Loretta Swit ''didn't agree with'' where the M*A*S*H finale left Maj. Margaret Houlihan

Here's why we agree with Swit!

Parting is such sweet sorrow. Especially after eleven seasons!

Series finales tend to fall into two categories. There are the ones that we deem "satisfying," and there are the ones that leave us feeling "disappointed." Sometimes a finale episode will deliver on the promise of all that precedes it, wrapping up storylines efficiently in a way that resonates emotionally. Other times, though, the ball is fumbled right before we cross that goal line, and we're left questioning whether it was all for nothing.

For our money, one of the best finale episodes of all time is "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," the last episode of M*A*S*H. The two-and-a-half-hour climax does a great job of ending the series in a way that feels tonally consistent with the other 255 episodes. It's one of the most-watched television broadcasts of all time, and repeat viewings serve to remind us of the tear-filled closure viewers felt when it first aired on CBS on February 28, 1983.

However, if there's one detail that could use a tweak, it's the ending that the writers gave Maj. Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan. As one of two characters present in the premiere and the finale, Margaret was crucial to the show's legacy.

Loretta Swit, who starred as Maj. Houlihan in 251 of the series' episodes, was one of the most recognizable faces on M*A*S*H. As the person who presented us with Houlihan's story, Swit agreed that the show could have served the character better. 

Fans will recall that after spending some time considering whether she'd rather head to Tokyo or Belgium, Margaret ultimately opts to head home stateside to work at a hospital. In a 2023 interview with Yahoo! Entertainment, Loretta Swit spoke her truth about how the ending didn't suit the character. 

"I didn't think that was correct for my Margaret," said Swit. "For me, she was off to the next war. Margaret is military, just like Potter. I think her next move was Vietnam. So I didn't agree with that, but that's what they wanted her to do." 

We stand unequivocally with Loretta Swit. 

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8 Comments

ValT 3 months ago
A few million years ago, I read a really good fanfic crossover between MASH & Quantum Leap. Sam Leaped into Hawkeye (who seduced every woman who came into the imaging chamber), and had to keep Margaret from ruining Hawkeye's career as a surgeon. The complication came when Sam realized that Margaret was the nurse who saved his brother Tom's life in Vietnam, so he had to be careful to keep from ruining her career while still saving Hawkeye. I wish I had bookmarked or saved it, because I have no idea where to find it again.
WordsmithWorks 3 months ago
Margaret would have gone to NATO headquarters. She was all about rank. That would have been the best career move.
djw1120 WordsmithWorks 3 months ago
The only problem with that is that NATO didn't exist yet in 1952? or 1954?
In the meantime, Margaret did what she thought was best for Margaret.
Bookman1963 djw1120 3 months ago
NATO was organized in 1949. Its headquarters were first in London, then Paris, and later Belgium.
WordsmithWorks djw1120 3 months ago
Why was that part of the storyline? Odd.
My guess is that like most writers in Hollywood, they don't know much about history.
Patpayne79 3 months ago
Except that there wouldn't have been a sizeable US involvement in Indochina at the time (It was still a French colonial war at the time, and would be till 1954), not enough to support a US military hospital in-theatre. Maybe Margaret was sent in '64 or so near the end of her career when US involvement was really gearing up.
AnnieM Patpayne79 3 months ago
This, or something very close. The US wasn't 'officially' involved until 1965, when Johnson sent in ground troops. I can imagine Margaret getting restless stateside, thinking her skills would be needed more in a combat zone like Vietnam once we had active troops there. I do think she would have ended up there eventually.
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