Last Man Standing is a 2011 sitcom starring Tim Allen and Nancy Travis. Often referred to as an Distaff Counterpart of Home Improvement.Allen plays Mike Baxter, director of marketing at Outdoor Man, an outdoor sporting goods store in Denver, Colorado. He is proudly a man and is frustrated about how the world is trying to make his gender more sensitive. At home his world is dominated by women — his wife Vanessa and three daughters: adult single mom Kristin, high school aged girly girl Mandy and middle school aged tomboy Eve. The only other male in his house is Kristin's young son Boyd.He originally was often away from home taking up sponsors for the store catalog, but as things become more internet based he turns to promoting products on the website in videos while ranting about various topics surrounding masculinity, making him a mild celebrity and keeping him at home. He is good friends with his boss and owner of the store, Ed, while also striking a friendship with a younger employee, Kyle, who becomes friendly with the family.Considered both a Spiritual Successor to Home Improvement due to being an Allen vehicle where he plays similar characters (a father obsessed with preserving and passing down manhoodnote not to mention that both have a public forum which they use as part of their jobs and to share their views on the episode's subject matter and somewhat of Dueling Shows with Good Luck Charlie as they both take place in the same city and cover similar situations.
Last Man Standing provides examples of the following tropes:
Advertised Extra: Richard Karn's guest spot was heavily hyped in the promos. He barely has a few minutes of screen time. In fact the promo has about almost half of his total screen-time. Jonathan Taylor Thomas suffered this same fate (at least until the third season when he became a recurring role).
Season 1 "Last Christmas Standing". Ryan returns to town and wants to reconnect with Boyd, while Mandy demands better working conditions for her fellow elves at Outdoor Man.
Season 2 "Putting a Hit on Christmas". Mike and Vanessa decide they want to spend Christmas by themselves and attempt to have the girls go on different trips for the holidays.
Season 3 "Elfie". Mike and Vanessa want Boyd to celebrate Christmas the traditional way (with Jesus and Santa Claus), while Ryan wants him to celebrate with other cultures' customs and without the fantasy aspects. Meanwhile, Mandy, after asking only for cash for Christmas, has a change of heart when she meets Blanca's niece, whose father is stationed in Afghanistan.
Creator Breakdown: In-Universe this is what made the Outdoor Man internet ads so popular, as Mike skewed into a long rant that he probably didn't intend to be shown. But his attitude was so fired up and his comments so funny that it became an Instant Web Hit.
Disappeared Dad: Ryan to Boyd, who got Kristin pregnant and left town. Though he reappeared in the first season Christmas Episode and now becomes a Recurring Character in the second season, to take responsibility and rekindle his relationship with Kristin.
Eccentric Mentor: Ed to Mike. Though Mike's well past being mentored, he considers Ed to be a second father and learned a lot from him as they brought up Outdoor Man together. These days Ed focuses more on the "eccentric" part.
Expy: With Home Improvement, the three Baxter girls match up in personality with the three Taylor boys: Kristin is the snarky intellectual that Randy was, Mandy is innocent and gullible like Mark and Eve is the sports fanatic who bonds most with dad like Brad. Vanessa is also similar to Jill in being a career-focused woman with a strong personality.
Friends Rent Control: Averted by virtue of being set in Denver (lower cost of living), with both Mike and Vanessa working fairly lucrative jobs (Outdoor Man is the main hub of a small chain of stores). Their neighborhood is shown to also be rather nice, making this one of the few sitcoms to really focus on upper-middle class people.
Hidden Depths: Mike initially comes off a lot like his predecessor Tim Taylor, maybe even a bit more of a staunch conservative and sometimes even a deliberate jerkass. But he really is a loving father and husband, and his rants about the disintegrating male image doesn't mean he is male chauvinistic. When Outdoor Man was forced to make their softball team co-ed, Mike was one who was supportive of it.
High School Sweethearts: Ryan and Kristin were this back in high school before she got pregnant. They broke up right after Boyd was born.
Hypercompetent Sidekick: Mike tends to be more more rational and level-headed with the day-to-day operations of Outdoor Man, keeping Ed from being both staunchly old-fashioned and too ready to try bizarre strategies.
