Any fan would agree that M*A*S*H was the perfect mix of drama, romance, and dark comedy. The TV show perfectly captured the essence of the Korean War, and yet, there was always a perfect balance between lighthearted comedy and darker themes. With all the poignant moments and lovable characters, it's no wonder why the show went on for over 11 seasons!
Over the course of its lengthy run, though, you may have missed out on a few errors that appeared. Of course, none of them take away from the show's quality or overall success. However, it's so fascinating to see all the inaccuracies and anachronisms that went right over our heads the first time! See 40 mistakes you might have missed in the beloved classic:
You may not have realized it, but the time difference between the U.S. and South Korea was literally never correct. The characters on the show usually claimed that the U.S was 18 hours behind South Korea. But anyone who's familiar with the real time difference knows that it's actually around 12 to 14 hours.
Radar looked so adorable in this scene, tucked in with his Teddy Bear and comic book. However, there's just one issue with this picture: The Marvel comic that he's holding wasn't even in existence during that time. Since the show was set during the Korean War (1950 to 1953), it doesn't make much sense that he owns a comic book that wasn't created until 1963, when The Avengers #1 made its debut. Since Radar was such a huge fan of comic books, he actually kept a collection that featured more superheroes who didn't even exist yet. For example, aside from the Avengers, he also had The Amazing Spider-Man, which wasn't created until the '60s.
In yet another episode, "Tuttle," you might have spotted Radar reading Captain Savage and His Battlefield Rangers No. 10. Him sticking his nose into a comic comes as no surprise, but it's hard to ignore that this comic didn't hit shelves until 1969. At this point, we're pretty convinced that his character either owned a secret time machine or made friends with an actual time-traveling hero. How else could he have landed so many comics that were published nearly a decade or more later?
In "Movie Night," Radar and the gang gathered to watch Henry Fonda's My Darling Clementine (which, appropriately, was released before their time period). But then, Radar stood up and did his John Wayne impression, saying: "I'm not gonna hit ya… I'm not gonna hit ya… Like hell I'm not!" As impressive and entertaining as it was, it turned out that he was mimicking a scene from McLintock! - a film that didn't get released until 1963. Are you seeing why this time machine theory makes so much sense now?
At the 4077th there was the Officer's Club, a popular hangout spot that featured a variety of cool games. One of them that was hard to miss was Spot-a-Card Pinball. However, the very first machine was produced by Gottlieb, D. & Co. in 1960. If you're curious, these are the same guys who created games like Lite-A-Card, Universe, Captain Kidd, Sweet Sioux, Dancing Dolls, Flipper, Seven Seas, and Race Time. Perhaps M*A*S*H would've gotten away with adding even more of these games to the club.
If you look closely at this photo, you'll notice that there's a tiny helicopter hanging from the ceiling on the right. That's actually a model Bell Huey UH-1 helicopter. It never flew until 1956, but the military aircraft became widely known for its uses during the Vietnam War, which happened from 1955 to 1975. The UH-1 has also been used for combat missions in Southeast Asia.
Remember when Sherman started off the race by firing his gun in "M*A*S*H Olympics?" Well, what he had wasn't even around in the early '50s. He used a Smith & Wesson Model 19 pistol, even though the revolver wasn't produced until 1957. Lucky for the show writers, though, not many viewers would pay attention to such a small detail.
In "Der Tag," there was a scene where B.J. pulled out a package of Fig Newtons (anyone else suddenly craving these right now?). The average viewer would think that this was completely normal, but back in the early '50s, Fig Newtons only got packaged in boxes, as you can see from one of Nabisco's earliest commercials. It was only until the '70s when the clear packaging was introduced.
In the episode "Baby It's Cold Outside," everyone was watching Sun Valley Serenade (released in 1941). The movie starred Norwegian figure skater and actress Sonja Henie, and during the film, Sherman commented: "This is supposed to be where she does a triple axel and ends up in a split." But this is actually inaccurate. The first person to ever do that trick was Midori Ito, and that was in 1988. We'll give Sherman some bonus points for imagination, though.
