The Rise and Dramatic Fall of Tim Allen’s ‘Home Improvement’

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV, Television

The cast of 'Home Improvement' poses in front of a white picket fence. Wilson, of course, is partially obscured behind it.

Credit: Hulu

Home Improvement was a ratings juggernaut for ABC in the 1990s. The show transformed the careers of its stars and made Tim Allen a household name.

The show was based on Allen’s standup comedy. He starred as Tim Taylor, and Patricia Richardson played his wife, Jill Taylor.

Santa Claus (Tim Allen) looking very serious and mean
Credit: Disney

Home Improvement star Tim Allen used the 90s sitcom to jump-start his career on the big screen. He would land the role of Buzz Lightyear in Toy Story (1995) and star in The Santa Clause (1994). 

The show made a star out of Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who would go on to voice young Simba in The Lion King (1994). Yes, the mid-90s were dominated by the cast of Home Improvement. 

However, behind the scenes, it was a different story, and actress Patricia Richardson decided to reveal some of the secrets, including why the sitcom ended after eight seasons.

Tim Allen in a gray button up smiles next to Buzz Lightyear at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Credit: Disney

The End of ‘Home Improvement’

As the show wrapped its eighth season in 1999, Disney wanted to bring Home Improvement back for its ninth season and sent the Taylor Family into the new millennium. But there was a problem.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas left the show after the seventh season. When the show started, Taylor Thomas was young, but by the seventh season, he wanted to head to college, which he did, attending Harvard.

Without Taylor Thomas’ Randy Taylor, Richardson knew that Disney needed Jill Taylor to keep the show going, and she felt that her character was just as crucial as Allen’s Tim Taylor.

When it came time to negotiate for the ninth season, Richardson wanted to be on an equal footing with Allen, and she wanted a producer’s credit like Tim Allen already had.

(L-R) Tim Allen, Pamela Anderson, and Richard Karn on set of 'Home Improvement'
Credit: ABC

Richardson said: 

I knew that Disney would in no way pay me that much. That was my way to say ‘no’ and was a little bit of a flip-off to Disney. I’d been there all this time, and they never even paid me a third of what Tim was making, and I was working my ass off. I was a big reason why women were watching.

Disney offered her $1 million per episode, but star Tim Allen was offered $2 million. Richardson turned down Disney’s offer.

Instead of bringing the show back for a ninth season or killing Jill Taylor, the producers decided to end the show after eight seasons, filming a three-episode ark that saw the family move for Jill Taylor’s career.

Despite wrapping up the show nicely, Richardson still felt she was the “bad guy” in this situation, and her “greed” ended a great run.

Jessica Biel facing Jonathan Taylor Thomas at night in a sleigh
Credit: Disney

She said:

I was mad at Tim because he was leaving me alone being the only person saying no, which made me feel terrible and like the bad guy, and he was upset with me for leaving,

Why No Reboot?

In an era of constant reboots of 1990s television shows, why has Home Improvement not returned to network television? The answer is complicated.

In 2015, Tim Allen and Richard Karn, who played Tim Taylor’s sidekick Al Borland, said they would love to reboot the show, but Patricia Richardson has a different insight.

She believes the controversy surrounding the show since it left television and Allen’s conservative views have kept the 90s sitcom on the shelf.

Two images side by side: The left shows a woman covering her mouth in shock while a man in a sweater, reminiscent of Tim Allen from Home Improvement, laughs in front of a refrigerator. The right shows a woman playfully covering another man's mouth as she leans on his shoulder. Both men wear plaid shirts.
Patricia Richardson and Tim Allen from Home Improvement. Credit: ABC

In 2013, the show’s former producers sued The Walt Disney Company for breach of contract, claiming that Disney had illegally sold the syndication rights to the show for less than market value. The two sides would settle the lawsuit.

Then, in 2023, Pamela Anderson, who played Lisa for 23 episodes, alleged that Tim Allen exposed himself to her on her first day on the show.

With that much controversy, it’s no wonder the show has not been picked up for a reboot.

Richardson has no regrets about how the show ended or her role in it; she just wishes that Allen had supported her decision.

Would you like to see a ‘Home Improvement’ reboot? 

in Disney, Entertainment, Movies & TV, Television

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