‘Home Improvement’ Star Richard Karn Talks What Resonated With Fans

by Allison Hambrick

“Home Improvement” actor Richard Karn unpacks the legacy of the show as well as why he thinks fans remember it fondly today. In an interview as part of Entertainment Tonight’sIconic Leading Men of the 90s” segment, Karn reunited with former costar Tim Allen.

“I think it resonates with…” said Karn. “The parents that grew up with it are now being able to show their kids something that they can sit all together and watch.”

Allen and Karn starred alongside Patricia Richardson in Home Improvement from 1991 to 1999. As such, many consider it the quintessential 1990s family sitcom. It follows Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor as he balances his life as a television personality and a father of three boys. Karn played his co-host Al, who actually knew more about handiness than Tim. Though the show ended over 20 years ago, Karn and Allen remain very close friends. Perhaps too close, according to Allen.

“Both of us are still close,” Allen stated. “I mean I still see Richard way too much.” Allen isn’t wrong. The two have collaborated several times in the years since Home Improvement. Most notably, Karn guest-starred in Last Man Standing, Allen’s more recent sitcom. Instead of raising three boys, this show sees Allen playing Mike Baxter, a father of three girls who runs an outdoor supply store.

“I never told you this, Tim, but you’re like a brother to me,” said Karn.

Tim Allen Brings Home Improvement to Last Man Standing

In the same interview, Allen discussed the unusual crossover in the final season of Last Man Standing. Much like in The Santa Clause 2, Allen found himself in a dual role. In the episode “Dual Time,” he played both Mike Baxter and Tim Taylor. This crossover was especially interesting given the number of Home Improvement actors who played different roles on Last Man Standing.

For Allen reprising Tim Taylor was strange. While the characters had some similarities, Mike and Tim were very different in their family and work lives. Not to mention, tapping into a character he created thirty years ago was not as easy as he’d expected.

“It was very peculiar to do both parts,” Allen revealed. “It was challenging for me to do both parts and kind of emotional. Taylor lost his TV show. Tool Time is over. He had a neighbor that passed away. He’s now working on the corsage side of Bedford Tools. That’s what he does. Baxter’s helping Tim Taylor cope with change. They’re not nice to each other. They’re kind of antagonistic.”

Even though the filming process was difficult, Allen is satisfied with the final product. The comedian felt that the writers handled the Home Improvement protagonist’s appearance in a “clever” way.