'How I Met Your Mother' react: Did you love or loathe the final-moment twist?

How-I-Met-Your-MotherImage Credit: Monty Brinton/CBSMoments after How I Met Your Mother aired last night, my Twitter stream exploded with remarkably spoiler-free, angry “#HIMYM” hashtags. Normally a casual viewer of the comedy, I had no idea why everyone was in a tizzy until this morning when I finally watched the episode.

[If you, like me, tend to let HIMYM gather on your DVR for a lazy Saturday marathon, stop reading now. Spoilers ahead.] The title of the episode, “Bad News,” promised a bomb and even counted down to the moment using numbers that were hidden Easter egg-style in the dialogue and the set to build extra suspense. Of course, we anticipated the blow would be related to Marshall and Lily’s fertility troubles — the main premise of last night’s episode. Not so. As the background countdown dwindled, Marshall ran outside to call his dad and tell him the good news about his test results — he and Lily were, indeed, fertile — and Lily arrived in a cab (that donned the number “001”) with some bad news. Marshall’s dad had died of a heart attack.

I can understand why some felt like it was a bit of “a cheap emotional shot,” as I saw one person declare, but I think the sudden death of Marshall’s father couldn’t have been more realistic. Horrible events sometimes catch you by surprise. While I admit that the countdown cheapened the moment a bit — okay, a lot — it was not enough to affect the impact.

Hell yes, I cried.

I cried with Alyson Hannigan, who EW editor Adam B. Vary and I agree is one of the best criers on TV. My heart ached something fierce when Marshall uttered his final line into Lily’s shoulder, “I’m not ready for this.” And I hated how much I loved this twist.

What about you, PopWatchers? What did you think of last night’s bait-and-switch on HIMYM? Were you one of the angry Tweeters I saw last night? Did you like the countdown? Did you feel like it prepared you for the twist at all? Sound off below.

UPDATE: Special thanks to astute reader “Remy” for finding this Tumblr blog with all 50 of the countdown numbers in last night’s episode.

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  • Sara

    I didn’t notice the countdown, nor did I know the episode title, so I was caught completely off-guard. I did proclaim “way to be a downer HIMYM!” when it happened, but I thought it was a believable twist.

    • JM

      Me neither. I’m glad I’m not the only one.

      • jason

        I just watched it and didn’t notice the countdown at all. weird.

      • Dane

        What is this show? I might like it!

      • D

        Never noticed the countdown. When Lily got out of the cab my heart sunk.

      • Myk

        Interesting on the countdown. Strangely, the first time he called his Dad I thought he was going to have died.

      • Michelle

        I’m with you. Didn’t see it coming, didn’t notice any countdown. My husband and I just kind of sat there speechless. After a few moments I said “What the hell? Did Joss Whedon write this episode?” We really like Marshall’s parents, and if you were a fan of Coach (we were and are) then seeing Dobber on screen in such a festive role was a treat.

        I think it’s because Marshall’s dad was such a great character, and because they got real life exactly right with his sudden death (one of the hardest things to deal with as a pastor), that this was really good writing and will only make the show richer.

        And speaking of Joss Whedon, yes, Alyson Hanigan IS one of the best cryers on television getting you in the gut, and it was nice to see her husband Alexis Denisof back. He has some underused comic chops – I hope he continues to show up.

      • pjs

        I didn’t notice the countdown, but knew the bad news was about Marshall’s Father the minute I saw Lily. This sort of “twist” is not needed in what is supposed to be and has been, a comedy. We all have enough real life surprises of our own and didn’t need that usually very funny show ending on such a downer.

      • JV

        Did this remind anyone of the Thirtysomething episode from long ago where there were rumors of a major character (female) dying and the plot seemed to follow that…and then in the end, the character you thought was going to die was okay and everyone then received news that a separate major character (male) had suddenly died instead. Similar in the bait and switch tactic. (And yes, I know that I am old.)

      • Deb

        I never noticed the countdown, and thought the twist would be the doctors’ name being revealed to be “Douglas Howser”. I had a sinking feeling as soon as they showed that ringing phone and no sign of his dad.
        On the plus side, how funny was it to hear the voice of Patrick Starr yelling “Cox! Cox! Cox!” as Marshall was trying to fill his cup? Priceless!

      • Shirley Noble

        I liked the way they handled it and like you glad they didn’t add the funeral in. I like all the characters just as much as I did Friends.

    • Katie

      Same here – glad i didn’t know about any twist – i noticed the countdown towards the end…

      • Lonisha

        I noticed it in the doctors office that’s about it

    • silverrose

      me to never would have known had i not read it here

      • Rebecca

        had no idea of the countdown. Do not know I would have if I had not seen it here. I sobbed and sobbed, we had our own sudden death in our family this week, bringing it home even harder. It was hard because HIMYM is what I was counting on to make me laugh this week, and it had such real emotion. I tweeted a damn you – I needed laughs not tears.

