“King Of The Hill” Do’s and Don’ts

The show may be cancelled, but this list of animation rules – “60 and counting” – for artists on Fox’s King Of The Hill is a great read.

Some of this is show policy, some of it is good common sense. All of it gives us insight into how the visual sense of show was achieved – and what the “guidelines for life in Arlen” were like. No “limp wrists”, no “Josey (sic) and The Pussycats” action, and lots of rules for eating and drinking…



Click here to see the whole list.

(Thanks, Kiff Knight)


  • Crystal

    I like #20 for Peggy (heck, I think some guys do as well).

    I don’t feel this way, but do some people dislike the “realistic” aspect of KotH? I know if it was a live-action show, it’d probably have been shorter due to Bobby growing up. I still enjoy this post though.

    • http://twitter.com/SarahJesness SarahJesness

      I think there are some people who dislike it on the basis that animated shows should have more of a “reason” to be animated. They feel the same for other “realistic” animated shows like Daria. But I really don’t mind, there are other benefits to animation. (dealing with child actors being one of them)

    • http://twitter.com/DudeGurlz Kris Kail

      I think the realism is supposed to be the big joke behind the show. Like Family Guy was a take on 80′s sitcoms (until it was brought back in 2005), and Futurama was the idea that the future wound up being a mishmosh of what people in the 50′s thought the future would be.

      King of the Hill is funny because the jokes are so dry and real that they wind up being really weird in an almost “uncanny valley” sort of way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/idragosani Brett McCoy

    Wonder if Beavis & Butthead have/had similar rules

  • Capital_7

    These work as a kind of “Do these Don’ts” for Family Guy.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    Can someone explain to me why closing a character’s eyes during a drink is a bad idea? is this a common rule? I sorta get the rest of it in the context of the show, but that one escapes me. That drawing of him to the left looks plenty natural to me.

    • Elliot Cowan

      Because, unless it’s a very specific reason, you don’t tend to close your eyes when you swig your beer unless you’re a hot blonde in a television commercial.

      • http://twitter.com/ChriSobieniak Chris Sobieniak

        I hate to say I close mine when i drink non-alcoholic beverages.

    • Mat

      its funnier and weirder with the yes open

    • Hotdogface

      Probably because nobody ever does it in real life.

    • Mike Caracappa

      It’s a stylistic acting choice. The rules aren’t so much about whats realistic or what’s good drawing skill, but they’re the rules for the overall “King of the Hill” universe that the show exists in. So the characters all have specific gestures, movements, and acting that pertain to who they are, and the way they drink a beer is one of them.

  • JK Riki

    #21 makes me sad. It should never be a rule. :P

    • bernard

      agreed…I don’t wanna live in a world with no high fives!

      • mick

        I must disagree. High fives are a menace. I had to high five an old man in a liquor store once after I told him about the german beer purity laws. It really wasn’t necessary but i couldn’t leave the old giffer hanging. ‘beer purity laws!…high five’. I always enjoyed king of the hill and who knows, maybe it was for the lack of high fives

    • Joel

      Interestingly, Joe Murray didn’t want “Rocko’s Modern Life” to feature high-fives either, which gave rise to the Season 4 episode, “The High-Five of Doom.”

  • jmahon

    no “Josey and the Pussicats” action, being, when people play instruments or hold them, it’s not just simply the animator’s guess as to how they’re used or played, it has to be accurate and researched.

    I would’ve never even thought….

    • Mapache

      It bothers every musician who watches cartoons.
      I think Daria’s team also animated instruments that way.
      I don’t remeber any other cartoon that does it.

      • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frank-Provasek/100000474608446 Frank Provasek

        Both Josie and the Archies (both Filmation) probably had 30 seconds of animation of performing music that was looped and reused for the whole runs of the series. Abrupt cuts every 2 seconds disguised the fact that the tempo, mouth movements and instrument playing had nothing to do with the music, Dig that electric guitar, wireless and STRINGLESS,,,http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cxzglegBmw

        • http://twitter.com/DudeGurlz Kris Kail

          Josie was Hanna-Barbera, actually.

          • R. I.

            Yup… but the band sequences there weren’t as bad as those in “The Amazing Chan & the Chan Clan” where the animation was even less in sync with the songs… I think HB outsourced the animation to Eric Porter or another studio.
            And I recall the animation of the Archies playing music was reused for the Brady Kids.

          • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frank-Provasek/100000474608446 Frank Provasek

            My bad. There were both Archie Comics properties so it’s odd they would contact with a different animation studio a year later.

          • http://twitter.com/DudeGurlz Kris Kail

            It was more like Filmation had a smash hit thanks to The Archies’s Sugar Sugar so Hanna-Barbera called Archie Comics up saying “we want in on this cash cow too, give us a comic to make into a cartoon!” Originally, Josie and the Pussycats was just “She’s Josie” and it was essentially a gender reversed Archie, but Hanna-Barbera wanted them to be a band so they could copy the success of Sugar Sugar, so the show became Josie and the Pussycats and the comic followed suit.

