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Series / MacGyver (2016)

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The 2016 Spy Fiction-oriented television reboot of MacGyver, trading the focus the original series had on social justice and civic responsibility, with a lot more guns and terrorism. It stars Lucas Till, George Eads, Tristin Mays, Justin Hires and Sandrine Holt. The series premiered September 23, 2016 on CBS and has been renewed for a third season.

The series centers around Angus "Mac" MacGyver, an agent working for the Department of External Security (DXS), an American black ops agency that operates as a Washington-based think tank foundation. The main storyline of season one begins during an op to secure a WMD, when he's forced to relinquish said WMD to save Nikki Carpenter's life. After she was killed in the field, Mac is forced to reevaluate himself and recruit someone else. After they realize that Nikki is a mole, DXS stops her, but not before Patricia ordered the DXS to be shut down due to being compromised by Nikki. From there on, Mac and the others continue to work in the Phoenix Foundation, protecting the U.S from domestic and foreign enemies.

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This show provides examples of:

  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: "CO2 Sensor + Tree Branch" centers around an autonomous drone competition, in which the CIA's entry goes out of control, blows up every other entry, and tries to attack the Pentagon. It had been hacked by the founder of the competition, in protest over the DOD converting his competition to create unmanned medevac vehicles into one for creating unmanned combat vehicles.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: In "Cigar Cutter", Murdoc recruits an assassin to infiltrate Phoenix Foundation and seize a virus seized previously by DXS in "The Rising".
  • Artistic License – Biology: One episode has Bozer provided with a genetic profile so detailed and so well understood that he's able to use it to reconstruct the man's face from a blood sample.
  • Artistic License – Cars: In "Guts + Fuel + Hope", Mac and Riley are sent to Georgia (the country, not the state) to recover a truck of liquid oxygen for a children's hospital after a rebel attack caused the driver to abandon it. At one point, they are spotted by the rebels and get into a high speed chase that reaches 120 km/h. Except they're in a European-style cab-over semi, which has a speed limiter that prevents the accelerator from working if the truck is going over 90 km/h, and Mac didn't mention removing it when modifying the truck for going off-road. Also, during the chase, Mac has to fix a leak on the trailer, which reveals it's missing the placards stating that it contains a class 2.2 hazardous material.
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  • Artistic License – Chemistry: In "Guts + Fuel + Hope", Mac states that the liquid oxygen is flammable. Oxygen by itself doesn't burn, it needs another material to reduce in order for there to be a fire.
  • Artistic License – Medicine:
    • Surgery is not something that can be performed by one person, especially not a surgery as complex as a heart transplant. It takes a medical team, including nurses and an anesthesiologist.
    • In the same episode, Mac connects the donor heart to Jack's bloodstream in order to keep it alive. Mac says that it had to be Jack because he's type O negative, the universal donor. However, "universal donor" only applies once the blood has been seperated. What Mac did was a whole blood transfusion, and for that the donor and recipient have to have the same type. So unless the organ donor was also O negative, Jack's antibodies would have attacked the heart, ruining it.
    • Also, the surgeon touches her non-sterile mask with her sterile gloves. The mask has to either be applied before scrubbing, or by someone else.
  • Artistic License – Nuclear Physics: In "Wire Cutter", Agent Bannister mentions nuclear [weapon] materials and depleted uranium in the same breath. The "depleted" part of depleted uranium specifically means that it's had the fissionable material that makes uranium suitable for use in a nuclear fission device removed. She should have said "enriched uranium."
  • Batman Cold Open: Several episodes open with Mac in some situation unrelated to the plot of the episode that requires him to use his skills.
  • Brick Joke: In the opening for "CO2 Sensor + Tree Branch", Mac give his Swiss Army Knife to a monkey to get it to drop a bomb detonator. He spends the entire episode in situations where he has to improvise a tool to replace something he could have used the knife for. And then the episodes final scene shows the monkey wreaking havoc with the knife in South America.
  • Busman's Holiday: In "Pliers", the team goes to Mac's hometown for a vacation and stumbles into a kidnapping plot.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: "Seeds+Permafrost+Feather" has a man pulling a huge plot to come face to face with the crime lord who ordered the deaths of the man's wife and daughter when the guy testified against his organization. It's clear the crime lord's talk of "I don't know you" is serious as he no doubt treated the murders as just an everyday work incident.
