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Headscratchers / M*A*S*H

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The Movie

  • Is it just me, or does it seem like Hot Lips Took a Level in Dumbass after sleeping with Duke? Maybe I'm missing something, but it seems like to me that after they engaged in some hanky panky, she pretty much turned into a Dumb Blonde (and I think Blake even called her such, I'd have to watch again) for the rest of the movie. What's up with that?
    • She finally cracked; the antics of Hawkeye and company just totally made her flip her lid (especially after the shower event), and she just decided she might as well join in the ridiculousness...
    • Her only real lines are during the football game and she clearly has no clue about the game at all, but is now trying to fit in an participate.
  • I never understood why Frank Burns was declared mentally incompetent (from the straitjacket and Duke's remark about how he was going home, he appeared to be receiving a Section 8 discharge) just for getting in a fight with Hawkeye. You can't tell me soldiers in the military don't get into fights with each other on a regular basis; they don't all get kicked out for being crazy. And even if you don't like Frank, anyone who heard his story would understand completely why he was angry even if the way he dealt with it broke the rules. Sure, charge him with assaulting another officer if you have to, but how does that make him insane?

The Book

The TV Series

  • Why is Hawkeye put in command of the 4077 when Potter is away? He is outranked by Margaret in both instances and Charles in the second.
    • During this time period, Margaret would not have been eligible for command of any unit since she was a Nurse Corps officer. In addition, during this time period, only Medical Corps officers were allowed to command medical units (and they could command ONLY medical units.) One of the mistakes people without any military experience often make is to think that rank is the most important factor. In reality, it isn't.
    • As for Charles, it is slightly more complicated. This was not an official change-of-command or delegation of command. There would have been no need for this since the commander - Colonel Potter - was immediately available. If Colonel Potter was reassigned or unavailable, Major Winchester would have been able to assume command as the senior officer *eligible for command.* (In the same way that Major Burns assumed command between Blake and Potter.) What Colonel Potter essentially said was that Hawkeye would be "in charge." This is actually not unusual. I was placed "in charge" of an AF medical center during a hurricane despite not being the senior ranking officer (by date of rank) and in preference to the Vice Commander (a dentist) - the commander was assigned to the command post of the host unit - since by virtue of my specialty I was better able to deal with many of the issues involved rather than a radiologist or a pathologist. So again, Potter's actions would not have been all that unusual. (The critical factor was the Potter retained command of the unit at all times.) Again, rank is not everything. A line-officer Second Lieutenant would exercise command over a line unit and be able to give orders even if a Medical Corps Colonel or a Chaplain Major General were around.
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    • His being chief surgeon probably helped boost him in the line of preference. In one of two incidences with Pierce being put in command over Charles, the latter was also sick. It also may have been his turn for Officer of the Day, a concept they employed rather unevenly over the course of the series.
    • Also, the other instance where Hawkeye is placed in command over a healthy Charles, one can assume that because Potter knows that at the end of the day, Hawkeye actually cared about the rank and file in the unit and Charles absolutely does not. Potter could trust that Hawkeye would not get "a burr in his britches" over something (to borrow a Potteresque phrase) whereas the more persnickety Charles certainly would.

  • Something that's always bothered me about the episode "Patent 4077" that revolved around the construction of a new vascular clamp for leg surgeries. Why exactly was the modified clamp such a big deal? Is it really that difficult to apply just the necessary amount of pressure to clamp off an artery to stop the bleeding without crushing it?
    • That's the point. Usually, they could just apply a clamp and leave it. Unfortunately, the clamps they had weren't able to apply enough pressure to clamp off an artery without crushing the thing, and the nurses needed to actually hold the clamp instead of having one or both hands free to assist the surgeon.
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    • Think of it as the difference between a crescent wrench and a torque wrench. While they will both tighten a bolt, the torque wrench will only tighten it so far.

  • Has anyone else wondered about the guy who's always making announcements about incoming wounded? Who is that guy, and why is he always making announcements when the PA system is in Radar's office?
    • Even though we never see the guy, it makes sense that Radar (and later Klinger) wouldn't be at the desk 24/7. Someone else would be operating the radio and PA system while they are off duty.
      • A real MASH unit would have an entire administrative staff, usually a non-medical officer and several clerks, rather than just the CO and a single clerk.
    • There were two voice actors who did the PA announcements. Both had single-episode appearances: one as a soldier who needed a nose job, the other as the patient on the table when Hawkeye pantses Winchester in the OR.
    • We do appear to find out the guy's first name - Tony. It's spoken by Henry in "A Full Rich Day" when he asks for the national anthem of Luxembourg to be played to honor the deceased soldier.

  • Where does Klinger get all those dresses, especially considering no one else seems to have many outfits beyond their fatigues?
    • It has been forever since I've watched the show, but wasn't it implied that he made at least a few of them himself? I imagine he bartered for or purchased the others outright. Everyone else seemed underdressed by comparison because Klinger was the only person who went out of his way to acquire that volume of clothing. The others either didn't care to dress differently or didn't want to put forth the effort. In one post-M*A*S*H interview, Jamie Farr talks about walking into Wardrobe and passing the other actors costumes. Ever actor had a rack apiece, which held their fatigues, bathrobes, and occasional Hawaiian shirt. He'd then arrive at his FIRST rack, which was full of dresses, frocks, skirts, togas.
      • He made a lot of them himself. It's noted that what Klinger didn't create himself, he altered to fit his measurements. Least he had a trade as a tailor after the war.
    • He also received a few of them from a relative who tried the same stunt to get out of World War II. I don't think he succeeded, either.
      • If memory serves, one of his uncles did. The writers were kind of fuzzy where the uncles were concerned, though.
    • It was also mentioned that he ordered from Sears catalogs and the like.
    • Which also brings up the question: Why didn't he try something else?
      • He did. Remember his stunt where he tried to convince everyone he was Zoltan, king of the gypsies?
      • And the invisible camel. Who DID get a section 8.
      • He also stayed atop a pole for a while, trying to convince everyone he was crazy that way.
      • He also forged a letter from a relative or two, saying they were sick, or his sister was pregnant, or something.
      • Blake had a folder full of forged letters that had all kinds of excuses, including mother dying, father dying and sister pregnant and other variations, like father dead, sister dying, mother pregnant.
      • "Here's an oldie but a goodie. Half the family dying, other half pregnant. Klinger, aren't you ashamed of yourself?" "Yes sir... I don't deserve to be in the army."
      • Later in the same episode he tried to claim he was a communist.
      • There was one time he tried to convince Colonel Potter he was a serial killer that exclusively killed women motorcycle cops so he could be sent home to be tried.
      • And the time he ate a Jeep.
      • And that time he wore winter clothes and insisted it was freezing during the middle of a heat wave. That one almost worked.
      • Or the time he claimed he was actually in Toledo. If he hadn't screwed it up at the last minute, it would've worked.
      • Potter tricked him into screwing up. Most likely if Klinger had stuck to his story, Potter wouldn't have sent him home. It isn't as if he's a psychiatrist who can diagnose Klinger.
      • Or applied to West Point with the express intention of failing quickly. If he had studied for the test, he might have made it.
      • He also built that glider, which he tried to fly out of the camp.
      • "A big red bird with fuzzy pink feet."
      • And the time he threatened to set himself on fire with gasoline, which didn't work out like he planned when someone replaced the contents of his cans with real gasoline.
      • He also feigned severe depression. That one would have worked, too, if he hadn't whooped with glee when told he was going home.
      • Another trick by Potter, who probably wouldn't have sent him home if it hadn't worked.
      • He tried to eat his way out, as it were, by gaining so much weight that he would be too fat for the army. All he did was give himself a stomach ache and bad breath from the dozen salamis that he devoured. In another episode he tried to eat a jeep, getting as far as downing a few control knobs, some nuts and bolts dipped in motor oil, and eating a windshield wiper like a piece of licorice.
      • Basically, Klinger was too competent to be fired or sent to the front.
      • Hawkeye himself said that Klinger was a good medic who never allowed his attempts to get kicked out interfere with his duties in helping save people's lives.
      • Such as the time he was pretending to have fainting spells. His final one was in the OR, right after informing Colonel Potter that there were no more wounded to bring in. He also explicitly reminds Margaret about this fact when she thinks he's malingering, and he's actually got anemia from the antimalarial drug he's been given.
      • Although Klinger may have been a good medic and a scrounger that would have made Radar envious (through tactics that Radar probably wouldn't have employed), Klinger didn't get his discharge not because of his competence, but because he actually wasn't crazy, like he pretended to be. If he'd been a soldier during peace time and wasn't a draftee, he might have been discharged as "unfit for military service," but despite all his attempts, he didn't fool anyone. Klinger wasn't even that serious about wanting to get out. Sidney Freedman gave him the chance, but Klinger didn't want to be known as a transvestite, so he refused.
      • It wasn't the transvestite thing that bothered him (hell, he already was that) it was being labeled a homosexual that made him refuse.
      • After Radar left Klinger ran the camp just as well as he did, so they really couldn't function without him.
      • This may be fridge funny, but did Klinger ever just request a transfer? He was hardly irreplaceable before he became company clerk, and even after that, Charles and Hawkeye managed to do his job reasonably well for short amounts of time.
      • There's the obvious reason that he didn't want to be in the army at all, but the question would be transfer to where? His record would hardly garner him a plumb assignment and while occasionally dangerous, the 4077th is relatively safe. He could be sent to a Battalion Aid station at the front. Nearly everyone would prefer being transferred to Seoul or Tokyo, if not the States, but that's going to those with excellent records or good connections.
    • The question becomes, not why Klinger didn't try anything else, but why he kept trying the transvestite routine? It wasn't getting him out, and in fact those in command became inured to it, blase even.
      • Jamie Farr has said that it was less a scheme to get discharged and more just his own way of protesting his situation. He can't refuse to do his job (people will die) so wearing dresses is just him saying "I hate this job, I hate this place, I want to go home." Exactly the same as Hawkeye's snarking and pranking, Radar's teddy bear, Frank and Margaret's affair, most everyone's drinking, etc.
      • The REAL thing about this is this: on "change of command", second episode of the fourth season, Potter makes Klinger change into uniform. Klinger then develops a psychosomatic rash as a reaction to the uniform. One would think that would actually qualify him for a section 8. Instead, he just puts a slip under them and Pierce and B.J. convince Potter to let him have his dresses.
    • The issue I have: Although I am as far removed from the US Army as the vast majority of the rest of the world is, even I know that the Army has a uniform code which is so stringent that even the manner of fastening closures (such as bootlaces and belts) is specified. Every time Klinger chooses to wear women's clothing, Col. Potter should have no choice but to cite him, until eventually there will be a tribunal for 'wilful insubordination' and the threat of dishonorable discharge (obviously, it's important to the Army that everybody is in lock-step with each other, and it cannot permit this persistent flouting of the rules in case other soldiers are emboldened to reject their duties).
      • A key command skill, one that isn't in the rule book but is essential to making the rest of the rules work, is knowing when to turn a blind eye to the rules. A commanding officer can overlook an awful lot as long as they can justify it with otherwise good performance. If the 4077th had a high death rate, or other major failing in its purpose, then yes, both Potter and Henry would have had to crack the whip and come down on everyone hard or have their butt in a sling, but it did its job well and thus it was in everyone's best interests to ignore the quirkier stuff. That is why Frank never really cut it as an officer, he couldn't understand there were times when you didn't enforce the rules. Even Margaret eventually learned that lesson.
      • Klinger claimed that several members of his family had gotten out of the military in previous conflicts by this method. He probably figured that since it worked for them it would eventually work for him.
    • Why didn't Klinger claim to be a conscientious objector?
      • Getting out that way can be hit or miss. And he couldn't object based on the fact that he was morally opposed to killing people; he worked in a hospital where he didn't have to. Objecting to being peripherally part of a war in which other people were killing would be pretty flimsy.
      • For all we know, Klinger did claim to be one, which would be why he was assigned to the MASH unit instead of being assigned as a rifleman or some other combat occupation.
      • Conscientious objectors don't get a free pass out of the military. They just get assigned to non-combat roles. Which is exactly what Klinger's job as a corpsman was.
      • That is also an incredibly difficult route. You can't simply say one day that you are a conscientious objector. Basically, you have to show that you have always had that belief and have demonstrated it for all of your life. While there are rare exceptions (to an already rare situation) almost the only way is to show that you have been a member of a church that has such beliefs for all of your life.
      • In Real Life, oddly enough, the above paragraph is exactly what Lew Ayres was trying to do in the first place in WW2 (the being an unarmed combat medic, that is, not the wearing dresses to get out of the Army) precipitating the scandal about him getting a conscientious objector status that derailed his Hollywood career — it wasn't till halfway through the war that the post that Ayres actually wanted even existed, after which he served with distinction as a combat medic in the Pacific where medics were seen as fair game... in WW2 it really was "all or nothing".
    • Speaking of Klinger, can anyone explain why the hell he was given a tent all to himself while captains and majors were sharing quarters in the Swamp?
      • Would you bunk with him if you didn't have to? The rest of the barracks probably complained until he got the boot.
      • Was that really his tent? Didn't he sleep in the stockroom?
      • Yeah, it's his tent alright. When he gets off-duty in "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan," he enters the tent, takes off his helmet, and collapses onto a cot.
      • Having the doctors and nurses, for the most part, all in one tent was also SOP. They all had to be able to be gathered together quickly in case of wounded.
      • That's actually reality. Klinger was important to the camp's functioning, and a great wheeler-dealer in his own right. It would have made sense for the chain-of-command to give him his own tent; because he's crazy, because he's functions on a different level of reality than everyone else, because he's earned a few perks through his competence and devoted service to the mission. Among the regular or semi-regular cast - I say this as someone with military experience - Klinger was definitely the best soldier the 4077th had, and military leadership does look for ways to reward their best soldiers in whatever manner they can find, which can be as simple as giving an excellent soldier more walk-in closet space than his rank entitles him to. Frank was arguably being punished by having to room with two Captains, while Charles was just placed in whatever space was available when he arrived, and never demonstrated the right to have his own room within the limits of the 4077. That part is less realistic.
      • Important to the camp's functioning? When he became company clerk, sure, but up until then he just did guard duty and other grunt work. I don't see that he performed those duties better than any other corpsman, either.
      • During the Henry era, well, Henry just didn't want the extra paperwork of doing something about Klinger since he didn't detract significantly enough from the camp's performance to make Henry care enough. Potter seemed to actively enjoy Klinger's antics a lot of the time, and basically treated him as being something of a mascot and good for morale in general. As long as Klinger did the important part of his job, caring for the patients, properly, both Colonels were prepared to overlook the rest of it; albeit for different reasons.
      • In one episode he did have a roommate: Corporal "Boots" Miller, who was running his own psycho discharge scam (which worked!).
      • Miller's psycho discharge wasn't a scam; he really was crazy. When he wrote back about his new toy idea, "Enemy Glider," he asked them to send him pictures of the non-existent pilot to go with his drawing of the Glider.
      • Which may have been his version of a middle finger, so....Who knows?

