208 episodes. 9 Seasons and 6 characters we came to know and love. Let’s settle in and rank every episode of CBS’s ‘How I Met Your Mother’.
Like it or loathe it, CBS’s How I Met Your Mother came to define the late 2000’s with its quirky sitcom format and cast of characters that resonated with the audience at home. We followed their love lives, their failures and after 208 episodes, finally met the mother.
Ranking 208 episodes of a television show isn’t an exact science – there’s always going to be room for opinion and debate. That’s half the fun of a list like this; How I Met Your Mother had a lot of good episodes but it also had a fair few duds in the batch and as it turns out – putting them in in a list and ranking them only makes you debate what constitutes a bad episode. With this in mind, I used very simple criteria
Of course, you may not agree with our list and that’s perfectly fine. But we think this is the definitive list of How I Met Your Mother episodes – ranked from worst to best and our thoughts on each episode. Let’s begin!
208. “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra” (Season 9, Episode 14) Painfully unfunny premise mixed with an awkward racist controversy that left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. The movie parodies were tedious while the slap bet premise is stretched beyond breaking point to deliver a wholly unfunny episode. Terrible. Terrible. What were they thinking committing this abomination to television? When people chart How I Met Your Mother‘s decline, it’s this kind of Season 9 filler that turned many off. There’s no reason for it to exist in How I Met Your Mother – and certainly no reason to re-watch it.
207. “Bedtime Story” (Season 9 Episode 11) To kill some time, the writers made everything in this episode rhyme. It’s stuffed to the brim with filler, but that’s not the killer. The cutaway jokes suck, Jason Segal’s a lame duck. It’s clear this episode’s a mess, how it made it to TV is anyone’s guess.
206. “Twelve Horny Women” (Season 8 Episode 8) Marshall and Brad’s courtroom drama reaches it’s tedious conclusion while the rest of the gang argue over who was the most bad-ass teenager. Dauntingly dull and frustrating when you realise Robin and Barney undo what little progress their romance underwent in the previous episode.
205. “Last Forever Part 2” (Season 9 Episode 24) Is the How I Met Your Mother finale really that bad? Yes and then some. If rushing through 6 years of character development, painting Robin as a massive bitch and landing Barney with a daughter we barely get to spend a minute of on-screen time is your cup of tea then you might disagree. But letting the audience grow attached to The Mother throughout Season 9 then killing her off screen right at the end is the coldest, most unsatisfying conclusion the show could have gone with. To then see Ted basically begging his kids for permission to chase Robin – who herself is still alone after all these years – really feels like a betrayal of the shows central message. Half the joy of this show was the idea that Ted was working towards his happy ending – to have that snuffed out in the closing 5 minutes is unforgivable. There’s some wonderful moments in this episode (Barney’s monologue to his daughter and the scene where Ted met Tracy for the first time) but it’s largely buried in an ocean of bad decisions.
204. “Last Forever Part 1” (Season 9 Episode 23) Breaking Robin and Barney up before the midway point in this episode was a shocking awful decision when the show just spent a whole 4 seasons putting them together. Beyond this Lily and Marshall have another kid (Who we never get to meet) while Ted & Tracy begin their own family. The only reason this isn’t lower than the second part is at least we get some decent callbacks to earlier episodes – and Robin’s growing disenchantment with the gang (Something that was foreshadowed many seasons earlier) is well played by Cobie Smulders – who you genuinely feel sorry for. Honestly put though, neither part holds a candle to How I Met Your Mother‘s better moments and neither are worthy of praise. It’s just sad to think this is how that nine season journey to meet the Mother was destined to end.
203. “Zoo or False” (Season 5 Episode 19) Awkwardly laugh-lite episode which see’s the gang trying to get to the bottom of who mugged Marshall. Turns out it was a monkey, and apparently that was worth dedicating a whole episode too. Lame jokes aside, Jason Segal doesn’t do it for me in this episode – failing to land any of his usual humorous trademarks. A very early sign that the show wasn’t landing its comic punches quite as much and that How I Met Your Mother was drifting from its peak.
202. The Burning Bee Keeper (Season 7 Episode 15) The idea was decent but the execution was savagely underwhelming. What we get is a story re-told from three different perspectives – none of which are remotely interesting or funny with a culmination that feels entirely forgettable. If you’re going to do something that, give it a purpose at least. How I Met Your Mother thrives on these kinds of concepts – so it’s sad to see it fumble so heavily.
201. “The Autumn of Break-Ups” (Season 8 Episode 5) Jason Segal channels his “inner goddess” in one of the shows most cringe worthy moments. Elsewhere Ted and Victoria’s relationship hits the rocks when Victoria’s entire 8-season character arc is ejected in seconds as a lame excuse to get Ted chasing Robin again. Anyone glad to see her character return was in for a rude awakening and underlined one of How I Met Your Mother‘s worst aspects – it’s ability to throw logic aside for the sake of Ted and Robin’s relationship.
200. The Stamp Tramp (Season 8 Episode 7). After all the breakups, Barney goes looking for a new strip club in one of the shows most ill-advised fleets of “comedy”. Robin plays his manager while Ted, Marshall and Lily get stuck with a subplot so dauntingly dull you’ll wonder what on earth the writers were thinking. Noteworthy only because of the Robin/Barney kiss at the episode’s end, but awkwardly signposts the fact that How I Met Your Mother had long run out of ideas.
199. “Mom and Dad” (Season 9 Episode 10) Season 9’s tedious march through filler country continues as Ted “breaks” a gift intended for Robin and goes to find out who really did it. Elsewhere Barney and James’ parents both show up and cause trouble in an “Oh god why am I still watching this” kind of way. Marshall and Daphne also have some drama but who honestly cared about their road adventure by this point?
198. “No Questions Asked” (Season 9 Episode 7) The entire episode is a slapstick affair where the gang try to help Marshall delete a text message from Lily’s phone. If you read that and thought “How could that work in a 22-minute episode?” – it doesn’t.
197. “The Pre-Nup” (Season 8 Episode 2) Barney and Quinn’s tedious relationship ends as quickly as it began. The two realise they’re not right for each other but force us to endure a whole episode of men vs. women “comedy” to get there. Elsewhere Lily and Marshall begin their Season 8 holding pattern as they continue to struggle with parenthood while Klaus reappears to rain on Ted and Victoria’s parade.
196. “The Lighthouse” (Season 9 Episode 8) Robin continues her pointless argument with Loretta while Marshall and Daphne have to deal with stowaway Clint on their never ending journey. The only noteworthy moment from this episode is the ending; where Ted takes the Mother to the lighthouse and proposes. If only we could skip into the future and avoid all this Season 9 filler.
195. “Knight Vision” (Season 9 Episode 6) God only knows why the writers thought an imaginary medieval knight was the correct metaphor for Ted’s dilemma He has some fun moments but it’s one of the series more unusual choices. Barney and Robin risk losing their reverend through lying while Marshall continues his god-awful adventures in with Daphne in the Snore Machine.
194. “Who Wants to Be a Godparent” (Season 8 Episode 4) Lily and Marshall have to decide who gets to be Marvin’s godparent in the event something happens to them. Cue the unfunny game show nods and laugh-lite exchanges as Barney, Ted and Robin stagger through a series of dim sequences to reach a conclusion that should have been obvious to Marshall and Lily from the start. The flash-forwards in this episode are quite amusing though and worth a glance but everything else feels like the show stalling for ideas.
193. “The Poker Game” (Season 9 Episode 5) Robin wins Jame’s wedding ring which leads to tension while Lily/Marshall/Ted argue over weddings gifts. Arguably not that great but some clever jokes and decent laughs help it to rise above the worst Season 9 had on offer. Again though – nothing of note is added to How I Met Your Mother’s canon.
192. “Old King Clancy” (Season 4 Episode 18) One of those episodes where it’s not necessarily “bad” – it’s just exceedingly dull. Barney and Marshall’s attempts to save Ted’s feelings doesn’t really lead to anything fun for the audience, just setting Ted on a new career path, Elsewhere the gangs musings over which Canadian celebrity Robin slept with are equally underwhelming – it’s another “Lets poke fun at Robin’s Canadian roots” joke – just not done well.
191. “The Exploding Meatball” (Season 6 Episode 20) The entire episode is one long setup to the final gag; in which Barney gives Marshall an exploding meatball sub. Would probably work better if the episode didn’t paint all the characters as selfish on the road to this joke. Marshall and Lily both make decisions without consulting each other while Ted and Zoey continue to bicker over the Arcadia’s future. Snore.
190. “Nannies” (Season 8 Episode 3) Another Lily/Marshall episode which fails to hit the mark. The gang are looking for a nanny but find out that Barney burned that bridge for them – as he used that as a previous excuse to pick up women. The scene with Barney being beaten up by a group of nannies is probably the highlight of the episode. Meanwhile, Robin and Ted compete who has the best relationship – no one cared.
189. “Shelter Island” (Season 4 Episode 5) This episode serves as a reminder to the audience that while How I Met Your Mother may be great at setting things up; sometimes it really misses the mark in sticking the landing. Ted and Stella’s wedding is brought forward and so events end up going into hyperspeed, Robin returns from Japan (Having only been there for half an episode) but when Ted and Stella argue over a “no ex’s” rule, she can’t attend the wedding. We end up meeting Stella’s ex and in the end, Stella ends up running away with him. It’s a very poorly executed episode that feels insanely rushed – throwing so much at the audience in such a small time with the intent of getting Stella off the show as quickly as possible – even if it painted her character in a very negative light. Barney’s subplot is worth a few giggles at least and continued to work towards their inevitable getting together.
188. “Romeward Bound” (Season 8 Episode 21) The Captain offers Lily her dream job and we end up with Jason Segal pulling Godfather parodies. Ted and Barney engage in an entirely laugh free sub-plot involving a women’s and her coat. Not a hugely entertaining episode that gives the cast a chance to question their futures and gives the writers a chance to plant seeds for conflict down the road.
187. “Bagpipes” (Season 5 Episode 6) All the shows couples fight for the right to call themselves the best couple. This leads to Marshall and Lily arguing, then Robin and Barney argue and then everything’s OK. It’s not great fun for the audience and the script doesn’t really throw up anything memorable for the 4 characters. Meanwhile, There’s also an old couple that has a lot of sex above Ted’s apartment but the show replaces the noises with bagpipes. It’s arguably the only good thing episode has going for it.
