Patricia Richardson Says She Left ‘Home Improvement’ as a ‘Flip-Off to Disney’ Due to Tim Allen Pay Gap

“They never even paid me a third of what Tim was making,” the actress explains

Patricia Richardson attends the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Conversations Presents "Chantilly Bridge" at SAG-AFTRA Foundation Screening Room
Patricia Richardson (Credit: Araya Doheny/Getty Images)

Patricia Richardson was a major reason why the ’90s sitcom “Home Improvement” was as successful as it was for eight seasons—and she knew it. So when it came time to re-up for Season 9, she wanted to strike a deal with Disney: the same pay rate as costar Tim Allen and a producer credit.

Predictably, the network turned her down, so Richardson walked.

“I knew that Disney would in no way pay me that much. That was my way to say ‘no’ and was a little bit of a flip-off to Disney,” she told the Los Angeles Times in an interview published Thursday. “I’d been there all this time, and they never even paid me a third of what Tim was making, and I was working my ass off. I was a big reason why women were watching.”

Jonathan Taylor Thomas, who played Richardson and Allen’s TV son Randy Taylor on the series, had already departed at the beginning of Season 8. Richardson, who had three children and was divorced by the show’s final season, had been offered $1 million an episode to return for Season 9. Allen was offered $2 million.

“All I really care about is having enough money to live on, get my kids to college and leave them some. I don’t need a plane. I don’t need a boat,” the actress explained.

Despite her departure, producers didn’t contemplate killing off her character. Writer and coexecutive producer Carmen Finestra told the outlet, “Some shows would have had the mom die. I don’t remember one discussion where we said, ‘How can we keep this going without Pat?’ It just couldn’t have worked.”

So instead, the cast filmed a three-part series finale that saw the family moving so Richardson’s character Jill Taylor could pursue a career, and relationships behind the scenes shifted. “I was mad at Tim because he was leaving me alone being the only person saying no, which made me feel terrible and like the bad guy, and he was upset with me for leaving,” she said.

While she blames Allen’s conservative politics as one reason why “Home Improvement” has not been credited as a great show from the era, it’s possible that a lawsuit brought by the show’s producers against Disney is part of the reason, too.

In 2013 Wind Dancer Production Group, along with producers Matt Williams, Carmen Finestra and David McFadzean, sued Disney for breach of contract and alleged the company sold syndication rights for the series “at well below market value.” The two sides reached a settlement six years later in 2o19.

Members of the show’s cast have also faced arrests and sexual assault allegations in recent years. In January 2023, Pamela Anderson wrote in her memoir that Allen flashed her on her first day on the show. Zachary Ty Bryan plead guilty to felony assault months later in October.


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