How I Met Your Mother is one of the most popular sitcoms of all time and could have been an even bigger success had it not have been for that controversial ending. However, though the show had its flaws, it did also have some legitimately awesome episodes.
We picked our fav five, but we'd be remiss not to at least give honorable mentions to classics such as "Girls Vs. Suits", "The Naked Man", "Intervention", "Three Days of Snow" – and that's just to name a few. On the other end of the spectrum, however, are those episodes that fell flat and will probably be skipped on rewatch.
10 BEST: THE PLAYBOOK
Over the course of nine years, we’ve seen Barney attempt all kinds of gimmicks to "pick up chicks and give them the business". In season five episode “The Playbook”, it is revealed that Barney literally wrote the book on seducing women. The eponymous book contains “every scam, con, hustle, hoodwink, gambit, flimflam, stratagem and bamboozle” you can imagine.
The episode features legendary plays like The SNASA, The Mrs. Stinsfire, The Lorenzo von Matterhorn, and of course the unforgettable The Scuba Diver, which turns out to be the entire plot of the episode. "The Playbook" is one of those expertly crafted, hilarious episodes that defined HIMYM. The punchline at the very end of the episode is absolutely brilliant.
9 WORST: BEDTIME STORIES
Season nine had a number of duds, and “Bedtime Stories” was one of them. It is worth noting that Jason Segel was severely underserved in season nine, what with his character spending most of the time on the bus. Once that brilliant decision was made, there really wasn’t much the writers could do with Marshall. Hence, this episode.
We don’t have a problem with all the rhyme, in fact, that was pretty awesome and Jason Segel’s voiceover was top notch. From a purely creative perspective, “Bedtime Stories” is an accomplishment worthy of praise. However, for an episode that came in the midst of the final season when we were eagerly approaching the big payoff we’ve been waiting for nine years, “Bedtime Stories” did literally nothing to advance the plot. It is the definition of pointless filler. But hey, points for having Lin-Manuel Miranda!
8 BEST: THE PINEAPPLE INCIDENT
“The Pineapple Incident” is one of HIMYM’s funniest, best-rated, most-watched episodes and deservedly so. In an effort to get Ted to do more and think less, Barney decides to get him drunk. Ted gets thoroughly wasted and wakes up the next morning with no recollection of the night before, a girl in his bed, and a pineapple on his nightstand, hence the Pineapple Incident.
Ted then spends the entire episode trying to figure out what happened the night before and, most importantly, where the pineapple came from. Unfortunately, we never do get the answer to that question. But we do find out that he sprained his ankle by falling off the table while singing karaoke, drunk-dialed Robin numerous times, and got set on fire by Barney. As for the pineapple, according to a season nine deleted scene, Ted stole it from The Captain’s doorstep.
7 WORST: MOM AND DAD
And we’re back to season nine, again. With Barney and Robin’s wedding fast approaching and no minister to actually wed them, Barney’s brother James brings in his father, who happens to be a minister. At the same time, Barney’s father Jerome and their mother Loretta all arrive at Farhampton. The episode then turns into a Parent Trap-inspired battle between Barney and James as they both try to get their respective parents back together.
While the episode itself isn't even all that funny, the worst part is it was nothing but more frivolous filler. Nothing of importance happens here, and if you’re planning a re-watch you might as well go ahead and skip this one altogether.
6 BEST: HOW I MET EVERYONE ELSE
Right after the first episode, it was clear to all of us watching that we're in for a long haul until we actually get to the moment Ted and the Mother meet. Luckily, we didn't have to wait as long to learn how everyone else met each other. In season three episode “How I Met Everyone Else”, Ted brings his new girlfriend Blah Blah to meet the gang. Embarrassed by the fact that they met online, Blah Blah tells a too-good-to-be-true bogus story about how they met, prompting a trip down memory lane.
The gang starts reminiscing about how they all met and we get some pretty hilarious moments in both the present and the flashbacks. The episode also introduced the series-long euphemism for smoking weed, “eating sandwiches”, as well as Barney’s hot/crazy scale.
