in 1991, Tim Allen had yet to become the household name behind the voice of Toy Story‘s Buzz Lightyear or Saint Nick himself in The Santa Clause. Then he was a standup comedian who had worked his way up to earn his own sitcom. when Home Improvement debuted on ABC on September 17, 1991, audiences immediately connected with the antics of Allen as Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, a Detroit area man with his own home improvement show called Tool Time. The series was about more than the guy who constantly accidentally destroyed something or hurt himself in his never-ending quest to give a machine “more power.” As the title implied, Home Improvement was just as much about his home life, with his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) and their three sons.
For eight seasons, Home Improvement was one of the most watched shows on television, staying in the Top 10 throughout its entirety, thanks not only to just how good the show was, but how popular Tim Allen was becoming outside of it. Still, as the decade grew to a close, so did the series.
The Taylor Family Looks To Move Away and Start a New Life
Home Improvement came to an end on May 25, 1999, with the last of a three-episode finale (the second part is little more than a clip show) over the final two weeks titled “The Long and Winding Road.” One of the best parts of the series had been Tim Taylor’s fictional show called Tool Timewith his sidekick, Al Borland (Richard Karn), and “Tool Girl” Heidi (Debbie Dunning). Each week, through Tim’s mistakes, something would go wrong on the show, but that’s why his audience loved him. He was an everyman like them who barely knew what he was doing. The final episodes find Tool Time changing, however, when their vision is encroached on by a new producer who is trying to turn it into an awful Jerry Springer clone. Tim is so alive that he threatens to leave the show he created and loves so much but the new producer lets him know that he’s replaceable.
The team isn’t the only one facing a possible career change. Jill might be as well. Her character is the one that changes the most over the series. In the beginning, she was the mom staying home to take care of the kids while Tim was the breadwinner. As the kids began to grow though, Jill yearned to get out and focus more on herself. She ends up going back to school and getting her graduate degree in Psychology. By the end, Jill is working for a psychologist. At a meeting with him, he tells her that he is opening a new office, and he wants Jill to work there in a program with kids. It’s an intriguing offer, but then comes the bombshell: the job is in Indiana, meaning the Taylors would have to move from Michigan.
Jill goes to Tim about the offer, and he quickly shuts it down. As Tim has done in nearly episodes when he’s stressed out, he goes to the backyard to talk to his own therapist of sorts, the calm neighbor next door, Wilson (Earl Hindman), whose face we never see over the privacy fence from the nose down. Tim opens up to Wilson about how he doesn’t want to give up everything he knows for Jill’s job. Wilson reminds Tim that Jill did that for him. This calms Tim. He goes to his two sons, Brad (Zachery Ty Bryan) and Mark (Tara Noah Smith), to tell them what’s going on (90s heartthrob Jonathan TaylorThomas played a third son, Randy, but he left Home Improvement after Season 8). They don’t want to move either, but eventually, because they love their mom so much and want what’s best for her, they agree to move to Indiana. Jill gets a moment to talk to Wilson too, who won’t tell her what to do. “Jill, there is no limit to what you can accomplish,” he says, “but if you want me to stand here and sell my best friends on leaving, I really cannot do that.”
Tim is now out at Tool Time. Before the final episode, Heidi tells Tim, “It’s the last time I’m gonna give you CPR.” The new producer wants Tim, Al, and Heidi to set fire to the set as a way to grab ratings. they refused. Instead, they have their old friends from K&B Construction, who appeared on the show many times over the years, where they reflected and said goodbye. Because this is Tim Taylor though, he still accidentally sets fire to the set, but luckily it’s put out.
Three things seem to happen in the TV series finale. Someone moves away, someone gets married, and someone has a baby. While the last on this list doesn’t happen, it’s not just the Taylors who are moving. So is Al Borland, who is moving from his perpetual bachelorhood as he’s set to marry, not in a church, but in Tim’s backyard. Tim’s yard is pretty small, so in a sweet moment when Tim is setting up for the wedding outside, he talks to Wilson, and they agree to take the fence down between them. No, we don’t see Wilson’s full face when the fence is removed. The gag stays in effect until the very end. It wouldn’t be until Home Improvement‘s technically last episode, a retrospective called “Backstage Pass,” that we’d get a full look at Wilson. Tim tells Wilson that the Tool Time the producer asked him to stay, even saying he’d give him more money, but Tim said no.
‘Home Improvement’ Sees Tim Taylor Give Up Everything for Jill
Tim hasn’t told Jill about that conversation, so it comes back to bite him in a dramatic way when the producer has the gall to show up at the house just before the wedding, so he can beg Tim to stay. We then see his true motive. He doesn’t care about Tim. As he tells Jill, if Tim leaves, he’ll be fired. It’s then that Jill understands what Tim is willing to give up because of his love for her. When the producer tries to manipulate Jill into changing Tim’s mind, she kicks him out of their house.
Al and his fiancée then get married, with Wilson serving as the minister. Jill pulls Tim aside after, so they can talk in the garage in private, a place where they’ve spent many quiet moments conversing about life. Jill thanks Tim for what he did for her but tells him she doesn’t want to move to Indiana, and she doesn’t want Tim to give up his job. Tim says he wants them to move to Indiana. As they’re talking, Brad and Mark walk into the garage and the family sits in the hotrod Tim has been working on building for years. The kids are relieved to hear that they might not be moving after all.
Later, after the wedding reception, Tim and Jill are alone in the backyard. They share a tender moment, with Jill resigned to the fact that Tim isn’t going to change his mind about moving. “I just can’t imagine leaving this house,” she says. It’s then that Tim gets an idea. He turns and inspects their home. “Well, if we ever decide to move, maybe we wouldn’t have to leave the house.” We then move on to what’s either reality or a fantasy of the house on a massive trailer, with Tim and Jill in the cabin of the truck. “There are faster ways to get there than by land,” Tim says. The last thing we saw was the house on a barge floating down the river.