Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook

Were MacGyver real, the world would be a safer place. And not just for people with mullets. Of course, you'd think that MacGyver's almost supernatural resourcefulness has about as much place in the real world as a guy who shoots spider webs out of his wrists. You'd be wrong.

Apparently, people with preternatural resourcefulness exist in real life. Here are five that would have made the bemulleted-one himself beam with the pride of a makeshift heart made out of Popsicle sticks, a timing belt and gum.

5
A World War II Pilot Used Jell-O to Copy a Map

So it's World War II. You've been sent into a secret Axis meeting room to obtain top-secret maps of the enemy's troop movements. You can't steal the maps because that would raise suspicions and you can't write down the coordinates because you're retarded. Or you don't have a pencil. Whichever is easier for you to believe.

All you've got is a wooden tray and a pocket full of Jell-O you snuck out of the mess tent. You don't know why you stole a handful of Jell-O, and you especially don't know why you stored it in your pocket, but there's no turning back now. You can hear guards moving in and you've only got a few minutes to get what you came for. What should you do other than have the most pathetic last meal of all time?

According to the book, Colditz--The Definitive History: The Untold Story of World War II's Great Escapes, a group of British pilots in the Colditz prisoner camp were in that exact same situation. The boys gathered together some of the gelatin they had as rations, put the map face up on a wooden tray and poured the Jell-O (lemon-flavored) over them. They then took the Jell-O and pressed it on a sheet of clear greaseproof paper.

It worked. They were able to make 30 copies of the map and enjoyed a tasty meal of lemon-flavored Jell-O because the British were clever, smart and have no taste buds.

Could MacGyver Have Done it Better?

According to MacGyver, a map "can get you in and out of places a lot of different ways" other than just getting yourself from point A to point B. As this video clearly shows, a map can help you unlock doors, distract women in burkas and beat an armed guard senseless:

If the video ran just a little bit longer, MacGyver also could have showed you how a map can help you break up with your pregnant girlfriend, pay off your student loans and establish a Palestinian state. So, yes, while the Jell-O thing was impressive, with 30 copies of a map we're thinking MacGyver could have ended the war.

Continue Reading Below

4
Two Inmates Escape Prison With Dental Floss

Apparently, flossing is extremely dangerous. We at Cracked have held a rabid anti-floss position for years now and it looks like our cause will finally gain momentum. Admittedly, we only took this stance due to equal parts of laziness and cheapness, but it's nice to learn that we've been unconsciously avoiding accidentally flossing our faces off all this time.

According to The London Telegraph's "Quite Interesting" column, Italian mob boss Vincenzo Curcio had been convicted of murder and was facing further prosecution for seven more murders. Desperate to flee, he escaped from his cell in 2000 in Turin by sawing through the bars with nothing more than simple dental floss. You know, the stuff your dentist tells you to put in your mouth every single night? That stuff.

The same year, the Associated Press reported that Antonio Lara escaped from a state prison in Palestine, Texas by coating the bars with toothpaste and cutting through the bars with dental floss. He didn't escape from the jail, just his cell, so he could kill a rival inmate. Whether or not it was with the floss, we don't know, but we can always dream.


Metal bars that may or may not have been cut with a piece of floss

How were they able to cut through steel with floss? Floss is unbelievably durable, apparently almost magically so. According to the book Extraordinary Uses for Everyday Things, floss can replace the hanging wires for pictures frames, replace the threading in outdoor backpacks and tents, and remove a stuck ring off of a finger. We're assuming this is done by sawing your finger off with the floss.

Could MacGyver Have Done it Better?

When imprisoned in a basement (by Tia Carrera, in episode 320) he didn't settle for floss or any combination of dental hygiene products. Instead, he uses a set of cables and a pair of hi-fi stereo speakers to act as a sonar detector to find a secret door.

Wait, why couldn't he have just knocked on the wall like Indiana Jones would have? How much of MacGyver's overly elaborate gadgetry was just him showing off?

Continue Reading Below

3
Three Inmates Escape Alcatraz On A Raft Of Raincoats

Frank Morris, John Anglin and Clarence Anglin are the three men who managed to do something no one thought anyone could do: They escaped one of the most escape-proof prisons in the country and spawned a movie that somehow made their escapades seem as boring as prison life itself.

The story of the Alcatraz Three's escape is full of MacGyverisms, from the tools they made to dig through the concrete walls (a drill they made out of a vacuum cleaner motor), to the dummy heads they made from soap and toilet paper.

It's no surprise they were able to pull off such an amazing feat. According to several sources, Morris had an astronomical IQ and spent his life from childhood in and out of prisons. His numerous escape attempts were the reason he had been sent to Alcatraz in the hopes he wouldn't be able to make another attempt. Little did they realize that he was just warming up.

