“Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen” (Season 11, Episode 16)
All that said, there would be no M*A*S*H without Alan Alda’s Hawkeye Pierce, the quick-witted, constantly cynical but endlessly compassionate doctor and the emotional core of the series. Demonstrated by Alda’s frequent turns as both writer and director on the show, in addition to its lead actor, the identity of M*A*S*H as a series is intrinsically tied to him. So how do we choose just a single episode to encapsulate the brilliance and significance of Hawkeye?
If there has to be one, though, it’s “Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen,” the appropriately melancholy series finale that landed M*A*S*H the record for the most watched series finale of all time. At nearly two hours long, the episode ties up virtually every major character’s storyline, but special emphasis is appropriately given to Hawkeye, whose struggles with mental health in the later seasons land him in a psychiatric facility. Though not a flat-out tragic finale, there was always a sense that M*A*S*H as a series could never have a truly happy ending, not when Hawkeye and the rest of the characters will never be able to forget the lasting trauma of war or go back to the people they were before the 4077th. Directed, of course, by Alda himself, the finale is a powerhouse, with an epic Alda performance to boot.