WTF Happened to Tim Allen?

In the 1990s, Tim Allen was one of the biggest family comedy stars in the game. Beginning his career as a stand-up comic at the Comedy Store, his brand of family-friendly, relatable comedy made him stand out from his contemporaries. This led to ABC building a sitcom around him, Home Improvement. The show, where he played Tim “The Toolman” Taylor, became one of the biggest shows of the nineties, regularly ranking near the top of the Nielsen ratings. It wasn’t a critical darling, but families loved it, with Allen becoming a household name.

However, his career hit a turning point in 1994 when he signed on to star in Disney’s The Santa Clause, where he played an everyday businessman who becomes the heir apparent to Santa’s mantle. The film was a total smash, making him a movie star overnight. The following year, he voiced Buzz Lightyear in the first Pixar movie, Toy Story, adding another family classic to his resume. Soon, he was making over a million bucks an episode for Home Improvement and leading family comedies like Jungle 2 Jungle, the Santa Clause sequels, and the vastly underrated, legit sci-fi classic Galaxy Quest.

Eventually, Home Improvement ended, and Allen’s big screen outings, such as Zoom, started to underperform. However, he still had a long-running hit sitcom, Last Man Standing, which saw a controversial cancellation that led to many wondering if his political opinions led to his show being unfairly axed. Indeed, when Fox revived it, it ran for three more seasons. While many questioned why Chris Evans was suddenly being asked to voice Buzz in the Lightyear spin-off movie, Allen’s relationship with Disney seemed permanently mended when he signed on to star in Disney Plus’ The Santa Clauses series. Just renewed for a second season, Allen seems firmly back in the limelight, and in this episode of WTF Happened to this Celebrity, which is written (with Brad Hamerly), narrated and edited by Taylor James Johnson, we look at his career ups and downs while appreciating a guy many of us grew up watching.

What’s your favorite Tim Allen role? Let us know in the comments.

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.