Jonathan Taylor Thomas Revealed The Real Reason He Quit Home Improvement During An Interview With Conan O’Brien


  • Jonathan Taylor Thomas quit Home Improvement to go back to school and have a more normal life.
  • Thomas enjoyed school and had plans to attend college after leaving the show.
  • After leaving acting, Thomas pursued education and eventually directed episodes of Last Man Standing.

When Jonathan Taylor Thomas played Randy Taylor on Home Improvement, he was at the height of his fame and known for being a charming, polite, and good-looking young actor. Thomas could have kept earning a huge salary if he continued playing his famous character until the series finale. Instead, he left, and Tim Allen wasn’t happy with Thomas’s choice.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas is just one child actor who stopped acting, but he’s one of the most popular ones. For a while now, fans have wondered about the exact reason why he quit Home Improvement. As it turns out, he talked about it in an interview with Conan O’Brien back in 1998.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas Told Conan O’Brien Why He Left Home Improvement

In November 1998, Jonathan Taylor Thomas was on Late Night with Conan O’Brien when he was 17 years old and he talked about realizing that he should quit Home Improvement. It was a big surprise when he left as fans expected him to keep playing Randy until the very last episode.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas Revealed The Real Reason He Quit Home Improvement During An Interview With Conan O’Brien
Via: TheThings

When O’Brien asked why Thomas quit, Thomas said:

“I wanted to go back to school. I went back to my high school and with my friends now, get to be there every day. Go to the football games on the weekend. That kind of stuff.”

While most people interviewing Jonathan Taylor Thomas would have simply nodded and asked him to explain further, O’Brien approached the conversation with his great sense of humor. This made the interview stand out. O’Brien joked about the thought process that other teenagers would go through and said, “That’s interesting… Most kids that have been in school all their life think ‘No I’ve got to bust out of there and star in my own show.'”

Conan O'Brien on the red carpet
Via: Instar

Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s Most Popular Movie Roles

  • Jake Wilkinson in I’ll Be Home For Christmas (1998)
  • voice of Pinocchio in Adventures of Pinocchio (1996)
  • Ben Archer in Man Of The House (1995)
  • Tom Sawyer in Tom and Huck (1995)
  • voice of young Simba in The Lion King (1994)


Jonathan Taylor Thomas’ Experience As A Child Star Caused Him To Quit Acting

Jonathan Taylor Thomas revealed the truth about being a child actor in Hollywood.

O’Brien said, “Some of these people, child stars, say ‘Oh no I have a tutor come in and she teaches me and it’s just as good as going to school.'” O’Brien said that couldn’t be true and Thomas shared that he enjoyed school. When O’Brien asked about Thomas’s college plans, Thomas said that he planned on going to college. He said “I like being in school” and the audience cheered. O’Brien then joked “Those are good values” and added, “I think you’re crazy.”

Before getting into a discussion about Home Improvement, Conan O’Brien and Jonathan Taylor Thomas chatted about driving. O’Brien mentioned that when Thomas appeared on the late-night show previously, he had his learner’s permit, and Taylor shared that he had gotten his driver’s license since then.


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O’Brien asked “Doesn’t that just change your life?” It was sweet that he chatted with the young actor about a subject that mattered a lot to him. Thomas also said being 17 was “a meaningless age” as there are no major milestones to meet.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Tim Allen in Home Improvement
via ABC

No interview with Thomas is complete without a discussion about his “teen idol” status” and O’Brien asked about fans noticing him everywhere that he went. Fans of the sitcom are curious about how the Home Improvement cast behaved around Thomas since he was considered such a good-looking young actor. Thomas said that a woman once asked him to take a photo with her and he felt uncomfortable. Overall, though, he seemed humble and appreciative of the success he had.

After Leaving Home Improvement, Jonathan Taylor Thomas Went To Harvard

According to People, once Jonathan Taylor Thomas left Home Improvement, Thomas was a student at Harvard and Columbia. The publication reported that in 2000, he finished high school and went to Harvard. He majored in history and philosophy. A decade later, in 2010, he had a degree from the Columbia University School of General Studies. It’s unclear what he studied at Columbia.

Tim Allen, Jonathan Taylor Thomas and Patricia Richardson on Home Improvement
Via: ABC

Everyone was curious about where Jonathan Taylor Thomas went, and it was fascinating to learn that he wanted a simpler life that had nothing to do with the wild setting of Hollywood. After he shared his love of school and college plans with Conan O’Brien, Thomas followed through on his dreams.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas’s TV Roles After Home Improvement

(According to IMDb)

Chris Emerson in one episode of Ally McBeal


voice of Tyler Tucker in The Wild Thornberrys


voice of Luke Stetson in one episode of The Simpsons


Ian Randall in two episodes of Smallville


Jeremy in three episodes of 8 Simple Rules


Ben in one episode of Veronica Mars


John Baker/Randy in Last Man Standing


In 2021, People reported that photos of Taylor circulated online, and no one had taken a picture of him for a total of eight years. In December 2023, Page Six posted a new picture of Thomas. He was in California and got some coffee at a convenience store.


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The ’90s heartthrob starred in numerous films before stepping back from the spotlight, all of which made millions at the box office.

According to E! News, Patricia Heaton answered fan questions in a Reddit thread eight years ago, and she was asked about Jonathan Taylor Thomas. She shared a bit about his plans after Home Improvement.

Jonathan Taylor Thomas looking serious at an event
via Instar

Heaton wrote:

“I think that it was very fortunate that Jonathan is so smart and well balanced. Jonathan knew that pitfalls of the situation that he was in. When he left the show he ended up going back to school and got a really good education and thought a lot about what he wanted to do with his life.”

Heaton continued that she and Taylor once had a conversation where he talked about working in politics and also in Hollywood behind the camera. She wrote, “When he was on the show at one point he said to me he was interested in being a politician. And I thought that was great as he’s so honorable as well as being smart. How lucky would we be if Jonathan would be a politician but he’s not on that track. He wants to write, direct and produce and I know he’ll be good at all of those things.”

Jonathan Taylor Thomas did make some of those dreams come true. While he never worked in the field of politics, Thomas directed three Last Man Standing episodes and also directed the 2006 short film The Extra.