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Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
Played by: Alan AldaChief surgeon of the 4077th MASH, he was one of the few people assigned to the unit for the entire run of the show; he lived in what was officially the Bachelor Officer Quarters, but almost always called "The Swamp". Hails from the fictional Crabapple Cove, Maine (Vermont in some early episodes) where his widowed father still lives.
- The Ace: Generally considered the best all-around surgeon of the show. Occasionally Charles in later seasons would get the nod for his specialties.
- Achilles in His Tent: "The Late Captain Pierce"
- Actual Pacifist: Hates guns and violence in general. The amount of fights he participates in over eleven seasons can be counted on one hand. He even refused to fire back at North Korean soldiers when he and Col. Potter were pinned down in a ditch.Hawkeye: Look, Colonel, I will treat their wounds, heal their wounds, bind their wounds, but I will not inflict their wounds!
- Ambiguously Bi: Flirted with every woman who crossed his path, but God knows he had Ho Yay with all the men (except for maybe Sherman Potter) too. Fandom has decided he's Anything That Moves.
- Author Avatar: Increasingly as the series progressed and Alan Alda assumed an ever-larger creative role.
- Subverted in the transfer from novel to television; the original author had penned Hawkeye as a patriotic, pro-war, married man, based upon himself and upon seeing the changes, he disowned the movie and series altogether.
- Author Filibuster: He's frequently used as a vehicle for these, especially in the later seasons.
- Berserk Button: You really don't want to tell him it's liver and fish for mess again. Also, don't call Asians "gooks". Seriously, don't.
- Beware The Nice and Silly Ones: Hawkeye is a nice guy under all the pranks, but harm children, it don't matter if you're in the same army, he'll get you.
- Big Brother Mentor: To Radar.
- Big Brother Instinct: ...and he does not take it well if anything happens to Radar ("Fallen Idol") or if someone (Frank) mistreats him.
- Broken Ace: Had multiple mental breakdowns over the course of the series, and it's generally implied he takes the sufferings of war to heart much more than the other characters.Hawkeye: I'm here to pull bodies out of a sausage grinder, if possible without going crazy. Period.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: As mentioned on the Main Page, it was pretty much impossible to fire surgeons when the army was in such desperate need of them. Hawkeye knew this. And took advantage of it.
- The Casanova: And at one point called out on it by a nurse he hadn't hit on. Because he hadn't hit on her.
- Character Development: He grows increasingly more depressed and neurotic as the show progresses and the war begins to take its toll. On the other hand, he also shows his kinder, more compassionate side more often and treats the women he pursues with more respect.
- Character Filibuster: He's occasionally prone to these, particularly when his righteous indignation is roused.
- Character Tics: He has a frequent, and vaguely disgusting, habit of sniffing his food prior to eating it. B.J. even calls him out on it in one episode. (Although, given the usual quality of the mess-tent fare at the 4077, it's kind of justified.)
- Chivalrous Pervert: He may be a womanizer but respects the nursing staff professionally, grows to respect and care deeply for Margaret, actually turn down a romance with a girl barely out of her teens in the USO episode (a pet the dog moment), and seems to have been humbled by his encounters with Kelly and Inga. He also won't seduce a nurse he thinks is married, though it turns out she just wears a ring to fend off attention she doesn't want.Hawkeye: You're not married? Move over, lieutenant.
- Claustrophobia: He suffers from it, as revealed in the "C*A*V*E" episode.
- Deadpan Snarker: A great deal of the time.
- Determinator: He will always put caring for his patients over himself and not let anything slow him down be it illness, sleep deprivation, risk of capture or death, his own fears, or an Obstructive Bureaucrat.
- Doesn't Like Guns: Or grenades, or mines, or anti-aircraft artillery, or ammo dumps, or tanks, or the Korean War, or war in general. Basically he has nothing but hate for anything made specifically to kill another man. He is not hesitant to take this up with top brass or anyone supporting said war.
- Drinking on Duty: Frequently.
- In "The Consultant", he calls someone else out on it. Who then points out that Hawkeye keeps a still in his tent.
- In "Fallen Idol" he gets called out on it himself by Radar and by Potter. Potter expresses disbelief that a surgeon of Hawkeye's skill and professionalism would do such a thing.
- Dynamic Character: Hawkeye's personality gradually changed as the series went on, until he became almost a completely different person from who he was in the early episodes. He started out as a carefree, energetic, irreverent trickster; by the end, he was a troubled, insecure man prone to depression and brooding, having gone through several emotional breakdowns. While the Doylist explanation for this is simply that the tone of the series as a whole gradually shifted to be more sombre and serious, the progression is also fairly logical from a Watsonian perspective: from the very start it was made clear just how much Hawkeye hates the war, and how constant exposure to it drains him; it simply wore him away, season by season.
- On the other hand, he always, always puts the patients first, and no matter what he will not let someone die on his watch if he can avoid it. He never crosses over into Stepford Smiler territory, but he almost always has a good bedside manner no matter how miserable he is.
- Fatal Flaw: Pride, like most of the other surgeons. He needs to be good at his job, especially later in the series, if only to justify his being in Korea. A patient developing complications noticeably gets to him.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Frequently, both when he goes on leave or is just vacationing between OR sessions.
- Heroic BSOD / Sanity Slippage: At least five major breakdowns in eleven seasons, each one worse than the last, culminating in the final episode where he's confined to a mental ward after losing it over a smothered infant. He's prone to smaller ones whenever he loses a patient.
- Heroic Comedic Sociopath: To some extent, in the early seasons. He was never outright evil by any stretch, but he could certainly play very cruel tricks on anyone who got in his way. Always for a good cause, though.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: First with Trapper, then with B.J.
- Hypocrite: Frequently drinks on duty and performs surgery while hungover, yet complains about another character doing the same thing. That being said, he only gets so drunk he can't operate once, and is rarely unfit to operate due to his drinking.
- The Insomniac: In "Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde".
- It's All About Me: If Hawkeye has a major flaw, it's this. He's extremely self-centered and only occasionally gets called out on it. He even hijacks giving a eulogy to tell everyone how he feels about them and how they make him feel.
- Jerkass Façade: In "Mad Dogs and Servicemen", he adopts this as a form of shock therapy on a solider suffering from hysterical paralysis.
- Kick the Morality Pet: When he gets drunk enough in "Fallen Idol" that Winchester has to finish for him and then goes ballistic on Radar, for which he gets called on it by pretty much everybody.
- Large Ham: Note this is referring to character moments. A good example appears in "Adam's Ribs", where Hawkeye leads, hammily, a revolt in the mess tent over the lack of variety in the chow line, culminating with him doing what can only be described as pole-dancing.
- Married to the Job: His first serious relationship ended because his girlfriend could tell that, really, he would always think of the patients first and her second, and she couldn't accept that. She reappears in one episode and, after they attempt to pick things up again, spells it out to him that this is why she left in the first place.
- Military Maverick: As noted on that page, somewhat justified; still, pretty much the leader of the pack.
- Military Moonshiner: A rare officer example, and very much NOT a secret. Upon finding out, Colonel Potter made a suggestion or two on how to improve the product. Both Potter and Blake would occasionally come by to have some.
- Missing Mom: Although Hawkeye's mother is referenced in a couple very early episodes, his father is eventually established as a widower.
- Similarly, Hawkeye goes from having a sister in season 1 to being an only child.
- Motor Mouth: Occasionally, as when delivering a Character Filibuster. It also tends to crop up when he's stressed, and is pretty clearly a coping mechanism.
- It's especially severe in "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", when Hawkeye is confined to a mental ward.
- My God, What Have I Done?: His reaction after Radar, who he'd urged to drive to Seoul and find a woman to bed, returns as one of a load of wounded.
- New Old Flame: Carlye, his old girlfriend from surgical residency in Boston, who gets assigned to the 4077th as a nurse in "The More I See You".
- Obfuscating Insanity: He tries to get Frank to approve him for R&R by employing this in "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts".
- Precision F-Strike: In "The Interview". While the offending word is naturally bleeped out, it can clearly be seen on Alda's lips as he speaks."I may care about things more than I ever have before, because there's so much more to care about here. On the other hand, I really don't give a shit what happens, 'cause it just doesn't matter anymore."
- Not to mention his calling Lt. Park a "son of a bitch" as he's taking his prisoner away for presumed Jack Bauer-style interrogation in "Guerilla My Dreams". This was actually the first (un-bleeped) use of the b-word on U.S. network television.
- Not exactly clear which curseword he was going to use, but in "Welcome to Korea" upon being confronted with a Korean man who was using his daughters to check for mines in a field, him asking Radar what the Korean translation of a particular word was blotted out by the explosion of a mine.
- Pungeon Master: Cracking puns and witticisms is basically what he does, to the point that one late-series episode is his getting into a bet to refrain from doing so for 24 hours, something he finds almost physically painful. It's pretty clear that he makes jokes to deal with the stress of being in a warzone, since he tends to talk faster when the pressure is on.
- Really Gets Around: Less so in the later seaons, but he sleeps with a lot of women.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Red to B.J.'s Blue. Conversely Trapper was usually pictured as more impulsive and emotion-driven than Hawkeye.
- Refuge in Audacity: Most of his pranks. He even mentions in the episode "The Interview" that he loves doing something crazy just to see the looks in people's eyes when their jaws drop in disbelief.
- Sad Clown: In the later seasons. Even earlier in the series, he implies that joking about the war is the only way he can avoid going crazy.
- Sarcasm Failure: Is generally ironic and caustic about most things, but when he taps into his compassionate side (for a friend or a patient) he instantly becomes incredibly serious.
- Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: One of the prime examples of this trope.
- Secular Hero: In one episode Father Mulcahy fondly refers to him as "that crazy agnostic".
- Sensei for Scoundrels: Is this for Radar in at least one episode, and for more than one guest star in others.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Shows a little of this from time to time. A lot of it in the episode where heavy fighting and many casualties results in double and triple shifts and severe sleep deprivation for the entire company.
- Signature Laugh: His hyena-like cackle is always easy to pick out.
- Sleepwalking: He suffers from this (as well as Bad Dreams) in "Hawk's Nightmare".
- Stepford Snarker: A classic example, but often crossing into Snark Knight territory as well.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: Tall, handsome, dark-haired and incredibly snarky.
- Temporary Blindness: In "Out of Sight, Out of Mind".
- The Trickster: Especially in the early seasons, Hawkeye would often pull complicated tricks (which would often grow more and more complex as the episode went on) to get something out of the Army, his friends, his enemies, or anyone else he happened to come across. Usually he used these for the greater good, trying to make life bearable for those affected by the war, but of course sometimes he'd just do it for entertainment. Later in the series this aspect of Hawkeye somewhat faded: he'd still sometimes play pranks on other characters (and they would play ones on him, as well), but these were usually for fun; the role Hawkeye's schemes played in solving major plot elements was greatly reduced.
- Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Not nearly to the same degree as in the novel and film, but while his heart is generally in the heart place he's not exactly a stranger to egotism, self-righteousness, sexism, etc.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: Gets this in the endings of "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts" and "Adam's Ribs" when incoming wounded ruining his (and Trapper)'s R&R plans and his finally getting his hands on the titular ribs, respectively.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: He's been known to employ a Yiddish phrase now and again, though is at a loss for the term for "bedbug" note when doing a crossword puzzle.
- You Are in Command Now: Comedic example in "Carry On, Hawkeye"; less so in "Commander Pierce".
Capt. "Trapper" John Francis Xavier McIntyre
Played by: Wayne RogersAnother surgeon, and the first of Hawkeye's sidekicks in the Swamp. Originally supposed to be equal to Hawkeye, he ended up as more of a sidekick, much to the dismay of the actor. This, combined with issues with Rogers' contract, resulted in Trapper being Put on a Bus (back stateside) after the third season. He was not made an unperson, though—jealousy of him worked into two later B.J. stories. The nickname, as related in the original novel and film, is from an incident in his past, when a woman he was having sex with claimed he had "trapped" her.
