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  • 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.
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    • 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 having 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's healed a bit, Hank inadvertently makes himself look guilty of insurance fraud by resuming the activities he used to do before his injury and is reported 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.
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    • From the same episode people who work in insurance, the claims investigator and the company doctor are depicted as jerkasses who are firmly convinced Hank's just faking to get a quick buck, the investigator is shown to be especially incompetent, only managing to get incriminating pictures of Hank after he's healed and even confronts about being a faker just as he's trying to go back to work.
    • 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 and far too quick to prescribe a colectomy, is friendly and professional) and the sports psychologist from the rifle episode, who, while wacky and dismissive when Hank actually opens up about his father, does genuinely help Hank out.
      • The doctor who talked to Hank after Peggy broke her back also averts this by being quite professional without being rude as he explains about the possibility of Peggy going through a "second crash" emotionally. Compared to many doctors on the show, he was respectful and polite as well as genuinely concerned about Peggy's mental state which he wound up being correct about.
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    • Anyone who owns a pet that isn't a dog is considered a freak no matter (or weirdly enough often because of) 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.
    • Canada, surprisingly enough. The one prominent appearance by Canadian characters depicts them as the most negative possible stereotype, being passive-aggressive, faux-polite jerkasses who constantly drop belittling Stealth Insults at Hank and his family that they simply assume he's too dumb to catch.
  • Accidental Innuendo: In "Three Days of the Kahndo" 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 realized Dale is a good husband and can give a massage that's just as good as John Redcorn's.
      • Or, did Dale know about it all along and was ambivalent (for lack of options, money, Joseph's upbringing, et cetera) and/or actively screwing with everyone? Take for instance Dale catching John Redcorn sneaking into Nancy's bedroom: Dale says "quit screwing around with my mower [and] get inside and start massaging my wife!" Or the time he "mistook" John Redcorn for a burglar and hit with a lamp, then apologized to John Redcorn.
      • Or is he intentionally playing dumb because he loves his family too much to risk losing them by confronting Nancy?
    • 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 than 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 subconscious 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.
    • 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 accidentally defected to China and the glory of a war which destroyed all he held dear?
  • Ass Pull:
    • In "Reborn To Be Wild" Hank claims he didn't want Bobby to be with a church group because he didn't want Christianity to be a fad to Bobby when up to then it was clear he didn't want Bobby to be with the group because the teens apart of the group liked to skate and listen to rock music, and since this was revealed at the end of the episode with absolutely no foreshadowing it comes off like a lazy attempt to make Hank look like the good guy and justify his behavior.
    • Boomhauer's profession is revealed in the final episode. He is apparently a Texas Ranger. This is clearly something that the crew pulled out of their ass at the last minute to make Boomhauer look badass, as there is absolutely no evidence in the series that suggests Boomhauer has any ties to law enforcement and several plots could have been avoided (or at least shortened significantly) had he stepped in and used his position.
      • to add to this an early episode had him mumble something about being on workers comp. Explaining why he was often home in his hot tub, or out and about during the day.
  • Award Snub: "Chasing Bobby" was up for an Emmy in 2001, and is one of the best episodes of the series. It lost to The Simpsons episode "HOMR" .
  • Awesome Music:
    • "Yahoos & Triangles" by The Refreshments, otherwise known as the show's theme tune.
    • There's quite an array of great songs used throughout the series, both diegetic and non-diegetic, across several different genres.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Peggy. Many fans find her hilarious while 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. 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 and rose-growing. All in all, Hank ends up becoming Unintentionally Unsympathetic to some, and there are 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.
    • Cotton. He's either hilariously over-the-top in his lack of manners or just an abusive, misogynistic Jerkass who never gets any real comeuppance.
    • Lucky. Tom Petty aside, many fans didn't like that he derailed Luanne's story arc of getting away from her poor upbringing.
    • Stuart Dooley. His deep, deadpan voice and one liners are considered hilarious by many. Others think he's just a douche.
    • Dale Gribble. Most people agree that Dale is the funniest character on the show. However, there's a non-inconsequential percentage who find him to be an annoying, dangerous idiot and a Poisonous Friend. And there are some who believe that these statements aren't mutually exclusive.
    • Really, just about all the characters in the show are either Base-Breaking Characters or scrappies. Bobby, Luanne, Connie, and Boomhauer seem to be the only characters that are almost universally liked/tolerated by King of the Hill fans.
  • 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.
  • Cargo Ship: Hank/Propane is pretty much a canon example. Then there's his truck, his guitar and his lawnmower.
  • 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. Not only that, Fair Park, where the State Fair takes place, is smack dab in the middle of Dallas.
    • 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. Though, this may be a Justified Trope as the writers probably didn't want to accidentally teach potential terrorists and overly impressionable kids how to make 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. That said, this plotline is probably inspired by the Speaking Rock Entertainment Center, operated in El Paso by the Tigua Pueblo, who have engaged in a decades-long legal battle with the Texas state government over precisely this issue.
