‘Last Man Standing’: Why the Original Mandy and Kristin Actors Didn’t Return for the Finale

by Matthew Wilson

“Last Man Standing” came to an end Thursday night after nine seasons. But the show was minus some of its original faces. Both Kristin and Mandy were present. But the original actors that portrayed the characters were no shows.

The sitcom has recast several of its characters over the years, especially Mike Baxter’s daughters. In fact, only Kaitlyn Dever’s Eve remained consistent. And she became more of a recurring presence in the later seasons.

Alexandra Krosney originally played Kristin in Season One. But the show replaced her with Amanda Fuller, starting in Season Two. Likewise, Molly Ephraim portrayed Mandy for six seasons of the show until its cancellation. Molly McCook took over the role for the last three seasons.

In an interview with TVLine, the “Last Man Standing” revealed they entertained the idea of bringing the actors back as cameos.

“You know, it’s funny… We actually did [consider it],” showrunner Kevin Abbott tells TVLine. “At the beginning of the year, Fox had asked, ‘Can you do something that’s promotable at the start of the season?’ We felt like the time jump was promotable, but it’s tough. We were kicking around ideas prior to landing on [Home Improvement’s] Tim Taylor coming on the show, and that was in there.”

‘Last Man Standing’ Creator Chose Not to Bring Actors Back

Of course, the “Last Man Standing” showrunner didn’t believe the actors would want to come back to make cameos on the show. For instance, Molly Ephraim has moved forward with her career since starring on the sitcom. She chose not to return to the show after it was revived on Fox. And Alexandra Krosney hadn’t been a part of the sitcom since Season One.

It might have been a tall ask during a global pandemic.

“I’m not certain that would have been accomplished,” Abbott continued. “One of those was not our decision… [and] I don’t think attitudes have softened during the last four years.”

Additionally, Abbott didn’t plan on either actor to step into their original “Last Man Standing” characters. Instead, they would have cameoed through some other means. Ultimately, Abbott and his writers decided the “Home Improvement” crossover worked better for the season as a whole.

“We kicked around some funny ideas, and if there was one that was funny enough to justify it, I would have given it a shot,” he said. “I would have called some people, but we never really had it. And then once we [landed on] Tim Taylor coming on, it just felt like that’d be too many meta-jokes in a season.”