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Hank Rutherford Hill
The protagonist of the show, Hank is a propane salesman who loves his job nearly as much as he loves his family. He's pretty introverted and can't cope with emotion very well, but he's clearly the most level-headed of the cast. Voiced by series creator Mike Judge.
Tropes associated with Hank:
- Aesop Amnesia: Half the episodes in the entire show couldn't happen if Hank didn't forget the many, many times he learned to accept Bobby for who he is, or realized that his father was a selfish jackass.
- Alliterative Name
- Big Applesauce: Hank was born in the ladies' room at Yankee Stadium. He is not pleased to learn about it.
- Big No: "BWAAAAAH!"
- Born in the Wrong Century: Wonders when people stopped believing in hard work, honesty, decency, modesty, and plain old common sense.
- Of course, Hank's definition of decency, modesty, and common sense are all rather skewed.
- Calling The Old Lady Out: Does this to his mother several times, from cheating on boyfriends to wondering what she saw in Cotton. Oddly he's very slow in doing this to the much worse Cotton, mainly out of fear.
- In one of the first episodes he told him to his face that he hated the old man. The problem is, it impressed Cotton.
- Chaste Hero: Hank is one despite being married and in his forties (since "chaste" does not mean the same thing as "celibate"). He has the same obliviousness to female attention, whether from his wife or any other woman. He is quite embarrassed by any display or mention of sexuality (male or female), and runs out screaming when he accidentally enters the porn section of a video store; in what is perhaps the best illustration of this side of his character, when he meets two young female nudists, he winds up giving them a sales pitch on the benefits of propane heating for their summer home.
- And he was traumatized by an attractive Stalker with a Crush female cop who pulled him over on a trumped-up charge just so she could grope him. He wound up humming Battle Hymn of the Republic under his breath the whole time to get himself through it. (However, this is probably a more realistic reaction than what male characters usually get slapped with on television.)
- Lampshaded in one episode where Buck says, "Oh, don't worry Hank, I know you don't have sex." A clearly annoyed Hank says, "Well, that's not quite..." before deciding to leave well enough alone.
- Hank does display some more "standard" male traits now and then; in "Luanne Virgin 2.0", when he sees Peggy in a wet baptismal gown, underwear visible, he takes her back to their truck for you-know-what.
- Expy: Hank is theorized to be a younger, much smarter version of Tom Anderson from Beavis and Butthead.
- Fantasy-Forbidding Father
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Melancholic.
- Flanderization: In early seasons, though Hank was still very strait-laced, he did have some more "normal" moments such as his being an avid guitar player and a fan of classic rock. These interests vanished as the series progressed, leaving him with little other than being uptight.
- Freudian Excuse: Some of Hank's unwillingness to show emotion stems from him breaking his ankle during the state football game when he was a teenager. He believes that it was punishment from God for the way he showed off and bragged about the touchdowns he made before the accident, and thus refuses to show any other emotion out of fear that something similar will happen.
- Having an Abusive Parent didn't help. Whenever Hank showed any emotion his father would come down hard for it, calling it a sign of weakness. Cotton even called Hank a sissy for telling him he loved him when on his deathbed.
- Good Ol' Boy: Of the sympathetic, generally positive variety.
- Good Old Ways: If something is not traditional, Hank considers it wrong, and he doesn't have to think any further about it. This is often Played for Laughs, but Hank's adamant rejection of deviation occasionally strays into Unfortunate Implications.
- This goes so far that when Peggy tells Hank that her new friend "Caroline" is a man in drag, he simply doesn't understand the concept of a man wanting to dress like a woman. Not only this, Hank goes on thinking Caroline is a actually a woman despite the explanation, because it's the only circumstance he can realistically fathom.
- Good Parents
- Hypocrite: Chided Dale about having Joseph enrolled in a private school by saying he was doing it more for himself, but then Dale turned it around and asked if Hank was more worried about Joseph, or that the high school football team was losing its star player.
- Literal Ass-Kicking: When Jimmy Wichard puts Bobby's life in danger, he almost exclusively assaults Jim in the posterior with his foot.
- In another episode, where Hank was constipated and Peggy recommended that he try acupuncture. Hank said that if anyone tried to do that on him, he would kick the guy's ass. Later he reluctantly tries the procedure. He quickly becomes dissatisfied and goes to kick the acupuncturist's ass with the needles still in him.
- Men Are Uncultured: Played with in that he's clearly pretty intelligent; he just thinks of high culture as snobby, effeminate, moronically redundant, and needlessly extravagant.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bill's nervous breakdown in "Pretty, Pretty Dresses" were somewhat instigated by Hank. The first few times he tried to talk to Bill about Lenore never coming back, he stopped when Bill was about to cry. This wasn't because he didn't want to hurt Bill's feelings, but because Hank doesn't "deal" with emotions. After destroying the gifts and tree Bill had gotten for Lenore, he was more then happy to finally get home after Bill told him he didn't feel anything with absolutely no emotion. The viewer could tell that Bill was far from okay, yet Hank took it as a sign that everything was okay and left. The next day, Bill started acting like he was Lenore himself.
- Not So Above It All: Became addicted to a video game based on propane because it allowed him to ascend to ranks such as "manager", even though he was aware that his time playing the game should've been spent helping Bobby prepare for the Presidential Fitness Test. Hank only snapped out of it thanks to Peggy collaborating with the game's designers to destroy it.
- An earlier example is when he and Bobby get swept up in Y 2 K fever in "Hillennium". Peggy briefly becomes frazzled as well, but that was because she realized her current computer was a piece of junk and none of her musings were on hard copy.
- Not So Different: Hank and his Japanese half-brother, Junichiro.
- Only Sane Man
- Only Sane Employee: Hank's job at Strickland Propane.
- As well as his role in his group of friends.
- And in his family.
- As well as his role in his group of friends.
