Venerable animated series King of the Hill aired its final two episodes on Sunday night, bringing to an end 13 seasons of the adventures of the Hills of Arlen, Texas. Both episodes focused on the relationship between series patriarch Hank Hill and his perpetually unusual son Bobby. It was a low-key, but heartfelt end to a great series that relied more on character-driven humor than punchlines and pratfalls. In “The Boy Can’t Help It,” Bobby finds himself the object of affection for a trio of girls who are more interested in having a pet than a boyfriend. Then, in “To Sirloin with Love,” Bobby finally earns his father’s respect by triumphing in a meat examination competition, ending with an impromptu neighborhood BBQ, featuring most of the main cast. There were no dramatic reveals. Joseph is still blissfully unaware of his true parentage. Though, we did finally learn Boomhauer‘s profession. King of the Hill has always been something of an underdog show, never getting the kind of attention that other animated series garnered. When it first aired, people expected something outrageous from Beavis and Butthead creator Mike Judge, but what they got was something infinitely more layered and subtle: a surprisingly realistic family comedy with a lot of heart. In honor of the series, and as a fond farewell, I offer up my top 10 favorite episodes. Look for them in syndication or on DVD!
Honorable Mention: Season 5, Episode 9: “Chasing Bobby”
Hank’s beloved truck finally dies. Funniest moment ever is Bobby’s tumble down the hillside.
10. Season 1, Episode 2: “Square Peg”
Peggy is chosen to be the Sex Ed teacher at Bobby’s school. Classic lines include Dale’s threatening phone calls: “You don’t know me, but I know you!” and Peggy’s “Happiness. Hap-piness. Penis!”
9. Season 3, Episode 3: “Peggy’s Headache”
Peggy finally catches on to Nancy’s affair with John Redcorn! It was a running gag that suddenly began to take on more serious implications. Peggy’s slow and long-delayed realization is priceless, though.
8. Season 3, Episode 18: “Love Hurts and So Does Art”
Bobby comes down with a case of gout when he becomes addicted to deli food. Great lines include: “I see you did not know about the rascal.” And “Hello, my name is Madame! I’m here to start ze show!” It’s Bobby’s best episode, by far.
7. Season 1, Episode 12: “Plastic White Female”
Bobby practices his kissing with Luanne’s plastic beauty school model head. Hank blames Peggy: “You parked him in front of the TV and made him watch…The Muppets. They got frogs kissing pigs. What the hell did you think was gonna happen?”
6. Season 2, Episode 12: “Meet the Manger Babies”
The first appearance of Luanne’s Manger Babies. I still want someone to make a set of Manger Babies plush hand puppets. Any customizers out there want the job?
5. Season 2, Episode 6: “Husky Bobby”
Much to Hank’s dismay, Bobby becomes a plus-sized model. In any other show, it would probably have been a lesson in tolerance for Hank. But here, it’s all about father knowing best.
4. Season 6, Episode 1: “Bobby Goes Nuts”
Bobby joins a women’s self-defense course, and his assault on the crotches of Arlen begins. “That’s my purse! I don’t know you!”
3. Season 5, Episode 4: “Spin the Choice”
During the Thanksgiving season, John Redcorn tries to get closer to Joseph by teaching him about the plight of the Native Americans. Meanwhile, Peggy invents the greatest, most absurd party game ever, “Spin the Choice.” Peggy explains: “Well, the game is pretty straightforward. You can choose to spin, or you can choose to choose. If you choose to spin, you can land on spin, or choice, or lose a spin, or lose a choice, or free spin, or free choice, or spin again.”
2. Season 3, Episode 9: “Pretty, Pretty Dresses”
My second favorite episode. Bill’s descent into madness is both hilarious and painful. Bobby, as always, goes with the flow and offers cross-dressing Bill a homemade tater tot for “Mr. and/or Mrs. Deauterive.”
1. Season 4, Episode 6: “A Beer Can Named Desire”
Here it is. My favorite episode ever, featuring the voices of Meryl Streep and the Dixie Chicks. Hank is given the chance to win a million dollars after winning an Alamo Beer contest, so the gang heads to New Orleans, where Bobby learns to be a dandy: “I need a window seat, because this flower is wiltin’.” Mix in a truly bizarre visit to Bill’s southern gothic relatives, and you’ve got the best episode ever!