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"Life: A Loser's Manual" is the two hundred-thirty-fifth episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on May 18, 2008. The episode was written by Dan McGrath, and directed by Anthony Chun. Johnny Knoxville guest stars as Hoyt Platter.


Luanne's long-lost father and Peggy's older brother, Hoyt, returns to Arlen after being incarcerated for years. As it turned out, no one had known he was in prison except Peggy (she let everyone else think that he was working on an oil rig), so the news of Hoyt's release comes as a surprise, along with the update that he had spent time in prison for a separate crime, making this his second offense. Due to the "three strikes law", should Hoyt commit one more felony he will get a mandatory life sentence. With nowhere else to go, Hoyt turns to his daughter and sister for guidance and a little bit of dough; Lucky quickly shushes out Hoyt's real story as well. When Peggy refuses to give Hoyt a handout, he decides to take matters into his own hands and robs a restaurant to get some cash.

Meanwhile, Luanne's husband, Lucky, turns to Hank for some insight on how to become a better father. He meets with Hoyt to get to know his father in law at Bacon 'N Waffles. Hoyt acts like he is going to pay the tab, then walks out with Lucky. They are quickly pursued and hide in an alleyway. Hoyt admits to robbing the restaurant and explains he is on the "Three Strikes Rule"- being arrested now will put him away for life. He tricks Lucky into taking the fall, as he feels he will get a lesser sentence, and he had just gotten back to bond with Luanne again. Peggy  (who, as we all know, doesn't like Lucky) tries to rationalize keeping him out of prison, but after Bobby tells them that Hoyt was selling him on the virtues of crime because Bobby is too young to get any major prison time, Peggy sadly agrees with Hank that Hoyt is worthless, and he needs to be exposed as the true culprit. Peggy then leaves out her car keys and a fair amount of money to tempt Hoyt into stealing them, which he does, and when he buys a large amount of illegal prescription drugs he gets arrested. Hoyt is put in a cell adjacent to Lucky's, and Lucky listens in silent disgust when Hoyt tells the officers that Luanne is behind the drug purchases. Hank shows up and Hoyt begins talking about how he needs help, but Hank lays down the law: Hoyt is going to get his 3rd strike and spend the rest of his life in prison, and the only way to provide any redemption is for him to confess to both the robbery and the drug purchase. Hoyt quickly folds, asking Hank to come up with a cover story for Luanne so she doesn't know he'll never see her again.

Hoyt is sent back to jail, but Lucky tells Luanne that he went back to the oil rig on a "lifetime contract", and Hank (with great difficulty over this white lie) agrees that oil is more important to the U.S. economy than propane, thus preserving her good image of her father by not allowing her to learn that he is a disgraced convict.

In the subplot, Dale builds his guard tower thinking that so long as it's just slightly under specifications the city can't reject it. Unfortunately, he not only built it under-spec but also without a foundation.



  • Hoyt's appearance and story in the episode created several inconsistencies:
    • In "Pilot", Luanne is said to be staying at the Hills because her parents are still fighting. Later, she says her mother went to prison after she stabbed Hoyt for throwing out her beer, and tipped the trailer over as a result of the scuffle. She was about 19 at this time, which contradicts Hoyt saying he hadn't seen her since she was a "little girl."
    • In "I Remember Mono", Bill mistook Peggy in her disheveled state for Hoyt. Aside from a similar hair color, Peggy and Hoyt bear little resemblance to one another.
    • In "Leanne's Saga", Luanne is heard calling her father and asking him to give Leanne another chance. In this same episode, Hank tells Bill "Leanne's first husband is hiding out on an oil rig in the gulf, and he swears he's not coming ashore until I fax him her death certificate." It's also possible he is seen during Hank and Peggy's wedding video in "Hank's Cowboy Movie" (although in this appearance he also bears little similarity to Peggy). In this episode, Hank states he has never met him.
    • In "Happy Hank's Giving", Luanne's main reason for going to Thanksgiving in Montana was to see her father again. It's stated that Hoyt is there on a day pass, which a prison would not allow outside of attending a funeral.
    • In "Luanne Gets Lucky", Luanne tells one of her clients that she had to miss her prom because she had to testify against her mother for assaulting her father, once again contradicting Hoyt's claim to have not seen her since she was a child. Notably, this was the first time the incident had been mentioned in a long time, and it was just a little over a season before this episode.
    • It has been said that Hoyt is Peggy's twin brother, although in this episode he refers to Peggy as his "kid sister." This may be because Hoyt was born first, however.
  • Since propane is "a by-product of natural gas processing and petroleum refining" [Wikipedia], Hank's internal struggle about propane vs. oil at the end is a little overdone.
  • Hoyt and Lucky stay up all night while Lucky helps Hoyt sober up, so that it's early morning when they go for pancakes and Hoyt robs the Bacon 'N Waffles restaurant because he sees "all these beautiful hundred dollar bills", which makes little sense as few people would ever pay for pancake breakfasts with $100 bills and early in the morning the cash register would not have accumulated so much money especially since the restaurant appears to be occupied by only two other customers besides Lucky and Hoyt in a shot depicting many empty booths and stools, at what should be the restaurant's most busy time of the day.


  • When Dale refers to his long-dreamt dream of building a guard tower in his yard, Hank reminds Dale that the zoning board has turned him down six times already. One of these attempts by Dale to build a guard tower is seen in the episode Flush with Power, where the zoning board is shown denying Dale's request to build his guard tower with an electric fence.
  • This is the second guest starring appearance for Johnny Knoxville in the series. The first was in "Business Is Picking Up" as the voice of Peter Sterling.

Stinger Quote

  • Hank: "Pee-pee money is not an employment history."

Season 11 Season 12 Season 13

Suite Smells of Excess · Bobby Rae · The Powder Puff Boys · Four Wave Intersection · Death Picks Cotton · Raise the Steaks · Tears of an Inflatable Clown · The Minh Who Knew Too Much · Dream Weaver · Doggone Crazy · Trans-Fascism · Untitled Blake McCormick Project · The Accidental Terrorist · Lady and Gentrification · Behind Closed Doors · Pour Some Sugar on Kahn · Six Characters in Search of a House · The Courtship of Joseph's Father · Strangeness on a Train · Cops and Robert · It Came From the Garage · Life: A Loser's Manual