      • allobidallo

        Me as well. My mother died suddenly last week after being sick for a few days. So having seen HIMYM hit me harder than it would have as well.

      • Melokesm

        Yeah, this episode was a little too realistic for me and my husband too. I like to laugh not cry while watching this show.

      • MrTemecula

        Episodes like this reaffirms the greatness of comedy that is Seinfeld.They never had to resort to Very Special Episodes. Every episode was dedicated to laughs.

      • Steph

        @Silverrose: I literally didn’t understand your comment at first because of the awful grammar. I had to read it twice. Seriously, it’s called punctuation.

      • Jak

        Hey Steph, EW does have some readers from foreign countries. English is not their first language. Why don’t you take that stick out of your behind and relax.

      • reason

        @MrTremecula, the thing about very special episodes is that it resonates with the audience. In order for sitcoms to feel realistic(and truly great) these episodes are necessary. Otherwise it is just surreal camp; there are a few exceptions like Seinfeld and The Office, but usally those exceptions embrace the surreal.

    • Kristi

      I didn’t notice it either, and it took me by surprise and I cried like a big baby!

    • hobie

      didnt know the episode title and i didnt see the count down. The twist caught me completely off guard. I frikkin balled like a 5 year old girl at both hannigan and segal saying “I’m not ready for this”
      very well done

      • mamma mia

        I agree; didn’t notice the countdown or know name of the episode; cried at end like they were my family.It was a very good episode.Glad it was not ruined for me-getting tired of spoilers.

      • doctorevil


      • Doremifah Solatido

        You “balled like a five-year-old”? That’s perverse; five-year-olds don’t do the sex thing yet. Sometimes they BAWL, you utter moron.

      • dan

        Just because someone made a genuine spelling mistake, they’re an ‘utter moron’? Get off your high horse and take a look at yourself

      • chris

        Doremifah has quite a bit of anger there.. haha.. can’t believe a spelling error can get you that riled up.

    • Remy

      Occasionally noticed some of the numbers, but it never clicked as being a countdown until I saw posts on Twitter.

      • Not Moby

        Also noticed some numbers strangley placed in the episode–the giant 9 on the file in the doctor’s office. Didn’t know the title of the show, so I was trying to figure out if it related to past episodes somehow. Guess not.

      • Sam Paterson

        I noticed the 9 and the 49 (at beginning) but thats all, so didnt click on that. Was sad at the end, but was a great show, i loved the barney doopleganger bit, kinda hinting that the process is beginning now. The end bit was very sad, but was well done

      • Laura

        Same here. I noticed some numbers but wasn’t paying enough attention I guess to realize it was a countdown.

    • Kathleen

      I had no idea and was blown away at the end. I started crying with them right away. I think I even said out loud “oh no” when Marshall’s dad didn’t pick up the phone. It was phenomenally well done and I don’t understand why people are bitching about it.

      • wtfnyc

        Ditto on the out loud “oh no,” Kathleen. And on the fact that it was really well done — AH and JS completely nailed it.

      • court

        I also don’t understand why so many are complaining. Sometimes people forget that HIMYM has a heart to it that a lot of sitcoms don’t. I’ve been impressed with Alyson’s crying ability since her days as Willow, and last night she nailed it again. I was also pleasantly surprised with Jason Segel’s reaction. I loved this episode.

        EW, when are we going to get recaps of this show?

      • Sarah

        Same here with the “oh no.” I knew as soon as his dad didn’t answer the phone that something was wrong. But I didn’t know about the countdown & didn’t really pay attention to the title either, so it took me off guard too. But I definitely thought it was believable & definitely well acted by both Hannigan & Segal.

      • jj

        I too, started to tear up. Especially when Segal said “My dad’s dead?” Unfortunately, that’s been happening a lot with my 30 year old friends.

      • shellee

        i grabbed my husband’s arm when his dad didn’t answer the phone and said “his dad is dead.” the episode was perfect, oh, and i did’nt notice the numbers either.

      • doctorevil

        agree with court! when are we going to get recaps? you have real housewives of beverly hills but not himym? you need to rethink this.

      • Thinkaboutit

        Completely agree, I thought it was funny and heartfelt I love this show!

      • Janice B

        Agree- This is not the first HIMYM I’ve cried during… which is why it is a better show than, say, Two and a Half Men. My husband and I didn’t pay attention to the title- but were gleefully finding all the numbers in the countdown hoping the 0 would be them finally being pregnant. Kick in the gut when that phone wasn’t answered… but what a strong way to write it.

