A continuity error occurs when a reference is made in a show which is later contradicted by another reference later in the same show or in a later episode of the same series. For a series like M*A*S*H, stretching over 11 Seasons and with multiple writers, continuity errors are understandable and as Ken Levine (one of the series writers) says, there was no series bible. Nonetheless tracking continuity errors is still a fun activity for many fans.
This article aims to be a comprehensive compilation of continuity errors in M*A*S*H. For completeness, simple errors are also included--these are references in the episodes which are contradicted by historical fact.
However let's not count the following as continuity errors:
- Where one actor plays two or more characters in different episodes e.g. Harry Morgan, Stuart Margolin and Bobbie Mitchell (who probably holds the record here). That's just show business.
- Where the same character is played by different actors e.g. Rosie. Again that's show business and the reality of casting.
- Where it is clear that the reference or plotline is fictitious. So no such book as The Rooster Crowed at Midnight exists. In the same way there was no real Hawkeye Pierce and no real 4077th MASH in Korea. And maybe no MASH unit in Korea ever held their camp Olympic games. These are not errors, M*A*S*H is fiction and not a documentary!
- In "Sticky Wicket" and "The Army-Navy Game" Henry Blake calls his wife Mildred (which also happens to be the name of Sherman Potter's wife). It will be Lorraine later.
- In "Dear Dad", Hawkeye mentions his dad spending Christmas at home in Vermont. In later episodes it would be Crabapple Cove in Maine.
- In "Dear Dad", Hawkeye is shown in a red Santa Claus outfit being lowered from a helicopter to a foxhole under fire to treat a critically wounded soldier. The Korean winter of 1950 was one of the coldest on record, however the soldiers in the foxhole appear to be in summer uniforms. The personnel in the MASH camp, on the other hand, are seen in winter gear.
- In several first-season episodes, characters refer to Korea being in the Southeast Asia field of operations. Korea is in Northeast Asia.
- In the Pilot episode, and through much of the first season, characters refer to Margaret's last name as "Houlihand", including Frank Burns, who definitely should know better.
- In his first appearance in the series in Radar's Report, Dr. Freedman's first name is Milton. It later becomes Sidney.
- At the beginning of "L.I.P." the P.A. announces the following night's movie which is "Flying Leathernecks" starring, according to the announcer, "John Wayne, Ward Bond and Maureen O'Hara". This movie was first released in August, 1951 so it is appropriate to the timeline (see date mentioned in "Radar's Report". However, while John Wayne did appear in "Flying Leathernecks", Ward Bond and Maureen O'Hara were not in the cast.
- In Hot Lips and Empty Arms, a drunken Hot Lips tells Henry he looks like her father before he died. However, her father later appears in the series, alive and well. Though she was drunk and drunkenness can make people act strange.
- MacArthur visits the M*A*S*H in 1950. In fact, MacArthur visited the Korean front from January to March 1951. MacArthur is shown in his olive drab uniform; in Korea he wore an overcoat.
- Not an error. In Abysinnia, Henry, Radar tells Blake that he has accumulated enough "points" to go home. This system of rotation points is mentioned again in Season 7 Peace on Us. Many Internet resources cite these as continuity errors. The source of this belief might well have been Suzy Kalter who mentions this in The Complete Book of M*A*S*H. In fact, many Korean War resources including scholarly studies and official documents mention the use of the points system as a simple Internet search will show. Specific to the medical personnel, it is mentioned in contemporary histories and especially the official US Army history of the medical services in the Korean War.
- In Abysinnia, Henry, Radar presents Lt. Col. Henry Blake with a gift of a keychain with a Winchester cartridge as the fob. The engraving on the cartridge reads, "To Lt. Col. H.B. From Corp. O.R., Korea, 1952." This places Blake's departure and subsequent death at some point in 1952. Later episodes (notably season 9, episode 6, A War for All Seasons) place Col. Potter as C.O. of the 4077th through all of 1951 and into 1952 (and presumably at least a portion of 1950, as well).
- In Bulletin Board, Hoolihan asks Frank for some money, and Frank replies, "didn't your dad leave you any?" referencing inheritance money, but in future episodes Hoolihan's dad was seen alive.
- Early in his stint at the 4077th, Colonel Potter mentions going home to Nebraska. Later, Hannibal, Missouri became his hometown.
