'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (2023)

Hawkeye and Trapper's shenanigans. Hawkeye and B.J. The hot romance of Frank and Hot Lips. Klinger cross dressing. Colonel Blake and Colonel Potter's attempts to reign in madness. "M*A*S*H" premiered on September 17, 1972, and for the next 11 years the friendships, tragedies and shenanigans of Year 4077 captivated audiences. Now, let's celebrate 50 years of CBS premieres with our photo gallery featuring the top 25 episodes. All episodes stream on Hulu.

The long-running series, based on the three years of the Korean War, was adapted from a hit 1970 film, which in turn was adapted from a best-selling 1968 novelRichard Hooker. Debuting at the height of the contentious Vietnam War, the series subtly pokes fun at government bureaucracy and the futility of war, balancing the weight of the tragedies plaguing the surgical field with comic relief of the character's efforts to end the war survive with humor and compassion.

The first few seasons were almost pure comedy, with Commander Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) tries to stop the comical battle of wills between mischievous captains Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) and trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), along with the uptight Major Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Fudge Marmalade) and her lover Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville), while Blake himself is supported by his loyal employee Radar O'Reilly (Gary Burghof, the only actor to carry over from the film). Rounding out the cast of unforgettable characters was Maxwell Klinger (Jamie Farr), Corporal in Drag aiming to secure a discharge from Section Eight, and Lieutenant John Mulcahy (William Christopher), the unbiased and reassuring field chaplain.

Alda quickly became a crowd pleaser and was soon involved in production behind the scenes, including co-writing 19 episodes and directing over 30. Stevenson and Rogers chose to leave the show at the end of season three. It's hard for a show to lose a beloved character, let alone two. Additionally, the writers chose a tragic ending for Stevenson's affable Blake, making it the first sitcom to kill a main character, wowing not only audiences but the cast as well. The actors only found out about Blake's fate just before the operating room. Scene was filmed so the total disbelief about these surgical masks is real. The episode sparked controversy and redefined the genre, paving the way for more dark humor and a heavy influence of drama mixed with comedy.

Not only would the series survive these departures and controversies, but it would remain as popular as ever, with new characters stepping in as if they had always been there. Hawkeye's new bunkmate and prank partner in crime was Captain B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farell), who might have been gentler than Trapper, but was just as wily and mischievous, while laid-back, retired veteran Colonel Sherman T. Potter (Harry Morgan) took over the position of commander. At the end of season five, Linville also departed; The neurotic and incompetent Burns was replaced in 4077 by the intellectual and extremely able Major Charles Winchester III (David Ogden Stiers). Burghoff was the last to leave, with Radar receiving a hardship waiver in season eight and Klinger taking over his role as company clerk.

Several recurring characters have visited the 4077th Century over time, two of the most popular being rational psychiatrist Major Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus) and the mentally unstable and paranoid secret agent Colonel Samuel Flagg (Eduard Winter); the two sometimes appear together as foils for each other. A long list of guest stars attended the series, including established stars such asRon Howard,Ned Beatty,Brian Dennehy,Leslie NielseneMorita-Bett, as well as lesser known ones like e.gJohn Knight,Patrick Swayze,Georg WendteRita Wilson.

During its decade-long existence, "M*A*S*H" has become a staple at awards shows, earning over 100 Emmy nominations. Competing with shows like "All in the Family" and "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the early seasons and "Taxi" and "Cheers" in the later years, "M*A*S*H" earned a total of 14 Emmys, including Outstanding Comedy Series in its second season in 1974. Swit received a Supporting Actress nomination every year between 1974 and 1983, winning twice, while Morgan and Burghoff each won a Supporting Actor once. Alda has received 27 nominations for the series, winning three for acting and one for writing and directing.

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What the show lacked in Emmy wins, it more than made up for in ratings and viewer loyalty. When the series ended on February 28, 1983, it was with an epic two-and-a-half hour episode unheard of for a 30-minute sitcom, and with advertisers paying an unprecedented $450,000 (more than $1 million today) a 30 second slot. An unparalleled number of viewers tuned in to see the fate of the beloved characters, and nearly 40 years later, this finale is not only the most-watched finale of all time, but also the most-watched TV series episode of all time, with more than 100 million viewers - and there doesn't count the viewers in California who had to watch it a month later due to a power outage on the night it first aired - and was rated only by sporting events.

