YMMV / King of the Hill

  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Intellectuals, or rather, people who think they are intellectuals. Usually appearing without any advanced education, working experience in their field, or anything approaching common sense, the closest the series has to a usual "villain" type are people who believe themselves competent activists, authors, philosophers or educators, who show up to denigrate or swindle the Hills. Perhaps lampshaded, as all these "intelligent" and "progressive" people are unable to find employment or acceptances anywhere except Arlen, Texas, and even there everybody knows how ridiculous they are.
    • Jokes about fictional town Durndle and the people from it are pretty commonplace, as well.
    • A good example of a recurring acceptable target would be Anthony Page, the activist / social worker who has: attempted a fruitless investigation into Hank's parenting of Bobby in the pilot episode, attempted to implement an ill-thought out Texan workers disability equality program at Strickland Propane that resulted in a druggie have free reign over the place in "Junkie Business", etc.
    • One episode had Hank get a thrown-out back. He attends Yoga sessions to relieve this, but he dislikes the self-absorbed, skirt chasing Yoga teacher (though softens slightly once he realizes the Yoga is helping). Immediately after he is fully healed, the guy in charge of disability finds out about this, automatically assumes he was taking advantage of worker's comp, and reports Hank to court. Hank's defense is that if he wasn't in agonizing pain, he would have punched the Yoga instructor out. This instantly convinces the judges.
    • People who actually do have advanced educations like the archeology professor and Bill's doctor are still often portrayed negatively, so the portrayal as self-important but unqualified may just be another aspect of the treatment of intellectuals, rather than unqualified intellectuals being the target itself.
      • It's worth noting that the doctors in Arlen all seem to be bitter, hostile burnouts who fully expect their patients to have done or are about to do incredibly stupid things and then lie about them. The show often bears them out in this regard. It may be a subtle bit of Lampshade Hanging.
      • Averted by Hank's proctologist (who, while irritating to Hank is friendly and professional) and the sports psychologist from the rifle episode, who, while wacky, does genuinely help Hank out.
    • Anyone who owns a pet that isn't a dog is considered a freak no matter how much they love it.
    • In one episode, Hank seems to get harassed by a female cop, and nobody seems to find anything weird with it at all.
      • Zigzagged with one episode, which features a new employee who constantly makes sex jokes and slaps other coworkers' behinds. They at first find this funny and Hank is portrayed as overreacting, but it grows out of hand and everyone else starts to become annoyed. Hank tries to find legal help, and responds to the comments of "male on male sexual harassment" with "BWAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!". Enrique refuses to do anything about it because he's afraid of being made fun of (or not being taken seriously). This is actually startlingly truth in television. Aggressors of male-on-male or female-on-male sexual harassment are much more likely to get away with it than male on female aggressors, simply because most people, when confronted with this issue, respond like Hank and Enrique did.
    • California is a big one in the show (and to a lesser extent: Oklahoma and New York) especially with Hank. He never misses an opportunity to express his dislike towards those three states, especially the former. Bobby being into show business, however, loves California and New York so it balances out.
    • Much like in Beavis And Butthead, people with a history in the military are rarely depicted in a positive light. Cotton is a massive Jerkass, Mihn's father is an obnoxious in law, and Bill is a pathetic Stalker with a Crush. The sole exception seems to be the general who oversees Bill's army base, who's professional, tough, and appreciative of Bill's work (opposed to the many grunts who ignore him), though Peggy's gynecologist served in Vietnam and is well adjusted (even if Hank is creeped out by his line of work) and Cotton's fellow VFD members (minus Topsy) are at worst grumpy old men.
    • Artists are also attacked often, being depicted as unhygienic weirdos that make art of disturbing or nonsensical subjects.
  • Accidental Innuendo: In "Three Days of the Khando" when Hank protests crossing the U.S.-Mexico border illegally:
    Hank: America is my country and I love her, I wouldn't enter her in any way that's unnatural!
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • In the final episode, we see Dale massaging Nancy and comparing his skills to John Redcorn. Some have debated as to whether or not Dale finally learned about her affair with John Redcorn, but still forgave her, or Nancy realizing that Dale is a good husband and can give a massage that's just as good as John Redcorn's.
    • Is Hank Hill really what the creators consider the Only Sane Man? It seems that he's almost permanently stuck in the 1950s, when women are at home and everyone was more patriotic and full of morals. Is it just a mental barrier to keep him moral, unlike his immoral "friends" and co-workers and his own family? Or could it be that he's slightly autistic and has more emotional attachment to objects and his pet then to people and has to put up with a crazy-ass father and wife and is preoccupied with things everyone considers "Manly" and is too insane to watch a magician perform because he doesn't like things that can't be explained instantly?
