How I Met Your Mother became more of a drama than a sitcom in later years, and this provided us with many heartbreaking moments. There were times when “sad” wasn’t the word we’d use to describe certain moments, since the impact was felt firmly in our hearts.
In this list, we’ve taken a break from the norm and included the heartbreaks the audience felt at a storyline, not just how the characters felt. This means if you were deeply disappointed from an angle from the show, that moment might just be listed in these ten most heartbreaking How I Met Your Mother moments.
10 The Mother Sings La Vie En Rose
While Ted spent nine years chattering on about nonsensical stuff to his kids, we got one incredible episode showing the Mother’s side of things before meeting Ted. By the end, the Mother summed up well the heartbreak she had been feeling for a decade over losing her boyfriend in tragic circumstances by singing La Vie En Rose.
The actress deserves all the praise for making the scene come out so beautifully melancholic, as in her voice we felt the pain that had been gestating for nearly ten years, wrapped up in a hauntingly beautiful rendition of a classic song. She didn’t know it, but Tracy was close to ending her years of loneliness; we just wished we could tell her that.
9 Barney Admits Bob Barker Isn't His Father
Barney was quite clearly suffering from real mental issues with his deepseated insecurities, but the whole “Bob Barker is my father” thing had been played out so much even we started believing he was Barney’s real dad.
So, when Barney was faced with the prospect of meeting his actual dad, it was very sad to see him suddenly break through his denial and be true to himself for once, and that was to admit that he wasn’t crazy and knew that Bob Barker wasn’t his father. The moment the door opened to reveal James’ dad, Barney had a few moments of comprehension that he had opened himself up for no reason, and his descent into denial once more was pretty hard to watch.
8 Ted Lets Go Of Stella
Music was used very effectively on How I Met Your Mother, and this scene should be on top of the list to prove it. Here, Ted finally tracked Stella down to her New York apartment; enraged that she had wanted to make him move to Jersey, but had moved to New York for Tony.
Before he could give her a piece of his mind for leaving him at the altar, Ted saw Stella and her little family all happy together, realizing this was a love story complete. Even though Ted did the mature thing and let go, we had to feel for the guy for the way he walked back shoulders hunched and defeated in that the romantic in him wouldn’t allow Ted himself to ruin the moment for the woman who had broken his heart.
7 Barney Has An Accident
Barney had seemingly been abandoned by his friends after Ted had cut off their friendship, and thereon out he’d been seen exclusively in his office. But when he found out Ted had been in an accident, Barney ran across the city to see his best friend.
It was the part where the bus hit him that hit us in the feels, as in that moment you realize that Barney had been just so lonely for the last several weeks, and should he have died then and there, he’d have had no one to be with him in his final moments. Barney had done a lot of sketchy things, but he didn’t deserve to die alone and friendless. Fortunately, all did work out in the end.
6 Ted Admits His Love For Robin Is Insane
No, we’re not saying this scene was heartbreaking because of Ted’s declaration of unrequited love; it’s heartbreaking because it showed to us how crazily obsessed Ted was with Robin. Maybe Craig Thomas and Carter Bays had fooled themselves into thinking this speech was romantic, but it was just so sad to see the main character be so, well, sad - not the sorrowful sad, just a sad person.
By this point, people had just gotten sick of Ted being in love with Robin all the time, and this speech broke our hearts in knowing that Ted - and by extension, the show - was going to shove this storyline at us some more. The scene could’ve been so much better by showing a mature Ted, but it was way too hard in the opposite direction.
5 Barney Explodes On His Father
Credit to the actor for timing his emotion just right to make this scene a winner, as Barney’s explosion toward his father for not being there for him just tore our hearts out. Barney would attempt to steal the basketball hoop of his father’s house, since he didn’t think it was fair his younger half-brother got to do normal father-son activities; this then led to Barney's outburst.
We found out Barney had wanted his father to live up to the playboy image he’d formulated in his mind not because that felt cool to him, but because it was the one thing that would’ve validated to Barney why he had been abandoned. When he found out his father was a "lame suburban dad”, Barney was shattered with the realization he could’ve had a normal childhood all along.
4 Marshall Sums Up 2011
Marshall’s story in Season 6 had him feel less of a man due to not being able to get his wife pregnant, and then losing his father as well; his summary of the awful year drove it home how he felt that whenever he tried to pick himself up, things would always spiral downwards.
In this rant, Marshall summarized all the bad things that had happened to him in 2011, and just the defeat in his voice made us want to give him a hug. Even the way the poor guy balled himself up in his bed and waited to get sick (from food poisoning, as he believed) told us that he’d been feeling like a scared and hurt child all year round.
3 The Mother Dies
This really was just a moment, as the revelation that the Mother had died only lasted a couple seconds before the show kickstarted into its last minutes. At this point, we could do nothing but stare openmouthed at we’d gotten played by the series all along and the Mother had been immaterial.
The entirety of Season 9 - where the Mother’s character had been built up - was just to dupe us into believing for a final year that the show was about her. The confirmation of her death was like a kick in the heart that alerted us (unfortunately) that the ending would be far from satisfactory. And the casualty for this was killing off the best character of the show.
2 Barney And Robin Get Divorced
Once more, the rug was pulled from under our feet by the showrunners by making us believe Barney and Robin would be together, only to pull off yet another awful switch. The true heartbreaking part came from the realization that Season 9 was a sham, as we were made to sit hours just to see the lead up to the wedding, and then see these two get divorce within minutes of the finale.
It also undermined all the storylines we’d invested in this couple, and the lackluster portrayal of the break up also was just saddening to watch. We so wanted Robin to finally act like an adult and be mature for once by foregoing her career pursuits in favor of marriage, but unfortunately that was not to be.
1 Ted And Robin End Up Together
Easily the worst moment of the show and maybe in all sitcom history, this final scene broke all our hearts, minds, and whatever there was within us that could be shattered. After nine years of making us believe that a happy ending was a guarantee, How I Met Your Mother gave us this instead.
More than 90% of the fanbase were left distraught at the confirmation that Ted had been fooling his kids into thinking the story was about the Mother, but was actually about manipulating them into letting him date “Aunt” Robin. Many tears were leaked when we saw the Blue French Horn and not the Yellow Umbrella as we’d wanted - but what else can you expect from Classic Schmosby?