I noticed that three characters of MASH series changed to different ones around fourth seson. Thats is: Frank Burnes, John Macintyre and Henry Blake. Some of the actors said some reasons why they wouldn't continue to play in the series anymore, but I also noticed that all these three characters were also cheating on their wifes back in the US and that new characters, they were exchanged to, would never do it (with one exception of Hunnicut, but he regreted it strongly after) or didn't have wifes to cheat on (Winchester). With this move they removed all immorally behaving characters from the show.

Do you think that the real reason behind these characters changes was that the series was getting popular and having characters that were cheating on their wifes, and didn't have any problem with it, could be bad from social perspective in a way of promoting adultery?

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    You name three characters, two of them were in the first three seasons, the other one in the first five. So your theory already falls apart at the start. Both Rogers and Stephenson have given excellent reasons for leaving the show, same for Linville.
    – BCdotWEB
    Nov 9, 2021 at 6:49
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    @BCdotWEB With specifics, that could be a good answer to the question.
    – Kyralessa
    Nov 9, 2021 at 8:02
  • VtLO as a good non-opinionated answer has been given.
    – CGCampbell
    Nov 9, 2021 at 17:11

2 Answers 2



The actors left for reasons of their own.

Larry Linville

As the tone of the series had evolved to more serious storylines, Linville felt that he had taken the Frank Burns character, which had become increasingly one-dimensional, as far as he could, and chose to leave the series to pursue other roles.

McLean Stevenson

In 1975 Stevenson decided to leave the show. Loretta Swit said it was because he was tired of being in an ensemble and wanted to be “number one.” (This is also confirmed by MASH writer Ken Levine) The departure would take place the last episode of the third season

Wayne Rogers

Rogers had abruptly decided he didn’t want to be on the show anymore. Initially, Rogers and Alda’s characters received equal screen time and material. But over time, Rogers felt the creators had started to slight John as a character. They gave more of the weightier comic material to Hawkeye, leaving John to act as the man rolling his eyes at Hawkeye’s antics. Additionally, Alda started to gain more control creatively, even directing some episodes of the show.

Rogers left the show because he didn’t want to play second fiddle to Alda anymore. In an effort to keep him on the show, producers sued Rogers for breaching his contract. After all, an actor can’t just quit during the middle of production on a show. But it turns out Rogers had pulled a fast one on the producers.

  • Oh I see, but still the show creators could use these opportunities to make show more 'family-friendly'. I can see it especially on the Trapper > BJ exchange, because these two characters are in my opinion very similar to each other except for the cheating-on-their-wifes aspect. Similar situation with Blake > Potter change. Only Burnes seems noticeably different from Winchester imo.
    – GKozinski
    Nov 10, 2021 at 13:43
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    There was very little change in the "family friendliness" in the show when these characters left. If anything I think most would agree it got considerably darker.
    – Paulie_D
    Nov 10, 2021 at 14:21

I think in the case of bringing in Col. Potter to replace Henry Blake the idea was to introduce a character that was the complete antithesis of Blake and his kind of wacky/ah shucks way of running the unit. Col. Potter was "regular army" when he arrived and the 4077 was going to be his last assignment before retiring in 18 months I believe. The idea was to see how the unit would adjust to his leadership and vice versa. I much preferred Harry Morgan to McLean Stevenson.

I also heard part of the reason Wayne Rogers opted to leave aside from not wanting to play second fiddle to Alan Alda was that frankly, he could. He was said to have been an excellent businessman and had many successful endeavors, which meant he didn't rely on his income from acting. This allowed him a lot of freedom when it came to choosing his roles. And personally, I preferred the BJ character to Trapper. I thought he had way more depth.

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  • I think Wayne Rodgers leaving because he didn't need to act a bit suspect - he went straight to another show on another network where he played a doctor (so not THAT choosy, either). Dec 14, 2021 at 16:53

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