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Ranking the best MASH episodes of all time

Ranking the best MASH episodes of all time

Some television shows transcend time and genre—and leave an indelible mark on culture long after they’ve left the airwaves. “M*A*S*H” is one of those shows.

Created by comedic writer and playwright Larry Gelbart, the legendary, Emmy-winning series was adapted from the 1970 Robert Altman film of the same name, which was based off a book by wartime-surgeon Richard Hooker. The comedy-drama, which focused on the lives of the doctors and staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital during the Korean War, ran from 1972 to 1983 and aired more than 250 episodes in its 11 seasons. It lasted longer than the actual Korean War by around eight years. The “M*A*S*H” series finale still ranks as the most-watched TV finale of all time, with nearly 106 million viewers tuning in to say farewell.

“M*A*S*H” remains the gold standard for TV writing; in 2013, the Writers Guild of America voted it the fifth best-written TV series of all time. It’s inspired countless shows today, partly because the show’s talented writers weren’t afraid to take risks with its characters and storytelling. The show pioneered narrative techniques like 30-minute episodes with two plotlines, usually one funny and one serious. The writers also refused to shy away from hard truths about war and the human condition despite network pressure, leading to some of the series' most powerful episodes.

Thanks to its staying power, fans have passionately debated over favorite storylines and the most dramatic or funniest scenes—with iconic characters like Hawkeye (Alan Alda), Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) or Maj. Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit). But debate no further: Stacker has taken a look back and created the ultimate, definitive list of the top 100 “M*A*S*H” episodes of all time based on fan-voted IMDb scores. Do you remember these memorable moments or is it time for a rewatch?

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#100. Season 2, Episode 22 - George

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- IMDb user votes: 339
- Air date: Feb. 16, 1974

The title of this episode, strangely, has nothing to do with the mysterious, unseen George character mentioned briefly two episodes earlier. Instead, it refers to Private George Weston, a gay soldier who shows up at the 4077th with injuries he sustained from a beating at the hands of his unit.

Confronting homophobia, particularly in a military context, was considered edgy for primetime in the mid-70s, and as such, CBS executives were nervous about the issues raised in the episode. The script is incredibly progressive for its time; Frank’s homophobic attitudes are spotlighted as petty and repressive, while Private Weston is portrayed as a brave and determined soldier—who demands a swift return to the front despite having been wounded in the line of duty four times.

#99. Season 2, Episode 4 - For the Good of the Outfit

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- IMDb user votes: 346
- Air date: Oct. 6, 1973

If nothing else, "M*A*S*H" will go down in history for its gall in addressing the harsh realities of the American Military Industrial Complex. An episode that embodies what "M*A*S*H" did best, “For the Good of the Outfit” sees Hawkeye and Trapper confronted with an unseemly truth: The U.S. military is responsible for many civilian deaths after reigning artillery fire down on the South Korean village of Tai Dong.

Of course, this was network television, so some narrative compromises were made. For example, the artillery fire is believed to be an “accident.” Digging a little deeper in its critique, the episode takes things further by having the higher-ups call for the incident to be covered up. With the frequency and volume of protests over the years leading up to 1973, this corrupt wartime reality had moved from the pop culture status of "conspiracy" to "probability," but it was still incredibly controversial.

#98. Season 1, Episode 11 - Germ Warfare

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- IMDb user votes: 390
- Air date: Dec. 10, 1972

Hawkeye and Trapper play vampire in this episode, tapping Frank (during his sleep) for a pint of blood to help save a POW with the rare AB negative blood type. But when their patient develops hepatitis, they worry Frank may be a carrier and have to devise a series of misdirections and distractions to keep him away from everyone (especially Hot Lips) until his tests come back. Aside from the darkness of its subject matter, this episode is notable for including the last appearances of supporting characters Spearchucker, Private Boone, and Lt. Dish.

#97. Season 1, Episode 9 - Henry, Please Come Home

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- IMDb user votes: 406
- Air date: Nov. 19, 1972

When Henry, after receiving a commendation for his work at the 4077th, is transferred to Tokyo to teach, Hawkeye and Trapper must grapple with Frank taking his place as their C.O. But rather than bow to Frank’s tyranny, they immediately set out to convince Henry to return with a scheme in which Radar fakes a mysterious illness that necessitates Henry returning to base to lend his "expertise."

Once he’s back, the boys twist his arm into staying, and although he claims he’s going to tighten up on the disciplinary front this time around, the final scene of him joining in for poker and martinis suggest a full return to normal. The emotional highlights of this episode arrive early in the awkwardly tender goodbyes between a tongue-tied Henry and his men. However, the ease with which Hawkeye and Co. convince Henry to return drains the dramatic tension by the end of the episode, which in retrospect feels like a low-stakes dress rehearsal for Henry’s permanent departure in the third season finale, "Abyssinia, Henry."

#96. Season 1, Episode 1 - Pilot

- IMDb user rating: 7.9
- IMDb user votes: 675
- Air date: Sept. 17, 1972

Ho-Jon, the Swamp’s Korean houseboy, is accepted to college at Hawkeye’s old alma mater. Hawkeye and Trapper then host a raffle party to pay for his first semester’s tuition, the grand prize being a date with the alluring Nurse Dish. The pilot episode of "M*A*S*H" established instant chemistry between Hawkeye and Trapper, and established the formula of fun hijinks in the service of a higher cause (well, usually). It features one of only two Father Mulcahy performances by George Morgan, who was replaced by William Christopher early on in the show’s run. It’s also the only episode to feature a cold open before the theme music.

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#95. Season 10, Episode 19 - Sons and Bowlers

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 239
- Air date: March 22, 1982

After searing defeats in football, basketball, and softball, the 4077th challenges Col. Pitt and his Marine squad to a bowling match. Col. Potter and B.J. lead the team while Hawkeye must wrestle with the fact that his father is going under the knife back on American soil. He eventually processes with Charles, who calls him Hawkeye for the first and only time in the show's 12-year run. It also marked the first time the closing theme replaced the opening theme and the intro only consisted of five shots. And while neither of those things is too impactful, they accurately reflect the outlying nature of the episode, a clear standout in the series.

#94. Season 9, Episode 11 - No Sweat

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 244
- Air date: Feb. 2, 1981

“No Sweat” envelops viewers in a state of stress and...well, sweat. This particular sweat is caused by an extreme heatwave that keeps the company from being able to get comfortable in their own skin. Of course, they’re already more or less living in a bare-bones camp in the jungle, so it’s not like they’re in terrific conditions to start. Slap a heatwave on top, and we find our beloved 4077th in dire straits. The episode follows individuals (Peg, Margaret, Charles, Potter, etc.), examining how they all cope with the unwanted sweat storm, from TV repair to tax returns.

#93. Season 7, Episode 12 - Dear Comrade

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 251
- Air date: Nov. 27, 1978

Hawkeye and B.J. Hunnicutt (who replaced Trapper as the show’s sidekick from season four onwards) return after some R&R to find Winchester (who replaced Frank as the show’s nemesis in the show’s sixth season) has hired a Korean houseboy, Kwang, to clean up The Swamp. We soon learn, through his own narration, that Kwang’s actually a spy, but a pretty harmless one—his reports back home state that that the 4077th’s methods are too unorthodox to learn much from, and he even helps out in the O.R. with an herbal remedy for a rash. The use of a previously unmet narrator in this episode was groundbreaking, and fans appreciated the outside perspective on the 4077th.

