Hank Hill (left), former U.S. President Jimmy Carter (middle), and Cotton Hill (right).
First appearance Pilot (in a flashback)
Shins of the Father (official)
Last appearance Death Picks Cotton (official)
Serves Me Right For Giving General George S. Patton The Bathroom Key (in a flash back)
Portrayed by Toby Huss Information Gender Male Occupation Retired War Veteran, Temporary Military School Principal, Bathroom Attendant, None Spouse(s) Tilly Hill (ex-wife)
Didi Hill (widow)
Children Junichiro (First Son)
Hank Hill (Second Son)
G.H. (Third Son)
Relatives Bobby Hill (grandson)
Dusty Hill (nephew)
Cause of death Death by infection to his esophagus due to a fatal allergy to shellfish
Colonel Cotton Lyndal Hill was an American fictional character in the animated series King of the Hill. He is the father of Hank Hill, Good Hank Hill or "G.H.", and Junichiro (his illegitimate half-Japanese son). He is also a World War II veteran who had his shins "blowed off by a Japanman's machine gun" in combat, and later had his feet attached to his knees. This made him a foot shorter than his fellow family members and caused a characteristic waddle. According to Hank, Cotton is 6' 4" (1.93 m) with his shins, 5' 0" even (1.52m) without. Despite his disability, he eventually reached the rank of Colonel in the Texas State Militia, and was addressed as such by his friends. Cotton was voiced by Toby Huss.
Cotton was zealously proud of his military service record and his status as a war hero, although he tended to exaggerate his exploits. He often claims to anyone who will listen that he killed "fitty (50) men" during the war. He consistently reminded everyone within earshot about how he lost his shins during World War II:
- "I was 14, just a little older than Bobby. But I knew Uncle Sam needed me, so I lied and signed up. We had beat the Nazzys in Italy, and they shipped me to the Pacific theater. A Tojo torpedo sent our troop ship to the bottom. I could only save three of my buddies: Fatty, Stinky, and Brooklyn. They were kind of like you fellas [to Bill, Dale, and Boomhauer], only one of them was from Brooklyn. Out of the sun came a Tojo Zero and put fitty bullets in my back. The blood attracted sharks. I had to give 'em Fatty. Then things took a turn for the worse. I made it to an island, but it was full of Tojos! They were spitting on the U.S. flag! So I rushed 'em, but it was a trap. They opened fire and blew my shins off. Last thing I remember, I beat 'em all to death with a big piece of Fatty. I woke up in a field hospital, and they were sewing my feet to my knees."
If Cotton's story is to be believed, he was born around 1927, making him about 70 in the first season of the show. In a third season episode, Hank says Cotton is 74. He also claimed to have fought battles in both Munich and Okinawa within days of each other, but later admitted to not fighting in Munich.
Based upon Cotton's uniform in the episode "Returning Japanese", he earned the following military decorations: Medal of Honor, Purple Heart, and American Campaign Medal. In the episode "When Cotton Comes Marching Home", his Silver Star is displayed in a case at the VFW. In the 12th episode of season 11, he is wearing the third class of the Legion of Honor, the highest award given by the French government, who gave it to a select handful of American troops for their service in WWII.
He has a number of war trophies that can be seen in various episodes, including a Prussian Pickelhaube which he sometimes used to cut Hank's hair in an even bowl cut during Hank's youth, and a Nazi canoe which he claimed was "Hitler's canoe", though given his propensity to exaggerate his war stories, the actual origin of the canoe is uncertain.
The pride he has in his military service often colors his opinions of others; he has often expressed disdain for Hank's lack of service, and enjoys making fun of his son for being excluded due to his narrow urethra. Cotton also has a tendency to over exaggerate his service in the war. For example, in the episode Cotton's Plot he stated he killed Nazzys in Munich on April 12th and Tojos on April 13 in Okinowa.
He also has expressed dislike for veterans of the Vietnam War, as he blames them to some degree for losing it - though he eventually accords them a measure of respect for trying their best.
It is unknown if he actually ever served in Europe, considering the 77th served in the Pacific Theater.
Solomon Islands Cotton was ordered to retake an airfield on the Solomon Islands. His unit was pinned down by a Japanese machine gun nest high up in a hill. So he snuck into a fifty-five gallon of sake. He held his breath until the Japanese got good and drunk, and then he jumped out and spit it all out into his sabot (lighter). He "hibachi'd" the whole squad. (Cotton's Plot)
Guadalcanal In the episode Yankee Hanky, Cotton references that he and Stinky were on Guadalcanal, and it rained for 17 days.
Anzio On January 30, 1944, Cotton's unit attacked Anzio. They had "caught the Krauts with their pants down and their schnitzel exposed." They had taken the beach by noon, and the town by nightfall.