- Papa Wolf: A good way to make the typically straight-laced Hank lose his temper would be to threaten Bobby.
- Parental Substitute: To Luanne, albeit begrudgingly.
- Perpetual Frowner
- Real Men Hate Affection: Unless it involves his dog Ladybird, his lawn, or his truck.
- Tellingly, these are all things that can't emote back. Or in Ladybird's case, can't emote back in a way that would make Hank uncomfortable. Hank doesn't mind expressing affection as long as he doesn't have to deal with a human response.
- The Spock
- Weirdness Censor: Hank sometimes refuses to believe things that are so unusual or exotic as to not make sense to him. In the case of Peggy's drag queen friend Caroline, Hank continues to believe Caroline is a woman even after the explanation.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: He really does want his father to show him some hint of approval. His totally unwarranted loyalty and admiration for Buck Strickland seems to stem from the need for some kind of father figure who's at least slightly less of a Jerkass than Cotton as well.
- With Friends Like These...: Multiple times Hank gets exasperated by the idiotic antics of his friends, but when push comes to shove Hank proves that he really cares about them when they get into really bad trouble.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Peggy does this to Hank multiple times. Such as:
- When he punished Bobby for cigarette smoking by making him smoke a whole carton (which led to all of the Hills becoming addicted to tobacco).
- When he was pretty much making a ventriloquist dummy to function as the son that Bobby isn't.
- His willingness to exploit Kahn's manic depression by withholding his medication in order to get him to construct a state of the art grill for Strickland Propane.
- Setting up Luanne with a guy he picked out just so he wouldn't have to deal with her being overly emotional after Buckley broke up with her, and so he could get his den back.
- Refusing to admit his father is an inconsiderate jerk after he's insulted Peggy numerous times and Hank has quietly laughed along with him, and after he started turning Bobby into a misogynist just like him.
- When interviewing perspective job applicants at Strickland, Peggy chastises Hank for some of the (illegal) questions he's going to ask the applicants, such as whether or not they are Christian. She also gets on his case about his refusal to hire a qualified female applicant.
Peggy Hill (nee Platter)
Peggy is Hank's wife, to whom he is Happily Married. Impulsive and ditzy, she causes trouble for the family with hare-brained ideas. She and Hank stay loyal to each other no matter what though. Voiced by Kathy Najimy
Tropes associated with Peggy:
- Alliterative Name: Her maiden name was Peggy Platter.
- Brainy Brunette: Somewhat (though not as much as she thinks).
- Calling The Father-In-Law Out
- Determinator: Partially deconstructed, as her belief that she can do anything through sheer willpower proves to be entirely wrong a lot of the time and gets her into a great deal of trouble. On the other hand, though, clinging to that belief is probably the only thing that allowed her to come out of her childhood as relatively mentally healthy as she did -- see Freudian Excuse below.
- Distressed Damsel: Subverted in some episodes, played perfectly straight in others.
- Flanderization: Her ego, originally a mild quirk, eventually became her defining character trait.
- Freudian Excuse: Peggy grew up with a cold, unpleasable, overly critical mother who constantly told her everything she did was wrong. In her adult years, Peggy believes she is the absolute best at everything she does. She has to believe this, because it's the only way she can convince herself that her mother was wrong and she's not completely worthless.
- Genius Ditz: Peggy believes herself to have a high IQ -- and she actually does seem to be pretty smart in some ways, but her total inability to ever consider the possibility that she might be wrong about anything means she ends up acting on a lot of really stupid ideas.
- Hidden Depths: She might seem like an egotistical jerk who just suffers from unwarranted self-importance...and, well, she kind of is. But her constant insistence that she's a genius in the face of all evidence makes a lot more sense, and even becomes slightly sympathetic, once you find out how her mother always treated her.
- Know-Nothing Know-It-All
- Mama Bear: To both Bobby and Luanne.
- And Ladybird. "Hang on Ladybird, Momma's comin'!"
- Parental Substitute: To Luanne, to the point that some first-time viewers assume that Luanne is Bobby's sister.
- Plucky Girl: Nothing gets Peggy down for long.
- Retcon: Peggy went from being born in Montana and raised in Arlen to being born and raised in Montana. This complicates episodes that have Hank and Peggy as High School Sweethearts.
- Small Name, Big Ego
- Smart People Play Boggle
- Ted Baxter: Practically rivals the Trope Namer in terms of sheer ego.
- Took a Level In Dumbass
- The Kirk
- Took a Level In Jerkass: In seasons 1 and 2, Peggy was a genuinely nice, if quirky, housewife. In season 3, she started to show a little ego, but was otherwise the same. From season 4 onward, she's a huge Know-Nothing Know-It-All, and often an inconsiderate Jerkass.
- Well Done Daughter Girl: After Peggy's mom was retconned from being an overbearing perfectionist housewife to a coldhearted rancher. Her mother apparently never forgave Peggy for abandoning their ranch, even after Peggy singlehandedly saved the ranch to prove herself.
- With Wives Like Her: Tends to fall into this at times whether the situation benefits her ("Little Horrors of Shop" and "Racist Dawg" are two prime examples).
- Though her friends and neighbors are just as likely to stab her in the back for a chance at local authority as she is.
- Much earlier in the show Peggy used to associate with a group of unnamed housewives, but chances are she stopped doing so because their 1950s mentality when it came to talking about sex and the fact that they had nothing better to do but talk about but clipping coupons didn't really click with her.
- Women Are Wiser: A notable aversion. Although she occasionally does have to let Hank know when he's being a Jerkass, for the most part he's nicer, more competent and more practical than she is, and regularly has to rescue her from the results of her own Zany Schemes.
- Although there are times where Peggy is able to function in a situation a lot easier than Hank does, either due to his willing inability to deal with emotions or because it's some cultural event that clashes with Hank's "old days" mind set.
