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The Real Reason King Of The Hill Was Canceled

Airing from 1997 to 2010 on Fox, co-creator Mike Judge's "King of the Hill" delivers reliable laughs with its low-key hilarious, brilliantly subversive take on blue-collar life. The show portrays dad Hank Hill (voiced by Judge), his long-suffering wife Peggy (Kathy Najimy), and colorful son Bobby (Pamela Adlon) making their way through life alongside miscellaneous pals, neighbors, and co-workers.

A consistently strong performer during its time in the Fox Sunday night lineup with over 240 episodes under its belt, the series has had the distinction of being considered for cancellation more than once during its initial TV run. In fact, as detailed in a 2008 TV Week interview with 20th Century Fox TV co-chair Gary Newman, "That show has had its last rites read to it several times, and keeps rearing its head again."

The fact is, at the time it was dropped from the Fox schedule, "King of the Hill" was the second longest-running animated sitcom in TV history. It was topped at the time only by the true king of the scripted TV series hill: "The Simpsons." So, with ratings and popularity taken into consideration, why did the long reign of "King of the Hill" come to an end on Fox?

There are several possible reasons King of the Hill was cancelled

While still doing comparatively well with audiences into its final season, a long-running series like "King of the Hill" inevitably experiences ups and downs ratings-wise. In spite of off-years, the series still attracted some 6 million viewers in its last year. This placed "King of the Hill" ahead of another rising Fox animated comedy: Seth MacFarlane's "American Dad!" The newer animated series tallied 5.9 million viewers, but, unlike the Hill family, "American Dad" received a renewal order (via CBR). So, ratings couldn't have been the only factor deciding the cancelation of "King of the Hill."

As it turns out, a very specific TV scheduling element seems to have also played into the fate of "King of the Hill." At the time, Fox was deciding where to place another newly commissioned show in its Animation Domination line up. Spun off from MacFarlane's hit "Family Guy," and created by MacFarlane, Richard Appel, and Mike Henry, "The Cleveland Show" would take over the time slot "King of the Hill" once held.

So, once the cancellation was finally dropped on "King of the Hill," how did Mike Judge himself take the death of the series? Speaking to The Chicago Tribune about it in 2009, Judge reveals that he's at ease with the end of the show, saying, "I think it's a good time to stop. I'd rather stop when it's still decent, rather than run it to the ground."