- The Casanova: Didn't let his status as a married man stop him from chasing nurses as avidly as Hawkeye.
- Character Development: He actually did get some, despite his relatively short time on the series. He starts out simple as The Lancer to Hawkeye before showing some shades of his War Is Hell philosophy when he almost kills a North Korean POW as well as getting drunk and punching out Hawkeye when he attempted to get back home to see his family. Some of these developments would later be mirrored by B.J.
- Cool Shades: He briefly wears these while hungover in a couple of episodes.
- Deadpan Snarker: He's arguably even more of one than Hawkeye, with much of his day-to-day dialogue being delivered in this manner.
- Even the Guys Want Him: It was jokingly implied in an early episode that Hawkeye had seen guys taking peeks at him during calisthenics. Trapper didn't take it to well.Trapper: Which guys are taking peeks at me during calisthenics?Hawkeye: I'd rather not say, some of them were married.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: with Hawkeye, albeit sometimes verging on overt Ho Yay.
- The Lancer: Was both this and a Foil to Hawkeye.
- Put on a Bus: He receives his discharge and returns to the States immediately prior to the start of Season 4.
- Put on a Bus to Hell: At least from Hawkeye's point of view. His not leaving a note (only a goodbye peck on the cheek) clearly upset Hawkeye and has been picked up on by many a fanfic.
- Of course, in real life, it was a "Take That" against actor Wayne Rogers, who had acrimoniously left the show because he was fed up with the fact that Trapper was being treated as a sidekick instead of an equal. In addition, he was also greatly frustrated with a "morals clause" in his contract, which stated he could be suspended or fired if he did anything the producers found objectionable. When Rogers left, in fact, the producers actually sued him for breach of contract, but their case fell apart when it was discovered that Rogers didn't even sign the contract in the first place, due to the clause issue.
- Really Gets Around
- Tranquil Fury: Gets a moment of this in "Radar's Report", when he almost murders a wounded North Korean POW (who'd inadvertently caused the death of one of Trapper's patients while trying to escape from the O.R.) by pulling his IV. Only Hawkeye walking in on him and reminding him that "that's not what we're about" prevents him from following through on it.
- Yank the Dog's Chain: "Check-Up" has him believing he's going to be sent home due to a stomach ulcer, and even getting a big going-away party from the camp...only to learn that this isn't the case.
- In "Kim" he comes to love (and makes plans to adopt) the titular Korean boy, who's presumed to be an orphan. Then the kid's mother turns up.
- Your Cheating Heart: And not sorry about it, although he also seems to genuinely miss his wife and daughters back home.
Lt. Col. Henry Braymore Blake
Played by: McLean StevensonThe Mildly Military commanding officer of the 4077th for the show's first three seasons. Almost always seen with a fishing hat (with lures that made any salute attempt risk a Purple Heart), he was from Bloomington, Illinois. He tried his best to keep the camp running, although between Hawkeye, Trapper, Burns, Houlihan, and Radar... well, OK, Radar's goal was to keep the camp running, too.
- The Alleged Boss: Generally a Type 1, with some Type 4 mixed in. Sometimes has to be reminded that he's actually Pierce and McIntyre's commanding officer.
- Averted in the O.R. scenes, where he is very much in charge. A notable instance comes in "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", when he orders Hawkeye to quit operating on his friend (who's already slipped away) and go help Trapper.
- Also averted regarding Klinger's attempts to be considered mentally unstable - no matter what Klinger tried, Henry would always refuse to discharge him.
- Averted in the O.R. scenes, where he is very much in charge. A notable instance comes in "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", when he orders Hawkeye to quit operating on his friend (who's already slipped away) and go help Trapper.
- Amusing Injuries: In several episodes.
- Cliché Storm: In-universe; Henry was prone to these.Henry: All right, people, I'm gonna give it to you straight. Starting right here and now, we're all going to have to put our shoulders to the wheel, our noses to the grindstone. We've got to hunker down and pull together, all for one and one for all.
- Colonel Badass: Without a doubt, he is NOT one of these, and acknowledges as much himself. Hawkeye once mused privately that he could be arrested for impersonating an officer.Hawkeye: It's a bit like being on a sinking liner, running to the bridge, and finding out the captain is Daffy Duck.
- Father to His Men: Or more specifically to Radar, who actually regresses slightly after Henry is gone.
- First Name Basis: He's routinely addressed in this manner by Hawkeye and Trapper, though for the most part he doesn't seem to mind.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- Genius Ditz: Is a competent doctor, but a chronically indecisive commanding officer.
- Happily Married: In spite of his infidelities (see Your Cheating Heart, below), he seems to love and miss his wife.
- Home Guard: Army Reservist
- Mildly Military: Is usually out of uniform, tends to be lax about discipline, and tolerates an awful lot of guff from his two captains.
- Modern Major General: He's an excellent doctor, but what he knows about being a military officer would probably fit in the palm of his hand. With room to spare.
- Nice Hat: Until he saluted.
- Pointy-Haired Boss: A rare benevolent example. He means well, but he is completely out of his depth in trying to run a MASH unit, and everybody knows it.
- Put on a Bus: At the end of Season 3, he gets his discharge orders and heads off to fly home to the States.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: For a certain value of reasonable. Occasionally he would simply ignore Hawkeye and Trapper's requests because Majors Burns and Houlihan were giving him so much trouble. Other times he'd go to bat for them, even when unexpected. It caught Hawkeye off guard once.Hawkeye: [upon hearing Blake stood up to Burns and Houlihan] How dare you do the right thing?
- Retirony: Accumulates enough points to be discharged, but dies on the trip home when his plane is shot down.
- Ruptured Appendix: He suffers one of these in "The Long John Flap".
- The Talk: His periodic sex lectures kind of resemble this.
- Team Dad: He's a pretty inept administrative figure, but the whole camp loves him for his paternalistic "one of the guys" nature, especially since they know they could have ended up with someone who'd be more militaristic and far worse to bear.
- Like Frank Burns, for example. (Who actually does become their commanding officer for an unspecified period of time between Henry's death and Potter's arrival.)
- That Came Out Wrong: Is apparently incapable of opening his mouth to an authority figure without either revealing too much information or dropping an Accidental Innuendo.
- Your Cheating Heart:
- In the first season he has a regular girlfriend in Lt. Scorch, and there are hints of a couple other extramarital dalliances.
- The "Henry in Love" episode from season 2 has him falling hard for a much younger woman he met on R&R in Tokyo, to the point where it actually jeopardizes his marriage...at least, until Radar puts things right.
- Then in "Life with Father" he experiences the other side of this when he discovers his wife had a fling with an orthodontist in his absence.
Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (at one point also Penobscott)
Played by: Loretta SwitA no-nonsense, by-the-book soldier, and head nurse. Another of the few people who saw the whole show through at the 4077th. The first seasons had her in an illicit relationship with Frank Burns; after meeting Donald Penobscott, she breaks off with him. Later she breaks off with Donald, too, and spends the rest of the show single.
- All Women Are Prudes: Invoked, but Averted. Margaret is publically a prim, professional figure, but she's very passionate in private and, in the early series, it wouldn't be inaccurate to call her a slut with standards.
- Alliterative Name: Her early nickname ("Hot Lips" Houlihan) sort of achieves this effect.
- Battleaxe Nurse: Averted considering that even in her most hardassed period to coworkers in the early years; she is unquestionably professional and caring to the patients.
- Blonde Republican Sex Kitten: At least in the beginning.
- Brainless Beauty: Subverted. though in earlier seasons she tended to get rather silly alone with Frank, she was always responsible, took her job very seriously, and presented as intelligent and competent, even when she was treated on the show as a bit of a babe. Both the audience and her former antagonists grew to respect her over the course of the show.
- Casual Kink: Hinted at in some of her interactions with Frank, and she is generally the dominant figure. A whip is mentioned in one or two episodes, and is even a present from her fiancee Penobscott early in their relationship.
- Character Development: Moved from being a one-joke, unlikable character to a nuanced, much more sympathetic one.
- Covert Pervert: During the early seasons, part of the comedy of Margaret's character is her attempts to hide her extremely sexual nature and antics, only to fool absolutely nobody.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Goes from a real hardass to a much warmer and more human figure over the series.
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Hot Lips", although she seemed to accept it in later seasons.
- Fear of Thunder: In the "C*A*V*E" episode she helps Hawkeye deal with his claustrophobia by sharing (and confronting) her own lifelong fear of loud noises.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- Getting Crap Past the Radar:
Margaret: Frank, my lips are hot! Kiss my hot lips!
- Remember, the hot lips aren't the ones on her face.
- Hawk, pass us a martini. Heavy on the heavy oils.
- Jokes about her ass (a part of her that seemed most noticable by the males in the cast) seemed incredibly common in the series.
- Gung Holier Than Thou: Margaret is very proud of the US Army and her diligence in trying to follow all the rules and regulations, and looks down on the draftees for their less than stellar devotion to what they consider a bunch of silly nonsense. This trait is eased back as part of her "softening up" progress during the series.
- Happily Married: Sadly averted with her marriage to Donald Penobscott.
- Hospital Hottie: A lot of the male characters think she's sexy.
- Irony: She's quite casual about the fact she's sleeping with a married man for the first four seasons of the show, and often gets angry or upset when she's forced to acknowledge that Frank's never going to divorce his wife for her. She finally dumps Frank to marry Donald, only to learn that he's cheating on her, a fact which contributes to her eventually divorcing him.
- Military Brat: Father was career Army. She spent her childhood moving around."When I was a little girl I thought a civilian was just someone who couldn't find his uniform!"
- Starts as The Neidermeyer, to a lesser degree than Frank, but eases into ...
- Moral Myopia: The situation detailed in Irony above; when she finds out about her husband's cheating, the term "Hell hath no fury" might be the best way to describe her reaction.
- No Accounting for Taste: Her relationships with Frank and Donald. The former is a snivelling weasel of a man who she knows for a fact is cheating on his wife to be with her. The latter is a lying, miserly, manipulative jerk who is secretly cheating on her all the time. Scully is somewhat better, but she still dumps him because he doesn't respect her enough.
- Not So Above It All: She occasionally got in on the jokes the rest of the cast played, and at one point started a pun-off with Hawkeye with "the sulfa's in the living room, between the end tables."Hawkeye: [stunned] Margaret. You made a joke!Margaret: I told you I was tired!
- Pet the Dog: Had several of these has she started becoming nicer, especially in instances where she learned to be kinder to her nurses. As early as the second season, we saw her maternal instincts coaxed out by the Korean orphan Kim and her budding friendships with Hawkeye and Klinger in "Aid Station."
- Had a literal one in one episode where she secretly adopted one of the local strays, feeding it scraps of food from the mess hall when no one was looking. Reveals a much more human side to her when she breaks down in tears at the news that the dog was run over by a truck and killed. This leads to another when she befriends a nurse she had berated earlier for being too emotional with the patients. (Ironically, the nurse in question didn't even bat an eye about the dog, while Margaret barely made it to her tent before she collapsed in tears).
- Really Gets Around: In the early seasons, part of the comedy is the fact that Margaret is blatantly implied to have slept with, or be sleeping with, virtually every Major or higher ranked military official who catches her eye. To say nothing of the ongoing adulterous affair with Frank Burns. This aspect gets toned down as she becomes more human.
- She's Got Legs: As seen on the rare occasions when she wears a skirt, or shorts, or a short nightgown, or runs out of the shower wearing only a towel (and, curiously, pantyhose).
- Slap-Slap-Kiss: Does this with Frank in "Dear Dad...Three".
- Her liaison with Hawkeye in "Comrades in Arms" could be seen as a more figurative version.
- Sleeping Their Way To The Top: More than once other staff members make remarks suggesting that Margaret has slept around to help her career. And while it's never shown (or confirmed by "Hot Lips"), it is made clear she has had sexual relations with high ranking officers. However, even in her Hot Lips days it was suggested she only slept with high ranking officers because that's just the kind of men she likes, and that she hasn't used it to her advantage. One might remember who her father is.
