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Series / M*A*S*H

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Seasons 1-3 cast. Left to right: Maj. Frank "Ferret Face" Burns, Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce, Lt. Col. Henry Blake, Capt. "Trapper" John McIntyre, Lt. (Father) Francis Mulcahy, Cpl. Walter "Radar" O’Reilly, and Cpl. Maxwell Q. Klinger.

"This is a movie about the Korean War, starring army doctors who deal with death every day, with a theme song about suicide ... and, against all odds, it's fucking hilarious. So hilarious, in fact, that a movie alone couldn't contain the hilarity, and it spawned a TV show that lasted more than twice longer than the war the characters were supposed to be serving in. Yes, they kept a war going for a decade because it was so funny."

One of the most commercially and critically successful series in American television history, M*A*S*H is — to quote its lead character, Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) — "finest kind".

The show ran on CBS from 1972 to 1983, seven years longer than The Korean War during which it takes place. The setting is the 4077th MASH (short for Mobile Army Surgical Hospital, a type of Army field hospital first activated in the last month of World War II), which is located three miles from the front line in Uijeongbu. The doctors and nurses there perform "meatball surgery" and otherwise do what they can to patch up the physical (and sometimes psychological) wounds of the war's numerous casualties while staving off their own fear, stress, boredom, and fatigue.

M*A*S*H was first presented as a wacky, slightly edgy sitcom based on Robert Altman's movie—which was an adaptation of Richard Hooker's novel—but the series moved away from strictly comedic storylines early in its run (starting with Season 1's "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet") and incorporated dramatic plotlines in conjunction with comedic ones in the same episode. The show is often cited as TV's first true Dramedy.


"Abyssinia, Henry", the final episode of the third season, is one of the major turning points for the series. It was the final episode for both Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) and "Trapper" John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), and the tragic shock ending—Henry's plane home is shot down; "there were no survivors"—delineated the line between "Funny M*A*S*H" and "Dramatic M*A*S*H", as many fans would later divide the series. The fourth season proved crucial to the show's long-term success; at the time, very few shows had ever lost such significant characters and kept the audience. But the creators' decision to replace Henry and Trapper with completely different character types in Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) and B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell) succeeded, and the show continued to enjoy high ratings and critical acclaim.


Character development often came first in the "Dramatic M*A*S*H" phase. Previously one-note characters such as Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit) became more sympathetic and complex, as seen in Season 5's "The Nurses", in which Margaret asked her nurses, "When did one of you ever even offer me a lousy cup of coffee?" This approach ultimately led to Frank Burns (Larry Linville) leaving the show by receiving a psychiatric discharge, as the writers had developed Burns as a wholly unlikeable character with no room for growth.note  Burns was replaced by Charles Emerson Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers), who not only proved to be an actual asset to the medical staff, but even (eventually) became a nicer his own way.

Other ways in which M*A*S*H changed how the Sitcom was perceived was by the use (or disuse) of the Laugh Track, commonly imposed by the networks if a studio audience would not be present at an episode's filming. The show's creators grudgingly accepted the laugh track, but soon imposed rules on when it was not to be used (during any of the operating room scenes); they dropped it entirely in certain nontypical episodes, and eventually abandoned it entirely. (The laugh track was never used when the series was broadcast by The BBC in the UK, and the DVDs on both sides of the pond offer the option to watch the shows with or without it.)

M*A*S*H revolutionized the use of camera movements and editing styles on television—one example is the use of long tracking shots moving with the action (usually of soldiers being moved from helicopter/bus/Jeep to the OR). The show also experimented with unusual storylines married with different camera moves and screen devices. One special camera technique, Boom Up and Over, was new to television at the time; the use of this technique in sequences where camp announcements were shown from the "perspective" of the loudspeaker was groundbreaking and memorable.

Critics and fans note that the show did Something Completely Different very well by keeping the tone of the show consistent while experimenting with unusual storylines or storytelling techniques. "Hawkeye" is a 25-minute monologue by Hawkeye as he struggles to stay awake after suffering a head injury. In "Point of View," the entire episode is literally seen through the eyes of a wounded soldier via P.O.V. Cam. "Life Time" is told in Real Time, with a clock in the corner ticking off the minutes as the doctors race to replace a soldier's crushed aorta before he becomes paralyzed. The series also has a Fever Dream Episode, the obligatory Clip Show, and a Documentary Episode told as a series of (largely improvised) television interviews with the characters.

For twenty-five years, the show's final episode—"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", which aired on February 28, 1983—held the record for the most-watched single broadcast in U.S. television history, with a 60.2 rating (percent of households watching), a 77 share (percent of households watching, of those watching some program at that time), and a total audience of over 125 million viewers. Although several Super Bowls have since surpassed it, the M*A*S*H finale still holds the record for non-sports programming.

Considering that the original novel consisted mostly of the characters engaging in wacky fratboy hijinx and boasting about how much sex they have (and showed a truly awful degree of sexismnote  to boot), to produce such a long, successful and at times thoughtful series is a fine example of Pragmatic Adaptation, a very nice change in a world full of Adaptation Decay. Of course, Dr. Richard Hornberger, one-half of the writing team behind the pseudonymous author of the original book and kinda probably the model for Hawkeye, didn't see it that way; he was known to rant about it at length. (In a sequel, MASH Mania, he has his version of Hawkeye remark how he enjoys going down to the State University to "kick the shit out of a few liberals".)

The show has both a character page and a recap file.

Attention, all personnel — the television series M*A*S*H includes the following tropes:

