The final M*A*S*H episode filmed paid off a joke they set up 255 episodes early

The very first scene has a joke that only makes sense in the last thing they shot.

Everyone knows the M*A*S*H finale, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," because seemingly everyone in America was watching it when it aired on February 28, 1983. Okay, well, it wasn't everybody, but it was about three out of four TV sets in the United States, making it the most-watched episode in television history. Still.

But for the cast and crew of M*A*S*H, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was not adieu. They filmed one more episode after that, "As Time Goes By." It just so happened to air the week prior.

It was a fitting script for the actors to finish their long run. In the final scene, the 4077th puts together and buries a time capsule. It's an emotional moment, heightened by the fact that the actors hardly had to pretend — this would be the last time they all worked together on the show. 

Hawkeye and the gang go through the items in the time capsule.

There's something even more brilliant about the time capsule scene you might have missed. Pay attention to what Margaret says. We captioned a bit of it in the top image.

"When somebody opens this up in a hundred years…" she says. Does that ring a bell?

Think back to the beginning of the series. The very, very beginning. The opening shot of the pilot episode, simply titled "Pilot." Trapper and Hawkeye golf. As Trapper tees off, text appears on the screen:

Korea, 1950 — a hundred years ago

A hundred years! Exactly when the time capsule was set to be opened.

That means, in a way, that the entire M*A*S*H series was someone uncovering the trials, tears, tricks and tribulations of the 4077th a century later. The show is something that has been dug up in the year 2050!

Did you ever wonder why they made that joke about "a hundred years ago"? Did the writers know they were going to end it with a time capsule scene 11 years later? Talk about brilliant plotting!

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OlJoeBloor 1 month ago
No, "100 years ago" was a reference to the fact that a) in 1970, the Korean War was the "forgotten war" and so seemed like 100 years ago b) the Vietnam War was still raging and in fact, MASH was using the Korean War as an allegory for the present day. Yes, the "100 years" reference in the finale was likely a reference to the pilot episode - but it's unlikely the reference in the pilot was made with the intention of making the time capsule reference in the finale.
JohnFinnJr 1 month ago
But the fact is, the time capsule has already been found and opened
Hawkeye21 21 months ago
The real joke is from the character of physiatrist Sidney Freedman and in his last scene when he repeats what he said from his very first show appearance “pull down your pants and slide on the ice....”
BennAllen 22 months ago
While we're trying to make a big deal out of coincidences, I'd like to point out the very first spoken word on "M*A*S*H" was "Fore!" The very last word, in "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was "What?"
TimHarper BennAllen 22 months ago
Tacomafuji 22 months ago
Final episode ? I was waiting for that final episode, but never happened, it started from season1, episode 1 all over again!? What happened to the final episode.
BennAllen 22 months ago
Trouble is, as a rule, "M*A*S*H" almost never referenced previous episodes. Winchester touching his nose, Trapper, Henry and Radar leaving Korea were among the rare times the show did bring up events from previous episodes. Generally, each ep was self-contained, happening in a sort of vacuum. That kind of continuity just wasn't part of the series' DNA.
F5Twitster 22 months ago
Well, in 1950 nobody knew that today, only seventy years later, the little village of Uijeongbu, where the series was set, would have grown into a major South Korean city, meaning that that time capsule likely would be buried deep under a parking lot or high-rise and unlikely to ever see the light of day again.
Maggie5127 22 months ago
How does an article like this get published here when the following is documented all over the internet?
“... “Korea, 1950. A hundred years ago.” You are taking literally something meant as satire. Larry Gelbart — who wrote the episode — said ‘I wrote the line to indicate how long ago the Korean War seemed in the minds of the American public.’ He is not stating the viewer is in 2050.”
F5Twitster Maggie5127 22 months ago
You're assuming that the people in charge of this website know how to write, and know what they're writing about -- which they prove every day they don't.
Hogansucks1 F5Twitster 21 months ago
OUCH ! 🥴
Pacificsun 22 months ago

For MASH fans, this is a good read:

"Due to the amount of time required for postproduction, the two-hour finale was shot the summer before the premiere of the shortened last season. The real last episode shot was "As Time Goes By." Hundreds of journalists and photographers from around the world waited outside stage 9 to capture the moment."

lucy 22 months ago
LovE Mash reruns I get tears along smiles 💋 just seeing what I missed by not watching this show when I was younger , LovE and miss these heroes i ♥️♥️♥️ Of Mash 4077
dontoverthinkit 22 months ago
"A hundred years! Exactly when the time capsule was set to be opened."

