Stephen Root used his background in acting to help him develop the voice of Bill. Root attended the University of Florida, and had performed in New York City prior to being chosen for the role. He originally auditioned for the role of Dale Gribble, which "didn't feel right" so he then auditioned for the role of Bill.
Bill is originally from an upper-class Cajun family in Louisiana, who lived (until Gilbert was forced to sell it) on a vast estate called the Chateau D'Haute Rive ("house on the high river"). Because of this, he speaks fluent Cajun French (and Tagalog among others) and plays the accordion skillfully, which surprises him just as much as it does everyone else. His father was at least somewhat abusive, spanking him regularly and making him wear dresses. His only living male relative is his dandified cousin Gilbert, who still lives in Louisiana; the two are guardians of the family's secret barbecue sauce recipe, which Gilbert refuses to allow Bill to sell. However, Bill eventually told Bobby Hill the recipe, keeping the Dauterive tradition alive.
Bill is 5'8" and overweight, he is balding yet has a hairy body. He wears a white tank top, blue jeans and brown boots. When Bill was younger, he was a muscular, confident, lady-killing athlete with long flowing, frizzy hair in his youth. Nicknamed the "Billdozer", he held Arlen High's career touchdown record until a young athlete named Ricky Suggs broke it years later. He was number 72, playing as an offensive lineman. Ricky however is simply allowed to score the record-breaking touchdown by the other team due to a torn ACL, rather than playing injured as Bill would have; to regain his honor, Bill rejoins the team to score one last touchdown and re-tie the record; he had redshirt eligibility due to dropping out of high school his senior year to join the Army because he was failing trigonometry. Despite having been enlisted in the Army for over 20 years, Bill has never been deployed. Some time after voluntarily enlisting, the war had ended; he then began barber school at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He has since been a barber at Fort Blanda in Arlen, Texas. Bill's bright future was derailed when he attended a Molly Hatchet concert and found his future wife Lenore passed out in his lap; after their marriage, she cheated on and humiliated Bill before finally divorcing him and leaving him a broken shell of his former self. It can generally be assumed that her leaving him was the major cause of his downward spiral. At one point, Bill says "I'm so depressed, I can't even blink."
Bill is often a foil for his friends, who verbally and emotionally put him down on a regular basis, either because they don't realize how hurtful their remarks are or because Bill is too much of a doormat to mind very much. He is the first person to be mentioned when any character refers to losers or bemoans a misfortune for fear their lives will be ruined, like his. For example, Hank once, while telling Peggy that a lawn makes a man a man and gives him a purpose, says "Without my lawn, I am Bill." Bill, like Dale and Boomhauer, has a strong admiration for Hank and often seeks his advice before doing anything, and for his help when in trouble. He occasionally gets dragged into Dale's crazy schemes, and often is the one who accidentally ruins them. Of all his acquaintances, Boomhauer seems to be the one who gives him the most respect, possibly due to the fact that Bill once helped a broken-hearted Boomhauer get over a girl who dumped him. Bill has an obsessive crush on Peggy, and frequently makes bumbling remarks about her that are inappropriate to say in front of Hank. It's a possibility that Bill is so enamored of Peggy because he himself is so weak-willed and she is so head-strong. Hank normally takes his comments in stride ("Shut up, Bill") but has been known to threaten to kick his ass over it.
Although his friends are often disgusted or frustrated at his stupidity and the number of times he has wrecked their plans, they were devastated when it appeared that he had sacrificed himself to save them when they were stuck on a military target zone, with Hank saying that he was a good friend - sweet, loyal, and brave.
