Discuss: Which Character Did You Miss the Most After They Left M*A*S*H?


Monday M*A*S*H Discussions offers fans the opportunity to offer their opinions on a wide variety of topics relating to M*A*S*H. Please share your thoughts and ideas in the comments section. My hope is these discussion posts will continue to elicit comments in the weeks and months after they’re initially published. Have a suggestion about something you think might be worth discussing? Let me know and maybe it will become my next Monday M*A*S*H Discussion topic.

Today’s topic is: Discuss: Which character did you miss the most after they left M*A*S*H?

Trapper, Henry, Frank, or Radar?

M*A*S*H survived the departure of four main characters during its 11 seasons on the air. Henry and Trapper left after Season 3, Frank left after Season 5, and Radar left partway through Season 8. They were replaced with new characters, with the exception of Radar. The producers and writers wisely decided to introduce very different characters rather than attempt to replace Henry, Trapper, and Frank with carbon copies. When Radar left, the decision as made to have Klinger take over his duties as company clerk and not add a new character to the show.

Each of these characters left a hole when they left. But which one did you miss the most after they let M*A*S*H? It doesn’t matter if you watched the show on CBS during its original 1972-1983 run or later in syndication or on DVD or streaming. If you’re a fan of the show, you probably wish one of the characters had stuck around more than the others. Why? Maybe because you liked the way the character acted or the way the character interacted with the other characters. Or maybe you just really liked the actor.

I think it’s going to be hard for anyone to say they missed Frank the most. That’s not a knock on Larry Linville, who did a wonderful job in a thankless role. It’s understandable why he wanted to leave M*A*S*H. As much as I like Henry, and McLean Stevenson, I think M*A*S*H thrived under Colonel Potter, even if Henry Morgan’s yelling was sometimes over the top. Poor Gary Burghoff was clearly tired of playing Radar by the time he left and for me that makes it difficult to miss the character.

So that just leaves Trapper. He’s the character I missed the most after he left the show. I think Wayne Rogers did a terrific job despite not having a substantial role in every episode. Like Larry Linville, it’s easy to understand why Rogers wanted to leave the show, although of course I wish he hadn’t. I like B.J. well enough but Trapper had a certain charm.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

9 Replies to “Discuss: Which Character Did You Miss the Most After They Left M*A*S*H?”

  1. Trapper John hands down. I like his character so much more than BJ and I also prefer Wayne Rogers as an actor to Mike Farrell. I would love for Trapper to have stuck around longer and given more chances to shine.

    I would rank Blake and Radar tied for second. Frank’s character had clearly run its course after Season 4. I just felt sorry for Larry Linville during Season 5.

    In my perfect world M*A*S*H would have run for a total of 3 to 5 seasons and none of the originals would have ever departed. The older I get the more I appreciate shows that don’t “overstay their welcome” on the air. Sitcoms in particular seem to have a peak lifespan of 2-3 seasons, after that they can become extremely repetitive or morph into something entirely different (as M*A*S*H did). Cheers is another classic example. I enjoy the first 2-3 seasons, but don’t really care if I ever see the later seasons again.

    1. I agree to a certain extent, but I’ve often found that with a lot of shows (M*A*S*H being no exception) that they tend to start with a decent, if rocky first season, kind of stall into weakness during the second, then really pick up and solidify in the third . . . depending on the show and how it’s handled, it can either really take off from there (as I feel M*A*S*H did), or falter into a slow and painful demise.

  2. Radar, of course. As so many others, including a recent new MeTV article have pointed out, he truly was M*A*S*H’s only irreplaceable character. Granted, given the far more serious, dramatic, and preachy tone the show took on in its last four seasons, Radar may have very well been out of place in that environment; but nevertheless, it just wasn’t the same without him.

    1. I’d also say Henry comes in second place, particularly when I was watching M*A*S*H for the first time, Potter seemed like such a stark contrast that I didn’t think I could ever adjust to him after having been used to the more laugh-out-loud, bumbling Henry Blake. I did, eventually, grow to like Potter in his own way, but at that time, I wished Henry had stayed.

