Return of the Shirt

HIMYM episode 1x04 (4)

Return of the Shirt
First aired:
October 10, 2005
Pamela Fryman
Kourtney Kang
Barney's Blog

Images (9)

After reuniting with an old shirt, Ted attempts to get back together with an ex. Barney dares Robin to say inappropriate things on television.


Ted finds a shirt he bought six years before, and has not worn in for ages, and finds that he likes it, even though before that day he had never considered wearing it. He meets everyone else down at the bar, and finds out that they all like the shirt. He also finds that he suddenly likes Bourbon, which he had hated before. He decides that maybe he should start considering girls he has previously dated; Barney objects to this idea, saying that the only reason to date a girl who one has previously dated is if she received breast implants. Ted ignores Barney's advice and decides to re-date Natalie. Initially Ted isn't sure if she would remember him, but it turns out she hasn't forgotten Ted. When Lily confronts Ted about why Natalie would hang up on Ted so rudely, Ted reveals that he broke up with her on her birthday by leaving a message on her answering machine (Natalie also reveals that this happened as her friends were waiting to give her a surprise party). Lily begins slapping him, saying that he shouldn't have broken up with her on her birthday, or broken up with her on her answering machine. The guys all point out that there is no good way to break up with a girl. Ted then visits Natalie's apartment, apologizing for his past behavior, and begging for a second chance, with the help of a sock monkey. She decides to give him a second chance, and things appear to be going well. However, despite how much everyone else likes her, Ted feels that she isn't "the one", and has to break up with her. However, Lily encourages him to do it the right way and be honest, and he takes her advice. However, at dinner right before he is about to break up with her, she tells him it is her birthday, and when he breaks up with her again, she demands a good explanation, and when Ted can't give her a satisfactory response, she uses what she learned in a Krav Maga class to beat Ted up. Ted then returns to the bar in pain with the shirt torn and ripped, and decides that there really is no good way to break up with someone. Along with this life lesson, what Ted's son also learns from his father's story is that his father was beat up by a girl.

Meanwhile, Barney dares Robin to say or do questionable things on the air with Metro News 1 for money. Robin refuses at first, but performs Barney's first dare when a Freudian slip causes her to say the word "nipple" when she meant to say the word "nickel." She then does the second dare, saying "I'm a dirty, dirty girl," at the end of a news story and spanking herself. When she finds out that no one, not even her boss, watches the news channel she reports for, she decides that she might as well perform the dares. On her third dare from Barney, she honks her own breasts during a report. Barney, as the fourth dare, wants Robin to do the "Ickey Shuffle" at the end of a report in tribute to Ickey Woods, a famous football player for the Cincinnati Bengals. She plans to do this, but then realizes the importance of her job while interviewing New York City's oldest Hansom cab driver. Even though she does not mean to do this, she steps out of the buggy and falls into a pile of horse droppings, which surprises even Barney. Even though no one had known about the previous dares Robin performed, Barney had the TV tuned to her news channel in the bar. Thus everyone in the bar at the time saw her fall off the buggy. Robin is very embarrassed, especially when Ted reveals that he saw it on the internet.


  • Metro News 1's perpetually low ratings are established.
  • Barney's mocking of Robin's "fluff pieces" echo her own description of her job in the previous episodes.
  • The first episode in which Robin joins The Gang at MacLaren's Pub, as opposed to being the girl Ted likes, or Lily's friend.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • In Game Night, Robin says that falling into horse poop on TV was the most humiliating moment of her life.
  • Natalie beating Ted up is referenced again in Rabbit or Duck​​, Twin Beds, and Ducky Tie​​.  Footage of that incident will be used in a montage in Band or DJ?.
  • Ted decides he wants to date Natalie again because he changed his mind about a shirt. His tendency to run back to old girlfriends for trivial reasons is pointed out in Challenge Accepted, which reveals he once got back together with Natalie again, for three months, after running out of whipped cream.
  • Barney says that Robin's salary is small. Unpause reveals that her family is very wealthy.


