It’s Tool Time! Home Improvement was one of the most watched shows of the ’90s. Can you say Jonathon Taylor Thomas? We still have a middle school crush. Despite being one of America’s most beloved shows of all time, Tim Allen’s super successful sitcom wasn’t without a little bit of controversy.
Wilson’s Real Name Was Wilson W. Wilson
Though Earl Hindman may have passed away from lung cancer in 2003 at the age of 61, the legacy of his character Wilson lives on. It was eventually revealed that the silly character fans only saw from the eyes up turned out to have an even sillier name.
His full name was Wilson W. Wilson. Yes, his parents gave him the same first name as his last. Okay, then.
Randy Was Older Than Brad
Brad Taylor was the Taylor family’s oldest son. We apologize in advance for switching up the power dynamics among siblings, but Brad wasn’t actually the oldest in real life.
It turns out that Jonathan Taylor Thomas was the oldest of the three brothers, and was born exactly one month before Zachery Ty Bryan, the actor who played Brad. Taran Noah Smith, who played Mark Taylor, was truly the youngest brother. He was born on April 8, 1984, a whole three years after JTT. Despite the difference in age, we think the three brothers were cast perfectly in their roles.
Ashley Judd Was Supposed to be Lisa the Tool Girl
Ashley Judd was originally cast as Lisa the Tool Girl, unfortunately, she ended up pulling out right before filming Home Improvement’s pilot episode. Judd decided her talents would be better spent in the film industry, and hasn’t really looked back after starring in some major blockbuster hits.
Ashley Judd is finally making her way back to TV acting with the upcoming Twin Peaks reboot. We think Pamela Anderson kind of nailed the role of the Tool Girl anyway. Is there any other person who could rock short shorts the way that she does?
Tim Allen and Jonathan Taylor Thomas Had a Huge Falling Out
Tim Allen and Jonathan Taylor Thomas may have been bound by blood on their TV show, but when the cameras stopped rolling, it was a whole different story. The sitcom father-son duo had a huge falling out when JTT walked out on Home Improvement. JTT said he left to finish his studies, but Allen felt it was a personal snub.
In 1999, Allen told TV Guide, “He said it was about going to school, but then he did some films. Did he want to do films? Did he want to go to school?” JTT’s feud with his TV dad was so big that he even refused to appear in the show’s final episode.
Tim Allen Turned Down A Gigantic Salary For The Ninth Season
Tim Allen, the show’s patriarch, was making about $1.25 million per episode on Home Improvement. That’s no small chunk of change, but it’s peanuts in comparison to what he’d have made if he did a ninth season.
According to E!’s True Hollywood Story, the tool man was offered $50 million to do a ninth season but turned it down. The show’s eighth seasons ended up being its last because what would Home Improvement be without Allen? They already had lost JTT. It’s a good thing it ended when it did, so we can remember it fondly. It’d have been horrible if Allen’s heart wasn’t in it, and it showed on screen.
Hillary Clinton Almost Appeared On Home Improvement
Hillary Clinton has been trying to look hip with the cool kids since before she posted a single meme on her presidential campaign’s social media accounts. In fact, she was almost a guest on Home Improvement.
The senator’s handlers urged Clinton to appear on the lovable family comedy in the ’90s. They hoped the show would “humanize” her and make her more likable. Flash forward 20 years, and she’s finally taken their advice with appearances on shows like Saturday Night Live. Still, we think she’d have made a wonderful guest on Tool Time.
The Show’s Creator Thought Ashley Judd Was too Talented to Play the Tool Time Girl
It’s fairly obvious that Ashley Judd didn’t land the part of the Tool Time girl, but it wasn’t because she bombed her audition. Matt Williams, the show’s creator, thought Judd nailed it – but perhaps a little too much.
“I called her agent and told him that she was so good, we would find a way to incorporate her into the series, period,” he told Entertainment Weekly. To get Judd on board, Williams created a character just for her – Tim Taylor’s sister. Unfortunately, Judd decided to not go through with the project. They ended up giving the part of Tool Time girl to Pamela Anderson.
The Home Improvement Movie Actually Turned Into Mrs. Doubtfire
Without Home Improvement we would have never gotten the deeply beloved Robin Williams comedy Mrs. Doubtfire. According to IMDB, studio executives considered making a Home Improvement movie after the TV show got extraordinarily high ratings throughout the ’90s.
Fortunately for us, Tim Allen missed out on the film of the century. He wasn’t a fan of the story line in which Jill and Tim got divorced, and Tim dressed up as a woman to pose as a nanny so he could see his kids. The storyline was so amazing that when Allen rejected the idea, the executives eventually turned it into the iconic Mrs. Doubtfire.
Wilson Was Based on Tim Allen’s Real-life Neighbor
Wilson was one of Home Improvement’s most iconic characters. Everyone remembers how they never, ever showed the bottom half of his face from behind the picket fence. In the last episode of the series, we finally got a glimpse of what Earl Hindman’s character actually looked like, and the mystery was finally solved.
It turns out that Wilson is a very real character who was based on Tim Allen’s childhood neighbor. When Allen was a kid, he was too short to see over the fence, so that’s what his neighbor looked like.
Tool Time Had an Actual Live Audience
Tool Time was like the Inception of TV shows. It was a TV show within a TV show – super meta. Before the era of YouTube, where Tim Allen’s show would have surely been a hit among the type of people that watch reruns of Flipping Out, Tool Time was pretty popular in its own right. The show had a rather rowdy and enthusiastic audience who turned out to be very, very real fans!
Tool Time and Home Improvement shared audience members. The lucky members of the sitcom’s studio audience got to sit in and act like a rowdy crowd for Tool Time. Talk about crowd participation!