- The Smurfette Principle: There's quite a few nurses, but she's the primary female character in the core cast.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: Specifically noted by Hawkeye in one episode, where he describes Margaret to his father like this: "The major is a paradox. A woman of considerable passion, she is also a stickler for military correctness. I wouldn't mind making a grab for her myself, but I don't know how to do that and salute her at the same time."
- Stepford Smiler: Much tougher and gritter than the usual example, but definitely one. Even in an early episode we see her smiling over her younger sister getting married, though it's clear that Margaret is bothered that she, herself, is not even engaged.
- Sweater Girl: Especially in the early seasons.
- Team Mom: To her nurses, in a way. She's very hard on them but she's also quite protective of them.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: To Hawkeye and B.J., with some underlying Belligerent Sexual Tension with the former. She never stops snarking at them, but eventually warms up enough to play practical jokes on them and even tickle-attacks Hawkeye in one episode.
- Speaking of sexual tension, there's a fair amount of this between her and Trapper in the early seasons. In "Hot Lips and Empty Arms", (while she's drunk as a skunk,) she wraps her arms around Trapper and tells him her true feelings while they're both in the shower.
- The same thing happens in "Check-Up", when everyone thinks Trapper is going home and he's given a farewell party, she makes it very clear that she's always found him attractive.
- Well Done, Daughter Girl: Shares a moment like this with her father at the end of the episode "Father's Day." Col. Potter gives her this a couple times, as well.
- What Does She See in Him?: Margaret's passionate affection for Frank elicits a lot of puzzlement, In-Universe and out. It's implied it's because he is both as passionately supportive of the military and its regulations as she is (in theory, at least) and a relatively high-ranking military officer (rank being a definite turn-on for her). Later series episodes add the implication she also found Frank's tormented side and passionate displays of affection endearing, if not enough to make up for his many, many personality faults. Or his persistent status as a married man.
Maj. (offscreen, Lt. Col.) Franklin "Frank" Marion "Ferret Face" Burns
Played by: Larry LinvilleThe camp's second-in-command, and a real Jerk Ass. The closest anyone came to enjoying his company in the series was Maj. Houlihan, with whom he had an illicit relationship—he has a wife and family back in his home of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
- Abusive Parents: As he tells Trapper in one episode, "I'm from a very strict family. We weren't allowed to talk at meals. We couldn't even hum. Anybody who hummed got a punch in the throat."
- During a phone call with his mother, he comments that his father only pretended to like him, a comment seemingly undisputed by his mother.
- Annoying Laugh: One ad libbed by Linville.
- Birthday Episode: Both "For Want of a Boot" and "The Most Unforgettable Characters" have Frank's birthday as a subplot. Oddly enough, the former episode is set in the dead of winter while the latter takes place in June.
- For a character like Frank, a birthday in the dead of winter, where most people are freezing cold and miserable, seems quite fitting.
- Butt Monkey: Squarely in the sights of anyone on the show with a rank of Captain.
- Can't Hold His Liquor: Played with. He's normally a Teetotaler, and when he does drink he tends to get very drunk indeed. On the other hand, he seems to be able to imbibe without feeling it or reacting to the taste. Possibly he can hold his liquor, and just happens to drink enough to get good and plastered on the rare occasions that he lets his hair down.
- Combat Medic: What he thinks he is.
- The Neidermeyer: What he actually is. In about every field he was involved in, whether military or medical.
- The season one episode "Major Fred C. Dobbs" has Henry Blake refer to him as "a fair, competent general surgeon", implying that Frank was not really a bad doctor but merely an inferior one when compared to Hawkeye and Trapper (and later B.J. and Winchester), but as time went by the writers just went more and more with the all-around bad doctor jokes. Granted, those were ubiquitous from the beginning, and was in fact a defining trait in the book. Henry's anger at Hawkeye and Trapper in that particular episode may have led him to give Frank more credit than he deserved. It could also be possible that he is a skilled surgeon, but his own ego causes him to make mistakes that make him seem worse than he is.
- Control Freak: One of his defining traits is his being a stickler for discipline and order, especially military. It made his (fortunately brief) tenure as a base commander absolutely unbearable.
- Dark and Troubled Past: His stories about his childhood are genuinely disturbing. Even his actor Larry Linville said there was something very dark and dangerous about Frank.
- Delusions of Eloquence: He's sometimes prone to this.Frank: Leadership is a lonely business. Your Napoleons, your Kaisers, your Atillas the Hun...
- Dirty Coward: When he believes he's been captured by North Koreans pretending to be supply soldiers, he immediately tries to surrender and offer them all of the information he knows. Lucky for him, even the enemy couldn't stand him and told him to get out of the jeep and walk back to camp.
- Drink Order: Shirley Temple.
- Dr. Jerk: He's a doctor, and he's a complete and total asshole. What more need be said?
- Dry Crusader: In "Alcoholics Unanimous".
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Marion
- Embarrassing Nickname: "Ferret Face". Which, as he drunkenly confesses in one episode, was given to him by his own brother.
- Truth in Television on that one: the nickname and the origin story for it are based on events in Larry Linville's childhood.
- Fatal Flaw: Greed. It's implied that he truly does love Margaret, but he's simply too greedy to give up his money by divorcing his wife (who has all the stocks and properties in her name).
- Fetish: Frank has a thing for feet.
- First Name Basis: Pretty much every other officer in camp routinely addresses him this way (save for Col. Potter, who's Regular Army enough to call him "Major" or "Burns" despite having no more respect for him than any of the others).
- Flanderization: Particularly in the fifth season, which led to Linville leaving the show when his contract expired, as there was no further development possible for Burns. (And the fact that even Linville was starting to hate Frank.)
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Freudian Excuse: Frank apparently had an absolutely miserable childhood.
- Gung Holier Than Thou: Frank is constantly flaunting what a patriotic American he is and his love for the military. At the same time, he's also a total coward who lives in fear of actually getting hurt in the war.
- Hate Sink: Serves as one of these In-Universe. At one point, Hawkeye attacks a particularly obnoxious Frank whilst claiming that nobody will save him due to Frank being "the ten most hated men in this camp". Something of a Running Gag is that even Margaret, the one person in the camp who actually likes him, will often lose patience and call him out on being a despicable human being. Case in point, after he gets Section 8'ed out of the camp, whilst packing Frank's things, Margaret goes from talking about Frank's sweet, tender side to angrily calling him a fink for stealing her alarm clock.
- Henpecked Husband: Implied from conversation and from the home movie of his wedding.
- Holier Than Thou: Though not so much as his movie counterpart, and in fact most of his ardor is channeled into patriotism rather than religion.
- Hypochondria: Seen any time he's sick or injured. Especially in the episode where the unit had to take precautions due to a hepatitis scare.
- Gave himself a Purple Heart because he was caught a shell fragment in his eye. No, not a mortar shell fragment, an egg shell fragment. From opening a hardboiled egg too hard.
- Jerk Ass: Frank Burns is the camp's resident asshole. So much so that he was more of an enemy to the MASH populace than the war was, during the early seasons. The war was down the road, whilst Frank was right next door.
- Jerk Ass Woobie: As much of a jerk as he is, you really are inclined to feel a bit sorry for him on occasion, such as during the telephone call scene in "Margaret's Engagement." Most of the time, his suffering at the hands of his tentmates is classic Comedic Sociopathy material. His wedding video increases the Woobiedom, with almost no guests, a bride who doesn't smile, and getting a fly strip stuck to his face while cutting the cake.
- Lawful Stupid: When commanding, he discovered that the "M" in "M.A.S.H." stood for "mobile". So he naturally decided to move the entire camp 100 feet down the road... and then, the next day, moved it back.
- Leader Wannabe: He often would covet being the CO, and would thus relish the times when (as 2nd in command) he would be temporarily put into command (his underlings, not so much).
- Man Child: Frank often displays appallingly childish behavior for a man his age and in his position. Perhaps the most telling is in Colonel Potter's introductory episode; not only does Frank, upon retreating to Margaret's tent after hearing he's being replaced as Commanding Officer of the 4077, start shouting and flailing his limbs around in a temper tantrum befitting a toddler, he then complains about how the camp will miss him when he's gone and starts holding his breath like a toddler. Soon after, he actually runs away from home like a little kid, something that an incredulous Hawkeye calls Margaret out on.
- Some of Frank's more disturbing moments arguably bump him up to Psychopathic Man Child, with his willingness to do stuff like steal a colonel's sixshooter to impress Margaret and then allow Corporal O'Reily to take the blame and potentially be given 15 years in the stockade for it.
- Manly Tears: On hearing the news of Henry's death in "Abyssinia, Henry". A rare human moment for the character.
- Miles Gloriosus: Frank likes to make out that he's a tough soldier who's ready to fight the Red Menace bare-handed, but tends to fold like a tent anytime there's a hint of real danger.
- Mistaken for Gay: The episode "The Chosen People" has a scene where Frank is on the phone with another Major from headquarters. After bitching about the slipshod way things are being run at the 4077th, Frank tells the other officer, "You're my kinda fella... Hey, maybe we can get together sometime? I have a feeling that we're very much alike." While we only see/hear Frank's side of the conversation, it's clear from his subsequent, horrified reaction that the guy propositioned him.
- And, of course, Hawkeye and Trapper deliberately induce this in "The Ringbanger".
- Momma's Boy: Frank's mother is probably the only one who truly loves him.
- Significantly, he keeps a photograph of her next to his cot but none of his wife or kids. (He does mention he's got a picture of his wife in his wallet at one point, but considering that he's on the phone with his wife and trying to stop her from leaving him at the time, it's questionable whether that's actually true.)
- My God, What Have I Done?: In the "O.R." episode, after discovering he was trying to remove a kidney from a patient who only had one.note Frank's surgical incompetence is usually Played for Laughs, but in this particular case he seems to be genuinely horrified at what he nearly did... and uncharacteristically grateful to Trapper for pointing it out to him in time.
- Never My Fault: He gives Klinger a hard time for being out of uniform by wearing a red bandana while Klinger is delivering some necessary supplies a nurse asked for. Frank physically holds Klinger back, causes him to drop the supplies, and remarks, "See what you did?!"
- He'll often verbally tear into his current nurse for a mistake he made or for something he omitted during surgery. At one point his words even cause Nurse Ginger to cry.
- Number Two: And no, that's not a Double Entendre. Okay, not an intentional one.
- Only in It for the Money : Why he became a doctor, and why he never divorced his wife despite his affair with Houlihan. It's mentioned pretty frequently that his house and most of his investments are in her name.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Along with his other negative qualities, Frank is strongly prejudiced against Koreans (even South Korean allies), and foreigners in general. He's also a homophobe.
- Put on a Bus: His offscreen crackup and departure at the start of Season 6. After losing it and attacking a general and his wife (mistaking them for Margaret and Donald) while on R&R in Tokyo, he's put under psychiatric observation. Then he's cleared of all charges, promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and put in command of a VA hospital back in the States. Hawkeye understandably does not take the news of this well. Neither does BJ, for that matter.
- Red Scare: Bought into this thoroughly.
- Sanity Slippage: Not that he's the sanest character to begin with, but he really doesn't react well to Margaret dumping him and getting engaged to (and eventually marrying) Donald Penobscott.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Frank's ego far outstrips his actual capabilities.
- Straw Conservative: Used to help emphasize his villain status in comparison to the Liberal-leaning Hawkeye.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: Frequently, especially with regard to his relationship with Margaret.
- That Came Out Wrong: Occasionally, in his conversations with Margaret.Frank: Oh, Margaret, you're my snug harbor. I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you to sail into.
- Triage Tyrant: Sent in American soldiers ahead of Korean ones even though the Koreans are in much more critical state. However, this IS Truth in Television, as this was the actual standard triage procedure at genuine MASH units. It's the WAY he went about it, however, that put the "tyrant" in Triage Tyrant.
