M*A*S*H (TV series)

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M*A*S*H title screen
The M*A*S*H title screen (1972 - 1978)
Genre Medical drama / Dramedy / Black comedy/
Created by H. Richard Hornberger
Developed by Larry Gelbart
Starring Alan Alda (1972-1983)
Loretta Swit (1972-1983)
Jamie Farr (1972-1983)
William Christopher (1972-1983)
Wayne Rogers (1972–1975)
McLean Stevenson (1972–1975)
Larry Linville (1972–1977)
Gary Burghoff (1972–1979)
Harry Morgan (1975–1983)
Mike Farrell (1975–1983)
David Ogden Stiers (1977-1983)
Theme music composer Johnny Mandel (written for the film)
Opening theme " Suicide Is Painless"
Ending theme "Suicide Is Painless"
Country of origin Flag of United States United States
No. of episodes 251 ( List of episodes)
Location Flag of United States Los Angeles County, California, USA ( Century City and the Malibu Creek area)
Camera setup Single camera
Running time 24–25 minutes (per episode)
Original channel CBS
Original run September 17, 1972 – February 28, 1983
IMDb profile

M*A*S*H is an American television series developed by Larry Gelbart and inspired by the 1961 novel Catch-22, the 1968 Richard Hooker novel M*A*S*H: A Novel About Three Army Doctors and its sequels, and—primarily—the 1970 film MASH. It is the most well-known version of the M*A*S*H works.

The series was a medical drama/ black comedy produced by 20th Century Fox for CBS. The show followed a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Uijeongbu, Korea during the Korean War. M*A*S*H's title sequence featured an instrumental version of the song “ Suicide Is Painless,” which also appears in the original film.

The series premiered on September 17, 1972 and ended February 28, 1983, with the finale becoming the most-watched television episode in U.S. television history. The show is still broadcast in syndication on various television stations (mostly during the late night/early morning hours) and in 2007 began a run on TV Land with the "Major, Major M*A*S*H Marathon". The series spanned 251 episodes and lasted eleven seasons covering a three-year war.

Many of the stories in the early seasons are based on real-life tales told by real MASH surgeons who were interviewed by the production team. Some said the series seemed to be an allegory for the Vietnam War (still in progress when the series began) rather than just about the Korean War, though the show's producers have said it was about war in general. The series has two spinoffs: the short-lived AfterMASH, which features several of the show's characters reunited in a midwestern hospital after the war, and an unpurchased television pilot, W*A*L*T*E*R, in which Walter “Radar” O’Reilly joins a police force. A court ruled that the more successful Trapper John, M.D., is actually a spinoff of the original film.


Season Ep # First Airdate Last Airdate
Season 1 24 September 17, 1972 March 25, 1973
Season 2 24 September 15, 1973 March 2, 1974
Season 3 24 September 10, 1974 March 18, 1975
Season 4 24 September 12, 1975 February 24, 1976
Season 5 24 September 21, 1976 March 15, 1977
Season 6 24 September 20, 1977 March 27, 1978
Season 7 25 September 18, 1978 March 12, 1979
Season 8 25 September 17, 1979 March 24, 1980
Season 9 20 November 17, 1980 May 4, 1981
Season 10 21 October 26, 1981 April 12, 1982
Season 11 16 October 25, 1982 February 28, 1983


Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.

M*A*S*H was a weekly half-hour situation comedy, sometimes described as “ black comedy” or a " dramedy," due to the dramatic subject material often presented (although the term "dramedy" was not coined until after M*A*S*H had gone off the air). The show was an ensemble piece revolving around key personnel in a United States Army Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH; the asterisks in the name are meaningless, introduced in the novel) in the Korean War (1950–1953). The 4077th MASH was just one of several surgical units in Korea. As the show developed, the writing took on more of a moralistic tone. Richard Hooker, who wrote the book on which the show (and the film version) was based, noted that Hawkeye was far more liberal in the show (in one of the sequel books, Hawkeye in fact makes reference to “kicking the bejesus out of lefties just to stay in shape”). While the show was mostly comedy, there were many episodes of a more serious tone (see section below). Stories were both plot- and character-driven. Most of the characters were draftees, with dramatic tension often occurring between them and "Regular Army" characters, either among the cast (Swit as Houlihan, Morgan as Potter) or as guest stars (including Eldon Quick, Herb Voland, Mary Wickes, and Tim O'Connor).

A letter to TV Guide written by a former MASH doctor in about 1973 stated that the most insane jokes and idiotic pranks on the show were the most true to life, including Klinger's crossdressing. The hellish reality of the MASH units encouraged this behaviour out of a desperate need for something to laugh at. (Another former MASHer, though, pointed out later that an habitual crossdresser would not last long in such a place; real women were too scarce.)


