The Human Factor

Episode:  023

Production No.: 440192-024

Airdate:  22 September 1986

Director: Charles Correll

Writer:  Robin Bernheim

Nielsen Ratings:  15.4 rating / 24 share / 3rd (33rd for the week)



While testing a technologically advanced security system for a military base, MacGyver’s expertise is really put to the test when he becomes trapped inside by a computer bent on destroying him.



Richard Dean AndersonMacGyver
Dana ElcarPete Thornton
June Chadwick… Dr. Jill Ludlum
Peter Haskell… Colonel Woodward
Peter Kwong… Steven Lee



  • Hid under van to get into compound unnoticed.
  • Made telescope from watch crystal and magnifying lense rolled in newspaper
  • User rope to cross weight sensitive floor
  • Used dust and jacket to simulate a hand on the hand print scanner
  • Used jeans to escape acid waste disposal system
  • Magnets, matches, & paper confounded heat seeking robots
  • User a mirror to reflect and burn out a laser obstacle
  • used overloaded power cable to short-circuit computer



  • This is the first episode where MacGyver and Pete Thornton are part of the Phoenix Foundation, as opposed to DXS.
  • The automated defense robots are very similar to the Daleks from Doctor Who. The Daleks were created by Terry Nation who wrote several of the opening gambits from season one of MacGyver.
  • Dr. Ludlum says the defense robot have 30 Kw lasers. For perspective , a 16 Kw laser can be used to cut through 2 inch steel; a 30 Kw Army laser punched through a car that was one mile away.
  • MacGyver weighs 175 pounds
  • Although we’ve never been able to confirm it either, some people have speculated that the computer is voiced by Linda Darlow who has appeared in several episodes of MacGyver, while others say it’s Ellen Degeneres.



  • “When James Bond gets an assignment it’s on the Riviera up to his double 0 seven in bikinis. Me, I end up 80 miles past nowhere.” – MacGyver
  • “It took the human race about 3 Million years to invent the telescope. I figured I had about 35 seconds.”  – MacGyver
  • “So this is your main guy? What makes him so special? He doesn’t even have any gear.”  – Col Woodward
    “That’s what makes him so special. “  –
  • “It’s time we tried to think like MacGyver. His mind doesn’t work like yours or mine.



  • MacGyver removes his shoes when hanging by his jeans over the acid pit. His shoes would fall into the pit when the floor opens up, but in the next scene he has his shoes back on.
  • MacGyver didn’t need to wrap the lenses in the newspaper. He could have just held them up in his hands and moved then closer or further to get the focus.
  • After Pete and the general cut all power to the base (backup power wasn’t working yet), how is the computer able to power up and start searching it’s memory with no power?
  • At the very end MacGyver gets into the car and we hear him say to Pete “It was.” Then as the music plays he stands back up to face Pete again and we see his mouth moving as he says “it was”.
    For some reason they moved the dialogue around in the scene so it doesn’t match the mouth movement.



Entrance to Underground Facility 
Bronson Caves
3200 Canyon Dr,
Los Angeles, CA


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