186. “Splitsville” (Season 8 Episode 6) Barney tries to help Robin out of her shallow relationship with Nick by throwing his feelings on the line. It’s a wonderful moment for the two but the episode itself relies slightly too much on Nick’s dumb nature to get the laughs. Meanwhile Lily and Marshall endure yet another Marvin episode where they’re desperate to get private time. By this stage, it was becoming painfully apparent that Marvin was more of a hindrance to the couple’s creative direction than a blessing, as How I Met Your Mother had awkwardly landed 2/6th of their cast with an unfunny sideshow.
185. “The Broken Code” (Season 9 Episode 4) The show drags along as Barney punishes Ted for getting too close to Robin. I’d love to say the disappointment over the way this “cliffhanger” was resolved was made up for by decent jokes and a return to form. Yet alas, not even the sight of Jason Segal on an Ipad on a beach can raise this up from being a complete bore. Another example of How I Met Your Mother dropping the ball on a promising idea.
184. “Sandcastles in the Sand” (Season 3 Episode 16) Robin centric episode that sees her re-engage with an old flame. It’s all pretty stupid and goes against everything we’ve learned about Robin up to this stage in the show – even when the entire gang is telling her how stupid it is. Thankfully there’s a really good Robin Sparkles song in here and THAT Robin/Barney kiss that sets up so much of the later-series plot lines. This saves this from being a complete car crash – but not by a wide margin.
183. “Garbage Island” (Season 6 Episode 17) Robin tries to set Barney back up with Nora to much resistance. I can’t be bothered outlining how dumb the logic in this story is, so instead say its fairly bland. Things are slightly more fun in the other story – where the Captain is trying to work out who stole Zoey from him while Ted awkwardly tries to skirt the subject. If Zoey was anywhere near as likeable as the writers wanted her to be, this episode would have been much better. As it stands, we feel Captain had a lucky break.
182. “I Heart NJ” (Season 4 Episode 3) I’ve never been sure over this episode and rewatching it only confirms my indifference to it. Ted doesn’t want to move to New Jersey and the gang do their best to try and stop him. It’s a weird episode because it paints Stella in a very negative light at a time when the show hadn’t really tried to do that with her. The result is an awkward comedy light episode. Robin’s subplot about leaving her job is very hit and miss while Barney’s bro-fist is surprisingly light on laughter. By the end of the episode it’s really hard to feel good about anything that’s happened. One of How I Met Your Mother‘s more weird outings for sure.
181. “Aldrin Justice” (Season 2 Episode 6) Fairly tame episode where Lily joins Ted’s firm while Barney sleeps with Marshall’s law school professor to raise his grades. Never a fan of bratty Lily and here is one of the times the show overextends that hand to poor effect, coming off as unlikeable in parts. The Barney subplot raises a few giggles but plays up the worst aspects of his character – namely the ones that just aren’t that funny.
180. “Mobius Designs” (Season 4 Episode 20) Ted runs his architecture firm from his living room – with Robin sinking her teeth into his assistant. Meanwhile, Marshall’s character wants to find his niche in the office so he can’t be sacked. Given the direction his character took throughout Season 4, I’d have pegged him for “the boring guy”.
179. “Twin Beds” (Season 5 Episode 21) Robin ponders moving in with Don – which for some reason invokes the extreme jealousy of Ted and Barney. Honestly, this entire episode felt mean spirited as it was basically Ted and Barney pining for a women they could have had multiple times already. In the end, Robin makes the bigger decision to move out of Ted’s without telling him – leaving Ted with a lot of food for thought.
178. “Hopeless” (Season 6 Episode 21) A weird little episode that sees the gang trying to help Barney reconnect with his estranged father. The performance from Neil Patrick Harris is great but the attempt to mix light-hearted scenes in with deep character development (In particular the car ride at the end) leave an episode that’s tone-ly all over the show. It feels very disjointed by the end.
177. “First Time in New York” (Season 2 Episode 12) Robin’s younger sister visits (Who we never see again…) and the gang talk about losing their virginity. There’s an awkward link between the Empire State Building and penis’s that underlines where this episodes humour comes from. Mercifully the flashbacks are funny enough that you can begin to overlook this and there’s yet more misdirection in the Robin/Ted relationship.
176. “Field Trip” (Season 7 Episode 5) Robin tries to make a move on Kevin, her therapist but it leads to some fairly average scenes and no chemistry between the two. Elsewhere Barney worrying about Nora’s age is just bizarre and the scenes with Ted’s field trip aren’t really that special either. I guess the Star Wars Ewoks analogy is somewhat funny, but it’s a lazy stab at humour from How I Met Your Mother.
175. “Not a Father’s Day” (Season 4 Episode 7) Marshall & Lily’s multi-season baby arc arguably kicks off here with a resounding “ugh” from me. There are a few funny scenes but the episode very quickly falls back into the “Let’s make Lily look like a brat” trope and from there the laughs rely almost entirely on visual gags. Marshall looking after a drunken/baby Lily just isn’t what makes this show funny for me. Barney’s B-plot is the real star of the show and gets a few laughs for the enthusiasm
174. “Happily Ever After” (Season 4 Episode 6) With Ted being jilted, the gang try to help him get over Stella. I’d love to say this episode was memorable at all but it really isn’t and despite some amusing revelations (Robin and her dad’s relationship being DOA for example) this episode lacks any real momentum or laughs (Outside of the gang diving under the table). I felt Ted’s heartfelt speech was ruined by not actually having him pull the trigger and making it real.
173 “Canning Randy” (Season 6 Episode 7) Randy returns in another Halloween episode. Marshall wants to fire him but can’t bring himself to do it – in the end, he ends up doing it so Randy can start his own line of beers. It’s a satisfying if slightly dull addition to Marshall’s arcs that leads to some fun but hardly memorable scenes. Elsewhere the gang try to work out what Robin’s big secret is – the payoff itself is great but the lead-up is slightly underwhelming.
172. “The Rebound Girl” (Season 7 Episode 11) An episode of How I Met Your Mother that consolidates the character development of Lily and Marshall – juxtaposing it with the rest of the gang who go through their own issues. The Barney/Ted baby plot is the episodes real backbone, giving the two plenty of fun and revealing Barney has a “Baby guy”. The revelation at the episodes end is very noteworthy.
171. “Lobster Crawl” (Season 8 Episode 9) Ted goes overboard when babysitting for Marvin, leading to Lily and Marshall relinquishing him of his responsibilities in a fun side-plot that plays up to all of Ted’s more frustrating qualities. Meanwhile Lily tries to get Barney out of Robin’s system – which results in the death of one of Barney’s most beloved ties and revenge plot that raises a few giggles.
170. “Belly Full of Turkey” (Season 1 Episode 9) We meet the Marshall family while Ted/Robin/Barney pitch up in a volunteer centre. Your mileage with this episode depends entirely on how much you’re willing to accept Lily/Marshall’s brand of comedy. Here the punchline is Lily is out of place in a land of giants and ends up getting herself arrested trying to pee on a pregnancy test. If it weren’t for a few decent visual gags this episode would be a waste of everyone’s time.
169. “We’re Not From Here” (Season 3 Episode 2) This episode has three stories but none of them hit the mark fully Ted and Barney pretend to be out of towner’s in an underwhelming outing. Lily and Marshall’s plot is equally dull – the highlight of which is the two writing death letters for each other. Gael is mercifully ejected from the show but not before Robin spends the entire episode enabling him.
168. “Noretta” (Season 7 Episode 7) The decision to have the gang fixate on the idea that people end up dating people like their parents is fine – but in typical How I Met Your Mother fashion – the writing it goes a bit overboard when Lily and Marshall start picturing their actual parents in bed with them. More funny on paper than it ends up being on screen.
167. “The Yips” (Season 3 Episode 10) Pretty gross episode where Barney returns to the first women he slept with to overcome the lull in his sex life. I’d love to say Neil Patrick Harris saves this one but it’s a rare miss for the actor. Elsewhere the gang surcome to that truest of sitcom tropes – the gym episode. It’s largely underwhelming and if it weren’t for Lily & Marshall’s bossy trainer would be entirely forgettable.
166. “Unfinished” (Season 6 Episode 3) Watching Barney try to woo Ted using his womanizing tactics provides a heap of laughs while Robin continues her arc of getting over Don. The latter becomes boring too quickly while the former sinks into a predictable pattern before it really goes where you’d like it too.
165. “Landmarks” (Season 6 Episode 23) The Arcadian storyline limps to its conclusion in an episode that provides few laughs. Zoey goes completely hell for leather while Ted’s decision to oppose her; leading to their breakup. The final scene between two is well done and summarises the general frustration that Zoey’s character had attracted throughout the season – she was deeply unlikeable. Luckily there are a few laughs provided by Marshall and his rhymes.
164. “Good Crazy” (Season 7 Episode 22) Ted pines after Robin in another episode where fans are forced to endure more of the endless Robin/Ted love saga. Mercifully Barney’s jealousy over Quinn and her job offers the episode some laughs and adds layers to the Quinn character in the process. Unfortunately not interesting enough to save the whole of How I Met Your Mother‘s pretty forgettable seventh season.
163. “Baby Talk” (Season 6 Episode 6) Lily and Marshall’s baby arc continues to drag as the two discuss names – leading to the two trying to influence the gender of the baby. Honestly, there’s nothing particularly bad going on here but Luckily the introduction of Becky “Boats Boats Boats” adds some humour to Robin’s role while her interactions
162. “Coming Back” (Season 9 Episode 2) Bland affair in which Lily accidentally reveals that Barney’s brother is going through a divorce while Marshall gets a rental car to begin his long journey to Farhampton with Daphne. NPH tries to use some acting brass in reacting to the news but ultimately is outshone by the final scene featuring The Mother and Ted.
161. “Best Prom Ever” (Season 1 Episode 20) The gang break into a high school prom to spy on the band. The episode’s real highlight is Barney who keeps getting ejected from the prom – only to find creative ways back in. Lily’s A-plot is a take-it or leave-it affair; fairly light on laughs but lays the groundwork for the penultimate episode of Season 1.
160. “Columns” (Season 2 Episode 13) Ted has to fire his old boss but fails to find the right time to do it. Another case where the Barney sub plot – one in which he begs Lily to paint him nude – is overwhelmingly more interesting than the Ted A-plot. The Marshall nude painting was a fun addition and leads to Barney obsessing over getting his own.
159. “Mystery vs. History” (Season 7 Episode 6) The episode gives Ted an interesting story – and then awkwardly ties the rest of the episode to Kevin’s uneasiness with the gang’s closeness. Looking up potential partners leads to Ted questioning if he should look up his date online. Sadly the Kevin “not liking the groups dynamic” is overwhelmingly dull.
