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Ranking the best M*A*S*H episodes of all time

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    Best M*A*S*H episodes of all time

    There are some television shows that 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 Larry Gelbart, a comedic writer and playwright, the legendary, Emmy-winning series was adapted from the 1970 Robert Altman film of the same name. 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. 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.

    Since then, 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 Major 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?

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    #100. Hawkeye Get Your Gun

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: November 30, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 11

    A solid but unremarkable episode in which Hawkeye and Colonel Potter (his C.O. in later seasons) are called in to assist with surgeries at a Korean field hospital. The title, a play on the musical “Annie Get Your Gun,” comes from Potter’s insistence that a reluctant Hawkeye bring his side arm along on the mission, which requires passage through a high-conflict zone. After a grueling shift working alongside the grateful Major Choi, the two Americans hit the road to head back to the 4077th, drinking heavily along the way. But things take a dangerous turn when their jeep is shelled, forcing them to take cover in a foxhole. Potter returns fire at the enemy and orders Hawkeye to do the same, but he refuses and shoots his gun straight up in the air in defiance. “There,” he quips, “I used up all my bullets. Now can I go home?” Potter’s so drunk that he finds this blatant insubordination hilarious. Eventually the gunfire subsides and a platoon of U.S. soldiers shows up to give the all-clear for Potter and Hawkeye to stumble back to base.

     

     

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    #99. Mulcahy's War

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: November 16, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 9

    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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    #98. Out of Sight, Out of Mind

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: October 5, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 4

    This episode throws a couple of curveballs at the M*A*S*H formula. For one, Hawkeye’s a patient for a change, having been temporarily blinded while attempting to fix the nurses’ gas stove. Despite his lack of eyesight, he’s able to help out in surgery when his now-heightened sense of smell allows him to sniff out an inconspicuous wound on a patient. Once he heals up, he attempts to convince the nurses that he’s still blind so they’ll undress in front of him, but they bust his ruse by tossing a coffee cup his way, which he catches. The B-story in this episode is built on another reversal that sees Frank hustling the base with a baseball betting scam. The tag scene at the end of the episode contains one of the show’s more glaring anachronisms: Lt. Gage is shown reading a copy of JAWS, which was published in 1974, well after the Korean war was over.

     

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    #97. As You Were

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: February 2, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 20

    A lull in casualty intake leads to boredom on the base, which then leads to pranking. Hawkeye and Trapper trap a sleeping Frank inside a crate and spend a good amount of the episode goofing off in gorilla suits. The fun takes a turn when Frank’s hernia begins bothering him to the point that he’s even willing to allow his two nemeses to operate on him. As Hawkeye is readying him to go under the knife, the base comes under friendly fire, and a sudden rush preoccupies the O.R. In the end, Hawkeye does perform the Frank’s operation successfully, after tapping out from another procedure which he hands over to another surgeon he refers to as George. (Interestingly, this mysterious George never appears onscreen, and has become a source of bemused speculation amongst fans of the show.)

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    #96. White Gold

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: March 11, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 23

    This is a whodunit episode where the mystery revolves around the identity of thieves making off with penicillin from the supply tent. The overzealous Colonel 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 an unnecessary surgery to remove the Colonel’s healthy appendix.

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    #95. The Consultant

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: January 21, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 17

    Hawkeye and Trapper duck out of a medical conference in Tokyo to play golf and chase women. At a bar, they meet Dr. Borelli, a civilian with an honorary rank. After some hesitation he returns with them to the 4077th to demonstrate a radial artery transplant technique, though he is too drunk to perform the surgery himself and can only dictate instructions. Borelli, played by Alan Alda’s father Robert Alda, is a tragic, poignant character who foreshadows the man that Hawkeye may one day become if he allows his drinking to continue unchecked. In the truncated version of the episode used in syndication, he and Hawkeye butt heads and part ways on a sour note. In the full episode as it originally aired, the ending is more upbeat, with a final scene where Hawkeye tips his hat to Borelli as he’s flying off in a chopper.

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    #94. House Arrest

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: February 4, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 18

    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 makes for some great 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.”

