Natural History (How I Met Your Mother)

"Natural History" is the eighth episode of the sixth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and the 120th episode overall. It aired on November 8, 2010.

"Natural History"
How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no.Season 6
Episode 8
Directed byPamela Fryman
Written by
Production code6ALH09
Original air dateNovember 8, 2010 (2010-11-08)
Guest appearance(s)


Ted and the gang are invited to a gala party at the Natural History Museum thrown by George van Smoot, also known as "The Captain". While hobnobbing, Ted sees Zoey, with whom he is angry for writing a column criticizing his work at GNB regarding the Arcadian, describing the project as "taking away from the have-nots, giving to the haves". Ted is especially angry due to the column's position in the paper being next to his weekly crossword. At the party, Zoey introduces Ted to her husband, the Captain (Kyle MacLachlan), a wealthy, much older man who is obsessed with boats. Later, Ted corners Zoey and berates her for the hypocrisy of her column and trying to ruin his career, angrily calling her a "bored trophy wife". At this, Zoey starts crying and tells Ted that she is unhappy in her marriage. Ted immediately feels sorry for her, and he tries to commiserate with her by ranting against GNB and their obnoxious work culture. Zoey's tears are a ruse, however: She had been recording the entire conversation, and then promises Ted that his remarks will be given prime space in the next day's newspaper. The Captain hears about the situation and sympathises with Ted, because he had also fallen victim of Zoey's recorder; Ted replies that even though she betrayed his trust, he respects her activism. The Captain promises to erase Ted's recording because he is impressed by him. Because of the acoustic capabilities of the museum, Zoey overhears their conversation; she breaks into real tears and promises Ted she will erase the conversation herself, resolving to play fair from now on.

Meanwhile, Barney goes on the prowl in the museum, pulling off pranks using various exhibits along with Robin. Barney brags about having knocked down the blue whale exhibit as a child, which none of the gang believe. After catching Robin by surprise disguised as an Egyptian pharaoh, a security guard catches them in the act and brings them to the security office. Robin's skepticism about the blue whale incident prompts the security officer to check old records. One file, dated July 23, 1981, recounts the incident in full, but a check of the document reveals that Barney's guardian that day, Jerome Whittaker — who he believed as a child to be his "Uncle Jerry" — identified himself as Barney's father on the visitor form. He asks Robin not to mention the discovery to the others.

Marshall tells Lily that GNB has offered him a five-year contract. Lily, however, is still firm on her belief that Marshall will resign and pursue his dream of being an environmental lawyer. Lily also realizes that whenever she had asked Marshall about whether he would quit his job at GNB, he always responded with made-up words so that he could not be held culpable as a liar. In the ensuing argument, Marshall insists on staying in the company for financial reasons, and Lily storms out; she feels he hasn't stayed true to himself and their values. While in another part of the museum, Lily visualizes an exhibit showing extinct "College Marshall" at their old Wesleyan dorm. She talks with College Marshall, telling him that his persona was the one she fell in love with many years ago and "Corporate" Marshall embodied everything he despised. However, College Marshall tells her that while Corporate Marshall may have changed in a few ways, he hasn't changed where it counts. Just then, the real Marshall appears and promises to work harder to provide a stable future for their family. Future Ted later reveals that Marshall does leave GNB in the future, with the camera pulling back to reveal an exhibit showing extinct Corporate Marshall, but the episode ends with Future Ted just saying, "but that's another story".

Critical response

Reviews of the episode have been positive.

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+ score, saying the episode tackled people's thoughts about their past and how they should let things go, which were explained well during the third part.[1]

DeAnn Welker of Television Without Pity gave the episode an A− score.[2]

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a rating of 6.5 out of 10.[3]

Chris O'Hara of gave the episode a rating of 4 out of 5.[4]


  1. Donna Bowman (2010-11-08). "How I Met Your Mother "Natural History"". The A.V. Club. The Onion.
  2. DeAnn Welker (2010-11-10). "How I Met Your Mother: The Captain and Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville". Television Without Pity. NBC Universal. Archived from the original on 2010-11-12.
  3. Robert Canning (2010-11-09). "How I Met Your Mother: "Natural History" Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
  4. Chris O'Hara (2010-11-09). "How I Met Your Mother Review: "Natural History"". TV Fanatic. Retrieved 2010-12-06.
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