The final M*A*S*H episode filmed paid off a joke they set up 255 episodes early

The very first scene has a joke that only makes sense in the last thing they shot.

Everyone knows the MAS*H finale, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen,” because seemingly everyone in America was watching it when it aired on February 28, 1983. Okay, well, it wasn’t everybody, but it was about three out of four TV sets in the United States, making it the most-watched episode in television history. Still.

But for the cast and crew of MAS*H, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen” was not adieu. They filmed one more episode after that, “As Time Goes By.” It just so happened to air the week prior.

It was a fitting script for the actors to finish their long run. In the final scene, the 4077th puts together and buries a time capsule. It’s an emotional moment, heightened by the fact that the actors hardly had to pretend — this would be the last time they all worked together on the show.

Hawkeye and the gang go through the items in the time capsule.

There’s something even more brilliant about the time capsule scene you might have missed. Pay attention to what Margaret says. We captioned a bit of it in the top image.

“When somebody opens this up in a hundred years…” she says. Does that ring a bell?

Think back to the beginning of the series. The very, very beginning. The opening shot of the pilot episode, simply titled “Pilot.” Trapper and Hawkeye golf. As Trapper tees off, text appears on the screen:

Korea, 1950 — a hundred years ago

A hundred years! Exactly when the time capsule was set to be opened.

That means, in a way, that the entire MAS*H series was someone uncovering the trials, tears, tricks and tribulations of the 4077th a century later. The show is something that has been dug up in the year 2050!

Did you ever wonder why they made that joke about “a hundred years ago”? Did the writers know they were going to end it with a time capsule scene 11 years later? Talk about brilliant plotting!

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