The series revolved around Angus MacGyver (known to his friends as MacGyver or "Mac"). MacGyver's main asset is his practical application of scientific knowledge and inventive use of common items—along with his ever-present Swiss Army knife (mainly the Huntsman and the Tinker models). The clever solutions MacGyver implemented to seemingly intractable problems—often in life-or-death situations requiring him to improvise complex devices in a matter of minutes—were a major attraction of the show, which was praised for generating interest in the applied sciences, and particularly engineering,[1] as well as providing entertaining story lines. All of MacGyver's exploits on the show were ostensibly vetted to be based on scientific principles (even though, the creators acknowledged, in real life one would have to be extraordinarily lucky for most of MacGyver's ideas to succeed). In the few cases where MacGyver used household chemicals to create poisons, explosives or other things deemed too dangerous to be accurately described for public consumption, details were altered or left vague.[2]

The use of ordinary household items to jury rig devices shows an influence from The A-Team (though MacGyver eschewed firearms). The idea has entered United States popular culture; such constructions are referred to as "MacGyverisms" (a term first used in episode 3 of season 2, "Twice Stung"). MacGyver has become a verb, as in "The car broke down but he MacGyvered a fix to get home." The show often dealt with social issues, though more so in Seasons 4–7, versus Seasons 1–3, which were mostly about MacGyver's adventures working for the United States government and then later the Phoenix Foundation.

The saying that “Necessity is the mother of invention” has been around forever, but it only recently came to light that MacGyver is the father. With the way he gets out of any jam with little more than what is in his pockets, it really shouldn’t come as a huge surprise.

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