MacGruber is the protagonist of the sketch and film of the same name. In the sketch's first appearance of each SNL episode, MacGruber finds himself and his assistants trapped in a control room with a ticking time bomb. MacGruber's female assistant (played in 2007 by Maya Rudolph and later by Kristen Wiig) and another assistant (usually played by that week's SNL host) "recap" their situation, explaining that they are in an abandoned mine, abandoned factory, or other adventure-type setting (it is a running gag that they are always locked in the control room, no matter how illogical the idea of a control room is in the context of the location where they are trapped), and that the bomb will detonate in twenty seconds. As he attempts to deactivate the bomb, MacGruber calls for people to pass him ordinary objects such as rubber bands or bubble gum wrappers (a reference to the sorts of objects typically used by MacGyver in devising a way out of a jam), but MacGruber inevitably loses focus before finishing the job and the bomb explodes, ending the sketch. The replacement of his female assistant from Maya Rudolph's character to Kristen Wiig's is explained in the movie version of the skit.
The sketch typically reappears for a second or third installment later in the episode, with the characters appearing none the worse for wear but MacGruber growing increasingly unhinged and his assistants becoming more disillusioned in his capabilities. Each installment ends with the bomb's detonation.
MacGruber's father is the famed Angus MacGyver (Richard Dean Anderson). His grandmother is portrayed by Betty White who is also his current fiancee. MacGruber also has an estranged homosexual son (Shia LaBeouf). He also has an older half-brother named Khaluber (The Great Khali) who doesn't speak English (though it's hard to understand him).
Some of the personal issues that have distracted MacGruber and prevented him from stopping the bomb include alcoholism (Molly Shannon/Linkin Park episode), his son's homosexuality (Shia LaBeouf/My Morning Jacket episode), losing his savings due to the current economic crisis (Josh Brolin/Adele episode), discovering his long-lost father (Dwayne Johnson/Ray LaMontagne episode), his addiction to plastic surgery (Seth Rogen/Spoon episode), accusing his coworkers of talking about him behind his back (Jonah Hill/Mariah Carey episode), his grandmother telling embarrassing stories from his childhood (Betty White/Jay-Z episode), and his racism (Charles Barkley/Alicia Keys episode).