he gets it removed at the end of the episode. Only to get it tattooed again, far more crudely.
Enraged By Idiocy: Or lack of common sense. Mentions this specifically in an episode where he had to take anger management classes in order to lift a restraining order Dale had placed on him, saying that he didn't have an anger problem but an "idiot problem".
Flanderization: In early seasons, though Hank was still very straitlaced, he did have some more "normal" moments such as his being an avid guitar player and a fan of classic rock. These interests vanished as the series progressed, leaving him with little other than being uptight.
Freudian Excuse: Some of Hank's unwillingness to show emotion stems from him breaking his ankle during the state championship football game when he was a teenager. He believes that it was punishment from God for the way he showed off and bragged about the touchdowns he made before the accident, and thus refuses to show any other emotion out of fear that something similar will happen. Having an Abusive Parent didn't help either. Whenever Hank showed any emotion, his father would come down hard on him for it, calling it a sign of weakness. Cotton even called Hank a sissy for telling him he loved him while he was on his deathbed.
Good Ol' Boy: Of the sympathetic, generally positive variety.
If something is not traditional, Hank considers it wrong, and he doesn't have to think any further about it. This is often Played for Laughs, but Hank's adamant rejection of deviation occasionally strays into Unfortunate Implications.
This culminates when a "Hip Christian Group" leader points out to Hank that Jesus had long hair, only for Hank to say only because he wasn't his father. That's right, Hank knows better than the father of Jesus, God.
This goes so far that when Peggy tells Hank that her new friend "Caroline" is a man in drag, he simply doesn't understand the concept of a man wanting to dress like a woman. Not only this, Hank goes on thinking Caroline is a actually a woman despite the explanation, because it's the only circumstance he can realistically fathom.
Good Parents: He doesn't understand why Bobby has unmanly hobbies, and isn't very good at showing him affection, but he does love his son. He also does love Luanne as a surrogate daughter; it just takes way more coaxing to bring that feeling out from him.
Chided Dale about having Joseph enrolled in a private school by saying he was doing it more for himself, but then Dale turned it around and asked if Hank was more worried about Joseph, or that the middle school football team was losing its star player. Still, at least Hank didn't deny it and still said it should be Joseph's choice.
Hank is often dismissive of his mother's judgment, with one of the main arguments being her marriage to Cotton, yet Hank is just as often cowed by Cotton's emotional abuse. A lot of episodes have focused on Hank's unwillingness to call Cotton out on his behavior and his desire to get Cotton to show any kind of approval.
When Jimmy Wichard puts Bobby's life in danger, he almost exclusively assaults Jimmy in the posterior with his foot.
In another episode, where Hank was constipated and Peggy recommended that he try acupuncture. Hank said that if anyone tried to do that on him, he would kick the guy's ass. Later, he reluctantly tries the procedure. He quickly becomes dissatisfied and goes to kick the acupuncturist's ass with the needles still in him.
Men Are Uncultured: Played with in that he's clearly pretty intelligent; he just thinks of high culture as snobby, effeminate, moronically redundant, and needlessly extravagant.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bill's nervous breakdown in "Pretty, Pretty Dresses" was somewhat instigated by Hank. The first few times he tried to talk to Bill about Lenore never coming back, he stopped when Bill was about to cry. This wasn't because he didn't want to hurt Bill's feelings, but because Hank doesn't "deal" with emotions. After destroying the gifts and tree Bill had gotten for Lenore, he was more then happy to finally go home after Bill told him he didn't feel anything with absolutely no emotion. It's extremely obvious that Bill was far from okay, yet Hank took it as a sign that everything was okay and left. The next day, Bill started acting like he was Lenore himself.
Became addicted to a video game based on propane because it allowed him to ascend to ranks such as "manager", even though he was aware that his time playing the game should've been spent helping Bobby prepare for the Presidential Fitness Test. Hank only snapped out of it thanks to Peggy collaborating with the game's designers to destroy it.
An earlier example is when he and Bobby get swept up in Y2K fever in "Hillennium". Peggy briefly becomes frazzled as well, but that was because she realized her current computer was a piece of junk and none of her musings were on hard copy.
Progressively Prettier: Not exactly "prettier" (he would beat the tar out of anyone who had the temerity to use that word), but in the first season, Hank's face had more lines as if he was either older or just really depressed most of the time, and when he got angry, he could look thuggish. As the art style evolved over the seasons, Hank actually began to look younger and his visual anger was a lot more restrained.
The Reliable One: The real reason Buck values Hank so highly. Even Kahn recognizes that if he's in serious trouble, he should call his "stupid redneck neighbor".
Real Men Hate Affection: Unless it involves his dog Ladybird, his lawn, or his truck. Tellingly, these are all things that can't emote back, or in Ladybird's case, can't emote back in a way that would make Hank uncomfortable. Hank doesn't mind expressing affection as long as he doesn't have to deal with a human response.
Hank had the unfortunate tendency to display a belief in this during the earlier seasons. "Peggy's Turtle Song" was all about him being ecstatic over Peggy deciding to become a full time housewife and mother when Bobby was (mistakenly) diagnosed with attention deficit disorder. Hank professed that "family values" were back in the Hill house, until he realized how much Peggy loved being a teacher and that she was stagnating.
In the much maligned Thanksgiving Episode, where he began praising Bobby's cooking, Hank had earlier said to Peggy that Bobby would have no desire to find a wife if he learned to cook and clean for himself. Hank had pretty much instigated Peggy's paranoia over Bobby "replacing" her by implying he only married her just so he would have someone to cook and clean for him (which, of course, says loads about Peggy's self-esteem), though like the above episode, Hank realized he made a mistake by implying this.
Weirdness Censor: Hank sometimes refuses to believe things that are so unusual or exotic as to not make sense to him. In the case of Peggy's drag queen friend Caroline, Hank continues to believe Caroline is a woman even after the explanation (then again, his dad was known to make Mustard gas for V.J day).
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: He really does want his father to show him some hint of approval. His totally unwarranted loyalty and admiration for Buck seems to stem from the need for some kind of father figure who's at least slightly less of a jerkass than Cotton as well.
When he punished Bobby for cigarette smoking by making him smoke a whole carton (which led to all of the Hills becoming addicted to tobacco). This might be a case of in-universe Values Dissonance, since in the '50s this was a popular punishment to make children hate smoking. Hank is so old-fashioned that he just didn't know this was out of practice and frowned upon until Peggy told him.
And even then, it was "You'll stunt his growth". It wasn't until the peer support meeting that he really learned it was wrong and was called a monster.
When he was pretty much making a ventriloquist dummy to function as the son that Bobby isn't.
His willingness to exploit Kahn's manic depression by withholding his medication in order to get him to construct a state of the art grill for Strickland Propane.
Setting up Luanne with a guy he picked out just so he wouldn't have to deal with her being overly emotional after Buckley broke up with her, and so he could get his den back.
Refusing to admit his father is an inconsiderate jerk after he's insulted Peggy numerous times and Hank has quietly laughed along with him, and after he started turning Bobby into a misogynist just like him.
When interviewing perspective job applicants at Strickland Propane, Peggy chastizes Hank for some of the (illegal) questions he's going to ask the applicants, such as whether or not they are Christian. She also gets on his case about his refusal to hire a qualified female applicant. And for good reason as the man he hired turns out to be a drug addict.
For being gung-ho about Strickland Propane getting a company softball team and wanting her on it, despite the fact that she was already on a team (an all female team) and he never once went to one of her games.
A non-Peggy example came from a Little League coach who chastized Hank for not supporting Bobby enough, specifically stating "I haven't given up on Bobby the way you have." Hank actually admits that he did give up on Bobby being a baseball player because he was so bad, but not supporting him simply made it worse.
With Friends Like These...: Multiple times, Hank gets exasperated by the idiotic antics of his friends. However, when push comes to shove, Hank proves that he really cares about them when they get into really bad trouble.
Margaret "Peggy" Hill (née Platter)
Two-time Substitute Teacher of the Year.
"In my opinion..."
