‘Home Improvement’: Why Tim Allen Refused to Kill Off His On-Screen Wife in the Beloved ’90s Sitcom

by Matthew Wilson

Tim Allen may entertain audiences on “Last Man Standing.” But his first sitcom “Home Improvement” will always have a special place in viewers’ hearts. Allen starred for eight seasons opposite actor Patricia Richardson, who played his on-screen wife.

Like “Last Man Standing,” “Home Improvement” was a show about family. So, Allen put his foot down when the network wanted to kill off his on-screen wife. Richardson had grown tired of the sitcom after eight seasons. But the show was still a massive success. And both the network and Allen were interested in continuing.

They tried to convince Richardson to reconsider. But she refused.

“So then [the network] went to Tim, and they said let’s do it with dead Jill,” Richardson told ET Online. “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.'”

Rather than make Tim “Toolman” Taylor a widow, Allen chose to cancel the show entirely. “Home Improvement” came to an end with its eighth season.

Tim Allen Reconnects With ‘Home Improvement’ Wife

For years, Richardson confessed that she thought Allen hated her. But, when it came down to it, he loved working on “Home Improvement” and could have potentially done it for years more. But the two actors later reunited on “Last Man Standing” for a bit. Richardson had a guest role that reunited her with Allen.

“He loved Tim Taylor,” she said. “Tim Taylor was this happily married man with his great boys and great life, and so he wanted that show to go on forever.”

Richardson reflected on the success of the show. Audiences connected with the Taylors because they felt like a real family instead of a sitcom one.

“The primary thing I saw the most in the mail was, ‘Are you looking through our windows? The things you and Tim fight about are just like our family,'” Richardson recalled. “Or, ‘I get it, I have three sons too,’ or, ‘This is so freaky, because it’s just like our family!'”

After the show ended, Richardson went on to star in “Strong Medicine” and “The West Wing.” She eventually stepped away from acting to focus on her family. Meanwhile, Allen continued his career in film and also television. “Last Man Standing” fans are thankful for the Baxters, even though they’re quite different from the Taylor family.

Richardson said she will always cherish her time on the show.

“If you get a hit show, it is so unusual,” she shared. “It just, really, it’s like winning the lottery to have something like ‘Home Improvement.'”