This past weekend marked five years since the finale of “How I Met Your Mother” first aired in March 2014, ending a decade’s worth of inside jokes with Ted, Barney, Robin, Lily and Marshall. It wrapped up a decade of nights spent drinking at MacLaren’s, and a decade of piecing together clues about the mysterious mother, whose identity the show’s creators, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, teased for nine amusing seasons.
After nine impatient years of following the endearing group of 20-30 year olds navigating the trials and errors of adulthood and relationships in New York City, sitcom lovers watched the lead character and hopeless romantic, Ted Mosby, finally meet the love of his life, the mother of his children. The absurdities that Ted faces along the way are framed as flashbacks, narrated by an older version of his character (voiced by Bob Saget) telling his two teenage kids the long and looping story of how he met the woman he eventually created their family with.
Ted overcomes several obstacles while trying to find his perfect leading lady. Every situation he encounters brings him one step closer to intersecting paths with his soul mate, but getting there is nothing short of a hilarious, quirky and unexpected string of events. Amidst the often unrealistic situations the characters find themselves in, the show balances its extreme cheesiness with realistic and poignant life advice.
Few shows earn a timeless place in the hearts of fans. However, with a top-notch cast that embodies each character, and the compelling storylines that are passionately executed, audiences have continuously fell in love with the enthusiastic energy of “How I Met Your Mother.” Fans felt as though they had formed friendships with the main characters, saw them grow and develop over time and were emotionally invested in finding out where they wind up.
But the show is more about the journey than the destination, and there are plenty of detours along the way. With that being said, here are the five most memorable episodes of “How I Met Your Mother.”
1. “Slap Bet” (Season 2, Episode 9)
Introducing several key aspects of the series’ interconnected mythology, “Slap Bet” is fondly remembered for revealing Robin’s secret past as Canadian pop singer, Robin Sparkles. After Robin refuses to join the others at the mall and gets defensive about it, Barney and Marshall make a bet about the reason for Robin’s hatred of malls.
The two set a wager; Barney is convinced that Robin formerly starred in “porn-wait for it-ography,” while Marshall rationalizes that perhaps Robin was previously married, and the winner gets to slap the other in the face as hard as possible. After digging into her past and prying the truth out of her, the resulting music video for “Let’s Go to the Mall” by Robin Sparkles is one of the sitcom’s best gags ever. This episode displays “How I Met Your Mother” at its funniest and fastest, demonstrating the main characters’ eccentric chemistry and the show’s overall comic brilliance.
2. “The Playbook” (Season 5, Episode 8)
Barney Stinson and the endless list of tricks he plays to get women to sleep with him is arguably the show’s most entertaining narrative. There’s a reason why Neil Patrick Harris earned nearly double as much as his co-stars per episode: the charisma he brings to the show is magnetic and unmatched.
Harris, an openly gay man in reality, ironically plays a womanizer who goes to great lengths to hook up with women, and he excels at the role. “The Playbook” is a catalogue of seductive ploys, compiling the best manipulations Barney has managed to play on women throughout the series. The episode is so noteworthy that a novel based on “The Playbook” was published in 2010.
3. “How I Met Everyone Else” (Season 3, Episode 5)
One of the most compelling aspects of “How I Met Your Mother” is how it manages to pack so many details into 20 highly entertaining minutes. By using rapidly changing scenes, exaggerated time jumps that leap back and forth anywhere between 30 seconds and 30 years and the lingering suspense the voiceover builds, “How I Met Your Mother” crosses boundaries and delves deep into the character’s back stories. This episode operates on several dimensions, as the group reminisces on how they first met each other.
A flashback to Ted, Lily and Marshall’s college days finds the original trio in their utterly carefree phase. These shots remain some of series’ most priceless footage, especially the scene where Ted walks in on Marshall “eating a sandwich” (the show’s ongoing euphemism for smoking weed). Flash forward to present-day and Barney is explaining his seminal theory called the “hot/crazy scale,” claiming that the hotter a girl is, the crazier she must be.
4. “Intervention” (Season 4, Episode 4)
This episode caught all five characters in pivotal moments of their lives. Ted, Lily and Marshall are packing up their flat, Robin is on the verge of moving to Japan and Barney, well, he’s simply trying to prove that he can successfully pick up women while posing as an 80-year-old man who can supposedly travel through time.
Recalling all of the times they’ve had to step in and intervene due to their annoying habits, which range from fake British accents to excessively wearing silly hats, to overusing fire in magic tricks, this episode proves how, sometimes, our friends know us better than we know ourselves. The gang takes a trip down memory lane before acknowledging that they need an intervention for all of their ridiculous, ceremonious interventions.
5. “Ten Sessions” (Season 3, Episode 13)
“How I Met Your Mother” is famous for its cameos; Katy Perry, Enrique Iglesias and Jennifer Lopez are just a few of the recognizable faces to guest star on the show as goofy personalities. In “Ten Sessions,” Britney Spears plays the receptionist at Ted’s dermatologist’s office, and she eventually develops feelings for him. While this is happening, Ted is developing a crush on his doctor, Stella, who refuses to go out with her patients.
Ted complies and agrees to wait until after his 10 sessions of tattoo removal to reverse his embarrassing butterfly tramp stamp before asking her on a date. After the last session, Ted’s plan fails when Stella remains reluctant to give him a shot because of her busy schedule as a doctor and single mother.
Being the naïve dork he is, Ted proceeds to orchestrate an entire date’s worth of events in two minutes and on the side of the road. In typical fashion, Stella ended up being another girl to break Ted’s heart, but it was a critical step for him to meet his future wife.