Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

Infobox Television episode
Title = Goodbye, Farewell and Amen
Series = M*A*S*H

Caption =
Season = 11
Episode = 16 / Movie
Airdate = February 28, 1983
Production = 9-B04
Writer = Alan Alda
Karen Hall
Burt Metcalfe
John Rappaport
Thad Mumford
Dan Wilcox
David Pollock
Elias Davis
Director = Alan Alda
Guests = Allan Arbus (Sidney Freedman)
Rosalind Chao (Soon-Lee)
Jeff Maxwell (Igor Straminsky)
Kellye Nakahara
Episode list = List of "M*A*S*H" episodes
Prev = As Time Goes By
Next = "None"; series finale
"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" is a television movie that served as the 251st and final episode of the "M*A*S*H" television series. Closing out the series' eleventh season, the 2½-hour episode first aired on CBS on Monday, February 28, 1983. Written by a large number of collaborators (including series star Alan Alda), and directed by Alda, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," as of 2008, is still the single most watched episode of a television series in American history.

The episode's plot chronicles the waning days of the Korean War at the 4077th MASH and features several storylines intended to show the war's effects on the individual personnel of the unit, and to bring closure to the series. After the final cease-fire of the war goes into effect, the members of the 4077th throw a closing party before taking down the camp for the final time. After saying their tear-filled goodbyes, the main characters go their separate ways, leading up to the iconic final scene of the series. The episode drew over 106 millioncite web|title=Thrilling Giants-Patriots game makes Super Bowl the second most-watched TV show ever|url=|publisher=Yahoo!|accessdate =2008-02-04] Americans, more than both that year's Super Bowl and the famed "Roots" miniseries. The episode remains one of the most respected of the series. While the "M*A*S*H" series ended with this episode, three of the series' main characters (Sherman Potter, Maxwell Klinger, and Father Mulcahy) would later meet again in 1983 – 1985 spin-off series "AfterMASH".

Detailed story

The finale starts during the waning days of the war (July 1953) at an unfamiliar hospital, in Ward D; it is revealed as a mental hospital. Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) is inside being treated by Dr. Sidney Freedman (Allan Arbus). As time progresses, Freedman is able to lead him to recall the events that led up to his breakdown. [ Classic Episode - Goodbye, Farewell and Amen] . "". (Accessed November 12, 2006)]

In the first memory that Hawkeye recalls, he is on a bus, riding back to the 4077th after a day of partying at the beaches of Incheon during the 4th of July holiday, and is drunk and jovial on the bus, shouting for a bottle of whiskey to be passed to the back of the bus for someone who "can't wait." However, as time progresses in his treatment, he is able to recall memories which he repressed; in his next recollection of the story, the person who "can't wait" is revealed to be one of a group of wounded soldiers brought onto the bus, as Hawkeye calls frantically for a bottle of plasma.

The bus then picks up a group of Korean refugees, followed later by more wounded soldiers who warn of an enemy patrol coming in their direction; the bus is taken off the road and the soldiers tell everyone to stay quiet so the patrol doesn't hear them and kill them. Hawkeye recalls a woman holding a chicken that wouldn't stay quiet and thus put everyone in danger. In his final recollection Hawkeye remembers that he went to tell the woman to "keep that damn chicken quiet." As he remembers the chicken ceasing its clucking, Hawkeye begins to break down in sobs. A confused Sidney wonders why he is being so emotional about a chicken, but Hawkeye finally remembers the true sequence of events: the woman had been holding not a chicken, but an infant, and had misunderstood him and smothered her own child, leading to Hawkeye's breakdown. Upon returning to the 4077th, Hawkeye had attacked an anesthesiologist who was anesthetizing a patient prior to surgery, accusing him of smothering the patient. At that point, Hawkeye had been sent to the mental hospital.

Soon after the revelations Sidney decides it's time for Hawkeye to leave, but Sidney returns him to the 4077th instead of the States. Hawkeye is not sure he's ready to go back, but Sidney is confident, saying he will drop by to check up on him. Also, a Korean refugee from the previous episode, Soon-Lee Han (Rosalind Chao), is still on the base, continuing her search for her parents.