158. “Life Among the Gorillas” (Season 1 Episode 17) Awkward episode where Marshall joins Barney’s company and proceeds to get bullied – then turns into a jerk himself. It was an interesting move for the show and one that they’d come back to explore in future seasons – but felt very rushed in this one episode. Elsewhere Ted and Robin circle each other like hungry lions and do naff all until the end of the episode where things finally look like they’re heating up….
157. “Rally” (Season 9 Episode 18) Foreshadowing everyone’s futures, this episode mainly serves as an excuse to revisit one of the shows more consistent tropes – The Stinson Hangover Elixir. In fairness, it’s not terrible and gives the cast a more central problem to deal with – how to get Barney ready for the wedding photo shoot. Mildly fun but forgettable.
156. “Bad Crazy” (Season 8 Episode 16) The time-jumping story with Lily and Robin has fun moments but ultimately feels like padding – that being said Mike Tyson makes a bizarrely random cameo and ends up in a strip club with Robin – so what do I know? Meanwhile, Marshall and Barney try to help Ted break up with his crazy girlfriend Jeannette. It doesn’t work and watching the writers add layers to her character was arguably the best thing about this episode – her being a cop and the flash forward to her trashing Ted’s apartment the best moments.1
155. “Last Cigarette Ever” (Season 5 Episode 11) The writers try to add smoking to the show’s characters in a move I’ve never quite understood. The entire episode hinges on withdrawal symptoms from smoking. There are a few laughs in here – don’t get me wrong – but the episode kind of feels cheap for the whole thing and given that it’s very rarely touched on again – comes off entirely gimmicky.
154. “Desperation Day” (Season 6 Episode 16) Lily and Marshall steal the show with some clever gags (The Marshpillow anyone?) and a story that gives the audience plenty of reminders over why these two can be a good on-screen couple. Sadly the introduction of Nora doesn’t really impress while Ted and Zoey’s blossoming relationship feels more like filler than development for either.
153. “Everything Must Go” (Season 3 Episode 19) Lily and Marshall’s never-ending flat arc leads us to this episode – where Lily’s paintings are the subject of ridicule when she tries to sell them. The only time this gets remotely funny is when the show wheels out Ted’s red cowboy boots, otherwise it’s entirely forgettable. Elsewhere Britney Spears returns, with Barney and her hatching a plot to make Ted jealous. It kind of backfires on him though when a fake proposal turns real. It’s somewhat funny and Britney’s final appearance as Abbey is certainly not the disaster you’d expect but overall it’s a bit of a damp squib penultimate episode for Season 3.
152. 46 Minutes (Season 7 Episode 14) Mickey shows up to add some much-needed variety to the Lily/Marshall dynamic as they move into their new home. Meanwhile, the gang struggle to overcome the two moving away – leading to them trying to fill the void with humerus results. It’s all a bit simple but well done as the show revels in giving Barney a starring role. By the end of the episode; the show pushes everyone back together.
151. “Something Old” (Season 8 Episode 23) Robin searches for a locket she buried back when she visited New York as a kid. It was tender and sweet – with Barney doing what Barney does and Ted stepping in to help. Then the episode pulled a horribly thought out twist – trying to re-ignite the Robin/Ted love arc. It felt wholly unnecessary and effectively undid the ending to the previous episode where it was implied that Barney and Robin were perfect for each other. Part of me suspects the writers were trying to cover the same ground they did with Lily back in Season One – when she began to have jitters herself. The difference here is the writing is so inconsistent (one episode they’re fine then the next they’re not) that it’s hard to be invested.
150. “Robots vs. Wrestlers” (Season 5 Episode 22) Ted blows off Robots vs. Wrestlers to attend a high society party. It brings out the worst in his character with Barney and Marshall forced to shoulder a lot of the episode’s comedy. It kind of work, kind of doesn’t.
149. “Change of Heart” (Season 6 Episode 18) The show addresses Barney’s aversion to commitment and gives Nora some sizeable chops in slapping down Barney’s advances. Sadly this is weighed down by Robin’s new boyfriend who the show decides to treat like a dog – giving the gang an excuse to get high and generally be as unfunny as possible. It’s hard to stress how awkward the entire metaphor is and how quickly it runs out of steam – making a very strong play for the worst concept the shows ever thrown up.
148. “The Wedding” (Season 1 Episode 12) Ted tries to desperately get in Robin’s pants by inviting her to a friend’s wedding. Elsewhere Barney does his Barney thing and tries to bed the bride-to-be. Relies heavily on Lily and Barney to pull in the majority of the laughs that’s only really memorable for introducing Victoria. Interestingly this episode would have served as the series finale had the show not been picked up past its initial order.
147. “Duel Citizenship” (Season 5 Episode 5) Season 5 continues its awkward start with a road trip that’s entirely pointless. Lily coming along ruins the guys plans and thus we get an episode of not-so-funny segments with Ted left out of the couple’s activities. Elsewhere Barney bashes on Robin for being Canadian for the whole episode – a topic that varies wildly between the humerus and outright dull. Might have been better had the writers not pulled the mother of all cop-outs by giving Robin duel citizenship and rendering the entire thing pointless.
146. “Woooo!” (Season 4 Episode 8) Ted gets pitched as Goliath National Bank’s architect – leading to some fun scenes involving SVEN! and their obnoxiously awesome dinosaur building. The Woo girl subplot is a bit of a hashed out mess though, reversing Robin’s previous strong stance on relationships while giving Lily nothing to do on the sidelines.
145. “The Chain of Screaming” (Season 3 Episode 15) Marshall cries at work and the gang try to show him different ways of coping with it. This results in him exploding at his boss and getting sacked. More fun for the rest of the cast who really shine in the roles given to them – Ted’s car, in particular, gives the gang some fun moments as they play on his OCD.
144. “The Wedding Bride” (Season 5 Episode 23) On the one hand – a movie being made about Ted’s failed relationship with Stella is quite funny and it ties this to a fun concept – baggage. On the other, it feels entirely pointless and the show doesn’t really do much with it beyond reach for the obvious gag. It’s a shame because Barney’s scenes (the few of them there are) are actually quite funny and Ted’s reaction to everything going on provides laughs – but I feel it’s not as funny as it should have been.
143. “Vesuvius” (Season 9 Episode 19) Barney picks out his wedding suit while Robin bumps into her mother. A sweet episode that lays on the emotions thick; with an ending that heavily foreshadowed the fate of one of the show’s characters (Much to the disgruntlement of fans at the time). Thankfully sticking the episode on Barney allows it to really go to town with the comedy in a way that Season 9 avoided up to this point.
142. “Now We’re Even” (Season 7 Episode 21) The awkward serious turn by Ted’s character in Season 7 continues here as he moves into his own flat. Barney tries to coax him out but the prolonged period of moping doesn’t really do anything for the show. Luckily Robin gets a huge character moment that pushes her forward while Lily and Marshall make preparations for the arrival of their baby. The closing minutes of this episode are the best and lay the seeds for Robin and Ted to reconcile down the road.
141. “Cupcake” (Season 1 Episode 16) The writers eject Victoria in a fairly underwhelming cutlery school plot. This does however lead to a hilarious scene featuring Lily, an expensive wedding dress and chocolate cake. It also gave us an excuse to meet Barney’s tailor – who also happens to sell animals on the side.
140. “Dowisetrepla” (Season 3 Episode 7) Lily and Marshall try to get financing for their flat – leading to Lily’s credit card debt being revealed. Elsewhere Barney uses their flat as a place to bang women then leave them. Neither plot really delivers the laughs on a major scale until right at the conclusion of the episode. It’s all here to forward the plot and get Lily and Marshall out of Ted’s flat.
139. “The Over-Correction” (Season 8 Episode 10) Robin attempts to steal Barney’s Playbook to show it to Patrice. This leads to the entire gang descending upon Barney’s flat with their own motives – and manages to make a few great callbacks in the process. Lily’s side-plot is the most bizarre here but because the episode plays everything for laughs (and manages to hit that sweet spot of silliness without going overboard) involving breast pumps.
138. “Cleaning House” (Season 6 Episode 2) A fairly strong Barney episode where we see him meet the man who he believes is his dad – only to find out he’s only James. The performances from Neil Partick Harris and Loretta are touching and add huge depth to the characters – while opening the door to Barney’s Season 6 dad arc. The rest of the gang throw in their bits too to make an interesting and touching episode – that’s slightly light on laughs.
137. “Ring Up!” (Season 8 Episode 14) Barney tries to convince Ted to sleep with a 20-year old who’s into “old” guys; only for Ted to go and Ted out on her and not sleep with her until he finds a connection. Slightly creepy and wanders dangerously close to undermining recent developments – until the revelation gives Barney a huge wake up call. I think I saw Lily and Marshall in this episode too…..
136. “The Window” (Season 5 Episode 10) Maggie, the girl next door, breaks up with her boyfriend – giving Ted and Barney a chance to compete for her affections. Barney’s challenge sadly isn’t enough to bring this up to legendary standard, as Ted finally realises he wants a proper relationship by the end. Meanwhile, Marshall finds an old letter he wrote himself and endures an existential crisis. Not a highlight of Season 5.
127. “The Perfect Cocktail” (Season 6 Episode 22) Zoey’s powers of annoyance finally drive a wedge between the gang. Marshall’s switch of sides leads to some interesting new dynamics as Barney is horrified by his move. Lily and Robin’s use of drinks to get them back together is great and a good use of the show’s humor to let the two actors bounce off each other. Ted taking Zoey to the Arcadian was fun and allowed the show to bring back the cockermouse – something that adds to the episode’s charm.
134. “Glitter” (Season 6 Episode 9) Arguably the weakest appearance of the Robin Sparkles character – if only because it ties her to a fairly bland Jessica. The Space Teens concept is fun but the somewhat “meh” attempt to tie Jessica and Lily together leads to a dead end of a story. The introduction of Punchy is a nice one though and brings some fun to the Ted character.
133. “The Locket” (Season 9 Episode 1) Cristin Milioti makes her proper debut and does a great job introducing The Mother’s character to us – bouncing off Lily really well as the two head for Farhampton. Sadly that’s as good as it gets, Marshall gets pushed into one of the shows all-time worst sub-plots (That takes over 11 episodes to get him out of) while Barney and Robin argue because the script needs them to do something. It’d be kind to say that Season 9’s opener wasn’t a classic.