If you're still having doubts about the time-traveling thing, then this example ought to convince you. In the episode "Springtime," he says, "Tonight's movie is The First Born of Godzilla." But what most fans might've missed was the fact that Godzilla didn't exist until 1954, when the Japanese sci-fi film Godzilla was released. Still, we can at least appreciate the fact that Radar has great taste, right?
Speaking of well-known films about monsters, Henry also mentioned one in "Operation Noselift." During the opening scene, he brought up the film The Blob, which is about a weird organism from outer space that invades planet Earth. The movie, however, wasn't released until September of 1958. We wonder how he knew about it...
Only fans who paid close attention to the details might've caught on to this. On the earlier episodes, including "The Army-Navy Game," Henry's wife was referred to as "Mildred." However, her name suddenly got changed to "Lorraine" with no explanation, as seen in "Life With Father." Technically, there could be reasonable explanations for this. But we're willing to bet that this was a slight error on the writers' part.
In season five, there's an episode where Radar spelled out B.J's father-in-law's name. After he said "H-A-Y-D-E-N," Hawkeye then playfully sang "M-O-U-S-E!" Anyone could tell that this was a nod to the popular "Mickey Mouse March," or the theme song for The Mickey Mouse Club. However, the show didn't air until after the Korean War ended. It made its debut in 1955.
After Radar was bitten by a dog in "Mad Dogs and Servicemen," he fell ill and got stuck in bed. During one scene, Margaret sat and read him a letter from a writer who mentioned two songs: "Diddy Wah Diddy" by Bo Diddly and "The Wayward Wind" by Gogi Grant. The only problem? Both of these tunes were released a year after the end of the Korean War.
This one just left us scratching our heads, because some of the details from Hawkeye's backstory just didn't line up. In "Sons and Bowlers," he revealed to Charles that his mother died when he was younger, and in "Hawkeye," he claimed that he was an only child. But still, in "Dear Dad...Again," he wrote a letter and said, "kiss Mom and Sis." So... Does that mean they came back to life?
In all of his time at the 4077th, everyone knew that Sherman's home was in Missouri. But then on "Ping Pong," he switched things up and said that he was going home to Nebraska. Either the writers threw that in to confuse everyone (did he suddenly decide to move without letting anyone know?) or they totally lost track of where he actually lived. We're leaning more towards the latter.
Well, considering how Hawkeye's relatives came back to life after he claimed they were dead, this example doesn't come as much of a surprise to us now. In quite a few episodes, including "Hot Lips and Empty Arms," Margaret said that her father is dead. It was even suggested that he'd left her money in his will. But then, viewers got to see that her father was alive and well when he showed up to the stateside party in "The Party." He also visited the 4077th in "Father's Day." So weird...
Remember how certain soldiers got awarded with purple hearts for their service? Well, this was a bit of a stretch because it was factually inaccurate. In real life, purple hearts were only given because a soldier got their first injury. If they got hurt again after getting the purple heart, then they were given the oak leaf cluster.
This was another detail that was factually incorrect. In "Abyssinia, Henry," Henry was sent home because he apparently had enough points to be dismissed. However, in reality, the Army quit using the point system after World War II ended in 1945. Doctors never got their rotations based on "points" in the '50s. Still, the point system was mentioned a few other times on other episodes, including "The Most Unforgettable Characters" and "Peace on Us."
Earlier on the show, it appeared that Radar regularly ate a lot of meat. It was seen on episodes like "To Market, To Market," "The Longjohn Flap," and "The Trial of Henry Blake." But then in "Private Charles Lamb," Radar said that he was a vegetarian. For this reason, he rescued a lamb, mentioning that he just couldn't bear the thought of it being killed. We totally get the fact that people switch over to vegetarianism all the time, but seeing him suddenly switch with no explanation at all was straight up confusing.
The Opening Sequence Featured George Morgan
This mistake was technically in every episode of the series! In the opening sequence of M*A*S*H, there's a group of people waiting to receive wounded soldiers from a helicopter. If you look closely, Mulcahy is a part of the group, but not the Mulcahy we learned to love. Here, Mulchay is played by George Morgan, the actor who played Mulcahy in the first two episodes before being replaced by William Christopher.
