Premiering in 2005, How I Met Your Mother is what I like to think of as the pinnacle of sitcoms. It’s also one of my all-time favorite shows, even though I didn’t like how it ended. Regardless, it’s a show about trying to find “the one” in New York and enjoying the ride with your best friends. This list is what I’d say are my personal favorites and I admit, I ranked the heart-wrenching and big-romantic-gesture episodes higher. With that, I conclude that these are the best episodes of How I Met Your Mother:
15. Swarley (2×07)
‘Swarley’ is what I would call a fan favorite. Mostly because mistaking the name Barney for Swarley (which isn’t even a name, as Barney points out) is just ridiculous. But it does, however, point out how hilarious barista’s name mistakes can be. Additionally, this episode pokes fun at critics, and fans alike, when they say that How I Met Your Mother copies off of Friends by pointing out that hanging out in a coffee shop isn’t as fun as hanging out at a bar.
14. How I Met Everyone Else (3×05)
Meeting someone online is, in my opinion, nothing to be ashamed of. However, Blah Blah (yes, that’s the name narrator Ted uses because he can’t remember the girl’s name) decides to make a fake story about how they met in a cooking class because she doesn’t love that they met online. Thus ensuing stories about how Ted met everyone else in the group. There’s nothing necessarily special about this episode but it’s entertaining, nonetheless.
13. Girls vs. Suits (5×12)
For the show’s 100th episode, Barney was faced with a real dilemma (at least to Barney): to pick a hot girl or his suits. The conflict of it was, admittingly, ridiculous because he’d only have to give up his suits for a little while. It’s not like he was in love with the girl, he just wanted to bang her. But points for the musical number because we all know NPH can sing, and we finally got to see it in this episode. And you know, we also learned more about the Mother in this episode so that was great as well.
12. Slap Bet (2×09)
‘Slap Bet’ was the beginning of two very important parts of the series: the slap bet (hence the episode name) and Robin Sparkles. I had never even heard of a slap bet before watching this episode and seeing how it plays out through the rest of the series is amusing. Robin Sparkles, and more importantly, her song “Let’s Go to the Mall” will forever be iconic in my book.
11. Spoiler Alert (3×08)
I put ‘Spoiler Alert’ into this list because I just love rewatching it, in all honesty. Everyone has their little quirks, and they can be endearing or annoying. But odds are, if you love someone, you either find them endearing or you learn to love it. This episode was just highlighting those quirks to everyone that didn’t already notice them. Plus, I’m definitely the person who corrects what people say so, seeing Ted do the same made me feel better about myself ;).
10. Something Borrowed (2×21)
‘Something Borrowed’ is essentially Marshall and Lily’s wedding episode. Problem is, everything’s going wrong; not only have they changed their wedding to fit what their families want, but the veil gets ruined, their harpist is in labor, and most importantly, Marshall shaves the middle of his head (among many other things).
So naturally, the gang goes outside to get some air and everything just happens to work out. They wanted a small outdoor wedding and that’s exactly what they get. Even though it’s going to be a disaster of a wedding inside the venue, Ted suggests they get married right here, right now. Then, when they go back inside, they won’t care anymore because they already had the real wedding outside. And the cherry on top is that Barney officiates the wedding.
9. How Your Mother Met Me (9×16)
We’d learned so much about the whole gang over the past eight years prior to this episode. It only makes sense that we’d get to know a little more about Tracy (AKA the mother). I don’t know what any of us expected, but she definitely lived up to the hype. Ted and Tracy are undeniably perfect together when we see them together. Before this episode, we still don’t know very much about her. Afterwards, even though it’s only one episode, we feel like we know her.
8. Tick Tick Tick (7×10)
“Tick Tick Tick” follows Barney and Robin after they slept with each other at the end of the previous episode. And this is where they have to deal with the fact that they’re both already with other people (Robin with Kevin, Barney with Nora). Barney, while he’s criticized for being a womanizer, is also a huge romantic (whether he’d admit it or not), and this episode is proof as to why.
First, they decide to pretend it never happened but Barney takes a leap of faith to tell Robin that he still loves her. Then, they make a plan to break up with their partners and work on their relationship. Unfortunately, it doesn’t end well for Barney as Robin picks Kevin over him. Even worse, Barney held up his end of the deal. And we’re left seeing Barney picking up rose petals that he left in Robin’s bedroom.
7. Daisy (9×20)
While ‘Daisy’ brings back “The Mosby Boys” (AKA Ted in detective mode), this episode was integral in the Marshall and Lily plot that season. If you didn’t already know, Marshall and Lily have plans to go to Rome for a year to live out Lily’s dreams of being an art consultant for The Captain. But then, Marshall’s offered his dream job: a judgeship in New York. Even worse, Marshall accepts the job without telling Lily. This episode explores why Lily gave into Marshall’s side the night before. Spoiler alert: Lily’s pregnant.
I, for one, am glad that they (spoiler alert, again) went to Rome. I was rooting for it but also thought they’d stay in New York just because it’d make sense (after all, the entire series takes place in New York). But it was past time for Lily to get to live out her artistic dream after she supported Marshall through his environmental lawyer struggles all these years.
6. P.S. I Love You (8×15)
Any addition to the Robin Sparkles episodes is welcome in my book. Except this time around, it’s Robin Daggers, and it’s how Robin ended her music career, so to speak. Furthermore, this episode is more about obsession, and how easy it can be to obsess over someone. It also introduced one of my favorite theories, which is the Dobler/Dahmer theory; a romantic gesture ranges from romantic to creepy depending on how the other person feels about you. If he/she likes you back, it’s romantic. If it’s not reciprocated, it comes off as creepy.
5. The Final Page: Part 1 & Part 2 (8×11 & 8×12)
Yes, this is technically two episodes but to be fair, I distinctly remember both episodes airing together. So, as you can probably tell from the picture, this is indeed the episode where Barney proposes to Robin. At this point in the show, we think Barney’s with Patrice but we also know that he and Robin eventually get engaged. But we never figure out how they get back together. That is, until this episode. Turns out Barney’s been scheming for months. Ultimately, it leads to Barney proposing on the top of the World Wide News building (AKA Robin’s favorite spot in the city).
4. The Rehearsal Dinner (9×12)
Leave it to Barney Stinson to make grand romantic gestures. The rehearsal dinner is just one out of many, but being a #Swarkles shipper myself, this one is probably my favorite. Barney makes Robin, and most of the gang, think that he’s expecting a laser tag rehearsal dinner. Meanwhile, he actually set up a Canadian-themed rehearsal dinner for Robin. It’s incredibly romantic and watching Ted fall while trying to figure skate is pretty hilarious.
3. Symphony of Illusion (7×12)
This episode hit me hard in the feels. Symphony of Illusion is about Robin finding out that she can’t have kids. Initially, it’s a non-issue because Robin’s never wanted kids. But like Robin says in the episode, it’s one thing not to want something, it’s another to be told you can’t have it. The last scene (pictured above) of Ted cheering Robin up is enough of a reason to watch this quintessential episode of How I Met Your Mother.
2. The Bro Mitzvah (8×22)
There are many examples of Barney making big romantic gestures (as you’ve seen in previous episode rankings). The Bro Mitzvah is one where we get to see more of Robin’s romantic side. Barney, while he hasn’t always been moral, is, however, the type of guy that constantly lives in the moment. So, instead of trying to give him the best night of his life, Robin gives him the worst. And then turns it around in the end. It’s absolutely genius.
1. Last Words (6×14)
If you’ve seen this episode and didn’t cry, you’re either a robot or a monster. This episode takes the gang to Marshall’s hometown in Minnesota for his dad’s funeral. The theme of which revolves around his last words. Everyone else in Marshall’s family tells these beautiful stories of the last words Marvin (Marshall’s father) left them with and unfortunately, Marshall doesn’t feel like he has that. Instead, he remembers “Rent Crocodile Dundee 3. I caught it on the cable last night and it totally holds up!” as his last words. Or so he thinks. Turns out Marvin left him a voicemail and Marshall contemplates whether he wants to listen to it or not. It then leads the group to examine what their fathers’ last words would be.
In short, How I Met Your Mother really demonstrates how well they’re able to pull our heartstrings. Marshall’s father was his personal hero, his best friend, and losing him hits him hard. This isn’t exactly a prime example of the show’s average episode but it will always be my personal favorite.
Hope you enjoyed my ranking of one of my favorite shows, How I Met Your Mother. Tweet me @mzsnguyenthai or comment below what your favorite episodes are!