Ugly Duckling

Episode:  018

Production No.: 40191-018

Airdate: 12 March 1986

Writer: Larry Gross

Director: Charles Correll

Nielsen Ratings:  15.3 rating / 23 share / 2nd (35th overall)



MacGyver must rescue a teenage computer whiz who’s been kidnapped by weapons dealers to help arm their stolen missile.



Richard Dean AndersonMacGyver
Dana Elcar Pete Thornton
Darcy Marta … Kate Lafferty
Lee de Broux … Hatcher
Richard McKenzie … Willis
Ned Bellamy … Larkin
Melinda O. Fee … Carol Lafferty
Russell Johnson … Oslow
Rob Paulsen … Rogers
Michael Francis Clarke … Walker



Used a sound oscillator at full volume to deter bad guys

Kateism – Used Jumper cabled + old car battery + coin to burn through iron bars

Cooled hot bars with hydrocarbons from a spray can

Used electrolytes in cactus juice to power transistor radio

Used triangulation from 2 radios to locate source of radio signal

Used side mirror and headlight reflector cone from jeep + binocular lens to focus sunlight on to a rifle shell to heat the gun powder of the bullet to explode


  • Russell Johnson, who plays ODI agent Oslow, is best known for playing the professor on Gilligan’s Island.
  • MacGyver’s DXS identification number is X-C 4479.
  • MacGyver has run the South Bay Marathon twice.
  • When Kate is listening to the satellite telemetry on her radio, a form of digital communication called RTTY can be heard. When decoded, the tones heard spell out “AT IS FOR.”
  • John Milford, who plays the Missile buyer, is not listed in the credits for this episode.
  • As he dies, Professor Willis says “‘Tis not so deep as a well, nor so wide as a church door, but ’tis enough, t’will serve,” these are Mercutio’s dying words from “Romeo and Juliet,” Act 3, Scene 1.
  • The target for the missile demonstration is the fictional Clinton Narrows Bridge. The coordinates given of 37° 47′ N and 122° 30′ W actually point to a spot 365 feet south of the Legion of Honor museum which is located near the south end of the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • Professor Willis was one of MacGyver’s teachers for 2 years. The class/field he studied is not specified, but the class room appears to be an electrical engineering type science class, or maybe straight computer science.
  • The unnamed college is located in the LA area indicating that MacGyver attended college in LA rather than Minnesota.
  • RDA’s brother was used as a hand double in this episode. We can see his mustache in the shot where MacGyver pushes wires into a cactus.



  • You have one of the finest minds I have ever encountered young man. I expect you to…  – Prof. Willis (as he dies)
  • So, best of luck. I’m a phone call away if you need me. Stay out of trouble. Keep expenses down. Come back alive…   – MacGyver
    Took the words right out of my mouth.  – Pete Thornton
  • Look, everybody makes mistakes once in a while. The trick is learning to live with it. Like we all do. – MacGyver
  • Friendship is something I don’t take lightly. It’s too hard to come by. – MacGyver
  • And then there’s MacGyver’s who have to have their brains rattled every now and then ot make sure they’re still in tune. – Prof. Willis (talking about Mac as a student)
  • Kate, why are you so rude to Mr. MacGyver?  – Kate’s Mom
    I think it has something to do with defense mechanisms Mrs. Lafferty. Her’s.  -MacGyver
  • There is a password right?  -MacGyver
  • You’re trying to break in using these passwords?  -Kate
    Too easy?  -MacGyver
    Not my style.  -Kate
    What’s your style?  -MacGyver
    That’s your problem.  -Kate



  • In the close up of MacGyver pushing wires into the cactus we can see the hand double’s mustache.
  • When Kate is shutting down the power to the building she types ‘close all circuits’. A closed circuit is on, so she should have typed ‘open all circuits’
  • In the opening scenes MacGyver catches the shotgun cartridge in his right hand. Then the angle changes and he’s holding it in his left hand.
  • Shouldn’t the agents have been watching what Kate was doing at the computer with top secret government access?



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