M*A*S*H maintained a relatively constant ensemble cast, with four characters – Hawkeye, Mulcahy, Houlihan and Klinger – appearing on the show for all eleven of the seasons in which it ran. Several other main characters who left or joined the show midway through its original run supplemented these four, and numerous guest stars and one-time characters supplemented all of them.

Character Actor/Actress Rank Role
Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce Alan Alda Captain Chief surgeon
Temporary Commanding Officer
Officer of the Day{once}
Francis John Patrick Mulcahy George Morgan (Pilot Episode), Replaced by William Christopher Lieutenant,
later Captain
Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (O'Houlihan in the film) Loretta Swit Major Head nurse,
Temporary Commanding Officer
Maxwell Q. Klinger Jamie Farr Corporal,
later Sergeant
Company clerk
Temporary Commanding Officer for 1 day
John Francis Xavier "Trapper" McIntyre
(Seasons 1-3)
Wayne Rogers Captain Surgeon
Henry Braymore Blake
(Seasons 1-3)
McLean Stevenson Lieutenant Colonel Surgeon,
Commanding officer
Franklin Marion "Frank" Burns
(Seasons 1-5)
Larry Linville Major,
later Lieutenant Colonel (off-screen)
Temporary Commanding officer
Walter Eugene "Radar" O’Reilly
(Seasons 1-8)
Gary Burghoff Corporal (briefly Lieutenant) Company clerk/mailman/ bugler
B.J. Hunnicutt
(Seasons 4-11)
Mike Farrell Captain Surgeon
Sherman T. Potter
(Seasons 4-11)
Harry Morgan Colonel Surgeon,
Commanding officer (After Lt. Col. Blake)
Company Clerk for 2 days
Charles Emerson Winchester III
(Seasons 6-11)
David Ogden Stiers Major Surgeon
Temporary Commanding Officer
Company cook for 1 day

Guest stars

Recurring characters

Apart from the characters, major and minor, stationed at the camp, there were several others who visited the 4077th from time to time.

  • Dr. Sidney Freedman, a psychiatrist, played by Alan Arbus, appeared twelve times (once as Dr. Milton Freedman).
  • Col. (Sam) Flagg, a paranoid intelligence officer, played by Edward Winter, visited the unit six times.
  • Herb Voland appeared four times as Henry Blake's commander, Brigadier General Clayton.
  • G. Wood appeared three times as Brigadier General Hammond.
  • Robert F. Simon appeared three times as General Mitchell.
  • Eldon Quick appeared three times as two nearly identical characters, Capt. Sloan and Capt. Pratt, officers who were dedicated to paperwork and bureacracy.
  • Sgt. Jack Scully, played by Joshua Bryant, appeared in three episodes as a love interest of Margaret Houlihan.
  • Pat Morita appeared twice as Capt. Sam Pak of the army of the ROK.
  • Sorrell Booke appeared twice as Gen. Bradley Barker.
  • Robert Alda appeared twice as Maj. Borelli, a visiting surgeon.
  • Lt. Col. Donald Penobscot appeared twice (played by two different actors), once as Margaret's fiancé and once as her husband.


During the first season, Hawkeye and Trapper's bunk mate was a black character called "Spearchucker" Jones, played by Timothy Brown, who appeared in the film version as a neurosurgeon. The character disappeared by episode 17, when it was discovered there weren't any black doctors in the Korean War. Another actor, George Morgan, played Father Mulcahy only in the pilot episode. By season three, McLean Stevenson was growing unhappy playing a supporting role to Alan Alda and Wayne Rogers. Midway through the season, he informed the producers he wanted out of the show. With ample time to prepare a “Goodbye Henry” show, it was decided that Henry Blake would be discharged and sent home for the Season Three finale, which aired on Tuesday March 18, 1975. In the final scene of his last episode, “Abyssinia, Henry,” Radar tearfully reports that Henry’s plane had been shot down over the Sea of Japan, and he was killed. The scene was the last one shot of the entire episode, and the page of script that reveals that development was only given to the cast moments before cameras rolled. The scene had to be shot twice due to a noise off camera, the actors had to recompose and act shocked at the news a second time. Up until then, they were going to get a message that Blake had arrived safely home. Although this is now regarded as a classic episode, at the time it garnered a barrage of angry mail from fans. As a result, the creative team behind M*A*S*H pledged that no other characters would leave the show in such a tragic fashion. Following his successful run on M*A*S*H, Stevenson had his own short-lived television show and appeared in small roles in numerous others. From 1975-1979, he was Johnny Carson's substitute "Tonight Show" host. He died on February 15, 1996 of a heart attack.

