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Primetime TV got a lot busier this week, with many of the biggest broadcast network and cable shows making their grand returns, but fans of Last Man Standing were no doubt confused when the Tim Allen-led sitcom failed to reappear on Fox for Season 8. Considering Last Man Standing just had its first full year on Fox for the 2018-2019 season, it might seem odd that the new TV lineups are in place without the Baxter family's wisecracks popping up somewhere. So what gives?
The most basic version of the answer is that Fox booked up too many weekly programming hours for its fall months, and there just wasn't enough room for Last Man Standing to properly get slotted in, forcing the extremely popular comedy back to the midseason schedule. Currently, Fox has deals with both the NFL (for Thursday Night Football) and the WWE (for Smackdown), and since the network doesn't utilize the same three-hour primetime blocks as its biggest competitors – outside of football – programming execs had to shake up the prior status quo.
Starting on October 4, WWE's Smackdown will be a permanent fixture on Fox's Friday night schedule, at least for as long as it makes financial sense to do so. As such, the network needed to completely revamp the night's programming. With The Cool Kids and Presumed Innocent both cancelled, Fox only had to worry about shifting Last Man Standing and Gordon Ramsey's reality competition Hell's Kitchen, which has yet to announce when Season 19 will premiere.
With The Masked Singer taking over Wednesdays again, and scripted hits such as 9-1-1 and Empire taking up the rest of the week, Fox decided the smartest move would be to anchor Last Man Standing to its Thursday night offerings once its deal for NFL Thursday Night Football telecasts was up for the regular season. So while no exact promo date has been set just yet, the goal is to have Last Man Standing slotting into the football-shaped void for the midseason launch.
Tim Allen himself had shared the news previously whenever Fox finalized the decision to hold Last Man Standing back. In the sitcom star's words:
Big news and kinda cool they are moving LMS to Thursday. So after football Thursdays are done they are teeing us up for a big Thursday comedy night.
Beyond staying fairly mum about Last Man Standing's exact future, Fox also hasn't gone public with news about what other shows might be sharing the Thursday-night schedule. So it's not quite clear yet what kind of a "big Thursday comedy night" fans will be in store for. Perhaps the upcoming Jason Biggs and Maggie Lawson family comedy Outmatched?
Last Man Standing aired for six years on ABC, which ended the show's Friday-night run with a highly contested cancellation. A year later, Fox stepped up and renewed the comedy for a seventh season, and that investment turned into a win for the network, which was able to compete with CBS's various dramas for ratings.
There were some changes, of course, such as recastings for Mandy and Boyd Baxter, and a pronounced lack of Kaitlyn Dever as daughter Eve. But with Dever's Netflix project Unbelievable getting released to high praise recently, it's possible the actress could show up on Last Man Standing's new season a lot more, unless she books a ton of other high-profile dramas in the meantime.
For now, we're still waiting on an exact date when Last Man Standing will return to Fox's primetime lineup, but stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more news about the Tim Allen and Nancy Travis sitcom.