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Tim Taylor (Tim Allen)Husband, father, home improvement TV show host. He is a caring family man, good friend and talented handyman when it comes down to it, but his macho behavior and overconfident attitude frequently gets him into trouble.
- Acquainted with Emergency Services: One episode has his son get injured. When Tim takes him to the hospital, it turns out he's on a first name basis with the staff. He even has his own coffee mug there.
- Alliterative Name/Awesome McCoolname: Adding his own personal Red Baron, he's Tim "The Toolman" Taylor.
- Awesome, but Impractical: Most of Tim's "personal" improvements to things turn into this. He's actually a great mechanic when he's got someone or something to reel him in, otherwise his reach exceeds his grasp.
- Book Dumb: As he puts it once, intellectuals in high school thought he was nothing but a jock (while jocks didn't like him because he was uncoordinated).
- Bumbling Dad: Boy does he ever bumble.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Tim may be insane, but he's an awesome mechanic when it comes down to it.
- Catch Phrase: "More Power," the familiar grunt and "Oh no!" with the grunt. And of course, "Uh-oh."
- Deadpan Snarker: Not as much as Jill or Randy, but he has his moments.
- Epic Fail: Tim's comically over-the-top approach to technology and repair - or hell, just his own fumbling carelessness - has caused some truly spectacular mishaps. Let's see: he's dropped a steel beam on his wife's new car just while figuring out how to work a crane, he got his forehead superglued to a new table, he rewired a phone so badly it started smoldering while ringing, he activated a military machine gun just by touching it(?), nearly killed his audience with a 21 nail gun salute, launched a barbecue grill into orbit, inadvertently blew up Bennie's house, nearly brain-damaged Bob Vila, and so much more. Basically, Tim was the Super Dave Osborne of The '90s.
- Freudian Excuse: In one episode, he feared finalizing his will because he was the same age his father was when he died.
- Giftedly Bad: If he could just bring himself to stop at repairs, he'd be quite competent. Unfortunately, he can't settle for anything less than 'maximized for power' and as a result is known less as a home improvement expert and more as a chronically injured bungler.
- Hidden Depths: Before Tool Time started, Tim was an incredibly gifted sales representative for Binford. That kind of charisma and charm lend themselves well to television.
- Jerkass with a Heart of Gold: Tim could come off as incredibly insensitive and even chauvinistic at times, but it always seems to boil down to him not understanding the other person's point of view. Every time Tim would be given insight by Wilson he would almost immediately feel regret about hurting the other person's feelings.
- The Klutz: Usually, Tim's screw-ups are due to his signature brand of overclocking. However, there are sometimes when he gets into trouble out of just plain klutziness, especially on Tool Time.
- Made of Iron: Has survived sizable electrocutions, falls, etc. that would kill any mortal man... but not the Tool Man.
- Malaproper: Almost Once an Episode, Tim would hear an old saying from Wilson, and get it completely ass-backwards once he brought it up in conversation later.
- Men Are Uncultured: And boy does he revel in it. A prominent example would be the Binford Men's X-Room skits where regular rooms are reworked for the tastes of manly men.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When Jill's father died, Tim made all the necessary arrangements for her and was consistently attentive.
- Open Mouth, Insert Foot: And often digs himself deeper whenever this happens.
- Real Men Hate Affection: Played with. Tim is not very emotional or heartfelt, and brushes off most things that would get a deeper reaction out of other people. But even though Tim wants to be as manly as possible, this trend isn't a conscious effort; it's just the way his personality is wired. He doesn't have any problem with other guys, specifically Al or Wilson, being emotional, and tries to support them however he can.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Al's Sensitive Guy.
- Signature Laugh: "Oh ho ho ho!"
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Wise Guy to Al's Straight Man (but occasionally inverted).
- Small Name, Big Ego: He tends to think highly of himself, especially during a competition.
- Tim Taylor Technology: The Trope Namer; Tim loves to overpower machines for a better performance. This almost never actually works out for him.
Jill Taylor (Patricia Richardson)Tim's quick-witted wife, who is frequently exasperated by his antics. They are Happily Married all the same. Also likes to meddle in other people's problems, which usually makes it worse.
- Dating What Daddy Hates: Tim repeatedly joked that the General offered him money to go away.