Meanwhile, an out-of-control tank is driven by a wounded soldier into the 4077th and crushes the latrine, much to the dismay of Charles Emerson Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) – who has a mild case of dysentery. Winchester walks the short distance to the temporary latrine down the road and is approached by a rag-tag bunch of Chinese soldiers on a motorcycle with sidecar. At first, Winchester believes the soldiers intend to do him harm, but then discovers they are merely musicians – the equivalent of a unit band. As Winchester walks back to camp, the musicians follow and play "Oh! Susanna." Later, as Charles is listening to one of his Mozart phonograph records, the detained musicians play another badly-rendered piece, and Charles admonishes them to stop immediately, emphatically stating that he is trying to listen to Mozart. Though not understanding much English, one of the musicians recognizes the name "Mozart" and leads the band into a disjointed version of Mozart's "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581". Charles, ever the connoisseur of classical music and seeing a chance to realize a dream of conducting, takes it upon himself to improve their recitation by becoming their conductor.

Charles is also bemoaning the fact that a competitor for the position of Chief of Thoracic Surgery at Boston Mercy Hospital has been pulling strings in an attempt to get the job. Margaret (Loretta Swit) puts in a good word for Charles to a family friend on the hospital's administrative board to help ensure that Charles gets the job, but when Winchester finds out what she has done, he is none too pleased.

The presence of the tank, which I Corps has ordered Colonel Potter not to move until it can be accounted for by the unit to which it belongs, causes the North Koreans to begin mortaring the 4077th. During the initial mortaring, Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) goes out to try to save a group of prisoners of war who have been placed in a makeshift pen in the compound. In the process Mulcahy is knocked out by a very close explosion, and when he comes to, finds that he can barely hear what anyone is saying. Upon learning from BJ that he's suffering from a case of tinnitus, Mulcahy makes him promise not to tell anyone about his hearing problem, because it could get him sent home where he wouldn't be able to continue helping the local orphans.

B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell), who has received his discharge papers, leaves for home, before Hawkeye returns to the camp to find a fresh batch of wounded waiting for him, and is excited to see his daughter's second birthday. However, as Hunnicutt leaves, Klinger (Jamie Farr) shows Colonel Potter a different DOD letter, rescinding Hunnicutt's discharge orders. Potter decides not to stop the chopper and lets Hunnicutt leave. He tells Klinger to instead put the document on his desk so he can read it later in the day (thereby tacitly ignoring the rescinsion, with the hope that the Army will, too, and BJ will make it home). Shortly thereafter, Hawkeye arrives back at the 4077 just as several ambulances full of casualties arrive. Hawkeye then finds out from Potter that BJ already went home. In the OR, as Potter screams at I-Corps, letting them know how desperately they need another surgeon, Hawkeye is nervous about returning to surgery. He is also dismayed that BJ left the same way Trapper did, without saying goodbye or even leaving a note. Hawkeye wonders out loud if it's the war that stinks or him. After a surgical round, with the mortaring of the camp continuing, Hawkeye takes the initiative and drives the tank out of the camp, through the newly built latrine and into the garbage dump. Despite the fact that Hawkeye's actions put the 4077th out of harm's way and gave the group relief, this impulsive move forces Colonel Potter to arrange for another session with Dr. Freedman for Hawkeye. Meanwhile, Klinger worries about Soon-Lee and goes looking for her after he figures out she left the base to continue searching for her parents; he soon comes to realize that he has fallen in love with her, and she reveals that she loves him as well. Klinger proposes marriage, which she accepts, but she sadly states that she can't go back with him to America until she finds out what has happened to her parents.

Soon after, wildfires started by North Korean incendiary bombs in the surrounding hills forces the 4077th to bug out. "(An actual California wildfire destroyed the outdoor set and had to be written into the script.)" Almost as soon as the new camp has been set up, the new surgeon Potter has been screaming for finally arrives although Klinger has no information on who it would be, only that he was arriving on the evacuation helicopter. The new surgeon turns out to be BJ. He explains to Potter that he got out to Guam and got stuck there as all flights in or out were canceled. Hunnicutt was sitting in an officer's club when he's notified that he's having to go back to Korea for more surgery. Potter says he was screaming for a surgeon, but didn't expect the Army to bring BJ back. Then the two of them meet up with Hawkeye. BJ says he wanted to leave Hawkeye a note about his leaving but didn't have time. Pierce plays it off, saying he thought BJ was in the bathroom. Due to the fact that Hunnicutt missed his daughter's birthday, the 4077 arrange it so a party is held for an orphan girl around his daughter's age, and Hunnicutt serves as the guest of honor at the party as well.

Seeing so many children at the party causes Hawkeye to withdraw and walk away, but Dr. Freedman (who has arrived in response to Potter's call after Hawkeye's incident with the tank) assures him that what he's feeling is natural, considering the memories he repressed and his recovery. Dr. Freedman also says he isn't worried about the tank incident; Hawkeye was actually acting sensibly by putting his fellow soldiers out of danger. Hawkeye continues by admitting that the thought of a patient under his care not surviving had rarely occurred to him until now. Freedman responds by saying those feelings may make Hawkeye an even better doctor than before.