#92. Season 9, Episode 2 - Letters

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 257
- Air date: Nov. 24, 1980

A nuanced take on the episode’s popularly used “letter home” framework, “Letters” has the company responding to mail from children of Crabapple Cove where Hawkeye grew up. The format allowed space for an episode where Charles gets especially emotional. It’s a muted version of emotional because it’s Charles, but emotional nonetheless. The episode is chock full of stories from different characters. They range from touching to forgettable to hilarious and combine to make for an interesting special episode steeped in significant character development.

#91. Season 10, Episode 14 - The Tooth Shall Set You Free

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 259
- Air date: Feb. 8, 1982

As per usual, hot topics abound in this classic episode. The central topic is racism. Guest star Tom Atkins plays Maj. Lawrence Weems, an impressive, selfless, and caring major when it comes to the way he treats his men. Or so the company thought. After a few fishy situations, they discover that Maj. Weems is racist. He’s been intentionally sending his black soldiers into the most deadly situations. Laurence Fishburne also guest stars as Dorsey, who helps unveil Weems’s cruel racist behavior. Potter goes so far as to accuse Weems of fighting the Civil War.

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#90. Season 6, Episode 23 - Potter's Retirement

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 264
- Air date: Feb. 20, 1978

Potter returns to the 4077th enraged and ready to retire after a meeting with his friend Gen. Kent, who has been getting insider reports that his command isn’t up to par. Hawkeye, B.J, and Radar set out to find the mole responsible for the reports, initially suspecting Winchester. They finally discover the culprit is a man named Benson, who was sent in to spy for another general with an ax to grind against Potter. The threat of Potter’s retirement allows for some tender moments between the C.O. and his surgeons, and at one point, Hawkeye even addresses Potter by his first name, Sherman (which only happens on one or two other occasions on the show).

#89. Season 9, Episode 20 - The Life You Save

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 265
- Air date: May 4, 1981

Winchester, after a near-miss encounter with a sniper, begins spending his free time with a patient whom he and B.J. brought back from the brink of death. The comedy takes a backseat in this episode, which capped off its ninth season on a serious note. It was intended to be broadcast on March 30, 1981, but in light of the attempted assassination of Ronald Reagan earlier that day, CBS feared the sniper plot point might not sit well with viewers and aired a rerun instead.

#88. Season 11, Episode 4 - The Joker Is Wild

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 268
- Air date: Nov. 15, 1982

Leaning into its identity as one of the greatest prank shows on primetime television, "M*A*S*H" regularly devoted entire episodes to labyrinthian prank wars. “The Joker Is Wild” sees Hawkeye eerily left alone amidst all the hijinks, prompting his concern that a much greater prank threatens his dignity around every corner. It’s episodes like these that exemplify how easy it is to love "M*A*S*H," a show that can simultaneously address grave ethical issues and fool around with the best of them.

#87. Season 9, Episode 14 - Oh, How We Danced

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 268
- Air date: Feb. 23, 1981

After giving a bad sanitation review to another campsite, Winchester gets a fist to the face from the camp’s major and ends up questioning his masculinity. Meanwhile, the crew is devoted to finding a harmonica for an injured Korean boy brought into the camp. The episode also makes a point of reminding viewers how significant the thought and memory of loved ones is for stationed soldiers through the depression of B.J., whose longing for his family back home is too difficult to overcome on his own.

#86. Season 7, Episode 24 - A Night at Rosie's

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 268
- Air date: Feb. 26, 1979

Through a snowball effect that starts with Hawkeye seeking out a breakfast beer, various members of the 4077th end up at Rosie’s Bar, which turns into one big party. This is a format-busting episode in that there are no scenes at the 4077th. The character of Rosie, having previously been played by two other actresses, is here portrayed by Eileen Saki, who would continue in the role throughout the rest of the show’s run.

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#85. Season 7, Episode 2 - Peace on Us

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 270
- Air date: Sept. 25, 1978

When Col. Potter informs the men that recent peace talks have collapsed, Hawkeye goes AWOL, crashes the peace talks, and implores a room full of generals and diplomats to put an end to the war. Although it’s not the funniest episode—in fact there are moments where the laugh track feels totally inappropriate—“Peace of Us” is a stirring example of the show turning up its anti-war message to full blast.

#84. Season 6, Episode 5 - War of Nerves

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 272
- Air date: Oct. 11, 1977

Written and directed by Alan Alda, this episode features Sidney Freedman, the psychiatrist who’s frequently called in to help with mental health issues at the field hospital. When Sidney shows up at the 4077th amongst the wounded, he notices that tensions are flaring and tempers are high, so he sets about making his rounds to try to help the mood. Klinger, the zany and often cross-dressing character who’s always trying to get sent home on Section 8, is allowed a rare moment of depth in this episode in the form of a serious anti-war tirade that Hawkeye himself would be proud of.

#83. Season 5, Episode 3 - Margaret's Engagement

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 273
- Air date: Sept. 28, 1976

Margaret, having grown more distant from Frank since his wife discovered their affair, gets engaged to a handsome lieutenant colonel named Donald. The best moments of the episode feature Frank’s heartbroken reaction to the news, which in typical Frank fashion are equal parts painful and hilarious. That being said, the nail in the coffin of the Frank/Hot Lips relationship also marked the start of a notable deterioration of his character, whom without an ally on the base, became more one-dimensional and pathetic until his departure from the show at the beginning of the sixth season.

#82. Season 4, Episode 15 - Mail Call, Again

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 279
- Air date: Dec. 9, 1975

The second of three episodes from the show that uses the same conceit, this fourth season episode sees the men and women of the 4077th catching up on news from home through mail call. Most notably, Col. Potter discovers he’s going to be a grandfather and Frank finds out his wife knows about his affair with Margaret and wants a divorce. The episode is one of several where fans speculate that Alan Alda flubbed a line and kept rolling with the take anyway. In a scene where Hawkeye is reading from his hometown newspaper aloud, he stumbles over a line about “shaving mugs,” but keeps going, questioning the pluralization: “Shavings mugs? Shavings mug?”

#81. Season 5, Episode 9 - Mulcahy's War

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 282
- Air date: Nov. 16, 1976

When Father Mulcahy becomes insecure about his lack of battle experience, he insists on accompanying Radar on a mission to retrieve a wounded soldier from the front. On the ride home, they start to lose the patient, and they’re forced to radio back to the 4077th for help. Hawkeye talks Mulcahy through a makeshift tracheotomy, which he performs successfully despite the pressure of bombs going off all around him. Viewers praised the high-stakes excitement of the episode and enjoyed watching one of the show’s supporting characters take the spotlight for a change.

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#80. Season 5, Episode 10 - The Korean Surgeon

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 287
- Air date: Nov. 23, 1976

When a North Korean surgeon shows up amongst the latest batch of wounded, Hawkeye and B.J. disguise him and put him to work in the 4077th in order to keep him out of a POW camp. Their plan unravels by the end of the episode, but not before Dr. Paik has a few opportunities to mix things up on the base. B.J. gets one of the funniest lines in this one—in a scene where Frank is deriding Paik’s advice, insulted that a “pinko” would try to teach him medicine, B.J. quips “tell him he's wasting his time.”