  • Where did Hawkeye and Trapper get trained? Their lack of military professionalism is evident throughout the series, and sometimes it goes far beyond a simple defensive mechanism to cope with stitching up kids younger than themselves. And besides their brilliance in surgery, why didn't they ever get busted, or even a real reprimand? Henry couldn't have been THAT spineless.
    • It was (and still is) common for civilian professionals (lawyers, chaplains, nurses and doctors) to basically take the 90-day officers' course. Doctors start out as Captains, other professionals as 1st Lieutenants. This wasn't intended to make them proper military men, it was to get them used to military procedure and the system within which they were expected to work. Unsurprisingly, it didn't always take. In most cases (chaplains particularly) they are not expected to have any real command responsibility, which means the rest of the hierarchy can ignore them until needed.
      • This is still a common practice. In the US Navy Reserves, doctors can enter military service as high as an O-5, which is a commander (equal to a lieutenant colonel), and almost never appear in uniform. Their Navy officer training can take as little as two weeks. There are Navy officers whose first (and sometimes only) time in uniform was to attend a two-week course. There is a full-bird Army colonel (a dentist) who knew absolutely nothing about military protocol to the point that I had to tell him, "They're talking to you, sir, and you should be angry at the tone they're taking..."
    • Apparently, drafted civilian doctors were automatically given officer ranks, so they were all but expected to be Bunny Ears Lawyers. And, yes, apparently Hawkeye and Trapper (and B.J. to a lesser extent) were so brilliant that they had Ultimate Job Security (whether they liked it or not).
      • I think it's pretty well established that B.J. was just as good as Hawkeye and Trapper.
      • It's not that B.J. isn't as good as Hawkeye and Trapper but that he's less Bunny-ears. I watched "The Interview" a few weeks ago and he mentions being in the Reserves - so he's not a draftee. My guess is that he was in ROTC to pay for college and/or med school and therefore had formal military training.
      • B.J.'s exact status with respect to the military is less than clear, since he mentions in both his introductory episode and at least one later episode that he was drafted. Either way, though, he's a little less "out there" than Hawkeye and Trapper, especially when it comes to thumbing his nose at authority.
      • Realistically, this makes sense. Having an officer rank would give them greater freedom to issue orders and travel, both of which would be essential when issuing treatment, especially on the front lines.
      • Rank doesn't really play a part when you're the subject matter expert in a particular area or the person responsible for something. A senior person can't give you a direct order to go against standing orders or good medical practice. A good example of this appears in Band of Brothers when a sentry shoots one of the officers and the medic (an NCO) gives the other officers a hard time for not following their training.
    • Part of it's due to their skills, true. Far more likely is that, at least in the show's world, replacing two or three surgeons would have been quite the chore, and probably led to a number of otherwise-preventable casualties in the meantime. One of the scenarios used in the book, film AND TV show was to have Hawkeye and Trapper getting righteously busted for something, then the alarm for incoming casualties would sound. The guys look at each other, shrug, and say something along the lines of "Well, we don't really plan on working if we're under arrest".
    • Plus the whole concept is based on what actually happened in the Korean War. Civilian doctors who were drafted in really did get away with all that kind of stuff.
    • It's not hard to imagine them shrugging and saying, "What are you going to do, fire me?" Granted, a court-martial isn't something you just walk away from, but short of an offense that warrants a stint in Leavenworth, I imagine they'd even blow off a dishonorable discharge if it got them home. So basically, the army needed the surgeons a lot more than the surgeons needed the army.
      • That still doesn't explain how Hawkeye got away with punching Burns. Burns wasn't even doing anything out-of-the-ordinary for him, and Hawkeye just punches him right out of nowhere. Doctor or not, he should have at least been reprimanded for that.
      • He nearly was. Margaret changed her story to match the one that Hawkeye and Trapper told — that Burns got his black eye when he slipped on a bar of soap— and so the charges were dismissed.
    • Henry was a civilian drafted as well remember and Potter was an old enough dog to know that as long as your cutters are good you ignore their foibles (which is why Klinger remained on staff rather then be transferred, Radar could keep that menagerie etc).
      • Henry was a Lt. Colonel and commander of the unit. He has to have been in the army far longer than Hawkeye and Trapper John to get promoted twice and and to that level of responsibility. That suggests that he must have been started out at least in WWII. If he were only drafted, he would have been able to quit in the late '40s and never had to go to Korea. Unless he were in the Army Reserve and thus liable to be re-inducted, which in turn suggests his commitment to the Army is (or at least was, at some point) more than it looks.
      • In the movie, he makes repeated references (mostly in his idea of a pep talk) to having been in the army "since the dark days before Pearl Harbor". (Not an exaggeration, the pre-WWII period was a pretty bad one for the US Army. Since it offered regular meals, clothing, housing, medical care, the possibility of travel, and regular, if meager, pay, there were millions of unemployed people who would have liked nothing better than to get in and stay there until things got better, so the volunteers could hardly be processed, never mind accepted. There also wasn't money for equipment. The Army knew it needed tanks, but couldn't get the money, so training infantry for working with tanks involved trucks with 'tank' painted on the sides as stand ins.)
      • When Colonel Potter arrived, he was specifically described as being regular (career) army. However Henry was classified—drafted, reserves, whatever—he wasn't regular army.
    • Not necessarily, If Henry was in the reserves he might have only joined to pay for his medical schooling and then getting stuck when an actually war broke out. He was a half-decent administrator (plus he had Radar, who helped make him look good) and a damn good doctor, which is why he was promoted quickly when the 4077th needed a commander.
    • In the book and movie, Henry was regular army. It's likely the creators made him a reservist or draftee to make him a more sympathetic character in the regulars vs. draftees atmosphere of the series.
      • If Henry's drunken story to Fr. Mulcahy in one of the "Dear Dad" episodes is anything to go by, he was apparently regular Army to begin with—he got sent to Korea because of a wisecrack he made to a brigadier general doctor who ordered a coffee enema for a patient ("...and I had to open my big mouth and say 'with cream and sugar?'")
    • A better question would be how a bungler like Burns (who would have been a pastry chef if he wasn't drafted as a doctor) made Major.
      • Well, it was mostly for conflict, but in-universe, he mentions having taken ROTC in college. Unless I'm wrong about how ROTC, he could have been working in a VA hospital or something. Especially considering MASH's version of the army, he could have easily gotten promoted on zeal alone.
      • And there was something about how he had been in private practice while Hawkeye and Trapper were in residency. Someone in the army who didn't know better might have taken that to mean Frank was senior to them in terms of medical experience, not realizing he'd skipped doing a residency to go into private practice.
      • There's also the question of how the camp had such a high survival rate if one of the four doctors was so incompetent. If Burns was really as bad as they claimed he was while being one of the camp's few doctors, they could not have had a 97% success rate.
      • In one episode Margaret mentions that Frank typically does the simpler operations. He's probably assigned patients whose conditions aren't life-threatening.
      • In early Season 1 episodes Frank is described as a good surgeon, it is possible that his bungler tendencies didn't really kick in until life in the camp (not to mention Trapper and Hawkeye's bullying) started doing a number on his mental health. His slide to incompetency could be seen as an early indicator of Burns' eventual Sanity Slippage.
      • I'll agree with the "zeal" guess. Bit of an Epileptic Tree, but rule of thumb in MASH seems to be that generals are all but obsessed with appearances. Considering Frank is all about appearances (patriotic zeal and adherence to regulations) I always assumed he impressed a superior officer that knew nothing about medicine.
      • Mmmmmmmaybe. Even leaving aside his medical skills, Frank clearly shows himself to be an idiot of the highest order on every level. He has no interpersonal or leadership skills. Still, you can imagine him kissing ass and someone giving him a promotion based on that alone.
      • With Henry in the series, his medals show a WWII service medal but no campaign medals, which might indicate he was either drafted or called up in the last few months of WWII, and completed his training just before VJ Day, and remained in the reserves long after, but in the movie, he mentions being on active duty before the Pearl Harbour attack, which would require a dedication to the army.
      • IIRC, Burns made mention once being in the Reserves and being activated for the Korean War. This could explain his higher rank and more gung-ho attitude.
      • In "The Novocaine Mutiny" the officer running the hearing mentions that Frank had volunteered to be a doctor. He might have gotten a level up from that.
    • I recently rewatched the series and have a theory about the various ranks of the doctors. It doesn't quite make sense from a military standpoint, but it's possible they were given ranks based on their experience. Hawkeye, Trapper, and B.J. are mentioned as being relatively young, Hawkeye working in a hospital (I believe in Boston, which raises the question of how he never met Charles if it was Boston General like I remember), with B.J. stated as fresh out of residency when he comes to the unit in "Welcome to Korea". Frank apparently is a bit older, having had a private practice for several years. Charles was also a practicing surgeon for quite some time and was apparently a high-profile surgeon, being in the running for chief of thoracic surgery at Boston General. Henry Blake apparently had been a practicing doctor and surgeon for decades, saying at one point that he doesn't think there's anyone in Bloomington, IL that he hasn't seen naked. Blake also seems to be getting on in years, with arthritis starting to affect his performance and the middle-age spread starting to come in. Potter obviously is regular army and made his way up through the ranks the old-fashioned way. It's hard to tell just by looking at the characters because of the various ages of the actors - B.J. looks to be older than Hawkeye, even though later in the series Hawkeye's moved from black hair to salt-and-pepper, with more salt than pepper. Plus we never find out exactly how old most of the characters are, although with a bit of math you can figure out Potter's age.
      • At least in the book, Frank is supposed to be the same age, and this is obliquely hinted at in the series. In the book, Frank skipped doing a proper surgical residency to go into practice with his father. Sure enough, in "Chief Surgeon Who?" Frank says he was in private practice for three years, during which time Hawkeye and Trapper would have been in residency. He mocks Hawkeye for having worked in a hospital, suggesting that this version also did not do his residency. Also, Frank mentions in "The Sniper" that he took twice as long as usual to finish med school, which would make him older even if they graduated at the same time.
      • In "Sometimes You Hear The Bullet" Frank is explicitly said to be a Reservist when he's presented with his Purple Heart (since Hawkeye stole the medal for the wounded underage kid). Presumably that's why he was entitled to a higher rank despite having all the surgical skill of a back-alley butcher. The series-version Henry's qualifications are still in question.
      • There are two types of promotion for military officers - "fully qualified" and "best qualified." "Fully qualified" means that if you meet the minimum standards you are automatically promoted. "Best qualified" means that officers must compete among themselves for a limited number of slots. Promotion for medical officers is "fully qualified" up to the rank of Major. So as long as a physician meets the minimum standard he will automatically be promoted to Major when enough time passes. Also, promotion for senior military officers is based to a very large extent on the success of their unit as a whole. So, being "second in command" of a highly successful unit like the 4077th would almost certainly be enough to get Burns promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
      • In "A Smattering of Intelligence", Frank apparently keeps a record of staff who "got promoted ahead of other doctors just because they showed off by saving more lives", so it's feasible that some of the doctors in the hospital (perhaps the departed Spearchucker and Ugly John who got rotated out, maybe even Hawkeye and Trapper themselves) started as 1st Lieutenants and received promotions.
    • Potter gave his age as 62 in one episode, which puts his birth date in 1890 (give or take, depending upon what year of the war the episode was in).