132. “Architect of Destruction” (Season 6 Episode 5) The genesis of the Zoey character, a love/hate figure that dragged Season 6 into a fun-less cul-de-sac surrounding the fate of the Arcadian. Honestly, this wouldn’t have been so bad except the episode paints Ted as a complete dick when he finds out Zoey is actually married and decided to oppose her. It’s the kind of awkward character writing that really sucks the sympathy out of the Ted character. Elsewhere the ladies discuss the size of a Max’s wang – leading to Marshall and Barney’s disgust. It’s the best part of the episode by a country mile and the show gets plenty of mileage out of such a small concept.
131. “Rebound Bro” (Season 3 Episode 18) This episode is pretty much single-handedly saved by Barney’s wingman story – which brings in Randy as the shy wingman to Barney. It’s got some great laughs and sets up some wonderful scenes between the two. Sadly the A-plot with Stella’s “5-year-sex-hiatus” is a bag of half baked jokes that end falling flat. The only time this plot throws any laughs out is when Marshall chimes in with helpful facts and even then it all feels slightly awkward.
130. “The Stinson Missile Crisis” (Season 7 Episode 4) Robin’s jealousy over the Barney/Nora relationship spills over in an episode that explores the deeper issues at work with her character. Kevin’s reactions to the lies Robin spins are the best part of a fairly average episode.
129. “Little Boys” (Season 3 Episode 4) Lily sets Robin up with a guy who has a kid; forcing her to confront her dislike of children. Elsewhere Ted and Barney bet on who can sleep with a women named Stacey first – only for Ted to realise she’s an old conquest of Barney’s. The consequences throw up a heap of laughs and when tied with the Robin story, offer up a decent episode.
128. “The Three Days Rule” (Season 4 Episode 21) Ted falls for a fictitious lady and ends up in a stand-off with Barney and Marshall when he realises it’s actually them he’s contacting. Surprisingly tame use of this premise – which peaks with Ted revealing he has homosexual thoughts about his best friends. Marshall and Barney steal the show here though as Ted’s mysterious lovers.
127. “Band or DJ?” (Season 8 Episode 13) An episode that sets up more excitement than it delivers. Barney meets Robin’s dad and has a hard time impressing him – one of the few times the show correctly used Barney while in a relationship. As for Ted and Lily, their heart-to-heart on the roof is touching – adding depth to the characters and underlying that Lily could still hit the right chords. It all gets lost in a silly side plot involving constipation and confetti that relegates Marshall to the shows outlier.
126. “Double Date” (Season 5 Episode 2) The show immediately undermines the progress Robin and Barney made in the first episode by having Barney continue to do Barney things. Luckily Ted goes on a date with a woman he’s already taken on a date and it leads to some mild amusement as the two try to understand why they’re stuck in singles hell.
125. “Natural History” (Season 6 Episode 8) The show makes good use of Robin and Barney here – sticking them in a museum and letting them loose. The visual gags are great and when juxtaposed with the episodes main story – combining to tell a full story that manages to be funny. Ted and Zoey’s blossoming relationship feels somewhat forced, but at this stage, we were just pleased Ted was chasing anyone but Robin (Anyone remember the Mother?)
124. “The Sexless Innkeeper” (Season 5 Episode 4) One of those episodes where How I Met Your Mother tries really hard to make a fun idea work on TV and it falls flat. The sexless innkeeper is amusing but ultimately feels lame next to some of the shows better concepts – probably not helped by tying it to Ted. The double dating with Lily/Marshall/Barney/Robin is entirely pointless though – implying that Robin and Barney hate hanging out with the others and basically undermining the central premise of the show. What a waste.
123. “The Rehearsal Dinner” (Season 9 Episode 12) Barney’s fixation with having the rehearsal dinner at a laser tag arena sends Robin into a tailspin but leads to one of the shows more engaging moments – as it turns out Barney had a bigger plan all along. The Lily/Ted subplot is a bit of a bore though as Lily frets over Marshall’s judgeship. Overall though it’s a solid outing though and bar some dodgy CGI – a fun episode.
122. “Weekend at Barney’s” (Season 8 Episode 18) An episode that gets by thanks to some great jokes. Barney wants to stop Ted bringing Jeanette to his wedding so utilises the Playbook one more time. The ending to this episode and the burning of the Playbook were highly significant moments. Elsewhere the Lily and Marshall’s subplot is delightfully fun – with Marshall dropping Skittles at a high-end art event and embarrassing Lily. It’s the kind of a throwback to when Marshall was the king of visual gags in the show and one of the couples better episodes.
121. “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” (Season 7 Episode 8) Proving that sometimes the best stories are left untold – we finally get to meet Ted’s slutty pumpkin from the first season. Turns out they don’t get along at all and the show revels in trying to highlight just how out of touch they both are with each other. It’s an interesting decision and one that underlines how painfully inadequate Ted’s romances in later seasons became.
120. “Matchmaker” (Season 1 Episode 7) Ted signs up for a matchmaking service which yields no results in love or comedy. Elsewhere Lily and Marshall’s hijinks with the cockermouse add lots of excitement to proceedings; giving this episode a fair few laughs and roping Robin into the mix by the end of the episode.
119. “Trilogy Time” (Season 7 Episode 20) The glimpses into alternative timelines offers this episode a unique structure and grants all the cast to indulge different aspects of their characters. It works mostly – with Ted’s increasingly sad reality and faux-timeline play off each other well. Good to see Barney barely changes across them all and the ending of the episode was a wonderful glimpse into the future that fans were desperate for.
118. “The Ashtray” (Season 8 Episode 17) The Captain returns in an episode that gets playful with the timelines. Ted, Robin and Lily remember different occurrences at a party they went too – leading to conflicting stories. Lily ends up stealing a valuable ashtray and believes she’s been found out when the Captain contacts Ted. Manages to get laughs and jokes out of How I Met Your Mother‘s typical bank of jokes and visual gags. Gets extra points for giving Lily a new and interesting character development.
117. “Sunrise” (Season 9 Episode 17) A deep character episode that sees the gang doing some soul-searching and splits it’s good/bad parts equally. On the one hand; Barney’s disappearance leaves Ted and Robin with ample time to talk about their situation while Marshall reconciles with Lily and Barney gives the Playbook to some guys he meets – symbolically growing up. On the other hand, Robin floats away like a balloon while Marshall spends most of the episode talking to imaginary versions of Lily and his dad. Weird doesn’t cover it.
116. “Farhampton” (Season 8 Episode 1) A solid start for Season 8 which goes about laying the groundwork for the episodes to come. Ted and Victoria end up going back to the scene of her escape; resulting in Ted getting a heart-to-heart with the jilted groom. We also finally get to see a flashforward to the location Ted would meet the Mother.
115. “Murtaugh” (Season 4 Episode 19) Probably more fun the second time you see it, this movie is stacked to the gills with movie references and fun little nods that should keep you entertained. As for Ted’s “Too old list”, watching Barney work his way through said list with increasingly negative effects was a fun sight. Must be said though – not a huge lover of the Marshall B-plot which see’s him coaching the Kindergarten team in an overly aggressive fashion.
114. “The Naked Truth” (Season 7 Episode 2) Marshall’s background check story leads to the introduction of “Beercules”, one of his more funny persona’s within the show. It’s purely for laughs but is done well by the writers and Jason Segal. Elsewhere Barney tries to woo Nora back in a fairly tame B-plot. The real surprise of this episode was the return of Ted’s long-forgotten ex-girlfriend Victoria at the end of the episode.
113. The Final Page: Part One (Season 8 Episode 11) Marshall jinxing Barney allows for some great visual comedy and makes some of the episodes more important moments stand out more. Barney tells Ted he plans to propose to Patrice as Ted tries to rub his architecture success in his ex-college professors face. Marshall and Lily’s visit to Daryl also gives us a few laughs; with the episode providing a nice unified message by the end which makes it feel meaningful.
112. “The Rough Patch” (Season 5 Episode 7) Barney and Robin hit a rough patch and the gang take it upon themselves to break them up. An episode where all the laughs come mainly from Lily and her scheming. It was fairly obvious the writers weren’t ready to let Barney become boring just yet, so this undoing of the last 7 episodes progress is fine by me as it gives both characters an out.
111. “The Drunk Train” (Season 7 Episode 16) The show brutally buries Kal Penn’s “Kevin” as he heads for the exit – not that fans were particularly upset by this development. Barney falls for Quinn – using the drunk train as an outlet to try and forget about her. He doesn’t and by the end of the episode he finds himself circling her like shark. All good points; until right at the episodes end when Ted utters to Robin that sends shivers down the spines of the audience – “I love you”. Strap on your seatbelt kids, we’re on that bumpy ride again.
110. “Big Days” (Season 6 Episode 1) Robin spends most of the episode moping over the departure of Don from the Season 5 finale. This leads to some great scenes in MacLaren’s Pub where Barney goads Robin back out of her shell to prove she’s still got it. Meanwhile, Ted bumps into one of his ex’s while trying to pick up cute women at the bar – proving that the writers still didn’t really have anything for Ted to do.
109. The Magician’s Code: Part 1″ (Season 7 Episode 23) A strong episode in parts – Barney and Marshall are stuck in Atlantic City while Lily goes into labour. The ensuing race to get back home leads to some unfunny sequences. The episodes real fun comes from Lily and Ted as they try to keep her calm through eh process of giving birth. Also noteworthy because Ted and Robin finally patch up their friendship.
108. “Zip, Zip, Zip” (Season 1 Episode 14) Marshall and Lily end up trapped in the toilet while Ted and Victoria get closer. The real star of this episode is Barney and Robin who end up bonding as bros, right up until Barney misreads battleships as a pickup line. It’s fun and cleverly breadcrumbs the idea that Robin and Barney could serve as an alternative to Ted/Robin. Something which becomes very relevant later on….
107. “The Time Travellers” (Season 8 Episode 20) Hugely underrated episode which sees the gang hang out almost exclusively in MacLaren’s Pub. The show plays fast and loose with its timeline again; giving us 3 versions of Barney and Ted who make us laugh and ponder as the show delivers a solid character episode. By the end, it’s hard not to feel sorry for Ted who’s been left behind by the gang as they move on with their relationships.
106. “Dopplegangers” (Season 5 Episode 24) The doppelganger story line finally reaches its conclusion, paving the way for Lily and Marshall to finally begin having a kid. Barney’s the main driving force for amusement throughout as he plays with the audience’s expectations – NPH giving a very solid performance throughout. A fine episode but not really exciting in terms of “end of season” theatrics.
