King of the Hill is currently in the midst of development on a brand new revival series, so now is the best time to look back on it and celebrate the best episodes. The original animated sitcom from Mike Judge and Greg Daniels came out at the exact time it was needed. It was a series that evolved from its spiritual predecessors, and legitimately helped to shape the landscape of the animated sitcom world as a whole. It separated itself from the pack by telling smaller, more humble stories that highlighted a conservative small town. Its playful nature on top of that gave it a flavor all its own.
In a way, King of the Hill is a series that often feels like it could play out in live action and the series' plots would still succeed. But while that can be true, there are also fun and surprising ways the series uses the fact that it's a cartoon to highlight the absurdity of real life. King of the Hill is a series that gets better with age, and gets better the more times you see the series' complete run from start to finish.
With that said as the new King of the Hill series further becomes a reality, it's time to put a well deserved stamp on the series by highlighting ten of the episodes that showcase what it does best. These ten below are clearly not going to please every fan of the series, and there are so many greats that any one of them could be in these slots, but here's our best breaking of the Top 10 King of the Hill episodes. Let us know your favorites in the comments or you can even reach out to me directly about all things animated and other cool stuff @Valdezology on Twitter!
Honorary Mentions: Suite Smells of Excess, Hank's Bully, Strangeness on a Train, Raise the Steaks, Pigmalion, Meet the Propaniacs, Mutual of Omabwah
#10 - Chasing Bobby
Season 5, Episode 9
The core tenet of King of the Hill is pitting the conservative valued Hank against uncomfortable situations, but there are a few of the major classics that dig deeper into Hank's psyche and make him deal with uncomfortable emotional situations. The earlier seasons had some great examples of this, but also unfortunately ran into some gay panic troubles. This all changed with "Chasing Bobby" as it really had Hank truly vulnerable for one of the first times in the series. Allowing him to openly weep over the loss of his truck, it laid the important foundation for the journey we would go on with Hank (and importantly, Bobby) throughout the years after. It's admittedly not the most memorable in the grand scheme, but it's one of the most important.prevnext
#9 - Flush With Power
Season 4, Episode 22
King of the Hill often excels at taking a smaller crude premise and injecting another layer to bring it to that next level. Some of the best episodes find Hank taking a stand for something he believes in, and the best examples of this see Hank dedicate a huge amount of time (such as "Hank's Dirty Laundry") in order to clear his name or follow through on something. It's usually benign, but in "Flush With Power," it's Hank taking on a political stance for what he believes in. It thrusts Hank into the city council world, but even with all of this real world intensity it's all about low flow toilets. That means every now and again you get some fun poop jokes that tow the line in that perfect way only this series is really capable of.prevnext
#8 - Ms. Wakefield
Season 9, Episode 2
You're going to see a lot of praise on list for the fact that King of the Hill often tells very absurd stories, but gets away with elevating them within the grounded universe carefully crafted by the series. Take the tenth place entry, the Christmas special episode saw the titular Ms. Wakefield introduce herself to the Hill family only to reveal that she wanted to die in their house. Then it gets taken to a hilarious new level when she tries to sneak her way in and die on her own terms. It's the kind of steady elevated story the series is best at, and this is one of the better examples because then it gets to also serve as an emotionally fulfilling Christmas episode. It's a fine balance you'll see much more on the list.prevnext
#7 - Blood and Sauce
Season 11, Episode 3
At the center of the series' absurdity is Bill, and he often gets some of the most exaggerated plots in the entire series. Just look at the first episode where you get to meet the extended Dauterive family, "A Beer Can Named Desire" (which also has a heightened Hank story as the A plot), and that was nearly put in this spot. But the follow up episodes that come as a result are even better because Bill gets an important victory. "Blood and Sauce" reintroduces the ideas introduced in its predecessor to build on the loneliness we've already felt from Bill in the years prior.
