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The Final Episode of M*A*S*H Set Ratings Records 38 Years Ago Today

  • On February 28, 1983, the two-hour final episode of M*A*S*H aired on CBS, ending the 11-year run of one of the most successful and critically acclaimed television shows in history. "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" still stands as the most watched episode of any TV series ever, with a total audience of 121.6 million viewers. 

    The story of the last episode finds Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda, who also directed) in therapy after having suffered a nervous breakdown in the OR, slowly unearthing some very traumatic repressed memories to get to the root of his problems. Meanwhile, BJ Hunnicut (Mike Farrell) has a snafu with his discharge orders thanks to Col. Sherman Potter (Harry Morgan) deciding to ignore the notice that those orders had been rescinded, Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers) beefs with Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit) while befriending a group of Chinese musicians who have surrendered to him, Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) suffers some hearing loss, and Corporal Klinger (Jamie Farr) falls in love with a Korean refugee. 

    A less well-known record this show set involved a massive 6.7-million-gallon spike in water usage in the New York City area in the 30 minutes following the end of the episode, due to the amount of people finally going to the bathroom after holding it in to make sure they didn't miss anything. 

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    Andy Hunsaker has a head full of sitcom gags and nerd-genre lore, and can be followed @AndyHunsaker if you're into that sort of thing.

    TOPICS: M*A*S*H, CBS, Alan Alda, David Ogden Stiers, Harry Morgan, Jamie Farr, Loretta Swit, Mike Farrell, William Christopher