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Recap / M*A*S*H S3 E4: Iron Guts Kelly

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General Robert "Iron Guts" Kelly, a celebrity military leader, comes to the 4077th while on a tour of inspecting all the United States posts in Korea. Unlike the last time a general visited, everything regarding Kelly's arrival goes swimmingly. He treats the people warmly and is far less by-the-book than any of his predecessors. Then, in the middle of the night while spending "time" with Margaret, Kelly suddenly dies of a myocardial infarction. A flustered and frightened Margaret enlists Hawkeye and Trapper's help.


Oh, don't take it all seriously, people. It's Black Comedy at its best.

These tropes went out with General Kelly

  • Black Comedy: Chugged to the brim.
  • Blatant Lies: General Kelly signals to Colonel Wortman that he wants Frank diverted away from Margaret so he can have some alone time with her by referencing the Franistan plan. Henry asks him what that is.
    Wortman: A tremendous army research project for making crankcase oil edible after five thousand miles.
  • Blood Knight: Subverted with General Kelly. He doesn't want actual fighting or to kill anyone when he's getting bored; he just wants to hear the sound of gunfire, even when it's only coming from the practice range. Colonel Wortman, on the other hand...
  • Captain Obvious: When it becomes clear to Henry on what Colonel Wortman is up to, he asks Hawkeye and Trapper if that's exactly what he is doing. After they answer yes, he asks them, "Isn't that sort of crazy?"
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  • Celebrity Lie: The titular character
  • Comically Missing the Point: Henry fails to understand that when General Kelly says he wants to go to bed, he means that he wants to do it with Margaret.
    Kelly: Oh, no, thanks, Colonel. It's [yawns] getting to be about that time. Got to put the little old stars to bed.
    Henry: Oh well, then I'll just show you the VIP tent, sir.
    Kelly: That won't be necessary.
    Henry: It's no bother. Uh, whenever you're ready, General.
    Kelly: I'll see you in the morning, Colonel.
    Henry: [dawning] Oh, fine. Then you probably won't be seeing any more of me right now. I've got dirt to scratch and eggs to lay.
  • Dead Man's Chest: To keep the body hidden from Frank, Hawkeye and Trapper stuff General Kelly's body into Margaret's closet.
    Hawkeye: Just as I suspected - a closet general.
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  • Deadpan Snarker: One of the questions Trapper asks Margaret about the time General Kelly arrested is whether she tried to resuscitate him or not.
  • Death as Comedy
  • Death by Sex: General Kelly's fate.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Just as General Kelly is arriving, Henry feels like he needs a drink. Radar reminds him about the smell the alcohol could give his breath, so Henry takes a drink of vodka as it doesn't have a strong scent. Despite that assurance, there was something he forgot about as he has a visible reaction after drinking.
    Henry: Radar, come here a minute. [breathes] What do you smell?
    Radar: Bourbon.
    Henry: Oh rats. I should never have had that before the vodka.
    • Radar advises him to have some chewing gum to help with the sudden case of bad breath. Henry takes a stick and starts chewing, only to realise he can't chew gum in front of a general.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: During The Tag, Trapper is about to begin a rant to voice his distaste of Wortman's plan actually succeeding when two nurses catch his attention. Hawkeye looks along in the same direction and the nurse-chasing commences.
    Hawkeye: There you go, hiding behind booze again, afraid to face reality.
    Trapper: Reality is up for grabs. One man's reality is...another man's fantasy.
    Hawkeye: Right. You take reality, I'll take the one with the big fantasy.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: When Frank tells her he saw Hawkeye and Trapper fooling around with a body, Margaret thinks it's one of the duo's sick sexual antics. Then, once Frank corrects himself by saying it was a dead body, the truth dawns on Margaret.
  • Drink Order: General Kelly prefers to have a double rye. Henry mistakenly thinks he'll want that with some soda water.
    Kelly: You've got something against rye, Colonel?
  • Due to the Dead: Trapper is incensed by Wortman planning a facade that General Kelly perished in battle, pointing out that it will be unfair to the thousands of young men who really died that way.
    • Wortman rebuttals by invoking the same trope in defense of his plan, stating that Generals are supposed to lead from the front and be an inspiration to the men as opposed to dying in their bed (or someone else's).
  • Eye Take: How Henry and Radar react to the news that General Kelly has been killed in an ambulance crash.
  • A Father to His Men: General Kelly is not as strict or by-the-book as some other visiting generals have been.
  • Foreshadowing: One of the things Henry tells Radar at the start of the episode is to make sure that no one in camp invites any business girls while General Kelly is staying with them.