Peggy is Hank's wife, to whom he is Happily Married. Impulsive and ditzy, she causes trouble for the family with hare-brained ideas. She and Hank stay loyal to each other no matter what though. Voiced by Kathy Najimy.Tropes associated with Peggy:
Something she's demonstrated numerous times when it comes to defending Hank, Bobby, or Luanne. Sometimes she has to defend one from the other. To the point that she handed Leanne Platter a humiliating beat down, to successfully conning a smug con man, to shaming the Alamo Beer Company into apologizing for tainted beer, to threatening three grown men with a wooden spoon. Buck is actually afraid of her.
We've seen her defend Luanne from Hank, Hank from Bobby, Bobby from Hank, and Hank from Luanne. She generally will not let any member of her family be disrespected, even if it's by each other.
Crying Wolf: In "Peggy's Fan Fair", no one would believe her when she realized Randy Travis stole her song lyrics, and in "Pigmalion", no one would believe her about Trip Larson being bad news.
Determinator: Partially deconstructed. Her belief that she can do anything through sheer willpower proves to be entirely wrong a lot of the time and gets her into a great deal of trouble. On the other hand, there are occasions where Peggy justifies this mentality, most notably in "Peggy Makes the Big Leagues." Also, clinging to that belief is probably the only thing that allowed her to come out of her childhood as relatively mentally healthy as she did. See Freudian Excuse below.
Flanderization: Her ego, originally a mild quirk, eventually became her defining character trait, so much so that her backstory had to be rewritten to explain her narcissistic tendencies (see Freudian Excuse below).
Freudian Excuse: Peggy grew up with a cold, unpleasable, overly critical mother who constantly told her everything she did was wrong. In her adult years, Peggy believes she is the absolute best at everything she does. She has to believe this, because it's the only way she can convince herself that her mother was wrong and she's not completely worthless.
The Friend Nobody Likes: It's been noted on more than one occasion that Hank's friends generally only associate with her because she's Hank's wife; Dale flat-out admitted on at least one occasion that he can't stand her.
Genius Ditz: Peggy believes herself to have a high IQ. She actually does seem to be pretty smart in some ways, but her total inability to ever consider the possibility that she might be wrong about anything means she ends up acting on a lot of really stupid ideas.
Hidden Depths: She might seem like an egotistical jerk who just suffers from unwarranted self-importance. Well, she kind of is. But her constant insistence that she's a genius in the face of all evidence makes a lot more sense, and even becomes slightly sympathetic, once you find out how her mother always treated her.
In "Little Horrors of Shop", she isn't happy that Hank is a successful shop teacher because it's ruining her chance for a third Substitute Teacher of the Year award. She ends up piggybacking off of Hank's popularity to win the award.
In "Goodbye Normal Jeans", Bobby starts helping around the house thanks to Home Ec. Hank is happy, but Peggy gets jealous because he's a better homemaker than her. She goes so far as to steal the Thanksgiving turkey Bobby made.
In "Maid in Arlen", Bill falls for Kahn's mother, but they get broken up by Kahn and Bill gets depressed again. Peggy's too busy bitching about how Laoma personally betrayed her by planning to move into a retirement home to care about anything else.
New Job Episode: Rivals Homer Simpson in this regard. Though Peggy works as a substitute teacher, journalist, and real estate saleswoman for some time, she also dabbles in grocery bagging, sculpture, rollerblading and restaurant owning.
Parental Substitute: To Luanne, to the point that some first time viewers assume that Luanne is Bobby's sister.
Progressively Prettier: In the beginning of the series, Peggy had eyes that almost looked like dots and was drawn rather lackluster. Later seasons had her with a more bright-eyed look and with more vivid coloring with a touch of raspberry-colored lipstick.
Retcon: Peggy went from being born in Montana and raised in Arlen to being born and raised in Montana. This complicates episodes that have Hank and Peggy as High School Sweethearts.
Too Dumb to Live: In "Fun with Jane and Jane", Luanne manages to escape a cult posing as a sorority. Peggy, who's currently hung up on the fact that she has no friends, drags Luanne back and even joins them herself, not knowing or caring that they plan on sending the girls off to a farm to make preserves.
Took a Level in Jerkass: In Seasons 1 and 2, Peggy was a genuinely nice, if quirky, housewife. In Season 3, she started to show a little ego, but was otherwise the same. From Season 4 onward, she's a hugeKnow-Nothing Know-It-All, and often an inconsiderate jerkass.
Well Done Daughter Girl: After Peggy's mom was retconned from being an overbearing perfectionist housewife to a coldhearted rancher. Her mother apparently never forgave Peggy for abandoning their ranch, even after Peggy singlehandedly saved the ranch to prove herself.
Tends to fall into this at times when the situation benefits her ("Little Horrors of Shop" and "Racist Dawg" are two prime examples).
Much earlier in the show, Peggy used to associate with a group of unnamed housewives, but chances are she stopped doing so because their 1950s mentality when it came to talking about sex and the fact that they had nothing better to do but talk about but clipping coupons didn't really click with her.
A notable aversion. Although she occasionally does have to let Hank know when he's being a jerkass, for the most part he's nicer, more competent and more practical than she is, and regularly has to rescue her from the results of her own zany schemes. However, there have been times where Peggy is able to function in a situation a lot easier than Hank does, either due to his willing inability to deal with emotions or because it's some cultural event that clashes with Hank's "old days" mind set.
The best example of this played straight is when Peggy learns that Hank has paid sticker price for every car he's bought for the past twenty-five years. For years, Hank was led to believe he was being offered "special deals" on the cars until Peggy got involved in buying a new car and watched Hank pay full price on a car she was going to pay $2,500 less on.
Bobby is Peggy and Hank's 13-year-old son, who wants to break into the entertainment business. Since he's kind of effeminate and has some strange interests (by his family's standards), Hank fears for the boy's future. He'll be all right, though. Voiced by Pamela Adlon.Tropes associated with Bobby:
To Hank, who doesn't understand why his son doesn't like sports or anything considered "manly" (though the last episode "To Sirloin with Love" does reveal one manly thing he can do that doesn't embarrass Hank: grill beef).
How could one forget Bobby is also a crack shot with a gun? To the point Hank was worried he'd humiliate Bobby.
As well as a professional level golfer, making a hole in one on his first attempt.
And capable of violence when pushed, as when he caught Joseph kissing Connie. Bobby furiously punched his bigger, more muscular friend in the jaw. Twice!
All these masculine characteristics have escaped sight of both his parents and most of the adults who call him "strange".
His appetite is as bizarre as it is large. Cotton, in charge of a boot camp, once attempted to punish Bobby for his appetite by making him eat a stack of leftovers and run-off. Bobby didn't mind in the slightest.
In another episode, where Bobby started eating at a New York Style deli, he wound up getting gout from the food. Even when his gout got so bad he couldn't walk and needed a scooter to get around, he still kept going back for more.
He once ate a 72-ounce steak in under an hour to spite his vegetarian girlfriend he broke up with.
Book Dumb: His grades tend to hover around the C and D range, and a few episodes focus on his failing a class or exam. His intelligence clearly lies more in creative than academic pursuits.
Characterization Marches On: Bobby was initially a slow, confused kid who didn't have much in the way of personality. His effeminate characteristics and odd charisma quickly became his defining traits.
Cheerful Child: In one episode, Hank remarks that every time a bully starts after Bobby, he does some prop comedy, like sticking French fries up his nose, and makes friends with the bully. Of course, Hank considers this to be disappointing.
Made of Iron: Cotton repeatedly tries to break Bobby's spirit in a boot camp by overfeeding him with leftover food mixed with one another, have him sit on an ice cube with just underwear on, and imprison him inside a small concrete cell for days. Despite all this, Bobby brushes them all off with ease.
Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bobby's actions in "Born Again on the Fourth of July" are directly responsible for the residents of Rainey Street and Milton Street to escalate their rivalry to a full-blown war. In his defense, he does try to fix things once he sees the results of his actions.
Too Dumb to Live: Sometimes, he does get involved in a lot of things that he knows are bad, but goes along with it as he's trying to find a hobby/interest that won't disappoint his father. He's also shown really poor judgment when it comes to animals, such as playing with a colony of fire ants or trying to befriend a raccoon.
