Hopeless (How I Met Your Mother)

"Hopeless" is the 21st episode of the sixth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother and the 133rd episode overall. It aired on April 18, 2011.

How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 21
Directed byPamela Fryman
Written byChris Harris
Production code6ALH22
Original air dateApril 18, 2011 (2011-04-18)
Guest appearance(s)


The episode starts with Barney and his father, Jerry, parting in 1983. Back in the present, Barney is disappointed in Jerry's normal suburban lifestyle, and decides not to pursue any further contact. However, Barney is surprised by a call from Jerry, who invites Barney to go fishing with him and his son JJ. Barney declines, and tells the gang he resolves to take his dad out to lead him back to his old "party hard" lifestyle. He creates alternate identities for the group so as to impress Jerry: Marshall is a playwright in an open marriage with Lily, while Robin and Ted are dating. The next night, the group meets Jerry at MacLaren's where, after a brief discussion on which club to head to, which leads to a confusing exchange as all the clubs they name are named after normal words, like lame and ok. They ultimately decide on one called Hopeless. Jerry is reluctant to get drunk, as he is going fishing with JJ the next day, but finally agrees and begins downing several shots. Jerry and Barney begin having a great time, eventually roaming the streets of New York and pulling various pranks, such as picking a fight with a heavyset biker and yanking out a parking meter.

Meanwhile, Marshall and Lily make a bet to see who can pick up five numbers from people at the club the fastest, with either winner getting to have sex in the bathroom. Lily ends up winning, though Marshall claims to have “won the race” of the prize. Robin runs into an old crush of hers at the club; before she has a chance to ask him out, Ted claims to be dating her, to keep up the ruse for Jerry. Robin had met the man several years before at a clothing store; Ted realizes he and Robin had been dating at the time, and promptly decides to announce to everyone in the club that he and Robin are to get married, thus ruining any chance Robin has with the man. Robin points out Ted had bought his red cowboy boots that day because another woman had told him he would look good in them, and tells him to get off his high horse. As Marshall, Lily, Ted and Robin are heading home, Lily says that she is sorry that Robin's secret crush didn't work out. Robin replies that it is okay, and maybe it wasn't meant to be. Lily asks her why she is smiling and she says she doesn't know. Just as Robin and Ted are entering their building, Robin's crush passes by and is talking to someone on his cell phone saying that he met "that" girl again and that she is engaged to Ted. Future Ted hints there would be more between them later.

Barney and Jerry are eventually arrested after Jerry throws up on a police car. As they sit handcuffed on the curb, Jerry reveals that he was in fact never drunk, having only pretended to take the shots, while the various pranks really didn't happen (due to Barney's drunkenness, he couldn't tell Jerry was pretending, and it was Barney who had thrown up.) Jerry wanted to hang out with Barney while at the same time showing him he can't keep partying forever. However, because Jerry is also an aspiring magician, like Barney, they manage to free themselves from the handcuffs, and head back to Jerry's house (getting a ride with one of Jerry's driving students) so that he can make it on time for the fishing trip. On the ride back, Barney asks Jerry how he managed to settle down and live a "normal" life, and confides that someday he too wishes to settle down. Jerry tells him he won't reveal his secret, but says he must first meet the right girl. Barney says that maybe he has already met the right girl.

Although he declines at first, when Jerry produces a memento from their last day together when Barney was a kid and expresses how much it meant to him over the intervening years, Barney decides to go fishing with Jerry and his son, though later on the boat (wearing on his suit's lapel the "Legalize It" button Jerry had held onto all those years) he sighs and says, “This sucks!”


Donna Bowman of the A.V. Club graded the episode at A−. She stated that the episode has moments that are part of people's transformation into married adults, and Barney's moments with his father are a step in the right direction, while praising John Lithgow's acting as definitive of the episode.[1]

Henry Hanks of CNN.com's Marquee blog stated the episode was a "great example" of emotional arcs filling up the show.[2]

Vlada Gelman of Showtracker.com said the episode dropped clues about the wedding seen in "Big Days" and added speculation as to whether Robin or Nora is the "right girl".[3]

Robert Canning of IGN rated the episode 8.5 out of 10, saying that the episode paid homage to the history of the series and added much laughs in the process.[4]

This is the second least viewed episode of the entire series, and only earned 6.49 million viewers.[5]


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