"I tell you what..."
In the fictional Texas suburb of Arlen lives Hank Hill, a long-time salesman of propane and propane accessories who's trying his hardest to always do the right thing; a lot of the humor in the series comes from the fact that Hank's a gigantic stick in the mud. His neighborhood friends include Butt Monkey Bill Dauterive, Conspiracy Theorist Dale Gribble, and Boomhauer, who's The Unintelligible and something of a Kavorka Man. His family includes his wife Peggy (who's a female version of the Ted Baxter if there ever was one), his son Bobby (who's unathletic and sensitive—much to Hank's dismay), and his niece Luanne (who's a hormonally hyperactive ditz, but is shown to actually be quite talented in many fields, such as childcare and mechanics). Hank also has plenty of conflicts with his father Cotton, a misogynistic World War II veteran (who had both of his shins blown off during the war).
One thing that stands out the most about the series is that unlike most other animated sitcoms that feature wacky or outlandish situations (i.e. The Simpsons, Family Guy, and all of their myriad offspring), King of the Hill attempted to retain realism by seeking humor in the otherwise conventional. Don't forget, this is a Mike Judge creation.
It's notable for poking fun at its staid, conservative characters while treating them with respect. Hank's a stick in the mud and Peggy's full of herself, but in the end, they're still decent people trying to live their lives.
To many, the show has aged well, dodging a great deal of the tropes commonly associated with a decaying series (though the show was preempted a great deal in its later seasons); certain characters did experience Flanderization as the show went on, however—particularly Peggy, who went from being down-to-earth and the sane woman in Hank's life to being a arrogant, pompous know-it-all who is blissfully unaware of how smart she isn't (the episode "Lupe's Revenge," in which it is made clear she does not truly understand the Spanish language as well as she claims, is a perfect example of this). Various Retcons didn't help the matter.
After running for numerous seasons (to the point where people didn't even realize new episodes were still being made), the show finally ended its run in September 2009. It's now shown on Adult Swim (which played the show's four Missing Episodes) as well as syndication. The entire series is also available on the iTunes Store.
The show has a character sheet.
- A-Team Firing: Dale and all of his gun club buddies are terrible shots. And apparently the Japanese soldiers who tried to take down Cotton were afflicted as well, as all they were able to do was blow his shins off.
- Aborted Arc: Hank and Peggy trying to have another child. It's an important plot line that runs throughout Season 3 and is mentioned in the first episode in Season 4. Then, it's dropped completely.
- There is also the story of Luanne going to college after meeting Buckley's Angel in Season 3. In Season 8, she drops out of college and goes back to hairstyling, despite Buckley's Angel telling her she was meant for something better. Technically this is a Retcon but it also aborts the ongoing arc of Luanne getting away from her trailer-trash origins - especially once she hooks up with Lucky, who Peggy points out represents the life from which Luanne was originally trying to escape.
- Accidental Pervert: In "Naked Ambition", Bobby accidentally sees Luanne naked. This kicks off the main plot, as he tells Joseph, who becomes obsessed with getting a look and his attempt to peep gets Connie mad at Bobby when she thinks they were peeping on her. At the end of the episode, Kahn is looking over the fence when Luanne steps out of the shower; she sees him and screams "Aunt Peggy! Mister Kahn saw me naked!", and Joseph (who was randomly riding by on his bicycle) says "Aw, man!"
- Adam Westing: Randy Travis as a pompous, thieving Ted Baxter.
- Aesop Amnesia: Hank has learned to forgive Bobby's lack of athleticism and appreciate his other skills about 37 times, and it never sticks. Maybe it's genetic, as Hank has earned the grudging respect of his father Cotton on several occasions, and that never stuck, either.
- This happens quite a bit, with quite a few other characters.
- Not to mention that no matter how many times Hank learns to loosen up, this still happens a lot:
Bobby: Hey Dad, guess what! I joined the (insert incredibly effeminate and/or gay and/or non-traditional activity here)!
- Hank also constantly forgets that Bobby is good at some sports, like shooting, football, and wrestling.
- Kahn and Minh quite frequently learn to respect their redneck neighbors and then forget.
- Quintessential to this trope is Buck Strickland, who fails to learn that his illegal schemes will put his business at risk, and Hank, who worships Strickland, never gets an Aesop that his boss is an immoral jackass and that he'll always get in trouble for trying to clean up after his boss's schemes.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Mentioned by Bobby after Cotton tells Bobby's class how he garotted a German soldier with dental floss.
Connie: So did you kill the German soldier?
- All Women Are Prudes: Or at least all the female customers at Hottyz. When Bill outs himself as straight (see Flying Under the Gaydar below) to a woman who is very obviously attracted to him, all of his female customers are horrified almost to the point of fainting that they let a straight man touch their hair and run to the comforting arms of the actually gay employee. The woman previously attracted to Bill merely expresses utter disgust and storms out.
- This had more to do with the fact Bill was creepy and would pretend to be gay as a ruse to get close to women than the fact he was straight in and of itself.
- An Aesop: Lampshaded in "The Year of Washing Dangerously":
Hank: So is the moral going to be "slow and steady wins the race" or "hard work is its own reward"? Because they're both equally valid.
- The moral, incidentally, is "don't kill the golden goose."
- Another episode ends with Hank and Bobby discussing using a Credit Card wisely.
- Annoying Laugh: Cissy Cobb in "Peggy the Boggle Champ".
- Anything That Moves: Donna is revealed to be this in "Lost In MySpace".
- Appeal to Audacity
- Art Evolution: Hank got a few less facial wrinkles starting in Season 2. Also, Peggy's tank top switched from gray to green starting in Season 2. And Bobby's face was altered to be a little less "slow" looking and more cheerful.
- Artistic License Religion: Peggy was wrong to suggest Bobby might be "god to billions of Asians." A lama is more like "reincarnated prophet to millions of Tibetans." Peggy being a Ted Baxter, and only saying that to proudly boast, this was pretty in-character for her.
- First Arlen Methodist displayed in one episode the trademarked logo of the United Methodist Church. Its disappearance in other episodes afterwards leads one to believe that the show mistakenly believed it was a generic Methodist logo. Due to the UMC's status as the majority organization in its brand of Christianity, Methodist churches in America, moreover, almost always have the word "United" before "Methodist."
- Reverend Stroop defines Methodism as "a rejection of Calvinism". She could not be more wrong: Methodism was a movement to introduce much Reformed and therefore Calvinist practice into the Church of England, and is a mix of the two.
- As Himself: Chuck Mangione, who was more or less part of the supporting cast he had so many appearances. At first, he was just the pitchman for Mega-Lo-Mart. Then he apparently moved to Arlen and could be spotted around town at various places.
- Apparently, he unofficially moved to Arlen because his contact with Mega-Lo-Mart states he has to be at every store opening they hold, so he started hiding out in the one in Arlen for free as a form of revenge.
- As Long as It Sounds Foreign: The Souphanousinphones are often portrayed as shouting angrily in Lao, but it's really just gibberish.
- Souphanousinphone isn't a real Laotian surname.
- As the Good Book Says...: In "Hilloween", Junie Harper cites Proverbs 1:32: "The complacency of fools will destroy them." Hank retaliates: "Get out of my house! Exodus!"
- Asian Rudeness: The Souphanousinphones can sometimes seem like this, especially Kahn. Averted with Connie though, who's friendly, patient, polite, and typically ashamed of her parents' conduct.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Hank threatens and often invokes this trope literally to keep people in line.
- Ax Crazy: Trip Larson, the pork mogul voiced by Michael Keaton in "Pygmalion" is a textbook example of this. His fanatical obsession with forcing Luanne to recreate the family shown on Larson Pork Products leads to him menacing and threatening her before attempting a full-on murder suicide.
- Badass Native: John Redcorn, when he serves as front-man for a heavy metal band. Subverted in the same episode when he decides instead to play children's music.
- Badass Preacher: Frequently show up on the Spanish Soap Opera programs Peggy watches.
- The Show Within a Show in question, Los Dias y Las Noches de Monsignor Martinez, was actually planned to be a live action spin-off, but it got killed mid-production when the crew had trouble finding a network willing to run a show about a Catholic priest who murders people.
- Band of Brothers: Hank thinks this extends to all his old football buddies. At one point, he wants to finally give up on Bill but doesn't because "A good running back never abandons his fullback."
- Apparently his former teammates share this sentiment. When Hank is trying to organize a state championship rematch over twenty years later, one player responds "Hank, I live in Phoenix now. You want me to drop everything, fly back to Arlen to play a flag football game against our high school rivals? Of course I will."
- Berserk Button: A lot of things. Don't mess with Bobby in front of Hank. Don't question Texas in front of Hank. Don't be a jackass in front of Hank. Don't get Arlen confused with Austin.
- And most importantly—never denigrate propane or suggest that charcoal is superior for grilling. That just ain't right.
- Also, never ever question Peggy's fluency in Spanish, no matter how strong the urge. Or imply her intelligence is anything below genius, or ever bring up the subject of her shoe size.
- One example in "Boxing Luanne": you should never classify George Foreman's grills as "novelty" in front of him. "Fight's on!"
- Don't call Cotton a Nazi. Especially when his friends are nearby.
- Implying a sexual attraction to Nancy will piss John Redcorn off big time, as Hank learned when he told him he had an erotic dream about her.
- Big Applesauce: Hank's true birthplace (specifically, the women's room at Yankee Stadium). He is distraught to learn it.
- Big No: Several times over the course of the series, and almost always by Hank. "Bwah!"
- Bilingual Bonus: Peggy's crappy Spanish is only really funny if you know the language.
- Bill, Bill, Junk, Bill: Parodied in one episode as Hank is going through the bills:
Hank: Bills... bills... bills... why do we keep getting Bill's mail?
- Billy Elliot Plot: A frequent source of conflict between Bobby and Hank. A variation occurs in the episode where Bobby excels in Home Economic skills; Hank becomes supportive because he enjoys the fruits of Bobby's labor, but Peggy becomes more and more distraught when he consistently outshines her in homemaking.
- Bitter Almonds: Cotton claims that Tilly tried to poison him with a chicken laced with cyanide, which Tilly claims was just chicken almondine (chicken with almonds).
- Bittersweet Ending: Luanne eventually overcomes her sorrow at the death of Buckley and finds the place in the world she has been so desperately seeking from the start. Unfortunately this comes about through her marriage of Lucky, a three toothed conman hillbilly who makes a living by suing various businesses. While Lucky is genuinely goodhearted, it doesn't change the fact that he's lazy, shorted sighted, and content with barely scraping by.Thanks to her baby and lack of education, there is little doubt that she has trapped herself and her child in the same situation she fought every episode up to Lucky's arrival to escape from and avoid.
- Hank, however, has shown that while he does dislike the fact that Luanne was mooching off of him, he's still willing to help her where ever and whenever she needs it. This makes her modest birthday present (a little coupon for a local getaway and some advice from Hank) all the more awesome and heartwarming, since Hank basically told her so and ensured a good future for her child.
- Black Comedy Rape: "Return to La Grunta". Hank is raped by a dolphin, though to be fair, Hank was "fondling" him. And apparently, this isn't unheard of in Real Life.
- Bland-Name Product: Frozen Cow Creamery, an over-the-top Expy of Coldstone Creamery. Also:
Bobby: My mom's making Pork Pockets!
- Book Safe: Of course, this one involves Peggy.
- Boomerang Bigot: Frequently Kahn, especially when he wants to a join a country club with only Asian members.
