MASH’s finale gave Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce an emotional sendoff, but what happened to him after the war ended? The MASH series may have gotten off to a slow start – it very nearly didn’t get a second season due to lackluster ratings – but over time it became a phenomenon. It was a groundbreaking sitcom for its era, unafraid to mix madcap comedy with tragedy. Certain elements may not have aged well in the decades since MASH ended, but the show’s impact on popular culture is undeniable, with the finale remaining the most-watched scripted TV episode of all time.
While the franchise briefly continued with the spinoff AfterMASH, there was never a reunion or sequel show that caught up with Hawkeye and co after the finale. Most of the cast did return for a 30th Anniversary MASH special in the early 2000s, but the possible fates of their characters weren’t discussed. Alda’s Hawkeye was especially (and understandably) burned out by his wartime experiences, and while viewers never saw his life in the aftermath, MASH revealed his plans for civilian life.
Hawkeye Became A Doctor In His Hometown After MASH Ended
MASH made several changes to Hawkeye compared to Robert Altman’s 1970 movie, including making him a bachelor instead of being married. It also explored his backstory in greater depth, including his life in Crabapple Cove in Maine, where his father – Dr. Daniel Pierce – nicknamed him “Hawkeye” after the main character in the classic novel The Last of the Mohicans. By the end of MASH, Hawkeye revealed he planned to leave surgery behind entirely and return to his hometown to become a doctor. Of course, whether this plan came to fruition is left up to viewers to decide.
Hawkeye’s Fate In The MASH Sequel Novels
Both the MASH movie and TV series were based on the novel MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors by former military surgeon Richard Hooker and co-writer W.C. Heinz. The sitcom and the novels don’t share continuity, though the books offer a more in-depth look at Hawkeye’s life after the Korean War. MASH Goes to Maine saw Hawkeye indeed returning to Crabapple and starting a family, but he’s soon fired from his doctor position. He then heads to New York with his clan, where he received further training as a surgeon with help from old friend “Trapper” John.
Hawkeye also sets up a practice with some of his old army pals, fulfilling his dream of getting to actually know his patients instead of patching together wounded soldiers. In stark contrast to Alda’s MASH character, Hawkeye became more politically conservative in his later years too. While the MASH novels could have laid the foundation for a sequel show, it appears neither Alda nor anyone else in the cast thought seriously about a revival. Given the impact of the original show, this was probably a wise choice.