High Anxiety is the seventy-fourth episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on February 13, 2000. The episode was written by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, and directed by Adam Kuhlman. This episode features the conclusion to the Debbie Grund murder case.
The storyline continues from "Hanky Panky" with Hank waiting in Debbie's apartment for her to return, as Gayle putters around on eBay. When Gayle lights up a hand-rolled cigarette, Hank retrieves one of his own, attempting to light it with the monogrammed lighter Liz gave him; after it fails to spark, he asks for Gayle's cigarette to light his own from the cherry. Noting the weak flame on Gayle's cigarette, Hank takes a toke on it, only to realize that Gayle's cigarette is actually a marijuana joint. Hank begins to panic, worsening when he mistakes his panicking for effects from the marijuana, and rushes to the bathroom to attempt to vomit (causing his lighter to fall out of his pocket).
Believing himself too high to drive, Hank attempts to walk home... passing Sugarfoot's as he does, where Peggy loudly calls him over. Heimlich County Sheriff Mumford and his men have begun investigating, noting the discovery of a shotgun (with 'Miz Liz' engraved on it) in the dumpster next to Debbie's body. Meanwhile, a Texas Ranger named Lester Payton arrives and begins a simultaneous investigation. Sheriff Mumford attempts to question Hank, who, not wishing to be found out for smoking marijuana, passes off his reluctance to talk as grief over the loss of a coworker, to Mumford's suspicion.
Back at Strickland, Liz returns control of operations to Buck, who begins planting evidence in an attempt to frame Hank for Debbie's murder. That evening, Sheriff Mumford shows up at Hank's house to name Hank as a suspect in Debbie's murder. Later that night, Hank proclaims his innocence to Peggy and reluctantly reveals that Liz had attempted to seduce him. When Hank learns of the evidence pointing to him (as planted by Buck), he begins to believe that he actually had killed Debbie, and that it is because of a marijuana-induced blackout that he does not remember the deed. The next day Sheriff Mumford returns with Hank's lighter from Debbie's apartment and a tape recording Buck had made of a conversation between himself and Hank, a snippet from which leads Peggy to believe that Hank had actually slept with Debbie as well as having killed her, and Hank's continued reluctance to reveal his having smoked up gets in the way of him credibly denying the mounting accusations. Returning to Gayle, though, Hank realizes that the time of a specific eBay auction closure, whereupon Gayle had first lit up, was well after the time of Debbie's death and so Hank could not have murdered her. Sheriff Mumford watches Hank leave the apartment, and shows up the next morning at the Hills' house with Gayle's story, marijuana and all, which Hank denies, still trying to hide his 'drug use' from his family. That night an arrest is finally made: Mumford has incorrectly pinned the crime on Gayle.
At a 'case-closed' dinner at Sugarfoot's, Mumford gives a speech about solving the case; Hank's unwillingness to let Gayle face unearned punishment finally overcomes his shame over the marijuana and he reveals that because the two of them had been smoking up in the apartment around the time of Debbie's death, Gayle is innocent of her murder. Accusations begin to fly around the dining hall, but Lester Payton calls for everyone's attention and recreates the actual story, much to Sheriff Mumford's dismay, as Sheriff Mumford thinks Lester is making a fool out of him.
Here is the story: with the restaurant visible from her apartment, Debbie had seen the Stricklands arrive after calling Hank and, taking Buck's shotgun (one of his hidden assets) in a fit of jealousy, had hidden in the dumpster waiting for them. She got hungry after a while, went to a nearby convenience store to purchase some snacks, and attempted to juggle the food and the gun while climbing back inside the dumpster; in the process, she tripped the shotgun's hammer with her foot, thus setting off the shot that killed her.
The murder is solved, and Hank apologizes to Bobby for letting him down. Bobby accepts his apology, and points out that if he took drugs, Hank would punish him. Bobby suggests that he should be able to do the same. Hank jokingly agrees, and Bobby bans him from mowing the lawn — which Hank sees as a joy instead of a chore.
- Hank says to Bobby that he will never do drugs and Bobby acts like has never done it, even though he smoked in Keeping up with our Joneses. (However, that episode was during an earlier season of the series, and cigarette smoking is rarely referred to as a 'drug' in common vernacular).
- On Adult Swim, this episode is initially rated TV-14 for references to marijuana and suicide. Though most cable guides give this episode a TV-PG rating for suggestive dialogue (D) and violence (V), one airing accidentally gave this episode a TV-MA rating. In Australia and New Zealand, this episode was given an M rating due to content involving drugs, guns, and accidental death.
- When Peggy tells Ranger Payton that she "loves Walker" and him "on that show", she is referencing the popular and long-running television series Walker, Texas Ranger, featuring the characters Cordell Walker, and James Trivette. Ranger Payton is intended to resemble James Trivette, which Peggy comically mistakes him for.
- Hank asks Peggy if she's been reading "those Rabbi mysteries again". This refers to a series of popular mystery novels by author Harry Kemelman that feature the amateur sleuth Rabbi David Small. There were 12 books in the series published from 1964 to 1996, and they inspired the short-lived 1977 TV series "Lanigan's Rabbi".
- Dale reveals that two people died the year before at the Arlen Gun Club.
- Boomhauer is revealed to be a Texas Ranger in the Season 13 episode To Sirloin With Love. However, he is not the ranger assigned to investigate the murder, even though he lives in the same town. It is possible that he wasn’t a Texas Ranger at that time of the episode. It is also possible that his ability to be impartial was in question. While Boomhauer appears in the episode (twice in the alley and at Sugarfoot's in the final scene), he does not speak at any time.
- This is the first episode to ever feature a washer and dryer in the Hill's garage.
- The American Flag outside Strickland Propane was raised at half-staff due to Debbie's death.
- Bobby claims he wants to be the first chubby comic to live past 35. But John Candy, a famed actor and comedian who was certainly on the larger side, lived to be 43.
- Ranger Payton takes a written statement from one "Freddy Hakimi", who owned the convenience store Debbie went to. Freddy Hakimi is a real life crew member.
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Buck Strickland
- Ms. Liz Strickland
- Debbie Grund (deceased)
- Luanne Platter
- Sheriff Mumford
- Texas Ranger Lester Payton
- Bill Dauterive
- Dale Gribble
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Drug Counselor
- Kahn Souphanousinphone
- Bobby: "I say good day, sheriff!"