      • http://twitter.com/DudeGurlz Kris Kail

        Metalocalypse is probably the best cartoon for musicians because Brendon Small actually pushed for them to use motion capture to make sure the band sequences got every movement right, at least as far as the guitars/bass are concerned.

        If you wanted you could watch the show closely and learn how to play the songs, I learned pieces of Dethklok songs by doing that.

  • Dbenson

    Find myself wondering how much was drawn from the team’s pre-production vision for the show and previous professional experience; and how much was on-the-job learning. I imagine a roomful of animators and directors in very serious discussion of why Hank looked off while sipping a beer.

  • Charles Brubaker

    That’s pretty good. If you want to make a guide on how the characters should be animated, this should give you a good idea on what the guide should be like.

  • Thad

    #65 – Forget how to draw well.

  • Kyle_Maloney

    I think I often close mine if I’m near the end of a can and have to tilt more.

  • Abby

    God, I love this show. If I accidentally turn it to a channel that it’s on, I’ll just watch the whole thing whether I want to or not.

  • Polecat

    Laughing Boomhauer would’ve looked a lot like Beavis.

    • Polecat

      As an aside, I’m glad that I didn’t have to create a whole new Disqus account to post this. Oh, and I think Sexy Peggy has a kind of down-home charm as opposed to Animator’s Dream Peggy. And I liked the rule about avoiding “paw hands.”

  • Babababa

    These come from either the first or second season on DVD, if anyone cares. There was a strange absence of KOTH model sheets and such online and so I took screen caps from the DVD and uploaded them to Flickr, which I’m guessing is where these came from. The person has somehow missed two of the ‘rules’ though (there should be 39 files rather than 37), you can see them all here:

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/66642201@N02/

    I also uploaded the model sheets from the DVD, which you can also see there. As well, if you search on YouTube there’s some videos of a show animator going through the process of drawing the main characters, which is also from the DVDs.

  • Tim Hodge

    Of course the most important “Don’t” is “Don’t cancel the series while it’s still going strong!”

    • http://twitter.com/DudeGurlz Kris Kail

      Sorry but Cleveland Show was much more important and much more valuable as far as the cultural arts go. The idea that we’ve gone this long without giving Cleveland his own show where he completely 180′s from cautious friend to stupid dad cliche is maddening to me, personally.

  • Aaron

    I once took the layout test for KOTH and stopped halfway through. The aesthetic was too soul crushing.

  • Joseph Hudak

    Looks like these dos and don’ts were made at least after the first season since some of them reference earlier efforts (as “don’ts”).

    Along with a lot of common sense and maintaining the “King of the Hill” animated universe, a lot of this seems to be for the animatic stage of the cartoon before they are sent to Korea, as Korean animators will animate an action or detail objects incorrectly if the actions aren’t clear enough.

  • http://twitter.com/slowtiger slowtiger

    Very interesting read. I’ve never seen the show, but now want to try, just because of the amount of work spent for such detail – hope they wrote the script to the same high standards!

  • LazyBoy

    Just imagine applying rule #9 for Family Guy … “But how I’m gonna animate now ?!”
    Seriously, in this show, on every line of dialogue, the characters are showing their hands like if they were begging for money. That’s why I call this the “beggar pose”.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Frank-Provasek/100000474608446 Frank Provasek

    That sliding glass door in the kitchen had diagonal lines representing glare or reflections. But they moved with the glass! Would have been hard to animate correctly…requiring not only 2 layers so the reflection didn’t move, but also they had to disappear in a wipe linked to the trailing edge of the glass. They should have just not drawn the reflection at all, since in live action a polarized filter on the camera would eliminate them!

  • R. I.

    Peggy’s supposed to have huge feet (size 16, if I recall), and the model sheets don’t tend to reflect that.

    • http://twitter.com/Zekumi Tori Rhodes

      I’ve noticed that Peggy’s feet look more or less completely normal unless they’re making a joke about it or specifically doing a shot of her feet to show how big they are, when it reality (given her shoe size), her feet would be very noticeable just about all the time. I imagine they keep them normal on all other occasions because they would look so strange otherwise. It’d be distracting.

  • Brian Horst

    number 39.

  • atc483

    My favorite series. This is an excellent list to see (and I imagine myself being just as anal when it comes to my series).

  • David M

    What an utterly soul destroying list. Fitting for one of the most pointless animated shows on the air. Why not just shoot it with real actors and save all the bother?

  • Jon

    There was a huge violation of this entire sheet in the episode “Apres Hank, le Deluge” where at the beginning of a scene, Bill was wearing his regular sweatpants, but then reverted back to his original Army uniform pants.