Trapper John, M.D.

Trapper John, M.D.
Created by Richard Hooker
Developed by Don Brinkley
Frank Glicksman
Starring Pernell Roberts
Gregory Harrison
Charles Siebert
Mary McCarty
Madge Sinclair
Brian Mitchell
Christopher Norris
Timothy Busfield
Lorna Luft
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 7
No. of episodes 151 (list of episodes)
Camera setup Single-camera
Running time 4548 minutes
Production company(s) Don Brinkley Productions
20th Century Fox Television
Distributor 20th Television
Original network CBS
Original release September 23, 1979 (1979-09-23) – September 4, 1986 (1986-09-04)
Preceded by MASH (1970 film)
Related shows M*A*S*H

Trapper John, M.D. is an American medical drama television series and spin-off of the film MASH. Pernell Roberts portrayed the title character, a lovable surgeon who became a mentor and father figure in San Francisco, California. The show ran on CBS from September 23, 1979, to September 4, 1986. Roberts played the character more than twice as long as had Wayne Rogers (1972–75) in the series M*A*S*H.


Trapper John, M.D. focuses on Dr. "Trapper" John McIntyre (Pernell Roberts) 28 years after his discharge from the 4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) in the Korean War. During that time after the war, the character had mellowed considerably. He did not just learn how to stop fighting the system but became a part of it, in a sense, as the Chief of Surgery at San Francisco Memorial Hospital. Trapper showed tremendous compassion toward his patients, often violating "established hospital procedures." Working with Trapper was an aspiring young professional named Dr. George Alonzo "Gonzo" Gates (Gregory Harrison). Gates had a lot in common with Trapper, as he too had served in a MASH (albeit during the later Vietnam War). His sense of humor and love of life also reflected elements of Trapper's younger days. In the show, Gonzo resided in a motor home (dubbed "The Titanic") in the hospital parking lot.

The cast of Trapper John, M.D. season 6 (1984-1985).

The show also involves many supporting characters that served as hospital staff. One was Clara "Starch" Willoughby (Mary McCarty), a nurse who had served in the Korean War with Trapper (McCarty died after the first season). She was replaced by Ernestine Shoop (Madge Sinclair). Other characters included young nurse Gloria "Ripples" Brancusi (Christopher Norris) who later adopted a sickly, homeless girl, Andrea; Stanley Riverside II (Charles Siebert), a pompous, but nonetheless capable doctor (whose father was the head of the hospital board of directors) who later married a dentist named E.J. (Marcia Rodd); and Justin "Jackpot" Jackson (Brian Stokes Mitchell), a young doctor always interested in wagers. Character actress Lurene Tuttle guest starred six times in different roles.

In the 1984–1985 season, Trapper's son, J.T. (Timothy Busfield) graduated from medical school and arrived at the hospital to work on his internship. When Gloria left the next fall, she was replaced by Libby Kegler (Lorna Luft). Subsequent additions included the beautiful and mature administrator, Catherine Hackett (Janis Paige), and ER service helicopter pilot and surgeon, Dr. Andy Pagano (Beau Gravitte).


Production notes

Legally, the show is considered a spin-off of the original motion picture, MASH, rather than the M*A*S*H television series. This is due to a court case in which the producers of the television series sought royalty payments on the grounds that Trapper John, M.D. was a spin-off of their series. The court found, however, that the series was a spin-off of the original movie – itself an adaptation of Richard Hooker's MASH: A Novel About Three Army Doctors. As a result, the producers of the M*A*S*H series did not receive any royalties from Trapper John, M.D., with the common threads being 20th Century Fox Television as producers of both the M*A*S*H television series and Trapper John, M.D., and the movie studio in general producing both series and the film MASH.

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