In many ways, a show like “King of the Hill” demands a character like Hank. He was a fairly regular man’s man interested in football, fishing, and of course, propane, the gas he sells for a living and likens to his mistress at one point. The nature of the show and its stance on realism and mundanity meant that a “normal guy” like Hank was an appropriate center. Depending on the episode, he could be heroic, he could be neurotic, and he was always a confused but committed father to Bobby (Pamela Adlon). But for him to be even funnier, things would need to change.
Instead, the eccentric supporting cast would do a lot of the heavy lifting for the comedy, with their desperation and neuroses running directly up against Hank’s sturdy professionalism, which he displays whether he’s working or at home. Jokes were never a top priority for the show, but its highly specific depictions of characters from Hank’s oldest friends, to his coworkers, to his family make it extremely funny and realistic.
As co-creator Greg Daniels recalled in the “Making of King of the Hill” documentary, the basic meat of the show was there before he came on to help develop it, and it came largely from Mike Judge’s observational humor.
Judge had spent a decent amount of his life in the suburbs of Dallas, and based the show off of character types he’d gotten to know there. Speaking of the show’s origins, Judge told IGN about a drawing “of just four guys with beers standing out in front of the fence, kind of like I used to see when I’d look out my kitchen window,” and that became the show. Daniels’ task became giving life to that world, those four guys.