How I Met Your Mother was all about Ted Mosby’s search for love. Actually, it was technically about an older Ted telling his kids the story of how he met their mother, so he’d already completed that search in the framing narrative.
But to stretch that framing narrative out to nine seasons, despite how frustrated his kids got at how long he was taking to tell the story, creating something of a plot hole, the writers gave him a few bad relationships before finding the right one. So, devotees of How I Met Your Mother, here are All Of Ted’s Major Love Interests, Ranked.
Karen was the worst. She was Ted’s girlfriend in college who he kept getting back together with, despite the fact that she was pretentious, talked down to Marshall and Lily, and cheated on Ted on his own bed every single time they dated. He even got back together with her later in life, when she arrived in New York, and yet again, she cheated on him.
Ted was mad that Lily meddled in his life by planting Robin’s earring in his room and getting Karen to break up with him, but she was the worst person in the world for him and he wasn’t going to realize that on his own.
9 Stella Zinman
The only reason that Stella isn’t the absolute worst person Ted ever dated is that she didn’t repeatedly cheat on him. However, she did leave him at the altar at their wedding. She went back to be with her ex, Tony, after Ted was the one who invited him to the wedding and she’d been all jealous about his friendship with Robin, demanding that he not invite her to the wedding.
Before this, Stella was boring and generally lacking in much of a personality – not to mention that she almost got Ted to move to New Jersey – but leaving him at the altar was the final nail in the hate coffin for most fans.
Jeanette was really crazy, and everyone but Ted could see it from the beginning. Ted told his kids that you date one terrible person right before you meet the love of your life, and for him, that person was Jeanette. She stalked him for months – ever since he was on the cover of New York magazine – and then set off a fire alarm just to meet him.
When he broke up with her, she destroyed all his things. Funnily enough, Abby Elliott, the former SNL cast member who played Jeanette, is the real-life daughter of Chris Elliott, who played Lily’s dad Mickey in How I Met Your Mother.
Naomi was the famous “Slutty Pumpkin” that Ted had spent many a Halloween searching for. He met her at a Halloween party – she was dressed as a “Slutty Pumpkin,” while Ted was dressed as a hanging chad, which even then, was an outdated reference – and they instantly hit it off.
In the years since, he’d always seen her as the one that got away. When he finally tracked her down, she was played brilliantly by guest star Katie Holmes, but they ended up having nothing in common. Every time Ted tried to break up with her, he’d do something stupid like propose to her. As it turned out, she was just as uninterested as him.
Becky was best known for her “Boats, boats, boats!” commercial. She first appeared in the show as Robin’s co-anchor on Come On, Get Up New York!, and Robin became annoyed that she was taking all the attention by acting like a child.
Her “little girl” voice creepily attracted the attention of all the male crew members working on the show – and Ted. Ted didn’t date Becky for long, but while they were together, she got him to be adventurous, like the time they shared a “sandwich.” Becky wound up getting engaged to the Captain, bonding over a shared love of boats.
Royce, played by Judy Greer, only appeared in the episode “The Wedding Bride,” but that was a memorable episode and it was implied that Ted saw her for a while afterwards following his sweeping speech at the movie theater. Royce wasn’t a bad person, and Ted seemed to really like her.
He even accepted her baggage by the end of the episode, because he realized that everyone has some kind of baggage (most of them being that they’ve slept with Barney). Her only flaw was that she was a huge fan of Tony’s hit Ted-slandering romantic comedy The Wedding Bride.
4 Zoey Pierson
Okay, so Zoey and Ted began their relationship as enemies, and also ended their relationship as enemies. Also, Zoey was married when they first fell for each other. But there was a sweet spot in the middle there where Ted really empathized with Zoey and they had a great couple of months together.
Their ideological differences meant that their relationship was pretty much doomed from the beginning, but Zoey was an important part of Ted’s life, and for the short time that they were together, she made him very happy. Jennifer Morrison, who played Zoey, was disappointed when she didn’t turn out to be the Mother.
3 Robin Scherbatsky
There’s been much debate among the How I Met Your Mother fan base in the question of whether or not Ted and Robin were actually soulmates. Sure, the show pushed that idea, but they had hardly anything in common and seemed to work a lot better as friends than romantic partners.
Still, Robin’s an amazing person, she clearly makes Ted very happy, and she’s a heck of a lot better than most of the other women he dated over the years. Plus, she gets extra points for being the one Ted ended up with in a show about his search for love.
The reason why Victoria was so incredible was that her relationship with Ted was a backup plan for the writers in case the show was canned during season 1. If it was, she would’ve been revealed to be the Mother. If she hadn’t been given the opportunity to move to Germany, forcing the two into the difficult situation of a long-distance relationship, they could’ve had a happy life together.
She returned in season 8 and acted out of character, taking the Emily role from Friends and demanding that Ted stop seeing Robin, with the writers sacrificing her established characterization for the sake of story, but other than that, she was a terrific character.
1 Tracy McConnell
It was crazy how perfect Tracy was for Ted. But after nine seasons of searching for the perfect woman, she really did have to be perfect to be considered better than anyone else. The disappointment of the series finale pretty much came from the fact that the writers couldn’t just let the Ted/Robin romance die, so they let the Mother die instead.
They brushed over her terminal illness and rushed straight into Ted, once again, showing up at Robin’s apartment with the blue French horn. We’d just spent the whole final season falling in love with Tracy, the most wonderful woman in the world, and then we were suddenly slapped with the revelation that she’d been dead the whole time.