The Ashtray

HIMYM episode 8x17 (177)

First aired:
February 18, 2013
Pamela Fryman
Carter Bays
Craig Thomas
Barney's Blog

Images (8)

When Ted receives an unexpected call from The Captain, the gang reminisces about their last awkward encounter with him.


While the guys are hanging out at his apartment, Ted notices that he has a message from The Captain on his answering machine, asking him to call him back when he is free. Ted thinks that The Captain is mad, and it has to do with the last time he saw him which was a year and a half ago. He tells Marshall and Barney what happened that time.

A few weeks after he and Zoey broke up, Ted got back together with Becky. Lily had invited him and Robin at an art gallery opening, which The Captain was also attending. When The Captain approached them, he started behaving rudely by interrupting Ted to complete his sentences. The Captain introduces his art consultant Shelly. After Shelly left, The Captain invited them to his apartment to see a painting he had just bought. At The captain's apartment, thinking that he is still cross at Ted for dating Zoey, Ted begins to clarify himself, but The Captain took out a harpoon gun and pointed at at him. However, Ted told him that nothing happened between him and Zoey until after she and The Captain had split up, and took the gun from him. However, The Captain told him that he is not annoyed with him anymore and that he is in love with someone else. Jokingly, he asked Ted not to steal this one from him. After everyone one had left the room, Ted looked at the picture of the thing that The Captain had said was his love, and was shocked to see that it was Becky's.

Just as Ted finishes telling the story, he gets a call from The Captain who asks him for Robin's number. Ted talks to the guys if he should give it to him. Marshall tells him to give it; if The Captain wants to hook up with Robin, she will let him down easy and Ted be on The Captain's good side. Barney agrees to this, saying that Robin won't mind.

At the bar, Robin is angry at Ted for giving her number to The Captain. She says that Ted probably doesn't remember the night when they met The Captain at the art show that well as he had shared "a sandwich" with Becky earlier that night. Robin tells the guys what happened at that night.

At the gallery opening, The Captain was shamelessly flirting with her, making her feel uncomfortable. At The Captain's apartment, when she went into his Room, she saw him lying on his bed, waiting for her. However, seeing as The Captain was on a rebound, she told him to take some time to pull himself together and call her in a year and a half. She also says that Ted told the story inaccurately; The Captain was only completing his sentences because he was too high to finish them and that he didn't point a gun at him but only had a remote in his hand.

Marshall advises her that she should call The Captain and let him down easy so he can move on with his life. Robin calls him, telling him that she is engaged. However, The Captain says that he actually looking for Lily, and had gotten her and Robin's name mixed up. She asks Marshall who tells her to give Lily's number to The Captain, saying that she won't mind.

At the apartment, it turns out that Lily does mind that they gave The Captain her number. She says that her past has finally caught up with her and explains what she means.

Before the gallery opening, Robin had shots with her coworkers after a meeting at work and was drunk, and she was the one flirting with The Captain. Lily complemented the painting of an elephant which resulted in Shelly, The Captain's art consultant, questioning her taste in art. Seeing Lily's interest in art, The Captain invited them to see the painting he bought. Lily told The Captain that she thinks the elephant painting would look nice in his room and she likes it better than the one The Captain bought. However, The Captain says that it doesn't matter what she likes as she is "just a kindergarten teacher". As The Captain was being a jerk, she decided to punish him and stole an expensive ashtray from his apartment. Lily also says that the picture Ted saw was actually of magazine cover with a boat on it and there was just a small picture of Becky in the corner.

Marshall is shocked that Lily took the ashtray and asks the others to leave them alone as they are going to have a fight. He asks Lily to return the ashtray, but Lily tells him that all her rulings are final and she is not taking the ashtray back. Marshall asks her why does it bother her so much that The Captain told her that he is "just a kindergarten teacher". Lily says that he was right; she IS "just a kindergarten teacher". Although she has a degree in Art History and she was meant to do something with it, she didn't. She forgot to pursue her dream and now she is old and a mom and it's just too late for her. Marshall tells her that it is not too late; she is going to quit her job and she is going to pursue her dreams. He promises her that her best days are ahead of her but she says that there comes a point in life where that stops being true. She apologizes to him for stealing that ashtray and tells him that she will return it.

