There’s a growing trend in the comedy and television world these days. Sitcoms like Silicon Valley, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, and The Good Place really come down to their characters. It might surprise you that this style of comedy has been going on since 1997.
Mike Judge and Greg Daniels would spawn out a line of writers and directors who would become their protégés. If it weren’t for the lessons that were in King of the Hill, these writers and directors wouldn’t have gone on to make today’s comedies on TV.
King Of The Hill Debuted On Fox On January 12, 1997
After the successful run of Beavis and Butthead, Judge created another animated series. The series debuted on Fox as a mid-season replacement. Eventually, this would become one of Fox’s longest-running series, and the third longest-running animated sitcom of all-time.
But, the pairing of Judge and Greg Daniels would spawn into something fascinating.
There Is A Legacy Behind A Show Like This
The show still airs twice a day on Adult Swim. It even pulls in substantial numbers in comparison to the network’s more surreal sitcoms. But, thanks to its pure, restrained nature, you don’t see King of the Hill coming up much in the public eye.
It’s disappointing since the show’s stamp is everywhere.
The Show Was Very Focused On Telling Larger, Ongoing Storylines
These would include dramatic cliffhangers and going as far as grueling finales at times. Daniels had the idea to focus on these elements while adding massive character development.
Also, he was crucial for a lot of the traits that the show became known for such as Dale’s conspiracy theory nature and Cotton’s quirkiness.
King Of The Hill Pushed For A Certain Approach With Its Characters
The show would do radical experiments to find their approach. In particular, they devoted an entire season where Peggy needs to learn to walk again after breaking her legs. That specific moment happened in the preceding season’s finale.
But, that paved the way for more shows to use cliffhangers in finales.
Judge Shared The “Credit By” Credit With Daniels For One Specific Reason
Over time, Judge would take on a reduced role in the production of episodes. But, it was Daniels who went above and beyond. The co-creator went so far with character development that Judge shared the “Credit by” credit with him.
This shouldn’t be surprising as both went on to create more shows.
The Cliffhangers From KOTH Inspired Other Shows To Take A Similar Approach
King of the Hill pushed boundaries for cliffhangers. In the end, it’s not different from when Leslie Knope ran for public office, or when Raymond Holt spent half a season away from the 99 precinct on Brooklyn Nine–Nine.
And let’s not forget The Office. Dunder Mifflin dropped a bombshell when Ryan Howard was made the replacement for Jan Levinson.
Daniels Wanted To Have Meaning With The Characters
There was constant growth through King of the Hill‘s cast. Luanne dealing with her boyfriend’s death, moving away to college, and starting a family were some examples. Even Cotton dies too, which is something that The Simpsons have done before also.
It might seem like a given now for comedies to have such a character-driven mindset, but those instincts came from King of the Hill.
Daniels Wanted Every Episode To Feel Like Any Character Has An Emotional Epiphany Or Breakthrough
In a King of the Hill commentary, Daniels admitted to that. It’s no surprise that he applied that to his current comedies too. But, a lot of other shows, mainly animated sitcoms, push more for being joke machines.
This respect for the characters and storytelling transitioned into what now holds together comedies.
There Was Still A Constant Focus On Low-Impact Stories
Entire episodes could focus on pretty much nothing. But, it could be so entrenched in character viewpoints that they were still strong. Fox even tried to squash these impulses and can continued storylines to maintain syndication.
However, even in spite of this, King of the Hill’s voice and style prevailed.
The Respect For Characters And Storytelling Transitioned Into More
That respect transitioned into what holds together the finest comedies today. King of the Hill wasn’t afraid to reach new heights when introducing new main characters. In its final seasons, they did just that.
They would go as far as introducing Lucky, Luanne’s husband who was voiced by the late Tom Petty.
Lucky’s Role Grew Accordingly
Lucky was one of those characters that was supposed to be a one-off. But, the presence and likeability of the character grew accordingly. It’s uncommon for animated series to introduce new characters like this, especially in the later seasons.
You can see all of these late-series character additions in The Office, Bob’s Burgers, and The Last Man On Earth.
Truly, There Was A Behemoth Of Talent On The KOTH Writing Staff
Judge has gone on to create Silicon Valley with John Altschuler and Dave Krinsky. Fox’s Bob’s Burgers would adapt King of the Hill’s tone and writing. Jim Dauterive, Kit Boos, Aaron Abrams, and Gregory Thompson have written for the show.
They even brought on animation director Kyoung Hee Lim to come on as a director.
Meanwhile, Daniels Went On To Do More
Daniels would go on to become a showrunner for The Office. He would give former KOTH writers Jon Vitti, Ben Forrester, Dan Sterling, and Paul Lieberstein roles on the show. Eventually, Daniels would train Michael Schur to take over the reins slowly.
From there on, Schur would co-showrun sitcoms like Parks and Recreation and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.
KOTH’S Legacy That Was Left Behind Is Still Relevant Today
It’s more about the content that was created, and other sitcoms still feel the legacy to this day. Remember “The Dundies” episode of The Office?
The favorite tradition from the sitcom was based on a real one that started in the writer’s room of KOTH.
The Bumbling Characters Of Hitchcock And Scully Are Named After KOTH Writers
That’s nothing more than a special nod. But, it’s more of the idea of this show having such power and energy behind it. These new shows feel compelled to add it into its DNA and recreate moments as if they were a tribute.
It’s a standard that they’re making great again.
The Rest Of The KOTH Writers Have Had Success Of Their Own
The writers have since spun onto comedies such as Modern Family, American Dad, and Community. Even people like Wyatt Cenac have gone on to do beautiful things in the industry.
In addition to People of Earth, Cenac created Wyatt Cenac’s Problem Areas, and HBO already wants more after one season.
Rick & Morty Is Like KOTH, But In Different Ways
One of the most plot-animated sitcoms out there right now is Rick and Morty. The eccentric series might not have too much in common with Hank and the gang, but its mark is also evident on the show.
Rick and Morty don’t hesitate from killing off cast members or allowing its characters to grow and change in dramatic ways.
Wes Archer Has Begun Putting Out Previously Unreleased Material
Thanks to some shows having a revival, Wes Archer is up to something. Most recently, he put out previously unreleased material. Of course, that’s a cause for celebration for KOTH fans.
However, it certainly feels like the show has never been more popular and relevant than it does now.
It’s Exciting To Think About Where These Writers End Up
It’s more than likely that we’ll see even more work from the writers. Down the road, these people may become future showrunners in comedy and television.
Or, if not that, they’ll be behind the next show that makes you smile and think, much like King of the Hill did with its audiences.
There Have Been Discussions On Reviving King of the Hill
Television has already seen the revivals of Roseanne and Murphy Brown. But, is time for Hank and the gang to come back? Why not? The talks are in the discussion stage, and it should happen. It hasn’t stopped Mike Judge from having some interest in the idea.
Hopefully, it includes Dale’s conspiracy theories and Hank’s view on the current president.