      • Lonisha

        Me too. I was saying oh no why didn’t he answer. Was their flight delayed and he’s not home. What’s going on. It was too sad

      • lostmittenregistry

        Jason plays emotion very well too… when Lily left him, the scene where Ted walks up to him sitting on the stoop… man, that’s just great emotional acting in Jason’s eyes, voice, and manner.

    • mysteriousburgos

      Completely agree

    • LAJackie

      I never noticed the countdown when I watched it last night. This morning when my daughter watched it she caught it immediately! I have to agree that Alyson is definitely one of the best criers EVER. Joss Whedon says so all the time on the Buffy commentaries.

      • J Lo

        I’m so glad you brought that up! I still get choked up whenever I catch the episode where Oz is leaving Willow and she tearfully asks “don’t you love me?” Breaks my heart every time.

    • Katie

      I noticed the countdown from the first scene and was excited to see what it would lead to, and then thought that the cute idea of doing a countdown the whole episode was totally wasted on the emotional sucker punch of killing marshall’s father. How stupid of a comedy to waste such an ingenious bit of interactive tv on THAT. I was PISSED and still am.

      • Art

        I thought it was good. Not sure why anyone would be pissed by this. I think it just added to the surprise, but there was foreshadowing in the “We’ll always love you” speech Marshall’s dad gave him and how he was glad that Lily made that happen.

      • MissM

        I agree with you Katie. My son noticed the countdown right away, and it seemed like such a fun thing to do, I was expecting a really funny payoff. I couldn’t believe they used the countdown for something like that!

      • kse

        Katie, your post speaks for me and my husband!

      • beth

        Agree! My sister thought the countdown would be to them announcing that Lily was pregnant (we hadn’t seen the episode title). The countdown was fun and lighthearted and to lead to such a bomb was just horrible.

      • Shannon

        I noticed the countdown from the beginning and was intrigued to see where it was leading and it lead to one amazing episode filled with fun, reality and heart! Viewer thought the countdown was going to lead to something fun, Marshall thought he was on cloud nine and 3,2,1…life happened. Well done HIMYM.

      • jc in nw

        I found the countdown totally distracting. I was keeping my eye out for numbers instead of getting involved in the the plot and characters. It was a pointless idea that someone mistook for clever.

    • jw

      I didn’t notice the countdown either. Its an inside thing, shouldn’t detract. Jason Segel’s performance in that last moment was exceptional, real, and heart-wrenching.

      • Liz

        Absolutely one of the most realistic ways a son would react to the sudden death of his father. My husband’s dad died suddenly in 2002 and he was very affected by the ending, especially the last line. Well done HIMYM.

      • CAG

        I totally agree! I had no clue about the countdown. I donot ever notice things like that! I don’t think it was really cheapened at all and I loved the Barney doppelganger! It was very ingenious and NPH totally rocked it! I don’t get why people are so angry about the end of the show. Yes it is a comedy but comedies are not always haha, laugh out loud. Comedies have serious moments. It is true, sad and horrible things can come at anytime. It is a part of life and I think it was very well done.

        I swear Alyson Hanigan and Jason Segel are the best tv couple and actors on TV right now. They deserve major props and I started crying the moment Lily got out of the cab! The end was very well done, well written and Jason Segel’s “Im not ready for this” totally broke my heart and he deserves major praise for such a real and raw performance!

      • Classicw

        I too did not make the “countdown” connection with the numbers, but I was struck by the believability of the end. Marshall’s “I’m not ready for this” echoed my own feelings when my dad died a year ago. Well done HIMYM, well done.

      • Nicole

        My dad died about a year and a half ago, when I was 31. Jason Segal’s reaction killed me.

    • anthony

      I thought the twist was going to be that lilly was indeed infertile and something more serious was discovered with her results.

      • kat

        The twist is right on-the death of a parent makes us aware of our mortality, while having a child makes us feel vulnerability because our heart is out there in another person. They are connected. Well done.

    • Lisa London

      Noticed the countdown straight from the number 40 on Ted’s book but I did not know the title of the episode so the end surprised me still.

    • KJF (It’s Christmas Crisis !)

      Same here. I had no idea. Well, I saw some of the numbers but didn’t realise what they were.

    • steph

      Same for me. I noticed the “9” but that’s all.

    • david pretino

      I picked up on the countdown from the begining but did not know it was leading to a climax. I was shocked at the ending.

    • jackjack

      I didn’t notice either!! I had wondered why they lingered on the ’36’ on the beer can and the ‘9’ (or 6?) on the doctor’s folder…..

