Mystery vs. History

HIMYM episode 7x06 (142)

First aired:
October 17, 2011
Pamela Fryman
Chuck Tatham
Barney's Blog

Images (18)

The gang intervenes in Ted's business when he fails to gather information online about a woman he is going to date. Meanwhile, Marshall and Lily decide not to find out the sex of their baby, but they are tempted when they are setting up the baby's room.


When Ted decides to go on a date with a woman named Janet McIntyre without researching her, Barney and Robin attempt to intervene by investigating Janet online for him, despite Ted's protests. Ted explains to Kevin that Robin and Barney have researched many of the women he dated in the past and ruined the relationships by revealing unappealing background information on them. Before his date with Janet, he proposes to Janet that they should not research each other on the Internet beforehand, which she agrees to.

In the meantime, Marshall and Lily recruit Barney, Robin, and Kevin to help paint the room for their baby. Though they have obtained the information on the sex of their baby (sealed in an envelope), they have chosen not to open it so that the baby's sex will be a surprise when the baby is born. Barney tries to convince them to open the envelope, arguing that there are advantages to knowing what the child's sex will be. When everyone begins arguing about whether "mystery" is better, Kevin calls them out on their behavior. He admits that while he did not want to analyze them, he has noticed that everyone in their group is unreasonably close and have been meddling too much in each others lives. While Kevin's assessment appears to be true, it causes a rift between him and Robin, which he attempts to make up for by offering to paint the rest of the room by himself.

During the painting session, Barney and Robin have insisted on continuing their research on Janet for Ted. They learn a number of startling things about Janet which they attempt to share with Ted. Marshall eventually allows Barney to learn the gender of the baby if he does not tell him and Lily, but Barney eventually convinces them to look, only to rip the card in half, refusing to show the gender to Lily and Marshall. Barney agrees to give it to them if they look at what he and Robin have learned about Janet. When Marshall gets the card, he and Lily are unable to firmly decide if they want to know, and Marshall ends up throwing the card out the window for the sake of "mystery."

Meanwhile, Ted is having issues conversing with Janet without the use of the Internet during their date. Despite initial attempts to resist everyone's insistence that he should look her up on the Internet, he gives in and learns that she is extremely accomplished. Ted becomes nervous and Janet gets frustrated and leaves, recognizing that his sudden change in behavior means that he has learned about all her achievements and he has become intimidated by her like everyone else who dates her. After he rejoins his friends, Ted tells them that he regrets giving in and that he would rather have "mystery" over "history" for his future dates. When Ted puts his foot up on a stool, Marshall notices that the card he threw on the window had stuck to Ted's shoe; he and Lily learn that their baby will be a boy. Kevin then tells the gang that he'll go buy some blue paint for the room.


  • Barney exclaiming, "They're six minutes into the date, Ted's probably already told her that he loves her!" is a reference to Ted saying "I love you" to Robin on their first date in Pilot.
  • In Slap Bet​ Barney and Robin were in favor of keeping secrets in a relationship while Ted, Lily, and Marshall were in favor of being open. Now the ideals are reversed.
  • Ted imagines a woman he is interested in being a man in Slap Bet and Spoiler Alert​.
  • When Kevin notes that the only unhealthy behavior he has not seen the gang demonstrate is physical violence, they recall several such instances, including:
  • Ted mentions his parents' divorce, which he first found out about in Brunch​.
  • Robin mentions her father attempting to raise her as a boy, which she tells the gang about in Happily Ever After​.
  • Future Ted reveals that Lily and Marshall would have a son in Last Cigarette Ever.
  • As Future Ted describes how the Internet was taking the mystery out of dating, several people's social networking pages are shown, including Chester R, who has a picture with the caption "Boats Boats Boats!", referencing Robin's former co-host Becky, and her commercial from Canning Randy​.
  • "Mystery Vs History: Is It Better Not to Know?" is the title of one of the New York magazine articles in the edition which featured a cover story about Ted, as seen in The Best Man​ and The Naked Truth​.
  • Robin started dating Kevin in Field Trip​.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Unpause explains how Robin's father has a helicopter.


  • Promo photo
  • Kevin being honest with the gang
  • The gang looking at the REAL Janet profile
  • Janet MacIntyre
  • Ted on a date with Janet McIntyre
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Mystery Vs. History images.

Memorable Quotes

Ted: I don't want a background check. I want adventure and excitement. Look, if it's a choice between mystery and history, I want mystery.