Bobby Jeffrey Hill
Bobby is their 12-year-old son, who wants to break into the entertainment business. Since he's kind of effeminate and has some strange interests (by his family's standards), Hank fears for the boy's future. He'll be alright, though. Voiced by Pamela Adlon.
Tropes associated with Bobby:
- Ambiguously Gay: Or so Hank thinks. He's not actually.
- Big Eater
- His appetite is as bizarre as it is large. Cotton, in charge of a boot camp, once attempted to punish Bobby for his appetite by making him eat a stack of leftovers and run-off. Bobby didn't mind in the slightest.
- In another episode where Bobby started eating at a New York Style deli, he wound up getting gout from the food. Even when his gout got so bad he couldn't walk and needed a scooter to get around, he still kept going back for more.
- Characterization Marches On: Bobby was initially "not right" in that he was a slow-talking weird kid with not a lot to him. His feminine characteristics and odd charisma quickly became defining traits.
- Cheerful Child: In one episode Hank remarks that every time a bully starts after Bobby, he does some prop comedy (like sticking french fries up his nose) and makes friends with the bully.
- Chick Magnet/Kavorka Boy: Oddly enough. Mostly attributable to his confidence and charisma.
- The Chosen One: Bobby may or may not be the reincarnated spirit of the Lama Sanglug.
- Cross-Dressing Voices
- Flanderization: He became a lot more immature in the later episodes.
- Geeky Turn On: In "Rodeo Days", after seeing a rodeo clown do an acrobatic stunt:
"Wow, I don't think even Kerri Strug could do that while wearing cowboy boots. Mmm...Kerri Strug in cowboy boots..."
- The McCoy
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Bobby's actions in "Born Again on the Fourth of July" are directly responsible for the residents of Rainey Street and Milton Street to escalate their rivalry to a full-blown war. In his defense, he does try to fix things once he sees the results of his actions.
- Too Dumb to Live: Sometimes.
This is Peggy's niece; the Hills took her in early on in the show, partially to get her away from her horrible mother. Luanne isn't the sharpest knife in the drawer, unfortunately. Voiced by Brittany Murphy.
Tropes associated with Luanne:
- Adult Child: In later episodes, especially after she starts dating Lucky.
- However, even if her intelligence didn't exactly skyrocket, in the later seasons Luanne was able to hold down a steady job as a hair stylist and was competent at raising her daughter.
- Author Existence Failure: Very narrowly averted -- the show ended September 2009, just three months before Brittany Murphy, Luanne's voice actor, passed away.
- Bald Women: She lost her hair in the Mega-Lo Mart explosion at the end of season 2.
- Brainless Beauty
- Brittany Murphy
- Cloudcuckoolander: In the later seasons.
- The Ditz: In the earlier seasons, at least.
- Dumb Blonde: In later episodes. The early episodes had her emotional, but not stupid.
- Eighties Hair
- Flanderization: Particularly grating because of her initial character development as a young woman who desperately wanted to avoid becoming a redneck.
- Freudian Excuse: The way Peggy sort of began to dominate her life by making nearly all her decisions, as well as Luanne's gradually growing stupidity, could be seen as instigated by the way her birth mother walked out of her life for good after she acted like a complete whore and tried to kill Peggy. With Leanne's permanent absence, Luanne latched onto Peggy as a permanent substitute for a mother figure and started regressing to a more childlike intellect. This stopped (granted she's still dense) after she became a mother herself, and decided that she needed to stop relying on Peggy for everything in order to raise her child with Lucky and give her the childhood she'd been denied.
- Gag Boobs and Gainaxing: When she jumps up and down.
- Hair of Gold
- Innocent Fanservice Girl: In one episode she starts a Bible study class at a swimming pool. She thinks that she's reaching out to people; in reality, they just want to see her in a bikini (and enjoy the hugs she gives when you demonstrate "progress").
- Punny Name: Luanne shares her full name with a dish at Southern cafeteria chain Luby's: The "Lu Ann" Platter.
- Took a Level In Dumbass: By the time season 2 aired, she had done some serious level grinding. She got even worse after dating and marrying Lucky.
Hank's father, a crotchety old man who doesn't seem to approve of anything Hank does. This war vet can never stop talking about how he killed "fitty" (that's 50) men while in service. When it comes to impulsiveness, he's even got Peggy beat. Heaven help Hank... His last appearance in the series sees him die of natural causes. Voiced by Toby Huss.
Tropes associated with Cotton:
- Abusive Parents: Emotionally, to Hank.
- Handicapped Badass: Had his shins blown off in WWII, but still kicked ass and reached the rank of Colonel in the army.
- Berserk Button: Never call him a Nazi.
- Colonel Badass: Even if half his stories never happened he still qualifies several times over, especially if he really did beat an entire island of Japanese soldiers to death with a dismembered leg after getting his shins blown off.
- Colonel Kilgore: Loved killing tojos and gutting nazzies.
- Determinator: The man lost his shins and then taught himself how to walk again on the strange, cobbled-together half-legs the doctors made for him. As Hank himself remarks, that's pretty damn heroic.
- Domestic Abuser: In a flashback to when he was married to Tilly, he was shown one time using her as a foot stool.
- Another episode had Cotton smashing a sink full of dishes with a chair while screaming at Tilly. However, its worth noting that Cotton doesn't seem to be a fan of physical abuse. When he saw Peggy in a body cast he said "Hank, what did you do to your wife? I didn't teach you that."
- Final Speech: Delivers one to Peggy, presumably to get as much hate as possible out before he goes: "This was supposed to happen to you! You're worthless! You're not even good enough to be married to my worthless, nothing of a loser SON!"
- Glory Days: Cotton would like you to know that he killed fitty men during Dubya Dubya Two. And he would have kept at it if the Japanese hadn't shot off his shins.
- Gonk: Including a medical history that's simply not credible.
