King of the Hill has the distinction of being the second longest running animated sitcom in television history, coming in only behind The Simpsons. The series marked Mike Judge’s second big success in animation, following Beavis and Butt-Head. While Beavis and Butt-head took sophomoric humor to the extreme, KOH aimed more at poking fun of the straight-laced, Middle-American dream.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Fox’s current animation block is solid enough, but while The Simpsons has veered more into the more obvious joke format of Family Guy, KOH took a more subtle approach. The characters are based in people you might actually encounter in real life. Hang out in an Army surplus store long enough and you’re bound to cross paths with a Dale Gribble.
1. KOH creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels used an animated pencil sketch with Hank as part of their pitch to the network executives at FOX.
2. Boomhauer’s voice is based on an irate gibberish message that was left on Mike Judge’s answering machine by a caller angry about Beavis and Butt-Head.
3. The inspiration for Hank Hill came from the character Tom Anderson on Beavis and Butt-head. Including Hank’s catchphrase, “That boy ain’t right.” In the episode Beavis is “working” at Burger World and Tom comments, “That boy ain’t right in the head.”
4. Actor Stephen Root — who provides the voice of Bill Dautrieve — also worked with Mike Judge on Office Space. His character was based on a short animation that Mike had done for Saturday Night Live.
5. Bobby’s school, Tom Landry Middle School, named after Dallas Cowboys football coach Tom Landry actually does exist and is located in Irving Texas, although it’s an elementary school.
6. Although Stephen Root appeared on the series from the show’s inception, he was unaccredited for the first few seasons. The reason being because he was still on News Radio and his contract with NBC prevented him from being credited on another network’s show. It wasn’t until News Radio got the axe that Root finally got the recognition he deserved for Sgt. William Fontaine “Bill” de la Tour D’Haute Rive.
7. Hank’s dog Ladybird is named after first lady, Claudia “Lady Bird” Johnson. There also happens to be a reservoir named Lady Bird Lake where Mike Judge currently lives in Austin, Texas.
8. In addition to staffed talent like The Daily Show’s Wyatt Cenac and Louie regular Pamela Aldon, the series has had almost as many guest cameos as The Simpsons, with everyone from Snoop Dogg to Johnny Depp and Chris Rock lending their talents. My favorite guest cameo has to be Tom Petty, who came in to initially do a one-time part but became a regular because of the character’s popularity after “slipping in pee-pee.”
9. The Simpsons and King of the Hill universes crossed paths on several occasions, one where Bobby has a Bart Simpson doll on his bookshelf. The other features Hank, Bobby, Peggy, Luanne, Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer drawn into an episode of The Simpsons. Homer references Springfield’s football team playing Arlen and the shot then cuts to the Hill clan with Hank commenting “We came two thousand miles for this?” Another Simpsons/Hill blend features Homer popping a Duff, jump starting the KOH intro.
10. In the 1999 episode “Death and Taxes” death row inmate Wesley Martin Archer is named after the episode’s director Wesley Archer. Archer would later go on to work with KOH vets Mike Judge on The Goode Family and writer Jim Dauterive on Bob’s Burgers. This episode also features a prison guard named Alex de Large, who was the central character in A Clockwork Orange.
11. Hank’s bimbo niece, Luanne Platter, is named after a combo platter of an entree, roll, and side called “the Lu Ann Platter” at Luby’s, a Texas based chain of cafeterias. The Hills can frequently be seen dinning at the restaurant, only in the show it’s called Luly’s. To cash in on its animated notoriety, Luby’s had a model dressed as Luanne visit several of its locations in 2010.
12. Like many KOH characters, Mike Judge performed the voice of Monsignor Martinez, the gun toting Catholic priest of the fictional action drama that the Hills would occasionally watch. FOX had filmed a live-action pilot of the show but unfortunately it never saw the light of day.
13. One of my all-time favorite episodes is where Bobby develops gout from eating too much deli meat and has to use a Rascal. In the episode, Bobby can be seen ordering food at the deli which has headshots of comedians on the wall. One of those headshots is comedian Johnny Hardwick who provided the voice of Dale.
14. Bobby’s not so bright classmate, Stuart Dooley is based on Butt-head.
15. Dale’s full name is Dale Alvin Gribble. His last name is a tribute to Mike Gribble who gave Mike Judge a break when his company Spike and Mike produced the first two Beavis and Butt-head shorts and screened them at their Sick and Twisted Animation Festival in San Diego. If Dale looks slightly similar to someone that’s because his looks were based on actor Robert Patrick of Terminator 2 fame.
16. Of course the biggest secret in Arlen is that Joseph Gribble is actually the son of Nancy’s lover John Redcorn. His name though was inspired after a character in a 1938 Marx Brother’s movie called Room Service. Brittany Murphy provided Joseph’s voice until the episode where he hit puberty and his voice changed. After that actor Breckin Meyer took over the role. To this day Bobby still hasn’t hit puberty.
17. Bobby’s athleticism is a long-running note of comedy in the series and during his attempts at little league he wears a #3 jersey. This a tribute to husky baseball player Babe Ruth. Bobby even gets labeled with the nickname “Great Bobino” by his coach in the episode “Bad News Bill.”
18. Besides parodying Texas staples like Luby’s Cafeteria, KOH also has fictionalized versions of Texas burger chain Whataburger called “Want-A-Burger” and a take on Hooters called “Bazooms.” While the Hills live on Rainey Street in fictional Arlen, the actual Rainey Street is located in Austin, Texas.
19. All of the central characters in the show have clearly defined jobs except for Boomhauer. I had always assumed he was either unemployed or worked as a gigolo. It wasn’t revealed until the series finale, “To Sirloin With Love” that he works as a Texas Ranger. “Dang ‘ol freeze man! Under arrest yo.”
20. The show’s first and last line of the series was Hank and his buddies’ trademark “Yep.”