Symphony of Illumination

HIMYM episode 7x12 (148)

First aired:
December 5, 2011
Pamela Fryman
Joe Kelly
Barney's Blog

Images (19)

When Robin receives bad news, she decides to lie about it to the gang. Meanwhile, Marshall hangs Christmas decorations on the house in the ‘burbs with help from his neighbor.


This episode begins not with Future Ted telling his children how he met their mother, but instead with Robin's future kids. Future Robin asks them if she's ever told them the story of how she met their father, then skips forward to when she told him she was pregnant where it is revealed that Barney is their father.

Symphony of Illumination1

Robin's "imaginary" kids

Barney makes rude remarks to Robin who punches him each time. Barney is shocked to find out that Kevin is not the father since Robin and Kevin haven't slept together yet so if she is pregnant then Barney is the father. Robin then faints because Barney exclaims "That's... Wonderful! I'm gonna be a daddy!"

Later at the bar, Barney and Robin argue about why Barney is happy about it and why Robin isn't, and Ted, Lily, and Marshall walk in. Marshall is carrying a giant stocking for their baby that his grandmother started the day Lily and Marshall got married. She died before she could finish it. Marshall explains that he is going to beat the number one visited Christmas Light show.

Barney volunteers Robin and himself to go with Lily to "We B Babies" where Lily is going to make her baby shower list and Barney sets out to prove to Robin that having kids isn't a big deal. But when Barney meets his old best friend who had a child after a one night stand, he changes his mind about Robin having a baby.

The next day they see Dr. Sonya who tells them that Robin isn't pregnant and Barney and Robin celebrate, but later Robin is asked to come back in where she finds out she is unable to have children. She thinks about telling her friends but decides that she can't handle their reactions right now; Ted would try to make everything better by making her a ton of comfort food and massaging her shoulders which would only stress her out even more, Lily would start crying and Robin would just end up comforting her, Marshall would ask her a bunch of questions she didn't know the answer to, and Barney would bend over backwards to try to make her laugh, and then when that didn't work, he would literally bend over backwards.

When Ted asks Robin what's wrong, she says the first lie that came into her head: she can't be an Olympic pole vaulter because she is too tall. Following the ridiculous lie, Ted, Barney, and Lily all begin doing exactly what Robin was afraid of.

Meanwhile, as Marshall brings the many Christmas Lights he bought to his house in Long Island, a neighborhood boy comes and tells him he wished he could put lights up, but his dad is too busy. Marshall invited him to come help "Mr. E" put them up, but once Marshall is on the roof Scott drops the ladder, eats a sandwich and throws a party at his house.

Robin goes with Ted, Lily, and Barney (while Marshall is still on the roof) to "We B Babies" again, and Lily notices that Robin is quite visibly upset. Robin tells her that she never intended on being a "pole vaulter," but now that she's been told that she can't, it's heartbreaking, just in case she ever decided that she wanted to do it. She leaves the store crying when Ted shows her a Canadian-esque onesie.

At the bar, Lily, Ted and Barney are trying to figure out why Robin's upset. Ted assumes that it's because she's homesick (due to the fact that she left after seeing the onesie with a maple leaf on it). Back at the apartment, Ted tries to cheer up Robin with plane tickets to Cleveland to spend Christmas with him. She refuses and gets mad, saying that it's not his job to comfort her, and leaves with a carton of eggnog.

Robin goes for a walk in Central Park, where it is revealed that she was imagining the whole narration of her talking to her kids. When she gets back to the apartment, she walks in to see that Ted has prepared a whole 'Symphony of Illumination' for Robin. Ted tells Robin that she doesn't have to tell him what's wrong, because he doesn't need to know, but he promises that he'll still never stop trying to cheer her up. Robin then breaks down and starts crying in Ted's arms. Future Ted reveals that Robin never became a "pole vaulter" but a famous journalist, a successful businesswoman, a world traveler, and, apparently, a bullfighter. Most importantly, she was never alone.


  • Robin revealed she's pregnant to Barney in the tag of The Rebound Girl.
  • When Robin imagines talking with her future kids, they sit on a couch in Barney's apartment, with the Stormtrooper behind them.
  • Robin's dislike of children and wish to avoid becoming a parent appears in many episodes, including Little Boys and The Front Porch. She tells Ted of her opinion in Milk.
  • In their flashback Ted and Barney are wearing the same clothing as in the flashback in How I Met Everyone Else, implying that they met on the last night Barney saw Insane Duane before the episode.
  • Scott is seen "eating a sandwich" inside Marshall's house. This running gag is first mentioned in How I Met Everyone Else.
  • Randy is mentioned again, first seen in Rebound Bro and gone into further depth in Canning Randy.
  • Ted again uses his "detective skills", previously seen in Dowisetrepla, Cleaning House and Glitter.
  • When Ted tells Robin it's his job to cheer her up, Robin says it isn't. Then they say "Yes it is" (Ted) and "No it's not" (Robin) twice, which is the exact same dialogue from right before their first kiss in Purple Giraffe, but reversed.
  • Robin gets examined by Dr. Sonya.
  • Marshall calls himself "Big Fudge".
  • Robin realizing she may in fact want children once she discovers she's infertile is reflected in Lobster Crawl when she learns she's allergic to lobster and thus craves it. Which is in itself a reflection of when Barney informs her that he will not pursue her anymore, and she discovers she still wants to be with him and ramps up her own efforts to win him back.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)


  • Robin's "imaginary" kids
  • Robin tells Barney that she is pregnant
  • Robin punches Barney for making rude jokes about the situation
  • Marshall showing the gang his son's Christmas stocking
  • Barney with his friend "Insane Duane" (past)
  • Robin and Barney visit Dr. Sonya to find out if Robin is pregnant
  • Robin and Barney celebrate Robin not being pregnant
  • Robin enjoys not being pregnant
  • Robin finds out that she is infertile
  • Robin's "imaginary" kids vanish
  • Robin spends Christmas alone
  • Ted sets up Christmas lights to cheer Robin up.
  • Robin cries in Ted's arms
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Symphony of Illumination images.