105. “Last Time In New York” (Season 9 Episode 3) James helping Barney and Robin in their quest to have sex before the old relatives arrive was an oddly funny scene. Marshall and Daphne’s misadventures, however, were not. The episode’s real core was the revelation that Ted was moving to Chicago – something Lily tried to desperately stop from happening. The final revelation from Barney about seeing Robin and Ted under the Carousel also adds intrigue to a fairly decent episode.
104. “Tailgate” (Season 7 Episode 13) Ted and Barney finally open their own bar called “Puzzles”. It’s glorious and carries the episode almost single-handedly as Marshall gets lumped with a touching but ultimately “eh” story about going to see his fathers grave. Robin also gets some decent movement as she covers for Sandy during the New Years broadcast – giving her character some much needed positive direction heading forward.
103. “Miracles” (Season 3 Episode 20) The shows hands were kind of tied by the Writers Guild strike, meaning a lot of the events in this episode feel insanely rushed. Stella and Ted have a misunderstanding, Ted has an accident which leads the gang to come to his bedside. Barney gets run over by a truck and this leads to him and Ted reuniting as friends. The headline story though is Ted proposing to Stella, a move that feels sorely unjustified and slapped right at the end to try to generate a “will they/won’t they” cliffhanger. There are a few decent moments in here (Marshall playing Guitar Hero and Barney’s race to be at Ted’s side) but it’s hard to justify a few of the show’s decisions by the time the credits roll.
102. “The Duel” (Season 1 Episode 8) Lily moves in with Ted and Marshall; creating some friction between the pair. Elsewhere Barney invents the lemon law to get out of dates. It’s a fairly fun episode with some memorable moments and an incredibly well-played out sword fight that ends with poor Lily getting sliced. “Who stabs their wife?!?”
101. “Bass Player Wanted” (Season 9 Episode 13) Marshall escapes from the maelstrom of tedium and joins the rest of the cast – but not before meeting The Mother en route. A great little addition and sets up the Darrel plot with the rest of the gang nicely. He’s a complete tool and the series makes no apologies for this – so it’s satisfying for the audience when he gets his just desserts at the end.
100. “False Positive” (Season 6 Episode 12) Between Barney’s diamond suit and Lily and Marshall’s wildly fun performances upon discovering Lily is pregnant – there’s certainly a lot to like in this episode.
99. “Hooked” (Season 5 Episode 16) The gang remember about times they’ve been strung along by other people in relationships. A memorable episode, if only because we get a rare glimpse of the Ted character being hilariously oblivious to him stringing along poor women who’s smitten. Less exciting is the Lily string with her ex Scooter – which the show kind of drops on the audience and expects us to go along with. Awkwardly the baby pig in this story upstages the two.
98. “Wait for It” (Season 3 Episode 1) Picks up right after the close of season 2. We meet Gael, Robin’s vapid but amazingly talented masseur which leads to Lily and Marshall developing crushes on him. The main plot falls to Ted and Barney, whose misadventures lead to a hot tub and tattoo parlour. It’s not the strongest season opener; Gael is a poor addition from the writers while the two plots aren’t as funny as I suspect the writers intended The most notable thing this episode gives us is the tramp stamp that Ted acquires.
97. “P.S. I Love You” (Season 8 Episode 15) Ted believes he’s found the love of his life when the reality is he’s bumped into a stalker. Lily and Marshall try to stop it but Ted being Ted; he runs head first into it – resulting in some fun moments for the audience. The real fun in this episode comes from Robin – who we find out had an emo phase in her Robin Sparkles years. The fight between Alan Thicke and Barney is an excellent pay off for the audience.
96. “The Mermaid Theory” (Season 6 Episode 11) The show cleverly layers in the idea of narrator bias by having future Ted forget about a fight between Lily and Barney. Elsewhere Ted goes on a boat with The Captain – the dynamic between the two is golden as The Captain shows off his crazy tendencies. Meanwhile, Robin and Marshall get a rare story together – something the show takes pleasure in pointing out and exploring as Marshall succumbs to the mermaid theory.
95. “Daisy” (Season 9 Episode 20) The focus turns back to Lily as the gang try to work out where she went during her evening disappearance. A Marshall/Lily focused episode that helps bring to a close to their agonizingly long Italy/judge arc – much to the fans relief. It also provides a great excuse for the show to bring The Captain back for a final appearance. All this being said, the less said about Robin’s “marrying her dad” sub-plot the better……
94. “Drumroll, Please” (Season 1 Episode 13) A more Robin focused episode where we see her torn over letting Ted and Victoria get together. It’s fun to see Ted move beyond Robin and the more we learn about Victoria; the more we fall for her.
93. “Last Words” (Season 6 Episode 14) Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan put in hugely solid performances as Marshall and Lily deal with the death of his father. The rest of the gang provide the laughs as Robin adopts the Mary Poppins persona and brings her bag of tricks. It’s all hugely touching and if the final scene – which is perfectly played by everyone involved – doesn’t get you teary eyed then you might be watching the wrong show.
92. “Bachelor Party” (Season 2 Episode 19) Marshall’s bachelor party becomes a battleground between Barney and Ted; who fight over whether strippers are appropriate. Sadly not the best Marshall/Barney plot the shows ever put out. Most of the laughs come from the other plot, where Robin buys Lily an insanely inappropriate gift that leads to some hilariously golden scenes at Lilys party.
91. “Say Cheese” (Season 5 Episode 18) Ted brings a random woman to Lily’s birthday party – leading to a confrontation over how Ted keeps declaring women as “the one”. She’s kinda right you know and when Ted argues back it showcases how awkwardly out of touch with reality his character is. Elsewhere Barney’s photo sub-plot was the episodes fun moment – although not as funny as some of his other interactions; leads to some memorable set pieces with Robin trying to make him take a bad photo.
90. “Sorry, Bro” (Season 4 Episode 16) Laura Prepon knocks it out the park as Ted’s obnoxious college girlfriend Karen – who finds herself back in Ted’s life and the object of his affection. The Lily/Marshall complaints come off as somewhat underwhelming though do lead to some fun flashback scenes. Not a fan of the conclusion of the episode though; which ejects character development for the sake of sitcom continuity.
89. “Disaster Averted” (Season 7 Episode 9) Cleverly the show made use of the real life drama surrounding Hurricane Irene to get around not having Kevin be in the whole episode. It’s painfully obvious at this stage that the show was struggling to find a natural slot for him in the gang. The show writers also pull back on Barney’s character development – having him fall for Robin and almost cheat on Nora. It was a surprising development for fans of the show and one that set the direction for the rest of the season.
88. “Rabbit or Duck” (Season 5 Episode 15) The real star of this episode was Barney’s phone – the result of Barney flashing his mobile number during the Super Bowl. Neil Partick Harris uses everything he can to make this work – giving the audience a lot of laughs as he can’t resist the lure of the phones endless ringing and ends up roping Ted in. Robin also starts to grow more attached to her colleague in a plot that gives her a bit more direction for the rest of the season.
87. “Platonish” (Season 9 Episode 10) A fun nostalgic episode where Robin and Lily have fun with a pre-engaged Barney. His meeting with the Mother is wonderfully done and adds so many layers to Season 8’s events – juxtaposed with the Ted/Marshall discussions that set Ted on a path that ultimately leads to his heartbreak. And of course, the Robin plot that led to the unveiling of her mother was a special moment for her.
86. “Where Were We?” (Season 2 Episode 1) Marshall has to come to terms with him and Lily breaking up while Ted and Robin get closer over the summer. Not as strong as Season One’s opener, it still did a good job of addressing the changing dynamics and managed to shock slightly with the relatively quick return of Lily at the end.
85. “No Pressure” (Season 7 Episode 17) Your mileage will vary depending on how much you enjoyed the Robin/Ted love saga. This episode asks the audience to wait while Robin decides if she loves Ted It’s another false start though as they don’t get together, and this prompts Robin to move out of Ted’s apartment for good. Luckily Barney searching for the sex tape is a more engaging storyline – while Lily and Marshall’s bets are charming.
84. “Milk” (Season 1 Episode 21) Lily goes full on crisis mode as she ponders leaving for San Francisco. Elsewhere Ted finally hears back from that matchmaking service but blows off his date to help out Lily. Robin coming to Ted’s aid when he’s abandoned was a nice way of getting the pair back onside with each other.
83. “Challenge Accepted” (Season 6 Episode 24) Ted freaks out and threatens to relapse back into Zoey’s arms – much to the horror of the viewers at home. That’s arguably the least exciting thing that happens as a chance meeting between Barney and Nora rekindles their blossoming romance. bringing Robin’s jealousy back to the surface. Lily and Marshall also have huge progress – Marshall has a major job interview and Lily finally gets pregnant.
82. “How Lily Stole Christmas” (Season 2 Episode 11) Festive episode that sees Lily take offence to being called a “grinch”; resulting in her stealing Christmas for the entire flat. Elsewhere Barney is sick and ends up being cared for by Robin. A strong Lily episode that doesn’t overdo the bratty nature in her personality. By the end of the episode, there’s a satisfying conclusion
81. “Of Course” (Season 5 Episode 17) Jennifer Lopez plays a huge role in this episode as a woman who’s toying with Barney’s emotion. It turns out Robin hasn’t been handling her breakup with Barney well and this episode lifts the curtain on the scenes we didn’t see throughout the episode. It’s a great moment of character development and when Barney steps aside to let Robin chase her new guy it feels like real closure to what was a particularly naff relationship.
80. “Legendaddy” (Season 6 Episode 19) Moving episode where Barney finally meets his biological dad. It goes badly and despite efforts to avoid a complete disaster – Barney’s jealousy grows uncontrollable when he sees the life his dad built. Memorable for the bar scene between the two as well as the scene with the basketball hoop – this is a touching episode that digs deep on the Barney character.
79. “Jenkins” (Season 5 Episode 13) Marshall and Lily squabble over who’s the reacher and who’s the settler in their relationship. Could have done without the Marshall co-worker sub-plot which was awkwardly out of character for him. It’s Ted’s subplot where he finds out Robin is the subject of a drinking game among his students that really the gem of this episode – poking fun at Robin and eventually giving her a chance to fight back But Ummm…..
78. “The Fortress” (Season 8 Episode 19) An episode that has more hits than misses. It see’s Ted and Marshall pretend to be a gay couple as Barney looks to sell his apartment. The Barney jokes here are golden as the show reels off tropes galore and has fun realising the full potential of Barney’s bachelor pad.
77. “The Stinsons” (Season 4 Episode 15) An episode that starts off bizarre and keeps going. We find out Barney has a group of actors playing the role of his family to fool his mother – which leads to fun mix-ups when real life and fake family cross paths. Come for comedy scenes – such as Ted making out with Barney’s “wife; stay for the character development as Barney realises he wants to settle down with the right women.