- Grampa Wolf: Much like Hank, a very good way to have a very pissed off Cotton on your hands is to threaten or insult Bobby.
- Perpetual Frowner
- Jerkass: And that's putting it mildly.
- Hidden Heart of Gold: Usually related to Bobby.
- Kavorka Man: Despite being a Gonk, and having a...less than appealing personality (and his shins "...blown off by a Japanman's machine gun"), he's been with three women that we know of: Hank's mother, a Japanese woman during WWII, and his current wife, who was a childhood friend of Hank's.
- He's admitted to bedding 273 women in the episode Junichiro was introduced.
- It's been heavily implied that he's visited prostitutes a lot, which probably explains a good number of those women.
- Killed Off for Real
- Large Ham: And how!
- May-December Romance: Between Cotton and Didi. Didi and Hank even went to kindergarten together.
- Morality Pet: Bobby and later his son G.H. ("Good" Hank).
- My Name Is Not Durwood: Cotton never refers to Peggy by name, only by "Hank's Wife." This even extends to when he's trying to be nice to her though, so it's possible he doesn't know her name (and doesn't care enough to ask).
- Older Than They Look: Cotton was around thirty when Hank was born. In flashbacks seen in "Yankee Hankie" (set on the day Hank was born in the mid-1950s) he looks the exact same as he does in the present day only with brown hair. However in scenes set only 10 years prior he looks more like an extremely fit and slightly older version of Bobby.
- Parental Neglect: When he's not being abusive he shows affection with a criminal disregard for his son's safety. When G.H. was less than a year old, he let him play with his loaded service pistol to learn to shoot, and he gave Bobby a loaded shotgun for his twelfth birthday.
- Pet the Dog:
- Most of his scenes with Bobby amount to these. For all his faults, he genuinely loves his grandson.
- Cotton doesn't just love him, Bobby is one of the few people Cotton respects.
- When he helped Peggy get her job back, and the time where he helped her be able to walk after the parachute incident.
- When he politely asked Peggy for a photo of Hank and Bobby to show to Michiko during their trip to Japan. He even thanked her.
- Doubled as a Pet the Dog moment for both of them, as Peggy actually defended Cotton's actions to Hank, rationalizing that no one would cheat on their 40 year old wife with an 80 year old ex-girlfriend.
- At the end of the Japan two-parter when he notices Bobby seems depressed because he's leaving behind the girl he met, he immediately tells the cab driver to stop so Bobby can say goodbye to her.
- A small one. In a flashback its shown that Hank and his friends were taken on a camping trip by their Dads. Cotton led the Snipe Hunt with enthusiasm ("Not gonna sugar coat it: Some of you ain't comin' back"). Seeing Cotton be involved in Hank's upbringing to any' extent is rare and touching.
- Most of his scenes with Bobby amount to these. For all his faults, he genuinely loves his grandson.
- Punny Name
- Obnoxious In-Laws
- Racist Grandpa: played with. He's certainly not nice to anyone, but he does not antagonize people from countries America has not gone to war with as much, and does not use shallow stereotypes. He can tell at first sight that Kahn is Laotian, and does not make the same "Chinese or Japanese" assumption everyone else does.
- On the other hand, he does seem to think Khan is some kind of domestic servant and often demands he bring him trays of food.
- He doesn't seem to have anything against Jewish people either. The first thing he said to Gary Kasner after their introductions was "Happy Hannukah" and mentions he served with a Jew in the Pacific Theater.
- Real Men Hate Affection
- Refuge in Audacity: The main thing that prevents him from being a Complete Monster.
- Retired Badass
- Screw Politeness, I'm a Senior!
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Dale and cops tend to view him as this, usually encouraging them to help him in his more ridiculous schemes without thinking.
- Smug Smiler
- Straw Misogynist
- They Really Do Love Each Other: Cotton and Didi get a few spread out through the series. When Cotton is awarded a grave in the Texas State Cemetary Didi comments its a beautiful grave and that he deserves it. And when Cotton leaves a pregnant Didi he goes into a homicidal rage when Hank tells him shes found a new man. Hank even points out that he really loves her.
- Cotton and Hank have some as well, such as in "Returning Japanese" when Cotton admits to Hank that he's a good son.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: With Didi.
- Unreliable Narrator: Certain recountings of Cotton's past are rather questionable.
Hank's biological mother.
Tropes associated with Tilly
- Hidden Depths: As the series goes on, it shows she has terrible choice in men, and is constantly making spur of the moment extreme decisions without thinking of the consequence.
- Earlier in the show's history, though, Tilly admitted that she took several odd jobs during Hank's childhood, including a job as a taxi driver, in order to get out of the house. Hank simply believed that she was happily fulfilled in being a stay-at-home mom, and was quite shocked to learn this (when Tilly mentioned the taxi, Hank says that all he remembers is her owning a yellow car).
- Glurge Addict: When trapped in a severely abusive marriage with Cotton, she became obsessed with unicorn figurines. Hank deeply loathes them until he realizes those figurines were the only thing that kept her going.
- Love Martyr
Cotton's 40 year old second wife.
Tropes associated with Didi
- Broken Bird
- Characterization Marches On: Following G.H.'s birth she had moments where she was more assertive with Cotton.
- The Ditz
- Extreme Doormat: Most of her scenes make her look like Cotton's servant than his wife.
- Longest Pregnancy Ever
- May-December Romance: She actually went to kindergarten with Hank.
- Put on a Bus: In the season 8 episode "Daletech" Cotton is seen screaming at her to call her lawyer as she drives away before explaining that she and G.H. have gone to her parents' house for a few months. Cotton's obituary claims her to be his ex-wife, confirming a divorce. She isn't seen again until a very brief appearance in the final season where the divorce never seemed to have happened.