- Deadpan Snarker: Surrounded by Tim and the boys, you'd have to be.
- Destructive Savior: More on an interpersonal level. Jill's an infamous meddler.Jill: You know what my problem is, I am the kind of person who is so eager to fix things that I don't take my time and they just blow up in my face.Randy: You married the right guy.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Was called "Jilly Dilly" as a kid.
- Enraged by Idiocy/Hair-Trigger Temper: Jill getting pissed off at Tim has formed the basis of a ton of plots.
- Lethal Chef: Even she acknowledges that her cooking can be pretty subpar.
- Military Brat: Her father was a Marine.
- Not So Above It All: While she often reins Tim in, Jill can get pretty out of control and obsessive herself.
- Parenting the Husband: Tim can get so ahead of himself that Jill has to lasso him back. She also has to guide Tim on scolding their kids most of the time.
- Pursue the Dream Job: Spends a good portion of the series in pursuit of a degree in psychology.
- Sports Widow: Boy howdy.
- Women Are Wiser: Usually played straight - one of the most prominent examples in 90s sitcoms, in fact - but often enough she turned out to be, well, Not So Above It All.
Brad Taylor (Zachery Ty Bryan)Tim and Jill's oldest son, who goes through typical teenage problems. Popular and athletic, takes a lot after his dad.
- The All-American Boy: Blond, into sports, real go-getter type. Played with in that he's sometimes a bit of a Jerk Jock.
- Big Brother Bully: Early on, towards Mark. Gets toned down later, but when necessary, he's still quick to remind his brothers who's the strongest.
- Big Eater: In some of the later seasons. In one episode he's seen eating a huge sandwich after he scraped the cheese off an entire pizza.
- Book Dumb: Keeping his grades up was often a major struggle. He gets better later on, though, and is even accepted into college.
- Dumbass Teenage Son: A pretty mild case, but he's often a little dense.
- Hidden Depths: He's actually quite sensitive underneath all his macho posturing and stupidity.
- Dumb Jock and Jerk Jock: In his worse moments.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The foolish to Randy's responsible one (in later seasons).
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Brad was a temperamental jock, but he definitely had a conscience.
- Kid-anova: Had the most success with women out of the three boys.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly Man to Randy and Mark's Sensitive Guys.
Randy Taylor (Jonathan Taylor Thomas)The middle child. Starts out as a smart, mischievous, loudmouthed kid. As a teenager he gains a liberal conscience and becomes a journalist for the school newspaper. Doesn't share many interests with his father, although they have the same sense of dark humor and a similar penchant for self-assuredness.
- Big Brother Bully: Morseo than Brad, as he was almost always the instigator when they picked on Mark, and unlike Brad still always took shots at him when they were teenagers.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Till puberty happened, of course.
- Characterization Marches On: Justified by the fact that he went from a child to a teenager during the course of the series. That said, it's still a bit strange how in an early episode, him getting detention is apparently so common that Jill just assumes he'll get it before he even leaves for school, whereas a few years later Randy getting detention draws baffled "You?!" reactions from the family as if they couldn't fathom the idea that Randy would possibly ever get detention.
- You would find it hard to believe in later seasons that this was the same boy who came up with the idea to steal money from a charity for orphans.
- Fridge Brilliance: Randy is later skipped ahead two grades in school, implying that the trouble he got into as a child might have been the result of academic boredom.
- Deadpan Snarker: Discussed in a few episodes. In one, Tim notes that he and Randy are the most alike in personality, due to their smartaleck attitudes. Another has Tim noticing that Randy's cranking the snark to high as a coping mechanism following his grandpa's death (something Tim himself had done before) and offers himself as an outlet so Randy doesn't offend the more serious mourners.
- Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: The responsible to Brad's foolish one (in later seasons).
- Height Angst: In an episode later in the show's run Randy complains to his father that his "little" brother is taller than he is.
- Insufferable Genius: Even though he's gotten much smarter as a teenager, he still keep his snarky demeanor.
- Jerkass Fašade: Underneath his smug exterior he's actually pretty insecure, especially in the earlier seasons
- Put on a Bus: In season 8, he leaves for Costa Rica. The Bus Came Back once more for that season's Christmas Episode.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: He's one of each to his brothers.
- Sensitive Guy: To Brad's Manly Man.
