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King of the Hill (The Simpsons)

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"King of the Hill"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 23
Directed bySteven Dean Moore
Written byJohn Swartzwelder
Production code5F16
Original air dateMay 3, 1998 (1998-05-03)
Guest appearance(s)

Brendan Fraser as Brad
Steven Weber as Neil

Episode features
Couch gagThe Simpsons sit on the couch and the camera zooms out to reveal that they are inside a snow globe. Two hands then shake the globe.[1]
CommentaryMike Scully
Richard Appel
Steven Dean Moore
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Trash of the Titans"
Next →
"Lost Our Lisa"
The Simpsons (season 9)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"King of the Hill" is the twenty-third episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 3, 1998.[2] It was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Steven Dean Moore, and guest stars Brendan Fraser and Steven Weber.[2] The episode sees Homer trying to climb a large mountain to impress Bart after he humiliates him at a church picnic with his lack of fitness.


After his obesity embarrasses Bart at a church picnic during a game of capture the flag, Homer attempts to lose weight, and begins going on midnight jogs around town. In his search for healthy items at the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu recommends an energy bar endorsed by Rainier Wolfcastle called Powersauce. Homer reads that they claim to "unleash the awesome power of apples" and the bars become all that he eats, to the point where he considers Marge's cooking "filth" and proclaims that he will only eat food "in bar form" from now on.

At a gym, Homer meets Wolfcastle himself, who becomes his fitness coach. In two months, Homer becomes noticeably leaner and more muscular. Two marketing executives from Powersauce approach Wolfcastle to climb to the top of Springfield's tallest mountain, "The Murderhorn", as a publicity stunt. When he refuses, Bart insists that Homer perform the stunt. When the executives consider the greater impact of an average person overcoming adversity instead of a strong person, Homer is recruited.

Grampa objects to Homer's stunt, citing a story where he and a man named McAllister climbed the Murderhorn in 1928, being sponsored by a company that makes canned pancakes. Close to the peak, Grampa gave McAllister the last ration, and was pushed by McAllister off the mountain, surviving an 8,000-foot fall onto a pile of jagged rocks. Despite Grampa's warning, Homer is still focused on the climb.

On the day of the climb, the Powersauce executives assign two sherpas to ensure that Homer reaches the top. After a couple of days, Homer discovers that the sherpas have been dragging him up the mountain while he sleeps. Homer fires the sherpas, telling the Powersauce executives that he is determined to prove he can climb the remainder of the mountain himself. The executives object, telling him to turn back. When Homer reminds them of the energy Powersauce gives him, they reveal that Powersauce bars are just junk food, made of apple cores and Chinese newspapers. Despite this, Homer carries on. The executives' positive tone changes during the televised event, now saying that Homer may not survive.

Homer climbs an appreciable portion of the mountain, becoming light-headed in the process. When he reaches what he thinks is the top, he finds that there is still a long distance remaining. Defeated, Homer takes shelter in a cave. He finds the frozen body of McAllister, and his journal, which contains an entry calling the peak "unclimbable." The entry also says that Grampa stole McAllister's oxygen and tried to eat his left arm, proving that Grampa actually betrayed McAllister.

Upset that disappointment runs in his family, Homer walks outside and prepares to plant the flag. He replaces the Powersauce flag with the Simpson flag from the church picnic, proclaiming that he's gotten the closest to the top a Simpson will ever get on the mountain. He hammers the flagpole into the mountain face, which cracks and causes the remainder of the mountain to fall, making where he is now standing "the top."

Homer uses McAllister's body to toboggan down the mountain, where he is greeted by the crowd. Grampa's actions from the past are revealed and he simply runs away. When Homer tells the family to look through a telescope to see the flag, they only see the pole (and his wallet). Nevertheless, Bart is proud of his father for making it to the top of the mountain.[2][3]


The episode was pitched and written by John Swartzwelder. The writing staff had to find a new angle for Homer's weight problems, as the idea had been used several times before. This was emphasized in this episode when Marge does not seem to care that Homer is going to try to lose weight again.[4]

In the scenes where the Sherpas were speaking, the show staff went to great lengths to find translations. Originally, the producers of the film adaption of the book Into Thin Air were contacted to help. The film producers were shocked at the trouble the Simpsons staff were going to, and replied that they had simply made up translations in the film. The staff then had to consult various experts by telephone.[4]

The idea of the upper part of the mountain collapsing so Homer would be at the peak came from Mike Scully's brother Brian, after the staff "desperately needed a way out".[4]

Cultural references[edit]

The mountain Homer must climb, the Murderhorn, is a reference to the mountain Matterhorn, which is located in the Swiss Alps.[1] The name of the episode is a reference to the Fox series King of the Hill.


In its original broadcast, "King of the Hill" finished 23rd in ratings for the week of April 27–May 4, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 9.4, equivalent to approximately 9.2 million viewing households. It was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, King of the Hill, and Ally McBeal.[5]

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, thought well of the episode, stating: "A quite charming little adventure in which, in an effort to impress Bart, Homer undertakes a dangerous adventure and comes through successfully. It's nice because just for once, to all intents and purposes, Homer actually succeeds in something."[1]


  1. ^ a b c Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "This Little Wiggy". Retrieved 2007-11-01.
  2. ^ a b c Gimple, Scott (1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 40. ISBN 0-06-098763-4.
  3. ^ "King of the Hill" The Retrieved on November 1, 2007
  4. ^ a b c Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "King of the Hill" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ "'Merlin' magic works again for NBC". Sun-Sentinel. Associated Press. May 7, 1998. p. 4E.

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