- The hipsters in the episode where they move in with Enrique really hate white people, despite being mostly white themselves.
- Boot Camp Episode: In one episode, Cotton enrolls Bobby in a boot camp to toughen him up. It doesn't work, but Cotton comes to embrace the fact that, in a strange way, Bobby's laziness and lack of motivation actually make him a really tough nut to crack.
- It doesn't work because the camp "went soft" (in Cotton's opinion, which just meant they weren't borderline abusing the kids). Incensed, Cotton took it over and turned it back into what it used to be, but Bobby still hung on.
- Booze Flamethrower: Monsignor Martinez does this with communion wine. This should not be a strong enough alcohol to produce the effect, but oh, well. The same character as been mentioned to use communion wafers as ninja throwing stars.
- Boring but Practical: Hank embodies this most of the time.
- Bowling for Ratings: In one episode, Peggy is afraid to go bowling since her rented shoes would have her embarrassing shoe size displayed on the heel.
- The Boxing Episode: "Boxing Luanne".
- Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Dale seems to have a knack for putting together various words in the series. One of them involves trying to figure out the new persona Bill adopts for his job at a hair salon.
Dale: Pirate! Waiter! Pirate waiter!
- Brick Joke: In "Pregnant Paws", Bill is holding a special hormonal, pregnancy-aiding biscuit meant for the Hills' dog Lady-bird, and Bobby warns him about that. Bill then tells Bobby the story of how he was conceived, and we're treated to a flashback. The moment we return to present day, Bill casually takes a bite of the dog biscuit.
- In that same episode, Hank asks Peggy to call up Buck Strickland, saying he's on speed-dial under "Peggy's Mother". Later on, Peggy is mad at Hank and goes to the phone: "Mom? Is it alright if I stay with you for a few days? ...Oh, sorry Mr. Strickland."
- In "Sleight of Hank", an annoyed Hank asks Bobby if he has to be at school. Bobby replies "No." Hank asks, "What about Sunday school?" Bobby yelps. Later, Hank asks Bobby if he has any homework. Again, Bobby replies "No." Hank asks, "What about Sunday school homework?" Bobby says "Oy." and leaves.
- Another brick joke from the same episode: At the beginning, Peggy says the only thing Bobby can see at night is Bill dancing with his mop through his window. Towards the end of the episode, Bill is seen dancing with the mop.
- In "Little Horrors of Shop", Peggy attempts to be cool during chemistry class and dips a rose in liquid nitrogen; her attempts to shatter it end in her accidentally throwing it through the window. Later in the episode, Hank talks about the state of disrepair the school is in and asks "Has anyone noticed that broken window in the chemistry classroom?"
- In "The Final Shin", Cotton and Dale steal Santa Anna's prosthetic leg. While at the museum where it is displayed Cotton entertains Bobby's class with a story about garroting a German soldier with dental floss, saying that its always important to carry dental floss. Later in the episode, Dale betrays Cotton to the police and Cotton tries to strangle him with some dental floss.
- Broken Aesops: Often intentionally invoked for the sake of comedy.
- Brother-Sister Incest: In a Season 12 episode, Bill starts dating a single mother and a distrusting Dale does a DNA test on the daughter, the results showing that she has the same father as Joseph. Peggy notices that Joseph and the girl are growing attracted to each other, and sends Bobby to hang out with them and play third wheel in order to keep things from getting Squicky.
- Buffy-Speak: Joseph.
"IT'S LIKE MY HEART IS A REALLY SAD MAN!"
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Despite his numerous flaws, Bill is one hell of a barber.
- But Not Too Foreign: Junichiro, Cotton's illegitimate half-Japanese son.
- Butt Monkey: One episode shows that every single one of Peggy's birthdays goes horribly wrong. VERY horribly wrong. Her party getting robbed one year is the least of it.
- The fact that Bill wasn't first on this list cements his status as the show's Butt Monkey.
- Call Back: In "Grand Theft Arlen", Hank can be seen beating up a pimp who looks exactly like Alabaster from "Ho Yeah", an episode aired two seasons before.
- Calling the Old Man Out: Peggy does this to Cotton. On the man's deathbed, no less.
- Calling Your Attacks: POCKET SAND!
- Camp Gay:
- Dale's Dad. He explains that he plays this up at his day-job in the gay rodeo, but he's still pretty campy in his day-to-day life too.
- When Bill decided to become a stylist, he pretended to be a stereotypically Camp Gay hairdresser. His customers were disgusted when they found out that wasn't the case.
- Camp Straight: Peggy's hairdresser.
- Canada, Eh?: Inverted nearly into Freaky Thursday as Canadian neighbors act as Flavor 2 Eagle Land for the sake of conflict and let Hank remain Flavor 1.
- Captain Obvious: Stuart Dooley, an Expy of Butthead.
- The Cassandra: You'd think every word out of Hank's mouth prior to the series was a horrible lie, considering nobody will ever listen to him until after everything's gone to hell (and that's assuming they don't immediately blame him for it).
- Cassandra Truth: A very odd twist; in one episode Bobby damages Peggy's lawn gnome and Hank, who despises it, uses this as pretext to bury it in the woods. Eventually he confesses, but tries to take all the blame. Peggy correctly guesses that Hank's covering for someone, but incorrectly believes that Bobby is entirely to blame and punishes him very harshly. At the end of the episode, Hank buys a replacement gnome and lets Bobby give it to Peggy; again, she gets this right but assumes that Hank was taking pity on Bobby rather than trying to salve his own guilt.
- In another episode, Bill becomes diabetic and accepts the fact that his life will change for the worse. When he meets a new friend in the park, the said friend gets Bill to take control of his life and have a more active lifestyle, even though the two of them are in wheelchairs. Bill manages to do so for a while and manages to become healthy enough to the point where not only he can walk again, but his diabetes has vanished. When Bill's friends find out about this, they assume he actually lied about having diabetes in the first place and are angry with him. On top of this, Bill is shunned by the same women that loved him when he was in a wheelchair. Bill gets depressed and tries to ingest a bag of sugar to actually become diabetic again since he thinks people liked him better handicapped and would listen to him then. Luckily, Hank manages to stop Bill in time and give him a heart to heart talk.
- Catch Phrase
- Hank had: "Dang it, Bobby.", "I sell propane and propane accessories.", "Shut Up, Dale.", "Damn it, Dale!" (occasionally said to Bill), "I'm gonna kick your ass!", "That boy ain't right.", "I tell you what.", and "BWAAAHHH!!!"
- Dale had: "S'go!", "Sh-sh-sshhaa!", and "Wingo!" He would also say "Gih!" when startled or surprised.
- Peggy had: "HO YEAH!", "HEY HEY HEY!"
- Boomhauer often started sentences with: "Yo man, I tell you what man..." before going on an almost incoherent, fast-talking rant while splicing in several "dang ol's" at random intervals. Lampshaded in Boomhauer's flashback in "A Firefighting We Will Go", in which Boomhauer himself is actually intelligible and the other three are speaking gibberish consisting mostly of their catchphrases.
- Cotton had: "I killed fitty men!" and several variations.
- Monsignor Martinez had: "Vaya con Dios."
- And of course, Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer had: "Yep." "Yep." "Yep." "Mm-hmm." (in varying orders)
- Cat Fight: Bill's three Cajun cousins (one by blood, two by marriage), all while wearing lingerie. They were voiced by The Dixie Chicks.
- Caught in a Snare: Hank and Boomhauer get snared, and Bill trips the wire for one but is too fat for the tree to pull him up. He removes the foot-lasso and runs to get help but falls into a pit trap instead.
- Characterization Marches On: In the early seasons, Luanne is not nearly the ditz she is by the end of the show. Seeing her grab Cotton by the wrist and snarl at him to never dare touch her again is wildly out of character of her later on. Heck, in early episodes she was such a competent mechanic that Hank allowed her to touch his truck unsupervised.
- Peggy goes from a down-home Texas homemaker to a wildly egomaniacal Ted Baxter.
- Hank and Cotton's relationship changed radically after the first season. Originally, Cotton was portrayed as a boisterous, short-tempered and sexist old man and was on good terms with his son, to the extent that he sabotaged his own car so he'd have an excuse to stay at the Hill home longer. Starting with Season 2, Cotton was portrayed as being a verbally abusive parent with zero respect for Hank.
- Chekhov's Gun: The cigarette Dale lit off the Olympic torch, coming back into play when the torch was dropped later on in the episode.
- Christian Rock: Satirized in one episode. As Hank tells the musicians, "You're not making Christianity better - you're making rock and roll worse!"
- Christmas Episode: "The Unbearable Blindness of Laying", "Pretty, Pretty Dresses", "'Twas the Nut Before Christmas", "The Father, the Son, and J.C.", "Livin' on Reds, Vitamin C and Propane" (sort of), "Ms. Wakefield".
- Cold Open: "Life in the Fast Lane: Bobby's Saga", "Good Hill Hunting", "To Spank With Love", "The Bluegrass is Always Greener".
- Comically Missing the Point: Dale's former status as a cuckold and Bill being a creepy stalker type even after dating several lovely woman and girls.
- Another one when Connie's attempt to get impressive experiences for her private school application by shadowing Peggy is going poorly:
Connie: Dang it, Mrs. Hill! I've seen the test scores for Arlen High. If I have to go there, my only options will be DeVry or the University of Phoenix. Which one, Mrs. Hill?
- In one episode, Peggy makes a parade float for Veteran's Day consisting of three skeletons raising a Jolly Roger flag in the Iwo Jima Pose, with "THE FUTILITY OF WAR" on the sides of the float. She apparently had no idea that the veterans at said parade would find it incredibly offensive.
- Companion Cube: Hank and his truck. Especially in "Chasing Bobby".
- Continuity Nod: In "Lost in MySpace", Peggy says she uses Myspace to find out information about people through an alias, and learned that Kahn is Manic-Depressive. One of the five "Lost Episodes", "Just Another Manic Khan-Day", focuses on this.
- The "Doctor Money" infomercial appears in another episode a season after the one it focuses on.
- When someone is seen reading a book, it is more often than not "A Dinner of Onions", the book Peggy had to read for her book club in the seventh season.
- Deep into the thirteenth and final season, there is an episode where you can spot a "Q-bag" graffiti tag, a callback to the third season.
- Strickland talked about a son he may have named Ray Roy, whom he meets seasons later and calls by the same name.
- Peggy mentions offhand in one of the first seasons that she had never kissed a man until she was 20, and even then he was gay. Many seasons later she reveals that man was also the first person she ever slept with.
- In "Now Who's the Dummy?", Hank is making a ventriloquist dummy for Bobby modeled after various football players; one of his reference pictures is David Kaliiki-Alii, from the episode "Peggy Makes the Big Leagues".
- In "Grand Theft Arlen", the Pro-Pain video game has a virtual reproduction of Alabaster Jones from "Ho Yeah".
- In "Not In My Back-hoe", Hank and his new friend Hal visit a revolving hardware store in Mc Maynerberryand Hal mentions it used to be a restaurant. Hank and Peggy ate at that restaurant for their 20th wedding anniversary in "As Old As The Hills".
- Cool but Inefficient: Dale goes into this on regular occasions. Subverted at one point - his duty on a suicide watch involves threatening to kill whoever is being watched. The shock of it actually works.
- Couch Gag: A sound bite from each episode is played over the production company's title card. Often the quotes are taken out of context for added humor, such as the ZZ Top episode, whose quote is Hank saying "It's time to rock".
- Couldn't Find a Lighter: Dale lit a cigarette on the Olympic torch.
