There’s no other show quite like M*A*S*H – a wacky comedy and heartbreaking drama set against the backdrop of the Korean War. Loosely based on the movie and novel of the same name, the series primarily followed the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) during their time in the active warzone. The series was so popular and adored that it lasted for 11 strong seasons – more than twice as long as the actual Korean War – and continues to influence creators to this day.
Each of its 11 seasons ended with a bang, but whether it was done so with a great punchline or a thoughtful moment changed depending on the story being told in every final episode. In honor of the show’s lasting impact, here’s every season finale of M*A*S*H ranked according to its entertainment value and emotional impact.
11Showtime (Season 1)
Before it became an emotionally-charged drama about the hardships of war, M*A*S*H was mostly a sitcom set during the Korean War. The show’s first season finale embodies this, showing regular camp duties alongside an escalating prank war between Hawkeye and Frank.
The episode itself is fun and appropriately emotional when it needs to be, but it doesn’t show what the series and its cast are truly capable of. Then again, it was the first season finale of eleven so things were bound to get better as the show went along.
10Major Topper (Season 6)
M*A*S*H is known for seamlessly splicing humor and medical drama into its episodes, and “Major Topper” does a good job of demonstrating as much. While the medical staff worries about a morphine shortage and Cpl. Miller’s worsening mental state, Hawkeye and BJ futility try to debunk Winchester’s outlandish stories.
Everything wraps up nicely as each major problem is resolved, with the placebos working as morphine substitutes and Cpl. Miller being transferred to safer conditions. In a twist, Winchester’s tall tales turn out to be true, much to the surprise of the two resident jokers.
9A Smattering Of Intelligence (Season 2)
The prank wars continue in the second season finale, but now with the addition of some political intrigue and espionage. When a pair of rival spies wind up in the 4077th, a battle of wits commences as the two try to outwit the other with the help of the residents.
Watching Hawkeye and friends join the covert chaos is as entertaining as the premise promises while seeing a smug and overconfident Frank (deservedly) get the worst of it all by the war’s end makes this finale a fun ride.
8April Fools (Season 8)
As its title suggests, the eighth season finale is just an episode-long version of the prank war in “Showtime.” Hijinks ensue as the 4077th tries to outdo each others’ jokes just as the hardass Col. Tucker drops by for a routine inspection.
Like “Showtime,” this episode emphasizes M*A*S*H‘s potential for hilarity even when the base is surrounded by the realities of war. What gives “April Fools” an edge is the infectious chemistry and camaraderie among the characters, who grew close over the course of eight seasons.
7That Darn Kid (Season 10)
For the penultimate season finale, M*A*S*H moves on from the prank wars in favor of a single effective joke: Klinger’s goat. Hoping to make a quick buck with its milk, Klinger bought the goat but got trouble instead.
The goat’s sole purpose in the episode is to eat important stuff in the base such as the staff’s payroll and a superior officer’s paperwork. Watching the cast react and find solutions to said goat’s eating habits more than justifies the episode-long gag.
6Margaret’s Marriage (Season 5)
Margaret finally gets the happy ending she’s always dreamed of when she marries Lt. Col. Penobscott – much to Frank’s dismay. However, it should be noted that he broke his promise to leave his wife for Margaret, which then convinced her to marry Penobscott.
Even if Hawkeye and BJ put the groom in a full-body cast as a prank, watching the entire 4077th get together for Margaret’s big day was undeniably heartwarming. Seeing Margaret be truly happy was great while it lasted, as her husband’s infidelity ended the marriage in season seven. This is also Frank’s last appearance.
5The Interview (Season 4)
Every now and then, M*A*S*H would take a moment to seriously examine the effects of working in triage during an active conflict. This is the whole point of “The Interview,” which gives the 4077th some time to reflect on their experiences.
Seen through the lenses of a war correspondent, the normally goofy yet effective medics and surgeons momentarily let their guard down while talking about their lives and greeting their loved ones. The episode also ends on a rather poignant note, when the talkative Hawkeye has no words to describe the war he’s stuck in.
4The Life You Save (Season 9)
The normally uptight Winchester gets the scare of his life when he survives a sniper attack, which leaves him in the throes of an existential crisis where he desperately searches for some reassurance in life after death.
Of the finales, “The Life You Save” is unique not only because it focuses on Winchester instead of the usual suspects but because of its themes. The war haunts the entire episode, as Winchester futilely tries to rationalize the mercilessly random yet inseparable natures of war and death.
3Abyssinia, Henry (Season 3)
For a time, the third season finale was the saddest because it featured a sudden tragedy. Right after Trapper left without a word and after bidding Lt. Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson) farewell, Radar breaks the devastating news that the commanding officer’s plane was shot down. None of the cast knew of Blake’s death when filming, hence their genuine heartbreak.
What makes this episode sadder are the circumstances behind it. According to the cast, Stevenson was their beloved father figure who advocated for their betterment, and producers responded by killing his character so he wouldn’t be able to return.
2The Party (Season 7)
Just because the 4077th was stuck in a warzone doesn’t mean they couldn’t throw a fun party. What makes the episode’s titular celebration special is how the gang was able to get their families living stateside to join the revelry.
What started as a pipe dream for BJ became a reality after Hawkeye and company convince their families at home to throw a party together. The 4077th has always been referred to as a family by long-time fans, and this emotionally satisfying finale proved that point extremely well.
1Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen (Season 11)
After eleven seasons, the Korean War and the 4077th’s time together came to a tearful close. Not only do the residents of the medical outpost find personal closure but they bid each other farewell, knowing that they may never see each other again.
From the opening credits to BJ’s final goodbye to Hawkeye (and audiences) – “Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen” is an emotional trip that doesn’t stop until “Suicide is Painless” plays one last time. Even decades after its initial airing, the swan song for M*A*S*H is still regarded as one of the best series finales ever filmed.