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MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson)

Born March 23, 1950 (or January 23, 1951), and raised in Mission City, Minnesota, Angus MacGyver (who prefers to be called just MacGyver) moved to California after graduating from Western Tech. He worked several odd jobs before meeting Department of External Services (DXS) agent Pete Thornton. Thornton was impressed with MacGyver's ingenuity - after all, he'd used a paper clip, a wrench, and shoelaces to help them escape two men armed with bazookas. MacGyver then went to work at the DXS for Pete. Over the years, their friendship became so strong that he moved to the Phoenix Foundation when Pete was appointed Director of Operations. MacGyver, or "Mac," as his friends call him, is a master of on-the-spot improvisation. He can use ordinary household objects to get himself and his companions out of trouble. All he carries with him is a Swiss Army knife and, occasionally, a roll of duct tape. He carries no gun, having forsaken firearms after a traumatic childhood incident, and tries to avoid violence. He is fiercely loyal to his friends; his enemies will find him a clever, resourceful, and uncooperative opponent. Mac's most unusual trait is his fear of romantic commitment. This fear, which has stifled many a relationship, stems from his previous experiences. His father and his grandmother were killed in a car accident when he was twelve years old; his mother died of complications from a stroke when MacGyver was on assignment overseas. He worries that whomever he becomes close to will die, just like his parents and his grandmother did. Despite his misgivings about commitment, MacGyver remains the eternal optimist. He firmly believes that the world can and will change for the better - one person at a time.

Pete Thornton (Dana Elcar)

MacGyver's boss and best friend, Pete Thornton worked for many years as an operative of the Department of External Services. It was during this time that he met MacGyver while tracking the international assassin Murdoc. Seven years later, Pete took the position of Director of Operations at the Phoenix Foundation, which he now holds. He has a son, Michael, from a previous marriage. In the sixth season of the show, Pete began to show symptoms of glaucoma, a degenerative condition of the eyes that causes the victim to lose his sight. He is now legally blind and needs special computer equipment to read printed text.

Jack Dalton (Bruce McGill)

Whenever Jack Dalton enters MacGyver's life, things always seem to get more complicated. He's always got something up his sleeve, and it's usually a get-rich-quick plan that backfires. The son of a (posthumously) decorated Air Force pilot, Jack was put up for adoption shortly after he was born. He grew up with MacGyver in Mission City, Minnesota, and moved to California, where he ran a short-lived taxi service before setting up a private airline, Fly-By-Night. Subsequent enterprises include Jack-Be- Quick Messenger Service and his current business, Dalton Air. MacGyver has learned to avoid Jack Dalton like the plague, for when Jack appears on the scene, trouble is sure to follow. He can tell when Jack's lying when his left eye twitches. Despite his numerous business failures, Jack remains optimistic that he'll someday make the big score.

Murdoc (Michael Des Barres)

Little is known about the international assassin Murdoc. He is, and has been, the best in his line of work; his methods are, in his own words, "quick, neat, untraceable." His mastery of makeup and costuming have made him difficult to identify, and he never leaves loose ends - except, of course, in the case of MacGyver and his friends. Murdoc had been known to the DXS for about five years prior to 1980, when he attempted to kill Peter Thornton and MacGyver. This 1980 encounter resulted in Murdoc's apparent death in a collapsing building. He did not return until seven years later, when he nearly succeeded in blowing Mac and Pete up. Murdoc "died" in this confrontation, too, after being careless with dynamite. But somehow, he escaped the explosion, and he reappeared about a year later, to the surprise of a grieving MacGyver and Nikki Carpenter; again, he took a "fatal" dive off the mountain known as the Widowmaker after cutting his own climbing rope. The next time he tried to kill MacGyver, he staged an elaborate musical, "Cleo Rocks," using MacGyver's friend Penny Parker as a pawn. Posing as crippled director Jacques La Rue, he came very close to realizing his goal - only to be defeated, once again, by MacGyver's ingenuity. For his "death" this time, he plunged into a fiery pool after being electrocuted. Murdoc laid to rest his vendetta, albeit temporarily, against MacGyver when he realized that MacGyver was the only one who could help him rescue his sister, Ashton Cooke, from his vengeful ex-employer at HIT, Homicide International Trust. This spirit of cooperation between the two, however, did not last; after another of Murdoc's "deaths," he and MacGyver resumed their deadly game of cat-and-mouse...with Murdoc, yet again, plummeting into a flooded mine shaft. Murdoc's final regular-series appearance was as the right-hand man of a deposed Central American dictator who intended to regain power; Murdoc made his exit by driving a Jeep off of a cliff after a failed attempt to run MacGyver down. Despite his nasty homicidal tendencies and twisted sense of honor, there are facets of Murdoc's personality that are quite likeable. The assassin is a photography buff; to assure his employers of a successful hit, he sends them a picture of the moment of the victim's death. He showed his talent for musical composition when he wrote the score for "Cleo Rocks," and he even fell in love with Penny Parker as he worked with her on the production. He secretly supported his sister, Ashton, without revealing to her his identity. If he hadn't become a hired killer, he probably would have chosen a career as a photographer or a musician. If Murdoc survived his last encounter with MacGyver (and it's very likely that he did), then it is certain that he will try to kill MacGyver again. MacGyver is, after all, the only blemish on Murdoc's otherwise spotless record. He's the one man Murdoc has failed to kill.