76. “Gary Blauman” (Season 9 Episode 21) We get to see Ted and The Mother’s first date, as well as an interesting plot that sees the gang realising that there are finales to every meeting. A solid episode packed with emotional moments, farewells to many of the shows side-characters and fair few laughs along the way. It’s one that long time fans will struggle to sit through and not feel emotional.
75. “The Front Porch” (Season 4 Episode 17) Lily’s manipulation in Ted’s previous relationships is revealed – all in the name of the front porch test Arguably the episodes better moments come from the Marshall/Barney interactions as Barney is introduced to casual night attire as well as Robin’s silent performance in the background of the main plot.
74. “Atlantic City” (Season 2 Episode 8) Lily and Marshall move to elope in Atlantic City but run into a host of problems. Elsewhere Barney’s gambling problem is revealed with hilarious consequences. Not the funniest Lily/Marshall episode but certainly has its moments, more memorable for the performances around the two. I give extra props to this episode for Robin’s shirt – which almost steals the show itself.
73. “Karma” Season 7 Episode 18) A bit of a mess of an episode as Barney gets heart-broken over Karma – a stripper he’s fallen for. It’s an interesting direction for the show to go and one that makes good use of Barney. The same can’t be said for Robin, who joins Marshall and Lily in their holding pattern out on Long Island. It’s largely dull – both for Robin and the audience.
72. “The Bro Mitzvah” (Season 8 Episode 22) Barney’s bachelor party is everything the audience wants it to as the show throws out absurd situations and fun nods to Barney’s past (including a return from Quinn!). The use of Ralph Macchio and William Zabka was great while the ties to various movies were great, from The Karate Kid through to The Ring were smartly worked in. In the end, it was all a work to make Barney think his friends didn’t care – but the shows writers showed they still had it in them to deliver the laughs.
71. “Third Wheel” (Season 3 Episode 3) Trudy returns and offers Ted a shot a threesome – which leads to Barney, Lily and Marshall playing support. Elsewhere Robin goes on a date with an English Doctor but hasn’t shaved her legs. It’s a nice little distraction from the bigger Ted/Robin breakup and gives How I Met Your Mother a huge injection of fun heading into the third season.
70. “Unpause” (Season 9 Episode 15) Ted and Robin use Barney’s drunkenness as a way of extracting information from him in hilariously fun fashion. Elsewhere Lily and Marshall do everything they can to remain in their “pause” mode and avoid a fight. Thanks to the use of flashbacks and some good jokes this episode carries itself well – bringing in some much-needed How I Met Your Mother humour for Season 9. The Barney X-Ray goggles, in particular, are worth mention.
69. “I’m Not That Guy” (Season 3 Episode 6) One of the better Marshall centric episodes. He gets wined and dined by John Cho’s character into working for a company that goes against his morals; with Lily’s contribution adding in a good number of laughs t0 boot. Elsewhere Ted discovers a porn star using his name and spends the episode trying to get him to stop. A bit of a let down as the episode never really takes it anywhere too funny except for one slightly fun sequence right at the end of the episode.
68. “Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap” (Season 5 Episode 9) A strong episode where the central conflicts lead to some fun outcomes. Marshall offers one of his slaps up for the gang to use themselves. The real central plot is Lily and the relationship with her estranged dad – played by Chris Elliot – who knocks it out the park. Lily’s usual tropes come into play as the show introduces the “Dead to me” concept – which is cleverly used.
67. “Monday Night Football” (Season 2 Episode 14) The gang has to attend a funeral instead of watching the Super Bowl – which leads to them all desperately trying to avoid spoilers. Barney’s gambling addiction comes up again while the jokes come and fast. I point to this episode as an example of what early-How I Met Your Mother does well that later- How I Met Your Mother doesn’t – portray the quirky situations that the gang find themselves in and how that leads to funny situations.
66. “Moving Day” (Season 2 Episode 18) Ted and Robin make the ill-fated decision to move in together. As both parties come to realise how bad an idea this is, Barney sets about trying to convince Ted that it’s all a mistake. Memorable for lots of Barney centric jokes including the moving van being stolen multiple times by an increasingly desperate Barney – this episode has a few laughs and also laid the seeds that Robin and Ted weren’t going to be together for much longer.
65. “Stuff” (Season 2 Episode 16) Robin’s jealousy re-emerges as her and Ted get rid of things given to them by previous partners. Elsewhere Lily and Barney come to blows over Lily’s stage performance – leading to an avant-garde 4-hour spectacular by Barney (And a slap from Marshall!). A fun episode where the B-plot is more interesting than the Ted/Robin story – and we have to say goodbye to Robin’s dogs!
64. “The Scorpion and the Toad” (Season 2 Episode 2) Barney takes Marshall out onto the singles market, leading to some hilarious bro-stealing moments from Barney. Elsewhere we get to hear about Lily’s time in San Francisco. Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Segel play off each other wonderfully and manage to ground the episode in oh so many jokes – thanks to some incredible chemistry between the two.
63. “Little Minnesota” (Season 4 Episode 11) Barney starts hitting on Ted’s sister – a solid reminder from the show that Barney is a horndog who will chase anything. The use of Christmas songs as metaphors for sleeping with her was icing on the cake. Elsewhere Marshall and Lily go to a Minnesota bar where Robin hides her Canadian roots and becomes popular with the locals. It’s not hilariously funny but touches on Robin missing her roots and has a conclusion that feels satisfactory.
62. “Game Night” (Season 1 Episode 15) Marshall’s Game Night accidentally leads to the uncovering of Barney’s quite sad back story. The image of hippy Barney would be shocking and allows Neil Patrick Harris to cut his teeth with some great visual comedy. Elsewhere Ted proves he’s still smitten for Robin and starts keeping secrets from Victoria – secrets which lay the seedy seeds of doom for his and Victoria’s relationship.
61. “The Goat” (Season 3 Episode 17) Barney gets upset because he slept with Robin – so tries desperately to find a way to break the news to Ted without upsetting him. There’s a lot of development in this episode that’s helped with the appearance of the shows infamous goat. Sadly that ends up being a fake-out but the drama between Ted and Barney feels real and the two actors bounce off each other well in a new dynamic for the two.
60. “The Limo” (Season 1 Episode 11) Fun little bottle episode that condenses the best parts of the show into a purely character driven exercise. Barney’s mix tape is a riot while the gang desperately try not to be alone when the ball drops at midnight. An early sign that How I Met Your Mother knew how to spread the fun and have fun with small concepts.
59. “Arrivederci, Fiero” (Season 2 Episode 17) Marshall’s long-suffering car fails just short of 200,000 miles – leading to some jokes and reminiscing from the gang over their dealings with the car. Fun if slightly forgettable episode; the highlight of which is watching Barney learn to drive. Although if I could walk 500 miles……
58. “Social Stamina” (Season 2 Episode 10) Barney’s gay brother is introduced and brings a big secret along with him. Watching him play wingman with Barney is hilarious and the underlying message of the episode serves to deepen the Barney character. A solid character building episode which sees the rest of the cast act as support (And we’re fine with that!)
57. “Okay Awesome” (Season 1 Episode 5) Lily and Marshall contemplate getting older while the rest of the gang go clubbing. Ted has fun with coat check girl while Barney gets too close to a girl he knows. A fun episode which gives more depth to the Lily/Marshall relationship and foreshadows how the two will always be slightly different to the rest of the gang. Seeing Barney round second base with his cousin is a good giggle too.
56. “Right Place Right Time” (Season 4 Episode 22) Fates allows Ted to bump into a woman with a yellow umbrella (Not the mother) and this story recounts how he got there. More notable for the ending than anything else which had some fans fooled upon its first airing that Stella may yet be the Mother. The B-plot with Barney and his 200th conquest was typical Barney fun and gloriously revelled in all the nasty corners of Barney’s charming character – teasing that there wouldn’t be many more women to add to that list.
55. “No Tomorrow” (Season 3 Episode 12) An episode with a lot of future threads running through it. The Yellow Umbrella makes its proper debut as Ted and Barney attend a St. Patrick’s Day party. Meanwhile Lily and Marshall discover their flat has a slant in a very forgettable subplot. It’s the Ted character development that makes this episode combined with a series of memorable sequences from within the bar itself. We also learned The Mother was present here, setting in motion the long-game to the series finale.
54. “The Best Man” (Season 7 Episode 1) Ted is invited to Punchy’s wedding as the best man – where it’s revealed he gives hilariously bad best-man speeches. Cue the laughs as Ted frets over this and the entire audience at the wedding expects him to mess up. Meanwhile, Robin and Barney enter each other’s orbit again – resulting a great dance scene. As for Lily and Marshall – they provide most of the laughs in the episode by dodging out on drinking and avoiding telling the gang about their baby.
53. “As Fast as She Can” (Season 4 Episode 23) Ted has to help Stella get Tony back – and receives an offer that could change his life forever. The sequences with Tony and Ted and brilliant and easily the stand out moments of the episode. On the sidelines, Barney’s attempts to get away with speeding tickets using his charm hilariously back fires
52. “World’s Greatest Couple” (Season 2 Episode 5) Lily moves into Barney’s bachelor pad and the two form a weird pseudo relationship which becomes increasingly uncomfortable for both. Finally seeing where Barney lives is a cool addition to the series and seeing all the weird plans he utilizes would lay the ground work for the Playbook down the line. The B-plot involving Marshall’s bromance is amusing if unremarkable and for reference – brunch on your own is just sad!
51. “Something New” (Season 8 Episode 24) Season 8’s finale steadies the ship by pointing everyone on the road to Barney and Robin’s wedding. Lily tries to talk sense into Ted while Barney and Robin engage in a fairly pointless dinner sub-plot – neither of which is half as interesting as they should be. No, it’s Marshall who really gets the real progression – being offered the judge position that basically throws the mother of all wrenches into his and Lily’s plans. It’s also the final four minutes of this episode that really elevate this episode – revealing The Mother at long last and showing all the characters on their way to Farhampton.
50. “Mary the Paralegal” (Season 1 Episode 19) The fallout from Ted’s bad decision means he ends up taking what he believes is a hooker to Robin’s awards night. Cue the funny jokes. Barney really shines in this episode while from Sandy, Robin’s horn dog co-host is a delightful addition to proceedings.
