The final scene shows Hawkeye looking down from a chopper at the 4077 MASH unit, where his buddy B.J. has left a message in rocks that reads "Goodbye." Call it over-the-top sentimentality, but 106 million people were watching.
One might long to return to a more innocent time, when TV shows were simply canceled with little fanfare, and usually for good reason. "The Brady Bunch" left the air with Bobby selling hair tonic that made Greg's hair turn orange. Perhaps it only figures. The Bradys never acknowledged sex. How could they address cancellation?
Just a year after "M*A*S*H," "Happy Days" signed off with Fonzie adopting an 8-year-old boy. He had literally and figuratively "jumped the shark" in an episode seven years earlier -- and this final installment only proved the point.
In the years since, a hit TV show has rarely hit the chopping block without a big send-off, even if it was long past its prime. Even shows that existed just for laughs took the time to mark their end, and these are often among the show's most-watched episodes.
Here's a look at some of the other landmark sitcom send-offs.
"The Cosby Show" (1992) -- Cliff and Claire Huxtable literally dance off the air, ending eight seasons of "The Cosby Show" by waltzing off the set and out the studio door to bid adieu to viewers. This feel-good episode includes Cliff fixing the perpetually broken doorbell and the dyslexic Theo graduating from New York University.
"Newhart" (1990) -- In one of the most surreal moments in TV history, Bob Newhart ends his show by waking up in bed with Suzanne Pleshette -- his TV wife on his previous sitcom, "The Bob Newhart Show."
"Honey," Newhart says, "you won't believe the dream I just had. I dreamed I was an innkeeper in a crazy little town" -- implying that "Newhart," a TV show about a Vermont innkeeper, was just a dream in the mind of his former character, psychologist Bob Hartley.
Newhart was so bent on keeping the ending a surprise that he actually cooked up a fake ending and fed it to the tabloids. In it, he died and went to heaven, where he met God, played by George Burns.
"Roseanne" (1997) -- "Roseanne" also went out with an "it was all a dream" ending, but the results were more of a nightmare. Up until the final episode, viewers had been led to believe that the blue-collar Conner family had won the lottery and that Roseanne's TV husband had survived a heart attack.
But in the finale, Roseanne reveals in a bizarre voice-over that the show's entire final season was all fiction that she wrote as grief therapy. Her husband's apparent survival had been just part of her fantasy.
In the voice-over, Roseanne slips back and forth between herself and her character, talking about the origins of the show and her relationship with the characters, in a monologue that might have been even more confusing than the troubled star's personal life at the time.
"Cheers" (1993) -- Sam and Diane flirt with marriage one more time. Woody is elected city councilman and Rebecca marries her plumber boyfriend. But just as Sam agrees to move West with Diane, he realizes that the friends he's leaving behind at the bar are the closest thing he has to a family -- and he can't go. He goes back, flicks off the bar lights and when someone tries to come in for a nightcap, he says, "Sorry, we're closed."