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  • Absentee Actor: Various cast members in various episodes. Alan Alda is the only one to appear in every single episode (although season 6's "Temporary Duty" has him offscreen for all but the very beginning and end), and in season 4's "Hawkeye" he's the only regular to appear.
  • Accent Slip Up: In the episode "Dear Comrade" where the narrating character, Kwang, is a new houseboy Dr. Charles Winchester hires to clean around his area, get his food, etc., and is a North Korean spy. When he talks with the Americans, Kwang uses broken English as is stereotypical of an Asian learning English second. In the final scene when he is celebrating with the doctors drinking some good whiskey, he ends up speaking better English than previously shown. The doctors, while thoroughly inebriated as well, take note of the improvement but Kwang simply states it is the good whiskey causing it to everyone's laughter.
  • Acoustic License:
    • Subverted in the final episode, "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen". As B.J. is departing, Klinger tells Col. Potter that his discharge orders were rescinded, but Potter pretends to be unable to hear the message because the helicopter taking him away is too loud.
    • Also averted when orders have to be relayed down a long vehicle convoy when the 4077 is moving camp. This is then Played for Laughs when Father Mulcahy decides to bless the new site, with the words of his prayer shouted from one truck to the next.
  • Acronym Confusion: Invoked by Colonel Flagg.
    "I'm with the CIAnote , but I tell people I'm with the CICnote , so they think I'm with the CID note ."
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Larry Linville guest starred on the original Mission: Impossible in three separate episodes, each time as an Eastern Bloc official (though never the same one twice) who all act a good deal like his later characterization of Burns, minus the comedic edge.
    • Allan Arbus's role as Sidney Freedman harks back to his appearance as Jesus in the 1972 film Greaser's Palace. ("If you can feel, heal!")
    • Klinger, as one of his Section 8 scams, pretends to be a civilian back in Toledo and that Colonel Potter is a cop and angrily barks: "I pay your salary!", a line famously said to Joe Friday in the 1954 movie version of Dragnet. Harry Morgan (who played Potter) wasn't in that version of Dragnet, however, co-starring in the 1967 incarnation of the franchise, instead.
    • Lance Cpl. Lyle Wesson in "Springtime" is basically Mongo in uniform.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Charles isn't above laughing at jokes at his expense.
    Charles: You know, Pierce, what you could use is a humility transplant.
    Hawkeye: Unfortunately, you'll never be a donor.
    Charles: [chuckles] How unkind.
  • Adaptational Angst Upgrade: Even before the series really starts kicking him with Sometimes You Hear The Bullet onwards, TV-Hawkeye has abandonment issues and his answer to any Sanity Slippage accusations is why shouldn’t he be losing his mind.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The movie itself combined two characters from the book to create Major Burns. A number of book/movie characters (most notably Duke Forrest and Painless Pole) are eliminated from the series altogether, and Ugly John and Spearchucker Jones disappear without explanation even before the first season is over.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the TV series, Hawkeye and friends never treated Father Mulcahy's faith with anything less than the upmost respect. Compare that to those same characters in the film when they loudly mock Frank Burns when he prays in the Swamp. Trapper in the show also never gets the reason for his nickname mentioned.
  • After-Action Healing Drama: The essence of the unit.
  • After Show: The show's spin-off AfterMASH is the trope namer.
  • Aliens in Cardiff: No fewer than four characters on the show studied in Illinois.note  Even more remarkable, two of them were North Korean, one of whom went to the same university as Henry Blake.
  • All Are Equal in Death: The episode "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead" is told from the POV of a dead soldier. At the end of the episode he walks down the road toward the afterlife along with all the other dead - U.S. soldiers of various ranks, North Korean soldiers, civilians, etc.
  • The Alleged Boss: Lt. Col. Henry Blake was supposed to be in charge of the 4077th but outside of the Operating Room most of his time was spent boozing, recreating, or philandering. His Hyper-Competent Sidekick, Radar, was well understood to be the person actually running the camp. Also, the dueling doctor factions who were supposed to be Henry's subordinates were frequently overstepping or walking all over him in order to carry out their zany schemes. Blake's replacement, Col. Potter, was able to command a lot more respect and thus appear (and be) more in charge.
    • Henry was a bit of a mix between varieties 1 and 4 of this trope: He was a genuinely nice guy most of the time, and meant well, but had no idea how to run things, and would openly defer to his subordinates whenever any administrative decision had to be made. He was very competent and authoritative as a doctor, however, and several of his subordinates felt true affection and comradeship towards him, knowing that he was trying his best.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: Spearchucker Jones. There were, in fact, black doctors in Korea, and Spearchucker was based on a doctor Richard Hooker heard about at the 8055. Too bad the executives didn't look into it first.
  • Always Someone Better: In "Chief Surgeon Who?", this is Hawkeye to Frank. Henry assigns the position of the 4077th chief surgeon to Hawkeye, and boy does Frank resent it:
    Frank: This is unheard of!
    Henry: Face it, Pierce is the best cutter in the outfit. He's certified in chest and general surgery. Frank, in case you haven't read the papers, there's a war on. We're here to patch guys together! We can't be so G.I. we lose patients!
    Frank: Are you implying he's a better doctor?!
    Henry: Yes, when the heat's on!
    • In "Smilin' Jack," this was fellow chopper pilot Dangerous Dan to Jack, who was bucking for Chopper Pilot of the Year. Jack was grounded after being diagnosed for diabetes, but not before he picks up four more wounded soldiers from the front aid station. As Jack boards the bus for a ground position, Dangerous Dan shows up with two more wounded to put him back in the lead.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Sidney Freedman
  • Anachronism Stew: Although the show tends to be good about actual history, there are times that the research breaks down.
    • In one episode, both Godzilla and The Blob (1958) are referenced. Neither of those movies were released during the Korean War (Gojira: 1954/Godzilla, King of the Monsters: 1955, The Blob: 1958).
      • Another borderline case of this is with The Moon is Blue: The movie was released on July 8, 1953 and was still in first-run release in the US by the time the war "ended" on July 27, 1953. While it's within the realm of possibility that the unit could have seen it, it seems highly unlikely given two reasons: The episode revolved around the MASH wanting to see the movie to see what all the fuss was about, which most likely wouldn't have happened till the film was very close to release or already released; and transit times for movies to the Korean Front. If by plane, it might be plausible.
      • In "Movie Tonight", Radar shows off his impression of John Wayne, but the line he quotes ("I'm not gonna hit ya, I'm not...the Hell I'm not!") is lifted from McLintock!, which was released in 1963.
    • When Radio Tokyo is playing on the camp loudspeakers, it’s often playing Kyū Sakamoto’s “Ue o Muite Arukō,” otherwise known as “Sukiyaki.” While notable for being one of the first Japanese songs to gain popularity in the West, it wouldn’t be released until 1961.
    • In the episode "Der Tag," Radar is shown sleeping with a copy of The Avengers comic book on his chest, with the 1970s logo. One shot later, it switches to another issue of the same comic with the '60s logo. Either way, the Avengers weren't around during the Korean War (in fact, none of the major characters from the Marvel Universe had even been created, other than Captain America). In "The Novocaine Mutiny," Radar is shown possessing a Spider-Man comic book. Spidey wouldn't be created until 1962.
    • The "points" system referenced in some episodes was no longer current for rotation of personnel, nor was it ever used for surgeons.
      • According the U.S. Army Center of Military History “…a soldier earned four points for every month he served in close combat, two points per month for rear-echelon duty in Korea, and one point for duty elsewhere in the Far East…The Army initially stated that enlisted men needed to earn forty-three points to be eligible for rotation back to the States, while officers required fifty-five points. In June 1952 the Army reduced these requirements to thirty-six points for enlisted men and thirty-seven points for officers.”
    • B.J.'s latter-seasons hairstyle was much longer than what any professional man in the 1950s, military or civilian, would have worn. (This may be excusable, since the whole point was that B.J. was rebelling against the Army.)
    • Several times, Korean soldiers are shown with AK-47-type rifles (actually stand-ins) before any communist nation even issued them yet.
    • In one episode Klinger hands out Hershey bars with UPC symbols on the back wrapper to recovering patients.
    • A pinball machine from the 1970s appears in the Officers' Club, along with a poster on the wall with an illustration of a Vietnam-era helicopter.
    • In one episode Henry uses a bullhorn that wasn't invented until after the war.
    • In "Officer of the Day," Flagg appears wearing the branch insignia for military intelligence. This insignia wasn't used by the Army until 1962.
    • Medics are always shown wearing helmets with the Red Cross painted on the front. This practice was stopped in early 1951 because North Korean snipers were using them as targets.
    • General MacArthur is almost constantly referred to as the Allied Commander. MacArthur was relieved of command in April 1951 for insubordination, after less than a year in command.
    • In the episode "War of Nerves", Sidney Freedman asks Radar, "Do you know how many people...think I Love Lucy is real?" I Love Lucy premiered in October of 1951. Given when the characters were supposed to have been in Korea, there is no way that either of them would have ever seen the show.
    • In one episode, Klinger, the surgeons, and Margaret are all playing poker. Margaret buys Klinger's hoop earrings off him so he can stay in the game, and Klinger mentions he'd wear hula hoops in his ears if he thought it'd get him out of the Army. Later in the series, he technically invents the hula hoop (or at least decides to patent it so he can make money). The hula hoop wouldn't be officially invented until 1958.
    • You know that wool cap that Radar always wears? It's called a Jeep Cap, and it's actually a uniform accessory from World War II, not the Korean War; in fact, Patton and other American officers hated the Jeep Cap because it looked "sloppy" and "unmilitary" that it was eventually replaced with the standardized field cap before WW2 ended. It was only after Radar made the Jeep Cap famous that the U.S. Army started to issue them again as surplus, though they look nothing like they used to.
    • In one episode Hawkeye can be seen wearing bright blue '70s tennis shoes while walking through the compound.
    • Noted in MAD's parody "M*U*S*H" (not to be confused with the one mentioned below) when Luke-Warm Lips's appearance is commented on thusly: "This is 1950 and she's wearing a hairdo that won't even be invented until 1981!"
      • Several actresses from the period can be seen in glamor shots with roughly similar styles to Margaret's season 5 and 6 look. However (as Klinger would tell you) a side part was more common. Parting down the middle is a very '60s look, and the feathered style of the last seasons didn't come in until the mid-'70s.
      • However, the halter top Margaret wears in "The Merchant of Korea" and a couple of other hot-weather episodes is not out of place. The Chinese dudou, popular all over East Asia, has been around since at least the 14th century CE; Margaret looks to have made hers from an Army undershirt, perhaps after seeing locals wearing them.
  • Animal Lover: Walter O'Reilly tends to a small menagerie of animals in the camp and once saved a lamb from being made into lamb chops.
  • Animated Parody: Filmation's M*U*S*H, a segment of the Saturday Morning Kid's Show Uncle Croc's Block.
  • Anonymous Benefactor: Charles, in "Death Takes a Holiday".
  • The Anticipator: Radar has the uncanny ability to appear at the side of his commander before he even asks for him, as well as finish his sentences. A bevy of other sensing talents makes him this trope.
  • Anyone Can Die: Henry's death was as shattering and it was unexpected for all the deaths and injuries of one-shot characters.
  • Armchair Military: There is an astonishingly large number of higher-ranking Army officers that seem to have very little idea of what they're actually doing. We actually get to see one, a friend of Potter's named Woody, who decides to take command in a combat situation when he's been behind a desk for decades, and ends up causing a lot of men to get hurt when he orders them to advance on an exposed ridge that they'd previously been ordered to stay away from.
  • Appetite = Health: After Klinger has a Fever Dream Episode and talks to a dead soldier, at the end of the episode he wakes up in post-op and reports that he's hungry. Margaret says that it's a good sign.
  • Apocalypse Anarchy: In one episode when they think that they are all about to be killed, several of the officers get together for a high-stakes poker game. Trapper asks, "So, what are the stakes again?" Hawkeye explains that the values are $5,000 for the white chips, $10,000 for the red, and $25,000 for the blue. He then clarifies, "And if we don't die, whites are 25¢, reds are 50¢, and blues are a dollar."
  • Apology Gift: Happens several times over the course of the series.
    • In one episode, Hawkeye and Trapper try to butter Frank up with a handful of wild flowers, after they secretly drew a pint of blood from him to give to a wounded POW; Frank is touched, but then they kill the moment when Hawkeye says, "Glad there's no hard feelings Frank, because there's a new heart procedure we'd like to try, and you're just the right type."
    • During a company picnic, Margaret gives Frank the cold shoulder since he won't loan her money to buy her sister a wedding present; Frank tries to butter her back up with a balloon, only for her to pop it with a hairpin.
    • In another episode, Frank tries to make peace with Margaret (this after she had gotten engaged earlier in the season), by presenting her with an American-made Japanese umbrella; of course, Frank isn't able to curb his lust, and Margaret throws it at him as he runs out of her tent.
    • In "The Winchester Tapes", Charles apparently had upset Radar, and insincerely brings him an entire case of grape Nehi to butter him up in order to contact his former commanding officer to get him transferred back to Tokyo General Hospital. When Radar refuses, Winchester takes the case back. And then he takes the one bottle that Radar had opened.
    • Then there's the one time the gift is actually accepted. In one Christmas episode, most of the staff have been giving Charles the cold shoulder for his unwillingness to donate to the Christmas potluck, despite having received several huge packages from home. When Klinger finds out why — the packages were filled with expensive chocolates that Charles was planning to give to the children at the local orphanage as part of a family tradition — he brings Charles a plate of leftover food and they share a heartfelt moment over it.
  • Arc Words:
    • Sidney Freedman's advice in an early appearance and the final episode: "Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."
    • Count how many times Hawkeye refers to both babies (including a lot of jokes about getting pregnant) and chickens. It amounts to a lot in eleven seasons before the finale.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Several episodes deal with patients who lost limbs in battle and are coming to grips with the results. One episode showing Charles' better side dealt with a patient who didn't actually lose a limb, but sustained nerve damage to several fingers that, since he was a gifted, Juilliard-trained pianist, he believes is just as bad as losing the limb outright.
    • Happens to Hawkeye in a nightmare in which a Medical School Professor ordering the removal of his arms symbolizes his frustration at not being able to save every patient and how he tortures himself about it.
  • Armed Farces: It's a comedy set in a military camp, so it's to be expected.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: "She killed the chicken?"
  • Artistic License – Awards: Several:
    • Frank once browbeats Henry into approving a Purple Heart citation and another time he receives a Purple Heart by mistake. Neither time was he eligible. The first, "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", he receives a Purple Heart for throwing out his back while dancing, which was not a direct result of combat and, more importantly, would cause him to be discharged; back problems were an automatic medical disqualification from service. The second (based on an incident in Vietnam), "The Kids", he gets a Purple Heart for getting a bit of eggshell in his eye, and putting it in a report as "shell fragment" — slightly more believable for it to go through in the first place, but by this point, the camp is under the command of Potter, who takes military awards much more seriously and would probably insist that Frank clear up the misconception and return the medal.
      • In both cases, Hawkeye steals Frank's medal and gives it to someone he feels is more deserving: the first goes to an underage Marine with appendicitis who lied about his age to enlist (which would put him in worse trouble, as he has been reported for identity theft and now has stolen property), and in the second, Hawkeye steals it and gives it to a baby who was grazed by a bullet that went through his mother's abdomen shortly before she gave birth. But in addition to the fact that Frank's name would have been on both medals, those particular medals being stolen would have no long-term impact on Frank anyway; he would have been on record as a two-time recipient of the Purple Heart, and could have been issued replacements for the physical medals.
    • In "Change of Command", Potter reveals he received a Good Conduct Medal as an enlisted soldier. However, he served in the First World War, became a doctor in 1932 and served in the Second World War as a surgeon, while the GCM was established in 1941 and retroactive dates only go to 1940.
    • In "Bombshells", B.J. receives a Bronze Star for helping a medivac chopper escape while under fire, but decides to hand it off to a patient for "getting out in one piece". However, every Bronze Star has the recipient's name engraved on the back and comes with a certificate. As with the Marine, this would put him in possession of an undeserved medal that belonged to someone else (albeit this time, it's with the permission of the rightful owner), and it would still be B.J. who was on the record as receiving it.
  • Artistic License – Cars:
    • In the season three finale, Henry gives Radar the keys to a Jeep, and in "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" Wendel tries to hotwire a Jeep. Because Jeeps would need to be operated by anyone at any time, all Jeeps had a simple ignition switch instead of a key, something shown somewhat extensively through the series' run. Of course, being a foot soldier he may not have realized that.
    • In "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye asks Radar if a Jeep is olive drab and made in Detroit. Korean War-era Jeeps were made in Toledo, Ohio.
  • Artistic License – Geography:
    • Several references to Korea being in South East Asia, and jungles in Korea.
    • In "Iron Guts Kelly", Radar finds a sector under fire and lists the position as, "North of Inchon, latitude 27, longitude 70." Those coordinates are in extreme western India, near the border with Pakistan, over 3000 miles west of Korea.
    • In ''Abyssinia Henry", Henry's plane is reported as shot down over the Sea of Japan, well beyond where any North Korean or Chinese fighter pilots operated, especially in 1952.
  • Artistic License – Gun Safety: see Juggling Loaded Guns.
    • Averted at least once in a deleted scene. In "It Happened One Night," Klinger has just introduced Hawkeye to a new private going on guard duty for the first time. After the discussion, Klinger stands. The private picks up his rifle and inadvertently points it in Klinger's face. Klinger is quick to nudge it away, having anticipated the eventuality upon seeing him pick it up. This trope gets played straight later on when (offscreen) the gun goes off, and Klinger is brought into Post-Op, trying to ham up being fatally shot when the bullet barely nicked him.
      Hawkeye: [as Klinger collapses onto the bed] Would you at least bleed?
    • Hawkeye in "Hawkeye Get Your Gun." The fact Potter cocks the hammer before Hawkeye starts firing means he must carry it loaded and hammer-down. This is the least safe way to carry a 1911. John Browning specifically designed it to be carried loaded with the hammer cocked (Situation One), and included a sear disconnect, a grip safety, and a manual safety (which can't be activated unless the hammer is cocked). This means for it to fire, the manual safety must be deactivated, the grip must be held, and the trigger must be pulled. This isn't that surprising, given Hawkeye's attitude to guns; see Doesn't Like Guns below.
    • Frank Burns is a walking example of how to not handle a firearm. Highlights include shooting B.J. in the leg, shooting himself in the foot, and shooting out a light while chambering a round. Justified as this is specifically portrayed as a function of his incompetence, not as the correct or appropriate way to do things.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Many nurses can be seen with long, manicured fingernails. This is prohibited because, among other things, they have to be able to wear gloves during surgery.
  • Artistic License – Military: Too many to count, but a few stand out above the others:
    • Frank demands and receives a Purple Heart for getting an eggshell in his eye during an artillery barrage (he claimed he was hit by shell fragments, and omitted the part about the shell in question being an eggshell). In real life, he would have been denied as the injury wasn't directly caused by enemy action. He earlier demanded a Purple Heart for "slipping" on the way to the "shower" (actually a back spasm while dancing with Margaret).
    • Potter is correct in stating that the Army Good Conduct Medal is only for enlisted soldiers. He's wrong in insisting that his status as a prior-service enlisted soldier entitles him to wear the medal, which he is seen wearing from time to time and he has his medal framed on his wall. What he (or the writers) failed to realize is that the medal was awarded long after Potter was an enlisted soldier and that the retroactive dates don't go back to when he was enlisted and eligible for the award.
    • As a Chaplain, Mulcahy would have entered the military as a Captain, not a Lieutenant.
    • Doctors didn't automatically enter service as a captain. There were plenty of surgeons in the war that were lieutenants.
    • The Points system was never used for rotation of doctors. It was never used in the Korean War at all. Most of the doctors and nurses spent 12-16 months in Korea, then were sent to Japan or a Stateside Army hospital to finish up their military obligation.
      • Aside from Henry Blake earning enough Points to be discharged, the Point System was a plot point in a later episode, where the peace talks had failed again, but Potter reminds everyone if they receive enough Points, they would be rotated home. Although Hawkeye gripes the most, Charles points out he actually has the least amount of complaining to do as he has more Points than the rest of them. Later still, when Potter breaks the news that the Army upped the number of rotation Points to get transferred back to the states, Hawkeye loses it.
    • In one episode, the doctors think it's ridiculous that Frank has made them pack up the unit and move it across the road, and in another, General Steele makes them move 20 miles closer to the front. Part of the reason for the unit's existence was to follow the troops into battle so the wounded could be taken care of as quickly as possible. In the early part of the war, MASH units were quite mobile, and it was only in the latter part of the war, when the battle lines stabilized, that they tended to stay put. While Frank's reasoning was absurd, Steele's wasn't, and moving the entire unit quickly wasn't out of the question; in fact it was one of the functions of a MASH.
    • Under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, just about every character could be charged with a plethora of very serious offenses, and being a doctor would not have saved anyone.
    • Somewhat Truth in Television, but only somewhat.
    • It's likely a case of The Main Characters Do Everything, but the administrative section of a MASH would have consisted of two Medical Service Corps officers (non-doctors), a warrant officer, a first sergeant, and numerous enlisted men ranging from master sergeant to private, not just one guy named "Radar". Granted, in any military organization there are "go to" guys like Radar that can get stuff done that no one else can, but a unit run by the hospital commander and one company clerk would have fallen apart fairly quickly.
      • It's implied in several episodes that Radar does have underlings, and his chief job is to negotiate and barter with other clerks, though we never see any.
    • Two different characters go completely bonkers and are quietly promoted and given cushy posts to get them out of the way. The US military was not known for being kind to people who cracked under the stress of war; summary discharge under Section 8 was the usual remedy. The first example is justified as being a general, whose friends probably protected him. The second example, Frank Burns, had no friends, and it is a mystery why anyone would go out of their way to keep him in the Army.
  • Ascended Extra: Klinger started out as a one-shot guest character, and by the fourth season was a series regular.
    • Father Mulcahy, a minor character in the novel and film, initially only appeared every few episodes until he was made a regular.
  • Ascended Meme: The cast frequently had William Christopher sound-alike contests between takes. In "Movie Tonight" everyone takes turns impersonating Father Mulcahy.
    • This contest contains a bit of Beam Me Up, Scotty!, as several of the attempts include the word "jocularity" (and Potter's consists of just that word, twice). But Mulcahy had never used that word at any time in the series up to that point. He did afterward, however. For instance, in the episode where Margaret and Donald get married, the men have a bachelor party to celebrate. Mulcahy, while quite intoxicated, exits the Swamp, saying "Even the jocularity is jocular!". (Towards the end of the show's run, he used the term even more frequently.) This is likely a case where the latter scene was either written or shot first, and someone just forgot that the imitation scene was set to air earlier. (Alternatively, there might have been a reference in an earlier scene that was cut.)
  • Asian Speekee Engrish: This was much more prelevant in the earlier episodes, where the humor was much more sitcomy and hadn't quite matured yet. A few specific examples:
    • "To Market, To Market" has Hawkeye and Trapper doing business with a black marketeer, whom they bring back to camp in the guise of an ROK General so he can see Henry's new desk for himself before deciding to seal a deal.
    "General" Lee: So very grand to meet you, Ker-ner Brake!
    • This is an Invoked Trope on Lee's part, as he's shown to have a fluent accent in the rest of the episode.
    • One of the P.A. announcers from the first season must have been a local working within camp (as was Ho-Jon), because we have some announcements that sound like this:
    "The Gree Crub wir meet in the Mess Tent at 18:00 hours. The first number on tonight's schedure is Father Murcahy's soro, 'I'm Confessin' That I Rove You.'"
    "Attention! Would Captain Jonathan S. Tuttre prease report to Ker-ner Henry Brake on the doubre!"
    • In an interesting inversion, the doctors have trouble understanding a local carrying a baby with her, asking for a, "Labbi fo' bliss," until Hawkeye examines a paper she has with her and realizes she's looking for a rabbi to perform a bris (circumcision).
    • Frank attempting to call Margaret on R&R in Tokyo apparently has problems with the operator mistaking the Hollywood Hotel for the Harrywood Hotel.
  • Aside Glance: Ever not subtle, Hawkeye to Trapper/the camera after he makes a bisexuality joke with Tolstoy in “Love Story”.
  • Ask a Stupid Question...:
    • Klinger enters Henry's office:
      Klinger: Are you in, sir?
      Henry: No! No, Klinger, this is a film of me!
    • From "The Novocaine Mutiny":
      Frank: (cowering in fear after hearing an explosion) Was that a bomb!?
      Hawkeye: No, Frank. Someone's playing their World War II album.
    • From "The Chosen People":
      Frank: Is that girl nursing a baby?
      Hawkeye: No, that's a child doing maternal chin-ups.
    • From "Deal Me Out":
    Radar: (to Henry) Did you cut yourself shaving, sir?
    Henry: No, Radar. I thought I'd wear three pieces of toilet paper tonight. Maybe I'll start a new trend.
    Radar: I don't think it'll ever catch on.
    • From "Fade In, Fade Out""
    Radar: Major Houlihan, is that you?
    Margaret: No, it's Amelia Earhart. Who do you think it is?
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • Though Charles is certainly not a foreign character, David Ogden Stiers took this mindset somewhat for Charles's accent, reasoning that the accent would distinguish the character's aristocratic demeanor and upbringing.
    • With the Korean characters, on the other hand, that's an entirely different story. There are a number of cases where the characters don't even speak actual Korean, but instead are speaking Chinese. In fact, in two different episodes, the word "Stop" has a completely different translation ("Kuchio" in one episode, "Chung-ji" in another). In another, a Chinese soldier pulls a grenade in the OR and speaks Japanese.
      • The two different words for "stop" thing is actually a genuine attempt to avert this. Korean features a couple of different words that, in any dictionary, would be glossed as "stop". If the horrible pronunciation is ignored, we have "geuchyeo" (그쳐, the imperative form of 그치다) and "jeongji" (정지, a noun meaning "stop" or "arrest"). The camp's stop signs even feature a third word: "meomchum" (멈춤, a nominal form of 멈추다). In addition, it's the main characters attempting to use these words.
  • Attending Your Own Funeral: Done twice, once when a Luxembourg officer is presumed dead, and again when Hawkeye is mistakenly declared dead by the army. The latter was a wake thrown as a joke.
  • Attractive Bent-Gender: Averted with Klinger, although he had some fantastic legs.
  • Author Appeal: A lot of the more explicit “Hawkeye might be bi” references come from Alan Alda’s writing, like “I must be obvious or something” from Dr Pierce and Dr Hyde, or the winky “I loved as many of you as I could” in the finale, or “you’re all bent over/who told you?” from Hepatitis.
  • "Awesome McCool" Name: Hawkeye Pierce.
  • Babies Make Everything Better:
    • Averted with Margaret, who at one point believes she's pregnant but says that a baby will only exacerbate the problems she's already having with her husband, not to mention end her Army career. It turns out she's not, but Margaret and Donald later divorce anyway.
    • Also averted in the finale, the staff is returning from visiting a beach for the 4th of July when they pick up some civilians and wounded soldiers. They stop to avoid an enemy patrol, and one of the civilians smothers her baby to stop it crying and giving the bus' position away.
  • Badass Boast: The camp's slogan is, "Best Care Anywhere!" and they back it up with a 97% survival rate.
  • Badass Preacher: Father Mulcahy, who seemed rather quiet, unassuming, and largely ineffective, was credited by many in the unit as being the driving force behind any sense of sanity or morality in the camp, frequently dealt with the black market ("You'd be surprised what a priest can get away with"), disarmed a soldier who had a gun on him at point-blank range, talked Klinger out of using a live grenade on Frank Burns, performed an emergency tracheotomy under fire, ran to a POW compound under heavy shelling to free the prisoners who were sitting ducks (which cost him his hearing), and had a right hook like a brick house.
  • Batman Gambit: Potter's April Fool's joke requires a visiting inspector, Col. Tucker, to enrage the doctors so much that they'd try to pull a major prank on him; then he'd lose his temper and fake a heart attack, making the doctors think they'd killed him. If they didn't try to prank Col. Tucker, the gag wouldn't work, but Potter knew they would.
    • Hawkeye's prank on the colonel is a Batman Gambit of its own: It requires knowing not only that the colonel would come to the Officers' Club that evening, not only what table he'd sit in, but which seat at that table he'd sit in.
  • Batty Lip Burbling: The Grand Finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" opens with Hawkeye in a psychiatric hospital. As he talks to the others over the phone, he jokes that he's getting a blister on his finger from burbling.
  • Becoming the Mask: Klinger worries about this in Season 6's "War of Nerves", wondering if he's taken his Section 8 routine too far:
    Klinger: Well, I look at myself in the mirror lately, and I see this guy in earrings, pillbox hat, veil, maybe a little choker of pearls. And I ask myself "Would a sane man dress like this?" I'm tryin' to convince them, and I'm convincing myself.
  • Beef Bandage: Trapper sports one in one of the very first episodes, "Requiem for a Lightweight".
  • Benevolent Boss: Describes Henry, and especially Potter, who is even more tolerant of his subordinates' antics because he understands their need to blow off steam.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't tell Hawkeye they're serving liver and fish in the mess tent yet again.
    • Don't even suggest that B.J. would ever cheat on his wife.
    • Whatever you do, don't ever, ever ever insult the state of Iowa within earshot of Radar.
    • Don't even think of telling latter-seasons Margaret that women aren't as tough/smart/worthy/whatever as men. Particularly don't suggest that she's somehow not a real major.
      • Point of fact, don't even think about evacuating the nurses for safety, even in an extreme crisis situation.
    • Don't insult people who stutter in front of Charles. Also don't sell the chocolate bars he donated to your orphanage on the black market. Unless you have a very good reason.
    • Don't talk about people eating horses in front of Potter.
    • Don't deny Father Mulcahy his promotion...four times. Don't insult the Irish. Don't interrupt his bath. Don't replace his bathrobe with a flowery nightgown. Don't steal from Hawkeye. Don't be Charles Winchester. Just...don't.
    • Don't you dare ruin one of Klinger's dresses.
  • The Bet:
    • One episode features Hawkeye being wagered that he go an entire day without snarking. That day is filled with an absurd amount of things that a man can make wisecracks about. Finally, after keeping his mouth shut the entire day, Hawkeye finally lets it all out in a massive snark-fest over the PA at 12:01 AM the next day.
    • In another episode, Hawkeye bets that B.J. can't prank the entire main cast. He puts a snake in Charles' bed, shaving cream in Potter's toothpaste, cuts the back off of Margaret's bathrobe, poisons Mulcahy, and blows up Klinger's office. Hawkeye then spends the night outside in a barbwire enclosure. It's then revealed that everyone lied about the pranks/did it themselves, and it was all a Kansas City Shuffle, and Hawkeye was the real victim. Although he still didn't win the bet, because pranking just Hawkeye wasn't the bet.
    • During "The MASH Olympics" Hawkeye and B.J., the captains of the two teams, arrange a side bet that the losing captain will push the winning one around in a wheelchair for a week.
    • In the first "Dear Dad" episode, Hawkeye bets Trapper that he could walk into the mess tent wearing nothing but boots during lunch and no one would notice due to the general malaise about the camp. He almost manages it, but ultimately loses as one soldier finally looks up and notices him, then alerts everyone else by dropping his tray.
  • Better Than Sex:
    • In "Adam's Ribs", Hawkeye tries to get a case of barbecued pork ribs from a Chicago restaurant shipped to Korea. When Radar asks if these ribs are as good as Hawkeye says they are, Hawkeye answers, "Better than sex." Radar then grouses, "I wouldn't know how good that is, sir."
    • In "The Light That Failed", after B.J. finally lets a bored Hawkeye start reading the mystery novel Peg sent, Hawkeye declares that reading just might be better than sex.
      Charles: It certainly takes longer around here.
      B.J.: How would you know?
  • Big Eater:
    • Hawkeye reminisces about once eating twelve banana sandwiches (and spending a week in the bathroom afterwards).
    • Any time a real meal is to be had in camp, Trapper somehow finds a way to eat the whole thing himself.
    • Radar especially, his heaping portions in the Mess Tent are often the butt of a joke. Hawkeye even suggests that their side could possibly win the war if Radar would simply eat North Korea.
      Klinger: How can you eat this slop?
      Radar: My mouth is tone-deaf.
    • Then there was the time Klinger tried to eat his way out of the Army, by getting so fat and out-of-shape that they'd have to discharge him. It didn't work.
    • He also tried to eat his way out of the Army by devouring a jeep. He managed to get down a windshield wiper, several bolts, and a horn button before his stomach decided no more.
  • Big Storm Episode: "They Call The Wind Korea" is about the camp preparing for and dealing with the onslaught of a massive freezing windstorm.
  • Bilingual Bonus:
    • Klinger's Arabic, while it doesn't sound specifically Lebanese, is pretty accurate (ironically, far more so than the Korean spoken on the show, which is usually not even Korean).
    • However, in the episode "Hawkeye", Korean is actually spoken by the family in whose house Hawkeye is staying. As Hawkeye is both the only main cast member and the only English-speaking character in the episode, Korean-speakers get to hear about twice as much dialog as English-only-speakers. Among the gems are the father telling Hawkeye to "Please shut up so we can eat dinner."
    • In the second scene of "Fade Out, Fade In - Part 1," Hawkeye spits game at a nurse in very good French.
  • Bit Character: Most of the show's nurses and corpsmen are this.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet," which also counts as the series' Wham Episode. Hawkeye's friend dies, which results in Hawkeye going back on a promise he made to an underage soldier to keep his secret and having him sent home, leaving them both bitter. In the end, however, Hawkeye manages to make it up to the kid by getting him a Purple Heart medal to show off to his girlfriend back home.
  • Black Comedy: Basically what the show is built on. Something as horrifying as war shouldn't be funny, but they make it so.
  • Blackmail: Occasionally employed by Hawkeye and co. For instance, in "George" he and Trapper get Frank to admit to having paid for the answers on his medical exams, and then use the info to keep him from sending a letter to the Pentagon outing a gay GI and demanding he be dishonorably discharged.
    • In the episode where Hawkeye and B.J. get the portable bathtub, Charles offers to buy it off of them. When they refuse and even insist they won't let him use it, he threatens to tell the entire camp they have said bathtub. They cave in immediately.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word:
    • Used in "Hey, Doc", when Hawkeye and B.J. have Frank Burns sign off on fudging a medical profile in exchange for covering his ass regarding an accident with a tank.
      Margaret: They're blackmailing you, Frank.
      B.J.: "Blackmail" is an ugly word.
      Hawkeye: We prefer "extortion".
    • In "The Price", Klinger asks Col. Potter to name his price to give him the Section 8 discharge he wants.
      Potter: Oh, I see. Now it's bribery.
      Klinger: That's an ugly word for it, sir. Ugly, but fitting.
  • Black Market: Figures in several episodes.
  • Black Market Produce: The occasional real food is quite a treat. One time a farmer gives the unit a bunch of real eggs, not the reconstituted stuff they usually get. Another time Radar goes through a Chain of Deals in order to supply Col. Potter with fresh tomato juice after some accidentally got shipped to them and Potter liked it—but then after all that trouble, it turns out Potter is mildly allergic. He'd been without it for so long he forgot.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • In order to get a new foot locker, Margaret shoots it with Charles's shotgun and claims that it was destroyed by enemy fire.
    • Frank got his black eye when he slipped on a bar of soap and hit his face on the sink. Hawkeye most definitely had not gotten fed up with Frank and belted him before bursting out in song.
    • Hawkeye sedated Frank by force and unlawfully took command of the 4077. Frank most definitely didn't concuss himself walking into a door and leave the others to fend for themselves.
    • Major Burns handles the most difficult cases, as Major Houlihan tells a visiting colonel. He most definitely doesn't get saddled with the least difficult cases on account of his incompetence.
  • Bluffing the Murderer: Hawkeye exposes a thief by tricking him into a revealing giveaway.
  • The Board Game: The show had one, made by Milton Bradley. Players would try to load a chopper with wounded and fly it to the pad via dice moves.
    • There was also a Licensed Game made for Atari and Coleco. It was not well received.
  • Book Burning: Done by Frank in preparation of Gen. MacArthur's visit in "Big Mac".
    Frank: One of the greatest living Americans is coming and I'm not going to let him see some of the trash that's read around here.
    Trapper: Plato's Republic? The Life of Red Grange?
    Hawkeye: Revolutionaries.
    Frank: Right!
    Trapper: Robinson Crusoe?
    Hawkeye: Everybody runs around half-naked.
    Trapper: Norman Mailer?
    Frank: It's got *that word* in it.
  • Book-Ends: "A War for All Seasons" opens and closes with successive New Year's ceremonies at the 4077, complete with identical toasts given by Col. Potter.
    • At the beginning of the series, the words "Korea - A hundred years ago" appear onscreen. In the last standard episode of the series, the characters are burying a time capsule to be dug up in a hundred years.
  • Boring, but Practical: An all-star Football player who loses a leg talks with Radar about how the team won a major victory against another team with superior defense: The short pass.
  • Bottle Episode: "O.R.", "The Bus", "Hawkeye", "A Night at Rosie's"
  • The Boxing Episode:
    • "Requiem for a Lightweight" has Trapper John taking on the champ of the 8063rd, a heavyweight enlisted man.
    • In "End Run", Klinger and Zale are roped into a boxing match by Frank Burns.
  • Breakout Character: In Season 1, Klinger showed up in a few episodes as "the guy trying to get a Section 8 discharge"; by the end of the series, he was part of the main cast.
  • Break the Haughty:
    • When they first meet, Col. Flagg condescendingly attempts to browbeat Col. Potter. Potter puts him in his place, and fast. Flagg never treats Potter with anything less than respect again.
      Flagg: I want a medical decision, and I want it now! The last C.O. they had here couldn't make a decision without a month's warning.
      Potter: I'm not fond of personal abuse, Flagg. I was in this man's Army when the only thumb you cared about was the one you had in your mouth.
    • According to Hawkeye, Winchester never was broken. However, he was in the final episode by the death of his prized Chinese musicians.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The season 4 premiere "Welcome to Korea" ends with the P.A. announcer naming the new season's cast regulars as both actors and characters.
  • Brick Joke: In season 3 Henry Blake talks to Radar about having his tonsils removed, stating that they're "big as a baby's backside." In season 7 Radar's tonsils again come up and this time they are taken out.
    • The can of beans on the stove in season 4's "It Happened One Night".
    • Potter recounts how an old rival of his swallowed 23 goldfish to beat his record of 22. Later, it turns out Klinger is in reach of a pole-sitting record, but he's cold and wants to come down.
    Potter: I'll give you a choice. You can stay up there, or come down here and swallow 24 goldfish.
    Klinger: Did you say 24 goldfish, sir?
    Potter: The first 18 are easy.
  • Briefer Than They Think: As mentioned above, you could fit three Korean Wars into the show's run.
  • Broken Ace: Captain Newsome in "Heal Thyself". And Hawkeye in "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen". Also Captain Chandler in "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler".
  • Broken Aesop:
    • In the episode "Images," The Stinger has Radar setting up a weight bar on two chairs to start working out. Potter tells him not to, because he would have to keep working out basically for the rest of his life, lest the muscles atrophy. So, it's bad to want to be physically fit and get into shape, even in the Army as a corpsman/stretcher bearer?
      • The whole of the episode involves Radar wanting to get a tattoo and the others telling him not to—not because the local tattoo artists aren't sterile, but because they think tattoos look dumb.
    • Even worse is the next episode, "MASH Olympics," where Potter is appalled that everyone is in such poor shape that several can't right an ambulance, yet four MPs can with ease.
      • Not only does it break the Aesop, it doesn't even make sense. The characters are established to work absurdly hard at highly physical duties, including carrying stretchers, for extremely long hours. If they aren't up to righting an ambulance, it's because they're tired, not out of shape.
    • There's the episode "Souvenirs," in which Hawkeye and B.J. force a chopper pilot to stop selling trinkets made out of junk found on battlefields. Granted that people, including little kids, are getting hurt and killed when they try to scavenge something that turns out to be booby-trapped, but this doesn't solve the problem. Fact #1: These people are dirt poor and desperate for every penny they can scrape up. Fact #2: Metal is valuable. Even if the souvenir industry dried up, the brass shells could be sold to someone who can use them, to melt down if nothing else. Fact #2 can't be changed. Fact #1 can, but Hawkeye and B.J. don't do anything about it. In fact, they put a guy out of business who gives fifty bucks to the family of one of his suppliers who got hurt. Nice move. He even mentions that his predecessor used to just send flowers. Those families are certainly better off with him gone.
  • Bucket Booby-Trap: Frank rigs one for Hawkeye (yep, you read that right) in "Showtime", while Hawkeye himself does so for a visiting colonel in "April Fools".
  • Buffy Speak: In a cold snap episode, Henry asks Radar to requisition, "Those nice wooly caps with the ear muffs, but in military talk."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: No matter how madcap Hawkeye gets, his medical skills save him from court martial a few dozen times.
    • Klinger is trying to get a Section 8 discharge by crossdressing and generally acting insane. But he's too much of a professional to actually shirk his duty as a sentry or doing anything other than his utmost to help when the 4077 is inundated with wounded.
  • Burma-Shave: The camp rigs up a homemade sign to welcome Hawkeye back from his psychiatric treatment in "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen".
    Hawk was gone
    Now he's here
    Dance 'til dawn
    Give a cheer
    • In "C*A*V*E", Hawkeye tells Margaret not to drive their Jeep too fast as he wants to read the Burma-Shave signs.
  • Burn Baby Burn: In "War of Nerves", psychiatrist Sidney Freedman convinces Col. Potter to let the camp make a bonfire, burning many non-essential items which represent the stifling Army lifestyle. "You have to let them go crazy once in a while to keep from going crazy." Freedman himself strips to his underwear and tosses his fatigues into the blaze.
  • Bury Your Gays: Actually averted in the episode "George", although Weston was asking Hawkeye to clear him for further duty on the front, even if he wasn't physically fit, so how long he survived past the episode is anyone's guess.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Frank Burns, who frequently gets comeuppance for being a jerkass.
    • Igor, who only serves the food and is in no way responsible for its quality but nonetheless takes a steady stream of verbal abuse over it. This on top of being on permanent KP.
      • If the episode "A War for All Seasons" is any indication of Igor's usual culinary efforts, then at least some of the abuse directed at him is well deserved. Father Mulcahy spends most of the episode tending to a small cornfield he planted so he can treat the camp to corn on the cub during their 4th of July celebration, but Igor ruins Mulcahy's efforts by instead serving creamed corn.
      Hunnicutt: In a few minutes we're going to be decobbing corn, thanks to you and your khaki thumb.
      Mulcahy: Don't I know it. All week I've been dreaming of getting butter on my cheeks, juice on my shirt, and a niblet wedged between two molars.
      Mulcahy: (at the table Igor is serving) Where is the corn?
      Igor: You're looking at it. The mushy stuff.
      Mulcahy: You... You creamed it! (on the verge of tears) You... you ninny!
      Igor: (while everyone is yelling at him) I was just trying to be helpful! Next 4th of July you can eat it on the cob for all I care!
    • Henry Blake frequently experienced any number of mishaps and misfortune.
  • Calvin Ball: Double Cranko, a game invented by Hawkeye and B.J. which incorporates chess, checkers, poker, gin rummy, and booze.
    B.J.: You're cheating!
    Hawkeye: How can I cheat? There are no rules!
  • Camp Cook: Igor Straminsky, although he wasn't the actual cook and would often remind those complaining to him of such.
  • Canon Foreigner: A very large percentage of the regular and recurring characters on the show never appeared in the original novel or film, including the various replacements (B.J., Potter, Charles) as well as Klinger, Flagg, Sidney, Igor, Zale, Rizzo, etc.
  • The Casanova: Hawkeye, particularly in the earlier seasons. Also Trapper.
    • It ultimately starts backfiring on Hawkeye in the later seasons, when every advance either ends in a strikeout, getting humiliated, or a disastrous date.
    • And, in the season 11 episode "Who Knew", Millie Carpenter has such a crush on him that she ends up wandering into a minefield.
    • Carlye Walton, nee Breslin, from season 5, is Hawkeye's one true love that got away.
  • Cast Herd: In the early seasons, the show often tended to split into three of these: Hawkeye/Trapper, Henry/Radar, Frank/Margaret.
  • Celebrity Lie: Subverted in "Major Topper". In a bragging and name-dropping contest, Charles claims to have had dinner with Audrey Hepburn, despite never having seen any of her movies. Hawkeye and B.J. refuse to believe him, until Charles produces a photograph (which is never shown to the viewers) to prove the veracity of his tale.
    • Played straight in "Bombshells", when Hawkeye and Charles start a rumor that Marilyn Monroe is going to visit the 4077th, and it snowballs until even Colonel Potter believes it and arranges a welcome ceremony for her.
  • Celebrity Paradox: A minor case, but still noteworthy. One of the films shown to the camp on movie night was the 1945 musical State Fair, which features Harry Morgan (aka Colonel Potter) in a supporting role. Granted, he would have looked 30 years younger, but no one seems to note the similarity between their commanding officer and the character in the movie.
  • Cerebus Rollercoaster: Especially in the later seasons, it wasn't unusual for the show to shift on a dime between comedic and dramatic moods, sometimes even within the same episode.
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The series began as a zany comedy much like the movie, and ended as a dramedy on the horror and pointlessness of war.
    • To elaborate more on this: the movie was a dark/black comedy and a biting antiwar satire that would have had to be toned down for television anyway. At the same time, however, co-creators/producers Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds wanted to avoid the show being, "Just another sitcom," from the get-go. A lot of the show's zany tone and almost Hogan's Heroes-esque war hijinks humor in its earliest seasons were mostly the case of Executive Meddling wanting the show to avoid becoming too gory or too dark. It wasn't until Wham Episodes such as "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" and "Abyssinia, Henry" went over well, and the show began to establish itself in the ratings, that Executive Meddling was toned down, and the producers and writers were given more freedom to do as they wish, such as give the show more of a dramatic undertone. Even with the eventual departures of Gelbart and later Reynolds, comedy was still the show's main focal point, with drama taking a back seat - though the humor itself was also toned down, and became more intelligent and cerebral, as opposed to silly and slapstick. Finally, by Season Eight, the entire writing and producing staff was overhauled by Alan Alda and Burt Metcalfe, causing the show to flip its priorities, and make drama the show's driving force with comedy shunted to the back burner.
  • Cerebus Retcon: While a few season 1-3 episodes implied Hawkeye had pre-existing trauma/mental illness, he was mostly alright, and had an alive sister and mother. Season four started a running theme that people he loved he Never Got to Say Goodbye to (Trapper, Carlye the first time, his mother, unknowingly sabotages a chance to say goodbye to Radar), he was nearly drowned at seven by a friend he loved too much to admit could hurt him, his mom died a few years later and Alan Alda has talked about how he didn’t actually change much throughout the series.
    Alan Alda: I don’t think Hawkeye changed much in the eleven years – I think we just know more about him and see through his behavior more. We see frailties and human flaws and characteristic ways of dealing with people that are not all that heroic but that make him a more rounded person.
  • The Chains of Commanding:
    • While Henry would regularly be a pretty lax boss, it is clear that leading the unit, deciding that a soldier is too injured to save given the limited available time and resources during a rush of wounded, getting Hawkeye through the loss of a close friend, and other moments, do wear on him over the series.
    • Potter seems to keep things better, but there are episodes which show how deep inside he hates the job he is now in and the duties and obligations that come with it. From learning the enemy has a new weapon and the new means of treating the wounds, to having to end old friendships when those friends try to lead in the field and end up getting more young soldiers hurt because of their incompetence.
    • When Pierce is made Commanding Officer in season 7's opener "Commander Pierce" showed his handling of matters, the fighting of bureaucracy to just get blankets for the wounded, and in addition to his duties as Chief Surgeon. When B.J. leaves without informing him to help an aide station, it leaves Pierce with just him and an ill Charles to work as the surgeons before a large rush of wounded are about to arrive. After it is over, Pierce talks with Houlihan and the following conversation follows:
      Hawkeye: Damn that Hunnicutt! Where is he? Technically, he's AWOL, y'know. I could throw the book at him.
      Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan: I don't believe what I'm hearing! Since when did you join the Army?
      Hawkeye: Since it was left to me!
      Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan: If only Frank Burns could see you now. It's not so easy to be the clown when you have to run the circus, is it?
      Hawkeye: You finished, Major?
      Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan: Just one more thing... permission to say, 'it serves you right, sir!'
      Hawkeye: Permission denied, dismissed!
  • Chain of Deals: Happens in "For Want of a Boot" and "The Price of Tomato Juice."
  • Character as Himself: "Tuttle" has its title character billed this way.
  • Character Focus: Numerous times, generally at least once a season.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Radar starts out in the first season as smart, hypercompetent, was often seen smoking Blake's cigars and drinking his booze, and is implied to have long ago lost his virginity. By Season 3, he's incredibly naïve, doesn't smoke, doesn't drink much, and seems to have regained his virginity. (This actually gets lampshaded by Sidney as being Radar's defense mechanism for dealing with the war: reverting to more childish characteristics to escape the horrors forced on him everyday.)
    • Frank fell victim to Flanderization (see below); however, one facet of his character was that Frank wasn't completely against Koreans to begin with. For one thing, he demeaned Hawkeye and Trapper's "corruption" of Ho-Jon, and even seemed sympathetic towards Ho-Jon when it was revealed he was stealing everyone's belongings to sell for bribe money for the border guards to bring his family down from North Korea. He once even implies that he has his own personal Korean houseboy, whom he pays six cigarettes on a daily basis to keep his boots shined at all times. With each passing season, however, Frank's contempt for Koreans (and all foreigners) increases more and more to the point that he doesn't even like a South Korean ping-pong player (who was actually assigned to the 4077th) simply for being Oriental, and disapproves of his wedding to his fiancée because the army shouldn't be concerned and tries to attack a South Korean general, mistaking him for a North Korean.
    • Father Mulcahy goes back and forth a lot throughout the series. In certain episodes, such as "Mulcahy's War" (S5) or "Dear Sis" (S7), he feels like wasted space and completely useless in a camp where nobody seems to have any need for him (the former, he especially feels he would be more useful on the front lines, where his spiritual comfort would really be needed); other episodes, such as "Hepatitis" (S5) or "An Eye for a Tooth" (S7), he actually does feel like he's of importance to the 4077th - in "Hepatitis", he becomes concerned at the thought of being quarantined from the rest of the camp when people may require Confession or, even more serious, Last Rites, while in "An Eye for a Tooth", he feels that he deserves a promotion for all he's done for the 4077th, and even demands Potter to get I-Corps to give him one, to no avail.
    • In spite of Henry's signature outfit consisting of a fishing hat and vest, he was really only a fishing aficionado throughout the first season; afterwards, golf was his activity of choice.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce
  • Christmas Episode: Somehow they had four of these, although there were only three Christmases during the war.
    • "Dear Dad" (Season 1), "Dear Sis" (Season 7), "Death Takes a Holiday" (Season 9), "'Twas the Day After Christmas" (Season 10).
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Spearchucker Jones (dropped from the series after the makers learned that there's no evidence that any black doctors served in Koreanote ), Lt. Dish, Ugly John, Sgt. Zale.
  • Cigar Chomper: Trapper, Blake, Potter, Klinger, Zale, and Rizzo could all be seen enjoying the occasional stogie. Not to mention various visiting generals, colonels, etc. Even Radar was seen enjoying Blake's cigars from time to time in the first season or two.
  • Clark Kenting: In "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan," Col. Flagg arrives incognito as an Italian officer. Both Radar and Col. Potter know right away it's Flagg.
  • Claustrophobia: Hawkeye, in "C*A*V*E".
  • Clip Show: "Our Finest Hour".
    • The tag of "Abyssinia, Henry" features a Really Dead Montage of Henry clips, set to a bittersweet rendition of the theme entitled "Memories of Henry". It ends, fittingly, with Henry at a poker game folding his hand.
  • Clock Discrepancy:
    • In "Five O'Clock Charlie," Hawkeye and Trapper turn the clock back a half hour, just before Charlie is about to make his appearance, and inform Frank about a patient's (staged) infection so Frank can't operate a gun to bring down Charlie.
    • In "Death Takes a Holiday", a soldier who they're trying to keep alive through December 25th (so his kids don't have to remember Christmas as "the day Daddy died") dies at about 11:35 pm. Hawkeye moves the hands of the clock so that it's 12:10 am, saying "Hey, look, he made it." They falsify the death certificate.
  • Clown Car: Invoked in one episode, Hawkeye tries to break the record for the most people stuffed into a Jeep (16) after seeing a picture in Life magazine of a bunch of college kids doing it in a Volkswagen.
  • Clueless Boss: Col. Henry Blake was the commanding officer, but he relied heavily on his assistant Radar O'Reilly to do most of the work and was often oblivious to the goings-on around the base
  • Color Me Black: In one episode, Hawkeye and Trapper gradually darken the skin of a white racist to make him think he's turning black after getting a blood transfusion from a black person, an in-universe exploitation of said soldier failing biology forever. The plot is somewhat inspired by a season one episode of All in the Family.
  • Comfort Food: In the episode "Adam's Ribs", Hawkeye goes out of his way to order and have delivered to the 4077th (which is in Korea, remember, in the middle of a war zone) 40 pounds of ribs (plus sauce) from a restaurant called Adam's Ribs in Chicago, Illinois. And why did he go to such trouble? Because he was sick of army food and Adam's Ribs was the best food he could think of.
    • In another episode the surgeons are attempting to build a makeshift dialysis machine, for which they need sausage casings as a filter. Klinger manages to hook them up via his favorite hot dog vendor in Toledo...then places an delivery order for the team to celebrate their success.
    • Averted when Father Mulcahy contributes fresh corn on the cob from his vegetable garden to the camp's 4th of July picnic, thinking the change of pace would be appreciated...only to learn that the cook prepared it as the usual creamed corn instead thinking the camp preferred creamed corn.
  • Comic-Book Time: The series lasted twelve years. The Korean War lasted three years. Technically, the series begins at least three months into the Korean War so the entire series covers the events of about two years and nine months. Potter's granddaughter is born during the war; one season later, she's five years old and writing him letters. There are several Christmas' celebrated and the actors noticeably age, both of which are ignored throughout the series.
  • Comically Missing the Point: In the finale, Sidney reminds Hawkeye that the night before he was hospitalized, he drove a jeep though the wall of the Officer's Club and ordered a double bourbon. Hawkeye's reply?
    Hawkeye: That was strange. [beat] I drink martinis.
  • Communications Officer: Radar (later Klinger, after Radar is sent home) is usually called upon to operate the communications equipment. Almost everyone else has trouble getting the stuff to work properly.
  • Compressed Abstinence:
    • Hawkeye once takes a bet from B.J. that he can go a whole 24 hours without making a joke. He barely makes it.
    • Hawkeye also once pledges to give up drinking for a week. After a rough session in the OR on the seventh day, he joins the rest of the staff in the Officers Club and orders a martini.
      Hawkeye: Yes! I admit it! I need this drink! [beat] I'll be back when I want it, not when I need it.
  • Confess in Confidence: There are at least three episodes where Father Mulcahy learns of an issue from a confessing soldier and has to figure out how to solve it without breaking the seal of the confessional. One involves a black marketeer who has stolen critically needed medical supplies, one a soldier who swapped dog tags with a friend who died just before the end of his tour of duty, and one, a new doctor who confesses that he's been pretending to be a doctor to get officers' privileges and rank.
    • In one episode a solder who shot himself to get sent home confesses to Frank, mistaking him for a priest while he was in Father Mulcahy's tent to leave him a note.
    • Also note that in the case of the dogtags, Mulcahy was not technically bound by the seal of the confessional. As he says himself, the soldier is virtually unrepentant and has no intention of stopping his sin. Not simply turning him in and searching for another solution was more a matter of doing what was best for the soldier than breaking his own priest's vows.
  • Conservation of Competence: At least, until Colonel Potter shows up.
  • Contagious Laughter: Once Frank tried to join in when Blake was talking about what kidders the men were.
  • Continuity Drift: A fair amount in the early seasons. Hawkeye signs a letter "love to Mom" but it's later revealed that his mother is dead; the writers couldn't keep the name of Henry's wife straight; at one point Margaret states her father is dead, but he shows up alive and well on an episode years later. Granted, Margaret is very drunk when she says it, but one would still expect her to remember which of her parents are living. Frank earlier asked if her father had left her some money, implying that Frank thought he was dead before her drunk reference to his death.
    • Hawkeye initially has a sister, too. And he was originally from Vermont, but is later from Maine. In one episode, he says that his family lives in Vermont and has a summer home in Maine, but this is dropped in favor of making Hawkeye a Maine native.
      • And for some reason he went to a dentist in Detroit (which might be an oblique reference to Painless, who was from Detroit). Not to mention his obsession in one episode with getting barbequed spareribs from his favorite restaurant in Chicago.
    • Potter originally has a son. Later, he has only a daughter. When his daughter-in-law gave birth, she originally had a daughter. Later, Potter has a grandson, but no granddaughter is mentioned. Also, depending on the episode, Potter was 15 when he joined the Army. At other times, he was already married by the time he joined the Army.
      • Potter could conceivably have been married at the age of 15; the legal age of consent didn't reach 16 in most states until 1920, and though a teenage marriage might have been unusual in the 1910s it wouldn't have been unheard of. He may even have joined the Army to support a young family at the time.
      • Potter mentions he joined when the US entered the First World War, but later gives his age as 62, putting his date of birth in 1889 or 1890, which would make him 27 when the US entered the war.
    • Potter is introduced taking over command of the unit in September of 1952, but later episodes have him present in 1951 or even '50. The timeline seems to be all over the place.
    • "The Moon is Not Blue" has a visiting general order that the Officers' Club be closed as it is supposedly against regulations to have a bar serving alcohol at a M*A*S*H. However, the club was original built, in "Officers Only", as a gift from another visiting general.
      • Justified; when the club opened, it had a dedicated bartender, but by the time of this episode it was generally staffed by Igor or Klinger. The general wanted to ensure it was being run by Special Services personnel who were trained bartenders.
  • Continuity Nod: Despite the above, the show does make numerous references to previous episodes and seasons:
    • Arterial transplants, which Hawkeye performs for the first time in one of the early episodes, are performed regularly after that. Margaret even points out that she assisted when Dr. Borelli taught him the procedure.
    • "The Late Captain Pierce" has Hawkeye reference how Trapper went home and Henry was killed. In "Depressing News" he again mentions these, as well as Frank's departure.
    • Frank is mentioned several times after his departure, mainly in reference to Margaret's Character Development.
    • The time capsule episode mentioned several characters who had departed, including Henry and Radar (they included a fishing hook and teddy bear to symbolize both men) and Frank (they referenced his lack of surgical skill by claiming that his scalpel was a deadly weapon).
    • In "The Joker Is Wild", B.J.'s prank war against Hawkeye is inspired by the latter's reference to Trapper having been the best joker to ever be in the 4077.
    • The staff get a letter from Radar in Iowa (and Potter subsequently talks to his mother on the phone) in "The Foresight Saga".
    • The vascular clamps that the doctors develop are referenced in several other episodes.
    • Klinger's crossdressing is mentioned several times after he gives up the act, including him signing a portrait of himself dressed as Scarlett O'Hara for B.J. in the finale.
    • The promotions for Klinger and Mulcahy (to Sergeant and Captain, respectively) maintain through the rest of the series.
    • The resolution of "Henry in Love" involves Henry talking to his wife on the phone, and her wanting him to balance her checkbook. A few episodes later there's a mail call episode, and the documents arrive for him to do it.
    • In season 3's "Checkup", Henry informs Radar that he's going to have to have his tonsils removed eventually; it finally happens in season 7's "None Like It Hot".
    • In season 7's "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys", while explaining his dislike of Col. Flagg to Charles, Hawkeye says he's "never been too fond of a guy who would bring you a wounded prisoner and beg you to fix him up just so he could take him out and shoot him", referencing Flagg's appearance in season 3's "Officer of the Day".
    • While packing his things in preparation of going home in season 8, Radar finds the thermometer that Col. Blake had given him (in "Abyssinia, Henry"). He also finds his Purple Heart and comments on how Hawkeye had saluted him (in "Fallen Idol").
    • Radar, Henry, and Trapper are all mentioned in "Period of Adjustment".
    • In "That's Show Biz", Brandy mentions that she was once married for three months. Margaret comments that her own marriage ("Margaret's Marriage" through "Peace On Us") was about the same duration.
    • The series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", has several of them:
      • Hawkeye attempts to compose a "Dear Dad" letter while at the psychiatric hospital.
      • Hawkeye laments that B.J. went home without leaving him a note, just as Trapper had done.
      • Margaret and Charles re-hash an old argument (from season 6's "War of Nerves") over whether or not he touched his nose in surgery.
      • Sidney references an earlier comment he had made (in season 3's "O.R.") with his parting words to the group.
      • When saying goodbye to Hawkeye and B.J., Col. Potter mentions their pantsing of Winchester in the O.R. (from season 9's "Bottom's Up").
      • Saying goodbye to B.J., Hawkeye says he'll think of him "next time somebody nails my shoe to the floor" (something B.J. did earlier that season, in "The Joker Is Wild").
  • Contrived Clumsiness:
    • On one episode where Hawkeye, B.J. and Charles are on a promotion committee, they evaluate the prospective promotees and give their recommendations. In The Stinger, after commenting on wondering who was promoted, Private Igor, who works in the mess tent chow line and was not promoted, tosses a scoopful of mashed potatoes on B.J. "Oh, I'm sorry. But what do you expect from a dumb private?"
    • A flashback in one episode showed Father Mulcahy "accidentally" tucking a tablecloth into his belt and ruining the meal of a visiting general who was causing a holdup in the mess tent.
  • Contrasting Replacement Character: Every replacement surgeon.
    • Henry Blake was the commanding officer and The Alleged Boss who both Trapper and Hawkeye would go around his orders and who Burns and Hotlips had no respect for. The Korean War was also his first war and he wasn't that very militant. In contrast, Sherman Potter was a regular Army Man who was part of two previous wars. He also commanded much more respect from the other staffs and wasn't afraid to actually command.
    • Frank Burns was a Jerkass whose surgery skills were subpar at best. He was also bullied by Hawkeye and Trapper and later B.J.. His replacement, Charles Winchester, was more of a Jerk with a Heart of Gold and was a excellent surgeon. His relationship with Hawkeye and B.J. was also slightly better and he wasn't above playing pranks.
    • B.J. Hunnicutt is a downplayed example for Trapper John as he functioned very similarly to him. However, B.J. was a family man who loved his wife Peg to the point that he felt ashamed that he cheated on her. In contrast, Trapper constantly cheated on his wife with zero regret for his actions. There was also a contrast in morals. One episode during B.J.'s tenure recycled a plot from an earlier episode with Trapper. Hawkeye wants to perform unneccessary surgery to keep a particularly callous officer off the front for a little while longer. Trapper had gone along with that plan with no problem, but B.J. considers it a horrific violation of the Hippocratic Oath. This severly strains Hawkeye and B.J.'s friendship (and strained Alan Alda and Mike Farrel's working relationship).
  • Control Freak: Frank Burns, and to a lesser extent Hot Lips.
  • Cool Old Guy: You wish Colonel Potter was your grandfather, admit it.
  • Corpsing: Many's a time Hawkeye and Trapper pull some kind of prank on Frank, and Trapper could never keep a straight face, from smirking when Frank wakes up from wetting his cot, to stifling laughter when Hawkeye slips into Margaret's seat next to Frank at the movie, to busting out into laughter watching Frank tear up the Swamp looking for the rest of Hawkeye's "Pioneer Aviation" letter.
  • Corrupt Quartermaster: In "The Incubator", Hawkeye and Trapper John run into one of these, who is hoarding several of the incubators that they need, but refuses to release one. In another episode, Klinger gets a quartermaster to sell him an electrical generator because the camp's main generator is broken and the backup one is missing. Just before they complete the deal, the major of the unit which is supposed to get the generator shows up in person because several of their requests for generators have "mysteriously disappeared." The major even mentions that they're making do with a backup generator they stole from a M*A*S*H unit.
  • Courtroom Episode: "The Trial of Henry Blake", "The Novocaine Mutiny", "Snappier Judgment", coupled with Court-Martialed
  • Court-Martialed:
    • "The Novocaine Mutiny": Pierce is on the receiving end of a hearing instigated by Burns.note  The events of Burns' short tenure as a commanding officer are rehashed in flashbacks. Burns' embellished version ultimately charges Pierce with assaulting the CO. After hearing both sides, the court finds Pierce innocent and otherwise preserves the status quo.
    • In "Snap Judgement", the 4077 suffers from elusive thieves and a Polaroid camera goes missing. Continuing in "Snappier Judgment," Klinger, who bought the camera back from black market peddlers, because the Army didn't believe his explanation for how he got it or why he delayed reporting it stolen, is arrested by military police and court-martialed for the theft instead. Winchester volunteers to be his legal counsel, while Hawkeye and B.J. set out to catch the culprit. Because of Winchester's ineptitude in law and the unfortunate circumstances, Klinger is just about to be convicted when the real thief is brought into the court, absolving Klinger of the charges.
    • "The General Flipped At Dawn" had a preliminary to a court-martial against Hawkeye for insubordination, until General Steele (who initiated the preliminary) proved to be nuttier than a fruitcake.
    • "The Trial of Henry Blake", as mentioned above.
    • "House Arrest" has Hawkeye confined to quarters pending a court martial for punching Burns, but never gets that far.
  • Covered in Mud: In the episode which introduces new doctor B.J. Hunnicutt, before he even gets to the unit he, Hawkeye and Radar get caught in a bombing raid by the North Koreans along with some GIs. As he runs from one wounded soldier to another he slips and falls into some mud, ruining his dress uniform.
    • The "Bulletin Board" episode has a scene of everyone having a tug-of-war over a mud puddle during the camp picnic; needless to say, they all end up like this.
    • When the camp is pinned down by a sniper, one soldier ends up slipping on the mud and belly-flopping into a puddle of it.
  • Critical Staffing Shortage:
    • On a couple of occasions the nurses are all shipped off because of a potential bombing (or other) attack by North Koreans, so the doctors and enlisted personnel have to do all the stuff the nurses usually do. At one point even a civilian bartender gets roped into nurse duty during an operation.
    • Another time, due to a flu epidemic, Hawkeye is the only doctor who isn't bedridden. He has to jump from operating table to operating table doing bits of surgeries while the nurses help much more than usual and Radar is dragooned into assisting. Margaret pretty much performs an operation all by herself, but not without a lot of coaching and encouragement from Hawkeye.
  • Crossover: One of the odder examples. Larry Linville and Loretta Swit appear in character as Frank and Hot Lips in a 1975 Don Rickles variety special, helping perform a musical number called "I'm a Nice Guy."
  • Crossword Puzzle: The central MacGuffin of the episode "38 Across", as the characters struggle to solve a New York Times crossword puzzle. However, the episode seems to have been written by someone who has never seen a New York Times crossword puzzle, as there is no way for anyone to be missing just one word - all letters in NYT crossword are used in exactly two words. If they are missing a 5 letter word beginning with V, then they are also missing one letter from exactly four other words.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: "Abyssinia, Henry". Early in the episode, Radar cheerfully announces during an O.R. session that Col. Blake has earned enough points to be sent home from Korea. The rest of the episode deals with the entire camp giving him a celebratory sendoff. Many happy tearful goodbyes are made as Col. Blake departs the camp. In the very last scene, Radar again enters the O.R., this time to announce that he just received a message: "Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake's plane was shot down, over the sea of Japan. It spun in. There were no survivors."
  • Crushing Handshake:
    • During the M*A*S*H Olympics, Hawkeye and B.J. make a wager with each other, but when they shake on it, B.J. jokingly tries to crush Hawkeye's hand.
    • Trapper is afraid of this in the Boxing Episode, after learning that his opponent once punched out a Jeep.
    • Frank tackles a visiting South Korean general in the mess tent, mistaking him for a North Korean. After learning what he's done, he apologetically offers his hand to the general...and gets a variation, the general putting his hand in a painful grappling hold.
  • Crying Wolf: This finally comes back to bite Klinger when he gets a "Dear John" Letter from his wife. It doesn't help that he has used this exact scam before. By then, everyone is understandably bored of it and don't feel like humoring him when they're trying to watch a movie.
    • Another time, in "Red and White Blues," Klinger comes down with severe anaemia and everyone is convinced that it's another of his malinger scams. Only when others develop similar symptoms do they realize Klinger is having a severe reaction to a new anti-malaria drug which was later found to hit people from the Mediterranean region hard with such a side effect.
  • Cuckold: In an episode there's a threat of an air raid so the nurses are sent away. It turns out it's just a "propaganda bomb," with leaflets dropped including "Harry Truman is sleeping with your wife."
    • In other episodes it's played more dramatically (if hypocritically) as Henry, Trapper, Frank, and some of the other married personnel worry that their wives are cheating on them back home, even as they carry on their own dalliances at the 4077th. An unmade episode reveals Frank's wife was cheating on him with a state senator, but the canonicity of this is debatable. From the pilot:
      Trapper: (reading mail) Bad news from my wife. She still loves me. Can you believe this? She still thinks I got sent to Korea as some secret plot to cheat on her.
      Hawkeye: Well, didn't you?
      Trapper: Yeah. But how'd she figure it out?
  • Cue Card Pause: In "The Army-Navy Game".
  • Cue the Rain: "Deluge".
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Hawkeye likes to sarcastically explain patients' "trivial" injuries.
    • Notably used by B.J. in "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan" when Flagg is asking about the bullet wound in his foot.