- Crazy Prepared: Dale.
- Crazy Survivalist: Again, Dale.
- Credit Card Plot: Done in the episode "Rich Hank, Poor Hank" where Bobby thinks Hank is wealthy and overly thrifty, so he decides to steal his credit card and buy a ton of stuff with it.
- Crying Wolf: In one episode, Peggy discovers that Randy Travis recorded a song with lyrics she herself had written and mailed to him. Unfortunately, Peggy is such a Know-Nothing Know-It-All who enjoys taking credit for other people's work that nobody believed it was true. Not even Hank.
- Cultural Posturing: Usually Kahn and Minh complaining about the "dumb hillbillies" they have as neighbors, while ignoring how much they neglect their own culture.
- Cure Your Gays: In "Luanne Virgin 2.0", Peggy admits that before she met Hank she slept with a gay male friend in an attempt to "fix" him. This is presented more sympathetically than most examples, as the man was the one who asked because (as Peggy puts it), being gay in Texas in the 60s wasn't exactly a lot of fun. When Luanne asks "Did you fix him?", Peggy responds "Oh, he wasn't broken. Just gay."
- Curse Cut Short: In "The Order of the Straight Arrow", Bobby and Joseph are camping in the backyard and Bobby says, "Fuh-" That instant, Peggy pulls open the tent and cuts Bobby off.
Bobby: I was going to say "Fuh...get about it."
- In "The Company Man":
Thatherton: M.F. Thatherton.
- In another episode, Bobby says "In school they told me that you're not supposed to call them Indians. You're supposed to call them Native Americans. Just like you say 'same-sex partners' instead of..." and is immediately cut off by both parents delivering a First Name Ultimatum
- Cut Short: Not the show itself, which is a Long Runner, but the DVD releases ended after Season 6 due to low sales.
- Daddy's Little Villain: Minh was the daughter of a general in her native Laos, and enjoyed terrorizing the peasants.
- A Day in the Limelight: Peggy gets several: "Peggy's Pageant Fever", "...Peggy Hill: The Decline and Fall", "Beer and Loathing", and "Fun with Jane and Jane".
- Deceased Fall Guy Gambit: "A Firefighting We Will Go": Hank blames Chet Elderson for inadvertently burning down the firehouse. Dale was really at fault.
- Department of Redundancy Department: Luanne trying to flirt with customers for tips:
Luanne: Your hair is so sexy! It reminds me of... Sex.
- In "Pregnant Paws", Dale attends a bounty hunter class. The teacher begins by saying: "All right, we don't have much time, so let's get right to it." He then puts in an instructional video tape taught by the same teacher, which begins with him saying, "All right, we don't have much time, so let's get right to it."
- Deranged Animation: The show is mostly grounded in reality, but on the occasion that a character has a nightmare/daydream, things can get pretty trippy. This is especially true in "Plastic White Female" and "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg".
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In one episode, Peggy and Bobby try out charcoal and do their best to hide it from Hank. When he finds out, the scene is treated like a father finding his child with drugs, complete with Peggy giving the "I was holding it for a friend" excuse.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "Take Me Out of the Ball Game":
Coach: Like I tell my gym class, girls can't play sports.
- Double Entendre: In "The Hank's Giving Episode", Nancy tells Dale that maybe she should see John Redcorn to the gate and make sure he gets off OK.
- Double Standard: Hank gives this as his answer when Bobby asked why it's considered okay for guys to have sex, but not girls.
It's called the 'double standard' son, and don't knock it. We got the long end of the stick on that one.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Cotton is this to Peggy when he coaches her back through rehabilitation following her skydiving accident. He even tells her that if she can walk up the cemetery hill where his burial plot is located, she can dance with him on his grave. She does make it, and they do.
- Drop What You Are Doing
- Dumb Blonde: Luanne and Didi.
- Education Mama: Subverted in that it's Kahn who's hard on Connie, not Minh.
- Epunymous Title
- Erotic Dream: Hank has a series of them about Nancy, which squicks him out.
- Everyone Owns a Mac: Hank and Peggy's computer is an iMac.
- Everything Is Big in Texas: "Big Tex".
- "I think my truck might be too much vehicle for me." - Hank after learning that he wasn't born in Texas.
- Expy: Hank is significantly based om Mr. Anderson from Judge's Beavis and Butthead.
- Fag Hag: Bill pretends to be gay in order to work at a hip salon, and all the women fawn over him. When it's revealed:
Boss: When you were gay, you were intriguing, with an artistic bent. Now you're just a sleazy barber.
- Fair Play Whodunit: Played with. There's a two-part episode that's a murder mystery, and almost all the clues viewers need to figure out the solution can be found in part one. Thing is, you don't KNOW it's a murder mystery until the very end of part one. So while you could solve the mystery yourself by paying attention to small details in the episode, unless you know what's coming you probably won't bother.
- Fake American: Alan Rickman in the Renaissance Faire episode. See How's Your British Accent? below.
- Fan Disservice: In "Bill, Bulk and the Body Buddies", as Bill's getting ready for an army physical he gets involved with a group of over-enthusiastic body builders who take over his training. He gains a considerable amount of muscle, and admires himself in a mirror at one point. There's just two problems with it. One, he's yet to shed his stomach blubber. Two, he's wearing a pink speedo and is muffin topping pretty badly. The scene isn't helped by his pecs flexing.
- Also, Hank stumbles in on his elderly mother and her similarly aged "gentleman friend" having sex. Which makes him go hysterically blind.
- Fan Service Pack: A rare male example. Heck Dorlan, a volunteer firefighter from "A Firefighting We Will Go" originally appears as pudgy, with gray hair and a relatively normal voice. When he reappears in the final season episode "Born Again on the Fourth of July", he's about 3 inches taller, his hair is solid brown, is ridiculously buff, and his voice is a booming baritone.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father: Hank to Bobby.
- Fast-Forward Gag: The opening is in sped-up-film style. As Hank and his friends stand in the alley and drink beer, an entire day passes.
- Fat Best Friend: The whole trope is with fat kid Bobby and his satellite friend, Joseph. Joseph is especially awkward around girls as opposed to Bobby. And there's also Bill, who is this trope played straight.
- A Fate Worse Than Death: "Is life as a Banana better than Death, or is it worse?"
- Fat Slob: Bill.
- Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: In-universe. Peggy accidentally winds up on a foot fetish website.
- Fictional Counterpart: The Mega-Lo Mart.
- Flanderization: For the most part, averted, but arguably Bill and Dale have gotten dumber, and so have Luanne and Bobby. Bobby also got more clingy to his parents in some episodes.
- Don't forget Peggy.
- The weird thing about the show's Flanderization, is that it is paired (mismatched) with Character Development. This is why it is hard to detect: they evolve while being Flanderized.
- Don't forget Peggy.
- Flashback Cut: "The Texas Skilsaw Massacre" features a brief batch of clips from previous episodes of Hank getting angry.
- Flying Under the Gaydar: Inverted. Bill has to pretend to be gay in order to work at Hottyz, a trendy salon that does not believe straight men have what it takes to cut hair.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer of course:
- Hank: Melancholic.
- Dale: Choleric.
- Bill: Sanguine.
- Boomhauer: Phlegmatic.
- Frivolous Lawsuit: Lucky sustains himself on these.
Lucky, to a paramedic: "I find that 3cc's of Morphine nicely dulls the pain without affecting the admissibility of my testimony."
- Full-Name Basis: EVERYONE refers to John Redcorn solely as John Redcorn. EVERYTIME. Kahn and Mihn also tend to refer to everyone in this manner.
- Fully-Clothed Nudity: In "Yankee Hankee", despite still being in boxer shorts, Hank says "I've got to hide my nudity!" and runs into the Alamo.
- The Fun in Funeral: In "Death of a Propane Salesman", instead of saying some words about the deceased Buckley, Luanne put up a poster of Bobby in his underwear and shouted "Fight the occupation! Fight the occ-u-pa-tion!"
- In "A Firefighting We Will Go", Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer are pallbearers for Chet Elderson's funeral. However, they lose their balance while carrying the casket and fall into the grave, with Chet Elderson's pants accidentally pulled off in the process.
- Funny Background Event: In "Shins of the Father", when Joseph asks Cotton where his legs are Bill and Hank, knowing how Cotton will react, share a smile.
- Funny Foreigner: The Souphanousinphones.
- Fun with Acronyms: John Redcorn's rock band is named Big Mountain Fudgecake.
- In "The Company Man", M.F. Thatherton stands for either "motherfucker" (according to Hank) or "my friend" (according to M.F.).
- Gender Blender Name: Kahn named his daughter Kahn Jr. but she is referred to as Connie the majority of the time.
- Glad I Thought of It: A variant occurs in "It's Not Easy Being Green" when Hank, Dale, and Bill ponder what to do about Boomhauer's car in the quarry, which is about to be drained:
Hank: I've got a plan. Dale, we're gonna need your scuba gear.
- Glurge Addict: Hank's mom.
- Go-To Alias: Dale likes to go by Rusty Shackleford, generally whenever he's doing something sneaky, although he also refuses to sign his real name to any document, being a comical Right-Wing Militia Fanatic. At one point in the series, the actual Rusty Shackleford shows up—Dale knew him as a kid and had thought Rusty had died—it turns out that Rusty had just moved away and wasn't happy being connected with Dale's various acts of stupidity.
- God Guise: Thanks to her self-absorption, Peggy thinks this is happening to her when the Mexican villagers are thanking God for the return of a child she accidentally kidnapped ("Do not worship me, worship my actions"), but she finds out soon enough that this is not exactly the case when she is handcuffed.
- God Help Us All: A variant is said by Hank in "Bills Are Made to Be Broken" when nearly everyone in the crowd cheers Ricky Suggs's phony touchdown (which beat Bill's record):
Hank: (angrily) May God have mercy on you all.
- Going by the Matchbook
- Gone Horribly Wrong: In "Father of the Bribe", Bobby and Connie pretend to break up in order to screw with Khan (who hates their relationship). Connie flunks a test, claiming that the break-up distracted her, and the school catches her passing a note and assumes she's suicidal. Khan panics and sets them back together, but forces them to spend so much time together that they have a fight and really do break up.
- Gonk: Cotton Hill, with a rather questionable medical history.
- Good Ol' Boy: Hank is the poster child for this trope.
- Gory Discretion Shot: Parodied.
- Gossip Evolution: In "Bobby Goes Nuts", Bobby kicking a few students in the testicles is embellished to the point where Connie thinks Bobby was suspended for kicking Principal Moss in the testicles.
- Gratuitous Spanish: All over the place. Hilarious, because Peggy actually isn't very good at it and her pronunciation is horrible.
- Green Around the Gills: In one episode, Bobby Hill's face became green after smoking several packs of cigarettes, which his father Hank had him do to teach him a lesson after learning his son had been smoking.
- Gretzky Has the Ball: At one point, Bill rejoins his old High School football team in his forties to reclaim his rushing TD record because he dropped out to join the Army and never graduated. Texas High School football has an age limit, regardless of academic status.
- Groin Attack: The natural conclusion of Bobby accidentally taking women's self-defense classes. It does not work on Peggy, though, because "I do NOT have any testicles!".
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Big Jim in "The Texas Skilsaw Massacre". Heck, he dies of anger.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow: Dale and (especially) Bill.
- Halfway Plot Switch: A few episodes have these. An example is "The Father, the Son, and J.C", which starts out with Hank losing a promotion after accidentally telling his boss he loves him, then switches in mid-stride to a story about Hank and Cotton.
