For fans of ‘80s TV, there isn’t a more innovative hero than MacGyver. The scientific genius/special forces soldier/all around good guy works as an agent for the Phoenix Foundation. His adventures involve everything from environmental protection to cold war spy missions.

Mac doesn’t believe in guns, he uses his wits, his trusty swiss army knife and whatever he finds lying around to escape the dangerous situations he often finds himself in. This means he usually has to build some crazy contraption to save the day. It’s time to return to the ‘80s with the 10 best things MacGyver built from nothing. We didn’t include all the times he made a bomb out of random stuff, because that could have been a whole separate list.

During the season one episode “To Be a Man,” Mac travels to Afghanistan to recover classified information from a downed satellite. Unfortunately for him, he runs into Russian soldiers and must make a quick escape.



He uses the crashed pieces of the satellite to make a hang glider that gets him away from the enemy for a short time. Later in the episode Mac thwarts an attack by using a butane tank as a torpedo to defend himself and the family helping him. The hang glider isn’t one of his most impressive gadgets, but it works in an emergency.

One of the best parts about season one of MacGyver is that his inventions are a lot more low key and imaginative. In “The Escape” Mac gets tricked into helping a bad guy break out of prison.

Using the soccer ball as a mold for the newspaper, Mac dowses the cotton ball in oil to start a fire, with the hot air launching his makeshift balloon into the air. This signals his outside contact to get ready for the escape. It’s a fascinating experiment that showcases Mac’s brilliance on a small scale, so we aren’t surprised by larger scale demonstrations.

For most people a grocery store is just food, for MacGyver it’s an arsenal. When robbers show up while he’s shopping, Mac doesn’t waste any time putting together homemade tear gas. He actually describes it like he’s giving the recipe for cookies.

This is a fun example of how Mac sees the world different from the rest of us. We would all be looking for weapons, while MacGyver casually uses the spice section, a shopping cart and a cantaloupe to take down a group of thieves.

In the series finale, MacGyver meets his long lost son Sam, a photojournalist, and helps him tell the story of Chinese rebels. Though this is his last adventure, he has time to pull one last trick out of his bag.

When he and Sam are stuck in the bowels of a ship, Mac uses seatbelts for harnesses, attaches them to the hoses of a power washer and uses the water pressure to create jetpacks. While building, Mac gives Sam his swiss army knife, passing the torch.

After the loss of his friend in a climbing accident, MacGyver heads to the mountains to grieve. His colleague Nikki shows up to help, unfortunately she’s followed by Mac’s nemesis Murdoc. Though he’s emotionally defeated, Mac still does everything he can to protect Nikki and escape the deranged assassin.

To slow down Murdoc, Mac uses this homemade arc welder to destroy his flame thrower. At his lowest point, when no one can get through to him, it’s Mac’s imaginative wit that pulls him out of his grief and forces him back into the real world.

In between prison breaks and tussles with Murdoc, MacGyver spent a lot of time shining a light on social issues. In “Bitter Harvest” he lands in the middle of a dispute between farmers and the laborers who work in the fields. When Mac’s friend is shot, he sets out to find who did it.

Testing grapes from a local farm, Macgyver uses the nail polish remover on the sample, then examines it through the sunglasses and lamp. This confirms that the farmers are using chemicals that make the workers sick, leading to everything being exposed.

Right from the start we are shown that MacGyver isn’t like other heroes. The “Pilot” opens with him on a mountain trying to rescue an imprisoned man. As he casually strolls through the enemy camp, we see him picking up random items, presumably already forming a crazy plan.

Once he disables a missile with a paperclip, he proceeds to use matches, a cord and a stick to turn a guard’s rifle into an automatic weapon, which the two use as a distraction for their daring escape. Just like that we’re hooked, and a legend is born.

Over the years, we’ve seen MacGyver make several variations on torpedos, rocket launchers and RPGs. During season two’s “Three For the Road” Mac ends up in a car chase and stops the bad guys with his own homemade mortar.

While on the run with a couple in a vintage car, he uses the car parts to fashion a bazooka, which he uses to launch the knob at his pursuers. It blows right through their engine allowing Mac and his friends to get away. This is made even more impressive, as he builds this while the car is moving.

MacGyver is tasked with testing the security of a military facility with an advanced computer system. This seems like an unfair advantage, as your average thief won’t have Mac’s imagination.

As the test begins and he needs to get into the building, Mac goes low tech to get the security code. He rolls the newspaper into a tube, then uses the lens and crystal to view the guards’ entrance. It’s one of those MacGyver inventions you think you could use it in real life.

In later seasons, MacGyver’s ideas became bigger and more over the top. To start season five, Mac had to break an American agent out of a foreign prison camp. When his first plan won’t work because of the agent’s injury, Mac moves on to plan B, building a small two seat airplane.

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Gathering supplies around the camp, Mac wastes no time creating the machine, telling the agent he needs four or five hours of privacy. This is one of MacGyver’s most unbelievable and awesome improvisations.

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