Screen Critics Shaun takes a look back at How I Met Your Mothers worst episodes, recounting the top 10 worst from across the shows entire run.
It’s been a while since CBS’s How I Met Your Mother wrapped up and its still not clear what legacy it left behind. After an awkward finale that split fans, many fans are returning to view the show and remembering the good times it brought. But for every high, there’s a low, and HIMYM isn’t any different.
We figured we’d look back at the ten episodes it would probably be best to skip over if you’re planning on revisiting the show anytime soon. (If you want our full rundown of all 208 episodes, check that out here!)
10. “Mom and Dad” (Season 9 Episode 10)
Mom and Dad ultimately highlight the big problem with Season 9, a lot happens but none of it really matters. This episode sees Ted play detective, trying to uncover who broke Robin’s gift. If that sounds interesting, don’t worry, the show quickly ejects all sense of fun as Ted snoops around with not a sense of fun.
Meanwhile, Barney and James’ parents turn up, causing “hilarious” awkwardness for the pair as they try to deal with the tension. Nothing of value comes from this episode, other than a rather touching moment at the episode’s end. But did it need to be buried under all this rubbish?
9. The Stamp Tramp (Season 8 Episode 7)
Newly single Barney decides to franchise out his strip club attendance, roping the entire gang into an awkward NFL draft-type showcase. It could work, but the whole thing doesn’t do anything with the concept. Things aren’t much better on the B-plot, where Ted, Marshall, and Lily awkwardly get landed with a storyline that feels entirely like filler.
It’s not the worst episode by far – but the point is that the show was beginning to showcase it had run out of ideas. As showcased by the reheating of Barney/Robin at the end of the episode. Such a frustrating point in the show’s history.
8. “The Autumn of Break-Ups” (Season 8 Episode 5)
This is the one where 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. Victoria’s character was pretty savagely hurt by this little Season 8 return, as the show failed to explore any new ideas. This episode the result of that poor foreplanning.
7. 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.
6. Zoo or False (Season 5 Episode 19)
Marshall gets mugged by a monkey and the entire episode is a poorly realized one-tone joke that fails to be funny.
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.
I will say, the ending scene with the monkey in the TV studio is a highlight and arguably saves the episode single-handedly.
5. Last Forever Part 1 (Season 9 Episode 23)
I’ve actually softened to the first half of the finale, if only because it isn’t as awful as the second part. But really, this episode showcases everything wrong with Season 9 and its mixed priorities.
Instead of giving the audience all this development across the season, the show crams it inside a 22-minute episode. Robin and Barney break up, Lily and Marshall have another kid and the series revisits Robin’s insecurities. The entire thing feels so rushed and so ill-thought out that you wouldn’t be able to guess that the show had a whole season to touch on these points. It’s just disappointing and while nowhere near as offensive as the second part (Which goes gung-ho on the developments), Last Forever Part 1 is just a missed opportunity.
4. “Last Forever Part 2” (Season 9 Episode 24)
The second part of the finale is markedly worse in many aspects, largely because the writers decided to take the time jumping to such extremes that it threatens to rip the fabric of the series apart. Now our gang of characters are so disenchanted that even visiting McClaren’s pub doesn’t make everything better. Robin is the absolute worst in this, barely seen and relegated to amazingly cold bitch.
Robin is the absolute worst in this, barely seen and relegated to amazingly cold bitch. She turns up for Ted’s wedding at the end and the show tries to imply that everything’s fine. But for an audience who’ve barely had time to adjust to all the changes, it’s another slap in the face.
Not that Robin is the only character to suffer through this mess. The Mother gets killed off screen and, while the sequence around is lovely, effectively springs a middle finger to the audience for wanting the two to have a happy ending. Honestly, the ending still gets me mad to this day and the fact that the writers tried to cram in Robin and Ted to close it out underlines why this entire fiasco was so poorly received.
Oh, and Barney has a kid, that we see once and never get to know. Good times.
3. “Twelve Horny Women” (Season 8 Episode 8)
Flashbacks work in How I Met Your Mother because the narrative and framing of the show allow for them to become huge parts of the show’s lore. Yet this episode takes the concept and throttles it against the wall, desperately trying to gain comedic value from the whole endeavor. Watching the gang argue over who was the best teenager is about as pointless as it gets for a group of characters we’re looking forward with, not backward. It might have been funny is the flashbacks themselves had anything fun to add, but they don’t.
The episode also serves as the conclusion to Brad and Marshall’s ongoing court saga – in that it ends and the show doesn’t try to make you care. Because it was a tedious storyline that relegated Marshall to one of the more pointless side stories in the show’s history. But if Marshall thought Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother was cruel…
2. “Bedtime Story” (Season 9 Episode 11)
One of the more frustrating parts of How I Met Your Mother’s Season 9 was the treatment of Marshall. The writers literally park him on a bus for half the season and gave him some of the worst material to work with – effectively turning any scene with Marshall into a distraction. So of course when an episode homes in on this aspect, it really doesn’t stand up well.
See, the premise of this episode was Marshall singing a song for his kid. It’s a nice idea but comes across so ham-fisted and bizarrely contrary to the rest of the events of the episode that it doesn’t work. The narration by Segal is well done – but the whole thing falls apart the second the show tries to do anything with its moving parts. I get the writers wanted to try something new, but it fell apart so awkwardly that I can’t help but hate this episode.
Jason Segal had reportedly been unhappy with the state of his character throughout Season 8, leading to rumors he was looking to get out of the show. After seeing his treatment throughout, I find it hard to argue with him on this evidence.
1. Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra (Season 9, Episode 14)
Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother was bad but even the majority of episodes have some kind of redeeming quality to them. Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra pretty unredeemable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say its one of the worst TV episodes of any show I’ve ever seen.
The episode is one long build to Marshall delivering a slap to Barney. To get there though, we venture through several movie parodies that all fail miserably to raise a smile. The episode bizarrely doubles down on its awfulness, committing to the bit so tediously that it seems everyone involved is just waiting for the credits to roll.
The slap bet was a nice little running joke in the show, but it certainly wasn’t good enough to carry an episode like this. Worse than that, it feels lazily written across the board. Honestly, the only reason to watch this mess again is to remind yourself of how bad Season 9 of How I Met Your Mother was.