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  • Writer's pictureAaron Fonseca

Fox's King of the Hill Had Two Different Endings - But Only One Made Sense

This weeks Your Nerd Side Show:

King of the Hill quietly wrapped up a successful run in 2009 after 13 seasons on the air. It left a strong cult following behind that led to Hulu announcing a revival in 2023, with creators Mike Judge and Greg Daniels returning to oversee the new episodes. But some fans are still confused about how the series originally ended, thanks to Fox making changes to the production order that resulted in two last episodes.

Season 13, Episode 20, "To Sirloin with Love" was intended to serve as the show's finale. Yet four other episodes followed it in syndication, so the animated series officially ended with Season 13, Episode 24, "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day." While that was the last episode to air, the former was the ending that Judge and Daniels planned for Hank Hill and his neighbors on Rainey Street.

King of the Hill's final seasons had problems that had nothing to do with the show itself. It sat in a reasonably reliable time slot within Fox's Sunday night lineup, immediately following the network's NFL coverage. That gave the show a reliable ratings boost, but also often caused it to be pre-empted when football games ran long. The majority of Season 10 consisted of Season 9 episodes that had been bumped by extended NFL coverage. While devoted Cowboys fan Hank Hill would probably approve, by Season 13 the compromises had reached a new level.

The season consisted of 24 episodes -- but four of them premiered in syndication on Adult Swim, home of cancelled Fox shows. That's where the confusion comes in. "To Sirloin with Love" completed the show's run on Fox in September 2009 and was produced as the official ending. The additional four episodes appeared in May 2010 on Adult Swim. In King of the Hill's streaming run on Hulu, the show is presented in that same order, so "Kahn-Day" looks like the series finale.

'To Sirloin With Love' Is King of the Hill's Perfect Ending

"Just Another Manic Kahn-Day" has its charms, including a fun subplot in which a baffled Bobby discovers a comedy LP belonging to Hank. But the main storyline edges into rougher territory, and opens up a lot of questions that don't befit a finale. While collaborating with Kahn on an innovative new grill, Hank learns that his neighbor is bipolar. He starts out dismissive of his neighbor's mental health issue, quickly learning that it can't be fixed by a funny movie or "tough-love" shouting. The episode ends with Hank expressing his concern for Kahn's health, but it still has a problematic resolution where the gang exploits Kahn's energetic phase to finish the grill project.

"Sirloin" carries no such baggage, and shifts the focus to where it belongs: Hank and Bobby. The two bond over Bobby's newly revealed expertise in meat cuts, which puts him on the "meat science" team at the local community college. He struggles to meet sky-high expectations in the state competition before quitting. But Bobby comes to the rescue when the team bus is hijacked by their rivals, winning the competition solo and cementing a shared love with his father. King of the Hill officially ends with the pair barbecuing, and the whole neighborhood gathering to enjoy the feast.

Beside that sweet centerpiece, "Sirloin" involves a larger number of characters, including Tom Petty's late addition Lucky Kleinschmidt and Peggy's niece Luanne Platter, both of whom are unlikely to return. The episode even features a fluegelhorn solo from series favorite Chuck Mangione. "Just Another Manic Kahn-Day" may be the last episode of King of the Hill that fans saw, but "To Sirloin With Love" is the true end to the original series.

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