Wayne Rogers ''had beef from the first day'' on M*A*S*H

Trapper John on his problems on set.

Rivalries can inspire and push people harder and further towards their goals. A healthy competition can be exactly what the doctor ordered, and oftentimes accelerates and focuses the artistic process for some. However, those rivalries can also prove to be a sore subject, especially when the topic of money enters the conversation.

Wayne Rogers got an enviable big break as part of the M*A*S*H cast when it debuted in 1972. Rogers played "Trapper" John McIntyre, and was even positioned as one of the funniest characters on the show. While the role and the screen time were valuable for any working actor, Rogers quickly soured on the character and the show.

"I had beef from the first day of shooting," Rogers told Dayton Daily News in 1978. "I was promised a contract that never materialized — profits, percentages, billing, money — it was all lip service."

So, what is one to do when the most popular show on TV withholds promised payments? Well, Wayne took his ball and went home.

"I left after three years," said Rogers, "and they sued me for three and a half million dollars."

The studio lost the court case, and Rogers won his freedom. He was able to cut ties and leave M*A*S*H for good. Rogers was replaced by Mike Farrell as B.J. Hunnicutt, who carried the second-banana role through to the end of the series.

"It was a one-way street. I wanted more diverse parts. I'm not sorry I left the show. I have no regrets," said Rogers.

Are you sure you want to delete this comment?
Close

17 Comments

RS1515 23 days ago
I remember seeing Rogers on TV many years later after the show ended, and he said that leaving MASH turned out to be a big mistake for him.
Jscott1000 26 days ago
M*A*S*H is one of the few shows that I liked better with all the replacement characters. First 3 years are my least favorite. Wayne Rodgers was okay but a really had a dislike for the Henry Blake character. For a Lt. Colonel to act that way is unbelievable to me.
John 26 days ago
MASH was good for the first three years.
Too bad it turned into the Alan Alda show.
When Farrell came aboard it turned into Hekyle and Jekyll with the relentless back and forth horribly unfunny patter between BJ and Hawkeye.

NOW MeTv is smothering us with 2hrs every day!
PLEASE STOP!!
StrayCat 27 days ago
What this story omits is that when the show's producers tried to sue Rogers for breach of contract, Rogers pointed out that he never signed a contract. Inexplicably, the show's producers never formally offered Rogers a contract.
Davvee 28 days ago
I don't blame him for leaving. Second banana is no fun. I like all the characters on MASH, all are good in their own way. The least favorite character, for me is Hawkeye. Too much of him on virtually every episode. When you work with someone like him around you in real life, you tend to get another job.
italianrose74 28 days ago
I absolutely loathe Trapper John on Mash! Regardless of how the movie portrays his character, I’ve always found that Wayne Rogers plays the role with an undertone of bitterness. You can’t really see how bad it is until BJ comes on the show. Mike Farrell had much better chemistry with not just Alan Alda but every actor on the show.
editorsnote 28 days ago
Trapper and especially Henry made the show. Alda was good the first 3 years, too. Then took himself and the "comedy" too seriously.
jmworacle 28 days ago
It was sad to see Wayne Rogers go but Mike Farrell did quite a job.
sagafrat69 29 days ago
I believe he was offered "Trapper John MD" but turned it down. Going to Pernell Roberts instead. One of my favorite characters of the series. Beeg was such a "nice guy". Maybe a little to nice to the point of t.v. boredom. Trap had a good guy/bad guy persona. Wish he could've done a few more seasons. One of those characters you could say if only he had more time at 4077th" what might of happened with the character. Sadly, we"ll never know. Wayne Rogers gave us three seasons of some great comedy. That's what we should remember.
I liked his character too. Never cared for BJ.
Adamtwelvia sagafrat69 28 days ago
I can't be the only one who didn't mind BJ!
ncadams27 Adamtwelvia 28 days ago
You’re not. I’m not a fan of BJ either. Unlike the other characters who have certain “features” (for lack of a better word) that define who they are and how they act - whether you like them or not - make them interesting. BJ had none. He just seemed to exist so that when someone said a line they had someone to talk to instead of talking to themselves. He was more of a plot device than a character.
Adamtwelvia ncadams27 28 days ago
He was meant to be the opposite of Trapper. A good nice guy who (rarely) cheated and was there for people.
I never liked Trapper's hippocracy. That's no doubt why he was divorced in 'Trapper John, MD'
Feylis ncadams27 27 days ago
BJ's thing was that he was sneaky and subtle. His jokes and ploys could be quite ruthless, but they never seemed that way. Also, he was supposed to be the square. Even Potter was more adventurous than BJ. And that was on purpose. It was a counter balance to Hawkeye.
ncadams27 Feylis 27 days ago
Yes, but characters that are subtle don’t come across to well on TV as most viewers don’t pick up on the subtleties. TV is almost a passive form of entertainment. Viewers don’t want to spend too much time trying to understand the story. Especially back then when you could not stream or record the show for multiple viewings. Unless a character is well established in the minds of a viewer (think I Love Lucy) the writers need to establish what type of personality each character is early on. You can make the jokes more subtle, but only after the audience knows them. That’s why Seinfeld took a while to get established.
McGillahooala 29 days ago
He is my favorite character in mash. The later episodes are not quite like the first three years.
Adamtwelvia 29 days ago
Too bad he never even cameoed in "Trapper John, MD".
Are you sure you want to delete this comment?