When examining Bill's Army medical history, Dale discovered that Bill was unknowingly made part in an experiment called "Operation: Infinite Walrus", to create a hybrid soldier capable of operating in freezing cold waters. It is assumed that the experimental drugs are the cause of his weight gain, excessive body hair, baldness, and terrible body odor and breath, until it is revealed that he was given a placebo instead. Bill is also shown to have a severe but easily treatable foot fungus, which actually comes in handy once to help Hank get revenge on a fraudulent mold inspector. Bill is also diagnosed with diabetes in one episode, as a result of two extreme spikes in blood sugar in one week. The diagnosis is then later contradicted by the diagnosing doctor, who says that he only said Bill was at risk for diabetes. Originally the doctor made it seem like Bill already had the condition and he would ultimately lose his legs leaving him confined to a wheelchair. Later on Bill beats the doctor up for this with Hank standing guard. Ironically, this "diagnosis" leads Bill to a depressed slump, where he meets Thunder, a wheelchair-bound muscle man who plays a wheelchair-friendly version of rugby. This leads Bill to get back into good shape while playing the sport. Thus bringing down his blood sugar level. Bill's personal hygiene is shown to be very poor. As previously mentioned he has severe foot fungus and terrible breath and body odor. Bobby states that he has dandruff in spite of being bald. He is regularly shown eating food he finds in or under his couch. His shirts are frequently stained and wrinkled. He dumps garbage directly out his kitchen window where there once was a garbage can that has been engulfed in the filth. His bathroom is described as disgusting; when asked if they would rather endure a dangerous and painful stunt (ex. stick a wasp up your nose) or shower in Bill's bathroom, his friends always choose the former. When assigned tasks to get his house ready for a family reunion after Nancy and Peggy are assigned the bathroom both are horrified and desperately try to change assignments. Bill is the very first character to ever speak in the first King of the Hill episode Pilot. Despite that Bill is not muscular anymore, he still has immense physical strength, in the Livin' on Reds, Vitamin C and Propane episode, Bill prevented a large stack of furniture, a desk, a globe, a grandfather clock, a dresser, rugs, chairs, cardboard boxes, paintings, and a lamp from sliding off the truck and pushed them all the way back while Hank drove the truck backwards on a mountain.
Bill Dauterive's ex-wife, Lenore, was seen and voiced in the episode "Hank and the Great Glass Elevator", attempting to worm her way back into Bill's life when he became high profile while dating former Texas governor Ann Richards. During the early seasons, he often pined for Lenore to return after she ran out on him, but he was somewhat successful in getting over her in the episode "Pretty, Pretty Dresses" after Hank resorts to pretending to be Lenore. Bill then finally symbolically confronts Lenore for leaving him, and after being told "I don't love you anymore" he becomes enraged and yells "You don't deserve William Fontaine De la Tour Dauterive!". During "Hank and the Great Glass Elevator", Lenore tries ordering Bill around in front of Ann Richards but he finally tells her off by mooning her. Other relationships include Luanne's mother Leanne Platter ("Leanne's Saga"), which ended when she reverted to her drunken violent ways and stole his truck, and Kahn's mother Laoma Souphanousinphone ("Maid in Arlen"), which was broken up by interference from Kahn, who convinced Bill that his mother was in love with astronaut Harrison Schmitt (they did, however, later reconcile in the same episode). He also had a brief, mostly sexual, relationship with two of his cousins' widows ("A Beer Can Named Desire"). In a later season, he dated Reverend Karen Stroup for a time and even moved her in with him, but eventually broke it off when he felt they were moving too fast. Due to his ability to keep going after virtually any rejection, Bill is the one able to snap Boomhauer out of his depression when rejected by a woman he truly had feelings for. He also has a brief flirtation with a competitive eating groupie named Cindy, voiced by Pamela Anderson ("The Fat and the Furious"). Despite Cindy's rather loose behavior and being all over him during the episode, it is later revealed that Bill decided to "save it" until his win at a competitive eating competition, which he eventually walks out on without result. In the episode "Untitled Blake McCormick Project", Bill dates a woman named Charlene, a former Arlen native and single mother of two children whom he met online. She and her children moved in with him briefly. The relationship ended after Charlene resumed her affair with John Redcorn after Dale sent the former to pursue her at the fear of Bill raising Kate, whom he assumes is his daughter conceived as a result of aliens.
Work and personality
Bill is the personification of Pathetic. Bill works as a Sergeant barber in the United States Army. He briefly served as a recruiter when his position was eliminated for being wasteful, but it was secretly restored when Hank donated a new chair, with a cover job as an electrician. He also was briefly a professional hair stylist with Luanne at the trendy salon Hottyz until it was discovered he wasn't gay. Bill frequently takes personal days from the Army in other pursuits, almost to the point of going AWOL, such as when he toured with a choir group called the Harmonaholics or when he decided to run his own halfway house. He is described as being nice but often depressed and lonely; his overwhelming need to make people like him makes him easily taken advantage of, particularly by Dale.
