Top 10 Best ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Episodes, Ranked

In honour of 10 years since How I Met Your Mother ended, we at Estrakt have decided to rank the top 10 episodes from the beloved sitcom.

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Posted: April 3, 2024

In honour of 10 years since, How I Met Your Mother ended, we at Estrakt have decided to rank the top 10 episodes from the beloved sitcom.

While the finale may have been a colossal disappointment, HIMYM, which followed Ted Mosby’s tumultuous love life, along with those of his best friends, Barney Stinson, Marshall Eriksen, Robin Scherbatsky, and Lily Aldrin, up until he meets the ‘mother,’ had several hugely entertaining episodes with golden moments that have made us laugh and cry countless times. As much as we wanted to know the question that spearheaded all 9 seasons of the show, the running gags, funny jokes, and heartfelt moments were what kept us watching.

From pineapples to slap-bets, several of Barney’s crazy theories, and all the legen —wait for it— dary shenanigans in between, the 10 best episodes of How I Met Your Mother feature many of the series’ unique moments that make it so beloved.

10. Swarley (Season 2, Episode 7)

swarley How I Met Your Mother

The beginning of season 2 had a completely different dynamic from that of season 1. Marshall and Lily had just broken up, Robin and Ted were finally together, and Barney…… was, well, Barney. It proved to be a curious stretch for the series until the inevitable return of the show’s power couple in ‘Swarley,’ following a brief from Marshall to enter the dating scene, assisted(hindered) by Barney. The episode was far from traditional humour and, for some, may be very ‘low-brow’. Despite the episode being one of How I Met Your Mother’s more insane outings, it is hilarious. It gave us the running gag of calling Barney Swarley after his name was misspelt on a coffee cup and the concept of ‘crazy eyes’.

Ted, Barney, and Marshall each go out on dates with women who possess the unwanted feature of ‘crazy eyes.’ Following this, a romantic reconnection occurs between Marshall and Lily, as season 2 switches into high gear a quarter way through its time, and in great fashion, bringing back its ultimate power couple.

9. Tick Tick Tick… (Season 7, Episode 10)

tickticktick How I Met Your Mother

While season 7 was one of the show’s weaker entries, it did give the on-and-off couple of Barney and Robin their respective serious relationships. These proved to be essential for the immense character development in store for both characters. This comes to a crossroads when both of them have a one-night stand and decide to confess their wrongdoings to their partners, all while stuck on a boat for the whole night.

Marshall and Ted embark on their own ‘sandwich ‘-induced adventure, which, piled with the emotional stakes of the Robin-Barney arc, stands as a testament to the incredible ability of HIMYM to balance the zany and random with the heart-breaking.

8. Girls vs. Suits (Season 5, Episode 12)

GirlsvSuits How I Met Your Mother

The 100th episode of How I Met Your Mother, ‘Girls vs. Suits’ was done in the typical How I Met Your Mother style. For such a momentous occasion, who better to be the point of attention than the scene-stealing Barney Stinson? The episode also dropped the biggest ‘mother’ hints so far in the show, revealing Cindy to be the mother’s roommate, and that she plays bass in the band(we also get a glimpse of her foot).

However, the climax of the episode was a song and dance number, spearheaded by the charisma of Neil Patrick Harris as the beloved Barney Stinson, in which the character confessed his immense love for suits. The song, ‘Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit’ was even nominated for an Emmy, and deservingly so.

7. Bad News/Last Words (Season 6, Episode 13 & 14)

Bad News How I Met Your Mother

These two gut-wrenching episodes premiered on two separate weeks, but truly felt like a two-part double sucker punch of is-this-really-a-comedy? The first episode begins with Marshall and Lily facing pregnancy issues and, hence, getting their fertility checked. While their worries are eventually disproven, an ominous countdown occurs near the end hinting at unfortunate events to take place. So when Lily stepped out of the cab, drenched in tears to tell Marshall that his father died, we bawled along with them. Jason Segel’s acting in the moment, was an absolute masterclass, a genuine moment of immense sadness that encapsulates the viewer in the tragedy of it all.

The 2nd episode, which follows the gang going to Minnesota for Marshall’s father’s funeral, proves to be even more emotionally draining than the first. However, one of the toughest episodes in the series is also one of the most rewarding and heart-warming. Marshall comes to terms with the misfortune of his father’s death after a heartbreaking monologue that makes us want to embrace our own parents in a great, warm hug. Marshall’s loss also allows Barney to take a huge step, as he finally decides to meet his father.

6. The End of the Aisle (Season 9, Episode 22)

The End of the Aisle How I Met Your Mother

This is the big one, the penultimate episode, a pivotal moment for all main characters of the show, and a much-awaited wedding of a beloved couple. A lot of the story had already been told in flash-forwards, yet still, the episode loses none of its emotional resonance and had a huge impact on the show itself and its fans.

Covering the 30 minutes prior to Barney and Robin’s Wedding, the episode addresses the core lingering conflicts that have been shown throughout the season and puts them all to a stake. From the bride and groom both facing their pre-marital anxieties, Marshall and Lily renewing their marital vows, and Tracy finally meeting Robin. Ted’s meeting with The Mother is on the horizon, and it can be felt through the screen. A penultimate episode to set up a finale for the ages, that sadly never really came to pass.

