Richard Karn’s Role on ‘Home Improvement’ Started Out as a Guest Spot

Richard Karn is probably best known for playing Tim Allen’s sidekick on the 1990s hit sitcom, Home Improvement. Karn appeared as Al Borland on 203 episodes of the series and managed to amass quite a fan base from it. In the end, Kahn’s character, Al Borland appeared in every single episode of the series, except for one. His role, however, was supposed to be much smaller. If things had worked out how the producers intended, Karn would have only appeared in the first few episodes of Home Improvement.

Richard Karn was only supposed to  be a stand-in

Karn’s entire life changed thanks to a traffic ticket and another actor’s previous engagement. According to Collider, Karn found himself sitting in traffic school after running a stop sign. As is often the case in Hollywood, the room was filled with other people in the entertainment industry. One of those people was a talent agent. The agent told Karn that a new series was looking for an actor to play a small, short-term role. Karn auditioned for the role and landed it.  

Richard Karn as Al Borland on 'Home Improvement'
Richard Karn as Al Borland on ‘Home Improvement’ | Craig Sjodin/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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The part, however, wasn’t supposed to be a long gig. Karn had signed on to play a guest role for just six episodes. Karn was supposed to serve as a stand-in for another actor who was busy filming a movie when Home Improvement started its filming schedule. The show decided to present Al Borland as a stand-in co-host, to make the transition to the original actor a little easier for viewers to stomach. The plot device ended up being unnecessary.  

After a few episodes, it was clear that Karn and Allen had great chemistry

Karn was written into the series as a full-time cast member after he stole the show during his early appearances. The chemistry that Allen and Karn had on the fictious set of Tool Time could not be denied. Eventually, the idea of Tim’s regular co-host, Glen, was completely wiped from scripts, and Al acted as the only co-host Tim would ever deal with. As the series continued, Karn’s role increased further.

Tim Allen and Richard Karn appear in 'Tool Time' for 'Home Improvement'
Tim Allen and Richard Karn appear in ‘Tool Time’ for ‘Home Improvement’ | Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images

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Instead of serving as just Tim’s co-host on the show, he became a friend and regularly interacted with Tim’s family. Fans of the series also learned more about Al’s background and spent several seasons hoping the bachelor would find love. After a few failed relationships, Al settled down with Trudy. The pair married during Home Improvement’s final episode.

Who was supposed to be Tim “The Toolman” Taylor’s co-host?

Karn and Taylor’s chemistry pretty much forced the production team to make him a full-time cast member, but initially, the role was supposed to go to Stephen Tobolowsky. Tobolowsky missed out on acting as The Toolman’s co-host because he was working on a movie, and wouldn’t be available to film the first several episodes of the series. Tobolowsky has worked steadily since the 1980s and has more than 200 acting credits to his name.

Stephen Tobolowsky attends the 25th Annual Critics' Choice Awards
Stephen Tobolowsky | Emma McIntyre/Getty Images

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It should come as no surprise that Tobolowsky had a scheduling conflict. In 1991, he appeared in 10 different roles, according to IMDb. 1991 was the same year that Home Improvement premiered. Tobolowsky may have missed out on Home Improvement, but he’s scored some big roles since then. He is probably best known for his appearance on The Goldbergs as Principal Ball.

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Author: iwano@_84