- Unintentionally Sympathetic: Much like, for example, Arnold J. Rimmer, Frank Burns is supposed to be the most obnoxious, annoying and awful member of the cast, but his Freudian Excuse and the sheer quantity of hate directed at him In-Universe often leads to people sympathising with him in reality.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheats on his wife with Margaret Houlihan but never planned to actually divorce her. Also carried on an affair with his receptionist before coming to Korea, which it is implied he intends to renew upon his arrival (he is still in contact with her and making references to the hotel they would meet at in letters).
- In yet another Hypocritical Humor example, he's also paranoid that his wife is cheating on him back home, to the point of hiring a detective to follow her... and then worrying that she's fooling around with him, prompting him to hire a second detective to shadow the first one. (An unmade episode reveals that she actually has been having an affair with a Congressman, although the canonicity of this is questionable.)
Cpl. Walter Eugene "Radar" O’Reilly
Played by: Gary BurghoffThe company clerk, and the epitome of Hypercompetent Sidekicknote ; Steve Jackson has actually used him and his ability to know things 'before the Colonel' as full-blown Psychic Powers in two of the company's roleplaying games. In fact, his nickname derives from announcing incoming helicopters before anyone else can. Early on, he's shown as pretty savvy and worldly, and occasionally even a little bit devious; later, the Ottumwa, Iowa native develops more into the lovably naïve Woobie we all know. Note that we didn't say he stopped being savvy and worldly... whether he simply opted to behave better for the new CO is up to the viewer.
- Absentee Actor: Gary Burghoff renegotiated his contract to limit his appearances beginning in the fourth season, so there are actually quite a few episodes that have Radar "away on R&R".
- And Starring: Burghoff was billed this way in the season 8 episodes up to and including "Good-Bye, Radar".
- The Anticipator: More strongly in the early seasons, but Radar is defined by his ability to anticipate and preemptively prepare just about everything, including the Running Gag of always hearing choppers before anyone else does.
- Bearer of Bad News:"I have a message...Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's plane was shot down over the Sea of Japan. It spun in. There were no survivors."
- It also falls to him to inform Trapper he's not going home in "Check-Up", and to tell Hawkeye that Trapper did go home (while Hawk was away on R&R) in "Welcome to Korea".
- In "Change of Command" he has to tell Frank Burns that Potter's replacing him as CO, an assignment that fills him with such terror that Hawkeye and B.J. accompany him as backup. (To everyone's surprise, Frank accepts the news with calm professionalism...at least until he's alone with Margaret in her tent.)
- In "Dear Sigmund" he composes a letter to the parents of an ambulance driver killed in a crash, which Potter then signs.
- It usually falls on him to wake up a sleeping surgeon, typically because all Hell has broken loose (incoming wounded, patient getting worse, etc).
- Berserk Button: Don't let him see you mistreat an animal.
- Don't talk badly about his teddy bear. Or Iowa. Or his mother.
- It's also not such a good idea to shoot the bugle out of his hands during morning assembly.
- Making fun of his short stature is also a source of annoyance for him.
- Big Eater: He is seen quite a few times carrying or devouring a huge tray full of food, and is the only person in camp who never complained about the quality of the food. Hawkeye at one point suggests ending the war by having Radar eat North Korea.Klinger: How can you eat this slop?Radar: My tongue is tone-deaf.
- Broken Pedestal: "Fallen Idol" is all about Radar's disillusionment after learning Hawkeye, who Radar saw as a "Super Surgeon" who could do anything under any kind of pressure, was drunk on duty and had to leave the O.R. mid-operation to throw up, leaving Charles to finish for him. Radar was never told it was because Hawkeye was under tremendous guilt for getting Radar wounded in the first place.
- Characterization Marches On: As noted above, he's a lot more sly, devious and worldly in the early seasons, including stealing Colonel Blake's brandy and cigars, but he becomes more childlike and innocent after Colonel Potter joins the cast, losing his taste for smoking and drinking anything other than soft drinks.
- Companion Cube: His teddy bear.
- Country Mouse: From a small town in Iowa. When interviewed, he initially doesn't see the point in saying hi to his mom because there was only one television set in his town.
- Cute but Cacophonic: Played with. Henry and Potter occasionally have trouble getting the staff to quiet down, only for Radar to instantly shut them all up by bellowing "QUIET!" Other times, he merely has to say it at a normal volume and everyone immediately quiets down.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not nearly as often as the doctors, but even more so on the "deadpan" end of the scale. And he was more likely to get away with it because it wasn't expected of him.Frank: Here's tomorrow's routine. See that it's posted.Radar: (reading the routine) They're not gonna like this.Frank: I didn't come here to be liked.
- Dreadful Musician: His bugling leaves a lot to be desired. And when he plays the bridal chorus on the piano during Margaret's wedding, he flubs a couple notes and winds up noodling a bit before Mulcahy gets him to stop.
- However, he can play a mean set of drums...as can Gary Burghoff.
- Drink Order: Radar is partial to grape Nehi.
- He's also apparently the only one in camp that drinks it. In one episode from well after his departure, we learn that the Officer's Club still has a huge supply of the stuff since nobody else would touch it.
- When it comes to the hard stuff, Radar's been known to drink Henry's brandy when he's off doing other things.
- Fainting: On a bus with a wounded Korean woman who goes into labor, Radar practically has a Heroic BSOD.
- Flanderization: Grew increasingly more childlike and naive as the show went along.
- It is debatable if he actually regressed emotionally from what he was like in the earlier seasons or if he simply curtailed his naughtier behavior because he knew the more stern Col. Potter would never tolerate the kind of foolishness that the more laid back Col. Blake had looked the other way for. And Potter was a Reasonable Authority Figure.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Friend to All Living Things: His menagerie of pets. He even objected to killing a rabbit of his as part of a pregnancy test.
- In one episode he tells Col. Blake he's got sixteen cats back home. ("At the draft board they found a furball in my throat.")
- Funny Background Event: Often.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: Rarely swore; his epithets of choice were mostly limited to "Heck!" and "Aw, jeez!"
- To the point that when he actually says "Hell," Hawkeye and BJ realize he's seriously distressed.
- Height Angst: Radar is periodically embarrassed by or ashamed of his shortness, combined with others teasing him this makes him very angry.
- Hiding The Handicap: Meta-example: Gary Burghoff has a congenital deformity of three fingers on his left hand, and would always hide his hand the best he could whenever possible on camera.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Generally the main interaction between the unit and I Corps. One episode is built entirely around Hawkeye and Trapper John trying to get an incubator, going all the way up to (and disrupting the press conference of) a brigadier general. In the denoument, Radar reveals he just traded for one.
- Especially in the early seasons where Colonel Blake was "in charge," Radar pretty much ran the unit and pointed to the lines where Blake needed to sign. (One episode had Blake "jokingly" admitting that Radar actually ran things at a camp assembly. Absolutely nobody laughed.)
- Later in the series, Col. Potter plainly and proudly said "Radar really runs the base" to his worried doctors when his departure to an indoc required Burns to be in charge.
- In-Series Nickname: Called Radar because of his ability to predict incoming helicopters.
- I Need a Freaking Drink: In the form of a Grape Nehi, of course.
- Malaproper: Occasionally, along with elements of Buffy Speak and Department of Redundancy Department. However, at other times he can be quite eloquent; witness, for example, his impassioned condemnation of the cost of war on people in the episode "The Interview".
- Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Radar is called as such because he seems to be psychic, knowing when choppers are coming before they do and completing his superiors sentences when asked to do an order. The show makes it vague at whether Radar is psychic or just has extremely good hearing and knows rules, regulations and what his superiors will tell him by heart. Once, Potter managed to foul it up by giving him an order he didn't expect; Sherman was, to say the very least, pleased.
Hawkeye: (writing home to his father) It's very quiet at the moment, Dad. The only man in sight is Radar O'Reilly, an amazing kid. I've never put much stock in E.S.P. but if it is possible for one person to read another person's mind Radar has that ability, the little fink.Radar: (walking by that very moment) Is that a nice thing to say?
- At one point, he appears to be a telepath....
- In another episode, Potter is composing a letter to his wife (which we hear via voiceover). At one point he tells her that his company clerk is "nice enough, but a little squirrelly". Radar, who's busy tidying up the desk right next to Potter, pauses in his work and glances at him.
- In the original novel, he actually is. His girlfriend in the book is too.
- Meaningful Name: Called Radar because of his ability to predict... well, just about everything, but approaching choppers in particular.
- Misplaced Wildlife: He has a skunk. In Korea. Skunks are mostly New World creatures; the few that aren't (stink badgers) are from Indonesia and the Philippines.
- Nerd Glasses: Present & accounted for, Sir!
- Precision F-Strike: From the last person you'd expect. But in the episode where Potter's horse takes sick while he's away, the doctors have trouble taking the animal's ailment seriously until Radar lets looks with the dreaded H-bomb (followed by "H-E-double-toothpicks!")
- Put on a Bus: He receives a hardship discharge so he can go home and help run his family's farm after the death of his Uncle Ed in Season 8.
- Rank Up: Gets promoted to Second Lieutenant in one episode, thanks to an administrator owing a poker debt to Hawkeye and BJ. It gets undone at the end of the episode, though.
- The Scrounger: Part of his effectiveness as a clerk comes from his being good at this. He's better at the paperwork side, however.
- Security Blanket: He had a teddy bear (likely to symbolize his childlike innocence) which he was always a little embarrassed about. However, in the episode where he left the cast (where his going-away party was cancelled due to an emergency rush of wounded shipped in and he had to leave without saying goodbye to anyone) he leaves it behind so they can remember him; Hawkeye and the others find it in the last scene. In the final episode, they place it in the time capsule, representing all the soldiers who came there as boys and left as men.
- The Short Guy with Glasses: With the "short" part, in particular, being the source of a great many jokes from Hawkeye and others.
- Spider-Sense: Always knows when the choppers are in-coming before any annoucement over the PA is made.
Hawkeye: [to Trapper, as Radar picks up and answers the phone] Did you hear a ring?
- He also tends to pick up the phone just before it rings, and in the early seasons had a habit of anticipating Col. Blake's orders before they were even given.
- The Tonsillitis Episode: He comes down with this in "None Like It Hot".
- This had been a minor Running Gag through the series up until that point, with Hawkeye randomly commenting that Radar's tonsils would have to come out eventually.
Cpl. (later Sgt.) Maxwell Q. Klinger
Played by: Jamie FarrA corpsman forever trying to get out of the Army on a psychiatric discharge, most notably by dressing in women's clothing; he cited a family history of this. Of his family, most are not English-speaking, and most are in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio. And yes, both the Toledo Mud Hens and Tony Packo's are real. (The Mud Hens at one point slaughtered the big-league Detroit Tigers in a pre-season game. It was a rebuilding year.)
- Always Someone Better: After Radar goes home, Klinger takes over his job as company clerk. Things don't go so smoothly at first, with Klinger taking a lot of flak for not being able to perform to Radar's high standards. However, Potter later admits that it was wrong to expect Klinger to simply be Radar and not give him a chance to grow into the job.
- Klinger eventually becomes a clerk on par with, if not even better than, Radar. He eventually earns a promotion to sergeant.
- Becoming the Mask: At one point, he worries about his orientation, given that at one point he's looking at sexy catalog shots... and contemplating how the outfits would look on him. Out of character, fears of this being implied by Farr's dressing in drag on TV every week and the fact that his children were becoming old enough to watch their father on TV in same led to Farr lobbying to get the crossdressing diminished and nearly eliminated as the series wore on.
- Breakout Character: Klinger had been intended as a one-time throwaway gag character (meant to reference Lenny Bruce and (apocryphal rumours of) his attempts to get out of World War II dressed as a WAC). Kinger proved so popular with the audience and the cast that they just kept writing him into episodes.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: For all Klinger's discharge schemes, he never does them at the expense of his duties. That in turn explains why his antics are usually tolerated by the commanding officers even while they are never fooled.
