Whats the relationship between Cotton Hill and Bobby Hill?

As a very recent convert to ‘King of the Hill,’ I’m still learning about the nuances of each character. I’ve seen tons of Bobby and plenty of Cotton, but don’t recall seeing the two of them interacting much. Whats their relationship like?

For the smart guy/gal getting ready to post it - yes, I realize Cotton is Bobby’s grandfather.

One episode showed Bobby trying to treat women like Cotton treats them and finding out how badly that goes over.

Presumably, none of the Hill men are affectionate to each other. “If you weren’t my son, I’d hug ya,” Hank has said to Bobby.

Cotton is fairly affectionate with Bobby. He feels that some things are wrong with Bobby, but that he’ll turn out okay.

In one episode we learn that Bobby calls Cotton “Ging Ging” and Cotton calls him “Bing Bing”.

In another Cotton admits that Hank is a better father “You raised Bobby. All I ever raised was you.”

In still another, Cotton is willing to go to prison in order to keep Bobby from being known as “Stinky” and enduring years of jokes.

Overall, Bobby and GH seem to be the only family members that Cotton tries to treat decently.

They’re just three generations of Texans, hope you don’t mind my rambling…

My impression is that Cotton grew up on a ranch during the Great Depression before he went to war as a teenager. He had it hard, his parents had it harder and he never had the luxury of seeing much affection as a kid, especially from the menfolk. He’s a hardass because that’s just how he learned to approach life. He yells at Hank and insults everybody else because everybody yelled at him when he was a kid. That’s just how you deal with people and how you get kids to get off their butts and grow up. Besides, you never know when they’re going to have their shins shot off, and they’re still going to have to go on living after that.

Hank is caught in the middle. He was born in the mid-60s, when Texas made the statistical turn from being a primarily rural state to being a primarily urban one. He grew up as Cotton’s son, but the rules changed as he was growing up and a lot of his hangups are because the ways that his his daddy taught him aren’t really acceptable in his society. He knows that it isn’t effective or acceptable to motivate his kid by acting like a drill sargeant, but can’t help wanting to. Besides, he remembers how bad he felt when his dad yelled at him. He’s searching for a middle ground but he’s guessing half the time, so he ends up just watering down Cotton’s drill sargeant schtick when he talks to Bobby, knowing fully well that it isn’t coming out right.

Bobby is… hey, he’s just a kid. His dad gripes at him and it hurts sometimes, but he knows that he doesn’t really mean it all. He also has an idea of how to not act like a redneck and his dad’s ineffectiveness gives him the freedom to work it out for himself. To Cotton he is a grandson. Cotton dotes on him as grandparent should but mostly ignores him as he’s usually busy with “adult work.”

Each generation does love the others, no matter how much they piss each other off at times. All the main characters are good people, even if they are a little confused or confusing at times.

Actually, Hank was born in (gasp!) New York City, so he’s not a native Texan, much to his distress.

(wiping back a tear) Beautiful summing up, cornflakes!

That’s what I find the coolest thing about KotH: who’d’ve thought the current TV program with the most fully-conceived and developed characters would be a cartoon from the same guy who created Beavis and Butthead? That show has always been one of the greatest EVER but nobody notices.

In another episode Cotton makes Bobby go to his old Military Academy to learn to be a real man, for his own good.

Lots of doings transpire, and bobby ends up in solitary confinement to find out his grandfather was in the same cell.

There’s another bit to it but i won’t spoil it.

That was a great summary of the characters, but the only episode that hasn’t really fit with the others is when Cotton wants to kill Fidel Castro and Hank tries to stop him, then Cotton tries to kill him. Even though they have a strained relationship (to say the least), I never understood why Cotton would try to kill Hank. PTSD, maybe? What’s your take on that episode?

dropzone, it is a great show, with usually consistent character development. There are so many subtleties in the characters that sometimes you have to be a regular viewer to appreciate it. The casual viewer may not get some of the more subtle jokes in the show if they aren’t aware of the different relationships and character traits. Sometimes, just hearing Hank’s reaction of horror has my husband and I laughing hysterically. For instance, the episodes where Bobby is the rodeo clown, has a ventriliquist dummy, or is cultivating roses are great because of Hank’s reaction to Bobby. What makes it even better is that by the end of the episode, he has usually come to terms with what Bobby is doing and supports him.

IIRC this was the episode which introduced the nicknames I mentioned earlier.

In the episode that introduced Cotton, he rents a pony for Bobby’s birthday party and gives him a real rifle (I don’t remember the make and model). I have no equestrian experience and no little about guns. But I’d guess Cotton spent around $200 on the gun and at least that much on a four hour pony rental. Considering that Cotton is generally a selfish bastard who won’t spend money on anybody else ( He got a discount on DeeDee’s breast implants “Both lefties.” IIRC she doesn’t know.) his spending $400 or so on his grandson’s birthday is a clear sign of love.

Cotton’s shown he’s got a compassionate side a few times that have been mentioned. There’s also the episode after Peggy is recovering from her sky diving injuries and her therapy is doing her no good. Cotton, in spite of never caring enough to learn “Hank’s Wife’s” name feels empathy towards her, having gone through a similar experience when he had his shins shot off. He understands that Peggy’s stubbornness is what will get her back on her feet, and he gives her a target for her to vent her rage. The episode was an interesting slant on Cotton’s character.


Don’t forget that we also learned that Cotton left behind a woman he loved in Japan, after the war. (He even got her pregnant, so Hank has a brother, whom I hope will be back).

It was that episode which revealed that Hank’s narrow urethra, despite Cotton’s many protests, was inherited from his father. Hank’s half brother (whose name I can’t remember) has one too.


Mush mushi.

That’s a great episode.

Cotton: Are you ready to hate me more than you’ve hated anyone in your whole life?
Peggy: I already do!

Thanks, dropzone, I appreciate that. Personally, I think KOTH may have the most well-developed and sympathetic characters on television since All in the Family.

Nutty Bunny, do you have kids or did you ever have to take care of a parent? My guess is that the whole Castro thing was a sort of metaphor, or maybe a tall tale told to make a simple point. Don Quixote had windmills and Sancho Panza, Cotton has Castro and that damned son of his, and remember that this was the same show that took an entire thirty minutes to say “The only way any kid around here will take Sex Ed in a public school is if his mom teaches the class!”

I’ll concede the well-developed line as I’m not familiar enough with the show to make judgement but most sympathetic? Since All in the Family?

Are you being ironic? I hope so 'cause out of the entire combined casts, there’re only two characters that don’t annoy me and those’re Kahnie from *KotH *and Edith from AitF. Everyone else inspires apathy at best or, in the cases of some (Peggy and Archie specifically), outright antipathy,

One of the main Cotton-Bobby episodes was in the episode just before Peggy’s skydiving accident. Bobby goes to spend the weekend with his “grandparents” (Cotton and his very pregnant wife) expecting to be spoiled rotten but being treated as a slave instead. I forget what happens to Cotton in the episode, but Bobby ends up having to drive his step-grandmother 50 miles to the hospital when she goes into labor. (The hospital is only a few blocks away but Bobby has no idea how to get there, but he knows how to get to Arlen and where the hospital is there.) Bobby actually delivered his Uncle Hank (known as “Good Hank” to distinguish him from Cotton’s other son).