A love note to M*A*S*H's most memorable last lines

Spelling out Goodbye in rocks wasn't the only time the show hit the right end note.

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In the second season of M*A*S*H, an episode called "Crisis" pushed the cast to new extremes during a harsh winter without proper supplies or fuel to heat the camp.

Throughout the episode, the cast gets creative in their quest to find warmth, including hunting socks and burning furniture. The final scene finds Henry Blake sitting in a barren room where he delivers a line into the phone while laughing about his dire circumstances, a line that arguably could only have worked on M*A*S*H.

"I’m talking to you from deep inside a real big empty," actor McLean Stevenson said, as if verbally throwing his hands up in lunacy-driven defeat.

At least one M*A*S*H fan site considers the humor of "Crisis" and its final line quite seriously, writing that it "may very well have the best last line of any episode of M*A*S*H."

Rifling through forums, the fan site confirmed that M*A*S*H co-creator Larry Gelbart had especially fond feelings about the writing on this comedy-driven episode.

"I had a particularly good time writing this one," Gelbert said. "Sometimes you get on a roll, and I think we had a pretty good one going throughout the second season."

He also at one point pointed to "Crisis" as "one of those scripts that was just a joy to develop, to write and to help come to life."

M*A*S*H was a show that took last lines seriously. Whether it was the last line spoken by memorable characters or the end notes to an episode, the show never disappointed when it came to saying goodbye.

For example, when the character Sidney Freedman makes his last appearance, his last line on the series was carefully selected by episode writer Alan Alda to bring back his most memorable line on the show, "Ladies and gentleman, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice."

And when Larry Linville decided to leave M*A*S*H, the show made a point of having the last two words fall out of Frank Burns' mouth be a poignant, complicated, infuriating, "Goodbye, Margaret."

Similarly, the decision to end the entire series not with a spoken word, but with "Goodbye" spelled out in rocks after Hawkeye sputters "What?" during the final episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" remains one of the most iconic end notes of all time on TV.

What are your favorite last lines from memorable episodes or recurring characters of the series?

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prettyuglymonster 33 months ago
It's goofy, but one of my favorite lines ever is when Hawkeye and BJ are presenting new nurses (including Hawkeye's medical school-era ex Carly Breslin) with sundries from a pail and refer to shampoo as not being able to find real poo. LIttle gems like that. And Potter had some of the best lines ever, all delivered in Harry Morgan's hilariously deadpan delivery. Stellar show all around.
RubyO 33 months ago
I love Klinger! My favorite Klinger line was Burns saying "Another week in command and I'd have you out of that dress." And Klinger replies "Major, I'm not that easy". Perfect
Lily 33 months ago
One of my favorite lines from the whole show came from Colonel Potter. It wasn't a final line.

"It's too big a world to be in competition with everybody else. The only guy I have to get better than is who I am right now." (Hepatitis, season 5)