- Most two-part episodes do this, feeling less like a single story cut in half and more like two stories with a connecting event in the middle.
- Hartman Hips: Donna of Strickland Propane, and then some.
- Heartbroken Badass
- Her Child, but Not His: Joseph, clearly fathered by John Redcorn during his long-standing affair with Nancy. Of course, Dale never figures this out. Everyone else knows, but won't tell Dale (though John Redcorn admitted to dating "his best friend's wife" during a reality show taping, but Dale thought John Redcorn was talking about Bill's wife, Lenore).
- And then when he does figure out Joseph's not his son, he immediately concludes that Joseph is the result of an alien impregnating Nancy in her sleep. With his own semen.
- Hidden Depths: Bill.
- Holding the Floor: In the episode "Flush with Power", Hank filibusters by reading Peggy's old newspaper columns (she carries them around in her purse) at a town hall meeting in order to make the board members use the restrooms in the hall so that they realize the terrors of the lo-flow toilets that were recently installed.
- Homage: The Out-Gambitted entry below begins when Peggy recreates the con from The Sting.
- Hot Mom: Minh, Nancy.
- Peggy considers herself this and the occasional odd character (who really likes big feet) will agree.
- How's Your British Accent?: Alan Rickman guest stars as the American owner of a Renaissance Faire. He spends most of the episode as the "king" of the fair speaking in his own voice, until the end, where the "king" slips back into a (terrible attempt from Rickman at a) Texan accent.
- Hypocrisy Nod: In "The Arrow Head", Hank finds a Native American artifact in his yard and asks John Redcorn what it's worth. Redcorn severely says "Hank, it's wrong to take what belongs to someone else for-" and is interrupted as Nancy says "Come Back to Bed, Honey." Blushing, Redcorn says "Well, food for thought" and beats a hasty retreat.
- Hypocritical Humor: The episode "Nancy Boys" takes the traditional "wife discovers cheating" plot and shuffles the players: John Redcorn, Nancy's long-term boyfriend is hurt and upset that she's cheating on him with... her husband Dale. Nancy's desperately trying to retain both relationships, and Dale winds up trying to apologize to Redcorn and covering for his absences with Nancy by giving Lame Excuses.
- Ice Cream Koan: Hank's encounter with a monk whose order suspects Bobby of being their reincarnated lama (much to Hank's dismay).
Monk: There is a Buddhist saying: "As the wheel follows the ox that draws the cart, the wind cannot overturn a mountain."
- Ignored Epiphany: Spoofed in one episode. Hank has trouble shooting a gun and so sees a sports psychologist. In the middle of their session, Hank starts talking about how when he was a kid, Cotton would scream and curse at him while trying to teach him how to shoot—but the therapist interrupts his would-be breakthrough and says they're wasting valuable session time.
- I'll Tell You When I've Had Enough!!: Said by Bobby in "Love Hurts...and So Does Art" when he's asked if he's had enough liver at the deli.
- A variant occurs in "Now Who's the Dummy?": Hank finishes a beer and asks for another. Bill asks Hank if he's had enough, but Hank interrupts and reaffirms: "ANOTHER." Bill immediately gives him another beer.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: Hank in "Now Who's the Dummy?" after seeing Bobby practicing his "labials" (which is basically repeating "Fluttering Butterflies" over and over) with a ventriloquist dummy. While he doesn't actually say it, the next day in the alley hes pounding a beer back and when he finishes it he demands another.
- Ink Suit Actor: Octavio is basically an animated clone of Danny Trejo.
- The one-off character Alabaster the pimp resembles Snoop Dogg.
- Jack the barber also somewhat resembles his voice actor, Brian Doyle-Murray. He originally looked younger and had a mustache.
- Insecurity System: Dale's front door is protected by a rather ridiculous security system which included primed crossbows (as befitting his personality). However, John Redcorn comes and goes as he pleases through the unlocked bedroom window.
- Insistent Terminology: "I sell propane and propane accessories."
- Instrumental Theme Tune
- Insult Backfire: In one episode, Bobby sneaks into Connie's room to talk. She tells him if Khan catches him in there, he'll make her play that song he wrote about Bobby. Bobby responds, excitedly, "'Fat White Lump' is about me?!"
- Invulnerable Knuckles: Averted in "I Don't Want to Wait for Our Lives to Be Over...". Bobby punches Joseph in the face, and immediately remarks: "If my hand didn't hurt so much, I'd do it again. Oh what the hell." (punches Joseph again).
- Irony: From "Nancy's Boys":
Dale: All John Redcorn did was make your head feel better, and all I did was make his head feel worse. It's almost ironic.
- It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Rad Thibodeaux. Subverted in that he's the one that pronounces it "Thib-A-Day-Ox-X".
- Lampshaded by Hank in that very episode. "Isn't that pronounced 'Tib-A-Do'?" "Sometimes, but only by mistake."
- Averted in the episode where they meet Bill's relatives in New Orleans- they use the French pronunciations, but nobody says anything about it, despite Hank and Peggy's usual ignorance of other cultures.
- It's All About Me: Peggy in "Little Horrors of Shop", so very much.
- I Was Quite a Looker: Bill. This was lampshaded a few times.
- Cotton as well, before he got his shins blown off at least.
- Jerkass: Cotton, and Dale to an extent.
- Also Kahn. And Peggy can fall into this at times.
- Pretty much most of the cast at some point or another, especially one time characters.
- Buck Strickland might be the worst of them all, possessing little to no redeeming qualities and rarely getting comeuppance for his behavior.
- Bill's wife Lenore, who treated him like crap and cheated on him openly before dumping him and ruining his life. Her only actual appearance in the series has her coming back because his relationship with former Texas governor Anne Richardson attracted her attention.
- Jerk Jock: Chang Wassanasong thinks he's the greatest thing the world has ever seen and has the hots for Connie. She can't stand him, but her parents keep trying to set them up together, mainly because they'd love any connection to Ted.
- Kafka Komedy: Bill's life is tragic enough to fall under this.
- Karma Houdini: Peggy Hill gets away with being an asshole to others a little too much.
- Randy Travis in "Peggy's Fan Fair", mostly because as the one with the microphone, everyone only hears his side of the story, and because Peggy has a reputation for trying to gain credit when she doesn't deserve it.
- Peggy also falls into this in the same episode, in that it's one where she is portrayed sympathetically, and it's also the one where someone finally calls her out on her ego.
- Nancy basically got away for years with cheating on Dale (which probably damaged his psychology subconsciously) and mothering a child with John Redcorn. Even worse, just about everybody except Dale knows, but nobody says anything to him. Karma did eventually creep up on her when she began to go bald from stress.
- John Redcorn even more so. He even cheated on Nancy without being caught.
- Kahn took a big risk showing Hank the top secret project he was working on and specifically told Hank to never tell anyone. Hank immediately told Dale, Bill and Boomhauer and after Bill blabbed about it at work Kahn was fired for treason. The only way he was able to get another job was to take one in Houston, three hours away. Hank blamed it on Kahn being an asshole, despite the fact that he was the one to go back on his word and get Kahn fired in the first place. And the only punishment Hank got was a What the Hell, Hero? from Peggy and doing some housework for Mihn, which he liked doing anyway.
- Not really. Kahn purposefully boasted about his new promotion, lured Hank to his workplace under the pretense that they needed propane, then after showing off everything he did, revealed they actually had no need for propane at all. It wasn't so much as taking a big risk as showing off his success. Kahn deserved to get fired for that!
- Randy Travis in "Peggy's Fan Fair", mostly because as the one with the microphone, everyone only hears his side of the story, and because Peggy has a reputation for trying to gain credit when she doesn't deserve it.
- Kayfabe: In the episode where Peggy starts working for Sizemore Realty, she learns that Sizemore has his employees do things like pretend to be married in order to improve their sales. Near the end of the episode, Peggy impresses him by having Connie pose as her adopted daughter.
- Killed Off for Real: A few supporting characters were killed off; the first to go was Buckley, followed by Buck Strickland mistress Debbie Grund, and finally Cotton Hill.
- Bill's extended family consists of a colorful assortment of effete New Orleans layabouts. Almost all of them are killed off, sent to the madhouse, or revealed to not be related to Bill at all between episodes, except Gilbert.
- Don't forget Cotton's war buddies, between Season 3 and 8 more then five of them are mentioned, by name even, to have died. Topsy, the creepy old guy with the balloon-face, was the last to perish before Cotton.
- Kissing Cousins: Played with. Hank and Peggy punish Luanne and Bobby by making them think they are actually married.
- Also shown in the episode where Bill travels to New Orleans with the Hills to visit his family and Bill's three cousins - two married in, one blood - fight over him because he is the last straight Dauterive male and they want to continue the family line.
- Kissing Warm Up: Bobby practices kissing on Luanne's hairdresser dummy.
- Kitsch Collection
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All: Peggy, especially in later seasons.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Hank believes in this, according to "Torch Song Hillogy" - he states that his ankle breaking before he could win the biggest football game of his life in high school was God punishing him for showboating after a touchdown just minutes before.
- Nancy cheated on her husband for over a decade and abused his trust without a single negative consequence. Until she started to go bald...
- John Redcorn gets his comeuppance for his affair with Nancy by having to watch his only son be raised by an idiot. At one point he gives Joseph a hunting knife that had been passed down from father to son for generations as a symbol of burgeoning manhood and as a rite of passage, only for Joseph to not care and not understand the significance.
- Dr. Weissman tells Bill that he'll lose his legs to diabetes and claims he'll be wheelchair bound for the rest of his life, acting incredibly insensitively and dismissive of Bill throughout. When it turns out he wasn't telling the truth and Bill's legs are in fact perfectly fine, Bill goes to complain over his undue stress, only to be mockingly dismissed once again. Bill then pushes Weissman into his office, closes the door behind him then proceeds to kick his ass.
Hank: My friend is erm, er...
- Last Het Partner: Peggy was this to an ex-boyfriend who realized he was gay after kissing her.
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Hank and Peggy decided to have another child, despite fertility problems, and Cotton and Didi wound up getting pregnant by accident shortly thereafter. Lampshaded by Peggy shortly after G.H. was born, when she was also in a full-body cast:
"I was once one of the finest mothers in all of Texas, and now I can't even wipe a baby. And I have to watch those two, Cotton and Stupid, with their beautiful new baby that they don't even want!"
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall/End of Series Awareness: In the final episode, when Bobby expresses an honest interest in a manly hobby, Hank says "I've been waiting thirteen years to hear you say that." 13 is both Bobby's age and the number of seasons the show ran.
- Also from the finale: as the episode draws to a close, Hank and Bobby are grilling steaks. Bobby looks at the final steak left to be cooked and says meaningfully "Well, dad, I guess this is the last one."
- The finale aired as the second half of a two-parter with the penultimate episode, which began with the foursome in the alley realizing, "Oh no, we're out of projects!"
- Let's Have Another Baby: Hank and Peggy get the urge to have another child after dealing the whole episode with Hank attempting to impregnate Ladybird to have puppies. The next episode deals this when Peggy fails a dozen pregnancy tests because of Hank's narrow urethra resulting in a low sperm count, which is why Bobby is their only child. They give up afterwards.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: Hank has a habit of doing this to people who really piss him off, so much so that "I'M GONNA KICK YOUR ASS!" has become somewhat of a catchphrase. Hank actually DID manage to kick a couple of people's asses in the literal sense during the show's run, too.