#79. Season 3, Episode 23 - White Gold

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 307
- Air date: March 11, 1975

This is a whodunit episode where the mystery revolves around the identity of thieves making off with penicillin from the supply tent. The overzealous Col. Flagg shows up to investigate and steals the show with his gung-ho dialogue: “My orders are to do whatever I have to, to break up this penicillin ring. I have written permission to die in the attempt.” In the end, it’s revealed that there are multiple parties behind the thefts—all with their own agendas—and Flagg himself is one of them. Hawkeye and crew side with an aid station worker who’s been taking the drug to administer to patients and keep Flagg sidelined with symptoms of appendicitis, which they induce by drugging his coffee. Hawkeye and Trapper, in one of the more mean-spirited turns of the show, perform unnecessary surgery to remove the colonel’s healthy appendix.

#78. Season 6, Episode 2 - Fallen Idol

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 307
- Air date: Sept. 27, 1977

“Fallen Idol” marks the halfway point of "M*A*S*H’s" series career run. Hawkeye experiences a drunken bout of remorse after sending Radar to Seoul to find a lover, per his own impassioned desires, only to see Radar return a wounded soldier. Like so many great "M*A*S*H" episodes, “Fallen Idol” reminds viewers of the relevance of mundane aspects of life to stationed soldiers. Whether concerned with romance or a drink order, their minds are racing with many of the same everyday thoughts as ours. The episode is also one of many written and directed by series star Alan Alda, aka Hawkeye, who gives a proper salute near the end of the episode, one of very few he gives throughout the show’s 251 episodes.

#77. Season 2, Episode 23 - Mail Call

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 320
- Air date: Feb. 23, 1974

This episode marked Alan Alda’s directorial debut and established the mail call format that would be repeated twice more in the show’s run. Trapper’s letter from his two daughters makes him homesick and drives him to drinking and thoughts of desertion. Hawkeye receives a sweater from his sister (whom the writers basically forgot about in later seasons). Frank receives a letter from his broker informing him that his investments in weapons manufacturing has made him a bundle. This prompts Hawkeye and Trapper to set up a fake aviation corporation to trick Frank into investing, one of their more satisfying schemes against old “Ferret Face.”

#76. Season 3, Episode 4 - Iron Guts Kelly

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 326
- Air date: Oct. 1, 1974

A visiting general dies during an amorous encounter with Hot Lips, so his assistant sets out to make it look like he perished gloriously in battle, trying to enlist the help of Trapper and Hawkeye, who aren’t on board with the cover-up. According to Larry Gelbart, the show’s creator and one of its writers, this episode was based on the deaths of UCLA football coach Henry "Red" Sanders and the actor, John Garfield, both of whom “met their maker while making someone else.”

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#75. Season 2, Episode 3 - Radar's Report

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 362
- Air date: Sept. 29, 1973

Radar’s weekly report gives a retrospective on recent events. Hawkeye courts a new nurse, and Klinger finally undergoes psychiatric evaluation. Trapper considers murdering a North Korean patient whose escape attempt indirectly killed one of his own patients—a plotline that makes this episode one of the darkest of the show’s run. Also notable is the debut of fan-favorite Dr. Freedman (Allan Arbus) in Klinger’s storyline. Curiously, he’s named Milton here; in subsequent episodes the character’s first name is Sidney.

#74. Season 2, Episode 1 - Divided We Stand

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 385
- Air date: Sept. 15, 1973

CBS hoped to attract new viewers with the second season of the show. As such, its opener serves as a kind of second pilot episode, taking its time to introduce the main players through a storyline that brings in an outsider’s point of view. A psychiatrist (not Dr. Freedman, who wouldn’t arrive for another two episodes) is sent to evaluate the 4077th to see if the unit should be allowed to remain intact. His initial reaction is that it’s a nuthouse and should be disbanded. But when he witnesses the reality of the O.R. firsthand, he’s forced to conclude that although the members of the 4077th are indeed mad, it would be madder still to break them up.

#73. Season 1, Episode 2 - To Market, to Market

- IMDb user rating: 8.0
- IMDb user votes: 548
- Air date: Sept. 24, 1972

Hawkeye and Trapper, facing a hydrocortisone shortage after the theft of their latest shipment, must turn to a black market seller to resupply—but the only thing they have to offer in trade is Henry’s beloved antique desk, which they have to steal by removing a whole wall of his office. The shot of Henry watching his desk fly away as it dangles beneath a chopper makes for a satisfying payoff to this small-scale heist episode.

#72. Season 7, Episode 7 - None Like It Hot

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 256
- Air date: Oct. 23, 1978

Hawkeye and B.J. sneak a canvas tub into The Swamp during a heatwave, but when word of their cooling solution breaks out, the whole base wants in on the action. The best line in the episode arrives at the end when Hawkeye and B.J. are forced to trade the tub to a wheeler-dealer known as the scrounger. One of his offers is a collection of “stag films...guaranteed to make a grown man blush” that he guesses would “probably kill” Radar. The guys turn it down for some ice cream to help soothe Radar’s tonsillitis.

#71. Season 4, Episode 18 - Der Tag

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 270
- Air date: Jan. 6, 1976

With Hot Lips away for a medical conference, Frank is even more miserable than usual, so Potter asks B.J. and Hawkeye to buddy up to him. They invite him to their regular poker hangout at the Officers’ Club, but Frank gets so drunk he stumbles into an ambulance headed for the front, and B.J. and Hawkeye have to head out to retrieve him. The poker game scene is a highlight, with everyone suffering through Frank’s beginner’s luck and maniacal giggling every time he wins a hand.

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#70. Season 6, Episode 16 - The Smell of Music

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 285
- Air date: Jan. 3, 1978

This essay juggles a serious A story with a whimsical B story, a structure the show employed frequently in later seasons. Potter struggles to help a suicidal patient who has been scarred by a defective rifle. Meanwhile, a loud and pungent feud escalates within the Swamp when B.J. and Hawkeye, frustrated with Winchester practicing on his French horn, refuse to shower until he gives it up. The episode showcases new heights of Hawkeye cockiness—he propositions a nurse days into the standoff, despite having already encountered several disgusted reactions to his stink.

#69. Season 5, Episode 25 - Margaret's Marriage

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 286
- Air date: March 15, 1977

Margaret decides to marry Donald Penobscott at the 4077th. During the bachelor party, B.J. and Hawkeye concoct a plan to convince a passed-out Penobscott that he broke his leg while drunk. They watch with glee as he says his vows in a full-body cast, but by the end of the episode resolve to let the new couple in on the prank so as not to ruin their honeymoon in Tokyo. Frank, meanwhile, is devastated by the marriage. The penultimate scene features a heartbreaking moment of a lonely Burns uttering a quiet “bye, Margaret” as the newlyweds’ chopper departs. In the syndicated version, the episode ends with this scene, making for a rare case in which fans seem to prefer the shorter cut.

#68. Season 9, Episode 6 - A War for All Seasons

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 286
- Air date: Dec. 29, 1980

A New Year’s Eve toast from Potter kicks off a format-busting retrospective on the entire year of 1950. Fans have pointed out numerous ways in which the episode fails to line up with the timeline of the show as a whole. Nevertheless the “greatest hits” structure allows for some sketch comedy-style laughs worthy of the show’s 200th episode.

#67. Season 11, Episode 15 - As Time Goes By

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 290
- Air date: Feb. 21, 1983

In the show’s penultimate episode, Margaret assembles a time capsule in honor of the 4077th. The conceit allows for a few touching nods to characters from earlier seasons. Radar’s teddy bear, for example, makes its way into the capsule as a symbol of “all the soldiers who came over here as boys and went home as men.” The writers even managed to include one last dig at the long-departed Frank Burns—when asked by Winchester why he didn’t include any Burns memorabilia in the capsule, Hawkeye retorts, “I was thinking about putting in his scalpel, but I didn't want to include any deadly weapons.”

