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YMMV / King of the Hill

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  • Acceptable Targets:
    • Intellectuals, or rather, people who think they are intellectuals. Usually appearing without 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 professornote  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. And it's averted by Hank's proctologist (who, while irritating to Hank and far too quick to prescribe a colectomy, is friendly and professional), Anthony Page's superior at CPS (who exasperatedly asks why Page didn't bother to so much as ask Bobby's coach what happened before wasting federal money on an extraneous investigation motivated by personal spite, and then has him removed), the psychologist from the anger management episode, 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 respectanyful 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 "That's What She Said!", 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.
    • Canadians, surprisingly enough. The episode "Uh Oh, Canada" depicts the Canadian neighbors as the most negative stereotype possible, 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!
  • Adorkable: Hank's excitement over mundane things and general sheepishness gives him a certain awkward charm.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation
    • Hank: Is he really the Only Sane Man, or is he Not So Above It All? It seems that he's mentally stuck in the 1950s, when things seemed simpler, women were at home, children obeyed their parents, and everyone was ostensibly more patriotic and full of morals. Is it just a mental barrier to keep himself grounded and good, unlike his immoral "friends" and co-workers and his own family? Or could it be a coping mechanism for having to put up with his insane father and egomaniac wife and he doesn't like things that challenge his love for simplicity and straightforwardness?
      • A different variation proposes that Hank isn't stuck in the 1950's as much as he has a 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 Hank, in essence, built a mental fortress around himself, and is afraid of anything "new" or "modern" penetrating this mental fortress out of a subconscious fear of Cotton's retribution.
      • Another interpretation that's gained popularity in recent years is that Hank has high-functioning autism or Asperger's. It's fully possible, given the show’s timeframe, as well as Hank's age, that he could be on the spectrum without anyone knowing.
    • Did Cotton really kill fifty men in WWII? Is he exaggerating? Did he even kill anyone? Or is his constant reminding everyone that he killed "fitty men" just a way to cope with his massive PTSD and the fact that he got his shins blown off?
      • Also, is Cotton really just a Jerkass father who's disappointed in his son and only cares about his past glories, or is he a Shell-Shocked Veteran broken from seeing all his friends getting killed horribly, being forced to kill fifty men just as innocent as himself, getting permanently crippled, developing a true romantic relationship with a Japanese nurse before being forced to leave 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?
    • Dale with regards to John and Nancy's affair and Joseph's true parentage: is he really truly oblivious to it all, or has he known about it all along and just didn't say anything about it? And if it is the latter, is it because he's ambivalent to it all (for lack of options, money, Joseph's upbringing, or some other reason), actively screwing with everyone, intentionally playing dumb because he loves his family too much to risk losing them by confronting Nancy, or has he (as this mini-fanfic postulates) been secretly long getting his revenge on John by being such a loving and devoted dad to Joseph, ensuring Joseph will see Dale as his dad and thus deprive John the chance to ever be close to the son he sired? Mike Judge himself hypothesized that Dale probably knows what the truth is deep, deep, deep down and all of the other conspiracy theories he's obsessed with are just a way of keeping himself in denial.
  • Americans Hate Tingle: Downplayed. In Japan, compared to shows about America like The Simpsons, King of the Hill didn't quite catch on and only had the first season dubbed. There is apparently a minority who liked the show enough that they found later episodes through other means.
  • 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 worker's comp, possibly 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" (which, while not as terrible as the other latter-day episodes of The Simpsons, still feels like a screw to the people who like King of the Hill over The Simpsons).
  • Awesome Music:
    • The show's iconic theme song "Yahoos & Triangles" by The Refreshments.
    • There's quite an array of great songs used throughout the series, both diegetic and non-diegetic, across several different genres.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Really, just about all the characters in the show are either this or straight up Scrappies. Bobby, Luanne, Connie, and Boomhauer seem to be the only characters that are almost universally liked/tolerated by the fans. Stand-outs include:
    • Hank himself. There's no denying he's a stick in the mud, but whether that's funny or annoying is up for debate. His fans like him for his strong morals, work ethic and sympathetic moments while his detractors can't stand how painfully old-fashioned and stubborn he can be and consider him to be a Designated Hero.
    • Cotton. On one side, there are the fans who love how hilariously over-the-top he is in his lack of manners; on the other side, there are the fans who hate how much of an abusive and misogynistic Jerkass he is.
    • 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.
    • Bill is either a lovable loser who's occasionally capable of greatness, or a pathetic sad-sack who can't let go of his past failings.