    • A different interpretation: He isn't stuck in the 1950s but he has a classic mental-block caused by the traumatic memories of his childhood. He became so used to being beaten down by Cotton in his youth for showing the slightest sign of weakness that he in essence built a mental fortress around himself, a sort of shelter. He is afraid of anything "new" or "modern" penetrating this mental fortress out of a subconscience fear of Cotton's retribution.
    • He could also be autistic and his Jerkass father didn't help at all. It's fully possible given the timeframe the show takes place, as well as Hank's age, that he could have been on the spectrum but nobody knew.
      • Did Cotton really kill fitty men? Ok, probably not, but did he even kill anyone? Or maybe his constant reminding everyone that he killed "fitty men" is just a way to cope with his massive PTSD and the fact that he got his shins blown off.
    • Also, is Cotton really just the Jerkass father who hates his son and only cares about the men he killed, or is he a kind soul who has been broken by seeing all his friends killed horribly, being forced to kill fifty men just as innocent as him, getting permanently crippled, developing a true romantic relationship with a Japanese nurse before being forced from her by the government that he already gave so much to, then being forced to return to a home which had nothing to give him except an impulsive wife who once accidentaly defected to China and the glory of a war which destroyed all he held dear?
  • Award Snub: "Chasing Bobby" was up for an Emmy in 2001, and is one of the best episodes of the series. What did it lose to? The Simpsons episode "HOMR" .
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Peggy. Many fans find her hilarious, others can't stand her (whether because she's dull or because her inflated ego made her insufferable), without much middle ground.
    • Hank himself. While he may be a Fountain of Memes, and his hard-work ethic and the fact he genuinely cares for his family are admirable qualities, they are often overshadowed to some fans by the fact that he is so painfully old-fashioned that he treats anything "new" (Even if it turns out to be helpful to the other characters) with utter disdain and horror. Not only that, but he tended to be so controlling of Bobby's life that anything even remotely unorthodox that interested Bobby in the slightest would cause Hank to freak out and attempt to get rid of it (IE: "Dad, look, I can (Insert activity here)" "BWAAAAAA!") It did not help at all that Hank was usually portrayed as right in whatever stance he took, as explained in the Black Hole Sue example below. In the few instances when he actually allowed Bobby to pursue his interests, Hank had an odd habit of taking over Bobby's current hobby, such as in the case of his ventriloquist dummy. All in all, Hank ends up becoming Unintentionally Unsympathetic to some, and there quite a few who wonder if the social worker trying to take Bobby away in episode one may have been better for him than letting Hank raise him.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • When Peggy, Mihn and Nancy are running for a position on the school board, Dale goes to a trailer park to pick up voters for Nancy, only to find out from a man fixing a satellite dish that Peggy abducted them before Dale arrived. The man then says Dale has a nice hat and attacks him, causing Dale to flee in terror.
    • In "Peggy's Pageant Fever", after her makeover, the scene switches to Bill washing his car and singing out of tune to Bachman-Turner Overdrive's 'Takin' Care of Business". Bill stops and stares blankly when Peggy passes by in Buck Strickland's car.
  • Black Hole Sue: Many have accused Hank of this, partly because no matter what stance he takes, even if it's wildly family unfriendly or insanely morally wrong, he'll always be portrayed as the one in the right, and is often called upon to fix problems and such that he really shouldn't be able to fix, to the point where he can occasionally become a walking Deus ex Machina. Episodes vary on how much this is true; many times Hank was unknowingly the butt of the show's jokes, with his own ignorance of the world being played for laughs, but other episodes (especially later ones) had his initial, foolhardy assumptions be validated in the end, leading to this trope.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The State Fair episode which depicts the fairground as a grassy field lined with tent around Big Tex, the fair's mascot. In actuality, the area is completely concrete, next to a few museum buildings which weren't depicted in the episode. In fact, even at the time of the episode's airing, all cooking contests were inside said buildings. They never take place outside.
    • In the episode "Bystand Me," Peggy accidentally puts an article in the newspaper advising housewives to mix bleach with ammonia, which Hank says is mustard gas. While you do get a dangerous gas when you mix bleach with ammonia (chloramide), it's not the ingredients for (nor is it considered real) mustard gas.
    • In "Redcorn Gambles With His Future", John Redcorn's planned Indian casino is shut down when he finds that Texas doesn't allow Indian gaming. This is utterly wrong, as the U.S. Supreme Court has upheld Indian reservations' right to offer gambling even in states where it's illegal due to tribal sovereignty, though they probably did this for artistic license.