Kevin: You're all the most codependent, incestuous, controlling group of people I've ever met!
To the gang

Barney: Look, if you guys don't want to know, how about this? Let me look and I won't tell you.
Lily: Absolutely not.
Marshall: Fine. Baby, if it'll shut him up, what's the harm? (Marshall gives Barney the envelope.)
Robin: Can I? (Barney and Robin huddle up and giggle.)
Marshall: This may have been a mistake.
Barney: Boy!... Do I like babies!
Robin: Girl!... Friend, your hair looks fantastic!
Barney: Twins!... was the feel good movie of 1988!

Ted: So, while this font is often mistaken for Helvetica, the fact is... it's Helvetica Bold.
(thinking): I can actually hear the sound of her vagina being boarded up.
Ted: I got to be honest, Janet. First of all... this is Times New Roman.

Marshall: Lilypad? We're having a boy!

Ted: The date with Nadine went great. Unless you guys found something.
Barney: Are you sitting down?
Ted: No... (He sits down)
Robin: She's wanted in Florida on Crystal Meth charges.
Barney: She breeds pitbulls for dog fighting.
Robin: Also, the FBI has...
Ted: What's this link?
Robin: Oh, she also writes online movie reviews. Anyway, she's still married to a death row inmate convicted for...
Ted: She gave Annie Hall two out of ten stars? "Slow and overrated"!?
Robin: Really? That's your take-away?
Ted: It's the Woodman at the height of his powers! The way he broke the fourth wall by talking directly to camera... people have been ripping that off ever since.
Robin: (looking at the camera) Can you believe this guy?

Ted: Paula Vincenzo. She’s in the bathroom. What’s wrong with her?
Robin: Total psycho. Her Facebook wall has a link to a site about dating inanimate objects. For most of last year, she was engaged… to a mini fridge.
Barney: And there’s pictures. Her and the mini fridge on a hike. Her and the mini fridge in wine country. There’s the mini fridge meeting her parents.
Robin: Run like the wind!

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • Barney showed Ted naked pictures on his laptop, but Ted did not make his naked lady noise.
    • Ted has been shown to make his "naked lady noise" only when confronted with a real naked woman.
    • Actually he has made the noise while picturing a naked woman while on the phone and while watching a nature special.
  • Ted states his parents met on a blind date while talking to Janet. In Brunch​ his parents told him and Robin they met at a bar.
  • In the opening shot, various extras can be seen looking at the camera right before it passes. In particular, the elderly couple separates as the camera moves between them.
  • For the newspaper headline "Baby-Saving Genius Inherits Billion Dollar McIntyre Fortune," the last line in the first column is repeated as the first line in the second column.
  • Barney projects pictures of babies on the wall in Lily and Marshall's apartment, but there is no projector anywhere in the room and his laptop isn't hooked up to anything.
  • When Barney and Robin both say "Sweet mother of God!", neither one of them says "Jinx!" even though in The Final Page - Part One they say Barney takes jinxes very seriously after his bus accident.

Allusions and Outside References

  • The opening is a spoof on the opening credits of another CBS program, Person of Interest.
  • In the opening spoof, "Alicia P." is shown to have Josh Radnor (Ted Mosby) as one of her favorite actors.
  • Throughout the episode, the cast members proclaim that they just "gots to know," in reference to Dirty Harry.
  • The credits in Barney's presentation show that it was directed by McG.
  • The movie Annie Hall and its director Woody Allen are mentioned several times by Ted, Janet and Robin.
  • When teasing Marshall and Lily, Barney says, "Twins was the feel-good movie of 1988."
  • Lily reveals that when she gets lonely while waiting for Marshall to come back, she will watch Survivor without him.
  • When Marshall throws the card with the baby's gender out the window, it floats down to the ground with background music reminiscent of the feather scenes at the beginning and end of Forrest Gump.


Other Notes

  • In Barney's Slideshow, the first two babies were Gideon Scott Burtka-Harris and Harper Grace Burtka-Harris, Neil's and his partner, David Burtka's, actual children in real life.



How I Met Your Mother - Mystery Vs

How I Met Your Mother - Mystery Vs. History Podcast

Podcast for the episode

Featuring an interview with Kal Penn.


  • The episode received 9.81 million viewers.[1]
  • Donna Bowman of the AV Club gave the episode a B+[2].
  • Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode, saying that the episode "felt like How I Met Your Mother trying too hard."He also added "while the main storyline started interestingly but faltered, there was little to get into with the rest of the episode."[3]
  • Chris O'Hara of TV Fanatic gave the episode 4 out of 5 stars[4].
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 9 out of 10 stars. " information can be dangerous..."


External Links

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Mystery vs. History
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