King Of The Hill's Opening Sequence Planted The Seed For The Entire Series

"King of the Hill" left an enduring legacy on sitcom history for its animated depiction of the mundane yet heartfelt lives of suburban Texans, painting a sympathetic and relatable picture of middle America not often seen on television. The series has its share of memorable moments, but perhaps none represent the show as much as Hank Hill hanging around with his buddies, standing in front of a fence while sipping cans of Alamo beer and making "conversation" with a laconic series of back-and-forth "yeps."

It's the image that the opening credits sequence is centered around, and it's reportedly what inspired the creative direction of the entire rest of the show. Series creators Mike Judge, who had just finished "Beavis and Butt-Head" on MTV at the time, came up with the core concept of conservative but morally centered Hank learning to live with the conflicting views and lifestyles of his family and friends. Greg Daniels, who would move on to run "The Office" on NBC, introduced additional characters like Peggy's niece Luanne Platter and Hank's father Cotton Hill, and the two continued to expand on the fictional but all-too-real town of Arlen, Texas.

The origins of Arlen

The nexus from which that universe was born was a sketch that Judge drew based on his experiences growing up in Albuquerque, New Mexico and his subsequent time spent in Richardson, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. In an interview with IGN, he talked about how he used to pass by people who resembled Hank and his friends on his paper route, which wound through areas with former Texans who had moved to Albuquerque. That developed into a joke he and his friend did about two "bubbas sitting around and talking about what's in the news or whatever," in what sounds like a mild-mannered version of "Beavis and Butt-Head." Later, Judge moved to north of Dallas where "everyone took care of each other" and he saw more of the characters he encountered in his youth. 

All of this eventually inspired a one-panel cartoon of what became "King of the Hill." Judge explained:

"I just had this image 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 I just drew them all saying, 'Yep, yep, yep.' That's still basically the drawing you see at the beginning of the show, is those four guys and their beers. That was really the seed of the idea..."

Considering the down-to-earth nature of "King of the Hill," it makes poetic sense that Judge's initial sketch drew on real-life people and experiences. The series expanded on these once-nameless characters, but the ethos of plainly portraying the everyday Texan stuck.