CBS’ MacGyver reboot proved quite popular, running for five seasons, but original star Richard Dean Anderson refused a chance to cameo. At 71-years-old, Anderson appears to have quietly retired from acting, having not played a role since 2013. Before that though, Anderson had quite an active career, appearing in movies or on TV shows for nearly 50 years. Anderson’s first gig was on the classic soap opera General Hospital from 1976 to 1980, but it wasn’t that that made him widely famous.

Anderson’s breakout role came playing the lead on MacGyver, which ran from 1985 to 1992, producing seven seasons, and two additional TV movies. A sort of unconventional secret agent, MacGyver was famous for almost never using guns, instead, relying on his own intellect and ingenuity to get out of sticky situations. MacGyver was a ratings hit for much of its run on ABC, and made Anderson a recognizable face to the masses, basically cementing his career in Hollywood. By 1997, Anderson would move on to another long-term leading role on a hit show, Colonel Jack O’Neill on Stargate SG-1.


Considering how many reboots try to arrange cameos from the stars of the original, it’s not at all surprising that the MacGyver reboot — starring Lucas Till — would reach out to Anderson to try and get him to appear. What’s a bit more surprising is that Anderson turned them down flat, and ended up glad he did.

According to Anderson — as reported by Cinema Blend — he was approached early on in the making of the MacGyver reboot, after test screenings but before the pilot had aired, and asked if he wanted to have any kind of involvement with the project. One presumes CBS figured they might be able to woo the old MacGyver fanbase back if they could promote Anderson appearing on the reboot. He turned them down with a simple but emphatic no, and didn’t ultimately regret that decision after seeing the finished product.

While Anderson doesn’t take personal offense to the existence of the new MacGyver, he doesn’t feel that the reboot properly built on the foundation he helped create with the original show. Anderson feels MacGyver was more about showcasing the process behind the innovative and complex solutions the titular hero would invent to solve problems without resorting to guns. By contrast, the MacGyver reboot turned the character of Jack Dalton into a partner for Mac, one who was never hesitant to pick up a gun and shoot, even if Mac himself avoided them, infusing the reboot with gun-play. Plus, the focus on the complexities of Mac’s problem solving wasn’t nearly as sharp, turning things into more of a fast-paced action piece. With those changes in mind, it’s not surprising that Anderson didn’t feel a cameo on the MacGyver reboot made sense.

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