- Logic Bomb: In one episode, Hank asks Dale how he can support the NRA, an organization based out of Washington, D.C.. After a Beat, Dale responds "That's a puzzler."
- Long-Lost Uncle Aesop: Luanne's dad, who was already RetConed into a felon for the episode.
- Long Title: "I Don't Want to Wait for Our Lives to Be Over, I Want to Know Right Now, Will It Be... Sorry. Do Do Doo Do Do, Do Do Doo Do Do, Do Do Doo Do Do, Doo..." (often just abbreviated to "I Don't Want to Wait").
- "When Joseph Met Lori, and Made Out with Her in the Janitor's Closet".
- "What Happens at the National Propane Gas Convention in Memphis Stays at the National Propane Gas Convention in Memphis".
- "Serves Me Right for Giving General George S. Patton the Bathroom Key".
- Lost Him in a Card Game: Buck Strickland once bet - and lost - Hank to Thatherton! in a game of poker. Apparently he usually bets Joe Jack, meaning this must occur quite often.
- Magical Native American: John Redcorn; subverted in that he deliberately plays it up to bed women.
- Played straight at times when he wanted to give Joseph a spirit journey and then read both Dale and Joseph's dreams. Then caught an arrow with his bare hands.
- Meaningful Name: "Kahn" is an anagram of "Hank". Lampshaded in "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day", where Kahn points out the anagram and says it's proof that he and Hank were destined to be friends.
- Me Love You Long Time: Cotton's wartime affair with a Japanese nurse, which resulted in Hank's Japanese half-brother. She's perhaps the only woman he really, genuinely loved.
- Bobby and Connie, before they broke up.
- Men Are Uncultured: Hank may as well be the Trope Namer; see the Billy Elliot Plot listing above.
- Military School: Fort Berk, Cotton's old boarding school. Implied to be what turned Cotton into the Jerkass he is through constant beatings, psychological torture and solitary confinement, the memories of which made him work up some of his "pain water". Hank wanted to go but Cotton didn't allow it as he didn't think he was good enough for it. Bobby got sent there for a two week bootcamp but to Cotton's dismay the school had been defanged. As Cotton put it, "[They] went and turned my childhood home into a giant sissy factory!"
- Mistaken for Gay: Dale thinks John Redcorn is gay, explaining why he was never suspicious about all the time Redcorn spent with his wife Nancy. Though in "Hank Gets Dusted", when Redcorn outright says "I slept with my best friend's wife!", Dale dismissively assumes he's talking about Bill's ex-wife Lenore.
- Mistaken for Masturbating: In "The Son Also Roses", Hank is suspicious as to why Bobby is spending so much time in his bedroom closet, it is implied that he thinks he is doing this, he is actually growing roses and he's hiding it because he didn't want Hank to find out.
- In "Hank's Dirty Laundry", someone has been renting porn using Hank's name and getting fined for not returning one of the videos. At one point the culprit sends him some video tapes to provide clues that he did not rent them so Hank locks himself in the bedroom to watch them. Peggy walks in on him thinking he was masturbating and runs out; he was actually fiddling with a pencil while taking notes on the videos.
- Mistaken for Profound: Hank does this to his father-in-law.
- Mistaken for Racist: One episode has people thinking Hank hates blacks because Ladybird bites the repairman who came to fix their water heater. When she reacts the same way to a white repairman, Hank realizes that Ladybird was reacting to his anxiety about having another man do home repair for him. He makes good by bringing Ladybird by the black repairman's house and showing him that she's normally a very sweet-natured dog.
- Mistaken Nationality: Kahn. When Hank first meets him, he asks him, "Are you Chinese or Japanese?" Cotton Hill correctly identifies Kahn as Laotian at first glance, surprising even Kahn.
- Morality Pet: Even though Peggy is a complete Ted Baxter and generally annoying and incompetent, she genuinely cares about Hank and Bobby and can do some pretty Badass stuff to defend them.
- Bobby also plays this role for Cotton. Cotton may be a misguided Jerkass, but he does love Bobby.
- The Moral Substitute: Subverted; Christian Rock suddenly becomes big in their area, but after hearing it, Hank denounces it: "You're not making Christianity better - you're making rock 'n' roll worse!"
- Motor Mouth: Boomhauer.
- Mrs. Robinson: Miz Liz, Strickland's wife, who is visibly a much older woman, who has an emotional breakdown after mentioning that everyone calls her madame now instead of miss.
- Ms. Fanservice: Luanne during most of the show (bikini scenes, close-ups of bouncing breasts, and "hands over boobs" shots), and Nancy shows up in a tiny string bikini (or nude) at other times.
- Mushroom Samba: Hank accidentally inhales too much varnish in "Hillennium", and passes out. What follows is a dream sequence where he imagines he's one of the Whack-a-Moles.
- My Car Hates Me: Hank is about to be mowed down by a train in "Chasing Bobby" but desperately tries to start his old truck so he can drive off the train tracks. Eventually he does exit the vehicle but his truck is destroyed.
- My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels: Peggy's Spanish skill amounts to this. Fortunately, it also serves to convince the Mexican court that her kidnapping of a young girl was really a terrible misunderstanding as she had no clue what the girl was saying.
Juror: (in Spanish) Not guilty.
- My Master, Right or Wrong: Hank is willing to overlook a lot of Buck Strickland's faults, but even he has his limits.
- Later episodes hint that Hank knows perfectly well his boss is an total moron and is constantly having to run damage control to mitigate his screw-ups. Hank even states his actual loyalty is more to the company he's dedicated the last 15 years of his life to, than the man who runs it.
- Nausea Dissonance: In "My Own Private Rodeo", when Dale recounts how he caught his father, Bug, kissing his wife Nancy on their wedding day, his story starts off catching Bill puking in the bathroom, and afterwards, nonchalantly heading straight to the kitchen, where he caught Bug in the act.
- Negative Continuity: An episode where Hank's coworker Enrique has a quinceañera for his daughter (15th birthday celebration for a Mexican girl, a rite of passage into womanhood) is contradicted by an earlier episode where Enrique and his wife are having marital problems and he mentions the kids have moved out of the house.
- The Neidermeyer: Cotton.
- The New Rock and Roll: Referenced in "Father of the Bribe", where the school mistakes a note Connie wrote ("I'm so bored I could kill myself!") for a suicide note, and Principal Moss notes that they want to avoid a double suicide "Dungeons & Dragons thing".
- Nice Guy: Irv the Meteorologist.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In the episode "Pretty, Pretty Dresses", Hank's misguided attempts to keep Bill from killing himself only make the situation worse. It's almost a checklist of what not to do when dealing with a suicidal person.
- Nightmare Sequence: "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg" features one.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Bill's Jerkass doctor in "Dia-BILL-ic Shock" is an obvious Expy of Dr. House.
- Also, Bill's cousin Gilbert is a Tennessee Williams impression.
- In a little overlap with Bland-Name Product, one episode has Bobby finding a pink-and-white stripped bag (the trademark of Victoria's Secret, which Hank hurriedly explains "Your mother only went there to buy athletic socks!"
- No Except Yes: From "Plastic White Female":
Hank: You're just using this head as a crutch.
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: When Bill showed up wearing the local baseball league's uniform, Hank's reaction to the uniform was this.
- No Matter How Much I Beg: In "To Kill a Ladybird", Dale goes underneath the house after the raccoon, instructs Hank to put the grate back on, and tells him that no matter how much he begs, to not remove the grate until he's subdued the raccoon. Within only a few seconds, Dale is begging for Hank to remove the grate so he can get out. In an amusing subversion of this trope, the grate gets loose and the raccoon gets out, fights Ladybird, and runs away. Dale then emerges and says, "I give you one task, and you screw it up!"
- No Periods, Period: Subverted in the episode "Aisle 8A" when Connie is staying with the Hills while her parents are out of town.
Hank: What's wrong, Connie?
- No Sympathy
- Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: According to the opening, anyway. Apparently all four regulars didn't have any work that day, allowing them to hang out in the alley most of the day drinking beer and shooting the breeze. This is lampshaded in one episode, when a reality TV show producer watches footage of Hank and the gang drinking beer in front of their fence, and subsequently exclaims "This is not INTERESTING!"
- Not So Different: Realized by Hank and Kahn in "Westie Side Story" when they both punish Bobby and Connie.
Hank: You know, Kahn, we may deny our kids completely different desserts, but they both go to bed hungry, and that's what really matters.
- In one episode, Hank criticizes Luanne for supporting George W. Bush for entirely shallow reasons (she thinks he's handsome and has a nice smile). But when Hank questions his support of Bush due to a weak handshake, Luanne calls him on the fact that he's being just as shallow.
- In "The Bluegrass is Always Greener", we get to see Khan pressuring Connie to be a concert violinist, but she hears Hank and the guys playing bluegrass and gets into it. They form a band, but Hank quickly becomes just as bad as Khan.
- In "Cops and Robert", Hank accidentally steals a man's wallet because he mistakenly thinks the man just pick-pocketed him. Throughout the episode, the man is shown, like Hank, to be sick and tired of getting ripped off by slimeballs; in fact, before the wallet incident, Hank sees the man getting ripped off by a pretzel vendor and remarks on it to Peggy.
- Not What I Signed on For: Hank during the Alamo reenactment episode, where the director decides to "reinterpret" history and make the Alamo's most famous figures look like incompetent boobs, much to Hank's dismay.
- Really, a lot of the projects Hank signs on for turn into this at some point.
- Hank does this to Bobby at times, whenever Bobby expresses an interest in something mildly competitive, to which Hank responds too much and ruins the joy. In one episode, Bobby becomes interested in growing roses, which Hank is against until he learned that there are Rose competitions, at which point he completely muscles Bobby out of the picture and takes over.
- In "Soldier of Misfortune", despite being a gun club, Mad Dog is the only one who's serious about holding Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer hostage and torturing them for real.
Earl: Twenty minutes ago, we were talking about ordering a pizza. What happened here?!
- Obfuscating Disability: Bill was told by a doctor that he had diabetes that would take his legs away within a year, so in order to prepare, he started making all his movements in a wheelchair and seems to have forgotten he could actually still use his legs until he was drunk in a bar and stood up, shocking and majorly pissing off the wheel-chaired basketball players he had befriended.
- Inverted in one episode, when Lucky gets talked out of suing Strickland Propane, and obfuscates not having a disability so his Amoral Attorney can't go through with suing them.
- Obnoxious In-Laws: Cotton. Also, Minh's military General father.
- Inverted with Peggy's family, who get along better with Hank when the Hill family visit the ranch.
- Obstructive Zealot: Dale, very often.
- Oh Crap: Trip Larsen's reaction when he was zapped while on the pig grinder and became sane just in time to see where the conveyor belt was taking him.
- Hank's reaction when Dale tells him how much of an idiot Jimmy Witchard (who Bobby was working for) is and he realizes that Bobby was right about him.
- Once an Episode: Though, not always in this order:
- One-Scene Wonder: Plenty of otherwise recurring background characters who'd occasionally get a scene or line every so often most of which were fairly funny. Notable ones include Chuck Mangione, Dooley and Emily the hall monitor.
- One Steve Limit: There were two separate characters named Donna that worked at Strickland Propane. The first Donna was a black woman around Hank's age who never had any speaking role. The second Donna was a Caucasian woman, also the same age as Hank, with a relatively minor role in some episodes. Apparently Buck has had an affair with a Donna but frankly it's unclear which one. It's possibly the former because she was fired for stealing office supplies.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Elroy Kleinschmidt known as "Lucky" which he got his nickname from a lawsuit he filed at Costco for tripping on pee-pee in the restroom.