#66. Season 4, Episode 24 - Deluge

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 291
- Air date: Feb. 17, 1976

The Chinese Army joins the war, dashing hopes for a speedy resolution to the conflict and flooding the 4077th with a relentless deluge of wounded. The episode incorporated real news footage from around the time of the depicted events, which served to ground and deepen the sense of realism. Although praised by fans, the newsreel content was actually an afterthought, after the initial edit of the episode came up short on its timing for broadcast.

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#65. Season 3, Episode 15 - Bombed

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 298
- Air date: Jan. 7, 1975

When the 4077th is shelled, Trapper and Margaret find themselves trapped in the supply room where they must huddle together for warmth. Frank and Hawkeye discover them in what looks like a compromising position, sending Frank into a jealous spiral. The episode contains some of the show’s finest examples of wit under (literal) fire, such as when Hawkeye, commenting on the prospect of evacuation, quips, “now the book of the month club will never find me.”

#64. Season 10, Episode 11 - Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 308
- Air date: Jan. 4, 1982

In a show that loved to throw its audience curveballs, this episode stands out as being particularly bizarre. Klinger, in the midst of a fever, follows the ghost of a DOA arrival named Weston as the man struggles to come to terms with his death. Weston’s final scene, which takes place after Klinger has recovered, confirms that the ghost was more than just a fever dream—making this the only "M*A*S*H" episode that depicts a supernatural phenomenon.

#63. Season 3, Episode 21 - Big Mac

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 316
- Air date: Feb. 25, 1975

This is a lighthearted episode in which the camp hustles to prepare for a visit by Gen. MacArthur himself. Radar sets up a VIP tent, Frank starts burning everyone’s smutty books, and Klinger dresses up as the statue of liberty. Hawkeye even offers to perform a hysterectomy on Maj. Burns for the general’s benefit. In the end, MacArthur’s motorcade just does a drive-by, rendering all the preparations moot.

#62. Season 5, Episode 7 - The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 321
- Air date: Oct. 26, 1976

When Margaret rushes off to help deliver a Korean woman’s baby, Frank fears she’s been captured by the Chinese. Col. Flagg is called in to investigate, and as usual, steals the show. In an episode packed with great jokes, Flagg’s final departure after Margaret’s return is perhaps the funniest moment. He demands that everyone in the room close their eyes so he can depart without a trace, per his codename, “The Wind.” When he jumps out the window with a loud crash, Hawkeye inspects the damage and announces glibly, “The Wind just broke its leg.”

#61. Season 9, Episode 18 - Blood Brothers

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 321
- Air date: April 6, 1981

When a patient named Sturgis offers to donate blood for his buddy’s transfusion, Hawkeye discovers that the donor has leukemia and has to break the news to him. The episode features an early Patrick Swayze performance in the role of Sturgis. Given Swayze’s terminal battle with cancer later in life, today this episode feels eerily and tragically prescient.

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#60. Season 3, Episode 3 - Officer of the Day

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 327
- Air date: Sept. 24, 1974

Frank, temporarily in charge while Henry is away, assigns Hawkeye to be “Officer of the Day.” After dealing with some minor tasks, he must supervise the intake of a wounded prisoner, whom the ever gung-ho Col. Flagg shot in an escape attempt. When they find out Flagg only wants the prisoner patched up so he can be executed, Hawkeye and Trapper switch him out for Klinger, who’s eager for a trip to Seoul. Klinger’s return features one of the show’s all-time greatest sight gags: He’s proudly flaunting a new pinstripe suit, only the stripes are horizontal.

#59. Season 3, Episode 18 - House Arrest

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 328
- Air date: Feb. 4, 1975

Hawkeye is confined to quarters (affectionately nicknamed “The Swamp”) after he punches Frank in the O.R. But Frank’s gaining of the upper hand is short-lived when he’s falsely accused of rape by a visiting colonel. The charges against Hawkeye are dropped and Frank is placed under house arrest in his place. The turnabout allows for taunting as Hawkeye, leaving The Swamp, rubs Frank’s nose in it, suggesting that he explain the incident to his wife by telling her he was waiting for his mistress when he “got impatient and attacked another woman.”

#58. Season 2, Episode 9 - Dear Dad...Three

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 346
- Air date: Nov. 10, 1973

This Hawkeye letter back home describes a period of relative calm around the hospital. With time to get up to no good, Hawkeye and Trapper dye the skin of a private a few shades darker after he requests his blood transmission not be tainted with “any of that darkie stuff.” When the soldier wakes up and complains of his condition, Hawkeye gives him a history lesson about Dr. Charles Drew, the African American doctor who invented the process for separating blood into plasma for storage. Fans appreciated the progressive message behind the humor in this one.

#57. Season 2, Episode 10 - The Sniper

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 374
- Air date: Nov. 17, 1973

The hospital comes under sustained sniper fire, making it difficult and dangerous for the men and women of the 4077th to do their jobs. The episode contains the famous scene in which Radar (dodging bullets in the showers) drops his towel to reveal his naked behind, making this the first American prime time television episode to feature male nudity, according to IMDb.

#56. Season 1, Episode 16 - The Ringbanger

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 430
- Air date: Jan. 21, 1973

Leslie Nielsen, who’d later star in "Airplane" and "Naked Gun," guest stars in this episode as Buzz Brighton, a colonel with a heroic reputation who winds up under the knife at the 4077th. After operating on Brighton, Hawkeye and Trapper realize he’s a callous egotist with no regard for the men under his command, and concoct an elaborate plan to get him sent home. Nielsen’s swagger-filled performance makes this a memorable episode.

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#55. Season 1, Episode 4 - Chief Surgeon Who?

- IMDb user rating: 8.1
- IMDb user votes: 490
- Air date: Oct. 8, 1972

Henry breaches protocol by passing over Frank Burns and appointing Hawkeye as chief surgeon. This prompts a visit from Gen. Barker, who upon finding Hawkeye in the middle of a card game with a patient waiting in the O.R. is skeptical of Pierce’s work ethic. But ultimately, observing the surgeon at work, he realizes Hawkeye was right to wait to operate on the patient (who was in shock)—and that although his style is unorthodox, his methods are medically sound. This episode cemented Hawkeye’s credibility as a top-flight surgeon early on in the show’s run.

#54. Season 7, Episode 14 - An Eye for a Tooth

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 258
- Air date: Dec. 11, 1978

A prank war between Margaret, B.J., and Hawkeye escalates until the three of them all set their sights on pranking Winchester, whom they figure out has been stoking the fires of the conflict the whole time. This is a lighthearted episode that was apparently based on a real-life practical joke rivalry between David Ogden Stiers, Mike Farrell, and Alan Alda.

#53. Season 8, Episode 6 - Period of Adjustment

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 272
- Air date: Oct. 22, 1979

In the episode after Radar’s departure from the show, Klinger struggles to adjust to his new role as a company clerk. Potter, drowning in paperwork, suggests that the job may be too much for him to handle, telling him, “We can't all be Radars.” But after Father Mulcahy tells Potter about Radar’s shaky start in the position, he decides to give Klinger a second chance. But it’s the B story that really shines in this episode: B.J., depressed that his daughter is growing up without her father around, goes on a drunken bender. Mike Farrell reportedly said this was his favorite episode, because of the degree to which it allowed him to plunge to new emotional depths of his character.

