- Trapper’s departure from MASH was the saddest exit because he never had a proper send-off and didn’t get the chance to say goodbye to Hawkeye, his best friend.
- Unlike other characters who were given emotional farewells, Trapper’s exit was sudden, leaving no time for a proper send-off, making it even sadder.
- After leaving MASH, Wayne Rogers, the actor who portrayed Trapper, had a successful career in television, including notable roles in City of Angeles, House Calls, and I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later. He also found success in the stock market and became a finance expert.
MASH featured a lot of character departures, but none were as sad as Trapper John McIntyre’s (Wayne Rogers) – especially as it was unclear why Trapper left MASH. The medical show from the ’70s is iconic for several reasons. Regarded as one of, if not the best, sitcoms of all time, MASH pushed the boundaries of storytelling by toeing the fine line between comedy and drama. Despite its success, there was a time that it had a series of actor departures, which left the 4077 without half of its original personnel. Amid a slew of exits, however, the way Trapper was written out is arguably the most tragic of them all.
As part of the original MASH cast member, Trapper was bunkmate and partner-in-crime of Alan Alda’s Benjamin “Hawkeye” Pierce. Known for their playful antics, they were the primary source of ruckus and havoc around 4077. Despite their rowdy behavior, however, they were great surgeons, making it impossible to really sanction them. Beyond their work and mischiefs, Trapper and Hawkeye were great friends, so it was devastating when the former left Korea. However, there’s a deeper reason why his departure is the saddest exit in MASH.
Trapper Was The Only MASH Character That Didn’t Have A Send-Off
Through the years, MASH was able to come up with a variety of ways to write out a character. Despite exiting after season 3, Trapper wasn’t the first one from the original crew to leave 4077. Previously, McLean Stevenson, Lt. Colonel Henry Blake bid the gang goodbye as he got the go-ahead to return home. What was supposed to be a happy trip, however, ended in tragedy after the plane he was on was shot down, effectively killing him. However, despite his tragic fate, Trapper’s farewell on MASH was still sadder because he never got the chance to say goodbye to Hawkeye.
MASH made a big deal of setting up Blake’s departure, giving him time with every member of the unit. Sadly, because Trapper’s departure was sudden (as was with Rogers), the show was unable to set up a much better swan song. The MASH season 4 premiere tried to make a deal out of it by showing Hawkeye rushing to the airfield to say goodbye, but it only made their separation sadder as he ultimately missed his friend’s plane. If MASH was able to stage one final telephone conversation between Pierce and Frank Burns when he left in season 6, they certainly could have done a better job with Trapper’s exit.
What Happened To Trapper After MASH
Trapper’s departure from MASH effectively ended Rogers’ stint as the character. However, the surgeon’s post-Korea life was tackled in a semi-spin-off titled Trapper John M.D. Technically an offshoot of the MASH film, Trapper was played by Pernell Roberts who went on to inhabit the role for seven years. In the sitcom, the Korean War veteran returned home and became the Chief of Surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Roberts played a mellower version of Trapper. He was less mischievous than Rogers’ iteration but was equally caring and empathetic towards his patients.
What Wayne Rogers Did After MASH
After Trapper left MASH, many fans wondered what happened to actor Wayne Rogers. While the highly acclaimed military sitcom was the biggest project of Rogers’ career, he also had a number of notable projects post-MASH. He quickly returned to television for the short-lived detective series City of Angeles in 1976, then found more success in the medical sitcom House Calls opposite Lynn Regrave, for which he earned a Golden Globe nomination. Rogers also took over the role of Major Tony Nelson in the made-for-TV movie I Dream of Jeannie… 15 Years Later. He appeared in the miniseries Chiefs with the Charlton Heston, Danny Glover, and Billy Dee Williams as well as the movie Ghosts of Mississippi with Alec Baldwin and Whoopi Goldberg.
Interestingly, Rogers found a second career in finance after becoming successful in the stock market, leading to regular television appearances on programs like Fox Business. The actor even appeared before the United States House Committee on the Judiciary as an expert witness in 1990 (via Washington Post). Rogers earned a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame in 2005 and died in 2015 at the age of 82.