Goodbye, Farewell and Amen

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"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen"
M*A*S*H episode
MASH Goodbye.jpg
Hawkeye smiles as he sees B.J.'s "note"
Episode no.Season 11
Episode 16
Directed byAlan Alda
Written byAlan Alda
Burt Metcalfe
John Rappaport
Dan Wilcox
Thad Mumford
Elias Davis
David Pollock
Karen Hall
Production code9-B04
Original air dateFebruary 28, 1983 (1983-02-28)
Guest appearances
Episode chronology
← Previous
"As Time Goes By"
Next →
M*A*S*H (season 11)
List of episodes

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" is a television film that served as the series finale of the American television series M*A*S*H. Closing out the series' 11th season, the 2 1⁄2-hour episode first aired on CBS on February 28, 1983, ending the series' original run. The episode was written by eight collaborators, including series star Alan Alda, who also directed.

The episode's plot chronicles the final days of the Korean War at the 4077th MASH; it 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 ceasefire goes into effect, the members of the 4077th throw a party before taking down the camp for the last time. After tear-filled goodbyes, the main characters go their separate ways, leading to the final scene of the series.


Hawkeye is in a mental hospital, finally driven over the edge by a bus ride gone terribly wrong. The bus passengers, who were refugees, were in danger of being discovered and executed by a North Korean patrol. Hawkeye scolds the refugees to be quiet but a baby begins to whimper and its mother responds by smothering the child. Hawkeye repressed this by replacing the memory of the baby with that of a chicken.

Meanwhile, Dr. Winchester befriends a rag-tag bunch of Chinese musicians and teaches them to play Mozart's "Quintet for Clarinet and Strings, K. 581". However, he later sees all the musicians killed and as a result classical music, his number one solace during the war, becomes unpalatable to him.

The camp is being shelled by mortar attacks due to an abandoned tank which was driven into the compound by a wounded soldier. During one such attack, Father Mulcahy rescues some South Korean refugees (or was it North Korean Prisoners of War?) detained at the compound by opening the pen where they are detained and allowing them to seek cover. However, Mulcahy is knocked unconscious and suffers permanent hearing damage. He confides in BJ not to tell Col. Potter so that he will be able to continue his service in the local orphanage and not be medically discharged.

BJ receives orders to be shipped back home early, just in time for his daughter’s 2nd birthday. Though Potter suspects the orders were issued in error, he agrees to honor them if BJ can secure a replacement surgeon, which he does. The orders are officially rescinded just as BJ is leaving, but Potter lets him go, anyway. BJ makes it to the U.S. military base on Guam before he is confronted by Military Police who order him to return to the 4077th.

Klinger, known for constantly seeking a Section 8 discharge, ironically decides to stay in Korea to be with his new wife, Soon Lee, and assist her in her search for her missing parents—even though he, like most of the soldiers, finally has his release papers.

Hawkeye returns from the psychiatric hospital and admonishes BJ for his inability to say “goodbye”. Both men lament that they will be on opposite sides of the country after they go home but BJ is optimistic that they will see each other again, while Hawkeye feels certain that the end of the war will mean the end of their friendship. They tearfully embrace for the last time and Hawkeye boards a helicopter and lifts off. Hunnicutt rides off on a motorcycle and as the helicopter ascends Hawkeye sees a final message from his longtime friend spelled out with stones: "Goodbye."

Cultural reaction and impact[edit]

The anticipation before the airing of "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was unprecedented, especially for a regular television series (in contrast to awards shows, sporting events, or special events). Interest from advertisers prompted CBS, the network broadcasting M*A*S*H, to sell 30-second commercial blocks for $450,000 (equal to $1,169,278 today) each—costlier than even NBC's airing of the Super Bowl of that year.[1][2]

On the night the episode aired, large areas of California (particularly the San Francisco Bay Area) suffered power outages due to unusually stormy winter weather, which prevented many viewers from watching the series finale.[3] Three weeks later, on March 21, KPIX, the CBS affiliate in San Francisco, re-aired the episode.[citation needed]

Reaction and AfterMASH[edit]

In the United States, the episode drew 105.97 million total viewers[4] and a total audience of 121.6 million,[5] more than both Super Bowl XVII and the Roots miniseries. The episode surpassed the single-episode ratings record that had been set by the Dallas episode that resolved the "Who Shot J.R.?" cliffhanger. From 1983 until 2010, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" remained the most watched television broadcast in American history,[1] passed only in total viewership (but not in ratings or share) in February 2010 by Super Bowl XLIV. It still stands as the most-watched finale of any television series,[4] as well as the most-watched episode.[6]

As M*A*S*H was one of the most successful shows in TV history, in order not to lose the franchise completely, CBS quickly created a new series, AfterMASH, that followed the postwar adventures of Colonel Potter, Max Klinger, and Father Mulcahy in a stateside veterans hospital. Despite wide popularity in its premiere episodes, script problems and constant character changes led to a sharp decline in viewers, and the show was canceled by CBS after only two seasons. Another would-be spin-off, W*A*L*T*E*R, was a pilot made in 1984 that was never picked up. It starred Gary Burghoff, who reprised his M*A*S*H character.

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was not initially included in the syndication package for M*A*S*H's final season; however, in 1992, the episode made its syndication premiere in time for its 10th anniversary. Local stations aired it as a part of a Movie of the Week.[7]

"Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was not the final show filmed, as the final season was filmed out of order. The final scene filmed for the series was the time capsule burial scene from "As Time Goes By".

The wildfire storyline was written into the show after a real wildfire destroyed most of the outdoor set, in October 1982. The scene was filmed less than 12 hours after the fire had ravaged the set, and several burned-out vehicles remain at the location to this day.

When M*A*S*H was shown on FX and Hallmark Channel, they aired "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" occasionally. Hallmark Channel showed it twice a year, February and August, before dropping M*A*S*H from its schedule. TV Land and MeTV have also shown the episode sporadically, including Veterans Day broadcasts on November 11, 2015, November 11, 2019, November 11, 2020, and November 11, 2021. In Canada, the cable channel History Television shows the episode in its entirety annually on the Labour Day holiday.

In 2011, the TV Guide Network special TV's Most Unforgettable Finales ranked this finale as the best.[citation needed]

Because the final episode was filmed as a 2+12-hour movie, the producers counted it as 5 episodes in the season's production order to the network for broadcasting, for a total of 20 episodes in all.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Wittebols, James H. (2003). Watching M*A*S*H, Watching America. McFarland. pp. 161–166. ISBN 9780786417018. Retrieved May 15, 2009.
  2. ^ Diffrient, David Scott (2008). M*A*S*H. Wayne State University Press. ISBN 978-0-8143-3347-1.
  3. ^ "M*A*S*H's stormy finale ends peacefully". The Press Democrat. March 1, 1983. p. 1. Retrieved December 23, 2019 – via
  4. ^ a b "Saints' win over Colts in Super Bowl XLIV is most-watched television program ever". USA Today. February 8, 2010.
  5. ^ "M*A*S*H Did You Know?". MeTV. Retrieved June 21, 2015.
  6. ^ Porter, Rick (February 5, 2018). "TV Ratings Sunday: Super Bowl LII smallest since 2009, still massive; 'This Is Us' scores big [Updated]". TV by the Numbers. Archived from the original on February 5, 2018. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  7. ^ "TV Questions & Answers". The Californian. July 19, 1992. p. 49. Retrieved December 23, 2019 – via

External links[edit]