For the countdown, see Bad News countdown.
Bad News

HIMYM episode 6x13 (125)

First aired:
January 3, 2011
Pamela Fryman
Jennifer Hendriks
Barney's Blog

Images (52)

Worried they aren't pregnant yet, Marshall and Lily see a specialist. An old colleague causes trouble for Robin at her new job.


Future Ted tells his kids that Marshall and Lily are anxious and worried about their chances of having a baby. After several months of attempting to conceive, their doctor refers them to a fertility expert. As they tell Ted the news at MacLaren's, Barney arrives and announces to Ted and Marshall's dismay that he needs a partner for a laser tag tournament.

Lily goes to her appointment with the fertility expert, Dr. John Stangel only to discover that he looks exactly like Barney with a beard and dark brown hair, raising her immediate concern that he is in fact, Barney in disguise. When Lily confronts Barney, Marshall vouches for Barney, saying that they spent the whole day together. To convince her that Stangel and Barney are not the same person Marshall attends Lily's appointment, but the resemblance is so great that he also immediately assumes that Stangel is Barney. Barney shows up, acknowledges the similarity, and exits. Lily still thinks Dr. Stangel is Barney in disguise upon hearing him say "Scoot up." After getting Barney and the doctor in the room together throughout the procedure, Lily is convinced that they are in fact two different people.

When Lily's tests reveal that she is extremely fertile, Marshall is about to call his father with the good news, but stops when he considers that his sperm may be the problem. He admits only talking about good news with his father and decides to get his sperm tested before calling him again. When Marshall is unable to produce a sperm sample at the doctor's office, he returns home to produce the sample, only to find that his parents have dropped by for a surprise visit. He eventually reveals to his parents his concerns about possible infertility, to which they reassure him that they love him regardless of whether he and Lily will give them grandchildren and suggest other options, such as adoption and sperm donors.

Meanwhile, Robin's new job at World Wide News has started badly, beginning with the revelation that the network's lead anchor is her old Metro News 1 colleague Sandy Rivers. He promptly tells the entire office that they had sex and continues to harass her in front of her new co-workers with increasingly embarrassing stories from Robin's past. The group tells Robin to play along with the mockery, insisting that it will only get worse if she resists it. However, after an especially humiliating day, Ted decides to help Robin by confronting Sandy at his apartment. Ted learns that Sandy is bald and wears a toupee; he snaps a picture, and tells Robin to use it to put him to shame. At work, Robin starts pitching a story when she's interrupted by Sandy again. Instead of showing the office the picture of him, she pulls out her old Robin Sparkles denim jacket, embracing the mockery and moving on (with Future Ted telling his kids that while Robin never shook off the nickname of 'Sparkles', she would go on to do great things while working for World Wide News).

Having spent the entire day anticipating bad news, Marshall receives good news about his fertility from Stangel (after a failed impersonation by Barney attempting to trick Marshall into becoming his laser tag partner). While at MacLaren's, he tries to call his father about his good news but he does not pick up the phone. Marshall is shocked to learn from Lily that his father died of a heart attack. He is left holding Lily and saying, "I'm not ready for this."


  • The happy occasions Marshall has called his dad about include getting engaged in the Pilot, passing the bar, which he does some time before Spoiler Alert, and getting a Viking lamp, of which he gets a fourth in Last Cigarette Ever.
  • Lily and Marshall argue about Marshall telling his father too much about their lives in Big Days.
  • The embarassing footage of Robin that Sandy finds and shows their coworkers include:
  • Sandy was Robin's co-host at Metro News 1 before leaving to work at CNN in Come On.
  • Robin starts working at World Wide News after getting hired in False Positive.
  • Lily and Marshall make Barney wear the Sensory Deprivator 5000 to allow him to stay in the room during Lily's exam, first introduced in Monday Night Football.
  • Marshall's father's death was foreshadowed in The Fight, where he is missing from the Eriksen family Thanksgiving dinner in the 3-5 year flashforward.
  • Barney's actual doppelganger is finally revealed, after three false ones in Doppelgangers. When Ted informs Lily that the hot dog vendor she thought looked like Barney was not his doppelganger, she mentions the deal she and Marshall made with the universe in Robots Versus Wrestlers.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • The gang goes to Marshall's father's funeral in Last Words.
  • Robin eventually agrees to be Barney's laser tag partner for the tournament he badgers Marshall about, before sending Nora in her place, as seen in Desperation Day.
  • Future Ted mentions that Robin would go on to do very well at World Wide News. She eventually hosts the network's New Year's show in Tailgate, and becomes famous after landing a helicopter on-air when the pilot has a stroke in Now We're Even.
  • Barney's friends are well aware of his obsession with seeing Lily naked. This is one of many episodes that depict his desire, notably Ducky Tie.
  • Lily mentions Barney pretending to be his Swedish cousin "Bjorney". His friends are aware of his frequent use of what Barney calls in The Naked Man his "secret identities". While numerous episodes depict Barney disguising his appearance, he dresses or plans to dress as his own lookalike or twin in Doppelgangers, Intervention (in old man makeup), The Naked Truth ("Barnell"), The Stinson Missile Crisis ("Arnie Linson", and Barney's gay twin brother "Jack Fantastic"), The Bracket (Barney's evil twin, "Larney"), and The Playbook (Lorenzo von Matterhorn's twin brother, "Julio").


