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The Inspiration For Wilson On Home Improvement Might Surprise You

There's no doubt Tim "The Tool Man" Taylor lucked out in the next-door neighbor department, but what you might not know is the iconic Wilson from Home Improvement was inspired by a real person. While it's hard to imagine having a neighbor who could dispense as much philosophical and sage advice from behind a picket fence as Wilson did for the Taylor family, it seems the show's lead, Tim Allen, was fortunate enough to have someone very much like his TV neighbor in his real life as a child. As reported by ScreenRant, Allen based the character on his own neighbor from his childhood.

It's unclear whether or not Allen's real neighbor was as well-versed in philosophy, history, and the arts as Wilson was, but he clearly made an impression on the comedian. He's even responsible for why Wilson's full face was never shown on the show — as a child, Allen could only see the top part of his neighbor's head while they were chatting.

Given how the character of Wilson is rooted in Allen's childhood, it adds an extra layer of poignancy to the bond between the character and the Taylors on Home Improvement. After all, he didn't just dispense advice to Tim, he also shared his words of wisdom with the "Taylor lads," as he called them: Brad, Randy, and Mark.

Tim Allen's bond with Wilson actor Earl Hindman led to a moving tribute on Last Man Standing

Sadly, actor Earl Hindman, who played Wilson throughout all eight seasons of Home Improvement, died in December 2003 at the age of 61 due to lung cancer. Even though the ABC comedy had already ended at the time, his passing had a profound effect on his castmates, particularly Allen, who is still grieving his friend to this day.

In early 2021, Allen briefly revived the character of Tim Taylor in an episode of his current Fox show Last Man Standing. During the crossover event, Tim tells Mike Baxter (also played by Allen) that he had a neighbor, Wilson, whose death hit him hard. "For many, many years, I shared a lot of stuff with him. He passed away," Tim tells Mike. "I miss Wilson. I miss a lot of stuff."

During an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Allen shared why he felt it was fitting to use the crossover as an opportunity to pay tribute to Hindman and Wilson. "I adored the man and we kind of brought that up in the story," Allen said. "I started thinking about all the history I had with that TV show, how I compare it to my life on this show. It's all about loss, is all I kept saying in that episode."

It's clear that Hindman and Allen's real-life neighbor left a meaningful impression on the actor, and although they're gone now, they will both live on thanks to the indelible Wilson, who is still dispensing advice via the show's reruns.