I wasn't even two when "M*A*S*H" debuted; It was one of my mom's favorite shows and I can literally say I grew up listening to the members of the 4077th. As a child, most humor was a mystery to me - I found Klinger funny and always looked forward to seeing what adorable ensemble he would wear next. As I've gotten older, I've come to appreciate the underlying messages and slightly salacious humor - all of which are timeless and will no doubt appeal to new generations of viewers for another 50 years and beyond.

While it's difficult to narrow down 251 episodes to just 25, have we tried to pick the best of the best? Did your favorite make the list?

  • 25. Our Finest Hour (Episode 7.4)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (1)

    This hour-long episode features a news reporter interviewing each camp member and describing their struggles, fears, tragedies, and the camaraderie that sustains them. A well done retrospective, this is the only episode to feature all of the main characters as 4077th members Henry Blake, Trapper John and Frank Burns are featured in a flashback. The current time is filmed in black and white like a newsreel, while your "memories" are in color.

  • 24. Welcome to Korea (Episode 4.1), Directed by Emmy-winner

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (2)

    This hour-long episode opens season four following the departure of Wayne Rogers and McLean Stevenson. The bumbling Frank has temporarily replaced Henry as commanding officer, and Hawkeye has been on leave for a week, only to find upon his return that Trapper has been fired and left without a goodbye. While running to his friend before disappearing for good, Hawkeye finds a new ally in Trapper's replacement, Captain B.J. Hunnicutt, disappointing Frank and Margaret who had hoped to make the new recruit their ideal army officer. Harry Morgan makes his first appearance as the new camp commander, Colonel Potter, at the very end. It's hard for a series to lose one, let alone two, main and favorite characters, but this marked a new era and a slightly more dramatic edge for the series, as Mike Farrell's Hunnicutt and Morgan's Potter fit seamlessly into the established cast.

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  • 23. Fallen Idol (Episode 6.2)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (3)

    When Radar is badly injured after following his hero Hawkeye's dubious advice, the two fall out. But Hawkeye is later humiliated when his more naïve and less assertive roommate defends himself, with Radar giving his fallen idol some choice words - and earning a very rare sign of respect from Hawkeye: a warm greeting.

  • 22. Inga (ep. 7.16), Emmy winner for Outstanding Writing

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (4)

    Hawkeye and Winchester are smitten with a visiting surgeon from Sweden (Marietta Hartley), but are upset when she outwits them in front of their colleagues. Alda won an Emmy for writing for this episode.

  • 21. Madness of the Living - Sorrow of the Dead (ep 10.10)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (5)

    While running a high fever, Klinger communicates with a soldier who has just died and whose spirit is wandering the camp as he processes his own death. Alda received an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Writing.

  • 20. The Joker Is Wild (Episode 11.4)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (6)

    A snake in Winchester's bed, a hole in Margaret's cloak, a change in Potter's toothpaste are just the beginning of the ultimate prank war in the 4077. BJ vows to outdo the legendary trapper John, causing Hawkeye to become paranoid despite his claims to the contrary. Who will be the "tops" in the end?

  • 19. Divided Are We (Episode 2.1)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (7)

    General Clayton sends psychiatrist Captain Hildebrand to observe the 4077th to see if the unit can function as a group or if it needs to be disbanded. Though Henry tries to get his motley crew on their best behavior, the usual shenanigans and encounters continue - until they have to deal with incoming wounded. The loudspeaker announcement at the end of the episode is almost identical to the last one in the 1970 film.

  • 18th Lifetime (ep 8.11)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (8)

    Hawkeye races against time to save a soldier, George, with a ruptured aorta, while BJ tends to a soldier with a serious brain injury, whom he soon realizes can't save but can save George with one Aortic transplant can save. Hawkeye has 20 minutes to save his patient without paralysis; The episode is told in real time, with a ticking on-screen clock adding to the excitement.