    • Peggy. There is no denying she's the textbook definition for Small Name, Big Ego, but whether that's funny and makes her sympathetic (considering it's a clear cover-up for her massive insecurities) or just makes her plain annoying and insufferable is still a hotly debated topic with 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.
  • Cant Unhear 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 (or another voice actress who can do pubescent boy voices better than Adlon can) as they had done with Brittany Murphy when Joseph underwent puberty.
  • Catharsis Factor: In the episode where Bobby works down at the racetrack for an abusive and dimwitted boss, Hank spends a majority the plot unaware of what a selfish idiot Bobby is working for, assuming Bobby's complaints are just a result of his standard laziness. When he finally sees the man force Bobby to cross the racetrack while race cars are speeding by, he chases him down and literally kicks his ass for several minutes straight.
  • Critical Research Failure:
    • The episode that depicts Bobby taking a women's defense class and going a little too overboard with the Groin Attack. He tries it on Peggy, but she completely No Sells it and claims it doesn't work since "ladies don't have groins". However, as approximately half the world can tell you, getting kicked between the legs hurts like hell regardless of whether there are any testicles in the region. Given that this isn't the first time Peggy has made that exact claim, though, it may just be her obliviousness and refusal to admit she's wrong going to new heights.
    • On the episode "Bystand Me"note , Hank freaks out when he finds out that Peggy's latest household hint is to mix ammonia with bleach and tells her that's the ingredients to mustard gas (and he knows this because his deranged World War II vet father, Cotton, would always make it on VJ-Day). Ammonia and bleach mixed together doesn't make mustard gas, but it does make chloramide, which is still lethal.
    • But perhaps most egregious of all is that John Redcorn identifies as an Anasazi. The Anasazi tribe not only died off before white people came to North America, they also never lived in Texas. Could potentially be chalked up to John's character, since he's routinely shown to live a lifestyle nothing like traditional Native American life, but still worth noting.
  • Designated Evil: Anything that falls outside of Hank's narrow worldview or otherwise offends his sensibilities is always regarded as being in the wrong. A good example of this is any episode where Bobby does something that Hank disapproves ofnote , with the possible exception of the final episode where Bobby proves that he's a genius with analyzing flaws in beef cuts.
  • 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, 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 (usually involving multiple people ganging up on one or someone throwing an unexpected punch to open the fight) 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 Game Boy 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 for Kahn getting fired 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!
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Dale Gribble gets this due to him being his jerky, paranoid behavior towards Hank.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Kahn and Minh both fall here. While they just barely avoid being walking Asian stereotypes, they are both obnoxious jerkasses 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.
  • Fan Disservice: Dale in a skimpy Hooters-esque uniform in "Cops and Robert".
  • Fandom Rivalry:
  • 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" (which it actually is, whether or not you want to acknowledge the four leftover episodes, as it was the final episode written and produced and it ends the way it began: with Hank and Bobby being father and son, despite their differences)note .
  • Fountain of Memes: Hank Hill, as evidenced by the Memetic Mutation section below.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • There is a not-so-untrue Urban Legend about an episode and a Columbine survivor who was hiding during the shooting and wrote a love note she intended to give to a friend after realizing how close she was to dying, but the friend turned out to be one of the perpetrators. "Wings of the Dope," the episode with Buckley's angel, aired two weeks later and watching it helped the girl realize she didn't need permission or approval from anyone to mourn her loss (or the loss of what could have been had she spoken up sooner). In the episode, when Hank is tired of everyone talking about the angel and tries to get Luanne away from him, he says:
      "I'm sure with his help you'll do just fine. You'll pass the test and he'll have finished his good deed and there'll be no need for him to come back to Earth again. And if you do see Buckley's angel again, it will actually be an evil angel of death."
  • 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." While it may sound like an intentional misquoting just to get Junie out of the house (or a flimsy excuse to make "Exodus" into a pun on "exit"), that line is more-or-less in the Bible. 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 (season three's "Junkie Business"), 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 Molière 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 post-adolescent loser who's clearly never had sex.
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Carl Moss faking a heart attack to avoid casting the deciding vote in the Powderpuff episode. His voice actor Dennis Burkley died from a heart attack in 2013.
  • 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).
    • An early promo for the show has a sing-along that starts with the line "Hank Hill's a family guy." The very next year, another animated show would premiere on Fox that would become more closely associated with that term.
    • 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].note 
    • 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.
