What Are the Best MacGyver Stunts?

The handy Swiss Army knife that MacGyver never left home without. (Image credit: Mykl Roventine/flickr)

"MacGruber," which will bring the "Saturday Night Live" sketch featuring Will Forte and Kristen Wiig to movie screens this month, is a parody of the TV series "MacGyver" that ran during the 1980s and '90s.

The show has such an avid cult following that the word "macgyverize" is included in the Merriam-Webster's open dictionary and is defined as, "to apply scientific or engineering knowledge in the inventive use of common items." "MacGyver," which ran for seven seasons, inspired the phrase "What would MacGyver do?" And fans can even buy an exact replica of MacGyver's trusty Swiss Army pocket knife. The utility knife has 16 functions, including a "laser" light and wood and rope saw. In honor of MacGyver, the secret agent and gun control advocate who can hotwire a car with a paper clip, create a radar jamming device out of kitchen appliances and unblock nuclear reactor cooling systems using only a dismantled revolver as a wrench, we've put together his top five coolest and most random stunts.

1. MacGyver saves the day with chocolate

In the series' pilot, after MacGyver uses a paper clip to short-circuit a highly advanced timing device on a nuclear warhead and diffuse the bomb at the very last second, our hero comes back to save the day with chocolate. While using the sweet treat to plug up a sulfuric acid leak, he explains that, when mixed with acid, the sugars in chocolate form elemental carbon in a thick, gummy residue. In a segment called "Can Chocolate Stop Acid?" the "Mythbusters" crew used Hershey's chocolate bars to successfully recreate MacGyver's feat. 2. He rescues baby eagles MacGyver bravely hang glides over the hills of Utah to protect a family of adorable eaglets from evil hunters who have killed the mother eagle, in the "Eagles" episode. He then brings the rescued chicks to the safety of his house, where he builds them an incubator using just the padding from a chair and vegetable oil. Soaking the padding's fibers with the oil creates a chemical reaction that generates heat, according to MacGyver, which keeps the baby chicks cozy. Yay! 3. MacGyver defeats laser-wielding robots Lasers are no match for MacGyver. He uses a clear strand from a fiber optic lamp to bend a security laser sensor just enough so that he can deftly slide by without triggering the alarm, in an episode titled "The Heist." In "The Human Factor," MacGyver destroys two laser emitters at once by pushing a mirror attached to a cleaning cart at just the right angle to cause the lasers to reflect at each other. And in the same episode, he tricks laser-wielding robots into blowing each other up by attaching telephone handset magnets wrapped in burning paper to their metal torsos. The heat from the fire mimics body heat and makes the robots turn on each other in a flaming laser duel. 4. He outsmarts a handprint scanner In a move that was later copied by the "Scooby-Doo" gang, MacGyver uses dust to fake a hand print for an electronic scanning device. He first scrapes a plaster wall to produce the dust, then completely covers the scanner in the powder, carefully blowing off any excess. With the thin layer of dust evenly distributed over the sensor's plate, MacGyver places his jacket over it and gently presses down with his fingers. This fools the scanner into re-reading the hand print of the last person who used it, granting MacGyver access. 5. MacGyver plugs an oil leak BP probably wishes they could have MacGyver on their brainstorming team right about now, as he is able to fix a broken fuel line using only a ballpoint pen. When a small fuel line is punctured in an episode called "Three for the Road," MacGyver completely removes the damaged section by cutting it out. Using a hollowed out pen, he reconnects the fuel line by sliding each loose end over the pen, forming a perfect, airtight seal.

Remy Melina was a staff writer for Live Science from 2010 to 2012. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Hofstra University where she graduated with honors.