  • Marshall tells his parents everything
  • Ted does not like Sandy
  • Ted gets an incriminating picture of Sandy
  • Barney dons the Sensory Deprivator 5000
  • Motility Five
  • Countdown collage
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Bad News images..

Memorable Quotes

Barney: I'd give my first born to not be able to have children.

Lily: So you weren't wearing a fake beard and examining girl parts all day?
Barney: Not today I wasn't!

Robin: I can't believe it's my first day and already I'm 'the girl who slept with the host of the show'!
Ted: Already? Were you planning on eventually sleeping with the host?
Robin: Well, now that I know it's Sandy, I'm not!

Lily: How did you do it?
Barney: Oh god you found one of the cameras. I swear that's the only one. Wait which one did you find?

Lily: We're doing it a lot.
Marshall: And everywhere. The kitchen, the bathroom, the living room, outside in your waiting - the kitchen.

Marshall's Dad: We love you no matter what. So why don't you get back in that bathroom, pretend you're in high school and "blow dry your hair."

Dr. Stangel: Well, Marshall. I've got your results.
Marshall: And?
Dr. Stangel: Your sperm is fine.
Marshall: My sperm is fine!
Dr. Stangel: Count, motility everything's off the charts. You, sir, have got some strong swimmers.
Barney: Bro, that is awesome. - Motility five! - Whoa! Nice.
Marshall: Hey, um, can I borrow your phone? - I want to call my dad.
Ted: Yeah, go ahead.
Marshall: Man, this is great. I was expecting bad news. I really was.

Marshall: You're here! Oh, my God! I love you so much! Can you believe it?
Lily: Marshall Something's happened. Um Your father, he had a heart attack. He he didn't make it.
Marshall: My dad's dead? I'm not ready for this.

Barney: Gyno-Mite!

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • When Ted takes the picture of Sandy, you can see Ted's phone screen and the top of Sandy's head isn't shown in the picture, only his face is.
  • When Marshall is telling his parents about the fertility problems, you can see 2 glasses of wine and 2 beer bottles. Since Lily is trying to get pregnant, she has quit drinking. So the fourth drink shouldn't be kept.

Allusions and Outside References

  • The episode features the numbers 50 to 1 being either shown on the screen, with the number 5 being shown by a high five. This is very reminiscent of the 1988 Peter Greenaway film Drowning by Numbers.
  • The 33rd number is shown saying: "33 Miners Rescued from Collapsed Mine". This is a reference to the 2010 Copiapó mining accident.
  • Barney applies for the "47th Semi-Annual Crossing the Streams Laser Tag Tournament". "Crossing the Streams" is a reference to Ghostbusters.
  • Robin's first office nickname (Scherpoopi), could be a reference to the song Shipoopi from the musical The Music Man.


Other Notes

  • The cast were not given the script for the final scene until the day of shooting, in order to keep the ending a secret. To keep them from knowing the actual ending, the original script they received before filming had Lily telling Marshall she was pregnant.[1]
  • Although Jason Segel was aware of the overall premise of the final scene, he decided he didn't want to know what Alyson Hannigan's exact lines were. When the scene was filmed, it was Segel's genuine reaction to having his character's father die.[2]
  • Only one take of the final scene was filmed.[3]
  • There is an actual board certified Dr. John Stangel in New York specializing in reproductive endocrinology.
  • Neil Patrick Harris is also credited as a guest star in this episode for his role as "Dr. Stangel."
  • Throughout the episode, there are numbers counting down from 50 leading up to Marvin Eriksen's death (see Bad News countdown).
  • Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel provide audio commentary throughout the episode.  This is available on the Season 6 DVD.



How I Met Your Mother - 'Bad News' Podcast

How I Met Your Mother - 'Bad News' Podcast

Podcast for the episode

Featuring an interview with Carter Bays and Jennifer Hendriks.


  • This episode premiered to 10.15 million viewers.[4]
  • Donna Bowman at the A.V. Club gave the episode a C.[5] She felt "'Bad News' goes horribly wrong with its little numbers game. It’s the wrong time to deploy such a gimmick. It detracts from the funny stuff and cuts off the serious stuff at the knees."
  • DeAnn Walker at Television Without Pity gave the episode an A.[6] She was not a fan of the countdown, wondering "why [they included it]? Just so they could prove they can? Honestly, if they wanted to do it, I think they could have done it better. Those double numbers and big obvious ones left a lot to be desired. The rest of the episode, on the other hand, did not. Great emotional buildup, suspense, red herrings, and then payoff."
  • Robert Canning at IGN gave the episode a 9.5 out of 10.[7] He felt that "[The countdown] was a smart addition to the episode. Even though it was distracting at first, it all made sense by the end of the episode ... "Bad News" was a very smart and funny episode that also kicked you in the gut at the end."
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 9.5 out of 10 stars. "Won't someone please help Barney with the laser tag tournament?"


External Links

Previous episode
False Positive
Bad News
(all episodes)
Next episode →
Last Words