Winchester eventually has to say goodbye to his Chinese music students, due to a POW trade with the Koreans. After their departure, the longtime PA system announcer of the 4077th announces that the truce was signed at Panmunjon at 10:01am, and the ceasefire will go into effect in 12 hours at 10:00pm, and that the war is officially over; the camp's staff cheer loudly and celebrate in joy afterwards. The celebration is broken up by the arrival of more casualties. Shortly thereafter, one of the musicians is brought back to camp mortally wounded after their transport was shelled, and Charles, who had grown quite fond of the musicians, is stunned to learn that he is the only one of them to make it even that far. Charles goes inside his tent and starts up his record player, listening to the same Mozart piece the musicians had played, but after a few seconds yanks the record off and smashes it to pieces in frustration, no doubt traumatized by the tragedy.

Back in the OR, a Korean child is brought to Hawkeye to be operated on. Hawkeye is hesitant at first, and Potter offers to switch patients with him. Hawkeye willingly decides to take the child, meaning his recovery is complete. He thanks Dr. Freedman for all his help and Freedman leaves with the same words of wisdom he gave upon an earlier encounter with the 4077 (specifically, in the Season 3 episode "O.R.") : "Ladies and gentlemen, take my advice. Pull down your pants and slide on the ice." At 9:59 P.M., just after Freedman's departure, journalist Robert Pierpoint comes over the PA system and the last shots of the war are fired. After several seconds of silence, Pierpoint announces: "There it is. That's the sound of peace." The doctors and nurses return to their work, operating on what is apparently the final wave of casualties.

A final party is given in the mess tent to celebrate (presumably that evening or the evening before the hospital is decommissioned). Each of the main characters – and many minor characters, including ones barely seen during the run of the show – tells what he or she will be doing after the war. Among the characters, Colonel Potter says he's looking forward to returning home to his wife Mildred in Missouri ("There's a woman back in Hannibal, MO, who's spent the better part of thirty years waiting on me to come back from one tour of duty or another.") and being a semi-retired country doctor. Margaret has rejected several overseas postings, and says she's looking forward to working in a hospital in the States. She also tells her nursing staff just how much she enjoyed working with them and that she's proud to have known all of them. Mulcahy, whose hearing loss has been worsening, decides he will start working with the deaf. Charles is going to be named Head of Thoracic Surgery at Boston Mercy Hospital – the post he had been expecting before being drafted – but reveals that his time in Korea has changed him: "For me, music was always a refuge from this miserable experience. Now, it will always be a...reminder." Hawkeye says that he's going to take it easy for a while and that when he does start working again he'd like to have the chance to actually talk to the patients for a few minutes and try to get to know them so as they're not just a bunch of anonymous people parading through the office. BJ jokes that as he was on the way home to San Francisco and his family, that while he was at Guam, he met a girl who begged him to run off with her and he's going to do so figuring you only live once. Of course, no one believes him and amidst the laughter, BJ admits he was only kidding. Nurse Bigelow says she's finished with nursing, Sgt. Rizzo plans on breeding frogs for French restaurants. Nurse Kellye plans on working at an Army hospital in Honolulu, where her family is. The biggest surprise, however, comes from Klinger:

Klinger's announcement of the wedding brings up cheers and calls of congratulations, and his announcement of staying in Korea brings raucous laughter from the entire camp with Hawkeye loudly proclaiming: "You don't have to act crazy now, we're all getting out!" Klinger recounts a piece of advice Col. Potter had given him about how when you're in love, you're in for nothing but trouble so you either quit loving her or you love her a whole lot more. But first, he wanted to have a wedding ceremony at the 4077 with his family there before everyone leaves the next day. He then asks Potter to be his best man. Potter agrees, stands and offers a toast:

