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The Only MASH Character To Appear In Every Episode

"MASH" remains a landmark in television for many reasons. Its willingness to deal with the heavy subject matter — uncharacteristic of a typical sitcom — tends to get mentioned often in the discussion of groundbreaking television (via SlashFilm). Despite being set against the backdrop of war, the series has even earned recognition as one of the funniest sitcoms in television history. But, of course, none of it would have worked without such a strong ensemble cast. Indeed, the cast and characters worked so well off each other that you definitely noticed when someone departed.

There are plenty of pitfalls and challenges when it comes to ensemble casts, especially the larger ones. One such challenge is knowing when to put a specific character at the center of the action — the "rotating protagonist" as TV Tropes calls it. Another is knowing when to use a character sparingly. Not every story on "MASH" required the input of every character, and attempts to shove them in so they would have gotten screen time would have, understandably, come off as either clunky or gratuitous.

On the other hand, even if "MASH" didn't always need every character, then it also seems fair to say that there was one character that it couldn't do without.

Hawkeye appeared in all 256 episodes of the series

Captain Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce – played by Alan Alda in what is arguably his most recognized role in an accomplished career — appears in all 256 episodes of "MASH." This would make sense, as Hawkeye not only becomes chief surgeon of the MASH unit very early on in the series, but he essentially serves as the show's troubled conscience, the lens through which the tragicomic absurdities of war are filtered. "Casting Alda as the ensemble's moral center and chaos agent was key," wrote James Poniewozik for the New York Times.

This makes Hawkeye the only character to appear in every single episode of MASH (via The News-Herald). In fact, he's also the only character to appear as the sole ensemble cast member in their own episode during the show's eleven-year run. This episode was appropriately titled "Hawkeye," and featured Hawkeye as the only character from the ensemble cast to appear (via IMDb). In the episode, Hawkeye is in a Jeep accident and is taken in by a South Korean family. Fearing he has a concussion, he talks about whatever comes to mind. The family cannot understand a word he says, and the episode essentially functions as a long monologue by Alda.