  • Dartboard of Hate: B.J. and Klinger make one with Radar's face in "Period of Adjustment".
  • Dated History: In one episode, after putting makeup on a racist man and telling him he was turning black after receiving a blood transfusion from a black donor, Hawkeye notes Dr. Charles Drew, innovator in how blood transfusions are stored and transported, had recently died after being refused admittance to a whites-only hospital due to the colour of his skin. This was a common assumption at the time (and the show certainly helped spread the idea), but in reality Dr. Drew was actually admitted to the Alamance Greater Hospital in Burlington, North Carolina, and died because his injuries were so severe there was nothing that could have saved him, as confirmed by a passenger in his car, John Ford, who also stated a blood transfusion would have likely killed Dr. Drew sooner due to shock.
  • Day in the Life: The "letter home" episodes.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Literally half the cast. Hawkeye moves between this and the Pungeon Master. Charles has this as his default setting.
  • "Dear John" Letter:
    • The eponymous chopper pilot in "Cowboy" gets one of these addressed from Reno (at the time Nevada processed almost half the country's divorces). Subverted in that although it's a "Dear John" letter from Reno, his name actually is John and he actually lives in Reno back home. The letter tells him how his wife was tempted to an affair, but didn't go through with it and loves him even more.
    • Radar gets a "Dear John" record from his hometown girlfriend in "Love Story", complete with her new boyfriend saying hi and her telling him to stop groping her.
    • Klinger gets one from his wife in "Mail Call Three", launching his Character Development from comedy relief into a more serious (and more reliable) member of the team. When the rest of the camp thinks it's another Section 8 attempt, he has a Heroic BSoD where (among other things) he tears off his dress publicly.
    • In "Hanky Panky", B.J. comforts a nurse after she gets one of these, leading to a one-night stand between them and the Happily Married B.J.'s subsequent guilt over his infidelity.
  • Death by Ambulance: In "Dear Sigmund", Col. Potter has to write a letter to the parents of an ambulance driver who was killed when he overturned the ambulance while driving at unsafe speeds. He turns the duty over to Radar, who writes a touching letter about how their son died trying to save others' lives.
  • Death of the Author: In-Universe, during the "Dramatic M*A*S*H" phase; in one episode, the whole camp becomes infatuated when a mystery novel, "The Rooster Crowed at Midnight", is accidentally shipped to their camp. But it's damaged, and missing the last few pages (B.J. ripping out pages so others could read probably didn't help). So, they finally resort to phoning the (apparently senile) author and hearing her answer to Whodunnit?. Minutes before the episode ends, Colonel Potter gets on the loudspeaker and announces to the whole camp that the person that the author named as the culprit couldn't be responsible, because he had an alibi, leaving the whole camp no better off than they were before.
  • Defeat by Modesty: Hawkeye and Winchester steal B.J.'s clothes out of the shower in retaliation for a series of practical jokes.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Margaret Houlihan starts off as an unlikable martinet. Eventually, she splits from Frank and relaxes, joining the others for poker games and other social activities.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: "The Interview" episode, and the new footage in "Our Finest Hour". Also, the various home movies (save for Henry's).
  • Delivery Not Desired: In the episode "Dear Sigmund", Sidney Freedman feels down in the dumps after a psychiatric patient of his commits suicide because of voices in his head. Wanting a "vacation", Sidney retreats to the 4077th for a couple of weeks; while there, he writes a letter about the people and the hijinks of the 4077th to none other than Sigmund Freud.
  • Demoted to Extra
    • M*A*S*H started off with a whole bunch of characters in the pilot, many of which were ported over from the movie. Aside from the familar leads (Hawkeye, Trapper, Henry, Hot Lips, Frank, Radar) the pilot episode has a closing sequence that announces the personnel assigned to M*A*S*H 4077: the list includes Karen Phillip as Lt. Dish (who lasted only one more episode); G. Wood as General Hammond (two more episodes); Timothy Brown as Spearchucker (five more episodes); and Patrick Adiarte as Ho-John (six more episodes). All had major moments in the pilot, and were clearly being set up to be recurring characters — but they were given little to do in future appearances, and were gone by the end of the first season, if not sooner. Note that the character of Spearchucker was supposedly written out for greater historical accuracy, as the writers claimed there were no records of African-American surgeons serving in Korea. (There were, in fact, black doctors in Korea, and Spearchucker was based on an African-American doctor that Richard Hornberger heard about at the 8055.)
    • Odessa Cleveland as Nurse Ginger Bayliss also had a showcase credit at the end of the pilot, and actually stuck around through the early fourth season. But in what was maybe the show's most literal case of Demoted To Extra, Cleveland's occasional appearances on M*A*S*H became shorter and more infrequent over time, and by her last few appearances, she was uncredited and had almost no dialogue.
    • Other pilot characters were virtual extras to begin with: Ugly John and Lieutenant Scorch were not really identifiable behind their masks and had very limited dialogue in the pilot. As well, the actors portraying these roles didn't receive any special audio billing in the closing, unlike the other characters intended to be regulars. However, both John and Scorch got a little more development and exposure early in season 1 ... then faded slowly into the background as the season continued. Ugly John had disappeared completely by season's end; Lt. Scorch made it all the way to the first episode of season two before going the way of Chuck Cunningham.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Radar speaks like this, particularly in his waning years on the show; on more than one occasion he talks about someone being "naked with no clothes on."
    • Henry has a number of these from time to time: "Radar, hand me this here clipboard that I have right here in my hand here."
      • Sometimes, as in the specific example given, it's the result of Radar anticipating him and handing him the item he wants before he's finished asking for it.
    • Frank also has his moments, particularly in his last two seasons when he de-evolves into a one-dimensional, psychopathic character.
  • Descent into Addiction: During the fifth season (Frank's last), Margaret's engagement and eventual marriage to Donald Penobscott effectively ends her affair with Frank, which drives him over the edge, and as that season progresses, his obsession for her grows and grows to pathological proportions; his attempts to just talk or eat with her usually ends with him breaking down and making a move on her, only for her to push him away and threaten to tell Penobscott.
    • In "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde", Charles starts taking amphetamines to make up for a lack of sleep and quickly becomes addicted to them.
    • "Tea and Empathy" has B.J. dealing with a patient who became addicted to morphine after a hip wound.
  • Determinator: A rare comedic example with Klinger, who in the early seasons is never in an episode that doesn't feature him trying some way to get that elusive Section 8 or otherwise get out of the Army.
    Henry: [pulls out binder of Klinger's past hardship-discharge requests] Father dying, last year. Mother dying, last year. Mother and father dying. Mother, father, and older sister dying. Mother dying and older sister pregnant. Older sister dying and mother pregnant. Younger sister pregnant and older sister dying. Here's an oldie but a goodie: half of the family dying, other half pregnant. [puts file down] Klinger, aren't you ashamed of yourself?
    Klinger: Yes sir. [beat] I don't deserve to be in the Army.
  • Digital Destruction: Due to the series' popularity, and the constant reprinting of episodes for syndicated markets, the video presentation on DVD isn't exactly impressive. While the picture quality is certainly an improvement over syndicated prints, earlier seasons on DVD show evidence of digital imperfections on occasion, such as pixelization and bad interlacing. Seasons 4 and 5 are probably the worst for this, but luckily things improve greatly afterwards, to the point that the last few seasons look wonderful on DVD.
    • More recently, the show is presented in HD widescreen on Hulu. The picture quality is passable, but it's yet another victim of having the entire series reframed and cropped to fit a 16x9 TV for reruns/streaming.
  • Do You Want to Haggle?: In "Dear Mildred", Frank and Margaret are commissioning a local Korean artist to make a wooden bust of Col. Potter's head for his birthday:
    Artist: Six bucks.
    Margaret: Well, Frank?
    Frank: Huh?
    Margaret: [softly, through a clenched smile] These people have no espect-ray unless you aggle-hay over the ice-pray.
    Frank: [after mentally translating] Five dollars.
    Artist: Seven-fifty.
    Frank: Sold.
    Margaret: [glaring at Frank] UMB-day!
  • Documentary Episode: "The Interview", "Our Finest Hour"
  • Doorstop Baby: The episode "Yessir, That's Our Baby".
  • Doesn't Know Their Own Birthday: B.J. couldn't make it home in time for his daughter Erin's birthday, so in the Grand Finale, the camp cheers him up with a birthday celebration for a Korean orphan whom they claim was born on the same day as Erin. They later admit that they have no idea when the Korean orphan was born (no one does), and they just selected a child who looked to be the right age. B.J. is still touched by the gesture, saying that there's no better present than getting your birthday.
  • Doesn't Like Guns: Hawkeye
    "I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to old Virginny, I'll even hari-kari if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun!"
    • Invoked and played with a few seasons later when Hawkeye and Potter are away from the camp, stuck in a foxhole, pinned down by enemy fire, and drunk off their asses. After getting upbraided by Potter for being so mule-headed about his distaste for firearms, Potter convinces Hawkeye to just fire it in the air to scare away the enemy.
    • It should be noted that Hawkeye's hatred isn't reserved strictly for guns; he is also quick to express dislike for anything to do with war in general, including howitzers, bombs, tanks, ammo dumps, AA cannons, etc.
  • Double Standard: The show is quite famous for calling out America for all of its misdeeds during the war, but was rather sketchier on doing the same to the other side. Any such misdeeds that were called out (mistreatment of prisoners, press ganging civilians, use of internationally outlawed weaponry, and other war crimes) were more often blamed on the "horrors of war" than on the soldiers or country committing them... unless that country was America.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Male on Male: While there were a lot of rape jokes in the early days, this is averted once in "Rainbow Bridge" when Margaret mentions the prisoner exchange might end up in rape and Hawkeye actually looks afraid.
  • Downer Ending: "Abyssinia Henry". See Cruel Twist Ending above.
    • "Preventive Medicine". Hawkeye removes a healthy appendix of a colonel to try to stop him from provoking an attack against his own troops so that he would have an excuse to seize a particular hill (for pride, apparently) and callously throw away the lives of the troops under his command (completely against orders, hence the previous provoked attack serving as a loophole). Hawkeye removes his appendix, but sadly, even without said colonel, the gears of war churn onward. To make it worse, unbeknownst to him, Potter was in the process of getting the colonel pulled from combat through legitimate means.
      • Also an example of Real Life Writes the Plot as the original script didn't deal with the implications of Hawkeye's actions (as in an earlier episode in which Hawkeye and Trapper do the exact same thing to Colonel Flagg just to get back the penicillin he stole, without any kind of hand-wringing). Mike Farrell complained that B.J. wouldn't stand for that, and his objections were written in.
    • "Period of Adjustment" deals with B.J.'s growing despair due to being separated from his family and ends with him broken and sobbing against Hawkeye on the floor.
    • "Yessir, That's our Baby!" has the staff find an abandoned Korean Doorstop Baby girl of mixed race by an American soldier. Warned by Father Mulcahy that the girl will face a hellish existence in Korea, the staff try to get her sent to the United States. Unfortunately, all avenues fail with no one willing to help and the staff have no choice but to follow Father Mulcahy's original suggestion to leave the baby at a secluded monastery where she will have sanctuary with a chance of later being sent to America but with a limited life.
    • The Finale has its share of them as well:
      • Potter leaving Sophie behind when he returns to the States.
      • Hawkeye seemingly giving up surgery to instead become a general practitioner due to his PTSD.
      • The musicians that Charles had been training getting killed on their way home.
      • Mulcahy going deaf.
  • Dramedy: A Trope Codifier, if not Ur-Example.
  • Dream Sequence: The aptly titled "Dreams" features one.
  • Dressing to Die: In "The Army-Navy Game", an unexploded bomb lands in the middle of the compound; Klinger dons the suit he was drafted in, on the grounds that if they die when the bomb goes off, the way he wants people to see him as before their demise is, "Like a person with a nice suit." Though he does vow that if the bomb doesn't go off, he'll go back to wearing dresses.
  • Dr. Jerk: Burns as an incompetent version and Winchester as a highly competent one.
  • Drives Like Crazy: One of the camp's ambulance drivers apparently drove this way, and an episode has a Reality Ensues moment when he's driving so fast getting out of the camp (with wounded aboard) that the bus turns over. Potter is angry at the driver's recklessness...but Reality Ensues once again when Radar sees that the guy is dead. Potter's then left with the unenviable task of writing his folks about how much of a good person the man was even though he got himself killed due to being careless, not to mention re-injuring the soldiers that were in the ambulance.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Or, as Margaret once puts it, "taking them for a swim".
    • In one episode, an upset Radar takes a rare swig of Hawkeye and B.J.'s moonshine gin, then grimaces at the taste.
      Radar: I thought this stuff was supposed to make you feel better.
      B.J.: No, it's supposed to make you feel nothing.
  • Drugs Are Bad: "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde". Winchester gets addicted to amphetamines, and pays the price as the addictive qualities and side effects take their toll.
  • Dry Crusader: Frank Burns, in "Alcoholics Unanimous"; a visiting general who's recovering from surgery, in "The Moon Is Not Blue".
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Watching the early seasons (and Season 1 in particular) can be a disorienting experience if you're more accustomed to the later ones, due to the turnover in the cast as well as the Cerebus Syndrome mentioned above.
    • A prime example of this: in the early seasons, the laugh track will sometimes play in the OR, something the producers objected to and which was excised in the later seasons.
      • That only happened three times, one of which was justifiable, as it was during Frank's Rashomon Style flashback making himself out as being a super surgeon during a particularly heavy deluge — we all know not to take Ferret Face seriously.
    • Season 3's "The General Flipped at Dawn" featured the only time when McLean Stevenson and Harry Morgan would appear in the same episode as Lt. Col. Henry Blake and Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele, respectively. When Season 4 aired after Lt. Col Blake died in a helicopter crash after his discharge, Morgan would return in the main cast as Col. Sherman Potter, the 4077th's new commandant.
  • Earned Stripes:
    • In one episode a nurse with the rank of sergeant is given an unofficial, honorary field promotion to 2nd lieutenant for the last three weeks of his tour of duty. Major Houlihan donates her old lieutenant bars to pin on him.
    • In a late episode Klinger earns a promotion from corporal to sergeant and has a brand new set of stripes on his arm.
  • Eat the Evidence: Done by the entire unit to an illicitly acquired side of beef. When an MP shows up looking for the beef, he's invited to sit down and have a plate, which he happily accepts.
  • Economy Cast: The 4077th as depicted on the show has a much smaller staff than a real-life MASH unit would have had (or that we see in the novel or film).
    • The point is made on the show that there are around 200 people in the unit, yet no more than two dozen are ever seen at one time, even when there are formations that require everyone to be present.
    • Also, when Colonel Potter says he wants to see all the officers, the only people who show up are the members of the main cast and not the other officers in the unit, including all the nurses.
  • El Spanish "-o":
    • Radar, while trying to communicate with some Greeks:
      Radar: Uh... put-em here-o. (Not even "os", which would be the real equivalent of el Spanish-o in Greek.)
    • A family of Koreans set up housekeeping in the middle of the camp. Henry tries to tell them to leave: "Go-ee home-ee!" When that doesn't work, he tells Radar to tell them to leave. Radar then tells the family, "Go-ee home-ee!"
  • Embarrassing Cover Up: When an optometrist visits the camp, Houlihan comes in for a checkup, but everyone thinks she's there to hit on him; when everyone else leaves, she reveals that she'd rather they think "Hot Lips" was on the move than let on to her vision problems.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: Hawkeye and Trapper crack up when they learn Frank's is "Marion".
  • Embarrassing Nickname:
    • Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan, Frank "Ferret Face" Burns.
    • In "The Foresight Saga" we (and Klinger) learn that Potter's wife calls him "Pudd'nhead", a Shout-Out to Mark Twain.
  • Ensemble Cast: Everyone gets some time in the spotlight.
  • Episode Title Card: Used in "Our Finest Hour" (the second interview show) and "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" (the Grand Finale).
  • Escalating War: A staple, an example being "The Smell of Music".
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Frank is a mild, and subtle example of this when it comes to Colonel Flagg.
  • Every Helicopter Is a Huey: Mostly averted in favor of the historically-accurate Bell 47G. However, some early episodes have a model Huey hanging from the ceiling of Col. Blake's office, and later on the O Club has a sign on the wall reading "4077th Med. Co. Air Ambulance" and featuring an illustration of either a Huey or another Vietnam-era chopper.
    • Possibly intentional, as in the movie and in the first few seasons, Korea was meant to be a metaphor for Vietnam.
    • Incidentally, the Bell 47G is the only helicopter that really makes that "chirp-chirp-chirp" sound as the drive belts disengage. It's become a well-known helicopter movie cliche.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • In "Abyssinia, Henry", Frank is seen crying when Henry's death is announced.
    • Klinger may have pulled every con he could think of to get out of the Army, and would swear to every god he knew (and some he made up!) that he was insane. But when there were wounded that needed care, he dropped the act and did his job with gusto. In "The Young & Restless", where he portrays to perfection the delusion that he is actually back in Toledo, instead of dropping the charade when wounded are brought in he just pitches in to help the "accident victims".
  • Exact Time to Failure: This occurs in, and is the entire point of, the episode "Life Time". The doctors run over the timer, but since they induced hypothermia, the patient still recovers.
  • Exact Words: In "Picture This", B.J. and Charles get into an argument with Hawkeye over the latter's insistence on reading a pulp detective novel until 2am by a light that is keeping his tentmates awake. Hawkeye, already feeling unkindly disposed toward the other two, chooses his words poorly when refusing to switch off the light, allowing Charles to exploit a loophole...
    Hawkeye: I will turn out this light when and only when I get to the end of this book!
    Charles: [removing his Sleep Mask] Very well. [gets out of bed, marches across the Swamp, pulls the book out of Hawkeye's hands, and tears it down the spine at the page Hawkeye is reading, handing back the part he has already read] You are now at the end of your book. [switches off the light] Good night.
  • Extra-Long Episode: The fourth, fifth, sixth, and tenth season premieres were originally hour-long episodes that were later split into half-hour two-parters for reruns; similarly, Season Seven originally had an hour-long Clip Show that was also split into a half-hour two-parter in syndication. Of course, the Grand Finale was a two hour (minus commercials) TV movie.
  • Extreme Omni-Goat: Season 10's "That Darn Kid" has a goat eating the 4077th's entire monthly payroll, leaving Hawkeye (who's serving paymaster duty) and Klinger (who bought the animal from a local merchant so it could provide the unit with fresh milk) in deep trouble till they can convince the officer sent to investigate the issue that they didn't make up the story to cover for embezzlement.
  • Failure Is the Only Option:
    • Klinger trying to get a Section 8, Burns trying to instill military discipline, Winchester trying to get transferred back to Tokyo. In all cases, Status Quo Is God guarantees they will fail.
    • Winchester seems to play on his awareness that his exile to the 4077th is permanent at the end of the episode where the staff members' families meet at a party back in the States. On hearing that his parents and Radar's mother and uncle hit it off so well that they're planning another get-together after the war, he asserts that for all he cares, they "...can bring your goat. Makes no difference to me, for I shan't be there; I'm turning myself in to the Chinese."
  • Fake Aristocrat: In order to get Radar into the Officers' Club at the Kimpo airport in "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye appends B.J.'s captain's bars to the corporal's uniform. When questioned about this, Pierce explains that the Army is field-testing a new intermediate rank: corporal captain.
  • Fake Guest Star: Jamie Farr and William Christopher were regulars as Max Klinger and Father Francis Mulcahy, respectively from nearly the beginning, However, it wasn't until the middle seasons when they received top billing for their roles; they had been relegated to the closing credits for at least three seasons.
  • Fake Pregnancy: This is the subject of an episode that was ultimately never filmed, as at the time it was considered too risqué. The episode, entitled "Hawkeye on the Double," had Hawkeye seeing two different nurses behind each of their backs, and when the two found out about each other, they planned on getting back at him by both pretending to be pregnant with his child, and pressuring him into choosing which one of them to marry. The script for the episode is available as a special feature on DVD.
  • Fallback Marriage Pact: In "Mr. And Mrs. Who?," Charles returns from R&R in Tokyo with a hangover and discovers that he got married during that time. When the "bride," Donna Marie Parker, shows up at the camp, she tells Charles, who at the time announced in drunken revelry that he was going to marry the first girl he came across, that she agreed to marry him only to shut him up. And that the "minister" who performed the ceremony was the bartender (a Druid at that). At the end, the personnel hold a drunken dissolution ceremony in the mess tent, conducted by B.J. (with a Sad Sack comic book in place of a bible).
    B.J.: Do you, Charles Emerson Winchester, take this lovely if gullible young woman to be your unlawful unwedded un-wife?
    Charles: I undo.
    B.J.: And do you, Donna Marie Parker, take this pickled amnesiac to be your unlawful unwedded un-husband?
    Donna: I undo.
    B.J.: Then through the powers vested within me by the state of intoxication, I now pronounce you man...and woman. You may now ignore the bride!
  • Familiar Soundtrack, Foreign Lyrics: Many early episodes had Japanese or Korean language versions of traditional American songs played over the PA in order to emphasize the fact that they're in Korea.
  • Family of Choice: In the Winchester seasons, as he gradually becomes a better person and Margaret learns to be more open.
  • Fanservice: Margaret wearing shorts and a backless bathing suit in "The Merchant of Korea"; B.J. doing pull-ups in "The Smell of Music."
    Hawkeye, watching B.J.: Am I sinking to my knees or are you rising in the air?
  • A Father to His Men: Colonel Blake, to Radar; Colonel Potter, to everyone.
  • Faux Yay: In "Bananas, Crackers and Nuts", Hawkeye tries to get leave by (among other things) pretending to be romantically interested in Burns.
  • Feedback Rule: In "Change of Command," Radar prepares to make an announcement for the senior officers to report to Potter's office. In response to the P.A. microphone's immensely loud feedback, he drops the mic as if it hurt his hand.
  • The '50s: Ostensibly. As the seasons roll on, it's increasingly apparent that the show is The '70s disguised as The '50s.
  • File Mixup: In the episode "A Smattering Of Intelligence," Col. Flagg and Vinnie Pratt, an old friend of Trapper's who is in Intelligence, compete with each other to find security leaks at the 4077th. Hawkeye and Trapper mess with Frank's personal file (taking out his real file and inserting a doctored one) to make it appear to the two agents that he's a communist and a fascist. They let on to the prank eventually, when the agents try to arrest Frank.
    Flagg: You could do ten years for this.
    Hawkeye: What? For doctor file doctoring?
  • Finale Movie: The series ends with the movie-length special "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", which has the 4077 disband after the Korean War finally ends.
  • Finger Poke of Doom:
    Col. Flagg: Do you believe that I can break your leg with this finger?
    Charles: Strangely enough, I, I... I do.
  • Finger-Twitching Revival: In one episode, a soldier's "corpse" is shipped to the 4077th along with a bunch of wounded. For most of the episode, the viewers are the only ones who see the soldier try to move enough to call for help. Luckily, Mulcahy finally notices when he goes to administer the Last Rites.
  • Finishing Each Other's Sentences: Hawkeye and B.J. often do this.
  • First-Name Basis: Most characters in the show are usually called by their first names (Charles, Margaret, Frank, B.J., even Col. Henry Blake) or an affectionate nickname ("Hawkeye", "Trapper", "Radar"). The only ones of the major cast to whom everyone regularly refers by their rank/title and last name are Col. Potter and Fr. Mulcahy, out of a sense of respect from pretty much everyone.
    • The notable exception to this trope is Klinger, whose first name, Maxwell, is very rarely used.
  • Fixing the Game:
    • The craps game in the back of Rosie's bar is rigged.
    • Frank runs a bookie operation for baseball games that are broadcast to the camp during the day. Turns out he's listening to previous, late-night broadcasts of the same games to get the outcomes before taking anyone's bets.
    • Charles giving uppers to Radar's mouse Daisy before she races a marine's champion rodent.
    • Hawkeye and Trapper rig a boxing match by putting ether on Trapper's glove, but Frank realizes the fix is in and replaces the ether with water.
    • During the bowling match against the marines, Charles and B.J. drug their ringer with a pill that turns his urine blue, tricking him into thinking he had a disease that his bowling would aggravate.
    • Father Mulcahy convinces his opponent to throw a race so the proceeds of the bets can be used to build a roof for an orphanage.
  • Flanderization: Radar's naïveté, Col. Potter's crankiness, and Frank Burns's jerk-assedness (and flakiness, and paranoia) all grew more and more pronounced as the show progressed.
    • In early seasons, Frank showed occasional flashes of human decency. For instance, in season 1's "Sticky Wicket", when Hawkeye re-opens a patient who's failing to get better and discovers he'd overlooked a tiny bit of shrapnel damage, Frank quietly says "Anyone could have missed that." In season 2's "Kim" he tries to help when a little boy runs into a minefield, and in season 3's "O.R." he's horrified to learn he nearly removed a patient's sole kidney. Even as late as season 3 when Henry's death was announced, Frank has tears in his eyes as the camera pans over the OR. In all these instances Linville played Frank's emotions as genuine, not faked or selfishly motivated.
  • Flipping Helpless: In one episode, an ambulance-truck flipped on its back demonstrated to Colonel Potter the general unfitness of his camp: after everyone pushing together can't get it rightside up, a group of 4 MPs happens by and rights it all by themselves.
  • Flynning: "Requiem for a Lightweight" both plays straight and subverts this with boxing. Trapper is trying to just keep in the fight long enough to knock his opponent out with what he thinks is an ether-soaked glove. His opponent, however, seems to barely tap Trapper during the match despite having 197 wins.
  • Foil: All of Hawkeye's Swampmates were this to him, to a certain extent. Trapper occasionally exhibited a world-weary pragmatism in contrast to Hawkeye's passionate idealism. B.J. was a devoted family man in contrast with Hawkeye's womanizing. Frank Burns was a jingoistic lover off all things military in contrast with Hawkeye's staunch liberal pacifism. And Charles was an aristocratic Boston Brahmin in contrast with Hawkeye's small-town unpretentiousness.
  • The Food Poisoning Incident: Happens to Charles and Margaret in "The Grim Reaper", and nearly the entire camp in "The Yalu Brick Road".
  • Foreshadowing:
    • A typo is made on the inscription of Margaret's replacement wedding ring: "Over hill, over dale, our love will ever fail". Her marriage to Donald ends in a bitter divorce roughly a year later (real time).
    • Hawkeye's dream in "Dreams" involves him helpless on a boat. The next season has him uncover the trauma that his friend nearly drowned him. Also while the numerous jokes about him ending up in an institution were valid reactions to his Sanity Slippage throughout the series, he seemed fond of jokes about him getting pregnant, all getting rewarded with a dead baby in the finale.
  • Forged Message: Klinger occasionally would forge letters, particularly in mail call episodes, in further attempts to get a discharge; Henry kept many of Klinger's letters on record and uses them against him to point out how ridiculous the claims in the letters are, leading up to one letter that reads, "Half of the family dying, other half pregnant." Potter, on the other hand, dug a little deeper when Klinger tried to pull a similar stunt on him. Incidentally, Klinger has no brothers.
    Potter: Klinger, this letter is in your handwriting.
    Klinger: I translated my mother's letter, it was in Lebanese.
    Potter: Let me see it.
    Klinger: I burned it.
    Potter: Uh-huh.
    Klinger: It's part of a religious ceremony.
    Potter: Held when two brothers die in a harmonica factory?
  • Forgotten Theme Tune Lyrics: Which were used in the original movie but not the series.
    Through early morning fog I see / Visions of the things to be / The pains that are withheld for me / I realize and I can see / That Suicide Is Painless / It brings on many changes / And I can take or leave it if I please.
    • The movie version of the theme, written by Johnny Mandel and then-14-year-old Mike Altman, was a huge hit on college and community radio stations. The lyrics were probably Mistaken for Profound; at best, they're an Ice-Cream Koan; Robert Altman, who directed the film, asked for "the stupidest lyrics ever written" and his son turned them out in five minutes.
  • Fox News Liberal: Winchester is a conservative version.
    Charles: (to a HUAC shill) I am so conservative that it makes you look like a New Dealer.
    • An insult that Hawkeye purposefully throws at Charles to make him talk visibly angers him:
      Hawkeye: Charles - your parents voted for Roosevelt (beat) four times!
  • Freeze-Frame Ending: The show began using the flash variation in Season Six, usually to acknowledge the show's ever-changing story editors (or script consultants as they were eventually called), program consultants, and to acknowledge creative consultants Gene Reynolds (co-creator and previous producer) and Alan Alda. Also depending on the nature of the episode, the variation of the music cue would differ: while most episodes featured a short, upbeat arrangement of the show's main theme, especially sombre and poignant episodes would either use a slower and more melancholy arrangement or omit the music altogether. This continued up until the Grand Finale.
  • Freudian Excuse: Frank Burns apparently had an absolutely miserable childhood.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Radar has quite the menagerie.
  • Frozen in Time: The series went 11 seasons while the shooting part of the Korean War only lasted three years. Not only that, but the date given in the season 4 opener (September 19, 1952) means that the last eight seasons of the show take place over only ten months. In fact, later episodes tend to give earlier dates than earlier episodes. So we have Henry at the 4077th in 1952 and "later" Potter is there and it's 1950. Clearly they were stuck in a "Groundhog Day" Loop — probably why everyone complained so much about the war never ending.
    • Some explain the change in times with a theory of two M*A*S*H universes, one of which (for example) keeps Henry Blake in charge of the 4077th well into 1952 while the other has him die early in the war. (Some even go as far as to say there is a third M*A*S*H universe where Henry Blake never died and Trapper John left a note saying goodbye.)
  • Funny Background Event: Maybe not entirely in the background, but if you watch Trapper John in "Private Charles Lamb" while the Greeks are bringing food in the mess tent, he tries to open three or four jars of food while chatting with Radar using his shirt to get a grip on the tight lids. He fails to open even one.
    • In one episode, a colonel is talking to one of his wounded soldiers who is in a full body cast, with only his eyes, mouth, and one hand visible. When the colonel leaves, the man waves his hand goodbye.
    • In "Cowboy," as Radar helps Henry to the hospital following the jeep crashing through his tent, Mulcahy moonwalks out of the shot; even the nurse who was standing next to him turns and looks on with a bemused look on her face.
    • In "Operation Noselift", Hawkeye stops to talk to Father Mulcahy in the compound. Behind them is a parked jeep in which two soldiers sit, one reading a hard-bound medical reference and the other a comic book, comparing notes.
      • The same episode has a scene where Hawkeye is making a phone call from Henry's office, and Trapper can be seen in the background playing with a Japanese doll on Henry's desk, breaking it, and hurriedly hiding the pieces. (Later, when Hawkeye and Trapper are out in the compound, an angry Henry comes up demanding to know who broke the doll.)
    • Anytime Hawkeye and Trapper watch Frank walk right into one of their pranks, Trapper cannot keep a straight face.
    • There's a recurring stock footage shot of the 4077th compound that has four corpsman doing the Can-Can on the wooden platform near the camp entrance.
    • In, "Adam's Ribs," during Hawkeye's tirade in the Mess Tent regarding the poor selection and quality of Army chow, Radar continues to eat, even swiping food off other people's trays.
    • In "Dear Dad", during the otherwise tense scene where Mulcahy is trying to talk Klinger out of using a grenade on Frank, watch the background behind Mulcahy. In one cut, an extra comes around the corner, suddenly realizes what he's about to walk into, and backpedals back around the corner.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Hawkeye had a tendancy to reply to any mention of CINCOMPAC with NINCOMPOOP.
    • Henry in "The Chosen People," introduces Captain Pak and Father Mulcahy to some officials regarding a family of indigenous Koreans who are camped out on the MASH compound.
    Henry: This is Captain Pak, R.O.K. And this is Father Mulcahy, G.O.D.
  • Fun with Foreign Languages: In "Communication Breakdown," Winchester is forced to wear a shortie kimono he'd bought for his sister, after his bathrobe is stolen. He runs into Nurse Kelly, who tells him he "looks very Japanese", then asks if he speaks the language. When he replies that he does not, she bows and tells him (via subtitles), "Boy, you really look ridiculous." To which he returns the bow and thanks her.
    • In the "Dear Sigmund" episode, Klinger claims to have been hit in the head with a chopper blade and only able to speak in Arabic. Via subtitles, he tells Col. Potter things like, "My olive has no pit and there is no yolk in my egg"; "Grandfather, may your pomegranates grow as big as the Queen's fanny"; and (after Potter informs him the ploy won't work) "May the fleas of a thousand camels nest in your armpit."