They Remembered To Recycle
CBS via moviemistakes.com
On the season nine episode "Depressing News," Klinger, Captain Allen, and a Stars and Stripes photographer are walking to be introduced to "Ben," the group walks past an empty cardboard box with a recycling symbol printed on its flap. It's awesome that the 4077th remembers to recycle, but recycling symbols weren't used until about twenty years after the series takes place during the first Earth Day in the 1970s.
Margaret Had A Futuristic Life Magazine
This might have been an intentional Easter Egg, meant to draw attention to the fact that the Korean War in ?M*A*S*H was really just a stand-in for the Vietnam War, but when Frank and Margaret define their relationship on season one, Margaret's Life Magazine is from 1967. Not only is this magazine from over fifteen years in the future, but its cover is about "The Other War In Vietnam."
Hawkeye's Dad Never Lived In Vermont
During the first season of the show, Hawkeye talks about his father who lives in Vermont. Clearly, the writers changed a lot about Hawkeye's family background, first removing his mother and sister from the picture before moving his father from Vermont to Maine. On later seasons of M*A*S*H, Hawkeye's father is repeatedly said to live in Crab Apple Cove, Maine. His father hasn't left Maine in over thirty years, so there's no way he just moved during the series.
Colonel Potter Mentions His Non-Existent Son
CBS Photo Archive
Colonel Potter has one daughter, an only child. At least, that's what viewers are lead to believe early in the show. Later on, Col. Potter says his son's wife is going to have a baby. Either Col. Potter's daughter had a futuristic gender correction surgery or the writers forgot that they'd said Col. Potter only had one child with his wife Mildred, not to be confused with Col. Blake's wife Mildred who becomes Lorraine.
Radar's Latitudinal Confusion
On season three, episode four, "Iron Guts Kelly," Radar gives the team a location of a battle at Longitude 70, Latitude 27. The downsides of Googling not being invented during the writing and researching of these episodes is that the writers would never dream that it would be easy for future fans of the series to realize that this Latitude and Longitude actually places the Korean War somewhere in India. Oops!
Korea Is In Northeast Asia
M*A*S*H's first season had probably the most anachronies and continuity issues of the entire series. In multiple episodes during the first season, the characters refer to their post in Korea as part of the U.S. Military's Southeast Asia field of operations... even though Korea is located in Northeast Asia. Ironically, India *is* in Southeast Asia. Maybe the writers legitimately did not know where Korea was?
Winchester's Sister Had A Dramatic Marital Life
Winchester either has a lot of sisters viewers didn't know about, or the writers didn't care enough to remember the large number of weddings they gave the unseen character during the series' run. In "Major Topper," Winchester references attending his sister's wedding, even though just one episode earlier in "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde" he said his sister Honoria was ostracized by their family for eloping with a farmer. Then, two seasons later in "Bottle Fatigue," Honoria has never married and is engaged to an Italian man.
Frank's Changing Birthday
The costuming department can take the fall for this continuity mistake. In "For Want Of A Boot," Frank's birthday party is in the middle of winter, judging from the characters' winter gear and the snow. Later, in another episode featuring a birthday gift for Frank (in the form of a fight between Hawkeye and BJ), the characters are wearing short-sleeved Hawaiian shirts and are in a dry, sunny climate.
The Invention Of The Twist-Off Cap
During an early season eight episode titled "Guerilla My Dreams," Klinger gives Winchester a bottle of Napoleon Brandy. While that brandy was, in fact, around during the 1950s, the twist off cap on this particular bottle wouldn't be invented until 1966. M*A*S*H fans and history buffs will know that the Korean War ended thirteen years before 1966 in the early 1950s. In reality, this brandy would likely have been corked.
Hawkeye Changed His Boots
Another noticeable issue during the episode "For Want Of A Boot" revolves around the titular problem. Hawkeye spends the episode trying to (and succeeding in) finding a replacement for his boots after one of the boots gets a hole in the bottom. On the episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen," Hawkeye shares that he has been wearing the same pair of boots since he first arrived in Korea. Oopsies.