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    #93. The Nurses

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: October 19, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 6

    In a rare move for M*A*S*H, this episode focuses on the women of the 4077th (and in fact was credited to one of the show’s female writers, Linda Bloodworth). After Margaret (AKA “Hot Lips”) confines Nurse Baker to quarters following an argument, Hawkeye and Trapper devise a plan to allow the nurse a conjugal visit from her new husband, a visiting G.I. Although the middle of the episode contains plenty of typical “boys will be boys” hijinks, the beginning and end focus on Margaret and her relationship with the nurses, even casting Hot Lips in a sympathetic light by the final scene. Some fans have speculated that this may have been an attempt to test the waters for a Margaret spinoff show, although no such show was ever developed.

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    #92. Officers Only

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: December 22, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 15

    When Hawkeye and Trapper save the life of a private in the O.R., his grateful father, a general, grants them three nights in Tokyo and opens an officers’ club in the 4077th as an additional reward. But the enlisted men, Radar in particular, don’t appreciate the elitism of the club, and Hawkeye starts to sympathize with them. He convinces the general to change the rules to allow family members of officers entry and then proceeds to “adopt” everyone on the base. The officers’ club would persist throughout the rest of the show’s run, adding a new location for the writers to utilize. Fun fact: the “Officers’ Club” sign is grammatically correct, but the “Officers’ Only” sign that Radar hangs above the door is not.

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    #91. George

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: February 16, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 22

    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.

     

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    #90. Sticky Wicket

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: March 4, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 21

    After criticizing Frank’s performance in the O.R., Hawkeye is forced to question his own abilities when a patient of his starts to deteriorate unexpectedly. Hawkeye becomes obsessed with saving the man, although it’s not clear if it’s egotism or the Hippocratic oath driving his preoccupation. He finally finds a piece of shrapnel lodged behind the patient’s sigmoid colon, at which point Frank—with unexpected warmth—assures him that “anyone could have missed that.” The moment, brief as it is, stands out as one of the more touching exchanges of the first season.

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    #89. Germ Warfare

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: December 10, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 11

    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.

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    #88. Henry, Please Come Home

    IMDb score: 7.8

    Air date: November 19, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 9

    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 about to convincing Frank to return with a scheme in which Radar fakes a mysterious illness that necessitates Frank 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 Frank and his men. However, the ease with which Hawkeye and Co. convince Frank to return drains the dramatic tension by the end of the episode, which in retrospect feels like a low-stakes dress rehearsal for Frank’s permanent departure in the season three finale, "Abyssinia, Henry."

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    #87. Dear Comrade

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: November 27, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 12

    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.

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    #86. Mr. and Mrs. Who?

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: November 12, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 9

    Winchester returns from R&R extremely hung over and is surprised to find out he’s apparently gotten married—and his new wife is on her way to visit. (It turns out the ceremony was performed by a bartender and isn’t valid.) Meanwhile, Hawkeye and B.J. violate orders to perform a risky procedure to save a patient with hemorrhagic fever. Winchester’s befuddlement makes for some memorable lines in this episode, like when he recounts checking out of his hotel and being advised by the manager to stay away from saké punch “in perpetuity.”

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    #85. None Like It Hot

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: October 23, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 7

    Hawkeye and B.J. sneak a canvas tub into The Swamp during a heat wave, 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 Hawker 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.

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    #84. Potter's Retirement

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 20, 1978

    Season 6, Episode 23

    Potter returns to the 4077th enraged and ready to retire after a meeting with his friend General Kent, who has been getting insider reports that his command isn’t up to par. Hawkeye, B.J, and Radar set about to finding the mole responsible for the reports, initially suspecting Winchester. They finally discover that the culprit is a man named Benson, who was sent in to spy for another general with an axe 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).

     

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    #83. Peace on Us

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 25, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 2

    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.

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    #82. A Night at Rosie's

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 26, 1979

    Season 7, Episode 24

    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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    #81. The Life You Save

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: May 4, 1981

    Season 9, Episode 20

    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.

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    #80. War of Nerves

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: October 11, 1977

    Season 6, Episode 5

    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.

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    #79. Mail Call, Again

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: December 9, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 15

    The second of three episodes from the show that uses the same conceit, this Season 4 episode sees the men and women of the 4077th catching up on news from home through mail call. Most notably, Colonel 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?”

     

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    #78. Margaret's Engagement

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 28, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 3

    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.

     

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    #77. The Korean Surgeon

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: November 23, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 10

    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.”

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    #76. A War for All Seasons

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: December 29, 1980

    Season 9, Episode 6

    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 great sketch-comedy style laughs worthy of the show’s 200th episode.