      • Marjie

        Hi==when the doctor first opened the folder it was a nine, then the scenes changed and when he put the folder down, it was the next number, an upside down 9.

      • lostmittenregistry

        Me too, first i noticed it was the 36 beer can. I thought, “That’s odd.” Then i didn’t notice it again until the 3… 2… 1… UGH.

    • kgb

      Amazed at all the freaking retards that did not notice the countdown. Proves you are just a mind dead zombie when watching. It was so obvious, especially at the start there was a countdown.

      • YayForYou

        Bravo kgb. It must be awesome to be so much better than everyone else!

      • ej


      • Rick

        Make sure not to trip and fall off that pedestal that you’re on.

      • JayNYC

        @kgb – my reaction as well. Really brings home what the intelligence of the average EW reader (or perhaps more accurately, commenter) is.

      • JayNYC

        Oh, and this is not about being on some pedestal because we think we’re smarter than you in that we “figured out the twist” or something like that. It’s about people being so blind that they don’t even notice FRIGGIN NUMBERS ALL OVER THEIR TV SCREEN.

      • Deb

        We retards were too distracted by the giant hole in kgb’s butt-face to notice a countdown…..

      • Arizona

        Or, gosh, maybe we were too busy paying attention to the CHARACTERS and the DIALOGUE to pick up on some jokey gimmick. “HIMYM”‘s jokey gimmicks are frequently very clever, but you sound like the morons who think Ted should have met his future wife two seasons ago and so you’ve “lost interest” because they’re just “dragging out” the key concept of the show. Funny, I thought the key concept of the show, regardless of how it’s framed, was supposed to be a family of friends (much like another sweet, hilarious, frequently underappreciated long-running sitcom). So if you feel the need to denigrate those of us who put the emotional content first at the expense of a throwaway visual joke, then maybe YOU need to GET A LIFE.

      • Lonisha

        not paying attention to dumb numbers means nothing

    • Laura

      I missed the very beginning and honestly totally missed the countdown. When Marshall was in the bar and said he was prepared for bad news but it was good (or something to that effect), I thought “uh oh.” When he called and his dad didn’t answer, I started crying right away. I don’t typically cry over tv shows but this one really got me.

    • ABG

      Didn’t notice the countdown…will hv to retrieve the ep so that I can try and catch it. But I knew Marshall’s dad had died when he wasn’t in the scene in his workroom area…what a twist.

    • erica

      I only noticed the countdown when my husband pointed it out to me. Very sad moment though!

    • Double G

      I don’t want to offend anyone here, but i am really surprised that many people didn’t notice the countdown, i found it to be a bit distracting. I thought the ending was heartbreaking, especially Marshall’s last line.

    • glynspsa

      I have seen every episode at least 10 times. I HATED it this show is not a realistic show. I dont need downers in my comedy. I watch it to escape the real world not see a reflection of it.

    • chuck

      i wish they would cancell this show. its stupit

  • Rich

    I thought it was exquisitely done. This has been one of my favorite shows for many years now and this is a perfect example of the reason why. I don’t think the countdown cheapened the moment at all. If anything, it just heightened the anticipation that SOMETHING was going to happen. And, like in real life, SOMETHING isn’t always good.

    • JB

      I agree, fantastic and wonderful. I noticed many of the numbers but didn’t pay them much mind. The show has so much heart. If you’re a fan you know that Lily is not a huge fan of Marshall’s parents, but that Marshall’s parents not just love, BUT ADORE Marshall. When Lily got out of the taxi you could see all of her pain and sadness for Marshall. Marshall’s comment: “I’m not ready for this” was perfect. The show is about a group of people reaching important milestones – finding their place in the world, getting careers, finding love, marriage, babies…but a huge milestone in shaping a person’s life is losing people you love.

      To the people that hated the countdown. If you watch the show you know that in the near future Lily is pregnant with their baby, so obviously the fertility issues get worked out. The show was titled BAD NEWS. The countdown was more of a countdown to a bomb going off.

      • court

        Well said, JB!

      • Kat

        Great job, JB and Rich! I agree wholeheartedly that about the milestones comment. I think this show does a great job of pointing out that not all milestones are happy, and they’re not always seen as huge milestones initially. As far as the “cheap shot,” I guess some people don’t live in the real world. Last time I checked we didn’t get a calendar telling us when we’re going to lose a loved one and when we lose someone, it always seems sudden, even if we’ve been expecting it. And the countdown, I get why some would view it as cheapening the moment, but I felt it kind of enhanced it in a way. It sort of made that final moment so much more real and shocking. But those are just my two cents.

      • Crystal

        I totally agree. The show was great. I was not mad at all, just so sad.

    • JB

      Oh, and I totally ugly cried both times I watched it last night.