5 WORST: THE BURNING BEEKEEPER
Talk about wasted potential. The writers had an excellent concept for “The Burning Beekeeper” – five minutes, three rooms, one story. It could have easily been one of those HIMYM classics that experiment with the format to achieve great payoff. Alas, it wasn’t. The execution was sorely lacking and the resolution utterly disappointing.
None of the smaller stories taking place in the three rooms were interesting enough to keep the audience engaged, and it felt like the writers were simply trying to pass time until the big finale– the burning beekeeper running through the house. And the worst part is, the punchline was even worse than the setup. Perhaps our expectations were much too high, perhaps the writers spoiled us with episodes like "The Playbook" and "Slap Bet".
4 BEST: SLAP BET
Speaking of "Slap Bet", when Robin screams at the top of her lungs that she doesn’t go to the mall, the gang goes crazy trying to figure out what happened to Robin at the mall. Theories start to develop, and Barney, of course, claims that Robin used to work in porn. Marshall and Barney decide to make a slap bet – whoever’s right gets to slap the loser as hard as they can – and thus began the series-long running gag known as Slapsgiving.
Ultimately Barney does find out the truth, only it’s not porn. Much to everyone’s surprise, Robin used to be Canada’s one-hit-wonder teen pop star known as Robin Sparkles. They watch the hilarious “Let’s Go to The Mall” music video and yet another recurring element of the show is introduced with utmost perfection. Perfect build-up, perfect payoff– that’s HIMYM at its best.
3 WORST: SLAPSGIVING 3: SLAPPOINTMENT IN SLAPMARRA
Marshall and Barney’s slap bet and the Slapsgiving episodes gave us some of the show’s funniest moments. Except for the third one. “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra” is easily the worst Slapsgiving episode and one of HIMYM’s weakest episodes overall. As bad as the other season nine filler episodes were – and they were bad – it doesn’t get worse than “Slapsgiving 3”.
While the slap was a subplot in other Slapsgiving episodes, here the whole episode is a build-up to the slap. Sadly, neither the build-up nor the resolution work. The writers attempt to parody a number of movies to get some laughs, but the whole ordeal was chuckle-worthy at best, and cringy at worst.
2 BEST: HOW YOUR MOTHER MET ME
“How Your Mother Met Me” is hands down the best episode of season nine. Told from the perspective of the Mother, aka Tracy, the episode returned How I Met Your Mother to its former glory and restored some of our waning faith (albeit, just to have it crushed in the finale). In this one glorious episode, the writers masterfully managed to show us the Mother’s life over the years, while threading the many hints we’ve gotten over the years – the yellow umbrella, the bass guitar, the econ class – into a cohesive story. We truly get to know Tracy, who she is, what she loves, and what made her the person she is when she finally meets Ted.
Cristin Milioti’s performance was absolutely flawless and irresistibly charming, and by the end, everyone was in love with the Mother. It was easy to see why Ted and Tracy were made for each other. It was a perfect love story. But aside from the many emotional beats, this episode also delivered some big laughs like the return of the Naked Man.
1 WORST: LAST FOREVER PART 1 & 2
As much as we wish the show had ended with Ted meeting Tracy, the creators had something else in mind. Everything the series spent nine seasons building up to comes crashing down in “Last Forever". The writers spent six-ish seasons developing Barney and Robin as a couple, making us fall in love with the idea of these two idiots together, giving us some of the most memorable moments on the show and then destroyed it all by having them married and divorced all in the span of an episode, ruining both characters in the process– especially Robin.
Worse yet is the poor treatment the Mother got. Tracy and Ted finally had their meet-cute and it was all we could have ever wanted. Unfortunately, the writers decided to kill her off in a matter of minutes, in order to squeeze in one last plot twist. So, the show basically turns into Ted using the story of how he met the kids' mother to ask their permission to go after Robin again. This forced and unforgettable bait and switch left such a bad test in our mouths that we’re still upset about it to this day– and probably always will be.