Will 'Last Man Standing' Be Able to Reel Fans in on Fox?

Megan Friedman
Photo credit: FOX

From Country Living

Last Man Standing will air its seventh season this fall-but it wasn't an easy road to get there. The sitcom, which stars Home Improvement’s Tim Allen as the patriarch of a female-dominated family, went from a smashing success to getting abruptly canceled from ABC last year. Now, after months of fan outcry, the show is returning-but it's changing networks to Fox to do so.

Here’s what you need to know about how Last Man Standing got where it is today.

Getting Started on Tuesday Nights

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In May 2011, ABC gave a series order to Last Man Standing, starring Tim Allen as Mike Baxter. Other shows that got picked up that season didn’t last as long, from the period drama Pan Am to a reboot of Charlie’s Angels. The network set the series to air on Tuesday nights at 8 p.m.

On October 11, 2011, Last Man Standing aired its first episode, a special one-hour premiere on Tuesday night. Just weeks later, ABC picked up Last Man Standing for a full season; it would stay on the network through six seasons.

Retool Time

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For season 2, Last Man Standing moved to Friday nights, where it would remain for the rest of its run on ABC; it also ran for a shorter 18 episodes, compared to the usual 22. The show itself also underwent a number of changes for its second season.

Alexandra Krosney, who played Kristin, left the series and actress Amanda Fuller took her place. According to TVLine, the recasting was for “creative reasons.” Jordan Masterson took over for Nick Jonas to play Ryan. Producers also opted to make the show's son, Boyd, a bit older, casting Flynn Morrison to play the part instead of twins Luke and Evan Kruntchev.

Home Improvement Reunions

At the end of Season 2, Allen reunited with his Home Improvement costar Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who played a restaurant owner and Kristin’s new boss. “Man, you look familiar,” Allen’s character tells him, and later jokes, “That kid was raised right.”

Thomas would pop up on the show three more times, and he even directed an episode in 2016. He once appeared alongside his former TV mom, Patricia Richardson, who played a recently divorced neighbor of the Baxter family; Thomas played one of her sons.

Richard Karn, who played Al on Home Improvement, also showed up to play Mike Baxter’s old friend. “Say hi to the wife and three boys,” he tells Mike, a reference to his Home Improvement kids. “It’s three girls,” Mike responds.

A Shock Cancelation

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After six seasons of fairly solid ratings, especially for a show that aired on Friday night, Last Man Standing was taken off the air. Fans were shocked by ABC's cancellation of the show in 2017. The network insisted it was a scheduling decision, because they wanted to get rid of comedies in the Friday night lineup. But some fans cried foul, accusing the network of canceling the show because of Allen’s conservative political beliefs.

“Stunned and blindsided by the network I called home for the last six years,” Allen tweeted. And fans agreed, with hundreds of thousands of people signing a Change.org petition to keep the sitcom on the air.

Will CMT Save Last Man Standing?

Executives at 20th Century Fox Television, which produced Last Man Standing, attempted to find the show a new home after ABC cut it from its lineup. At first, that home may have been CMT, the network that brought back Nashville and already ran reruns of Last Man Standing.

But those talks didn’t work out, because of financial reasons-everyone involved would have reportedly had to take pay cuts to make the move work, so it was back to the drawing board.

Season 7 Finds a New Home on Fox

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Just months after it was canceled, Last Man Standing was revived at Fox for its seventh season. "Last Man Standing ended too soon and the outcry from the fans has been deafening," Gary Newman and Dana Walden, chairmen and CEOs of the Fox Television Group, said in a statement. "We’ve wanted to put the show back together since its final taping a year ago, and Tim never gave up hope either."

Ahead of the revival, Allen starred in a new teaser trailer that seems intent on making sure fans know exactly which network to watch the show on. His character can be seen sitting by a campfire when his wife (played by Nancy Travis) notices a fox in the distance-and he wittingly makes her repeat herself three times.

The show also released a promotional poster for the upcoming return. The caption reads: "You're on the hook for a new season of Last Man Standing September 28, only on FOX," and features Allen and Travis holding fishing poles. But will they be able to reel fans in?

The success of the reboot of Roseanne had a lot to do with Last Man Standing’s revival-after all, Allen is also a star with '90s nostalgia appeal. "Everyone took a good hard look at the success of Roseanne," Fox TV group co-chair and CEO Dana Walden said. "It reminded us we have a huge iconic star in our Fox family in Tim Allen."

What’s Ahead for the Baxter Family?

Season 7 of Last Man Standing will debut September 28 on Fox, in its usual timeslot of Fridays at 8 p.m. The network has teased the return of the Baxter family and the same humor audiences have grown to love. Allen, for his part, says the show won’t shy away from controversial topics like gun control, especially since Mike owns a sporting-goods store.

And don’t be surprised if the Baxter family looks a little different. The show is recasting the parts of Mandy and Boyd, who were previously played by Molly Ephraim and Flynn Morrison. Kaitlin Dever, who plays Eve, is in talks to return in a recurring role.

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