Wayne Rogers ( Trapper John McIntyre) was planning to return for Season Four but had a disagreement over his contract. He was told to sign a “morals clause” on his contract renewal, but he refused to do so, demanding the producers sign one as well. Though Rogers had been threatening to leave the series since Season One, his departure was unexpected, as compared to that of McLean Stevenson. In addition, Rogers felt his character was never given any real importance and that all the focus was on Alda’s character. Mike Farrell (Rogers’ replacement) was hastily recruited during the 1975 summer production hiatus. Actor Pernell Roberts later would assume the role of a middle-aged John "Trapper" McIntyre, in the seven-year run of "Trapper John MD". Rogers later starred in the short-lived hospital sitcom, "House Calls" (1979-1981), that would implode over the rights of its costar, Lynn Redgrave, to breast-feed on the set.

As a result of two of the three leads having departed the series, Season Four was, in many ways, a major turning point for M*A*S*H. At the beginning of the fourth season, Hawkeye was informed by Radar that Trapper had been discharged while Hawkeye was on leave, and audiences did not see Trapper’s departure, while B. J. Hunnicutt came in as Trapper’s replacement. In the season’s second episode, Colonel Sherman T. Potter was assigned to the unit as commanding officer, replacing Frank Burns (who had taken over as commander after Blake’s departure). The series, while still remaining a comedy, gradually became more emotionally rounded. Major Houlihan’s role continued to evolve during this time; she became much friendlier towards Hawkeye and B.J., and had a falling out with Frank. She later married a fellow officer, Lieutenant Colonel Donald Penobscot, but the union did not last for long. The “Hot Lips” nickname was rarely used to describe her after about the midway point in the series. In fact, Loretta Swit wanted to leave the series in the 8th season to pursue other acting roles (most notably the part of Christine Cagney on Cagney & Lacey), but the producers refused to let her out of her contract. However, Swit did originate the Cagney role in the made-for-TV movie which served as that series' pilot. As the show progressed into its last few seasons, episodes frequently were used to demonstrate a moral point, most often about the horrors of war, in a move that has been criticized by some fans for overshadowing the careless comedic style for which the show had become famous. Episodes written or directed by Alan Alda had an even greater propensity to follow a moral path.

Larry Linville noted that his “Frank Burns” character was easier to “dump on” after head comedy writer Larry Gelbart departed after Season Four and "Frank" and "Margaret" parted ways. Throughout Season Five, Linville realized he’d taken Frank Burns as far as he could, and he decided that since he’d signed a five-year contract originally, and his fifth year was coming to an end, he would leave the series. During the first episode of Season Six, Frank Burns had suffered a nervous breakdown due to Margaret’s marriage, was transferred stateside, and was, in turn, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (in a sense, Frank’s parting shot at Hawkeye), all off-camera. Unlike McLean Stevenson and Wayne Rogers, Linville had no regrets about leaving the series, saying “I felt I had done everything possible with the character.”

Major Charles Emerson Winchester, III ( David Ogden Stiers) was brought in as an antagonist of sorts to the other surgeons, but his relationship with them was not as acrimonious (although he was a more able foil). Unlike Frank Burns, Winchester did not care for the Army. His resentment stemmed, in part, from the fact that he was transferred from Tokyo General Hospital to the 4077th thanks, in part, to a cribbage debt owed to him by his CO, Colonel Horace Baldwin. What set him apart from Burns as an antagonist for Hawkeye and B.J. was that Winchester was clearly an excellent physician, though his work sometimes suffered from his excessive perfectionism when rapid “meatball surgery” was called for.

Winchester was respected by the others professionally, but at the same time, as a Boston blueblood,” he was also snobbish, which drove much of his conflict with the other characters. Still, the show’s writers would allow Winchester’s humanity to shine through, such as in his dealings with a young piano player who had partially lost the use of his right hand, the protection of a stuttering soldier from the bullying of other soldiers (it is revealed later that his sister stutters), his keeping a vigil with Hawkeye when Hawkeye’s father went into surgery back in the States, or his continuing of a family tradition of anonymously giving Christmas treats to an orphanage. The episode featuring this tradition is considered by many fans to be the most moving in the series (more so than even the loss of Henry Blake), as Winchester subjects himself to condemnation after realizing that “it is wrong to offer dessert to a child who has had no meal.” Isolating himself, he is saved by Corporal Klinger’s own gift of understanding. For the final moment of the episode, Major and Corporal are simply friends.

Gary Burghoff (aka Radar) had been growing restless in his role since at least season 4. With each season he appeared in fewer and fewer episodes, and by his final year (season 7), Radar appears in barely half of the shows. Burghoff planned to leave at the end of season 7, but was convinced by producers to hold off until the beginning of season 8, when he filmed a 2-part farewell episode, plus a few short scenes that were inserted into episodes preceding it.