    • In "Chasing Bobby," Peggy keeps annoying Hank by reminding him that she saw him crying at a movie, which Hank either denies or tries to downplay. Mike Judge would later do a variation on this when he revived Beavis and Butt-Head with the episode "Crying", where Butt-Head thinks he sees Beavis crying (he just sniffed an onion) and teases him about it for the literal rest of their lives.
  • 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.
    • Cotton is a racist, sexist, loud, obnoxious man who is largely the reason Hank is so messed up, but considering he lost a lot of friends in World War 2, was permanently disfigured during said war, and genuinely fell in love with his nurse Michiko but was forced to go back to America due to the laws of the time. He then came back to a country that was angry at him, and he, like his old war buddies, became an bitter old shell of his former self and eventually he was the only one left.
    • Hank qualifies at times. He's a painfully old-fashioned hardass, but growing up with a loud, obnoxious, misogynistic and racist madman like Cotton has not done him any good over the years. His friends, boss and wife are crazy and while he tries to be a good parent to Bobby, he often finds himself unable to connect with his son at times. Heck, the only living thing he can easily show love to is his dog Ladybird; showing love to other people (including his family) on the other hand is extremely hard for him.
      • If you also believe he's on the autism spectrum, then Hank wouldn't have been able to get any of the help he needed (and he most likely would never have even gotten a diagnosis even after the series' end).
    • Even Peggy counts. She's highly egotistical and frequently insensitive, but considering how her mom treated her, it's a wonder she hasn't ended up worse. She is also shown to be riddled with insecurities (which her ego is a clear coping mechanism for), feels out of touch when it comes to trends and wishes her husband was a bit more romantic.
    • Kahn is often this in the episodes that focus on him. He suffers from 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.
    • Rick from "That's What She Said" is a lurid jackass, but his main motivation was that he was afraid he wouldn't fit in at Strickland and thought his dirty jokes were helping the others to like him more. He probably wouldn't have gone as far as he did had the others (sans Hank) hadn't egged him on. Of course, he quickly loses any sympathetic qualities once he starts crossing the line into inappropriate touching and refusing to stop even when he's clearly making everyone else uncomfortable, and by the end of the episode, his firing is more than justified.
  • Memetic Molester: Bill's gay cousin Gilbert admits to being a "creeper" and certainly lives up to it (seen more on the episode "Blood and Sauce" rather than "A Beer Can Named Desire").
  • Memetic Mutation:
  • Memetic Psychopath: Hank's angry outbursts are easily taken out of context and there exists many memes and YouTube edits — and even a montage from the show in "The Texas Skillsaw Massacre" — 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. Plus, the conservative characters have flaws of their own and several episodes have surprisingly progressive messages (such as "Leanne's Saga" and "That's What She Said" portraying domestic/sexual abuse of men as a serious issue.)
  • 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. This might have been a misguided attempt to promote it based off the popularity of Beavis and Butt-head with young people, though some evidence suggests that the first season of King of the Hill was in fact extremely popular with kids...which doesn't make the cross promotion any less bizarre. 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  It is however worth pointing out that as far as adult animation goes, King of the Hill is actually quite tame - even for its time.
  • 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 because he thought his own wife was the real culprit (she wasn't) and wanted to deflect attention.
    • 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??
    • Principal Moss crosses it when, after years of cutting corners and doing the bare minimum, he learns that his school's test scores are in the toilet and he could potentially get fired if he doesn't do anything about them. His solution is blatant Loophole Abuse. He takes the lowest-scoring kids in the school and has them declared "Special-Needs Students" so that they won't have to take any standardized tests, thus bringing the school's average up so that he can keep his job. He ends up getting suspended once the school board catches on.
  • 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".
    • In a deleted scene from "Meet the Manger Babies", some kids are shown eating big gobs of cut hair.
  • 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.
  • 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 that not all long-running TV shows Jump the Shark by reason of staying on for longer than necessary note ). However, Fox caught onto this and did something about it.
  • 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 (which includes being exposed to media that can be and sometimes is sexually-charged and filled with subject matter most people like Hank would find inappropriate), 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 ("How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying") from falling into Values Dissonance territory are two things — first off that Bobby is instructed to attend safety courses for how to handle a gun, as well as the fact that Hank is (rightfully) mortified at Bobby suggesting he take a rifle to school (something that, these days, would get Bobby in major trouble). "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.
