M*A*S*H episode
“Major Fred C. Dobbs”
Fred C Dobbs
One of the most bizarre scenes in the series. When Frank realizes he has been duped into staying on by the talk about the gold deposits, Trapper and Hawkeye drive past him in a gold painted jeep.
Season 1, Episode # 21
Number (#21) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) Odessa Cleveland
Harvey J. Goldenberg
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J-320
Writer(s) Sid Dorfman
Director Don Weis
Original airdate February 25, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB Major Fred C. Dobbs
Episode chronology
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"Sticky Wicket" (J‑321) "Ceasefire" (J‑320)

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(broadcast order)

"The Longjohn Flap" (J‑319) "Sticky Wicket" (J‑321)

(production order)

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

Major Fred C. Dobbs was episode 22 of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 22nd overall episode of the series. Written by Sid Dorfman, and directed by Don Weis, it originally aired on CBS-TV on March 11, 1973.


After another Hawkeye and Trapper scheme to get rid of Frank, he finally demands a transfer with Hot Lips following suit. However, the scheming pair realize they will be doing double duties until a replacement is found. Not wishing to do extra work, they convince Frank to stay by claiming they have found a fortune of gold at the camp.

Full episode summaryEdit

After witnessing Frank's berating of nurse Ginger Bayliss for no reason, Hawkeye and Trapper console Ginger and set Frank up for one of their "getting even" pranks. This latest scheme succeeds where no other one has as Frank finally demands that he be transferred to another unit. But when another prank embarrasses both Frank and Margaret over the P.A. system, she also demands a transfer. Hawkeye and Trapper are glad to be rid of the pair at first, but then learn that they will have to work double shifts until replacements arrive. To trick Frank into staying, the two surgeons lead him to believe that large deposits of gold can be found near the camp with the help of a some gold filling from the dental tent.

Frank's greed gets the better of him and he withdraws his transfer request, after which Hawkeye and Trapper humiliate him again in front of Margaret by letting him find fake gold and driving past him in a jeep painted gold.

Research notes/Fun factsEdit

  • The title of this episode is a reference to the John Huston film The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948), in which Fred C. Dobbs (played by Humphrey Bogart) becomes consumed with greed - a weakness that Hawkeye and Trapper exploit in order to keep Frank from actually leaving. The episode does not actually feature a character named Major Fred C. Dobbs.
  • The plot device of Radar planting a microphone in Margaret's tent, and embarrassing her and Frank by broadcasting them over the camp PA system, is reminiscent of a sequence from the original MASH film.
  • Hawkeye makes a reference to his favorite soap opera, "Just Plain MacArthur," a reference to a real radio soap from the Golden Age called Just Plain Bill.
  • This was the last of the episodes to have the "jazzier" version of the theme.
  • Radar is seen with his teddy bear
  • Houlihan was given a farewell gift by the nurses-a Japanese female doll costing $2.00! {It is later seen on Blake's desk}
  • Radar's horse pack and pick, the PA system and the leaves on the trees are painted gold!
  • This is one of the most illogical episodes in which Blake tears up Frank's transfer request..but not Houlihan's! In real life, Houlihan would have been so tired of the disrespect showed to her by Pierce and Trapper that she would have gone through with her transfer. Of course, Houlihan not being there would have driven Burns crazy-as did happen Margaret's Marriage.
  • A giveaway that this is unreal military is having Houlihan with long hair - women in the military from the 1940s to 1960's had their hair trimmed {although not as short as men's}
  • Among those involved in the making of M*A*S*H, this is often considered to be the worst episode, centering as it does on Hawkeye and Trapper trying to keep Majs. Burns and Houlihan at the 4077th.[1] Alan Alda mentions this as a low point, an episode which they wished they didn't have to do because the idea didn't work.[2]


  • PA: Tonight a double Movie showing: "Greed" and "There Goes my transfer Burns" There is actually a movie called "Greed" a 1924 silent picture: Greed_(film)
    • The METV version cut out one of best lines in this episode:
  • Hawkeye: The three basic emotions are greed...fear and greed...Frank Burns is crazy for money...he married for money...he became a doctor for money...if there was money in dying..he throw himself under a truck

Guests stars/Recurring castEdit


  1. Wittebols, p. 24
  2. “Alda's Favorite 'M*A*S*H' Episodes,”, last modified October 6, 2005, URL.