'Last Man Standing': Jay Leno's Joe Returns Amid 'America's Got Talent' Controversy

It did not take long for Jay Leno's mechanic character Joe to appear on Last Man Standing this season. The former Tonight Show host appeared in "Wrench In The Works," the second episode of the season, which aired on Thursday. Leno's appearance on the show came weeks after he became mired in the controversy surrounding America's Got Talent judge Gabrielle Union's firing.

In the episode, Mike (Tim Allen) decided he liked working on classic cars with Chuck (Jonathan Adams) so much that he thought about opening a classic car renovation business together. As he explained to Vanessa (Nancy Travis), Outdoor Man is doing well enough that he does not have to devote all his time to the store any longer, and making more money is always a good thing. Chuck agreed that the business was a good idea, but he brought a friend into it.

Much to Mike's horror, Chuck suggested bringing Joe in. Joe even ends up running the business, which terrorizes Mike even more. Thankfully Ed (Hector Elizondo) comes up with a brilliant idea for Mike. He could torture Joe and make everything difficult for him, which could bring some fun back to the endeavor.

After being pestered by Mike, Joe quits the business since he does not want to be a boss. Mike comes up with a new idea, nominating Ed to be the boss even though he knows nothing about cars. Ed accepted the gig.

Mike's decision to start a new business spun out of the major theme introduced in the first episode of the season. Mike and Vanessa are now dealing with an empty nest, since Mandy (Molly McCook), Kristin (Amanda Fuller) and Eve (Kaitlyn Dever) have all moved out.

Vanessa also has a project to keep her busy.

"She discovers that her tutoring business is thriving because the educational system is failing… and she decides to run for [State Assembly]," showrunner Kevin Abbott told TVLine. "We always talk a little bit about politics on the show, so it's a way for us to introduce some subject matter without being too partisan and too issue-oriented."

Leno's appearance on Last Man Standing came amid his role in the America's Got Talent controversy at NBC. In late November, Union was surprisingly let go and reports revealed that she spoke out about a "toxic" work environment.

In one reported incident, Union allegedly complained about a racist joke Leno made when he filmed a cameo appearance on the show. Leno saw a painting of Simon Cowell with his dogs and reportedly joked that the dogs looked like something a person would find "on the menu of a Korean restaurant."

Two Asian American advocacy groups later called on NBC to cut all ties with Leno, who also hosts Jay Leno's Garage for CNBC.

Leno has appeared in 14 episodes of Last Man Standing, first joining the show in 2015.


New episodes of Last Man Standing air on Fox at 8 p.m. ET on Thursdays.

Photo credit: Fox