  • Chekhov's Gun: While on a wilderness survival training excursion teaching bozer and Reilly how to survive by starting a proper campfire, Mac teaches them both to avoid putting poison oak on a fire because the fumes cause major lung problems, and to use SMALL amounts of fireweed to get a campfire with damp kindling to start but not too much or the fire will practically explode in your face. Later on when one of the goons of the Villain of the Week finds them while they're searching for a now kidnapped Mac, Bozer spots both poison oak and fireweed near the signal campfire they built to attract park rangers and convince the goon, wearing wet cotton clothing, that he'll get hypothermia if he doesn't dry off. He allows them to work on the campfire so he can warm up, and they proceed to immediately take him out by putting too much of both plants on the fire and leaping out of the way as the campfire explodes poison fumes right in the goon's face, taking him out and allowing them to run off to track down and rescue Mac.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In a flashback scene, Mac teaches Nikki how to pick locks with a hairpin. At the end of the episode, Nikki, who has just been arrested for stealing and selling a WMD, is handcuffed in the back of a car, and then a minute or so later is gone, leaving behind an open set of cuffs and a bent hairpin.
  • Chronic Evidence Retention Syndrome: The Ghost likes to have a webcam live-stream people trying to disarm his bombs so he can watch them fail and die - and he keeps copies of the videos on his personal laptop.
  • Clear My Name: In "Bullet + Pen", Mac is charged with blowing up a building and killing a man inside, and the team has to clear him. The problem is, he did blow up the building in question (it was full of guns awaiting an illegal arms deal), and "I made sure the building was empty before I planted the bomb, so I didn't kill anybody" isn't a good defense in the eyes of the LAPD.
  • Cold Equation: In the climax of "War Room + Ship", after an attempt to remotely seal a damaged waterproof hatch on a sinking ship from the outside fails, the woman who Mac has been talking through the construction of various devices to keep the ship afloat long enough for a Coast Guard rescue enters the flooding room and ignites the epoxy seal manually from the inside, sacrificing herself to save the other thirty-one people on board.
  • Critical Research Failure: Possibly in-universe. Mac says he only stayed in Scouts for a few weeks because he didn't like the shorts. If he's between 30 and 35, they were already in the process of phasing the shorts out for the longer, zip-off convertible pants. If he's under 30, they were solidly in the long microfiber shorts that convert into pants.
    • Alternatively, they might've been the 'shorts' that he didn't like.
  • Crossover: With Hawaii Five-0. Which, by the transitive property, means that the show is in also in a Shared Universe with NCIS: Los Angeles, Scorpion, NCISnote , NCIS: New Orleans and JAG.
  • Fake-Out Make-Out: Mac ends up doing this with the witness he's trying to protect in "Toothpick". They go at it so long that by the time they come up for air, the man they were hiding from was heading back the other way and found them.
  • Far East Asian Terrorists: "Python", the codename of a North Korean terrorist and hacker, who was detained by the South Korean Army in the DMZ after Mac showed proof of his detainment.
  • Fun with Subtitles: Part of the show's humor when a new location is seen that the subtitles tell the locations. Although it has its Deadpan Snarker moments.
  • The Ghost: One of the series' recurring antagonists is a bombmaker named "The Ghost".
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: Mac's Disappeared Dad has secretly been his boss' boss for years.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: Each season premiere has a unique name, but every other episode follows a pattern. In season 1, every episode is named after a tool on a swiss army knife. In season 2, each episode name is a combination of two things that are used in the episode. In season 3, each episode name is a combination of three things.
  • I Told You So: The various intelligence agencies have a contest to build what amounts to an AI controlled tank. Jack predicts that it's going to go horribly wrong. When it inevitably does, these are practically the first words out of his mouth.
  • If You Ever Do Anything to Hurt Her...: Matty has this talk with Riley's abusive dad, when he appears to be trying to start over and mend fences with his daughter.
    • And the next episode, Jack does it, just to drive home the point.
  • Improvised Armour: Mac improvises a sedan with discarded metal plating to protect it from small arms fire in "Metal Saw".
  • Improvised Weapon: Mac does this regularly.
  • Indy Ploy: Since Mac generally doesn't know what he has to work with when MacGyvering more than a minute or so in advance, plans involving his makeshift gadgets are this by necessity. Matty doesn't particularly care for that habit of his.
  • Jack the Ripoff: "Magnifying Glass" pits the team against a copycat of the Zodiac Killer.
  • Latex Perfection: The second episode shows that Bozer has quite a talent at making masks. This will undoubtedly come in handy at some point.
    • As of the end of "Chisel," this is Bozer's new job at the Phoenix Foundation.
  • Locking MacGyver in the Store Cupboard: Lampshaded in "Corkscrew" when Mac is placed in protective custody and Thornton makes a point of removing all furnishings from the room on the grounds that he'd probably be able to turn a chair into a cannon or something if they didn't. He still managed to escape, using wire from the ceiling fixtures and an electrical outlet.
  • MacGyvering: Given that this show is a remake of the Trope Namer, this is a given. How MacGyver will take any ordinary items that he can see and combine them together to make helpful gadgets or weapons.