  3. Excellent topic!

    I have to agree with everyone so far on Trapper, despite it kind of paining me to say it because I absolutely love Henry and Radar as well, and honestly I like Frank too.

    Those first three seasons are just so great, and when I watch them, it’s hard for me sometimes to remember that these are not real people. It almost makes me emotional at times when I go through the series and think of the characters that are no longer there. Going from season 3 to season 4 is just so tough, despite season 4 actually being really good. Season 5 to 6 as well to a lesser extent, and then even lesser extent season 7 to 8 (even though Radar is there for the 2 parter in 8).

    The reason I agree on Trapper as being the most missed though is because at least with the other departures there was something to make it easier. Henry we got a proper farewell episode, despite the tragic ending, and we get Potter as a replacement who I grew to really like (although nowhere near as much as Henry). With Frank as pointed out above, season 5 was just pathetic for his character and it was time to go, and in turn we got Charles, who may be one of the best TV characters of all time. Radar also it was time to go as he was absent for half of those last couple of seasons anyways and clearly was done with the role. Even as early as Season 4 the Radar cracks were starting to show. I think as much as Radar grew to love Potter, Gary grew to miss McLean and could just never recover from his departure.

    With Trapper though, we got no proper farewell episode, he was just gone. For replacement we got BJ, who is OKAY of a character, but really one of my least liked characters on the show and in no where even remotely close to a good replacement for Trapper. I can’t imagine how many times I’ve wished they got Wayne back for Welcome to Korea, just for a single scene of Goodbye with Hawkeye. It’s really too bad and he is sorely missed whenever I watch anything post season 4.

    In my perfect M*A*S*H world, the show would have ran for 7 seasons. Trapper would have never left. Radar wouldn’t have either. Henry and Frank still would have, but Henry’s would have been after season 4, which would have still given us 3 and 2 seasons for Potter and Winchester. GFA could have followed “The Party” or even incorporated into it since it’s such a great finale type story.

    1. Actually scratch that last paragraph. In my super ultra perfect M*A*S*H world, nobody leaves, but we still get the other characters.

      They get use the “we are now facing a whole new world” as see in Deluge for a reason why the 4077th needs to expand. In comes with BJ and Winchester as additional surgeons, and Potter as well to take over as CEO for the expanded unit. Henry could become executive officer (second in command).

      This would bring the swamp back up to 4 like it was when Spearchucker was there, and give the writers more character interactions to write for to keep the show from going stale. Seeing some Frank/Charles, Henry/Charles, or trio of jokers with Trapper/Hawkeye/BJ could be so good.

    2. I still argue that Trapper did get a proper farewell . . . just not when he actually went home.

      “Check-up” had everybody believe that he was going home because of his ulcer . . . he and Hawkeye have a nice little intimate moment in the Swamp, where we see both of them having mist in their eyes, and of course, Trapper had a big farewell party in the Officers Club with punch, music, dancing, and even presents . . . only to find out Trapper wasn’t being sent home for his ulcer, and that among the various options the Army gave him, he chose what he deemed to be the least objectionable: staying at the 4077th.

      It wouldn’t really have been necessary to do all of that all over again when he really did go home, because it would have been recycling and rehashing a plot that we had already done. But, with that being said, I do agree that we should have gotten some form of a goodbye between Hawkeye and Trapper in “Welcome to Korea.” If Wayne Rogers supposedly was there to record and dub in those lines as urban legends indicate, we could have at least gotten maybe a brief shot of Trapper boarding a plane, but taking one last look of Korea and lamenting how he won’t miss a thing about this place – except, of course, Hawkeye.

      1. I’m pretty sure that is NOT Wayne in Welcome to Korea. I know that Ken Levine said it was, but Larry Gelbart himself said that it was not. It also just doesn’t make any sense for it to be him. Why would he be around to record some lines but couldn’t get on camera for 10 seconds to say bye to Hawkeye at the plane? He wouldn’t even need to be in any kind of uniform because he could be in civies as he’s heading home. Wayne could have literally wore whatever he had on while recording those lines to go step behind the camera somewhere.

        Definitely does sound similar to him though.

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