Max Klinger also grew away from the transvestite moniker that overshadowed him. He dropped his Section 8 pursuit when taking over for Radar as Company Clerk. Both Farr and the producers felt that there was more to Klinger than a chiffon dress, and tried to develop the character more fully.

"Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen"

“Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” was the final episode of M*A*S*H. The episode aired on February 28, 1983 and was 2½ hours long. It was viewed by nearly 106 million Americans (77% of viewership that night) which established it as the most watched episode in United States television history, a record which stands to this day. The episode was seen by so many people that just after the end of the episode, the New York City Sanitation/Public Works Department reported the largest use of water ever around the city; apparently New Yorkers had been "holding it" through the show.

For the Season 11 DVD release, the final 2½-hour episode was released on the third disc of the set as it was originally aired. It was later announced by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment that the "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" episode will be released as a stand-alone DVD on May 15th. This DVD will ostensibly have special features that revolve around the episode.


  • In episode 6.10, Images, Radar wants to get a tattoo, as though he had never had one. What's forgotten, however, is that he apparently already had one (an anchor on his arm) as revealed in episode 3.7 Check-Up.
  • In episode 6.1, Fade Out, Fade In, Col. Potter has to "teach" Radar how to smoke a cigar. In earlier episodes, Radar was often seen sitting in Col. Blake's office smoking Blake's cigars.
  • Many facts about characters were changed as the series wore on, such as the home town where Hawkeye says he is from changes from earlier episodes (from Vermont to Crabapple Cove, Maine).
  • When Radar first gives Colonel Potter his horse as an anniversary gift, we find that the horse is a male, but in all other episodes the horse is described as a mare named Sophie.
  • Some spouses and family members names change as the series progresses. Colonel Blake's wife mysteriously changes from 'Mildred' (the name of Colonel Potter's beloved later on) to 'Lorraine' in later episodes. (Lorraine was Henry Blake's wife's name.)
  • Colonel Potter has his first grandchild during one of the season 4 episodes, and even though the War only lasts two and a half years, one episode has his grandchild writing him a letter as a five-year-old. This is due to Potter's children and grandchildren changing over time (from a married son and infant granddaughter to the mention of an eight-year-old granddaughter, and finally to having only a married daughter and toddler grandson) as did his home (from Ohio, to Nebraska, and finally to Hannibal, Missouri).
  • Time seemed to go backward and forward all the time throughout the series as well. In earlier seasons, the characters says they have been in Korea for two years, but then in later episodes, the same characters say they have been there for two years as well. There were four Christmas episodes even though the war overlapped only three Christmases. In the first six seasons, the year 1952 is repeatedly referenced (for instance in the episode, " The M*A*S*H Olympics", which tied into the 1952 Olympics), but subsequent episodes retcon the date to 1951 (for instance, in "Point of View," an episode shot entirely from the perspective of a wounded soldier, there is a scene where the soldier is writing a letter dated September, 1951).

Change in tone

As the series progressed, it made a significant shift from pure comedy to become far more dramatically focused. In addition, the episodes became more political, and the show was often accused of “preaching” to its viewers. This has sometimes been connected with Alan Alda taking a more involved role in production, and many of the episodes in which this change is particularly notable were written and/or directed by Alda. Another significant factor was the change in the cast, as Colonel Henry Blake, Captain “Trapper” John McIntyre, Major Frank Burns, and Corporal “Radar” O’Reilly departed the show. Still another change was a greater focus on the supporting cast (Father Mulcahy, Klinger) as opposed to the top-billed characters.

While the show remained popular through these changes, eventually it began to run out of creative steam. Harry Morgan, who played Colonel Potter, admitted in an interview that he felt "the cracks were starting to show" by season nine, and the cast had agreed to make season ten their last. In the end, they decided to extend the show for an additional year, making for a total of eleven seasons.

In retrospect, the eleven years of M*A*S*H were generally split into two eras: the Larry Gelbart/ Gene Reynolds "comedy" years (1972–1977), and the Alan Alda "dramatic" years (1978–1983).


