The holiday episode is a classic television trope most often used to celebrate the likes of Christmas, Halloween, or Thanksgiving. How I Met Your Mother makes full use of this trope during its nine seasons. The gang doesn’t just stick to the late-year holidays either, as they celebrate Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day too.
In many shows, these types of episodes can come off as cheesy or forced, but How I Met Your Mother tends to do them well. This is because they usually still advance storylines and provide entertainment while acknowledging the typical festivities. Here are the main gang’s best holiday adventures, at least in the eyes of IMDb reviewers.
10 The Slutty Pumpkin – 8.1 (Halloween)
In an early showing of Ted’s romantic endurance, he goes to a Halloween party on the roof of his apartment dressed in one of the show’s best-ever costumes, the Hanging Chad. He stays there all night hoping to see the girl he met multiple years ago at the exact same party, who they affectionately named The Slutty Pumpkin.
Elsewhere in the episode, Marshall and Lily go on a double date with Robin and her new boyfriend. During it, the two couples notice how different they are. With its nice blend of humor and heart, it’s arguably the best Halloween episode in the entire series.
9 False Positive – 8.2 (Christmas)
Despite being set at Christmas, the religious holiday isn’t the main focus of this episode as it’s all about each characters’ life. In an early scene, Marshall and Lily announce their pregnancy, which causes everyone besides Ted to internally freak out and question everything about their lives, including the soon-to-be parents.
Then the viewers get to see how the big news affects every member of the gang in the following days. Each character’s story is told individually, which means the episode involves plenty of cutting between the past and present. It’s a storytelling style that most sitcoms can’t get away with, yet it works here.
8 No Tomorrow – 8.2 (St. Patrick’s Day)
St. Patrick’s Day is one holiday that TV shows rarely celebrate, but in season three of How I Met Your Mother, it gets some spotlight. While Marshall and Lily show Robin their new apartment, Ted and Barney go out to celebrate the Irish holiday. They get up to some hilarious antics during the night – all centered around the idea that there is no tomorrow.
The true greatness of the episode comes in the ending, where Ted’s actions during the night are shown from a different perspective, and he doesn’t come off well. It’s one of the few times where the series actually admits that Ted isn’t always a good person.
7 The Limo – 8.3 (New Years)
To celebrate New Year’s Eve, Ted hires a Limo for him and his friends. His plan is for them to ride from party to party to decide which is the best, and end the year there. Naturally, many things go wrong, such as Marshall and Lily getting separated, Robin’s date not turning up, and Barney losing his ‘Get Psyched Mix.’
Having an entire episode take place inside of a limo is tricky, but the entertaining characters and clever writing are enough to make it an enjoyable 20+ minutes.
6 Monday Night Football – 8.4 (Super Bowl)
Out of every How I Met Your Mother season, the second one is often considered the best, and its Super Bowl episode doesn’t hurt that reputation.
In it, the main gang is too busy to keep up their yearly tradition of watching the Super Bowl live together. So, they instead reschedule for the following evening, meaning they have to go all of that time without finding out who won. Watching each character desperately try to avoid spoilers is hilarious throughout.
5 The Final Page (Part 1) – 8.6 (Christmas)
Season eight might be divisive on the whole, yet it still has some good episodes, including “The Final Page” two-parter. Part one is all about people the main characters are obsessed with, or ‘pit people’ as the show calls them.
For Ted, it’s his old architecture professor; For Robin, it’s Patrice; and as for Lily and Marshall, it’s their old college acquaintance, Daryl LaCoutre. Naturally, they all come face to face with their pit people during the episode, which leads to some poignant moments about taking responsibility for one’s own faults.
4 Symphony Of Illumination – 8.8 (Christmas)
“Symphony of Illumination” is best remembered for its final moments when Ted uses a Christmas light show to cheer-up Robin, which is among the best things the character has done.
He and the rest of the gang don’t know exactly why she needs cheering up. The viewers know, though, as, before the heart-warming last scene, Robin spends the episode trying to accept the fact that she can’t have kids. Watching her suffer in silence is heart-wrenching and it makes for one of the sitcom’s most powerful episodes.
3 Slapsgiving – 9.0 (Thanksgiving)
Marshall creates a new holiday in this one as he changes the name of Thanksgiving to Slapsgiving. The new day is centered around its inventor slapping Barney as part of a classic How I Met Your Mother running gag.
Meanwhile, things are incredibly awkward between Ted and Robin as they struggle to be friends again after their break-up. As for poor Lily, she has to prepare Thanksgiving dinner all on her own while getting increasingly frustrated with her friends. This enjoyable episode is perhaps the most memorable holiday celebration in the sitcom’s history. There are even two sequels to it – albeit the third has little to do with Thanksgiving.
2 Blitzgiving – 9.1 (Thanksgiving)
“Blitzgiving” features one of the show’s best guest star appearances, as Jorge Garcia joins in on the fun as Steve Henry, aka The Blitz. The Blitz is the name given to a person who constantly misses out on exciting things. The mantle changes from person to person multiple times during the episode in a funny recurring gag.
On a more serious note, “Blitzgiving” shows a different side to Ted’s arch-nemesis, Zoey, as the gang hangs out with her for Thanksgiving. The episode somewhat succeeds in humanizing Zoey while providing laughs in the process.
1 The Final Page (Part 2) – 9.4 (Christmas)
In both parts of “The Final Page,” Christmas time simply acts as a backdrop to the main storylines. During the second part, Ted struggles to decide whether he should tell Robin about Barney’s upcoming proposal to Patrice, while Marshall and Lily attempt to enjoy their first night away from Marvin.
The reason the episode is so highly regarded is due to its final moments. Barney reveals that his relationship with Patrice isn’t real, and it’s just a part of an incredibly complex plan to purpose to Robin. The proposal is as emotionally manipulative as it is romantic, but it’s still a well-executed moment that closes off a strong episode.
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