Memorable Quotes

Robin: I am pregnant.
Barney: Are you sure you are not just getting fat? *gets punched in the face by Robin*

Barney: So you're pregnant? Huh! Looks like nobody told your boobs. *gets punched in the face by Robin again*

Ted: I miss stockings. My step-dad Clint made us get rid of anything that reminds him of the commercialization of Christmas.
Lily: I thought you said he dresses up as Santa?
Ted: Yeah, but to protest gender stereotypes, he plays Santa as a woman – though he keeps the beard. The result … is … disturbing.

Lily: Are you okay?
Robin: Yeah, yeah. I guess this, erm... this "pole vaulting thing" is finally hitting me.
Lily: I don't get it Robin, did you really wanna be a pole vaulter?
Robin: No. No, I was, eh... I was always adamantly against having erm... a, a "pole vaulting career", even though, it's what most women want.
Lily: Most women wanna be a pole vaulter?
Robin: In Canada, it's very big up there. You know, it's, it's meet a nice guy, get married, "vault some poles". But I never wanted that. Of course, it's, it's one thing not to want something, it's another to be told you can't have it. I guess it's, it's just nice knowing that you... you could, some day, do it, if you changed your mind. But now, all of a sudden, that door is closed.
Lily: What about the one where you ski and shoot, at the same time. That seems like something you'd be good at.
Robin tells Lily how she feels about her being infertile, by using a metaphor. However, Lily doesn't get the true meaning of what Robin is saying

Future Ted: Kids, your aunt Robin never did become a pole-vaulter. But she did become a famous journalist, a successful businesswoman, a world traveler, she was even briefly a bullfighter (that's a funny story, I'll get to that one later). But there was one thing your aunt Robin never was: she was never alone.
Robin accomplished a lot even though she never became a pole vaulter (her metaphor for being a mother)

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • When paying Insane Duane, he says he gives him two $20 bills, but the bill he hands him are $1 bills.
  • After Scott leaves, the camera changes direction and he can be seen standing still outside the gate.
  • Although Randy doesn't work at GNB anymore, Lily regards him as "the guy you work with".
  • Robin is talking to her and Barney's imaginary kids in his apartment but his Stormtrooper is on the right side of the couch when it's suppose to be on the left.
    • The talking takes place in the "future", so the Stormtrooper could have been moved, just like there is a different couch than in Barney's apartment.
  • When Marshall drops his phone when he is on the roof, it doesn't fall to the ground, it actually bounces off the roof and lands in the gutter.
  • Ted claims he can't be fired because he's union. This isn't true. People with union jobs can still be fired.
    • However many union people feel they can't be fired because the union will support them and Ted may be under that impression.
  • Future Ted says that Robin becomes a bunch of things, including a bullfighter, which he says he will get to later. However, he never gets to that, as of the end of the series. A deleted scene from Last Forever - Part Two features Robin talking about an incident in which she was dressed as a matador for a news stunt, which caused her to be gored by a bull.

Allusions and Outside References

  • Marshall says that those lights will be seen from outer space, like in the movie Deck the Halls.
  • Robin says she would not go to Cleveland with Ted for 125 million dollars paid over six years, the amount that the Cleveland Cavaliers offered LeBron James, who nevertheless left for the Miami Heat.
  • Marshall mentions Mannheim Steamroller while Robin mentions AC/DC.
    • Later in the episode, AC/DC song "Highway to Hell" is played in Robin and Ted's apartment.
  • Barney mentions Friends with Benefits.
  • Lily says that when a woman gives birth, her vagina looks like Rocky Balboa
  • "We B Babies" is a spoof for Babies "R" Us.


Other Notes

  • The episode was originally titled "Queen of the Furrow".[1]
  • This is the second episode told from someone other than Future Ted's point of view, the first being The Stinson Missile Crisis. Coincidentally, the two episodes are told from Robin's point of view.
  • When Robin starts talking to the kids and after she tells them that they aren't real the Stormtrooper from Barney's apartment can be seen in the right side of the image. This implies the story is told as if she and Barney were still together.
  • In No Pressure, Marshall says that it took Ted eight hours to set up the Christmas lights for Robin.



On set with Neil Patrick Harris.


  • The episode attracted 11.51 million American viewers, making it the fourth most viewed episode of the entire series.[2] In Canada the episode was viewed by 1.028 million viewers, placing sixth for the night. [3]
  • The episode received positive reviews. Donna Bowman of the AV Club graded the episode an A, observing that "If this episode is any indication—in what (HIMYM) can accomplish, because of what we’ve come to feel about the characters and because of the confidence with which it is moving forward in its overarching story—HIMYM has never been healthier". [4]
  • Chris O'Hara of TV Fanatic gave this episode a 4.8 out of 5, praising Cobie Smulders' performance. [5]
  • Eric Goldman of IGN gave the episode 8 out of 10. [6]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 9.5 out of 10 stars. "...Robin telling the story like Ted usually does...great!"


External Links

Previous episode
The Rebound Girl
Symphony of Illumination
(all episodes)
Next episode →