‘Last Man Standing’: How the Series Finale Almost Ended With Epic Tie-in to ‘Home Improvement’

by Matthew Wilson
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“Last Man Standing” said goodbye to the Baxter family in an emotional hour of television. But it almost featured a “Home Improvement” callback.

The show almost toyed with it was all a dream twist. More specifically, “Last Man Standing” and the Baxters would have been a dream of Tim “Toolman” Taylor. Taylor would have woken up in bed with his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson). He would have questioned if the entire show was a dream.

It’s a callback to Bob Newhart and the ending of his show “Newhart” in 1990. That show ended with it all being a dream of the main character from his previous show “The Bob Newhart Show.” In an interview with TVLine, showrunner Kevin Abbott revealed “Last Man Standing” almost referenced that classic ending.  

“I wouldn’t have felt bad for borrowing from that, because I think it would’ve been honoring Bob Newhart,” Abbott explained. “And we did talk about it, and had we not done Tim Taylor meets Mike Baxter earlier in the season, we might’ve done something like that. But we also wanted to end on the [Outdoor Man vlog], since the vlog was the signature device of the series.”

Other Ways ‘Last Man Standing’ Almost Ended

“Last Man Standing” creators toyed with a number of ways to bring the series to a close. In one idea, Kyle finally becomes a priest. And Ed would have left with him as well. It would have been a call back to the pilot, which focused on the character as a new employee.

“We would’ve made it as funny as we could, but there was going to be a bittersweet, melancholy underpinning to everything,” Abbott told TVLine. “That’s why we made [the finale] about the truck being stolen, and made the truck the metaphor for losing something that you care about and invested in for a long time. We could say goodbye to the truck [and] keep that bittersweet, maudlin quality to one scene, as opposed to manifesting itself [throughout the episode].”

Another idea featured Mike’s daughter Kristin taking over Outdoor Man from Mike. “Last Man Standing” would end with the daughters inheriting and working at the store.

“It felt very legitimate, by the way, because that role wasn’t about business expertise. It was about common sense… having a feel, you know, for what works and what doesn’t,” Abbott explained.

But “Last Man Standing” didn’t want to reinvent the formula in the end. Maybe, they wanted to leave just enough room to pick up the sitcom once again if that day ever comes.

Outsider.com