    • Sara J

      Yeah, I agree. Usually HIMYM uses clever gimmicks to heighten the humor, but this is a show about growing up. And sometimes the things that happen, the big moments are bad. I HATE the idea that because a show is a “comedy” it has to be funny ALL THE TIME.

      • Aly

        Yeah but as a casual viewer, has the show ever dealt with anything truly serious before? It’s one thing in sitcoms like Scrubs that let you know early on, the stakes will be high and it won’t always be sweetness and light but this felt shark-jumpy to me. The show was always goofy so the sudden seriousness was as jarring as The Prestige becoming sci-fi in the third act.

      • steph

        @Aly…no it wasn’t. The show is not only about Ted meeting the Mother, but also about his journey, which includes his friends as they grow older. When people get older, parents die. It’s a fact of life. The audience wasn’t expecting it, which is what happens in life – death is sometimes unexpected.

        That doesn’t make it a Prestige-level twist. It makes it realistic.

      • jk

        I agree with steph, plus they’ve dealt with serious stuff before – barney’s car accident, lily and marshall’s breakup, etc. Even if this is unusual it’s not like they can’t surprise the audience once in a while. And Aly – are you COMPLAINING about the ending of “The Prestige”? That movie is craaaaazy good, especially the last bit.

      • David

        I’m kinda siding with Aly here. True, HIMYM has had its somber moments. But in the last season or so, the writing has often devolved into such bizarre silliness that it feels – as Aly put it – very “jump-sharky”. And when you juxtapose all that silliness with such a jarring and serious twist – well it’s just hard to swallow.

        I was an avid viewer, but now – especially since they moved Big Bang Theory to Thursday – I only watch HIMYM if I really don’t have anything better to do.

        BTW – I love The Prestige, and the third act is brilliant.

      • steph

        @David – what bizarre silliness? I’ve watched every episode, and I don’t remember anything too bizarre, except for most anything involving Barney.

        I’m not saying HIMYM is perfect, but it’s definitely not at a place where marine animals should be referenced. (dear goodness, I hate that “jump the shark” term..can it PLEASE die out already?)

      • Cate

        Hmm, I have to sort of agree with David. I don’t know how many times my husband and I have asked when these people are going to grow up and stop hanging out at a bar what seems like every single night of their life. So I’m not sure how much “growing up” they’ve done, but I don’t recall seeing an episode that was quite that heart-wrenching and serious. It just felt like a soap opera all of a sudden. It was VERY realistic – reminded me all too much of when my dad passed away unexpectedly – that’s not my complaint. Just felt like a different show all of a sudden.

    • Joe

      I thought this was a great episode as well. It had great comedy and great sadness. That ending I think worked well, but I was fearing that maybe both parents had died maybe on the trip home. I missed the countdown but I was watching the episode on a cell phone at the time.

  • Rich

    Also, I liked the 9 6 inversion. Clever.

    • Ashleigh

      I agree! fantastic!

    • Lisa London

      That was good! And “open ’til 3″.

      • WTF?

        And the “4 Layers of the Uterus” poster. Hehe.

  • Kal

    Alyson Hannigan is one of the worst criers on TV. Last night is one of the first time that her crying has ever seemed real and emotionally driven.

    • Di

      when she fake cries then yes it’s horrible, but if you’ve ever seen her real cry, like on Buffy or when she and Marshall break up… she’s the best out there. The way her face crumbles ALWAYS makes me cry.

      • Jacquelyn

        I agree! A lot of the crying she does on HIMYM is fake crying for her character but when she cries for real it breaks my heart. Last night I do not think I have ever seen so much pain on one person’s face. Marshall and Lily are just a wonderful couple and it was just so right for her to be in so much pain. She wasnt that close to Mr. Erikson but she knows how close Marshall is to him and she knew how much it would crush him. Sometimes the writers of HIMYM blow me away with how much they know their characters…especially Marshall and Lily. I loved the episode…and I am really excited to see where they go from here.

      • WTF?

        Good call, Jacquelyn. I would hate to be in the position of knowing my father-in-law had died, and having to tell my husband. HIMYM is great about continuity, and the writers really know the characters inside and out. It’s a thoroughly rewatchable show, and I think people will appreciate it more after it’s initial run (it’s here to stay, folks, since the reruns are already full-throttle!).

      • Liz

        I agree about the reruns. I have all the seasons on DVD and every six months or so will pick up a disc to watch a specific episode (usually Robin Sparkles) and find that one episode is never enough and I blow through the whole series over the next week or two.

  • Meg

    Could someone rehash the countdown? All I remember is a folder with some number on it when Barney was playing the doctor (with a really bad beard, btw). What were the other numbers?

