Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Maxwell Q. Klinger
Making no secret of his disdain for the Army, Klinger constantly tried to get a discharge. Outside the occasional outlandish desertion attempt (he once attempted to escape by posing as a Korean woman), he was unwilling to accept a dishonorable discharge and instead tried to convince his commanding officer to grant him a medical discharge on the basis of mental instability (referred to as a "Section 8" in military jargon). This often involved continually wearing women's clothes and bizarre behaviour like trying to literally eat a Jeep or wearing heavy clothing during a heat wave. At one time he tried to get a medical discharge by eating his way out in a program he called Food for Freedom (Colonel Potter called it Suicide by Salami). Other attempts include faking deaths in the family and pretending that he received the throne as Zoltan, King of the Gypsies. The commanders were never fooled and Klinger was continually frustrated. The commanders largely tolerated his antics because they were entertaining and Klinger was otherwise a conscientious and reliable orderly who made a point of never letting his schemes interfere with his work.
Eventually, Klinger gave up wearing women's clothing, a change demanded by Farr because he felt his children would be ashamed of him for appearing in women's clothing week after week on national television. He took over Radar O'Reilly's job of company clerk with reasonable seriousness, eventually getting promoted to Sergeant.
At the end of the series, Klinger had fallen in love and married a native Korean woman, Soon Lee (Rosalind Chao), and decided to stay in Korea to search for her relatives, although he returned to the United States in the short-lived spin-off to the series called After M*A*S*H.
Quotes about Klinger's attempts
- Colonel Potter: "Every time you lie, your nose gets smaller."
- Klinger: "I'll come back!"
Colonel Potter: "I'll be here."
- Klinger: "You can get discharged for being fat?"
- Colonel Potter: "Klinger, you have no brothers."
Klinger: "Whoever said that was lying."
Colonel Potter: "You said that!"
Klinger: "Right, I was lying."
- Klinger: "My tribe awaits me."
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