HIMYM episode 1x21 (21)

First aired:
May 8, 2006
Pamela Fryman
Carter Bays
Craig Thomas
Barney's Blog

Images (12)

Ted is forced to a postpone a date with the "perfect woman" when Lily needs his help. Barney conscripts Marshall in a vicious prank war.


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The episode opens with a celebration of Ted's 28th birthday in the bar. Wendy warns him that his plate is very hot but Lily has to touch it for herself to know for sure. Barney presents his gift to Ted, which is the "Greatest Pickup Line of All Time." The next morning, Ted gets a call from Love Solutions (the matchmaker service that Ted had signed up for in Matchmaker), saying that they have found him a match. He goes and asks what is happening, since he thought that Love Solutions no longer existed. Ted finds out the company has merely changed hands, and has found him a perfect woman who meets all of the standards on his checklist. He asks them to set it up.

Meanwhile, Barney wants Marshall to help him wage a prank war against Clark Butterfield, a man who is Barney's target in such pranks. Marshall is appointed to help Barney with the mischief. Marshall realizes that even though he hates his job he would not be able to have fun like this with Barney anywhere else.

Lily has found out about an art fellowship in San Francisco, and decides to apply, even though it could ruin the wedding plans. She is forced to reveal her plans and call Ted when a tire on Marshall's car goes flat. She tells Ted that she is still having doubts about marrying Marshall and wants to see if she can get into this art fellowship and see what happens. Ted tries to convince her not to go to the required interview in New Haven. Lily knows it is a mistake but she has to know for sure if she can do it, and leaves Ted on the side of the road quite far from town. Ted sends her an angry message but reminds her to pick up milk on the way home. He calls Barney, but Barney puts Marshall on the phone and Ted claims it was a prank because he does not want Marshall to know why he was all the way out in Duchess County.

Robin (who has gotten ill-advised highlights in her hair) eventually comes to get Ted, and takes him back to the bar so that he can be there for his date with the perfect woman. Ted daydreams about his wedding day and sees Robin trying to restrain her sadness at not being his bride, and he realizes he doesn't want a perfect woman anymore - he wants Robin.

Back in the apartment, Ted asks Lily if she got the "Milk" - not wanting to give away to Marshall about the interview - and Lily confirms she got it but claims she doesn't want it.


  • Ted previously dealt with Love Solutions in Matchmaker.
  • Lily getting cold feet about the wedding was brought up previously in Best Prom Ever.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Marshall and Lily break up in Come On after a fight over her interview.
  • Future Ted mentions his 30th birthday wasn't so bad, except for "the goat in [his] bathroom". It is revealed in The Goat that the goat incident actually occurred on his 31st birthday, as seen in The Leap.
  • Marshall eventually gets a job at Nicholson, Hewitt, and West, the company which Butterfield works for, in I'm Not That Guy.
  • Barney gets into a prank war with Marshall in The Perfect Cocktail, and sends him pictures of, presumably, himself doing disgusting things to Marshall's stuff, as he and Butterfield do to each other here.
  • When Lily asks Ted to swear on his future children, he swears "on Luke and Leia". He mentions wanting to name his future children Luke and Leia again in Landmarks. As revealed in Unpause, he and the Mother eventually name their children Penny and Luke.
  • Robin tells Ted of her lack of desire to have children. Her dislike of children (and not wanting to marry, as she tells Ted in Purple Giraffe) causes their breakup (occurring during Showdown and revealed in Something Blue), and is a recurring plot point (Little Boys and The Front Porch, for example), culminating in Symphony of Illumination.


  • Ted turns 28 years old.
  • Love Solutions finally finds Ted a match.
  • Robin's new hairstyle.
  • Ted changes a tire on Marshall's Fiero.
  • Marshall and Barney prepare a prank for the guy in the office on the other side of the street.
  • Cameo by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays as fake paramedics
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Milk images.

Memorable Quotes

Ted: Can't a brother go apple-picking without getting the third degree? DAMN!