I Coulda Been a Contender: Kristin, who was voted most likely to succeed by her high school class, often wonders what she could have done with her life if she didn't get pregnant before graduating.
Invisible President: "Election" averts this by name-checking both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
It's All About Me: Ryan. His self-centered nature caused his relationship with Kristin and Boyd to be strained.
My Beloved Smother: Kristin tends to be very overprotective of Boyd (she makes him wear water wings in the bathtub).
Never My Fault: After Krisitin spanks Boyd, she blames Vanessa because she spanked Krisitin two times when she was younger.
No Periods, Period: Averted. An early season one episode had Eve struggling with her first period and all the mood swings that entails. Being the youngest daughter, Mike is aware of the issues but it's awkward regardless, especially that Eve was the child he related to the most via sports and she became just as emotional as the others.
Mike. While being the only man around the house, he's pretty much the sane one in the family.
Vanessa even moreso. Whenever Mike gets carried away with his testosterone-fueled antics or conservative rants, Vanessa has to reel him back in and convince him to make amends to whomever he has hurt or offended.
Overprotective Dad: Subverted. Mike is concerned about his daughters just as much as the next guy and if things seem wrong he WILL come to the rescue, but he is also aware he can't fix everything. In the first episode he actually invites Kyle to take Kristin out on a date, feeling she needs to have some time away from work and her kid. In a later episode after being given a hard time Kyle comments "I get the feeling you don't respect me much." and Mike responds "I'm letting you date my daughter. Where I come from that is the highest form of respect."
Paintball Episode: Used in a parody of mafia/gangster movies, Ed tracks down all the employees who voted for co-ed softball and shoots them in the leg with a paintball gun.
Papa Wolf: When Bill McKenzie spills beer on Boyd at a baseball game while being a Jerkass, Ryan punches him in the face.
When Mike's father Bud meets Ryan for the first time, he tells him that he swore he would kill him [Ryan] for abandoning Kristin and Boyd.
Retool: The second season recasted both Kristin and Ryan, as well as making Ryan a common Recurring Character. Ryan's strong liberal leanings clash with Mike's conservative opinions, having the effect of turning the show into a Spiritual Successor of All in the Family. The main difference is that Mike is opinionated but generally well educated while Ryan's opinion leans towards ignorant, spoiled idealism, not helped by the fact he was a Disappeared Dad for the first few years of Boyd's life.
Romantic False Lead: Kyle for Kristin. They've dated in the first season, but it doesn't neccessarily last.
Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome: Boyd turned 2 in the first season and the second season was suddenly 5. This is embraced as a complete retcon, as Kristin was also aged up appropriately to keep the fact she had Boyd when she was 17.
Spiritual Successor: The children may be gender flipped but a lot of the same basic themes continue on from Home Improvement. Whereas Jill was the one surrounded by testosterone, here Mike is surrounded by estrogen (the personalities of the characters are also closely matched). Mike's rants for the Outdoor Man website (and minor celebrity status) are pretty close to the filibusters Tim would engage in on Tool Time.
Mike's overt Republican beliefs set the character up as this for viewers on the left, presenting every stereotype Democrats dislike about Republicans. He's a gun-toting, ethnocentric, angry, borderline bigot who sees Barak Obama as a socialist nightmare here to take his guns and money.
Ryan is his Democratic counterpart. He embodies the "bleeding heart liberal" to a T. He's also a vegan, pacifist, borderline hippie Soapbox Sadie who blames the 1% for every problem suffered by the working class and wants socialized medicine, benefits, and wages.
Take That: Mike compares his father's store's lack of security to the Denver Broncos' defense in Super Bowl XLVIII.
Teen Pregnancy: Kristin got pregnant during her senior year in high school.
Teens Are Short: Rather notable in that both Mike and Vanessa tower over all their kids.
Pretty much answered. They moved in together after Kristin got a new job as a restaurant manager, and they are now engaged.
Wise Beyond Her Years: Played with with Kristin. Since she had to grow up earlier than most high schoolers when she got pregnant, she's very wise and mature compared to other people her age. However, she still needs guidance from her parents regarding being a mother.
Women Are Wiser: Subverted. There are a number of episodes where Mike is proven to be right.