M*A*S*H won a total of 14 Emmys during its eleven-year run:

  • 1974 - Outstanding Comedy Series - M*A*S*H; Larry Gelbart, Gene Reynolds (Producers)
  • 1974 - Best Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Alan Alda
  • 1974 - Best Directing in Comedy - Jackie Cooper
  • 1974 - Actor of the Year-Series - Alan Alda
  • 1975 - Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series - Gene Reynolds
  • 1976 - Outstanding Film Editing for Entertainment Programming - Fred W. Berger and Stanford Tischler
  • 1976 - Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series - Gene Reynolds
  • 1977 - Outstanding Directing in a Comedy Series - Alan Alda
  • 1977 - Outstanding Continuing Performance by a Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series - Gary Burghoff
  • 1979 - Outstanding Writing in a Comedy-Variety or Music Series - Alan Alda
  • 1980 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series - Loretta Swit
  • 1980 - Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series - Harry Morgan
  • 1982 - Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series - Alan Alda
  • 1982 - Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy or Variety or Music Series - Loretta Swit

Popularity today

Starting on January 1, 2007, TV Land aired M*A*S*H From 8 PM until 8 AM for one week in a marathon. According to a press release available at the Futon Critic, the marathon of M*A*S*H episodes and specials that aired during the first week of January drew "an average of 1.3 million total viewers and scored double-digit increases in demo rating and delivery." Additionally, the marathon helped TV Land rank in the top ten basic cable channels among the adults 25-54 demographic for the week. Ratings for specific episodes and specials are also included in the press release:

  • Goodbye, Farewell and Amen - 1.3 million total viewers
  • Memories of M*A*S*H (20th Anniversary) - 1.5 million total viewers
  • 30th Anniversary Reunion Special - 1.4 million total viewers.
Feb 2007, as seen from site of famous "Goodbye" sign Jeep marks approximate location of camp flagpole.
Feb 2007, as seen from site of famous "Goodbye" sign Jeep marks approximate location of camp flagpole.

Now a part of Malibu Creek State Park, the outdoor set used for the movie, the early years of the series, and then limited times in later seasons, has now returned to its mostly feral state and can hardly be distinguished as what it once was: one of the most recognizable sites in entertainment history. It can be visited with park entry, but after an over four mile hike, across some pretty rugged terrain. The indoor scenes were filmed on sound stages in Century City, Los Angeles, California.

DVD releases

20th Century Fox has released all 11 Seasons of M*A*S*H on DVD in Region 1 & Region 2 for the very first time.

DVD Name Ep # Region 1 Region 2
M*A*S*H Season 1 24 January 8, 2002 May 19, 2003
M*A*S*H Season 2 24 July 23, 2002 October 13, 2003
M*A*S*H Season 3 24 February 18, 2003 March 15, 2004
M*A*S*H Seasons 1 - 3 N/A October 31, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 4 24 July 15, 2003 June 14, 2004
M*A*S*H Seasons 1 - 4 December 2, 2003 N/A
M*A*S*H Season 5 24 December 9, 2003 January 17, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 6 24 June 8, 2004 March 28, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 7 25 December 7, 2004 May 30, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 8 25 May 24, 2005 August 15, 2005
M*A*S*H Season 9 20 December 6, 2005 January 9, 2006
M*A*S*H Seasons 1 - 9 December 6, 2005 N/A
M*A*S*H Season 10 21 May 23, 2006 April 17, 2006
M*A*S*H Season 11 16 November 7, 2006 May 29, 2006
Martinis and Medicine Collection
(Complete Series)
November 7, 2006 October 30, 2006
Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen Collector's Edition May 15, 2007 TBA