  • Get Out!: When all of her lies fail to work to get Frank to leave her alone, she shouts the trope words in agitation.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: When Margaret comes into the Swamp seeking Hawkeye's help, she accidentally wakes up Trapper and he asks her what's going on.
    Margaret: I need your help. I'm in trouble. Terrible trouble.
    Trapper: And you a nurse? Take two aspirin and give two to the rabbit.
  • Gilligan Cut: General Kelly and Margaret are making amorous lovey-dovey eyes at each other. Cut to Hawkeye asleep in the Swamp when a panicked Margaret suddenly comes in and rustles him awake.
  • A Good Way to Die: Colonel Wortman states that being killed in battle was the eventual death General Kelly was hoping his would be and not peacefully in bed. Trapper and Hawkeye of course disapprove.
    Wortman: He was willing to die that way, hoping to die that way.
    Trapper: He was a nutcase.
    Hawkeye: I think dying this way may have saved his life.
  • He's Dead, Jim: "If his last words were 'I shall return', don't wait."
  • No-Sell: Suffering stress after the events earlier in the evening, Margaret tells Frank she has a headache. Frank tries to come on to her and she turns him down flat.
    Margaret: It goes all the way down to my waist. Get it, Frank? One of those headaches.
  • Noodle Incident: Hawkeye mentions how once in medical school he and some friends took a cadaver to a football game.
    Trapper: You're kidding?
    Hawkeye: He was a lot more fun than my date.
  • Oh, Crap!: After finding an appropriate sector with a lot of fighting going on, Colonel Wortman comes by the Swamp to ask Hawkeye and Trapper if the ambulance is ready. Hawkeye and Trapper answer that the ambulance has already driven off and they thought he was the one driving it. Frank enters to tell them all that a bunch of business girls have taken it.
  • On Second Thought: When Colonel Wortman threatens Hawkeye and Trapper with a court martial if they don't cop-operate with his initial plan to display General Kelly's death in a dramatic heroic manner, Hawkeye and Trapper infer that they will be the ones telling the truth. Realising this, Wortman readjusts his plan so that Hawkeye and Trapper do not have to break their oaths as doctors.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business:
    • Henry is always surprised when Margaret Houlihan acts in a kind way to someone.
    • Played for laughs. Frank is mystified as to why Margaret has Hawkeye and Trapper playing a game of gin in her tent.
      Frank: Margaret, it's so unlike you having them here.
      Margaret: Well, it's alright, Frank. It's unlike them too.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: Trapper realises that Margaret's problem could be as serious as she's implying when she pleads to him and Hawkeye for help.
    Margaret: Please.
    Trapper: "Please"?
  • Peek-a-Boo Corpse: Hawkeye and Trapper walk from the Swamp to Margaret's tent, wondering what on earth could have her so flustered that she's begging the two of them for help. After getting sidetracked a bit by Igor, they find out when they enter and find General Kelly dead.
  • Screw the Money, I Have Rules!: Subverted. Hawkeye and Trapper refuse to go against the Hippocratic Oath by falsely signing a death certificate that will label General Kelly as having died in battle, but they will move the general's body to an ambulance so Wortman can take it to a nearby battlefield.
  • Serial Escalation: Once Hawkeye and Trapper move General Kelly's dead body from Margaret's tent to the VIP quarters, things logically should have ended there. However, Colonel Wortman does not want the public to know the general died of natural causes.
  • Special Guest: James Gregory as General Kelly and Keene Curtis as Colonel Wortman.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: Unaware of what is really going on, Frank calls ahead to the MPs to stop the ambulance a group of business girls have taken, along with the body of General Kelly. Since his goal was not to let other people know that the general died of nautral causes, Colonel Wortman is left steamed by this order.
    Wortman: Major. If it's the last thing I do, I'll see that you hang by your clusters.
  • Wrong Assumption: Colonel Wortman asks if General Kelly is ill when Hawkeye and Trapper drag the general's body into the VIP tent, only to be told it's worse than that.
    Trapper: He's a little past ill.
    Wortman: What are you saying?
    Hawkeye: He's dead.
  • You're Insane!: While trying to cover up for Margaret by inventing the story that Kelly simply passed away in the VIP tent, Hawkeye and Trapper discover a little too late that Colonel Wortman is a deeply religious "General Kelly" fanatic when he suggest something radically different.
    Wortman: No. He died in action, at the front. That's what the headlines will read. Leading his troops against overwhelming odds, with shells bursting all around him, until that one shell with his name on it caught up with him. That's how General "Iron Guts" Kelly died.
    Hawkeye: Oh, I see. Not, uh...

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