#52. Season 8, Episode 10 - The Yalu Brick Road

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 283
- Air date: Nov. 19, 1979

Hawkeye and B.J. struggle to find their way back from a medical conference to the 4077th, which has been struck by a salmonella outbreak borne from tainted Thanksgiving turkeys. Their homeward journey is further complicated when they meet a North Korean soldier who is determined to surrender to them despite their assurances they have no interest in taking him prisoner. The episode was written by Mike Farrell, who played B.J. on the show.

#51. Season 8, Episode 17 - Heal Thyself

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 284
- Air date: Jan. 14, 1980

With Potter and Winchester down with the mumps, a replacement surgeon named Newsom shows up to fill in. At first Newsom gets along great with B.J. and Hawkeye, cracking wise and sharing horror stories about combat surgery. But by the end of the episode, he has an abrupt nervous breakdown, revealing that his confident act was overcompensation in the face of the brutality that the members of the 4077th must deal with every day. The episode features some grim but stirring moments in the O.R., such as when Hawkeye calls to amputate a man’s leg—not because the man’s leg can’t be saved, but because he doesn’t have time to save it.

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#50. Season 8, Episode 18 - Old Soldiers

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 289
- Air date: Jan. 21, 1980

Potter receives bad news that puts him in a dark mood throughout the episode. It’s only at the conclusion that he reveals the last of his comrades from a WWI unit stationed in France has died. The episode features one of Harry Morgan’s best performances as Potter, and many fans rank his toast to his fallen friends as one of the most moving speeches in the show’s run.

#49. Season 7, Episode 15 - Dear Sis

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 292
- Air date: Dec. 18, 1978

Father Mulcahy writes a letter home to his sister, describing how he feels useless at the 4077th. But at a simple Christmas celebration in the mess tent, he receives due credit for boosting morale at a difficult time of year. Aside from the touching tribute to Mulcahy, the episode contains some great lines about the misery of spending the holidays at war. For example, Potter recalls, “I remember one Christmas in the Black Forest. The company horse died and the cook tried to pass him off as dark meat. I cried all through dinner.”

#48. Season 7, Episode 6 - The Billfold Syndrome

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 299
- Air date: Oct. 16, 1978

When a patient shows up confused about his identity, Sidney Freedman is called in to diagnose the man’s condition. Freedman puts the man under hypnosis, where he reveals that his younger brother was killed in a unit for which he was the medic. Meanwhile, Hawkeye and B.J. try to bait Winchester into breaking a vow of silence. Although the B story feels out of place and a little tacked on, the A story makes for compelling, character-driven drama. The climactic hypnosis scene, in particular, delivers an emotional catharsis that ranks amongst the show’s finest.

#47. Season 4, Episode 21 - The Novocaine Mutiny

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 302
- Air date: Jan. 27, 1976

Hawkeye, charged with mutiny against Frank Burns, must give his account of the incident in question at a preliminary hearing. Frank’s own account has Hawkeye cracking under pressure and stabbing him with a hypodermic on a day when the O.R. is flooded with patients. Hawkeye dismisses this as a bizarre fantasy and explains that Frank was knocked out by a nurse opening a door. The episode delves hilariously into Frank’s psyche and philosophy. At one point he famously declares: “Unless we each conform, unless we obey orders, unless we follow our leaders blindly, there is no possible way we can remain free.”

#46. Season 3, Episode 12 - A Full Rich Day

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 305
- Air date: Dec. 3, 1974

This is essentially a “Dear Dad” episode, with Hawkeye making an audio recording in lieu of writing a letter. The arrival of a stubborn and somewhat crazy Turkish soldier makes for a series of trying complications in the O.R., or what Hawkeye refers to as a “well rounded day of insanity.” While the story’s a little scattershot, this episode has a manic energy that keeps things rolling even when the scenes don’t entirely make sense.

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#45. Season 3, Episode 5 - O.R.

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 338
- Air date: Oct. 8, 1974

A deluge of wounded patients flood into the O.R., leading to a stressful shift. Frank almost removes a patient’s only kidney. Hawkeye performs an open-heart massage. Henry is forced to deny treatment to a mortally wounded patient in order to allow time to treat the men who can be saved. The whole episode takes place in a single location, and because of its grim subject matter, the producers decided to forego the usual laugh track. The result is one of the most intense, harrowing episodes of the show’s run.

#44. Season 3, Episode 6 - Springtime

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 341
- Air date: Oct. 15, 1974

The weather turns fine and spring fever hits the 4077th. Klinger marries his girlfriend over the phone, and Radar finds himself embroiled in a hot and heavy romance with one of the nurses. The highlight of the episode is Hawkeye and Trapper dispensing dating advice to Radar. When they suggest he take his new love interest to the movies, he’s wowed by the novelty of the idea. Trapper’s response? "Thanks, we invented it.” Hawkeye then chimes in, "We get a two-cent royalty every time a guy asks a girl to a movie."

#43. Season 4, Episode 10 - Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 343
- Air date: Nov. 7, 1975

This episode pits fan favorites Col. Flagg and Sidney Freedman against one another in deciding the fate of a patient who claims he’s Jesus Christ. Flagg, the overzealous military man, and Freedman, the compassionate humanist, are perfect foils for one another, comedically and ideologically. Surprisingly, despite the great comic back-and-forth between the supporting characters, this is one of the few "M*A*S*H" episodes not to feature a laugh track.

#42. Season 2, Episode 17 - For Want of a Boot

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 365
- Air date: Jan. 12, 1974

Hawkeye, having worn through one of his boots, tries to get a new one ordered. This necessitates a string of escalating deals that ultimately collapses, leaving the surgeon with no option but to trudge around in the dead of winter with a golf bag covering his feet. It’s a simple premise, but one that allows the writers to mine plenty of comedy from the absurdity of the war machine, such as when Henry asks Radar if he really understands “all of this army stuff” and he replies, “Uh, I try not to, sir. Slows up the works.”

#41. Season 2, Episode 12 - The Incubator

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 380
- Air date: Dec. 1, 1973

Hawkeye and Trapper try to obtain an incubator for the hospital, making a series of requests through the usual military channels. But in the end it’s Radar who manages to get one, by trading away Henry’s newly requisitioned grill. The surgeons’ dealings with their superiors in this episode shines a harsh light on corruption and incompetence all the way up the chain of command. The script contains numerous great lines, such as when Henry asks Hawkeye, “Did you really yell ‘Give me an incubator or give me death?’ Wow. Did you really call a one-star general a ‘NINCOMPAC’?”

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#40. Season 1, Episode 18 - Dear Dad, Again

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 399
- Air date: Feb. 4, 1973

Hawkeye writes home to give an account of working with the new top-flight surgeon, Adam Casey, whom he discovers is not actually a credentialed doctor. As a rule, the show omitted the laugh track during surgery scenes, but this episode includes a moment of exception when Hawkeye tells a joke to Nurse Bayliss. This is also the fateful episode in which Frank reveals his brother’s childhood nickname for him, “ferret face,” which was the real childhood nickname of actor Larry Linville.