  • Robert Altman, director of MASH (film), said in the commentary for the movie DVD that he didn't like the series at all, saying that it was the antithesis of his intentions and that it only perpetuated the idea that "the brown-faced" people are the enemy.
  • Author Paulette Bourgeois credits "C*A*V*E" (episode 164), in which Hawkeye was afraid of being in a dark cave, as the inspiration for the first work in the children's book series Franklin.
  • Glen Charles and Les Charles, the creators of Cheers, started their careers in television by writing " The Late Captain Pierce" (episode 76) and being lucky enough to submit it "on spec" and have it produced. They wrote no other episodes of the series.
  • Alan Alda is the only person to win Emmy awards for acting, writing, and directing on the same show. He is also the only cast member to be in every one of the series' 251 installments.
  • Radar's teddy bear is currently on display at the Smithsonian.
  • Two of the cast members, Jamie Farr (Klinger) and Alan Alda (Hawkeye Pierce) served in the U.S. Army in Korea in the 1950s after the Korean War. The dogtags Farr wears on the show are really his.
  • The 4077th moved, or "bugged out," five times, usually due to imminent danger, but returned each time to its original location.
  • All the outdoor scenes of the series were filmed in 20th Century Fox's Century Ranch, near Malibu, California, which was sold to the State of California in 1980, becoming Malibu Creek State Park. The state allowed filming to continue on the property, until shooting wrapped in late 1982. During the filming of the final episodes of the last season (1982 - 1983), there was a large brush fire, which destroyed the outdoor set. This incident was worked into the final episode Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, and was explained as a brush fire started by incendiary munitions. The site is currently overgrown, but still recognizable. All that remains is an old rusted Jeep, an ambulance from the show, and the helicopter pad. The exact location coordinates are 34°05′47.43″N, 118°44′39.39″W.
  • The ever-present picture of Mildred Potter on the corner of Col. Potter's desk is actually a photo of actress Spring Byington, who co-starred with Harry Morgan in the 1950s sitcom December Bride.
  • Max Klinger frequently refers to a baseball team named the Toledo Mud Hens, which is real. Founded in 1896, it is the AAA minor league affiliate of the Detroit Tigers and part of the West Division of the International Baseball League.
  • Most announcements over the PA were made by either Sal Viscuso or Todd Susman, both of whom appeared in one or two episodes as random patients (Viscuso in "Dear Sigmund" and Susman as the noselift patient in "Operation Noselift").
  • Capt. Tuttle, an imaginary soldier Hawkeye created based on his childhood imaginary friend, is credited as being played by himself in the ending credits of Tuttle.
  • In Neil Gaiman's The Sandman comic series, an issue called "Facade" makes a small reference to M*A*S*H. One of the characters, thinking of suicide, says: "Like the song, you know, from that TV show, 'suicide is painless, it brings on many changes....'".
  • Several years after the series ended, the cast was reunited (sort of) for a series of TV commercials for IBM personal computers. Of all the regulars throughout the series history, only McLean Stevenson and Mike Farrell did not participate.
  • At least nine guest stars made appearances as different characters:
    • Tim O'Connor appeared as wounded artillery officer Colonel Spiker, and as visiting surgeon, Norm Trager. Both characters were noticeably at odds with Hawkeye.
    • Dick O'Neill appeared three times (each time in a different service branch); as US Navy Admiral Cox, as US Army General Prescott, and as US Marine Colonel Pitts.
    • Harry Morgan played both the 4077th's second beloved C.O.(Col. Sherman T. Potter), and the mentally unstable Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele in the show's third season.
    • Soon-Tek Oh appeared five times; twice as North Korean POWs, once as a North Korean doctor, once as a Korean matchmaker, and once as a South Korean interpretor who posed as a North Korean POW. (Soon-Tek Oh is one of the few Korean actors to play a Korean on MASH; most of the other characters were played by Japanese actors.)
    • Clyde Kusatsu appeared four times; twice as a Korean bartender in the Officer's Club, once as a Chinese-American soldier, and once as a Japanese-American Surgeon.
    • Robert Ito played a hood who works for the black market in " To Market, To Market", and a North Korean soldier, disguised as a South Korean, looking for supplies, in "The Korean Surgeon".
    • Mako appeared four times; once as a Chinese doctor, once as a South Korean doctor, once as a South Korean officer, and once as a North Korean soldier.
    • John Orchard starred as the Australian medic, Ugly John, in the first season, and later appeared in episode 8.13 as a disgruntled and drunken Australian MP.
    • Richard Lee Sung appeared ten times as a local Korean who often had merchandise (and in one case, real estate) he wished to sell to the hospital staff.
  • The Australian T.V Series, Fast Forward, spoofed M*A*S*H in its 3rd series ('91).
  • During the series, three main characters were promoted: Radar from Corporal to Second Lieutenant in episode 5.5 Lt. Radar O'Reilly (although he is uncomfortable as an officer and is back to his old rank at episode's end); Father Mulcahy from Lieutenant to Captain in episode 8.13 Captain's Outrageous; and Klinger from Corporal to Sergeant in episode 10.18 Promotion Commotion.
  • Also during the series, Father Mulcahy presided over three wedding ceremonies: Klinger and Laverne's via ham radio in episode 3.6 Springtime, Hot Lips and Lt. Col. Penobscott's in episode 5.25 Margaret's Marriage and finally, Klinger and Soon Lee's in the series finale.
  • Besides Colonel Blake, only 2 members of MASH 4077 "die"--an ambulance driver, Jerry O'Donnell, in a road accident due to his own carelessness in episode 5.8 Dear Sigmund, and in the last season (episode 11.5 Who Knew) a nurse, Millie Carpenter, who stepped on a landmine taking a walk after a date with Hawkeye. ("Wounded in action" members of MASH 4077 (not including accidents/illness) are Hawkeye Pierce, Radar O'Reilly, and Sherman Potter.)
  • The pictures on Henry's desk of his family are portrayed in the movie as Trapper John's family pictures.
  • BJ Hunnicutt's real first name is BJ, after his mother, Bea, and father, Jay.
  • Antony Alda, Alan Alda's half-brother, appeared in one episode (episode 8.20 Lend a Hand) as Corporal Jarvis, alongside their father, Robert Alda (appearing as Major Borelli).

