Home Improvement Wiki

Running gags, are often used in Home Improvement.

List of running gags[]

  • Basement Pipe - Tim bangs his head on a metal pipe whenever he walks down the basement steps. This basement pipe is first seen in the first season episode "Wild Kingdom". This never happened to any other character, though the gag was occasionally used with other staircases. E.g., The pipe in a boiler room on the U.S.S. Constellation
  • Tim and Jill's marriage - In some episodes, Tim would mix up how long he has been married to Jill. In the second season episode, "Ex Marks the Spot", Tim's high school ex runs into Tim with Al, he later said "I've been married 14 unforgettable years." Al would later say, "15".
  • Accidental innuendos - There is a certain character called Milt who Tim and Al meet occasionally. Whenever he is around, Tim or Al tend to accidentally make a reference to being gay, in which case Milt would say in an angry manner: "Hey, I don't go for that sort of thing!" Milt has also appeared on Tool Time, as a bartender for the Man's Bedroom and Man's Gym, And a in a minor appearance, brought Tim coffee after a Tool Time shoot in the eighth and final season episode "home for the holidays".
  • Hissing - Occasionally, when Al would make a sarcastic or somewhat ill tempered remark about one of Tim's plans, Tim would hiss at him, as if an angry cat.
  • Address Card - In the show's early years, Tim would often make remarks, usually chauvinistic, that would be likely to offend to certain sections of the Tool Time viewership. Al would then quickly pull out a large card with the show's address for viewers to write in and complain, always beginning by saying "That's Tim Taylor, care of Tool Time....". This address card first appeared in the first season episode "Reach Out And Teach Someone". This address card was dropped in the later seasons but seen in the seventh season episode "Believe It or Not".
  • We'll Be Right Back... - When something would go wrong on Tool Time, Tim and/or Al would quickly throw to commercial by saying, "We'll be right back after these messages from Binford Tools!"
  • Salute to... - From the outset of the last episode of the first season "Stereo-Typical," Tim and Al would make a theme of a particular home improvement project or item on Tool Time by hosting an episode or series of episodes as a "salute" to it. This would usually be evident with a banner that said "Salute to ____" or Tim or Al would say "A salute..." followed by a hand salute accompanied by a sound effect relevant to the subject, finishing with Tim and/or Al saying the particular topic being saluted.
  • The Man's... - Similar to the salutes, Tool Time occasionally featured "The Man's ____ Bathroom, Kitchen, etc." These skits are the embodiment of manliness according to Tim. These usually featured people being stored in appliances ex. butcher in the fridge.
  • Wilson's Advice - The Taylor's neighbor Wilson (Earl Hindman) would often provide advice to Tim, and later in the series, to other members of the family and even Al, while he was out in his back yard working on an unusual project. This advice would usually provide the resolution of the character's main conflict in the episode. His advice usually included references and quotes from historical, philosophical, or literary figures or works, leading to a revelation that would help the character solve their dilemma. Tim would often explain his revelation to another character by both misquoting Wilson's historical quote, as well as mistaking the name of the person or work quoted.
  • Wilson's Face - Wilson was inspired in part by a neighbor that Tim Allen had when he was too young to see over his neighbor's fence and therefore unable to see his neighbor. As a result, the bottom half of Wilson's face was almost never seen on the show. Initially he was always seen with his mouth obscured by the fence; the gag quickly became covering the lower half of his face with other props, wardrobe, set pieces, other characters' heads, or using unconventional camera angles. Occasionally, the top half of his face would be covered leaving only the bottom half visible, and rarely, his entire face would be shown disguised by makeup for a costume. Earl Hindman's face was fully shown following the series finale episode while taking his final bow, though he did come out holding a miniature fence on a stick over the lower half of his face for one last gag. However, his full face is very briefly seen over the fence in the pilot episode, in "The Karate Kid Returns," and in the bar in "Something Old, Someone Blue."
  • Jill's Childhood Stories - Jill often attempted to tell stories about experiences she had when she was a young girl. Tim and the boys would beg her not to tell them, walk away in the middle of the story, or both.
