Nov 18 2008 6:12pm

Buffy versus MacGyver: Worst. Cagematch. Ever.

What. The. Hell...WENN is reporting that a new poll of the greatest TV Action Heroes was just released. The top five?

1. MacGyver

2. Buffy the Vampire Slayer

3. Jack Bauer (24)

4. Sydney Bristow (Alias)

5. Magnum P.I.

First off, it’s good to see two women in the top five (apparently, Xena also made the top ten, but so far I’ve been unable to track down the full list). And you know what? I’m not really sure why Magnum’s up there, but any guy who’s man enough to pull off that Freddie Mercury ’stache and short shorts through the late 80s deserves kudos in my book.

But what’s going on with the top two? Buffy is the Slayer, chosen to defend the world against all the Forces of Darkness, invested with powers originating from pure demonic essence which endow her with superhuman speed, agility, and endurance. Plus, she’s got great hair. MacGyver, on the other hand, engages in occasional scuffles with random bad guys with the use of his trusty Swiss Army Knife and an array of relatively impressive D.I.Y. skills. Come on! You might as well pit Kali the Destroyer against Encyclopedia Brown. There’s no contest!

Buffy Summers battled not only vampires, but whole hordes of demons, monsters, evil scientists, even gods, and faced down at least two Apocalypses, for crying out loud! And she did it while dealing with all the trials and travails of high school, college, a hot mess of relationship issues, and the whiniest, most irritating younger sister ever inflicted upon the world in human form. Okay, so she had badass Slayer strength on her side, but that girl had a training regimen that made the average Olympic gymnast look about as active as Jabba the Hut. And let’s face it, Buffy could take a licking and keep on ticking—she died! Twice! Didn’t stop her...it just pissed her off.

MacGyver was pretty cool, I’ll admit—the whole nonviolent, brain-over-brawn thing is definitely sexy. And, as far as shadowy government contractors go, the Phoenix Foundation seems to actually be a force for good in the world (which probably makes the show at least as much of a fantasy as anything in Buffy). But the poll was about ACTION HEROES!!! I’m sorry, but no matter how much snazzy, late-80s theme music you layer over a suspenseful montage sequence, blowing a door open with some pencil shavings, a tube sock, a paper clip and toothpaste does Not. Beat. A Vampire Slayer.

I don’t remember MacGyver ever training, do you? “Hey, Mac, we’re going to let you loose at an OfficeMax filled with poisonous gas. You have two minutes to rig a breathing apparatus out of toner cartridges and binder clips, fly to safety on massive origami posterboard wings, and deliver a positive, anti-drug monologue to the adorable Mayim Bialik (Q: TV’s Blossom? A: The same!) Godspeed!” Nope. Never happened. He was always off playing hockey or flirting with Teri Hatcher (who, for the record, is not even a sexy vampire, unlike some people’s significant others).

In the interest of not pissing off my mother (or Patty and Selma Bouvier), I should say that I’m honestly glad MacGyver’s on the list, and I promise that I’m not trashing Richard Dean Anderson, who has always seemed like a pretty good guy. It’s just that if we were to arrange a cage match between the two characters, I think we all know that we’d be picking chunks of Angus MacGyver out of our hair in about thirty seconds, no matter how many chemistry sets and useful household supplies lay strewn about the Unholy Cage of Death. So, what do you think, people? Am I crazy, or are these rankings a little off? Who’s missing? Am I being too hard on poor Angus? And what was really going on with Magnum’s mustache? Feel free to rant away, get crazy—just go to town, really...

Alida Saxon
1. alida
It would depend on if MacGyver had advance warning of this cage match.

Drag him off the street and shove him in, and yeah, he'll be tenderized.

Now if they were following the usual plots, MacGuyver would be shut in the garage, or the supply closet few minutes in which he'd have ample time to escape and foil everyone's plans for him, or come up with some kind of gadget to help him win in the ring.

MacGuyver needs his prep time, like Clark Kent taking his moment in the phone booth for a dress change into Superman.
2. pts
Yeah, I think you're selling Mac a little short. Even granting that "Who would win in a fight?" is nearly always code for "Who do you like better?", I feel that in some hypothetical situation where each hero had opportunity to play to their strengths, it wouldn't be the blowout you suggest.