  • Didn't the "up or out" rule exist in 1950? Since Col. Potter served in World War I, he must have been in the Army more than 30 years when the Korean War started. Nowadays, retirement at 30 years of service (at most — earlier if passed over for promotion a certain number of times) is mandatory for all military personnel except those who've attained flag rank (General or Admiral).
    • It is not clear that he was technically in the military during his medical training. While the US military will pay for medical school for military members at civilian institutions, that time does not usually count as military service for pay or retirement purposes.
    • The modern requirement is retirement after 30 years total commissioned service. Potter's WW1 service as an enlisted man would not count toward those 30 years.
    • Potter was not the only WW1 vet in Korea. Colonel Arthur Champeny received the Distinguished Service Cross in WW1 and oak leaf clusters for WW2 and Korea.

  • Did the characters' attitudes have to be so anachronistic? I could stand them being a bit ahead of their time, but it's just so blatant, especially in the latter seasons, how everyone acts like the social movements of the 1960s have already happened. And the 1950s were twenty years before the show was made, so there's no way the cast and crew didn't live through the time period they were portraying.
    • Here's a justification for ya - the Korean War began 25th of June, 1950. Let's suppose in the M*A*S*H* Verse, the Korean War actually did go for the time period shown. The show went for 11 seasons. One episode took place over the course of a year, so we see 12 years pass by in M*A*S*H*, so the show ends in 1962. Presumably, a 12 year war would have some effect on the psyche of a nation, and even if it didn't we certainly see it affect the characters, as they gradually become dependent on the few forms of escape they have, and also the whole "Little contact with home" thing, meaning they perceive what they have as normal. I kinda lost my train of thought here, but I think you know what I mean.
      • I don't think that timeline works for the series. There was another episode that consumes a long timeline. I forget which episode it was, but Klinger convinces Potter to bet on baseball, beginning around the all-star break and ending around the time of the World Series. Even though these two episodes take up long spans of time, there are later episodes that give the date as being earlier than prior episodes. They also have a Christmas episode each season, but they don't keep incrementing the years up to the 1960s. The series is supposed to take place in the actual Korean War timeline despite the problems they have with having had 12 or 13 Christmases and things happening out of order.
      • That episode is "A War for All Seasons" and it is Winchester and Klinger who are betting on the Dodgers but the Giants Win the Pennant! This is also the episode that does the most to mess with the timeline - the episode begins New Year's Day 1951 and included Col. Potter as Father Time. Henry Blake was killed in August or Sept 1952 since Col. Potter reported for duty at the 4077 on September 19, 1952. Did Potter step back in time?
      • In Season 3's "Life with Father", Hawkeye talks about a guy who "left here over two years ago." That would put that episode in at least mid-1952.
      • At the beginning of Season 4, when Trapper leaves, Hawkeye says he was roommates with Trapper for over a year.
      • In a Season 4 episode, the PA announcer says Ralph Kiner has just hit his 47th home run of the season. The only time that happened (during the Korean War) was in 1950.
      • Another problem with the timeline is the skill the unit has at bugging out. MASH units were quite good at this in 1950 and 1951 (when they had had to do it a lot), but the last time the 4077 does it (still with commendable skill) is in the final episode, which was clearly set in 1953. By that time, even practice bug outs had been ended due to how badly they went.
      • There's also season four's "Deluge", which can only take place in fall of 1950, because it details the Chinese intervention in the war, which occurred on November 3, 1950, and General MacArthur's statement of "We now face an entirely new war", which he made on November 28, 1950. This was after Potter became CO on September 19, 1952, and previous episodes with China as one of the combatants, such as "Rainbow Bridge" (the 4077 is offered to make a prisoner exchange with the Chinese).
    • The reason the attitudes seem so anachronistic is that the series, like the film, isn't really about the Korean war. It's about the Vietnam war. Neither the movie nor the series would have been green-lighted if they were explicitly about Vietnam.
      • I beg to differ, though. Alan Alda mentioned in an interview that the writers and producers would not have commented on something that was still ongoing when the show started. I think it has more to do with certain similarities between the Korean and Vietnam Wars—a civil war getting swept up in Cold War tensions, neither half of the country much better off from a moral perspective than the other, draftees getting forced into fighting without much in the way of clear goals or progress, the strife of a culture divided, and so on. Plus, War Is Hell is Older Than Dirt. Also, the social effects of the 50s were still present in the show, though more when Frank was still part of the unit, as his hardcore anti-Communism and WASP-ness made itself known. There was also B.J.'s moment of douchebaggery when he learned that his wife took a job to help ends meet, and he felt it was his responsibility, not hers. Otherwise, you could say that the main characters meshed into a family so effectively that within their own ranks, some weirder societal attitudes bubbled up. War does strange things to people. And non-linear time and years repeating themselves is par for he course for a long-running sitcom. Could anybody reasonably reduce the show down to three seasons?
      • MASH isn't about the Vietnam War, or the Korean War. It's about all wars.
    • It might not be that unrealistic. I mean, think of all the debauchery going on. Not to mention the death and destruction. With all that going on around them, it's probably pretty easy to look at a gay soldier and go, "Meh."

  • This show made Korea look so backwards. I'm no expert on Korea, but I know South Korea is now one of the Four Asian Tigers. Was it really Amish-Land in the early '50s?
    • I'm told Koreans hate the show because of how the country was portrayed.
      • Koreans don't like how Korean characters were portrayed, not the country. In the early seasons, almost every Korean was a virtual caricature. Later seasons were a bit better in this regard, but from time to time there were still characters that were near parodies.
    • The series is supposed to take place around Uijongbu, which is an actual city. During the Korean War, Uijongbu was only a small village, so the portrayal may be justified.
      • The only place shown to be "backwards" (i.e. poor, farming communities) was the immediate area surrounding the 4077th and the Korean countryside. Seoul was never shown, but sounded like a large metropolitan city (because it is) and the place you want to go to when you go on leave if you can't get to Tokyo (which is the Las Vegas of the east).
      • At that time, most of Korea was pretty backwards. Up till about five years before the war started, Korea was a Japanese colony, and from what I've heard from people who were there, it was in pretty sad shape—-along with most of East Asia. The era of the "tigers" did not come until decades later.
      • Also, when Korea was divided into Soviet and American occupation zones (which fairly quickly became North Korea and South Korea) upon the Japanese surrender in 1945, the country's economy was seriously disrupted. In 1945, the north was primarily industrial (largely powered by hydroelectric power generated in the mountains) while the (generally less mountainous) south was primarily agricultural. As is normally the case, the agricultural area was more backward. South Korea didn't really become a developed economy for years.
      • Also, remember that the entire country was a battlefield at one point or another. The North came very close to completely taking over the South (finally being stopped at Pusan - see the "Pusan Perimeter" referenced later on) and the UN forces had to fight the North all the way back up to almost the Chinese border. When everything in the country was destroyed by war at the time of these episodes, things are going to look pretty backward.

  • Why certain people had their own tents when others had to share. For example, Burns (later Winchester) had to share a tent with two to three other doctors (in the beginning, Spearchucker Jones was in the tent with Trapper, Hawkeye, and Burns). The dentist (in early episodes), Hot Lips, Sergeant Zale, a supply sergeant, Lieutenant Simmons, and Klinger all had their own tents. That's six people of lower rank than Major Burns who have their own tents. Blake, then Potter had his own tent, too, but that's understandable.
    • Some of that can be easily explained: Blake and Potter would have had their own tents as unit commanders, Hot Lips as the only female of rank (Can't bunk her with the men or with the enlisted nurses), Zale was a supply sergeant and could have bartered his way to privacy (there are several instances on the show of the supply personnel bartering to other goals) and Klinger spent most of his time trying to convince people he was crazy; I speak from experience in saying that being weird enough will win you a private college dorm, I imagine it's rather the same: no one WANTED to bunk with him.
      • The nurses aren't enlisted. They're officers. If Frank, the second-in-command, can share a tent with two or more doctors, why does Margaret get her own tent, or even worse, Lieutenant Simmons? As for not wanting to bunk with Klinger, it's the Army. If you don't want to bunk with someone, you don't always get the luxury of saying you won't do it.
      • After Klinger takes over as company clerk he also has to give up his tent and bunk in the office like Radar did.
      • Plus in the episode where they actually had a legitimate Section 8 Klinger was shown to bunk with him.
      • Hawkeye, Trapper/B.J., and Frank/Charles had to share since, as the surgical team, they had to be accessible at once for emergencies. Zale, as the supply sergeant, was also possibly the highest ranking NCO around, and would therefore get his own tent. Margaret, as the highest ranking female officer AND the Head Nurse, would be entitled to her own tent. Klinger might have been able to make a few deals to get his own tent from someone who was higher ranking than himself.
    • Those are all reasonable explanations for how someone could get his/her own tent and even if those are true, there don't seem to be enough tents in the camp to house all the personnel, especially with so many people having their own tents.
      • For all we know, some of those people did have tent-mates, we just didn't get to see them because the show's cast was already pretty big.
      • The dentist may have bunked in his clinic tent instead of having traditional quarters.
      • Posted above, but the military isn't as uniform as it's always been presented in movies and tv. Some lower-ranking people can win better privileges because they've earned or negotiated them, and some higher-ranking people are denied otherwise-normal privileges. More to the point, I wonder why the 4077 never had a First Sergeant or a Sergeant-Major as ranking NCOIC, who would have been closer to Col. Potter than Radar, Hawkeye, Mildred and Sophie combined. That's one of the NCOIC's jobs, protecting the damnfool officer from his own ignorance, or putting out his orders and ensuring that they are obeyed at every level. The 4077 would have had a First Sergeant pulling Major Burns aside and privately telling him that he was destroying everything they were trying to accomplish. You don't barge into the Colonel's office and tell him you've got a problem, even if you are wearing a dress and openly trying to get out of the Army with your latest zany scheme. I shudder to think what NCOs of the 1950s would do to such a soldier.
      • You answered your own question. That would have eliminated 95% of the humor in the show. Remember, it was a comedy (arguably the first "dramedy"), not a documentary.