Normandy Cotton said that he climbed the cliffs of Normandy with a fifty pound ice cream maker on his back. (Cotton's Plot)
Saipan Cotton said that he led a platoon of men through the jungles of Sai Pan. (When Cotton Comes Marching Home)
Guam In 1944, in Guam, Cotton crawled through a minefield to retrieve General MacArthur's corn cob pipe. (Cotton's Plot)
Philippines Cotton said that he served in the Philippines. (Unfortunate Son)
Iwo Jima Cotton spent two weeks under a pile of bodies on Iwo Jima (Revenge of the Lutefisk). He and Topsy show a bayonet technique Topsy used to gut a kamikazee(Unfortunate Son). This is interesting because the Marines fought on Iwo Jima, not the army.
Munich Cotton claimed to have fought on Munich on April 30, 1945, and probably longer, but later realized he didn't. (Cotton's Plot])
Okinawa On May 2, 1945, on Okinawa, Cotton invented a bayonet technique that is still used by the army today. (Cotton's Plot])
P.O.W. Camp Cotton was captured at an unknown time by the Japanese, and put in a bamboo rat cage. He had to eat rats, but let the last one live so he could eat its droppings. He called it "Jungle Rice", and said it "tasted fine". By September, he was skinny enough to slip through the bars, and strangled the guard with a string made of braided rat tails, and ran to safety. (Cotton's Plot) He had also learned to stop his heartbeat, so the Japanese would stop torturing him for a moment, probably at the P.O.W. camp (Death Picks Cotton), and claimed that he only cried when the Japanese tore off his fingernails. (Returrning Japanese)
Miscellaneous Cotton severed the windpipe of a German corporal with a two foot strand of dental floss he kept in his boot. (The Final Shinsuit) He survived on a life raft by trapping rain water in his upturned eye lid. (Cotton's Plot)
Before leaving Japan, Cotton had an affair with a Japanese nurse, Michiko, which resulted in the birth of his eldest son (and Hank's older half-brother), Junichiro (voiced by David Carradine); he left suddenly despite trying to stay, and knew nothing of his child until years later. Michiko is one of the few women he treats respectfully at all and the only woman he treats respectfully all the time.
After the war, Cotton supervised the installation of asbestos in eleven bowling alleys and every public school in Heimlich County. Cotton eventually traveled back to Japan to reconcile with his long-lost lover, and soon learned of his illegitimate son. Junichiro initially rejected Cotton's attempt to make peace, and formally renounced his Hill family heritage. This enraged Cotton, who re-declared war on Japan and planned to spit in the face of Emperor Akihito out of spite ("Returning Japanese"). When Cotton saw that Hank and Junichiro had mended fences and even become friends, and Junichiro said that he was not ashamed to be a Hill any more, Cotton ditched his plan and accepted the Emperor's kind words. He also made peace with Junichiro's mother, who tore a picture taken of them as young adults after WWII in half—and gave the half with her picture to Cotton, while keeping his picture for herself.
Cotton was divorced from Hank's mother, Tilly, because he "outgrew" her after she lost her large rear end. His second wife was a hospital volunteer Deirdre "Didi" Hill, who is around the same age as Hank. Hank and Didi went to kindergarten together (according to episode 1-08, "Shins of the Father"). At age 75, Cotton fathered a third son whom he decided to name G.H., from his second wife Didi.
Cotton's relationship with Hank was strained; while Hank seemed to have a deep reverence (and fear) of his father, he stood up to Cotton on several occasions. Cotton also became depressed (and enraged) by the fact that he and Hank did not have a good relationship, once going homicidally insane when Hank said that he hates him. In spite of all this, however, Cotton never hesitated to refer to Hank as "My Boy," and on several occasions tried to help him (such as when Kahn and Minh were befouling his house).
Cotton had an antagonistic relationship with Peggy, whom he addressed as "Hank's wife" among other epithets. On rare occasions though, Cotton evinced a grudging respect for Peggy, as in "To Spank With Love" and "Cotton's Plot."
Interestingly enough, Cotton appears to have a good relationship with Bobby. He once conceded that Hank was a better father than himself, stating, "You made Bobby. All I made was you." Cotton shows that he is proud of Bobby and supports him. Once contemplating suicide, Cotton confides in Bobby and gives him a letter of recommendation for the army, irking Hank. Cotton often tries to pass on his misogynistic views to Bobby, even going so far as to try to buy him a hooker once, although Hank and Peggy are always able to reverse the damage. Cotton demonstrates his affection for Bobby in numerous instances. In "How to Fire a Rifle Without Really Trying", he comes to watch Bobby and Hank shoot in a father-son shooting competition, stating, "I'm always here to support my Bobby." In "Revenge of the Lutefisk", Cotton even goes so far as to take the blame for Bobby after Bobby confesses he was the one who burned down the church (Claiming "I'm an old man, everyone already hates me!" whereas Bobby is just a child and has his whole life ahead of him.) and Didi reveals to Bobby that Cotton told her that if their unborn child turned out as good as Bobby, he wouldn't abandon it. Reflecting on Cotton's relationship with his grandson in "Death Picks Cotton," Hank states, "Even though he hates most things, he does love Bobby."