  • Ted finds his shirt.
  • Ted shows the shirt to the gang.
  • Robin's report at City Hall.
  • Natalie on a date with Ted.
  • Natalie and Ted.
  • Natalie.
  • Natalie beats up Ted after he breaks up with her.
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Return of the Shirt images.

Memorable Quotes

Barney: [To Ted] You dumped a porn star? Friendship over. [Gets up, then turns back] FRIENDSHIP OVER!

Natalie: [after throwing a handful of spaghetti at Ted] I'm NOT THE ONE FOR YOU!?
Ted: I-I'm sorry. I thought that was the mature thing to do, I...
Natalie: It's my birthday!
Ted: Yes, I know it's just...
Natalie: It's my birthday, and you're telling me I'm not the one for you?
Ted: It's no big deal. It's like you lost the lottery--
Natalie: Oh, so dating you's like winning the lottery? [Ted stammers] So what's the problem?
Ted: Well, it's just ineffable.
Natalie: Oh, so I'm not effable?
Ted: No, no, no, ineffable means it can't be explained.
Natalie: So I'm stupid?
Ted: What's going on?
Natalie: What's going on is, you broke my heart over my answering machine on my birthday. Waited three years for me to get over you, tracked me down, begged me to go out with you again, only so you could dump me three years later, again on my birthday!
Ted: No no, it's not like's's just-
Natalie: WHAT!?
Ted: I'm just like super busy right now.
Future Ted: Remember when Natalie said...
Natalie: [in flashback, at the bar] I got a Krav Maga class in about half an hour.
Future Ted: It turns out that Krav Maga is not a form of yoga. It's a form of guerrilla street fighting developed by the Israeli Army. [Natalie proceeds to beat up Ted shamelessly]

Robin: Wanna talk mature? I just wrapped up the news honking my own boobs.

Ted: No, I have to do this face to face. It’s just… I don’t know what I’m gonna say!
Lily: Ted, have you consider telling her the truth? (Barney and Marshall laugh at Lily)
Barney: Seriously, honey, men are working here.

Future Ted: Sometimes it happens for a reason.
Future Ted's son: So you got beat up by a girl?
Future Ted: Is that all you're taking away from this story?
Future Ted's son: You got beat up by a girl.
Future Ted: Hey, she knew Krav Maga.
Ted talking with his kids after he was beating up for Natalie after broke up with her

Future Ted: Kids, when you're single all you're looking for, is happily ever after. but only one of your stories can end that way. The rest end with someone getting hurt. This is one of those stories, and it starts with a shirt.

Barney: Did you sleep with her sister?
Ted: No.
Barney: Did you sleep with her mom?
Ted: No!
Barney: Losing interest in your story.

Lily: :[hitting Ted] Who breaks up with somebody on their answering machine on their birthday?!
Marshall: Yeah, dude, e-mail.

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • In this episode, Robin's last name, "Scherbatsky," is pronounced with the second syllable sounding like the name of the animal. In future episodes, everyone pronounces that syllable as "baht" rather than "bat."
  • In the final bar scene Barney eats the olive in his martini, it reappears and he eats it again then it reappears for a third time (there are two olives the first time).
  • At one point in that last scene, Barney has his hand hovering over his martini holding the olive toothpick, but when the shot changes his hand is down, and could not have moved that quickly.
  • In Say Cheese, Marshall tells Ted about having to comfort Natalie following their break-up in February 2005. However, the events of this episode occur in October 2005, and Ted says he hasn't seen her in three years.

Allusions and Outside References

  • Marshall mentions The Goonies, a cult hit family movie made in 1985.
  • Dave Shula and his family's steakhouses are mentioned. Shula was the head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals from 1992 to 1996. Barney implies that Dave Shula was the coach that cut Ickey Woods. Woods actually retired because of a knee injury and before Shula's actual tenure as head coach.
  • Anne Dudek also portrayed the role of Precious on the hit sitcom Friends, in which her character was also brutally dumped on her birthday.


Other Notes



  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 7 out 10 stars. "Is Ted hopeless? The same girl dumped twice, both times on her birthday?"


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