Jack Bauer, as played by Kiefer Sutherland on the TV Show, "24" is the psychopathic, torturing 'hero' agent who stops terror threats, not with his mind, not with his wits, not with his Swiss Army Knife, cleverness, duct tape or even principles, but with his fists and bullets, and sometimes more disturbing methods.
Macgyver, is the non-gun toting thinking-man, who with his people skills is able to defuse situations as well as bombs.
Okay, these are fantasy shows, fiction. However, the heroics of the fictional character, Macgyver, played by Richard Dean Anderson are more principled, moral and intelligent. Both shows are lacking in reality in some areas, and there can be no doubt that the situations depicted in both come with serious flaws, but the principles of Macgyver soar far above the sewer of amoral hypotheticals of "24."
In one episode of Macgyver, Angus Macgyver while in Romania confronts a trained killer, one of Ceaucescu's mindless thugs. He is given the opportunity to take his life, but instead attempts to reason with the man, by rising above him, attempting to teach the man a lesson in life, not through brutality, but through humanity. This mindless death-squad thug is more like Jack Bauer than Macgyver, and my comment here is that something has seriously gone astray, when this 'Jack Bauer' can even be called a hero.
Both shows involve dangerous plots by various terrorists and tyrants, and Macgyver, as the Agent, must save the day.
The lesson of Macgyver, is just how he succeeds, and the territory of conscience and principles. It doesn't attempt to frighten you with possible terrorist scenarios with overblown drama, and does operate close to the realm of the far-fetched A-Team, but the Tyrants and Terrorists in Macgyver are based on the same types of figures of current events that "24" is. Macgyver was battling terrorists way back in the 80's when Kiefer Sutherland was just a thug in a Stephen King movie. Macgyver also fought commies. Someone will say, "Macgyver is weak on terror."
Macgyver is stronger on terror than the Jack Bauers of the world, because in the show, he doesn't try to simply defuse the bomb, but the circumstances which led people to put that bomb into place.
Much is made out of Macgyver making explosives out of chewing gum, but in most episodes, he was defusing bombs, not making them, and he never killed anyone with any of his own improvised explosives, nor did he torture or beat anyone to death. Much was made of the fact that the people who did that were fascists, or commies.