Continuity errors and anachronisms

Both the first and last episodes have errors:

  • The first episode gives the date as June 1950 and mentions "wounded Canadians". The first Canadians in Korean Conflict - the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry - did not arrive in Korea until December 1950.
  • The last episode gives the date as July 27, 1953, when a group of Chinese POWs befriended by Major Winchester are killed while going to be exchanged. POW exchanges began in August 1953.
  • Episodes during the first two seasons often featured a plastic model of a U.S. Army UH-1 "Huey" helicopter, hanging from Henry Blake's office ceiling, near, or over the file cabinet, near his liqour cabinet. This a/c was not designed or built during the Korean War; it is an icon of the Vietnam War. There were no commercially available models of the Bell 47 helicopter at the time of the show's creation. Presumably the show producers wanted to include a helicopter, but found out it was anachronistic - it dissapears during the later shows, during the third season.

The series also had timeline errors:

  • Hawkeye gives the impression that he is just a civilian who was just drafted for the first time to serve in the Korean War, yet, in 1.17, Hawkeye meets a friend from 15 years before, from the 4th grade. If he was 10/11 years old in about 1935/1936, he would have been born between 1924 and 1926. In 2.6, Trapper has been married for at least 5 years (since 1945/1946), and in an early episode, Frank Burns remarks that he has been a surgeon for 12 years (since 1938/1939). Thus, either Hawkeye, Trapper, or Burns would have been old enough to have been in World War II (however, they could have been at Medical School throughout WWII and therefore exempt from the draft).
  • In 1.18 ( Dear Dad...Again), Hawkeye tells his father in a letter to "give Mom and sis a kiss," but in later seasons reveals his mother has died, and he is an only child.
  • The Army-Navy Game and Propaganda Bomb Episode, 1.20, takes place after the first Christmas 1950, episode 1.13. In fact, the Army Navy Game takes place before Christmas. The Propagada bomb took place in December, 1951. The radio announcer calls this the "53rd Gridiron" Game, won 42-36 by the Navy. The real 53rd game was played in 1952 and won by the Navy with a score of 7-0. The Propaganda leafets are signed by Douglas MacArthur who was relieved from command April 11, 1951 - 8 months before December, 1951.
  • In 1.21 shows the MASH doctors ordering a movie Bonzo Goes to College - a film made in 1952.
  • An early "Dear Dad" episode gives the date as May 1951, and still stationed at Uijeongbu. Uijeongbu and Seoul fell to Chinese forces in January 1951.
  • In 2.11, mention is made of a Nobel Prize winner, which would place the date as Dec 10, 1951. In 2.15, reference is made to Douglas MacArthur being in command in Tokyo, and in 3.21, MacArthur visits MASH 4077. Yet, MacArthur had been removed from command April 11, 1951. Also, while he visted the Korean front, he wore an overcoat - not his World War II Khaki uniform. And Houilhan remarks that her father fought with MacArthur against the Huks; the Huk rebellion was from 1946–1954. However, after 1946, MacArthur was in Japan; in 1950–1951, he was in Korea; and after 1951, he was in the USA.
  • In 2.4, the 248th Artillery Unit is mentioned, and in 2.20, the 278th Artillery Unit is mentioned. The 248th and 278th Field Artillery Battalions were World War II formations.
  • In 2.15, a general's wounded son is in the Paratroops. Of the four 1950's Airborne units, only one - the 187th Infantry Regiment R.C.T. - was in the Korean conflict, and never Seoul. The 11th Airborne, 82nd Airborne, and 101st Airborne were not deployed into the Korean War.
  • In 3.4, an amphibious landing is staged to cover up a General's un-heroic death; in reality, the only amphibious landings were at Inchon in November 1950, and the only U.S. General to die during that period was Walton Walker in a road accident - not in a MASH unit.
  • Colonel Potter arrives at MASH in September, 1952, (episode 4.2); yet, in 7.2, Hawkeye storms the peace talks and confronts US General "Tomlin". After Admiral C. Turner Joy was chief negotiator from July, 1951, the chief negotiator in 1953 was US Army General Mark Clark.
  • In 4.7, the North Korean POW wears a "Brown" uniform; Chinese and North Koreans wore light colored quilted uniforms in the Korean War.
  • In 4.14, the antique 1884 .45 pistol is actually a Colt .45 M1917 revolver. Hawkeye's remark of "A shot in the dark" is often mistaken for a reference to a 1964 Peter Sellers movie by that name, but in fact it is a common vernacular phrase for a random conjecture, dating back to the late 1800s.
  • In 4.15, Radar remarks to Potter that Syngman Rhee was re-elected dictator. This happened in May, 1952, despite Potter's arrival in September, 1952, (episode 4.2.)
  • In 4.18, the episode opens with a scene of Radar asleep with an issue of (The Avengers) published by (Marvel Comics) in his hands. "The Avengers" was not published until September, 1963. Also, during the time of the Korean War, Marvel was known as Atlas Comics and would not become Marvel until 1961. Finally, between shots, the comic changes very clearly between two separate issues (one with the original title logo, and a second issue with the then-new "A-with-an-arrow" logo).
  • In 6.11, Potter holds an "Olympics" concurrent with the 1952 Olympic games - the 1952 Olympics were held in the summer of 1952, two months before Potter arrived, according to 4.2.
  • In 6.18, the British Gloucestershire Regiment, is mentioned, but this unit was in Korea from 1950-1951, not 1952-1953.
  • In 8.13, an Australian military unit is stationed next to MASH 4077 - the Royal Australian Regiment was not stationed near Seoul.
  • In 8.25, Potter pulls an April Fool's joke in April, 1950; fighting began in Korea in June 1950 - before the M.A.S.H. had even been set up.
  • In 9.6, Potter welcomes the New Year of 1951. The finale, accurately set at the end of the war in summer 1953, shows Hunnicutt (who arrived shortly before Potter) and Winchester (who arrived later) -- indicating they had been at the 4077th for two years, meaning that neither they, nor Potter for that matter, could have been there in 1950; their predecessors Henry Blake, Trapper John and Frank Burns would have been there on New Year's Eve of that year.
  • In 11.7 Potter goes into a tirade when he thinks his wife is going to buy a Florida houseboat and learn scuba diving; scuba was not taught in the United States until 1954.
  • In 11.8, Hawkwye and B.J. see a movie banned in Boston, The Moon is Blue. The movie premiered in July, 1953.
  • From the first to last seasons, various episodes feature appearances of the U.S. Marines; however, the 1st Marine Division were only in the Seoul area from September-December, 1950.
  • Hawkeye tells Nurse Dish in episode one that he is engaged, while in later episodes he is not engaged and tells a new nurse, his former girlfriend, that there has been no one since her. However, this was probably just sweet-talk and saying that to make her go along with his advances.
  • One episode has Hawkeye asking if Vice President Richard Nixon was going to marry Elizabeth Taylor; Nixon became Vice-President in January, 1953.
  • Radar starts out the series smoking cigars and drinking, but as the series goes on Radar becomes more innocent, rarely smokes or drinks, and is shy with women.

