Like a lot of people born in the 80’s, I grew up watching the original, classic MacGyver. There was just something so intriguing to me about a guy who used science to get out of the kind of situations that most characters relied on guns or weapons to navigate through. It was different, and I think I really appreciated that it focused on using knowledge to solve problems, as opposed to just using violence.
That show only lasted about seven seasons, but it stuck with me. So, when I learned in 2016 that CBS would be launching a new, reimagined version of MacGyver, I was excitedly apprehensive. On the one hand, new MacGyver sounded awesome as the original episodes hadn’t aged super well. At the same time, however, I wondered how they could possibly compete with the classic, which had played a decently large role in my childhood.
I watched the pilot and was instantly hooked. The new show had the same feel as the original, but with a more updated style. Furthermore, Lucas Till (who had portrayed the mutant Havok in X-Men: First Class) as Angus MacGyver with George Eads (from CSI) as his gun-toting partner Jack Dalton were phenomenal.
The first season was fun, intriguing, and action-packed. As the series continued, long-term storylines were developed, along with recurring villains. The main characters, who worked for an undercover government agency called the Phoenix Foundation that was disguised as a think tank in Los Angeles, took on nearly impossible missions with MacGyver improvising ingenious feats of science and engineering to get them out of more than one close call. Like the classic series, some of these feats seemed a bit questionable in their practicality, but that never took away from the overall thrill of the show, especially as the characters came to be more like a family over time. Although Eads left the show after the third season and the character of Jack Dalton was eventually written off, the chemistry between the cast was palpable. Jack was replaced by Levy Tran as Desiree “Desi” Nguyen, a highly trained martial artist and former U.S. Army Ranger, a character who would become MacGyver’s partner and eventual love interest.
The addition of Tran had added to MacGyver’s already diverse cast. This included Justin Hires playing MacGyver’s best friend Wilt Bozer, Tristan Mays as former hacker turned Phoenix’s cyber specialist Riley Davis, Meredith Eaton as the Phoenix’s tough-as-nails Director of Operations Matilda “Matty” Weber, and Henry Ian Cusick (formerly Desmond on Lost) as Russel “Russ” Taylor, a private military contractor who financially runs the Phoenix Foundation. Late in season five, MacGyver also brought on a new engineer character named Parker Phillips, who was portrayed by Black trans actress Alexandra Grey.
In its fifth season, MacGyver began really addressing some current, real-life events. In episode 11, they very subtly showed support for Black Lives Matter when Mac mentions in an offhand comment to Riley that he’d marched in a BLM protest and, in the ensuing conversation when Riley is surprised that Mac even noticed that she is part Black, Mac replies with a supportive “I see you.” They also filmed an episode that takes place during the Covid pandemic (episode 6) with the characters stopping crime while wearing masks and quarantining.
MacGyver seemed poised to really come into its own, especially under new showrunner Monica Macer’s direction, which was why the sudden announcement that its fifth season would be its last was so unexpected for fans. Although the season ended in a way that tied up loose ends, it seemed primed to take the series to even greater heights.
As soon as it was announced that season five would be the final season, MacGyver fans took action, first by creating the #SaveMacGyver hashtag on social media, then by launching the website SaveMacGyver.com, a central location where those who thought the show deserved a better ending could come together to see what they could do to help.
A petition to save the show was created on Change.org which, at the time of this writing, boasts over 26k signatures. Fans also sent emails and over 350k paperclips, a predominant tool of MacGyver’s, to CBS Studios, urging executives to save the show. Five billboards were erected in four cities, including Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. Articles have been written, fan videos created, and even a weekly #SaveMacGyver activities list is posted on the website.
Furthermore, because MacGyver tries to help create a cure for cancer on the show, fans created a GoFundMe for Operation Cure Cancer. The GoFundMe explains that “While there is a huge movement to #SaveMacGyver from cancellation, the MacGyver fans want to prove that we've taken something special away from the show as well. A spirit to help.”
The overall theme here is that MacGyver has become more than “just a show” to fans. It’s a call to action. It’s a reminder to help out anyone you can, whenever you can. It’s also an inspiration to solve problems using science and technology instead of resorting to violence as it’s been a motivator for young people to pursue careers in STEM.
I’m not only writing this blog because I like the show. I’m also writing it because, when I sent out a tweet mentioning that I was upset that the show was over after I had watched the last episode, other MacGyver fans reached out to me almost immediately. They urged me to sign the petition, but they also said “don’t lose hope!”, and a few even gave me a Twitter follow. Basically, they embraced me into the MacGyver fandom family in a way that would’ve made Mac himself proud.
Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.