  • Gallows Humor: A sample from "The Late Captain Pierce," where the Army mistaken declares Hawkeye dead and B.J. holds a wake for him:
    P.A. Announcer: Attention all personnel. Come one, come all to a wake for the late great Captain Pierce. There'll be mourning all afternoon and evening. The deceased will deliver the eulogy, and the guests will have ten minutes for rebuttal. Remains to be seen in the Swamp.
    • Hawkeye offers to examine Trapper, who is ailing but doesn't want to be examined for it at the camp, in "Check-Up":
      Hawkeye: I'm used to autopsies.
  • Gaslighting: Done to the titular character from "The Ringbanger" when Hawkeye and Trapper note how many casualties happen under his command and conspire to get him sent home.
    • Hawkeye, Trapper, and Radar try it on Henry in "Love and Marriage"; he catches on immediately.
    • When B.J. visits Hawkeye at the psych ward in "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen", Hawkeye starts ranting about the movie Gaslight and how this was done to Ingrid Bergman's character, implying that he believes the same thing is being done to him.
  • Gender Flip: Mentioned in "Tuttle" when Radar says his imaginary friend was this, of himself.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, in his better moments.
  • Gentlemen Rankers: Nurses usually start at second lieutenant, but male nurse Barney Hutchinson was forced to start at private. He has to pull enlisted man duty (KP, patrolling, etc.) in addition to his nursing assignments. Three weeks before he is discharged, Colonel Potter gives him an honorary field promotion to lieutenant for the remainder of his tour. ("Your Retention Please")
  • Gesundheit: In "Margaret's Engagement," B.J., Hawkeye and Potter eavesdrop on Frank's phone call to his mother:
    Hawkeye: (quietly) He's crying.
    B.J.: Catharsis.
    Hawkeye: Gesundheit.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In the Season 2 episode "The Sniper", Radar's bare butt is shown briefly when a sniper opens fire on him as he runs back into the showers tent; however, depending on the network, some syndicated prints have a different version where he doesn't drop his towel.
    • More generally, the show had a lot of Double Entendre gags in the early years. For example:
    Frank: Oh, Margaret, you're my snug harbor, I don't know what I'd do if I didn't have you to sail into.
    • A similar example from "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?":
    Margaret: [to Potter] If evidence is what you want, Colonel, evidence is what you'll get. [to Frank] Are you with me, Major?
    Frank: Right up to the hilt.
    • From the same episode: Margaret's face makes it clear she really is talking about his penis.
    Flagg: All it takes is the right man with a shovel who knows where to dig.
    Frank: I couldn't ask for a better man.
    Margaret: Or a bigger shovel.
    • "The General Flipped at Dawn" has one just as blatant:
    Trapper: You better not bump into Henry and that general.
    Hawkeye: I intend only to bump into Nurse Baker. Repeatedly, if possible.
    • In one episode, Hawkeye sees Margaret using a scalp massager on Frank. Hawkeye's response is, "Behind every great man is a woman with a vibrator." And yes, they had vibrators back then — Hamilton Beach started selling them in 1902 (see Hysteria). Scalp massagers really were called vibrators as well.
    • The Tag of the pilot, with Hawkeye and Trapper handcuffed together (they were being arrested by General Hammond) was considered controversial at the time. For some reason.
    • We're actually treated to some brief side-boobage in, "The Merchant of Korea," after Margaret finishes her angry phone call to Penobscott, as she leaves Radar's office, she swings her arm far enough to reveal a little side-boob under her summer shirt.
    • During "It Happened One Night," the unit is getting shelled by a negligent friendly army unit. Radar calls the lieutenant in charge of the battery, and we only see their side of the conversation.
    Radar: He's got a suggestion, but I think it's physically impossible.
    Hawkeye: [after speaking with the lieutenant] You're right. He's got a lot to learn about anatomy.
    • In "Goodbye Radar pt. 2", Klinger is wheeling and dealing for a new generator when theirs is stolen. At the depot, an enormous major shows up announcing he's here to pick up HIS generator — the one that was supposed to go to the 4077 — and Max mutters Ya ibn kalb! This is "son of a dog", and considered mild enough to say to a misbehaving child, but still. (To make matters worse, the major's outfit was the one that stole the 4077's backup generator before the main one broke.)
    • In one episode, the writers clearly didn't care about the Radar at all, having Hawkeye directly call a South Korean Torture Technician (that's right, a South Korean who planned to torture an admittedly unrepentant enemy) a "son of a bitch", marking the first time that phrase had been used on television. Of course, it was obviously done for shock value.
    • When propositioning a nurse, Hawkeye was once interrupted by Father Mulcahy. When asked, he said they were discussing the ups and downs of doctor-nurse relationships.
    • Speaking of the good padre, in one episode Radar asks if he's seen Hawkeye anywhere.
    Mulcahy: "I believe he mentioned Nurse Schibetta. He was going to share a spicy salami with her. [beat] She's Italian, you know."
    • Once, when Hawkeye is propositioning a nurse during surgery:
    Frank: Are you gonna knock it off?
    Hawkeye: That's what I'm trying to find out, Frank.
    • In "The Interview", since what we see is ostensibly a documentary shown on TV, swear words are bleeped out. At one point, Hawkeye gets a "shit" past the radar.
    • Margaret compares Frank to Donald.
    Margaret: When I can have knockwurst, why settle for a—
    • Every single episode has a major one: the show's theme song was titled "Suicide is Painless" and its original version in the movie included lyrics that would not have been acceptable on 1970s TV because of the suicide theme. However, using an instrumental version for the TV series qualifies for the trope since many viewers knew the lyrics anyway.
    • For a character who (according to Alan Alda) was explicitly told to not go near men's underwear by execs because "degrading", Hawkeye managed to call himself every 50s-style euphemism for queer that would just manage to get under the radar. Even if he was straight and just making jokes, there was a lot.
    • Hawkeye’s frequent nudist magazines weren’t just of naked women, and they even called attention to the fact that they had men in them too, not just ignoring them in favor of girls.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "Too Many Cooks", Potter is acting unusually testy and irritable. At one point, the others are trying to decide whether one of them should confront him about what's bothering him.
    Margaret: Colonel Potter is a sensible, mature man. He can work it out himself. Leave him alone if he doesn't want to talk!
    Potter: Leave me alone. I don't want to talk.
    Margaret: Sir, you have to talk to me.
    • In an earlier episode, thanks to a combination of bad communication and bad timing, Margaret and Hawkeye are caught on the road during an air strike. As they take refuge in a hut, a bit of a spark ignites between them. Meanwhile, their friends back at the 4077th have learned what the pair accidentally headed into and are frantic with worry.
      B.J.: They must be going through hell out there!
      (cut to Margaret and Hawkeye locked in a passionate embrace)
  • Girl of the Week: Or, in Hawkeye's case, a Nurse of the Week.
    • Largely averted in Seasons 2 and 3, where he almost exclusively was paired up with Nurse Gage.
  • Glory Hound: Some of the commanding officers, like those who were determined to take some hill or other no matter what it cost in casualties.
  • Gold Fever: Deliberately inculcated in Frank by Hawkeye and Trapper, in "Major Fred C. Dobbs".
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In one episode, Margaret steals Hawkeye's and B.J.'s clothes while they are showering.
    • Radar did it to Hawkeye and Trapper once, when they made the mistake of making fun of him while showering.
    Hawkeye: You know without your glasses you could almost pass for offensive?
    Trapper: Hey, why don't you leave the little fellow alone.
    Radar: It's okay, I can take a joke. *steals their clothes and towels off the rack and leaves*
    Hawkeye and Trapper: Hey! Wait a minute! Where are you going? I was kidding! He was kidding! You're beautiful!
    • In "Communications Breakdown" an anonymous prankster does this to Charles (all Charles and the viewer sees is an arm reaching into the shower and stealing his bathrobe), leaving behind a only a newspaper. It's later taken Up to Eleven when the prankster steals all of Winchester's clothing and furniture from his tent.
  • Good Shepherd: Father Mulcahy.
  • Government Conspiracy: The army tries to cover up its mistake in shelling a civilian South Korean village in "For the Good of the Outfit," by claiming North Korea was responsible, burying the story, and hiding the evidence.
  • Gratuitous Spanish: Col. Potter loves this trope. Father Mulcahy attracts a little of this as Potter calls him "Padre" (Father), which is moderately common US Army slang; the rest of the cast uses "Father," but some Korean characters picked it up. Potter is not even close to being a native speaker; his pronunciation is horrendous, e.g. he pronounces "Padre" and "comprende" with an "ee" sound at the end.
    • At one point, he conducts a phone call with a Canadian unit with some very gratuitous French sprinkled in, also terribly pronounced. The viewers are collectively embarrassed for him.
  • G-Rated Drug: Averted in "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde". Winchester gets addicted to amphetamines, which are hardly G-Rated.
    • And in "Tea and Empathy", a wounded man is hooked on morphine and B.J. helps him quit.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: In "The Nurses", one Sergeant Tony Baker drops in at the 4077th, where his newly wedded wife is a nurse. Baker steps into Radar's office and proceeds to introduce and greet himself by sticking out his hand for handshake, which Radar confuses for a salute. The two briefly try to figure out what to do, but just shrug it off.
  • Grey-and-Grey Morality: Neither side is played as completely bad or good. The 4077th often treats North Koreans, Chinese, and Allied troops alike and often meets men on the other side who are civil and polite, and some of whom even Majored in Western Hypocrisy or compliment the unit on their surgical skill. At the same time we also have people like Major Burns and Major Houlihan, who embody Eagleland Type 2 to an absurd degree, people like Colonel Flagg, and a variety of soldiers and officers who are just as cruel and bloodthirsty as they often accuse the Communists of being. Hawkeye claims numerous times that both sides bleed just the same.
  • Gung Holier Than Thou: Col. Flagg is literally described as such.
    • Burns and Houlihan also qualify until they stopped going over the CO's head to General Clayton.
  • Guns Do Not Work That Way: In Klinger's first scene, he does a Dramatic Gun Cock on his M1 Garand when his dress gets cut by a prisoner with a scalpel, forcing the prisoner to drop the scalpel. No round is seen ejected. The M1 rifle works by inserting a clip and allowing the bolt to close, which chambers a round. The only way one could rack the bolt and not eject a round is if it was empty.
  • Gut Punch: The end of "Abyssinia, Henry", when the 4077th gets the news that Henry died when his plane was shot down.
  • Hahvahd Yahd In My Cah: Charles Emerson Winchester III, Boston native and Harvard alumnus.
  • Halloween Episode: "Trick or Treatment".
  • Hand-or-Object Underwear: Employed by Hawkeye in "Dear Dad...Again" (mess tent trays), B.J. in "Bottoms Up" (pillow), and Charles in "Communication Breakdown" (newspapers).
  • Handshake Refusal: Winchester's dental woes coupled with his fear of dentists. In the end of the episode, Winchester is about to shake the hand of the man who Hawkeye and B.J. brought on to handle the episode's A-plot only for them to reveal he's a dentist; Winchester immediately retracts his hand, but due to his fear of dentists, not an attempt at being insulting.
  • Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Charles was sent to the 4077th after his CO got tired of losing over $600 to him playing cribbage. While nobody wanted to be in the southeast Asian theater, Charles detested it but was an admitted showoff in the operating room. Hawkeye dresses him down on it, telling him "without an audience, a patient means nothing to you."
  • Happily Married: Played straight with Henry, Potter, and B.J.. Averted with Klinger, Margaret, and Burns.
  • Hawaiian-Shirted Tourist: Hawkeye and Trapper in particular wore a lot of Hawaiian print shirts when not in something resembling uniform.
  • He Who Must Not Be Seen: Sparky, the telephone operator at I Corps, was a constant fixture on the other end of Radar’s calls, but was only shown on screen once, in the "Tuttle" episode. He was shown sitting at a switchboard, eating an apple and reading a Captain Marvel comic. He only got two lines of dialog, but judging from that, Sparky seemed to have a southern drawl. The same scene revealed his real name (Sgt. Pryor) for the first and only time.
    • O'Brien, the chopper pilot. Like Sparky, he is refered to many times throughout the series (particularly the first three seasons), but was only shown on screen once, in "Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde", where a sleep-deprived Hawkeye tries to convince him not to fly around in his chopper anymore, figuring that if doesn't go up with empty stretchers, he won't come back down with them occupied by bloody bodies.
    • Also, the camp's unnamed PA announcer, voiced at different times by Sal Viscuso or Todd Susman (who did appear once as Sergeant Baker in "Operation Noselift", though it was never established whether Baker was the PA announcer).
      • An interesting point with this is that sometimes it sounds like either Jamie Farr (Klinger) or Gary Burghoff (Radar) is providing that voice. Indeed, Jamie Farr is listed on IMDB as having been the (uncredited) announcer in the pilot.
    • The episode "Who Knew?" centers around a never-seen nurse who died stepping on a landmine while going for a late-night stroll following a tryst with Hawkeye, for whom she had serious feelings (unbeknownst to him). We do hear her voice narrating her diary, as Hawkeye reads it while preparing to eulogize her.
    • Captain Tuttle and his replacement Major Murdock. Justified in that neither actually existed in the first place.
  • Head-Tiltingly Kinky: In "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys", Col. Flagg—believing Hawkeye to be a Communist sympathizer—enlists Charles to try and find some incriminating evidence. Rooting through Hawkeye's belongings, Charles comes across one of his nudist magazines and subsequently reacts in this manner.
  • Heat Wave: "The Nurses" (Season Five), "The Merchant of Korea" (Season Six), "None Like It Hot" (Season Seven), "No Sweat" (Season Nine), "The Moon Is Not Blue" (Season Eleven).
    • Season Two's "A Smattering of Intelligence" is a subtler example: there's no actual discussion about the heat in the episode (which centers around a visit from Col. Flagg), but throughout there are visual cues including Hawkeye wearing cutoff shorts, Trapper in a tank-style basketball jersey, Henry trying to fix an electric fan in his office, etc.
    • Inverted by Cold Snap episodes such as "The Long-John Flap" (Season One) "Crisis" (Season Two), "It Happened One Night" (Season Four), "Dear Sigmund" (Season Five), "The Light that Failed" (Season Six), "They Call the Wind Korea", "Baby It's Cold Outside", and "Out of Gas" (all Season Seven).
  • Heroic BSoD: Hawkeye gets one in the finalé when a mother smothers her child when they're all hiding from an enemy patrol. Even worse, he feels that it's his fault; she did it after he told her they'd all get killed if she didn't keep the baby quiet.
    • A visiting surgeon (who had seemed cheerful and "as [sane] as any of us" - "that's what scares me," Hawkeye replies) suffers one in the middle of OR, walking out and wandering into a tent where he's found softly complaining that the blood won't come off.
    • Charles has an episode-long one when he is almost shot in the head by a sniper (he enters it upon seeing the twin bullet holes in his cap.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Margaret's foot locker, at least, according to her report in one episode where she's trying to replace it. She actually blew a hole in it herself, using Charles' shotgun.
    • Mulcahy's actions in the finale can be seen as a (barely) averted one, since he left shelter during a bombardment to rescue a group of prisoners who had been left out in the open. He survives, but loses most of his hearing from a near-miss artillery shell.
  • Hero of Another Story: Sidney Freedman (who works mostly at the EVAC hospital in Seoul) and the staffs of the 8055th and 8063rd (Real Life MASH units, which would be mentioned and occasionally seen, and the members of which were supposed to be at least as crazy as the members of the 4077th). And the front-line aid station personnel. And the chopper pilots, ambulance drivers, etc.
    • Several of the patients, who are recognized as such by the doctors and/or their peers. Examples include the former football player who lost his leg, the Chinese-American soldier who had been wounded several times, and the homosexual soldier who had three Purple Hearts.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Hawkeye and Trapper, and later Hawkeye and B.J..
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Charles Winchester.
  • Hilarious Outtakes: See here, and here. The Martinis and Medicine DVD box set also includes a blooper reel as a bonus feature.
  • Historical In-Joke: In one episode, Winchester mentions his family having a summer place in Hyannisport, where a large "nouveau riche" family moved in next door and got on their nerves by playing "a perpetual game of touch football on their lawn". This is clearly a reference to the Kennedy clan.
    • During the final episode, a radio announcer mentions increasing hostilities in Vietnam, prompting Klinger to ask, "Where's that?"
  • Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: In "The Long-John Flap", Henry has a water pitcher in his office that not only doesn't belong in 1950, it doesn't even look like something from 1972... 2002, maybe...
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Charles sets up Col. Flagg big time in "Rally 'Round The Flagg, Boys." Flagg is hell bent on nailing Hawkeye as a Communist sympathizer, so Charles plants a letter with the North Korean patient Hawkeye was treating indicating some sort of meeting. Hawkeye and two Koreans enter a tent, under Flagg's surveillance (Charles joins him), then Col. Potter enters (Flagg: "Caramba! The fish stinks from the head down!"). Flagg thinks he's about to bust a Leftist ring bent on destroying the U.S., but when he enters, he's found that he's interrupted a bridge game between Hawkeye, Potter, the Mayor of Uijeongbu and the Chief of Police of Uijeongbu.
    • In the tag of "The Young and the Restless", Col. Potter has apparently accepted that Klinger truly believes he is in Toledo, so he calls him into his office to approve his Section 8 paperwork.  After going over preliminary information such as name, place of birth, mother's maiden name, and Social Security number, Potter asks "Rank?"  Klinger instinctively replies, "Corporal."  Potter gleefully cries, "Aha!  Gotcha, soldier!" and tears up the paperwork.
  • Holiday Volunteering: During several Christmases, the 4077th hosts the children from nearby orphanages instead of getting blind stinking drunk as they would've done otherwise.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Averted with Corporal Klinger, who at first seems to be a Catholic. Several seasons in Father Mulcahy catches Klinger praying. Mulcahy questions him, asking why he would do this, being an atheist. Klinger responds, "Gave it up for Lent." In other episodes, indications that he's a Muslim appear, for instance referring to Allah or saying he prayed that Allah would help Mulcahy.note  In any case, he is always positively portrayed, if pretty eccentric.
  • Hollywood Darkness: The "Major Fred C. Dobbs" episode has some outdoor "night" scenes that were clearly shot in the daytime with a dark filter over the camera.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Any time Frank brings charges against Hawkeye and crew, when Hawkeye is found "not guilty" of whatever it is Frank was setting him up for, Frank is never brought up on any charges for falsifying statements even when his actions could have led to Hawkeye's death.
    • When Flagg visits the camp in "Officer of the Day," he insists that Hawkeye prepare his patient so Flagg can take him to Seoul, where he intends to execute him for being a spy. Although spies may have been executed, it wouldn't have been for Flagg to do on his own.
    • Many of the stunts and hijinks pulled were incredibly illegal under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and would have brought serious consequences. Remarkably, accounts from real M*A*S*H staff suggest they and their colleagues often got away with worse, so it may be Truth in Television.
  • Hollywood Tactics: Numerous, such as:
    • Jeeps being shot at with artillery (virtually impossible against moving targets with immobile artillery pieces) when shooting the occupants would suffice.
    • Hawkeye climbing down a rope to treat a wounded soldier in a foxhole, dressed as Santa, while under direct fire, rather than the chopper landing and taking off (as was developed in Korea before its extensive use in Vietnam).
  • Hope Spot: Lt. Col. Henry Blake is eligible for discharge in "Abyssinia, Henry", which would allow him to return to Bloomington, IL to be with his wife and family. He never makes it back, and he is killed when his plane is shot down with no survivors. The final scene announcing Blake's death was kept a secret from all of the cast except Alda, to evoke genuine sadness and shock.
  • Hospital Hottie: Major Houlihan, as well as many of the various guest nurses Hawkeye tries to bed.
    • As for the men: Hawkeye himself, B.J. (especially when he didn't have that mustache), Trapper, Father Mulcahy when he was only wearing that tight, black t-shirt, and Winchester in his nicer moments.
  • Hot Drink Cure: Defied when Hawkeye tries to convince the British medics not to give tea to patients with abdominal wounds because it can make things worse.
  • Huddle Shot: Two in the opening credits, and one occurred in the "Point of View" episode.
  • Humiliating Wager: In "The Joker is Wild", Hawkeye bets B.J. that he can't pull a prank on each of the major characters. When B.J. succeeds (sort of), Hawkeye has to stand on a table in the mess hall with his pants down and sing "You're the Top" to him.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Every single episode.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Radar, at least until season six or so. In fact, he was the Trope Namer at one point.
  • Hypocrite: Invoked in "Rally Round the Flagg, Boys." A patient named Basgall is enraged that Hawkeye tended to a wounded North Korean before his injured friend (as far as Hawkeye was concerned, the North Korean was wounded far worse than Baskall's buddy). During surgery, Basgall hurls epiphets at Hawkeye for being a communist sympathizer, to which Hawkeye snaps back and yells at him. For much of the rest of the episode, B.J. keeps telling Hawkeye about how he needs to control his temper and retain his sense of compassion and professionalism, but later when Basgall attacks Hawkeye, B.J. snaps and nearly strangles him.
    B.J.: (sighs) I notice I don't practice what I preach.
    Hawkeye: Yeah. And thank you.
    • This can be said of all the main protagonists of the first three seasons, as one of their primary objections to Major Burns was that he was cheating on his wife with Major Houlihan. These objections came despite the fact that both Trapper and Henry also had various girlfriends and one night stands nearly every episode, and they also had wives back home. Oddly, they are never called on the hypocrisy.
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Majors Burns and Houlihan often displayed this in the early seasons. In the very first episode, they spy on Hawkeye necking with Lieutenant Dish....
      Houlihan: Sickening.
      Burns: Animals. [starts necking with Hot Lips]
    • In spite of his rank, Potter hates colonels, on the grounds that all they do is try to make as many points as they can to make general, so they can kick back and relax on their big fat rear echelons. Justified in that he has no intention of becoming a general; he plans to retire at the end of his tour.
    • A mild case occurs with Father Mulcahy, of all people. Frank had asked the Father to give a sermon on temperance. However, Mulcahy was uncomfortable with the subject ("The Prodigal Son" and "Turn the Other Cheek" being more familiar territory for him). Needing to calm his nerves, he has a drink from a bottle gifted to him by a grateful soldier. It may have been a case of it being some unusually potent stuff, or it may be that the good Father Can't Hold His Liquor, but the result was that Mulcahy delivered his temperance sermon while drunk.
    • In "Chief Surgeon Who?," one of Frank's charges is that Hawkeye never address him as "Major," as is presumably part of military protocol. But immediately after bringing this up, he flat out calls Henry by his first name.
    • In "5 O'Clock Charlie," Capt. Cardozo tells Hawkeye and Trapper that he promised his wife he'd never have a drink or touch another woman while he was in Korea. He immediately asks for a belt from the still and tells them he's got a date that night.
    • Charles mentions a debate in which he won a fountain pen, with the topic "Should the U.S. permit more liberal immigration?"
      Charles: I, of course, took the negative. My family has had trouble with immigrants since we came to America.
    • Another Charles example: he reacts with outrage to the suggestion that he might be the one sending the inspector general bad reports on Colonel Potter.
      Charles: There are no informers in my family. Winchesters do not spy. [beat] We do, on occasion, hire them.
  • I Choose to Stay: Of all people, Klinger in the finale.
    • Also an I Can't Believe I'm Saying This when he makes the announcement about this.
    • Margaret does this when the nurses are ordered to the rear when the line is pushed far enough south that the unit is in enemy territory.
    • Hawkeye and Margaret in "Bug Out" when they need to tend to a wounded patient.
    • Frank, after having a transfer approved and then being tricked into thinking that the area around the 4077 is filthy with gold.
    • Henry, in the episode "Henry Please Come Home", decides to give up his newfound life of luxury in Tokyo, in favor of returning to the danger and generally poor lifestyle of the 4077th.
  • I Coulda Been a Contender!: Sergeant Billy Tyler in "End Run" was a college football player when he was drafted into the Army and, according to Radar, one of the hottest prospects around...until he lost his leg.
  • Identity Amnesia: In "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler?", a bomber pilot claims to be Jesus. Frank and Margaret think he's pulling a scam, but it turns out losing his identity was the only way he could escape his guilt about being a long-term bombardier.
    • "The Billfold Syndrome" involves an amnesiac soldier whose condition turns out to stem from guilt over his failure to prevent his younger brother's death while they served in combat together.
    • This is used by Klinger as a dodge one time. He attempted to convince everyone that he believed the 4077 was Toledo (he played off the wounded as him helping out the victims of a traffic accident). This almost worked — but, as always, he blew it at the last second.
  • I Have This Friend...: Klinger tries to use this with Potter once. Potter sees through it immediately (probably because Klinger claims the "friend" is serving in a MASH unit in Toledo) and tells him to spit it out. Klinger admits that he's found evidence that the camp's newest nurse has a serious drinking problem.
    • Another episode has Sidney Freedman visiting the 4077 and Father Mulcahy coming to him, saying he has a friend who he's kind of worried about, because "things aren't going so well for him, and he's feeling a little low". When Sidney smiles and asks who the friend is, Mulcahy tells him it's him, Sidney (who has, in fact, been feeling depressed over a patient who blames him for getting re-injured). They then have a nice little therapy-for-the-therapist chat.
  • I Know Karate: When administering innoculations, Major Burns, thinking a Korean boy stole his Purple Heart, warns him with "I've had two judo lessons". A few episodes later, though, he mistakes judo for a religion.
  • I'll Take Two Beers Too: In "Divided We Stand", Henry offers a drink to a visiting psychiatrist who's evaluating the camp. The man declines, and Henry nervously hastens to add that he's not ordinarily much of a drinker. Then Radar enters with a couple glasses of brandy:
    Henry: Captain Hildrebrand doesn't care for any.
    Radar: Oh, then I won't bring his glass in.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: In an early episode, Hawkeye feigns stress-induced insanity by sitting down to a delicious meal of liver. That he got from a North Korean. Who croaked.
  • Imperial Storm Trooper Marksmanship Academy: North Korean and Chinese soldiers could never seem to hit any of the main characters when shot at on camera. The closest one came was putting a bullet through Winchester's hat.
    • Another notable example is a sniper who took several shots at two bottles of high-class scotch, eventually destroying both, then an ambulance's tire, and not actually hitting anyone.
    • There was also Five O'Clock Charlie, a bomber pilot with terrible aim. The episode "featuring" him had everyone in the camp betting on how badly he would miss every time he dropped a bomb. And judging by quality of equipment (a sputtering prop plane not even equipped as a bomber; he just lobbed them by hand) and pilot, his target (a nearby ammo dump) was very low on the North Korean target priority list.
    • A sniper shooting at Klinger and Father Mulcahy continuously hit the bell behind them, but never managed to actually hit them.
    • Even the tactics the North Koreans used failed miserably. When the North Koreans were shelling the unit, they never seemed to hit anything.
      • The shells would often drop into the center of camp or, on occasion, blow up boxes and such sitting around (and sometimes the latrine). How they missed the large central building with the big red '+' on top is anyone's guess.
    • Any time someone drove a Jeep somewhere, the North Koreans would attack it with artillery, not the best weapon to use against a single, moving target.
    • In the episode with General Stone, a sniper starts shooting at General Stone and doesn't seem to hit anything, not even the Jeep.
    • General Steele, after inspecting a swamp he wants to move the 4077 to, insists on being saluted despite the danger of tipping off any snipers. A sniper starts shooting at him, but never even gets close.
      General Steele: We can stand and fight...or we can have lunch.
      Blake and Burns: Lunch!
  • Incessant Music Madness: In "The Smell of Music", Winchester's French horn aggravates B.J. and Hawkeye to the point where they refuse to bathe until he gives it up.
    • In "Your Hit Parade", Potter's insistence on repeatedly hearing "Sentimental Journey" nearly drives the rest of the unit over the Despair Event Horizon.
  • Incredibly Lame Pun: B.J. was the master of these, usually provoking a Lame Pun Reaction from Hawkeye.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: This is averted in one episode when Hawkeye, having sworn off alcohol for a week, orders a drink in the Officers' Club after a close encounter with a live grenade in OR, admitting that he flat out needs it after nearly getting blown up. He is just a few inches from drinking it when he decides that he would prefer to want the drink instead of need it, puts the glass back down, and leaves the club.
    • Colonel Blake frequently went straight to his liquor cabinet whenever he heard that trouble (usually in the form of a general) was coming his way. Come to think of it, he usually did the same thing even when it was good news, too.
    • Used subtly in "What's Up Doc?" upon Radar realizing that they have to kill his rabbit in order to do a pregnancy test on Margaret. While Radar loses it, a clearly exasperated Margaret grabs a bottle of liquor that Potter and Hawkeye had just been drinking from and pours herself a shot.
  • Informed Ability: In "Period of Adjustment", we learn from Father Mulcahy that Radar was every bit as incompetent a company clerk as Klinger when he first arrived, and that Colonel Blake helped him learn the ropes. From what we saw of Henry's style of command, he must have really relaxed after Radar came into his own.
  • Initialism Title: Of course, "MASH" is not exclusive to the fiction of the series. In the real world, Mobile Army Surgical Hospitals, like the one in which the series is based, are indeed referred to as "MASHes" or "MASH units". Their successors, officially titled Combat Support Hospitals, are still commonly referred to as "MASHes".
  • Insane Troll Logic: In "The Novocaine Mutiny," Frank (who is temporarily in command) hears Zale complain about losing 300 dollars, so Frank starts searching the entire camp to find the "stolen" money. Hawkeye and B.J. tell him that Zale's money wasn't stolen, he just lost it in a poker game. Frank says that's impossible because he has prohibited gambling, therefore there is no gambling in the camp, therefore the money was stolen.
    • In "The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan", Col. Flagg shows up "disguised" in an Italian Army uniform, a false mustache and MacArthur sunglasses. When Col. Potter asks him why he's dressed that way, Flagg says he's actually dressed as Ling Chow, a Chinese double agent. When Potter remarks that he doesn't look Chinese, Flagg replies, "Neither would Ling Chow if he were dressed like this."
    • A non-humorous example occurs in "Dr. Pierce and Mr. Hyde", when Hawkeye pleads with a chopper pilot to stop making pickups on the premise that, because the choppers go out empty and come back loaded with wounded soldiers, choppers going up are the cause of wounded soldiers. In his defense, he generally does know better, but his cognition is impaired by severe sleep deprivation at the time.
  • Insomnia Episode: This happened with Hawkeye a few times. He was even ordered to go to bed and responded with "Not now, I need a little sleep."
  • Instant Drama, Just Add Tracheotomy: Mulcahy has to perform one of these when a patient he and Radar are transporting can't breathe; Hawkeye coaches him over the radio.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: "Suicide Is Painless", originally used (with lyrics) in the feature film.
    • The theme was rearranged several times during the show's run, albeit so subtly for the most part that the changes are hard to notice if you're not listening for them.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Frank: Pierce, you're the most unmilitary man in this man's army.
    Hawkeye: Thank you!
    • In "The Joker Is Wild", as Hawkeye is reminiscing about the long-departed Trapper John:
      Hawkeye: Trapper was a man ahead of his time. Right, Margaret?
      Margaret: He was a ridiculous, juvenile child.
      Hawkeye: See?
  • Internal Retcon: In one of the Christmas episodes, a mortally wounded soldier is brought into the MASH and B.J. tries his best to help him. He knows he cannot save the soldier's life, but B.J. tries to delay the man's death until after midnight because he doesn't want his kids to think of Christmas as the day their daddy died. But even with the help of Hawkeye and Major Houlihan, he fails, coming up minutes short of midnight—so Hawkeye walks over to the clock and moves it ahead so the doctors can say the soldier died on December 26th. Hawkeye, B.J., Margaret, and Mulcahy (who had come to deliver the Last Rites) decide to falsify the record and keep it secret, even though it is illegal, so they can give some small measure of comfort to the soldier's family.
  • Invented Individual: Hawkeye, not wanting to take credit for the supplies he and Trapper give the orphanage, says they're from a Captain Tuttle. This eventually blows up into a whole thing, with Hawkeye and Trapper convincing the whole camp that there is a doctor stationed at the 4077th named Tuttle.
    • Truth in Television in this case: Tuttle is listed on IMDB as playing himself.
    • His "successor" Major Murdock also qualifies.
  • Invented Invalid: Klinger tries numerous times to get out of the Army. In one sequence, he presents Henry with a letter from home saying his mother is dying. Henry pulls out Klinger's file filled with letters from home saying his mother is dying, his father is dying, his sister is dying, his sister is pregnant, his sister is dying and his mother is pregnant...and so on, until the capper: "Half of the family dying, other half pregnant."
  • I Owe You My Life: Figures as a subplot in "Springtime" and "Operation Friendship".
  • Ironic Echo: At one point in the Grand Finale, Klinger asks Potter's advice on his being in love with Soon-Lee and how the idea is giving him trouble. Potter tells him, "When you're in love, you're always in trouble, so there's two things you can do: either stop lovin' 'em, or love 'em a whole lot more." Towards the end, when Klinger announces he and Soon-Lee are getting married and that he's staying in Korea to help her find her family, he concludes with:
    Klinger: The way I see it, when you love somebody, you've got nothing but trouble, so you either stop lovin' 'em, or love 'em a whole lot more.
  • Ironic Nursery Tune: In "The Kids", Radar sings a lullaby to one of the Korean orphans, and we catch a look of sudden shock on his face as he realizes what he's singing:
    "By-low, baby, by
    By-low, baby, by
    Daddy still loves you
    Though he's gone to war."
  • I See Dead People: In "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead", a sick Klinger is the only person to see the spirit of Pvt. Weston, a recently killed soldier. During The Stinger, the crew are happy to see Klinger well again, but are confused when Klinger asks of Weston, "Where is he? Did he get what he wanted?"
  • I Take Offense to That Last One!:
    Hot Lips: (to Henry Blake) Why don't you stop masquerading as a commanding officer? You're nothing but a spineless, mealy-mouthed, fly-fishing impostor!
    Trapper: He's not an impostor!
    Hawkeye: Right. He's a genuine spineless, mealy-mouthed fly-fisherman.
    Henry: (chuckling) Pierce, you're the limit.
  • It Has Been an Honor
    • In the Grand Finale:
      • Hawkeye and B.J. give Col Potter a silent one by standing at attention and saluting him, something that they did very rarely for anyone, much less their CO, throughout the course of the series.
      • Major Houlihan tells everyone in the 4077th that it has been an honor serving with them.
    • Hawkeye salutes Radar in "Good-bye Radar (Part 2)" while in the operating room, as well as when presenting him his Purple Heart at the end of "Fallen Idol".
  • It Is Pronounced "Tro-PAY": Charles pronouncing "cretin" and "Iowa" as "creh-tin" and "Io-way"; Radar pronouncing zwiebac as "z-why-back"; Potter pronouncing "kudo" as "cue-do" and "deaf" as "deef"; among others.
    • We have this exchange between Frank and Klinger in "It Happened One Night:"
    Klinger: Halt!
    Frank: It's me, Major Burns!
    Klinger: What's the password?
    Frank: Uh, "ca-rib-bean."
    Klinger: I thought it was "carri-be-an."
    Frank: It's the same thing, you simp!
  • It Only Works Once: You would think threatening to tell Frank's wife about Margaret would be an easy way for Hawkeye and Trapper to keep him in line, but they only do it once.
  • It's Always Spring: While several episodes take place in winter, due to California Doubling none of them contain any snow and feature completely green plantlife.
    • In the early seasons, the green plantlife is averted by having all exterior scenes in winter episodes taking place at night. In later seasons, this was not always done (and wouldn't have made sense for some of them anyway). The increasing use of the sound stage exteriors instead of location shooting made it easier to avert this.
    • One of the Christmas episodes, "Dear Sis", does end with the beginnings of snow, naturally.
    • Klinger throws snow onto a sleeping Major Burns' bare feet at the beginning of "The Late Captain Pierce".
    • In any episode where the weather is supposed to be cold, the actors who are trying to pretend to be cold by bundling up and huddling around heaters and burning barrels, are obviously uncomfortable and sweating profusely, making it difficult to believe they're cold.
      • Such episodes were a Take That! from the writing staff. Whenever the writers got upset with comments and complaints from the cast about scripts, they would write a winter episode to make the actors miserable.
  • It Was Here, I Swear!: Little Chicago, in the "Snap Judgment" episode.
  • It Will Never Catch On: One episode has Klinger trying unsuccessfully to convince Winchester to invest in his invention—the hula hoop. (The stinger to the same episode has Winchester himself inadvertantly inventing the frisbee while discarding a pie plate.)
    • Hawkeye and B.J. spend months improvising a dialysis machine, determined to provide a superior alternative to peritoneal lavage for patients with kidney problems. Peritoneal dialysis is now the preferred treatment for kidney patients who are capable of performing the procedure; all it took was the invention of a plastic bag that could safely and cheaply hold dialysate fluid, so people could do it at home.
    • The "television fad" is mentioned on occasion.
  • Ivy League for Everyone: Charles graduated summa cum laude from Harvard and Trapper attended Dartmouth. B.J. went to Stanford (non-Ivy, but of comparable prestige). According to "Adam's Ribs", Hawkeye seems to have graduated from the University of Chicago, a rather prestigious research school.
  • I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Jamie Farr was suggested for the (originally one-shot) part of Klinger after producer/director Gene Reynolds worked with him on F Troop, in which Farr played an Indian comedian named Stand-Up Bull, whose riff was basically ripping one Incredibly Lame Indian-Based Pun after another.
  • I Was Quite a Looker: In "The Trial of Henry Blake", after the elderly Nurse Cratty testifies on Henry's behalf, an admiring Hawkeye leans over and tells her, "You're beautiful." She answers, "I used to be, sonny."