Unique and unusual episodes

The series had several unique episodes, which differed in tone, structure and style from the rest of the series, and were significant departures from the typical sitcom or dramedy plot. Some of these episodes include:

  • The "letter episodes", which are flashback episodes narrated by a character as if they are writing a letter: Hawkeye writes to his Dad ( Dear Dad, Dear Dad Again, Dear Dad...Three, and he tape records a message in A Full Rich Day); Potter writes to his wife ( Dear Mildred); BJ writes home to his wife ( Dear Peggy); Radar writes to his mother ( Dear Ma); Sidney writes to Sigmund Freud ( Dear Sigmund); Winchester "writes" home by recording an audio message ( The Winchester Tapes); Winchester's houseboy -- a North Korean spy -- writes to his superiors ( Dear Comrade); Father Mulcahy writes to his sister, the nun ( Dear Sis); Klinger writes home to his uncle ( Dear Uncle Abdul); and the main characters all write to children in Crabapple Cove ( Letters).
  • Hawkeye (1/13/76), in which Hawkeye is taken in by a Korean family (who understand no English) after a jeep accident far from the 4077th, and he carries on what amounts to a 23-minute monologue in an attempt to remain conscious. Alan Alda is the only cast member to appear in the episode.
  • The Interview (2/24/76), which is a sort of mockumentary about the 4077th. Shot in black and white, the cast partially improvised their responses to the interviewer's questions. The same format was used for Our Finest Hour with new links filmed in black and white interspersed with colour clips from previous episodes.
  • Point of View (11/20/78), which is shot entirely from the point of view of a soldier who is wounded in the throat and taken to the 4077th for treatment.
  • Life Time (11/26/79), which takes place in real-time as the surgeons perform an operation that must be completed within 22 minutes (as a clock in the corner of the screen counts down the time).
  • Dreams (2/18/80), in which the dreams of the overworked and sleep-deprived members of the 4077th are visually depicted, revealing their fears, yearnings, and frustrations. This episode was a hybrid that Alan Alda had been wanting to complete for years.
  • Follies of the Living—Concerns of the Dead (1/4/82), in which a dead soldier's spirit wanders around the compound, and only a feverish Klinger is able to see him or speak with him.
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