M*A*S*H episode
“I Hate a Mystery”
I hate a mystery
Hawkeye gathers his suspects and attempts to solve the mystery of the thefts.
Season 1, Episode # 10
Number (#10) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Timothy Brown
Odessa Cleveland
John Orchard
Bonnie Jones
Patrick Adiarte
Linda Meiklejohn
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J306
Writer(s) Hal Dressner
Director Hy Averback
Original airdate November 19, 1972
IMDb logo IMDB I Hate a Mystery
Episode chronology
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"Henry, Please Come Home" (J‑302) "Germ Warfare" (J‑304)

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"The Moose" (J‑305) "Chief Surgeon Who?" (J‑307)

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Season 1 episodes
List of all M*A*S*H episodes

I Hate a Mystery was the tenth episode of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H. Written by Hal Dressner and directed by Hy Averback, the episode originally aired on CBS-TV on November 26, 1972 and was shown again on June 10, 1973, during the network's Daytime TV summer sweeps period.


A rash of thefts breaks out in the camp. Missing pieces include Frank's silver picture frame, Margaret's hair brush, and Trapper's watch. The camp is searched and everything is found in Hawkeye's locker, leaving the other MASH personnel suspicious of and, worse, disappointed in Hawkeye.

Hawkeye manages to let it be known to the camp where the recovered items have been stored (they have been locked in Col. Blake's desk). When the items disappear yet again, Hawkeye summons many of the MASH personnel to the mess tent in the middle of the night in order to reveal the identity of the criminal. After parodying countless detective stories by revealing possible motives others might have to frame him (jealousy, resentment, etc.), he tells the assembled staff that he has treated the items with a chemical which, when it comes into contact with a human being, turns that person's fingernails blue.

When Ho-Jon hides his hands, Hawkeye knows he has found the criminal. (The chemical treatment story was merely a bluff.) Ho-Jon is not punished, however, as he has stolen the items only to raise money to bribe border guards to bring his family from the north to the south.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • Ho-Jon attends Hawkeye's late-night meeting even though his name isn't called.
  • Lt. Bannerman and Radar enter the mess tent as their names are being called. (Of course with Radar, this is typical.)
  • First appearance of Radar's teddy bear. It was neither seen in the film, nor mentioned in the novel.
  • The picture of Frank Burns mother is a stage prop; contrary to urban legend, it is not the same picture of the old woman seen in the locket of the dead criminal Dino in the 1959 Tarzan Movie "Tarzan's Greatest Adventure."
  • Cultural references:
    • Les Misérables is mentioned in a PA announcement as a "tale of a man who steals and is relentlessly pursued - sorta like somebody we all know", pointing to the theory of Hawkeye being the thief.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit