Discuss: Who Was the Better Clerk, Radar or Klinger?


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: Who was the better company clerk, Radar or Klinger?

Forms Filled Out in Triplicate

The 4077th had two company clerks: Radar O’Reilly and Max Klinger. Was one of them better at the job than the other? I think many fans will immediately say Radar was the better company clerk, because he had the uncanny ability to know what his commanding officer wanted or needed before being asked. But Klinger performed his duties admirably, once he settled into the job. He had big shoes to fill, following Radar. It’s honestly hard to compare the two, for several reason.

First, Radar served under two very different commanding officers. Colonel Blake was absentminded at best when it came to paperwork while Colonel Potter seemed to have a better handle on what the job required. Radar sometimes used paperwork to confuse Blake to get around regulations, often to help Hawkeye and Trapper. Potter wasn’t as easily fooled. Klinger only served as company clerk for Potter.

Second, during his time on M*A*S*H, Radar changed dramatically. At first he was a schemer, who knew how to bend the rules. Later, Radar was a naive youngster who dutifully kept the 4077th running. In other words, he was two very different company clerks. The scheming clerk got the job done and enjoyed the occasional cigar. The naive clerk bartered and traded to find supplies to keep wounded soldiers alive. By the time he became company clerk, Klinger had mostly given up scheming, but also found ways to wheel and deal and keep the cogs of military bureaucracy turning.

I’m not sure Radar was better than Klinger or Klinger better than Radar.

Hit the comments with your thoughts.

3 Replies to “Discuss: Who Was the Better Clerk, Radar or Klinger?”

  1. This actually is a bit of a tough one. I think the only way to fairly compare would be to compare post season 1 Radar with post season 8 Klinger, where both are settled in to the job.

    With that, I’m not quite sure which one I would say is better. We obviously had much more time with Radar as the clerk, so we got to see more of his accomplishments, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he was better. Radar definitely was good at procuring things that no one else could, such as the incubator, but he also generally had to give up alot of things to get it, a lot of the time screwing over somebody else at the 4077th in the process (generally LtCol Blake). Klinger also showed a knack for procuring things, but I don’t recall him ever screwing anybody over big time in the process. In fact on at least one occasion, Klinger gave up something personal to him (the sausages) to get something that he thought somebody else (Hawkeye) would like.

    So I’m really undecided.

    Btw @RJ, a couple more discussion topics I just thought of:

    Who dealt with Frank and his antics better, Henry or Potter?
    Who dealt with Hot Lips and her hysterics better, Henry or Potter?
    Who was more of a father figure to Radar, Henry or Potter?

  2. Hands down, Radar. He was better at obtaining the necessary items for the camp. Klinger was good at the job once he made it his. Father Mulcahy’s story about Radar’s early days as company clerk in “Period of Adjustment” gave Potter reason to ease up on Klinger as he adjusted to the job. Of course, Potter spun it so he was the one in an uneviable position.

  3. I always thought Klinger made more sense. A street wise kid from Toledo makes for a better background for a con artist company clerk than a naive boy from Iowa.

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