Penny Parker (Teri Hatcher)

MacGyver's scatterbrained friend. An aspiring singer and actress, Penny is one of those people, according to MacGyver, who needs "looking after." She met MacGyver at a Bulgarian airport, but not under the best of circumstances; both were detained after police found Penny's jewels (which were later revealed to be the stolen crown jewels) in MacGyver's pocket. After a happy ending, Penny appeared again in Los Angeles, having "borrowed" Mac's apartment while she earned a living as a singing telegram. She enlisted MacGyver's help in solving the mystery of her aunt Betty's house and, presumably, is still trying to make it as an actress.

Harry Jackson (John Anderson)

Mac's grandfather. He became MacGyver's father-figure after Mac's father and grandmother were killed in a car accident December 14, 1962 (see the episode "Phoenix Under Siege"). Harry taught the young MacGyver much about life, including the value of fair play (see "Harry's Will"). But seven years later he left the MacGyver household without saying goodbye. Another sixteen years passed before he and MacGyver reconciled, and Harry would show up in town occasionally for holidays and Mac's birthday. In the fifth-season episode "Passages," he shared one final adventure with his grandson before succumbing to complications from a heart attack. (Note: Sadly, John Anderson, owner of an impressive list of film and television credits, passed away in 1992.)

Sean A. "SAM" Malloy (Dalton James)

Although SAM appeared in only one episode, the series finale "The Stringer," his introduction had a profound effect on MacGyver's life. He is the son of MacGyver and Kate Malloy, a photojournalist MacGyver was involved with in his post-college years. After Kate was murdered by Chinese soldiers, SAM vowed revenge on Chan, the general who executed her. His chance for vengeance came when he and his father confronted Chan on a freighter, but MacGyver talked SAM out of killing Chan. SAM and MacGyver set off on a motorcycle journey together at the end of the series' seven-year run.

Other memorable characters

DEXTER FILLMORE (Richard Dean Anderson): MacGyver's favorite alias. He used this computer-geek identity to help bring down a money launderer, to stop a plot to steal top-secret Phoenix equipment, and to shut down a counterfeit baseball memorabilia operation.

THE COLTONS (Cleavon Little, Richard Lawson, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Della Reese): Frank, Jesse, and Billy Colton are brothers in the bounty-hunting business. Their mother, affectionately known as Mama Colton, is the brains behind the operation. A recent addition to the family has been Frog, a dog who was left behind when his previous owner was forced to assume a new identity.

NIKKI CARPENTER (Elyssa Davalos): Joined the Phoenix Foundation in the third season of "MacGyver." She and MacGyver met when she was investigating her brother's murder. Her husband was killed in a mafia car-bombing that was meant for her; as a result, she's afraid of becoming too involved with anyone (including MacGyver) for fear that she'll "jinx" him like she "jinxed" her husband.

MAMA LORRAINE (Kimberly Scott): Owner of Haitian CreationsBotanical Shango, a shop down the street from MacGyver's seventh-seasonapartment. She practices the Vodoun religion (more commonly known asvoodoo) and has quickly developed a friendship with MacGyver. KATE MURPHY (Kim Zimmer): Head of the Los Angeles policenarcotics squad. She played an instrumental role in the initial arrest andconviction of serial killer Dr. Zito (see next listing) and, as a result,earned Zito's eternal hatred.

DR. ZITO (W. Morgan Sheppard): One of the truly memorablevillains of "MacGyver." He was a serial killer before Lt. Kate Murphystopped him and testified against him during his trial. From his cell atthe state mental hospital in Alameda, Zito carefully plotted his revenge,using fellow prisoner Eric Cross as his weapon. MacGyver was able to stopCross after figuring out Zito's elaborate plan. Two years later, Zitotargeted MacGyver, attempting to teach him a "lesson in evil." Murphy wasseriously injured, but MacGyver bested Zito in a battle of wits.

