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Wilson is Tim Taylor's neighbor and confidant. He frequently gives advice to all members of the Taylor household, often reciting words of wisdom, famous quotes, or historical examples for Tim. As a running gag, Tim frequently butchered these phrases upon trying to repeat them (with the effect of making the advice unintelligible/non-sense). On occasion Tim would attempt to mildly challenge Wilson, such as one time when he presented arguments that lying may be benefical, to which Wilson took it in stride, then presented more cases for honesty and there is no time limit to admit one's mistakes, causing Tim to admit "You beat me 3-2". Besides Tim, sometimes Wilson would offer advice to other characters, such as Jill or Al.
Wilson was born in Chicago. He has traveled the globe, learning much from virtually every culture in existence, and his house contains a veritable treasure trove of artifacts, along with a pet parrot named Mozart who appeared infrequently. Wilson was married at one point, but his wife Catherine died before the series began. Wilson somewhat represented a "God figure" in the show, always doling out advice to the Taylor family, and seemingly knowing just what to say to solve a problem.
He earned his PhD in Forgotten Languages and Cultures.
The character Wilson was partly inspired by a neighbor that Tim Allen had when he was very little. One episode had Wilson on a dinner date with a woman, and in each new shot of him another object was obscuring his face, which was a likely form of fan service as the writers were intenionally trying to find new gags. Sometimes the top half of Wilson's face is obscured while the lower half is revealed, and on at least two occasions his entire face was visible, although hidden behind Halloween or clown makeup. In "The Karate Kid Returns" (Season 6, Episode 14), Wilson is standing behind one of the Beach Boys, who moves forward prematurely at the end of his line, thus exposing Wilson's entire face for about a second before an abrupt camera cut. Wilson later deliberately revealed his entire face when the cast took their bows at the end of the series finale.