What color is Hawkeye's bathrobe on M*A*S*H?

Wait… is it red or purple?

Disney Media & Entertainment Distribution

When you think of Hawkeye Pierce from the TV show M*A*S*H, you probably think of his fashion. That Hawaiian shirt he hoped would never go out of style. His bright red kimono with colorful embroidery. And, of course, his bathrobe, with MD, USA embossed on the pocket.

Hawkeye wears this bathrobe throughout the entire series. It's an item fans are very familiar with, and onscreen, its color appears to be some form of red. Maybe you think of it as maroon, or mahogany, or the color of cranberries or a bold wine. Either way, most people would agree — the robe looks rather red.

That’s why in the show’s 10th season, it was a little strange when the robe’s color was suddenly called into question during the episode "Where There's a Will, There's a War."

This episode finds Hawkeye writing his last will and testament while serving as a surgeon on the frontlines. From a quaking bunker, Hawkeye decides he wants to leave all of his worldly possessions to his father – except for a few choice items in camp that he wants to leave for his 4077th family, including his robe, which he decides to leave to Winchester.

As Hawkeye writes his will, Alda narrates what he's penning, explaining this decision to gift Winchester his bathrobe as thus:

DISNEY MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRIBUTIONHawkeye wills his robe to Winchester.

"You’ve been the victim of a ceaseless stream of dumb jokes. Though we may have wounded your pride, you’ve never lost your dignity. I therefore bequeath to you the most dignified thing I own — my bathrobe. Purple is the color of royalty."

Here’s where M*A*S*H fans may have heard brakes screeching in their heads for a moment. Hawkeye's robe is purple? In this very same episode, Hawkeye appears in his robe during a delightfully silly flashback scene with Margaret (where he decides to leave her his Groucho glasses and nose), and the robe does seem in this scene to appear more like a violet red than a true red.

DISNEY MEDIA & ENTERTAINMENT DISTRIBUTIONThe robe in ''Where There's a Will, There's a War''

But if you look at how the robe's color appears in other episodes, it can sometimes look like a bright red. So what gives, why did the writers decide to go with purple in this poignant scene?

It seems that when you look at Hawkeye’s robe in person, it is undeniably purple, which you can kind of see a little more clearly in this photo posted by the National Museum of American History, which houses the robe now that Hawkeye’s done donning it. So likely when writers were referencing the robe for this scene, they described what they saw in person, and not how the robe typically appeared onscreen.

Through the rest of the episode, Hawkeye finishes his will, weaving through memories with Potter, Mulcahy, and Klinger, too, and saving the most emotional tribute for last.

The episode’s most heart-wrenching moment comes at the very end when Hawkeye returns to camp unscathed and decides he still wants to figure out how he should honor his friendship with B.J. The conclusion left not a dry eye in the house, making it easier to overlook the odd reference to Hawkeye's purple robe that upon rewatching many fans have counted as a minor error in M*A*S*H history.

What color do you see when you look at Hawkeye's robe: red or purple?

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Wiseguy70005 25 days ago
Some materials look like a different color on film than in real life. Many people don't know that Capt. Kirk's shirt was green but it looked gold/tan on film. Green was supposed to be the captain's color (which explains why his other shirts in the first two years were green).
WGH 1 month ago
It appears to be maroon. That would be the color associated with medicine. So a maroon robe on a surgeon makes a lot of sense.
WGH 1 month ago
Grey... because I watched the episodes on a black and white TV.
wbodine112 1 month ago
He pretty much came out and said in "Peace on Us" that red is his favorite color, so OF COURSE the robe is RED. I refuse to believe otherwise.

I reject your reality, and substitute my own.
MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
I always thought it was maroon.
Coldnorth MrsPhilHarris 1 month ago
Red but I agree with you, more maroon
LoveMETV22 1 month ago
W/E the color of Hawkeye's robe was,
Klinger was the "fashionista" of the series.

LarryLeeMoniz 24 months ago
I own this very style, army robe. It is maroon.
candybaroque 45 months ago
its maroon! kinda red, kinda purple. do... people not know maroon?
lmahabhashyam 51 months ago
In the ten years Hawkeye way an old boy child and had a sister who knitted a sweater with one long and one short sleeve, his parent’s were both alive and his dad was a widower not to mention comic books that weren’t around during the Korean War music and some of the movies, so there wasn’t any fact checking. That doesn’t change the fact that it was one of the best TV show’s ever made.
FinestKind 51 months ago
Ten seasons in and the writers did not realise the robe appears red on TV? ....that 98% of America, when polled, would say "its definitely red"!? This is a top 10 MASH writers flub.
Bryson FinestKind 49 months ago
PURPLE they didn’t have digitization then remember?
JosephPetro 51 months ago
I'm colorblind...so it doesn't matter to me.
idkwut2use 51 months ago
That’s absolutely burgundy, a deep red. Not even a purplish “wine” or maroon. And I’ve got perfect color vision according to a test in which I had to arrange a ton of very similar shades in spectral order. 😉
Utzaake 51 months ago
Was going to say crimson, but it doesn't look as red in (hazy) sunlight (see top left photo above). Hawkeye's robe is purple...tyrian purple.
Pacificsun 51 months ago
It's not an error. It has to do with what kind of a filter is being used in the filming, which can change the hue of anything.
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