Cotton was consistently a misogynistic, violent, abusive and intolerant character. He talked down to women, berated his son, was prone to violent outbursts, and on more than one occasion has exhibited homicidal tendencies. His abrasive, misogynistic manner was consistently embarrassing for Hank and usually infuriating for Hank’s wife, Peggy. Throughout his history on the series, Cotton never once addressed Peggy by name, but he instead called her "Hank’s wife", which was used as a running gag, including on the very rare occasion he's trying to be nice to her, (the only other name Cotton had ever addressed Peggy by was "Hillary, in the episode "Shins of the father", Peggy also didn't seem to care being called "Hank's Wife, and never once told Cotton not to call her that). He even passed on some of his sexist and misogynistic traits to Bobby at one point, teaching him that women should be made to cook and clean for their husbands all day long. Although, Cotton was nasty to Hank every chance he got, it appears in some episodes, that Cotton may have had a place somewhere in his heart for Hank. In the episode of "Returning Japenese", he called Hank a good son after Hank came to help him say sorry to his Japanese lover and later on, is pleased to tell the Japanese Emperor that Hank and Junichero are his sons , and in "Yankee Hankee", Cotton's war buddy, Stinky, is about to shoot Hank when he falls off the boat into the water after Cotton told him to get him, and Cotton stops him from shooting him , meaning that he wanted Stinky to jump in and save him, and in "The Father, the son and JC", Cotton becomes very jealous when Hank accidentally says he loves Buck Strickland and becomes angry when Hank says he hates him,also after Cotton and Hank get into a fight, President Jimmy Carter questions Cotton if he had the chance to push a button that would make Hank permanently disappear, Cotton said, "Not Yet", also in "An officer and a Gentle boy", Cotton seemed to regret at the end of the episode about never letting Hank attend Fort Berk, in "Death Picks Cotton", although Cotton continued to be nasty to Hank, even on his deathbed, Cotton said to Hank:"I know I was hard on you, but that's not because I hate you," and "Serving me right for giving me George S Patton the bathroom key", even though Cotton left Hank odd and unnecessarily embarrassing requests and left him a rude message on his tape recorder, Cotton left and trusted Hank with his box of personal possessions and his final requests. So maybe, Cotton did not hate Hank, but instead hated Hank's life, such as his job as a propane salesman, his personality, how Hank was born outside of Texas in New York, his marriage to Peggy, Hank's parenting skills, and most importantly, how Hank did not follow in Cotton's footsteps and become a war hero like himself (although it is said in the episode Be True To Your Fool that Hank tried to enlist but could not because of his narrow urethra), but Cotton seriously dislikes Hank nonetheless. In the episode "The Final Shinsult", Cotton said to Hank that if he knew what was good for himself, Hank would've drowned himself two days after birth, indicating that Cotton disliked Hank from the moment he was born. Cotton also revels in "Hank gets Dusted" that his nephew, Dusty, has always been like a son to him, possibly indicating that Cotton may not even consider Hank his son. Cotton even went as far as taking Hank's name away from him and giving it to his third son, G.H , also indicating that G.H is the son that Cotton always wanted, and that he is ashamed in some ways that Hank is his son. It has never been revealed why Cotton came to dislike Hank so much, and treat him horribly or if Cotton ever did treat Hank differently, it is doubtful Hank ever wanted Cotton to treat him like horribly. The most likely reason is that Cotton is just a bad person, who never wanted to have children, and didn't know how to be a good parent.
On rare occasions, Cotton showed a vulnerable side that he normally kept hidden: he realizes that he was a terrible father, hates himself for growing old and becoming disabled, and readily admits that he would die to protect his grandson, Bobby ("Revenge of the Lutefisk").
Cotton also demonstrated a rough, demanding and often abusive but at times inspirational leadership. He admits to Hank that he always wanted to win in battle but accepted defeat when his men did their best. Through tough love and intense physical therapy, Cotton also helped Peggy walk again after a debilitating skydiving accident. Hank Hill was initially wary of this, because he feared that Cotton was simply taking advantage of Peggy's brief disability in order to humiliate her.
