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Funny and Heartfelt Quotes From M*A*S*H

One of the most beloved TV sitcoms of all time, M*A*S*H follows the antics and exploits of a team of doctors and support staff stationed at the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital in Korea during the Korean War of 1950–53. With its unique combination of comedy and wartime drama, M*A*S*H managed to make audiences laugh and cry. It was both incredibly popular and critically acclaimed, picking up 14 Emmy Awards during its 11-year run on CBS (from 1972 to 1983). The series finale remains the most-watched scripted episode in U.S. television history, viewed by an incredible 60.2% of American households.

M*A*S*H introduced us to a collection of colorful characters. Over its 11 seasons, we grew to love Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (Alan Alda), Captain Trapper John McIntyre (Wayne Rogers), and Captain B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell). For a situation comedy, the characters were surprisingly complex,  demonstrating real growth from one season to the next. The setting, meanwhile, gave M*A*S*H extra depth. The series took place during the Korean War, but first aired during the Vietnam War. The writers and producers had to tread carefully with their antiwar message — they were allowed to comment on war, but not directly protest against it. Still, the message was clear to viewers. As Hawkeye said, “War isn't hell. War is war, and hell is hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.”

Here are some of the most classic lines from M*A*S*H, ranging from straight-out gags to surreal remarks, to the more heartfelt lines that gave the series its special, lasting appeal.

See these fresh oranges? They don't grow on trees, you know.
— Private Igor Straminsky (Jeff Maxwell)

On the very first day, Frank observed that the "M" in MASH stood for “mobile.” So, he had us break down the entire unit and move it across the road.
— Captain B.J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell)

I am not so think as you drunk I am.
— Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit)

I can't say I've loved you all, either... but I've loved as many of you as I could.
— Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda)

These are the forms to get the forms to order more forms, sir.
— Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff)

The instrument has yet to be devised that can test my indifference to that remark.
— Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda)

Don't mind Pierce and Hunnicutt, they're both first-rate surgeons. Sure, they'll show up to roll call in their bathrobes. They keep a still in their tent. Once they ran all my underwear up the flagpole. But I want you to understand it's an honor to serve with these men.
— Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit)

I'm not sleeping, I'm just inspecting the inside of my eyelids.
— Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda)

As usual, I'm writing slowly because I know you can't read fast.
— Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff), in a letter

You've gotta understand I'm not working on sick people here. I'm working on hurt young people, with essentially healthy bodies that have been insulted by ammunition.
— Captain B. J. Hunnicutt (Mike Farrell)

I guess it's a bear we all gotta cross.
— Corporal "Radar" O'Reilly (Gary Burghoff)

I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash-and-carry, carry me back to Old Virginie, I'll even “hari-kari” if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun.
— Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda)

Attention, all personnel. Due to the shortage of oil and wood, tonight's movie will be burned at 1800.
— PA system

Listen, when you're in love, you're always in trouble. There's only two things you can do about it — either stop loving them, or love them a whole lot more.
— Colonel Sherman T. Potter (Harry Morgan)

Oh, Frank. You're so above average.
— Major Margaret Houlihan (Loretta Swit)

That's not my department, sir — intelligence is something I try to avoid.
— Major Frank Burns (Lawrence Linville)

Frank, you know what a hero is? Ninety-nine times out of a hundred, he's somebody who's tired enough and cold enough and hungry enough not to give a damn. I don't give a damn.
— Captain Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda)

Photo credit: RGR Collection/ Alamy Stock Photo

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About the Author
Tony Dunnell
Tony is an English writer of non-fiction and fiction living on the edge of the Amazon jungle.
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