49. “Robin 101” (Season 5 Episode 3) Robin’s insecurity re-emerges when she suspects Barney is cheating. In fact he’s taking a special class to learn all the tricks to dating Robin. It’s funny and brings up some of Robin’s more funny tropes – providing some relief to fans who probably feared Ted was harbouring feelings for Robin. Sadly Marshall’s subplot is so inept and dull you’ll probably forget Jason Segal’s supposed to be the comedy relief on How I Met Your Mother. The strength of the A-plot saves this from being lower on this list.
48. “The Broath” (Season 7 Episode 19) The gang try to break up Quinn and Barney after they find out what she does for a living.Ted breaks his broath. As the gang meet her they believe she’s hugely manipulative and arrange a Quinntervention to try and make Barney see sense. The episode works because it plays up to Barneys best aspects – the show commits to the broath idea and gives the scene with Barney and Ted true spectacle. It also makes Quinn seem more interesting.
47. “Brunch” (Season 2 Episode 3) Ted finds out his parents have divorced and through some very creative storytelling – we learn that there’s a lot of sub plots running into the central meal. The pay off revelation isn’t too shocking but it’s cool to see the timeline of events being played with to give maximum enjoyment. We also realise that Marshall and Lily will inevitably get back together and that Lily has a thing for hairy calf’s. Smooth.
46. “Spoiler Alert” (Season 3 Episode 8) The gang tell Ted about Cathy’s annoying habits – leading to the illusion of her perfection being shattered. Ted fires back and before long all the gang’s annoying habits are laid bare to each other. Surprisingly works well with a solid script and quick fire laughs helping to keep things moving along.
45. “Nothing Good Happens after 2AM” (Season 1 Episode 18) An episode dedicated to the complexities of Robin and Ted’s relationship ends up being rather good (If you’re a Ted and Robin fan). I never understood why Robin was so upset – if only because Victoria was long out of the picture and Ted not telling her was just Ted being Ted. The B-plot with the fake Elvis is also worth a few laughs as Barney tries to extract as much fun from his new friend as possible.
44. “Home Wreckers” (Season 5 Episode 20) Ted suffers a mid-life crisis and ends up buying a dilapidated house. It’s fun and a nice visual metaphor for where the character was at this stage. The visual gags were great and the Barney/Robin subplot about whether they cried at the wedding offered enough chances for flashbacks to Ted’s mom’s wedding. A solid episode for fans of How I Met Your Mother.
43. “The Fight” (Season 4 Episode 10) Barney and Ted side with Doug the Bartender in a fight. He blacks out however and believes Barney and Ted caused all the damage – leading to them being wrongly hailed as heroes/villains. It’s a great episode of How I Met Your Mother that’s somewhat cliche in its sitcom roots but manages to rise above it through great acting from Ted and Barney.
42. “Purple Giraffe” (Season 1 Episode 2) Ted goes out of his way to set up another meeting with Robin, which has increasingly amusing effects on Lily and Marshall. Barney also gets his first proper sub plot and it’s golden – underlining in one episode the Barney way of dealing with women (And why bumping into them again is a bad idea). It’s a strong follow up to How I Met Your Mother‘s pilot – and sets us on the long path to Robin and Ted’s on/off relationship.
41. “Lucky Penny” (Season 2 Episode 15) Barney runs the marathon while Ted recounts the events that led him to miss a flight and thus a job offer. The episode works because the jokes are smart and well suited – and the use of time shifting allows jokes to blend into each other with fun consequences. A lot happens but it never feels overwhelming, with most of the groupings come off in the best way. From Lily and Robin at the bridal store to Barney and Marshall getting ready for the marathon, it’s How I Met Your Mother at its best.
40. “Symphony of Illumination” (Season 7 Episode 12) A more serious episode that focuses on Robin and Barney. Robin thinks she’s pregnant and despite a few minor laughs, this episode’s entirely about hitting home the fact that she can’t get pregnant. The acting is top notch from Cobie Smulders who turns in one of her best performances. Sadly the Marshall B-plot is wholly mediocre and involves him being trapped on a roof that feels awkwardly out of place. It was something How I Met Your Mother struggled to balance.
39. “Subway Wars” (Season 6 Episode 4) Complete fluff episode but glorious in what it does. All the characters have to race to a restaurant. Everyone brings their A-game as the show revels in each characters tropes. From Robin and Lily on the Subway to Marshall breaking into song – it’s great fun for the audience. The ending is lovely too.
38. “Slapsgiving” (Season 3 Episode 9) One of the shows better Ted and Robin episodes. They sleep together the night before Thanksgiving; only for Robin to brings her new boyfriend Bob to gangs dinner. It’s awkward and the building tension over the two’s breakup finally boils over – leading to some real drama in a season that’s lacked any real grounding. Luckily the Marshall/Barney subplot provides a good few laughs – delivering another slap and setting things back to normal for the gang by the end of the episode.
37. “Definitions” (Season 5 Episode 1) Ted begins his new career but instantly pulls a classic Schmosby by going into the wrong class. Elsewhere Barney and Robin try to avoid defining their situation – leading to frustration from everyone. A great season opener that balances all the new dynamics well; while still feeling true to the characters.
36. “Oh Honey” (Season 6 Episode 15) Katy Perry pops up as Zoey’s cousin in a surprisingly solid performance. She helps further the Zoey/Ted dynamic – along with Marshall who in the end manages to get the two to finally give in to their feelings. Your reaction to this will either be outright delight or absolute horror depending on how much you like Zoey.
35. “The Best Burger in New York” (Season 4 Episode 2) Complete filler but great episode all the same. Marshall wants to track down a burger place he found upon his arrival in New York City and the gang help him. Lots of charm, fun laughs and a bunch of cleverly timed jokes keep this moving along nicely while the appearance of Regis Philbin as a co-burger hunter adds to the absurdity. When all said and done though this is a Marshall episode; addressing his frustration with life and unemployment and it hits all the right beats to keep the episode charming.
34. “Ted Mosby, Architect” (Season 2 Episode 4) Barney makes clever use of Ted’s profession to get himself laid. This leads Robin to spend the whole episode chasing after what she thinks is Ted’s shadow. A great episode that plays on Robin’s insecurities and explores her fears over her blossoming relationship. Also, Barney is hilariously on form as fake-Ted.
33. “Ducky Tie” (Season 7 Episode 3) Barney enters into a bet to try and see Lily’s boobs. It sounds ridiculous but the way the episode layers it’s jokes and uses flashbacks to setup the punchline makes it hard to not laugh. Meanwhile, Ted and Victoria rekindle their romance, but there’s a huge roadblock in the way that stops them getting together. Oh and this is the start of Barney being forced to wear the ducky tie.
32. “The Sweet Taste of Liberty” (Season 1 Episode 3) Barney centric episode where we see him at his glorious best. Leads to an ill-advised trip to Philly and Marshall being dragged on a road trip. The suitcase full of condoms anyone? The sub plot with Lily and Robin is quite funny too, setting Lily up as a jealous but funny friend and establishing the show’s brand of off-hand humour.
31. “Pilot” (Season 1 Episode 1) Everything we’d come to love about How I Met Your Mother boiled into 23 minutes. Robin’s introduction is witty while the Marshall/Lily sub plot with Barney helps to establish their characters in a fun way., Oh and the blue French horn becomes iconic.
30. “The Slutty Pumpkin” (Season 1 Episode 6) Iconic episode where Ted waits for his Pumpkin. Barney is a barrel of laughs as he shifts through costumes and Lily and Marshall end up awkwardly double dating with a very unromantic Robin – who gets a sizeable chunk of character development in this episode. All around a great episode.
29. “The Bracket” (Season 3 Episode 14) Another Barney centric episode which takes great joy in prying into his past conquests. The use of the brackets is clever and the show gets full mileage out of the flashbacks to ensure laughs by the barrel load and sets up the promise of uncovering the mysterious women very nicely. Honestly if all the future seasons filler episodes were this fun then people wouldn’t have had a problem with Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother.
28. “Tick Tick Tick” (Season 7 Episode 10) Ted, Lily and Marshall go to a concert and accidentally get high – leading to a fairly unmemorable side-plot. The real meat on the bones here is the Barney/Robin drama. The writers expertly tease and toy with the audience – making it seem as though Barney and Robin are finally getting back together. But by the episodes end it’s yanked away in a painfully beautiful scene which Neil Patrick Harris nails completely. Barney’s flaws as a character are exposed as he trusts too much – loses Nora and has his heart broken in the same night.
27. The Leap (Season 4 Episode 24) All roads lead to the apartment roof as Marshall contemplates taking the leap across to a neighbours roof. Robin and Barney finally cave into their feelings while Ted takes up the position of architecture project. It was all change this episode with new directions galore being thrown up for the audience to ponder. And of course Marshall makes the leap, otherwise this would be a very tragic episode.
26. “The End of the Aisle” (Season 9 Episode 22) Robin and Barney’s wedding mere moments away, the pair suffer last-minute nerves. A powerful episode that’s packed with laughs and feelings; with a particularly touching moment between The Mother and Robin setting in course the rest of the episode. Barney provides the laughs as him and Robin finally tie the knot, but perhaps most important of all, we got to see the Mother interact with Robin at long last.
25. “Something Blue” (Season 2 Episode 22) Strong conclusion the to second season which throws the focus back on Ted and Robin. As their situation unravels, Barney goes through an emotional roller-coaster of false dawns until we find out the truth. Not as laugh out loud as the previous episodes; this one’s more about landing the emotional punches and showing how clever the shows writing was. Most of the laughs come from Lily and Marshall who don’t get to eat for most of the episode. It’s cute, it’s sad and that ending was a perfect jumping off point for a solid second season.
24. “Perfect Week” (Season 5 Episode 14) Barney aims for the perfect week by sleeping with 7 women in 7 days. In the end the entire gang rallies around Barney as they’re all going through rough patches of their own and we get a heap of sports center references to boot. There are lots of jokes and when the gang help Barney to bed the final women – it’s sweet in a somewhat horrifying way.
23. “The Possimpible” (Season 4 Episode 14) Robin’s search for a job yields comic gold for the show as Barney takes the reigns in finding her a job before she’s deported. From his video CV through to the sequence where Barney tells Robin he rejected offers on her behalf – there’s a lot to enjoy in this episode. The soul-searching done by the gang as well – seeing Ted’s Radio-X and Lily’s hot dog eating title – made the flashbacks feel effective too.
22. “The Platinum Rule” (Season 3 Episode 11) The gang try their best to stop Ted from dating the doctor removing his tattoo by recounting tales of their failed escapades with people they had to interact with afterwards. What makes this episode so great is the clever use of flashbacks and time jumping – allowing the writers the freedom the craft stories that are both funny and clever. The show’s execution and delivery of Barney’s ‘Platinum Rule’ is exceptional – and manages to add depth to How I Met Your Mother‘s already heavy backstory.
