LAST MAN STANDING Showrunner Discusses Alternate Endings for Series Finale
By Movieguide® Staff
Fans recently had to say goodbye to Tim Allen’s Mike Baxter and THE LAST MAN STANDING family after nine seasons.
In the series finale, titled “Keep Truckin,” Baxter’s truck, which is used as a metaphor for the rest of the show, goes missing.
“I’ve had that truck for 10 years, that’s longer than I’ve done improvement on this home,” Mike tells Vanessa in the episode.
The Baxter family and friends join forces one last time to find the missing vehicle and share memories along the way.
In a final farewell on Mike’s vlog, the metaphor was solidified for LAST MAN STANDING fans.
“I loved every moment of that show — I mean truck. It was a classic from a simpler, happier time, the truck. That’s something that can’t be stolen from me,” Mike says.
The show’s writer and producer revealed that the creative team struggled with how to conduct a final farewell.
“We got the gift of being told it was the final season. It was a gift, it was really a great thing that they did for us, because it allowed us to plan, and to appreciate, and to really be grateful for what we had,” Showrunner Kevin Abbott told Deadline. “I wanted to make sure that we did it right in our minds, and most importantly, Tim’s mind, because he’s the one most invested in it. He’s given a lot, over the years, to the show, and it was important to be rewarding him for that, to give him the respect that he deserves.
“We sat down to think, what do we want out of this final episode? We quickly came to the conclusion, we didn’t want it to be a sad episode. Ideally, the series finale is the embodiment of what the show was, with the added message of saying, hopefully, ‘thank you,’” he added.
As a result, Abbott and Allen wrestled with the best way to go about the show’s finale.
“We had an episode with B story where Kyle and Ed had talked about leaving for the priesthood. That was originally a much larger story, where Kyle left for the priesthood, and Ed went with him. We had people saying goodbye to them, in lieu of saying goodbye to the show, and you know, it just felt very maudlin. It just felt…there was no way that we were going to be able to keep the cast from not feeling the emotions they were feeling by saying goodbye to those people,” Abbott revealed.
“We also had a whole episode where Kristin took over Outdoor Man, again it became a B story, but the larger story was going to be that Kristin is going to take over, and Ed decides he’s going to leave, but that he has to find, for Kristin, her Ed,” he added. “The guy that told Mike the hard truths. The guy that supported him in his other ideas. Kristin needed that person. That was going to be Mandy.”
Abbott shared that writer Matt Berry first suggested the idea with Baxter’s truck.
“Matt Berry actually, pitched the idea of the truck, which has been in the show the entire series. I thought that’s a great idea. It allows us to write an episode that would’ve been just any other episode, during the season. It just would have been focused on theft and this theme was coming to grips with loss. Being okay with it, being grateful for what you had, not angry, bitter, or frustrated at it not being there anymore. That’s the message we wanted to send out,” Abbott said.
“So, he pitched that. We went through a couple of variations. We actually tracked down a car, a truck like Tim’s, that we were going to wreck because you know, we thought it would make a really good ending, to visually see this, to uncover it like we were at an autopsy, with a big sheet over the truck, and then you uncover it, and see it but she’s ruined,” he added. “It kind of went away from where we wound up going, which was this isn’t just Tim’s loss. It’s not Mike’s loss. It’s everybody’s loss, and we need to give them an opportunity to deal with it.
“It was great to be able to spend a decade of my life with these people, and really get to know them. The good and the bad. The hard and the easy. The fun and the difficult. I got the full gamut. You don’t really get that on most shows.”