  • Al is the Star - Tool Time viewers often had the misconception that Al was the star of the show, due to him being more skillful and knowledgeable than Tim. Tim usually took these comments with restrained annoyance and reminded the viewers that Al was his assistant and not the reverse. He often said, "Al is my assistant. He 'assists' me." A related running gag is a fan of the show telling Tim "I'm a big fan of Tool Time. I love Al", to which Tim would always reply with a sarcastic, "We all love Al.". In later seasons, when Tim introduces Al to the Tool Time crowd, he would get a hearty round of applause from the audience. Al would generally not dissuade people from believing that Tool Time was his show.
  • "I Don't Think So Tim" -- Whenever Tim would make a nonsensical observation Al would respond, "I don't think so, Tim" or a variation thereof for example, "I wouldn't know, Tim". That response also would be used by other characters and guest stars.
  • Tim Being Astonished -- Whenever something surprised Tim he would do a deep gasp "uuuuUUUUHHHHuuuUUHHH!"
  • Sarcastically Introducing Al -- In the early seasons, when Tim introduced Al on Tool Time, he added a sarcastic middle name like Al "This land is" Borland. In the seventh season episode "Futile Attraction," after Al helps Heidi who was going through a matrimonial crisis, she introduced him as Al "the Most Sensitive Guy in the World" Borland.
  • Al's Mother - Tim frequently used jokes about Al's mother, usually about her weight. She was an unseen character in the series. She can be seen in a picture on the Tool Time set, but only from the back side in the fifth season episode "Oh, Brother", and is heard once in the sixth season episode "Something Old, Someone Blue". She can be partially viewed in the funeral scene when she passes away, in the eighth and final season episode "Dead Weight". Previously, Tim teased his mother-in-law about the same issue, but when it was revealed that Tim's jokes helped her to lose weight and she appeared quite slim, he stopped making those jokes.
  • More Power - Tim saying something needed "More power", which was then followed by his trademark Simian Grunt. Later, characters would suggest that Tim make "the power [object]" when he expressed dissatisfaction with something's capabilities.
  • Jill's cooking - Tim and the boys' wisecracks about Jill's notoriously bad cooking. Even Jill owned up to her kitchen ineptitude now and then, often to her mother.
  • The Grunt - Tim would usually grunt while doing something manly.
  • Al's Flannel - Tim would constantly make jokes about Al's flannel shirts.
  • "What'd you do this time?" - Every time Tim would announce to his kids that he would go out on a dinner or plan a breakfast for Jill, his kids would ask "What'd you do this time?" Most of the time this is said by Randy. Tim would usually respond with "Nothing!"
  • Christmas lighting contests - Tim would enter a contest to try to have the best-decorated house in the neighborhood for Christmas. Tim would often lose to his neighbor, "Doc" Johnson. In the fifth season episode "'Twas the Flight Before Christmas," the boys win the contest in Tim's absence. In the eighth and final season episode "Home for the Holidays," Al ends up being Tim's toughest competition.
  • Tim's Sweatshirts - In several episodes Tim is seen wearing sweatshirts from a bunch of different random colleges other than just his Alma mater, Western Michigan. The Home Improvement Archive website notes that all colleges, except Wofford, Tim sports sweats from are in the Taylor's home state, Michigan.
  • Binford 6100 - On Tool Time, starting in the third season, whenever a new product was being introduced, the name of it was always "Binford 6100..." Before that, every single tool was given a different product number eg, the Binford 6100 was a very dangerous saw that cuts trees. The only exceptions to these were early in the third season, Tim made a gallon of the color Al with the Binford 250 Paint Boy and when Tim made reference to the Binford 3000 propane torch on the job site cooking show (S4E22).
  • Shut up, Al! - Tim's usual response to a comment of Al's, usually annoying to him. Al usually responds by listening to Tim. Said once at 4 times in one episode.
  • The home improvement sign - in the beginning of each episode a small sign spelling out "home improvement" with arms and legs is seen doing some sort of action (ex: dancing, peeling potatoes) before leaving ( sometimes by being stepped on or being hit with an item).
  • "Just kidding, Nana." - From season 1 to season 2, Tim will always make a wisecrack about Jill's mother on "Tool Time", mostly about her weight, and Tim always says "Just kidding, Nana."