Bill has always had strong feelings for Peggy, though these feelings are absolutely unrequited. Peggy, on account of her gigantic ego and limitless self-perception, has utterly no sympathy for Bill and is actively repulsed by him, insulting him at any opportunity without regard for his feelings. She is incredibly bold and outspoken about her disgust of him, to his face and to others. She does occasionally show kindness towards him, but only when she can seemingly get something from him. Although she hurts Bill often and in many different ways, it's not all intentional. Sometimes it's just because Bill has the worst luck in the world. In the episode "Take Me out of the Ball Game," during a baseball game where Peggy and Bill were on opposite sides, she accidentally beaned him with a hardball, knocking him to the ground. Another pitch of hers accidentally struck right at his crotch, putting him in excruciating pain and humiliation. Another time, she hit him on the bleachers, accidentally knocking him to the ground which led to his arm in a sling. She once stole his prized American flag and unintentionally destroyed it, driving him to tears. But despite all of this, she says she considers him "a friend."
In the episode "Bill of Sales" it is also suggested that Bill has emotionally masochistic tendencies after Peggy's attempt to, in her words, "motivate him (business term) with a little praise (my term)" backfires. Hank's response ("You must have confused him; being dumped on is all Bill knows") leads Peggy to conclude that "Bill has had a hard life and he likes it that way" and subsequently refers to him as a "nut job". She manages to persuade him to go back to work for her by verbally abusing him. However, she soon fires him out of feelings of guilt for taking advantage of his low self-esteem. It's also during this episode that Bill shows exceptional skills as a salesman, helping Peggy achieve her sales quotas quickly, in one instant selling 10,000 bars to be stocked in the minibars at the hotel they were staying at.
In Cotton's Plot, Bill is seen by Dale playing Boggle with Peggy's old body cast with a duct-taped picture for a head, stating that "she always wins." Bill has a fear of balloons according to the episode, "It Came From the Garage," which is probably due to the events of the episode "The Miseducation of Bobby Hill" in which he is carried off in the wind by a bunch of balloons tied to a lawn chair and by the end of his journey he is beaten, battered and tired.
- Back in Arlen High, Bill was nicknamed the "BillDozer" (Bill/Bulldozer) for his unstoppable play on the offensive line for this high school football team.
- Bill is almost always seen wearing his white messy tank top.
- Bill currently works as an Army barber.
- When Bill is wearing his dress uniform in S3 EP9 "Pretty Pretty Dresses", he is shown to be wearing a ARCENT patch.
- As shown in a few episodes, Bill has the ability to regain some of his previous physical prowess if he consistently applies himself, but simply chooses to remain lazy and neglectful of his appearance.
- To Gill, he and Bill are the last of the real living Dauterives due to frauds, deaths, and barren female family members.
- Bill drives a teal Ford Escort.
- Bill has the first line in the series.
- Bill speaks fluent Cajun French.
- Bill owns a blue shirt which Dale says he loves.
- There are several instances where Bill prospers and breaks out of his pit of misfortune, but then something goes wrong and he just falls back into it.
- Bill tends to get hit in the groin a lot.
- Bill is known to root through trash and eat it as well as eat things like dog hormone biscuits.
- He's had many different pets including a Rottweiler named Rex and an iguana named Lenore.
- S03E09 [Walking into the Hill's master bedroom] "I had a bad dream, I dreamt Lenore came back and stole Lenore and then Lenore drove off with Lenore, and I ran down the street after them and I yelled 'Lenore! Lenore!', and then my teeth fell out... oh yeah Peggy, you were there.... can I sleep in your living room?"
- S03E10 "My name is Dauterive comma Bill, I am also insane."
- S12E07 [While trying to wrestle Lucky to the ground] "He's slipping away, like happiness"
- S07E02 "Are you making fun of me? If you are, it's okay -- I'd just like to know."
- S01E01 "Yep." (first line spoken in series)
- S09E08 "It's so much better frying at home. I can eat fried bananas while looking at Hank's house."