  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Frank was right when he warned Margaret that Donald might not be all that he seems. Yes, he said this in an attempt at getting her into bed, but Donald was eventually revealed to be cheating on Margaret and stealing her money. He ultimately requested a transfer behind her back, which led to their divorce.
    • Frank is also perhaps the only one to acknowledge how the hospital is only three miles from the front line, while everyone else seems to act like it's a vacation between OR sessions.
    • Hawkeye reluctantly points out that Frank is correct in that Trapper needs a physical to diagnose what's wrong with him, which turns out to be an ulcer.
    • When Hawkeye and B.J. question Frank on a missing gun (which he had stolen), he points out that Radar is given the presumption of innocence, even though he should be the one responsible for the gun locker, but they won't give Frank the same right.
    • The episode "Rainbow Bridge" tries to make Hawkeye and Trapper seem completely in the right by upholding the Chinese stipulations for MASH personnel to come completely unarmed for a prisoner exchange, while Frank is painted as a Dirty Coward, ridiculous and needlessly jeopardizing lives for bringing a tiny gun for protection. Except the PVA troops came armed to the hilt at the same time they demanded the US medics come unarmed, giving a lot of credence to Frank's (and Margaret's) protests that they could be walking right into a trap.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Gun fanatic Frank Burns. He frequently shot himself, and at one point, he accidentally shot B.J., for which he was relentlessly mocked.
    Frank: Sir, I think the Chinese have captured Major Houlihan.
    Col. Potter: I see. So, naturally, you shot Captain Hunnicutt.
    • One incident involved him shooting himself in the foot after stealing a high-ranking officer's beautiful revolver, which leads to the Fridge Logic that not only did Frank assume it was unloaded, but that Radar had left it loaded. He also had a particularly entertaining scene where he pulled the pin on a grenade for no good reason, and about six seconds later realized he was waving around a live grenade. Cue frantic search for the dropped pin and fumbling attempt to return it to the grenade (he found the pin and managed to get it back in the grenade).
    • When a sniper takes a shot at Hawkeye and his date in one episode, he initially assumes it was Frank being an idiot nearby with his target practice, then another shot comes in.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: B.J. gaslights Hawkeye into believing he was trying to outdo Trapper's antics and was out to get him and the rest of the camp, culminating in a paranoid Hawkeye sleeping outdoors in a barb wire enclosure. B.J. and his "victims" reveal that they were all in on it and made up their pranks, and the real victim was Hawkeye (which means B.J. lost the bet, since he bet he could prank everyone, not just Hawkeye).
    • B.J. does this to Charles in another episode (in which everyone was exchanging ghost stories) by rigging a tent flap over Charles's cot to flap violently on command.
  • Karma Houdini: After his general incompetence, Frank gets promoted to Lieutenant Colonel. After his jerkassery, he gets a cushy stateside post. After he cheats on his wife at every opportunity, he goes home to her and presumably continues cheating without losing his marriage, which he is only keeping for financial reasons.
    • A lesser case, Trapper. He likewise cheats on his wife without a shred of guilt, and never suffers any consequences for it.
    • A micro example: In "Last Laugh," Margaret throws a giant tantrum because she's horny and wants to see her husband to relieve this condition (and coaching it as though Donald is the one who desperately needs to get laid). She wrecks Radar's office and physically assaults him, and Potter lets her go see Donald. She returns smiling and relaxed, rewarded in full for her bad behavior.
  • Kick the Dog: Hawkeye has a tendency to do this.
    • In "38 Across", Frank receives a B.B. game for his birthday, and spends three days trying to get all of the B.B.s in the holes. During The Tag, he finally gets the last B.B. in, which Hawkeye intentionally slaps Frank on the back, causing him to knock all of the B.B.s loose. This is certainly one of those few times where one can't help but actually feel sorry for Frank.
      Frank: You did it on purpose! Everytime I do something special, you always ruin it!
      Hawkeye: So do it again.
    • In the pilot, Hawkeye drugs Frank so he can put on a fundraiser to send a young lad to college.
    • In "For Want of a Boot", he steals a birthday card sent to Frank from Frank's wife and uses it to cover a hole in his boot, then returns the card and tells Frank what he did.
    • In "House Arrest", he punches Frank after finishing surgery because he stood up for Houlihan after Hawkeye's unprovoked verbal abuse of her.
    • In "Crisis", Hawkeye and Trapper attack Frank for wearing heated socks he bought privately — which he was wearing in lieu of blankets — during a cold snap.
  • Killing for a Tissue Sample: In one episode, Margaret thinks she might be pregnant. She asks Hawkeye to do a Rabbit Test on her (where they inject a rabbit with a urine sample from a possible mother and then dissect the rabbit to examine its ovaries). The only female rabbit available is Radar's, who refuses to allow them to kill his pet, but he will let them do the test if they promise that the rabbit won't be killed. So Hawkeye does an ovarectomy on Radar's rabbit.
  • The Klutz: Nurse Edwina Ferguson in "Edwina", Private Paul "Look Out Below" Conway in "Too Many Cooks".
  • "Knock Knock" Joke: Hawkeye tells a couple truly awful ones in "Dear Dad...Again".
  • The Lancer: Trapper, and later B.J., were basically this for Hawkeye.
  • Language Barrier:
    • There was a language barrier between Americans who didn't speak Korean and some Korean civilians didn't speak English either, though a lot of them did to at least some degree.
    • It happened several times that one of the doctors was sent away to help some Koreans and got lost. They were nearly unable to communicate with people who tried to help them.
      • The amount of Korean that the various personnel speak seems to vary. In one episode, Radar is able to speak at least conversational Korean, and in another (later in the series, mind you!) is completely unable to speak any of the language. Margaret of all people seems to be the most fluent. Hawkeye is later shown to be able to read the language best of all the surgeons.
  • Large Ham Radio: "Your Hit Parade" has Radar playing DJ by spinning a new batch of records over the camp P.A. system.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Although the subject of Seasonal Rot has always been up for debate, critics and fans alike often agree that the show's ultimate turn for the worse began with Season Eight. By that time, Alan Alda and Burt Metcalfe had completely overhauled the production staff and replaced almost all of the writers, shifting the tone of the show from a sitcom with dramatic undertones to a drama with comedic undertones. Cerebus Syndrome combined with the loss of Radar and the end of Klinger's Section 8 schemes and cross-dressing (even Harry Morgan once remarked, "When we lost Radar, we essentially lost Klinger as well") turned the last four seasons into an almost entirely different show altogether.
  • Laugh Track: CBS insisted on one despite the objections of the producers, though this was averted in the O.R. scenes (and entirely for certain episodes). The laugh track was not used in foreign syndication. The DVDs allow the viewer the option of turning the laugh track off if so desired.
    • The producers slowly phased out the laugh track over the course of the show's run; the Grand Finale featured no laugh track whatsoever.
    • The original UK airings of the show did not feature the laugh track. When laugh track versions started airing, outraged Brits petitioned to have them yanked—and they got their wish.
  • Leader Wannabe: Burns coveted being the CO, so he relished the few times when, as the camp's second in command, he would temporarily receive command. (His underlings, not so much.)
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In an episode from Season Six (when the show was airing on Tuesday nights), Potter remarks "Why is it Tuesdays are always the worst?" in reaction to one of Klinger's more irritating schemes.
  • Left the Background Music On: The earliest episodes of the series actually contained music scoring throughout the whole show, as other sitcoms of the time would do. In the second season onward, music scoring was slowly, yet progressively, toned back; for at least a couple of seasons, background music would usually be heard in particularly lengthy comic sequences (e.g., Klinger hang-gliding out of camp, Flagg tearing apart a tent), though music buttons would be heard coming in and out of commercial breaks. For the next few seasons, those buttons were pretty much the only background music you heard. By Season Eight, the show had no background music whatsoever. Burt Metcalfe's reasonings for eliminating the background music were similar to that of Larry Gelbart's reasonings for wanting to forgo the laugh track altogther: "Just like the actual Korean War."
    • Coincidentally, just before the final episode was filmed the show's outdoor set burned down in a wildfire.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: In "Mulcahy's War", Father Mulcahy accompanies Radar to an aid station (in spite of Potter's orders not to—Mulcahy had been ostracized by a wounded patient about never having been in the field of war) where a soldier with a chest wound is unable to breathe because his tongue was swollen. Using radio instructions from Hawkeye, Mulcahy makes an incision in the soldier's throat and inserts an eye dropper tube in it so the soldier can breathe.
  • Life-or-Limb Decision: This is done in an unusual way in "Heal Thyself". Potter and Charles are down with the mumps, and the one replacement surgeon has been showing signs of instability. When they get a large batch of wounded, at one point Hawkeye is forced to amputate a soldier's leg because other patients don't have time for him to do anything else.
    Hawkeye: If I save this leg, I lose that life!
  • Lighter and Softer: The show basically started out as a milder, more TV-friendly version of the movie.
  • Likes Older Men: This is invoked in "Potter's Retirement". During the Kentucky Derby party, Hawkeye—dressed like a Colonel Sanders Expy—once again hits on Bigelow, only for her to actually go along with him this time.
    Hawkeye: Why has it taken you over a year?
    Bigelow: [tugs on Hawkeye's false beard] I like older men.
  • Limited Advancement Opportunities: Only Klinger and Father Mulcahy get promoted in the show (though Burns makes Lieutenant Colonel after his departure, and Flagg goes from Lt. Col. to full Col. between appearances). Radar also received a temporary promotion (as well as a fake one to "Corporal Captain").
  • Limited Wardrobe: This is played straight when you consider that most of the people in camp are army personnel and thus pretty much wear their uniforms all the time. But it is curiously averted whenever we see a character leave for R&R and they start packing a whole bunch of different clothes we never see them wear at all, even when they're out of uniform in camp. Hawkeye and Trapper seem to pack a lot of Hawaiian shirts, despite only wearing the same ones over and over again, and when Radar is unpacking his to stay at the 4077th rather than go home, he seems to have a lot of clothes he's pulling out of his suitcase and duffle bag.
  • Literal-Minded: Hawkeye and Potter, returning from an aid station take refuge from an attack in a foxhole. Potter hands Hawkeye a gun and tells him to defend himself:
    Potter: Fire that weapon!
    Hawkeye: All right. (to the gun) You're fired.
    • When General Barker sees Radar at Henry's desk smoking a cigar and drinking his brandy:
    Gen. Barker: What are you doing, Corporal?
    Radar: (nervously) Doing, sir?
    Gen. Barker: D-O-I-N-G. What are you doing??
    Radar: Listening to you spell "doing," sir.
  • Loan Shark: Winchester to B.J. in "The Merchant of Korea", and Rizzo to Winchester in "That Darn Kid".
  • Local Hangout: Rosie's. Also, the Officers' Club.
  • Locked in a Room: Happens to Trapper and Margaret in an early episode.
  • The Loins Sleep Tonight: Hawkeye experiences this in "Some 38th Parallels".
    • "U.N., the Night and the Music" has Margaret falling for a Swedish soldier who suffers from this due to a war injury. (To her credit, when she finds out, she insists he stay the night with her anyway to continue talking with one another.)
  • Long List:
    • Hawkeye seems to utilize this trope whenever he can, usually in describing things he will or won't do in any given situation.
    • A few characters (mostly Radar) will go into detail of all the specific paper, forms, requisitions, and such that are needed in order to obtain something that is needed.
  • Long-Runner Cast Turnover: The series had a significant cast turnover during its eleven seasons. Alan Alda (Hawkeye) and Loretta Swit (Margaret) were the only main cast present from pilot to finale. Jamie Farr (Klinger) was introduced early in the first season, but he started off as an extra. William Christopher played Father Mulcahy beginning early in the first season, but the role was played by a different actor in the pilot. The military hospital setting made it easy to write characters in and out with the excuse of them getting drafted, transferred, and discharged.
  • Loud of War: In one episode, Hawkeye and B.J. got in a showdown with Charles — they didn't like him playing the French horn, so they refused to shower until he stopped. He refused to stop.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: "The Nurses".
  • Lucky Charms Title: M*A*S*H.
  • Lysistrata Gambit: The "Edwina" episode has the nurses cutting the doctors off in this manner until one of them "dates" Edwina.