It was never revealed throughout the series how Cotton became such a nasty, rude, evil character, or if he ever was a different person. It is most likely his childhood (the only thing known about Cotton's childhood is that he got a gun at an early age, according to Hank in the episode "How to fire a rifle without really trying", Cotton also attended Fort Birk when he was very young, as he reveled in "An officer and a Gentle Boy", Cotton's mother apparently died giving birth to him, as he says in "Death Picks Cotton", although nothing is known about Cotton's father, it is possible that Cotton's father may have also been a war hero who may have served in the First World War and is the one who inspired Cotton to become one himself, the only time Cotton ever refers to his father is when he shouts at Hank: "You ain't my daddy, I'm your daddy!", Cotton also has an unnamed brother who is Dusty's father) or his military service, because in every war flashback Cotton had, he seemed to enjoy killing, and it is also possible that Cotton's war service traumatized him in some ways and made him what he is. Whatever the reason is, Cotton never sought recognition for how he treated Hank, Peggy, Tilly and many others throughout the series. In the episode "Hank gets Dusted" Hank says straight up to his cousin Dusty that Cotton is in fact a jack-ass.
In the Season 12 episode "Death Picks Cotton," Cotton suffers severe injuries while at a Japanese restaurant in Arlen. Climbing onto a grill table, he accidentally swallows a piece of shrimp (to which he is extremely allergic), then slips and falls on the hot surface. He is taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a hip fracture, severe burns on his legs, torn ligaments in his ankle/knee joints, and an infection of his esophagus due to swallowing the shrimp. X-rays reveal that he has four rusty bullets lodged in his back and one in his heart from old war wounds. In spite of his injuries and a heart attack suffered while in the hospital, Cotton survives long enough to torment both Hank and Peggy, even slowing his heartbeat down to feign death (a trick he learned while confined to a Japanese POW camp).
The last person to see him alive is Peggy, who tells him that she hopes he will live forever in the friendless, spiteful existence he has made for himself. Cotton replies, "Do you now?" and then immediately dies. Peggy does not tell Hank of this exchange; instead, she claims that Cotton's last words were kind ones meant for Hank, when in fact Cotton's last words towards Hank were that Hank was worthless and a loser. In the final scene of the episode, Dale Gribble fulfills a request from Cotton to blow up a storage shed Hank has built. Hank initially plans to honor a separate wish, to have Cotton's head detached from his body and sent to the Emperor of Japan, but Peggy stops him by (falsely) claiming that Cotton withdrew it just before his death. Neither Didi nor G.H. appear in "Death Picks Cotton," nor is his funeral shown.
In the Season 13 episode "Serves Me Right for Giving General George S. Patton the Bathroom Key," Hank received from Didi, a box containing Cotton's personal possessions and a list of embarrassing requests. Cotton also left Hank a rude message on his tape recorder telling Hank that he wanted all the embarrassing requests completed. Peggy did not want Hank to do the list, but Hank said that fulfilling Cotton's last requests was the best gift Hank ever received from his father. Hank completed every single one of the humiliating requests, which was in a way, Cotton's way of humiliating Hank one last time. The last request Cotton left was to have his cremated remains flushed down a bar toilet that General George S Patton once used, it was also a tradition in Cotton's platoon, and all of Cotton's deceased war buddies were also flushed down the toilet. Hank and his friends respectively honored the request and flushed Cotton's remains down the toilet. Peggy claimed at the end of the episode that even though Cotton is dead, he will always find a way to disrupt their lives. Cotton's spirit and memory lives on for the rest of the King of the Hill series.
Fox published the following obituary for Cotton:
- Cotton Hill, age unknown, World War II veteran, died Sunday in a Texas VA hospital. Hill suffered from several injuries ranging from four rusty bullets lodged in his back (one in his heart) from his military service, a broken hip and torn ligaments in his ankle-knees, to an infection in his esophagus and severe burns caused by a freak shrimp accident that occurred earlier this week at Tokyaki's Japanese restaurant. Hill leaves behind sons Hank Hill and G.H. (short for "Good Hank"); daughter-in-law Peggy Hill; grandson Bobby Hill; ex-wife Tilly; second wife Didi; first love and former Japanese lover Michiko; an illegitimate Japanese son, Junichiro; and nephew Dusty Hill (of band ZZ Top).
- ^ "FoxFlash - KING OF THE HILL". http://www.foxflash.com/div.php/main/page?aID=1z2z2z92z12z8&ID=3736. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- ^ "AWN Headline News". http://news.awn.com/index.php?ltype=top&newsitem_no=21401. Retrieved October 5, 2010.
- "FOX Broadcasting Company: King of the Hill". http://www.fox.com/kingofthehill/. Retrieved September 27, 2010. [dead link]
- "King of the Hill at TV.com". http://www.tv.com/king-of-the-hill/show/250/summary.html/. Retrieved September 27, 2010.
King of the Hill General Characters
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