- Only Sane Employee: Hank at Stickland Propane.
- Only Sane Man: Hank for the majority of the series.
- On Three: In "...Peggy Hill: The Decline and Fall", this occurs when Hank, Boomhauer, Bill, Dale, and the doctor try to get Peggy (who's lying on a gurney) into the house. She doesn't fit, so they have to tilt the gurney, on three. There's confusion as to what that means, so Hank sighs and says, "Just lift."
- Out-Gambitted: In "The Substitute Spanish Prisoner", Peggy of all people manages to successfully con a tricky bastard of a Con Man into successfully conning an obviously bad con so that he'd put the money in his room safe... which was actually not a room safe, but a safe Peggy had put there. Ha!
- And what's amusing is that if that plan had failed, Peggy was just going to steal his car.
- Outside Inside Slur: Kahn's idol, Ted Wassonasong, calls him a banana, after which Kahn tries to get in touch with his Laotian culture.
- Pac-Man Fever: Averted; Bobby is shown playing a Tomb Raider-style game in "Get Your Freak Off", plays a Dance Dance Revolution-style game in "Returning Japanese", and Hank gets addicted to a Grand Theft Auto clone (the 3D games, that is) in "Grand Theft Arlen". All feature visuals on par with the rest of the show.
- Somewhat played straight in that the show suggests two guys in their early twenties are able to create an entire 3D open world sandbox game with multi-player, sounds, voice acting, etc, within 24 hours of meeting Hank. Even a mod would take significantly more time than that.
- There's an In-Universe example where Bobby pretends to be playing a game (to throw his family off the trail) by mashing buttons randomly... on a GAME OVER screen.
- Papa Wolf: Hank Hill is usually very good at keeping his temper, but anyone who threatens or abuses Bobby soon learns how dangerous an angry Texan can be. And let's not even consider Peggy, who simply goes overboard with this trope.
- People's Republic of Tyranny: What Laos is (correctly) portrayed as. At one point, Kahn is almost tricked into joining La Résistance against the regime, but wisely decides to back out while he still can.
- Pet the Dog: Bobby's clown professor is really hard on and sarcastic to Bobby, but when he notices that he actually hurt Bobby's feelings, he tries to encourage him (albeit in the wrong way). That said, he still remains the antagonist for the rest of his episode.
- Cotton takes the fall for Bobby when he accidentally lights a fire in the bathroom and is blamed for Arson.
- Phrase Catcher: ...Thatherton!
- Picked Last: In one episode, Hank and his friends find a kickball and decide to start playing. When their other family members and neighbors come to join the game, they split into teams. Dale is picked last, even after Connie, a 12-year old girl who wasn't the most athletic person to choose from. Team captain Bill is obviously disappointed at having Dale on his team.
- Ping-Pong Naivete: Hank about certain issues, like the concept of being transgendered. In one episode, he references "the bank teller who is between genders", in another when informed that Peggy's new friend isn't a woman but man who dresses as one (not really transexual, but a cross dresser), he replies "Now hold on there, that doesn't make any sense!" It made so little sense to Hank, that when he met the transvestite, he forgot about it completely and actually respected the man for being nice.
- Hank is frequently shown to be extremely careful with money, yet was for some reason under the impression that the sticker price was the best price possible on a car.
- And in that episode, he was shocked to see a salesman trick people ("I know [you are a salesman], that's why this doesn't make any sense"), but in the episode where Cotton was buying a time share, he was very savvy to various sales tricks.
- Hank is frequently shown to be extremely careful with money, yet was for some reason under the impression that the sticker price was the best price possible on a car.
- Plague of Good Fortune: The subplot of "The Peggy Horror Picture Show" involves Bobby and Joseph trying to prank various people around Arlen, only for them to run into good luck as a result.
- Planet of Steves: Luanne once unwittingly joined an all-woman Cult masquerading as a sorority where all the members were named Jane.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Hank to Luanne when she's coming out of the shower.
- Plot Allergy: Bobby becomes allergic to Ladybird in "Hank's Choice".
- Poke the Poodle: In one episode, Bill wants to get stuck in jail because the prisoners treat him better than the guys. Hank tries to get arrested so he can go apologize. His first two attempts are using a crosswalk when the "Don't Walk" sign is lit, and taking off his shirt in a store; both times he's in full view of policemen, both times they just kind of shrug and don't care. Then he just barely taps a patrol car's rear bumper and gets arrested immediately.
- Police Are Useless: Every time the cops show up it's to misunderstand things and blame the good guys for something, leaving it to Hank and his friends to solve the problem of the week. Police in Arlen seem bored, lazy, easy to annoy, and overly committed to doing things with instructions even when they turn out to be useless. On the other hand, one episode had a Texas Ranger show up to investigate a murder case and he turned out to be very competent and attractive.
- Also, a policeman helps Hank get the picture of his colon taken down from the art museum in "Love Hurts...and So Does Art".
- Political Correctness Gone Mad: In "Tears of an Inflatable Clown", a diversity expert inflicts white guilt (and black guilt, and every other kind of guilt) on Bobby and his classmates, nearly derailing the school fair they were organizing. Thankfully, Hank and the others keep the fair going and convince the kids not to beat themselves up over what other people did in the past.
- Politically-Correct History: In the original cut of "Joust Like a Woman", a teen at the Renaissance Faire can be heard saying King Phillip is "gay" (in the insulting context); this scene has usually been edited out of repeats following the 2010 suicides related to anti-gay bullying (and a heightened awareness of the issue all-around).
- Positive Discrimination: Averted; Token Minority Kahn Souphanousinphone is the biggest Jerkass of the regular cast and a rather overt racist.
- The Prankster: All of ZZ Top, but especially Dusty (Hank's cousin) towards Hank in "Hank Gets Dusted". However, after the Jerkass Reality Show producer goes too far, Dusty tells him to back down by pointing out "You've seen what we do to Hank, and we like him!"
- Pre-Groin Kicking One Liner: "That's my purse!"
- "I don't know you!"
- Precision F-Strike: Peggy manages to deliver this in "Death and Texas", without even using an actual f-bomb.
"I forgot the meat! How could I be so freaking stupid?!"
- Properly Paranoid: In one episode, a theory Dale had was actually right. Of course, it's probably pretty rare to find an example of that.
- Dale's conspiracy paranoia plays into another episode where he helps Hank get his driver's license corrected by threatening a DMV attendant with going to his superiors, which he correctly lists in order of ascending authority.
- "I am Your Worst Nightmare! I have a three-line phone and absolutely nothing at all to do with my time!"
- Early in "Death of a Propane Salesman", the following exchange happens:
- Dale's conspiracy paranoia plays into another episode where he helps Hank get his driver's license corrected by threatening a DMV attendant with going to his superiors, which he correctly lists in order of ascending authority.
Dale: (smugly) "That's what they want you to think."
- Punishment Box: Bobby is put into one of these at a military school. It most assuredly does not break him.
I've slept on a mattress. I've slept on cement. I'm a mattress guy.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Luann leases an apartment with others in an attempt to move out of Hank's house. These unbelievably immature assholes don't lift a finger to help, make up a series of one Lame Excuse after another to avoid paying the rent, and are mind-blowingly rude to everyone. She moves out and the episode ends with one of the roomies calls the members of Cotton's Veteran's group Nazis. These Jerkass roomies become Asshole Victims when Cotton and company actually have a CoA when they wade in and beat the living shit out of these douchebags.
- Rant-Inducing Slight: After being run ragged from doing all the baby's chores during "...Peggy Hill: The Decline and Fall", Bobby snaps when Didi asks him to get her some lottery tickets.
- Rashomon Style: How Hank and company burned down the fire house. Bill, Hank, Boomhauer and Dale tell their versions of what went wrong. They also have their own interpretations of the other three.
- Dale's version has himself as being tall and muscular with long-flowing hair (and Hank was dressed as a Drill Sergeant Nasty). Bill's version has himself being a good hundred pounds fatter and completely bald. Boomhauer's version has himself speaking normally, while everyone else speaks with his Verbal Tic.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: The point of the hunting trip in "The Order of the Straight Arrow".
- Real Men Eat Meat: Hank fervently beliefs this.
- Real Men Hate Sugar: Comically subverted. Dale's "macho" gun club is fond of deserts, with Dale regularly baking macaroons as part of (or possibly his entire) campaign for presidency. His opposition in one election, Mad Dog, is basically a walking macho stereotype and prepared a wide variety of cakes to one-up Dale.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: In "The Incredible Hank", Hank shoots down Dale's theory that he's a clone of a warrior from the future, using four bullet points. Dale gets progressively more meek with each point Hank makes.
- Refuge in Audacity: "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day". Damn. Most of the episode is one big Broken Aesop of denying a manic depressive person his medication to get him to build a grill. When they realize that this is seriously risking his health, they seem to learn a lesson. But after the grill turns out to be awesome, they decide it was all worth it.
- A lot of the schemes dreamed up by many characters fall into this territory.
- Retcon: This series has had a number of 'em.
- In "Death Picks Cotton", when Cotton tracks down Hank and company in the Japanese restaurant, it triggers flashbacks in him, and he calls the Chef (who only speaks Spanish) a Tojo, his slur for them. However, wasn't part II of "Returning Japanese" basically about him forgiving the Japanese, talked out of his scheme to spit in the Emperor of Japan's face by his illegitimate son Junichiro?
- Peggy's background was rewritten so that she spent most of her early life in Montana, rather than spending her high school years in Arlen. This complicates the episodes where Hank and Peggy are shown as High School Sweethearts. Not only that but Peggy's mother, who was originally an older-looking Peggy who was a bit critical of her into a downright mean and verbally abusive bitch who never forgave Peggy for abandoning the family ranch, even after saving it.
- Luanne's father. In the first episode, Luanne, then aged 18, is dropped off at the Hill residence after her mother stabs him, and in later episodes, he is referenced as working on an oil rig just to stay safely away from Luanne's psycho mother. All this is chucked out the window when he finally makes an appearance. He's introduced as a manipulative drunken bastard and Hank and Peggy decide to cover up the truth about him to his grown daughter. He claims that Luanne was five when he last saw her. He's a felon out of prison, rather than having been working on an oil rig. And he looks nothing like his sister Peggy, while in an earlier episode he was described as strongly resembling Peggy.
- Hank and his old Arlen High School football team challenged the team that they lost against during the championships to a rematch that they eventually win. This one is made more annoying by the fact that Hank had come to terms with losing the game in an earlier episode. It left a bad taste considering it was one of the last episodes.
- Cotton's second starring episode deals with him going senile. Hank notices that Cotton has gone from being his crazy old self to just plain crazy and Cotton is portrayed as such. The only reason Cotton avoids being institutionalized is by having Didi be his caretaker. But in all subsequent episodes, Cotton's senility is either toned down or abandoned entirely and Didi eventually divorces him.
- The Reveal: The Grand Finale reveals, in a quick shot during the final couple of minutes, what Boomhauer's job is: he's a Texas Ranger.
- Risky Business Dance: Spoofed. Bobby slides in his underwear just as Luanne is watching the scene on TV. Turns out he hasn't seen the movie.
- Rule of Drama: Lampshaded in one episode.
Peggy's friend: "HURRY!"
- Rule of Three: In "What Makes Bobby Run?":
Hank: Look, Peggy, Bobby's got Mr. Crackers! Bobby's got Mr. Crackers! Bobby's got Mr. Crackers!
