M*A*S*H episode
“Potter's Retirement”
Potters retirement
Going through the camp mail to find the "snitch" who has been writing letters of complaint about Potter. Hawkeye and B.J. need to open an incriminating letter. Radar shows them how.
Season 6, Episode # 23
Number (#145) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Peter Hobbs
Johnny Haymer
George Wyner
Kenneth Whtie
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: Y-120
Writer(s) Lawrence Marks
Director William Jurgensen
Original airdate February 20, 1978
IMDb logo IMDB Potter's Retirement
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"Temporary Duty" (Y‑125) "Dr. Winchester and Mr. Hyde" (Y‑122)

(broadcast order)

(broadcast order)

"What's Up, Doc?" (Y‑119) "Mail Call Three" (Y‑121)

(production order)

(production order)

Season 6 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

Potter's Retirement was the 23rd episode of Season 6 of the M*A*S*H TV series, also the 145th overall series episode. The episode, which was written by Laurence Marks, was directed by William Jurgensen. The episode originally aired on CBS-TV on February 20, 1978.

Plot synopsisEdit

Outraged at hearing complaints coming from inside the camp about his abilities as a commanding officer, Colonel Potter decides to put in for retirement. Which of the heartbroken Potter's subordinates has been spreading those awful stories about him? Even more disturbing is the possibility that General Kent (Peter Hobbs) will relieve Potter from duty and put the old campaigner out to pasture.

Full summaryEdit

Col. Potter has a meeting with his friend General Kent (Peter Hobbs), who tries to dance around some bad news he has to deliver--he's been receiving bad reports about the 4077th, specifically about Col. Potter's leadership. Potter isn't especially concerned, until Kent tells him that some of these bad reports are coming directly from the 4077th. This hits Potter--hard. He is hurt that that some of his own family have been saying bad things behind his back.

Later, Potter returns to camp, to find the doctor's Kentucky Derby Party--which Potter approved of earlier--in full swing hours early. He barges into the Mess Tent, barking at all of them, even yelling at Radar. He ends the party then and there, leaving everyone in stunned silence.

Back in his office, Radar tries to delicately ask Potter what's wrong, but he won't say. Radar tells him that a memo from I-Corps came in, saying there's going to be an inspection in a few days--not the news Potter wanted to hear.

Later, at the Kentucky Derby Party, Potter walks in and tells everyone about the inspection. He says he wants to show the "pencil-pushers" the 4077th is the "best damn unit in Korea", much to the cheers of the unit. He then drops a bombshell--after the inspection, he's transferring out of the 4077th, spending his last year in active service in the states.

Hawkeye and B.J. follow Potter back to his office, demanding to know what's going on. At first he refuses to say, but when they persist he tells them about the bad reports. Leaving them alone in his office with Radar, the doctors resolve to find out who the "snitch" is. Radar thinks maybe Klinger, but Hawkeye and B.J. have another, more likely candidate...Winchester.

They sneak through Winchester's stuff looking for any incriminating material, but he catches them in the act, protesting his innocence. Although outraged, he offers advice -- look through the outgoing mail for any letter addressed to I-Corps. Charles then drinks from a bottle of hair tonic B.J. found while searching for evidence, perplexing the others until Charles explains that the "tonic" is actually 12-year-old Scotch, which he does not keep in the original bottle for fear of thieves. Hawkeye immediately recoils in horror- he's been sneaking drinks from Winchesters' Scotch bottle!

Hawkeye and B.J., both abashed, enlist Radar's help to go through all the outgoing mail. They find one from Cpl. Benson (who Radar says "Is a regular joe") mailed to I-Corps. They open it (with Radar's expert precision) and find that it is Benson who is the culprit.

After a session in O.R., they confront Benson (George Wyner) and present him to Potter. After some harsh words, Benson reveals he was sent there as a sort of spy--he's even a Lieutenant, not a Corporal--on the orders of a General Webster who had a grudge against the 4077th in general and Potter specifically. Potter remembers the General; he had arrived at the camp with minor shrapnel wounds after a battle & was upset because Potter refused to treat him until all the other casualties had been dealt with. Benson thought military discipline is loose--too lose--at the 4077th, hence the bad reports.

Potter is disgusted, and orders Benson out, also giving a message for General Webster- stop blaming the 4077th or Potter will "put that shrapnel back where [he] found it!" Later, he calls his old friend General Kent and asks him to call off the inspection. Kent apparently agrees but then asks if Potter's staying at the 4077th--a question the colonel doesn't have an answer for.

After he hangs up, Hawkeye, B.J., and Radar beg Potter to stay--Hawkeye even calls him "Sherman."

Potter thinks for a moment, and agrees to stay. Right at that moment, they hear choppers coming, and as the they all run out, Potter mutters, "I hate this place."

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit


  • The Kentucky Derby is in May-as Potter came to MASH 4077 om Sept 25, 1952-in the real timeline this would have been May-1953 Winchester would only have had to stay in this cesspool for a month and a half!
  • The 3rd Armored was never in the Korean conflict!

External linksEdit

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