Richard Karn ("Al" from Home Improvement (1991)), guest-starred in season two, playing an architect, and Mike's friend. Leaving Mike's office, he bids a goodbye with a "Say hello to your wife and three boys", as a nod to Tim Taylor, Tim Allen's character in Home Improvement (1991), who had three sons. Mike replies with, "Three daughters, I have three daughters." Bill says, "Really. I seem to remember it was three boys." Also, they talk about the last project they worked on, and they both said it seemed to take forever.
In one episode, Patricia Richardson shows up as Mike's neighbor. She mentions how her husband tends to "fix" or "upgrade" things, such as the waffle iron. This is in reference to another show Tim Allen was on, Home Improvement (1991), where he would anger his wife (Patricia Richardson) by "fixing" and "upgrading" things around the house. She also mentions that Mike looks like her ex, if he let himself go.
In season three, episode four, "Thanksgiving", Grandpa Bud (Robert Forster) is welcomed by Kristen (Amanda Fuller), and says to her, "You look like an entirely different person." This is a nod to Kristen being re-cast after season one.
During season five, episode twenty-two, "The Shortcut", when Ryan is returning Mike's toolbox, the manufacturer label is present, and it displays "Binford", which is the tool brand Tim Allen's character in Home Improvement (1991) sold. A "Binford" toolbox appeared in the Toy Story film franchise as well, also starring Tim Allen.
In season five, episode eleven, "Gift of the Wise Man", the girls make up fake stories for a newsletter, and name Mike Baxter as a biker. Later on, he's referred to as "wild hog", which is also a movie where Tim Allen played a biker, Wild Hogs (2007).
Tim Allen's character, Mike Baxter, is an amateur (HAM) radio operator, with a call-sign of KA0XTT. Producer John Amodeo is a ham radio operator, and the ham station used by Mike Baxter, is a working station. Mike's call sign is a joke reference to Tim Allen's former character Tim Taylor (ex Tim Taylor = XTT).
In season one, Mike Baxter (Tim Allen) takes his grandson Boyd trick or treating, while trick or treating, Mike runs into a kid dressed up as Buzz Lightyear, a Toy Story character voiced by Tim Allen, and points out that those are the wrong wings.
This show depicts a complete role reversal from Home Improvement (1991), as Home Improvement (1991) showed Tim in a house with a wife and three sons, this show shows him with a wife and three daughters.
In season one, episode twenty, "Animal Wrongs", we can see Mike (Tim Allen) in his garage with tools hanging in the background. One of the tools shown is a polished head framing hammer, most likely a "Hart" brand. During the reign of Home Improvement, Hart, (or perhaps a very similar brand) sold wooden-handled hammers with a "Tim Taylor" signature branded on the handle.
While using his amateur radio, the radio displayed a 14mhz frequency. Tim Allen's FCC license, that can be located on the FCC's wireless website, shows that he only holds a Technician license. The 14 MHz frequency is only eligible for General class licenses and above.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In season five, Mandy and Kyle become engaged to be married. Coincidentally, in the pilot, Mike told Kyle to take Mandy on a date. Kyle, mistakenly, asks Kristen out, and they date for most of the first season.
Amanda Fuller was once the lone sister to Donna Pinciotti (Laura Prepon) on That '70s Show (1998). Danny Masterson (Hyde) was one of the main actors on That '70s Show (1998), whose brother, Jordan Masterson, is the father to Boyd, and Fuller's husband on this show.