- What Does She See in Him?: After Cotton's death, she finally seems to acknowledge the fact that he was an awful man and has actually admitted that, since marrying her new husband, she barely even remembers anything about him.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
A 35 year old hillbilly introduced later in the series whose personal income consists primarily of nothing but personal injury suit victories. Becomes involved with Luanne, then later marries and has a child with her.
Tropes associated with Lucky
- The Scrappy: Played straight, as well as lampshaded numerous times throughout the series. Lucky is clearly an example of the writers having fun with this trope, all the while making it work for good comedic effect.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
Bill, one of Hank's closest friends, was a promising high school football player who later joined the Army with big hopes and dreams. Now middle aged, broke, and divorced, Bill's constantly depressed and full of self-loathing. The guys try to put up with him as best they can. Voiced by Stephen Root.
Tropes associated with Bill:
- Acquired Situational Narcissism: Occasionally when things actually go well for him.
- Animals Hate Him: Dale acquired a falcon in one episode, and every time he took its hood off it would start attacking Bill for no apparent reason. Then, after Dale states he set the falcon free in the woods, Bill starts a conversation about sausages...and the falcon appears out of nowhere and starts attacking him again.
- Big Eater: Once entered a Competitive Eating Contest and was a marked favorite to win. In the same episode he ate an entire platter of hot dogs Hank had cooked for the whole neighborhood. This is met more with disgust than the typical cartoonish amusement.
- Bunny Ears Barber
- Butt Monkey: Always.
- Calling the Ex-Wife Out: In "Pretty, Pretty Dresses", when Hank forces him to admit that she won't come back, he snaps and starts dressing as and pretending to be Lenore. Hank resolves the situation by doing the same, telling Bill "I'm the real Lenore, and I don't love you", which finally gives him the chance to get closure by venting at "Lenore" and telling "her" off the way he was never brave enough to do in the past.
- Cross Dresser
- Fat Best Friend
- Fat Idiot
- Fat Slob
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Sanguine.
- Groin Attack: To the point of Running Gag.
- Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow
- Heroic BSOD: A particularly sad case. After his wife Lenore leaves him, Bill spends a long time convincing himself she'll be back, finally breaking down into depression and suicidal impulses during a Christmas Episode. He gets over it in the same episode.
- Another example is when he finds out that he's been unknowingly used as a guinea pig to test a super soldier formula that would give him attributes of a walrus, which explains his current appearance (made even worse when you see flashbacks of him where he was physically fit and a borderline example of The Ace), leaving him in depression which leads to him stealing a tank...and then it turns out he was in the control group and only received a placebo, meaning everything wrong with his life really is his fault.
- Hidden Depths: Besides the explanations for his sad sack attitude, Bill is actually
- Tuckerization: He shares a last name with the co-producer.
- I Was Quite a Looker
- Kavorka Man: For all his unattractiveness, he has dated Rev. Stroop, Charlene, Ann Richards, and Kahn's mother.
- Self-Deprecation: During his story in the Rashomon Style episode, he is fatter and balder than he usually is. However, the episode was a Shout-Out of sorts to The Three Stooges, so he might have been seeing himself as Curly.
- Stalker with a Crush: He is obsessed with Peggy. In "The Texas Skilsaw Massacre" he tells Hank "I once made a vest out of your wife's underpants". In another episode, he steals Peggy's used body cast from the garbage and takes it to his house.
- Status Quo Is God: Here's the plot of most Bill-focused episodes -- Bill finds something he's really good at and starts turning his life around; something turns out to be wrong with the situation, so his friends convince him to give up his new activity; Bill returns to being a sad sack and no one even suggests that he just try finding a new way to pursue his passion.
- His relationship with Laoma is a jarring example of this. After getting together with her, and having a rare happy ending for once, Laoma disappears, and her relationship with Bill is never mentioned again.
- With Friends Like These...: "Apres Hank, Le Deluge" is a triumphant example.
- Jerkass Woobie: There is no denying that Bill has a tragic life and should be helped and pitied, but at times he acts like such a jerk it's hard to always feel sorry for him. These times are more evident when his stalker tendencies are played up.
A VERY fast-talking ladies man and one of Hank's childhood friends. His dialect can be hard to keep up with, but none of his friends seem to have any trouble talking to him. Voiced by Mike Judge.
Tropes associated with Boomhauer:
- Darkskinned Blonde: Justified, in that he spends a lot of time outdoors and has a tanning bed in his house.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Phlegmatic.
- Hidden Depths: Boomhauer is possibly the most philosophical and intellectual character on the show. Just listen to him explain the meaning of life.
- Intelligible Unintelligible:
- Kavorka Man
- Ladykiller in Love: In one episode, which showed his Hidden Depths.
- Last-Name Basis: Though his first name was revealed to be: Jeff
- Motor Mouth YeahmanyaknowdatdangolBoomhauermantalksofastcantunnerstandawordhesdangolsayinman.
- Only Sane Man: Will usually play this role if Hank is absent, or if Hank has been unable to get Dale and/or Bill to stop acting like idiots.
- The Reveal: His job -- Texas Ranger
- The Unintelligible: except in The Rashomon episode, where everyone else is unintelligible when he tells his side of the story.
Dale rounds out Hank's circle of friends. Dale, an exterminator by trade, is a paranoid conspiracy theorist who has prepared for just about any unlikely situation you can think of. And yet, he can't seem to figure out that his lovely wife Nancy is having an affair right under his nose. Voiced by Johnny Hardwick.
Tropes associated with Dale:
- Adult Child
- Afraid of Needles: To the point where he has a fit over getting his blood type tested...
- Agent Mulder: Dale exemplifies this trope. Amusingly, the most obvious deception in his life is right in front of him, and he can't see it.
- In one episode it is revealed that he has a hugely convoluted conspiracy theory to explain this, which acts in many ways as the foundation for his other conspiracy theories.