  • Why is it that so many people that are known to the main characters happen to come to this MASH unit at various times? Hawkeye's childhood friend visits, so does a girl he went to college with, though this one makes a little sense as she was a nurse who was drafted, too. Also, a doctor Hawkeye did residency with comes to do a nose job on a soldier. Trapper's old friend also visits, and so does a writer friend. B.J.'s old college chum drops by. Potter's son-in-law visits and so does Margaret's dad (who was not as dead as he seemed to be in earlier episodes).
    • Nurses weren't drafted, at least not female ones.
    • Margaret's dad could be justified by some sort because he was a soldier of high rank so he probably had enough clout to check out her MASH unit.
    • Which would also work in getting Potter's son-in-law into camp. Potter has clout and connections, furthermore the hospital is a relatively "safe" area for civilians as it's protected from direct attack due to the conventions of war. Also depending on the person's occupation (journalists, writers, filmmakers, newsmen, other medical professionals, or businesspersons with military connections) they might have an easier time being allowed to visit the camp.
      • Those are good explanations. You probably wouldn't even need to be that high in rank to get someone to be able to visit you in the war zone. I don't think I would actually call the unit all that safe, at least at times. Sometimes, they get artillery fire, snipers, kidnappings, guerrilla soldiers in the area, and North Korean and Chinese soldiers infiltrating the camp. And, although that's a good job of explaining how Hot Lips' father would be able to get there, it doesn't explain how he became alive after being dead. Assuming he was retconned to be alive again, I buy the explanation.
    • Margaret's dad was said to be dead in the beginning of the series, before they had all of the characters' backstories worked out. If you remember, Hawkeye had a living mother and a sister, and Radar smoked and drank. Certain facts changed as the series progressed.
      • Also, Radar had a brother early on.
      • And Hawkeye had a sister early on (she knitted him a huge sweater), and a living mom and a brother in a few episodes, then it was established that he was an only child and that his mother was dead.
    • There were only 5 MASHes in Korea, so if you had a friend who was stationed at one and you ended up getting wounded enough to go to MASH, you had a 1 in 5 chance of seeing them.
    • It's less strange than it seems. Most of them came to the camp because they were asked by someone or knew someone there. Hawkeye's childhood friend visited because he knew Hawkeye was there. Hawkeye's nurse ex-girlfriend was a fluke and acknowledged as such. Stanley Robbins - the nose job doctor - was invited by Hawkeye and was in Korea demonstrating techniques for repairing burn wounds. Trapper's old friend in G2 was another accident, although Paranoia Fuel sets in when you wonder whether he in particular was sent because he knew Trapper. B.J.'s old college buddy dropped by deliberately, as he was going home and wanted to see B.J. before he left. The Potter and Houlihan visits were explicitly because they wanted to visit and were in-country, and it's mentioned that Potter had to pull some strings to get his son-in-law to the camp.

  • Are not viewers kinda discomforted by this little exchange (in the episode "Dear Ma") between Margaret, Radar, and a silent Potter?
    Margaret: Make sure no one goes into my tent.
    Radar: I wouldn't do that, Ma'am.
    Margaret: SOMEBODY does.
    Radar: Maybe it's rats.
    Margaret: You think RATS have been trying on my undies?
    Radar: Some of them rats are weird.
    • Margaret's accusatory tone, Radar's sheepish delivery of the last line, and Potter's eye-rolling distinct discomfort at the whole conversation seem to imply that it is Radar that has been trying on the undies. Could it be that Klinger is not the only crossdresser in camp? (Of course, it wouldn't be unthinkable, as many boys and young men at some point will try on some femme finery out of mere curiosity, without necessarily becoming a full-fledged transvestite. But this is our beloved Radar, and it seems just a little squicky...)
    • Margaret Houlihan once asked Frank Burns outright, based on his interest in her clothing, why he had fantasies of being a woman; Frank got very shifty and refused to answer. Also, if Frank was good at one thing, it was manicures, pedicures, and painting Hotlips' toenails. Little clues like this suggest not only Radar might have had in interest in wearing Hotlips' underwear.
      • Radar had an on-and-off relationship with innocence. at times, he'd be seen smoking a cigar. Sometimes, Hawkeye would mention how Radar looked at his nudie magazines. There were times when he discussed how he had put the hole in the shower tent so he could peep. Then, there would be other times when he seemed to be shocked that a man and a woman could share the same bath with their clothes off.
      • One Word: Flanderization.
    • This is probably not how it was intended, but the way I interpreted it originally was not that Radar was the one who'd done it, but that he knew who it was and didn't want to say.
    • I always saw it as Margaret knew that Radar was going through her underwear, but took it as a boy with a harmless crush on her, since a career Major in the medical field would likely be in her mid to late 30s, while an enlisted farmboy from Iowa was likely to only be about 20 at the most. She was taking the chance to rib him about it and let him knew that he wasn't as slick as he thought he was.
      • And more to the point, she states this in front of Potter, who is essentially a father figure to Radar, knowing that Potter will have a fatherly talk with Radar about the inappropriateness of his actions (and, if necessary, a more severe colonel-to-corporal talk if the behavior persists). Potter is understandably uncomfortable with what he has to do, but knows it's part of the job.

  • Radar, as we all know, is so-named because of his ability to anticipate the needs, words, and actions of his C/O Lt. Col. Henry Blake. Once Col. Potter took over the operation, Radar was able to anticipate him just as easily, and also to anticipate Hawkeye on the rare occasions that Hawkeye found himself in command. So why is it that Radar was entirely unable to anticipate Frank Burns when he was in command?
    • Burns was not fit to command, he was also making his own rules on the spot, unlike Potter and Henry who talked it over with someone before making a decision, Radar was able to predict what they wanted by conversation and paperwork. Burns was making giant changes that Radar wouldn't dream someone would do.
    • Maybe Radar's apparent psychic ability doesn't work on someone with Frank's mental instability or relative lack of intelligence (he might be normal or slightly higher in intelligence, but that's pretty low for a doctor. One wonders about a medical school that would graduate Frank).
    • Except he could:
    Radar: (handing him a file) Fitness reports.
    Frank: Not the fitness reports. You can't anticipate what I'm thinking. I'm not Henry Blake.
    Radar: Yes, sir. I'm sorry, sir.
    Frank: I want...
    Radar: (handing him another file) The efficiency reports.
    Frank: ...the efficiency reports.
    • Radar wasn't necessarily psychic. It's just pattern recognition. Burns being nuttier than squirrel poo in a peanut farm just threw him off. Radar's probably brilliant, just uneducated. Now that I think about it, Radar's also got some smarts to him. He knows what people are going to want to ask and talk about and even think to a degree, because as the company clerk he's interacted with so many different people.
      • Except he didn't throw him off.
      • Momentarily, I mean. Normally Radar gets it on the first prediction, but Burns wanted something else. Whether that's a testament to how mental Frank was is debatable.
      • It can be assumed Frank actually had wanted the fitness reports at first, then lied and said he didn't really want them because having Radar anticipate his wishes creeped him out. Plus, Frank didn't want to think of himself as merely taking up Blake's role, but as making the position his own: denying that Radar was anticipating him was Frank's egotistical attempt to convince himself that he's a superior, fast-thinking camp commander, not just a predictable substitute routinely slotted into Henry's place.

  • It bugs me how motive-driven the characters can be to drive the plot along in several of the episodes.
    • Also, how the characters will go out of character to drive the plot along, like the episode where Burns has a sudden spark of bravery long enough to attack a Korean General because he thinks the general is Chinese. This goes against Frank's cowardice, but serves the purpose of making him look stupid.
      • Frank is more than willing to be "brave"... when he thinks the "enemy" won't be able to fight back and Frank's got heaps of people around him to help. In Frank's mind, the "North Korean" person is unarmed and surrounded by Americans, which gives Frank the perfect chance to be the "Hero", because he isn't putting himself in any sort of risk.
      • In early episodes, Frank cared about people, even joining the others in trying to help when a little Korean boy was found running through a minefield.
      • Frank also had some real warm, human moments in the first couple of seasons. For instance, at the end of Carry On Hawkeye (where everyone gets a bad strain of the flu, with Hawkeye succumbing last, and continuing to work because he's the only one who can still stand), Frank congratulates him on how well he did and seems genuinely happy (and not just because Hawkeye is confined to a bed). Another episode has Trapper stopping Frank from removing the only kidney a wounded soldier has, and later Frank privately thanks him for it, and later we see the end of a conversation between them about why nobody likes Frank.
      • He was also one of the first to try and help the Korean boy that wandered into the minefield.
      • Mainly because he was necking with Margaret when the kid wandered off while he was supposed to be watching him...
      • Yeah, he fucked up. But he was also one of the first who was desperate to rectify his fuckup, which clashes with the pathetic strawman he devolved into later.
      • He was also a father; regardless of his personality, that may have taken priority.

  • Why doesn't anyone call Hawkeye or Trapper out on their bullshit? A few examples:
    • There are times when Trapper and Hawkeye start something with Frank, but no one seems to notice these things. In the episode, L.I.P., Frank is finishing up with a patient. Trapper comes over to him and tells him his stitching is good, then asks him if he practices on baseball mitts. Later in the episode, they treat Frank like crap to try to get him to sign some papers reporting a friendly-fire incident. Frank refuses. Sure, Frank is the bad guy, but they could have treated him better to begin with.
      • "To begin with," Frank's pretty hard to get along with, though. His introduction, in the pilot episode, is this:
      Frank: "I don't want a kelly clamp, Lieutenant."
      Nurse Ginger: "But that's what you asked for."
      Frank: (angrily) "well give me what I want, not what I ask for!"
      • In the next few scenes, he shows off his self-importance and pomposity repeatedly, breaks the still, and tries to cancel the fundraising party that would send Ho-Jon to college. None of that excuses what Hawkeye and Trapper do in the same episode, but their actions are trying to improve the life of a boy who has nothing, while Frank is just too full of himself and sanctimonious to let them do it. It seems clear that by the time we meet these guys, they've been putting up with Frank's special blend of ineptitude, selfishness, and pomposity for a while.
      Hawkeye: Henry, you have no idea what it's like living with a guy who think he's all twelve disciples!

    • In another episode, Hawkeye wants to surrender. Margaret already pointed out that if they surrender, the nurses would have their bodies violated over and over again. Hawkeye tries to surrender anyway, even though Henry said he couldn't. When it doesn't work out, nobody says anything to Hawkeye, not even Frank and Margaret, both of whom want to get rid of him. This would be a legitimate chance. He disobeyed orders and tried to surrender when he still had the means to resist. This would be a court-martial offense, one that would likely land him in prison, yet no one says anything.
      • Except, a) Hawkeye has enough sense to see one guy with a rifle is hardly going to drop that rifle to start trying to rape the nursing staff in the few hours before those choppers arrive, and b), Hawkeye DIDN'T actually disobey! He convinces Henry, and Henry gives the order:
      Henry: "Radar..."
      Radar: "Get a white flag. Yes sir."
      • Weak as it is, Hawkeye's plan is just supposed to get the shooting to stop long enough to bring in the wounded waiting outside. It's that, or just wait around for backup while patients die, and so Henry agrees to try. As far as it goes, the plan works, too:
      Frank: "The sniper's still outside; the generator's shot!"
      Trapper: "Yeah, but the wounded are in."
      • Honestly, my impression was that this was never meant to be a "real" surrender. They've been told "there's a push on," and so backup's likely to be there soon, making their surrender irrelevant even if the sniper had actually accepted it, (and that was never likely: the moment the sniper showed himself he'd lose control of the situation). Waving a white flag wasn't much of a plan, but bought them the time they needed to save a few lives, without putting the camp in any more real danger than it was in already.