I think about that line a lot.
Lily 33 months ago
"Goodbye Margaret" wasn't Frank's last line. This is what happens when you chop the episodes down to fit in more commercials. The last scene in Margaret's Marriage is Frank, Potter, Hawkeye and BJ in the Swamp drinking and pondering what Margaret and Donald are doing at that exact time. It ends with them all heading off for cold showers and Frank goes off first, saying he just felt like one all of a sudden.
LynCarceo 33 months ago
About the article quote "And when Larry Linville decided to leave M*A*S*H, the show made a point of having the last two words fall out of Frank Burns' mouth be a poignant, complicated, infuriating, "Goodbye, Margaret", I didn't feel they were infuriating; it almost sounded like he was crying, resigned to the fact that it was over between them.
Rob 33 months ago
Is it true that God answers all prayers? Yes….sometimes the answer is no.
Rob 33 months ago
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Jon 33 months ago
My favorite line, at least in memory, is Charles' speech when he's finally resigned to staying at the 4077th: "You can cut me off from the civilized world, you can incarcerate me with two moronic cellmates, you can torture me with your thrice-daily swill, but you cannot break the spirit of a Winchester! My voice shall be heard, and I shall be delivered from this fetid and festering sewer!"
tsgabel 33 months ago
There are so many wonderful lines and characters from M.A.S.H.!
These aren't last lines, but memorable for me and sometimes heartwrenching: Colonel Blake's statement about war (not sure what episode) , "Rule #1, Young men die. Rule #2, Doctors can't change Rule #1."
On a happier note, I loved Hawkeye's line in the April Fool episode, "Beer's on you Colonel!"
And from that same episode, Colonel Potter's, "You just HAD to put STUPID at the top of your list of things to do today!!" Harry Morgan's facial expression was priceless. That was one of my all time favorite episodes (I have too many to mention here).
When the group sang "Dona Nobis Pacem" at the end of a Chistmas episode, it was so touching that it brought tears to my eyes. And as they finished singing, you could clearly hear Harry Morgan's bass harmony - lovely. I ADORED his Colonel Potter character; he often reminded me of my dad. Morgan could do comedy too, like the time Hawkeye & BJ got him drunk and are walking with him as he stumbles along and falls flat on his face. They pick him up, he asks, "Did I fall down", they say "Nope", and he says "I didn't think so". The lines aren't particularly funny, but when you put them together with Morgan's delivery and stumble bum actions, they are a stitch! He had excellent timing.
Lastly, there was the wildly wacky Colonel Flagg character - he was hysterically funny. Edward Winter created a superb character.
MetzgerField 33 months ago
One of my favorite MASH lines was when Fr. Mulcahy was disillusioned and felt he wasn’t of any good use to the 4077th. At the end of the episode he makes peace with himself and says “You know it doesn’t matter if you feel useful or not when you’re moving from one disaster to another. The trick I guess is to just keep moving”
Rob MetzgerField 33 months ago
I always liked that line too.
JustGeri 33 months ago
One of my top all time five TV scenes is from the finale …Potter getting up on Sophie to ride her to the orphanage. Potter tells BJ and Hawkeye that he had to show he was mad but on the inside he was laughing to beat all hell. The boys say they had been thinking about what to do and though it wasn’t much, but it came from the heart … they took a step back and saluted Potter. That show of respect to their CO from two who didn’t care an iota about military rituals was powerful and poignant. I believe Potter’s/Harry Morgan’s reaction was more genuine than scripted.
The 2nd part of the Finale was in essence the actors saying goodbye to one another in addition to the characters saying GB. Margaret to Potter, “You’re a dear sweet man…” - also gets to me every time, too.
Deleted 33 months ago
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prettyuglymonster 33 months ago
Agreed. Lightning struck with this show, and it can't be repeated.
WordsmithWorks 33 months ago
I don't know about favorite last lines, but I have a few favorite lines:

Margaret to the nurses: "Did you ever offer me a lousy cup of coffee?"
Charles to Hawkeye: "Where I have a father, you have a dad." AND "My father and I have been 10,000 miles apart in the same room."
Potter to Hawkeye: "The only person you have to be better than is who you are right now."
Hawkeye to Frank: "(A hero) is somebody who's tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn. I don't give a damn."

Most cringeworthy? Any time Klinger said something like "my feet are like wings" or when he ordered "a case of scotch and two dozen baklava." I know many people of Middle Eastern descent and they cringe, too. But the number one line has to be "don't let the bastard win." I don't remember ever hearing Hawkeye say that again.
The Charles lines to Hawkeye i

I agree with you, especially the Charles’ lines. Sadly I’m sure there are many people who can relate to either one or both.
daDoctah WordsmithWorks 33 months ago
My favorite line in the "Crisis" is after Henry's desk has been cannibalized for firewood: "I know they're desperate, but to cut off a man's legs, and steal his drawers?"
LoveMETV22 WordsmithWorks 33 months ago
Same no favorite last line but liked- Hawkeye to Henry:
“Henry, You Have No Idea What It’s Like Sharing A Tent With A Guy Who Thinks He’s All Twelve Disciples!”
daDoctah 33 months ago
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Pacificsun 33 months ago
This is another good story! Thanks Writers!

Opinion only:
Going against the grain, and Focus Groups would disagree too. IMO, there doesn't need to be “last lines” or hard emphasis on a “final” episode. MASH being the exception because it did owe its viewers a lot! That show had drug them through virtual-emotional hell. However MASH had an almost anthology feel to it (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anthology_series) meaning to present a different story weekly, with different combinations of characters & guest stars, and how it grouped its themes.

But for the classic TV series that we watch normally, what’s the point of final shows. The characters in our imaginations keep on running. So those “last lines” and finales are ego-centric to the writers. Their opportunity to the take a Final Bow. And they do work hard enough for it, no worries.
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LoveMETV22 Pacificsun 33 months ago
"Your opinion is your opinion", and you shouldn't squelch yourself for what others think. Everyone has that right. I liked Rebecca more than Diane IMO.
MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 33 months ago
Ricky Gervais was the most weaselly of weasels.

harlow1313 MrsPhilHarris 33 months ago
Desperate to be loved and admired. A sad clown.
MrsPhilHarris harlow1313 33 months ago
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