MacGyver, or “Mac” as his friends call him due to his dislike of his first name, Angus, is a master of improvisation. He has a unique ability to see items around him as individual components to which he can apply his vast scientific knowledge to improvise ordinary objects into whatever he needs to get himself and his companions out of trouble. This talent saw him quickly become one of the DXS, and later Phoenix Foundation‘s, most prized agents under the guidance of Pete Thornton. Prior to meeting Pete, MacGyver had worked as a freelance agent for various government agencies where he was given assignments that either required discretion or his unique skill-set.
Growing up in Minnesota MacGyver’s childhood dream was to play professional hockey. His dreams, however, were shattered in a hockey accident when he was in his teens. He still enjoys playing as often as he can in his spare time. His other hobbies include painting, playing guitar and collecting classic western movies. He also spends time volunteering at the Challengers Club, a local youth center where he worked full time as a youth counselor for a time.
One of MacGyver’s more unusual traits is his fear of romantic commitment. This fear, which has stifled many a relationship, stems from his previous experiences of people close and dear to him being killed or dying, such as his father and grandmother being killed in a car accident or his mother dying of complications from a stroke while he was on an overseas assignment; his fiancée being shot and presumed dead while helping him on assignment. He worries that whoever he becomes close to will die.
Despite his misgivings about commitment, MacGyver remains the eternal optimist believing that everyone can change for the better if given the chance.
In the 2012 comic book series, MacGyver’s education history was altered to show that he studied at CalTech instead of Western Tech university.
The comic book also deliberately moved away from Richard Dean Anderson’s likeness in order to begin the process of moving the character forward and be able to use new actors in the role.
In 2016 CBS rebooted MacGyver with Lucas Till playing a younger version of the lead character.
This rebooted MacGyver had a number of alterations to his history; notably that his father had left him when he was young and is still alive rather than being killed as the original was. It was revealed at the end of season 2 that James MacGyver was the mysterious head of Phoenix Foundation known as ‘Oversight’.
Some other changes include having met Jack Dalton while he was in the Army Bomb Disposal team and living with Wilt Bozer as his roommate.
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Raised in Mission City, Minnesota, Angus MacGyver is the only child of Ellen and James MacGyver. Even as a child MacGyver’s improvisation skills were evident as he amused himself with engineering projects such as building an improvised lawn mower for the local police Sargent and his abilities to fix things were widely known throughout the community.
When he was 10 years old his father, James MacGyver, and grandmother, Celia Jackson died in a car crash while driving to the local store to pick up some supplies. The car slid off the road in heavy rain into a local creek resulting in both of them drowning. After the accident, MacGyver’s grandfather lived with him and his mother and took over the father figure role to MacGyver.
At age 11 MacGyver and friends Neil, Chuck and Jesse decided to take his father’s handgun out to the woods to have some fun shooting at targets. MacGyver was familiar with using this gun as his father had been teaching him to shoot before his death. Tragedy struck while they were out shooting when Neil decided to shoot at a hawk that had landed in a nearby tree. MacGyver instinctively reacted to stop him from taking the hawk’s life by knocking the gun upward and away from the hawk. The impact knocked the gun from Neil’s hands and when it hit the ground the gun fired shooting Jesse in the chest. MacGyver tried to save Jesse’s life but by the time he was able to get help it was too late and Jesse had died from the wound. This was a pivotal even in MacGyver’s life seeding his intense dislike of any type of firearms.
Later that same year MacGyver and another friend, Freddie Mapes, experimented with their first taste of alcohol, consuming a 6 pack in less than an hour. The experience of being drunk turned MacGyver off alcohol, but his friend Freddie continued to drink heavily until at the age of 16 he crashed his father’s car into a tree while drunk driving, killing himself, and leaving his girlfriend wheelchair-bound.
After graduating from high school MacGyver joined the Special Forces Bomb Disposal Teams and was shipped off to Vietnam where he was teamed up with Charlie Robinson. During their tour of duty, they completed a total of 51 successful bomb disposals. It was during his time in the bomb squad that his mother passed away. Because he was on assignment, MacGyver wasn’t made aware of her death until he had returned home.
MacGyver returned to his schooling after leaving the bomb squad, completing a science degree at Western Tech University before headed off to see the world taking on whatever jobs he could find or found interesting to pay his way including a brief career as a race car driver, but this ended in a serious crash. Other jobs included “Hellfire” oil well firefighting and full-time work at the Challengers Club for Boys and Girls and also spent time traveling through Europe with his friends Mike Forrester and Jack Dalton.
While driving Jack Dalton’s cab for him while he recovered from breaking both legs from roller skating off a local pier, MacGyver picked up a woman named Sarah. After MacGyver dropped her off at the requested location he noticed an armed man following her into the building. Thinking she was in danger MacGyver followed and disarmed the man who turned out to be DXS agent Pete Thornton. He explained that Sarah was, in fact, an international assassin and master of disguise named Murdoc who he had been investigating for the last 6 months. Thornton used MacGyver’s cab to follow Murdoc but the chase was a trap which resulted in the cab being blown up by bazookas and the pair narrowly escaping with their lives thanks to MacGyver’s ingenuity. Thornton was impressed by MacGyver’s skills and offered him a casual contract with the DXS.
MacGyver continued to work with Pete and even followed him over to join the Phoenix Foundation where he worked until he discovered he had an unknown son with ex-girlfriend Kate Molley. Kate was a photographic journalist who had been killed when Sam was a young boy. After he met Sam, MacGyver decided to resign from the Phoenix Foundation so he and Sam could embark on a cross-country motorcycle trip to get to know each other better.