    • 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.
    • The episode that depicts Bobby taking women defense class and going a little too overboard with the Groin Attack. He tries it on Peggy, but she claims it doesn't work since she ladies don't have groins. However, any women will tell you that just because they have vaginas doesn't mean it still doesn't hurt when hit there as that area is still a sensitive part of the body.
    • "Junkie Business" gets several things wrong on the ADA. First, the law says you have to provide reasonable accommodations, not tolerate every absurdity. Also, you have to get a doctor's note declaring you need aaid accommodations.
    • "Lady and Gentrification" heavily demonizes the latter phenomenon by depicting "gentrification" as harmful for long time residents of neighborhoods due to rising rents pushing them out of their neighborhoods. Objective economic research by professionals from institutions such as Columbia University and the Federal Reserve of Cleveland shows that gentrification actually helps poor residents, due to new parks, safer streets, better schools, and better job opportunities. In reality, the narrative that gentrification hurts the poor is largely pushed by first wave middle class gentrifiers trying to avoid being pushed out by the second wave who are richer and more productive than them. The financial health of original residents in gentrifying neighborhoods increases, as compared to original residents in non-gentrifying, low-priced neighborhoods, and they largely stay where they are.
  • Can't Un-Hear It: A meta-example. The main reason why Bobby never hit puberty in the 13 years that King of the Hill aired is because the crew had grown too attached to Pamela Adlon and didn't want to have to replace her with a male actor as they had done with Brittany Murphy when Joseph underwent puberty.
  • 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.
    • The ending of "Pigmalion", although it's difficult to tell if this was intentional. The fact that the antagonist's Brutal Death was self inflicted for countless reasons that should have been obvious to him, or that he was completely unsympathetic probably helps.
  • 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. One example is "What Makes Bobby Run" where Bobby became the school mascot of Tom Landry Middle school. At first, he was ecstatic and happy, until he discovers that there's the school's tradition to have the mascot beaten by the rival school every time Bobby's school wins. Bobby, understandably runs away and was labelled as a Dirty Coward by the entire school. To rub salt on his wound, Hank scolds Bobby for "ruining tradition" instead of comforting him. At this point, nearly no one in the show is sympathetic anymore.
  • 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 white 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 a condescending, self-righteous jerkass and yet viewers are still supposed to agree with him.
    • A good example of this is in the (in)famous episode "Bobby Goes Nuts". Hank is disappointed in Bobby once he learns that Bobby has been using Groin Attacks to stand up for himself and his message throughout the episode is "Groin attacks aren't fair. Always fight fair no matter what." First of all, the majority of real life fights (outside of contact sport) are anything but fair and most forms of self-defense encourage dirty fighting since it is a quicker, safer and more effective way to stop a dangerous attacker while attaining minimal damage. Hank tries to teach him to box, but the punches cause Bobby to snap and kick Hank in the nuts, causing severe injury to his groin. Hank understandably grounds Bobby for the kick. However, when Bobby starts to defy Hank and play video games anyway (as a result of Kahn telling Bobby that Hank is powerless to punish him), Peggy steps in and successfully wrestles the Gameboy away from Bobby (since his groin kick was somehow ineffective on Peggy). Instead of Hank being angry with Peggy for what was dangerously close to child abuse, he's perfectly okay with it because it showed Bobby the importance of a fair fight.
  • Designated Villain: Hank in the episode where Kahn gets fired for showing Hank his company's secret project. We're supposed to view Hank as responsible because he told Dale, Bill and Boomhauer, but Kahn signed a non-disclosure agreement and then showed an outsider, under false pretenses (claiming they needed propane when the building doesn't use any), just to show up his neighbor with the expectation Hank would tell people. Kahn was sworn to secrecy and was rightfully fired for breaking it.
  • 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.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse: Several one shot characters such as Big Jim (from "The Texas Skillsaw Massacre"), Tammi Duvall and her pimp Alabaster Jones (both from "Ho Yeah!"), Bill's cousin Gilbert (from "A Beer Can Named Desire" and "Blood and Sauce") and Ward Rackley (from "The Witches of East Arlen") have pretty decent fanbases.
  • 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.
    • A number of episodes also end on the Aesop "conformity is good." Especially episodes where Hank encourages Bobby to give up some unorthodox new calling or interest on the grounds that Bobby will get bullied or ostracized for it, Hank is worried how Bobby's new hobby will make him look to the neighbors, or Hank steers him toward a socially acceptable alternative hobby (like grilling instead of baking).
  • 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.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The four Post-Script Season episodes ("The Honeymooners", "Bill Gathers Moss", "When Joseph Met Lori, and Made Out with Her in the Janitor's Closet" and "Just Another Manic-Kahn Day") aren't well-loved by the fandom. And tend to be ignored in favor of what many consider the true finale, "To Sirloin With Love".