"Well Done, Son!" Guy: Bobby sometimes tries to make his father proud of him when it appears that Hank doesn't love him enough. He became terrified of the idea of having a baby sibling because he thought the only reason Hank and Peggy were proud of him was because he didn't have any siblings to be compared to (as Hank has a narrow urethra and a low sperm count, making it impossible for them to have another child). The very first episode actually stated that Bobby was afraid Hank doesn't love him all the time.
"Class was cancelled today and the library was closed. I love college!"
This is Peggy's niece; the Hills took her in early on in the show, partially to get her away from her horrible mother. Luanne isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer (at least in the later episodes. Earlier ones showed that she had a lot of technical skill when it came to fixing cars and some episodes show that she can think for herself in a crisis). Voiced by Brittany Murphy.Tropes associated with Luanne:
Despite her lack of intelligence and sometimes childish behavior, Luanne's proven to be a force to be reckoned with. Her highlights include how she handled the Hills' collective cigarette addiction, threatening Cotton for sexually harassing her, tackling an irate woman from harming Peggy, her competency at kickboxing, deciding to have her baby her way rather than listen to what others want her to do, and forcing everyone to give her the wedding gifts she never received.
"Peggy's Pageant Fever" is a prime example of Luanne being mean on purpose. When Peggy dumps her for a professional stylist, Luanne starts nonchalantly doing things to screw with Peggy's daily routine. Although by the end credits, they've made up and Peggy lets Luanne use her hair to prepare for her beauty school classes, even though Peggy now has hair like a troll doll. The moment Luanne's out of the room, she starts evilly snickering to herself with clasped hands because she did it on purpose.
Bald Women: She lost her hair in the Mega-Lo Mart explosion at the end of Season 2. Very notable in that, while other cartoons would have Luann's hair fully grown by the next episode, King of the Hill actually showed her hair slowly growing back over the course of several episodes.
Dumb Blonde: In later episodes. In the early episodes, she had some smarts (i.e., she knew how to fix a car and she was good at styling hair), but she wasn't like Lisa Simpson when it came to brains.
Flanderization: Particularly grating because of her initial character development as a young woman who desperately wanted to avoid becoming a redneck.
Freudian Excuse: The way Peggy sort of began to dominate her life by making nearly all her decisions, as well as Luanne's gradually growing stupidity, could be seen as instigated by the way her birth mother walked out of her life for good after she acted like a complete whore and tried to kill Peggy. With Leanne's permanent absence, Luanne latched onto Peggy as a permanent substitute for a mother figure and started regressing to a more childlike intellect. This stopped (granted she's still dense) after she became a mother herself, and decided that she needed to stop relying on Peggy for everything in order to raise her child with Lucky and give her the childhood she'd been denied.
In one episode, she starts a Bible study class at a swimming pool. She thinks that she's reaching out to people; in reality, they just want to see her in a bikini and enjoy the hugs she gave out as rewards.
Same thing when she got into boxing. She didn't learn until too late that the only reason guys came to see her was because they had a fetish for seeing a hot, under-dressed woman box.
Ms. Fanservice: Invoked in-universe in "The Trouble with Gribbles", when she temporarily replaces Nancy as the TV weather girl.
Odd Friendship: Bonds with Bill over their barber skills in "My Hair Lady." She even gets fired trying to stand up for him to their boss. This actually extends as far back as Season 1's "Plastic White Female," though it's never really foregrounded.
Took a Level in Dumbass: By the time Season 2 aired, she had done some serious level grinding, and it got worse from there.
"I killed fitty men!"
Hank's father, a crotchety old man who doesn't seem to approve of anything Hank does. This war vet can never stop talking about how he killed "fitty" (50) men while in service. When it comes to impulsiveness, he's even got Peggy beat. Heaven help Hank. His last appearance in the series sees him die of natural causes. Voiced by Toby Huss.Tropes associated with Cotton:
Accidental Misnaming: Cotton never refers to Peggy by name, only by "Hank's Wife." This even extends to when he's trying to be nice to her though, so it's possible he doesn't know her name (and doesn't care enough to ask).
Badass Grandpa: He's in his mid 70s, but he's still a fully capable ass kicker.
Handicapped Badass: Had his shins blown off by Japanese soldiers in World War II, but still kicked ass and reached the rank of Colonel in the army.
Colonel Badass: Even if half his stories never happened (especially the obvious one about his shins getting blown off by a "Japanman's machine gun") he still qualifies several times over, especially if he really did beat an entire island of Japanese soldiers to death with a dismembered leg of his friend, Fatty, after getting his shins blown off.
Berserk Button: Never call him a Nazi (especially if you misuse the word "Nazi" to mean "someone who imposes allegedly unfair rules on you").
Character Death: Dies from a combination of burns and an allergic reaction to shrimp in "Death Picks Cotton".
Determinator: The man lost his shins and then taught himself how to walk again after the doctors sewed his feet to his knees. As Hank himself remarks, that's pretty damn heroic.
Domestic Abuser: Cotton doesn't abuse women physically (when Cotton saw Peggy in a body cast, he chastised Hank for allegedly beating her), but does sexually harass them by smacking them on the butt, thinks women are little more than housewives and sex objects, and tried to keep Hank's mom down by verbally abusing her and making her do demeaning things. In a flashback to when he was married to Tilly, he was shown one time using her as a foot stool. Another episode had Cotton smashing a sink full of dishes with a chair while screaming at Tilly.
Even Evil Has Standards: Cotton is an abusive father and husband. One time, he was even seen using Tilly as a footstool, and holds Peggy in ill regard. However, when he sees Peggy in her body cast following her near-fatal skydiving accident, Cotton immediately assumes it's Hank's fault and is disgusted with him.
"What'd you do to your wife? I didn't teach you that!"
Famous Last Words: During Cotton's last appearance in the series (apart from a few flashback cameos), when Peggy says she hopes Cotton lives forever so he can stay in the hell he's created himself on Earth, Cotton replies, "Do ya now?" and dies just to spite her.
Final Speech: Delivers one to Peggy, presumably to get as much hate as possible out before he goes:
Cotton:"This was supposed to happen to you! You're worthless! You're not even good enough to be married to my worthless, nothing of a loser SON!"
Glory Days: Cotton would like you to know that he killed fitty men during World War II. And he would have kept at it if the Japanese hadn't shot off his shins.
Gonk: Including a medical history, that's simply not credible.
Groin Attack: Uses his shortness to his advantage and delivers these via headbutt.
Grampa Wolf: Much like Hank, a very good way to have a very pissed off Cotton on your hands is to threaten or insult Bobby.
Heroic Resolve: As Hank lampshades in one episode, Cotton may be a lying jackass, but it's an indisputable fact that the man survived having his shins blown off, an act which required an unfathomable amount of willpower.
Despite being a gonk, and having a less than appealing personality (and his shins "… blown off by a Japan man's machine gun"), he's been with three women that we know of: Hank's mother, a Japanese woman during WWII, and his current wife, Didi, who is a childhood friend of Hank's.
He's admitted to bedding 273 women in the episode Junichiro was introduced.
It's been heavily implied that he's visited prostitutes a lot, which probably explains a good number of those women.
Older Than They Look: Cotton was around thirty when Hank was born. In flashbacks seen in "Yankee Hankie" (set on the day Hank was born in the mid 1950s), he looks the exact same as he does in the present day only with brown hair. However, in scenes set only 10 years prior, he looks more like an extremely fit and slightly older version of Bobby.
Parental Neglect: When he's not being abusive to women, he shows affection with a criminal disregard for his son's safety. When G.H. was less than a year old, he let him play with his loaded service pistol to learn to shoot,note It's heavily implied he was going to use the service pistol to kill himself, and only let G.H. fire it off at the last minute so he wouldn't be tempted. and he gave Bobby a loaded shotgun for his twelfth birthday (and used the gun to shoot a piñata).
Perpetual Frowner: He usually only smiles when he's recounting his war stories, or tormenting people.
Most of his scenes with Bobby amount to these. For all his faults, he genuinely loves and respects his grandson (though the first episode featuring Cotton is kind of debatable, as Cotton was teaching his grandson to treat women like sex objects by slapping their butts and making sexist remarks).