For example, Buffy was stupid enough to fall in love with not one but TWO vampires.

I'm just saying.
taf kajp
3. tafkajp
For example, Buffy was stupid enough to fall in love with not one but TWO vampires.

Don't forget those vampires also fell in love with Buffy.
Pablo Defendini
5. pablodefendini
Who's missing? Who's missing? I'll tellya who's missing:

Bill motherfrakkin' Adama.

After all, his fists are named "we" and "all."
So say we all.
7. nutmeag
I totally think Buffy would kick Mac's ass. She is super strong for one, but also smart. Back when she had her little trial thing where they zapped all of her strength and pitted her against a starved vamp, she won by thinking her way through it.

Plus, if you can kill a several hundred pound demon or pick up Thor's hammer (or was it a troll's hammer? I forget), you can totally kick some puny guy's butt.
8. rogerothornhill
Let's be clear about this: not only could Buffy could definitely take him, Angel could take him, Faith could take him, Willow could definitely take him, Tara could take him, Giles could take him, Anya could take him (either as demon or human), and even Xander could take him, especially if he was in full-on merc mode with post-Caleb eyepatch. (Cf. Heather Massey's most excellent post to this effect.) Actually, I'm pretty sure Mr. Pointy could take him unassisted, and I'm confident there's probably some salient fanfic to that extent out there on the web somewhere. Cordy might be able to take him, although she would have to be sufficiently motivated. Dawn could not take him (even though she was "the Key") and Oz probably couldn't take him either (although he's so cute I'd probably give him a pass).

There. Love the dude, but seriously.

Magnum, though, does belong on the list. He and his three homosocial friends--when sufficiently motivated--did form one heck of a postwar commando unit, like the A-Team but much more aboveground.

But please tell me Dan Briggs was on the list somewhere! The man was a braniac action god!!!
Steven Gould
9. StevenGould
I think we're really talking season six--MacGyver is like the three geeks (Warren, Andrew, and Jonathon) and they almost got Buffy several times and probably would have if they didn't spend more of their time trying to score with girls.

Then there's MacGyver's true secret weapon. Buffy would have to fight him without looking in his direction, a definite disadvantage. You know? You don't know?

Torie Atkinson
10. Torie

Look at MacGuyver's resume:

He dismantled a nuclear warhead with a paper clip. You don't think he could find a way to outmaneuver a teenager?
Jordan Bell
11. jordanroberts
Nope, Buffy all the way for the cagematch.

I wonder who would win in a knock-down, drag-out ratings war though...who gets more hours on screen? Who is more popular? (And what would you count, anyway: original airing, re-runs, cable TV episode marathons, DVD replays, youtube clips, youtube parodies, length of wikipedia entries, spin-off series, official fan magazines, official novelisations, fan fiction, number-of-times-someone's-dressed-up-as-them-at-Halloween....just where do you draw the line?)
Tara Chang
12. tlchang
This action hero list was on the Countdown page (last page) of this weeks' TV Guide. Complete top 10:

1. MacGyver
2. Buffy
3. Jack Bauer
4. Sydney Bristow
5. Magnum,P.I.
6. La Femme Nikita
7. Walker, Texas Ranger
8. Brandon Walsh (from 90210) (huh??)
9. Xena
10. Bionic Woman and Six Million Dollar Man

The MacGyver pick is described and justified by: "Laugh if you must, but there is nobody better at saving the day than the mulleted Mr. Wizard of explosive household items. Devoted to nonviolence, Mac's scientific solutions to international crises and catastrophes showed us that brains can trump brawn, and that physics is handier than a handgun. Especially if it's crafted from an old apple core, a thumbtack and a length of duct tape."

I'm still mystified by #8 (although they seem to be using an alternate definition of seeing 'action' in his case), but I'd how about a vote for the TV version of "Highlander"/Duncan MacLeod as an action hero than a soapy chick-magnet.
Nathalie Gray
13. Nat
MacGyver had great hair too.

What? Don't look at me like that! Who else do you know who could work a mullet like he did? Plus, he had highlights back when guys didn't have them all that much. That has to count for something.

