“How I Met Your Mother” retrospective

Whether you loved or hated the series finale of “How I Met Your Mother,” one thing is certain — it’s quite possibly one of the most quotable TV sitcoms of the last decade. From catch phrases like “Challenge Accepted!” and “Lawyered,” to long soliloquies about friendship, love and life in general, “HIMYM” fans for the past nine years have benefited from the show in one way or another. Keeping appropriateness in mind (no “sandwich” jokes, sorry!), the following are some of the most memorable quotes from the series.

10. “So I guess if there’s a lesson to be learned here it’s this: when it’s after two a.m., just go to sleep.” – Future Ted Mosby (Bob Saget)

There’s probably a whole subsection of quotes that could go under a ‘Lessons and Advice’ category, but this one is by far the best. Writers Craig Thomas and Carter Bays take dive into a more complicated friendship between Ted and Robin, and because of his mistakes made after two a.m., any kindling chance for a romance between the two is diminished. By season nine, the series goes full circle: Ted, Robin and Barney share a night of Barney being inebriated to the point of always telling the truth, and Future Ted admits that all rules have their exceptions. The bigger truth behind it is Ted is around the same people both times post two a.m., so there’s a circumstantiality to this idea. With the right people and the right opportunities, great things can happen at any time.

9. “A magician never reveals his greatest trick, but I’ll give you a hint: you got to meet the right girl. Who knows, maybe you’ll meet her tomorrow.” – Jerome Whittaker (John Lithgow)

No offense to the catchphrase-throwing and scotch-loving playboy, but once Barney starts to recognize his feelings for Robin, he develops into a more interesting character, and his first run-in with his real father (not Bob Barker) gets the ball rolling for him. Barney’s earliest memories of him involve a lot of crazy memories, and as an adult he bases his life around that. It’s a genuine reflection of the need for a strong father figure, and while, like many other things, it allows for a lot of great comedy (‘Who’s your daddy?’ ‘I don’t know!’), he begins to work through complex feelings like love by settling his problem about his father.

8.“Gaudí to his credit never gave up on his dream, but that’s not usually how it goes. It usually isn’t a speeding bus that keeps the brown pointy church from getting built, most of the time it is too difficult or expensive, or too scary. It’s only once you’ve stopped that you realize how hard it is to start again, so you force yourself not to want it. But it’s always there and until you finish it always will be.” – Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor)

Everything about Ted as a professor is perfect — his eloquence, elbow-patched sweaters, and his first encounter with his wife on his first day of teaching Econ 305. But the lesson to be learned has to do with why he took the job in the first place. He felt like he’d expended all of his resources as an architect, so he ran away from his dream to have a building on the New York skyline. His revelation to the class about Gaudí is more important to telling the audience the importance of following your dreams than it is to inform the class of some obscure architect.

7. “This is gonna be legen — wait for it — [the next episode] dary!” – Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris)

Obligatory inclusion of the staple from the series.

6. “Our wedding is gonna be legendary!”
“No ‘wait for it’?”
“I’ve got you. I don’t have to wait for it anymore.” – Barney to Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders)

Non-obligatory statement concerning the best alteration of the staple. This is the first big demonstration of the newer, more mature Barney, but also incorporates the classic portrayal of Barney. Season nine changes him for the better not including the finale. He starts to understand the things that both Ted and Marshall had been learning throughout the entire series like the importance of commitment, love and friendship.

5. “Actually, there is a word for that. It’s love. I’m in love with her, okay? If you’re looking for the word that means caring about someone beyond all rationality and wanting them to have everything they want no matter how much it destroys you, it’s love. And when you love someone, you don’t stop. Ever.” – Ted

I know that this quote is about Robin, but what Ted declares here is bigger than the silly, young romance that the finale caters to reconciling. His understanding of love contingent on his relationship experience finally begins to transcend what he wants and starts to cater towards a holistic picture of love through the ideas of unconditionality and sacrifice. This is the defining aspect of the series (aside from comedic wit), not just how Ted met his wife, but how he learned to love her.

4. “Because you’re my best friend, alright? You don’t have to tell me I’m yours. But the way I see it, we’re a team. Without you, I’m just the dynamic uno.” – Barney

This was not a quote I originally had in mind, but the more I look back at it, the more I realize the foreshadowing for Barney to become this”more than meets the eye” kind of character. If nothing else, this quote goes to show the importance of friendship in their lives. Think of the time Robin’s psychiatrist boyfriend calls them out for being really, really codependent people. But there’s always something bigger than that. The fact that they always come back to the same seat in MacLaren’s shows a level of commitment to each other as people that’s a model of modern friendship.

3. “Is that really such a surprise? Yeah, of course she showed up, what mother wouldn’t want to be at her daughter’s wedding?” – Tracy McConnell, aka the Mother (Cristin Milioti)

This one is less important to the development of cross-episode themes, and it just needs clarification. The somber tone left me wondering, and I came to the realization that Ted and Tracy’s return to Farhampton is reminiscent of the memories they have shared there because she had just been diagnosed with her unknown terminal illness (presumably, cancer.) Vesuvius, the title of the episode, is a reference to the volcano that erupted over Pompeii and Herculaneum back in 79 AD. My shot in the dark about this is, because of the circumstances, the residents of the cities had no idea that their lives would be over so soon, similar to the way people diagnosed with late-term cancer don’t get a fair warning.

2. “And I vow to keep them [our vows] updated as we go, because one set of vows can’t cover a lifetime of growing and changing with you, or raising children with you. Falling more and more in love with you everyday, Lily Aldrin [Alyson Hannigan], which is what I vow to do for the rest of my life.” – Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel)

On a brighter note, this quote demonstrates the truth of the “love to end all loves” of the series. It may have been a perfect first encounter for Lily and Marshall, but the truth of the long term married-with-kids life is that the struggle that is normally accompanied with finding someone to marry doesn’t go away: it just changes itself. And subjecting your relationship to that change is the only way to cultivate it, once you get to that point. They recognize this, and that leads them to be the most consistently happy couple in the entire series.

1. “Kids, I’m going to tell you an incredible story, the story of how I met your mother.” – Future Ted

I’ve withheld my judgements on the series finale, but this is the time to recognize what went wrong. We were waiting for the moment on the train station platform since we heard this quote, and when we got it, that could have been it. But the further they developed the story past the point, the more the creators, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, had to change the plot to fit their quote perfect ending. The sheer convenience that both Ted and Robin end up with someone else but then lose that person is uncanny, and it was evident that they were pushing the plot for a little extra drama at the end, drama that did not need to be there. And while it was great to watch the blue french horn story come full circle, the yellow umbrella story reflected an ending that wasn’t dreamt up in the last season. It’s “How I Met Your Mother”, not how I lost your mother.

But I think this quote also embodies something else that the ending Bays and Thomas chose offers a better anecdote for — moving on. And it’s something that long-adoring fans have trouble with even in such an illegitimate situation. “It’s been six years,” say Ted’s children, and the point they bring up is a solid point. And I and many others would like to sit here, pretending like Ted and Robin weren’t meant to be. But issues of convenience aside, the bigger picture here is Ted learns a new lesson even as an older man, letting go of past love is as important as finding it in the first place; that is the purpose behind Ted meeting the mother.