- Basement Dweller
- Big Eater: It was revealed that Dale can actually put away more food than Bill or Bobby, in spite of his pencil-thin build. He keeps this a secret because he thinks it makes him a freak.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Surprisingly good at his job; in fact, it may be the only thing he's good at.
- Comedic Sociopathy: He gets a lot of pleasure out of watching Peggy suffer, particularly on her birthday (and if he can lend a hand in ruining it, all the better). In "Strangeness on a Train...", he finally starts to experience some degree of remorse over this.
- Completely Missing the Point: Dale's status as a cuckold.
- Conspiracy Theorist / Cloudcuckoolander: In one episode, he gets sent to a mental institution because he lectures a clinic administrator on why more people are getting allergic to peanuts, because apparently they are tired of being eaten and have begun emitting a poison as a defense.
- Crazy Survivalist
- Dirty Coward
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: The Choleric.
- Genius Ditz: He's a delusional idiot, no question about it, but he also shows rare flashes of genuine cunning.
- Hair-Trigger Temper
- Jerkass / Troll: Pesters Hank on multiple occasions, and is even likely to get away with it.
- The Load: Attempt depending on Dale in any way at your own risk.
- Morality Pet: His family. With most people, Dale is paranoid, suspicious, and really pretty selfish -- but he's an incredibly loving and devoted husband and father. Despite all his craziness, he's actually a better family man than Hank in some ways: unlike Hank, Dale has no problem showing affection toward his family or saying "I love you."
- Nice Hat
- Obstructive Zealot
- Odd Friendship: With Minh.
- Pet the Dog: On very rare occasions, he actually does manage to be a really good friend. An example is when he kept trying to convince Bill that people really viewed him as a freak when he started participating in hot dog eating contests. Dale wasn't doing it to be malicious, but because he had a similar experience when he was a kid.
Dale: Remember, Bill. Just because you have their attention, doesn't mean you have their respect.
Hank: Dammit, Dale...
- Sunglasses At Night
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife
- With Friends Like These...: Dale has suggested killing (or attempted to kill) his friends on many occasions. A main reason Hank puts up with him is that he's too incompetent to really pull it off.
Dale's wife is a reporter for a local Arlen TV station. Smarter and more responsible than Dale, she nonetheless has a 14 year affair with John Redcorn which Dale never learns about. She eventually breaks it off, but not before she gives birth to a child whom Dale is convinced is his own flesh and blood.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: To a less extreme example than most, but is the most beautiful female cast member, has a charming personality, and a great public image. But even once you get past the decade of adultery, she's still the most vindictive and two-faced person on the block.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: She cheated on Dale with Redcorn, and Redcorn cheated on her with some "isolated incidents."
- Acknowledged when she realized Dale was being hit on by a very attractive female exterminator shortly after she broke off her affair. She feels too guilty to tell him not to see her, so he has to watch them grow ever closer. Dale never has an affair, though.
- Hot Mom: Except that she's going bald.
- Hot Scoop
- Hypocritical Humor: The earlier seasons would have a lot of gags of her passing serious judgment on the other characters, blind to the fact that she was an adulteress. One quick scene had her shake her head disapprovingly when she saw Hank walk (horrified) out of the porno section of a video store, ignoring that she was walking through that same store with her lover.
- In the Blood: Nancy cheated on Dale, just like her mother cheated on her father, and is now going bald after breaking off the affair.
- Laser-Guided Karma: She cheated on her husband for fourteen years, and had her son Joseph by John Redcorn. The only two people who aren't aware of Nancy's affair are Dale and Joseph. She also only slept with Dale on Christmas and his birthdays until she broke it off with Redcorn. It seemed that Nancy managed to get away with her fourteen years of unfaithfulness, until her hair started to fall out as a result of breaking it off with John Redcorn.
- She gets it earlier when we learn that Redcorn had actually been seeing other women while he was seeing her, and there's the highly probable chance that he conceived his daughter Kate on the same day he conceived Joseph.
- Noodle Incident: "Do you ever wonder what happened to the weather girl before me?"
- Sympathetic Adulterer: She's never given a really sympathetic reason for cheating on Dale (Dale is legitimately hard to live with, but that doesn't actually seem to be her motivation). However, she becomes fairly sympathetic once she realizes how badly she abused his trust and makes a painful decision to break off her relationship with John Redcorn.
- Verbal Tic: "Sug."
- What Does She See in Him?: Nancy's beautiful, charismatic, and quite successful at a high-paying, demanding job. Dale is a paranoid, delusional conspiracy theorist with No Social Skills, an unimpressive job, and mediocre looks. But the relationship is explored in a way that makes sense over the course of the series: whatever else you can say about Dale, he's an incredibly loving and devoted husband -- and the constant stress of dealing with his obsessions and crazy schemes actually helps keep Nancy even-keeled by keeping her dangerous competitive tendencies at bay. Ultimately, it's Nancy who needs Dale more than he needs her.
Nancy's and John Redcorn's son. Joseph is an awkward, dim, and horny young man who spends most of his time hanging out with Bobby. Like Dale, he has no idea that John Redcorn is his real father.
- Brittany Murphy (Voiced by her from 1997-2000; from 2000 to the show's end in 2009, Joseph was voiced by Breckin Meyer.)
- Chocolate Baby
- Cross-Dressing Voices: Until his growth spurt.
- The Ditz
- Flanderization: He was always mildly awkward, but it really got ratcheted up in the later seasons. Somewhat justified, as he's going through puberty, which is always a pretty awkward time.
- However it doesn't explain how Joseph went from Bobby's more streetwise friend to practically a ditz who needs Bobby to tell him how to function basically
- In the Blood: Seems to have inherited John Redcorn's libido...and some of Dale's delusional tendencies.
- Also an example of Nature Versus Nurture. John Redcorn's genes make Joseph is tall and athletic but he is awkward and with poor social skills thanks to Dale's influence.