When he helped Peggy get her job back, and the time where he helped her in her rehab after the parachute incident.
When he politely asked Peggy for a photo of Hank and Bobby to show to Michiko during their trip to Japan. He even thanked her.
Doubled as a Pet the Dog moment for both of them, as Peggy actually defended Cotton's actions to Hank, rationalizing that no one would cheat on their 40 year old wife with an 80 year old ex-girlfriend.
At the end of the Japan two-parter, when he notices Bobby seems depressed because he's leaving behind the girl he met, he immediately tells the cab driver to stop so Bobby can say goodbye to her.
A small one. In a flashback, Hank and his friends were taken on a camping trip by their dads. Cotton led the Snipe Hunt with enthusiasm ("Not gonna sugar coat it: Some of you ain't comin' back"). Despite that, he kicked Eustice out of the group for talking during the Test of Silence and ordering the boy to get him a beer, seeing Cotton be involved in Hank's upbringing to any extent note (that doesn't involve Hank getting yelled at, insulted, or traumatized, as seen in the pilot episode where Cotton responds to Hank's skinned knee with, "I got my shins blowed off by a Japanman's machine gun, so don't come crying to me with your problems, "Square Peg" where a crying Hank is forced to watch a bull have sex with a cow while Cotton laughs, and the rifle-aiming flashbacks from "How to Shoot A Rifle Without Really Trying") is rare and touching.
"Next of Shin" also. He actually feels sorry for Hank being unable to get Peggy pregnant, to the point where he's willing to let Hank and Peggy raise Didi's child (though that part's certainly unfair to Didi). He also has a rare heart-to-heart talk with his son towards the end of the episode.
Subverted. He's certainly not nice to anyone, but he does not antagonize people from countries America has not gone to war with as much, and does not use shallow stereotypes. He can tell at first sight that Kahn is Laotian, and does not make the same "Chinese or Japanese" assumption everyone else does. However, Cotton does think that Kahn is Hank's servant and orders him to make him a mai tai and get his luggage.
He doesn't seem to have anything against Jewish people either. The first thing he said to Gary Kasner after their introductions was "Happy Hannukah" and mentions he served with a Jew in the Pacific Theater.
On the other hand, he does seem to be less than fond of the Japanese until he discovers he has a half-Japanese son. When being examined by doctors to tell if he has senility and needs to be institutionalized, he attacks a Japanese doctor and takes his stethoscope for a war trophy.
Cotton and Didi get a few spread out through the series. When Cotton is awarded a grave in the Texas State Cemetery, Didi comments it's a beautiful grave and that he deserves it. And when Cotton leaves a pregnant Didi, he goes into a homicidal rage when Hank tells him she's found a new man. Hank even points out that he really loves her.
Cotton and Hank have some as well, such as in "Returning Japanese" when Cotton admits to Hank that he's a good son.
Freudian Excuse: Being married to an emotionally, verbally, and sometimes physically abusive man for years, (Cotton once used her as an actual footstool), and only being able to seek comfort in glass figurines, may be the reason why in her later years Tilly makes spontaneous and often stupid choices. Now that she's free from Cotton, and no longer taking care of Hank, Tilly is free to live her life how she wants and is expressing out decades of repressed emotions, which channel into some questionable antics.
As the series goes on, it shows she has terrible choice in men, and is constantly making spur of the moment extreme decisions without thinking of the consequences.
Earlier in the show's history, though, Tilly admitted that she took several odd jobs during Hank's childhood, including a job as a taxi driver, in order to get out of the house. Hank simply believed that she was happily fulfilled in being a stay-at-home mom, and was quite shocked to learn this (when Tilly mentioned the taxi, Hank says that all he remembers is her owning a yellow car).
Glurge Addict: When trapped in a severely abusive marriage with Cotton, she became obsessed with unicorn figurines. Hank deeply loathes them until he realizes those figurines were the only thing that kept her going.
Extreme Doormat: Most of her scenes make her look more like Cotton's servant than his wife.
Gag Boobs: Cotton paid for her boob job. He got a good price because they're both lefties.
Longest Pregnancy Ever: Averted. There were about six months between the air dates of the episode where Didi was revealed to be pregnant and the episode where she gave birth. Given that the only visible holidays between those episodes were Thanksgiving and Christmas, and how pregnant she was when it was revealed (at least a few months gone), the duration was quite realistic both in-universe and out of it.
May-December Romance: She's around the same age as Hank (Hank mentions that he went to kindergarten with Didi, and Didi asks Hank if he still likes finger-painting), yet was married to his father.
Put on a Bus: In the Season 8 episode "Daletech", Cotton is seen screaming at her to call her lawyer as she drives away before explaining that she and G.H. have gone to her parents' house for a few months. Cotton's obituary claims her to be his ex-wife, confirming a divorce. She isn't seen again until a very brief appearance in the final season where the divorce never seemed to have happened, though it could be that they've got back together before his death or he died before the divorce was finalized.
What Does She See in Him?: After Cotton's death, she finally seems to acknowledge the fact that he was an awful man and has actually admitted that, since marrying her new husband, she barely even remembers anything about him.
Man Child: It is quite clear she doesn't want to be seen as a mother. She even yells at Luanne that she is no longer her "sister" before leaving.
Off The Wagon: And it gets worse from there. She was already a jerk to Luanne, when drunk she gets violent.
Parental Neglect: She's rather emotionally abusive towards Luanne. She was even okay with her daughter dropping out of college to get a job to support the two of them. This is mainly because she doesn't want to be a mother, as seen in the episode where she comes back and tries (emphasis on "tries") to be Luanne's Cool Big Sis.
The Ghost: Was this for most of the show's lengthy run, only being mentioned in a few episodes that concerned Luanne.
Manipulative Bastard: He uses his daughter's happiness of seeing him back to get away as an excuse for any stupidities he pulls on the Hills and her husband. In the end, karma gets him good and Luanne is led to believe he got a better position at the oil rig.
Retcon: A jarring example. Originally Hoyt was a male version of Peggy who ran away and joined an oil rig to get away from Leanne and wouldn't return until her death certificate was faxed to him. When he finally made his appearance, he was shown to be a convict on his last strike and that the "oil rig" story was a lie, and he'd been gone for most of Luanne's life (originally, she was an adult still acknowledging just having seen him). He was such a manipulative bastard he would've even thrown his own daughter under a bus if it meant him avoiding jail.
Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt
A 35 year old hillbilly introduced later in the series whose personal income consists primarily of nothing but personal injury suit victories. Becomes involved with Luanne, then later marries and has a child with her. Voiced by Tom Petty.Tropes associated with Lucky:
Ascended Extra and Early-Bird Cameo: First appeared on "The Redneck on Rainey Street" as one of Kahn's new trailer trash friends. His most noteworthy scene in that episode was when he told the story of why he was called "Lucky" (he slipped on a spill while running for the bathroom in a department store and was paid off to avoid a lawsuit). His friends Elvin and Mud Dauber, more prominently featured in that episode, are conversely Demoted to Extra.
Character Development: For all his faults he has a personal code of honor, sincerely loves Luanne (and later their daughter Gracie) and does try to improve himself with Hank and Peggy's help.
The Scrappy: In-universe and frequently lampshaded by Hank and Peggy (although some King of the Hill fans also view him as this, and not in a fun, comedic way; more like the "he's the reason this show sucks now" way). Lucky is clearly an example of the writers having fun with this, all the while making it work for good comedic effect.
Bill, one of Hank's closest friends, was a promising high school football player who later joined the Army with big hopes and dreams. Now middle aged, broke, and divorced, Bill's constantly depressed and full of self-loathing. The guys try to put up with him as best they can. Voiced by Stephen Root.Tropes associated with Bill:
Alone Among the Couples: Happens to Bill several times. Several of the episodes that revolve around him focus on his misery at being alone while Hank and Dale are married and Boomhauer always has a new girl.
Animals Hate Him: Dale acquired a falcon in one episode, and every time he took its hood off, it would start attacking Bill for no apparent reason. Then, after Dale states he set the falcon free in the woods, Bill starts a conversation about sausages and the falcon appears out of nowhere and starts attacking him again. He's also been attacked by emus and a rottweiler. It should be noted the rottweiler was just mean in general, as he's been shown to be friendly with other dogs. It's just birds that hate him.