  • Macgyvering: In "Good-Bye Radar," with the generator on the fritz, the doctors put together a Wangensteen suction device from items in the camp kitchen to drain fluid from a patient's abdomen.
    • In "A War for All Seasons", Hawkeye and B.J. rig a primitive dialysis machine out of odds and ends, including casings from a Toledo sausage company and a washtub ordered from Sears & Roebuck.
  • Mad Brass: "The General Flipped at Dawn"
  • The Main Characters Do Everything: M*A*S*H is a particularly bad example.
    • Other surgeons are occasionally mentioned, but rarely seen. This leads to many instances of the four doctors working many hours straight without a break. There is also only one person who does the clerking work (who also works as a stretcher-bearer), when there should be somewhere between two and four, plus an entire administrative staff. In the first season, the camp had an anesthesiologist, "Ugly John", who was written out after a few episodes and replaced with whoever was closest to the anesthetics at the time, regardless of their qualifications to administer it.
    • Perhaps the worst and most confusing is "Cementing Relationships". Despite a camp full of lower-ranking soldiers with a great deal more experience with manual labor and less to lose from a hand injury, three surgeons, the head nurse, and the camp chaplain are the ones who put the new cement floor in the OR. Unsurprisingly, they screw up their first try. Similarly, in "MASH Olympics", when an ambulance is overturned, two of the three surgeons, the head nurse, and the camp chaplain are tasked with righting it.
    • Justified on one occasion in the Season 3 episode "Bombed". A wounded enemy soldier came in rigged with a wire and a live grenade. Frank recommended getting Staff Sergeant Benson, the camp demolitions expert, to look after it; trouble was, the camp was being shelled and Benson was on the next table.
  • Maligned Mixed Marriage: GIs with Korean girlfriends/wives (and sometimes children) occasionally appear, often struggling to get through red tape to either get married or bring their new families back to the States with them.
    • This also became a central plot point in the Spin-Off series AfterMASH, as Klinger struggled with his fellow Americans maligning his marriage to the Korean Soon-Lee.
  • Manly Tears: Several times, but especially in "Abyssinia, Henry". Even Frank is seen crying on hearing the news of Henry's death.
  • Mattress Tag Gag: Variant: In "The General Flipped at Dawn", Henry dons a new set of fatigues in anticipation of Gen. Steele's arrival. He asks Radar if there are any tags visible, and Radar tears one off from the back of the pants before reading: "Do not remove this tag under penalty of Federal Code 764-J."
    Henry: Boy, you get me in trouble and I'm gonna have your keister.
  • Meaningful Echo: Provided by Sidney Freedman in the finale.
    "You know, I told you people something a long time ago, and it's just as pertinent today as it was then. Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice: Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Back home, the O'Reillys have a goat named Randy, who apparently likes to try and mate with other animals on the farm. In fact, in a letter from home, Randy had tried to kiss a turkey.
    • Meta example: The episode "38 Across" is about what happens when misunderstandings spiral out of control with disastrous results. The title refers to a crossword puzzle clue that kicks off the episode's plot, but also to the 38th Parallel—the line of latitude that cuts across the Korean Peninsula between North and South Korea, where much of the war's combat (and fruitless peace talks) occurred.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: Hawkeye actually calls it "meatball surgery". A MASH unit's main objective was simply to make sure the wounded did not die; soldiers with minor injuries could be sent back to their units, but more severe cases had to be patched up so they could survive a trip to an evac hospital.
    • He comes close to quoting the trope in "Fallen Idol" when he refers to his job as pulling bodies out of a sausage grinder.
    • Charles struggles with this concept in his debut episode because he is a perfectionist and and takes pride in being able to perform complicated and delicate procedures that should really be done further away from the front line.
    • In one episode, Recurring Character Dr. Sydney Freedman tells the gang that he himself performs "meatball psychiatry".
  • Medal of Dishonor: B.J. in "Bombshells".
  • Meganekko: Lt. Simmons, a nurse Radar pursues in "Springtime".
  • Middleman Has A Point: In episode "Dear Uncle Abdul", Hawkeye and B.J. argue who tells jokes the funniest. When asked by them who's the funniest, Klinger sets them straight.
    Klinger: It's no contest. Neither one of ya... You guys don't even make the first cut. I'm tryin' to tell my uncle what kind of a place I work in. Doctors, nurses, savin' lives. I got a commanding officer who dresses me up in his clothes and sits me on a horse named Sophie so he can paint his own picture. There's a priest writing war ditties and a snooty major who pays me 20 bucks to follow him out in the woods and watch him blow up a pigeon with a land mine. And if that doesn't do it for ya, I got a head nurse who shoots unarmed luggage. All you two guys do is walk around all day tellin' jokes. What the hell's so funny about that?
  • Mildly Military: Justified somewhat by the Real Life Army practices of drafting civilian doctors in wartime, and automatically giving all M.D.s the rank of Captain. (Occasionally averted in the real Korean War, which did have some surgeons with the rank of Lieutenant.)
    • Very few of the non-draftees wear the appropriate uniform or haircut.
    • No main character in the entire series ever seems to wear a unit patch on the left sleeve to identify his division as was (and still is) the common practice at the time. One-shot characters will sometimes have a patch on, like the Colonel with V.D. who wore a 1st Cavalry patch.
    • It's extremely unlikely someone dressing and behaving like Klinger would have been tolerated in any military unit in the early fifties. More than likely he would have gotten a dishonorable discharge just to get him the heck out of there.
  • Military Moonshiner: There's always been a distillery in the Swamp, but it's been three different stills. The first (which looked radically different) was destroyed by Frank Burns in the pilot episode and rebuilt in the design that was seen for the rest of the show. The second was totaled by B.J. in the episode after Radar's departure. The third iteration of the still survived to the end of the show, but it's not clear what exactly happened to it; presumably it was discarded, as Hawkeye and B.J. would have no need for it at home.
  • Minor with Fake I.D.: In "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet," Hawkeye discovers that a wounded soldier is too young to have enlisted; he used his older brother's birth certificate to sign up. At the end of the episode, Hawkeye turns him over to the MP's so they can send him home.
  • Misplaced Wildlife:
    • In "The Joker Is Wild", a hyena can be heard in the background when Hawkeye is sleeping outside. Hyenas are indigenous to Africa.
    • Radar's menagerie of pets includes a skunk. Those don't exist in Asia.
      • He is seen in at least one episode as having subscribed to a service that mails him animals. It's possible he got it that way.
      • They also could be unit mascots that he took in after the soldiers caring for them went home.
  • Mix and Match: In the finale, Klinger marries a Korean woman and, in a act that surprises everyone—including himself—decides to stay in Korea temporarily to help locate his new wife's family.
    • On the flip side are Korean women abandoned by the GI father of their child. Both mother and child suffer from ostracism from society and rejection from their families. Sadly this is Truth in Television for many mixed race children born in countries at war.
      • Further exacerbated by the fact, mentioned on the show, that while most countries with troops in Korea offered assistance to the children of their service personnel and Korean women, no such support was forthcoming from the US.
  • Mobile Shrubbery:
    • Radar (spying on Hawkeye) in "I Hate a Mystery"; Klinger (attempting to escape the 4077) in "Dear Peggy".
    • Colonel Flagg hides inside a garbage can for a meeting with Charles in "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys".
  • Modern Major General: Lieutenant Colonel Henry Blake is a top-notch surgeon, but is clearly out of his depth as commanding officer of a M*A*S*H unit.
  • The Mole:
    • The "Dear Comrade" episode involves a North Korean spy who infiltrates the 4077 posing as Winchester's houseboy.
    • "Potter's Retirement" has one of these posing as an orderly and reporting to HQ about slipshod discipline at the 4077th.
  • Momma's Boy: Frank became a doctor as per his mother's wishes, he keeps her picture by his cot, and when he flips his lid over Margaret's engagement, Radar places a call to his mother.
  • Mood Whiplash: The show has far too many to list, but "Yankee Doodle Doctor" in particular stands out, both In-Universe and out. After doing Groucho Marx-esque gags throughout the film, Hawkeye ends it by sitting next to a critically injured patient and explaining that despite doing all they could, he has a 50/50 chance of surviving his wounds and they just can't save everyone.
  • MST: In "There Is Nothing Like a Nurse," Hawkeye, Henry, Trapper, Radar, and Klinger riff on home movies of Frank's wedding. As it starts with a scene of the wedding guests in line:
    Hawkeye: I've invited you all here today because I'm ready to name the murderer.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: During one episode when Korean orphans have overrun the 4077th, a pair of kids persuade Colonel Potter to read a user manual for a Garand rifle as a bedtime story. Potter reads in an epic tone to satisfy the kids.
  • My Friends... and Zoidberg: When Hawkeye, B.J., Charles, and Radar are in the Swamp together, Charles will often excuse himself with: "Gentlemen. (nod to Radar) Corporal."
  • My Nayme Is: Sidney Freedman. It's actually brought up in one episode, where Hawkeye spells it out to Flagg: "Two 'E's, as in "Freedom". Flagg even later confronts Sidney; "I've done a lot of reading about you, Dr. Freedman with two 'E's."
  • Naked People Are Funny: Done to great effect.
  • Narrator: In the "Dear ______ " episodes.
  • Near-Death Clairvoyance: "Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead" is a combination of this and Fever Dream Episode.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye:
    • In "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye discovers Trapper was sent home while he was away on R&R. Made even worse that they tried to call and tell him but he was busy with a geisha at the time.
    • In "Goodbye Radar", the entire camp decides to throw Radar a going-away party, which he is late to attending. Before he can get to it, the choppers arrive and the camp goes into hospital-mode, the party left abandoned. Radar is forced to settle for quick goodbyes with the primary cast, and a simple salute from Hawkeye, who is in the O.R. performing surgery.
    • In the Grand Finale "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", B.J. leaves for home while Hawkeye is in the psychiatric hospital recovering from his breakdown. Subverted when B.J.'s discharge orders are rescinded, Hawkeye is released from the hospital, and both of them are sent back to the 4077 to see the end of the war together.
  • Never Lend to a Friend:
    • "The Merchant of Korea" has Winchester loaning money to B.J. and then proceeding to treat him like a servant, expecting him to do everything he wants. For some reason B.J. grudgingly complies, even though he already has the money and these conditions were never discussed when he asked for the loan.
    • Another episode has Frank and Hot Lips arguing over this, including the obligatory mention of the "neither a borrower nor a lender be" quote from Hamlet.
  • Never My Fault: One of Potter's old war friends, a general named Woody, ends one of the last few episodes with one of these. Since the main conflict of the episode is trying to get him to realize that he shouldn't have even been on the front lines in the first place (he was an Armchair Military general who took command when an attack hit the base he was visiting, when he should have been in the rear with supply distribution, and his only contribution was getting a lot of men injured trying to secure a hill that they'd previously been ordered to stay away from) because the "young bucks" don't know what they're doing, eventually Potter sits him down to try and have a talk with him and explain that the glory days are gone. Rather than realize that his glory days in the Army have come and gone, Woody gets an Ignored Epiphany and angrily storms out of Potter's tent, claiming that he ruined their friendship and leaving Potter somewhat depressed over having lost one of his old friends.
  • New Year Has Come: "A War for All Seasons" covers an entire year in the life of the 4077th, bookended by New Year's Eve celebrations in 1950 and 1951.
  • Nice Hat: Henry's bucket-style fishing hat; Colonel Potter's WWI campaign hat; Klinger's Toledo Mud Hens cap (and, in the earlier seasons, his impressive collection of feminine millinery); Father Mulcahy's Panama hat; Radar's wool knit cap; Trapper and B.J.'s straw hats; Winchester's childhood wool toboggan cap.
    • Though he doesn't wear them often, Hawkeye has a few nifty-looking hats: a floppy camo hat that he wears in a few first-season episodes (it turns up in the opening credits), a straw cowboy hat, a propeller beanie, etc.
    • Also Frank's wool knit cap, worn only in the TV interview show, for the rather obvious reason that it allows him to display his rank insignia prominently at all times when on camera (even in the OR, as he wears it under his surgical cap with the front pulled down to show the insignia).
  • Nicknaming the Enemy: Both North and South Koreans are called "gooks" by unsympathetic guest characters.
    • Truth in Television, regrettably. The term "gook" was coined during the Korean War and was later used more famously in Vietnam. It's derived from "Miguk", the Korean word for the United States. Apparently, American soldiers thought the Koreans were identifying themselves as "gooks" in Hulk Speak ("Miguk" sounds like "me gook"). And yes, all too many American soldiers didn't even bother to make a distinction between the South Koreans they were defending and the North Koreans they were fighting, viewing them all as "just gooks".
    • The North Koreans are also referred to as "unfriendlies" on a couple occasions.
  • No Ending: Parodied and played straight in one episode (in the same scene, even): The entire camp shares a murder mystery chapter by chapter. Once they reach the ending, the murderer is revealed to be...well, nothing, because the last page is missing. They go so far as to hunt down and contact the author at her home across the globe to get the answer, with some difficulty (she is so old that she has trouble even remembering which novel it is). Then, the kicker: later on, Colonel Potter notices and announces that her answer couldn't possibly have been the murderer due to several in-story scenes that contradict that. The episode then ends with Hawkeye humorously declaring himself to be the murderer.
  • No Name Given: This happens in the episode "Lil" when Hawkeye tries to figure out what "B.J." stands for. Every record Hawkeye can find (even B.J.'s official personnel file) lists the name as simply B.J., much to Hawkeye's chagrin. As revealed in the end of that episode, B.J. was named after his parents: his mother Bea and his father Jay.
    • Radar's first name, Walter, was not revealed until "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler".
    • Maxwell Q. Klinger's middle name was never revealed.
    • Trapper's full middle names Francis Xavier are not revealed during the course of the series, but the initials are seen on his footlocker. He does mention Xavier in "Bombed".
  • No OSHA Compliance: One episode revolves around the 4077th making a new concrete floor for the operating room because the old one is covered with germs that's causing multiple staph infections. Everything goes well, eventually, but in The Tag we see what's causing the staph infections in the first place: All of the bloody cloth and whatnot used in surgery being tossed onto the floor instead of in the buckets beneath the operating tables.
  • Noodle Incident: The origin of Margaret's nickname, "Hot Lips", is this in the series. Hawkeye uses it in the pilot episode, but when General Hammond arrives later in the episode and uses it, they react like they've never heard it before; Hawkeye simply stumbled onto an embarrassing nickname she already had. The origin is known to the audience and all of the characters in the novel and movie.
    • It's more likely that the captains were already aware of the nickname and are simply surprised that the general not only knows it as well but used it within earshot of them.
  • Not So Remote: In "They Call the Wind Korea", Klinger and Charles are out in a Jeep (Klinger was taking Charles to the airport, as he was going to Tokyo for R & R) when a bad storm breaks out. They take refuge in an overturned truck, and find several wounded Greek soldiers inside, whom Charles must treat without adequate medical supplies. The next morning Klinger goes out in search of more resources and discovers that they were only a short distance away from camp the entire time.
  • Not with the Safety on, You Won't: When Hawkeye and Potter are pinned in a foxhole and Hawkeye must actually fire his pistol, Potter cocks the hammer first. Which means Hawkeye carries it hammer down, which on a 1911note  is actually the least safe way to carry it (John Browning designed it this way, so no matter how much you drop a cocked 1911, it will never accidentally discharge).
  • Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep: Parodied by Father Mulcahy, of all people.
    Now I lay me down to sleep,
    A bag of peanuts at my feet.
    If I die before I wake,
    Give them to my brother Jake.
    • Followed by a full fifteen seconds of the other cast members in the tent laughing uncontrollably. It's unclear whether they just lost it or they were scripted to laugh.
  • Now You Tell Me: This happens in Season One when Henry reads instructions on how to disarm a bomb while Hawkeye and Trapper perform the actual task. A few steps in, they're given one step—followed by a "but first" clause.
  • Obfuscating Disability:
    • In "Deal Me Out", Radar apparently hits an elderly Korean villager with a jeep. When the man demands $50 not to report Radar to the MPs, a visiting officer susses out that he is a notorious con man known as "Whiplash Hwang".
      • Reprised in "Exorcism" with a twist: Frank warns that this too may be a scam, until the man's granddaughter explains that the old man was trying to frighten away a demon he believed had possessed him.
    • Klinger employs this (and/or Playing Sick) in some of his dodge attempts. Once he faked fainting spells, and another time he pretended to have crippling depression. This is averted, however, in the one time that he was actually ill (he had anemia) but everyone else assumed he was faking. His response points out that while he may try to scam his way out of the Army, he has never done it when people's lives are on the line and he is needed in surgery. Indeed, his only fake fainting spell in the OR was after the last patient was seen to.
      • Inverted when Klinger is too close to an exploding land minenote  and loses his hearing. At first, the main characters suspect he is attempting another scam, but it turns out he really has lost his hearing. At the end of the episode, he gets his hearing back, only for another character to tell him that hearing loss is a sure-fire way out of the Army. Klinger, being Klinger, immediately starts pretending he lost his hearing again.
  • Obfuscating Insanity:
    • Klinger tries this—repeatedly and unsuccessfully—throughout the entire series.
    • Also tried unsuccessfully by Hawkeye to get leave in the episode "Bananas, Crackers, and Nuts."
    • In "Fade Out, Fade In", Klinger enlists the services of a "lawyer" who turns out to be using this.
    • This is subverted by a one-off character, Corporal Miller, in "Major Topper". Klinger is initially convinced Miller is faking, but changes his mind when Miller starts firing his rifle at nonexistent North Koreans. Miller returns to the States and makes a fortune off of the toys he was able to make based on his experiences in Korea, leaving Klinger despondent that even he was fooled. Then Potter reads part of Miller's letter where he asks if anyone had taken photos of the glider Miller claimed to have shot down.
  • Obligatory War Crime Scene: In addition to other episode plots about the Army bombing random villages and mistreating prisoners, snipers and roadside bombs often find their way around the 4077th, which is a medical unit.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: They're in the Army, after all, so the 4077th occasionally find themselves dealing with one or more of these. This includes things like supplies, where on occasion the 4077th gets sent the wrong supplies and can't protest because according to the Army's records they got what they were supposed to, when they clearly didn't.
  • Obvious Stunt Double: When some of the characters are riding in a chopper, and it's clear it's not the actual actors.
  • Office Golf: Henry.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Major Charles Emerson Winchester III, as his name and his Boston Blue Blood accent would suggest, tries to affect this trope most of the time.
  • Oh, Cisco!
  • Oh, Crap!: Draftees at the 4077th, particularly the doctors, are occasionally surprised by either the extreme quirkiness of the Army or the horrifying effects of the war. Examples: everything to deal with the unexploded bomb in "The Army-Navy Game"; Klinger realizing the depth of his legal dilemma at the end of "Snappy Judgment"; and Hawkeye encountering a soldier who has lost his memory in "The Billfold Syndrome". Then there was the Army sending the 4077th a lawyer instead of a doctor, throwing both Hawkeye and B.J..
  • Old Soldier: Colonel Potter.
  • Omniglot: Klinger. He speaks English, Arabic, Lebanese, and has picked up a little Korean.
  • Once a Season:
    • Up until Cerebus Syndrome set in, the writers and producers made it a point to have at least one episode each season that was far more serious in either tone or subject matter (e.g., "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet" from Season One, "George" from Season Two).
    • Beginning with Season 3's "O.R.", there would also be at least one or two episodes per season where the laugh track would be omitted entirely.
  • One Crazy Night: Several episodes compress the usual wacky hijinks into one night.
    • The episode "Deal Me Out" centers around a poker game. Between hands, the characters have to deal with a con man, a violent soldier, and a paranoid CID officer.
    • "It Happened One Night" deals with the entire camp observing blackout conditions due to enemy shelling—which turns out to be their own artillery. During this time, Hawkeye deals with a spastic shell-shocked soldier in Post-Op, Klinger trains a new corpsman pulling guard duty, Frank literally tears Margaret's tent apart to look for his love notes she kept, B.J. worries about his patient whose had an excessive amount of blood IVs, and Potter and Radar work to try to get the shelling stopped.
    • "No Sweat" has the camp unable to sleep during a miserable heat wave. B.J. stays up fuming because he got a letter from his wife mentioning that the gutters need to be cleaned, which he views as his responsibility; Winchester stays up to do his family's taxes after their accountant is arrested; Klinger stays up taking apart and putting back together the P.A. system; Potter takes a sleeping pill to help him sleep only for the camp to have various situations that require him to be involved in resolving them; and Margaret suffers from a severe case of prickly heat on her butt.
  • Once Done, Never Forgotten: During an episode when Hot Lips (whose nickname itself is an example) demands a transfer from the 4077th, citing Hawkeye and Trapper's hijinks as one cause:
    Hot Lips: I am not looking for a truce with these two shower tent peekers!
Trapper: Boy, you peek into one shower and you're labeled for life.
  • One-Liner, Name... One-Liner: At the conclusion of "Smilin' Jack," Hawkeye asks Potter which of the three campaigns he's been in was the worst when word comes in that France suffered 500 casualties in an attack at Solma-Ri.
    Potter: Every last one of them, Hawkeye. Every last one of them.
    • In "As You Were," Radar is on the phone trying to get shelling either stopped or diverted:
    Radar: I said west, Tony! West!
  • The Oner: "Point Of View" has several, including an Epic Tracking Shot that begins over the hill and ends on the helipad.
  • One Scene, Two Monologues: In "Life with Father", Colonel Blake and Father Mulcahy have a conversation of this type. (Blake's worried about his wife being unfaithful back home; Mulcahy's worried about his sister, a nun, possibly leaving the sisterhood; the two of them consequently talk right past each other.)
  • One-Shot Character: Not only were there a number of them, but many of them got a Day in the Limelight episode:
    • Young-Hi: A young Korean woman who was bought by an America Sergeant as his own personal "Moose" (an oriental slang term for girl), whom Hawkeye, Trapper, and Spearchucker liberate and attempt to teach her how to act like a person.
    • John "Cowboy" Hodges: A Reno-native chopper pilot who fears his stateside wife may be cheating on him and continually attempts to assassinate Henry for refusing to let him go home.
    • Lieutenant Edwina Ferguson: A disasterously clumsy and awkward nurse who initially joined the Army on an impulse after her fiancee enlisted and she never heard from him again, and still hadn't found love since.
    • Colonel Buzz Brighton (the ringbanger): who's so callous about his army career, yet in such peak physical fitness that Hawkeye and Trapper convince him he's suffering a mental breakdown and needs to be sent stateside for a while.
    • Kim: An assumed orphaned boy who Trapper decides to adopt until his mother turns up in the end to reclaim him.
    • Nancy Sue Parker: A young twentysomething whom Henry falls in love with, despite the difference in their ages (and already being married), and despite taking into consideration at that young age, Nancy's hormones aren't quite under control.
    • Private Baker: Who was desperate for plastic surgery to reshape his large, bulbous nose.
    • George: A foot soldier who was beaten by his fellow soldiers for being gay, for which Frank tries to get him dishonorably discharged.
    • General Bartford Hamilton Steele: The crazy general who inspects the 4077th and decides they need to move even closer to the front to conserve on helicopter fuel and get casualties to the hospital faster.
    • General Robert "Iron Guts" Kelly: A visiting general who dies in the middle of hanky-panky with Margaret.
    • Colonel Reese: An older female colonel who has the hots for Frank, but when she's caught forcing herself on him, she claims rape.
    • Lieutenant "Digger" Dettmuller: An undertaker who was sent to claim Hawkeye's body after he was mistakenly registered as dead, but is still in need of taking a body back to the morgue.
    • Captain Arnold Chandler: A downed bomber pilot who suffers an identity crisis and believes he's Jesus Christ.
    • Smilin' Jack: A chopper pilot whose desperate to win the Chopper Pilot of the Year award, despite Potter ordering him to be grounded due to having diabetes.
    • Most of the nurses in "The Nurses", particularly Mickie Baker, who ends up in house arrest for arguing with Margaret but gets sneaked out so she can spend the night with her newly-wedded husband as he passes through on a 24-hour pass.
    • Sergeant Billy Tyler: The All-American running back from Ottumwa, Iowa, who loses his leg, and believes his football career is over.
    • Lieutenant Carrie Donovan: A heartbroken nurse who receives a "Dear Jane" letter from her husband, but finds comfort (and kinda probably a little more) from B.J.
    • Leo Bardanaro: B.J.'s old friend who is a notorious practical joker and gets B.J. by having him arrested for pranking a general in a hotel by yelling "fire" while the general and his secretary were in the bathtub at the time.
    • Captain Roy Dupree and Captain Lorraine Anderson, both of whom temporarily trade places with Hawkeye and Bigelow, respectively; the former B.J. and Charles find incredibly obnoxious for his boorish personality, the latter is a childhood friend of Margaret's and is actually envied for still retaining her carefree spirit.
    • Colonel Lillian "Lil" Rayburn: An elderly female colonel who spends a few days at the 4077th for inspection, and ends up becoming very friendly with Potter, much to Radar's outrage.
    • Sergeant Jerry Neilsen: A field medic who comes down with amnesia after his baby brother is killed by mortar fire in his bunker.
    • Private Rich: A foot soldier whose stay at the 4077th is seen completely through his point of view after sustaining a throat injury.
    • Kwang: A Korean Charles hires to be his own personal houseboy, not knowing he's actually a North Korean spy sent to gather information of the 4077th's surgical techniques to find out what makes the unit so efficient.
    • Inga: A Swedish lady doctor who unintentionally bruises both Hawkeye and Charles's male egos.
    • And this is only a partial list!
  • One Steve Limit:
    • Trapper John McIntyre, Francis John Patrick Mulcahy, Ugly John Black, Ho-Jon.
    • Henry's wife's name was originally Mildred (later Lorraine), while Potter's wife was also named Mildred (as well as a girl Trapper had a one-night stand with in Chicago).
    • Both Trapper and Frank's wives names were Louise.
    • This is played straight in an episode where the hospital had to examine and treat five different locals, all named Kim Luck. (It was their Kim Lucky day.) This is implied to be a case where a number of people are all using the same alias.
      • In addition to them, Trapper almost adopted a presumed orphaned boy whose name was Kim, and Hawkeye also helped one of the medics marry his Korean baby-mama, whose name was also Kim. Mind you, "Kim" is a family name in Korea, not a personal name; and it is more common than Smith in English speaking countries. So it's actually more surprising that even more characters weren't named Kim.
    • Various different nurses went through the names Able, Baker, Gage, Mitchell, Anderson, Simmons, among others.
    • Radar had two different pets (one was a bunny, the other was a guinea pig) that were named Bongo.
    • In "Mail Call Three", we learn there's at least one other Capt. Benjamin Pierce serving in Korea, and having his letters mixed up with Hawkeye's.
    • Peggy Hunnicutt and Peggy Bigelow.
  • The Only Believer: From the main cast, only Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan really believe in the cause of the Korean War. All the rest are draftees and anti-war.
  • Open Heart Dentistry: On one occasion, Dr. Freedman was asked to help out in O.R.; as a psychiatrist he is a qualified medical doctor, but he's not a surgeon, and as Sidney put it, "Medical school was a long time ago."
    • Spearchucker as well. He commented once that "anything outside the skull, I'm dead" while performing surgery on a patient's abdomen.
    • Major Houlihan is also taught by Hawkeye to perform emergency surgery note . Despite her protestations that she is not trained and legally cannot perform surgery, she performs very capably.
    • Even Father Mulcahy performed basic surgical procedures when assisting in the OR. On one occasion, he performed a tracheotomy on the road with Hawkeye coaching him over the radio.
    • One gifted doctor, temporarily with the 4077th, turns out not to be a qualified doctor at all—he is a Walter Mitty who is pretending to be a doctor. Hawkeye notes that for a guy with no medical training, he's still ten times better than Frank Burns (and never lost a patient).
  • Open Secret: Frank and Margaret's relationship in the first four seasons is this. Father Mulcahy was the only one who didn't officially know...but he did suspect.
  • Operation: [Blank]: "Operation Noselift", "Operation Friendship"
  • Opposites Attract: Laid-back Hawkeye and hard-nosed Margaret had quite a few Foe Yay and Tsundere-type moments throughout the series, especially in times when Margaret expressed disappointment in her marriage to Donald Penobscot. Perhaps as a result of this, she became more laid-back herself, and started showing a rapport with the snobbish Charles in the last three seasons or so.
  • ...Or So I Heard: In "Adam's Ribs":
    Hawkeye: Don't you come from Chicago, Klinger?
    Radar: No, he's from Toledo.
    Klinger: But I get my lingerie from Chicago.
    Trapper: And it's beautiful. (after the others turn and look at him) I hear.
  • Out, Damned Spot!: Captain Newsome in "Heal Thyself."
  • Out-of-Character Moment: Charles screwing over Korean peasants by buying scrip for a tenth of its value in "Change Day". This is nothing like blue blood, old money Charles, who later anonymously donates candies to an orphanage. It feels more like something Frank or Klinger might do. In fact, it's almost as if it was a leftover Frank script that had the names changed. It's even lampshaded in the show that he has no need for extra money, but he claims it's for the thrill of making the money, not for the money itself. There's a later episode where he demonstrates a similar motivation by making bets with just about everyone in camp over the World Series, but it still comes off as strange.
  • Out with a Bang: "Iron Guts Kelly" combines this with a bit of Of Corpse He's Alive.
  • Paranoia Gambit: In "The Joker is Wild", B.J. bets Hawkeye that he can prank eveyone in the camp, but as his pranks intensify and everyone but Hawkeye gets pranked, Pierce becomes so paranoid that he sleeps outside within a barb wire enclosure. At the end, B.J. and his "victims" reveal that no one was actually pranked—it was all a plan to prank Hawkeye by making him paranoid. Though it does mean that, technically, B.J. lost the bet.
    • In another escalating prank war initiated by Charles, after they drop a dummy on her while in bed, Margaret tells B.J. she sent a letter to his wife detailing their year-long affair, and that Hawkeye set them up. It's actually another Kansas City Shuffle, this time on Charles.
  • Patriotic Fervor: This is frequently displayed by both Frank Burns and (especially) Colonel Flagg.
  • Pet the Dog: Margaret gets one in Season Three as a prelude to her later softening-up, as she cares for a feverish Radar.
    • Winchester had a few in later seasons. In "Fathers and Bowlers" he stayed up with Hawkeye, who was awaiting word from the States regarding his father's surgery, and in "Run for the Money" he befriended a private who had a bad stutter and even threatened to file a formal complaint against the private's CO for berating his intelligence. It is later revealed that Winchester's sister Honoria also stuttered. And in another episode, he helps a soldier who is a Juliard-trained pianist who has suffered nerve damage to the fingers of one of his hands by giving him music specifically written for people with only one hand, and telling the soldier that his musical ability is a gift that should not be wasted - one that Charles wished for himself, but was forced to admit "I could play the notes, but I could not play the music".
  • Pie in the Face: Father Mulcahy gets one (thrown by Margaret and meant for Hawkeye and B.J.) in "An Eye for a Tooth".
  • Pin-Pulling Teeth: In a moment of ill-considered "manliness", Frank pulls the pin out of a grenade with his teeth and spits it away. Then he realizes what he's done and starts desperately searching for it.
  • Pointy-Haired Boss: Colonel Blake, much of the time.
  • Poor Man's Porn: Hawkeye's nudist magazines, and Radar's reference to looking at National Geographic when his Uncle Ed wasn't around.
    • Additionally, Radar's holes drilled in the nurses' shower tent.
    • And Hawkeye was prone to bribing Radar by offering him to look at the nurses' x-rays.
    • Henry's movies from Cuba and his Japanese prints.
    • All of which is justified since the real thing as we know it today was hard to come by in the 1950s.
  • Porn Stache:
    • B.J. has one of these beginning in Season Seven.
    • Ugly John also sported one.
  • P.O.V. Cam: "Point of View" is shot entirely from the perspective of a wounded soldier going through the MASH.
  • The Prankster:
    • B.J. is this especially, but other characters (Hawkeye, Trapper, Charles) take on this role in various episodes as well. Even Frank Burns gets to try his hand at this in "Showtime".
    • The Season Eleven episode "The Joker Is Wild" turns the entire camp into Pranksters. Although they're eventually revealed to have all been collaborating on a master pranking of Hawkeye at the behest of B.J.
  • Precision F-Strike:
    • The usually timid and soft-spoken Radar once lets loose an exasperated "Hell!" When B.J. gives a surprised "What?" in response, Radar replies, "You heard me! H-E-double-toothpicks!"
    • Also lampshaded in "Mad Dogs and Servicemen" when he's bedridden following being bitten by a dog but his test for rabies comes back negative. Radar, having endured numerous rabies shots:
      Radar: (to God) A deal's a deal, Sir. No more "hells," "damns," and especially not the big one.
    • The Wham Line from the final episode, which was one of the forbidden Seven Dirty Words in The '80s:
      Hawkeye: You son of a bitch, why did you make me remember that?
    • The above was actually used first in the episode "Guerilla My Dreams," when Hawkeye seethes at a Korean interrogator taking a female enemy soldier off to be tortured. It was the first time the phrase "son of a bitch" had ever aired uncensored on prime-time television.
  • Pregnancy Scare: A subplot of "What's Up Doc?" has Margaret believing she's pregnant after having spent R&R in Tokyo with her beau Daniel Penobscott; she worries that giving birth will result in an automatic discharge. For confirmation, Hawkeye borrows Radar's female bunny for Margaret's pregnancy test, which turns up negative. Apparently, Margaret was simply having gallbladder problems.
  • Present-Day Past: The show is pretty infamous for how much its version of the early '50s resembles the '70s. Some of this was carried over from the film, which deliberately made the Korean War look like the then-ongoing Vietnam War as a political statement. In the series, this was apparently due more to laziness, at least if you take the show's producers at their word that the series was not meant as a Vietnam allegory. And much like with Happy Days, the laziness about period detail tended to increase with each passing season. The show does have occasional flashes of remembering when it's supposed to take place, usually for the sake of It Will Never Catch On jokes.
  • Pretty in Mink: Klinger, although one was used as a plot point before he stopped cross-dressing.
  • Promotion, Not Punishment: Klinger is threatened with this. In his continued efforts of trying to get a discharge from the Army by running around in dresses (among other things), Frank, at one point, says to him, "I've warned you, that crazy stuff's not gonna wash with me! The next time I find you in a floppy hat, or a brassiere... I'll promote you!" On one occasion, Klinger recalls trying to convince his draft board he was crazy. He was told, "Keep this up and we'll make you an officer."
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Jamie Farr (season 4), William Christopher (season 5).
  • Prosthetic Limb Reveal: In the episode "Dreams", Hawkeye dreams that he's taking a test and the proctor tells Winchester to remove Hawkeye's arms, which are then tossed onto a pile. Then Hawkeye is supposed to operate on an injured Korean boy, but can't because he doesn't have arms. In the context of the dream, Hawkeye doesn't have real arms, which is revealed when Winchester removes them. It symbolizes Hawkeye's frustration at his inability to make any real changes to the war.
  • Pungeon Master: Most of the characters at times, but Hawkeye and B.J. in particular.
  • Punished for Sympathy: "The Trial of Henry Blake" puts this into perspective: In an attempt to have Henry relieved of duty as commanding officer of the 4077th, Margaret and Frank have him charged with a number of misdemeanors, including giving aid and comfort to North Koreans. In actuality, Henry had been contributing penicillin, among other drugs, to an elderly American nurse who runs a clinic in enemy territory dedicated to aiding poverty-stricken civilians.
  • Put on a Bus: Henry, Trapper, Frank, and Radar are all Put on a Plane and sent back to the States. (In Henry's case, the plane crashes, literally and figuratively.) Each of these people get a mention in the final two episodes. Hawkeye and B.J. contribute items once belonging to Radar and Henry for the time capsule and explain to Charles that nothing of Frank's would be included due to his incompetence. And when B.J. leaves for home in the series finale without leaving Hawkeye a farewell note, Hawkeye laments that Trapper did the same thing.

