Fox Deserved A Swift Kick in the Ass for Their ‘King of the Hill’ Cancellation Justification

‘King of the Hill’ got the axe so an inferior, short-lived animated sitcom could take its place
Fox Deserved A Swift Kick in the Ass for Their ‘King of the Hill’ Cancellation Justification

That show ain’t right.

In the crowded field of 1990s Fox animated sitcoms featuring a white, middle-class nuclear family, King of the Hill is, perhaps, the most unlikely success story. It didn’t blow the doors open on the adult animated comedy genre the way The Simpsons did. It also didn’t have a wacky, zany, endlessly repeatable formula for sensory overload like Family Guy. Instead, right in the middle between the two Fox monoliths that are still left standing today, King of the Hill was Mike Judge’s earnest-to-the-point-of-quaintness love letter to a certain class of citizens in the Lone Star State who lead simple lives filled with subtle comedy and iconic idiosyncrasies.

However, starting around the show’s 10th season, King of the Hill began losing steam, both because of co-creator Judge’s increasingly hands-off approach to the project and because its Sunday evening time slot was constantly encroached upon by Sunday Night Football, a fate Hank Hill himself would soberly accept. When Fox finally told King of the Hill fans, “That’s my purse, I don’t know you!” in 2009, the final nail in the coffin was, confoundingly, the network’s decision to make room in the schedule for yet another adult animated sitcom about a middle-class family — they killed King of the Hill so that The Cleveland Show could live. Ain’t that a kick in the balls.

Though Fox executives (obviously) didn’t come right out and say, “Hey, we’re tired of watching some dad in Texas mow his lawn for half an hour, here’s another Seth MacFarlane sugar rush to keep your kids happy,” the abrupt announcement that they canceled King of the Hill after 13 seasons perfectly coincided with the revelation that MacFarlane’s spin-off series would start its run in the exact time slot that was once the home of the Hill family.

The King of the Hill team unsuccessfully attempted to shop the series to other networks, eventually returning to Fox for a somewhat sloppy series finale that sent off the friends, family and neighbors of Arlen with warm regards and grilled steaks — only for Hulu to pick up where Fox abandoned the project 14 years later. As of this article’s publication, that revival is still in the pipeline, with co-creator Greg Daniels estimating it will finally arrive in 2025.

Back in 2009, The Cleveland Show began with little fanfare, mixed critical response and uninspiring ratings that would continue to slide downward as the show’s four seasons trudged on. Perhaps, if Fox forced King of the Hill to continue in the same time slot with its glory days in the rearview mirror, entertainment history would treat the show’s final seasons even more harshly than it does MacFarlane’s least successful animated show.

Maybe, in that universe, King of the Hill never gets a Hulu reboot, The Cleveland Show finds a better time slot and it runs concurrently with Family Guy and American Dad! indefinitely. 

Admittedly, though, that timeline ain’t right, either.


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