‘Home Improvement’: Why Tim Allen Refused to Kill Off His On-Screen Wife

by Caitlin Berard

The beloved ’90s sitcom Home Improvement followed Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor who balanced his career hosting a small do-it-yourself TV show with his household role as a devoted husband and father of three. Though Tim Allen played the lead role in Home Improvement and provided plenty of laughs, the show wouldn’t have been complete without his on-screen wife, Jill, sons, and friends.

Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson) was the perfect counterpart to her husband Tim, the ultimate man’s man, and that was no accident. “[The network said] we need to have someone that challenges him and is as much a feminist as he is a masculinist,” Patricia Richardson explained to Entertainment Tonight. “There has to be an equal struggle.”

When Richardson was invited to join the cast of Home Improvement, she almost turned down the role. Tim Allen was unknown to her, and after Double Trouble, Eisenhower & Lutz, and FM she was tired of sitcoms. “I didn’t want to do any more sitcoms,” Richardson said. “And I certainly did not want to be a thankless mom. I didn’t audition for it. I came in and they said, ‘We want you to start tomorrow.'”

Though she had reservations, Jill Richardson agreed to meet her potential costar and the chemistry was immediate. “I loved him,” she said of her first encounter with Tim Allen. And just like that, the Taylor family was born and Home Improvement was off and running.

Tim Allen Ended ‘Home Improvement’ Rather Than Kill Off Jill Taylor

Patricia Richardson adored Tim Allen and Home Improvement, but after eight seasons with the series, she was ready to move on. In 1999, she announced her retirement from the sitcom, despite pushback from the network and her costar Tim Allen.

When it became clear that she wasn’t going to change her mind, producers wanted to continue Home Improvement with a widowed Tim Taylor. “They went to Tim, and they said, ‘Let’s do it with dead Jill,” Richardson recalled. “And then Tim was like, ‘I don’t think we can do that.’ So then he went out and said, ‘Well, I think it’s time to end Home Improvement.'”

Though she worried that Tim Allen held resentment toward her retirement, Patricia Richardson agreed to reprise her role as Jill Taylor for the 2016 sitcom Last Man Standing. “He loved Tim Taylor,” she said. “Tim Taylor was this happily married man with his great boys and great life. He wanted that show to go on forever.”

After a long and successful career, Patricia Richardson is now enjoying retirement but says that Jill Taylor will always have a special place in her heart. “If you get a hit show, it is so unusual,” she said. “It just, really, it’s like winning the lottery to have something like Home Improvement.