  • 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. Related: A season 2 episode features Bobby asking if he could bring a gun to school. This episode aired in 1997 - fortunately Hank's response is exactly what anyone's would be today in telling him that's dangerous.
    • In "Glen Peggy, Glen Ross," Peggy becomes a realtor, and brags about how real estate "drives the whole U.S. economy." This episode aired in 2007, so it was probably a joke about real estate taking a dip that year, but it becomes slightly more uncomfortable thanks to the housing market crash about a year later, which contributed to one of the worst economic crises in U.S. history.
    • In "Hillennium", first aired in December 1999, Hank spends the episode terrified about the Millennium Bug until he gets a vision where Tom Landry, as a whack-a-mole mole, assures him that the new millennium is nothing to fear. Just two months later, in February 2000, Landry passed away, making the scene bittersweet.
    • In "That's What She Said", Hank's new coworker Rich (Ben Stiller) makes annoyingly crass and inappropriate remarks and plays practical jokes at work and Hank's coworkers jump on the bandwagon, Hank finally puts a stop to it by informing his boss about Rich's jokes going too far and threatening to quit his job if things don't change. In 2017, thanks to the #TimesUp and #MeToo movements, there's ongoing talk about toxic workplace behavior, especially with regards to sexual harassment.
    • Same with the episode "Jon Vitti Presents: Return to La Grunta", where Hank is given a gift certificate for a dolphin ride by Luanne in appreciation for getting a job at the La Grunta resort, and during the dolphin ride Hank is [[Black Comedy Rape assaulted by the dolphin and is bribed for his silence while Luanne is also sexually harassed by golfers. Today, the episode would hit a nerve due to the episode's theme of sexual harassment and toxic masculinity.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • In "Hilloween", Junie Harper tries to smugly quote the Bible ("The complacency of fools shall destroy them. Proverbs."), Hank counters with "Get out of my house! Exodus." In Exodus 10:28, the Pharaoh says this to Moses as he banishes him from his home and demands to never see his face again.
    • 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 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.
    • In the episode where Bobby joins a "Wiccan" club, they say that their group name is the Coven of Artemis. A suitably occult-sounding name, but there's more to it: in addition to being the Greek goddess of the Moon, forests, and hunting, Artemis was also the goddess of chastity. Every member of the Coven is a stereotypical basement-dwelling loser who's clearly never had sex.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In the Season 1 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 4, Hank tells Bill to "Suit Up".
    • "Naked Ambition": Dale's latest wacky theory is that peanut allergies are caused by peanuts "emitting toxins as an evolutionary defense mechanism" to prevent themselves from being eaten. Eight years later, The Happening would use a similar concept of plants becoming deadly to humans.
    • 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.
    • "Hank's on Board" frames the predicament of Hank and his buddies jumping off their boat without lowering the ladder as a silly example of just how dumb Hank's friends can get. Almost exactly one year later, the film Adrift would take the exact same Idiot Plot and play it with a completely straight face.
  • 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.
    • Hank, at times. Growing up with a loud, obnoxious, misogynistic and racist madman like Cotton has not done him much good over the years.
    • 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.
    • Kahn is often this in the episodes that focus on him. He suffers from bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), has a Jerkass father-in-law who views him as less than nothing and is ostracized by his fellow Laotians for "becoming too white". Is there any wonder why he is so high-strung and anti-social? Despite all the hostility between the two, Kahn has admitted on more than one occasion that he considers Hank his best friend.
  • Memetic Molester: Bill's gay cousin Gilbert admits to being a "creeper" and certainly lives up to it.
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Memetic Psychopath: Hank's angry outbursts are easily taken out of context and there exists many memes and YouTube edits that make him look like a raging, physically abusive lunatic.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Despite Liberals being Acceptable Political Targets, this show is surprisingly popular with left-leaning people. It helps that unlike its sister show, it's nowhere near as vicious and unsubtle.
  • Misaimed Fandom: In a sense, the show owes its existence to this; originally, the show was actually about poking fun of rural Southerners like Hank and his friends. Except those people actually loved the show, helped by the lack of perceived "malice" in what the show did. So, it retooled itself to cater more to that fan-base.
  • 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 
  • Moral Event Horizon: Cotton crosses it in "The Father, the Son and J.C." when he attacks Jimmy Carter, a former U.S. President, and threatens to shoot him in the head with a nail gun.
    • If Cotton didn't cross it then, he most certainly did with his horrific treatment of Bobby at the boot camp he was attending in an effort to "toughen him up" and break his spirit. It includes making him rake leaves with a fork, forcing him to eat rotten backwash, and placing him on top of a large ice cube ("Anything cracks if you freeze it long enough!"). When all that fails, Cotton locks him up in an isolated cell for 3 days, with no food or water. That was straight-up cruel and heartless, well-intentioned or not.