  • 17. Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler (Folge 4.10)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (9)

    Two popular recurring characters, Intelligence officer Sam Flagg and psychiatrist Sidney Freedman, are brought in to help determine if a soldier claiming to be Jesus Christ is deluding himself from the line of duty or genuinely suffering from battle fatigue. Well, in season four we finally find out that Radar's first name is Walter.

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  • 16. Yankee Doodle Doctor (Folge 1.6)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (10)

    Hawkeye agrees to appear in a documentary about MASH units, but realizes the film is actually Army propaganda. Hawkeye and Trapper destroy the film and make their own version, spoofing the Marx Brothers while delivering a strong anti-war message.

  • 15. The Longjohn Slap (Episode 1.19)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (11)

    The 4077th is in the middle of a cold snap and the army mistakenly sends a supply of warm clothing. Hawkeye is the proud owner of an undergarment "soft as a baby's bottom" that was sent from home but kindly lends to a sick hunter. Longjohns soon become legendary and become part of a poker pot, a bribe and a date. This was the first of 19 episodes Alda wrote for the series.

  • 14. Movie Tonight (Ep. 5.22)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (12)

    Tensions are high in the 4077th, so Potter grabs a copy of his favorite film, My Darling Clementine, to boost morale. The film continues to fall apart, however, and as Klinger redefines it, the crew creates their own entertainment and gets even more boisterous with their unique rendition of "Gosh, Mom, I want to go home."

  • 13. Death's Holiday (Episode 9.5)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (13)

    While the 4077th throws a Christmas party for the children at a local orphanage, Hawkeye, BJ and Hot Lips try to keep a mortally wounded soldier alive a few hours lest he and his family die on Christmas Day. associate the holiday with the death of their patriarch. Meanwhile, Winchester is showing a surprisingly generous side.

  • 12. The General Turned Back at Dawn (Episode 3.1)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (14)

    Harry Morgan makes his debut, but not as the Sherman Potter we would eventually come to know and love. In this Emmy-nominated round at the start of Season 3, Morgan is Major General Bartford Hamilton Steele, who Trapper notes is "a little crazy." He wants to move camp closer to the front lines (to save fuel), questionably cites history's greatest war leaders (like Hannibal), and seeks to court-martial Hawkeye - resulting in the lunatic's racist portrayal of the "Mississippi Lama". General culminates the hearing.

  • 11.5 a.m. Charlie (Episode 2.2)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (15)

    A North Korean bomber pilot attempts to destroy an ammunition depot near the 4077th; The only thing he gets right is the timing. The unit meets every day at 5:00 a.m. to place bets on how far from their intended target their hand-held bomb will land. The real fun comes when Frank takes the situation seriously and asks for a gun, while Hawkeye and Trapper think a gun would make them a target. The two hatch a plan to get rid of the dump and Frank's ambitions to train his own mini South Korean army.

  • 10. Old Soldiers (ep 8.18)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (16)

    While the unit takes care of a group of Korean orphans, the gang becomes concerned when Potter returns to camp in a bad mood after visiting an old friend. Potter gathers his friends, tells them about a tontine he and four of his comrades founded during World War I, and raises a glass to 'old soldiers (who) never die; they just disappear.”

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  • 9. Dear Sigmund (Episode 5.8), Emmy Winner for Best Director

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (17)

    Suffering from his own depression after the suicide of one of his patients, psychiatrist Sidney Freedman visits the 4077. While there, he writes a letter to his (albeit deceased) fellow therapist Sigmund Freud, describing the tragedies that are occurring, and details the crazy shenanigans that employees use to overcome ugliness. In the midst of all this, a mysterious prankster is on the loose, and Freedman is surprised and excited to discover the culprit. Alda won an Emmy and a Directors Guild Award for this episode, and was also nominated for a Writing Emmy.

  • 8. Adam's Ribs (ep 3.11)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (18)

    After 11 straight days of only eating fish or liver for meals, Hawkeye loses his temper and decides he wants the most delicious ribs he's ever eaten. So begins your journey to shipping ribs and gravy from Chicago's Adam's Ribs to Korea—which isn't even the hardest part. Between the army bureaucracy and incoming wounded soldiers, will poor Hawkeye be able to enjoy his delicious meal?

