‘How I Met Your Mother’ in 780 words

By Karsten Burgstahler

After nine years and more than 200 episodes, “How I Met Your Mother” ends Monday. And compiling a list of the best episodes is incredibly tedious.

But after hours of debating and arguing, the field is narrowed to 37 episodes that encapsulate the joy of “HIMYM.” This list is accessible for anyone — “Mother” for Newbies lists the episode each season necessary to understand the plot. Required “Mother” viewing is the best episode of the season, with runners up listed in “Best of the Rest.”


There are approximately 72 hours before the finale, so get watching!

Season One

“Mother” for Newbies: “Pilot”

Required “Mother” Viewing: “The Pineapple Incident”

Best of the Rest: “The Limo,” “Drumroll, Please”

The first season set up our protagonist Ted’s relationship with his friends and new crush Robin. Although the pilot episode is by far the most important, the pineapple incident has yet to be solved (something fans are looking forward to Monday) and Barney’s Get Psyched Mix is classic.


Season Two

“Mother” for Newbies: Slap Bet

Required “Mother” Viewing: Swarley

Best of the Rest: Stuff, Showdown

Of course, “Slap Bet” is one of the most important episodes of the series, setting up two storylines that would endure for years: the Slap Bet itself, and Robin Sparkles, Robin’s pop star alter-ego. Hey everybody, let’s go to the mall!

Then there’s Barney’s mistaken name Swarley. And Barney’s performance of “Suck It, Lily.” Season two was good to us.

Season Three

“Mother” for Newbies: Ten Sessions

Required “Mother” Viewing: Spoiler Alert

Best of the Rest: Slapsgiving, The Bracket

Ted thought he met the love of his life in “Ten Sessions” when he met Stella, a relationship that would drive the series for two seasons. But “Spoiler Alert”‘s final scene is one of the best in “HIMYM” lore and Slapsgiving became a tradition.

Season Four

“Mother” for Newbies: Shelter Island

Required “Mother” Viewing: The Naked Man

Best of the Rest: Murtaugh, The Best Burger in New York

Stella dropped a bombshell on Ted during “Shelter Island,” making it an important component of Ted’s love story. But “The Naked Man” is one of “HIMYM”‘s most iconic gags and Barney’s ear infection in “Murtaugh” was classic.


Season Five

“Mother” for Newbies: The Playbook

Required “Mother” Viewing: Girls Versus Suits

Best of the Rest: Robin 101, Jenkins

Five gave fans just as many spectacular episodes as two. “The Playbook” would have importance later on, but the spectacular musical number in “Girls Versus Suits” is the season’s best moments. Robin’s “But um” problem in “Jenkins” also led to one of the show’s greatest bits: a drinking game.


Season Six

“Mother” for Newbies: Last Words

Required “Mother” Viewing: Subway Wars

Best of the Rest: The Perfect Cocktail, Blitzgiving

Things got heavy in season six when Marshall lost a family members and tried to write a eulogy in “Last Words.” “Subway Wars” is one of the show’s best ensemble episodes and “The Perfect Cocktail” has Robin floating on a cloud. Enough said.

Season Seven

“Mother” for Newbies: The Best Man

Required “Mother” Viewing: Trilogy Time

Best of the Rest: Field Trip, The Broath

“The Best Man” gave us a glimpse of a future wedding that would turn out to be Barney’s, but in the present Barney and Robin have a great dance sequence. “Trilogy Time” continues the series’ “Star Wars” gag but gives us a nice twist at the end.

Season Eight

“Mother” for Newbies: The Final Page, Parts 1 and 2 AND Something New

Required “Mother” Viewing: The Time Travelers

Best of the Rest: The Stamp Tramp, P.S. I Love You

It became clear the series was reaching its endgame when it revealed the speech Ted wished he could make to the mother in “The Time Travelers,” just weeks before the Mother was finally revealed in “Something New.” Barney and Robin got engaged in “The Final Page,” bringing us one step closer to the show’s end.


Season Nine

“Mother” for Newbies: How Your Mother Met Me

Required “Mother” Viewing: The End of the Aisle

Best of the Rest: The Lighthouse, Gary Blauman

We finally learned what the mother’s been up to all these years in “How Your Mother Met Me,” by far the show’s best episode this season. But the way the show summed up its supporting characters in “Gary Blauman” was nothing short of brilliant, even if they forgot Punchy.



And now, we’ve reached the end. Check in Monday’s Daily Egyptian for my “HIMYM” eulogy, and join me in saying goodbye to show this Monday at 7.