One of the greatest shows ever made, MAS*H recently celebrated the thirty-seventh anniversary of its series finale episode, which aired back on February 28, 1983. It remains one of the greatest finales ever created, and it brought the CBS comedy-drama to a monumental conclusion.
However, while the episode brought the character arcs of every major player on the show to a satisfying, if not a bit troubling, conclusion, there were tons of character-driven storylines that never saw resolution from the show. AfterMASH filled in some of the blanks, but its short-lived run was not enough to answer every question fans still had at the end of the original series.
10 The Military Career Arc Of Frank Burns
One of the storylines that never got a revisit was the storyline that pertained to Frank Burns, the weasel rascal of the 4077th who was portrayed by Larry Linville.
At the end of season five and the beginning of season six, Frank received one of the only purely happy endings for any character, and he was one who might have deserved it the least. It’s pretty easy to imagine what Frank did after Korea (a rise to power in the military to become one of the strictest commanding officers around), but the show never provided confirmation as to his ultimate fate. (The original movie probably came closer to doing so.)
9Winchester And His Love For Mozart
One of the most crushing aspects of the series finale, “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen,” was the end of the Charles Winchester III character. After bonding over Mozart with a group of Korean prisoners of war, Charles was devastated to see them each killed in an attack that came just minutes before the end of the war.
Charles smashes his record of Mozart music, severing the tie he has with his most beloved piece of culture. Does he ever regain the love of music that he had, or is it snuffed from his spirit forever? The audience never learned what became of poor Charles.
8The Romantic Pursuits Of Margaret Houlihan
Margaret Houlihan, thanks to the efforts of Loretta Swit, became so much more than a love interest and affection object on the medical dramedyover the years, but a major hallmark of her character was still her loneliness and her eagerness to be loved by someone in the cruel world she faced.
A number of relationships were teased, but fans were never quite sure if Margaret ultimately found herself in a long-term marriage. Perhaps her truest love, however, was always the military. In that sense, she found her happy ending all the same.
7How Klinger Got Back Home
In one of the series finale’s most clever reversals, Max Klinger ends up being the only character to stay in South Korea, despite being the man who tried to escape it the hardest.
Granted, when AfterMASH kicks off, Klinger is back home in Toledo, safe and sound. But the whole development of Klinger and Soon-Lee’s move to the United States was kind of brushed over in the effort to get the M*A*S*H characters back together as quickly as possible. What was it like for Klinger to finally leave? Fans will never know the full experience.
6Father Mulcahy’s Reconciliation With God
Famously, in the series finale of M*A*S*H, Father Francis Mulcahy is injured in a shelling of the 4077th, and he ends up partially losing his hearing. To appease the status quo of AfterMASH, he receives miraculous reconstruction surgery and sheds his newfound alcoholism readily.
But, when Father Mulcahy left M*A*S*H, he was disillusioned with the most profound relationship in his life: the one he shared with God. Like Klinger’s return, this storyline received the “Yadda, yadda” treatment in AfterMASH, and fans would have loved to see the core religious storyline play out for Father Mulcahy.
5Can Radar Find A Happily Ever After?
Radar O’Reilly is one of the only references to the original M*A*S*H on AfterMASH, outside of Father Mulcahy, Colonel Potter, and Klinger. He almost received his own spin-off, W*A*L*T*E*R, as well. Ultimately, though, this left Radar’s character extremely muddled.
In the spin-off, his marriage falls apart, but on AfterMASH, his wedding is documented. What are fans to think about the fate of the beloved fan favorite, Radar? What ending does he actually receive? It was so tidily handled on M*A*S*H, so, leave it to the spin-offs to muck up a beautiful character arc.
4What Does Hawkeye Endure Back Home?
In the series finale, Hawkeye is thrust into the capable psychological hands of Dr. Sidney Freedman. The reason for this is visceral and not to be spoiled if readers have not seen the episode, but it also comes as the culmination of all the traumas and horrors that Hawkeye faced in Korea.
What does he have to suffer through when he finally returns to Crabapple Cove, Maine? Fans would like to think that Hawkeye settled down, started his own family, and reconnected with his father over a nice, tight hug. However, some sort of PTSD was more likely. Perhaps Hawkeye would never be the same. Perhaps this is one storyline that did not need resolution out of fear of the crushing reality of war.
3B.J. Comes Back To His Family, But Does It Last?
As fans saw with Radar’s return to the U.S., it was not so easy to readjust to life in America following a harrowing war. Would B.J. Hunnicutt suffer the same fate as Radar, or would he be able to readjust at a much faster clip?
There is a good incentive for B.J. to re-acclimate himself to American living—he has a wife and daughter, after all—and fans would sure love to hope that B.J. had a happily ever after as a family man. But, as mentioned with Hawkeye, it might not have been so easy to push through this trauma. Hopefully, B.J.’s daughter would not mistake her father ever again, after she did so with Radar back in season eight.
2Colonel Potter’s Future In The Military
AfterMASH had a much less ceremonious ending than M*A*S*H did, which left a lot of characters in the lurch, rather than receiving a bittersweet ending to their arcs. The biggest question mark, however, was definitely Colonel Potter.
After the Korean War, Potter retired, but in AfterMASH, he was quick to rejoin the fray and get back to his old habits to satisfy his needs for a purpose. Does he ever retire? Does he ever get to just hang around with Mildred and enjoy the end of his life? Or is Potter far too much of a military man?
1B.J. And Hawkeye Will Meet Again (Hopefully)
The most heartbreaking moment of the final scenes of M*A*S*H was the realization that B.J. and Hawkeye might not ever see each other again now that the Korean War is over. It would be easy to do so in today’s day and age, but, back then, reconnecting with a friend was incredibly hard to do.
The characters faced down the possibility that they’d never meet again, but they acknowledged that they would always be in one another’s hearts. It’s a scene that can still elicit goosebumps and tears almost four decades later. For some fans, it is clear headcanon that a beautiful summer rolled around and the Hunnicutt family flew to Maine to spend a vacation with Hawkeye and his family. That is the ending that everyone in the world who has ever had a meaningful friendship like this deserves. Why not believe it, even if M*A*S*H never resolved the story canonically?