#39. Season 1, Episode 6 - Yankee Doodle Doctor

- IMDb user rating: 8.2
- IMDb user votes: 475
- Air date: Oct. 22, 1972

When a sleazy lieutenant shows up to make a propaganda film about the 4077th, Hawkeye co-opts the project and makes his own film, a goofy Marx Brothers-style comedy with a jarringly grim monologue at the end about the price of war. The tonal shift mirrors "M*A*S*H’s" own swings between drama and comedy, and makes Hawkeye’s closing thoughts resonate that much more by way of contrast. "Not a great end to a movie,” he narrates directly to the camera, “but then no war is a movie.”

#38. Season 10, Episode 17 - Where There's a Will, There's a War

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 256
- Air date: Feb. 22, 1982

Hawkeye, upon arriving for an extremely dangerous Battalion Aid assignment at the front, sets about composing his will. Flashbacks accompany his decisions on who to bequeath what: Winchester gets his robe, Father Mulcahy gets a symbolic nickel, Margaret gets a funny nose and glasses, Potter a copy of "The Last of the Mohicans," and Klinger his Hawaiian shirt. He can’t decide what to leave B.J.—but upon his return to the 4077th, he notices a picture of his best pal’s family and writes his daughter Erin a letter listing all the men her father has worked with for posterity. The episode serves as a touching reminder of the life and death stakes of the war, while still allowing for plenty of laughs via the flashback sequences.

#37. Season 8, Episode 19 - Morale Victory

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 283
- Air date: Jan. 28, 1980

B.J. and Hawkeye, charged with raising flagging morale, plan a beach-themed party. Meanwhile, Winchester tries to console one of his patients, a concert pianist with permanent nerve and tendon damage in his hand. At the end of the episode, the two storylines converge, with the party in full swing and the pianist playing a piece Winchester has obtained for one-handed players. The highlight of the episode is Winchester’s impassioned speech on the power of music, in which he admits that, despite having “hands that can make a scalpel sing” and being able to “play the notes,” he himself lacks the true gift of musicianship and envies those who possess it.

#36. Season 4, Episode 7 - The Bus

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 317
- Air date: Oct. 17, 1975

This is another format-buster, in which the whole episode takes place in and around a bus that breaks down on the way back from a medical conference—leaving Hawkeye, B.J., Frank, Col. Potter, and Radar stranded. When a North Korean soldier shows up looking to surrender, the doctors treat his wounds. As it turns out, he happens to be a mechanical whiz who gets the bus back up and running for them. The best parts of the episode are the ways in which the doctors fill the downtime on the bus, like telling extremely personal stories about losing their virginity.

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#35. Season 4, Episode 8 - Dear Mildred

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 318
- Air date: Oct. 24, 1975

Radar, with some help from Hawkeye and B.J., presents his new C.O. with a literal gift horse in honor of his anniversary to his wife Mildred. The episode introduced one of the show’s more glaring continuity errors by referring to the horse as male. In later episodes, the horse switches to a “she” named Sophie. Despite the flub, fans agree that Sophie was a great addition to the show that allowed the writers to explore Potter’s tender side.

#34. Season 3, Episode 14 - Private Charles Lamb

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 323
- Air date: Dec. 31, 1974

A Greek commander gifts the 4077th a live lamb for roasting after they patch up some of his soldiers. Radar, an ardent animal lover, springs the lamb to freedom by cooking up an emergency medical leave form for a “Private Charles Lamb.” The lamb’s replacement, a “Spam lamb” is hilariously unappetizing—fortunately, by the time it’s unveiled, everyone’s too drunk to notice.

#33. Season 1, Episode 12 - Dear Dad

- IMDb user rating: 8.3
- IMDb user votes: 441
- Air date: Dec. 17, 1972

This is the episode that started the epistolary (letter-based) format the show would continue to employ throughout this and later seasons. Rather than focusing on one story arc, it depicts life at the 4077th through a series of vignettes, most of them humorous. But Hawkeye’s narration on top of the scenes adds a reflective tone that imbues even the goofiest anecdotes with poignancy, making a strong case for the importance of humor in the face of the death and destruction of war. “If jokes seem sacrilegious in an operating room,” he writes, “I promise you they’re a necessary defense against what we get down here at this end of the draft board.” It’s a classic line that could easily serve as the show’s manifesto.

#32. Season 5, Episode 1 - Bug Out

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 315
- Air date: Sept. 21, 1976

This was the second of three consecutive hour-long season premieres. When the 4077th is forced to “bug out” under threat of an enemy attack, Hawkeye, Margaret, and Radar stay behind to care for a patient with spinal cord damage who can’t be moved. The set piece in which the hospital is dismantled stands out as an impressive piece of choreography in a show that isn’t usually thought of as being too visually ambitious.

#31. Season 3, Episode 19 - Aid Station

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 317
- Air date: Feb. 11, 1975

Hot Lips, Hawkeye, and Klinger are sent to the front on an emergency relief mission under dangerous and difficult conditions. Returning to the 4077th, where Trapper and Frank are complaining over petty grievances like their dislike of the food, they realize how much they take for granted. This episode accidentally divides the cast up along prescient lines: The principal characters sent to the front are those who will remain part of the show for its entire run, while those who stay home will depart before the final episode.

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#30. Season 6, Episode 1 - Fade Out, Fade In

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 318
- Air date: Sept. 20, 1977

This one-hour season premiere chronicles the arrival of Winchester, whose assignment starts out as temporary fill-in duty but becomes permanent when news arrives that Frank Burns (who’s been AWOL) has received a transfer and a promotion. The debate between over who was the show’s better nemesis, Frank or Charles, continues even today. Charles was certainly a more nuanced character in the long run, and in many instances it would be difficult to imagine Frank, who was more of a caricature, partaking in some of the more serious storylines later in the show’s run.

#29. Season 8, Episode 4 - Good-Bye Radar: Part 1

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 319
- Air date: Oct. 8, 1979

While there’s plenty of room for debate on the Frank vs. Charles front, most "M*A*S*H" fans agree that Radar was the show’s superior clerk, with Klinger never quite fitting into the role. Unfortunately, after seven seasons Gary Burghoff (who also played Radar in Robert Altman’s "M*A*S*H" movie) had burned out on the character and was intent on taking his leave. The writers, knowing they were losing one of the show’s most beloved characters, sent him off with a bittersweet two-parter.

#28. Season 4, Episode 5 - The Late Captain Pierce

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 333
- Air date: Oct. 3, 1975

Alan Alda directs this popular episode in which the Army mistakenly thinks Hawkeye is dead. The hilarious Richard Masur guest stars as Lt. “Digger” Detweiler, who arrives to take care of his body—though some fans didn’t enjoy the character’s antics. The episode is noted for its visuals, particularly for its rare use of snow. It also references the real-life visit of President Eisenhower, though the timeline was adjusted for the purpose of extending the life of the series.

#27. Season 3, Episode 2 - Rainbow Bridge

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 344
- Air date: Sept. 17, 1974

Hawker, Trapper, Frank, Radar, and Klinger head into enemy territory to take the Chinese up on an unusual offer to swap POW patients. The episode guest stars singer/songwriter Loudon Wainwright III, who as Capt. Spaulding opens the show (replacing the usual theme music) with a song called “North Korean Blues.” The song—both catchy and moody—repeats twice more before the end credits, serving as both refrain and overture.

#26. Season 2, Episode 11 - Carry On, Hawkeye

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 369
- Air date: Nov. 24, 1973

Most of the hospital’s doctors are out of commission with the flu, leaving Hawkeye to work with only a few nurses and Frank at his side—until Frank also succumbs. When a flu shot is sent in, Hawkeye and Margaret administer it to each other. She takes hers in the arm, but Hawkeye demands his in “his tushie.” Despite such moments of clowning, Hawkeye and Margaret develop a begrudging respect for each other over the course of the episode, kicking off a long relationship arc that wouldn’t resolve until the show’s final episode, which sees them finally burying the hatchet.