    • Stefanie

      It started at 50 in the first scene at the doctor and continued til number 001 on the cab. Watch it again online.

      • OrAgainOnDVR

        I like making my statements using my name!

      • kgb

        It also ended with ‘Expired’ on the parking meter. Harsh, but true.

    • korri

      I noticed the first number (50) right away because it was so awkwardly placed in big red letters on the doctor’s table in the first scene. Look for a few of the numbers any time they focus in on an object, like when Marshal is talking to his dad and his dad has a beer can or something with a 36 on it.

    • Remy
    • Kat

      50 – Doctor’s Calendar
      49 – Doctor’s Calendar in next scene
      48 – Steak sauce (Marshall putting on food)
      47 – 47th Annual Laser Tag tournament (Barney’s hand)
      46 – 46th Society Certificate (Behind Lily)
      45 – 45¢ Hot Wings (On table in front of Barney)
      44 – 44 Beers on Tap (Behind Bar)
      44 – Football Jersey
      43 – Fertility Brochure (Marshall’s Hands)
      42 – Fertility Brochure (Marshall’s Hands)
      41 – Car poster (behind Dr. Stangel)
      40 – NY’s 40 Greatest Landmarks Book (Ted’s hands)
      39 – Room Number (Behind Robin)
      38 – 38 Degrees (On newspaper)
      37 – 37 Recipes (On Lily’s magazine)
      36 – Marshall’s Dad’s beer
      35 – Stock Market up 35.34 Points (On monitor)
      34 – Stock Market up 35.34 Points (On monitor)
      33 – Miners rescued from mine (On monitor)
      32 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      31 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      30 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      29 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      28 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      27 – Lottery numbers (On monitor)
      26 – Home improvement shortcuts (Marshall’s dad’s book)
      25 – The 25 Greatest Bridges (Ted’s Book)
      24 – Basketball’s newest star #24 (On Magazine)
      23 – Metro News 23 Logo
      22 – Japanese news show 22 logo
      21 – Today is 21 (Calendar behind Dr. Stangel)
      20 – “Private” room 20
      19 – Top 19 (Nekkid magazine in “Private” room 20)
      18 – Lily and Marshall’s apartment number
      17 – Specimen jar number
      16 – Specimen jar number
      15 – Bran Stix (Robin’s cereal)
      14 – Sandy’s apartment number (1413)
      13 – Sandy’s apartment number (1413)
      12 – Days of Christmas card (Behind Marshall)
      11 – America’s 11 Greatest Water Towers (Ted’s book)
      10 – Robin Sparkles’ denim jacket
      9 – On Marhsall’s fake file
      8 – Exam room number
      7 – Champagne
      6 – On Marshall’s fake file part two
      5 – Marshall’s high five
      4 – Layers of the uterus sign
      3 – Open ‘til 3 sign
      2 – Clock on Marshall’s Dad’s desk
      1 – Lily’s cab number

      • Seriously?

        The link was great, u listing it was lame”

      • Heidi

        we aren’t supposed to post links which was why Kat kindly went through it all for those of us who don’t want to leave the EW page right now.

      • rob

        btw, it was the 47th SEMI-annual laser tag tournament. That made it even funnier!!!

      • Nory

        0 – parking meter

      • John

        Actually, the parking meter was “expired”. Another clever visual play by the writers.

  • Sven

    If you did not guess early in the show that Marshall’s father was going to die, then there is something wrong with you. The show could not have foreshadowed the event any more than they did without the dad having a sign around his neck saying, “I will die by the end of the episode.”.

    • Sven

      I neglected to mention why it was so obvious. They showed him calling his father, who was always in the workshop. When you show that three consecutive times (at least), then it should be a major tip off the father is not going to be there for Marshall’s call later in the program. And standard sitcom writing that this show has makes the dad’s death the only logical possibility.

      • kyle_bc

        I hate people like you who always pretend they guessed the big twist at the end. I ran into a lot of people like you while Lost was on. They were like ‘well of course they were all dead in the Alt!’ even though they said nothing about ALL SEASON LONG.

      • Sven

        @kyle_bc apples and oranges. One had (for the most part) good writing, with lots of surprises. The other is just standard sitcom fodder. No clever writing on HIMYM, so the writing screams obvious from start to finish.

      • Regan

        Except this is hardly the first time they’ve shown Marshall’s dad in the workshop receiving calls from his son. And there have been several story lines revolving around the fact that Marshall is
        ridiculously close to his parents.

      • Tim

        Sorry, Sven, I have to side with Kyle. I know your type – you always have to one-up everybody else, and you think you’re so much wiser and smarter than everyone. Go hide under a rock. The writing, acting and editing on HIMYM is fantastic.