5. The Pineapple Incident (Season 1, Episode 10)

Pineapple Incident How I Met Your Mother

One thing that really stands out during this episode is how brilliant the show’s non-linear storytelling can be. The episode takes place after Barney tells Ted to go out on a night of partying to get over his love for Robin. When Ted does so, he wakes up with a random woman in his bed, a pineapple on his side table, and no memory of the night before.

Ted, Marshall and Lily attempt to decipher the events of the night before, slowly piecing the bigger picture together. Barney sleeps in a bathtub, Ted’s relationship with Robin becomes even more complicated and the episode is full of hilarious moments. While the events of the night are eventually uncovered, we never do find out where that pineapple came from.
Note: It is revealed in a deleted scene from season 9

4. The Playbook (Season 5, Episode 8)

The Playbook How I Met Your Mother

Any episode giving us a look into Barney’s warped mind is a treasure that should be cherished forever. Set in the aftermath of Barney and Robin’s initial breakup, it shows that Barney has gone back to his old womanizing ways almost immediately after. In this way, we are introduced to ‘The Playbook’, which contains all the moves, and the different roles he plays to pick up women.

Barney sets out to woo a woman Lily was trying to set Ted up with. In a fit of rage, Lily steals the Playbook and threatens to leak it online; however, she is stopped by a Playbook page Barney plans on enacting, which he has torn out. The mystery around Barney’s ploy causes the rest of the characters to look on in disgust, curiosity and fascination as he manipulates each and every one of the group with one of his greatest plays, ‘The Scuba-Diver’. Barney is at his enigmatic best, and it’s a while before he matures up. The episode contributed to much of Barney’s popularity and is even available on Amazon. This episode can only be considered another legen -wait for it- dary episode in the series.

3. The Final Page: Part 1 & 2 (Season 8, Episode 11 & 12)

The Final Page How I Met Your Mother

One of the most pivotal episodes in How I Met Your Mother, ‘The Final Page’ is a huge step forward in the romantic on-and-off relationship of Barney and Robin. For weeks, the writers had confused the audience; from ending Barney’s engagement, putting him in a supposed relationship with Patrice, and a couple of heartfelt monologues involving Robin, we didn’t know what to expect. This all, however, proved to be an elaborate plan for Barney to propose to Robin, one last play in the Playbook, before he officially put an end to his womanizing ways.

‘The Robin’, the final page in the infamous Playbook, is a testament of love from Barney to Robin, and even though she is furious at his lies when she reads it as Barney falls on one knee, she can’t seem to say no. The episode ends in a bittersweet moment, as Ted, standing triumphant after a huge moment in his career, looks outside the window of his newly made building, as a man alone and crushed.

2. Slap Bet (Season 2, Episode 9)

Slap Bet How I Met Your Mother

Ahh yes, the episode that was responsible for How I Met Your Mother’s greatest running gag, the infamous Slap Bet. Barney and Marshall make a bet regarding Robin’s history in Canada. By the end, Barney would find himself indebted to Marshall, shifting power dynamics between the friends for the remainder of the series.

Obviously, the Slap Bet itself isn’t the only memorable moment from the episode, as the revelation that Robin used to be a pop star who went by the name of ‘Robin Sparkles’ was another running gag that was added to the rest of the show. The discovery showed how wacky the show was willing to be, to flesh out its characters in the funniest way possible, as this revelation shaped the trajectory for Robin for seasons to come.

1. How Your Mother Met Me (Season 9, Episode 16)

How Your Mother Met Me How I Met Your Mother

Funnily enough, the best episode in the How I Met Your Mother series is the only episode completely centred around The Mother. Going into its 9th season, expectations for the character of Tracy a.k.a The Mother, were sky-high. Just as how the show delivered a legen -wait for it- dary 100th episode, its 200th episode outdid it by a huge margin. While Ted and the gang met at MacLaren’s every night as we watched on, Tracy was living a life of her own as well.

Told entirely from the perspective of The Mother, the episode focuses on her entire life, especially the night before she met Ted when he heard her voice for the very first time. While season 9 of the show falls short in many ways, the Mother’s character is not one of those. Cristin Milioti did a great and seemingly impossible job of portraying and fleshing out a character that had been built up endlessly for 8 whole years, yet she did it flawlessly. The episode ends with a beautifully flawed rendition of the heartfelt ‘La Vie En Rose’ sung by The Mother as Ted listens along from the room next to hers. Tracy captured our hearts as we were left eagerly waiting for her endgame with Ted, which was foiled by the finale in many ways. That, however, takes away nothing from the greatness of this episode.

Honourable Mentions:

  • Symphony of Illumination (Season 7, Episode 12)
  • The Time Travelers (Season 8, Episode 20)
  • Game Night (Season 1, Episode 15)
  • The Leap (Season 4, Episode 24)
  • Blitzgiving (Season 6, Episode 10)

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