The Scene That Took M*A*S*H Off The Air

“Abyssinia, Henry” was the 72nd episode of the M*A*S*H television series and the 24th and final episode of Season 3. It first aired on March 18, 1975 and remains notable for its shocking ending: the off-screen death of Colonel Henry Blake. The episode centers on Henry leaving the 4077th MASH for the final time. It also marked McLean Stevenson’s departure from the series and later became the last episode for Wayne Rogers as Trapper John. Stevenson left to pursue other interests, while Rogers, who was dissatisfied with his role, left over a contract dispute before Season 4 began filming. The scene in which Radar informs everyone of Henry’s death marked the first time in television history that a major character of a network series was killed off in such a tragic manner. This ending prompted more than 1,000 letters to series producers Gene Reynolds and Larry Gelbart, and drew fire from both CBS and 20th Century Fox. In fact, 20th Century Fox was so displeased with the episode that during a later rerun of the episode, the final O.R. scene was cut from the episode. Disapproval was so great from CBS that they moved the show from its solid Tuesday night slot to Friday night, which for many programs is the kiss of death. It ended up to be just that for M*A*S*H.