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#25. Season 2, Episode 24 - A Smattering of Intelligence

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 371
- Air date: March 2, 1974

This was the first episode to introduce the hilarious Col. Flagg, although the actor who played him (Edward Winter) had made a prior appearance on the show in another role. When Flagg is sent in to investigate the 4077th, Trapper and Hawkeye plant a series of fake clues to incriminate Frank in suspicious activities. Although Frank is ultimately cleared, Flagg concludes his report by saying that the "M*A*S*H" as a whole “strongly suggests further observation.” As with all Flagg episodes, it’s Winter’s performance that steals the show here—his permanent squint, alpha-male attitude, and humorless delivery make for a wellspring of comedy whenever he’s onscreen.

#24. Season 4, Episode 25 - The Interview

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 379
- Air date: Feb. 24, 1976

Yet another format-buster, this episode sees real-life war correspondent Clete Roberts appearing as himself to interview the staff of the 4077th. Roberts’s presence lent an air of gravitas to the episode, as did the exclusive use of black-and-white footage.

#23. Season 1, Episode 20 - The Army-Navy Game

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 414
- Air date: Feb. 25, 1973

The radio broadcast of the Army-Navy game is rudely interrupted by an unexploded shell landing right in the middle of camp, forcing Hawkeye and Trapper to attempt to diffuse it. They fail, but it doesn’t matter—it turns out to be one of the CIA’s propaganda bombs, filled with pamphlets encouraging the enemy to surrender. The premise allows for plenty of tension, but this episode is also packed with jokes, such as when Father Mulcahy shows up rooting for Notre Dame—and then, when he’s informed they aren’t playing, can’t understand what all the excitement is about.

#22. Season 1, Episode 19 - The Longjohn Flap

- IMDb user rating: 8.4
- IMDb user votes: 422
- Air date: Feb. 18, 1973

Who knew long underwear could be so popular? During a cold streak at the 4077th, Hawkeye’s treasured pair of thermal long johns are passed around to Frank, Trapper, and Henry in a bid to survive what appears to be the camp’s first bitter winter in Korea. It marked the first of 19 episodes written or co-written by Alda, and followed in line with the slapstick style of the early seasons of the show, as opposed to the more dramatic tone it took later on.

#21. Season 7, Episode 22 - Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- IMDb user votes: 298
- Air date: Feb. 14, 1979

In the last appearance of Col. Flagg in the series (though he did appear in the spin-off “AfterMASH”), he returns to the 4077th and accuses Hawkeye of being a “commie” after learning the chief surgeon opted to treat a North Korean with a severe head injury before an American. Flagg tries to get Winchester to do some spying of his own for him, but ultimately is the one embarrassed to learn he was wrong. The episode closes with Winchester telling his tale over bridge of how he once pulled one over on Flagg.

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#20. Season 4, Episode 3 - Change of Command

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- IMDb user votes: 346
- Air date: Sept. 19, 1975

The staff is relieved when new C.O. Col. Potter arrives after suffering through Frank’s leadership for a week (following Col. Henry Blake’s tragic departure). He’s a more traditional Army man: experienced, courageous, and firm, but also warm. Fans adjusted to the new arrival seemingly well—they loved the different viewpoint the character brought to the camp.

#19. Season 5, Episode 22 - Movie Tonight

- IMDb user rating: 8.5
- IMDb user votes: 350
- Air date: Feb. 22, 1977

Potter schedules a special screening of “My Darling Clementine” as a treat for his overworked staff. The projector keeps acting up, so the men and women of the 4077th take it upon themselves to act out parts of the movie—complete with musical numbers. The plot of this episode is paper thin, but it’s jam-packed with hilarious moments, essentially playing like a crossover episode of "M*A*S*H" and "Mystery Science Theater 3000." The Father Mulcahy Soundalike Contest is perhaps the funniest bit, with Radar delivering an especially good impression.

#18. Season 8, Episode 25 - April Fools

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 295
- Air date: March 24, 1980

April Fools at the 4077th brings with it an inspection from tough-as-nails Col. Tucker, who isn’t impressed with all the pranking going on. When he starts threatening court-martials all around, Hawkeye, B.J., Margaret, and even Winchester team up to pull one final prank on him before they’re presumably headed off to a military tribunal. They dump a bucket of beer on his head, sending him into an inconsolable rage. Everyone is unnerved by his reaction until he reveals that the whole inspection bit was an April Fool’s prank he and Potter orchestrated and that the two of them are old friends. In a series full of pranks, it’s a gratifying twist to have Potter pull one over on the resident jokesters for once.

#17. Season 9, Episode 5 - Death Takes a Holiday

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 329
- Air date: Dec. 15, 1980

The title of this fan-favorite episode, borrowed from a 1934 film (later remade into "Meet Joe Black"), remarks on B.J.’s attempts to keep a mortally wounded soldier alive through midnight on Christmas. Sadly, even with the help of Margaret and Hawkeye, he isn’t successful, but Hawkeye literally moves the clock forward after the soldier dies. Elsewhere, Charles and Klinger share a powerful moment after a Christmas dinner party with orphans. Six writers contributed to the script for this memorable episode.

#16. Season 2, Episode 21 - Crisis

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 351
- Air date: Feb. 9, 1974

Facing critical shortages in supplies, Henry calls an emergency meeting to inform the 4077th that firewood, blankets, and other items won’t be coming anytime soon. Still, the wounded continue to arrive and nearly everything has been burnt in a desperate attempt to keep warm. But just before the worst happens, supplies finally arrive. Jeff Maxwell makes his first series appearance in this episode as camp cook Igor.

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#15. Season 7, Episode 11 - Point of View

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 372
- Air date: Nov. 20, 1978

As in other innovative, high-concept episodes "M*A*S*H" became known for, “Point of View” is known for breaking boundaries in format and style. The episode is shot entirely from the viewpoint of a wounded soldier who’s rushed to the 4077th for surgery. The viewer sees everything Private Rich sees: the explosion that wounds him, the chopper ride, prepping for surgery, and waking up post-op. You could say it was a visionary precursor to today’s attempts to use virtual reality to immerse people in the realities of war. Writer Ken Levine has given props to director Charles Dubin for successfully shooting the episode, noting that Steadicams weren’t widely available in 1978.

#14. Season 2, Episode 8 - The Trial of Henry Blake

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 399
- Air date: Nov. 3, 1973

Henry is on trial for a number of charges, ranging from minor infractions to major allegations, including aiding the enemy—but that doesn’t mean there can’t still be lots of laughs. Hawkeye and Trapper want to help, but Margaret and Frank won’t let them. After all, they’re the ones who levied the charges against Blake in the first place. McLean Stevenson (who played Blake) is credited for writing the episode, which packed plenty of dramatic and comedic punch.

#13. Season 3, Episode 1 - The General Flipped at Dawn

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 405
- Air date: Sept. 10, 1974

In the third season premiere, a visiting general named Hamilton Steele arrives at the 4077th with crazy new rules. The role was played by Harry Morgan, who would later become Col. Potter the following season. He earned a Primetime Emmy for the performance—which apparently required extra takes on set because his scenes with the other leads had everyone in stitches.