      • As a hospital, the doctors weren't able to resist. Medical officers are not permitted to fire or even carry weapons. Normally, the hospital would have had the real soldiers armed and hunting for the sniper.
      • Technically, it would be a task for the camp's enlisted men, who aren't medical personnel and are there for the express purpose of defending the camp (i.e., Radar, Klinger, Igor, Zale, etc) to hunt down the sniper. However, Fridge Brilliance for the Colonel Blake would be unlikely to give any such order and, from what we know of these enlisted men, they wouldn't do such a thing on their own initiative.
      • WRONG. Medical staff (i.e. doctors, nurses, medics) ARE issued weapons, with the expectation that they may, at some point, need to defend their patient and themselves (see: The Thin Red Line for an example). There is no regulation that forbids, in any way, shape or form, medical staff from carrying sidearms (which they are entitled to as officers), rifles, or even grenades.
      • Chaplains, however, are officially prohibited from carrying a weapon TODAY, but in a 'last stand' kind of situation, nobody is going to give a chaplain a hard time for defending himself. BUT, this ban only dates back to the late '70/early '80s - in Korea, chaplains were encouraged to carry a sidearm, because they were often singled out for execution by the NKPA.
      • So, Hawkeye did disobey an order, with an absolutely insane plan (just how, exactly, were they supposed to surrender to a single sniper??), which would put the nurses in physical danger. In Real Life, doctor or not, he would have been court-martialed in a heartbeat.
      • There are times when an officer is morally and ethically bound to disobey an order. If the order is itself illegal, for example. For a medical unit to abandon wounded soldiers to a sniper arguably would be a violation of Article 93 of the UCMJ. Raising a white flag to retrieve the patients is not an unreasonable act (it happens all the time). Further, someone has to file the charge in order for a court-martial to take place. As much of a douchebag as Frank Burns is, he's still a doctor and he recognizes his duty.
      • Didn't we cover this above? Hawkeye disobeyed no order. Henry made the decision to "surrender." This is very much in quotes; how is one guy going to hold the entire camp prisoner, even if he's got a gun?
      • It's also noted later on that the hospital has "three guns in camp, one of which is a reading lamp." Sidearms aren't going to do much against a sniper, especially when it's a bunch of doctors firing them.
      • B.J. was joking when he said that. The camp had way more than four (not three) rifles; they were, after all, a frontline unit. For instance, here's a still taken from "Officer of the Day", where the entire (visible) front row is holding Garands. Here's a closeup of Klinger with a Garand. So it's safe to say, in a conservative estimate, the camp has at least forty Garands and as many Carbines, likely more. My previous comment was actually aimed at the statement that medical officers were/are not allowed to carry weapons, which is flat out wrong.
      • A white flag doesn't have to mean full-blown surrender; it can legitimately be used as a bid for truce, parley, or just a pause in hostilities to get the wounded to shelter and treatment. Which is exactly what was needed.

    • Another time, Hawkeye drugs Frank and puts him in a bed in Post-Op so he can have a party.
      • . . . which was a fundraiser to get the money needed to send Ho-Jon to college. Still a pretty mean trick, but well-intentioned!
      • We covered this already. Really....
      • Drugging someone without their consent is still assault. Just because you don't like someone doesn't mean they don't have rights.
    • Another time, when Frank is passed out, Hawkeye puts a toe tag on him and ships him off like he's dead.
      • To be fair, Frank was so drunk that he passed out in the back of a truck, accidentally shipping himself off like he's dead. Hawkeye and Trapper were only responsible for the toe tag part. They had no idea he would leave.
      Potter: "You two pull a fast one - put a toe tag on Burns last night?"
      Hawkeye: "We addressed him, but we didn't mail him."
      • Not Trapper. B.J..
      • I didn't think he'd even passed out in the truck in the episode you're referring to (It's called "Der Tag"). He passed out, Hawkeye and B.J. got him home and into his bunk, and tagged him. Two medics came in looking for them, noticed the tag, and apparently figured that the hospital (then flooded with casualties) had stuck the corpse in there for lack of a better place to put it.
      • Not quite. Hawkeye and B.J. tag Frank when they get back to the Swamp. After the others fall asleep, Frank wakes up (still drunk) and makes a mad dash for the latrine. On the way back, he passes out in the back of an ambulance. The drivers close the doors (not noticing him inside) and drive back up to Battalion Aid.
    • In "Crisis", for no reason, Hawkeye and Trapper attack Frank and steal his heated socks. This is during a supply shortage and everyone is cold, but for some reason, it's bad for Frank to have his own heated socks? This is played as if it's okay because it's Frank.
      • It's played for laughs. They didn't actually harm him, and it's implied that Burns has been making life intolerable for literally everyone in camp while offscreen.
      • "He has an odious personality! Let's take his personal property for ourselves!" Yeah, no, Hawkeye and Trapper are still assholes, there.
      • Don't forget that in secretly having those socks, Frank is violating standing orders concerning power and rationing. He is putting his own comfort over the good of the outfit and the wounded. Don't forget he also stole an entire baked ham to share with Hot Lips. Frank can't expect to break the rules for his own good and then expect sympathy when he's called out on it.
      • Really? Having his own privately owned, battery operated socks that he bought out of pocket violates rationing? And the only reason Hawkeye and Trapper even realise he was wearing the socks was because he had less blankets than either of them, meaning he freed up government supplies for others to use.
      • Except the blankets are reusable supplies; his socks could have contributed to the camp running out of fuel in the generator - and from the sound of it they use a different type of fuel, so siphoning a jeep or truck in an emergency isn't an option.
    • In "For Want of a Boot", Hawkeye takes Frank's birthday card from Frank's wife and puts it on the bottom of his boot to cover the hole in it. Then, he shows Frank that he's done it.
    • In "George", Hawkeye and Trapper blackmail Frank into tearing up a report where he was outing a homosexual soldier (common treatment for homosexuals in the military until the 1990s). To blackmail Frank, they threaten to tell Frank's wife about Margaret. At the same time, Trapper is a womanizing cheat himself. Unlike Frank, Trapper sleeps with several women.
      • I can see the point in some of the above (and would add that Trapper and Hawkeye should have been on assault charges that time they forcibly took a pint of blood from Frank and gave him anemia) but he got what he deserved in "George"; that Trapper's an adulterer too makes no difference to the hypocrisy of Frank trying to ruin someone's life over a moral code he doesn't live up to himself.
      • At that time, homosexuality was considered far, far worse than heterosexual adultery. You could be thrown into prison for it in many states.
      • You could get prison time for heterosexual adultery in some states, too, but it was much less likely to be brought to trial or result in conviction.
      • Trapper also never hid his adultery, nor claimed to hold the moral high ground the way Frank did. Trapper cheated, but was open and honest about it. Frank lied non-stop.
      • Fraternization and adultery was (and is) against regulations and strictly enforced. Hawkeye, Frank, Trapper and Henry could face serious charges up to and including discharge and imprisonment (at best a neither-honorable-nor-dishonorable discharge, at worst dishonorable discharge and jail time). Even Radar and the nurse he sleeps with would have faced an undesirable discharge and jail time.
      • A correction to the OP: in George they threatened to reveal that Frank had cheated on his first year medical school exams (Trapper tricks him into admitting this while pretending to agree with him about reporting the soldier).
  • It bugs me that cheating is bad for some, but okay for others. Burns is portrayed as being immoral because he's cheating on his wife with Margaret. Potter's son-in-law visits and it's known that he's had an affair while he was in Korea and that's bad. When B.J. thinks about having an affair, that's bad. When Donald cheats on Margaret, that's bad. Henry and Trapper have affairs and it's fine.
    • I would hypothesize that the different levels of morality portrayed with characters' infidelity reflects their different levels of conscience; at least, about adultery.
    • Burns did a lot more than simply cheating with Margaret based on a number of things he's said over the course of his stay on the show. He actively and continually carried on an affair with Margaret, tried to talk her into becoming his mistress once he made money, and admitted to cheating on his taxes and getting medical kickbacks to build the Burns fortune.
      • Frank's fever hallucinations also show that he's cheating at home as well with his secretary.
    • Don't forget that Frank, unlike Trapper and Henry, outwardly portrayed himself as a good Christian who would never do anything like that. Trapper and Henry never hid their adultery.
      • Also, he apparently cheated on his wife regularly, when he was home, with his receptionist and I don't know who else.
    • I think when Henry learned that Lorraine, too, had been unfaithful to him, that seemed to really put him in his place, having the shoe on the other foot; notice how after learning of this, he pretty much stopped horsing around with other women. He definitely got a taste of his own medicine.
      • Although the way the episode is acted out, Henry seems more upset about the fact that she had a fling with an orthodontist than anything else.
      • Also, I really don't think it was Margaret's place to get upset to learn that Penobscott had been fooling around with other women, as well as trying to sneak out of their marriage, considering SHE did the same thing with Frank... not only that, she practically slept with just about any higher ranking officer that would do so with her, I don't think there was a single General in the earlier seasons whom she wasn't already "friendly" with (and I believe those Generals were supposed to be married as well, like Frank). Like with Henry, I think this was some pretty good (or bad, depending on how you look at it) karma for her. Like the old saying goes, what goes around comes around.
      • I don't recall Donald cheating on her. What he did was lie to her, be very insecure around her, not stand up to his mother for her.
      • The letter that Margaret got from Donald that was supposed to go to another girl referenced an intimate night spent together. Donald was having a long-term affair on the side.
      • And he was stealing all her paychecks.
      • One of Donald's flings was assigned to the 4077. In "In Love & War", newly-arrived Nurse Gleason says she's glad to be there and get away from a dumbass Colonel she refers to as "Donald Dimwit". Later, she says "He was a lunatic. He kept licking my fingernails." Cue howling from Margaret.
      • Plus there was whoever he spent his birthday with in her place in "Dear Sigmund". Could be the "Darlene" he wrote the letter to or someone else.
    • Seems more like it's the way that they go about their adultery that's the issue. Trapper and Henry make no disguise of the fact that they are sleeping with these women entirely because of the stressful situation they are in, with no intimations about any long-term relations to come from it. Frank, however, promised Margaret that he would leave his wife, and then offered to set her up as his mistress when they got back to the states. Donald was not only cheating on Margaret, but was also taking most of her money for himself, which IIRC was the final straw that lead to their divorce. Potter's son-in-law had only been in Korea for a few weeks at most, and had not been in a combat zone (he was a civilian there for business reasons) so he didn't have any reason to have been cheating on his wife. B.J. had drawn a line in the sand for himself, stating that he would not cheat no matter what. When he did, it had a serious impact on him because he had convinced himself that he would never do that.
    • Adultery and fraternization were (and are) both against regulations, and could result in jail time to one or both parties, and very often a discharge.
    • Margaret even becomes briefly smitten with Hawkeye, owing to a combination of terror and desperation, her marriage on the rocks and the two trapped in the thick of the shelling. However, she becomes haughtily offended when he brings up her past. He admits later to Beej that maybe the feelings are genuine, but he'd never act on them; they're too different (or perhaps too much alike) to make it work. Though, judging from The Big Damn Kiss they share in the series finale, Margaret forgave him his brusqueness, and the crush was still there.

