Macgyver: A Childhood Hero

Macgyver. Now, I’m not talking about the new incarnation of the character, but the original version played by Richard Dean Anderson in the 1980s. I remember sitting in front of the television at age 6, enthralled by every miracle he worked with random, everyday items like a paperclip or a bit of tape.

Mac was a top-notch government agent, sometimes partnering with his buddy Jack Dalton (chaos ensured for those partnerships), but usually competent enough to work alone. Sometimes I wonder what drew me to Macgyver at all. I mean, shouldn’t Disney princesses should enchant little 6-year-old girls over all else? I’ve given it thought over the years, and it boils down to his nature.

Macgyver is the kind of guy you could find working in a national park as a ranger, or leading hiking tours into the Alps, or safari excursions in Africa. He loved the land. I guess you could say my first hero was a true environmentalist, but in all the good ways. He reminded me the land is there for us to take care of, the plight of people in other countries is our own, and if you can help, it’s your duty to do so.

It’s probably strange that most of my Macgyver memories don’t revolve around his government work. Oh sure, I remember the Phoenix Foundation that employed him, and Peter Thornton, his superior, and the super secret adventures he went on to save the world using a chocolate bar and a Swiss army knife, but those were unimportant next to the real life Mac lived and the people he helped. He never used guns. No, I take that back. He knew how to take them apart and use the bits and pieces for other projects. But he would never kill someone with a gun. That’s not Macgyver.


One of my favorite episodes involved Macgyver’s volunteer work at a non-profit that served at-risk youth in his community. He gave his time and energy to those kids, and I’ll always remember the fond gleam in the woman’s eye who ran the non-profit when she looked at him. People like Macgyver make a difference.

Exploding bombs and super spies aside, Macgyver is the kind of person I aspire towards. And because I aspire towards him, and because his attributes I named, he also reminds me of another Hero in my life; a man who selflessly served mankind, who sacrificed His life so they might live. Macgyver is no savior, but aspects of his personality point to One I know well.

Who are your heroes? Why are they important to you? What impact have they had on your life? Macgyer makes me think twice about tossing that plastic container in the trash so I’ll find a recycle bin instead. Sometimes there’s a whisper in the back of my mind when I see someone dejectedly standing on a street corner with hopelessness in his eyes. He reminds me, and I fail at this more times than I succeed, that I need to give back to my community. Some heroes are worth having. Choose yours wisely.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Carissa Horton works at Compassion International whose tagline reads “Releasing Children from poverty in Jesus’ name.” She is an avid crafter, a prolific blogger on Musings of an Introvert about all things literary and film-based, and dreams of getting her stories published.

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