Future Ted: So I read the file, and by God this woman was perfect. She liked dogs, she spent her summers in North Carolina, she played bass guitar, she did the Times crossword, she played tennis, she liked old movies, her favorite food was lasagna, and her favorite book was Love in the Time of Cholera. Her favorite singer was Otis Redding and she wanted two kids, a boy and a girl.
Future Ted talking about her match from Love Solutions

Lily: OK, yes it's a mistake. I know it's a mistake, but there are certain things in life where you know it's a mistake but you don't really know it's a mistake because the only way to really know it's a mistake is to make the mistake and look back and say 'yep, that was a mistake.' So really, the bigger mistake would be to not make the mistake, because then you'd go your whole life not knowing if something is a mistake or not. And dammit, I've made no mistakes! I've done all of this; my life, my relationship, my career, mistake-free. Does any of this make sense to you?
Ted: I dunno, you said mistake a lot.

Marshall: How'd it go, dude?
Ted : I didn't go.
Marshall: What? Why?
Ted: I changed my mind. I don't wanna meet her.
Marshall: Why? She... she sounds perfect.
Ted: I don't want perfect. I want Robin.
Marshall: Oh, God, not this again! Ted, it's a mistake.
Ted: [looks at Lily] Maybe, but it's a mistake I have to make.

Future Ted: Here's the thing about mistakes. Sometimes, even when you know something's a mistake, you gotta make it anyway.

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • The fastest way from Manhattan (where Lily left from) to New Haven (her destination for her interview) does not require her to go through Dutchess County. As a matter of fact, Dutchess County would probably make her trip two hours longer than it would need to be.

Allusions and Outside References

  • Ted says he is going to name his kids Luke and Leia, which are the names of the main characters in the Star Wars saga.
  • Lily is shown playing Super Bomberman.
  • When Barney says about his prank war with Butterfield, "Who knows. This feud goes so far back no one can remember who fired the first shot", it may be a reference to Huckleberry Finn. It's actually a reference to the Han Shot First controversy.
  • Ted imitates Tony the Tiger's "Grr-eat!" catchphrase.


Other Notes

  • Series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas make an uncredited appearance as the fake paramedics.
  • Sandy Rivers (played by Alexis Denisof) is one of the people featured in the photo montage at the dating agency.
  • The date that Ted postponed could possibly be the future mother of his children. Hence she being the perfect match and why they didn't show pictures of the woman, as well as this the woman also plays the bass guitar which we know the future mother of his children plays.
    • Unless it is an oversight by the creative team, the woman from this episode is not The Mother. Ted says, "She's 28 like me." However, The Mother would have been 21 at this time; as revealed in How Your Mother Met Me, she turned 21 on the night when Marshall and Lily got engaged. Additionally, she is not shown to have dated anyone from 2005 to 2008 and it is highly unlikely that she tried Love Solutions so soon after Max's death. Lastly, Ted states that this woman is college educated, whereas The Mother is not known to have completed any course of study prior to pursuing Economics and attending the class Ted taught by mistake.
      • On the other hand, the writers could make it work, if they show that The Mother's friend Kelly (who kept trying to get her to start dating again, as shown in How Your Mother Met Me) signed her up for the dating service. They could say that Kelly was tricking The Mother into meeting Ted during Milk. There is no reason why she couldn't have taken some college classes already, or even earned an Associate's or Bachelor's degree, if she was working on a graduate degree from when she takes Ted's accidental class. The only real problem would be explaining why Kelly would have lied about her age, although they could say Kelly made a typo on the application. Furthermore, since The Mother might not have really been ready, and Ted was still hung up on Robin, the events of Milk could have saved them from meeting "too soon".
  • Apart from Eric Allan Kramer's Bob in this episode, he also plays Bob Duncan in Good Luck Charlie.



  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 7 out 10 stars. "...not one of the best ... but it does create an interesting dilemma with Lily's artistic desires..."


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