#12. Season 2, Episode 2 - 5 O'Clock Charlie

- IMDb user rating: 8.6
- IMDb user votes: 451
- Air date: Sept. 22, 1973

A daily North Korean plane visit by an incompetent pilot seems to provide much-needed relief for the staff at the 4077th, who make it a social occasion. Fans rate the episode high for its laughs. Actor and writer Keith Walker, who provided the story for this episode and co-wrote the teleplay, has only three other scriptwriting credits to his name, including the screenplay for the film, "Free Willy," which he co-wrote in 1993.

#11. Season 7, Episode 26 - The Party

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- IMDb user votes: 308
- Air date: March 12, 1979

In a show with many a party-centric episode, this one stands out for its clever and heartwarming premise. B.J., inspired by the idea of recipe-trading amongst family members back home, organizes a big party back in New York City for all the relatives of the men and women of the camp. While we never witness the party firsthand, B.J.’s wife Peg describes it in a letter—everyone got along swimmingly, even the Winchesters!

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#10. Season 8, Episode 11 - Life Time

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- IMDb user votes: 312
- Air date: Nov. 26, 1979

Told using real-time narration, a sitcom format that was later used in the popular TV series “24,” this episode follows a wounded soldier who arrives at the camp so badly injured that Hawkeye must start operating on the helipad. The race against the clock—-shown on-screen—feels more real than ever. Alda told CNN in 2005 it’s one of his favorite episodes.

#9. Season 5, Episode 8 - Dear Sigmund

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- IMDb user votes: 387
- Air date: Nov. 9, 1976

Written and directed by Alan Alda, “Dear Sigmund,” focuses on psychiatrist Sidney Freedman’s visit to the 4077th and how he copes with the suicide of a patient whom he thought he had helped. Freedman decides to write a letter to the late Dr. Freud, detailing stories about the members of the camp and their trials and tribulations. It’s one of Alda’s favorite episodes, and for good reason: It was nominated for and won several awards, including a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Directing for a Comedy Series, and a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.

#8. Season 2, Episode 13 - Deal Me Out

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- IMDb user votes: 428
- Air date: Dec. 8, 1973

John Ritter guest stars in this episode as a distressed soldier who holds Frank hostage in the shower with a pistol. It marks the second appearance of Allan Arbus as Sidney Freedman, who along with Trapper, disarms him. It also marks the first appearance of Edward Winter as an intelligence officer, who later became known as Col. Flagg (in this episode, he uses the alias Capt. Halloran).

#7. Season 11, Episode 16 - Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

- IMDb user rating: 8.7
- IMDb user votes: 3,019
- Air date: Feb. 28, 1983

In the legendary two-hour series finale, which is still ranked as the most-watched finale in TV history, the doctors and staff at the 4077th must go their separate ways as the war draws to a close. Dr. Freedman is working to piece together the apparent mental breakdown of Hawkeye, while Winchester considers what will become of him and his career when he returns home. B.J. has received discharge papers and should soon finally get to meet his newborn daughter. In the most memorable final moments, Hawkeye sees that B.J. has spelled out “GOODBYE” using stones on the helipad as he leaves the camp in the chopper for the last time. Anticipation for the episode led to huge ratings for the network—commercials were sold for more than the going rate for the Super Bowl that year.

#6. Season 8, Episode 5 - Good-Bye Radar: Part 2

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- IMDb user votes: 350
- Air date: Oct. 15, 1979

In the second half of this beloved two-episode arc, Radar tries to fight his discharge orders, worried about how the camp will survive without him. Each character has a unique response—while Winchester seems not to care much at all, the arrival of more wounded and the ongoing search for a new generator leaves little time for proper goodbyes. Still, Hawkeye insists that he must go home and Klinger convinces him that he will make him proud. Reportedly, the Radar goodbye was supposed to have taken place as part of the seventh season finale, but the network moved (and prolonged) the episode for ratings reasons.

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#5. Season 4, Episode 1 - Welcome to Korea

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- IMDb user votes: 424
- Air date: Sept. 12, 1975

In the first hour-long episode of the series, this opener for the fourth season introduces the audience for the first time to the new surgeon B.J. Hunnicutt. It also marks the departure of Trapper, who leaves without saying goodbye to Hawkeye, must to his dismay. Wayne Rogers, who had played Trapper for the first three seasons, had left the show while it was on hiatus, so the producers reportedly had to quickly adjust. Part of what made the episode a fan favorite was its music: Jazz composer Pete Rugolo was brought in to score the episode, providing a jazzy, space-age version of “Suicide is Painless” used during the roll-call montage, among other noteworthy sounds.

#4. Season 3, Episode 11 - Adam's Ribs

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- IMDb user votes: 429
- Air date: Nov. 26, 1974

With a break from dealing with the wounded, Hawkeye can no longer deal with the same old fish and liver meals served day after day in the mess hall: “The Geneva convention prohibits the killing of our taste buds! I simply can not eat the same food day after day. Fish! Liver! Day after day!” It’s a fan-favorite, relatable rant. He takes matters into his own hands and orders in ribs from the fictional Adam’s Ribs restaurant in Chicago (its name inspired by Gelbart’s newborn son). Fans to this day still search for the restaurant as described in the episode in real life, though it doesn’t exist.

#3. Season 1, Episode 17 - Sometimes You Hear the Bullet

- IMDb user rating: 8.8
- IMDb user votes: 499
- Air date: Jan. 28, 1973

In a classic, defining episode for the series, “Sometimes You Hear the Bullet” marks the moment of truth for whether or not comedy and tragedy could be combined successfully on television. Hawkeye is forced to face the realities of war when an old friend dies on the operating table. Ultimately, it’s Hawkeye and Col. Blake’s realization that death is an unavoidable part of what goes on at the 4077th that makes this episode and the series altogether work. Writer Larry Gelbart later said he believes the episode resonates because of its “courage” in reaching a tone the show—something others on the air at the time had yet achieved.

#2. Season 1, Episode 15 - Tuttle

- IMDb user rating: 9.0
- IMDb user votes: 578
- Air date: Jan. 14, 1973

In one of the funniest early episodes from the series, “Tuttle,” focuses on the fictional captain of the same name—created entirely by Hawkeye and Trapper, and named for Pierce’s childhood imaginary friend. What starts as a little white lie turns into a hilarious comedy of errors, culminating in Tuttle earning an award and Hawkeye eulogizing him upon his “death,” saying, “There's a little bit of Tuttle left in all of us—in fact, you might say that all of us together made up Tuttle.” The episode marks the first appearance of Sparky’s character (aka Sgt. Pryor) and pays homage to a 1934 Russian film called "Lieutenant Kijé," a satire about an imaginary military officer living a pretend life of intrigue and glory.

#1. Season 3, Episode 24 - Abyssinia, Henry

- IMDb user rating: 9.4
- IMDb user votes: 720
- Air date: March 18, 1975

In the highly rated third season finale, “Abysinnia, Henry” is most remembered for its unexpected and poignant ending. Col. Blake is informed he has been discharged, and he phones home to Illinois to share the good news. After saying his goodbyes to many of the members of the 4077th, Hawkeye whispers to Blake: “Why don't you go over and give Hot Lips a nice goodbye kiss?” Blake then leaves the camp by helicopter. But in a shocking TV twist, he doesn’t make it home—a commentary on the realities of the Vietnam War. Says producer Gene Reynolds of the reaction from fans: “It was a surprise, it was somebody they loved. They didn't expect it but it made the point. People like Henry Blake are lost in war.”

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