- The Runaway: Bobby is briefly one in "Death of a Propane Salesman" due to overhearing (and misinterpreting) Bill and Dale competing over who would get him after Hank dies.
- Saw Star Wars 27 Times: Hank's seen The Great Santini dozens of times.
- Scenery Censor: Hank's erotic dreams in "Sug Night".
- Science Marches On: The periodic table of the elements in Connie's bedroom.
- Screams Like a Little Girl: Inverted; Hank has a very manly scream, which sounds so ridiculous that it became a Running Gag. "D-WOOOAAAGH!"
- Also played semi-straight with Bobby.
- Dale: "I don't hear any girlish screams so either Dale's not here yet or he's dead."
- Also played semi-straight with Bobby.
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!: Cotton (although he was probably always like that, regardless of his age).
- Screw the Pain Medication: Cotton Hill again, which very much overlaps with Macho Masochism, when he justifies his refusal of pain killers at a Virginia hospital.
"Did Lincoln ask for girly gas when they blow'd his head off?"
- Second Place Is for Losers: Subverted, when Hank enters a shooting competition with Bobby, and the boy is glad they did so well in an actual competition.
- Seinfeld Is Unfunny: In an in-universe version of the trope, Bobby attempted to try to figure out what was so funny about Ray Jay Johnson, a comedian all the adults on the show loved.
- Sent Off to Work For Relatives:
- In one episode, Connie Souphanousinphone, the nerdy Laotian girl next door, is desperate to get a summer internship with Peggy because the alternative is spending the summer on a "family fishing boat in Laos" because her father Kahn thinks it will look good on her college applications.
- In a later episode of King of the Hill, Connie's badgirl cousin from LA, "Tid Pao" (voiced by Lucy Lui) is punished by being sent to work on her Uncle's ranch, who gives her a stern warning upon arrival:
"I'm last Uncle you got. You screw up here, we send you back with Grandma in Laos!"
- Serious Business: Propane and propane accessories. Hank takes this to absurd levels, due to his job (and how seriously he takes it). For example, he calls butane a "bastard gas", and he has a beeper specifically for "propane emergencies".
- In the episode where an artist embarrasses Hank by putting Hank's colonoscopy showing his colon clogged by beef up in a museum, the artist is arrested for "defaming beef", which is apparently serious business in Texas, probably a reference to a famous case involving Oprah Winfrey.
- Football at any level is serious business. This is very much Truth in Television in Texas.
- In the final episode, Bobby joins a junior college meat grading team and has a lot of fun... until he sees the darker side of competition and rivalry. Best emphasized when, at dinner, his teammates see an opposing team and say they should blind them by throwing red pepper flakes in their eyes. Bobby laughs, but when the rest of the team shoots a glare his way he asks "Wait, you guys are serious?!"
- Having a masculine haircut. After Hank's barber Jack bleaches Hank's hair out of spite Hank is told by Buck Strickland that he can't be paid for the day and has to take the afternoon off to get his hair dyed back to "a boy's color".
- Lawn care for Hank. The day Bobby was born Hank bought a whetstone, to be presented to him when he becomes a teenager. The whetstone is for sharpening mower blades, which is what Bobby is to do every Saturday until he has shown himself to be responsible enough to mow the lawn. In other words, a common chore assigned to teenagers is treated as a rite of passing and a privilege that must be earned. Another episode has Hank see Khan using mowing the lawn as a punishment for Connie and being completely bewildered by it.
- Beer is worshiped by the guys. Beer is so sacred that it even supersedes the lawn in the Serious Business hierarchy, with Hank saying he wouldn't pour out a beer to extinguish a grass fire. Spitting out beer is to be avoided at all costs, so much so that when someone actually does it its for a serious reason. Even that which contains beer, the cooler, is treated with respect. When Cotton blindly drives his Cadillac Car down the alley and nearly kills beer, Hank's immediate concern is whether or not the cooler was dented.
- Sexy Priest: Monsignor Martinez from "Los Dias y Las Noches de Monsignor Martinez.
- Bill sees the pastor at their church as this. Though mostly because he's desperate.
- And the (perceived) forbidden nature of their relationship is shown to be a necessary part of his interest in her.
- Bill sees the pastor at their church as this. Though mostly because he's desperate.
- Shout-Out: Boomhauer's "disco" outfit in the episode "Strangeness on a Train" makes him look a lot like Robert Garcia.
- Luanne Platter's name is one to the Lu Ann Platter, a combination dish served at a Texas-based restaurant chain called Luby's.
- Bill's obsessive longing for his ex-wife Lenore can't possibly be anything else except this for Edgar Allan Poe's The Raven.
- Also, in the basket-weaving episode, Dale tries to kill Hank... with a forklift. Hank even utters the line, "He tried to kill me with a forklift."
- In one episode Bobby is reading an issue of Unvincible. Aside from the one letter difference, Mark doesn't look any different.
- Bobby Hill has a doll of Bart Simpson in his room.
- In "Dog Dale Afternoon", Dale, having been finally driven around the bend by a prank played by his friends, takes refuge at the top of a local clock tower and is mistaken for a sniper.
- In "The Passion of Dauterive", Bill begins contemplating the meaning of life after the roof collapses on his bed. Boomhauer responds by talking about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
- Hank's flashback to his childhood Halloween fun has obvious elements of It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, such as the music and Boomhauer's ghost costume.
- Stuart Dooley is an Expy of Butt-Head.
- In "Little Horrors of Shop", Peggy tries to get the students to vote for her as Substitute Teacher of the Year; three votes go to "Lara Croft, whoever... the heck that is".
- The episode where Hank, Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer are under investigation for burning down the firehouse features an amount of slapstick that is excessive by the show's standards, and the show ends with a riff from Three Blind Mice.
- Shown Their Work: A lot of Texas references are completely accurate, from Big Tex at the state fair, to a Laotian minority population, football being a big deal, to a Shout-Out to Luby's cafeteria. The list goes on.
- Skyward Scream: "DAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAATE NIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!"
- In "Of Mice and Little Green Men", Nancy wonders why God is punishing her. Then she shouts to the sky, "WHY, SUG?!"
- Slice of Life: A relatively rare Western-animated "adult" example.
- Slow Clap: Occurs in "Plastic White Female".
- Smarter Than You Look: Lucky has often shown that he's pretty savvy in certain areas, even if he gives off the vibe that he's just... not.
- Smoking Hot Sex: Subverted in "Nancy's Boys"; there's a close-up of Dale smoking and saying, "Oh yeah." The camera cuts back to reveal that he and Nancy still have their clothes on and haven't begun yet.
- Smug Snake: Peggy in the later episodes
- Snipe Hunt: "The Order of the Straight Arrow".
- Soapbox Sadie: Averted with Bobby. He's often just as obnoxious as a straight example, but thankfully never portrayed as being in the right.
- Soap Punishment: In "That's What She Said", Hank washes out the foul mouth of a new employee with soap.
- Spin the Bottle: Played in "Plastic White Female".
- Spit Take: Done straight when Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer do a synchronized spit-take upon discovering that the beer they've been drinking has been tainted, and subverted in a different episode when Hank almost does a spit-take of his own, and says dead seriously, "You almost made me spit out beer."
- The first example is also two examples in one:
Hank: If it wasn't the bananas that made us sick, then what was it? ...Oh my God, the BEER!
- Fridge Brilliance: He does have a crush on Peggy. He's probably shocked that Peggy would keep this from them (and him).
- Hank does play it straight in an early episode, however—he spits beer when he hears Peggy yelling out "VAGINA!" (It Makes Sense in Context.)
- Subverted in "Hilloween" when Peggy tells Hank that Bobby has gone off to Junie Harper's anti-Halloween party, he comes about as close as possible to a spit take before swallowing hard.
Hank: I came very close to spitting out beer!"
- Standardized Sitcom Housing: Completely averted. Every house on the show is designed like a real house, which would be a pain to shoot on a live action three camera sitcom.
- Sting: From "The Perils of Polling":
Hank: Oh my GOD... his handshake... (three note dramatic sting) it was limp!
- The Stinger: Nearly every episode featured a sound clip from earlier in the episode over the "Deedle Dee Productions" logo.
- The logo was silent during the first season.
- Stop Being Stereotypical: Inverted in one episode, where Hank was dealing with a client from Boston who expected everything in Texas to be cowboys and country, meaning Hank had to act stereotypical in order to draw the guy's attention. Eventually he gets sick of it and tells the guy off, saying (in effect) "If you want dumbass cowboy antics go with Thatherton, but if you want quality propane stick with Strickland." The guy ends up going with Thatherton.
- Strawman Political: A number of the one-off smug Northerners who make appearances in Arlen, usually voiced by David Herman. Like Hank's new boss who fired the truck drivers, or the disability advocate.
- Stupid Statement Dance Mix: The Baaah! song, which consists of variations of Hank's Baah!
- Suddenly Voiced: Debbie Grund, who previously appeared on the show but was not given any lines, has some dialog in "Hanky Panky".
- Sunglasses at Night: Dale.
- Suicide as Comedy: Bill in the Christmas episode "Pretty, Pretty Dresses." Even tries to slam his own head in a drawer, kill himself using an electric oven, and is kept from shooting himself by Dale threatening him with a gun.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Hank.
- Suspiciously Similar Song: "Hilloween" features a sound-alike to the Peanuts theme during the flashback scenes.
- "The Man Who Shot Cane Skretteburg" features a sound-alike to the theme from The Great Escape.
- Sustained Misunderstanding: From "Hank's Got the Willies":
Willie Nelson: Hey I know you; you're the kid who rakes my yard.
- The Tag: Occasionally done, usually with Hank giving the viewer a humorous disclaimer.
- Take a Third Option: Connie and Bobby have to wrestle each other for the last spot on the team, but each has too much to lose. So they take Refuge in Audacity and stage a full-on WWE style chair throwing extravaganza so that they'll both be kicked off, but be hailed as heroes by the other students.
- Bobby's a pretty inventive kid - after all, when he was thought to be the Lama, he used the third option of "Pick anything you see on this rug"... and he picked Connie, whose reflection he could see in the mirror.
- In "Movin' On Up", Luanne moves out of the Hills' den, but ends up with a bunch of lazy Jerkass roommates who won't pay their share of the bills and call her a Nazi when she complains. Given the choice between putting up with them or admitting defeat and moving back with the Hills, she closes the house's accounts, meaning the roommates can't sponge off of her for power, heat, water or phone lines anymore, while living in the yard with a hidden stash of food at the bottom of the pool.
- Tan Lines: Hank, Dale, and Bill in hot weather.
- Ted Baxter: Peggy, to the point where she could have been the Trope Namer had The Mary Tyler Moore Show never existed. And of course, let's not forget Cotton.
- Temporary Blindness: Hank, after witnessing his mother and her boyfriend having sex, temporarily goes blind in "The Unbearable Blindness of Laying".
- Tempting Fate: In "Bobby's Goes Nuts", when the guys hear about Bobby kicking Hank in the groin:
Bill: I wish I had a son to kick me in the groin.
- The Theme Park Version: In an early episode, Hank has to do business with a pushy Bostonian who seems to think Texas is/should be this. In order to keep his business, Hank tries to conform to the man's beliefs, making himself an Extreme Doormat (as Peggy points out). After a heart-to-heart with a stripper, Hank finally tells the man off and says, in effect, "If you want cowboy bullshit, go to Thatherton, but if you want quality propane, you come to me". Of course, the man assumes this means they have to fist-fight, and ends up going with Thatherton when Hank refuses.