- Perma Stubble
This irritable Laotian businessman moved onto Rainey Street with his wife and daughter in series's first season. In a twist on the time-tested Positive Discrimination trope, Kahn is regularly rude towards his neighbors and dismisses them as dumb rednecks. Nobody really listens to him, however--especially not his daughter, Connie.
- Ambiguous Disorder: For a while, but he eventually gets an actual diagnosis -- he really has bipolar disorder, and acting like a dick is a side effect of his meds.
- Boomerang Bigot
- Education Papa
- Funny Foreigner
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a pretty terrible person most of the time, but he does genuinely love Connie and Minh, and if pressed...really, really pressed...he'll even admit that he considers Hank a friend.
- Hidden Depths: He seems like a pretty stereotypical depiction of an Asian-American at first, but you eventually find out his tightly wound personality has nothing to do with his ethnicity or culture, and everything to do with his family life and brain chemistry.
- Aw, Look -- They Really Do Love Each Other: A parental version. After the children are lost in the caves and he and Hank get lost looking for her, they all get rescued and rather than be stern with her, he's so relieved that he takes her out for ice cream. And tetanus shots.
- Positive Discrimination: A notable subversion.
- Professional Butt-Kisser: When it comes to Ted Wassonasong, to the point of Ho Yay, but even he's got limits.
- Shipper on Deck: For Connie and Chang Wassonasong, as pointless as it is.
- Boomerang Bigot
- Good Parents
- Hot Shounen Mom
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- Lauren Tom
- Odd Friendship: With Dale in the 12th season. Later episodes never mention this again, but also never contradict it; it may or may not have actually stuck.
- Stacy's Mom: Joseph developed a short-lived crush on her. This was mainly due to him having just hit puberty and experiencing the onslaught of confusion and distress that comes with it.
- Women Are Wiser: Mostly averted; she's greedy, ambitious and kind of a Jerkass just like her husband, although she is slightly more willing to interact with her neighbors than Kahn is.
- She's much more accepting of Bobby and Connie's relationship than Khan, though; in "Father of the Bribe", when it looks like they might break up, Minh tells Connie how she and Khan met and that, despite their differences, she knew he was right for her, and that the only person who knows if Bobby is right for Connie is Connie herself.
Kahn "Connie" Souphanousinphone, Jr.
- Asian and Nerdy: Subverted in that while she's very smart, she would prefer to be herself instead of pursue what her father wants.
- Demoted to Extra: She becomes less and less important after her and Bobby break up.
- Gender Blender Name: Justified as Kahn wanted a son.
- Girl Next Door
- Hidden Depths: She has a secret desire to physically assault and/or harm her father.
- Lauren Tom
- Only Sane Man: Arguably the truest one in the whole series, as she lacks any of the character flaws prominent in most of the other characters, such as Hank's unwillingness to show emotion.
- Out of Focus
- Plucky Girl: In The Redneck on Rainey Street, Hank mentions to Kahn how hard Connie has been working while her parents gave up. In his words, "you couldn't bring that girl down with you if you tried."
- Unlucky Childhood Friend: To Bobby.
- Aesop Amnesia: In Season 4, the affair ends when Nancy starts falling back in love with Dale and when John feels guilty about betraying Dale's trust when he's only ever been a good friend (and helped John get documents that would eventually help him reclaim his peoples' land). In Season 11, he seems to have forgotten about all this and is eager to rekindle things with Nancy.
- Author Existence Failure: His original voice actor, Victor Aaron, was killed in a car accident after recording his lines for season 1. They switched him out with Jonathan Joss for the rest of the series.
- Dreadful Musician: When he tries to do hard rock with his band Big Mountain Fudgecake. However, in its focus episode, Redcorn becomes a popular childrens' entertainer by playing acoustic and rewriting his lyrics.
- Full-Name Basis
- Ink Suit Actor: It's rumored that he was modelled on Victor Aaron.
- Magical Native American: In the first season every time he spoke a gust of wind would dramatically blow through his hair. Even when indoors.
- Mistaken for Gay: Dale thinks he's gay.
- The Other Darrin: Necessary, as noted above.
- Pet the Dog: While largely portrayed as unsympathetic during the first 3 seasons, he is one of the first people to try and stop Leanne from assaulting Peggy in season 2.
- While still having an (unrepentant) affair with another man's wife for over a decade, John still tries to be something of a father to Joseph, and ultimately accepts it's better not to tell him the truth.
- Really Gets Around: Admits as much to Hank in Season 3. Nancy finds out about this in Season 12 and, even though their affair has long been over, doesn't take it well.
- The Alcoholic
- Bad Boss: Occasionally. For example, putting Vickers in charge when he's in the hospital, and making Hank feed his hounds.
- Broken Pedestal: Averted, as no matter what he does (especially if it would get him arrested), Hank continues to idolize him. Warts and All could explain this, but one can only put up with so much...
- Not to say that he's oblivious to his boss' shortcomings; in one episode, Hank tells Bobby that he's put out his first "Strickland fire", adding "A couple hundred more and you'll have caught up with me".
- Dirty Old Man
- Expy: Of Lyndon B Johnson.
- Fat Bastard
- Good Ol' Boy
- Karma Houdini
- Pet the Dog: After he and his long-lost son drives Hank to drink himself drunk (and thus, ruining his induction), not only does he sets up the committee to blackmail them in order to save Hank's career, but also gets Hank inducted into the "Hall of Flame."
- The Rival: M.F. Thatherton, who used to work for him before branching out on his own.
- Stupid Boss: Hank is pretty much the only reason why his company is still running.
- The Ace
- Affably Evil
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Although this could apply to his whole family.
- Even Evil Has Standards: His and Cindy's dealings with the Kozy Kitchens corporation, which managed to track them down when they tried to hide on their private villa on an island.
