MacGyver takes a special place in the annals of classic TV. The resourceful government agent captured the imaginations of countless TV viewers during its heyday in the 80s, but the show got a second chance at life when CBS rebooted it for a fresh take on the character.
The reboot brought the character back with a modern twist and a brand new cast. It was a moderate ratings success and ran for five seasons between 2016 and 2021. The MacGyver revival also gave some young actors a chance to shine before going on to bigger things.
Her role in MacGyver might have been a brief one, but Tracy Spiridakos played a crucial part in the first season as Nikki Carpenter. Mac’s ex-girlfriend who formerly worked as a hacker. She only appeared in a total of three episodes, but she became an early fan favorite. They believed she made a perfect foil for McGyver’s antics. The only problem was her CIA responsibilities got in the way. She eventually had to fake her own death in an attempt to preserve her safety and she never returned.
Her role ended after the first season, but as we know now that was just the beginning for the actress. After her star-making turn in MacGyver, Spiridakos landed her signature role as Detective Hailey Upton in Chicago PD. Spiridakos’s stint on MacGyver may have been brief, but her authoritative performance no doubt led to her being cast as the similarly authoritative Upton.
Tracy Spiridakos TV Journey
Just a year after her short but memorable performance in MacGyver, Spiridakos landed her dream job in the One Chicago universe. She’s now spent five years playing the character. Spiridakos recently spoke with TV Insider and gave some insight into what makes the character tick.
“It’s really interesting to see how, when she had first joined the unit, she more stayed to herself and she didn’t really necessarily befriend anybody, didn’t really go out of her way to do that,” Spiridakos said.
A recent storyline saw Upton celebrate 10 years with Chicago PD. But the celebrations took a tragic turn when she made the wrong choice to save a passenger from a carjacker. The incident weighed heavily on her mind, but through her team she finds peace. She embraces them as family in a defining moment for the character and the show.
“And we see her now and yes, it’s absolutely her family and seeing everyone together. I loved how it was edited, put together, and you just see them all enjoying each other and having a laugh. It was nice,” Spiridakos said. “When you’re going through a hard time, getting to be around the people that you love. Even though you’re going through a hard time, is kind of what you need. It was really nice for them to set it up like that.”