- Through a Face Full of Fur: In "Death of a Propane Salesman (Part 2)", at the funeral, Dale opens a casket and looks into it. The sight of the corpse causes him to turn pale and he throws up.
- Throwing Out the Script: Played with.
Bobby: (rehearsing) I rehearsed a speech on the way over here, but I'm throwing it out, because nothing says I'm sorry like "I'm sorry."
- Title Please
- Toilet Humor: In one episode, Peggy says, "Hope in one hand, poop in the other, and see which fills up first."
- Dale, in "Beer and Loathing", after drinking some tainted beer: "I don't know which way it's coming out, but it's coming out!"
- And of course, "Flush With Power" is all about the town council members having to use the john in the last act.
- First-season classic "Hank's Unmentionable Problem", about Hank's severe case of constipation. The scene where Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" plays after Hank finally poops is a highlight.
- Tonight Someone Dies: The Mega-Lo Mart explosion and the shooting cliffhangers both were advertised as this.
- Fox actually spoofed this trope with the Mega-Lo Mart explosion cliffhanger, which left four characters - Hank, Luanne, Buckley, and Chuck Mangione - unaccounted for, one of which viewers were told would die. Over the summer, Fox ran a series of commercials in which their execs threatened to kill off Hank unless he agreed to let the show be retooled and moved to Los Angeles (where it would be renamed King of the Hollywood Hills). Eventually, Hank got ahold of some compromising photos of Fox executives and they agreed to let him stay in Texas without killing him off. In the end, Buckley was the one who died.
- As for the shooting episode, Hank's co-worker and Buck Strickland's mistress Debbie died (she accidentally killed herself while trying to get her rifle and a basket of nachos into the Dumpster she was hiding in); she was a relatively minor character.
- Too Dumb to Live: Bobby, who can be influenced by pretty much anything: his sexist grandfather, a white supremacist website, a group of teenagers pretending to know wizardry... the list goes on. He personifies this trope so much that one of the most frequently-reused episode plots is "Bobby falls in with a bad crowd of some sort and Hank bails him out."
- The rest of the cast has their moments of insane stupidity. Many other episodes feature the Dale/Bill/Boomhauer trio or one of the three (usually Dale or Bill) getting into trouble for something stupid until Hank saves the day (including the time they tried frying everything imaginable and started a grease fire, while Dale used bees to cure things, even his own broken arm... and then there's the fact Dale's allergic to bees).
- Luanne also has her moments of mind-boggling idiocy (despite being fairly smart in the earlier episodes; she even knew how to fix a car, despite Cotton's misogynistic remarks), including one in which she joined a sorority that was obviously a front for a cult; Peggy's attempts to help her resulted in her getting recruited as well.
- In the same episode, Luanne indicates that she uses a mnemonic to remember her own name.
- Everyone. It's hard to find someone who doesn't repeatedly do something mind-bogglingly stupid over the course of the series.
- Worth mentioning that all the young employees at Mega-Lo Mart are clueless in their department, pissing off customers like Hank, and have supervision over older and wiser coworkers. Notably Buckley, who died in a propane explosion after failing to listen at Hank's advice not to drag the propane tank by the nozzle, thus causing a leak.
- In "Fun with Jane and Jane", Luanne escapes from a cult, but Peggy takes her right back because she doesn't understand that they're a cult (despite Luanne saying that they deprived her of food and sleep and punished her by locking her in a closet and yelling at her) and takes Luanne right back -- and joins the cult herself because they offer to let her vent about her terrible mother.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Bobby sure loves his fruit pies. And Hank is quite fond of burgers and steak.
- True Companions: Hank, Dale, Bill and Boomhauer for sure. No matter how much of a creepy loser Bill is or how much of an untrustworthy idiot Dale is the four will always be best friends. Even when Hank, Dale and Bill stole Boomhauer's beloved car, accidentally destroyed it after a joyride and lied about it for 20 years Boomhauer was only mad at them for two weeks (Hank was reduced to one week when Bobby told Boomhauer Hank always quotes him).
- Twofer Token Minority: When Dale is being opposed for Gun Club President, he states that his opponent has "already got the black vote -- Earl -- and the gay vote -- Earl."
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Cotton Hill and Didi, Lucky and Luanne, and - of course - Dale and Nancy. Dale isn't particularly ugly and is more average looking than anything, but one has to wonder how he got Nancy in the first place...
- Touched upon in one episode where Nancy comments that she would have married John Redcorn if she wasn't already married to Dale.
- Ultra High Frequency: Nancy Hicks-Gribble works for Channel 84. That's off the end of the dial (which never did go past 83). Likely a joke on how "backwoodsy" Arlen is, as low power stations in remote areas are/were usually stuck with the worst channel locations.
- Ultra Super Death Gore Fest Chainsawer 3000: In one episode, Hank gets addicted to a Grand Theft Auto clone programmed by local college students and featuring a Badass version of himself as the hero. Somewhat subverted in that the game lets the player be a "good guy", which is how Hank plays it, rather than just being a straight-up criminal.
- The Un-Reveal: Boomhauer's first name, Jeff, isn't revealed until near the end of the series, but was mentioned on various websites years prior.
- Underdogs Never Lose: Averted in "How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying". The episode concerns Hank overcoming his problems with firing a rifle. However, even when he manages to get it together during the shooting tournament, he still loses on the final shot. However, it's still a happy ending because Bobby's thrilled that he and Hank got second place and wants to compete again next year.
- The Unfair Sex: Not played entirely straight; Nancy cheating on Dale is played for laughs rather than to make Dale look like a bad husband. In fact, he's usually portrayed pretty sympathetically as far as this issue goes.
- It gets brought up in the episode where Nancy thinks Dale is flirty with a female exterminator and Nancy is afraid that he will cheat. Dale mentions that he never had any problems with Nancy spending so much time with John Redcorn.
- The Unfavorite: Hank was this to Cotton even before G.H. was born.
- Unishment: In "An Officer and a Gentle Boy", Bobby is able to withstand all of Cotton's punishments, including sitting on a block of ice, eating the mixed-up leftovers of cafeteria food, and having to sit in a tiny cell for days.
- The Unintelligible: Boomhauer.
- Played with in an episode where Boomhauer has a flashback: Hank, Dale, and Bill all talk like him, while he talks normally.
- Played with again in an episode where Boomhauer falls asleep in an inner tube and floats all the way to Houston; the locals don't understand him, and he's committed to a mental hospital.
- Hank will often say "Boomhauer, I can't understand a word you just said", attributing the lack of intelligibility to interference, like loud music or the echoes of a cave.
- Subverted on the episode "The Bluegrass is Always Greener", where Boomhauer's singing voice is actually coherent. And sounds just like Vince Gill!
- When Boomhauer makes an impassioned (and barely intelligible) plea to Dale to surrender to the police before they use force against him, Dale responds "Boomhauer, if I ever heard anyone reading from a script, that was it."
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: Connie to Bobby.
- Unreliable Narrator: Certain elements of Cotton's story regarding his experiences in World War II, as well as his medical history, are rather questionable.
- Verbal Tic: I'll tell you what, that dang ol' Boomhauer, man.
- Also Joe Jack, honey.
- Don't forget Nancy, sug.
"Oh, sugar! I'm out of sugar, sug."
- Vice City: What Arlen used to be (Harlot Town -> Harloton -> Arlen).
- Vocal Evolution: Dale and Bill both were initially given lower voices but they got higher in subsequent seasons as the voice actors gave them more range. Hank originally had a more forceful voice but it gradually softened a bit.
- Vomit Discretion Shot: In "The Buck Stops Here", Bobby has to wait in the alley while Buck gambles inside. A woman begins to vomit from having drunk too much alcohol, though it's not shown in graphic detail.
Man: You all emptied out, Carla? (resumes kissing her)
- Wannabe Diss: Bobby, when getting interested in Tarot reading, joins a group of losers claiming to be genuine wizards or... something. When he sees that these idiots are ineffectual dorks that have likely been emotionally broken due to being picked on and are just throwing together a bunch of crap they likely saw in Dungeons & Dragons, he tells them that even he wants to kick their asses.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Oh-so-much with poor Hank. He constantly seeks his father's admiration (or at least his respect), but Cotton is a jaded World War II veteran who has absolutely no respect (and just barely a little love) for Hank, going so far to name his newborn son Good Hank.
- Bobby, his own son, also has it rough. But compared to his grandfather, Hank is far easier to please.
- "Bobby, if you weren't my son I'd hug you."
- Female variation with Peggy and her mom: even saving her family's Montana ranch is not enough to impress her mother, though, so Peggy just gives up on trying.
- When Cotton's confronted by Hank after he runs off to Las Vegas to avoid raising G.H., Cotton admits that Hank is a better father than he ever was.
- Bobby, his own son, also has it rough. But compared to his grandfather, Hank is far easier to please.
You made Bobby! All I made was you!
- Kahn is another example. He tries to impress his father-in-law, who apparently worked for several dictators in the past, calls Kahn a "descendant of fishermen," and generally has no respect for him.
- Minh, for that matter, can't seem to get any respect from Kahn's mother either.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Not only do Cotton's wife Deedee and infant son Good Hank not appear at his deathbed, they aren't even mentioned.
- In the episode "Daletech", Cotton finishes an argument with Didi with "Fine, call your lawyer!" before Didi speeds off and Cotton informing the Hill family Didi has "gone to visit her folks" and telling the family he doesn't know when she will be back, suggesting Didi divorced him and moved away.
- This also happens to Kahn's mother who in one episode is in a relationship with Bill. She mentioned in the next episode, but never appears again.
- This has happened quite a few times: in "Pretty, Pretty Dresses", Bill gets a pet iguana whom he names Lenore; in "Returning Japanese", Luanne buys another bloodhound whom is presumably male after she thinks she's killed Ladybird; and in "I'm With Cupid", Bobby gets a new girlfriend named Debby but none of these characters are ever seen again.
- A very noticeable example: One of John Redcorn's old flings and his newly discovered daughter end up moving into his trailer with him in one episode. They are never seen or mentioned again.
- Who Writes This Crap?: Peggy, scoffing at Steinbeck during a performance of Of Mice and Men.
- Why Couldn't You Be Different?: Bobby, as viewed by Hank.
- Women Are Wiser: Inverted with Hank and Peggy, though played straight for Kahn & Minh and Dale & Nancy.
- Wrote the Book: Crossed with Metaphorgotten:
Storekeeper: This fella never went to school. He grew up in the hills, but he wrote the book on homemade bait. 'Course it's just a bunch of scribbles 'cause he never went to school.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: In "Tankin' It to the Streets", Bill notices that the vast majority of his military medical records are censored. Dale gets ahold of the original documents and spills the secrets: When Bill joined the military in his '20s, he was given an experimental injection that would cause excess hair and fat growth. It was designed to prepare soldiers for being stationed in Alaska. Upon hearing this, Bill is at first dismayed that the military gave him this drug without telling him the side effects (he assumed they were booster shots), gets drunk and steals a tank from the base. Hank, Dale, and Boomhauer convince Bill that at least now he knows that his shortcomings aren't actually his fault. However, later Dale mentions the "name" of the injection: "Placebo". So Bill wasn't really being injected with body-altering substances, and he realizes that his hair growth and excess body fat are his own doing.
- Your Mom: Buddha Sack launches into a series of these against Hank's mom when Hank tells Buddha Sack that his mother didn't raise him right.
- He clobbered Redcorn over the head when he climbed into their bedroom at night.