Awesome Mccoolname: His full name is Guillaume Fontaine de la Tour D'Haute-Rive which is French for "Strong-Willed Warrior Fountain of the Tower of the Upper Bank."
Big Eater: Once entered a Competitive Eating Contest and was a marked favorite to win. In the same episode, he ate an entire platter of hot dogs Hank had cooked for the whole neighborhood. This is met more with disgust than the typical cartoonish amusement.
Bunny Ears Barber: The man is a mess in practically every aspect of life. But he's a damn good barber.
Calling the Ex-Wife Out: In "Pretty, Pretty Dresses", when Hank forces him to admit that she won't come back, he snaps and starts dressing as and pretending to be Lenore. Hank resolves the situation by doing the same, telling Bill "I'm the real Lenore, and I don't love you", which finally gives him the chance to get closure by venting at "Lenore" and telling "her" off the way he was never brave enough to do in the past.
Character Development: Possibly the show's shining example. Bill starts the show obsessed with his ex-wife Lenore (and Peggy to an extent), self-loathing and suicidally depressed. While retaining many of his flaws throughout the series, Bill does shed most of these traits, gains healthier relations with his friends and certainly recoups most of his self-esteem.
The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: A couple of episodes show him to be a skilled chef when he's cooking for other people. When eating alone, it's usually a frozen dinner or eating straight out of a can.
Freudian Excuse: It's strongly implied that he had an abusive relationship with his father. In perhaps unintentional foreshadowing for "Pretty, Pretty Dresses," it's mentioned in a Season 2 episode that Bill's dad made him dress up in girl's clothing to humiliate him.
The Friend Nobody Likes: While Dale and Peggy are the most openly contemptuous of him, pretty much everyone casually insults him on a regular basis.
A particularly sad case. After his wife Lenore leaves him, Bill spends a long time convincing himself she'll be back, finally breaking down into depression and suicidal impulses during a Christmas Episode. He gets over it in the same episode.
Another example is when he finds out that he's been unknowingly used as a guinea pig to test a super soldier formula that would give him attributes of a walrus, which explains his current appearance (made even worse when you see flashbacks of him where he was physically fit and a borderline example of The Ace), leaving him in depression which leads to him stealing a tank … and then it turns out he was in the control group and only received a placebo, meaning everything wrong with his life really is his fault.
He is obsessed with Peggy. In "The Texas Skilsaw Massacre", he tells Hank "I once made a vest out of your wife's underpants". In another episode, he steals Peggy's used body cast from the garbage, takes it to his house, puts a picture of Peggy where the head would be and plays Boggle with it.
He's also uncomfortably fond of Hank, hanging on every word he says and being freakishly attached to their friendship, to the point of idolizing him.
His stalker tendencies are referred to by Peggy in "The Nut Before Christmas" where upon hearing that Bill has a date, Peggy is happy to hear that Bill "will be spending time with a woman who knows he's there."
In "Escape from Party Island", he tries to unsuccessfully win Peggy over while Hank is watching over his mom and her friends. This episode dialed Bill's stalker tendencies Up to Eleven from the way he told Bobby "you know how your mother and I worry about you" to revealing he held on to a spare key the Hills gave him when they went on vacation. Six years ago. This leads to a moment of Fridge Horror when you stop to consider Bill could've gone into their house whenever he wanted and they probably never knew.
Status Quo Is God: The plot to most Bill-focused episodes is as follows: Bill finds something he's really good at, or someone who actually likes him, and starts turning his life around; something turns out to be wrong with the situation, so his friends convince him to give up his new activity; Bill returns to being a sad sack and no one even suggests that he just try finding a new way to pursue his passion. While his reconciliation with his ex-wife was dropped in the same episode, his dating Kahn's mom was referenced vaguely the following episode, with it implied that Bobby accidentally jinxed the relationship with a tarot card reading.
Throw the Dog a Bone: In "A Beer Can Named Desire", he visits family in New Orleans and gets the attention of three attractive cousins (one by blood, two by marriage). While the Hills are at the Cowboys-Saints game, Bill finds out which cousin is blood-related and sleeps with the two who aren't.
Worth It: Claims to have made most of his life decisions at a Foghat concert. He stands by them.
A very fast-talking ladies man and one of Hank's childhood friends. His dialect can be hard to keep up with, but none of his friends seem to have any trouble talking to him. His full name is Jeffrey Dexter Boomhauer. Voiced by Mike Judge.Tropes associated with Boomhauer:
Characterization Marches On: Boomhauer's womanizing was considerably toned down after getting his heart broken in "Dang Ol' Love". It's implied that he learned from that experience and he's even seen in an apparently serious relationship in "Uh-Oh Canada".
Dark-Skinned Blonde: Justified, in that he spends a lot of time outdoors and has a tanning bed in his house.
Multiple-Choice Past: His job/source of income on the show was given multiple explanations: one was that he was a former electric lineman on worker's comp, another was that he doesn't work because he lives off the money he won in a lottery, and a third explanation was that Boomhauer came from a moderately wealthy family and lived off a trust fund set up for him. The last episode "To Sirloin with Love" reveals that Boomhauer actually does have a job: he's a member of the Texas Rangers.
The One That Got Away: His ex-girlfriend Catherine, for whom he has unresolved feelings. Boomhauer's none too happy when Catherine gets engaged to his brother Patch.
Only Sane Man: Will usually play this role if Hank is absent, or if Hank has been unable to get Dale and/or Bill to stop acting like idiots.
The Reveal: On the last episode, the one where Hank finds out that Bobby knows how to find flaws in cuts of meat, not the fauxnale where Luanne gets married, it's revealed that Boomhauer does have a job, as a member of the Texas Rangers. Of course, this creates continuity problems in terms of how Boomhauer could avoid everyone knowing this about him, let alone how he could keep his job without being fired for some of the run-ins he had with Hank and the gang.
Dale rounds out Hank's circle of friends. Dale, an exterminator by trade, is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who has prepared for just about any unlikely situation you can think of. And yet, he can't seem to figure out that his lovely wife Nancy is having an affair right under his nose. Voiced by Johnny Hardwick.Tropes associated with Dale:
Dale exemplifies this. Amusingly, the most obvious deception in his life is right in front of him, the fact that Joseph isn't biologically his, and he brushes it off as having a Jamaican grandmother whose dark skin and features skipped him and ended up with his alleged son.
In one episode, it is revealed that he has a hugely convoluted conspiracy theory to explain this, which acts in many ways as the foundation for his other conspiracy theories.
Basement-Dweller: Probably one of the few examples in which the character isn't a stereotypical video game/anime/role-playing game/comic book-obsessed nerd and actually is married with a child. He pretty much lived down there before Nancy stops cheating on him.
Big Eater: It was revealed that Dale can actually put away more food than Bill or Bobby, in spite of his pencil-thin build. He keeps this a secret because he thinks it makes him a freak.
Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Surprisingly good at his job as an exterminator (and his temporary job as an office worker in charge of terminating workers); in fact, it may be the only thing he's good at.
Catch Phrase: Has been known to say "Wingo!" and "Sh-sh-sha!"
Comedic Sociopathy: He gets a lot of pleasure out of watching Peggy suffer, particularly on her birthday (and if he can lend a hand in ruining it, all the better). In "Strangeness on a Train," he finally starts to experience some degree of remorse over this.
Completely Missing the Point: Dale thinks the fact that Joseph doesn't look like him is either from (a) a Jamaican grandmother whose dark features skipped a generation, or (b) an extraterrestrial who impregnated Nancy.
Conspiracy Theorist/Cloudcuckoolander/The Schizophrenia Conspiracy: In one episode, he gets sent to a mental institution because he lectures a clinic administrator on why more people are getting allergic to peanuts, because apparently they are tired of being eaten and have begun emitting a poison as a defense. After this episode, Dale seems to become more aware of his own odder tendencies, and is, along with Bill, eager to convince Hank that Kahn, a manic-depressive, needs his medication to function.
Crazy Survivalist: On the episode where he imitates Survivor Guy and lives in the backyard.