    • "Petriot Act" has "Don't let blind patriotism rule your decisions. If you wanted to do something big like care for a soldier's pet, do it after you have your huge vacation that your family has been dreaming of for awhile." Hank learned that the hard way.
    • "Husky Bobby": Not everyone appreciates fat people, kids can be cruel, and parents really do know what's best for their kids, even if what they do feels unfair or "not right." (In fact, the other two Aesops can apply to a lot of episodes where Bobby does something that embarrasses Hank and Hank has to bail him out)
    • The episode about carbon offsets ("Earthy Girls are Easy" from season 13) drops the anvil that fad environmentalism should not discredit the fact that many earth-friendly measures are down-to-earth, practical wisdom that are still good advice for those who take making the planet a better place seriously.
    • "Transnational Amusement Presents: Peggy's Magic Sex Feet": After Peggy's told she has big, ugly feet and that she's been used to make pornographic content for the Internet, Bobby cheers her up by giving a speech about how one imperfection shouldn't define a person:
      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?
    • "The Peggy Horror Picture Show" has a similar message, with Peggy's drag queen friend assuring her that being a woman is about more than just being a pretty, thin supermodel, and that so-called masculine traits like self-confidence and courage are far more important than looks or adhering to any traditional norms of femininity.
      • The episode even teaches that femininity, just like masculinity and beauty, is relative. Peggy came from a meeting with her friends feeling unfeminine because she has large feet, can open jars easily, and wears very practical clothing with Hank comforting her that she is feminine because she is a wife and a mother, while the drag queens consider Peggy a model of femininity because, like their favorite celebrity icons, she's brash, takes fashion risks, and is very confident.
  • So Okay, It's Average: The general consensus of the show at worst (at least when it premiered). It's not as wild, gross, and outrageous as The Simpsons, Family Guy, or even Judge's own Beavis and Butthead and a lot of people do dismiss it as being boring (even Mike Reiss of The Simpsons stated that he'd only write for the show if he wanted to be unfunny). However, for people who don't care much for the constant subversive humor of those three shows or want something a bit more subtle, then King of the Hill is their show.
    • A majority of the later episodes also feel like this: not entirely terrible, but not memorable or funny enough to stay with you.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • The episode "The Exterminator" (the episode where Dale takes an office job after a doctor tells him that the poisons he's been exposed to as a pest control worker will kill him before he's 50) almost feels like an animated sequel to Office Space, another Mike Judge creation.
    • KOTH has its own spiritual successor (and, no, it's not The Goode Family): Bless the Harts, which is also set in the South (North Carolina rather than Texas). The producers of Bless the Harts stated they got permission from the producers of KOTH to use certain elements from KOTH to create a Shared Universe, such as Mega-Lo Mart.
  • 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"note , and especially "Peggy Goes to Pots"note .
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: "Of Mice and Little Green Men" starts with Hank and Dale finding out they have more in common with each others' son. However, this is discarded by Dale coming to believe that Joseph was fathered by an alien.
  • 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.
    • Hank as well. He's supposed to be the Only Sane Man, but his painfully old fashioned attitude and resistance to "new" things can make him come off as close-minded and stubborn.
  • Values Resonance: In "That's What She Said", Hank's new coworker Rich 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. This becomes more relevant 13 years after the episode's airing, when the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements challenged how toxic work behavior, especially when it involves sexual harassment, misconduct, and intimidation, is treated.
  • We're Still Relevant, Dammit!:
    • The MySpace-centric episode in 2008. Justified (sort of) in that most small towns in the South and Midwest United States (like Arlen, Texas) are behind the times and don't really embrace modern trends until after they've been established as commonplace elsewhere or after they've run their course and aren't popular anymore. This is due to the fact that the script was originally written in 2004 when MySpace was at its peak popularity but the episode was not made until 2008. Several episodes in Season 12 and Season 13 were produced using unused scripts written during earlier seasons since those two seasons were a case of last-minute Post-Script Season and were on a reduced budget
      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.
  • What an Idiot!:
    • Peggy builds an Iwo Jima Pose-themed float for the Memorial Day parade, but decides it needs genuine medals, and only genuine medals will do, not costume replicas.
      You'd Expect: She realize the men who raised the flag weren't wearing medals, being in an active combat zone, and that her float is fine as is and such a detail is unnecessary and would be unnoticeable.
      Instead: She demands Cotton give her his medals, and when he — quite reasonably — refuses (half-jokingly offering to rent them at $400/day), she acts indignant and changes the float to skeletons labeled it "the futility of war."
  • 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 Muddaubber (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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