- Evil Counterpart: His family seems to exist as one for Kahn, Minh, and Connie. The three of them are obviously more Americanized by contrasting their accents, and they're much more successful then Khan's family. Yet they seem to lack any actual morals. Chane is an egotistical spoiled wannabe whereas Connie is an intelligent Plucky Girl who wants to be a regular kid.
- Ted is also even more judgemental, snobby, and self-absorbed as Kahn, but hides it under an overly-polite facade whereas Khan is openly a jerk.
- Hypocrite: Once guilt-tripped Kahn into thinking he's betrayed his heritage, yet converted from Buddhism to Protestant Christianity because it's "good for business."
- Also in "Trans-fascism", he gets trans-fats banned from Arlen and then gladly patronizes the illegal food truck operated by Buck Strickland. When Hank asks about this, Ted smugly says that he has the discipline to handle it.
- Karma Houdini: Ted usually gets out of any punishment any time he does something wrong, save for a moment in "Trans-fascism", when both he and Kahn are beaten up by Rooster's crew for going to the Sugarfoot's lunch truck.
- Moral Event Horizon: As part of his guilt-tripping of Khan (above) he tried to convince Kahn that the only way Khan could redeem himself was by returning to Laos and join La Résistance against the Communist regime -- a certain suicide-mission.
- In actuality, Ted never intended to have the resistance re-enter Laos. He simply wanted them to parade up and down the street for a Laotian Pride Parade he was attempted to have the city throw. That was the only reason he manipulted every member in the first place.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Balding, skinny and not terribly attractive. Cindy, on the other hand, is definitely pretty.
Principal Carl Moss
- The Alcoholic
- Deadpan Snarker
- Evil Counterpart - Not evil per se, but a closer look shows him to be an inversion of Hank. Unlike him, Carl has a leading position for a job, is afraid to handle confrontations, and generally favors any sort of personal gain over ethic.
- Honest John's Dealership - Many of Carl Moss's ideas to raise money for the schools
- Jaded Washout
- Evil Counterpart: Likewise, Clark is pretty much Bobby but fatter and meaner.
- Those Two Bad Guys: With Dooley.
- Bad Boss: Puts Bobby's life in danger by trying to make him cross a racetrack (DURING A CAR RACE) to bring him a soda
- The Bully
- Catch Phrase: "I Da Boss!"
- The Ditz: Every appearance except his debut in season 2.
- Evil Gloating
- Fat Idiot
- Hair-Trigger Temper
- Mad Artist
- No Indoor Voice
- Perpetual Frowner
- Pointy-Haired Boss
- Too Dumb to Live: His first appearance.
- What an Idiot!: Bobby and Dale both lampshade this in season 2.
- The Bully
- Complete Monster: Even though he was a one-time character, he deserves mention here if only for being the closest thing the show ever had to this trope. Even Cotton had a handful of Pet the Dog moments. Caleb? Not so much. Bill's awful Jerkass cousin and a couple of other one-shot characters would count as well, though.
- Enfant Terrible
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Who would have thought Dustin Brooks would turn out so wrong?
- Spoiled Brat: His parents think he can do no wrong and give him anything he asks for regardless of his behavior. They describe some of his selfish and most obnoxious behavior as "expressing his creativity".
- Battle Butler
- Cool Old Guy: Has a large tattoo of Rob Zombie on his chest (as opposed to Danny Trejo's tattoo of a beautiful senorita).
- Ink Suit Actor: For Danny Trejo
- All Abusers Are Male: Subverted.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Claims that she's changed. She hasn't.
- Domestic Abuser: Abused Hoyt throughout the marriage, which eventually resulted in him getting stabbed with a fork (which lead to her arrest). She starts abusing Bill once she starts drinking again.
- Evil Counterpart: To Peggy, in terms of a mother figure towards Luanne.
- Hollywood Pudgy: Tends to muffin-top slightly but noticeably when wearing outfits that reveal her midriff.
- Lady Drunk
- Off the Wagon: And it gets worse from there. She was already a jerk to Luanne, when drunk she gets violent.
- Parental Neglect: She's rather emotionally abusive towards Luanne. She was even okay with her daughter dropping out of college to get a job to support the two of them. This is mainly because she doesn't want to be a mother, as seen in the episode where she comes back and tries (emphasis on "tries") to be Luanne's Cool Big Sis.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Basically looks like a middle-aged Luanne, only with badly dyed hair.
- Bastard In Sheep's Clothing
- The Ghost: Was this for most of the show's lengthy run, only being mentioned in a few episodes that concerned Luanne.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Retcon: A jarring example. Originally Hoyt was a male version of Peggy who ran away and joined an oil rig to get away from Leanne and wouldn't return until her death certificate was faxed to him. When he finally made his appearance, he was shown to be a convict on his last strike. He was such a manipulative bastard he would've even thrown his own daughter under a bus if it meant him avoiding jail.
- Adam Westing: He evidently has anger management problems. He whacked the teacher upside the head with his fugelhorn just for spelling his name wrong!
- As Himself: Started out as Mega-Lo-Mart's spokesman, before apparently relocating to Arlen permanently.
- Badass Beard
- Nice Hat
- One-Scene Wonder: Appeared in at least one episode per season. Those that weren't about him as Mega-Lo-Mart's pitchman were guaranteed to be hilarious.
Luanne's boyfriend and (much to Hank's displeasure) Hank's superior as department manager at Megalomart. Voiced by David Herman
- Bastard Boyfriend: Treated Luanne like crap through most of the relationship. His idea of a gift were CDs he didn't want anymore. When Luanne needed money, he was holding on to what he had so he could buy a trampoline. Another trampoline.
- Catch Phrase: "Hey."
- The Ditz
- Killed Off for Real
- Lazy Bum
- ↑ Chang is an arrogant prick whom Connie despises, and his parents forbid Chang to date her, as they don't really like the Souphanousinphones to begin with.