The "MacGyverisims" shown in the series are all based on scientific fact, but not all of the steps needed to create the experiment were shown. This was done to prevent children who were watching the show from duplicating the experiments themselves and possibly getting injured.
MacGyver's Swiss Army knife went through a few changes over the early episodes. His first and most often used knife was a "Spartan" model from Victorinox. The knife seen in the opening credits of each episode was a Wenger, as noted by its long keychain.
In the late 1980s, two teenage boys made a bomb in their garage which went off, killing one of them. The surviving boy said they learned how to make the bomb from an episode of the show. However, the show was quickly exonerated after it was discovered no such episode existed.
Richard Dean Anderson won the role of MacGyver when the casting director noticed he was unafraid to use his glasses during his audition, showing a lack of pretension that the creative team wanted in their lead.
At the end of the final episode of the series' original run, Richard Dean Anderson did a voice-over telling the audience "Thank you, for seven great seasons". This was omitted during its reruns in syndication. The voice-over is heard on Netflix's streaming of this episode, and on the DVD.
The first two seasons of the show were shot entirely in the Los Angeles area. However, as an adventure series, ABC was ready to cancel, due to the price of location filming and time spent moving the production crew over a six-day shoot schedule. With threat of cancellation, the producers, including Henry Winkler, decided to send the show to Vancouver, where location moves could be made within an hour. In one day, an episode could move from an ocean scene to a forest scene to a metropolitan scene. It allowed writers to put the character of MacGyver into a faster paced action and adventure series. For season seven, production returned to Los Angeles.
Throughout the entire run of the series, MacGyver states many times his opposition to using guns because of a childhood event. However, in the pilot, he does in fact fire a gun, an AK-47, and then quickly hands it to the pilot he's rescuing to provide cover fire. He also used a gun pointing it at bad guys in the opening gambit of MacGyver: Target MacGyver (1985). In MacGyver: Strictly Business (1991) he also points and intends to use a gun, but at the time was suffering from amnesia and stops himself.
Dana Elcar appeared as a guest star in the pilot episode. Richard Dean Anderson recommended him to the producers to join the show playing a different character. Elcar joined the series in the eleventh episode as Pete Thornton.
MacGyver's modes of transportation were a Jeep Cherokee Chief, a Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and Jeep Wrangler CJ7. He ended up with his grandfather's (Harry's) 1946 Chevy truck, and after Harry died, he left his 1957 Chevy Nomad to MacGyver as well.
Several actors who had guest appearances on MacGyver also had guest appearances, recurring roles, or starring roles on Richard Dean Anderson's other long-running TV series, Stargate SG-1. Several such actors include Don S. Davis, Christopher Judge, Peter Williams, Robin Mossley, Tamsin Kelsey, and Garwin Sanford.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
MacGyver's given name was not revealed until near the end of the show in "Good Knight MacGyver: Part 2". It was originally Stace MacGyver (according to the script for the pilot). Nobody used the name during the pilot. When it slipped out, and became general knowledge to the fans, it was decided to just call him "Mac" or Macgyver" for the duration. The penultimate episode had MacGyver discovering he had a son, and then leaving the Phoenix Foundation to spend time with him. His son revealed that his middle name was the same as MacGyver's first name.