Today, we see what the difference between war and hell is, courtesy of Hawkeye Pierce on M*A*S*H.
This is To Quote a Phrase, a spotlight on notable pop culture quotes.
October was a Month of To Quote a Phrase, both here and at Comics Should Be Good!
Naturally, due to their position as surgeons in a mobile army surgical hospital, the doctors on the hit series, M*A*S*H, had some theories about death. Probably the most famous happened in the Season 5 episode, “The General’s Practitioner,” where a General decides that he wants the best surgeon at the 4077th, which is Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda).
The general sends an aide to scout things out, and Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) tries to dissuade him by stressing how insurbodinate Hawkeye is. And sure enough, during the surgeries that night, Hawkeye rips into the brass with the following brilliant exchange….
Burns: Well, everybody knows, ‘war is Hell.’
Hunnicutt: Remember, you heard it hear last.
Hawkeye: War isn’t Hell. War is war, and Hell is Hell. And of the two, war is a lot worse.
Father Mulcahy: How do you figure that, Hawkeye?
Hawkeye: Easy, Father. Tell me, who goes to Hell?
Father Mulcahy: Um, sinners, I believe.
Hawkeye: Exactly. There are no innocent bystanders in Hell, but war is chock full of them – little kids, cripples, old ladies. In fact, except for a few of the brass, almost everybody involved is an innocent bystander.
Hawkeye, though, then makes a miraculous save of a patient’s life, so the aide of the general still recommends Hawkeye to be the personal doctor of the general. Luckily, eventually, Hawkeye convinces the general to let him remain where he is needed the most.
The episode was written by Burt Prelutsky.
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