"Aggie O'Shea" Visited Korea In The Summer
The character of Aggie O'Shea is actually based on the real-life war correspondent Margeurite "Maggie" Higgins, who covered World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. During the series, Aggie visited the army post during the later years of the Korean War, but Maggie came to Korea during the summer of 1950 and stayed only through December. Maybe she came later during the Vietnam war and this is another Easter Egg.
The Soldier's Hershey Bar
During an episode of season eleven, "Give and Take," Sergent Klinger gives a chocolate bar to a wounded North Korean soldier — the brand name is concealed on the bar, but it's clearly a Hershey's Chocolate Bar with Almonds. The candy bar has a Universal Product Code bar code on the bottom, even though barcodes weren't used on products like candy bars until another two decades in the future.
Trapper Uses Steak As A Cold Compress
At the end of the series' third episode, "Requiem for a Lightweight," Trapper uses a steak as a cold compress to treat the black eye he received during the boxing episode. A recurring theme throughout the series likely meant to highlight the scarcity of support and supplies received by the government, is the characters complaining about the food at their army post. Why, then, would Trapper waste a perfectly good steak as a medical tool?
Klinger's Changing Blood Type
On a show that's at least supposed to be about medicine, you would think the writers would know that blood types never change. Klinger was an oddball, but not odd enough to change basic human biology. Still, somehow, Klinger's blood type changes from B Positive to AB Negative between the episodes "It Happened One Night" and "C*A*V*E." Even stranger, AB Negative is an extremely rare blood type, so for Klinger to have AB Negative blood would be a very big deal.
Muppets From The Future
The Muppets are super old. It was a simple mistake for Frank to whistle the theme music to The Muppet Show while polishing his boots on the season five episode "The Most Unforgettable Characters," since The Muppet Show had already been airing for a year in real life during the mid-1970s. In the 1950s, when M*A*S*H is set, however, The Muppet Show music hadn't even been created since it was made specifically for the 1970s series.
Hydrocortisone Couldn't Have Been Stolen
During M*A*S*H's second episode, "To Market, To Market," Hawkeye and Trapper are worried about a theft of hydrocortisone from their army base. Hydrocortisone wouldn't be introduced by the FDA until a couple of years later in 1952. This would have been useful for the army doctors to have if anyone in their troop stumbled upon poison ivy or insect bites while they were on the job, but it wouldn't be life or death for the soldiers.
The Invention Of The Hula Hoop
M*A*S*H made a weird amount of anachronic errors involving hula hoops. On the season five episode "Dear Sigmund," Klinger jokes about wearing name-brand Hula Hoops in his ears as a part of his continual attempts to cross-dress his way out of the army. Later in the series, though, Klinger tries to develop a new toy similar to the hula hoop based on what he saw Korean children using as toys. Hula Hoops wouldn't be invented by Whamo until 1958, and they wouldn't be marketed as Hula Hoops until 1962. Based on the season five Olympics episode, we know "Dear Sigmund" occurred around 1952.
Hawkeye Wore Blue Adidas
CBS via Reddit
A more glaring anachronism during the series, during the season nine episode "Depressing News," Hawkeye rocks a pair of bright blue Adidas instead of his army boots. While these were the height of style in 1981 when the episode was filmed, they wouldn't have been around in the 1950s. This was also weird because Hawkeye never wore anything other than his trademark army boots. This likely happened because the boom mic was picking up sounds from his boots and he needed to wear softer shoes in the shot, but they could have at least tightened the frame to cut off those kicks!
Henry's Medical Knowledge Gap
During the late season three episode "Abyssinia, Henry," Henry reminisces on Radar's appendectomy. Henry had trouble finding Radar's appendix because it was hiding behind his cecum... but the appendix is hiding behind the cecum in more than half of the population. A doctor as qualified as Henry (or any general surgeon) would immediately know to look behind the cecum for a hidden appendix, and this shouldn't have been an issue.