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    #75. Margaret's Marriage

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: March 15, 1977

    Season 5, Episode 25

    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.)

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    #74. The Smell of Music

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: January 3, 1978

    Season 6, Episode 16

    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.

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    #73. Deluge

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 17, 1976

    Season 4, Episode 24

    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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    #72. Bombed

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: January 7, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 15

    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.”

     

     

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    #71. As Time Goes By

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 21, 1983

    Season 11, Episode 15

    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.”

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    #70. Follies of the Living - Concerns of the Dead

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: January 4, 1982

    Season 10, Episode 11

    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 comes 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.

     

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    #69. Big Mac

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 25, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 21

    This is a lighthearted episode in which the camp hustles to prepare for a visit by General 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 Major Burns” for the General’s benefit. In the end, MacArthur’s motorcade just does a drive-by, rendering all the preparations moot.

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    #68. Mail Call

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: February 23, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 23

    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.”

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    #67. Officer of the Day

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 24, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 3

    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 Colonel 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!

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    #66. Iron Guts Kelly

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: October 1, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 4

    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 Red Saunders and the actor, John Garfield, both of whom “met their Maker while making someone else.”

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    #65. Dear Dad... Three

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: November 10, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 9

    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.

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    #64. Radar's Report

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 29, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 3

    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.

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    #63. Divided We Stand

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 15, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 1

    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.

     

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    #62. To Market, to Market

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 24, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 2

    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.

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    #61. Pilot

    IMDb score: 7.9

    Air date: September 17, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 1

    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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    #60. An Eye for a Tooth

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: December 11, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 14

    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.

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    #59. Where There's a Will, There's a War

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: February 22, 1982

    Season 10, Episode 17

    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.

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    #58. Der Tag

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: January 6, 1976

    Season 4, Episode 18

    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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    #57. Dear Sis

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: December 18, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 15

    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.”

     

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    #56. The Yalu Brick Road

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: November 19, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 10

    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.

     

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    #55. Heal Thyself

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: January 14, 1980

    Season 8, Episode 17

    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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    #54. Old Soldiers

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: January 21, 1980

    Season 8, Episode 18

    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.

     

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    #53. A Full Rich Day

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: December 3, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 12

    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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    #52. The Novocaine Mutiny

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: January 27, 1976

    Season 4, Episode 21

    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.”

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    #51. The Abduction of Margaret Houlihan

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: October 26, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 7

    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.”

     

     

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    #50. Dear Mildred

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: October 24, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 8

    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.

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    #49. O.R.

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: October 8, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 5

    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.

     

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    #48. Blood Brothers

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: April 6, 1981

    Season 9, Episode 18

    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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    #47. Springtime

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: October 15, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 6

    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."

     

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    #46. The Sniper

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: November 17, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 10

    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).

     

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    #45. The Incubator

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: December 1, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 12

    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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    #44. Dear Dad, Again

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: February 4, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 18

    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.

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    #43. The Ringbanger

    IMDb score: 8.0

    Air date: January 21, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 16

    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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    #42. Period of Adjustment

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: October 22, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 6

    In the episode after Radar’s departure from the show, Klinger struggles to adjust to his new role as 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.

     

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    #41. Morale Victory

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: January 28, 1980

    Season 8, Episode 19

    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.

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    #40. The Billfold Syndrome

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: October 16, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 6

    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 a emotional catharsis that ranks amongst the show’s finest.

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    #39. Bug Out

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: September 21, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 1

    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.

     

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    #38. Private Charles Lamb

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: December 31, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 14

    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.

     

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    #37. Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: November 7, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 10

    This episode pits fan favorites Colonel 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.

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    #36. For Want of a Boot

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: January 12, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 17

    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.”

     

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    #35. Yankee Doodle Doctor

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: October 22, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 6

    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.”

     

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    #34. Chief Surgeon Who?

    IMDb score: 8.1

    Air date: October 8, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 4

    Henry breaches protocol by passing over Frank Burns and appointing Hawkeye as Chief Surgeon. This prompts a visit from a General 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.

     

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    #33. April Fools

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: March 24, 1980

    Season 8, Episode 25

    April Fools at the 4077th brings with it an inspection from tough-as-nails Colonel 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.