The day of departure begins with Father Mulcahy officiating the wedding of Klinger and Soon-Lee, with Colonel Potter serving as Klinger's best man and Margaret as Soon-Lee's maid of honor. The newlyweds are the first ones to leave. As they pull out in an ox cart (decorated with a "JUST MARRIED" sign and strings of Klinger's old high heel shoes), Soon-Lee throws her bouquet, which is caught by Margaret. As the tearing down of the camp begins, some personnel, including Maj. Houlihan, Father Mulcahy, and the majority of the nurses, are sent by bus to the 8063rd MASH, a temporary stop, before being sent home. The landmark wooden arrow mileage signs of respective hometowns are taken one by one (except the ones pointing to Tokyo and Seoul). The officers then say goodbye, and what remains of the camp is torn down by the few remaining soldiers. Each of the senior officers depart one by one: Father Mulcahy first, on his way to the 8063rd, then Margaret, also heading to join others at the 8063rd. When Charles complains about the lack of room in the jeep, Margaret offers to send some of her luggage on another transport so Charles can ride with her, but he dispatches Sgt. Rizzo (G.W. Bailey) to find him another ride. He then reconciles with Margaret over their argument about his job, giving her a book she had previously borrowed from him. Margaret tells BJ she hopes to find someone like him and he agrees, saying she deserves the best. Potter tells Margaret goodbye and she says she'll never forget him. Margaret and Hawkeye then share a long, passionate kiss before saying brief goodbyes. After Margaret's departure, the surgeons watch as the "The Swamp" comes down for good. Winchester laments that he didn't get to swing the axe. Hawkeye comments on all the rats that will now be homeless. Then Sgt. Rizzo shows up, telling Winchester he's got a vehicle but it's not exactly a Sedan. Winchester says as long as it has wheels, he's fine with it. As Rizzo runs back to get the last vehicle in the 4077 motor pool: a garbage truck, Charles says his good-byes, tells Potter that when he takes over in his position of authority over other surgeons in Boston he hopes to be guided by the example Potter set in his command of the 4077:

He then tells Hawkeye and BJ that they made him realize just what going home is all about. Then Rizzo arrives in the garbage truck and Winchester says it's the perfect way to leave a garbage dump. He steps into the truck, bids his comrades one final farewell, then he and Rizzo leave the camp. Colonel Potter takes one final ride on Sophie before donating her to the local orphanage, where a jeep is waiting for him. He then tells Hawkeye and BJ that he's glad they went through the war together even though it could hardly be called fun. Hawkeye and BJ tell Potter before he can leave that they thought about it and there was something they'd like to give him. Pierce says "It's not much, but it comes from the heart." The two men then stand to attention and salute their commanding officer (the only man Hawkeye had ever previously saluted was Radar), who returns the gesture and tearfully rides away.

start up, and BJ gives Hawkeye a motorcycle ride up to the helipad. (Earlier, BJ was unable to say goodbye, Hawkeye mocking him for this failure. Hawkeye lamented that they will be on opposite sides of the country after they go home and concludes that they will probably never see each other again, though Hunnicutt promises they will.) After a few final words, they tearfully embrace for the last time, then Hawkeye boards his helicopter and prepares to lift off. BJ rides off on his motorcycle (with the San Francisco mileage arrow tucked in front of the handlebars) and as the helicopter ascends, Hawkeye sees a final message from his long-time friend spelled out with stones on the sandy soil ("GOODBYE") and smiles. The shot of the message is followed by a close-up shot of Hawkeye, then a final shot of his helicopter flying into the distance.

The credits run longer, with an extended version of the show theme played instead of the usual short closing theme that had been used for the previous two seasons' worth of episodes.

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" on home video

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was the first TV program to be released on home video by the CBS/Fox Video label (in VHS, Laserdisc, and the RCA Selectavision video disc formats), and was released to rental outlets. In the 1990s, Columbia House released selected episodes of "M*A*S*H" on VHS, including the finale. [ [ M*A*S*H, Finest Kind - Page Not Found ] ]

The episode has been released in three DVD packages. The "Martinis and Medicine Collection" complete series set and the Season 11 set of "M*A*S*H" were both released on November 7, 2006, and include the series finale. On May 15, 2007, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment re-released the "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" episode as a stand-alone three-DVD set. This DVD set also includes the two "special features" DVDs that were originally included in the complete series "Martinis and Medicine Collection" DVD set but not the in the Season 11 set. [ [ M*A*S*H DVD news: Complete Series (and Season 11) Artwork & Details | ] ] . There are differences in the labeling and packaging of the various releases.

While the entire series is available on Region 1, Region 2, and Region 4 DVDs, the "GFA" set is currently available only on Region 1 DVD. No word if it will be re-released on Region 2 or Region 4 DVDs.

Currently, there is no report of "M*A*S*H" being released on Blu-ray Disc.