  • Why doesn't Klinger just shoot himself in the foot?
    • Because self-inflicted wounds of that sort would get him out of the Army—-and straight into Leavenworth, where he does not want to go.
    • Also, even if he could get away with it, he has a strong aversion to grievous and possibly permanent bodily harm (which is part of why he wants out).
      • Further evidence: in the AfterM*A*S*H quote on the Awesome page, he claims to have tried, but pulled his foot out of the way.
    • Besides, Klinger has stated that his goal is to leave the Army the honorable way: with a psycho discharge.
    • The only in-show reason given is "I'd ruin a perfectly good pair of nylons!" The other reason, of course, is Klinger would have to leave the show.
    • Simple, Klinger's whole reason to get out of the Army is so that he does not end up getting shot. Shooting himself would sort of defeat the purpose.

  • In one episode, Potter and Houlihan are discussing television's new prominence back home, and she expresses a desire to see what Jack Benny really looks like. This makes it sound like Benny was primarily a radio star, and he was, but he had appeared in enough movies that it seems unlikely Margaret would have never seen him on the big screen.

  • In "The Bus", the surrendering North Korean soldier had an MP40. How does a North Korean soldier get a German submachine gun?
    • A: It went from Germany to the KMT in some way- either sent over during the sizable amount of time when the Germans and Nationalist Chinese were allied, being stolen, or being a locally produced copy- and when the PLA started shattering the KMT's military force on the mainland in the aftermath of WWII, it fell into their hands. B: It was an actual German MP40 that was captured by the Soviets. Either way, it gets sent by them to the KPA to kit it out in the leadup to Kim Il Sung's invasion of South Korea.
      • So something like how Korean soldiers ended up defending Utah Beach (they were then sent back to Korea after the war, but likely ended up conscripted into one of the two armies).
    • Up until they made a treaty aliance with Japan, the Germans were perfectly happy to sell China every form of military kit the Chinese could afford, up to and including armoured cars and light tanks. Also, the Russians impounded lots of captured German equipment during and after the war and were obliging about passing their booty on to client states as a cheap form of military aid - witness German tanks used aganst Israel by its Arab neighbours in the first few wars, for instance.

  • How on earth did the doctors stay fit to operate putting away that much alcohol? It's established that wounded come in at random times, but pretty much every time we see the doctors, they're drinking. How could they be fit to operate while they've got alcohol in their system?
    • Most of the time that they are drinking, they are only seen having one or two drinks. Values Dissonance sets in when you remember that, at the time, it was not only common but almost expected that gentlemen and professionals would have a 2-drink lunch, it makes more sense that the doctors would be fit to operate after a bit of drink. It is also implied that the main cast aren't the only doctors at the 4077, as they make references to dentists, proctologists, and even a dermatologist that have been stationed there. Henry even references this in the episode where he appoints a chief surgeon: the chief would have to assist shifts other than his own in surgery if things got bad. The show never showed us those other shifts, instead focusing on the shift that featured the main cast.
      • I understand all but the last part. The entire surgical staff seems to consist of those four - when they're buried in wounded to the point that one of the nurses or Father Mulcahy has to do triage, all four of them are working on patients, sometimes for as much as 24 hours at a time. The sheer impossibility of sustaining that aside, most of those references (besides the dentists) are for jokes, and no other doctor is shown to be permanently assigned to the 4077th. Otherwise, in "Commander Pierce" when B.J. heads out to the aid station to pick up the wounded soldier, Hawkeye could have just had another surgeon from the other shift fill in.
      • A Real Life MASH unit would have around 200 personnel, at least 10 doctors/surgeons and 12 nurses, an anesthesiologist, a dentist, at least 89 enlisted soldiers of assorted medical and non-medical specialties, one Medical Service Corps officer, one Warrant Officer and other commissioned officers of assorted specialties, and a dedicated administrative staff. Here's, it's four doctors (Spearchucker was written out after a few episodes), Ugly John was written out after five episodes, the dentist, Painless Pole, was discharged at the end of season one, however many nurses a given episode needs, and just the CO and his clerk, who is also an orderly, plus some unseen person that makes announcements.
      • "Life with Father" also mentions Captain Forrest (Duke in the movie), the brain surgeon who fell down a lot, stating he'd been gone for two years.
      • The shows often implies that there are other doctors, while rarely showing them (such as Der Tag, when Hawkeye and B.J. are too drunk to operate while Frank is off at Battalion Aid. Someone had to treat those wounded that came in). It just as often, however, implies that there are only four surgeons ("Carry On, Hawkeye"). There's never really any consistency to it.
      • The Bus all but confirms that there must be more surgeons, or Hawkeye, BJ, Potter and Frank all being away at the medical conference would have left the unit with zero coverage.
      • Captain Calvin Spaulding (the 'singing surgeon') appears in three Season 3 episodes. Although we don't see him again, it's not specifically stated that Spaulding moved on, so we could assume he continues to be one of the other doctors in residence.
  • Aside from his position as the camp Butt-Monkey, why is it that Frank was considered to be out of line in "Sticky Wicket" when he was giving Hawkeye a hard time about a patient who wasn't recovering? Only a short time before, Hawkeye and Trapper were making cracks about Frank killing his patients. Honestly, this comes across more like Hawkeye not being able to take his own medicine than Frank being a Jerkass about it.
    • Yes.
    • Frank screws up a lot more than any of the surgical staff and everyone (including himself) knows it. He is an incompetent doctor while Hawkeye simply missed a hard-to-find piece of shrapnel.
    • The two aren't mutually exclusive. It's shown repeatedly that Hawkeye can be abrasive or hard to work with sometimes, including his habit of yanking the phone out of someone's hand and yelling into it when they're trying to get something important done, like having more blood shipped to the unit or getting some shelling redirected. But Frank doesn't have a leg to stand on in that situation, considering how often he's shown cutting corners or not caring about his patients.
    • The difference between Hawkeye and Frank is that Hawkeye cares about the patients and his fellow workers while Frank routinely demonstrates that he cares only about himself.

  • Why did the army assign a Catholic chaplain to the 4077th? there's almost no Catholics there, at least among the main cast. Hawkeye is referred to as an agnostic (by Mulcahy, who presumably should know) on at least once occasion. Trapper specified that he wasn't Catholic, Blake belongs to a country club that bans Catholics, Klinger says he's an atheist, Radar's a Protestant of some kind, Potter's a Methodist, Winchester's a Presbyterian, and Burns points to the fact that there was a Catholic in his neighborhood as evidence that it wasn't "restricted", implying he wasn't one. The only ambiguous ones left are Margaret Houlihan (who could possibly be Catholic due to her Irish ethnicity) and B.J.. There are also several hints that Mulcahy is the only Catholic in the camp: No one turns up to his services except Klinger, who only wants a chance to show off his white gloves (although this might be due to apathy from the Catholics) and once when there was a Catholics v Protestants football game, Mulcahy was tackled by a group of men and seemed to be the only person on his team. What gives?
    • They probably don't have a lot of chaplains to go around. Mulcahy is established as handling rites and services for all denominations, such as performing a bris for a Jewish baby. So while he himself is Catholic, he's first and foremost a nondenominational spiritual adviser and facilitator for everyone who wants one.
      • When he takes command, Potter asks Mulcahy if he can do a Methodist service for him, and Mulcahy says that he handles all the denominations.
    • This could be a reference/joke about how the army makes decisions based on what they want or what is convenient instead of making decisions based on the facts on the ground.
    • ^This. Chaplains are trained to handle numerous religious rites, so as to accommodate different faiths found within the military.
    • He's assigned to a hospital unit during an era of warfare where "seriously wounded" and "you're gonna die out here" were still dangerously close to synonymous. Catholics place a great store by having a priest nearby for such cases. Mulchahey isn't there so much for the MASH residents, but for the stream of wounded and Catholics are the ones most likely to want to see a chaplain.
    • Klinger's religion is never stated, but it is likely he is a Syraic Maronite Catholic, like Jamie Farr.
      • Klinger self-identifies as an atheist at least twice (once when he states the reason he showed up for Mass was to show off his new gloves, and the other when he stated he was praying because he gave his atheism up for Lent), but a young man self-identifying as an atheist (and apparently being aware of Lent) doesn't mean he isn't baptized as a particular religion. I suspect Klinger's family is Catholic, but he himself is not religious.
      • He also makes mention of Allah at several points, raising the possibility that he's a Muslim.
      • "Allah" is simply Arabic for "God." Arabic Christians and Jews call their version of God "Allah." It's only in the West that we've come to associate the word with Islam.
      • And in "Hepatitis" he mentions Laverne telling him to pray to Saint Anthony to control his temper. Mixed marriages between Protestants and Catholics were given a rough deal in those days, let alone Christian and Muslim (or Christian and Buddhist, as Klinger would find out when he got home).
    • In one episode Klinger describes B.J. as having "Presbyterian features", suggesting that is his faith.
    • Rizzo is from Louisiana, a heavily Catholic state, especially the southern half. He could be as well.
    • Also Igor, whose last name Straminsky suggests he's Polish, another heavily Catholic populous.

  • One minor one: in "Change of Command", Potter says he wants to see his officers. Radar calls for all officers to report to Potter's office. And yet we see just Hawkeye, B.J., Mulcahy, and Houlihan (Burns having gone AWOL) meeting him. Even leaving aside the disappearing anesthesiologists and such, there were a bunch of nurses at least who are officers. What gives?
    • Since it cuts from Radar making the announcement to the main cast in Potter's office, he could have worked his way up through the other officers before getting to the senior staff (surgeons, head nurse, chaplain, XO, etc.).

  • In, "Cowboy", the jeep crashing through Henry's tent is apparently loud enough to wake much of the camp out of their sleep and rush to the scene, but later, Henry confronts Trapper in the Swamp, and he and Hawkeye both had been awake the whole time playing chess, yet they didn't hear the crash? Not only that, but when Hawkeye and Trapper go after Henry wandering off in a daze, we see down the Compound that his tent is all back to normal. The latter of which is probably a continuity error in filming, but how is it Hawkeye and Trapper apparently never heard the crash and they were awake when it happened?
    • That still makes a mean martini.
    • In "Love and Marriage" Hawkeye, Trapper, and Henry are playing poker with Zale and Radar in the Swamp when Frank confronts Mr. Kwang outside, starts yelling, and eventually opens fire. In "Deal Me Out," it takes a good two shots fired by John Ritter's character before they dive for cover. Clearly the sound of crashing, explosions, or gunfire doesn't provoke quite the same reaction anymore as it would with other people.

  • In "The Late Captain Pierce", when Hawkeye gets on Digger's bus, one of the cadavers is breathing, you can see the stomach moving, which begs the question... why didn't the prop department or the producers not just get dummies to put in those body bags? Wouldn't there be concern about anybody suffocating inside those things, not to mention possible claustrophobia?
    • On top of that, just how were these bodies sitting there in the bus for who knows how many days without smelling absolutely foul? I realize it was cold out, but corpses begin rotting quickly.

  • In "Hey Doc", Radar and Klinger both take steaming hot showers, while complaining about how muggy the weather's been lately, and therefore, the water felt especially good. Did muggy have a different meaning in the time the show was set? Otherwise, why would a hot shower feel good in humid weather?
    • Don't know about anyone else, but I enjoy a hot shower during hot and humid days. It gets all the sweat and grime off and makes the air seem slightly cooler and drier.