Depending on the Writer: In some episodes, Dale's an excellent exterminator. In others, he appears completely incompetent.
Drunk with Power: Dale becomes this in "The Exterminator" when he becomes the Assistant Vice President of Human Resources of Stik-Tek. The position allowed him to fire people anytime he wanted.
Egomaniac Hunter: He likes to think of himself as a badass bounty hunter, but is too cowardly to really do the job. It's probable that he became an exterminator because this allows him to hunt and kill creatures he needn't fear (though even then, he occasionally gets scared of them).
He's a delusional idiot, no question about it, but he also shows rare flashes of genuine cunning. Dale seems to have genuine skill in foreign languages, as he's seen speaking Russian, Spanish and Tagalog on various occasions.
Another prime example: his conspiracy theories have given him enough understanding of the government that, with no formal legal training, he is able to get John Redcorn a FOIA request processed quickly (such requests often take months, if they are answered at all) and also has the government return 12 acres of land stolen from the latter's tribe, but is unable to comprehend that John Redcorn was sleeping with his wife.
Dale's intelligence level seems to fluctuate between episodes. In some episodes, he's erudite enough to quote Langston Hughes or discuss the Observer Effect; other times, he thinks F-I-A-T spells Ford or that digging tunnels under the alley is a good idea. Mostly governed by Rule of Funny.
Go-Karting with Bowser: As much as he dislikes Peggy, they join forces a number of times: "A Bill Full of Dollars," "Peggy's Gone to Pots" (though that was because they both realized that the trouble they were in is so great that it would take a murder-suicide to make it go away, and since they hate each other, they do legitimately consider it) and "Full Metal Dust Jacket" come to mind.
Hypocritical Humor: When it comes to an episode that in some way deals with Nancy's affair with John Redcorn and their child that came from it, just about all of Dale's dialogue will be heavily laced with hypocritical statements. Not because he knows about the affair, but solely for Rule of Funny.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Yes, he's shallow, selfish, tactless, cowardly, unethical and quick to blame everybody and anybody else for whatever problem he caused. However, to say he loves his wife and son is a huge understatement. He dotes on his son Joseph, even though he isn't even Dale's biological son, putting him before everything else in the universe and defending him with his life despite his cowardly nature. He worships the ground his wife walks on and treats her like royalty, which she does not even deserve, having cheated on him for fourteen years (and when another woman comes on to him, his only reaction is confusion; he can't understand why she's even trying, because he's married and that's all there is to it). Also, on numerous occasions, he risks his life and/or sacrifices himself for Hank. For example, secretly switching Hank's low-running oxygen tank for his own full one before going to put out a fire.
The Load: Attempt depending on Dale in any way at your own risk.
Morality Pet: His family. With most people, Dale is paranoid, suspicious, and really pretty selfish. However, he's an incredibly loving and devoted husband and father (even though his son is not biologically his). Despite all his craziness, he's actually a better family man than Hank in some ways: unlike Hank, Dale has no problem showing affection toward his family or saying "I love you."
On very rare occasions, he actually does manage to be a really good friend. An example of this is when he kept trying to convince Bill that people really viewed him as a freak when he started participating in hot dog eating contests. Dale wasn't doing it to be malicious, but because he had a similar experience when he was a kid.
Dale: Remember, Bill. Just because you have their attention, doesn't mean you have their respect.
Also he was perfectly fine with his dad turning out to be gay. However, he was ready to disown him when he thought his dad was a federal agent.
Properly Paranoid: In "Untitled Black McCormick Project", Dale had some suspicions about the daughter of Bill's new girlfriend and despite Hank telling him not to ruin it for Bill, Dale managed to get a hair sample from the girl to run a DNA test. As it turned out, the girl was Joseph's half sister. There's also Operation Infinite Walrus. In that instance, even Dale seems surprised that his theory is correct.
Sitcom Archnemesis: He really hates Peggy, often being the only person In-Universe to call her out for stupid behavior. Though some episodes take this Up to Eleven, like Dale gloating over Peggy's disastrous birthday party.
With Friends Like These...: Dale has suggested killing (or attempted to kill) his friends on many occasions. A main reason Hank puts up with him is that he's too incompetent to really pull it off.
Dale's wife is a reporter for a local Arlen TV station. Smarter and more responsible than Dale, she nonetheless has a 14 year affair with John Redcorn which Dale never learns about. She eventually breaks it off, but not before she gives birth to a child whom Dale is convinced is his own flesh and blood. Voiced by Ashley Gardner.
Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: To a less extreme example than most, but she is the most beautiful female character, has a charming personality, and a great public image. But even once you get past the decade plus affair, she can come off as the most vindictive and two-faced person on the block. In episodes like "Gone with the Windstorm" and "Nancy Does Dallas", she makes no bones about her willingness to destroy her coworkers' careers for personal advancement.
She cheated on Dale with John Redcorn, and John Redcorn cheated on her with some "isolated incidents."
This is acknowledged when she realized Dale was being hit on by a very attractive female exterminator shortly after she broke off her affair. Nancy feels too guilty to tell him not to see her, so she has to watch them grow ever closer. Dale never has an affair, though.
Hypocritical Humor: The earlier seasons would have a lot of gags of her passing serious judgment on the other characters, blind to the fact that she was an adulteress. One quick scene had her shake her head disapprovingly when she saw Hank walk (horrified) out of the porno section of a video store, ignoring that she was walking through that same store with her lover.
In the Blood: Nancy cheated on Dale, just like her mother cheated on her father, and is now going bald after breaking off the affair.
She cheated on her husband for fourteen years, and had her son Joseph by John Redcorn. The only two people who aren't aware of Nancy's affair are Dale and Joseph. She also only slept with Dale on Christmas and his birthdays until she broke it off with John Redcorn. It seemed that Nancy managed to get away with her fourteen years of unfaithfulness, until her hair started to fall out as a result of breaking it off with John Redcorn.
She gets it earlier when we learn that John Redcorn had actually been seeing other women while he was seeing her, and there's the highly probable chance that he conceived his daughter Kate on the same day he conceived Joseph.
This was once averted when she sees clearly that an attractive exterminator has a crush on Dale, and sees the potential for Dale to start doing to her what she did to him for years. Fortunately for her, Dale is a devoted husband who would never cheat on her and stopped hanging out with the other exterminator when he found out.
Noodle Incident: "Do you ever wonder what happened to the weather caster before me?"
Stacy's Mom: Bobby admitted to Peggy that he considers Nancy to be a very beautiful woman.
Sympathetic Adulterer: She's never given a really sympathetic reason for cheating on Dale (Dale is legitimately hard to live with, but that doesn't actually seem to be her motivation). However, she becomes fairly sympathetic once she realizes how badly she abused his trust and makes a painful decision to break off her relationship with John Redcorn.
Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Blonde, pouty lipped, in shape woman. Married to a bald, unhinged, skinny nutjob.
What Does She See in Him?: Deconstructed: it's implied that Nancy fell for Dale, largely because he legitimately loved her and that she didn't start sleeping around on him until they were already married for two years. Furthermore, it's implied that Nancy was driven to John Redcorn, originally for legitimate headache treatment, due to Dale's antics, which ironically keeps Nancy's bitchiness in check since she is too busy cleaning up Dale's messes to scheme anymore.
Joseph John Gribble
Nancy and John Redcorn's son. Joseph is an awkward, dim, and horny young man who spends most of his time hanging out with Bobby. Like Dale, he has no idea that John Redcorn is his biological father. Brittany Murphy voiced him from 1997-2000; from 2000 to the show's end in 2009, Joseph was voiced by Breckin Meyer.
The Ditz: When he hit puberty, though some of it might be from having Dale for a father.
Dumb Jock: His growth spurt seemed to simultaneously make him athletically stronger and intellectually dumber. He eventually joins the football team in high school.
Flanderization: He was always mildly awkward and a bit dim, but it really got ratcheted up in the later seasons. Somewhat justified, as he's going through puberty, which is an awkward time for a lot of kids and it does screw with their behavior.note However, it doesn't explain how Joseph went from Bobby's more streetwise friend to practically a ditz who needs Bobby to tell him how to function basically. This is even evident in Brecken Meyer's voicing of the character. In Joseph's early post-puberty episodes, his voice is mellow and slightly accented; later on, it becomes positively manic. Then there's the fact that a conspiracy nut like Dale mostly raised him and John Redcorn didn't...