  • Quietly Performing Sister Show: Roll Out!. Airing for only one season in 1973, it too was created by Larry Gelbart and Gene Reynolds, as CBS decided to try and have another military sitcom with M*A*S*H's success to bolster it. It didn't work out that way though, and today is virtually all but forgotten.
  • Quote-to-Quote Combat: Margaret asks Frank for a loan.
    Frank: "Neither a lender nor a borrower be." Polonius.
    Margaret: "To give and not count the cost." St. Ignatius Loyola.
    Frank: "The holy passion of friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last throughout a whole lifetime if not asked to lend money." Mark Twain.
    Margaret: "Blow it out your ear." Margaret Houlihan.
  • Racial Face Blindness:
    • In a season two episode, the Korean liaison officer semi-sarcastically explains the difficulty in finding the father of a half-American baby as, "You all look alike to us." There are also several episodes that deal with or make reference to the difficulty in people being able to tell the difference between Japanese, Chinese and Korean people.
      Frank Burns: [They're] clever, boy. They don't all look alike by accident, you know!
    • Invoked in the finale, Klinger's Korean fiancee (played by Rosalind Chao, Chinese-American) is looking for her family, whom she describes several times as "Short, dark hair?" Perhaps a meta casting gag in that there were plenty of Chinese, Japanese, and Vietnamese actors cast to play Koreans.
    • Humorously invoked in "To Market, To Market". Hawkeye and Trapper arrange a deal with Charlie Lee, a black marketeer, to give him Henry Blake's newly-acquired antique oak desk — without Henry's knowledge — in exchange for some hydrocortisone. As a prelude to the deal, he shows up at Henry's office disguised as a South Korean general to examine said desk. Then, at the end of the episode after the exchange has been made, Henry sees Charlie again without the disguise:
      Henry: [suspiciously] Hey, have you got a relative who's a general?
      Charlie: [shrugging] You know how it is, Colonel. We all look alike.
  • Radish Cure: Father Mulcahy cures a dog of its liquor-stealing habits by giving the dog all the whiskey it can drink. One massive hangover later, and the dog refused to touch alcohol ever again.
  • Rape as Comedy: After Frank and Margaret save Hawkeye and Trapper's cause in "For the Good of the Outfit", Trapper pins Margaret to Henry's desk to kiss her despite her protests while Hawkeye chases Frank around the office to apparently do the same.
  • "Rashomon"-Style: "The Novocaine Mutiny" has Hawkeye and Frank narrating very different versions of the same events during a court-martial hearing.
  • Real Award, Fictional Character: This is used basically the same way twice.
    • In one episode, Frank Burns slips and injures his back in a "normal" accident on the base, which requires routine intervention. He browbeats Colonel Blake into accepting the logic that since the 4077 M*A*S*H is officially a front-line military hospital which shares front-line perils like occasional shelling and sniping, his "wound" was sustained on the front lines and thus merits a Purple Heart. Henry grudgingly gives in and writes the citation. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and Trapper are dealing with a real American hero: a fifteen-year-old boy who lied about his age to enlist in the Marines. Hawkeye wrestles with the ethical dilemma about breaching a patient's confidence, but exposes the youth to the Military Police. He is to be discharged from the Marines and sent home to his parents. Hawkeye and Trapper sweeten the pill by stealing Frank's medal and re-presenting it to a soldier who really was wounded in combat.
    • Frank claims a Purple Heart because when he cracked open his breakfast egg, some of the eggshell got in his eye. The official medical records read "shell fragment", and since they're a frontline unit, it counts as a war wound. Hawkeye & B.J. steal Frank's Purple Heart medal and give it to a Korean baby born to a mother had a harrowing time getting to the unit before she gave birth.
    • In "Bombshells", Potter has B.J. awarded the Bronze Star after hearing that B.J. helped a chopper escape while under fire—he likely did not hear that B.J. was forced to cut a rope to wounded soldiers, abandoning one to either death or capture. B.J. gives it to a wounded soldier for "getting out in one piece".
    • In his introductory episode, Colonel Potter reveals he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal during the First World War. Though he is correct that it is unavailable to officers, he served before the medal was established and the retroactive dates only go to 1940.
    • Radar is awarded the Purple Heart (presented to him by Hawkeye) when he is wounded by the enemy while on a three-day pass.
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The show started out playing incidental music throughout each episode like most sitcoms of the era, but starting in Season Two, it was reserved for extended comedy sequences. By Season Eight, it was gone entirely (though music continued to occasionally be played over the camp P.A. system). Producer Burt Metcalfe said the phasing out of the music was done because he wanted the show to be "just like the actual Korean War". Similarly, the Canned Laughter forced upon the show by CBS was phased out as the show progressed; it was initially removed from certain types of scenes, then removed from certain episodes, and was completely absent in the finalé.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Many people found the presence of a black surgeon, Capt. Oliver Harmon "Spearchucker" Jones, in a 1950s American unit to be political correctness. M*A*S*H is based on a real unit, the 8055th, which did indeed have an African-American surgeon on staff.
  • Really Dead Montage: "Abyssinia, Henry"
  • Really Gets Around:
    • Hawkeye, obviously, though surprisingly he is portrayed as more or less monogamous with Nurse Gage during the second and third season. He gets called out more in the later seasons (with even BJ calling him depraved in "Taking The Fifth"), and heavily implied to be trauma-related in "Who Knew", but still tries to prostitute himself for charity in "Give and Take" and teases everyone in the finale that he loved as many of them as he was able.
    • "Trapper" John is as bad as Hawkeye when it comes to chasing; unlike Pierce, Trapper is actually married back home.
    • Major Houlihan is this during the Comedic phase, as she tends to have had intimate relationships with the visiting officers; her promiscuity is her worst-kept secret (alongside her passionate love affair with Frank Burns) and is why she has her nickname. But she also tends to make use of these relationships to further various schemes hatched by she and/or Frank. This aspect of her character gets cut almost completely during the Dramatic phase, though the effects continue to linger long after.
  • Really 17 Years Old:
    • In "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", the 4077 receives a wounded kid (played by Ron Howard, who ironically was 18 at the time of filming) who lied about his age to get into the Army and impress a girl back home. Hawkeye discovers this and initially agrees to keep his secret, but after seeing a friend die on the operating table from wounds received in combat, he changes his mind and turns the kid in.
      Kid: I'll hate you for the rest of my life!
      Hawkeye: Let's hope it's a long and happy hate.
    • In a Meta example, Gary Burghoff played the teenaged Radar well into his 30s.invoked
  • Real Time: "Life Time"
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • Hawkeye gives a fairly blistering one to Frank in "Sticky Wicket".
    • Margaret gives an epic one to Hawkeye about his treating women as sex objects.
    • Margaret also gives one to Lieutenant Gail Harris in "Nurse Doctor" when Harris refuses to actually say why she's asked for a transfer from the 4077th, calling out Harris's excuse on how everyone hates her when most of the other people in the camp have been nothing but supportive of her. It works.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica:
    • How Henry Blake ended up in the 4077th. He was in Honolulu when he responded to an order for a coffee enema by asking, "With cream and sugar?"
    • Also applies to Charles, who happened to be beating his CO at cribbage (to the tune of $672, or about $6,100 in today's money) and being insufferable about it when the request for Frank's replacement came.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: Frank Burns, who seems dangerously unaware of basic firearm safety for a military officer. In the course of the series he managed to accidentally wound a fellow officer (B.J.) and even shot himself in the foot. Not to mention the time that he blew up an Army ammo dump (though it was technically Hawkeye that made that happen; Burns' crew was about to refuse the order) or caused an enlisted man to shoot Radar's bugle out of his hand with a miniature cannon salute during Morning Colors.
  • Recurring Character:
    • Colonel Sam Flagg - the overzealous Intelligence officer.
    • Major Sidney Theodore Freedman - the divisional psychiatrist.
    • Private Igor Stramensky - the 4077th's mess tent server.
    • Sergeant Zelmo Zale - the 4077th's supply sergeant.
    • Sergeant Luther Rizzo - the 4077th motor pool sergeant.
    • Cho Man Chin - the swindling Korean peddler.
    • Rosie - the proprietor of the Local Hangout just outside of camp.
    • Sergeant Jack Scully - a front-line soldier and potential romantic interest for Margaret.
    • Klinger and Father Mulcahy started out as this before eventually becoming regulars.
    • The numerous nurses and the handful of generals as well.
  • Retcon: The timeline was frequently reset out of necessity thanks to the show's Long Runner status. The first and perhaps most notable came in Season 4's "Deluge": although the season opener was set in September 1952, this episode is set in October, 1950, at the time of the Chinese entry into the war.
  • Retirony:
    • The soldiers who died often suffered from this, as did Henry Blake.
    • B.J. takes extreme measures to negate some of the irony in "Death Takes a Holiday".
  • Red Wire Blue Wire: In an episode where an unexploded bomb lands in the compound and the doctors are given instructions on how to disarm it.
  • Refuse to Rescue the Disliked: Being the jingoistic patriot that he was, Frank would prioritize allied casualties over enemy casualties during triage, even putting Americans with minor injuries over severely wounded POWs. On occasion, wounded American soldiers would criticize the doctors for treating the enemy soldiers at all.
  • Reunion Show:
    • Memories of M*A*S*H (1991) featured clips and pre-recorded interviews with the cast members; 30th Anniversary Reunion (2002) had the producers and surviving cast members getting together for a roundtable discussion.
    • Done in an episode by having the families of the 4077 personnel gather in New York for a weekend together to bond and lament missing their loved ones.
  • Right Behind Me:
    • Invoked a few times in earlier seasons, whenever Frank and/or Margaret would barge in to register complaints with Henry, while Henry is preoccupied with reading sports magazines, or even sleeping, and casually mentioning to Radar what pains they are.
      Henry: Frank Burns has got to be the biggest horse's patoot in this man's army.
      Frank: You think so?
      Henry: (Hums innocently while turning around to find Frank in his office)
    • A later episode has Charles Winchester, who's temporarily in charge while Potter's away, occupying the CO's office and employing Klinger as his personal valet. In a scene toward the end, Charles makes insulting remarks about Potter to (he assumes) Klinger, not realizing that Potter has returned and slipped in behind him.
  • Right on the Tick: Five O'Clock Charlie, every day at 5 pm, comes in his plane and tosses a single bomb at an ammo dump.
  • Road Trip Plot:
    • The two-part Season 4 premiere "Welcome to Korea" (B.J.'s debut) was one of these.
    • Also, "Rainbow Bridge" and "Aid Station" (Season 3); "The Bus" (Season 4); "Bug Out" (Season 5); "Comrades in Arms" (Season 6); "They Call the Wind Korea" and "C*A*V*E" (Season 7); "The Yalu Brick Road" (Season 8).
    • A significant chunk of the series finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen", takes place away from Uijeongbu: the beach party in Incheon, the mental hospital where Hawkeye is treated by Sidney, and the temporary camp where the 4077th relocates after the wildfire forces them to bug out.
  • Running Gag:
    • For no readily apparent reason, every episode that features Colonel Flagg also features someone named Perkins - usually with the rank of Captain, and usually not their actual name. Also, not actually a gag.
    • Throughout the first couple seasons:
      Henry: Folks, could I have your attention, please?
      (Everyone ignores him and keeps talking)
      Radar: (Stands up) QUIET!!!
      (Everyone shuts up)
      Henry: Thank you, Radar.
    • A group of characters introducing each other by rank: "General, Captain." "Major, General." "Colonel, Major." "Captain, Colonel." And so forth. A gag possibly perfected with:
      Henry: Major Houlihan! Major Stoner.
      Margaret: Major.
      Maj. Stoner: Major.
      Henry: Major Burns, Major Stoner.
      Frank: Major.
      Maj. Stoner: Major.
      Hawkeye: Major Pierce.
      Henry: Major.
      Hawkeye: Well, I think we made a major breakthrough here.
    • Tried out in a couple of episodes:
      Henry: (To a visitor) These are Captains Pierce...
      Hawkeye: (Interrupting and gesturing to Trapper) And these are Captains McIntyre.
    • In the early seasons, the majors going to Henry's office to complain about something and Margaret doing all the talking for Frank, usually leading to a snarky comment from Henry.
    • Also in the early seasons, Radar informing Henry that Frank and/or Margaret wanted to see him, and Henry telling Radar to send them away, only for them to walk in without waiting to be admitted.
    • Henry's awkward sex lectures.
    • Frank and Margaret exchanging secret knocks prior to his entering her tent. Subverted on at least one occasion by having Radar enter instead. Subverted on another occasion where Hawkeye and Trapper enter... then later, when Margaret lets Frank in without knocking, he mentions it, to which she replies, "Frank, EVERYBODY knows our secret knock."
    • Hawkeye/Trapper/B.J. greeting Frank with "Hello", "Good morning", etc. and Frank automatically taking it as an insult.
    • Several times in Seasons 4 and 5, Col. Potter mentions how many months and days remain until his retirement.
    • Various characters waking Radar up in the middle of the night to make a stateside phone call, since he's the only one who knows how to operate the telephone system; we even have this exchange on one occasion:
      Radar: Why can't anybody ever use this darn phone during the daytime?!
      B.J.: I'm sorry Radar, I can't wait that long, look, I owe you one...
      Radar: Boy, if I had an hour sleep for everytime somebody ever said that to me!
      • Ironically, Radar explained to Frank in an earlier episode that it's no use trying to phone the States in the middle of the (Korean) afternoon, because it's last night there. "By this time, everybody's gone to bed and already said, 'See you tomorrow'."
    • Hawkeye spends much of the first couple seasons kidding Radar mercilessly about his short stature.
    • The latrine has an odd habit of bad things happening to it, i.e. getting hit by mortar fire, run over by tanks, towed away to North Korea...
    • The P.A. announcer making disparaging comments about the Mess Tent food and/or the movie that's going to be shown later. For example, "Tonight's movie is a holdover from last week and will be shown right after supper, which is also a holdover from last week."
      P.A. Announcer: Attention, all personnel. Due to circumstances beyond our control, lunch will be served today.
    • An episode-specific instance: In the episode "Bottle Fatigue", Charles is upset about a letter his sister sent him with news of her engagement to an Italian. His attempts at making contact with her include him specifying that he's trying to get a hold of someone in Boston. Each time, whoever he is speaking clarifies by asking, "Boston, Massachusetts?" which is followed by him angrily declaring, "Yes! Boston, Massachusetts!"note 
    • Almost every time a home movie is shown, the characters watching inevitably comment on it MST3K style
    • Another episode-specific case: In "Lend a Hand", Klinger having to change the writing on the cake he's prepared, every time the personnel are planning to celebrate a different occasion.
  • Running Over The Plot: Whiplash Wang makes a meager living by purposely getting run over by GIs in jeeps, then making them pay him off to keep him from reporting it.
  • Sad Clown: Hawkeye. But don't tell him that. B.J. accusing him of this contributes to the plot of Season 9's "No Laughing Matter".
  • Sarcasm Failure
  • Scenery Censor:
    • Hawkeye's naked stroll through the compound in "Dear Dad...Again". They even moved the signpost to just beside the door of the Swamp to complete the effect. (It normally stands in an open area in the middle of camp.)
    • Done with Hawkeye and B.J. after Margaret steals their robes from the shower in "An Eye for a Tooth", and with Winchester after Hawkeye pulls down his pants in the O.R. in "Bottoms Up".
  • Scrabble Babble: In "Mad Dogs and Servicemen".
    Hawkeye: "Vailness". A quality of "vail". The act of "vailing". To be full of "vaily".
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: A lot of character conflict in the early seasons is from several of the characters are focused on helping the wounded stay alive by any means possible while By-the-Book Cop characters like Frank and Margaret focus more on following Army regulations to the letter.
  • Screw the War, We're Partying!:
    • Subverted, as most of the personnel in camp were simply "acting crazy to keep their sanity". After all, the instant the wounded arrive, the staff drop their hijinks and get to work with the utmost professionalism beyond their usual snarky banter.
    • Most of the Season 2 premiere, in which a psychiatrist is sent to the 4077th to determine if the personnel have begun to succumb the stress of operating so close to the front and that the unit should be disbanded and everyone reassigned. He's completely certain that they should be, until a batch of wounded show up and suddenly this bunch of total nutbars turn into the most efficient medical operation he's ever seen. He gets drunk and gives his report to the general while drunk.
  • Scunthorpe Problem: Father Mulcahy's nickname of "Dago Red", used once in the pilot and then never again in the series. In a way, this inverts the movie, where he was initially introduced by his name, and then always addressed by his nickname after that.
  • Seduction-Proof Marriage:
    • Played straight by B.J. Hunnicutt, who is (almost) completely faithful to his wife because of this. The one or two times he does get seduced he feels awful about it afterwards.
    • Played with between Frank Burns and Margaret Houlihan. The former is married but is having an ongoing relationship with Margaret. When Margaret gets engaged he thinks they can still fool around but she shoots him down.
  • Seemingly-Wholesome '50s Girl: Nancy Sue Parker, in "Henry in Love".
  • Series Continuity Error: The show had quite a few of these.
    • Early on, Hawkeye is said to be from Vermont, have a sister and his mom still alive; later he's from Maine, an only child and his mother died when he was ten. In the novel, his mother is dead but he has a brother.
    • Colonel Potter's hometown is Hannibal, MO, but for some reason, in one episode, it's changed to Nebraska, and in another it's Montana.
    • During B.J.'s earlier appearances, he mentions that his daughter, Erin, is two years old; however, in the finale, he's upset at the prospect of missing her second birthday. He also says he and his wife went out for the first time after Erin was born and returned home to find his orders to ship out to Korea had come through.
    • In "Last Laugh", B.J. claims that his friend Bardonaro played a practical joke his wedding and that they both gave up practical joking "ten years ago" (peresumably after they both graduated from med school and after B.J.'s wedding). 1953-10=1943; both B.J. and Bardonaro would have been drafted in World War II; yet Bardonaro wears only Korean War medals on his dress jacket. In "Welcome to Korea" B.J.'s age is given as 28, which means B.J. went to Medical School at 14 and graduated at 18.
    • Radar's virginity. It's established in the original novel and movie that he's lost his virginity, as an example of being corrupted by wartime impulses; when the series begins, Radar is a virgin (and the fact is even played with on occasion); in an early Season Three episode, it is heavily implied that he loses his virginity to a nurse of the week; afterwards, he's back to being a virgin, and seemingly stays that way.
      • Radar is more than happy to smoke Colonel Blake's cigars and sneak his whiskey when he isn't around, but is introduced to them for apparently the first time by Colonel Potter.
      • In one early episode Colonel Blake discovers Radar has a tattoo while giving him a physical. A much later episode has a subplot about Radar contemplating getting a tattoo for the very first time.
    • Within the same season, Frank mentions having taken two judo lessons, then, just a few episodes later, Frank confuses judo for a religion.
    • The 4077 staff's ability to speak Korean. At times Radar can speak it conversationally, other times it's like he's unaware Korean is even a language. Hawkeye is seen practicing Korean a couple of times, but doesn't seem to have picked it up. Father Mulcahy speaks a few words, but Margaret is the only one that is particularly fluent. And even that wasn't entirely consistent: in the episode where the 4077th adopts a seemingly orphaned boy, Margaret tries to read him a bedtime story, but is constantly checking with an English-to-Korean dictionary throughout the story in an attempt to translate for him.
    • The year the show is supposed to take place changes repeatedly, from 1950 in the pilot to (reasonably) 1953 by "Rainbow Bridge" in season three (based on a real incident), then Potter's arrival in September 1952 and a passing reference several episodes later to General Eisenhower's visit to Korea in 1952 in "The Late Captain Pierce", then New Year's Day 1951 and 1952 in "A War for All Seasons" (which did the most damage) note , an episode covering China's entrance to the war in October 1950 with MacArthur's statement of "This is an entirely new war" announced on the PA, and a near constant reference to General MacArthur being in command throughout the show's run (MacArthur was relieved of command in spring 1951 for insubordination).
    • Before Radar's discharge, Klinger was a reasonably competent substitute clerk. One episode after Radar leaves, Klinger has trouble doing even the most basic duties until he gets help from Potter and Mulcahy.
    • In "Comrades in Arms Part 2", while demonstrating a new vascular surgery at the 8063, Margaret mentions the clamp they use was invented at the 4077, yet three episodes later in "Patient 4077", they actually make the clamp. Subverted in the episode order on Netflix where "Patient 4077" is 3 episodes earlier.
    • In "For Want of a Boot" in Season Two, it's the dead of winter, and it's Frank's birthday, however, later in "The Most Unforgettable Characters", it's Frank's birthday again, yet it's the middle of June.
    • Potter's age and service in the First World War. He mentions he lied about his age to join in "Change of Command", and in "Foreign Affairs" he mentions he fell in love with a French woman named Danielle twenty years his senior. But, in "Pressure Points", he says he's 62, which would put his date of birth in 1889 or 1890, making him at least 27 by the time the US entered the war. He also mentions he was inspired to join the cavalry by Theodore Roosevelt's Rough Riders and San Juan Hill in the Spanish-American War, so while it could be possible he joined before the war, he also states he joined in 1917.
    • At the end of "Smilin' Jack", the PA announcer makes a reference to the battle of Solma-Ri, also known as "Gloucesters Hill" or the battle of the Imjin River, in which 1st Battalion of the Gloucestershire Regiment held off overwhelming Chinese forces for four days, from 22 to 25 April 1951. note  However, two episodes later in "Deluge", China has intervened in the war, entering Korea with 30 divisions, totalling 300,000 troops, which occured on 3 November 1950, and a reference is made to General MacArthur's statement of "we now face an entirely new war", which he made to the Joints Chiefs of Staff on 28 November 1950.
    • In "Mail Call", Hawkeye says this is his second war. But then mentions that he was drafted. If he had served in WW II he would have had a 4A classification for prior service, making him exempt.
    • In "The Novocaine Mutiny", Frank Burns is stated to have been drafted as a doctor, but other episodes state he was a reservist who was activated when the war broke out.
    • Mulcahy's piano playing skills, or lack thereof, seem to change all the time. On some occasions, he can actually play the piano quite well, especially when it comes to ragtimes or waltzes, but most of the time, his playing leaves a lot to be desired, either rendering the tune unrecognizable, or having trouble finding where the music ends.
    • In the Season 6 episode "Potter's Retirement", Charles mentions that the first successful open-heart surgery has just been performed. This took place on May 6, 1953, less than three months before the Korean War ended.
  • Serious Business: In "Sons and Bowlers", the 4077 has a bowling match against a Marine unit, and Col. Potter makes it abundantly clear that winning it is very, very important to him.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness:
    • A sample from "Iron Guts Kelly," when Hawkeye and Trapper tells Kelly's second-in-command, Col. Wortman, that Kelly is dead and he asks how:
      Trapper: Myocardial infarction.
      Wortman: What does that mean?
      Hawkeye: It means his pearl-handled guns are up for grabs.
    • In "A Smattering Of Intelligence," Hawkeye and Trapper hint to Intelligence officer Pratt (Trapper's old friend) that Frank's wall-to-wall patriotism may be a front to a fascist revolt.
      Pratt: I think I'll take a little look-see into his file.
      Trapper: Right now?
      Pratt: No. If I ask the Colonel to see the Major's file and they're co-subversives in sub-security profile, they'll pull the old dossier switcheroo and I'll chalk up a zilch.
      Hawkeye: Boy, I wish you came with subtitles.
  • '70s Hair: Alan Alda, Mike Farrell, and Loretta Swit all sported increasingly blatant (and therefore blatantly anachronistic) examples of this as the show went on.
  • Shameful Source of Knowledge: In "Tea and Empathy", a passing soldier confesses to Father Mulcahy that he was involved with the black market, and reveals that stolen penicillin is kept under an old bell at a burn-out school house. As it turns out, the 4077th is having a dire penicillin shortage (which was stolen by the aforementioned soldier and the black market) and can't obtain any new supply, leaving Mulcahy conflicted about what he should do about what he knows about the whereabouts of some penicillin.
  • She's Got Legs:
    • Seen on the rare occasions when Margaret wears a skirt, or shorts, or a short nightgown, or runs out of the shower wearing only a towel (and curiously, pantyhose — talk about anachronistic, these wouldn't become a widely worn item until the mid-1960s).
    • Anytime a nurse is forced out of the shower, she will be wearing only a towel that barely covers her lower body enough to be shown on television.
    • He's Got Legs: Klinger, when he's in drag, actually has some pretty shapely legs for a guy.
  • Ship Tease:
    • A few episodes hint at the fact that Margaret and Hawkeye actually have feelings for each other... some do more than just hint it... and their last interaction is a decent length, passionate kiss in the series finale. It's at least a half a minute long, during which Col. Potter, B.J. and Charles are standing on looking uncomfortable and trying to find something else to look at. The season 6 two-parter "Comrades in Arms" has them making out while spending the night in an abandoned hut behind enemy lines. In the morning it's clear that Margaret takes things a lot more seriously than Hawkeye does, leading to a serious falling-out between them before they finally decide they're Better as Friends.
    • Some early episodes show Margaret also having a barely-suppressed attraction to Trapper John. One episode has her openly, albeit drunkenly, coming on to him when everyone thinks he's going home and throws him a farewell party.
    • Early Winchester episodes suggested that he'd become Frank's replacement in more way than one by hinting at an upcoming Relationship Upgrade between him and Margaret, but that never came to fruition.
    • An early season episode has Hawkeye grab Margaret and give her a long, passionate kiss in front of Trapper, Henry, and Frank. Frank's increasingly angry protests eventually result in Henry telling Hawkeye to stop already. Afterwards, a blissed-out looking Margaret makes an appreciative comment in response to Frank's insult of Hawkeye, and Hawkeye makes an appreciative comment to Trapper in response to asking how it was.
  • Shirtless Scene: Any scene in the showers. Depending on the actor, this was either fanservice or Squick.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns:
    • Henry Blake and Frank Burns were probably the most broadly comedic characters in the ensemble during the early seasons, and their departures (and replacement with the more grounded Potter and Winchester, respectively) marked a definite sea change in the show's shift in emphasis from comedy to drama.
    • The switch from wisecracking, skirt-chasing Trapper to quiet, cerebral family man B.J. is another example.
    • As is the departure of Radar, which in a way cost the show two of its funniest characters; not only was Radar himself gone, but Klinger was made his replacement as company clerk and consequently abandoned his pursuit of a Section 8 discharge (and the cross-dressing and other wacky stunts that went along with it)note .
    • Part of the reason for Colonel Flagg getting written out of the later seasons was that his characterization didn't mesh with the show's tone by then.
  • Shoo the Dog: When Radar decides he wants to stay with the 4077 than go home, Hawkeye starts packing his suitcase, demanding he leave, because it's an insult to the rest of the camp that if in Radar's place wouldn't even think twice about fleeing.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Folksinger Loudon Wainwright III appeared in a couple Season 3 episodes as a "Captain Spaulding", a clear Shout Out to Groucho Marx's Animal Crackers character.
    • For a short while in S4, they had a really big thing for referencing The Shadow in almost every episode. More generally, many other classic programs, films, and songs of the era are referenced, either in-universe or in episode titles or both.
    • Charles Emerson Winchester III was possibly named after a fellow Bostonian, founder of Emerson College, Charles Wesley Emerson.
    • Sherman Tecumseh Potter is one for William Tecumseh Sherman.
    • Klinger's early Running Gag of wearing womens' clothing in an unsuccessful bid to be declared insane and win a Section 8 discharge is loosely based on stories about Lenny Bruce attempting to get thrown out of the Navy by dressing up as a WAVE (or women's naval auxillary) during World War II (in truth, he only wore a WAVES uniform once for a comedy show, then lied to the psychiatrist to spite his commander for ordering an evaluation). Klinger even obliquely lampshades this with a reference to an uncle in the Navy using the same trick in WWII (and his family periodically sending him things from his uncle's WWII wardrobe).
    • Klinger often expressed his support of two real-life institutions in his hometown of Toledo, Ohio: the Mud Hens (minor-league baseball team) and Tony Packo's Cafe (hot-dog restaurant). These references were added due to Klinger's actor (Jamie Farr) being from Toledo and being familiar with both of those institutions.
    • At one point, Charles, who is complaining about the womanly chores he is forced to do, is referred to as "Mister I'm A Doctor, Not A Woman."
  • The Shrink: Sidney Freedman
  • Sick and Wrong:
    • In "The Late Captain Pierce", this is a nurse's reaction to B.J.'s idea to hold a wake for Hawkeye, who's been mistakenly listed as dead by the Army. Hawkeye quickly assures her that he would have wanted it that way.
    • In "Period of Adjustment", Hawkeye and Margaret discover that a drunken B.J. and Klinger made a Dartboard of Hate with a picture of Radar's face, calling the game "Vaccinate Radar" (It Makes Sense in Context), leading Margaret to exclaim, "Now that's sick!"
  • Sick Episode: Most of the characters come down with the flu in "Carry On, Hawkeye" and get food poisoning in "The Yalu Brick Road".
    • Hawkeye starts sneezing uncontrollably in "Bless You, Hawkeye" and has chronic back pain in "Hepatitis". Both turn out to be psychosomatic in nature, however.
    • Henry suffers a Ruptured Appendix in "The Long John Flap".
    • Frank develops a hernia in "As You Were" and contracts a severe fever in "Soldier of the Month".
    • Radar gets tonsillitis in "None Like It Hot".
    • Col. Potter and Charles get the mumps in "Heal Thyself".
    • "Follies of the Living, Concerns of the Dead" has Klinger getting a severe fever and seeing the ghost of a dead soldier.
    • Margaret develops laryngitis in "Say No More", and both she and Charles get food poisoning in "The Grim Reaper".
  • Significant Reference Date: During the P.A. announcement at the end of "Welcome to Korea".
  • Sitcom
  • Skip the Anesthetic:
    • Col. Flagg of the CID insists on going into surgery without anesthetic because if he's knocked out he might inadvertently talk, and nobody at the unit is cleared to hear any of the state secrets he might accidentally divulge.
    • In another episode a Turk and a Greek soldier are both at the 4077th at the same time trying to out-stoic one another, refusing anesthetic after a fight at Rosie's bar.
      Turkish soldier: What's this?
      B.J.: Something to kill the pain while I fix your leg.
      Turkish Soldier: I am Turk. I not need that.
      Greek Soldier: If Turk no need, Greek no need.
    • After drunkenly crashing B.J.'s motorcycle and ending up with glass shrapnel in his rear-end, "Blood & Guts" Kibbee initially refuses the anesthetic before Hawkeye and B.J. remove the glass. He relents after a "The Reason You Suck" Speech from Hawkeye.
    • Potter takes a shot to the butt as Margaret rushes him to the operating tent. He doesn't want to be put under and asks for a local so he can see how Hawkeye and B.J. perform first hand.
  • Sleep Mask: The staff need to get their sleep whenever and wherever they can due to the everpresent possibility of midnight OR sessions, but for some, wearing a sleep mask is part of their character rather than simply a way to block out the light while trying to sleep.
    • Henry Blake wears a "double eyepatch" sleep mask, signifying that he would much rather sleep during breaks between OR sessions than try to run the 4077th (which he prefers to leave to Radar).
    • Charles Emerson Winchester wears a blindfold-style sleep mask as one of the trappings of his privileged background.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Frank Burns, who thinks of himself as a patriotic and loyal American who deserves to be looked up to as a role model for the unit, when everyone else (except Margaret) thinks of him as an asshole and blowhard.
  • Snowball Lie: "Tuttle" and "Bombshells", among others.
  • Solemn Ending Theme: A slow, somber, muted-brass version of "Suicide Is Painless" is played at the end of the closing tag in a few episodes such as "Good Bye, Radar" and "Dreams".
  • Something Completely Different: Several episodes; see the trope page for examples.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Compared to the movie version, the show's version of "Suicide is Painless" is very upbeat-sounding, the closing theme even more so. Worse, several episodes have the closing theme played over the opening credits.
  • Source Music: In a carryover from the film, the P.A. occasionally plays music in camp. This actually becomes a plot point in "Your Hit Parade", where Potter tasks Radar with keeping up morale during one grueling O.R. session by spinning popular tunes of the day. (Particularly "Sentimental Journey".)
  • Speak Now or Forever Hold Your Peace: Played with in "Margaret's Marriage"; at the line in question, everyone present turns to Frank, but he demurs.
  • Speech Impediment: Winchester counsels a soldier who is cruelly bullied as "stupid" because he stammers. Revealing that he's looked into the man's service record and knows of his actual high intelligence, he gives him Moby-Dick to read. Returning to his tent, he listens happily to a taped letter from his beloved sister Honoria... who also stammers.
  • Spider-Sense: Radar had this (hence his nickname), although it was downplayed over time. Although the man Radar was based on (in the book) says he did it just by really paying attention (so he'd hear things like incoming choppers before other people would).
  • Spinoff: Two or three, depending on how you look at it. Trapper John, MD is the first and the only one with any success, lasting a whole seven seasons. The second, AfterMASH, only lasted two seasons, and struggled every step of the way — a TV Guide article called it the seventh-worst TV show of all time, and a Time Magazine poll ranked it as one of the 100 worst ideas of the 20th century. The third, W*A*L*T*E*R, wasn't picked up, and the pilot was aired on CBS as a half-hour special. Trapper John doesn't legally count, however; the M*A*S*H producers sued for royalty payments, but the court ruled that it was a spinoff of the books and movie, not the show.
  • Spy Speak: Col. Flagg
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Usually attempted unsuccessfully by Flagg.
  • Steel Eardrums:
    • Averted, when Father Mulcahy is deafened by an artillery shell.
    • Happened to Klinger once too, except he regained his hearing by the end of the episode. Mulcahy didn't until the spinoff.
  • Stiff Upper Lip: Explored: In one episode, the 4077th is treating wounded from a British unit. Their Major walks around, telling the men how they'll soon be back in action, after handing out cups of tea to the wounded in the field. Hawkeye asks him how he can be so callous about his men's lives, even risking killing some of them by giving tea to those with abdominal wounds. The British major explains that he is speaking about going back into battle soon to give the men the impression that things aren't as bad as they seem (by downplaying their injuries, he is keeping up their morale by not letting them dwell on the severity of their wounds), and that it wasn't known on the frontlines that giving tea to treat abdominal wounds could cause complications, and promises to stop the practice immediately.
  • Stock Footage: Aside from the opening sequence (which sometimes still featured Radar years after his departure), all the bugout footage of the camp being torn down was filmed in season one. In the finale, you can even see Radar!
  • The Stoolpigeon: During Henry's tenure as CO, Burns and Houlihan often would go running to the nearest authority figure whenever he did something they didn't like. This all but disappeared when Potter took over.
  • Strawman Political: Frank Burns, but that's okay since he was damn funny that way.
  • Stress Vomit: After B.J. first arrives in Korea, he faces a young Korean girl injured in a minefield, pinned down by guerilla sniper fire, and having to assist foot soldiers under mortar fire, all before he even got to camp; at one point, when he sees how badly a soldier had been wounded (and killed) by mortar fire, and the situation finally sinks in, he crawls over to a thicket of tall grass to vomit, while Hawkeye holds his head for him.
  • Strip Poker:
    • An early episode has a gag where Hawkeye and Trapper are down to their underwear while playing this with (and losing badly to) a nurse. When Hawkeye loses another hand, he takes off... his dogtags.
    • A later episode has several characters playing this. However, since it's the dead of winter, even the losers are still donning several layers of clothing when the game's interrupted by arriving wounded.
    • In another early episode, a visiting general looking for Henry walks in on Spearchucker and Nurse Ginger playing strip dominoes (albeit not too far into the game).
  • Stuff Blowing Up: One episode had the camp experience weather so cold that the landmines around the camp detonated on their own due to the contracting dirt. Though the explosions occur in the middle of the camp, where mines simply would not be located (and are much larger and fiery than actual landmines).
  • Stylistic Suck: Radar, having recently enrolled in the Famous Las Vegas Writers' School, narrating the staff duty log (via voiceover) in "The Most Unforgettable Characters".
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: Margaret Houlihan, Justified in that she took her job as head nurse seriously (and that she was an Army brat). Frank Burns was too immature, and Donald Penobscot treated her poorly behind the scenes, but the likes of B.J., Col. Potter, and especially Hawkeye helped soften her up.
  • Suicide Dare: Col. Potter deals with a suicidal patient by giving him the Radish Cure: Potter puts the mask from the knockout gas on the boy and forces him to continue to breathe in the fumes even when the boy tries to struggle free. Potter then points out the dichotomy, which makes the patient no longer suicidal.
  • Suicide Is Painless: The show's (and film's) theme song is the Trope Namer. One episode has an example of the trope, where a soldier, injured when his rifle backfired and the bolt struck him in the face, would rather die than go home disfigured. Colonel Potter eventually gets him to give up when he tries to overdose on anesthetic by opening the valves to make the dosage lethal, and explains that the part of the body that wants to live is stronger than the part that wants to die.
  • Summation Gathering: Hawkeye holds one in the mess tent in "I Hate a Mystery".
  • Superstition Episode:
    • A B-plot in season 4's "Dear Ma" has Colonel Potter's wife getting a premonition that something bad will happen to him. Sure enough, he gets shot in the butt by a sniper while making a supply run to a nearby village.
    • In season 5's "Exorcism", Potter makes Radar remove a Korean spirit post from the middle of the compound because it's blocking traffic — on Friday the 13th, no less — after which a bunch of bad things happen, from a lighter not working to an ambulance crash. Radar puts a horseshoe up in Potter's office to ward off the bad luck, and a shamanic priestess is brought in to exorcise any evil spirits from the camp.
    • The season 11 Halloween Episode "Trick or Treatment" has the group telling ghost stories to each other in the O.R. with varying degrees of credulity from the listeners.
  • Surprise Party:
    • In one episode, B.J. tries to organize a surprise birthday party for Hawkeye, despite the fact that it isn't Hawkeye's birthday, in order to get some camp morale going. Hawkeye learns of this and counters by "accidentally" letting it slip that the same day is B.J.'s wedding anniversary. In the end B.J. drafts a random extra to be the Birthday Boy.
    • In "For Want of a Boot", Hawkeye organizes a surprise birthday party for Frank Burns as part of his attempted Chain of Deals for a new pair of boots.
    • In another episode, Mildred Potter (Col. Potter's wife) enlists Hawkeye to throw a surprise "the Mortgage is Paid Off" party for the Colonel.
    • Still another episode ("Peace On Us") has the staff throwing Hawkeye a surprise party in the mess tent...where everyone is dressed completely in red, Hawkeye having said that he's sick of seeing green Army stuff everywhere he looks.
  • Surrogate Soliloquy: "Hawkeye"
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Surprisingly mostly averted, given the large amount of replacement characters over the show's 13 year run. Every time a character left the series, a new character was brought in to fulfill the same in-unverse role, but generally came with a very different personality and character history than the character being replaced:
    • The incompetent commander-in-name-only draftee Henry Blake was replaced by the very competent (and respected by all) career-Army man Sherman T. Potter.
    • The womanizing Trapper John, who was often seen casually cheating on his wife, was replaced by the stringently faithful B.J. Hunnicutt (who nonetheless largely shared Trapper's ability to match Hawkeye joke-for-joke).
    • Jerkass Major Frank Burns, a truly incompetent doctor and the constant butt of Hawkeye and Trapper/B.J.'s jokes, was replaced by Jerk with a Heart of Gold Major Charles Emmerson Wincester III, who quickly makes it known that he can not only one-up the rest of the medical staff in the operating room (his only issue is his perfectionism, which slows him down in an environment where speed is paramount), but can pull pranks with the best of them.
    • Hyper-competent and loyal "Radar" O'Reilly, while not replaced with a new character, had his job functions transferred to Corporal Maxwell Q. Klinger, who did nearly everything he could to get out of the Army by any means necessary.
  • Suspiciously Small Army: A real MASH unit usually had around 200 personnel, at least 10 medical officers, 12 nurses, 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, such as an anesthesiologist, and a dentist. The 4077 had, at most, 70 personnel, an administrative staff of just the CO and his clerk, and four doctors (five in season one, but Spearchucker Jones was written out without explanation), Ugly John (the anesthesiologist) shows up in the first few episodes on season one, but is also written out without an explanation, and Dr. Kaplan (the dentist) is Put on a Bus in the first season finale. After Ugly John's disappearance, a nurse usually administers the anesthetic, something that isn't even done today.note 
    • While occasional references are made to other doctors being present ("All surgical personnel report to the O.R.! Both shifts!") we never see any of them.
    • All of which makes the season three episode "Rainbow Bridge" and the season 4 episode "The Bus" especially problematic, as the former depicts three of the 4077's surgeons (Hawkeye, Trapper and Frank) leaving to rescue wounded UN forces taken prisoner, while the latter has all four of the 4077th's regular surgeons (Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Col. Potter) spending an extended period away from camp for a medical convention. Who was operating on the wounded in their absence? For that matter, both episodes feature Radar, even though it's repeatedly demonstrated the camp literally can not function without him.
    • The proper total number of people in this type of unit was known to the show's creators, at least for a time. In "Dear Ma", Radar mentions the unit has about 200 people in it when he's helping Hawkeye with the regular foot inspection (and then gets the math wrong and says that 200 people times 10 toes each makes 20 000 toes to check).
    • On rare occasions, other doctors are addressed just offscreen or shown in the background (one episode has Hawkeye ask for "Don" to help him with an operation, and in that same shot a never-before-seen man with glasses is seen helping Trapper; in the episode where Frank ends up at Battalion Aid with a toe tag, wounded come in and are treated without any of the main cast being woken up for it), but other times they are simply referenced as though they are in camp but offscreen for some unknown reason.