      • KC

        Sven, you must not watch the show (or you don’t pay close attention when you do). They’ve shown Marshall’s dad in the workshop many times. In numerous shows (in which his Dad did or did not appear), they’ve had dialogue about Marshall’s family and how close they are with his Dad. Heck, they even had an episode that showed how Marshall attends the family Sunday dinner via a webcam. Maybe you were right when you guessed Marshall’s dad was going to die in this episode, but I guess you were wrong in the six or so other episodes that showed very similar things.

      • Sven

        @KC Correct, I watch one or two episodes a season. The writing is, for me, too cookie cutter. So perhaps it would not have been so obvious to a regular viewer. But as others (@Alia, Iva, Karate Pants) pointed out, the foreshadowing was heavy handed.

      • @Sven

        Go do some push ups

    • Alia

      Okay, while the condescending tone in this comment is obnoxious and unnecessary (Really? Insulting total strangers for not be as skilled at sitcom watching as you are? Nice.)… I do agree that the foreshadowing was pretty heavy. In hindsight, they’ve actually been foreshadowing this twist all season with the “Marshall’s dad is sooo involved in his life” storyline. Still, it was a tough blow.

      • Alia

        (Okay, typo. There’s a “be” in there that should be “being,” but you know what I meant.)

      • Karate Pants

        Second that. Sven, good for you, enjoy your telepathy, but don’t be a jerk.
        It was clear that his parents’ heavy involvement in the episode was leading up to something related to them – could have been some big family secret, impending shock divorce, who knows – but I’m willing to admit that I didn’t anticipate his dad’s death.

      • Liz

        I didn’t really know until about five minutes before. My thing is that while HIMYM is a show with a lot of heart it’s never really been this serious. Why not kill off Ted’s dad. I did like the return of Sandy. Alexis Denisof is the best when he’s playing that kind of guy. This episode was a total downer. I mean where do they go from here?

      • Brit

        Should have killed of Robyn’s dad…would solve the whole Eric Braden dilemma.

      • s

        Liz, so glad Denisof is back, although he’s really at his best dark, disturbed, and scruffy.

      • Liz

        @ s, you are right. I forgot the way he plays dark and disturbed.

    • Rock Golf

      Which might hold water if there hadn’t been episodes this year also showing Marshall’s father in the workshop several times.

    • Tim

      I don’t know about that…
      They ALWAYS show him in his workshop.
      And I don’t think involving his father ALL season was much foreshadowing. It’s typical of the relationship that’s been unfolding since the first season. Marshall is close to his parents, particularly his dad, and this is a big moment in that relationship and in their lives, conceiving a child.

      Give the writers a bit more credit. They’re not so heavy handed.

      • Alia

        Actually, countdown aside, I thought they employed foreshadowing really well. Didn’t mean to make it seem like criticism. The best foreshadowing, I think, starts out subtle, then hits you like a Mack truck just before the event occurs… and then is all crystal clear when you look back on the preceding events. I really think this was a good use of it. In fact, I’ve been impressed with this season, in general.

    • Carol

      You must not watch the show because that is absolutely the way they would and do show his dad and it is always being brought up about how closely involved he is with his dad. They just did a whole show on it a couple episodes ago about how he was too close to his dad with this pregnancy thing and it was annoying Lily. So take your superior attitude and shove it because you’re just plain wrong.

    • iva

      foreshadowing was too heavy

  • Ceballos


  • Stefanie

    Favorite episode from the show. We have been watching since the beginning and we loved the countdown. Just one of the many quirks of this show.

    • Eric

      Royal we?

      • Seriously?

        Do you really care who Stef’s we are?

      • Stefanie

        I am confused by these comments. ha.

      • Eric’sMother

        Eric, why are you posting on this board instead of doing your homework!

  • GotAny6’s???

    Go fish!

    • Fred

      LOL, that is too funny! You made the best comment!

    • Arnie

      Go fish! Loved that part!

    • Karate Pants


    • Steve

      GotAny6’s???? GO FISH!!!!!

    • Dane

      That was truly the best part of the whole series!!!!! Go John McCain!

    • s


  • Steve

    Believable twist, but still a shocker. Oh well, at least Bill Fagerbaake still has his Spongebob gig – but he’ll be missed on HIMYM.

  • Topher

    I loved it. Look past Robin Sparkles and the 12,000 Barney catch phrases and what you have you have is a comedic show the is relates to many people in that stage of life. We have watched these characters grow up and part of growing up is tragedy.