Frank and the Anglin Brothers made it out of their cells and down to the shore line with a makeshift raft that they constructed out of 50 raincoats stolen or borrowed from other inmates. Then they made their way through the currents with paddles made out of plywood. The Discovery Channel's Mythbusters replicated the raincoat raft myth itself by padding to shore from the Rock in a similar vessel.

The three men were never heard from again and Alcatraz's once glorious reputation was tarnished. Defeated, the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce had no choice but turn it into a tacky tourist destination that sells T-shirts like "I Got Shanked in Alcatraz and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt."

Could MacGyver Have Done it Better?

The MacGyver method is as simple as faking his own death, waiting until they're carrying him out in his coffin, and then using the freakin' built-in jet ski to go zipping off into the distance. We forgot to mention he built a jet ski at some point.

Wait, did he flip those guys off at the end there? Awesome.

Continue Reading Below

2
A Professor Uses Shrinky Dinks To Make Scientific Breakthrough

So far, these devices have been used to get people out of jams and tight spots when a matter of seconds drew the line between life and certain death. This one doesn't involve death, per say, unless you replace a "matter of seconds that draws the line between life and death" With "losing a million dollar grant that draws the line between winning the Nobel Prize for engineering and teaching high school chemistry to idiots."

Professor Michelle Khine of the University of California, Merced was doing a study of microfluidics, which from the word, you can guess is the study of fluids in tiny things (like the inside of computer chips). Unfortunately, she didn't have much to work with in terms of materials. So she turned to Shrinky Dinks, those childhood toys that encourage children to color and stick their hands in ovens.

According to Wired magazine, she designed several microfluidic patterns on actual Shrinky Dinks plastic, put them in her own oven at home and found it worked perfectly because the tubes through which the fluid ran actually enlarged as the plastic got smaller. Thus she managed to do something that companies such as Intel spend millions of dollars a year, and to do it on the budget of a kid who saved up his allowance.

Could MacGyver Have Done it Better?

We can't fathom a situation where MacGyver would have to build a microfluidic device. But if there was a lady in the room, we're guessing he'd use it as an excuse to remove his pants:

Continue Reading Below

1
Astronauts Build an Air Scrubber Out of Random Junk

When it comes to pulling off the ultimate MacGyverism, no one can do it better than NASA. Their engineers have to be ready at a moment's notice to find new ways to build complicated machines and mechanisms out of everyday objects because, as the Apollo 13 mission proved, you never know if you'll have an emergency that won't have a contingency plan in place and (as every other mission has since proved) you never know what NASA is going to cut out of their budgets next.

When astronauts Jim Lovell, John Swigert and Fred Haise had to move from the command module to the LEM in order to conserve power to run their navigational computer, they didn't realize the calculations for oxygen consumption were only made for two people instead of three. So their carbon dioxide levels began to skyrocket. They had a lithium hydroxide canister on board. However, the plug for the canister on the LEM was round and the canister itself was square.

NASA Flight Controller Gene Krantz (for those of you who haven't picked up a history textbook since elementary school, he was played by Ed Harris in the Apollo 13 movie) wrote in his book Failure is Not an Option that their only option--not including failure--was to get their engineers to build a makeshift air scrubber out of things they had laying around the ship.


Apollo 13 astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Kevin Bacon

The crew didn't, as we would have done, admit defeat, light cigarettes and try to bone something one last time before their slow and painful death, which is just one major difference between the Cracked staff and NASA astronauts. Instead, working for an entire day and a half without sleep, they came up with this: The plastic flight cover would act as a funnel through which the lithium hydroxide was pumped through a suit hose, into a fan and then through a sock, which acted as the filter. The whole thing was held together with duct tape.

Yes, this sounds like something out of a cartoon. But it worked, saving the lives of three astronauts and ensuring that Tom Hanks would go on to become an Oscar-nomination machine.

Could MacGyver Have Done it Better?

Unless Hollywood buys our MacGyver in Space! screenplay, we may never know how he would handle himself in a space shuttle. Further, We can't find an episode where the Gyver had to clear out a smoke-filled room. We're guessing having to build an air filter would be too many steps for him to handle.

However, since he knows a thing or two about creating smoke screens (episode 102: he uses fire ash, rice alcohol and a car exhaust to create a painful wall of tear gas, episode 116: he burns pesticide, soap flakes and tile cleaner in a saucepan to create a smokescreen, etc.), we're convinced he could at least build an ingenious device to kill a capsule full of astronauts. Or at least build the world's most kick-ass bong.

(Note to Hollywood: we also have a Cheech and MacGyver in Space script in the works if you do decide to go with the bong angle.)

If you enjoyed that, follow up on some of your other favorite 80s TV stars in Where Aren't They Now: The 7 Strangest Post-Sitcom Careers. Then, watch the internet's most honest iPhone ad. Or find out about the Ten Things That Pissed Wayne Gladstone Off About CNN the Other Night.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

164 Comments

Load Comments