La Femme Nikita...damn, I hadn't heard about that show for a while.
Josh Kidd
14. joshkidd
You left out two of Mac's greatest strengths: The uncanny ability to knock anyone unconscious (how else do you get to be an international super spy without ever killing anyone?) and the luck required to encounter English speakers where ever he goes in the world. (how else do you get to an international super spy without speaking any foreign languages.) Presumably neither of these give Mac an edge on Buffy in a steel cage match, but they're worth mentioning.

But the real reason that Buffy vs. MacGyver would be the worst cagematch ever is that it would inevitably degrade into melodramatic romance. Buffy would see in the Minnesota farm boy with the 80's hair her old flame Riley, the farm boy with the WB haircut from 2000. As mentioned in the post, Mac can't resist the angsty young women. Their love affair would follow a familiar arc: Mac would be frustrated by the fact that he can't solve all of Buffy's problems. Of course, it will only be later in the episode that he discovers that Buffy is the slayer and her real problem is that she spends her nights fighting vampires. At about that point in the cagematch, the Cold War era Soviet vampires show up.

At some point, it becomes clear that in order for Buffy to save the world, she has to kill Mac. Mac will inevitably use his ingenuity to find a way to save the world without having to die. The cagematch would end with no winner and Buffy and Mac parting ways forever. This suits both of them fine. Mac, of course, has a new love interest each cagematch. In a week, he will have forgotten all about Buffy. Buffy, on the other hand, needs to brood over unrequited love for a season.
Michael McGovern
15. mikemcg
I will say this:
The Mullet > The Rachel
William Hassinger
16. iObject
This really is just another version of Batman vs. Superman. Same essential skill sets toned down a lot. It's an issue of prep time and which aspects of their skills they can employ in a given fight. Yes, given no advance warning the friggin' superheroine will win. Obviously. Given advance warning, there's no telling what MacGyver could do.

And really, why would they want to fight in the first place?
Eric Tolle
17. ErictheTolle
I'm voting for Joshkidd having it down perfectly. the only change I'd make is in the Deathmatch to Save the World Buffy actually does kill Mac. Only later when she's wandered off to mourn by jumping into some vampires bed, we find that Mac has faked his death, using some pocket lint, carkeys and a sharpie. It ends with everybody happy except Buffy, who's only happy when she's miserable.
Greg Morrow
18. gpmorrow
Mac and Buffy would briefly quarrel, but then they'd team up for the rest of the episode to take down whoever set them up to confusedly quarrel.

And, you must admit, that would be awesome.
Chuk Goodin
19. Chuk
Oz probably couldn't take him either

Depends what phase the moon is in, I think. (Or if they're in a "Battle of the Bands" instead of a physical fight.)
20. rogerothornhill
On Oz: no, I'm sorry, the dude is pretty much useless. In what fight was he ever effective? Understand, I identify with Willow far more than any allegedly straight man probably should, and I would probably let Oz use me for a doormat any day of the week because he's so dreamy, but seriously . . . in what fight was he ever useful? Most useless werewolf ever, especially for combat purposes. In moshpit mode, okay, maybe you have a point.

On Mac and Buffy: no, there is a limit to fanfic, people. If you stay true to the characters, Buffy wouldn't give Mac the time of day. He's simply too well-adjusted. She doesn't just like the "bad boys": she likes the maladaptive ones. In terms of mixing fictional TV universes, Bobby Donnell & Ally McBeal si, Angus MacGyver & Buffy Anne Summers no. Leave McG to Elyssa Davalos--he can compete with Doogie Howser--or maybe he can just move over to Alexa D aka Gwen "Lightning Lass" Raiden on Angel.

Oh, later thought of someone who should be on the list: Kimberly Ann Possible. Okay, she's derivative, and animated, but she did manage to do all that world-saving and still keep up pretty amazing grades in high school--which Buffy didn't, I'm sorry to point out. I'd actually vote for She-Go over KP, but I'm assuming heroes-turned-villains are out of the running.
Nicholas Alcock
22. NullNix
Extreme pedantry requires me to point out that killing Buffy didn't piss her off, nor merely slow her down: it (combined with other preexisting problems) got her severely depressed for most of a season (depending on your interpretation of the Spike thing, it could even be considered near-suicidal depression.)
24. AussieMacFan
Might just wanna remember that MacGyver hates violence so he'd avoid a fight as much as he could. Not saying he'd win if this fight actually happened but, just questioning how it would come to be in the first place.

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