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For the Scottish radiologist, see John Macintyre. For the American actor, see John McIntire.

"Trapper" John Francis Xavier McIntyre is a fictional character in Richard Hooker's M*A*S*H novels, as well as the film and the two TV series (M*A*S*H and Trapper John, M.D.) that followed them. The nickname was derived from him being caught having sex with a woman in the ladies' room on a train, when said woman announced "He trapped me!" (The blurb on the book's cover refers to "raping" a beauty queen on the Boston to Maine Express, but in the context of the story it appears she was a willing participant who was concerned to protect her reputation when caught in flagrante delicto.)

McIntyre was depicted by Elliott Gould in the film, Wayne Rogers in M*A*S*H, and Pernell Roberts in Trapper John, M.D., making him one of only two major characters in the M*A*S*H Franchise to be played by three actors (the other being Father Mulcahy).

In the book and the film, Trapper John is a thoracic surgeon and the 4077th's Chief Surgeon. In the film, he had a very dry, sardonic deadpan sense of humor, while in the M*A*S*H TV series he was something of a class clown. Trapper spent much of his time on the series playing "Ethel" to Hawkeye Pierce's "Lucy", and partaking in playing practical jokes on the two majors, Frank Burns and Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan. Trapper did spend considerable time fraternizing with the nurses, even though he apparently did love his wife and two daughters.

Experiences in the TV series

In "Mail Call" [2/23/74], Trapper is struck by homesickness and a longing to see his family. After getting drunk, he packs his duffel bag and tries to go AWOL, even knocking Hawkeye to the ground with his bag. Frank then shows up, and the drunken Trapper gets caught up in lampooning him and forgets about desertion.

At one point, Trapper tried to adopt a Korean orphan ("Kim" [10/20/73]), and was crushed when he found out that the boy’s mother was still alive.

On two separate occasions, Major Houlihan drunkenly professed how Trapper's sturdy frame, crooked smile, and curly hair appealed to her. After the first incident ("Hot Lips and Empty Arms" [12/15/73]), he teased her at breakfast by telling her that "last night" (when he and Hawkeye were sobering her up in the shower) meant a lot to him and he wanted to know she was not "playing games". He even made Frank panic when he said, "To think of all those years I wasted taking showers by myself."

Trapper apparently played football at Dartmouth Collegemarker. In one episode, he refers to a hemorrhoid as a "football injury" caused by sitting on the bench. When he tosses a football in careless play, Hawkeye teases him about having an "arm like a rifle", and Trapper replies, "Hall of Famer!"

Though he was typically easygoing and a jokester, he also had a dark side. This was demonstrated in "Radar's Report" [10/29/73] when a patient he was trying to save died in part because a wounded POW destroyed the last bottle of blood the patient desperately needed. Trapper was so enraged that he confronted the bedridden POW in a threatening manner, with serious thoughts of murdering him in retaliation for the loss of his patient. Hawkeye was able to stop him before he did anything, though, gently reminding that as a physician, he was there to save lives, not take them.

At one point in the third season, Trapper began to experience stomach pains, the cause of which was soon determined to be a duodenal ulcer. He was delighted at the thought that he could go home on a medical discharge, but his spirits sank upon learning that all of the Army's treatment options required him to stay in the service.

Departure

Wayne Rogers was told when he accepted the role of Trapper for the TV series that Trapper and Hawkeye would be equally important, almost interchangeable (much like how Hawkeye and Trapper were presented in the MASH film). However, that changed radically when Alan Alda was cast as Hawkeye. In fact, the producers gave the TV version of Hawkeye some of the character details of the film version of Trapper (in the MASH film, Trapper John is the 4077th's top chest-cutter and Chief Surgeon; in the TV series, Hawkeye is Chief Surgeon and references are made to him being the camp's top chest-cutter).

By the end of the third season, Rogers was fed up with the fact that Trapper was being treated as a sidekick instead of an equal. He was also greatly frustrated with the producers demanding that he sign a contract that included a "morality clause" which stated the producers had the right to suspend him or fire him if he took part in an acting project outside of M*A*S*H without their approval, which he refused to sign because he saw it as an absurd demand. Even though the latter half of the third season started to flesh Trapper out a bit, Rogers departed, and his character was written out of the series. After he left the series, the producers sued Rogers for violating his contract, but the case was dismissed in his favor when it was revealed that he never signed his contract. In light of the series' lengthy run, Rogers later admitted he regretted leaving M*A*S*H. Trapper John's final M*A*S*H episode was "Abyssinia, Henry," which also included the final appearance of Col. Henry Blake (McLean Stevenson).

At the beginning of the fourth season, Hawkeye returns from "R&R" in Tokyo to find that Trapper has been discharged. Upon hearing the news, Hawkeye learns, an ecstatic Trapper ran through the mess tent naked. Radar had tried to reach Hawkeye in Tokyo to alert him of Trapper's departure, but without success. Trapper left no goodbye note but did "give" Radar a kiss on the cheek to pass on to Hawkeye, which he very reluctantly does.

Trapper John was referred to a few times in the series after his departure, most notably in an episode in which his replacement B.J. Hunnicutt, hearing of the pranks played by Trapper John, attempts to show that he in fact is "the world's heavyweight scamp". In the final episode, B.J. is discharged from the army and leaves while Hawkeye is under psychiatric treatment. He must leave so quickly after hearing the news that he has no time even to leave a note, echoing Trapper's failure to do so at his departure. (Hunnicutt's orders are rescinded, however, and he gets only as far as Guam before being sent back, by which time Hawkeye has been discharged from the psychiatric clinic.)

Trapper John, M.D.

Trapper John, M.D. was a series that showed the character about thirty years after the Korean War. It ran from 1979 to 1986, and thus overlapped with M*A*S*H, which ended in 1983, but not with Trapper's time on M*A*S*H.

In the period between his Korea experience and his tenure at San Francisco Memorial Hospital, the character had matured considerably, becoming a more sedate part of the medical establishment. Much of the story line of Trapper John, M.D. revolved around the relationship between the Korean War veteran Trapper John and Dr. George Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates (Gregory Harrison), who had served in a MASH unit in Vietnam and exhibited some of the personality traits Trapper John had had when he was younger. Interestingly, Harrison was featured in a 1976 episode of M*A*S*H as Lt. Tony Baker, the husband of one of the nurses at the 4077th.

When CBS announced the show Trapper John, M.D., it upset the producers of the show M*A*S*H. The producers relented when they were promised that there would be a very small numbers of mentions about the 4077th, and they only used scenes from the original show once, at the beginning of the series premiere. The M*A*S*H producers sued for royalty payments, seeing the show as a spinoff of their own show. The court, however, found the show to be a spinoff of the M*A*S*H movie, and ruled against the M*A*S*H producers.

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