A question like ‘What’s your favorite episode of How I Met Your Mother?’ can prompt dozens of possible answers. Some fans like the humor of “Slap Bet;” some like the emotion of “Last Words;” some think the the show has never been better than when it introduced “The Naked Man” (two out of three times!). And, well, some are still waiting for that magical moment when Ted finally (finally!) meets the Mother.
So when EW’s HIMYM superfans set out to rank our Top 50 episodes, we knew the task wouldn’t be easy. First, we went through the entire show, dividing the episodes into 8 rough groups based on quality (RIP, “The Burning Bee Keeper”). After re-familiarizing ourselves with early-season hidden gems, we had a list of about 75 contenders. That’s when the debates began – and the chats resembled the HIMYM gang’s arguments at MacLaren’s, minus the booze. (Sample: “ ‘How Your Mother Met Me’ is simply a perfect 30 minutes of television. Lawyer’d.”)
We paid special attention to the episodes we selected for our Top 10. We wanted those choices to represent a mix of things people love about the show: the humor, the emotion, that happy feeling you get when you watch the five of them simply goofing around and coining catchphrases. We considered humor level, whether each episode advanced the show’s plot forward, whether the installment dealt with the show’s mythology, any recurring jokes introduced, etc. And we didn’t want our list to focus too heavily on any one plot or recurring joke, no matter how much we may have loved it – which is why “Slap Bet” ranked at the top, but the also-great “Sandcastles in the Sand” ranked a bit lower.
“Slap Bet” – one of the easiest episodes to place – was a favorite from the start because of the way it combined so much of what makes HIMYM great: It introduced truly original recurring gags such as the Slap Bet and Robin Sparkles, it showcased the interplay between the show’s core five, and that concluding music video is the stuff of comedy dreams.
It’s a testament to HIMYM’s overall quality that our top 50 easily could have included a ton of episodes that didn’t end up making the cut. All involved had personal picks that were left on the cutting room floor: I loved the season 1 gem “Matchmaker” – mostly for introducing us to The Cockamouse. My colleagues had their own personal picks: Sandra Gonzalez (also HIMYM’s recapper extraordinaire) lobbied for “Best Burger in New York,” while Katie Atkinson pushed for “The Three Days Rule.” An important note: This past week’s Barney and Robin wedding episode would almost certainly have made the top 50, but the list was finished prior to that episode airing.
We know our list is going to be debated, and this is the place to do it. In the comments, tell us your picks for favorite episodes and your own Top 10. Be warned: Whittling a list down is harder than you might think.