- Character Development: From Flat Character, add Hidden Depths. In fact, used to name the antitrope to Flanderization.
- Childhood Friend Romance: With Laverne Esposito, whom he marries (via radio) in season 3. After she finds another love back in Toledo, she and Klinger divorce in season 6...clearing the way for him to meet and marry Soon-Lee at the end of the final season.
- *Click* Hello: Pulled this on a Chinese POW who tried to assault him using a scalpel.Klinger: Are you crazy? You wrecked a thirty-nine dollar dress! Your people will pay for this! *Pulls back the lever on his rifle and points the barrel not five inches from the POW's face.*
- Crying Wolf: Because of all the escape and discharge-catching attempts, there are several times in the series when others think Klinger is faking an actual source of trouble. Most notably his emotional distress when his wife sends him a "Dear John" letter and his getting sick from a dose of the antimalarial Primaquine.
- Determinator: When it comes to trying to get out of the Army, he is an absolute marvel of perseverance.Henry: (*pulls out binder of Klinger's forged letters*) Father dying, last year. Mother dying, last year. Mother and father dying. Mother, father, and older sister dying. Mother dying and older sister pregnant. Older sister dying and mother pregnant. Younger sister pregnant and older sister dying. Here's an oldie but a goodie: half of the family dying, other half pregnant. (*puts file down*) Klinger, aren't you ashamed of yourself?Klinger: Yes, sir. (*beat*) I don't deserve to be in the Army.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Several times.
- After he learns his wife has left him for someone else and wants a divorce, he goes looking for sympathy, but everyone thinks it's another con to get a Section 8. Ripping off part of his dress demonstrates he's not joking around this time.
- Had this reaction after getting hassled over not living up to Radar's high standards immediately.
- One episode shows him trying to decorate his living area with personal mementos, but Potter chastizes him for it. His quarters are the headquarters for the camp, so Potter demands a more professional look and no mementos at all. Klinger responds that everyone else gets to decorate their living areas with reminders of home and expressions of their identity, so he deserves the same freedom. In the end, they compromise and Klinger is allowed to set up some small items.
- Klinger once became seriously ill, but everybody believed that Klinger was faking illness to get out of work. When a Jewish soldier develops symptoms identical to Klinger's, that soldier is believed without question, something that Klinger calls the medical staff on. Its eventually discovered that Klinger had developed hemolysis from taking the antimalarial Primaquine, and his life was in serious danger.note
- Early Installment Weirdness: In his second appearance, Klinger was portrayed as having a Hair-Trigger Temper, to the point where he plans to threaten Frank Burns with a live grenade as revenge for Frank chiding him in postop (and refusing to allow him to wear a lucky red bandana his mother had given him). The incident was never mentioned again, and Klinger was generally portrayed as good-natured and easygoing from that point on. Well, he does have a Berserk Button when it comes to Sgt. Zale, specifically if Zale insults either his manhood or Toledo. In the fifth season episode "Hepatitis", when Hawkeye comes to check Klinger (who's in the kitchen) to see if he's showing any signs of the disease, Klinger brings up Zale insulting Toledo and starts getting worked up and throwing things around. He apologizes, but then gets worked up again with the same results. It gets to the point where Hawkeye has to pin Klinger against the wall just to keep him from doing it again.
- Extreme Omnivore: Invoked in one of his more famous one-off attempts to get a Section 8, where Klinger methodically starts disassembling an Army jeep and ingesting the parts. Deconstructed in that not only does it fail to work, Klinger has to be operated on to remove the bolts, oil and windscreen wiper rubber that he ended up eating after they cause him severe stomach pain.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Almost always, with his efforts to get out of Korea. Only two have a chance to work, and he nixes them. In one, he fakes a form to go home, to desert; after What Have I Done, he rushes to get the form rescinded—just as the brass are ready to approve it. In the other, the war ended. He stayed for his new wife.Klinger: I Can't Believe I'm Saying This...I'm staying in Korea!
- In the Season 2 episode "Radar's Report," Sidney Freedman offers to put his discharge through - if Klinger signs a form stating that he is a transvestite and a homosexual. Klinger balks, especially when Sidney emphasizes that Klinger would have to keep wearing dresses for the rest of his life.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine
- Happily Married: Averted with his first marriage to Laverne Esposito; (presumably) played straight with his second marriage to Soon-Lee.
- He's Got Legs
- Hidden Depths: Klinger has no real love for the Army, but he always does what is expected him at the camp. He desperately wants out of Korea, but he's not going to endanger a patient because of it. And the whole reason he wants out is because, as he explains to Father Mulcahy in one early episode, "I was brought up to respect life, and that's impossible with all this killing."
- Demonstrated with his tireless efforts as an orderly. No matter what scam he was pulling, he never once shirked his responsibilities. Even the time that he tried to convince everyone that he was crazy by acting as though he were home in Toledo, he still assisted in triage (under the guise of helping victims of a traffic accident, but still).
- As mentioned above, he called out the officers for believing that he was faking an illness to get out of work. He was obviously very offended that they would think he would shirk his responsibilities.
- Love at First Sight: Averted oh so hard with Soon-Lee. When they first meet, he is in charge of watching her after she is arrested. Their relationship builds over several episodes.
- Nice Hat: He has a truly impressive and varied collection of millinery to go along with his dresses and other outfits. And, in later seasons, a Toledo Mud Hens cap.
- Obfuscating Insanity: His entire M.O., as he seeks a Section 8 to get out of the Army. In one case, he really milks this trope by pretending his surroundings are Toledo, that he's a mere salesman and that he has no memory of the unit. It almost works, but Potter tricks him in the end.
- Only Sane Man: At one point B.J. suggests that Klinger may actually be this, precisely because he's the only one actively trying to remove himself from the war.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 4.
- Rank Up: He gets promoted to Sergeant in season 10.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Even after he gives up wearing dresses, he still wears a pink bathrobe.
- The Scrounger: He takes over the mantle from Radar along with the clerk's job. Radar may have been better at the paperwork angle (Potter mentions that Klinger's filing system makes no sense whatsoever) but Klinger is the better scrounger.
- Considering that Radar filed the maps for the minefield under 'B' for 'Boom', how much worse is Klinger?
- Unlimited Wardrobe: He had a vast number of dresses and costumes.
- Wacky Guy: Frequently.
- Wholesome Crossdresser: Well, as wholesome as an average U.S. Army corporal can be. Abandoned (along with most of the other Section 8 dodges) once he becomes company clerk.
- You Know I'm Black, Right?: When Charles goes off on "swarthy" Italians, Max becomes outraged, telling him that his family is all "swarthy" (being Mediterranean).
Lt. (later Capt.) Francis John Patrick Mulcahy
Played by: William Christopher (at least, for the most part)A Catholic priest, Mulcahy is the 4077th's quietly devout company chaplain. And one of the few characters who managed to get a promotion.
- Badass Preacher: Whether it is performing an tracheotomy under enemy fire or disarming a desperate AWOL soldier covering him at point blank range, Father Mulcahy knows no fear when called upon.
- Beware the Nice Ones: He's easily one of the nicest characters alongside Radar, but when he's angry, he's a force to be reckoned with.
- Deadpan Snarker: On occasion, usually when dispensing a little therapy.Father Mulcahy: [Trapper, drunk, is sitting at the piano at the O Club] Is something bothering you, Trapper?Trapper: I'm not Catholic, Father.Father Mulcahy: Well, all in good time... Which is more that I can say about your piano playing.
Klinger: Stray bomb appears out of nowhere. Blows up a shipment of chipped beef. What do you call that?Father Mulcahy: A gift from heaven.
- Sometimes he just managed to get one in before the doctors.
- Determinator: The guy never stops. Helping out around the 4077th, hearing confessions, playing therapist to the wounded and the staff alike, working in his garden, helping out at the local orphanage, and he only ever admits to being tired two or three times in the entire series. Also apparently a theme in his sermons. When he's busy, he typically seems happier, because he's of more use. When virtually the entire 4077th was down with salmonella, he was thrilled.Colonel Potter: Indomitable. The man is indomitable.
- Dreadful Musician: Regarded as this at times. He's pretty good on the piano most of the time, but others:Mulcahy: I've been playing this song for twenty minutes, I can't find the ending!
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Suffers from it more than anyone on the show. Epitomized in the episode where he demands to be promoted to Captain.Mulcahy: The meek shall inherit the Earth, but the grumpy get promoted!
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- Good Old Fisticuffs: The man is an amazing boxer. It starts as an Informed Attribute but it turns out he's just reluctant to hurt people, cause he's a, y'know, priest.
- Becomes a plot point in "Dear Sis", when he's punched by an unruly triage patient, reflexively responds in kind, and is wracked by guilt afterwards.
- Good Shepherd: Mulcahy is very obviously NOT a parody priest, instead being very devoted to his charges and the care of their souls. He extends this even to the Koreans in the vicinity, raising money to help orphanages in the area and ministering to Korean civilians as much as Army personnel. He's also non-legalistic and ecumenical in his theological outlook (which is slightly ironic for a devout Catholic, and very unusual for the time periods the show was set/shot in), to the point of being fascinated by and even supportive of the locals' customs and beliefs. It seems that to him, what you have faith in isn't nearly so important as that you have faith.
- Gosh Dang It to Heck!: He is a man of the cloth, after all. So you know he's really miffed when, for instance, he tells the camp (in the "Blood Brothers" episode), "You're all a bunch of...stinkers!"
- The Heart: The man is the camp priest, after all. So, naturally, he does his best to be the most empathic and moral of them all.
- Hot for Preacher: Is subject to this in one episode. Very much to his dismay.
- Irish Priest: Well, seems to have a slight lilt in his voice sometimes. And is fond of roller derby.
- The McCoy: Surprisingly, he tends to be the one bringing up the emotional or "morally right" approach to various crises.
- My God, What Have I Done?: After belting a patient, in "Dear Sis". Then again, said patient did justify the use of force, although medics usually don't go for a punch in the jaw. He actually suffers a minor BSOD over it, when the patient angrily suggests that he went to seminary school at a boxing gym. Turns out Mulcahy taught boxing at the CYO.
- In "Blood Brothers", he starts acting like a jerk when he finds out a visiting Cardinal will be there for his weekly sermon and he wants everything to be perfect. When he finds out one of the patients in Post-Op has been diagnosed with leukemia (when offering to be a blood donor for a wounded comrade), he breaks down during his sermon and says he feels ashamed that he behaved so selfishly over trivial matters.
- Nice Hat: The white Panama hat he frequently wears.
- Promotion to Opening Titles: In season 5.
- Rank Up: Gets promoted to Captain in season 8, after numerous complaints about being passed over.
- Running Gag: If there's some sort of betting pool among the personnel, Mulcahy will usually win (and then donate the money to the orphanage).
- Seen It All: Says as much by the end of the series.Father Mulcahy: I'll miss hearing confession, but after listening to you people for so long, I think I've just about heard it all.
- This also works as a stealth Tear Jerker since by this time the audience knows what the other characters don't: that Mulcahy has lost his hearing.
- Soldiers at the Rear: As an Army Chaplain, he is not allowed to fight and most people understand that. One episode, "Mulcahy's War", is all about him making an unauthorized trip to the front precisely so he can better relate to what the patients he ministers to are going through.
- There Are No Therapists: Averted thanks to him. Both he and Sidney Freedman (an actual therapist) admit that he's more the camp's sounding board and confidant than he is their actual spiritual leader. He's even able to notice when Sidney himself needs some counseling. And when he needs one, he usually turns to Hawkeye, of all people. Multiple times throughout the series, he questions his own usefulness amongst the destruction, and notes that the stakes are higher with his line of work.Mulcahy: [to Hawkeye] When you lose a patient, he's out of his misery. When I lose a patient, he's lost his soul.
