Hawkeye's Pacifist Principles Tested in MASH Episode

Hawkeye Pierce, a pacifist, refuses to carry a gun in the TV series MASH, but is forced to fire one in self-defense in the Season 5 episode "Hawkeye Get Your Gun". This marks the only time in the series that Hawkeye is seen firing a weapon.

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Hawkeye's Pacifist Principles Tested in MASH Episode

Hawkeye's Pacifist Principles Tested in MASH Episode

In the hit TV series MASH, Hawkeye Pierce, portrayed by Alan Alda, was known for his strong pacifist beliefs despite being stationed in a warzone. Throughout the show's 11-season run, Hawkeye steadfastly refused to carry a gun, even in the face of danger. However, in the Season 5 episode "Hawkeye Get Your Gun," his principles were put to the ultimate test.

The episode sees Hawkeye and Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) taking a trip to a Korean clinic, only to be ambushed along the way. With their lives in danger, Potter orders Hawkeye to shoot back at the enemy. Initially, Hawkeye refuses, instead delivering snarky quips while sipping booze from the canteen he and Potter had been sharing. But as the situation grows more dire, Hawkeye finally relents and fires his gun into the air, scaring off the attacking soldiers.

Hawkeye's aversion to violence was a recurring theme in MASH, often leading to clashes with the more hawkish Major Frank Burns (Larry Linville). In the Season 3 episode "Officer of the Day," Hawkeye famously declared, "I'll carry your books, I'll carry a torch, I'll carry a tune, I'll carry on, carry over, carry forward, Cary Grant, cash and carry, carry me back to Old Virginie. I'll even hari kari if you show me how, but I will not carry a gun."

The "Hawkeye Get Your Gun" episode marked the only time in the series that Hawkeye was seen firing a weapon, and even then it felt more like an act of defiance than aggression. The show never explored a storyline where Hawkeye was forced to kill in self-defense, perhaps feeling that would be too dark for the CBS sitcom, even with its deft balance of comedy and drama.

Alan Alda, the only actor to appear in all 256 episodes of MASH, took on an increasingly prominent creative role in the series, especially after the departure of Wayne Rogers (Trapper John) following Season 3. Under Alda's influence, the show delved deeper into the horrors and absurdities of war, with Hawkeye's pacifism and irreverence often serving as the voice of reason amid the chaos.

The enduring popularity of MASH, which ran from 1972 to 1983, can be attributed to its masterful blend of humor and pathos, with characters like Hawkeye embodying the show's anti-war sentiment. "Hawkeye Get Your Gun" stands out as a memorable test of the character's pacifist resolve, one that he ultimately passed, even if he had to bend his principles ever so slightly in the face of imminent danger.

Key Takeaways

  • Hawkeye Pierce, played by Alan Alda, was a pacifist in the TV series MASH.
  • In the Season 5 episode "Hawkeye Get Your Gun," Hawkeye breaks his no-gun rule to scare off attackers.
  • Hawkeye's aversion to violence was a recurring theme in MASH, often clashing with Major Frank Burns.
  • The episode marked the only time Hawkeye fired a weapon in the series, and it was an act of defiance, not aggression.
  • Hawkeye's pacifism and irreverence served as the voice of reason in the show's anti-war sentiment.