- Manly Man: To Mark's Sensitive Guy.
- Smug Snake: Does have a high opinion of himself.
- Soapbox Sadie: In his teenage years. Most notably, he once wrote a scathing article on Binford in his high school newspaper.
- Stranger in a Familiar Land: When The Bus Came Back, Randy was surprised by how much things had changed around the house (e.g. Marty and the girls moving in, Brad and Mark becoming best buds).
Mark Taylor (Taran Noah Smith)The youngest son. Originally an innocent little boy who was frequently picked on by his brothers and used to fall for all of their pranks. Grows into a bit of a dork, goes through a Goth phase and later takes up an interest in filmmaking.
- The Baby of the Bunch: And Brad and Randy wouldn't let him forget it for the first few seasons.
- Children Are Innocent: And extremely gullible.
- Deadpan Snarker: He does occasionally deliver some good snark, especially after Randy leaves.
- Emo Teen: In season 7.
- The Generic Guy: After he stopped being a cute little kid, he didn't have much of a personality aside from being slightly awkward. Turning him into an Emo Teen was an attempt to do something about this, but it didn't last. His final personality was as the cast AV Club Nerd.
- Kiddie Kid: His initial characterization was this.
- Out of Focus: He was the most prominent of the boys early on, as he idolized his dad and was often around him. But after he grew out of the cute stage the writers didn't find much to do for him, and he spent several seasons delivering only Mandatory Lines in most episodes. After hitting puberty, his screentime increased a little again.
- Justified, as Taran Smith realized over the course of the show that he didn't want to be an actor.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Brad and Randy's Manly Men.
- The Dog Bites Back: Anytime he gets revenge on his brothers for their bullying. Plus he gets pretty good at snarking them when he's older.
Al Borland (Richard Karn)Tim's assistant on Tool Time, who proves to be a more competent handyman than Tim. Joined the opening credits in Season 2.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Al gets mocked by Tim and he always has to insist to Tim that his more improvised ways will break something or someone.
- Big Eater: A bit of a glutton. Not proud of it.
- Boring Yet Practical: Lacks Tim's flair, but his straightforward approaches always work as intended.
- Catch Phrase: "I don't think so, Tim."
- Characterization Marches On: In the earliest episodes, Al was pretty much a Jerkass and openly didn't care for Tim. This was presumably because the writers expected Richard Karn to be a temporary addition to the show. Once it was clear he'd be sticking around, Al retained his sarcasm, but he became a much nicer guy and was sincerely interested in being Tim's friend.
- Deadpan Snarker: Started out as one, but eventually all the snarking went to Tim.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: In-Universe; he's the most popular of the Tool Time cast. Whenever someone recognizes Tim on the street, they usually add "We really love Al!" to Tim's frustration.
- Expy: Of Norm Abrams from PBS's This Old House and The New Yankee Workshop (The flannel shirts, brown hair, beard, the Hypercompetent Sidekick to the host....).
- Freudian Excuse: In one Christmas Episode, he reveals that his father insisted that he look after his mother.
- Hyper-Competent Sidekick: And he knows it.
- Limited Wardrobe: Flannel shirts runs in his family.
- Momma's Boy: He once even made a song for his mom on Tool Time.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 2.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Is an accomplished cook and seamstress and quite proud of it.
- The Reliable One: He usually fixes what Tim breaks.
- Sarcastic Devotee: Al is all too aware of what Tim's egotism and clumsiness can result in and constantly has a snarky aside about it, but they are professionally inseparable.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive Guy to Tim's Manly Man.
- Straight Man and Wise Guy: Straight Man to Tim's Wise Guy (but occasionally inverted).
Heidi Keppert (Debbe Dunning)
Tim and Al's assistant on Tool Time, whose main purpose is to introduce the hosts while dressed in tight clothing. She became a part of the main cast in Season 7.
- Ascended Extra: Eventually her role was expanded both in Tool Time and the show itself, as she got A Day in the Limelight every so often.
- Catch Phrase: "Does everybody know what time it is? - That's right! Binford Tools is proud to present...Tim the Tool Maaaaaan Taylor!! Woohoo!!" Said the exact same way every single time.
- Character Tics: Mentioned, but not seen. In the season 8 episode "Dead Weight" Heidi tells Tim that her breasts twitch when she's nervous.