21. “Bad News” (Season 6 Episode 13) The show pulls one of its greatest tricks out the bag – counting down to 50 throughout the episode with visual prompts. It’s a fun novelty that plays in the background of proceedings – right until the audience realises it’s actually a countdown. The result is one of the shows more powerful moments as Lily and Marshall are forced to confront the death of Marshalls dad. It’s brilliantly
20. “The Magician’s Code: Part 2” (Season 7 Episode 24) Ted bringing Victoria back into the fold was a brave move by the writers – and gave the character a much needed breath of fresh air heading into Season 8. Meanwhile Quinn and Barney’s proposal was hilariously over the top – typical Barney Stinson. All of this is changed though when we find out Barney is to marry Robin in the future – a revelation that set up an intriguing situation heading out of a decisively underwhelming Season 7.
19. “Do I Know You?” (Season 4 Episode 1) Great season opener that loads the shows characters with new directions. Barney admits to Lily he likes Robin a lot, leading to a hilariously awkward dinner date between the two and some brilliant scenes from Neil Patrick Harris. Elsewhere Ted and Stella get engaged but this leads to the realization that he knows little about his wife to be. The use of Star Wars to convey relationships is golden and Marshall finds himself brilliantly used as Ted’s wing-man. The best bit of the episode? “Stop watching me you Bastards”.
18. “The Final Page: Part Two” (Season 8 Episode 12) The shows writers show their competence by whisking back the curtain; unveiling Barney’s long-term plan to get with Robin and delivering it in the most satisfying way possible. The Robin/Ted scenes are touching and juxtaposing all this heartbreak against the backdrop of Ted’s success with GMB gives the final scene deep resonance – he’s at his highest moment but equally at his lowest. Everything in this episode works to perfection and pays off all the threads in a satisfying way.
17. “Something Borrowed” (Season 2 Episode 21) Very strong episode for Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segal who both excel with the crisis’ that come their way. Everything that can go wrong does; with the rest of the gang trying desperately trying to keep things (Like Scooter) from torpedoing the entire day. The ending is touching and some fun visual gags add to the mess that unfolds – including a bathroom scene with a nice throwback to Ted/Lily/Marshall’s dorm days.
16. “Come On” (Season 1 Episode 22) Season One finale also finally pays off big time on several plot lines. Lily and Marshall’s relationship breaks down while Ted tries to tame the Gods so he can finally get Robin. Add in Barney’s hilarious whit, some excellent music choices and it’s really hard to not say this episode was How I Met Your Mother at its best.
15. “Intervention” (Season 4 Episode 4) Ted, Robin, Marshall and Lily all question the direction their lives are heading in; leading to a great series of scenes where the gang begin to lose their collective minds. The introduction of the “Intervention” banner was comedy gold and it’s use with flashbacks is well done. Add in Barney’s old man gimmick, which is beautifully pulled off by NPH, and you’ve got a really fun episode that relishes in all the characters without really doing much with them.
14. “Return of the shirt” (Season 1 Episode 4) Underrated episode where Ted reconnects with an old flame and basically Teds out on her. The answering machine scene is brilliantly layered while the re-introduction of Ted’s ex adds so much to the shows sense of humor. Meanwhile Barney and Robin bond over Robins job frustrations, leading to her taking increasing risks on air for Barney’s amusement. A very early nod to the ideas How I Met Your Mother would return to way down the line.
13. “Blitzgiving” (Season 6 Episode 10) The show pulls out a classic as it plays with the concept of bad luck being passed around. Watching the writers play with the missed opportunities for everyone – leading to hilarious visual moments (The dog on the skateboard, the top hat on the turkey). It’s not the most funny of How I Met Your Mother episodes – but the hard work is needed to try and get Zoey over as a less annoying partner for Ted. It works to some degree.
12. “Benefits” (Season 4 Episode 12) An episode that shouldn’t really work ends up being a barrel of laughs. Ted and Robin end up sleeping together to keep the peace, much to the eternal frustration of Barney. Marshall walking in on the two and revealing his “Read a magazine” issues is classic How I Met Your Mother. Barney’s struggles are brilliant and watching him take them out in various passive aggressive guises makes for great TV. Marshall’s B-plot is also fun and manages to pull in enough visual gags to keep itself fun.
11. “Showdown” (Season 2 Episode 20) Lily and Marshall try to spend two weeks apart – leading to a cute realisation that they can’t. Lily also struggles to fit into her wedding dress, being too small. But the episode belongs to Barney whose appearance on The Price is Right sets up the entire Bob Barker story line and is played beautifully by Neil Patrick Harris. The laughs come thick and fast in this episode with an ending so sweet, you’ll need to check with your doctor. And all this is ignoring the foreshadowing of Ted and Robin’s break-up; which underlines just how strong the writing is in How I Met Your Mother.
10. “Swarley” (Season 2 Episode 7) Introduces the concept of crazy eyes – which leads Marshall to worry his date is secretly psycho. Barney also gets a nickname he hates which leads to the gang teasing him. Alyson Hannigan brings her A-game for this episode and makes Lily’s increasing jealousy hilariously at odds with Marshall’s worries about his new squeeze. And who didn’t swoon slightly when Lily and Marshall finally got back together?
9. “Three Days of Snow” (Season 4 Episode 13) Watching Lily and Marshall re-unite at the end of this episode; after all the events the precede it, is a heart-warming moment for the show and genuinely brilliant. The B-plot involving Ted and Barney opening a bar is so over the top and fun that it just works. Barney and Ted play off each other wonderfully and the way the episode unfolds grants it license to play the audiences expectations. It’s a good example of the show using its time jumping to frame a story well.
8. “The Pineapple Incident” (Season 1 Episode 10) Brilliantly layered episode which see’s Ted and the gang trying to work out where the mysterious pineapple came from, oh and Trudy too. Excellently structured and beautifully paced with pay-offs coming thick and fast as the mystery unravels. Sure there’s a huge amount of silliness throughout, but this was one of How I Met Your Mother‘s earlier smash hits – and fans were asking about that pineapple long after the show wrapped up.
7. “How I Met Everyone Else” (Season 3 Episode 5) Hilariously stacked episode that throws flashbacks galore at the audience while introducing the audience to the Hot/Crazy scale. Ted’s crazy girlfriend “Blah, Blah” is excellently used against the retelling of how everyone met and we get a cheeky flash forward to the future gang right at the episodes end. All of this ignores the fact that How I Met Everyone else is a bottle episode of the highest order.
6. “Ten Sessions” (Season 3 Episode 13) Stella gets introduced as Ted makes a move on her. This episode is noteworthy for introducing Britney Spears as ditsy receptionist Abbey. Lots of memorable scenes (Including the 2 minute date) combined with a heap of jokes from Barney (Who ends up trying to sabotage Ted’s efforts) and you’ve got a fairly classic episode. The clever use of the 10 sessions to time skip is an added bonus and by the episode’s end – you’ll find yourself willing Ted on. It’s a great introduction of the Stella character, who sadly didn’t enjoy the best of care from the How I Met Your Mother writing team…..
5. “Girls Versus Suits” (Season 5 Episode 12) The shows 100th episode is a loving tribute to all things How I Met Your Mother and manages to nail pretty much all the targets it aims for. From Barney de-suiting in pursuit of Stacey Kiebler’s bartender character to Ted dating The Mother’s flatmate (The audience getting the biggest tease possible with her foot on show) there’s an avalanche of call backs and subtle nods that the show throws out. But the real show-stealer is the musical at the episodes end – a gloriously over the top affair that feels entirely in-keeping with the shows humor and is packed with all manner of references (Ted being out of sync with the rest of the cast). It’s glorious and the perfect benchmark for what made How I Met Your Mother work.
4. “The Naked Man” (Season 4 Episode 9) Robin sleeps with a man after falling to the naked man’s charms. This leads the gang to trying it out for themselves with hilariously varied outcomes. If the sight of Ted and Barney trying out different poses doesn’t get you, the Robin B-plot where she’s desperately trying to prove she’s not “easy” will. It’s a solid gold episode that capitalises on the shows cheeky humor and when Barney’s efforts lead him to failure – you’ll be howling with laughter. Just remember – it only works 2 out of 3 times!
3. “The Playbook” (Season 5 Episode 8) A tour de force for the legendary Barney who takes centre stage in this episode and doesn’t let up. The Playbook, the plays, the scuba suit, the Lorenzo Von Matterhorn. There isn’t a second of this episode that is wasted and the audience is given laughs by the barrel load; with Neil Patrick Harris rising to the challenge and then some. Arguably How I Met Your Mother‘s funniest episode.
2. “Slap Bet” (Season 2 Episode 9) So close to perfection it hurts. The Slap Bet is established (and instantly paid off) but the episode belongs to Robin – who’s past as a Canadian pop singer is revealed in all it’s glory. Robin Sparkles is one of the series stand out additions and the lengths Barney goes to make it happen only adds to the pay off. It’s the best of How I Met Your Mother purely because everything works together with such glee and joy; and the effort to land the jokes feels entitled. Who didn’t love “Let’s go to the Mall”?
1. “How Your Mother Met Me” (Season 9 Episode 16) I opened this list with Episode 14 of Season 9 – an episode that stretched the slap bet concept so far that it I consider it un watchable. Yet two episodes later the show threw out this – arguably one of the greatest examples of character building in modern TV
Up to this point The Mother (Or Tracy as we came to call her) had been relegated to cameos. Her presence was but a shadow – it took 23 minutes to turn her from a caricature into a fully fledged character. We see her journey; the highs and lows that paved the way to her meeting Ted Mosby. Her fateful meetings and chance happenings and all condensed into one episode and what a ride it is. If you’ve spent 8 years waiting to see The Mother, this was the episode that delivered her and then some.
Yes this episode is light on cast regulars. Yes it isn’t one of Barney’s Playbook plays. But at it’s heart it’s got all the ingredients that made this show brilliant at its peak. Season 9 was a terrible end to the show, but this almost makes it worthwhile on its own. It manages to surpass expectations by telling a complete story within the time it’s going. By the end it’s hard not to be invested in Tracey and be willing her on to meet Ted. It’s how we really should have met the Mother, and probably the last great episode that How I Met Your Mother pushed out.
What did you think of our How I Met Your Mother ranking? Of course everyone will have a different opinion – and we’d love to hear yours. Which episode of How I Met Your Mother was your best/worst? Which character made the show for you? Let us know in the comments.