- When Colonel Potter arrives to take command of the 4077th, the announcer gives the date as September 19, 1952. The Novocaine Mutiny also gives October 1952. In another episode Potter remarks that the Gloucestershire Regiment fight without helmets. This Regiment was in Korean Conflict 1950-1951, not 1952.
- Also when Potter arrived at camp, he explained that he lied about his age in order to fight in World War I. He later said in the episode Pressure Points that he was 62 years old. If that was the case, he would have been at least in his early twenties when World War I began.
- In "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde" Winchester, admittedly under the influence of amphetamines, says his sister Honoria ran away and married a farmer and the family ostracised her. This contradicts the reference in the very next episode....
- In "Major Topper" Winchester refers to having been at his sisters wedding. If his family had ostracised her, he would not have attended the wedding. Furthermore, in a later epsiode (Season 8 "Bottle Fatigue" his sister is unmarried and about to marry an Italian.
- The season 9 episode A War For All Seasons takes place over the full year of 1951, depicting such things as an electric fireplace in the swamp (ordered from the Sears catalog) and a vegetable garden planted by Father Mulcahy, which do not appear in any other episodes whose content place them in 1951. Potter appears at the camp's New Years Eve party held on December 31, 1950, in conflict with the first season M*A*S*H Christmas Episode. Klinger and Winchester lose bets after the Brooklyn Dodgers lost the National League to the New York Giants in 1951 - an episode filmed after the "Novocaine Mutiny" of 1952! Major Houlihan's hairstyle remains constant throughout this episode, even though it had varied considerably across the series and other episodes ostensibly set in 1951.
- In the series, Maggie Higgins visited in the latter part of the Korean War. In fact, she was in Korea from summer to December of 1950.
- In one episode, Hotlips goes down the road to deliver a baby; Klinger forgets where she's gone and Colonel Flagg almost activates an Airborne Division to search for the missing Hotlips. Of three US Parachute units in 1950-1953 (the U.S. 17th Airborne Division, the 82nd Airborne and the 101st Airborne) none were in Korea. The 187th Airborne R.C.T. (Regimental Combat Team, not Division) made 2 combat jumps in Korea, but those took place in 1950 and 1951; see Airborne Forces.
- When B.J. Hunnicut arrives in Korea, he tells Hawkeye that his wife was 8 months pregnant when he received his draft notice, and that he was ordered to report to ship out just after his first night out with his wife after Erin's birth. Much later, in the episode following Radar's departure, we are told that he arrived stateside to be met by B.J.'s family, and Erin called Radar "daddy", placing this episode at least 18 months after her birth. See above concerning A War for All Seasons (Hunnicut is present throughout 1951) and the date of Potter's arrival (Hunnicut arrived only a short time prior).
- Frank's birthday moves from winter to summer. In the episode "For Want of a Boot", Hawkeye throws Frank a birthday party in what is clearly wintertime with wind, snow, and everyone wearing winter gear. In a later episode, when Hawkeye and BJ have a fight as a "gift" for Frank's birthday, it is obviously sunny, dry, and B.J. wears a short-sleeved Hawaiian shirt.o
- In most cases, characters wearing Class-A uniforms are not wearing the correct decorations. Most notably, Hawkeye is never seen wearing any decorations although he would most likely have at least four, including the Purple Heart.
- In Goodbye, Farewell and Amen, Hawkeye says that he has wore the same boots since he arrived in korea, but in For Want of a Boot, he has a Hole in the bottom of his boot, and goes to great lengths to get a new pair.
- Not an error. The entire staff of the 4077th can be in surgery for 48 straight hours and treat hundreds of wounded. Yet, post op only shows a small handful of soldiers recovering. This is not an error because a unit with a post op of about 10 beds would be sending all but the most seriously injured promptly to Seoul in ambulances on a regular basis. These ambulances are referred to in several episodes. There is even an episode where a recovering general has to convince a brand new lieutenant to release ambulances to get the patients moving.
- ↑ Suzy Kalter, The Complete Book of M*A*S*H, (New York: H.N. Abrams Publishing, 1988), 33.
- ↑ Mary T. Sarnecky, A History of the U.S. Army Nurse Corps, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1999) 310.
- ↑ Albert E. Cowdrey, The Medic's War, (Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army, 1987) 343.