Father's Day was the 4th episode of Season 9 of the CBS-TV series M*A*S*H, also the 202nd overall series episode. Written by Mike Farrell, John Rappaport, Karen Hall and directed by Alan Alda, it originally aired on December 8, 1980.


Margaret's cold-hearted father comes to visit while Hawkeye and Klinger try to conceal a stolen side of beef.

Full episode summaryEdit

Margaret gets news that her father - Alvin "Howitzer Al" Houlihan - is coming to visit her at the 4077th. Now retired, Al works as a Civilian Military Advisor and is coming to the 4077th as part of a business trip.

This sends Margaret into fits of nervous anticipation, insisting that everything at the camp be in perfect shape. She even suggests Col. Potter's hair could use a little trim.

After Margaret drives everyone crazy, her dad arrives in camp, and Margaret is eager to show the camp off to him. She has her nursing staff submit themselves for inspection, and she's beaming with pride. But her father takes little notice, only giving her a brief acknowledgment of them and her efforts.

Later, when they're alone, Margaret slips and mentions her parents' divorce, which seems to put her father in an even more terse mood. Later, in OR, Margaret is so nervous about the doctors' regular tomfoolery that she accidentally slams into a tray of instruments, causing them to crash to the floor. Right at that moment, she sees her father storm out of the OR.

Later that night, Margaret tries to talk to her father back in his tent, but he blows her off. After she leaves, he goes to the Officers Club and joins Potter for a drink. The two begin to get acquainted, but Al's mood seems to darken again when Potter mentions how much he's looking forward to going home to his wife. Moments later, Hawkeye and B.J. wander in, and decide "for Maragaret's sake" to try and make nice with Al. But within moments of sitting down, Al rebukes them both for their casual dress and demeanor, calling them a disgrace to their country. Hawkeye and B.J. both bite their tongues, but Al gets so angry he knocks over their table and storms out.

The next morning, after Margaret finds out her dad is leaving early, she furiously confronts Hawkeye and B.J., blaming them for the confrontation the night before. They protest their innocence, but Margaret refuses to listen until she runs into Potter, who confirms that B.J. and Hawkeye both behaved themselves, that it was Al who was spoiling for a fight, and that something was bothering him long before he chewed them out. Margaret then surmises that she is the reason Al is leaving early, tearfully believing that she disappointed her father again.

After she walks away, Potter visits Al as he is packing his bags, but when Al says Margaret is the best thing to happen to him, Potter can't help but remark on the backwards way he's showing it to her, pointing out that she's done everything to please him, but he doesn't seem to care, added to which his leaving the OR so abruptly didn't help her morale. But when Al reveals that it was all the blood that caused him to run out, Potter is disgusted at the idea that Al is willing to let his daughter think she is a failure to him rather than let on that he couldn't hack it. Before Potter leaves, he quietly remarks to Al about how he understands he's "got a lot of empty spaces" in his life, being without his wife and his men, but then reminds him that he still has Margaret and cautions him, "I'd say right now you're running away from the one person you should be getting close to."

Moments later, an emotionally detached Margaret says goodbye to her father as he begins to drive off, but then orders his driver to stop a few feet away. When Margaret runs up to him, Al takes her hand and admits that, as much as he doesn't say it enough, he is in fact proud of her. Margaret's face lights up, and Al asks her to visit him in Tokyo next month. Overjoyed, she agrees, and he drives off, smiling and waving at her. After he drives away, Margaret beams with pride and joy.

Subplot Edit

Quartermaster Supply Sergeant Morgove was brought in to camp with a head injury after a jeep accident; he later explains to Hawkeye that he had been sent to the front to deliver strawberries to a General Beswick. Determined to show his gratitude, Morgove tells Hawkeye that he will reroute some steaks to him intended for Beswick.

Two days later, a large crate marked "educational materials" arrives for Hawkeye. Hawkeye thinks it's the steaks Morgove mentioned, but it turns out to be an entire side of beef packed in dry ice and frozen solid. There's more than enough to feed everyone in camp, but it will take at least 24 hours to thaw. When Klinger later informs them that Beswick has sent out MPs to track down his missing beef, Hawkeye and B.J. attempt to expedite matters and thaw the beef faster by running it under a hot shower.

After Al departs, the beef is successfully thawed, cooked and is being devoured in the Mess Tent when an MP arrives ready to throw the book at everyone. Margaret offers him the last portion of the cooked steaks, so he will have no choice but to report to General Beswick that "There's no beef here!"

Guest stars/recurring castEdit

Memorable Quotes Edit

Winchester: "Uhh, Gentlemen, do my ears deceive me, or have you purloined some sirloin?"


  • Houlihan claims he was with the 127th Cavalry Regiment; in reality, there was no 127th Cavalry Regiment..although there is a 127th Infantry Regiment Wis Natl Guard.
  • Howitzer means Artillery...not cavalry...
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