In the Blood: Seems to have inherited John Redcorn's libido and some of Dale's delusional tendencies. This is also an example of Nature Versus Nurture. John Redcorn's genes make Joseph tall and athletic but he is awkward and has poor social skills thanks to Dale's influence.
Jerk Jock: Averted. Despite being a star football player in the later seasons, he's more a Dumb Jock than a jerk and he's still friends with Bobby (who would normally get bullied by jerk jocks).
This irritable Laotian businessman moved onto Rainey Street with his wife and daughter in series's first season. In a twist on the time-tested Positive Discrimination trope, Kahn is regularly rude towards his neighbors and dismisses them as dumb rednecks. Nobody really listens to him, however, especially not his daughter, Connie. Voiced by Toby Huss.
Ambiguous Disorder: For a while, but in "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day," it's revealed he has manic depressive mood swings and needs to take medication for it (and the medication does make him act like a jerk sometimes, but it's better that than having boundless energy one day and being utterly depressed and listless the next).
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: A parental version. After the children are lost in the caves and he and Hank get lost looking for her, they all get rescued and rather than be stern with her, he's so relieved that he takes her out for ice cream. And tetanus shots. This is the case in the finale when Kahn tells Connie to take a night off from studying.
He seems like a pretty stereotypical depiction of an Asian-American at first, but you eventually find out his tightly wound personality has nothing to do with his ethnicity or culture, and everything to do with his family life and brain chemistry.
His manic depression revealed that he's very good at robotics, even though his official job is systems analyst.
Hollywood Tone-Deaf: A Running Gag. It was even made the subject of an episode where Kahn sings karaoke. Made doubly annoying/funny by Kahn's affection for '80s pop music.
Interchangeable Asian Cultures: Averted, with several episodes focusing on Kahn and Minh's Laotian background. It takes Hank and company awhile to catch on, though.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a pretty terrible person most of the time, but he does genuinely love Connie and Minh, and if pressed, really, really pressed, he'll even admit that he considers Hank a friend.
Saving Hank from the border guards in "Three Days of the Kahn-Do." Singing "Blue Moon Over Kentucky" with Bobby and Connie in "The Bluegrass Is Always Greener" for another.
His last scene in "To Sirloin with Love." He tells Connie that she can stop studying (she's three grades ahead anyway) and come to the barbecue next door. Also in the last aired episode "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day," he and Hank have a burger from the high-tech grill and realize that they're not so different (their names are even anagrams of each others').
Odd Friendship: With Dale in "The Minh Who Knew Too Much". There's also "Bill Full of Dollars" when she joins Dale and Peggy in their stock investment schemes.
Stacy's Mom: Joseph developed a short-lived crush on her. This was mainly due to him having just hit puberty and experiencing the onslaught of confusion and distress that comes with it. Bobby is also attracted of her as he admitted to Peggy that he considers Minh to be a very beautiful woman.
Women Are Wiser: Mostly averted; she's greedy, ambitious and kind of a jerkass just like her husband, although she is slightly more willing to interact with her neighbors than Kahn is. She's much more accepting of Bobby and Connie's relationship than Khan, though; in "Father of the Bribe", when it looks like they might break up, Minh tells Connie how she and Khan met and that, despite their differences, she knew he was right for her, and that the only person who knows if Bobby is right for Connie is Connie herself.
Kahn "Connie" Souphanousinphone, Jr.
The overachieving daughter of Kahn and Mihn. Voiced by Lauren Tom.
Plucky Girl: In "The Redneck on Rainey Street", Hank mentions to Kahn how hard Connie has been working while her parents gave up. In his words, "you couldn't bring that girl down with you if you tried."
Bad Boss: Any time he takes an active hand in his own business, he starts running it into the ground, needing Hank to bail him out. For example, putting Vickers in charge when he's in the hospital, and making Hank feed his hounds.
Broken Pedestal: Averted, as no matter what he does (especially if it would get him arrested), Hank continues to idolize him. That's not to say that he's oblivious to his boss' shortcomings; in one episode, Hank tells Bobby that he's put out his first "Strickland fire", adding, "A couple hundred more and you'll have caught up with me." There's also the episode where Hank slows down his truck enough to allow a member of a gang of toughs to a swing at Buck.
A few episodes like "The Good Buck" imply that Buck used to be a good, relatively honest businessman until his vices caught up with him. Which would explain where Hank's idealized image of Buck comes from more than mere self-delusion.
Genius Ditz: During his few moments of sobriety, Buck's demonstrated the business savvy that got his business up and running. He's at least smart enough to know that Hank is a once-in-a-lifetime find and lets him run his propane business for him so he can rake in the money.
Karma Houdini: The worst offender of this was when he tried to pin Debbie's murder on Hank by planting fake evidence against the latter when he wasn't looking only to diverge the attention on his wife. However, when it's found out Hank nor Buck's wife murdered anybody, Hank doesn't call him out on it.
Kavorka Man: He's old, bald, fat, and a general scumbag. But he pulls in an astounding amount of tail. Though as Buck himself explains: "I'm not much to look at, but I've got a lot of money!"
Like Father, Like Son: His son Jody (or Ray-Roy) inherited his daddies appetite for booze and women. Along with his business acumen.
Pet the Dog: After he and his long-lost son drives Hank to drink himself stupid (and ruining his induction), not only does he sets up the committee to blackmail them in order to save Hank's career, but also gets Hank inducted into the "Hall of Flame."
The Rival: M.F. Thatherton, who used to work for him before branching out on his own.
Stupid Boss: Hank is pretty much the only reason why his company is still running. Buck is thoroughly aware of this, however, and more than a few episodes involve him pushing Hank to edge with his antics only to realize he is about to kill his "Golden Goose" (as he referred to Hank in one episode) and immediately start taking steps to get back in Hank's favor. The fact that Buck makes an effort to get Hank to forgive him is probably why Hank idolizes him despite having many similarities with Cotton.
A coworker of Hank's, the driver of one of Strickland's propane delivery trucks, known as a "Bobtail".
The Alcoholic: He's got a bit of a drinking problem, usually when he gets stressed.
Catch Phrase: Calling anyone he talks to "Honey" regardless of gender or their relationship with him. Could also be a Verbal Tic.
Noodle Incident: Was kicked off the Zephyr softball team for doing something unspeakable at the Taco Bueno.
Ascended Extra: Started off as a random bobtail driver. Eventually, he became a regularly appearing employee.
Fun Personified: He lives for the good times, spending most of his cash on parties (and funerals).
Negative Continuity: In "Enrique-cilable Differences" Enrique has a rocky marriage, and his children are implied to have grown up and moved out. In "Lady and Gentrification," he has a loving wife and a 15 year old daughter (unless that's a second wife and a stepdaughter he treats like a real daughter, but that doesn't seem likely).
True Companions: It's mostly one sided, but Enrique considers Hank to be his best friend and he asks him to speak at his daughter's quinceanera. Hank would prefer a professional relationship with him, and is reluctant to speak at the quinceanera. Eventually, Hank grows to be good friends with Enrique and his daughter, and even saves him from being forced to move, due to Peggy's selling homes in Enrique's neighborhood to hipsters forcing the rents sky-high.
One of the employees at Strickland and Buck's mistress up until Season 4 when she attempted to kill Buck for calling off their affair and ended up dying instead. Voiced by Reese Witherspoon.
Abhorrent Admirer: To Hank, although it ping pongs back and forth between her being genuinely attracted to him and her just trying to get on his good side for pragmatic reasons.
Character Exaggeration: In her first appearance, she was merely a somewhat lazy employee that Buck (and at least one other employee) liked to ogle; there was no indication that she was intentionally trying to seduce anyone. From Season 3 onward, it was established that she had a sexual relationship with Buck.
Self-Disposing Villain: Accidentally shot herself, which simultaneously solved the problems she was causing Hank and Buck.
Suddenly Voiced: Season 4. She did speak once in Season 3, but was not actually present in the scene.