  • 7. Tuttle (ep. 1.15)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (19)

    14 January 1973

    In an effort to stock an orphanage, Hawkeye brings his imaginary childhood friend Tuttle "to life" as a captain authorizing money transfers. When Frank becomes suspicious, the "Captain" must show up and Hawkeye, Trapper and Radar plan to make Tuttle "real". Everyone in camp soon claims to be the heroic Captain's comrades, and the 4077th's "Robin Hoods" nearly get caught, but Hawkeye's quick thinking ensures the orphanage is tended to for years to come.

  • 6. Goodbye, goodbye and amen (ep 11.16)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (20)

    Alda directed and co-wrote The Farewell, rewarding each character with moments that detail the horrors of war, the unique sense of kinship with those who survive those horrors, and those comic reliefs that offset the tragedies experienced and endured describe. After an 11-year run, an unprecedented number of viewers tuned in to see the conclusion, and was celebrated with Klinger's wedding, camp being broken, each character saying a tearful goodbye before going their own way, and a tearful finale rewards" written in Rock by B.J. to Hawkeye.

  • 5. Handle Me (Episode 2.13)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (21)

    Captain Pak (Pat Morita) and Major Freedman visit the 4077th for their annual "conference" - aka the poker marathon featuring Henry, Hawkeye, Trapper and Klinger. The game is interrupted by a crook pulling up on radar, Frank's refusal to use an intelligence officer per Army protocol, and a soldier (John Ritter) suffering from war weariness and being pushed to his limits by Frank's over-the-top patriotism. Filled with excellent guest stars, this episode also features Edward Winter's first appearance, this time as Captain Halloran, who would later go on to play the mentally unstable Colonel Samuel Flagg many times.

  • 4. Goodbye Radar (episodes 8.4 and 8.5)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (22)

    Radar received a loving two-part send-off when original cast member Gary Burghoff decided to leave the series. While Radar is on R&R in Tokyo, Klinger acts as a clerk and the camp's generator shuts down. When Radar returns, he is given the opportunity to return home after the death of his family, but still feels needed in the 4077th. Though he's torn, things come together and Radar can finally go home - leaving Hawkeye is his most prized possession.

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  • 3. A Fistful of Jokes (Episode 2.24)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (23)

    Two Intelligence officers - the wounded Lt. Col. Flagg (and his many aliases) and Trapper's friend Captain Pratt - arrive separately on 4077; Flagg to investigate "suspicious activity" in the unit, Pratt to investigate Flagg's suspicious activity. It's the perfect opportunity for Hawkeye and Trapper to use the two sneaky spies to have fun with Frank. . .

  • 2. Sometimes You Hear the Bullet (Episode 1.7)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (24)

    Hawkeye's childhood friend Tommy (James T. Callahan) is writing a book called You Never Hear the Bullet about life on the front lines, with the idea that the film's portrayal of a soldier hearing the bullet before he reaches it is wrong is. However, when Tommy is brought in after being shot in the front lines, he tells Hawkeye he heard the bullet, leading Hawkeye to joke that "Sometimes you hear the bullet" is a better title. It is one of the first episodes to feature a main character affected by a death; With its strong anti-war message and shift from straight comedy to dramatic comedy, the episode was nominated for a Writers Guild Award. Ron Howard has a cameo appearance as an underage Marine being mentored by Hawkeye.

  • 1. Abyssinia, Henry (eps. 3.24)

    'M*A*S*H' 50th Anniversary: ​​Top 25 Episodes, Ranked (25)

    In fact, there are those who consider this to be the show's worst episode, but it is without a doubt the most impactful and shocking "M*A*S*H" episode not only of all time, but in all of television history. . With McLean Stevenson gone, it looks like Henry is driving home happy after receiving his honorable discharge. However, in keeping with their anti-war message, the writers gave the beloved character a shocking ending that resonated with performers and audiences alike, letting both the O.R. and real audience in stunned silence. Never before has a lead character in a sitcom suffered such a tragic fate, and over 1,000 letters have been sent - some protesting, some understanding. The CBS network and 20th Century Fox were also unhappy with the ending, and the O.R. Scene was cut from reruns but has since been reinstated. And this scene is no less shocking and its message no less impactful after being watched as many times as the first.

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