  • Take That!: In universe example - when Frank Burns is not returning following his nervous breakdown after Margaret's marriage, the happiness and euphoria that is felt over him not returning is soured when it's revealed that the charges against him were dropped, he's being shipped home and promoted to Lt. Colonel to top it all off, much to the anger of Hawkeye and B.J.. In a weird sense, it really does feel like Frank's parting shot at Hawkeye and the camp as a whole.
  • Taking the Bullet: Margaret's foot locker. She's trying to replace it in one episode, and she can only do so if it's been damaged in combat.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: Happens in multiple episodes. Normally whenever a character gets something the rest of the camp has been longing for, everyone ends up wanting it, no matter how unreasonable they're being in wanting it, whether it's Charles getting newspapers, B.J. and Hawkeye getting a bathtubnote , or something else.
  • A Tankard of Moose Urine: The stuff that comes out of the still in the Swamp is roundly deemed to be barely drinkable.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: An interesting example. In the finale, a wounded tanker drives an M24 Chaffee light tank into the compound, destroying the latrine in the process. The tank begins drawing enemy mortar fire, so Klinger erects a tent to hide it. It doesn't work, and the mortar crew resumes firing on the camp, and Hawkeye drives it out of the camp. The tank he drives out is an M4 Sherman, destroying the newly built latrine. While both were used Korea, the two tanks look nothing alike, not even the running gear, and the Sherman is missing its bow machine gun.
  • The Tape Knew You Would Say That: In the "M*A*S*H Olympics" episode, Potter goes on the PA to announce daily calisthenics. Knowing what kind of reaction his announcement would get, he waits a beat and adds "Same to you."
  • Tastes Better Than It Looks: In "Too Many Cooks", the recuperating Private Paul Conway spends his time at the 4077th cooking for the personnel, using what little ingredients he has to work with, but applying his ingenuity; at first, his dishes (such as Spam Parmesan) may sound and look awful, but they turn out to smell and taste so wonderful that the camp practically lines up outside the Mess Tent for his culinary delights.
  • Team Dad: Colonel Potter, and to a lesser extent Henry Blake.
  • Technical Pacifist: Father Mulcahy, as a priest, chaplain, and medic, is forbidden from engaging in combat. That doesn't stop him from dropping a few folks with that right hook of his when the need arises.
  • Telegraph Gag STOP: Used when Hawkeye sends a telegram to his family to let them know he is alive and safe. He even recites his intended message to Klinger, using TELEGRAM SPEAK STOP He also integrates the STOP directions into his message, "Thinking of selling my clubs STOP!"
  • Temporary Blindness: Hawkeye (and, in another episode, Temporary Deafness for Klinger).
    • In "The Bus", Col. Potter mentions experiencing this after being gassed in World War I.
  • Thanksgiving Episode: "The Yalu Brick Road" takes place immediately after Thanksgiving, and a subplot involves most of the camp contracting salmonella poisoning from the black-market turkeys Klinger had procured.
  • That Came Out Wrong: Invoked when Trapper calls up a girl he had a one-night (more like three-night) stand with in Chicago:
    Trapper: (On the phone) Hello, Mildred? This is John McIntyre... yeah... that's right, "Big John".
    Hawkeye: (Raises eyebrow) "Big John"? (Whistles)
    Radar: Luc-ky!
  • Theme Tune Cameo: Trapper whistles the theme tune while entering the Mess Tent in "Dear Dad... Again".
  • There Are No Therapists: Averted, with Sidney Freedman, who admits that he himself could use one sometimes. He actually comes up to the 4077 in "Dear Sigmund" to take a bit of a 'rest cure' after a patient commits suicide.
    B.J.: We couldn't help but notice that you came for the poker game and stayed two weeks.
  • Think Nothing of It: In "Hot Lips And Empty Arms," Hawkeye and Trapper sober up Margaret, who is so upset over mail from home she dumps Frank, requests a transfer and gets toasted (on the boys' homemade hooch and Henry's liquor cabinet). In the O.R.:
    Margaret: Doctor...doctors...I'm grateful for you helping me.
    Trapper: Don't mention it.
    Hawkeye: To anyone. We've got reputations to protect.
  • This Is Not a Drill: The unit is rehearsing for a visit from General Douglas MacArthur when over the P.A.:
    Attention! All personnel! General MacArthur has just passed checkpoint Able! He'll be here in seconds! This is not—repeat—this is not a drill. This is a real emergency!
  • Time Capsule: "As Time Goes By" sees Margaret deciding to put together a time capsule to commemorate the presence of the 4077th in Korea. Hawkeye is cynical bordering on hostile toward the idea for most of the episode, while several other staff members have singularly inappropriate suggestions for contents for the capsule, but when the time comes to bury the box, the Swampmen have found some suitable contributions that include several nods to now-departed cast members (Radar's teddy bear, a fishing lure that belonged to Henry - and, as Charles observes, nothing from Frank).
  • To Absent Friends:
    • Most especially when Potter is the last survivor of his World War I unit.
    • Played with in Frank's departure episode:
      "So long, Ferret Face."
    • The end of "Goodbye, Radar." Radar leaves his teddy bear on Hawkeye's cot. Hawkeye (who sees it along with B.J. and Potter) picks it up and quietly says "Bye, Radar."
  • Tontine: In "Old Soldiers" Potter is part of one, though it's for a bottle of brandy rather than an investment. He drinks a solo toast To Absent Friends for the rest of his first outfit, listing when each of them died.
  • Took a Level in Dumbass:
    • Radar, sort of. Leading to Characterization Marches On when you go back and watch the early episodes.
    • Even William Christopher thinks this of Father Mulcahy when we have this little exchange at the beginning of "Fade Out, Fade In, Part 1":
      Mulcahy: You know... I didn't want to bring this up before... but, I have a suspicion that Major Burns and Major Houlihan were... somewhat... "attached".
      Hawkeye: [Has the look of "Are you kidding me?" written on his face] They knew each other in the Biblical sense.
      B.J.: Both Testaments.
      Mulcahy: Oh dear, oh dear. And he's a married man. [Sighs] My worst fears are confirmed.
  • The Tooth Hurts: Charles deals with this in "The Tooth Shall Set You Free".
  • Tracking Shot
  • Trademark Favorite Food:
    • Hawkeye seems to like bananas, he once mentions to Trapper how as a child he once ate twelve banana sandwiches, and also says one of the first things he's looking forward to when he gets home is a banana (with chocolate cake).
    • Potter says he loves really fresh corn. Inverted with regards to tomato juice; Potter loves it, but he's allergic to it (a detail he neglected to mention before Radar began a series of trades and favors to acquire it for Potter).
    • Frank's favorite dessert must be pudding, if he actually prays for chocolate pudding at lunch, and requires tapioca on his birthday.
  • Translation by Volume:
    • Lampshaded when Hawkeye tends to a wounded Korean.
      Hawkeye: How's that, bet-ter? "Bet-ter". I've been here all this time, and I still can't speak the language.
      B.J.: Well, you Americans figure everybody understands English, provided you speak-it-slow-ly-e-nough.
      Hawkeye: Huh?
    • Lampshaded by Hawkeye again when, running Rosie's bar while Rosie is recovering, he tries to talk to one of the waitresses for Rosie's cut of the tip money. When both this and Hulk Speak fail to get his point across, he remarks,
      "Why am I suddenly talking like some guy named Milton who's lost in Barcelona?"
    • Frank and Margaret do this a few times when conversing with locals.
  • Trash of the Titans: A relatively mild example, but there's a reason Hawkeye's tent is known as "The Swamp". As shown, the Swamp is untidy, but not actually dirty. Character dialog, however, indicates it's supposed to be filthy.
  • Trespassing to Talk:
    • In the episode "Cowboy", Henry - who is in a really bad mood - enters his office to find Hawkeye waiting for him behind his desk, wanting to discuss giving chopper pilot Cowboy a temporary medical discharge. Henry even remarks, "Uh-uh-uh! Don't get up... let me just pretend YOU'RE the one in charge of this nuthouse."
    • In "Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys", Potter walks into his office, with Father Mulcahy in tow, to find Colonel Flagg waiting for them at his desk, and neither of them (nor Radar, who was in his outer office the whole time) can even figure out how Flagg got in there in the first place.
  • Triage Tyrant: Frank Burns plays this role at one point, prioritizing Americans over Koreans regardless of the severity of their injuries. Strangely enough, this was actually Truth in Television on Frank's part; he correctly cites the triage procedures of the time period (1st Americans, 2nd Allies, 3rd Enemy troops).
  • Tricked Into Signing:
    • In the first three seasons, Lt. Col. Blake was often tricked into signing some kind of requisition, or pass, or anything for whatever Zany Scheme Hawkeye and Trapper had cooked up.
    • Radar apparently made a habit of having Blake's successor Col. Potter sign blank pieces of paper, which he could then use to submit routine letters or requests without bothering Potter about them. Potter apparently knew what Radar was doing and didn't mind.
  • The Trickster:
    • Hawkeye, Trapper, B.J., and on occasion, Winchester.
    • Father Mulcahy can be one from time to time, engaging in the camp poker games and pools to raise money for the local orphanage, and usually walking away with the other trickster's money.
      Hawkeye: You won again! Who do you know?
      Mulcahy: [Looks skyward]
      Hawkeye: [Good-naturedly] Name-dropper.
  • Trivially Obvious: In "Say No More", a laryngitis-afflicted Margaret gets Charles to act as her voice for a phone call to Dr. Steven Chesler, an internationally-renowned ER doctor whom she admires but whom Charles regards as a quack. Charles' first words of the conversation are "Dr. Chesler! Well! This is indeed a... phone call."
  • Troll: Charles in "Trick or Treatment" when treating Private Laroche (George Wendt), a Marine with a pool ball stuck in his mouth.
    Charles: Hello, I'm Dr. Winchester. And your name is?
    Laroche: Mm-MMPH!
    Charles: Would that be with one "M" or two? [Laroche grumbles around the pool ball in his mouth and gestures insistently] Of course... three. [writes on pad] Now then, what seems to be the, er, problem? [Laroche makes more frustrated, indistinct grumbling sounds] Now, my dear lad, don't be shy, the doctor is your friend! [more grumbling from Laroche as he gestures to his mouth, but Charles is deliberately avoiding looking at his face and instead puts his stethoscope against Laroche's back to listen to his breathing] You seem to be a bit... congested. [grumbling from Laroche] Maybe a little frog in your throat? [Laroche grumbles again, shakes his head, and points to the pool ball in his mouth, but Charles continues to pretend he hasn't seen it] Could you... could you cough for the doctor, please.
    Laroche: [high-pitched] Mm-MM! [shakes his head]
    Charles: [takes his stethoscope out of his ears] Well, my dear man, how can I discover what's wrong with you if you will not co-operate? [Laroche grumbles and points at his mouth again, but Charles puts his ear next to Laroche's mouth instead of looking] Oh, I see, you want me to take your temperature! I can do that. [he picks up a thermometer, then pretends to only now notice the pool ball in Laroche's mouth] GAD-zooks!... You realise you have something in your mouth?
    Laroche: [nods frantically] Mm-HMM! Mm-HMM!
    Charles: What on Earth could that be? [Laroche mimes playing pool] Oh looky! There's a little "6" painted on it. Could that be... how old you are? [Laroche groans] Oh! Now I see! You may not realise this, but you have a pool ball lodged in your mouth. [Laroche nods and taps the end of his nose to say "You've got it!"] No sweat, there is an alternative... I'll just take your temperature the other way! [he shoves Laroche over onto his side]
  • True Companions: Near the end of the series, when Winchester and Margaret had developed into jerks with hearts of gold, the main cast were a slightly vitriolic version of this.
  • Tsundere: Margaret, especially toward Hawkeye. Her dere-dere side was revealed in "Comrades In Arms, Part 1", and then Double-Subverted in "Comrades In Arms, Part 2"— she began and ended the latter episode with a friendly chat with Hawkeye, but they had quite a few disagreements in between.
  • Tuckerization: A number of the characters on the series were named after people the writers and producers knew:
    • Really, the only in-universe example is Hawkeye being given his nickname after the Indian character in the book The Last of the Mohicans, which was his father's favorite book. His real name, Benjamin Franklin Pierce, is supposedly a combination of an Indian, a president, and a stove.
    • B.J. Hunnicutt was named after the series' original cinematographer, William "B.J." Jurgenson.
    • Legend has it that Sherman T. Potter was named after Larry Gelbart's old doctor. Another has it he was named after Union General William Tecumseh Sherman.
    • Writer Ken Levine was perhaps the most frequent user of this trope, as a number of the one-shot and guest characters were named after people he knew (something he does frequently in his writing), including two of Radar's love interests - Linda Nugent, and Patty Haven (both named for two of Levine's former girlfriends).
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Frequently, especially in later seasons.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm:
    • Frank Burns, whenever he's given temporary command of the camp. Col. Potter could be considered something of a Bait-and-Switch Tyrant.
    • Ironically, even Hawkeye falls prey to this when he is put in command for an episode, insisting on silence in the OR (amongst other things) as an indication of how much it's getting to him.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Played with with Margaret and Donald Penobscott, Margaret is so infatuated with Donald, that his physical traits that are pointed by other characters, or even herself, seem to only entice her even more (such as him being stocky, having no neck, one eyebrow, etc). In fact, both of Donald's appearances (played by two different actors) really don't help matters much.
  • Ultimate Job Security:
    • No matter what zany scheme Hawkeye pulls off or what general he offends, they need him as a doctor. Also somewhat Truth in Television - surgeons could get away with some ridiculous things, due to the sheer need for them, though there were limits even for doctors.
    • Klinger, no matter how hard he tries to avert this.
    • Although undeniably a force for good, Father Mulcahy gets away with some rather worldly behaviours for the sake of greater charity, such as gambling and black market dealings.
    • Some of Hawkeye's stunts would, in Real Life, land him a court martial, such as "The Sniper", where he defies an order not to surrender, even though it could put the nurses in physical danger. Hawkeye makes an impassioned case for surrender, but what he actually does is go out to bring the wounded in from the ambulance under a flag of truce (which gets fired on). While surrender would also commonly be arranged under a flag of truce, that would involve communicating directly with the enemy, which he does not attempt.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: One episode has the gang watching a home movie sent by Radar's mother...who, like Radar himself, is played by Gary Burghoff. Lampshaded when one person jokes that Radar bears a striking resemblance to his dog Ranger.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • Invoked by Trapper when a Luxembourg soldier is misplaced and presumed dead, then shows up for his own memorial.
      Hawkeye: I thought you said he was dead.
      Trapper: (shrugs) He got better.
    • Henry Blake, in a blackout gag on Cher's 1975 variety series.
  • Unique Pilot Title Sequence: The pilot starts with the title "Korea 1950 - 100 Years Ago" as Hawkeye and Trapper John play golf with "My Blue Heaven" playing in the background. Radar gets tossed a football and stops as he hears the choppers coming, which then leads into an extended version of the standard opening.
    • Just imagine what a whole new meaning it'll take on when we're still watching reruns of this show in 2050.
  • Unlimited Wardrobe: Klinger's dresses. In fact, Real Life subverted this trope. He eventually dropped the cross dressing act because the studio ran out of dresses that would fit him.
    • Jamie Farr has stated in interviews that he asked to stop wearing dresses on the show because he didn't want his children to see him wearing dresses. (Although one would think that ship had already sailed, given the early seasons' omnipresence in syndicated reruns even before the show's network run ended.)
    • The size of Klinger's wardrobe is explained in-universe by a combination of him regularly ordering things from catalogs, packages of clothing sent by his family (from his uncle's wardrobe from using the same trick in WWII), and him frequently making things (both shown and spoken of, and they even raided his sewing supplies once when they ran out of sutures). Klinger, it seems, is quite accomplished with needle and thread.
  • Unperson: Invoked by the officer in "The Late Captain Pearce" on Hawkeye being declared dead. Hawkeye is not amused.
    Officer: Well, you are, Doctor, I am afraid what George Orwell described in Nineteen Eighty Four as an "unperson".
    Hawkeye: An "unperson"? Now I'm an "unperson"? Do you know that right now my poor father, not realizing I'm "undead," is at this minute mourning his "un-son"?
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between Hawkeye and Margret. It was briefly resolved in "Comrades in Arms", but it was undone midway through Part 2 and stayed that way.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • Col. Potter, often horse-related. More along the lines of sectional euphemism, most of his euphemisms were actual (albeit he used the more family friendly ones) euphemisms used in West Texas.
    • Subverted in the episode "Dear Peggy", when Father Mulcahy mentions Hawkeye is sharing a "spicy sausage" with an Italian nurse. Judging by his breath while scrubbing for surgery, he was sharing an actual spicy sausage.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • One episode has Hawkeye, Radar and the newly arrived B.J. in Rosie's bar. No one in the bar seems to notice the brawl between two other patrons except B.J. even when it goes literally though their table.
    • Klinger and his dresses have this effect.
    • Hawkeye bets Trapper that he could go into the mess tent naked and no one would notice. No one does, until a startled soldier drops his tray and whistles, drawing everyone's attention.
  • Upper-Class Twit: Frank Burns, in spades.
  • Values Dissonance: In-universe, the clash between American and Korean value systems occasionally creates problems. In particular, "The Moose" deals with a scumbag sergeant who's bought a Korean girl as a slave, but her family believes it's an honorable thing to do.
  • Vinyl Shatters:
    • In the finale, Major Winchester breaks the classical record he was listening to after he finds out the band of prisoner-musicians he had formed got killed in an ambush. This may or may not be an example of the trope; in 1953, when the Korean War ended, large-diameter shellac records were still quite common.
    • In the episode where the cast are awaiting an expected deluge of casualties, B.J. and Hawkeye start shattering Charles's records on their heads when a war of slovenliness between the major and the two captains reaches boiling point.
  • The Voice:
    • The camp PA announcer.
    • In the episode "Run for the Money", Winchester plays a tape recording from his sister, Honoria.
    • In "Springtime", Laverne Esposito can be heard when Klinger marries her via radio.
    • Pvt. Rich, in the "Point of View" episode.
    • In an early episode, Radar's unseen girlfriend breaks up with him via a Dear John recording. Both her voice and the voice of her new fiancé are heard.
  • Vomit Indiscretion Shot: B.J. suffers from this in "Welcome to Korea" when he sees firsthand the savagery of war injuries. Being fresh out of residency at the time he's drafted doesn't help matters any.
  • War Is Hell:
    • Pretty much the defining trait of the final seasons.
    • Hawkeye once argues that war is worse than Hell; at least in Hell, you know that everyone there deserves to be there. In war, almost everyone except the Armchair Military is an innocent bystander.
  • War Is Glorious: Frank, as an Eagleland Type-2, believes this, sometimes even talking about it as if it's some sort of holy mission against Communism (which many Americans did believe of the Cold War).
  • War Refugees: Many Korean characters
  • Wartime Wedding: Both Margaret and Klinger get married during the war. Neither marriage proves successful.
  • Warts and All
  • Way Past the Expiration Date: A frequent topic of complaining is the surplus army food, some of which (it is claimed, mostly by Hawkeye) came from WWII or even WWI.
    Hawkeye: 1943, a very good year for beans.
  • Wedding Finale: The season 5 finale, "Margaret's Marriage", has the Major tying the knot with Donald Penobscott (with a heartbroken Frank Burns serving as best man).
  • Wedding Ring Defense: Hawkeye is fooled by one of these, worn by the episode's visting guest nurse.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back
  • Wham Episode: "Sometimes You Hear the Bullet", also the first Downer Ending episode. More would follow, most notably "Abyssinia, Henry".
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Hawkeye takes up a collection to send his house-boy to the states to go to medical school, but then we never hear from him again. Until he robs most of the regular cast to get money to bribe border guards to allow his family to cross the border. Hawkeye mentions in a Season 4 episode "Our house-boy got drafted two years ago," very likely referring to him.
    • Radar always had a large menagerie of different animals, including rabbits, guinea pigs, raccoons, squirrels, skunks, and even a turtle, each having their own cages. Then, in his very last episode, when he says goodbye to his animals, all that are left are one turtle, one rabbit, and one guinea pig. He tells them the rest of the camp will take care of them in his absence, although we see them only once after that, in "The Red White Blues".
    • In "The Foresight Saga", the MASHers send a Korean boy to live in Iowa and work as a farmhand for Radar. Between AfterMASH and the DOA spinoff W*A*L*T*E*R, we learn that Radar's farming career fell through, but his farmhand is never mentioned past this episode.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • "Preventive Medicine", where B.J. argues with Hawkeye that removing a healthy organ is immoral (see Real Life Writes the Plot above).
    • Hawkeye got one from Radar after he (Hawkeye) showed up for surgery too drunk to operate. He got another one from everyone - including himself - after he laid into Radar for it.
    • Hawkeye laid into Radar when the latter decided he wanted to stay in Korea because he thought they couldn't function without him.
      Hawkeye: We all wait for that day. We dream about it. We pray for it. We'd sacrifice a virgin to it if we could find one. How dare you!
  • Wheelchair Antics: During the Olympics episode, Hawkeye and B.J. are team captains. They make a bet that the loser has to push the winner around in a wheelchair for a month.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: B.J. Hunnicutt's given name is, apparently, B.J.. Leads to this exchange:
    Hawkeye: What kind of parents would name their kid "B.J."?
    B.J.: My mother, Bea Hunnicutt, and my father, Jay Hunnicutt.
  • Whole Costume Reference: Many of Klinger's dresses were from the studio's stock from other shows and films. Klinger even lampshades it himself a few times when he's intentionally copying a movie character's garb.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: used in "The Novocaine Mutiny" to show events that led up to Hawkeye being put on trial for mutiny. The flashbacks are divided between Frank's fictional account and Hawkeye's reveal of what "really" happened.
  • Wholesome Cross Dresser: Klinger, of course. It was his plan to get home - they'd think he was crazy and hence unfit for duty if he wore women's clothing. He was otherwise portrayed as a good soldier. This was based on a story about Lenny Bruce wearing a WAVES uniform to get discharged from the Navy during World War II.
  • Who's Watching the Store?: In the episodes "The Bus" and "The Novocaine Mutiny", all of the 4077th's regular surgeons (Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Potter) are away from camp for an extended period. It's never explained who's operating on the wounded in their absence.
  • Wildlife Commentary Spoof: Hawkeye describes an encounter between Frank and Margaret in this fashion:
    "Observe the female of the species. Seemingly calm and detached, her tiny GI bosom is beating wildly, because she senses the presence of her frequent partner, the notorious red-necked nose-breather. Uh-oh, the signaling process has begun. Eyeballs are exchanged, and our khaki lovers do their famous 'Where'll we meet today?' ritual. It is almost impossible for the uninitiated to discern any connection between these two US Army majors. Yet, the trained observer will see that what these two officers have in mind is to arrange a bit of brass rubbing."
  • Wire Dilemma: "The Army-Navy Game"
  • World's Smallest Violin: Possibly the Trope Maker: Margaret does this in 1978 when Charles complains that an overflow of post-op patients has kicked him out of his tent.
    Margaret: Charles, do you know what this is? It's the world's smallest violin, and it's playing just for you.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • Winchester, for Hawkeye and B.J.. In fact, he was designed this way, in contrast to the man he replaced, Frank, who was little more than a punching bag for Hawkeye and B.J. and Trapper before him. Charles stood as an equal or even a superior to his colleagues in surgery, and could give as good as he got in insults and pranks.
      • Occasionally moved into the realm of Vitriolic Best Buds, whenever Hawkeye or B.J. would have an actual problem and Winchester's empathy would kick in, and likewise Hawkeye and B.J. both admitted a respect and care for Charles they never displayed for his predecessor Frank.
      • If Winchester hadn't had total disdain for pretty much everyone in camp, he'd probably have been very close friends with the other two. The boys probably respected him more because he was capable of taking their pranks and pranking them back, and his surgical skills were impressive (which is more than could be said for Frank's, especially post-Flanderization).
      • Then there were those times when one of them (usually B.J.) would form a temporary alliance with Charles, either against the remaining Swampmate (usually Hawkeye) or some other character.
    • Margaret actually has hints of this with Hawkeye. They might have clashed over matters of discipline and regulation (especially early on in the series) but it's quite clear that both of them never had anything but the highest respect for each other's skills and professional ability. If Margaret hadn't been so uptight (or if Hawkeye hadn't been so nuts) that Ship Tease probably would have become more than just teasing.
    • One time, Frank managed to continually one-up Hawkeye with pranks (trick showerheads, a bucket of water over the door, etc). In the end, Hawkeye wins the prank war by rolling up the wall of the latrine tent while Frank is occupied therein, finishing with a genuine looking salute.
  • Writer on Board: Became increasingly pronounced in the later seasons of the show, particularly in the episodes that Alan Alda scripted (where this approached Author Filibuster or even Author Tract status).
  • Wrong Insult Offense: Hawkeye, B.J., and Charles were all called a crumb, a louse, and a schmo in that order by Major Houlihan. When Houlihan later calls all of them crumbs together, Hawkeye corrects her by saying B.J. is a schmo and Charles is a louse, while he is the only crumb. B.J. and Winchester then correct him that B.J. is the louse and Charles is the schmo.
  • Wrote the Book: Hawkeye wrote the book on the appendix. (He even wrote the appendix, but they took that out.)
  • Yank the Dog's Chain:
    • The first season has an episode where everyone comes to believe that there's been a ceasefire and the war is over. During their "farewell" party they learn the sad news: the war isn't over, and the wounded are arriving.
    • Another early episode has Trapper thinking he'll get to go home due to a stomach ulcer, and even getting a farewell party, before being told by HQ that he'll have to stay in Korea and be operated on there.
    • Trapper gets put through the wringer again in "Kim", deciding to adopt a seemingly-orphaned Korean boy with his wife back in the States, then having to rescue the kid after he wanders into a minefield...then having to watch as the kid's mother turns up and whisks him away.
    • Season three's finale has Henry Blake getting discharged and finally getting to go home. What happened next was a trope-naming moment.invoked
    • In "Welcome to Korea", Hawkeye races to an airport to try and say goodbye to Trapper, who was discharged while Hawkeye was away on leave and couldn't stay any longer. Naturally, despite his best efforts, Hawkeye misses him by minutes.
    • In a more humorous example, Klinger comes tantalizingly close to actually getting a Section 8 discharge in "None Like It Hot". He dons a fur coat and other warm-weather gear in the middle of a blistering Heat Wave, and Col. Potter is so impressed with his determination that he promises to approve a Section 8 if he can keep it up for 24 hours. When Klinger finally breaks down and gives up toward the end of the episode, a sincerely disappointed Potter notes that he only had an hour left to go.
    • In the show's final episode, B.J. receives discharge papers, though they are quickly rescinded. Col. Potter is informed of this, but doesn't say anything - hoping B.J. will be stateside before anyone finds out. Unfortunately, he only makes it as far as Guam before he's yanked back to the 4077th. (However, he does ultimately get to go home - along with everybody else - when the war ends shortly thereafter.)
      B.J.: I'm sitting there in this crummy officers club, and this guy comes up to me, and says, "You Hunnicutt the doctor?" Now, I didn't like the sound of that, so I said, "No, not me, pal, I'm Hunnicutt the chaplain." He says, "Well, chaplain, you'd better start praying for a miracle, because you're going back to Korea to do surgery."
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are:
    • Played with in "Chief Surgeon Who?" Hawkeye plays up his promotion to chief surgeon, when General Barker (whom Frank and Margaret called) comes to see Pierce in action. In the operating room with a patient:
      Hawkeye: Y'see, dad, we've seen only large holes, no small ones. I think he took one in his lingular and we won't find it unless we go in and get it. I've seen some bubbles I can't account for. (To nurse) Suction. please. (feels around in patient; then reaction) And there it is.
      Gen. Barker: I'm impressed!
      Hawkeye: (sheepishly) So am I.
    • One of the more heartwarming examples of this trope comes in the Season 8 episode "Morale Victory". Winchester manages to save the leg of a soldier, only to find out the patient is more worried about the fact his hand is permanently damaged, as he's a concert pianist. Winchester is so devastated by this, and by the man's desire to give up, that he actually goes to Father Mulcahy for advice, and Mulcahy tells Winchester his love of classical music is the way to reach the man. Winchester ends up ordering some sheet music for piano players with one hand, gives them to the reluctant patient, and gives him this speech:
      Winchester: Don't you see? Your hand may be stilled, but your gift cannot be silenced if you refuse to let it be. The gift does not lie in your hands. I have hands, David. Hands that can make a scalpel sing. More than anything in my life I wanted to play, but I do not have the gift. I can play the notes, but I cannot make the music. You have performed Liszt, Rachmaninoff, Chopin. Even if you never do so again, you've already known a joy that I will never know as long as I live. Because the true gift is in your head and in your heart and in your soul. Now you can shut it off forever, or you can find new ways to share your gift with the world - through the baton, the classroom, or the pen. As to these works, they're for you, because you and the piano will always be as one.
  • You Are in Command Now:
    • "Carry On, Hawkeye" was a funny example; "Commander Pierce" much less so.
    • The one time that Winchester was left in command, he simply allowed everyone to go about their routine and instead focused on pampering himself (having Klinger acquire silk sheets, fine food, etc).
    • Anytime Blake or Potter said this to Burns, the unit prepared for a journey across the Despair Event Horizon.
  • You Called Me "X"; It Must Be Serious:
    • Despite their disdain for military protocol, Hawkeye and B.J. on regularly address Col. Potter by his rank out of respect for his competent, compassionate, thoughtful approach to command. Only once, when Potter has been badly upset by another soldier snitching on him to his superiors and is contemplating leaving the Army, does Hawkeye call him "Sherm," urging him to stay.
    • Winchester only ever refers to Hawkeye as "Pierce" except for when they are waiting by the phone to hear word about Hawkeye's father (who is having a surgery done). He calls him "Hawkeye" while telling him that he envies the relationship Pierce and his father have. It's the only time that Winchester drops his walls around his fellow surgeons. Similarly, when Klinger and Winchester call each other Max and Charles at Christmas when Klinger lets on that he knows about Winchester secretly donating sweets to the orphans.
    • Invoked in the finale: Col. Potter calls Father Mulcahy "Francis" for the first time as they say goodbye. Made heartbreaking by the fact that the Father couldn't hear him due to his deafness.
  • You Can Say That Again: In "A Smattering of Intelligence," when Pratt and Flagg show up to arrest Frank:
    Flagg: He's a communist.
    Pratt: He's a fascist!
    Frank: I am not! I'm nothing!!
    Trapper: I'll vouch for that.
  • You No Take Candle: Korean characters sometimes talk like this, much to the disdain of actual Korean viewers.
  • Your Cheating Heart: A fair amount of this is depicted on the show. Probably Truth in Television for a lot of people away at war.
    • The episode "Hanky Panky" has Happily Married B.J. "falling off the fidelity wagon" while comforting a lovelorn nurse, while in "War Co-Respondent" he nearly embarks on a more serious affair with a visiting reporter.
    • Hawkeye gets re-involved with an old college girlfriend (who's now married) in "The More I See You".
    • Subverted in the earlier episode "Radar's Report", when Hawkeye falls hard for a new nurse until he notices a wedding ring on her finger...which she eventually reveals to be her grandmother's, used to discourage would-be seducers.
    • Frank had a long-term extramarital dalliance with Margaret. This wasn't simply a matter of Absence Makes the Heart Go Yonder, either; he apparently regularly cheated on his wife with his receptionists.
    • In "Henry in Love", Blake falls hard for a fresh-faced former cheerleader, to the point where he's pondering whether to tell his wife about her. Fortunately Radar intervenes to save his marriage. Well, until he dies, anyway.
    • Trapper was not only casually adulterous but almost arrogantly so through his entire run on the show, which might tempt a viewer watching scenes of him pining for his family back in the States to react with a derisive snort of laughter rather than the intended heartstring-tugging. This is likely one of the reasons his replacement, B.J., was so serious about the sanctity of his marriage... it made his longing for his wife and child seem much more sincere.
    • Henry was much the same as Trapper, screwing around on his wife with no apparent remorse. Additionally, like Frank, this seems to be behavior that began long before the war.
    • Margaret herself ends up on the other end of this after marrying Donald Penobscot, who turns out to be a philanderer. Ditto Henry, who discovers his wife had a fling with an orthodontist in his absence; and Klinger, who marries his high school sweetheart (via telephone) only to later have her throw him over for a sausage casing maker back in Toledo (and later, after they've divorced, get involved with his best friend from childhood).
    • An unproduced Season 1 script, "Father Hawkeye Knows Best", reveals that Frank's wife has been cheating on him with a Congressman. Since the episode was never made, it's doubtful whether this should be regarded as canon.
    • Averted in "Lil". Potter gets friendly with a visiting female colonel, but ultimately resists temptation.
      • Also averted with Potter and Brandy Doyle. She was coming onto him strong, but he seemed to be mostly oblivious and drank himself to sleep before she could make her move.
      • Subverted with Potter and Doris Day. She never met him, but he was deeply infatuated with her.
      • Potter did confess to cheating on one occasion though, after he found out his son-in-law had been unfaithful to his daughter. It became a sort of My Greatest Failure for him.
    • In "Ceasefire", Hawkeye is shown to have been juggling three nurses. They're apparently not aware of each other, as each is under the impression that her relationship with Hawkeye is serious enough to warrant discussion about them making plans for after the war. He tells them that he's married, invoking this trope.

♪ My Blue Heaven ♪

Video Example(s):


Henry Blake's Death

Radar announces that Henry didn't make it home

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / KilledOffForReal

Media sources:

Main / KilledOffForReal