M*A*S*H episode
“Depressing News”
SSN09 206depressing
Hawkeye reminisces about Col. Blake while talking to B.J. at the O' Club in a scene from "Depressing News" in Season 9.
Season 9, Episode # 12
Number (#210) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) William Bogert
David Dozer
Rodney Saulsberry
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Z-411
Writer(s) Dan Wilcox & Thad Mumford
Director Alan Alda
Original airdate February 9, 1981
IMDb logo IMDB Depressing News
Episode chronology
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"No Sweat" (Z‑402) "No Laughing Matter" (Z‑413)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"Tell It to the Marines" (Z‑410) "Operation Friendship" (Z‑412)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 9 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Depressing News was the 12th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 210th overall series episode. Written by Dan Wilcox and Thad Mumford and directed by Alan Alda, it originally aired on February 9, 1981.


After placing an order for 5,000 tongue depressors, the 4077th receives 500,000. Hawkeye decides to use every single one of them to erect a monument to Army inefficiency, and dedicate it to all the brave men and women who have passed through, while Klinger presses his luck when he starts a printing press.

Full episode summaryEdit

The 4077th gets a shipment of tongue depressors, except the order for 5,000 has somehow been turned into an order of 500,000.

Hawkeye and B.J. at first think it's funny, but then they realize there's nothing funny over the idea they have enough tongue depressors "to last five years."

After a talk in the O Club where Hawkeye compares the tongue depressors to his long gone friends and fellow doctors Trapper (replaced by B.J.) , Henry (replaced by Potter), and Frank Burns (replaced by Winchester), he decides to use them to build a memorial to every wounded solider who passed through the 4077th.

Hawkeye grows obsessed with the task, working all day and night, even skipping meals. Col. Potter brings him some dinner, asking him what this all supposed to mean. Hawkeye answers, "I don't know...maybe nothing."

Klinger, under the thrall of his new scheme of running a 4077th newspaper, tells Stars and Stripes about Hawkeye's tower. A Capt. Allen (William Bogert) arrives with a photographer, and he tells Hawkeye his sculpture should be taken on tour, thinking it will be "great for recruitment."

Hawkeye is horrified--recruitment? Turns out Capt. Allen is from Army Information, not Stars and Stripes, and he's looking at Hawkeye's tower as a propaganda tool. He asks to take a picture of it with Hawkeye alongside, but he stalls them and asks them to come back in a few minutes.

Later in the afternoon, Hawkeye tells them the tower's ready. We see that the tower now has an explosive called Primacord (taken from a patient who was sent home) wrapped around it, and he has Klinger blow it up just as the picture is snapped.

Capt. Allen is flabbergasted as to why Hawkeye would blow up the thing he spent two days building. Hawkeye puts his arm around him: "Senseless destruction, that's what it's all about. Get the picture?"


Hawkeye makes reference to Henry, Trapper, and Frank. He breaks the tongue depressor representing Henry, in reference to his tragic death. When naming Trapper, he mentions that he is replaced by B.J., and B.J. raises his glass. Then when mentioning Frank, he mentions that he is replaced by Charles, who he claims is only a "hair" difference.

Guests stars/Recurring castEdit