    • Any episode where civilian characters get haircuts (or, in Luanne's case, cut hair) at the Army base. Military barbershops are run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Civilians are not allowed in these barbershops.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: Cotton Hill's character seems built around the notion of crossing the line twice. His sexism and final moments are good examples of this.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: While not as cruel or sadistic as its competing Fox shows, the series has its fair share of mean-spirited nastiness. From Hank being a stubborn stick-in-the-mud to Peggy being the Know-Nothing Know-It-All she is, the series' cast of characters aren't exactly people you wish they exist in real life.
  • Designated Evil: Anything that falls outside of Hank's narrow world view otherwise offends his sensibilities is always regarded as being in the wrong. A good example of this is whenever Bobby does something that Hank disapproves of.
  • Designated Hero: A common complaint about the series is that, all too often, while Hank is usually a well-meaning person, his characterization as a stereotypical middle class Conservative Bible Belter with rather Skewed Priorities is not played for comedy (of the "look at what a dumbass this guy is/can be" variety), but as something to be respected and admired. There are many episodes in which Hank comes off as, frankly, a bigoted self-righteous Jerkass and yet viewers are still supposed to be on his side.
  • Do Not Do This Cool Thing: In "Luanne Virgin 2.0":
    Luanne: Your virginity is in danger now! You need to sign this abstinence pledge card before you discover how wonderful sex feels!
  • Ear Worm: The Japanese song used in the "Returning Japanese" two-parter was "Kimono Beat" by Seiko Matsuda.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: A number of conflicts in the series are effectively resolved by blackmail. This is understandable in cases where this is done towards the corrupt people that screwed over the Hills in the first place. But then you get scenarios like Hank threatening to empty Reverend Stroup's congregation, by steering them towards a megachurch, unless he gets his preferred seating.
  • Fandom Rivalry: King of the Hill fans tend not to be very fond of Family Guy. Branching off from the Family Guy rivalry, fans tend to dislike The Cleveland Show a lot more than the former since a big reason for the series cancellation in 2009 was to make way for the debut of The Cleveland Show.
  • Fountain of Memes: Hank Hill, as evidenced by the Memetic Mutation section below.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • The tragic premature death of Brittany Murphy has turned many of Luanne's moments into this, especially the two-parter where the Megalo-Mart blows up and Luanne is feared to be dead ( she survived, but lost her hair and her boyfriend, Buckley), the final season episodes where Luanne has a child (before her death, Brittany Murphy stated that she wanted to have children in 2010) and the episode where Luanne is visited by the angel of her dead boyfriend, Buckley (not just because of Brittany Murphy's death, but because of the death of her husband five months later).
    • If you've heard the story about the Columbine survivor writing to Mike Judge about how the episode "Wings of the Dope" helped her come to terms with her grief for a boy she loved who turned out to be one of the shooters, Hank telling Luanne that if she sees Buckley's angel again after he helps her pass her test "it will actually be an evil angel of death" certainly qualifies.
    • The sub-plot of the season 4 episode "Happy Hank's Giving" Hank packs a turkey in a box, that's mistaken as a IED by the bomb squad. Considering that the episode aired two years before 9/11, any person who watches the episode now might find it uncomfortable.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In one episode where everyone at Strickland Propane is trying to get in on the Americans with Disabilities Act after a drug addict's addiction is diagnosed as a disease, one employee claims he has priapism and requires a roomier workstation and a view of Debbie. "Priapism" is the medical term for an erection that doesn't go down or soft, even after intercourse or masturbation.
    • Bobby's clown school persona "Tartuffe the Spry Wonder Dog" takes its name from a Moliere play.
    • There are also numerous references to the works of Tennessee Williams over the course of the show, most notably Bill's cousin Gilbert (pronounced Zheel-Bear) being a parody of him.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: In "Dog Dale Afternoon", Dale is mistaken for a sniper while spraying for silverfish at the local college's belltower, so Bill calls the police. People mistaking innocuous actions for something else and calling 911 is unfortunately rather common these days.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • On the season one episode, "Hank's Unmentionable Problem" note , Peggy has a nightmare where Hank dies from complications of his constipation and his father flushes his son's casket down the toilet-cum-grave. Around thirteen seasons later, Cotton dies (after being burned on a flat-top grill at a Benihana-style Japanese restaurant and eating shrimp, which he's allergic to) and requests that his ashes be flushed in a bar toilet once used by General George S. Patton (even though an early episode revealed that Cotton was supposed to be buried at a veteran's cemetery).
    • In "Bills Are Made to be Broken" in season four, Hank tells Bill to "Suit Up".
