M*A*S*H is an American media franchise consisting of a series of novels, a film, several television series, plays, and other properties, owned by 20th Century Fox and based on the semi-autobiographic fiction of Richard Hooker. The franchise depicts a group of fictional characters who served at the fictional "4077th Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (M*A*S*H)" during the Korean War, loosely based on the historic 8055th MASH unit. Hawkeye Pierce is featured as the main character, played by Donald Sutherland in the film and by Alan Alda on television. Later spin-offs involve characters who appeared in the series, but were set after the end of the war. Almost all versions of the series fit into the genre of black comedy or dramedy; the lead characters were doctors or nurses, and the practice of medicine was at the center of events. However, to relieve the pressures of duty in a field hospital close to the front and the attendant horrors of war, the staff engage in humorous hijinks, frivolity and petty rivalries off duty. The franchise effectively ended with the conclusion of Trapper John, M.D. on September 4, 1986. A large fanbase for the series exists, and 20th Century Fox has had notable success selling the film and seasons of the TV series on DVD.
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