  • When Margaret has her pregnancy scare, why does everybody believe that it's not Penobscott's baby? She clearly tells Hawkeye that she believes she's pregnant after spending time with Donald about three weeks prior, and when she realizes that her possibly pregnancy would mean an automatic discharge and end to her military career, she blames Donald for it — so why does everyone think it wouldn't be Donald's baby? I know Margaret slept around with Frank and countless Generals before she got together with Donald, but if that were the case, wouldn't she have had a pregnancy scare long before Donald?
    • Condoms were around in the 1950's, and a child out of wedlock with another officer would have hurt those other officers' marriages (and probably their careers) as well. Even Frank isn't a complete idiot. As Donald and Margaret are married, protection is less of a priority.
    • I get that, but what I'm getting at is why do the others assume the baby isn't Donald's, despite Margaret clearly saying things like, "I was with Donald in Tokyo about three weeks ago," and, "This is all Donald's fault"? We even have this exchange later when she and Hawkeye inform Potter:
    Potter: Have you told Donald yet?
    Margaret: No.
    Potter: (Pause) Should you?
    Margaret: Yes!
    Potter: Then, tell 'im! I remember when my son was born, made me prouder than a stallion out to stud!
    Hawkeye: Colonel, I don't think you get it... Margaret and Donald are not... uh... well, they're not uh...
    Margaret: What he's trying not to say, Colonel, is that Donald and I are... not...
    Potter: Oh, I think I got it now.
    • I've seen that episode a few times, and I don't recall any other suggestion that the baby might not be Donald's. As for Potter, I think he was reacting to Margaret's quick "No" rather than a belief that she was sleeping around. Like he was casting about for a reason she'd be so hesitant to tell her husband. The issue seemed to be that they were having problems in their marriage, and throwing a baby in the mix wasn't gonna help.

  • As a commanding officer, shouldn't Potter be one of the first ones in camp to get up in the morning? There's a few episodes that implies that he doesn't get up at six, despite that's when Radar starts taking care of business and such. One episode Potter says he doesn't get up till nine (not specifically, but Father Mulcahy woke him at three in the morning, and he said, "That's okay, I have to get up in another six hours anyway."), and in another, Potter and Charles are quarantined with the mumps, and Potter is pissed that Charles woke him up gargling at six, to which Charles says, "I never took you for an early riser," (which is odd for an old person). I'm going to assume maybe Potter isn't exactly a morning person, but again, with him being C.O., wouldn't he have to get up early to, y'know, command? I can't imagine things carrying on in camp, like surgery, or other activities, while Potter is still snoozing.
    • Uh, maybe. But life at MASH isn't like a stateside post, where everything important is done during the day. Casualties come in at all hours, so Potter might be needed at any time. I would expect him to grab sleep whenever he can, which means lying in when he has the chance.
    • Also, Potter's not always in charge. You hear the term "OD Duty" thrown around a couple times, but besides the one episode where Hawkeye works as Office of the Day on-screen, it's never really shown on-screen. Basically, some other officer (in this case, one of the surgeons) basically sits in Potter's office dealing with the goings-on of the camp. Presumably someone else is OD that day and Potter just planned to be up at 9.
    • No, the rule is that everyone should be at work before the commander shows up. If Potter was up at 6, then Radar would have to be at work at 4.
    • Presumably with Radar around, Potter doesn't need to be around nearly as often for things to get taken care of, and it's not like Potter needs to be around to supervise surgery. He comments himself in "Commander Pierce" that things around the camp generally run themselves, mostly because the 4077 is such a bunch of misfits and Bunny Ears Lawyers that trying to run a by-the-book command is pointless.
    • There's also the possibility that Potter might've been caught up in some grueling multi-hour surgery the evening before, and needed to sleep in for a while to recuperate.

  • In one episode, Charles sucks up to Baldwin, the man who exiled him to the 4077th in the first place, hoping to be taken back to Tokyo. Sure enough, Baldwin offers this very thing in exchange for Charles perjuring himself against Margaret, which is what screws the deal for him. But why would Baldwin have the power to reassign Charles at will? He's just a lieutenant colonel, and Potter (a full bird colonel) would likely have something to say about Baldwin poaching his surgical staff. My understand was that Baldwin's contribution in the first place was to cooperate with Potter's bid to have Charles permanently assigned to the 4077th, rather than being the man who could snap his fingers and make transfers happen. A general might could do it, but I remember the one time this became an issue (when one wanted Hawkeye as his personal physician), it was a three-star general. We're talking a five-grade difference there. Could an LC have that power? Clearly not through rank, but could he be the guy in charge of the transfers department?
    • It's not just rank, but also title. Potter is "just" the head of a medical unit. Baldwin is presumably in charge of postings for the various units, because when Potter needs to replace Burns, he calls up Baldwin directly (which is how they Charles got into that whole mess). He might not be able to do it easily, but he could probably wrest Charles away from the unit.
      • The way I read it, Baldwin had the power to effect Charles' transfer to the 4077th because he was Charles' commanding officer, not because he was in charge of transfers. Indeed, in the episode where he visited, Charles reintroduced himself (Baldwin had forgotten him) as having served under Baldwin at Tokyo General. I figured Potter called Baldwin because he was calling everyone who might be able to loan him a surgeon. I dunno, it's just weird. It would have made more sense if they'd given his job title and it was something like "Transfer Guy."
    • Presumably, Baldwin has pull higher up in the ranks and can get Charles transferred out of the unit, not so much going over Potter's head to Baldwin as he is going around him to Baldwin, who can reach higher on the chain of command.
    • This is the biggest myth that people have about the military: that rank means everything. It does not. In reality, position is more important than rank. For example, a Major who holds a staff position can tell a Major General what to do. (If you want to get technical, he has "staff authority" which is a delegation of his commander's authority.) As a hospital commander as a lieutenant colonel, the head of nursing and dentistry who were both colonels were subject to my direction and authority. Generally speaking, the most powerful people in the military are the middle ranking officers, and senior NCOs who control assignments. If Baldwin was delegated the authority to control surgery assignments in the Far East, then he has the complete authority to do so, no matter what the rank of the officer or the commander involved. This was also a problem with the episode "Friends and Enemies." An officer, no matter the rank, cannot assume command of a unit to which he is not assigned or which is not a subordinate unit to one he commands. As an example, as a Colonel I could not drive up to "Area 51" and order a Sgt to grant me access. Nor could I visit Parris Island and order a Drill Instructor to give his recruits the rest of the afternoon off.

  • Did anyone else notice that Father Mulcahy totally broke the sanctity of the confessional seal in season 1? In episode 18, "Dear Dad... Again" when Sergeant Schwartz told him he wasn't really a doctor, he specifically asked that it be considered a confession, then later, Mulcahy flat out tells Hawkeye. This seems weird for Mulcahy, not because he did it, but because he spent absolutely no time angsting over it.
    • He didn't. Radar found out somehow (I think he came across the APB that was out on Schwartz) and he tipped off Hawkeye. Mulcahy told no one.
      • It's also possible that Mulcahy dropped a surreptitious hint to Radar to keep an eye open for the APB without revealing names. While confessional does have a sacred bond of confidentiality, he also had a responsibility to the patients at the hospital and his unit to not let an unlicensed (albeit highly competent) surgeon operate. It's like how a lawyer is bound to confidentiality with a client regarding past/present crimes, but it does not apply to future crimes; if you tell your lawyer you plan to commit homicide or grievously break the law in the future, they have an obligation to notify the authorities.
      • To the above paragraph: All of that is an unqualified NO. A priest can never, under any circumstance, betray in any way what is said in the confessional. To do so entails an automatic excommunication for the priest. This is spelled out in Canons 983 and 984 of the Code of Canon Law, and plain English interpretations can be seen in this page from Catholic Answers and this page from the Catholic Education Resource Center. There are no exceptions to this (though this article argues that there may be one very narrow scenario where a priest can mention others who could be directly threatened by a penitent without mentioning the penitent in any manner, though this conflicts with the opinions in the previous two links, so YMMV). If as theorized, Mulcahy put in a hint to Radar, that would be betraying the penitent, and therefore would be a violation of the seal and cause of an automatic excommunication for Fr. Mulcahy. The Catholic Church takes Confession extremely seriously. And a priest cannot violate the seal even if good would come of it.
    • Again, this is totally false. Mulcahy never told anyone that Schwartz was not a surgeon. Radar was the one who found it out, most likely when he requested his "201" file. If Mulcahy had told Hawkeye, he would not have been surprised when Radar told him. In addition, during the operating room scene after this, Mulcahy says "Good work Captain Casey." This proves that Mulcahy was not using the information he was told in "confession." (It is also important to note that the "seal of confession" only exists if it is a sacramental confession. One cannot simply "consider it" confession. If Schwartz was not Catholic (and his name certainly implies he's actually Jewish), there would have been no confession, and there could have been no violation of the "seal." But this is moot since the allegation in the first post in this thread is false.

  • Since this series was way before my time, I'm curious about a reference that pops up in two different episodes: "Do you like Chinese food? Do you like walking in the rain?" Hawkeye once asked a nurse he was making out with this question, and responds to both with an enthusiastic, "Uh huh!", to which Hawkeye then asks, "How about we eat Chinese food in the rain?" Later still, B.J. asked Radar the same question while he ate melted ice cream, to which he then adds with a straight face, "You could've been my wife", receiving only a look of confusion from Radar. So, what exactly is this in reference to?

  • Just how under-staffed is the 4077th? Tying into the above headscratcher about how the doctors stay fit to operate despite drinking at all hours of the day and night, let's take Radar and Klinger. The two work as corpsmen, hauling litters and helping out in OR and post-op at all hours of the day and night, but Klinger also works guard duty and often KP. Radar works as company clerk and seems to be pulling double duty working with Supply to get them the stuff they need. When do these people sleep?
    • Not to mention that in "The Bus" episode, all four regular surgeons (Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Col. Potter) are away from camp to attend a medical conference. Is the 4077th being staffed by substitutes in their absence, or are we to believe that the war has been suspended for their convenience?
    • It is true that the numbers in the MASH unit are wildly variable and seem to boggle the mind as to how effective they can be. One might as well chalk it up to an intentionally limited perspective—IDK the proper trope name, but if the unit was indeed full of 200 people with up to 10 surgeons on rotating call and and more than one NCO separating clerk and CO, the show would most likely lose narrative focus, and the family-like camaraderie enjoyed by the main characters would be less likely to develop.
      • 200 people was only mentioned in one episode, in a few others, the number of people in the unit dropped considerably (the number was 50 on one specific occasion). But other than that, situations come up where due to being understaffed, they try desperately to bring in people to fill in the void (even if temporarily), but are rarely successful at it — there was the flu epidemic where Hawkeye was the only surgeon and Margaret was the only nurse who hadn't gotten sick, so not only did Margaret have to step up and attempt surgery, and Radar, Mulcahy, and others had to step up assisting medics, but Radar keeps trying to hunt down other surgeons from other MASH units, evac hospitals, aid stations, what have you, but they either have the flu as well, or they won't come. Then there was the thread in the finale where B.J. was going home early and they tried to bring in another surgeon to replace him, but that surgeon's orders were rescinded, leaving the 4077th short one surgeon until B.J.'s orders were rescinded as well and sent back.
      • It's mentioned in a few episodes that when wounded are arriving, everyone in camp is expected to help in whatever way they are told to.

  • In the episode "Communication Breakdown", Charles accuses someone in the camp of stealing one of his newspapers, only to find the missing edition never shipped due to a delivery truck strike... Why didn't his parents/whoever sent the care package think to include a note. 'Here is a week's worth of papers. Wednesday's edition is missing, sorry' could have cleared it up to begin with.
    • Rule of Funny. If you want a more legit in-universe reason, it may have slipped past his parents' mind to mention it; how were they to know the papers in the care package would be so vital during a mail delay?
    • Had it not been for the mail delay, Charles would have gone on to the next paper without thinking about it. However, because he was pushed to his breaking point, he commenced Operation Hissy Fit.

  • In "Tuttle", as part of the attempt to hide the truth about Tuttle, Hawkeye is at Mail Call to accept a small package addressed to the imaginary man. Since only he, Trapper, and Radar know the truth, and no one outside the 4077 had heard of Tuttle yet, who sent the package? The mail is delivered from outside camp, and it wasn't Radar handing it out, so it's unlikely they would have been able to smuggle the package into the mail sack.
    • Maybe that nun they gave the supplies to sent a packet of thank-you notes from the children at the orphanage?
    • Maybe Radar had Sparky mail them the box. It could've been something he was going to send anyway (one of their toy-trades, perhaps) that Radar just had him re-address it for Tuttle.