     

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    #32. Aid Station

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: February 11, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 19

    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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    #31. The Bus

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: October 17, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 7

    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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    #30. Fade Out, Fade In

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: September 20, 1977

    Season 6, Episode 1

    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.

     

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    #29. Good-Bye Radar: Part 1

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: October 8, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 4

    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.

     

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    #28. Rainbow Bridge

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: September 17, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 2

    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 Captain 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.

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    #27. Movie Tonight

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: February 22, 1977

    Season 5, Episode 22

    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 Mystery Science Theater 3000. The Father Mulcahy Soundalike Contest is perhaps the funniest bit, with Radar delivering an especially good impression.

     

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    #26. Carry On, Hawkeye

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: November 24, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 11

    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. A Smattering of Intelligence

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: March 2, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 24

    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.

     

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    #24. The Interview

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: February 24, 1976

    Season 4, Episode 25

    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.

     

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    #23. The Army-Navy Game

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: February 25, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 20

    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.

     

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    #22. Dear Dad

    IMDb score: 8.2

    Air date: December 17, 1972

    Season 1, Episode 12

    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.

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    #21. The Party

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: March 12, 1979

    Season 7, Episode 26

    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 amongs 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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    #20. Rally 'Round the Flagg, Boys

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: February 14, 1979

    Season 7, Episode 22

    In the last appearance of Col. Flagg in the series (though he did return 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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    #19. Death Takes a Holiday

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: December 15, 1980

    Season 9, Episode 5

    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.

     

     

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    #18. The Late Captain Pierce

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: October 3, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 5

    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.

     

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    #17. The Longjohn Flap

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: February 18, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 19

    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).

     

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    #16. Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen

    IMDb score: 8.3

    Air date: February 28, 1983

    Season 11, Episode 16

    In the legendary 2-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.

     

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    #15. Crisis

    IMDb score: 8.4

    Air date: February 9, 1974

    Season 2, Episode 21

    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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    #14. Change of Command

    IMDb score: 8.4

    Air date: September 19, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 3

    The staff is relieved when new C.O. Colonel 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.

     

     

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    #13. Point of View

    IMDb score: 8.4

    Air date: November 20, 1978

    Season 7, Episode 11

    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 VR 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.

     

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    #12. The General Flipped at Dawn

    IMDb score: 8.4

    Air date: September 10, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 1

    In the Season 3 premiere, a visiting general named General Hamilton Steele arrives at the 4077th with crazy new rules. The role was played by Harry Morgan, who would later become Colonel 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.

     

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    #11. 5 O'Clock Charlie

    IMDb score: 8.4

    Air date: September 22, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 2

    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.

     

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    #10. Life Time

    IMDb score: 8.5

    Air date: November 26, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 11

    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.

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    #9. The Trial of Henry Blake

    IMDb score: 8.5

    Air date: November 3, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 8

    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.

     

     

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    #8. Dear Sigmund

    IMDb score: 8.5

    Air date: November 9, 1976

    Season 5, Episode 8

    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 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.

     

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    #7. Good-Bye Radar: Part 2

    IMDb score: 8.6

    Air date: October 15, 1979

    Season 8, Episode 5

    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 season 7 finale, but the network moved (and prolonged) the episode for ratings reasons.

     

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    #6. Deal Me Out

    IMDb score: 8.6

    Air date: December 8, 1973

    Season 2, Episode 13

    The late 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).

     

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    #5. Adam's Ribs

    IMDb score: 8.6

    Air date: November 26, 1974

    Season 3, Episode 11

    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.

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    #4. Sometimes You Hear the Bullet

    IMDb score: 8.6

    Air date: January 28, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 17

    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 Colonel 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—nor others on the air at the time—had yet achieved.

     

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    #3. Welcome to Korea

    IMDb score: 8.7

    Air date: September 12, 1975

    Season 4, Episode 1

    In the first hour-long episode of the series, this opener for season 4 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.

     

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    #2. Tuttle

    IMDb score: 8.8

    Air date: January 14, 1973

    Season 1, Episode 15

    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, cultiminating 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 (a.k.a. Sergeant 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.

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    #1. Abyssinia, Henry

    IMDb score: 9.3

    Air date: March 18, 1975

    Season 3, Episode 24

    In the highly rated season 3 finale, “Abysinnia, Henry” is most remembered for its unexpected and poignant ending. Colonel 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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