    • Luanne's mother, Leanne, crosses it when she attempts to stab her daughter's boyfriend to death with a fork. Then she feigns apology to Peggy and attacks her when her guard is down.
    • Buck Strickland, when he frames Hank for Debbie's murder... for no apparent reason.
    • Luanne's father, Hoyt Platter, for persuading Lucky to take the fall for him after he steals money from a restaurant's cash registernote . He's also willing to sell out Luanne's whole family - including Luanne herself - if it means he won't go back to jail. Seriously, what is wrong with Luanne's parents??
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Bobby drops an apple Brown Betty right next to a pile of fresh horse crap, then scoops it back into the pan and serves it to Kix Brooks, who ends up contracting severe food poisoning.
    • In "Grand Theft Arlen", Peggy reveals she dropped a pancake on the floor and instead of throwing it out, she put it on a plate and randomly distributed it among her, Hank and Bobby in what she calls "Pancake Roulette".
    • The monkey biting the head off a rat in "Hank's Cowboy Movie".
  • Never Live It Down: Hank's hatred for charcoal has only been mentioned a handful of times, but thanks to Memetic Mutation, you'd swear that charcoal's mere existence was Hank's Berserk Button.
  • 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, despite being voiced by Tom Petty, gets a lot of hate due to being a contributing factor to the show's Negative Continuity and very little else. The reasons being that his relationship with Luanne (combined with Luanne's Flanderization) turned 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 tolerates despite being established as treating hard work and effort seriously, and his greater importance in the show's last legs despite contributing very little to the plot and not being particularly funny.
    • 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 Connie and Minh's gradual developing friendship with the women and even Dale), 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 Minh 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.
  • Seasonal Rot: Much like The Simpsons, it's not known exactly when the show went downhill (if it went downhill at all), but Season 9 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"). Season 10, which consisted mostly of holdovers from Season 9's production cycle, was criticized for similar reasons, although the series is said to have recovered somewhat afterwards. However, unlike the Seasonal Rot of The Simpsons and Family Guy, this show was still a somewhat enjoyable experience to watch in its later years, proving itself that in the vast majority of why Long-Runners aren't always a good thing due to being a waste of time late in its run, this show holds up the test of time pretty well. However, FOX caught onto this and did something about it.
  • 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.
    • "Get Your Freak Off" drops two of them; one on Hank, who has to accept that kids can't stay sheltered forever and will have to mature and become adults at some point, and against Bobby and the other kids, who come to understand that they're still just kids, and shouldn't feel pressured into making grown-up decisions when they're not ready to handle the responsibilities that come with them.
    • What keeps the episode about Bobby learning to shoot a rifle from falling into Values Dissonance territory are two things — first off that Bobby is instructed to attend safety courses, as well as the fact that Hank is (rightfully) mortified at Bobby suggesting he take a rifle to school. "Guns are not toys and must always be handled safely and responsibly" is a very important message that both sides of the debate wholeheartedly agree on.
    • "Transnational Amusement Presents: Peggy's Magic Sex Feet": After Peggy's told she has ugly feet, Bobby cheers her up by giving a speech about how one imperfection shouldn't define who we are:
    Bobby: Mom, I'm fat. But big deal. I don't feel bad about it. And just because there are some people in the world who want me to feel bad about it, doesn't mean I have to. So Bobby Hill's fat. Heh, he's also funny, he's nice, he's got a lot of friends, a girlfriend, and if you don't mind, I think I'll go outside right now and squirt her with water. What are you gonna do?
  • So Okay, It's Average: The later seasons after the Seasonal Rot had set in tend to be like this. Not epically bad, but just kind of bland and mediocre to be this trope.
  • Spiritual Successor: The episode "The Exterminator" almost feels like a sequel to Office Space, another Mike Judge creation.
  • 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 Character: Mrs. Donovan in "Old Glory". She's a rival substitute teacher, and a perfect foil for Peggy, but unfortunately she doesn't make an appearance after this episode.
  • 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 lack of any internal filter and how he's shown 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 apparently 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.
    • Peggy. While her default characteristics wouldn't qualify her, the problem is that the writers had a nasty habit of making her play with the Conflict Ball and Idiot Ball, to the serious detriment of her family and especially Hank. She had some episodes that could arguably redeem her, but they were too uncommon to have that effect.
  • 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 how 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.
    • It's hard not to feel a little bad for Dale in "The Exterminator"; he went from doing something he loves (exterminating) to working in an office doing things he hates, where he's not allowed to wear his trademark sunglasses and cap. Plus, being the newbie, he has no set lunch schedule (one day, for example, he had his lunch moved to 4 PM because of a scheduling conflict).

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