Murray Slaughter is the news writer at fictional television station WJM-TV in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He is assigned to write the news stories for the station's nightly news broadcast, presented by pompous, incompetent anchorman Ted Baxter.
Murray is happily married to Marie (Joyce Bulifant) and has several daughters. In the show's later years, he and Marie adopt a Vietnamese son. Although he is a happy family man, he is forever in love with Mary Richards, whom he thinks is, in his words, "Absolutely terrific". He is protective of her and always concerned for her happiness and well-being. At one point, when Murray truly believes he is in love with Mary in a real way, Marie thinks he is going to leave her. Mary explains to her that she thinks of Murray as a best friend. This helps things settle down.
In a season three episode, it is revealed that Murray is a compulsive gambler. When a snowstorm keeps Lou Grant from flying to Vegas, he holds a poker game that Murray reluctantly joins.
Murray tries to write a novel; despite failing, he never gives up. He, along with Mary, Lou Grant and another nemesis of his, Sue Ann Nivens are fired from WJM-TV to boost sagging news ratings. Ironically, Ted, the one most responsible for the dismal ratings, is retained.
He and Mary Richards are the only characters to appear in every episode of the series.
- Bill Keveney (2002-05-13). "Characters drove 'MTM'". USA Today. Retrieved 2007-12-26.
- Wittebols, James H. (1998). Watching M*A*S*H, watching America: a social history of the 1972–1983 television series. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland and Co. p. 7. ISBN 0-7864-1701-3.
- Marc, David (1997). Comic Visions: Television Comedy and American Culture. Boston: Blackwell Publishing. p. 140. ISBN 1-57718-003-8.
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