Capt. B.J. Hunnicutt
Played by: Mike FarrellA competent surgeon from San Francisco, California. He's introduced as a clean-shaven nice-guy replacement surgeon at the start of the fourth season (replacing Trapper John). As the series goes on, he starts slipping in his sanity (although not quite as far as some); granted, in the first episode, he has to deal with a farmer using his daughters as minesweepers and roadside surgery. Later he would grow a Seventies Porn Moustache, and start letting out another facet foreshadowed in a Mockumentary episode: a growing anger.
- Berserk Button: He's one of the nicest character on the show, but he has his buttons.
- Don't question his loyalty to his family. Aside from his rant in "Period of Adjustment", he threatens to "break every bone" in the body of a colonel who insinuated that he fathered a half-Korean child.
- He's also very protective of Hawkeye. He frequently stands up for him verbally and once completely lost his cool, threatening to "break the neck" of a soldier who tried to throttle his friend.
- Beware the Nice Ones:
BJ: I...er...I'm sorry, Father.Mulcahy: Nothing to worry about, my son. beat Maybe you should try needlepoint.
- Generally, he was the resident Nice Guy family man on the show but when he lost his temper and let his frustration out he could get violent. Namely by getting stinking drunk, smashing the still, and punching Hawkeye in the face. Later, after the confrontation with the soldier who tried to hurt Hawkeye, he turned to Father Mulcahy, who suggested using his speedbag for a bit. BJ knocked the thing off its mounting with one hit.
- Hawkeye also discovered that B.J. was an even better, devious prankster than anyone in the camp.
- The Big Guy: Mike Farrell is one seriously tall man (then again, so were Wayne Rogers, McLean Stevenson and David Ogden Stiers). A Running Gag is his shoe size - never revealed, but apparently massive. Most of the time, though, he falls into Gentle Giant territory. Also the only officer to ever be shown voluntarily exercising in any way.
- Break the Cutie: Gradually over the show's run. Doesn't quite complete, but he's waved goodbye to Hawkeye with his knuckles at least once.
- Character Development: In the earlier episodes, B.J. tends to be idealistic, passionate, but a bit naive whereas Hawkeye was the more cynical of the two. By the end, Hawkeye would frequently be the passionate one trying to enact some kind of change with B.J. acting as the cynical voice of experience restraining him.
- Cool Bike: He acquires one in "Blood and Guts" (although it's taken and subsequently wrecked by another character), and a different one in "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen". He's first seen on one in "The Yalu Brick Road," but it was presumably only borrowed long enough to get him and Hawkeye and their accidentally captured Chinese prisoner back to camp.
- Fatal Flaw: As with the other surgeons, pride. Hawkeye even mentions that every time one of his patients develops complications, BJ starts getting worked up.
- Foil: To Hawkeye.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic
- Happily Married: He adores his wife Peg who is very supportive and loving spouse. They have a daughter named Erin, whom he also adores.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Hawkeye
- Hidden Depths: Sidney is surprised to find out clean-cut, nice guy B.J. is the prankster in "Dear Sigmund." Also, his darker, angry side peeks out more often as the show goes out.
- The Lancer: Hawkey's best friend.
- Meaningful Name: His mother's name is "Bea", his father's name is "Jay".
- Morality Chain: Tries to be this for Hawkeye in general, although he sometimes needs a little help too.
- Nice Guy: He's just a generally sweet-tempered, easy-going, affable sort of fellow. Makes him an interesting foil to Hawkeye, since the latter is a lot more of a scheming, hysterical, somewhat self-righteous jerk by comparison.
- Nice Shoes: Later in the series he started wearing a pair of Converse All-Star sneakers.
- Not Himself: "Period of Adjustment" and "Wheelers and Dealers" both involve B.J. sinking into sullen depression and turning on other characters in response to a letter from Peg.
- The Prankster: Several episodes revolved around B.J.'s mastery of the prank gambit. It's established early on that this is one of his ways of coping with the stress of war.
- Pungeon Master: Not as much as Hawkeye, but he's quick to sling a pun or two when presented with the option.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Spent much of the last few seasons wearing a pink shirt whenever he wasn't in the O.R.
- Secret Keeper: In the series finale, Father Mulcahy begs him not to inform the others of Mulcahy's hearing loss. He never does.
- Tranquil Fury / OOC Is Serious Business: B.J. seldom wears his rage on the outside - when he explodes, look out.
- Vitriolic Best Buds: His relationship with Hawkeye occasionally crosses into this, especially in the later seasons.
- What Have I Done:
- As a result of a Sadistic Choice in a late episode.
- When he cheats on his wife, he deeply regrets it.
- Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: Hawkeye spends an entire episode trying to find out what "B.J." stands for. It turns out that's his actual name, given by his parents: Bea and Jay.
- Your Cheating Heart: Cheats on his wife with a nurse jilted by her husband. Unlike Trapper and Blake and Frank, he feels genuinely awful about it. Is tempted in a later season by a reporter, but resists temptation.
Col. Sherman Tecumseh Potter
Played by: Harry MorganThe 4077th's commander following Blake's departure. A Regular Army officer and veteran of two previous wars. His eventual hometown is Hannibal, Missouri, where his wife still lives and yet again waits for her husband to come back from war. 1/4 Cherokee as well ... and onetime member of The Cavalry. He even gets a horse, Sophie, during the series.
- Bait-and-Switch Tyrant: In his introductory episode. It may have been deliberate, establishing his authority before he settled into the role of Reasonable Authority Figure.
- Badass Pacifist: He admits he can't hit the side of a barn with the army-issue handgun he carries, but his voice is enough to scare his men into submission.
- Berserk Button:
Col. Potter: [to Margaret's father] You're so busy being "Howitzer Al" Houlihan, you couldn't even tell your own daughter you love her?
- Cruelty to horses, or even borrowing Sophie without asking. Deliberately used by B.J. and Winchester to get rid of an unwanted companion. In one episode, distressed by the recent death of an old army buddy, he goes on a minor rant about he hates the fact that the main source of meat for South Koreans is horseflesh, which he finds barbaric.
- Only two people ever got away with taking Sophie without permission: Klinger (who was in the midst of an Heroic BSOD after he thought he had reenlisted in the army) and an old Korean cavalry soldier who was just wanting one last ride before he died. Both times, they were forgiven immediately.
- Never, ever put soldiers in danger for your own glory. He shuts down two of his old war buddies that get wounded because they took a line command in the name of promotion or glory. For that matter, he on one occasion got tough with a soldier who wanted to transfer to EOD to impress a couple of jerks in his unit.
- If you value your safety, don't hurt anyone under his command, physically or emotionally. Even if you're related to them.
- Cruelty to horses, or even borrowing Sophie without asking. Deliberately used by B.J. and Winchester to get rid of an unwanted companion. In one episode, distressed by the recent death of an old army buddy, he goes on a minor rant about he hates the fact that the main source of meat for South Koreans is horseflesh, which he finds barbaric.
- Bizarre Taste in Food: He likes raisin cookies, the ones with the stale raisins.
- Colonel Badass: Potter served in the cavalry World War I, after which he earned a medical degree and served as a surgeon in both World War II and Korea. He is immensely proud of his Good Conduct Medal with gold clasp, which only an enlisted soldier is eligible for; identifying him as an Army mustang—an enlisted man who became an officer (even though it wasn't available when he was an enlisted man).
- Cool Old Guy
- Establishing Character Moment: Minutes after he arrived in camp, Klinger presented himself in a dress and rattled off a dozen reasons he should be discharged. Potter utterly deflated him and ordered him to dress in uniform.
- Later, after an episode of Hawkeye worrying this regular army man will be a far harsher taskmaster than Henry, Potter gets drunk with the gang and reveals he was just like Hawkeye in World War II. In fact, his Purple Heart injuries were actually from his still blowing up.
- A Father to His Men: He's a caring leader.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric
- Genre Savvy: Enough of a leader to know that his officers need to be... eccentric once in a while, and to also know when they need to blow off steam, such as approving of a "regulation bon-type fire". Potter also was wily enough to figure out that a suicidal soldier didn't really want to die as much as he thought he did.
- He also checked one soldier's concussion by stating some facts about the man's hometown (Chicago) and having the man correct them for him.
- Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Played with. He wasn't above dropping a "damn" or "jackass", but he had a long list of alternative phrases for a particular curse: Buffalo-cookies, horse-hockey, bushwah, cattle-chips, road-apples, etc.
- Happily Married: He loves his wife who must be understanding and supportive. They have grown-up children and form a happy family.
- Heroic BSOD: In "Pressure Points," he loses his confidence because Hawkeye had to operate on one of his patients while he was away. During a briefing about phosphorous-tipped bullets, Potter loses control and howls about when they're going to "stop this stupid war!" He has a slightly lesser case during the episode "Point of View" where he forgot to call his wife on their anniversary. In over forty years of marriage he had never failed to give her a call, no matter where he was.
- Meaningful Name / Irony: He's named after a Civil War general who felt "the only good Indian is a dead Indian" and a famous Native American chief. Whose name was said general's middle name.
- Military Moonshiner: When stationed in Guam during World War II he had a still. He's experienced enough in moonshining that he gives Hawkeye some tips on how to improve his still.Potter: When I was on Guam, I had a still. One night it blew up! [leans close to the boys] That's how I got my Purple Heart.
- Not Himself: About once per season toward the end of the show's run, there'd be an episode in which the usually even-tempered Potter would take a sharp left turn into Grumpy Old Man territory, usually brought on by some personal or marital crisis.
- Old Soldier: It plays a part in one episode when he finds out that the last of his old squad has passed away.
- Papa Wolf: He fills in as a father to Radar, but the "Wolf" part comes in when Margaret's distant father comes to visit. When he sees her father's lack of tangible approval and Margaret's need for his respect, he absolutely lays into the man. And when someone in the 4077 is sending reports to I-Corps about how non-regulation the camp is, the pain in his voice when he tells Hawkeye and BJ about this is heartbreaking.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: He's career Army like Houlihan, and rather more authoritative and no-nonsense than his predecessor Blake, but still capable of relaxing certain regulations when needed. Including, with morale plummeting and a pair of corpsmen tasked to Kill It with Fire on some infected uniforms going overboard, giving in and instructing the camp to build "one regulation bon-type fire" as a way to blow off steam. Potter might be Regular Army, but he was enough of a Cool Old Guy that Hawkeye and B.J. saluted him in the final show.note
- Team Dad: Takes Henry's place as this, but puts his own spin on it. Potter is a lot more professional than Blake was, but he still manages to be empathic and caring to his men as well as an effecient commander.
- Up Through the Ranks: He started as an enlisted man in World War I.note By the time of the Korean War he's a colonel and surgeon.
- While You Were in Diapers: How Potter tells Flagg off when the latter questions the former's patriotism.
- You Know I'm Black, Right?: He's one-quarter Cherokee, and takes offense to Burns complaining about operating on a North Korean and phrasing it as Hawkeye getting cowboys and he Indians.
- Your Cheating Heart: He admits to his unfaithful son-in-law that he was once unfaithful to his wife, and while she never found out, he knew and it was a worse punishment. However, while in Korea, he's never really tempted, and when Radar was worried he was going to have an affair with a visiting officer, he replied he just wanted to spend time with someone his own age for once, and it was strictly platonic. He was also in love with Doris Day, but she never knew about it.
Maj. Charles Emerson Winchester III
Played by: David Ogden StiersA (very) proud thoracic surgeon and pediatrician from Boston, he was initially stationed in Tokyo. Once Frank was Put on a Bus, the 4077th put in a call for a fourth surgeon. The call was taken by a colonel who Winchester was thoroughly trouncing at cribbage. One ill-timed boast later, and welcome to Uijeongbu.
- Badass Boast: In his first episode, he gives one of these to Potter after learning he has to remain at the 4077th:"But, know this: You can cut me off from the civilized world, you can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates, you can torture me with your thrice-daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester. My voice shall be heard from this wilderness, and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer." (*smirk*)
- Bald of Awesome: He's a jerk and bald, but his Pet the Dog moments and awesome medical skills make him pretty cool.
