After living in Emmerdale as a schoolboy, Tom was keen to return there. As he did so he seized the opportunity to buy up whatever property he fancied, his attitude was not to make friends, but to make as much money as possible. Which in the process made him an enemy with the residents.
Tom had a good 'side' to every relationship with his sons, but he possessed a permanent tendency to see, and dwell upon, the worst in all of his children. Tom constantly browbeat Jimmy for being so prone to chaos and useless with the business, browbeat Carl over his unsuitable choices in partners, browbeat Matthew over his duplicity and browbeat Max over his desire to disobey his father and run away from the business which he so hated.
Although they seemed a total mismatch, Charity and Tom were actually a very well-suited couple. Having endured years of romantic disasters, Charity loved Tom’s stability and devotion to her, and he had fallen deeply in love with the brassy blonde.
However, his family were horrified when Tom announced his intentions to marry Charity - especially his daughter-in-law Sadie King.
Although Tom loved Charity, he found it hard to trust her - worried that she’d leave him for someone younger. And when Tom’s best friend Roger died suddenly on the golf course, he began to question his mortality even more.
Sensing his insecurity, Sadie began to hatch a plan to rid the family of Charity for good. Having set up a situation in which Charity was photographed with her bad boy ex-lover and cousin Cain Dingle, Sadie manipulated the situation by insisting they were proof that Charity was cheating on him.
Seeing the photos on the morning of his wedding, Tom was plunged into a deep depression - and jilted Charity at the alter having humiliated her in front of the entire congregation. But a few weeks later, Tom discovered that Charity was telling the truth when she insisted Sadie had set her up.
Storming into Holdgate Farm with a videotape of her in bed with Tom’s eldest son Jimmy - Sadie’s husband - Tom discovered that Sadie set the whole situation of Charity's liaison with Cain up and had robbed him of his chance of happiness. Although they were still in love, Charity rejected Tom’s pleas to take him back and left Emmerdale for good.
Horrified by the low level his family has stooped to, Tom disowned Jimmy and Sadie and warned his other children never to cross him. Eventually, Tom forgave Jimmy and let him back into his life and when Sadie shrewdly bought a piece of land that Tom desperately needed for his development, she was also let back into the business.
Tom met posh-speaking Rosemary Sinclair who he soon fell for and married on December 25, 2006. During the time before the wedding, Tom angered many people when it came to his wedding, blackmailing Edna Birch his former secretary, taunting people, paying Jean Hope causing her to take TJ Woods to Morroco all because of the house explosion.
The Hopes took this badly and burnt down the "King's River" billboard. Tom has kept several secrets over the years but one in particular looked set to destroy his sons' memories of him in the months after his murder. He fathered a daughter Scarlett with Carrie Nicholls, a nurse who cared for the boys' mother in her dying weeks. Not only this, but he had chosen not to tell his sons of the existence of their younger sister, leaving all evidence of her in his will, for his children to discover after his death.
His youngest son Max was tragically killed in a car crash caused by Robert Sugden and the family were left devastated. The last thing Tom ever said to Max was "You're a disgrace."
Driven half mad by grief, Tom was in a terrible state for months and even let his guard down so much that he allowed Sadie back into his inner circle. Impressed that she’d managed to scheme her way to getting Home Farm for him, Tom finally forgave Sadie and even ended up making a move on her. Horrified, she turned him down and Tom was left humiliated.
But just as the deal was about to be done, Tom discovered that Matthew had been secretly sleeping with Sadie for some weeks. Incensed, he insisted his son give her up or lose the business. He did, but it was clear the situation was not resolved.
So when Matthew stormed Sadie’s wedding to Alasdair Sinclair and begged her to be with him instead, Tom was furious. He reiterated his ultimatum but Matthew let his heart rule his head.
Having now lost two sons, Tom was feeling pretty low and threw himself into launching Home Farm as a working estate.
He enlisted the help of newcomer Jean Hope and found himself falling for her. Jean liked Tom and it suited her to keep him hanging on as a ruse to cover up her secret affair with Tom’s chauffeur Terry Woods. When he found out, Tom felt like a fool and sacked them both but soon got over it and decided to support them as they faced criticism from the rest of the village.
His funeral was held on February 20, 2007. With his will reading the following day, which revealed that Tom actually had a daughter, leaving her a quarter of his land; as did he so to each of his sons: Jimmy, Matthew and Carl.
Tom's murder launched an on-line investigation in which members of the public can follow 20 weeks of clues and eventually find out who killed him. This is the first time a British soap has launched an interactive storyline. It has also been revealed that the murderer has been chosen, on Emmerdale Confidential; making the urgency for the public to find the murder even more influential. The storyline title was named Who Killed Tom King?.
On 17 May 2007 Emmerdale revealed that Carl King killed Tom.