It's an emotional showcase for Bill that also gets to incorporate the cartoonish Gilbert, and Bobby's love of cooking (and unwillingness to work). It's got a lot of layers that continue to reveal themselves the more you watch, and most importantly, it's a moment for Bill to find the kind of soul fulfillment he so desperately craves, and ultimately deserves. It's a victory for Bill (and in many ways, for Bobby), through and through rather than just the physical one of its predecessor.prevnext
#6 - Bobby Goes Nuts
Season 6, Episode 1
Not all episodes have the height of emotional fulfillment, or the absurdity, but many don't need them to succeed. The best example of this comes from the highly memorable and heavily memed, "Bobby Goes Nuts." It's one of the simplest Hank and Bobby stories in the entire series as it takes the usual "Bobby accidentally gets really invested in something" formula but adds in a dose of awkward father and son relationship moments. Then, of course, you get Bobby learning how to kick men in the groin and Hank eventually getting kicked. It's just one of those episodes that remains in your memory for just the simple crude fun of it all.prevnext
#5 - Fun With Jane and Jane
Season 6, Episode 17
When putting together this list I wanted to make sure I included at least one Peggy or Luanne story. The tough part about Peggy stories is that her focus episodes are often the most uncomfortable to watch, and the tough part about Luanne stories is they usually focus on her emotional turmoil. But the best of both worlds is when both Luanne and Peggy are naively pulled into strange scenarios (see "Arlen City Bomber"). This one takes that magnifies it to have Peggy and Luanne falling into a cult, and then adds the hilariously odd side story of Hank and his buddies dealing with emus, and you've got one of the generally weirdest episodes in the series. Yet, it's still all within the established grounded universe. It's just a wild experience.prevnext
#4 - Hillennium
Season 4, Episode 10
There's so much of King of the Hill that was of its time, and not all of it has admittedly aged gracefully in that regard. As mentioned in this list, the series is at its peak when it can combine a grounded core together with an absurd elevation that challenges Hank in a new way. There's probably no better example of this formula directly than with "Hillennium" as it takes all of the real world worries about Y2k and adds Hank's inherent panicky nature to take it to that next level.
Hank's best moments are when he's really shaken and uncertain. It's when he starts to overcompensate (see "Mutual of Omabwah") and steer wildly in the other direction. In this one, he goes so far into his paranoia that the only way he's snapped out of it is through a hallucination induced by varnish. It's that bit of folk magic storytelling the early seasons were just so great at it. Even though it's about Y2K, it's actually aged better over time.prevnext
#3 - An Officer and a Gentle Boy
Season 7, Episode 15
When putting together this list, one of the important things I wanted to highlight was the dynamic between Hank and his father Cotton. Much of what informs Hank's relationship with Bobby (and thus feelings of inadequacy) come from his father, but it's fairly rare to have all three generations involved in one story. It's even rarer to have it succeed on multiple fronts, but that's what makes "An Officer and a Gentle Boy" stand out so much. Throughout the entire series Cotton had no respect for his son, but it wasn't until he shared his bewilderment over Bobby that he and Hank finally connected on a real human level.
It's also a great showcase for Bobby himself as it reveals that his personality is one that will ultimately allow him to flourish in whatever he chooses. He's hilariously compared to mush, but is also given the best compliment that the series ever wrote for him. It won't bend, it won't break, and it'll just be itself. That's Bobby and Hank's journey in a nut shell, and the fact that Hank gets to reflect on this and find something in common with his father makes it all the more enjoyable.prevnext
#2 - A Firefighting We Will Go
Season 3, Episode 10
King of the Hill often has fun with premises that allow Hank and the crew to let our their inner children, but it's never more literal or more effective than with "A Firefighting We Will Go." As they get their chance to be volunteer firefighters, each of them devolves into children that can't get along. There are so many episodes that shows how the group works as friends (and many that highlight different pairings over the years), but this is the best example of how much they really mean to one another. They fight the hardest, but ultimately make up the hardest too.
Then there's the fun framing device that eventually leads to each of them telling their own version of the story. It reveals one of the best gags in the entire series with Boomhauer's account, and that's just reason enough to get to this spot alone.prevnext
#1 - To Sirloin With Love
Season 13, Episode 20
"To Sirloin With Love" is not only the best episode of King of the Hill, it's one of the best series finales of all time. It's incredibly satisfying on many levels as it puts a final bow on the journeys we have taken with Hank and Bobby over the course of the series. The pilot introduced fans to a conservative father dealing with a son curious about things that made the father squirm. As the series continued we saw different layers added to this initial outing that all culminate in the final episode.
It's got Bobby joining a team, finding something he's really good at, being curious about a whole new world, and most importantly, Hank finally completely understands. It's not the first time in the series the two are on the same page, but it's the first real time that Hank and Bobby connect as adults. It's a much deserved victory for both of them as Bobby gets to finally get some real, true, and complete love and support from his father. It's something that feels earned as of course Bobby would be an expert on meat.1comments
Bobby's been so curious about cooking, and being around his grill-centric father helps to demonstrate just how much he idolizes him. At the same time, Hank finally gets something he can have in common with the son he's struggled to relate to so much. It's a connection he didn't have to force on Bobby, and it's something that Hank mentions will carry them on through the rest of their life.
It's got a fun bit from every character it can squeeze in naturally (such as Joseph's single line, "Come on Bobby, eat the whole thing!" and the Chuck Mangione cameo), it's got a great use of Peggy as she gets to deliver the final emotional lesson of the series, and even the new characters further help Hank and Bobby connect when Hank realizes Bobby was right about them being intense. It's just a complete package that works on its own as the best, but all the better when taking account for the entire series.prev