- Berserk Button: Don't make fun of stutterers. Chiefly because his dearest sister has a strong one. It's notable that she's completely unconcerned and unselfconscious about it in her audio letter. Also, as a Harvard grad, he does not like being mistaken for a Yalie.
- Blue Blood: He comes from a distinguished old-money family from Boston, basically the American version of the aristocracy.
- Break the Haughty: Hawkeye and B.J. constantly tried to do this, but Hawkeye admitted he never was successful when writing his will:"To Charles Emerson Winchester, though we may have wounded your pride, you never lost your dignity. I therefore bequeath to you the most dignified thing I own: my bathrobe. Purple is the color of royalty."
- However, what did finally break him was the death of the Chinese musicians he'd been teaching to play Mozart in the final episode. After learning of it, he suffered a Heroic BSOD and smashed the record of the song he tried to teach them. Later in the episode, he told the camp during his farewell speech, "For me, music has always been a refuge from this miserable experience... now it will always be a reminder."
- Catch Phrase: "Gentlemen." Used as his final line in the final episode.
- Extended into a My Friends... and Zoidberg gag a few times with Radar:"Gentlemen... and Corporal."
- Extended into a My Friends... and Zoidberg gag a few times with Radar:
- Compressed Vice: He becomes addicted to amphetamines in "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde".
- Death Seeker: He once discovered two bullet holes in his cap, angled in such a way that if he hadn't tripped the moment the shooter fired, he'd have died. He becomes obsessed with trying to find out what death is like, interrogating soldiers who were resuscitated and joining front line aid stations to be in the line of fire.
- Dr. Jerk: Jerk with a Heart of Gold type. That said, he had a reputation to maintain. At one point, he agreed to take Hawkeye's OD duty, so Hawkeye could get some leave, on one condition - that Hawkeye never told anybody that Winchester had done something nice. Mostly because then everyone would start asking him for favors. Overjoyed Hawkeye swears he'll never call him anything but completely rotten.
- Dreadful Musician: Ironically enough, he appears to be one of these, based on his French horn playing in "The Smell of Music".
- Later discussed with a patient whose civilian career was as a classical pianist, but suffered nerve damage to one of his hands in combat. Charles convinces him to continue his career, noting that he has a gift Charles could only dream of.Charles: I could play the notes, but I could never make the music.
- Later discussed with a patient whose civilian career was as a classical pianist, but suffered nerve damage to one of his hands in combat. Charles convinces him to continue his career, noting that he has a gift Charles could only dream of.
- Drink Order: Usually favors cognac or brandy. Only the good stuff.
- Establishing Character Moment: Several in "Fade Out, Fade In", most notably his Badass Boast to Potter (see above) and his turning the tables on Hawkeye in The Tag.
- Everyone Has Standards: He's pompous, arrogant, classist and a bit of a Social Darwinist, but he's disgusted by a bigoted major who assigns black men in his outfit to more dangerous duties.
- Family Honor: He takes a great deal of pride, not to say excessive pride, in being a Winchester. In "Bottle Fatigue" he's outraged that his sister Honoria would besmirch the family name by getting engaged to... an Italian.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic
- Gentleman Snarker: Frequently.
- Hahvahd Yahd In My Cah: Has a rather noticeable Boston accent.
- Happy Place: Listening to classical music is his mental escape from the war... until the finale, when tragic circumstances turn it into a reminder.
- Heroic BSOD: "The Life You Save" has him suffering one of these after discovering he was nearly killed by a sniper.
- And, of course, his reaction to the death of the Chinese musicians in the finale.
- Hidden Depths: His love of music, yet saddened by his inability to play musical instruments. He also has a very well hidden generous side, is respectful to those who earn his respect, loyal, and can be surprisingly compassionate when he thinks nobody will notice.
- Insufferable Genius: Winchester is a great surgeon... the problem is that he knows this all too well, and acts accordingly.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
Klinger: I'm sorry, sir. The giver of this meal wishes to remain anonymous.
- One Christmas Episode is the shining example — throughout the episode, everyone thinks of Winchester as a creep because when the 4077th hosted a group of Korean orphans with a potluck dinner, Winchester's contribution was a meagre tin of smoked oysters. However, Winchester had anonymously donated a large amount of chocolate to the same orphanage a day previously. Winchester argues vehemently with the orphanage owner when he finds out that the chocolate was not given to the children but instead sold to the black market. He calms down when the owner explains why he did it — the chocolate would have made the children momentarily happy, but the sale generated enough money to buy enough staple foods for the orphanage for a month.
Winchester: As painful as this is for me to say, I must nevertheless unequivocally state...that...[whimper] Colonel Baldwin is lying through his teeth. He offered to have me reassigned to Tokyo if I would bear false witness against Major Houlihan. [turns to Baldwin] I've groveled! I have endured your insufferable cribbage playing. I have kissed your brass. But I will not - even for a return to that pearl of the Orient Tokyo - lie to protect you while destroying a friend's career!
- He passes up the chance to get the one thing he wants most - a transfer out of the unit and back to Tokyo - because it would involve destroying Margaret's career.
- Lonely Rich Kid / Parental Neglect: Hinted at. In one episode he admits to Hawkeye that he and his father have never been that close emotionally, while in another he tells Sidney Freedman that "I had my fill of psychiatrists by the age of nine".Charles: [to Hawkeye] My father's a good man. He always wanted the best for me. But, where I have a father... you have a dad.
- Neat Freak: Although the "Pressure Points" episode has him deliberately becoming The Pig Pen as revenge against Hawkeye and B.J.'s slovenly housekeeping.
- Not So Above It All: Just as capable of pranking as Hawkeye and B.J.. In his first appearance, he even turns the tables on them with a snake in the bed prank. He even would collude with pretty much the entire camp to help teach Hawkeye a lesson in one episode.
Hawkeye: Then why are you laughing?Charles: [Chuckles a little more] I don't know!
- In one episode he admits to enjoying Tom and Jerry cartoons, as well as The Three Stooges.
- In another, he finds himself giggling at the awful jokes a member of a visiting USO unit makes. He insists to Hawkeye that they're not funny.
- Number Two: The camp's executive officer after Burns' departure.
- Officer and a Gentleman: Sometimes the gentleman would cause the jerkass behavior; sometimes it would be used to crack the jerkass shell.
- Odd Friendship: Over the character's tenure, he and Klinger went from mutual disdain to something like respect.
- Old-School Chivalry: In one episode, he does not want to talk to Radar's elderly mother, angrily protesting when asked to. However, when he does so, he quickly switches to his polite, gentlemanly, and proper tone as he speaks to her.
- Out-of-Character Moment: Screwing over Korean peasants by buying scrip for a tenth of its value in "Change Day". This is nothing like blue blood, old money Charles, who later anonymously donates candies to an orphanage. It feels more like something Frank or Klinger might do. In fact, it almost plays like (and may in fact have been) a leftover Frank script that had the names changed.
- Pet the Dog: Frequently. Almost every few episodes. See Jerk with a Heart of Gold above.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: In another contrast to Burns, he's usually one of these when acting as C.O. in Potter's absence. Well, save for appointing Klinger as his personal valet.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Frequently. Hawkeye impersonates him on the phone in one episode and resorts to using made-up words.
- Smart People Know Latin: Amusingly subverted. In "Snappier Judgment", Winchester defends Klinger at a court-martial for allegedly stealing a camera. At one point during the proceedings he objects on the grounds of "unum piliolae, acidus salicilicus tres in diem, post cibum"... which, as the presiding officer points out, translates to "aspirin three times a day".
- Smart People Play Chess: Occasionally seen playing chess against himself to pass his long periods of boredom in-between heavy casualties.
- Smug Snake: Occasionally, whenever the writers wanted to emphasize his jerkass tendencies.
- Sophisticated as Hell: At the end of "The Winchester Tapes":Charles: [recording a taped letter for his parents] Mother and Dad, I will put this as eloquently and succinctly as possible... [stopping to pour tea, only to find B.J. has stuffed a rubber chicken into his teapot] Get me the HELL out of here!
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Subverted in his first episode - everyone who encounters his Dr. Jerk side assumes that he's the new Frank Burns, until they see him operate and realise that he really is just that good.
- Throughout his first season, he kind of dances around it, Depending on the Writer. Some episodes were clearly written with Frank in mind, making Charles greedy and conniving and trying to set him into the same role as Frank, making him a very slow surgeon instead of a bad surgeon and setting up a romance with Houlihan. This was quickly abandoned.
- Wine Is Classy: It was bad enough that the Korean black market crooks double crossed him and Father Mulcahy, robbed them of their goods (including the wine and gourmet food Winchester donated), their jeep, Winchester's uniform and coat - humiliating him by making him leave with the Chaplin in his long underwear - and refused to turn over the much-needed pentothal they came for; what really disgusted him about them was seeing them drink the red wine with stuffed caprons! note
Capt. Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones
Played by: Timothy BrownOriginally introduced in the novel and movie as a ringer for an interunit football game, he vanished about midway through the show's first season, ostensibly after the network learned that there weren't any black surgeons in the theatre.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: There were, in fact, black surgeons in Korea. Jones was based on a surgeon who left a month before Richard Hooker arrived at the 8063.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears without comment part-way through season one.
- Nice Hat: A bright orange floppy model.
- Token Minority Couple: At least one episode has him dating Nurse Ginger, who - you guessed it - is also black.
Capt. "Ugly" John Black
Played by: John OrchardAnother novel/movie character seen in the show's first season, Ugly John was an anesthesiologist hailing from Australia.
- Australian Slang
- Badass Mustache
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Disappears inbetween Seasons 1 and 2.
- Nice Hat: His Australian bush hat.
Pvt. Igor Straminsky
Played by: Jeff Maxwell (usually; Peter Riegert replaced Maxwell in two sixth season episodes)The long-suffering messhall and kitchen staffer, who tends to cope the bulk of the camp's disgust-fuelled abuse over the lousy quality of their rations.
- Camp Cook/Lethal Chef: Although technically, he merely serves the awful food rather than cooking it. (The actual cook, a Sgt. Pernelli, was mostly unseen but did appear in a few later-season episodes.)
- The Ditz: He's frequently portrayed as a mild version of this. Most notably, in one episode revolving around the celebrations of a year spent in Korea, he takes the ears of corn lovingly grown by Father Mulcahy and creams them, affrontedly suggesting that next time he'll just roast them on the cob when he sees the Irish priest's angry disbelief.
- Sudden Name Change: In the "Bug Out" episode he's addressed as "Sowkowitz" by Hawkeye and BJ.
Staff Sgt. Zelmo Zale
Played by: Johnny HaymerOne of the minor sergeants who were part of the 4077's staff, originating from New York. Appeared rarely, mostly notable for his bickering with Klinger and his hot temper.
- Alliterative Name: Zelmo Zale.
- Arch-Enemy: He and Klinger had a long-running feud.
- Brooklyn Rage: Very much a hot-blooded New Yorker.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After his last appearance (which comes in Radar's farewell episode, coincidentally enough) he vanishes without explanation.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Claims to be one, but his invention ends up failing spectacularly and injuring Hawkeye.
- Your Cheating Heart: In one episode we learn that he's keeping a Korean "moose" on the side. Not that that keeps him from going nuts when he learns his wife has been unfaithful as well.
Staff Sgt. Luther Rizzo
Played by: G.W. BaileyA lazy, unambitious, sluggard from Louisiana who joined the Army because he thought it was a perfectly good skive. As he puts it, where else but the Army can you be a bum and actually get paid for it?
- Loan Shark: He puts the bite on Winchester (at 100% interest per day) in "That Darn Kid".
- Sleepyhead: Uses his assignment in the motor pool as an excuse to spend the day sleeping underneath the Jeeps that he's ostensibly repairing.Rizzo: Could you hold it down? There are people trying to work—Oh my gosh, it's night. Could you hold it down? There are people trying to sleep.
- Southern Fried Sergeant
Lt. Kealani Kellye
Played by: Kellye NakaharaThe most prominent recurring nurse character, a Japanese-Hawaiian.
