Home Improvement (1991–1999)
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Death Begins at Forty 

Harry from the hardware store has a mild heart attack as Tim turns 40. Tim is worried and goes off the deep end about getting healthy. The boys give him a Tool Man figure made out of tools, and Jill gets him a ride on a jet (more power!).



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Episode cast overview:
Jimmy Labriola ...
Benny Baroni (as Jim Labriola)
Al Fann ...
Felix Myman


Harry from the hardware store has a mild heart attack as Tim turns 40. Tim is worried and goes off the deep end about getting healthy. The boys give him a Tool Man figure made out of tools, and Jill gets him a ride on a jet (more power!).

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Comedy | Family




Release Date:

4 October 1994 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The first appearance of _Blake Clark (I)_ as Harry, proprietor of a local hardware store, a role he would continue through the end of the series. See more »


When the kids are in Wilsons yard at the beginning with "tool man" and Tim asks what they are doing and they say nothing, you can see the fence between the yard bounce and move as the boys hold on to it. A real fence would be sturdy and wouldn't move like that. See more »


Wilson: My heart attack didn't kill me, so why act like it did? See, Tim, it was the Roman philosopher Seneca who said "if we let things terrify us, then life is not worth living".
Tim: Don't make a mountain out of a... pimple?
Wilson: Or any type of epidermology. Happy birthday, Tim.
Tim: Thanks, Wilson.
Tim: [later] Jill, did you know Wilson had a heart attack 15 years ago?
Jill: He did? Oh, no, you're not gonna freak out about that, are you?
Tim: He's ok with it, and so am I. Apparently, he listened to an old rotary named Sonoco, who...
See more »

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User Reviews

Life and Death.
27 November 2013 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Pretty small problems are diagnosed on Tool Time, as Tim and Al talk about cleaning spark plugs, as well as the rest of the engine. The easiest way would be to actually crawl inside. Impossible, you say? Not when you have a...shrink ray! Yep, Tool Time is going Honey, I Shrunk the Tool Man by minimizing its hosts. They give a quick demonstration, which somehow makes Tim's coveralls change color. At home, the boys are in Wilson's yard working on Tim's birthday present: a tool man. Or rather, THE Tool Man made out of tools. It will be a 40th birthday Tim won't soon forget, and he's got it all planned out, big plans. Gonna hang out at home, get showered with gifts, have a feast fit for a king, and then retire to the garage to make love to his wife. But before he can carry out all those BIG plans, there are a few small ones to get out of the way. On to Tiny Tool Time where Tim and Al have been shrunken down to microscopic size to get up close and personal with a Chevy small-block 350...that's in a Ford Mustang for some reason. So they travel through the cylinders to the pistons, and discover a burnt exhaust pipe. Now that the problem has been identified, they can now re-enlarge and get to fixin'. There's some schtick about Al not getting re-enlarged and Tim "accidentally" steps on him.

Now it's down to Harry's Hardware, your one-stop shop for all things mechanical. Harry Turner, the owner, is Tim's good friend, and another good friend is the town mooch, Benny Baroni, and plumber, Felix Myman. The men get into a conversation about heart health and so Harry, being an ex-marine and trying to prove a point, drops on the ground to show off how many push-ups he can do. Unfortunately, when he gets to five, he feels a very odd sensation come over him. It was a mild heart attack. So even though Harry will be fine, it's Tim's health that needs to be put on watch. He launches into full hypochondriac mode, obsessing over his health, as well as something on the back of his neck. Jill jokes with him, but he's not laughing. Tim is actually dead serious... bad choice of words. Instead of birthday cake, he wants birthday watermelon. Instead of steak dinner, he settles for cauliflower. He wants to change his whole lifestyle. However, that may not be necessary, for as Tim uses a pair of spades to study something mysterious on the back of his neck, Wilson talks to him, having heard about Harry's heart attack, and admits to Tim that he had one himself fifteen years ago. He went through a phase similar to Tim's, but eventually he got back on his feet. His heart attack didn't kill him, so why act like it did? So now Tim feels better about his life situation, and a clean bill of health from the numerous specialists he went to see only affirms it. It was a very happy birthday as the Tool Man receives his tool man, AND gets to ride in a jet.

I think episode handled the subject matter very well. It was a potential life-threatening situation and they practically played it straight. Had this been Season 7 or 8, we'd have TONS of doctor jokes, we'd see Tim go to the proctologist, get all these examinations, puns would be bouncing off the walls. So I'm glad they showed some restraint. Now of course, there are a few errors in this episode, namely a "Chevy" engine in a Mustang. Obviously the writer is not a car guy. Also, Tim says he played high school football with Harry, which is actually impossible. Harry is a Vietnam vet, he was overseas fighting while Tim was still in grade school. So anyway, if you're approaching 40 and you're a hypochondriac and can relate to Tim, then I'd recommend Death Begins at Forty. Also, whatever happened to Tim's tool man? It's sad to think he took him apart after his birthday, but then we don't see it again for the remainder of the series. It would've been nice if they'd have stuck him in the back of the garage or something.

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