MICHELLE "MIKE" FORESTER (Patricia McPherson/Lisa Bayliss): Abotanist who attended college with MacGyver and Jack Dalton. Jack, withMacGyver's reluctant help, rescued her from a ruthless drug dealer in theCentral American country of Dinoto. Unfortunately, she was later killed onthe mountain known as "The Widowmaker" when her climbing equipment failed.MacGyver, who had been climbing with her, mistakenly blamed himself forher death; moments before she fell, he had hurt her by telling her that hewasn't ready for commitment.

LISA WOODMAN (Mayim Bialik): The daughter of a wealthyindustrialist, Lisa came to MacGyver's aid after he was framed for theattempted assassination of a nation's president. She was kidnapped byone of her father's ex-employees and later developed a drinking problem,for which she has sought counseling.

DEBORAH (Kristian Alfonso): Known as "The Negotiator," Deborahwas hired by Knapp, a land developer. Her goal: to get close to andinfluence MacGyver, who was delaying one of Knapp's projects by voicinghis concerns over the impact the project would have on the localenvironment. She failed to sway him, and she also failed to killMacGyver. Two years later, after serving a reduced sentence, Deborahagain tried to kill MacGyver. With his friends' help, MacGyver outwittedher, but she fell to her death after one last attempt to kill him.

JIMMY KENDALL (Joe Santos): Formerly known as "The Eraser," JimmyKendall gave up his life as a professional hitman (with MacGyver's help)and assumed a new identity as the coach of a minor-league baseball team.

MICHAEL THORNTON (T. Scott Coffey/Hank Stratton): Pete Thornton'sson. Pete came to his and his mother's aid when a former DXS agentkidnapped them, seeking revenge on Pete. Michael later became involved ina plot to steal top-secret blueprints from the Phoenix Foundation. Afterbeing caught, Michael cooperated with federal agents to expose the rest ofthe theft ring.

CONNIE THORNTON (Penelope Windust/Linda Darlow): Pete Thornton'sex-wife. She divorced Pete twenty years ago when she realized that hiswork was taking up more of his time than she was. Connie returned tohelp Pete through his eye operation.

JENNIFER REINER (Holly Fields/Traci Lords): Jennifer, whosestreet name was Crystal, became a prostitute after years of abuse by herfather, a policeman. MacGyver, Cynthia Wilson, and Kate Murphy helped toreform her.

MARIA ROMBURG (Brigitte Sternberg): A prospective love interestfor MacGyver, Maria was reunited with her grandfather when the Berlin Wallfell. She joined the Phoenix Foundation, became romantically involvedwith MacGyver, and then left for Brazil on assignment. (*Note: Sheactually left the show after the producers received loads of angry mailfrom female viewers, who wanted Mac to remain single and uncommitted.)

CYNTHIA WILSON (Roxanne Reese): Head of the Challengers Club.Her husband, Booker, was murdered when he angered a member of the city council who was a white supremacist. She performed a moving tribute toher husband in "The Madonna."

BREEZE (Charles Andrew Payne): A former gang member, Breeze hasbecome a valued member of the Challengers Club.

MEI JAN (Michele B. Chan): A member of the Chinese studentmovement. She arrived in the States as Sue Ling, MacGyver's Chinese"foster daughter," and later revealed that the real Sue Ling had beenkilled at the Tiananmen Square uprising in 1989. MacGyver helped her tocomplete her mission in the U.S.

WILT BOZER (Robin Mossley): MacGyver's neighbor at the marina.

MILT BOZER (Robert Donner): Brother of Wilt Bozer. Curiously, heappears only in the two Western "dream" episodes, but not in regular "MacGyver" continuity.

EARL DENT (Dick Butkus): An ex-convict, Dent has since gonestraight. Dent has tried to support his daughter, Veronica, with winningsfrom prize-fights.

WILLIS (Bruce Harwood): A Phoenix Foundation scientist whose workappears to deal mainly with environmental studies.

The VON LEER BROTHERS, ERICH (Christopher Neame) and NICOLAS (KaiWulff): Two wealthy, dastardly treasure-hunting brothers. Erich used MacGyver and his friend Zoe Ryan in a plot to recover the Holy Grail andmet his end instead. Nicolas, seeking revenge on MacGyver for hisbrother's death, met his own demise in the search for the Eye of Osiris. MIKE KILEY (Jackson Davies): If Mac needed to deal with thepolice, Kiley was his man. Kiley apparently (either through scriptinconsistencies or just plain hard work on his part) advanced quicklythrough the ranks of the police department, going from Detective (in"Twenty Questions") to Lieutenant (in "The Wall") to Captain (in "Lessonin Evil").

