M*A*S*H episode
“Sticky Wicket”
Sticky wicket
Hawkeye is upset when his patient does not recover. Henry challenges Hawkeye to consider whether it is his ego or his concern for the patient that is talking.
Season 1, Episode # 21
Number (#21) in series (256 episodes)
Guest star(s) John Orchard as Ugly John
Network: CBS-TV
Production code: J-321
Writer(s) Richard Baer
Director Don Weis
Original airdate February 25, 1973
IMDb logo IMDB Sticky Wicket
Episode chronology
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"The Army-Navy Game" (J‑322) "Major Fred C. Dobbs" (J‑320)

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(broadcast order)

"Major Fred C. Dobbs" (J‑320) "The Army-Navy Game" (J‑322)

(production order)

(production order)

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

Sticky Wicket was episode 21 of the first season of the TV series M*A*S*H, also the 21st overall episode of the series. Written by Richard Baer which was worked into a teleplay from Laurence Marks and Larry Gelbart, and directed by Don Weis, it originally aired on CBS-TV on March 4, 1973.


While Hawkeye has always teased Frank about his surgical incompetence, the tables are turned when one of Hawkeye's patients starts failing. He obsesses over saving this patient, but is challenged to reflect on whether it is his ego or the patient's life which is more important to him.

Full episode summaryEdit

The episode opens in a poker game. When it's interrupted by surgery, Hawkeye and Margaret operate on a patient and the former insults Frank. However, Hawkeye's patient fails to improve after surgery. Hawkeye becomes overly concerned with the case, to the point of attacking Frank over comments at lunch, falling asleep in Post-Op, snapping at Trapper for playing poker too loudly, and moving out of the Swamp to the supply tent.

While Hawkeye retreats to the Supply Tent to reflect on the case, he is interrupted by his date (whom he turns away), Trapper (whom he turns away as well), two other soldiers, and Henry. Henry implies that Hawkeye is concerned more about his ego than about his patient. Hawkeye returns with a glib remark about Henry's intelligence, which ultimately insults Henry and allows Hawkeye some peace and quiet. While pondering the case outside the Supply Tent, Hawkeye encounters Margaret and she theorizes that they made a mistake in the surgery, eliciting extreme doubt from Hawkeye, who in turn insults her.

During the night, Hawkeye has an epiphany and reopens the patient to find a small piece of shrapnel damage behind the sigmoid colon, at which point Frank states, "Anybody could have missed that." Hawkeye responds with a sincere "Thanks, Frank." He repairs the colon, and returns to his usual self.

Guest stars/Recurring castEdit

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