The very first error of the series you probably noticed was Father Mulcahy, who was portrayed by actor George Morgan.
However, he was replaced by William Christopher in episode three; and George Morgan was still featured in the opening sequence for the rest of the series.
Time Waits for No One
In the pilot of M*A*S*H, we learn that the story begins in the year 1950 at the very start of the Korean War. This is absolutely plausible—what better place to start than at the beginning?
During season two, we learn that the timeline has been fast forwarded to 1951. However, fast forward seven seasons and the episode “A War for All Seasons” is progressing from 1950 into 1951 with Colonel Potter dressed as Father Time.
Reading is Fundamental
Walter “Radar” O’Reilly is a babe in the woods—still sleeps with his trusty teddy bear and enjoys a Grape Nehi. Radar loves his comic books and the comics appropriate to that time would have been Human Torch, Steve Savage, John Wayne, or Popeye.
However, Radar is often seen on M*A*S*H reading comics from the future—especially Marvel comics. Nothing wrong with Marvel—except he’s reading The Avengers (1963) and Spiderman (1962). Maybe this was a nod to the great Stan Lee, but it certainly wasn't historically accurate.
We Are Family
The cynical chief surgeon, Hawkeye Pierce, of the 4077th, is best known for his unabashed womanizing and piercing one-liners, but it’s his family life back home that had audiences confused.
During an episode titled “Dear Dad, Again”, Hawkeye is writing to his father. He closes with a line, "kiss mom and sis." However, later in the series, we learn that his mother died while he was 10 and he that he’s an only child.
Can You Be a Pinball Wizard at the Officers' Club?
The Officers’ Club at the 4077th is pretty nicely outfitted for a mobile unit. With a jukebox, two slot machines, a piano, and a pinball machine, it’s clearly a great place to blow off some steam from a rugged work environment.
One of the obvious prop slips of the Officers’ Club is the pinball machine. The ‘Heat Wave’ pinball machine (1964) is 14 years early. Makes you wonder what songs were available on that jukebox as well.
I'm Only Here for the Beer
You would expect a wake to include beer and spirits, which is perfectly normal. During “The Late Captain Pierce”, no one is more ready to celebrate his ‘death’ than Hawkeye, who has been accidentally declared departed due to a paperwork mix-up.
As the alcohol flows, you probably missed that the beer was in extruded aluminum cans instead of flat-top cans or bottles. However, beer was not formally canned in extruded aluminum until the 1970s.
Say Yes to the Dress
Corporal Klinger was an icon of fashion—and his wedding dress was no exception. Wearing a modest size 14, the dress was a vision of lace, tulle, and satin.
However, it was worn on three separate occasions during the series by three different people: Klinger when he married Laverne Esposito, Hot Lips when she married Lt. Col. Penobscott, and finally, Soon Lee, when she married Klinger. They must have had an AMAZING seamstress at the 4077th.
It’s hard for series writers to come up with names over and over again, especially in the revolving door as patients during a war. Leave it to writer Ken Levine (a huge baseball fan) to start naming patients after 1977 California Angels infield.
The Marines credited in the episode were Solita (Solaita), Remy, Grich, and Chalk. Also featured in the storylines were LA Dodgers O’Malley (owner Peter O’Malley), Sergeant Jerry Scully (the renown broadcaster Vin Scully), and Corporal Basgall (coach Monty Basgall).
Abe, Baker, Charlie, and Nurse Kellye
Likewise, with nurses’ names, the generic nurses of the series were given names that followed military HAM operators of A (Able), B (Baker), and C (Charlie).
Actress Kellye Nakahar was credited as two of the generic nurses on the show before finally securing her own name as Nurse Kellye Yamato in season four. She portrayed both Nurse Able and Nurse Charlie.
Purple Heart, Purple Heart
The Purple Heart is the oldest military award still given to U.S. military members—awarded by the president to those wounded or killed while serving their country. During the war, visiting commanders carried boxes of them to hand out to wounded patients at hospitals.
During M*A*S*H, however, the Purple Heart was often awarded under ‘dubious’ circumstances, the most memorable being to a young Ron Howard for his service—and to impress his girlfriend. In fact, this Purple Heart was stolen from Frank Burns, who applied for it when he threw out his back.
Time Keeps on Slipping Slipping, Into the Future
Time is hard and keeping time in a warzone is probably harder. In many episodes, the characters always refer to being 18 hours ahead of the United States.
The reality is that the time difference is only 12-14 hours, depending on what part of the U.S. you hail from—unless it's Juneau, Alaska.
Made With Real Fruit!
Fig Newtons—a staple in several episodes—were thoroughly enjoyed among the doctors of the 4077th. These delightful cookies were invented in the 1890s, so the cookies are actually time-appropriate.
However, they were packaged in boxes in the 1950s—not plastic, which is what B.J. Hunnicut held up in an episode.
Who Landed a Triple Axel?
During movie night, featuring Sun Valley Serenade (1941), Colonel Sherman T Potter noted that the amazing Sonja Henie was going to land a triple axel followed by the splits.
In reality, the triple axel originated in 1989 by Midori Ito of Japan and landed in competition two years later by that reality vixen, Tonya Harding.
Colonel Sherman was mighty proud to be from the same hometown as Mark Twain. For all you Twain Sayers, you know that’s referencing Hannibal, Missouri.
In multiple episodes after he arrives, he mentions homes in Nebraska and in Ohio. He further claims he’s missing Mildred and Nebraska pretty darn bad. At the end of the war, he returned to Hannibal to become a semi-retired country doctor.