- Deadpan Snarker: Developed shades of this in the later seasons.
- Ensemble Darkhorse: In-Universe; Bud Harper says this to Tim:Bud: Oh, audiences love you. Of course, they don't love you as much as they love Heidi.Tim: You're not kidding? Heidi tested better than me.
- Lovely Assistant: Just ask Brad, if you can put his tongue back in his mouth first.
- Ms. Fanservice: Tends to wear shirts that show off her cleavage.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In Season 7.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: To Lisa, the original Tool Girl.
- Troll: Started doing this in the later seasons.
- Wrench Wench: Shows off her own construction knowledge from time to time. It's also mentioned that Heidi is a master electrician (master electricians have graduated beyond apprentice electrician and journeyman electrician status, and possess the knowledge and experience to tackle the most complex electrical jobs).
- You Look Familiar: Debbe Dunning played a one-off role in the season two episode "Overactive Glance" before she started playing Heidi in season three.
Lisa (Pamela Anderson)
Heidi's predecessor and the original Tool Time Girl. Lisa was a minor recurring character in the show's first two seasons. Pamela Anderson left Home Improvement when she was offered a starring role on Baywatch and her character was written out of the show.
- Hospital Hottie: Lisa quits her job after season 2 to enter paramedic training. She returns in the season 6 finale, where it's mentioned that she became fully qualified.
- Ms. Fanservice: Perhaps even more so than Heidi. While Heidi got some character development in the later seasons and even had a few episodes that focused on her, Lisa mainly served as a pretty face to introduce episodes of Tool Time.
- Put on a Bus: At the start of Season 3, Tim explains to the Tool Time audience that Lisa quit her job so that she could train to become a paramedic. He then introduces the new Tool Time Girl, Heidi.
- The Bus Came Back: Lisa returns to guest star in the Season 6 finale episode "The Kiss and the Kiss-Off". By this time, Pamela Anderson's role on Baywatch had turned her into a world-famous sex symbol. So Anderson's guest role in the season 6 finale was advertised heavily by the network to draw bigger ratings.
Wilson W. Wilson, Jr. (Earl Hindman)Tim's wise old neighbor who gives good advice from the other side of the fence.
- Alliterative Name: Times three!
- Almighty Janitor: The kooky next-door neighbor, and easily the wisest and most prosperous person on the show.
- An Aesop: Wilson's specialty, though more for Tim and the rest of the cast than the audience.
- Catchphrase: His welcoming "Hidey-ho!", his understanding "Mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm, mm-hmm", beginning his sage advice with "Tim, I'm reminded of...", and his gentle "No no no no" when the person on the other side of the fence misunderstands him.
- The Confidant: Everyone turns to him when they need advice.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: In his stranger moments, particularly when he dresses up.
- Cool Old Guy: To a fascinating extent.
- Expansion Pack Past: Wilson has been all over the world and met with many famous people, in addition to having the most obscure hobbies. In one episode, it's even revealed that he's related to Brian Wilson.
- The Faceless: Famously, the audience only sees half of Wilson's face. Sometimes the top half, sometimes the bottom, other times just obscured.
- There are moments where his whole face is seen. But he's usually too covered in makeup to be recognizable.
- Foreign Queasine: Wilson made all sorts of strange foods from foreign cultures.
- Freudian Excuse: His parents never let him talk to the neighbors, which is why he's thrilled to talk to the Taylors and others.
- Noodle Incident: He often shares many fantastic stories from his youth. His home is also full of various artifacts and antiques.
- Not So Above It All: He can prank with the best of them.
- Parental Substitute: To Tim, being an older male figure who often gives him advice.
- The Philosopher: He knew and studied the works of many historical figures so well that he can quote them word for word. His sage advice can be pretty mind-bending at times.
- Prima Donna Director: In one episode, he got to direct Randy's high school Shakespeare play. However, his perfectionist approach to direction irritated the cast and Tim (who was building the set). Wilson insists it's all because of his adoration for Shakespearean works, but Tim helps him see that he's risking turning kids off to the material.
- The Reveal: His face, during the final bow on the series finale.
- Repetitive Name: Tim had quite a time wrapping his head around that one at first.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Not an extreme case, but then, it doesn't take much to confuse Tim.