Hunnicutt resided in Mill Valley, California before he was recruited to join the US Army to fight in the War. He was educated at Stanford University and was a member of the Tau Phi Epsilon fraternity. B.J. is married to Peg (who writes scores of letters to him while he is in Korea). The couple has a daughter, named Erin.
Captain Hunnicutt first appeared on the show in 1975, after Trapper John McIntyre was allowed to return home from the 4077.
His full name remained a mystery throughout the series. He claimed—perhaps in jest—that was named him after his mother Bea and father Jay (hence Bea-Jay = B.J.). Hawkeye, for one, did not accept that explanation.
In addition, he tended to be much less aggressive in his crusades than Hawkeye, usually preferring to be a quieter voice of reason to his friend. For instance, when Hawkeye tried to print a letter protesting an unfeeling Marine commander's treatment of a Dutch immigrant soldier in the military press, the letter was killed by the commander and Hawkeye was almost arrested for arguing with the commander about it. Hunnicutt, on the other hand, watched the drama from a distance until he calmly suggested that Hawkeye take his letter to the civilian press train in Seoul which is beyond the commander's control, thus frustrating the officer. Unlike Trapper, who was a class clown, B.J. was used more as a straight man to Hawkeye's antics.
Relationship With His WifeEdit
He often frustrated his bunkmate and best friend, Captain Hawkeye Pierce, with his traditional values and steadfast loyalty to his wife and his marriage. The enforced separation from his family was a habitual source of turmoil. In that regard, the missing of important family moments and the apparent neglect of his own domestic responsibilities were particularly upsetting to him while also taking insults to his familial loyalty very personally. In the fifth season episode "Hanky Panky" (2/1/77), B.J. unexpectedly comes close to having a one night stand with nurse Carrie Donovan, putting him in great shame and anguish. "I'm a happily married man!" he lamented, "Not like Frank Burns is happy because his wife owns real estate." He almost told his wife but Hawkeye advised against it, and B.J. eventually straightened things out and made peace with Carrie.
As A DoctorEdit
Hunnicutt is an excellent doctor with strong morals and is always looking to do the right thing. This was displayed in "Preventive Medicine" (2/19/79) where Hawkeye and B.J. spike the drink of a bloodthirsty commander to make him medically unfit to lead an unnecessary battle. Hawkeye unexpectedly ups the ante by claiming he has appendicitis and must be operated upon, a trick he and Trapper John once used to put Colonel Sam Flagg temporarily out of commission. This time however, B.J. objects to this needless surgery as human mutilation and a violation of his oath so he refuses to cooperate after a heated argument with the adamant Hawkeye.
As A SoldierEdit
In "Bombshells", B.J. is in a helicopter and forced to cut a rope leading down to a wounded soldier he and the pilot were trying to rescue from enemy soldiers (effectively abandoning him to capture or death). He receives a bronze star for bravery for the act, but announces to Hawkeye that he cannot go on thumbing his nose at authority any more, and that the act he had committed turned him into a soldier.
At the start of the seventh season (1978-79), Hunnicutt grew a mustache, which he would wear for the remainder of the series. He is also portrayed as a motorcycle enthusiast in at least two episodes, including the final episode "Goodbye, Farewell, and Amen" (2/28/83). His final line in that episode (and the series) is not spoken. Hawkeye was upset at B.J. for refusing to say 'goodbye' to him; B.J. did not like saying goodbye and sensed that both men knew they would not see each other after the war, given the distance between their homes. One of the final scenes of the episode is Hawkeye getting into a helicopter to fly out of the camp site on the first leg of his journey home, and seeing B.J. standing on the helipad below him as the chopper lifts off. The word GOODBYE is spelled out in white rocks on the ground. B.J. then gets on the motorcycle he had gotten from the Chinese POWs and rides off.
Prior to his joining M*A*S*H, Mike Farrell's then-wife, actress Judy Farrell, appeared on the show in the early seasons playing various nurses. When he joined the show, he had B.J.'s daughter Erin named after his own daughter with Judy.
B.J. was referred to in passing in the TV hospital drama St. Elsewhere as a one-time drinking buddy of Dr. Craig while he was in Korea. The series writers were fond of inserting such inside jokes from time to time. How this might challenge the authenticity of the whole series (in lieu of St. Elsewhere's final revelation) is never addressed.
During production of M*A*S*H, Mike Farrell met doctor Patch Adams, who served as a technical consultant on the show. Farrell later produced the biopic Patch Adams, which starred Robin Williams.