"Death of a Propane Salesman" is the 36th episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on September 15, 1998. The episode was written by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, and directed by Lauren MacMullan. This episode is the second of a two part episode. The name is a reference to Death of a Salesman.
Bobby and Connie are seen in the playground. After they discuss, Dooley appears and informs Bobby that his father was caught in the Mega Lo Mart explosion. Bobby is horrified at witnessing this destruction. As firemen sift through burning rubble of what once was the Mega Lo Mart, Peggy searches for any sign of her loved ones. A fireman emerges from the flames, escorting Hank and Luanne to safety. Luanne screams when she realizes the fire had singed away her hair. Shortly thereafter, a sooted Chuck Mangione emerges from the building, smoldering but apparently unharmed. Hank turns to a fireman and inquires about Buckley. He learns that no one else survived the explosion. Hank seems puzzled by Luanne's behavior upon hearing the news, as she seems to pay more attention to the loss of her hair than the death of her boyfriend. Later, when Hank is released from the hospital, he is anxious for his life to return to normal until Bobby hugs his father in relief. When Luanne is released, she announces that beauty is only temporary, and tosses away her beauty supplies. Later, as Hank and his buddies drink beer, Dale states that Buckley’s death is part of a conspiracy. Hank unknowingly baffles his friends as he pours his beer into a cup. which is an odd behavior for him as he always drinks his beer straight out the can. The next morning, Mr. Strickland phones the Hill residence, anxious for Hank’s return. Strickland says that he is back in business, and congratulates Buckley for bombing the Mega-Lo Mart, and Hank's innocent that Buckley did something wrong and asks for some time off, giving Hank a scary thought that Buckley would be arrested for it, or have charges pressed on him. This is granted by Buck, who sees the leave as a "reward for a job well done", to Hank's annoyance. At dinner time, Hank discovers that he is unable to approach his backyard grill, as he is haunted by the explosion at the Mega Lo Mart.
Luanne’s friends at the beauty academy fashion a wig to cover her singed scalp. But Luanne hands the wig to Peggy, insisting she throw it away. Later, mourners gather at Arlen cemetery to pay Buckley their last respects. Dale thinks the casket is empty, and opens it up to prove it, but instead finds what is implied to be Buckley's badly-burned body, causing him to vomit in the casket. During the service, Luanne seems unhinged, using the funeral as a forum to speak out against starvation in Ireland as if channeling Sinead O'Connor (whom she now resembles, having lost her hair), but when she shows a picture of a "starving Irish child", she unfurls a rolled-up poster of Bobby in his underwear, causing the shocked funeral-goers to think Luanne has lost it (Connie calls the display "depressing", and she and Bobby sneak away to play in the graveyard). The minister becomes anxious and pleas for anybody else who may have known Buckley. Kahn, out of respect, comes to the front and states that annoying Hank changed his attitude towards him. Then Kahn breaks down in a mock-outburst about whether a world without Buckley is a world worth living in. He then lightens the mood and delivers a poignant Buddhist story that relates to Buckley’s death. But the mourners are unsure what to make of the tale, and dismiss it as a joke. Later, Peggy realizes the horrible truth: her husband is afraid of propane. She turns to a grief counselor, who concludes that Hank is really afraid of death. Hank dismisses the idea, but later, as he sips beer with his buddies, he raises the issue. Bobby overhears the conversation and concludes that his father is still not himself where he become saddened as result. Shortly thereafter, he runs away from home.
An anxious Hank hopes that Ladybird will be able to pick up Bobby’s scent. As soon as Hank leaves, Luanne claimed there were bigger problems in the world than one lost boy. Kahn tires of Luanne’s "strange Sinead O'Connor act" and tells her off for it. He wonders why she doesn't share his remorse over Buckley’s loss. Luanne enters the den, where she discovers a birthday card sent to her from Buckley. She is suddenly overwhelmed with grief. Using her hand puppets, she works through her emotional crisis—and eventually dons the wig. Later, Hank finds Bobby sitting in the rocket ride at the playground which is where Bobby was at the beginning of the episode when the Mega-Lo Mart blew up. Hank tells his son that he shouldn’t obsess over death. He encourages him to relax and enjoy life. Suddenly, Hank hears and understands his own words. He then understands and attempts to repeat Kahn’s eulogy story as only Hank Hill could. Bobby also thinks it's a joke and tells one of his own as Hank listens on.
During the end credits, Everybody at Strickland thanks Hank for blowing up Mega-lo Mart, despite his insistence it was Buckley's fault.
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Luanne Platter
- Dale Gribble
- Nancy Gribble
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Bill Dauterive
- Kahn Souphanousinphone
- Minh Souphanousinphone
- Connie Souphanousinphone
- Stuart Dooley (cameo)
- Daniel (cameo)
- Maria Montalvo
- Peggy Donovan (cameo)
- Funeral Speaker (cameo)
- Chuck Mangione (cameo)
- The meaning of Kahn's story is that death is inevitable, and that it is better to take joy in the life you live than to focus on something you can't change.
- The man is caught hanging from a branch between a tiger above him and a second tiger below. Rather than dwelling on his impending doom, he decides to enjoy a nearby strawberry.
- Although Buckley is dead, he remains in the opening credits every week, riding his motorcycle (even after the opening was digitally redone).
- This episode was supposed to be scheduled on September 8, but it was postponed due to the Cubs vs. Cardinals baseball game on FOX (this being during the iconic chase between Mark McGuire and Sammy Sosa for the home run record).
- This episode's name is a reference to the Arthur Miller play Death of a Salesman.
- When discussing his death, Hank reveals to Dale, Bill, and Boomhauer that he would not like Peggy to raise Bobby by herself, meaning that he'd either like her to remarry, although he expressed anger when Bill offered to do so.
- Kahn compares Luanne while holding in her grief to Sinead O'Connor, an Irish singer who, like Luanne in this episode, is known for her shaved head, plain manner of dress, and activism regarding child abuse and starvation.
- The cold opening of this episode which is a recap from the previous episode was removed on Adult Swim.
- Many people, including Buck Strickland, Joe Jack, and Enrique, assume Hank blew up the Mega-Lo Mart. Yet he is not questioned once by the police. Considering he and Luanne were inside the store during the explosion, this would be very unlikely.
- "Propane Boom" and this episode were temporarily pulled due from re-runs on September 11, 2001 due to the terror attacks on U,S, soil and the explosion of the Mega Lo Mart and the aftermath being too similar to the terror attacks. These episodes returned in syndication later in October 2001.
Dooley: Your dad got blown up.