    • K

      I totally agree with you Topher. At first, I couldn’t believe it – I was shocked. I thought to myself, ‘Isn’t this show a comedy?’ But then the more I let it set in, I too realized that ‘HIMYM’ is so much more than that. It reminds me of the episode of ‘Buffy’ where Buffy’s mother died. A sudden death is such a shock to the system and both shows gave varying but ultimately real responses. And kudos to Jason Segel for showing range beyond the happy-go-lucky Marshall.

      • Liz

        My only grievance about comparing that episode of Buffy (The Body) with this episode (Bad News) is that Buffy wasn’t primarily a comedy. I mean not like HIMYM is. I guess you can debate about it all day but I want to say that the first time I ever saw that episode of Buffy, I didn’t cry until Alyson Hannigan did and Anya made her speech about fruit punch. It was truly a heartwrenching hour of TV made better by it’s total lack of music to cue your emotions.

      • Karate Pants

        I’ve been trying to think of the last time I remember a sitcom handling death seriously, and I just keep coming up with Friends, the one where Nana dies (twice). Which was NOTHING compared to this.
        I’m sure there have been others, just can’t come up with anything.

      • Bonnie

        Going waaaay back…when Henry dies on MASH. Total shock when Radar makes the announcement. Then tears. Well done, HIMYM.

      • Flyer

        Henry Blake’s death on M*A*S*H is exactly what I thought of when I realized what HIMYM had just done. I was so upset, I missed Marshall’s last line. (I also totally missed the number thing. Now I have to go re-watch the episode just for that.)

      • Sally

        I would include Scrubs on the list. A lot of times it was just a goofy show, but very few other shows, especially sitcoms, handled death as well.

      • Karate Pants

        I would definitely agree that Scrubs handled death well, but I also consider Scrubs more of a dramedy. Heavy matters were regularly infused into most episodes.

      • Owen

        BUFFY was too primarily a comedy!!! A horror comedy played real thus some dramatic content. But honestly, have many actually sitcoms given us as many laughs as Buffy?

      • Jara

        That sitcom with John Ritter had to do it. It was, however, neither unexpected nor out of the blue, since the audience knew that the show would have to deal with the death. The show was not very good, but the episode that dealt with his death was really moving, as I recall.

      • Janice B

        The episode of Scrubs where Brendon Frasier has died and Perry keeps talking to him all through. About my favorite episode ever of that show because really great comedy also needs depth.

  • Matthew

    I was heartbroken by the ending. I didn’t notice the countdown until I saw other fans talking about it afterwards. I knew it was going to be bad when Marshall called his dad and the phone was just sitting on the work bench. Heart-wrenching, but realistic. I love this show!

    • Katie

      I cried…it was very true to real life. well done HIMYM

    • allie

      I lost my dad 4 weeks ago today. It was VERY realistic and very poignant. I totally cried. I have to say I noticed the weird numbers, but did not realize the significance. I totally love this show!

      • Katie

        Fiance lost his dad 10 years ago today – it was hard to watch last night for sure.

      • AN

        So sorry for your loss, but allie and katie’s financee.

      • Peg

        I’d never watched this show until last night. My dad died this year on Christmas day. I cried like the little girl I feel like. Cathartic. Glad I tuned in.

  • Ashleigh

    I thought the twist was amazing and real and heartfelt, and I loved the numbers, but I don’t really like them together. I was eager to spot the next number making sure I wouldn’t miss it. I was hoping it would lead to something fun and exciting. So I did feel a bit like the rug was pulled out from under the viewers.

    That said, am I the only one hoping that video of Robin being attacked by an owl makes its way to youtube?

    • Alia

      Definitely seconding the request to see the Robin Scherbatsky Owl Attack vid.

    • TQB

      I agree on both parts – the numbers were so silly and fun it made it hard to even appreciate how well done the end was. I was still yelping “#1!” when I noticed Lily was crying. Not a good transition, but I guess that was the point.
      And please, please, owls. Whooo!?

      • MT

        TQB, your comment about yelping “#1!” and then the shock of Marshall’s father’s death makes me wonder if the writers of the show didn’t intend for you to experience the same emotions Marshall was feeling. Excitement followed by shock and sorrow.

      • Ashleigh

        MT: Wow, I honestly never thought of it that way. Brilliant, thanks! :)

      • Kelly

        @MT – Good call!

  • Karate Pants

    It broke my heart, but I appreciated the way they handled it. Marshall’s reaction “I’m not ready for this yet” was perfect.
    I tried to quell my sadness by yelling “Not Dauberrrr!” at the TV. It didn’t work.

  • Jennifer

    I LOVED the ending! It made me want to start watching this show the NIGHT that it is on instead of waiting until I get time, which sometimes is never, and then I delete it. So YES I Loved it, and your so right, life is what happens when you least expecting it. GREAT Episode, great acting!

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