M*A*S*H episode
“Bottle Fatigue”
MASH Episode - Bottle Fatigue
Season 8, Episode # 17
Number (#189) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Shelley Long
Jeff Maxwell
David Hirokana
Shari Saba
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: S-618
Writer(s) Thad Mumford & Dan Wilcox
Director Burt Metcalfe
Original airdate January 7, 1980
IMDb logo IMDB Bottle Fatigue
Episode chronology
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"Yessir, That's Our Baby" (S‑617) "Heal Thyself" (S‑616)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Yessir, That's Our Baby" (S‑617) "Lend a Hand" (S‑619)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 8 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Bottle Fatigue is the sixteenth episode of the eighth season of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, as well as the 190th overall series episode. Directed by executive producer Burt Metcalfe, the episode was co-written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox; it originally aired on January 7, 1980.

Plot synopsisEdit

After receiving a hefty bar tab, Hawkeye vows to go one week without alcohol. At the same time, Major Winchester is furious that his sister might marry someone from a lower social class.

Full episode summaryEdit

After a session in OR, all of the staff wander into the Officers Club, where Igor is waiting to hand out their bar tabs. Hawkeye's is $38.20, a staggering sum (roughly $250 USD in present-day dollars), and far and away higher than everyone else's.

Hawkeye is so shocked he decides, then and there, to stop drinking. After earning a round of laughter from everyone, he insists its not forever--just for a week, to prove to himself that he can do it. Scared he's going to going home and "Set up a still in my living room", he says he's serious.

Meanwhile, Winchester gets a letter from his sister Honoria, who announces she's engaged to an Italian man. Winchester's bigoted snobbery kicks into high gear, furious over the idea that a woman of such breeding as his sister is engaged to someone so far below her social class. He tries placing a call home, but is rebuffed by Sparky. He then asks Col. Potter for an emergency trip home, but is again refused.

During the first few days of Hawkeye's sobriety, he is full-tilt annoying and sanctimonious, driving everyone crazy. Winchester is no better, deciding to get drunk every night to deal with the pain of over the mere idea of Honoria marrying an Italian, resorting to all sorts of derogatory stereotypes when referring to his future brother-in-law.

Hawkeye has a date with a new nurse, Lt. Mendenhall (Shelley Long), but he quickly ruins it by making snide comments about her drinking. Lt. Mendenhall storms off in disgust. Winchester is also making things worse for himself: when discussing his problem with Father Mulcahy, he admits that, at least,Honoria "Isn't marrying an Irishman", leading Mulcahy to also storm off in disgust.

Later, Winchester gets another letter from Honoria, saying the engagement is off--at the behest of the groom, whose family refused to let him marry out of their faith.

Wounded arrive, and one of Hawkeye's patient is a North Korean solider who smuggled in a live grenade. Before anyone can stop him, he pulls the pin!

Hawkeye grabs the soldier's hand, keeping him from letting go of the grenade. While trying to find the pin somewhere on the floor, everyone tries to soothe him by singing to him. It works long enough for Mulcahy to find the pin and put it back in the grenade.

Afterwards, Winchester dictates a telegram to Honoria. Reflecting on what just happened, he apologizes for the "boorish" letters she's about to receive. Asking for forgiveness, he pleads for her to attribute them to "Greatness of distance...and narrowness of mind."

Later that night, in the O Club, they all buy a drink for Mulcahy to thank him for finding the pin. They all order a drink for themselves, including Hawkeye, who says he needs it to calm himself after the near-death experience they all just had.

Holding the drink in his hand, he pauses, and then puts it down, saying, "I'll be back when I want it...not when I need it."

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

Potterism: Hang on to your homburg, Winchester.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


  • At the three years steady drinking Hawkeye had been doing-he would have too drunk to operate! The only time Hawkeye even considers going sober before this is in Alcoholics Unanimous (TV series episode) but only for a few seconds...
  • Likewise stopping his drinking "Cold Turkey" would have resulted in having the DT from alcohol withdrawl-as happened to Major Houliahan friend Captain Helen Whitfield in Bottoms Up (TV series episode)!
  • $43.20 bar tab. Booze was 5 cents a drink-Hawkeye would have 684 drinks! [An average of 2.36 drinks per day for a whole year} In Bug Out (TV series episode) Hawkeye Bar tab from Rosie is $51.00.

External linksEdit