He was the man who could fix anything, who could make a laser gun from three popsicle sticks, a match, and a few screens of sheet metal. The maverick hero was one of the best of a breed of nearly incorruptible men who put his life on the line to help the innocent and protect the world. Of course, over seven long seasons and nearly 150 episodes, MacGyver has earned a spot in the pop culture pantheon that’s seen his fame endure since the show left the air in 1992.
1. The Science Boon
As most everyone knows, MacGyver’s signature ability was creating something out of random parts, typically in a life-or-death scenario. While his contraptions may not have been incredibly logical, MacGyver is actually credited with stimulating an interest in science and engineering in school-aged children. We still here the term “MacGyvered” when referring to some hacked together gizmo.
2. One Recipe Lie
Even though the creators of the show tried to insure that MacGyver’s inventions were somewhat realistic (no matter how far-fetched), when it came to the hero mixing up poisons or creating explosives from household chemicals, the show’s creators played it smart and intentionally left the details vague or even changed the recipe to something innocuous. You know there’d be some crazy folks out there who’d try it at home.
3. Hey, It’s the Fonz
Series creator John Rich may never have gotten his idea for MacGyver if he hadn’t hooked up with one very powerful Henry Winkler, who was just coming off eleven years on Happy Days, in which he played the coolest dude of all time. Winkler was happy to help produce the show and shop it around to studios. Paramount ultimately took it up and the rest is history.
4. The Dalek Connection
During the show’s fledgling first season, two of the series most popular episodes were written by veteran BBC writer Terry Nation. If that name isn’t familiar, Nation’s most popular invention surely will be. Nation is the Doctor Who writer who’s credited with the creation of the most popular sci-fi baddie ever: the Daleks.
5. How Anderson Got the Role
It was Henry Winkler who ultimately got Richard Dean Anderson his audition for MacGyver. After seeing so many actors play the tough guy in their audition, Winkler was drawn to Anderson’s ability to be tough and human at the same time, a trait he displayed in a guest shot for The Love Boat.
6. They Landed the testosterone time slot
During its first season, MacGyver actually flirted with cancellation. MacGyver didn’t become popular until its second season when it was a lead-in for ABC’s Monday Night Football. It continued to pair well with football for an astonishing six years, the longest any such show has served as a lead-in for ABC’s staple.
7. MacGyver Actually Exists … Sort Of
When the show was on the air, the showrunner ran across a gemologist at Caltech named John Koivula. Koivula was hired on the show as the scientific consultant. Whenever the writers would come up with a problem on the show, it was Koivula’s job to look at the situation and solve the problem so that the writer’s could include it on the show.
8. MacGyver Is Actually a Play off McDonald’s
When the show’s creator, Lee David Zlotoff, was creating his family-friendly action hero, he wanted to give the character a masculine name, so he was originally going to call him just “Guy.” It wasn’t until friends poo-poo’d that idea that Zlotoff added the “Mac” as a reference to McDonald’s popularity. “McGuy” however, didn’t work, so the writers tooled the idea until MacGyver was born.
9. Mr. Alan Smithee
The pilot of MacGyver was directed by one Alan Smithee. Of course, industry insiders know that the Smithee surname is one used by directors who want to disown their work. The pilot, in fact, was considered so awful that one of the show’s producers, John Rich, had to edit about 30 minutes out of it to make it work. Due to this meddling, the episode’s director had his name removed and the Alan Smithee name put in his place.
10. ‘Furious 7’ meets ‘MacGyver’
James Wan directed one of the biggest action films in movie history, Furious 7, and now he’s setting his sights on a MacGyver reboot for CBS. Rumor has it the story will be about the super spy in college in Boston working on one of his first inventions. Wan was a big fan of the original show, and has been tapped to direct the pilot episode.
11. About Those Guns
MacGyver had a famous aversion to firearms to the extent that for most of the show, he refused to use one. The reason for this maneuver was actually less than political. Zlotoff felt that the lack of guns in MacGyver’s arsenal would force writers to write more creative solutions to the problems.
12. The NRA Target
When the series finally revealed the reason for MacGyver’s aversion to weapons (his friend was killed by one), the revelation actually went down poorly with the National Rifle Association who recommended that people stop watching the show and even boycott the companies that sponsored MacGyver.
13. Always the Groomsman, Never the Groom
Part of MacGyver’s popularity was due to Richard Dean Anderson’s natural good looks. He was a former soap opera star who definitely had his fair share of female fans. As a result, whenever it looked like MacGyver might actually get a lady friend, the fans were outraged, wanting to keep the heartthrob unattached.
14. The Craigslist Home
One of MacGyver’s defined characteristics was the sweet houseboat in which he resided. For the show’s run, the home was in a boat dock in Vancouver, Canada. After the show, however, the floating home was sold off and passed hands from person to person on sites like Ebay and Craigslist. Far from being a big time collector’s item, though, the house boat sold for under $40,000.
15. The Verb That Proves His Lasting Legacy
If you’re ever in doubt of MacGyver’s lasting legacy, just hang around a group of young people who are faced with something breaking around them. If it’s a necessary thing, at least one person will suggest “MacGyver-ing” a solution to the problem. It’s the same thing as “jerry-rigging”, just more politically correct.
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