Appearing all throughout the MacGyver series, the Colton brothers were a family of professional bounty hunters. While each Colton became a prominent part of the series, their family tree sprouted from needing to repeatedly fill a role.
First appearing in the season 4 episode Ma Dalton, Richard Lawson guest-starred as bounty hunter Jesse Colton. Loving his performance, both Lawson and the producers of MacGyver knew he would return for more episodes.
Unfortunately by the time his second appearance was written, Lawson was tied up with another film commitment. Wanting to continue MacGyver’s story with Colton, the writers would then give Jesse a brother.
Played by Cleavon Little, Frank Colton would share the same profession of bounty hunting as his brother and meet MacGyver. Another successful Colton story aired, they knew they wanted to make a third installment. Only they ran into a familiar problem.
“Neither Cleavon nor Richard was available at the time. So we said, ‘Let’s have the story rewritten and feature a younger brother,' and that’s when we created Billy," said MacGyver screenwriter Stephen Downing on writing the 3rd Colton brother.
Cuba Gooding Jr. would play the part of the third and youngest of the Colton brothers, Billy. With a story built around a whole family of bounty hunters, an idea of a spin-off emerged.
All 3 brothers appeared in the same episode only one time in the final season of MacGyver. Titled The Coltons, the special episode had MacGyver on the sidelines tied up next to a bomb while the Colton's handled most of the action. The writers hoped to have the episode serve as a backdoor pilot for a potential Colton brothers spin-off.
Despite the episode and the character's popularity, a spin-off of the family of bounty hunters was not in the cards and was turned down by the producers.
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