King of the Hill is an American animated sitcom created by Mike Judge and Greg Daniels that ran from January 12, 1997 to May 6, 2010 on Fox. It centers on the Hills, a middle-class American family in the fictional city of Arlen, Texas. It attempts to maintain a realistic approach, seeking humor in the conventional and mundane aspects of everyday life.
The series debuted on the Fox network as a mid-season replacement in 1997, quickly becoming a hit. The series' popularity led to worldwide syndication, and reruns air nightly on Adult Swim. The show became one of Fox's longest-running series (third-longest as an animated series, behind The Simpsons and Family Guy), and briefly was the second longest running animated sitcom in history. In 2007, it was named by Time magazine as one of the top 100 greatest television shows of all time. King of the Hill won two Emmy Awards and was nominated for seven.
A total of 259 episodes aired over the course of its 13 seasons. The final episode aired on Fox on September 13, 2009. Four episodes from the final season were to have aired on Fox, but later premiered in nightly syndication from May 3 to 6, 2010.
King of the Hill is set in the fictional small town of Arlen, Texas. The show centers around the Hill family, whose head is the ever-responsible, hard-working, loyal, disciplined, and honest Hank Hill (voiced by Mike Judge). The pun title refers to Hank as the head of the family as well as metaphorically to the children's game King of the Hill. Hank is employed as an assistant manager at Strickland Propane, selling "propane and propane accessories". He is very traditional and moral, and he takes exceptionally good care of his dog, Ladybird, which he treats, more often than not, as a member of the family and as a human. Hank is married to Peggy Hill (née Platter) (voiced by Kathy Najimy), a native of Montana, who is a substitute Spanish teacher, although she has little grasp of the language; she has also found employment and avocation as a freelance author, Boggle champion, notary public, softball pitcher and real estate agent. Her overconfidence and trusting nature often leads her into getting involved in complex schemes that Peggy does not recognize as criminal or irresponsible until it is too late.
Hank and Peggy's only child, Bobby Hill (voiced by Pamela Adlon), is a husky pre-pubescent boy who is generally friendly and well-liked, but not very bright, and often prone to making bad decisions. Throughout the series, Peggy's niece, Luanne Platter (voiced by Brittany Murphy), the daughter of her scheming brother Hoyt (guest voiced by Johnny Knoxville in "Life: A Loser's Manual", the 12th season finale) and his alcoholic ex-wife Leanne (voiced by Adlon in "Leanne's Saga"), lives with the Hill family. Naïve and very emotional, Luanne was originally encouraged to move out by her Uncle Hank, but over time, he accepts her as a member of the family. Over the course of the series, Luanne works as a beauty technician and puppeteer at a local cable access TV station. Luanne later marries Elroy "Lucky" Kleinschmidt (voiced by Tom Petty), a snaggle-toothed layabout who lives on the settlements he earns from frivolous lawsuits.
Hank has a healthy relationship with his mother, Tillie (voiced by Tammy Wynette, later Beth Grant and K Callan), a kind woman who lives in Arizona. Hank is, at first, uncomfortable with his mother dating Gary (voiced by Carl Reiner), a Jewish man, but he is more reasonable when she marries Chuck (voiced by William Devane). In contrast, Hank has a love/hate relationship with his shin-less father, Col. Cotton Hill (voiced by Toby Huss), a hateful veteran of World War II who verbally abused Tillie during their marriage, leading to their divorce. Cotton, who spends most of his time at strip joints, later marries the much younger Didi (voiced by Ashley Gardner), a candy striper who attended kindergarten with Hank. Together, Cotton and Didi have a son, "G.H." ("Good Hank"), who bears a striking resemblance to Bobby.
Other main characters include Hank's friends and their families. Dale Gribble (voiced by Johnny Hardwick) is the Hills' chain-smoking and paranoid next-door neighbor and Hank's best friend. He owns his own pest control business, Dale's Dead Bug, and he is also a licensed bounty hunter and president of the Arlen Gun Club. Dale is married to Nancy Hicks-Gribble (voiced by Ashley Gardner), a weather girl—and later anchor woman—for the Channel 84 news. The only Gribble child, Joseph (voiced by Brittany Murphy; later Breckin Meyer) is the result of Nancy's 14-year-long affair with John Redcorn (voiced by Victor Aaron; later Jonathan Joss), a Native American healer, though Nancy breaks off her relationship with to be a more faithful wife to Dale. Dale never realizes that Redcorn is having an affair with his wife, nor does he ever question Joseph's obvious Native American features; rather, Dale considers Redcorn to be one of his best friends. Despite his biological parentage, Joseph is more influenced in temperament by Dale's personality. Joseph is Bobby's best friend, and the two often get into trouble as the result of their combined enthusiasm and naivety.
Living across from the Hills is Bill Dauterive (voiced by Stephen Root), an overweight, divorced, and clinically depressed man. Bill is unlucky in love, though he finds near-success with several women, including former Texas Governor Ann Richards. The series briefly depicts him entering into a long-term relationship with Kahn's mother, though later format changes would retcon this. Throughout the series, he often expresses an unrequited attraction to Peggy, which she occasionally uses to rope him into her schemes. Despite his popularity in high school, he is now seen as a loser. Bill is a Sergeant in the United States Army, where he gives haircuts to soldiers. Jeff Boomhauer (voiced by Mike Judge), known simply as "Boomhauer", also lives across from the Hills. Boomhauer is a slim womanizer whose mutterings are hard to understand to the audience, but easily understood by his friends and most other characters. Despite his gibberish speech, he can sing clearly; he can also speak fluent Spanish and French. His occupation is not explicitly stated; a single line early in the series indicates he is an electrician living on worker's comp. The series finale reveals that he is a Texas Ranger. His given name, "Jeff", was not revealed until the 13th and final season.
Early in the series, the Souphanousinphones, an upper-middle class Laotian family, move in next-door to the Hills. The family consists of the materialistic Kahn (voiced by Toby Huss), his social-climber wife Minh (voiced by Lauren Tom), and their teenage daughter, Kahn, Jr., or "Connie" (voiced by Lauren Tom). Kahn—who fled poverty in Laos to become a successful businessman in America—is often at odds with his neighbors, believing them to be hillbillies and rednecks due to their lower socioeconomic status. Minh often becomes involved in activities with Peggy and Nancy, whom she looks down on as uncivilized and ignorant, despite still considering them her best friends. Connie has been pushed by her father to become a child prodigy and excels at a variety of things from academics to music, though she rejects her father's materialism and judgmental nature. She develops a relationship with Bobby that blossoms into romance over the first half of the series before the two decide to remain friends. Connie often accompanies Bobby and Joseph on their misadventures as a neglected voice of reason.
Other minor characters include Buck Strickland (voiced by Stephen Root), Hank's licentious boss at Strickland Propane; Joe Jack (voiced by Toby Huss) and Enrique (Danny Trejo), Hank's co-workers at Strickland; Carl Moss (voiced by Dennis Burkley), Bobby's principal at Tom Landry Middle School; and Reverend Karen Stroup (voiced by Mary Tyler Moore, later Ashley Gardner), the female minister of Arlen First Methodist.
Following the show's slice of life format, which was consistently present throughout its run, the show presented itself as being more down to earth than other competing animated sitcoms, e.g. The Simpsons, due to the way the show applied realism and often derived its plots and humor from mundane topics. Critics also noted the great deal of humanity shown throughout the show.