Margaret's Dad Resurrected!
As an Army brat, Major Margaret Houlihan knows a thing or two about military service. She’s as devoted to her career just as her deceased father was.
So, it’s quite a shock that Colonel “Howitzer Al” Houlihan appeared at a stateside party in season 7 and showed up again in season 9.
Frequent Flier Points
One of the most polarizing episodes during the M*A*S*H franchise centered around Colonel Henry Blank earning enough ‘points’ to be honorably discharged. This practice ended at the end of the second World War.
Doctors were never awarded based on points, and it's mentioned during several episodes. Perhaps it wasn’t the best way to be sent home (we all know what happened to Colonel Blake).
Not Green Yet
During the episode “Depressing News”, Klinger is escorting a photographer from the Stars and Stripes. There is a closeup of an empty, relatively clean box.
Why does it have a recycling symbol on it? The symbol wasn’t used commercially until the 1970s.
Changes in Latitude
One of the most well-known latitudes in history is known as the 38th parallel, which roughly denotes the line between North and South Korea. In later years, it’s known as the DMZ.
In the episode ‘Iron Guts Kelly’, Radar give the location of an intense battle as longitude 70, latitude 27. The show researchers didn’t fact check this, which put the war smack dab in India.
Cheers to Winchester!
Nobody appreciates a good spirit more than Charles Emerson Winchester; he is, after all a Harvard medical school grad and resident of Beacon Hill.
During season 8, Major Winchester is gifted a bottle of Napoleon Brandy—a rarity in during the war and a treasure. However, this particular bottle had a twist off top. Brandies during this time period were corked.
It's the Muppet Show Tonight
The Muppet Show has one of the catchiest tunes ever, and even the mere mention helps it pop into your head. It's time to dim the lights…
So, when Frank Burns is cleaning his boots in the episode “The Most Unforgettable Characters”, it's surprising that he knows that ditty from 1970s.
It's a Horse, Of Course
Sophie is Colonel Potter’s beloved steed and aptly names for a mare.
While multiple horses stood in for Sophie, the most notable scene features Potter riding off into the sunset—and Sophie is most definitely a stallion!
During the series, Klinger is always perfectly accessorized with his outfits and is seen wearing large hoop earrings to match his ensemble.
The error occurs during the episode Dear Sigmund, when he refers to them as his hula hoops. While the hoops were invested in the late 1950s, they weren’t marketed as ‘Hula Hoops’ until 1962.
Name That Colonel's Wife
Head writer Larry Gelbart admitted that they often forgot the wives’ names and just let the cast roll with it. This explains a litany of mistakes for Colonel Blake’s spouse. In the earliest episodes, Colonel Blake’s wife was named Mildred. In later episodes, she’s referred to as Lorraine.
What gets interesting is when Colonel Potter shows up and his wife’s name is, you guessed it, Mildred.
Chocolate Makes Everything Better
Hershey’s Chocolate has been around forever and is a special treat, war or no war. Sargent Klinger in the episode “Give and Take” gives a Hershey bar to a wounded North Korean soldier, who seems grateful.
The only problem: that Hershey bar had a universal product code (UPC), something not produced on food items until 20 years later.
One thing Corporal Klinger and Colonel Potter had in common were that they were enormous fans of the Toledo Mud Hens and could often be seen wearing their baseball caps. Except that it was a Texas Rangers cap from 1972.
Leave it to the Toledo Mud Hens to right the wron; they sent the appropriate gear to the set so their team was accurately represented.
Frank Burns Identity Problems
The long-suffering Major Frank Burns has so many problems that he can’t see straight. Perhaps it’s the lack of respect he commands or the burning love for Houlihan; Franks craves one thing more than others: his desire to rule over the 4077th.
One thing we know for sure, Frank had three different middle names during the series: Frank W Burns, Frank Marion Burns, and Frank D Burns. (Marion is correct).
The writers were huge movie buffs, but several glaring timing errors occurred with announcing movies before they would have been available.
Radar announces that The First Born of Godzilla (1954) is that evening’s movie in “Springtime” episode, while Colonel Blake talks about The Blob (1958). During another episode, “Movie Night”, Radar does a hilarious John Wayne Impression that’s from the 1960s.
The eponymous tune for the Mickey Mouse Club was immediately popular in 1955 and people quickly began using it to spell out every day names and events. Heck, you probably started singing it in your head the minute you saw it.
It was also referenced in season five when Hawkeye hilariously caps the spelling of B.J.’s father-in-law's name H-A-Y-D-E-N with M-O-U-S-E; the only problem is that it is five years too early to know that.
These Boots Were Made for Walking
A soldier’s boots become his identity during war, and Hawkeye was no exception. During the episode “For Want of a Boot”, Hawkeye spends the entire episode trying to get a replacement pair of boots after one of his gets a hole in the bottom.
In the very last episode, “Goodbye, Farewell and Amen”, Hawkeye muses that he’s been wearing the same pair of boots since he arrived at the 4077th.
Hygiene is Two-Thirds of Health
This one isn’t as tongue-in-cheek as the rest of this list. One of the most egregious errors you’ll probably recognize during the show is that Hawkeye and his crew often move from one patient to the next without changing gloves or sterilizing.
In reality, even in the 1950s during a war, the cross contamination of blood was a concern, and many M*A*S*H units either offered pans of alcohol for surgeons to dip their hands in or a readily available supply of gloves.