A full year after Tim Allen's sitcom Last Man Standing was initially cancelled at ABC, Fox swooped in to rescue it for a seventh season. Perhaps expectedly, that time gap meant that not all of the original stars would be able to return for the new episodes, and it has now been confirmed that actors Molly Ephraim and Flynn Morrison will not be back on Last Man Standing this fall, and the roles of both Mandy and Boyd are being recast.
Specific reasons weren't given, but it was reported that Molly Ephraim and Flynn Morrison had declined to return for Season 7, though both would have been welcomed back. It's entirely possible that other career options presented themselves in the meantime. For instance, Ephraim most recently filmed Jason Rietman's upcoming film about notorious presidential candidate Gary Hart, titled The Front Runner, which is set to be released in November. It doesn't look like Morrison has anything similar in the pipeline, but that could still be the case.
In finding new actors to portray the Baxter's social butterfly middle daughter Mandy and the ready-for-bonding grandson Boyd, one might think that the show's higher-ups would be looking to cast some younger celebs who have large social media followings. Last Man Standing is a show that skews higher in the age demographic than most of Fox's other comedies -- at least the ones that didn't get exiled -- and it would seemingly be a smart idea to attract younger generations to the show through stars with built-in audiences. Of course, recasting with someone unknown could lead to that person become a breakthrough star. As Last Man Standing has already proven with its cancelled-and-back status, putting TV shows together is anything but simple and failsafe.
These are the only two roles being recast at the time of this writing, but it's possible that Kaitlyn Dever, who plays the youngest daughter Eve, could also leave before Season 7. According to TVLine, she is currently in the negotiation process to see how feasible returning for the Fox revival would be, so it's a matter of those negotiations working out.
In the scheme of things, having to recast two of the younger stars is better than having to replace Nancy Travis, had she not been able to reprise the role of Vanessa for whatever reason. And the show has dealt with substitutions in the past. Morrison himself was the older replacement for Boyd, with twin brothers Evan and Luke Kruntchev having originally portrayed Kristin's son in Season 1. Similarly, Boyd's father Ryan was first played by Nick Jonas in Season 1 before Jordan Masterson took over in later seasons. And then there's Kristin herself, who was first played by Alexandra Krosney before the show upped the character's age for Season 2, when Amanda Fuller took over.
Still, it's never a great situation when audiences have to get used to seeing new faces taking over for familiar characters. So here's hoping the producers land the most perfect replacements imaginable.