Over the course of 11 seasons and more than 250 episodes, MAS*H made medical and military service in the middle of a war look fun and welcoming. Set during the Korean War, the wartime sitcom introduced audiences to a host of unforgettable characters.
While they started out as the usual gang of comical misfits, the likes of Captain Franklin “Hawkeye” Pierce (Alan Alda) and Major Margaret “Hot Lips” Houlihan (Loretta Swit) soon grew to become some of the most memorable military personnel to grace pop culture. With each passing episode, the characters grew close to one another, strengthening the bonds they had while also bringing out the worst in some. Here are the 6 best and 4 worst friendships to be formed in M*A*S*H.
10Worst Friends – BJ, Hawkeye, & Winchester
After the detestable Frank Burns leaves for greener pastures, BJ and Hawkeye’s new swampmate is Charles Emerson Winchester III: a stodgy and classy surgeon who graduated from Harvard.
While they didn’t hate one another, BJ and Hawkeye constantly found ways to get on Winchester’s nerves. Winchester didn’t let up as well, using his upper-class tastes and questionable musical skills to aggravate the 4077th’s resident jokesters. Their prank wars never broke their camaraderie and professional respect, but they were never above making the other’s life as humorously miserable as possible.
9Best Friends – Margaret & Winchester
Being the classy man he is, Winchester showed the utmost courtesy to Margaret whenever he got the chance. While he referred to the men (save for Klinger) by their rank, he always addressed the head nurse by her name.
Their friendship was immortalized when Winchester was given the chance to be transferred to Tokyo if he corroborated a visiting officer’s false accusations that Margaret came on to him when he mistook her for an escort. Winchester chose not to sell his principles and backed Margaret, losing comfort and safety in Japan but gaining a lifelong friend in the process.
8Best Friends – Col. Potter & Radar
Everyone in the 4077th felt like they lost a loved one when their beloved commanding officer Henry Blake died in an ambush, but Radar arguably took the hardest hit. He didn’t just lose an officer but a father figure as well.
That was until Col. Potter came in at the right time. Potter cared for Radar even more than Blake ever did, helping the young clerk mature while also keeping a bit of his lost youth alive through their interactions. It’s no wonder that their farewell was the most emotional when Radar received his discharge orders.
7Worst Friends – Frank & Margaret
Though their relationship was obviously more than just being friends, Frank and Margaret’s time together was still an unhealthy one. Given her character development over the series, it wouldn’t be misguided to say that Margaret’s worst aspects were emphasized the longer she stayed with Frank.
Frank may have genuinely felt something for Margaret but his affections don’t justify him cheating on his wife with her and ultimately using her as a stressball of sorts whenever life in the front got a bit too much for him.
6Best Friends – Hawkeye & Margaret
They may have started out on each other’s bad sides but over time, Hawkeye and Margaret became unlikely friends. As two of the camp’s more respected authority figures, the two shared a bond that only officers of their ranks could understand.
By the show’s second half, the two were able to trust one another with their emotional baggage and other worries. Though things never got romantic (not counting a few hints and teases) between them, Hawkeye and Margaret – the only two characters to have been in the show since the pilot episode – shared a unique bond that only they had.
5Worst Friends – Frank & Everybody
It’s no secret that nobody (save for Margaret on her best days) likes Frank. But to be fair to everyone in the 4077th, the major never made any effort to be likeable as he always placed his number one priority – himself – ahead of common courtesy.
Whenever things got dangerous, Frank put his safety above others’ despite being in a profession that values the complete opposite of his selfishness. The only reason why no one could put him in his place was because he was protected by his rank. Unsurprisingly, few tears were shed when he left.
4Best Friends – Hawkeye & Radar
If Col. Potter was Radar’s father figure, the closest person he had to an older brother was Hawkeye. Since the show began, Hawkeye was always looking out for the bespectacled kid, cementing their friendship as one of the longest ones in the show.
If Col. Potter mentored Radar, Hawkeye made sure that he had fun while on and off duty. Whether was getting him drunk or helping Radar out with his first tattoo, Hawkeye was there to remind Radar of the way life should be enjoyed even amidst the death and destruction of war.
3Worst Friends – Hawkeye & Trapper
Even the best friendships can be marred forever by just one wrong thing, as was sadly evident with Hawkeye and Trapper. When they’re first introduced, Hawkeye and Trapper are an unbreakable duo that made every day seem like April Fools’.
When Trapper is discharged, however, he sullies his partnership with Hawkeye by leaving without so much as a goodbye note. Granted, he was on schedule but the way he left felt like abandonment as far as Hawkeye was concerned. The abrupt way things just left Hawkeye riddled with insecurities and fears that he’d only overcome by the series’ end.
2Best Friends – Hawkeye & BJ
The same day Hawkeye finds out that Trapper left, he meets the new surgeon BJ Hunnicutt. From that day onwards, the two become brothers who always had each other’s backs when it came to either joking or saving lives.
For Hawkeye, BJ became more than just a replacement for Trapper, and their last moments together proved it. Just when the two struggle to find the words to properly say goodbye, BJ finds a way to silently but genuinely express his love for his friend. This results in the last and most touching scene of the celebrated M*A*S*H finale.
1Best Friends – Everyone In The 4077th
Even with the horrors of war and Frank’s obnoxiousness defining their day-to-day lives, the medical and military personnel based in the 4077th never let the grim realities of the Korean War dampen their hopes and spirits.
While the series focused on the core cast of officers, there was never a moment when either they or their subordinates were shown caring and looking out for whoever was beside them. Through thick and thin, the people who made up the 4077th didn’t just make life in a warzone tolerable but made it feel like home.