Question: My father and I are debating. What happened to the characters on the final episode of M*A*S*H? It would really help us if you could stop the debate.

Televisionary: What? And end the family bonding? At least you're debating and not on your way to fisticuffs. (OK, you sent that question in a while back; it may have come to blows by now.)

Anyway, I'll thank you for your containing your question to the confines of the final episode. Given the show's spinoffs, various pieces of fan fiction and assorted supposition, there are all kinds of answers to that question if we bring the entire M*A*S*H universe into play.

M*A*S*H's final episode, "Goodbye, Farewell and Amen," aired on Feb. 28, 1983, attracting a record-breaking audience and capping a show that in its 11 years earned a well-deserved spot on the list of television's highlights.

Charles Winchester (David Ogden Stiers), sadly, had the enjoyment of his beloved classical music marred permanently when a group of Chinese soldiers he'd taught to play Mozart were killed. "For me, music had always been a refuge from this miserable experience," he observed. "Now it will always be a reminder."

Max Klinger (Jamie Farr) fell in love with a Korean woman named Soon-Lee (Rosalind Chao), married her and later joined Father Mulcahy (William Christopher) and Colonel Potter (Harry Morgan) at a stateside V.A. facility in the AfterMASH spin-off.

The last we saw of Margaret "Hot Lips" Houlihan (Loretta Swit), she was off to the 8063rd after loading a jeep with so much luggage there was no room for Winchester, who was supposed to share it with her. But she didn't go without a parting gift — Winchester's copy of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets From the Portuguese, which she'd wanted so badly.

Hawkeye (Alan Alda) faced and overcame an emotional breakdown via a stint in a psych facility to return to the 4077th and the ensuing goodbyes. He and B.J. (Mike Farrell) managed one of the most touching farewells to ever hit the small screen, as Hawkeye's chopper lifts off and he sees the "goodbye," spelled out in stones, that his friend hadn't been able to deliver in person.

The show had its ups and downs, certainly — Hawkeye's self-absorption and casual cruelty hasn't aged well when I watch some old episodes, for example — but there are far more of the former than the latter. In this writer's opinion, M*A*S*H had a hell of a lot of fun and ended with one of the most creatively satisfying series finales in TV history.