Cultural reaction and impact

Pre-airing buildup

The anticipation and buildup to the airing of "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was almost unprecedented, especially for a regular television series (in contrast to an awards show, sporting event, or special event). Interest from advertisers prompted CBS, the network that aired "M*A*S*H", to sell 30-second commercial blocks for $450,000 (about $906,000 in 2006) each – a higher cost than even for the Super Bowl of that year.Wittebols, James H. "Watching" M*A*S*H", Watching America: A Social History of the 1972-1983 Television Series". 1998. 242 pp. 138-142.]

On the night this episode aired, large areas of California (particularly the San Francisco Bay Area) were affected by power outages resulting from unusually strong winter weather. This prevented many viewers from watching the series finale. Three weeks later, on March 21, KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, re-aired the episode.

Post show reaction

"M*A*S*H" was one of the most successful shows in TV history. So as not to completely lose the franchise, CBS quickly created the new series "AfterMASH", following the adventures of Colonel Potter, Max Klinger and Father Mulcahy in a Stateside hospital after the war. Initially popular, script problems and constant character changes led to a steep decline in viewers, and the show lasted a mere two seasons.

"M*A*S*H" finished up its 11-season run on CBS with a repeat of "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" on September 19, 1983. It was repeated again in summer 1984.


* This is the only episode of the series to have its title appear onscreen.
* The episode's title is a paraphrase of a line in Cole Porter's song "Just One of Those Things". Many other "M*A*S*H" episodes had also borrowed their titles from classic songs and films.
* Klinger reveals he has an Uncle Jameel. Jamie Farr's birth name is Jameel Joseph Farah.
* It was Jamie Farr's idea to have Klinger voluntarily choose to stay in Korea at the end of the episode. In reality, many soldiers who had fallen in love with, and married Korean nationals remained in Korea after the end of the Korean War, likely because of the extreme prejudice and racism that their new Korean mates and they would encounter upon returning to 1950's America. This was depicted later in "AfterMASH" as Klinger would find himself disowned by his family and unable to rent an apartment in Toledo for being in a mixed race couple.
* The shots of the 4077th tents being packed up were taken from the season 5 episode "Bug Out". A small vignette with Col. Potter giving orders to the unit was added in. Radar can be seen running out of a building during the clip.
* In the finale's closing moments, listen closely for references to the episodes "Bottoms Up" (March 2, 1981) and "The Joker is Wild" (November 15, 1982).
* Alda reportedly had a different idea for what to do for the finale: he wanted it to be a typical half-hour episode, at the end of which the fourth wall would be broken when a director would be heard saying "cut!" during a surgery scene, and crewmen would walk on the set and do what they normally did. Alda would then say to the camera "Well, for the last 12 years we tried to show you what war was like, but it's not as much fun." Alda is the only series regular to be in all 251 installments of "M*A*S*H".
* Featured a long kiss shared between Alan Alda and Loretta Swit. Alda and Swit are the only actors to appear in both the first episode of "M*A*S*H" and this, the last episode. The character of Father Mulcahy also appears in both, but was played by a different actor in the pilot episode.
* B.J., on his initial trip back to the US, is confronted by the MPs, who ask if he is "Hunnicutt the doctor?" To which he replies, "No, I am Hunnicutt the chaplain." In the 1968 Richard Hooker novel "", which is the basis for the "M*A*S*H" franchise, the doctors impersonate chaplains to get out of working "short-arm inspection" (examining a soldier for signs of venereal disease) while en route back to the US.
* The final line of the episode (and thus of the series) is Hawkeye (Alda) calling out, "What?" over the whir of the chopper blades. This is in response to B.J. Hunnicutt's shouted words of farewell to his friend: "I'll see you back in the states... I promise. But just in case I don't, I left you a note." As B.J. disappears on his motorcycle, Hawkeye gives the chopper pilot the signal to take off. As the helicopter rises into the air, Hawkeye sees that B.J. has arranged the camp's white stones -- which previously spelled out "MASH" -- to read, "GOODBYE".
* Robert Pierpoint's announcements about the end of the war and the cost to both sides are re-recordings of the actual original broadcast that Pierpoint made at the end of the Korean War. The actual archival footage had degraded too badly and in order to save time and money, was simply re-recorded.
* "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was not the last installment of "M*A*S*H" filmed. According to the book "The Complete M*A*S*H," this episode was filmed before "As Time Goes By" due to scheduling issues. Footage from the final moments of filming ("which can be seen on the bonus discs of the series DVD box set"), can be seen and the scenes are from "As Time Goes By." After filming "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," the entire set had to be rebuilt in order to complete the episode.
* The tank that was driven into the compund was a Patton tank, but when Hawkeye drives the same tank into the trash dump he drove a Sherman tank.


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