    • In an episode made during the campaign trail of the 2000 election:
    Hank: Governor Bush needs every vote he can get or they won't call it a landslide [win].
    • In one episode ("The Texas Skilsaw Massacre"), David Herman voices a green-vested, red-haired anger management counselor who uses lame games as a method to get his point across. He'd later use this character to great effect as Mr. Frond.
    • In one episode, Bobby suggests he stand next to Hank at a function and pretend to sign everything Hank says. At Nelson Mandela's funeral, the sign language interpreter was faking the entire time.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: Leanne tends to muffin-top slightly but noticeably when wearing outfits that reveal her midriff.
  • Idiot Plot: Many of the episodes revolving around everyone believing something about someone that is completely out of character for them. Most of them towards Hank.
  • Jerkass Woobie : The one-shot character Barry Rollins from the episode Cops and Roberts. He is shown as being non-confrontational yet Hank thought he stole his wallet (when really he left it at home), and decides to take it back. Rollins declares that he is tired of being the victim and chases after the group with a baseball bat, viewing himself as a Vigilante Man.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Misaimed Fandom: King of the Hill started as a parody of middle America (even though Texas would be considered Southern, but not Southern in the way that Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, northern Florida, Louisiana, Missouri, and Arkansas are). But because the humor wasn't as scathingly satirical as it is on The Simpsons or even Judge's own Beavis and Butthead, the show quickly became beloved by the very demographic it was mocking. After the first couple of seasons, the show became a straight-up Affectionate Parody, and to this day it's still remembered warmly by conservative middle Americans for being a show that didn't portray them in a negative light.
  • Misaimed Marketing: Very early in the show's run, they tried to cross promote the show on Fox Kids with "Fox Kids Heads for the Hills", where special bumpers and promos showed the characters interacting with various FK characters- like Hank convincing the Silver Surfer to switch to propane power for his surfboard. Presumably, this was a misguided attempt to promote it based off the popularity of Beavis and Butt-head with young people. Also, this was one of the last times Fox's primetime lineup ever really interacted with the FK lineup- it was mainly untenable at this point. note 
  • One-Scene Wonder: Plenty of otherwise recurring background characters who'd occasionally get a scene or line every so often most of which were fairly funny. Notable ones include Chuck Mangione, Dooley, and Emily the hall monitor.
  • Periphery Demographic: With otaku, of all people. It's not uncommon to find crossover fan-art of this show and popular anime franchises.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Lucky gets a lot of hate, mainly due to his relationship with Luanne (combined with Luanne's Flanderization) turning her into the exact kind of person she didn't want to be in the earlier seasons, his lazy lifestyle, (which Hank, for some reason, mostly seems to roll with despite being established as treating hard work and effort seriously) and this combined with his greater importance in the show's last legs despite contributing very little to the plot other than said relationship with Luanne.
    • Peggy is seen as this due to her massive Flanderization in later seasons changing her from a somewhat smug yet intelligent woman who spoke decent if rudimentary Spanish, to a Jerkass Small Name, Big Ego who couldn't speak a lick of Spanish if her life depended on it yet she acted like she was fluent in the language. It also doesn't help she became so smug in later seasons that she even tried to mooch off of Hank's popularity as a (temporary) substitute teacher in order to win yet another substitute teacher's award, and sabotaged Lucky's attempt to get his GED by giving him false answers, then automatically assumed he and everyone else in his family were bastards because no one achieved their goals before marrying, before he explained they were married in shotgun weddings.
    • Kahn and Minh both fall here. While they just barely avoid being walking Asian stereotypes, they are both obnoxious jerkass people who take utter pleasure in being dicks towards their neighbors, including referring to them as "Rednecks" in a derogatory sense. While they do have some redeeming qualities (such as genuinely caring for their daughter, Connie), said good aspects of them are overshadowed by their flaws. One episode in the series had Kahn not only sexually harass Hank (all because Hank could see Kahn through Kahn's bathroom window), but also he and Mihn would break into Hank's house, raid the fridge, mess with the furniture, and it's implied they would have sex there as well all the while mocking Hank and Peggy. There's being a jerk, and then there's blatantly breaking the law just for the sick amusement of it.
    • Cotton. A loud, abusive, womanizing, self-centered, sexist man who may have an even bigger ego than Peggy. About the only redeeming quality he has is that he genuinely cares for Bobby, though he's still a horrible role model.