  • Why does anyone stick up for Frank Burns, ever? Right from the novel, he was an incompetent surgeon, a moron, and a jerkass. This continues through the movie and the TV series. Any hint of him being competent, any Pet the Dog moment, was just a hiccup in his overall characterization, in which he was shown again and again and again to be a bungler, a mental gnat, and an asshole with absolutely NO redeeming qualities.
    • Some people really just dislike Hawkeye, and that pushes them towards defending Frank, since he's on the opposite side of Hawkeye 99% of the time. Plus, virtually every glimpse we get of the guy's home life and past is pretty depressing. He had an awful childhood thanks to his father, who apparently forbade talking at meals upon pain of a punch in the throat, pretended to like him, and took away his nightlight. His mother doesn't seem to care about him much more than that, and he married for money rather than love (when they look at his wedding film, hardly anybody showed up and his wife looks like she'd prefer to be set on fire rather than marry Frank) and didn't have the guts to leave his wife for a woman it's implied he really did love. He's a terrible person, but he's so pathetic it's hard not to feel sorry for him. At least until he opens his mouth again.
    • Hawkeye of all people does stick up for Frank after Margaret rubs her marriage to Donald in his face (just before Frank goes over the edge). As much as Hawkeye had tormented Frank, he saw this as going too far:
      Hawkeye: I never kicked him when he was down, only when he wasn't looking.
    • 1. It's human nature to want to believe the best in people. When it comes to mostly one-dimensional Jerkass characters, fans will often take any glimpse of sympathy or depth they are given and run with it as proof that they are not so bad, or even somewhat justified in their jerkassery (see Draco in Leather Pants). 2. Especially if you're been a victim of bullying before, it can be easy to identify with Frank as the "weaker kid" in the situation - Hakweye, Trapper and B.J. are popular, confident, talented and handsome, essentially the prom kings of the MASH unit. (Of course, this requires overlooking a lot of the full context.) 3. The show does lean into Protagonist-Centered Morality quite a bit in the early seasons, to the extent that viewers may find themselves siding with Frank just because they find Hawkeye's behaviour equally insufferable but presented as somehow better.

  • In "The Billfold Syndrome", Charles decides to stop talking to people entirely. He seems to manage okay without his words, gesturing to the food he wants in the chow line and such. But one thing that never came up before Hawkeye and B.J. cracked him: What would he have done in surgery? I can't see him being allowed to continue his silence, not when he'd need to communicate what instruments he needs quickly and efficiently.
    • Pointing, probably.
      • Pointing? With both hands wrist-deep in a patient? His nose isn't that big.
    • Given his dedication to his craft, he probably would have forgone the hissy fit for the length of the surgical session.
    • Or he spoke aloud, just not too anyone. Like calling out "clamp" to the air without even looking at the assisting nurse.

  • In "No Sweat", Charles, charged with doing his family's taxes, puts a polo mallet repair under medical expenses. Considering that he is in this situation because the IRS has decided to carefully scrutinize his family's tax returns, why would he be so laissez-faire about it?
    • It's implied that Charles isn't quite as smart as he thinks he is, or rather that everyone else isn't as dumb as he thinks they are. Presumably he figures that they're just going to let that go, or perhaps the IRS wasn't as picky about those things back then.
    • Up until the mid-1980s when the rules were tightened up you could write off just about anything as a business expense. Charles could rename the polo mallet as some obscure piece of medical equipment so an IRS auditor would probably just look the other way and sign off on it. It's probably not a huge amount of money involved (especially by Winchester family standards) so it wouldn't necessarily stand out. Worst case scenario is that the tax bill is adjusted by however much and Charles ends up eating it. Not a huge risk, especially in the pre-computer era.

  • Trivial point, but there's an episode where B.J. is play-acting the role of what he imagines to be a stereotypical British officer and is taking the mannerisms Up to Eleven. Couldn't help noticing he's wearing a beret with a Royal Tank Regiment cap-badge (probably something randomly selected from the costume department.) You wonder In-Universe in what circumstances he got hold of that: maybe a wounded tankie got sent to the MASH and oddments of kit ended up in the camp's lost Property box? A back-story begs to be written...
    • Which episode was this?
    • Is the troper perhaps referring to Hawkeye's brief turn as "General Lyle Dumbkopf" in "Hot Lips Is Back In Town" (season 7) in which B.J. plays an MP? Hawkeye is in uniform with a lot of gold braid, ribbons, bottle caps, jar lids, gold foil and a tiny American flag on his hat, a pillow stuffed in his pants and a corncob pipe a la MacArthur in a caricature of an actual pain-in-the-ass general who's about to show up. Other than Klinger, that's about the most dressed-up any of them got for one of these gags.
    • Most likely circumstance is that a wounded British tankie gave it to someone at the 4077 as a thank you souvenir before being shipped home.

  • One about "Real Time", which has an accurately-running clock in the lower corner: Why is it that Hawkeye claims he's "had [his] unsterilized hand in this man's body for ten minutes", when the clock shows proof it's only been five?
    • Because when you've got your hand inside someone it probably feels longer than it is. Hawkeye is just speaking off the cuff.
    • Don't forget the crapton of ice that was being dumped on top of his hand just before to keep the patient in hypothermia to buy them some more time...
    • That is what is technically known as "hyperbole."
      • Considering his wristwatch is probably lodged between the man's lungs at the moment, he might just be guessing.

  • Another one about "Real Time": When the idea of lowering body temperature comes up, Hawkeye sends Klinger after "[his] canvas bathtub". Er... would that be the same one he was ordered to get rid of, and traded for 10 gallons of strawberry ice cream for Radar (and, ostensibly, a can of spam)? Given the riot it caused (especially since that was why Col. Potter ordered it gone), I doubt he'd be given the OK to get another one.
    • It's Hawkeye. Possibly he and B.J. ordered another one on the sly and kept it better hidden this time.

  • In Season 3's "OR", Trapper puts out a fire with syringes of water. However, if you look at the flames, they follow an electrical wire. Wouldn't water make it worse?
    • Trapper turned the light off before he put the water on it, reducing the risk of making it worse. The bigger concern (pointed out by Frank and Margaret) is if he had grabbed a syringe full of alchohol and made the fire explode.

  • How were both Burns and Houlihan allowed to remain in MASH, or even the Army, with the ways that they were? Neither of them could command any respect from their subordinates (Houlihan outright nearly got into a fight with her nurses in one episode because they said she dyed her hair blonde to hide the grey, and Hawkeye, Trapper, and B.J. never listen to Burns and outright make his life hell), Frank is an incompetent doctor who has nearly caused the deaths of patients on multiple occasions (giving up immediately when a guy's heart stops beating to the point that B.J. has to save the man's life, and not exteriorizing an organ which causes a man to develop peritonitis which he nearly dies from) and has nothing to say for himself other than an "Oh well." Add that to the ways he throws temper tantrums, blames the nurses for not giving him the right tools when he himself asks for the wrong ones, and Houlihan's caustic attitude, and one would think that they'd both be stateside in less important roles if not drummed out completely.
    • For the first couple of seasons it can be explained by Henry not wanting to rock the boat, plus both Frank and Houlihan do have some connections higher up. Henry finds it easier to put up with their antics than to do something about it. Frank was definitely a bad influence on Margaret and brought out the worst in her, but even Margaret seemed to recognize that and pull back. Trapper was the same sort of bad influence on Hawkeye, but he got shipped home and someone less of a co-conspirator replaced him.

      When Potter comes along Houlihan starts to smarten up and Frank becomes sneakier, with the latter getting noticeably short shrift from Potter a few times when he tries his antics and may well have been on his way out the door if he hadn't had his little breakdown. Also Trapper is out then too, and B.J. was far less an enabler of Hawkeye than Trapper was. I think it can be safely said that it was mostly two pairs of people who were a bad influence on each other, and overseen by a man who didn't really want to expend the effort to fix things. They sort of coasted along.
    • With Hot Lips, remember that she was a career Army nurse with almost a decade of experience at this point. Her nurses seem to be mostly signed up just during the Korean War itself for a term of duty. Someone with that kind of experience is not someone to be given up lightly if they do their job well (which Margaret does). Frank's staying seems to be the result of a shortage of surgeons available for the conflict. Several episodes go by where the 4077 is short and Radar/Klinger have very difficult times trying to replace the person who is absent/unwell.

  • Charles, with his refined taste in music, is appropriately wild about Enrico Caruso,note  and another time we catch him listening to Renata Tebaldi singing a Verdi aria in his tent. He obviously has nothing whatsoever against Italians as Creators; probably considers them, like the Greeks, to have made great artistic contributions to Western culture. Then why does he raise such objections (complete with revolting stereotypes) his sister marrying an Italian in "Bottle Fatigue"? Obviously Honoria moved in the finest circles, and her young man may well have been of a good family, maybe even royalty.
    • This reminds me of John Turturro's character in Do the Right Thing. Just because you like Michael Jordan, that doesn't mean you're not racist against blacks. Just 'cause you like Caruso, that doesn't mean you're not racist against Italians.
    • In other episodes, Charles mentions that Honoria has run off with a farmer and a shoe clerk in the past, and makes reference to having a nephew who is being discharged due to fainting spells, so either Honoria has kids already or Charles has another sister he never mentioned. She seems to be a bit of a wild child, so her prospective husband may not be high-class. And as mentioned above, just because he respects a couple of standouts doesn't mean he isn't racist against them as a whole. The two combined may mean he just assumed the man fit the stereotype.
    • Charles was a Boston Brahmin, one of the last vestiges of American aristocracy at the time. He likely traced his heritage to before the American Revolutionnote . The idea that his sister would marry an Italian being offensive likely is a combination of hatred of immigrants (the large influx of Italians immigrating to the US didn't occur until around the turn of the 20th Century), religion (Charles was Presbyterian, the fiancé was most likely Roman Catholic), and class (given that she had to run away, he was not likely a person of status).
  • How did Margaret figure out that Charles was the one pranking both sides in "An Eye for a Tooth", leading her to conspire with Hawkeye and B.J. to get him?
    • If memory serves, after the incident with the dummy, Charles bursts into her tent to "comfort" her and suggests blowing up the still to get back at them. She looks uncomfortable and remarks "you're really good at this," or something to that effect. Presumably she got suspicious at that point and sometime that night or more likely the next day, she went to either Hawkeye or B.J. to talk things out.

  • And in "Oh, How We Danced," it sure didn't take very long for Hawkeye's tape of B.J. (made at the beginning of May) to get back to Peg, and for her to get the home movie of her and Erin based on his words back to him in time for their May 23 anniversary. Did Potter pull a few strings?
  • interesting one in 2/8 "The Trial of Henry Blake". This introduces the character of Sister Crabbe, a civilian American nurse who has been working in Korea, completely independently of the military structure, alleviating life for civilian Koreans. Henry is put on trial for improperly requisitioning medical supplies, with the implication these are being resold on the Korean black market. It turns out he has been discreetly supporting Sister Crabbe in her work. She turns up at the Court of Inquiry to speak for him and reveals she has beeen doing humanitarian work in Korea for seventeen years. This ignores the "hearts and minds" doctrine that would actively encourage a medical unit to do this sort of charitable work for local civilians (Henry Blake might have received the tacit approval and support of his seniors for this), then this means Sister Crabbe would have arrived in Korea no later than 1937 - when it was a Japanese colony. Therefore in December 1941 she would have been deported, or more likely sent to a prison camp, as an American citizen? This, like other issues of Korea's recent history of Japanese occupation, are not touched upon. (The retired cavalry officer who yearned to ride a horse again and stole Potter's horse, for instance - he is more likely to have been Japanese rather than Korean?)