Richard Dean Anderson (MacGyver)

Richard Dean Anderson was born January 23, 1950, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. His father, Stuart Anderson, is a high-school English teacherand jazz musician; his mother's an artist. Anderson spent his youth traveling, bicycling through Canada, and aspiring to play professional hockey in the National Hockey League - until he broke both arms in separate accidents. "It kind of dashed my aggressive nature at that point in time," he says. He attended St. Cloud State College and Ohio State University, and studied acting with Peggy Feury. During his first years in Hollywood, he did street mime for handouts and eventually landed the role of Dr. Jeff Webber in "General Hospital." Anderson then went on to star in two short-lived TV series, "Seven Brides for Seven Brothers" and "Emerald Point NAS," before beginning his seven-year run on "MacGyver." In his post-"MacGyver" years, Anderson has starred in three made-for-TV movies: "In the Eyes of a Stranger," "Through the Eyes of a Killer," and "Beyond Betrayal," along with two "MacGyver" TV movies, "The Lost Treasure of Atlantis" and "Trail to Doomsday."Expect to see Anderson on your television again soon. He'll star in "Past the Bleachers," a baseball-themed Hallmark Hall of Fame TV movie. He and Glynnis O'Connor co-star as a couple who adopt an orphaned mute after losing their own son to illness. Anderson is currently working on a new series for the United Paramount Network, a Western titled "Legend," in which he plays a writer-turned-hero. "Past the Bleachers" will air on ABC-TV in May 1995; "Legend" is scheduled to premiere on UPN in April 1995.

Dana Elcar (Pete Thornton)

Dana Elcar was born Ibson Dana Elcar on October 10, 1927, in Ferndale, Michigan. He served in the Navy before attending the University of Michigan. In the 1950s and '60s, he worked in off-Broadway theater productions; in 1967, he moved to Los Angeles, where his career in television and film blossomed. In addition to "MacGyver," Elcar has starred in such TV series as "Guiding Light," "Baretta," "Dark Shadows," and "Black Sheep Squadron." He has also appeared in hundreds of other TV shows, TV movies, and theatrical films, including "The Sting" and "All of Me." Elcar now lives in Santa Paula, California, with his wife and two children, and runs a theater company.

Michael Des Barres (Murdoc)

Michael Des Barres was born January 24, 1949, and spent his childhood in Hampstead, England. He enrolled in drama school in London at the age of 16. He appeared in the 1967 film "To Sir with Love" and launched his own rock and roll band with the financial backing of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber. Des Barres fronted for the '70s rock bands Silverhead and Detective and filled in for Robert Palmer as lead singer of Power Station. He appeared in an episode of the original "WKRP in Cincinnati" and played Jack Burns in the more recent syndicated "WKRP" series. He's guest-starred on TV shows such as "Lois & Clark," "Roseanne," and "Seinfeld," to name a few; his film credits include "Pink Cadillac," "Under Siege," and "A Simple Twist of Fate."

Teri Hatcher (Penny Parker)

Born December 8, 1964, Teri Hatcher starred as Angelica in the early '80s soap opera "Capitol" and played the "'Love Boat' mermaid" Amy. She has appeared in numerous feature films, including "Tango & Cash," "Soapdish," and "The Big Picture." Hatcher currently co-stars opposite Dean Cain in "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."

John Anderson (Harry Jackson)

John Anderson was born October 20, 1922 in Clayton, Illinois. He was often cast as a villain in westerns. He played Virgil Earp in the 1959-'61 TV series "The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp" and had a recurring role on "Another World" in 1964. Fans of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" will remember Anderson's appearance in the episode "The Survivors," and "Quantum Leap" viewers will recognize him as Pat Knight from the episode "The Last Gunfighter." He also starred in dozens of feature films including "Psycho," "Cotton Comes to Harlem," and "Eight Men Out." Anderson died of a heart attack on August 7, 1992.

Dalton James (Sean A. "SAM" Malloy)

A native of Sacramento, California, Dalton James has guest-starred on the NBC drama "Sisters" and co-starred with Robert Urich in the short-lived TV series "Crossroads." He has appeared in the films "Encino Man," "My Father the Hero," and "The Substitute."

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Part of the MacGyver FAQ