Ummm... no. You're trying to match up two events from two different ends of the MASH timeline: The pilot which states is set in 1950 and the end of the war, in 1953. When Margaret says "...100 years from now..." that means the time capsule would be opened in 2053, not 2050.

So for this supposed "set up" of the entire show being found in a time capsule, Margaret would either have had to say, "...97 years from now...", or the caption in the pilot would have had to say "Korea - 1950, 103 years ago." Neither of which makes any sense.
Wiseguy 22 months ago
"But for the cast and crew of M*A*S*H, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen" was not adieu. They filmed one more episode after that, "As Time Goes By." It just so happened to air the week prior."

This doesn't make sense. The production code for "Goodbye" is 9B04. "As Time Goes By" has a production code of 9B10*. That means five episodes were filmed between "Goodbye" and "Time." The only way what is written in the article could be true is if they continued to film "Goodbye" while filming those five episodes. And even if that's true only short scenes would have been filmed in case a scene had to be re-filmed. In any case, I've never heard that happened. You can't say "As Time Goes By" was filmed right after "Goodbye."

*Note: Only ten episodes including the finale were filmed that season. The rest were holdovers from the previous season.
Pacificsun Wiseguy 22 months ago
😉 This link might help answer your question.
Pacificsun 22 months ago
Now that it was pointed out to us ... yes ... the Pilot did indeed begin with Korea 100 hundred years ago. Truly weird. But then we've gone over all that down below. Wow those characters sure did look young in the Pilot!
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TimHarper 22 months ago
Naughty Naughty!
Hogansucks1 21 months ago
“Awe, go salute yourself” - I’m not as think as you drunk I am”. 😂
JHP 22 months ago
one of my fav funniest scenes was Henry - shaking the stove pipe and getting a face full of soot- but it came back to Hawkeye in the Edwina Ep
MaliGesmundo 22 months ago
Hi Metv - Please advise - What do I click on to view late evening schedule starting at 1:00am Weeknights: and Saturdays and Sundays after 10:00;m?
Pacificsun MaliGesmundo 22 months ago
Just printout the PDF schedule under the Schedule tab (instead of stories and quizzes).
DougG43240 22 months ago
MeTV usually has interesting nuggets of trivia like the series "Salvage 1" starring Andy Griffith in which he played a junk dealer retrieving junk from outer space to re-sell on Earth. Had it not been for this website, I probably would never have known about it.

But this post is a stretch. The Pilot episode of M*A*S*H was written by Larry Gelbart who co-created the series with Gene Reynolds but Gelbart left M*A*S*H after the 5th season. "As Time Goes By" was written by Thad Mumford and Dan Wilcox who joined the M*A*S*H writing staff at the beginning of Season 8.

Larry Gelbart was a brilliant writer and I seriously doubt that when he left, he left behind instructions for a joke about the Korean War being 100 years ago to be used in some episode in the future to written by writers who aren't on staff yet.
DougG43240 DougG43240 22 months ago
CORRECTION: Larry Gelbart left after the 4th season. It was Gene Reynolds who left after the 5th Season of M*A*S*H. Considering how much M*A*S*H trivia I know, you'd think I would have gotten that one right the first time around :-)
DougG43240 22 months ago
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F5Twitster DougG43240 22 months ago
Gelbart may not have "left instructions," but a series like this has a strong insitutional memory, and someone who had worked with Gelbart, or had been on the show at the time likely remembered that the series began with this title-over and thought that the series might be able to reference it in its final episode. From there the writing staff and producers would then have discussed the matter and developed an episode structured around it.
Hogansucks1 F5Twitster 21 months ago
Does make ya think though! This MeTv story sure gave way to many facts/ trivia knowledge to remember. 😁
woyzeck Wilbur88 21 months ago
all seasons of mash were great
Deleted 22 months ago
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Wiseguy 22 months ago
Not really. Just a coincidence. The hundred-years reference in the pilot meant that even in 1972 it seemed like so long ago, like a hundred years. And a hundred years is a typical length of time to wait before digging up a time capsule.
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