A year after Last Man Standing was canceled by ABC, the multi-camera comedy starring Tim Allen is plotting a comeback on a new network. Last Man Standing producer 20th Century Fox TV is in talks with sibling Fox Broadcasting Co. for a new season of the series, which would be its seventh.
I hear star and executive producer Allen has closed a deal to return. 20th TV is currently in conversations with other cast members as well as members of the series’ creative team, including producers, to come back. Two of the key Last Man Standing series regulars, Nancy Travis and Hector Elizondo, are tied to other multi-camera comedies at the moment. Travis stars in the upcoming Netflix comedy series The Kominsky Method while Elizondo is a lead of the pilot Guess Who Died, which is in contention at NBC.
Insiders caution there are still many deals to close and the show’s return is by no means a sure thing but there are promising signs that a seventh season is possible. Fox and 20th TV declined comment.
Allen has been vocal about his disappointment over the cancellation of Last Man Standing by ABC and his hope to see it come back. Over the past couple of weeks, he posted a slew of blooper videos from the show on Twitter with nostalgic notes like: “So fun to look back on these good times” and “We really had some good laughs on this show. I loved working with these people.”
Fox actually seriously considered rescuing Last Man Standing last May, following its surprise cancellation by ABC after six seasons. Fox brass tried to fit Last Man Standing into the schedule but couldn’t find a way to do it. Fox had been out of the multi-camera business for a while and didn’t have a multi-camera comedy to pair Last Man with. This development season, Fox put an emphasis on multi-camera comedies with several pilots, Rel, Cool Kids and the just ordered untitled Rob McElhenney & Rob Rosell project, which also is set in middle America.
Last summer, there was one more attempt to find a home for Last Man Standing at CMT, which had had success with the sitcom’s reruns, though talks did not result in a deal.
Efforts to resurrect Last Man Standing were reignited by the success of ABC’s Roseanne revival this spring. Besides a star of a popular 1990s ABC sitcom (Roseanne‘s Roseanne Barr and Home Improvement‘s Allen), the two shows also share leads who both are supporters of President Donald Trump and reflect views rarely seen in scripted TV series.
Last Man Standing stars Allen as Mike Baxter, a senior executive at an outdoor sporting goods store in Denver, and revolves around his work and family life as a husband and father of three daughters. With a central character — played by Republican Allen — who is a political conservative and devout Christian adhering to traditional American values, Last Man Standing, like Roseanne, is relatable to viewers in the Heartland.
The cancellation of Last Man Standing was met with very strong reaction from fans last May. It became a rallying cry for conservatives, with a petition launched that called for ABC to bring back “a show that appeals to a broad swath of Americans who find very few shows that extol the virtues with which they can identify; namely conservative values.” A year later, the petition has amassed 438,000 signatures and there is still enthusiasm among LMS fans about the show coming back, especially following Roseanne‘s return.
Allen referenced fans’ outpouring of support in a tweet this morning about LMS‘ possible return.
Last Man Standing could bring sizable viewership to Fox. The sitcom was a sturdy ratings performer on ABC. Airing on the low-trafficked Friday night, it averaged 8.1 million viewers in Live+7 for its most recent sixth season, ranking as ABC’s second-most watched comedy for the 2016-17 season only behind Modern Family. That is far more than the audience for any Fox comedy series and would rank as the network’s second most watched series behind 9-1-1. LMS also had been doing well in broadcast syndication, so another season could make financial sense for 20th TV as long as the studio can re-sign the actors at reasonable salaries.
Additionally, with Last Man Standing, Fox would get its own multi-camera sitcom revival, joining Roseanne on ABC, Will & Grace on NBC and Murphy Brown on CBS.
Fox has a similarly-titled single-camera comedy series, The Last Man On Earth, which is heavily on the bubble and currently not looking very likely to return. For now, there is little chance that The Last Man On Earth and Last Man Standing would co-exist next season though that would certainly be amusing.