Why Did Jonathan Taylor Thomas Disappear From Public Life?

Making his mark as a sitcom star and the main heartthrob of nearly every '90s teenage girl, young Jonathan Taylor Thomas reigned supreme as the prince of prime time TV for several years. At the height of his acting career, Thomas found himself on the cover of every teen magazine and the subject of every gossip column. In 1998, however, it all came to a screeching halt when he quit Home Improvement, the show that gave him notoriety, and set out on his own. 

It didn't matter to the Home Improvement hottie how popular he or the show was - no amount of fame could keep him tethered to the spotlight. Seemingly dropping off of the face of the planet, Thomas went on to pursue new dreams. Why the ex-sitcom celebrity left the industry and what he's been up to since proves that Thomas is an individual who doesn't let fame get to his head.


  • He Needed A Break After Acting Non-Stop Since The Age Of 8
    Photo: Home Improvement / ABC

    He Needed A Break After Acting Non-Stop Since The Age Of 8

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas became a famous child actor at 8 years old. Starring in The Bradys as Kevin Brady and Home Improvement as Randy Taylor, his early years were consumed by his career. He kept the two major TV sitcom roles until 1998 when he left Home Improvement.

    As a teenager, Thomas felt he needed to take time to pursue other things in life. After a seven-year run on Home Improvement, he quit the show to focus on his studies.

  • He Wanted To Go To School And Travel
    Photo: Home Improvement / ABC

    He Wanted To Go To School And Travel

    Being under the shackles of a full-time TV show like Home Improvement gave Thomas little time to explore his other interests. Finishing his education and taking some time to travel and see the world were very important to Thomas. Leaving the show in 1998, he took a hard break from acting to focus on his studies.

    Thomas coupled his education with travel. He enrolled at Harvard University and traveled to the University of St Andrews in Scotland, where he studied with fellow heartthrob Prince William.

  • He Never Took His Fame Too Seriously And Didn’t Want It To Define Him
    Photo: Home Improvement / ABC

    He Never Took His Fame Too Seriously And Didn’t Want It To Define Him

    Thomas never took the fame that came with acting and subsequently becoming a '90s heartthrob "too seriously." He humbly tries to brush off the fact that he was a sitcom superstar. To him, it was a fun ride, but a famous actor simply wasn't something that he wanted to become.

    Looking back on his early acting years, Thomas remembers them with fondness. In the end, however, it didn't suit him. He likes to think of the good times he had instead of the spotlight.

  • He Never Appreciated His ‘JTT’ Nickname
    Photo: I'll Be Home For Christmas / Buena Vista Pictures Distribution

    He Never Appreciated His ‘JTT’ Nickname

    Jonathan Taylor Thomas became known by the nickname "JTT," and he could never quite outgrow it. Although his abbreviated title is much less of a mouthful, he never really liked it at all.

    In 1998, he was interviewed by comedy host Conan O'Brien and opened up about his disdain. When the quirky talk show host asked him about it, Thomas simply said, "I've always been over that."