Like Ted Mosby, we’re feeling sentimental. The finale of How I Met Your Mother is less than a week away, and it deserves a proper send-off, especially since the protracted (and not particularly satisfying) momentum of later seasons has possibly overshadowed the brilliance of earlier ones. Like so many series at their best, HIMYM was constantly imperiled in the beginning, somehow threatened with cancellation despite a phenomenal run of episodes. But though HIMYM is clearly informed by Friends, the former did a far better job of expressing and immortalizing that crucial period between post-college and the rest of adult life. It birthed the kookier-but-tragically-short-lived Happy Endings, New Girl, the yet-to-be-tested Friends With Better Lives, and its very own spinoff, How I Met Your Dad, which has enough talent attached (i.e. Greta Gerwig) to suggest that it might even improve on the formula.
Yes, the formula: How I Met Your Mother was the Lost of sitcoms. Creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays understood the modern predisposition toward nostalgia, thus episodes were often chock full of callbacks to former ones, continuity was key (though at times relied upon for its own sake), and throughout, audiences were as much at the mercy of unreliable narrator Ted Mosby (voiced by Bob Saget) as his patient children were. (Kids, every time we recall a memory, we alter it, the protein in our brain rearranging — you know what, your father will happily explain it.) But the takeaway is: This was their youth — Ted (Josh Radnor) Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Robin (Cobie Smulders), and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) grew up together, and some of the times they had were legendary. What follows is a highly subjective list of the best moments of the series, which was nearly impossible to whittle down to a mere 30. We’re arguing with ourselves already, and invite those of you with encyclopaedic knowledge of the sitcom to do the same. By Greg Chow and Phoebe Reilly