Tim Allen Turned Down TV Versions of Turner and Hooch and Dead Poets Society for His Own Sitcom
Tim Allen was a man who knew exactly what he wanted. Even though the actor got the chance to star in the TV adaptations of Turner and Hooch and Dead Poets Society, he turned them all down to pursue his dreams.
When Tim Allen declined the Disney exec’s offers, the company ended up searching for a producer who would develop a sitcom based on Allen’s stand-up routine instead. Matt Williams, the creator of Roseanne, signed on, and the show became Home Improvement.
Frances Fisher Was the Original Jill
Back before the show was a hit and Tool Time was called Hammer Time, Frances Fisher played the original Jill. You might know Fisher for her work on stage and starring in films like Titanic, but the actress did take a little detour into TV acting along the way.
Fisher shot the pilot in the role of Tim Taylor’s wife but the whole thing sort of bombed. Test audiences didn’t really like her portrayal of the character. She was replaced by Patricia Richardson, who reshot the pilot for ABC. The rest is Home Improvement history!
Al Was Originally Played by Stephen Tobolowsky
It’s hard to imagine what Tool Time would have been like without Richard Karn as Al. The entire feeling of the show would be dramatically altered, but this was almost the case.
Al was originally supposed to be played by Stephen Tobolowsky, but there was a long period of time where Home Improvement’s cast and crew were waiting for ABC to give them the green light. Tobolowsky wasn’t able to seek movie roles during this time because he was contracted to Home Improvement, so he dropped out of the project. He wanted to keep his family more financially secure; unfortunately, he didn’t realize Home Improvement would have given him a steady paycheck for almost a decade.
Richard Karn Only Got the Part Because of a Moving Violation
Sometimes bad things really do happen for a reason. When Richard Karn got a ticket for rolling through a stoplight after rehearsing for Macbeth in Los Angeles, he didn’t know this would change the course of his whole life for the better.
Because of the moving violation, Karn was sent to traffic school where he met an agent who told him about Home Improvement. It turned out that Karn knew some of the people involved in the show, secured an audition and totally nailed it. If it weren’t for his brief brush with the (traffic) law, Home Improvement may not have been the hit it was.
Tim Taylor’s Clothes Were From Colleges In Michigan
Yay free advertising! Let’s just call it a tiny way Tim Allen decided to give back to the state he loved so dearly. Tim Allen wanted to give colleges and universities from his home state of Michigan a leg up. This is why Home Improvement’s costume department was only allowed to dress Allen in sweatshirts and tees that came from these types of schools.
Allen mostly wore clothing from Michigan schools barring one little slip up. The costume department supervisor accidentally allowed Allen to wear a Wofford College sweatshirt in the episode “Al’s Video.” Wofford is in Spartanburg, South Carolina, not Michigan.
Home Improvement Had Its Own Video Game
We’re guessing the graphics weren’t very great on this one (it was 1994, after all), but Home Improvement had its own Super Nintendo game. “Home Improvement: Power Tool Pursuit” was complete with a bizarre premise that was loosely based on the TV show — a staple for any TV show, video game adaptation).
In the game, a line of power tools that was named after Tim Taylor went missing at Binford Tool Company. Tim traveled around different soundstages fighting actors dressed as dinosaurs (again, it was really the ’90s) in order to get the tools back. For some reason, he even had a grappling hook. Okay!
Pamela Anderson Left the Show to do Baywatch
Home Improvement gave a young, unknown actress named Pamela Anderson her start. You may recognize Anderson from her role on Baywatch or the fact that she’s now an international celebrity with a handful of rock star ex-husbands.
When Anderson was just getting her start, she took on the tiny role of Lisa, the Tool Time Girl in Home Improvement’s first and second season. Her role on the sitcom was a lot more wholesome than we’re used to seeing Anderson (at least as wholesome as you can get in Daisy Dukes). She eventually left the show to play Casey Jean Parker on Baywatch and Debbe Dunning filled in as Tim Taylor’s assistant.
Home Improvement Was Originally Called Hammer Time
“It’s Hammer Time!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “It’s Tool Time!” Unless, of course, you’re M.C. Hammer. Home Improvement’s show-within-a-show Tool Time was almost called Hammer Time. In fact, Home Improvement was originally called Hammer Time, too.
Fortunately, the producers rightly pictured leagues of angry M.C. Hammer tuning in and being confused that they were watching a sitcom about a suburban, middle class family and squashed the idea quickly. They renamed the show Tool Time, and then renamed the show again to Home Improvement to avoid confusing viewers about the show within the show.
Binford Tools Is Featured In Toy Story
Binford Tools, the tool company constantly promoted by Tim Allen on Tool Time, makes a Toy Story Cameo. The company is seen when Woody is helping Buzz escape from Sid’s room (remember the evil boy next door? Terrifying if you’re a toy). In this scene, Woody pushes a toolbox off the counter, and you can clearly see a Binford logo.
Here’s a theory: Tim Allen voices Buzz Lightyear because, since Buzz is a toy, his voice is in Andy’s head. Allen’s voice is in Andy’s head because Allen is actually Andy’s dad. Allen left his mother to become a TV star and start a new family (see: Home Improvement). Just throwing that out there.
Dave Chappelle Starred in a Failed Home Improvement Spin-off
You may have never noticed it, but Dave Chappelle starred in an episode of Home Improvement.
Dave’s eponymous cameo was such a hit that TV execs rushed to make a spin-off. Buddies came to life but was very short-lived. The show premiered on March 5, 1996 and gathered disappointing ratings. It was cancelled less than a month later after only airing five of the 13 episodes that were produced.
“It was a bad show. It was bad. I mean when we were doing it, I could tell this was not gonna work,” Chappelle admitted to CBS.