  • Seasonal Rot: Much like The Simpsons, it's not known exactly when the show went downhill (if it went downhill at all), but season nine is usually the point in which the show's quality started to fade, due to weak/bad episodes (starting with the senseless retconning of Peggy Hill's past in "A Rover Runs Through It"note  and Luanne falling for Lucky the redneck on "Care-Takin' Care of Business"). However, unlike the Seasonal Rot of The Simpsons and Family Guy, this show was still somewhat enjoyable in its later years, rather than being a waste of time/a shining example of why long-running TV shows aren't always a good thing.
  • Slippery Slope Fallacy: Parodied in the "Trans-Fascism" episode Hank had to struggle between what was legal and what was right when he and his pals started running a lunch truck that sold food banned by the city council. In a Dream Sequence during the episode where he was confronted by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Tom Landry, Washington quoted the trope directly. The joke being that while Hank doesn't have that big of a problem with breaking a law he feels to be unjust, the signs he's starting to jump off the slippery slope are innocuous things like running a red light and his son beginning to chew gum in class.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: The episode in which Luanne's mother returns ("Leanne's Saga") reminds us that a domestic abuser is a domestic abuser, regardless of gender, and just because the abuser is a woman doesn't mean she can get away with it.
  • So Okay, It's Average: A sizable majority have this opinion of the show.
  • Strawman Has a Point: Happens a lot throughout the series. In fairness, on occasion it's deliberately invoked.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song:
    • "Hilloween" features a sound-alike to the Peanuts theme during the flashback scenes.
    • "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg" features a sound-alike to the theme from The Great Escape.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: Any episode where Peggy gets herself into a serious conflict and is usually called out on her stupidity or arrogance. Examples include "Peggy's Fan Fair", "The Substitute Spanish Prisoner", and especially "Lupe's Revenge".
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "Death Picks Cotton", which seems like the writers tried to cram a far too huge and important two-part storyline into a single episode. As a result, Deedee and GH are absent, Bobby is exiled to a subplot and doesn't even get to say goodbye to Cotton.
  • Uncanny Valley: Many of the characters look a bit TOO realistic. Moreso in the earlier seasons than later ones.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: It can be pretty hard to feel sorry for Bill considering how creepy he gets with his public fantasizing, and how he's implied to be stalking Peggy on more than one occasion. Especially when he was put in charge of a flood shelter, where most of what he does it abuse his power and actually keeps everyone in after the flood ends until Hank convinces him otherwise. But he made the people feel happy, so that's apparantly the important part and the residents looking up to him is treated as a good thing. The way that the show never really allows him to develop or grow out of this and only makes it last an episode if he does show signs of character development doesn't help, since as a result he'll show a sympathetic side and work his way into something one episode then suddenly go back to being a creep the next.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit:
    • The MySpace-centric episode in 2008. Justified (sort of) in that most places in the South and Midwest United States (like Arlen, Texas) don't really embrace modern trends until after they've been established as commonplace or after they've run their course and aren't popular anymore. Even when Hank does hear about it, it's clear he's the last.
    Buck Strickland: What the hell is MySpace?
    Hank: I think it's a cult.
    • "Get Your Freak Off," which features an 'NSYNC-esque boyband as an important part of its plot, aired in 2003 - over a year after most '90s boybands had broken up, bubblegum pop was on its way out (then newly considered childish or effeminate by many members of its target audience) and Darker and Edgier pop-rock acts like Simple Plan, Blink-182 and Good Charlotte were taking over their spot in the mainstream music scene.
    • An odd example occurred in the beginning of "Uncool Customer" where Peggy is found to be unaware that shopping can be done on the Internet and that cassettes have been rendered obsolete about a decade before. In this case, it was the point of the episode to show out out-of-touch and untrendy Peggy was.
  • The Woobie:
    • Although he's usually the designated Butt Monkey, there have been a few times where Bill's misery wasn't portrayed as all that funny. The best/worst example being "Pretty, Pretty Dresses," where he starts dressing up as his ex Lenore because his loneliness during the Christmas season drove him suicidally insane.
    • Luanne came from a dysfunctional family, failed several times at doing what she loved (cosmetology), her on-again-off-again boyfriend died in a freak accident, her father is in jail for life as a three-strike felon, and to top it all off she isn't very smart.
    • Kevin, a one-episode character from "Luanne Gets Lucky." He spends most of his screentime getting scared by Peggy/Luanne or threatened by Elvin and Mudobber (Lucky's friends). This reaches its peak when he comes close to being beaten by the latter two (and he's only fifteen) if not for Lucky coming in just in time.
    • Jerkass Woobie: Hank, at times. Even Peggy, considering how her mom treated her and the times she doesn't feel feminine because she has size 16 1/2 feet and doesn't dress like a lady.

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