- Alliterative Name: Kealani Kellye
- Ascended Extra: Originally a background character, Kellye began to get more exposure and dialogue in the show's later years, culminating in a well-regarded A Day in the Limelight episode.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: This was the point of her A Day in the Limelight episode ("Hey, Look Me Over"), showing Hawkeye being a Jerk Ass to her (through seeing right through her and ignoring her) just because she doesn't measure up to Hawkeye's standards of beauty.
- On the other hand, she's been seen with Radar and a number of other guys, so it kind of fell flat, although her beef may have been because she seemed to be the only nurse that Hawkeye hadn't tried to sleep with.
- Girlish Pigtails: Her favored hairstyle.
Maj. Sidney Freedman
Played by: Allan ArbusA psychiatrist assigned to the 121st EVAC Hospital in Seoul, he frequently visits the 4077 to assist on difficult cases... and to get in on the occasional poker game.
- Ambiguously Jewish: During an episode where a soldier thinks he is Jesus, this exchange takes place:BJ: Come to see your savior?Sidney: Mine? No. Yours?BJ: Who knows?
- A Day in the Limelight: "Dear Sigmund" is narrated by him as a "letter" to Freud.
- "War of Nerves" also gives him considerable focus.
- Deadpan Snarker: Not all the time, but when he's in the mood he can more than hold his own with Hawkeye and company. For instance, on being confronted with Klinger in his first appearance, he loses it a little:"You got me up here to ask about him? About that?... All the way from Seoul, to ask me what? Whether he needs a girdle under that? Whether his seams are straight?"
- Despair Event Horizon: In "War of Nerves", when it turns out one of Sidney's patients commited suicide. Father Mulcahy notes they're Not So Different.Sidney: When Pierce and Hunnicutt lose one, he's out of his misery. When I lose one, I've lost a mind.Mulcahy: When I lose one, I've lost a soul.
- Layman's Terms: Freedman states that in his personal diagnosis of Flagg, he's "spooky".
- Meaningful Echo: As he's bidding farewell in the final episode, he repeats a line he'd used in Season 3's "O.R.""You know, I told you people something a long time ago, and it's just as pertinent today as it was then. Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."
- My Nayme Is: As Hawkeye explains to Col. Flagg in one episode, Sidney's surname is spelled "with two 'E's, as in 'freedom'".
- Only Sane Man: Occasionally.
- Open Heart Dentistry: In "O.R." he has to lend a hand in surgery due to the 4077 overflowing with casualties. He helps out with simpler procedures and closing patients up and notes that it's been a very long time since he actually used these skills.
- The Shrink: Awesome variety. Psychology Today once named him the "best TV shrink ever".
- Sudden Name Change: Freedman's first name is given as "Milton" in his initial appearance. (Perhaps the change was made so viewers wouldn't confuse him with the economist Milton Friedman?)
- There Are No Therapists: Thanks to him, averted. Though he mentions at least once that he could use a therapist sometimes. He has his own breakdown prior to "Dear Sigmund," due to the workload and losing cases due to the strain the war was putting on his patients.
Lt. Col. (later Col.) Sam Flagg
Played by: Edward WinterA psychopathic governmental intelligence agent (read: spy) who occasionally blows through the 4077, always on the look-out for Communist subversives and so paranoidly overzealous that the doctors took a delight in leading him headlong into disasters of his own making.
- Bad Ass: In his earlier appearances.
- Badass Decay: Few fans remember that Flagg was a seriously dangerous character in his first appearance, even pulling a pistol on Hawkeye. He was also far more laid back and even participated in the camp poker game.
- CIA Evil, FBI Good: Although he keeps it a little fuzzy who he works for in his first appearance, the writers eventually settled on him being CIA.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: Hard to believe otherwise. Likely his defense against the Red Scare.
- Flanderization: His goofier antics showed up later in the series.
- Gung Holier Than Thou: The Trope Namer.
- Incredibly Obvious Tail: He is a master of this.
- Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: It's implied that he uses this when given the opportunity.
- Actually shown (and Played for Laughs) in one episode, where he tries to interrogate a recovering North Korean by bending his IV line, saying "You give me what I need, and I'll give you what you need." Radar, of all people, stops him, exclaiming "You can't just go around threatening people's blood!"
- Jerkass: He's an aggressively domineering, demeaning, arrogant boor of a man.
- Master of Disguise: He likes to think he is this, and gets really upset whenever anyone sees through his disguise. Still doesn't keep the others from mocking his attempts, however.Charles: Oh Colonel Flagg. Sorry, I didn't recognize you without your garbage can. Don't you have a dark one for evening?
- Also:Potter: Nice suit. Your clown outfit in the cleaners?
- Spy Speak: Part of his comedic act was constantly using this."Mary had a little lamb. My dog has fleas. Mairzy doats and dozy doats and I'll be home for Christmas. Your loving son, Queen Victoria."
- Stealth Hi/Bye: He thinks he's good at this but always fails miserably.Hawkeye: The "wind" just broke his leg!
- Sudden Name Change: Edward Winter first appeared in Season 2's "Deal Me Out" as a CID man named Captain Halloran. It's Fanon that the character is really Flagg using one of his many aliases.
- In Season 4's "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", Flagg encounters Sidney Freedman, telling him, "We played poker once." This further supports the theory that Flagg and Halloran are one and the same, since the latter had indeed played poker with Sidney in "Deal Me Out".
- Too Kinky to Torture: Hard to tell if it's an actual fetish, but Flagg seems extremely willing to do physical violence to himself at the slightest prompting. Over the course of the show, he purposely crashed a helicopter, broke his own arm (twice!), and bashed his head into a wooden cabinet—all in the line of duty, of course. He also mentioned that he trained himself not to laugh by poking himself with a cattleprod while watching shorts from The Three Stooges. Another intelligence officer mentioned that Flagg once drove his jeep into a wall and set himself on fire.Hawkeye: If we had more men like you, we'd have less men like you.
Played by: Shizuko Hoshi (Season 3), Frances Fong (Seasons 5-6), Eileen Saki (Seasons 7-10)The owner of a small bar situated just outside the 4077, she provided a refuge for many of its personnel away from the routine of the camp.
Lt. Col. Donald Penobscott
Played by: Beeson Carroll (Season 5), Mike Henry (Season 6)An officer from a wealthy family whom Margaret meets and falls in love with whilst on leave; the relationship is so sincere that they are eventually married, something that causes Frank Burn to have a mental breakdown. Unfortunately for Major Houlihan, the Lt. Colonel is an adulterous tightass who tries to dominate her and steals her paychecks whilst sleeping around behind her back, an abuse that eventually pushes her to the extent of divorcing him.
- Blue Blood: Apparently. Which doesn't stop him from being a tightfisted cheapo.
- Big Ol' Unibrow: Hawkeye indicated that he had one, but it wasn't there in his two appearances (For that matter neither was the tattoo on his bicep that Margaret had mentioned.).
- Financial Abuse: His system with Margaret is she sends him every paycheck and in return, he sends her an allowance of thirty dollars a week (Adjusted for inflation, equal to $263.16 up to $291.26 depending on what year of the war you're adjusting for), ostensibly so they can buy their dream house after the war's over. When there's a goof up with the pay, and Margaret appeals to him for a week's advance, he refuses to give her a penny. By the way, he and his family are supposed to be rich.
- The Ghost: For nearly all of Season 5 until his appearance in "Margaret's Marriage".
- The Scrooge: Margaret calls him "conservative." Everyone else calls him cheap.
- Your Cheating Heart: Though it destroys Margaret when she finds out, she decides to give him another chance. She doesn't file for divorce until she finds out Donald has requested a transfer without bothering to tell her.
Sgt. (later Pvt.) Jack ScullyA front-line infantryman who turns up a few times as a potential suitor for Margaret.
Played by: Joshua Bryant
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Scully is a decent enough guy for the most part, but in his third and final appearance he's revealed to have severely retrograde (if not uncommon for The Fifties) notions about gender roles, which is what finally leads Margaret to break things off with him.
- Rank Up: Inverted in his third and last appearance, when he's been busted down to a private for punching an officer.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: In his first appearance (in "A Night at Rosie's") he's AWOL from the front line, explaining that he "decided to go away for a little rest" after an especially intense battle.
- Sudden Name Change: His first name is "Jerry" in his first appearance and "Jack" in the other two.
Capt. Sam Pak
Played by: Pat Morita
- Deadpan Snarker: His mouth was even faster than Hawkeye's.
- Special Guest: Only appeared in a select few episodes.
- Surprisingly Good English: Given he's supposed to be a South Korean officer.
- Yiddish as a Second Language: Mostly a case of Throw It In as Pat Morita would pepper his lines with Yiddish.
Capt. Calvin Spalding
Played by: Loudon Wainwright IIIA singing, guitar-playing surgeon who appears in three Season 3 episodes.
- Deadpan Snarker: In "Big Mac", he sings Henry and Frank the special ditty he's composed for Gen. MacArthur's imminent visit to the 4077th, and it's a masterpiece of smart-assedry.Well, it's not Corregidor, you know, it's only Korea
It's a lousy little war, but we'd still love to see ya
And I'm sure we can scrounge up a beach
And you can splash in and give us a speech
With your corncob pipe and your five gold stars.
- Greek Chorus: He kind of serves as this.
- Shout-Out: His name clearly derives from Groucho's character in the Marx Brothers' Animal Crackers.
The camp PA announcer
Voiced by: Several different actors, most frequently Todd Susman or Sal Viscuso
- Catch Phrase: "Attention, all personnel..."
- Deadpan Snarker: Frequently.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: He sometimes will even break the fourth wall during the credits.
- No Name Given: Not once are we given his name or rank.
- The Voice: Nor do we ever see him, although both Todd Susman and Sal Viscuso had onscreen appearances as different characters.
That is all.♪ My Blue Heaven ♪
Capt. Jonathan TuttleThe non-existent "star" of a single early-series episode; Captain Jonathan Tuttle is most unique for the fact that Hawkeye and Trapper manage to make everyone believe he exists, when he never did. Extrapolated from an imaginary friend Hawkeye would use to try and get out of trouble when he was little, Capt. Tuttle was used by Hawkeye as a way to secretly milk an extra Captain's salary from the army and donate to local needy Korean civilians. When an investigation got under way, Hawkeye and Trapper had to fool the whole camp into believing he genuinely existed - and then that he had been killed off before he could actually be met face to face.
- The Ace: "The best damn OD we ever had", according to Col. Blake.
- All Germans Are Nazis: Played with. A jealous Frank (before becoming Tuttle's new best friend) thinks Tuttle is a Nazi (despite being from Michigan) for having gone to a German medical school.
- Character as Himself: Is billed this way.
- Crazy-Prepared: How he died jumping out of a helicopter with everything a surgeon needs... except his parachute.
- Druid: Reformed. ("They're allowed to pray at bushes.")
- Heroic Sacrifice: Hawkeye claims he jumped out of a plane to conduct field surgery, but forgot his parachute.
- Imaginary Friend: Tuttle was originally one of these this in Hawkeye's childhood.Hawkeye: If anybody said, "Who knocked over the garbage?" I said, "Tuttle." They said, "Who broke that window?" "Tuttle." "Who wet the bed?" "Tuttle." He had no control at all.Trapper: So, when you got drafted...Hawkeye: He got drafted.Trapper: Just in case you wet your cot.Hawkeye: Precisely.
- Invented Individual: Hawkeye and Trapper do this so they can help Korean civilians.
- Mr. Fanservice: Hard to say for sure, considering the above trope, but his physical description — 180 pounds, 6'4", auburn hair, hazel eyes — certainly gets Margaret interested.Trapper: [As Hawkeye rattles off the description he's writing down] Hawkeye, I think I'm in love.
- Too Good for This Sinful Earth: Hawkeye describes him as such during his eulogy, especially in his actions to donate 14 months worth of pay and his GI insurance to the orphanage.