Thanatos Gambit: Invoked completely by accident. Her unintentionally shooting herself created problems for all three of her personal enemies, Hank, Buck, and Miz Liz, due to them becoming the prime suspects.
Too Dumb to Live: She accidentally killed herself by putting Buck's loaded shotgun, which didn't have the safety on, in the dumpster first and stepping on the trigger. This was all because she didn't think to set down her nachos first.
Donna (from accounting)
A curvaceous, slight spacy woman who works as Strickland Propane's accountant. Voiced by Pamela Aldon.
A Native American masseuse, one time rock musician, and biological father of Joseph. Voiced by Victor Aaron, and Jonathan Joss.
Aesop Amnesia: In Season 4, the affair ends when Nancy starts falling back in love with Dale and when John Redcorn feels guilty about betraying Dale's trust when he's only ever been a good friend (and helped John Redcorn get documents that would eventually help him reclaim his peoples' land). In Season 11, he seems to have forgotten about all this and is eager to rekindle things with Nancy.
Berserk Button: Do not imply a sexual attraction to Nancy in front of him.
Character Development: John Redcorn started out as a double-barreled running gag: one about his affair with Nancy, the other about his mystical Indian side. As the show went along (especially after "Nancy's Boys") he became a fairly well-rounded character, with interests and hobbies (Indian rights, his musical career) outside of womanizing. Some of his later appearances don't even reference Nancy or Joseph.
Dreadful Musician: When he tries to do hard rock with his band Big Mountain Fudgecake. However, in its focus episode, John Redcorn becomes a popular childrens' entertainer by playing acoustic and rewriting his lyrics.
Everyone Has Standards: John Redcorn may be a womanizer but he won't sleep with the wives or relatives of his friends. He tells Hank as much in "Peggy's Headache." Also, after Dale proves his friendship by helping him with a lawsuit, John Redcorn decides to break up with Nancy.
Hypocrite: In "Arrow Head", he tells Hank that it's wrong to take something that isn't yours from someone else (referring to a Native American artifact Hank found in his lawn). Nancy then calls him back in to continue their affair. John Redcorn embarrassingly returns the artifact to Hank and tells him "just food for thought" and goes back into his house.
Laser-Guided Karma: John Redcorn is paying for the fourteen years he slept with Nancy by watching his biological son be raised by Dale. He makes mention about loathing having to watch his son raised by an idiot, although Dale is actually an incredibly loving father even if he's a conspiracy freak. By the time the affair with Nancy ended though, it's pretty clear that even though John Redcorn is the biological father, Joseph is Dale's son regardless, and saying anything now would just destroy both Joseph and Dale.
While largely portrayed as unsympathetic during the first three seasons, he is one of the first people to try and stop Leanne from assaulting Peggy in Season 2.
While still having an (unrepentant) affair with another man's wife for over a decade, John Redcorn still tries to be something of a father to Joseph, and ultimately accepts it's better not to tell him the truth.
In "The Witches of East Arlen," he learns of Bobby's "warlock" friends making him drink dog blood for a ceremony. His first instinct is to drive over to Hank's place and help him find Bobby.
Really Gets Around: Admits as much to Hank in Season 3. Nancy finds out about this in Season 12 and, even though their affair has long been over, doesn't take it well.
Former Strickland Propane employee, now Buck's business opponent and mortal enemy. Voiced by Burt Reynolds, and then Toby Huss.
Evil Counterpart: He is Strickland's according to Hank, in reality they're Not So Different. His business, Thatherton Fuels, is a better example being an evil counterpart to Strickland Propane as they rely heavily cutting corners and gimmicky marketing tactics towards gaining sales compared to Strickland Propane's focus on quality customer service.
Meaningful Name: In "The Company Man", Hank assumes that M.F. stands for "Mother Fucker", when Thatherton interrupts Hank and tells his potential client that it stands for "My Friend." Word of God says that it actually stands for Milton Farnsworth.
His family seems to exist as one for Kahn, Minh, and Connie. The three of them are obviously more Americanized by contrasting their accents, and they're much more successful then Khan's family. Yet they seem to lack any actual morals. Chane is an egotistical spoiled wannabe whereas Connie is an intelligent Plucky Girl who wants to be a regular kid.
Ted is also even more judgemental, snobby, and self-absorbed as Kahn, but hides it under an overly-polite facade whereas Khan is openly a jerk.
Hypocrite: Once guilt-tripped Kahn into thinking he's betrayed his heritage, yet converted from Buddhism to Protestant Christianity because it's "good for business." Also in "Trans-fascism", he gets trans-fats banned from Arlen and then gladly patronizes the illegal food truck operated by Buck. When Hank asks about this, Ted smugly says that he has the discipline to handle it.
Karma Houdini: Ted usually gets out of any punishment any time he does something wrong, save for a moment in "Trans-fascism", when both he and Kahn are beaten up by Rooster's crew for going to the Sugarfoot's lunch truck.
Apathetic Teacher: The Principal version. He's mostly trying to get by doing as little work as possible while swiping whatever bonus he could. He couldn't care less about the students' performance if he tried, unless it involves him nearly losing his job.
Dirty Coward: Once fakes a heart attack to avoid casting the deciding vote at a PTA meeting.
Evil Counterpart: Not evil per se, but a closer look shows him to be an inversion of Hank. Unlike him, Carl has a leading position for a job, is afraid to handle confrontations, and generally favors any sort of personal gain over ethic.
Fat Slob: When your personal habits gross out Bill...
Laser-Guided Karma: After years of cutting corners and doing the bare minimum, he gets suspended after pretending his low scoring students are learning disabled to get the schools test scores up.
Noodle Incident: Whenever confronted by Hank over something school related, he'll mention one. Like the time he wore a Coonskin Cap through all of seventh grade, or nearly got fired by the school board for growing a ponytail.
Took a Level in Jerkass: At first, Carl's just a hapless, beaten-down bureaucrat. Later on, he becomes more frequently associated with morally shady activities. Like placing students with middling grades in a remedial class to boost test scores ("No Bobby Left Behind"), or helping run a counterfeit clothing ring and selling the merchandise at school, no less ("Bill Gathers Moss").
A fat bully with a weird haircut, and seemingly perpetual stuffy nose.
Luanne's boyfriend and, much to Hank's displeasure, Hank's superior as department manager at Mega-Lo-Mart. Voiced by David Herman
The Artifact: Remains in the opening credits long after he dies.
The Atoner: His spirit visits Luanne and helps her deal with her grief and get into community college to make up for being such a jerk to her in life.
Bastard Boyfriend: Was certainly emotionally abusive. He treated Luanne like crap through most of the relationship. His idea of a gift were CDs he didn't want anymore. When Luanne needed money, he was holding on to what he had so he could buy a trampoline. Another trampoline. Made even worse was because he had $100 more than what she was asking for.
A One Scene Wonder who appeared in later episodes of the show including "Uncool Customer," "Strangeness on a Train" and "Powder Puff Boys".
Ambiguously Gay: His daughter is clearly an adopted Asian and it is implied in "Strangeness on a Train" that he and Peggy's boss are on a date. However, he also says "We decided to leave the wives at home tonight" and (jokingly?) makes passes at Peggy in "The Powderpuff Boys", rubbing her shoulders and making a joke about someone bringing a sleeping bag for multiple people at an activity.
A government employee originally from Los Angeles who has appeared as both a social worker and a legal advisor for civil rights cases. He has attempted to get Bobby taken away from Hank, falsely believing Hank to be an abusive father, and also enforce an ill-advised policy that would force Strickland Propane to accept drug addiction as a disability. He is probably the closest thing King of the Hill has to a recurring villain.
Knight Templar: He genuinely wants to help people (well, some people), but doesn't realize that his charges don't want or need it.
It's All About Me: Her sermons tend to vocalize problems she's having in her personal life.
Moral Guardians: Played with. She openly discusses sexuality and relationships ("Luanne Virgin 2.0"), and even encourages Bobby's flirtation with Buddhism ("Won't You Pimai Neighbor?"). In other episodes, she adamantly denounces sexism ("Revenge of the Lutefisk") and Hank for his alleged racism ("Racist Dawg").