Angus MacGyver is an award-winning chemist and physicist who basically is the action-hero equivalent of Mister Wizard, Indiana Jones, Billy Nye the Science Guy, James Bond, and both Mythbusters all wrapped up in a leather jacket and a glorious head of feathered blonde hair. Early in his career as a counter-terrorist asskicker, MacGyver served with the U.S. Military Bomb Disposal Team in Vietnam and Afghanistan before joining the Department of External Services (DXS), where he worked as a top-level secret agent, spending his work days turning coffee mugs into high-explosive hand grenades and neutralizing weapons-grade biotoxins with orange juice and freshly-squeezed goat milk. After several years with DXS, he later became part of a humanitarian organization known as The Phoenix Foundation, where Mac continued being awesome and whipping the balls off of injustice and evil across the globe. Nowadays I hear that he’s part of a secret arm of the United States Air Force that battles crazy telepathic Egyptian Aliens and warps around the universe in “Star Gates” or something along those lines, but I can’t really speak competently about any of that stuff.
What makes MacGyver different than most badass action/adventure heroes out there is that he isn’t the sort of guy kicks down a door, sprays automatic weapons fire all over the fucking place, snaps some dude’s neck with his bare hands and then breaks a massive cinderblock over his head for no reason at all. MacGyver never uses guns, he always seeks out non-violent means of subduing and humiliating his enemies, and he prefers to go out on missions armed with little more than his wristwatch, a Swiss Army knife, a roll of duct tape, and his razor-sharp wits. He isn’t a big, physical, beat the shit out of everyone meathead douchewad who feels like he needs to flex his nuts every ten seconds just to overcome some deep-seeded sense of personal inadequacy, and instead prefers to use his scientific knowledge, intelligence and cunning to get his way out of any number of dangerous situations. Of course, it’s not like he can’t bust asses when he needs to – MacGyver has a tenth-degree black belt in the art of kicking guns out of peoples’ hands, punching international terrorists in the face, and creating any number of devices designed to stun, wound, or otherwise incapacitate anybody who poses a threat to Western Civilization. He’s taken down all kinds of assassins, criminals and thieves, he speaks a number of different languages, he knows morse code, and he can make fire just by concentrating really hard while staring at some twigs. In his spare time he climbs mountains and plays ice hockey (which just so happen to be two of the most badass hobbies this side of competitive hot dog eating and biathlon), and if the late, great Gary Gycax hadn’t already departed from this mortal realm and transcended into the Elemental Plane of Awesome he probably would have said that on top of MacGyver’s 18 Intelligence he also has a +40 to Demolitions, a +40 to Repair, and a +60 to Jury-Rigging Random Shit.
Obviously the most badass aspect of MacGyver is his amazing ability to repeatedly get himself and his buddies out of imminent life-threatening danger using only his intelligence and a handful of basic everyday household items. Over the years, Mac has built dozens of bombs and explosives, created vacuum tubes, magnets, catapults, bazookas, pesticides, tranquilizers and complex sonar devices using little more than his belt, a stick of gum, some kite string, a ballpoint pen, two Advil, a nine-volt battery and a handful of wet dirt. Once he disarmed a nuclear warhead using a paperclip. Another time he used a cactus to power a shortwave radio. He’s created countless over-the-top diversions, numerous traps, oil slicks, smoke screens and various types of tear gases, pepper sprays and poisons all while saving the environment, rescuing underprivileged orphans, fighting murderous robots and blowing up everything from secret drug stashes to Soviet Red Army war machines. It’s all in a day’s work for MacGyver to take a matchstick , a lead pipe, some water, a latex glove, two feet of rope, a small jar of vinegar, a fork and an old shoelace and then use those items to break free from his restraints, ride a zipline across a canyon gorge, repair a broken-down vehicle, drive his friends to safety and blow up the bad guys’ secret hideout right before they fire an ultra-powerful satellite laser that will destroy the White House and burn down a Humane Society pet shelter. When Mac gets captured and shackled to the wall of a dank, lightless underground dungeon the question is never “is he going to be able to get out of this?” – it’s, “how is he going to use a coat hanger, some rusty thumbtacks, a Swiss Army knife, some duct tape and a magnifying glass to break free, kick this goon’s ass and disable the time bomb before his girlfriend gets blown up?”
No prison or restraints can hold him, any inordinately complex deathtrap you can think of is quickly rendered more useless than a third nipple, and he cannot be stopped by any kind of security system whatsoever. He easily bypasses everything from fingerprint scanners, electronic keypads and laser tripwires to crappy bicycle combination locks, spiked pit traps and rabid killer Russian attack dogs. Over the years, his name has become so synonymous with insane ultra-creative ingenuity, badass jury-rigged improvisational weapons and homemade explosives that it can actually used as a verb (i.e. to MacGyver something is to take a handful of boring shit and make it do something really fucking awesome), and in many East Asian countries the Swiss Army Knife is actually known to most people as the “MacGyver knife”, which rocks.
Despite everything I’ve said here however, in the end perhaps Mac’s ultimate badassery can be summed up with one semi-rhetorical question – if you were captured by terrorists, strapped to a time bomb in the basement of an old Soviet gulag and had thirty minutes to break free, deactivate the bomb, rescue your girl and stop the terrorist leader before he steals the Russian nuclear launch codes and starts World War III, who would you rather have at your side than MacGyver?
Wikipedia: List of Problems Solved by MacGyver