When Cotton Comes Marching Home is the 90th episode of King of the Hill. It was first aired on December 3, 2000. The episode was written by Alan R. Cohen and Alan Freedland, and directed by Tricia Garcia. The name is a reference to the 1863 American Civil War song "When Jonny Comes Marching Home".
Cotton, who is down on his luck, moves into the VFW with Didi and the baby. Due to G.H.'s birth, he can not afford to support himself and his family and loses his house in Houston. Hank realizes that Cotton's marketable skills are obsolete due to the changing time, so he uses his Strickland Propane connections to get his father a job with one of his clients. The job turns out to be a greeter for a restaurant called Burton's Prime Rib, but Cotton's boss Miles Burton, Mr. Burton's nephew, is a stickler who does not appreciate any initiative on Cotton's part, nor permit him the time off to march in the Veteran's Day parade. Adding to his worries, his Cadillac car is repossessed by Lane Pratley. When Cotton has been marginalized too much, Hank begins to realize that Arlen society glorifies its veterans with parades but does little to help them in everyday life, and does his part by bringing Cotton his dress blues to march in the parade.
Cotton finally snaps when he sees his Cadillac in the parade covered in flowers, and runs out to steal it back. Aided by fellow veteran Topsy, Cotton extracts his revenge on all those who ignored him, but comes to realize he has done nothing to aid Didi nor G.H. Topsy volunteers to help with that as well, but Cotton declines, saying when it comes to family a man must walk alone. When Cotton remarks about his life insurance and buys ammunition from Dale, Hank thinks his father is going to commit suicide and rushes to the VFW. When he hears a gunshot he fears the worst, but Cotton has just shown G.H. how to fire a gun. Cotton, swallowing his pride, agrees to allow Hank to give him money to get back on his feet, which he says is a fair exchange for all the years he worked to feed and shelter Hank in his youth. Back at Burton's Prime Rib, with Cotton behind, Topsy kidnaps Miles by keeping Miles tied up and gagged on the toilet in the stall. While Cotton and Topsy leave, Miles, still tied up and gagged while dressed in his suit and tie, urinates in his pants inadvertently.
In a subplot, Peggy (with the help of Hank, Dale, and Bobby) builds a float for the parade, but cannot find appropriate decorations. She creates a float commemorating the iconic flag raising photograph following The Battle of Iwo Jima, but is concerned it is not original and therefore would not win first place. She decides to create an anti-war float titled "The Futility of War", much to the shock and dismay of the people viewing the parade.
- COTTON: I'll be marchin' in Arlen, with my war buddies: Topsy, Stinky, Brooklyn, Fat Brooklyn, and of course, Irwin Linker.
- HANK: What happened to Lucky?
- COTTON: Dead!
- COTTON: I'm your man, Mr. Lewis. I supervised the installation of asbestos in every public school in Heimlich County. And eleven bowling alleys.
- MR. LEWIS: Our company's paid to remove asbestos.
- COTTON: What!? Remove asbestos? What for?
- MR. BURTON: You are a greeter. What made you think you could lead a family to their table.
- COTTON: Now you listen to me, Junior. I led a platoon of men through the jungle of Sai Pan. I think I can lead a party of four to table 6!
- COTTON: Topsy, you shouldn't be waitin' for a bus! You strangled Herman Goering, for God's sake!
- Hank Hill
- Peggy Hill
- Bobby Hill
- Luanne Platter
- Dale Gribble
- Jeff Boomhauer
- Bill Dauterive
- Cotton Hill
- G.H. Hill
- Didi Hill
- Irwin Linker (cameo)
- Brooklyn (cameo)
- Fat Brooklyn (cameo)
- Topsy Toppington
- Jimmy Witchard
- Lane Pratley
- Chuck Mangione (cameo)
- Mr. Lewis
- Mr. Burton
- Miles Burton