  • Made of Iron: Murdoc gets electrocuted and suffers two nasty falls in his first appearance and none of them manage to incapacitate him for more than a minute or so.
  • Millennium Bug: The episode "Wire Cutter" centers around a fifty-year old Russian nuke that has been seized by terrorists. Mac disables it when he realizes that the bomb isn't Y2K compliant (Everyone thought that the bomb would be used or destroyed well before the turn of the century), and has his team alter the system clock to buy another 99 years before it's programmed to explode.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist:
    • In "Ruler", the team's effort to move a bomb out of a crowded area to an empty parking lot gets them accused of being the bombers.
    • In "Bullet + Pen", the LAPD charge Mac with murder and domestic terrorism after they find a dead body in an illegal gun warehouse he blew up because he didn't have nearly enough time to remove the guns as originally planned.
  • Mole in Charge: Patricia.
  • Murder by Remote Control Vehicle: The episode "CO2 Sensor + Tree Branch" had a hacker taking over "Bruno", the military-grade (read:tank-like) car drone developed by Mac's Girl of the Week and going on a destructive rampage that was going to culminate with it shooting up the Pentagon unless the Phoenix team stopped it. The hacker turned out to be the (former) computer mogul who originally organized the drone competition that "Bruno" was built for, who was protesting the military's decision to take over his contest (even ruining him when he refused) and use it to find tech for next-generation Attack Drones when he explicitly wanted the drones to be used for ferrying wounded soldiers trapped in hostile territory.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • In "Pilot", the homemade missile was found on the front yard of the house he shares with Wilt.
    • MacGyver christens the name "Phoenix Foundation" after Patricia said that DXS was closed due to Nikki working for the bad guys trying to secure a WMD in "The Rising".
    • Jack criticizes Mac's leather jacket and asks him if he dresses up in the dark near the end of "Wire Cutter".
    • Murdoc was originally referred to as Suspect 218, which is a reference to the original show, where his first appearance there was in Season 2, Episode 18.
    • In "Murdoc + Handcuffs", Murdoc's former mentor is played by Michael Des Barres, who was Murdoc in the original series.
    • "Bullet + Pen", the LAPD detective who arrests Mac is played by Bruce McGill, who was the original Jack Dalton.
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • The original promos for this show had scenes that where never explored in any episode, plus Mac had longer hair.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The team doesn't want to talk about what happened during a DXS op in Cairo, except that it's MacGyver's fault. "Cigar Cutter" showed part of it: Mac tried to rescue Jack from a hostage situation by threatening to detonate the terrorist's own dirty bomb, only to find out that they wanted it set off in the middle of Cairo anyway. They have yet to explain how they got out of that mess.
    • Mac's visit to his home town is rife with references to science experiments gone awry, one of which resulted in the school suddenly no longer having a football field.
    • Whatever happened between Jack and Matty back when they worked for the CIA.
    • Most episodes start with Macgyver and at least one other of the group, usually Jack, on some mission trying to get out of a dangerous situation and Macgyver building his way out of it, cue title. It's rare that these situations have much if any explanation.
  • Once per Episode: Mac destroys someone's phone to make a device. Usually Jack's.
    • One episode, Jack's phone gets destroyed early in the mission, and Mac lampshades that he didn't get to. Jack still blames him.
    • In the season 3 premiere, a message from Jack to Mac during the latter's 10-Minute Retirement includes the former marking exactly how many days it's been since he last needed to replace his cellphone.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: When sending the team Coach to Ghana to retrieve a file called "Dragonfly" and Jack begs Maddie to NOT fly him Coach, Maddie says simply "Please" to him. Jack immediately becomes sombre and quiet and just says okay, and soon after tells the rest of the team that whatever Dragonfly is, Maddie is genuinely scared of it getting out.
  • Painting the Medium: Similar to Splinter Cell, the show paints it by showing off the names of various objects/devices that MacGyver stumbles onto. They're used as clues as to what he'll use to make his improvised devices.
  • Poison Ring: "Father + Bride + Betrayal" has the VIP under Phoenix protection being taken out by a poison ring laced with cyanide.
  • Product Placement: The series is co-sponsored by Victorinox, the maker of Swiss Army Knives.
  • Reality Ensues: When the person responsible for running an intelligence agency is detained for committing crimes against the state, the new person sent to replace said person would evaluate everyone to see if either anyone else was compromised or if there are other moles inside.
    • Samantha is forced out of the CIA for not listening to orders.
    • Jack tries to smash a skyscraper window by tossing a chair at it. It just bounces off as Mac dryly points out that unlike the movies, skyscraper windows are specially designed not to just easily shatter under the slightest pressure.
