After three seasons on Fox and nine seasons in total, Tim Allen and Nancy Travis' sitcom Last Man Standing recently wrapped up its entire run, without a Season 10 to look forward to. The series finale was an emotional ride for the cast and crew to put together, though it didn't differ too much from standard episodes, save for metaphors and Kaitlyn Dever sightings. But a couple of meta-jokes about changing networks, combined with the show having already flipped from ABC to Fox in the past, likely made some fans hopeful that the Baxter family could return in the future.
Luckily, I was able to ask about just such a scenario when CinemaBlend spoke with Last Man Standing's showrunner and executive producer Kevin Abbott. Considering Season 9 was produced entirely under COVID-related safety protocols, which limited access to not only in-studio audiences for tapings, but also to cast members like Kaitlyn Dever and other potential guest stars, I asked Abbott if he'd ever be interested in making a reunion happen one day under more normal circumstances. In his words:
Sure. I mean, absolutely. I love the cast, I love the crew, I love everybody involved with it. I'm certain [it would be possible] with a little time off, so that I can forget all the stuff that they do that irritates me. [Laughs.] Like I said, I think their lives continue. I'd always be interested in checking in on characters that I really loved writing. I'd work with Tim again in a second. I'd work with Nancy and Hector, and all of them. I mean, you just couldn't ask for a better cast, and the writers were wonderful. We loved doing that, and Matt Berry, my partner in crime - I'll make up any excuse to be in a room with that guy, because it's just always a joy. So yeah, absolutely.
Which isn't to say that Last Man Standing fans should immediately get their hopes up for more Mike Baxter vlogs in the nearest future. While Kevin Abbott doesn't sound like he'd turn down the chance to bring the show back in some capacity, he's also not 100% against the notion of taking a step back from the sitcom that guided his career for much of the past decade. I think it's clear his hesitance is mostly based on not wanting to hang around Jay Leno anymore. Kidding! But still, even with those caveats in mind, there's still a reasonable chance that we could get a Last Man Standing Christmas special down the line, with or without an additional time jump, and maybe even with the long-missing Boyd making a return from the ethers.
Despite the fact that he'd be down to return to the sitcom's world in the future, Kevin Abbott confirmed that the series finale's fourth wall-breaking jokes about going to different networks were only jokes, and were not indicative of any actual efforts behind the scenes to find Last Man Standing a new home for Season 10. In his words:
It's nine seasons. That's a long time. I think that it's appropriate to end it now. I don't feel like trying to talk to another network would be enhancing it in any way shape or form. I think that it probably would be a bit of a...it would just be odd. If you follow sports at all, it's having Joe Montana play for the 49ers and have all that success and then the end of his career go to the [Kansas City Chiefs]. It's a letdown. We were given a gift by Fox by telling us at the beginning of the season: this is going to be the final season. That was a gift. It allows you to say goodbye. It allows you to emotionally prepare for all of that stuff, and to try to push it, I think that would have been wrong.
It probably would have felt odd to emotionally gear oneself for a TV ending on one network while still trying to keep the energy up to shop the series around elsewhere. It'd be one thing if there were another studio that already showed vested interest, without an abundant effort required from Abbott and the other producers to pitch around. But since that wasn't the case, it only made sense to take the final season foreknowledge with good graces.
Kevin Abbott did reveal one story idea that the writers were keeping in mind in case a tenth season had materialized. With Amanda Fuller's Kirstin having taken on more of an authoritative role within Outdoor Man in Season 9, I joked about her stepping up and changing the brand name to Outdoor Woman, and the showrunner said that was indeed something they would have leaned into if more episodes were produced. Here's how he put it:
You know what? We had a storyline. If there was another season, we were gonna do Kristen starts taking over, and then maybe wants to change a few things, but with an eye towards the new reality out there that Outdoor Man is [outdated]. We had a whole storyline. Very interesting.
Perhaps Amanda Fuller's Kristin could front an entirely separate Last Woman Standing spinoff, though it's hard to know how that idea would do without the sitcom's entire core ensemble involved. Maybe she could team up with Tim Allen's Tim Taylor with the rebranded Outdoor Man for an ultra-rare two-series interconnected spinoff with Home Improvement! Anybody out there at ABC or Disney+ listening? Anybody?!?
Though Last Man Standing is no longer bringing new episodes to fans in primetime, the sitcom's entire nine-season run is available to stream on Hulu. And for anyone who needs a reminder that one TV series' cancellation is not the end of the world, there are more than enough worthy options coming to the 2021 Summer TV schedule to keep your brain busy while waiting to hear potential updates about Tim Allen's future as Mike Baxter.