Though it spent its run playing second fiddle to Matt Groening’s The Simpsons, FOX’s King of the Hill routinely proved its worth, even among the growing number of cartoon families crowding the airwaves. Over 13 seasons and 258 episodes (all of which you can stream on Hulu right now), the Hills never failed to offer a quietly progressive view of their little corner of Texas.
In the mid-nineties, FOX was hungry to double down on the popularity of The Simpsons. So it was that after a series of interviews (and a little prompting on the part of the studio) that Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge decided to write an animated series that he’d actually be interested in watching — no offense intended to Mr. Groening, I’m sure.
The result was King of the Hill, a slow burn comedy show starring a run-of-the-mill family from Arlen, Texas. Characterized by heavy doses of character-motivated comedy and a clear commitment to a “no joke” format, King of the Hill remains unique among the comedy landscape. It’s like they transplanted The Andy Griffith Show into the new millennium.
FOX bit on the pilot and ordered a half season’s worth of episodes for the show; and Mike Judge got to work, rounding up a Murderer’s Row of creative talent that would persist throughout the show’s thirteen-season run.
Seriously, Mike Judge is like the Dr. Dre of comedy talent.
The Series Was Co-Created By Greg Daniels
Judge gets most of the name cred when it comes to King of the Hill, but it’s worth noting that Greg Daniels helped steer the series as an executive producer for 220 of the show’s 258 episodes. Daniels went on to adapt Ricky Gervais’ UK smash hit, The Office, into an American sitcom juggernaut before co-creating Parks and Rec with Michael Schur.
Oh, Speaking of The Office …
Paul Lieberstein, a man considered one of the driving influences behind the subdued tone of The Office, wrote 12 episodes of King of the Hill. You know him as Eeyore-esque human resources vet Toby Flenderson.
Wyatt Cenac Had a Massive Influence On the Show
During the mid-series run, Cenac went to work breathing life into King of the Hill, charting a whopping 75 episodes to his credit, the most attributed to any single writer.
Etan Cohen Duped Jeff Goldblum
After writing 10 episodes of the series, including one particularly memorable episode where Peggy runs a long con on guest star Jeff Goldblum, Cohen transitioned into features, penning arguably the best-written satire of the last decade, Tropic Thunder.
(Okay, yes, he wrote Get Hard, too, but that’s balanced out by the fact that he also scripted Idiocracy, as well.)
Mike Judge’s Silicon Valley Was Spearheaded By King of the Hill Writers
Sure, you know about Mike Judge’s involvement with Silicon Valley, but Judge had some help from two former King of the Hill writers; John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky were both in on the ground floor of the HBO sitcom.
Altschuler and Krinsky also wrote the final version of the Blades of Glory script.
Arlen, Texas Was a Little Too Normal for Jim Dauterive
Writer Jim Dauterive was part of the original writing team for King of the Hill (which could be why the series’ sad sack neighbor Bill Dauterive was named for him). After working on the show for seven seasons, Dauterive went on to develop another famous FOX family, the Belchers, on Bob’s Burgers alongside co-creator Loren Bouchard.
David Zuckerman Is a Family Cartoon Vet
I know, you’re wondering who the Hell I’m talking about, but this one-time King of the Hill contributor got his name on 4 episodes of the series before heading off to create another cartoon show alongside Seth McFarlane: Fox’s Family Guy.
Jonathan Aibel and Glenn Berger Redefined the Word ‘Hero’
Another writing team that moved through the series’ writing room, Aibel and Berger were both longtime producers and writers for King of the Hill. When their time on the series ended, they went on to kick off the immensely popular (and lucrative) Kung Fu Panda series.
Which is why we forgive them for Monster Trucks.