The end of Last Man Standing is less than three weeks away now, and Tim Allen is getting flashbacks. It's rare for a star to have one long-running, successful sitcom, but Allen has two, so he has been through the end of a show already. More than 20 years ago, Allen said goodbye to Home Improvement, one set at a time. Allen, 67, did the same for Last Man Standing.
"I sat in every room on that set, but I did that on Home Improvement also. I'm just one of those guys," Allen recently told Entertainment Weekly. "Earl Hindman and I would go backstage and we'd say, 'I'm always going to love this.' I still remember where that was all these years later. I honored it. I was grateful for it." Allen said he was "humbled" that he could do Home Improvement and is now "twice as humbled" that he worked on Last Man Standing for two years longer. He has come a long way from being a standup comedian on the road.
"I went from being a club road comic to achieving all of this," Allen told EW. "I really love this family, even with the cast changes we had throughout the series. The growth of this family was amazing."
Last Man Standing will finish with one more season than Home Improvement did, but it was on television two years longer thanks to missing a whole season. ABC canceled the show after six seasons, and after just one year off the air, Fox brought it back. Before Season 9 began, Allen and Fox announced that the new season would be the show's last. The final two episodes, "Baxter Boot Camp" and "Keep On Truckin'," will air on Thursday, May 20 at 9 p.m. ET.
"I'm not a 'feelings' type of guy. That's why I do comedy, to push things away," Allen told EW, which also published the first photos of the final episodes. "I get attached to people even on movie sets and those shoots are only three to four months. So when we wrap and everyone goes home, I go, 'But wait! I thought we were going to be friends!'"
During one of the final days on set, Allen and Nancy Travis, who plays Mike Baxter's wife Vanessa, remembered how they saw Kaitlyn Dever grow up before their eyes. Dever was only 13 or 14 when the show began, and now Dever is such a big star that she couldn't find time in her schedule to regularly appear in the last three seasons. "We had a year to plan for it but you're never really prepared," Allen said of how hard it was to say goodbye. "And it's beyond that, too. We were able to feed our families while sharing this great experience together. I loved going to work every day. That's a remarkable thing to own and a remarkable thing to lose."
"Keep on Truckin'" was written by Allen, and features the Baxter family and their friends holding a memorial for a truck stolen from Mike 10 years ago. The episode will feature one final appearance from Jay Leno, who played the bumbling, but well-meaning mechanic Joe. Allen said the episode will feature plenty of nods to the audience and breaking of the fourth wall.
"It's a constant reminder of what the 10 years meant as a shared experience," Allen told EW. "There were some complaints that it was too Deadpool-like, breaking the fourth wall too much if you will. We pulled it back and we got it done. It was a clever way to walk a fine line between Tim Allen playing Mike Baxter and giving a wink to the camera." Last Man Standing is available to stream on Hulu. Episodes air on Fox Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET.