After nine seasons and 208 episodes, How I Met Your Mother has evolved from a comedy about five friends living in New York City to a beloved series full of catchphrases, running gags and seriously heartwarming moments.
The series finale airs in the United States tonight, and we will finally, finally learn how Ted meets the mother. Before this moment, Ted, Barney, Robin, Marshall and Lilly have taken us on a wild ride involving slaps, interventions and one pivotal yellow umbrella.
Whether we were singing along to a Robin Sparkles song or trying to understand The Bro Code, How I Met Your Mother has given us some legen—wait for it—dary episodes over the years. Before it’s all over, here’s our pick of the 10 best episodes in chronological order that have made us laugh, cry and sometimes even sing along.
1. Come On (Season 1, Episode 22)
This was the first time we learned that HIMYM is more than just your run-of-the-mill comedy—it’s a roller coaster of emotions. During this first-season finale, the main character Ted is at his high, finally winning Robin’s affection. Meanwhile, his best friend Marshall is at his low having just been dumped by Lilly. Co-creater Craig Thomas has said this is favourite show of the entire series. “To me, that’s like the essence of the show and why the show works, because it’s life all happening at once,” Thomas told Entertainment Weekly. “It’s joy and it’s sadness and it’s reality.”
2. Swarley (Season 2, Episode 7)
This might just been one of the most ridiculous episodes of How I Met Your Mother, but that’s exactly why it works. We get introduced to the term “crazy eyes” and learned just how far the gang will go to make Barney’s life miserable. This is also the episode where Marshall and Lilly get back together, restoring order in the HIMYM universe.
3. Slap Bet (Season 2, Episode 9)
If the charm of How I Met Your Mother could be summed up in one episode, this would be it. This season 2 episode was the start of two of the show’s longest-running gags: the Slap Bet and Canadian teen pop star Robin Sparkles. It also highlighted the dynamic of the friendship group by emphasising their love of inside jokes. Oh Robin, we’d love to go to the mall with you anytime, girl!
4. The Ten Sessions (Season 3, Episode 13)
How I Met Your Mother is a romantic show just as much as it is a comedy, and no episode proves that more than The Ten Sessions. At this point in the series, Stella still seemed like a good pick for Ted (not someone who would ultimately leave him at the altar). To win the busy single mother’s affection, Ted organises a two-minute date, fitting in dinner, a movie and dessert. Excuse me while my heart is melting.
5. Intervention (Season 4, Episode 4)
In this episode, the gang introduces another hilarious gag to the series: The Intervention. Throughout the episode, they all come together to stop one of the friends from sabotaging themselves, i.e. Lilly’s horrible British accent. “Intervention” also shows how the group is hesitant towards change as they hold an intervention to stop Ted from marrying Stella.
6. Naked Man (Season 4, Episode 9)
As every true HIMYM fan knows, Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) is the ultimate ladies man who will go to any length to get a girl to sleep with him. In this episode, Ted learns of one of the most ridiculous moves to get a woman to bed that he’s ever seen: The Naked Man. Barney thinks it’s brilliant and wants to try it out himself. Needless to say, hilariousness ensues.
8. Doppelgangers (Season 5, Episode 24)
On the surface, this episode seems like a hilarious search to find Barney’s doppelganger, the only member of the gang whose doppelganger has not appeared yet. However, it’s more about how everyone is examining how much they’ve changed over the past five years and how Marshall and Lilly aren’t completely ready to have kids even though it seems like the right time. It gets pretty existential for an episode that also features Stripper Lilly and Mexican Wrestler Ted. But hey, who are we to judge?
9. Bad News (Season 6, Episode 13)
Through all its antics and hi-jinks, How I Met Your Mother can deliver serious moments that make you cry along with the main characters. During this heartbreaking episode, Marshall calls his father to tell him that he and Lilly are having a baby, only for Marshall to learn that his father had died. Jason Segel (Marshall) didn’t know Alyson Hannigan (Lilly) was going to tell him Marshall’s father died in this scene, resulting in a perfectly raw response. In fact, this was the only take the director shot of the scene.
10. How Your Mother Met Me (Season 9, Episode 16)
In the show’s 200th episode, HIMYM embraced its brilliant non-linear storyline and finally told us what in the world the Mother’s been up to this entire time. It reveals how she almost ran into Ted multiple times through clever nuisances, including that damn yellow umbrella. The most touching part of the episode comes at the end, when Ted overhears the Mother playing La Vie En Rose for the first time. CAN WE JUST FIGURE OUT HOW THEY MEET ALREADY?!
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news