  • Resignations Not Accepted: Mac's visit to his home town to guest lecture an eighth grade science class gets interrupted when the daughter of a smuggler who wanted to quit gets kidnapped by his associates to force him to stay in the game.
  • The Reveal: "Screwdriver" has two massive ones that change the entire series: Nikki is actually a deep cover agent the entire time who's been hunting a mole inside the Organization. The mole turns out to be Patricia who's been trying to silence Nikki all along and is arrested.
  • Revealing Cover-Up: One episode had a man try to kill one of Mac's college friends because her DNA profiling project had been given samples from a crime he had committed years previous to work with. Had he just left her alone, he would have gotten away scot free - even with a profile from that blood sample, the police didn't have DNA known to be from him in any database to compare it against - until Jack publicly punched him in the nose for attacking Mac's friend, that is.
  • Rogues Gallery: In "Mac + Jack", Jack lampshades that they're making too many psychotic enemies like Murdoc and The Ghost.
  • Running Gag: In season 2, Jack can never remember Jill, the lab technician, no matter how many times he interacts with her.
  • Sadistic Choice: The Season 3 finale, "Mason + Cable + Choices", has Mason, a mysterious new adversary forcing this on Mac, to save either his friend Charlie or save the lives of hundred civilians. Charlie ultimately decides to sacrifice himself.
  • Shown Their Work: The Australian SASR has a 4th Sabre Squadron. Canberra and the Australian military has recently revealed its existence in the 2000s.
    • "Mac + Fallout + Jack" shows the correct usage of Bahasa Indonesia. Samrozi and Jack were speaking it when they greeted each other with Selamat siang (Good afternoon) and the former saying Apa kapar (How are you).
    • "Lidar + Rogues + Duty" has Desi mention that using Turkish in Azerbaijan is close enough. The two languages are classified as part of the Turkic language family.
  • Similar Squad: In "Wire Cutter", Phoenix has to recruit the last two surviving members of a Soviet nuclear weapons project so they can disarm a bomb they once made which had fallen into terrorist hands. The two people are an eighty year old nuclear physicist who thinks like Mac (His first scene has him attempt to repair a TV remote using a steak knife and some needles) and his equally old KGB handler who thinks like Jack (Carrying three handguns on his person while making an Uber pickup). Riley even comments that it's like her teammates were fed into a copy machine and came out as grumpy old Russians.
  • Trainstopping: In the climax of "Toothpick", the team is stuck on an out of control train that they have to stop before it can crash into the station.
  • Urban Legend: Mac and the team investigate sightings of the Zodiac Killer in "Magnifying Glass".
    • "Skull + Electromagnet" has the PF team check on Goat Island in an abandoned base used by the 13th Division.
  • Watch the Paint Job: Jack signs the lease on a rental van, and thus is responsible for any damage. Mac ends up destroying the engine when he uses cleaning chemicals as an impromptu nitro booster.
  • Where's the Kaboom?: In "Chisel", when an improvised explosive fails to go off, Jack asks, "Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't that supposed to go kaboom?"
  • Western Terrorists: Dieva Roka from Latvia.
  • Wham Episode: "Screwdriver" which reveals that Nikki is really a good guy after all while Patricia has been a mole against Phoenix all along.
    • "Lidar + Rogues + Duty" has the PF team's personal data on the Dark Web, except for Desi since she just joined up.
  • Wire Dilemma:
    • In the pilot, Mac faces a bomb with twelve wires, and they're all green. Mac guesses wrong, so he removes the bioweapon the bomb was intended to disperse from the explosives and runs away.
    • The Ghost has his own twist on the trope: He sets up multiple bombs in the same general area, and if they're disarmed in the wrong order (And if someone finds the first bomb the hard way, they might not be in a position to reach the other bombs without help), they'll all go off.
    • Upon encountering an armed suitcase nuke with only fifteen minutes before it blows, Mac doesn't even try to disarm it, instead settling for moving it into an underground vault capable of containing the blast.
  • Worst Aid:
    • In "Awl", Mac has to perform surgery on a man using a car jack as a rib spreader and the windshield cleaner as a suction tube.
    • In "Cigar Cutter", Mac uses various chemicals found in Phoenix's lab to make an epoxy to glue shut Bozer's gut wound.
  • X Meets Y: Don't think of it as a remake of MacGyver, but rather "What if MacGyver was the protagonist of Mission: Impossible?"
  • You, Get Me Coffee: In "Chisel," when Bozer is offered a job at the Phoenix Foundation, he says he absolutely will not fetch coffee for Mac.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Thankfully averted in "Packing Peanuts + Fire," when Bozer is trying to persuade another trainee agent that a neighbor is up to no good. They break into the garage and find it empty, but instead of trying this trope, Bozer shows her the picture he took of the open garage earlier with his phone, and she agrees that that evidence is hard to argue with.
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