The next day, Lily goes to The Captain's apartment to return the ashtray but The Captain says that he didn't even realize it was missing. He takes Lily to his room and she is surprised to see the elephant painting hanging there. He tells her that he bought it the night of the gallery opening as he liked what she said about it. He tells her that he just sold it for four million dollars. In the year and a half since he bought it, the artist has become famous in the art world and she was the only one who saw it coming. He tells her that he wants to get back in the art game and offers her a job as his art consultant. At the bar, Lily tells the gang that she said yes to The Captain's job offer and they all celebrate.

Meanwhile, Barney keeps interrupting Ted, Lily and Robin when they are telling their versions of the story, saying that he was at the gallery opening. When this gets out of hand, Ted asks him why is it so important that he be part of the story. Barney says that crazy stories are "his thing". The others have a passion that drives them and his passion is taking life and turning it into a series of crazy stories and if they can do that without him then he doesn't know who he is anymore. To make Barney feel better, Ted and Robin say that they Barney was have been at the gallery opening and they just didn't notice him because he was in disguise doing one of his plays that had something to with art on Shelly. Barney says that his play worked on Shelly.

In the end, Barney is shown doing his play "The Royal Archduke of Grand Fenwick" to hook up with Shelly. This, plus a statement to Lily saying that Shelly was off with some archduke, leads the audience to believe that Barney probably was at the gallery with the others.


  • Ted and Becky ate a sandwich. This is a metaphor for smoking Marijuana first shown in How I Met Everyone Else.
  • Lily stole The Captain's ashtray for being mean, like she stole Hammond Druthers' baseball in Aldrin Justice.
  • When they showed The Captain leaving the voice message for Ted, his eyes are shown brighter. This was first shown in The Mermaid Theory.
  • Barney says "Daddy's home". He first used this phrase in The Pineapple Incident.
  • The Playbook comes back.
  • Several of the items that Marshall and Barney brought into Ted's Apartment (shown in Bad Crazy), are still there.
  • The gang making fun of Ted using old machines was also shown in No Pressure.
  • Becky's "Boats" commercial, seen in Canning Randy, is mentioned.
  • Lily's Stamp of Approval or simply general opinion appears to still be one others value; the Stamp of Approval is introduced in The Stamp Tramp.
  • Barney's "happy guitar solo" was seen in Noretta.
  • Lily told Ted she was sad about abandoning her art-related dreams in Band or DJ?.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Ted finds a picture on The Captain's desk that has a picture of Becky in the corner. In Daisy, it is revealed that he is engaged to her.
  • Lily's new job as an art consultant will result in an offer to go live in Rome for a year in Romeward Bound.


For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category: The Ashtray images.

Memorable Quotes

Marshall: You're gonna return that ashtray and you are gonna pray that he (The Captain) doesn't press charges.
Lily: I'm sorry, all rulings are final. I am not taking it back.
Marshall: Oh my god! Lily! What is the big deal?! So what if he said you're just a kindergarten teacher? Why do you let that bother you?
Lily: Because he was right. I AM just a kindergarten teacher. And yes, I have a degree in Art History and I was meant to do something with it but I didn't. Somewhere along the line, I forgot to pursue my dream. And now I am old and I'm a mom and it's just too late for me.
Marshall: Lily, it's not too late. You're gonna quit your job tomorrow and you're gonna go back and pick up right where you left off with that art stuff. Look, I promise you, your best and your most exciting days are all ahead of you.
Lily: I love you so much for saying that, but there gets to be a point in life where that just stops being true. I am sorry I stole this (ashtray), I'll return it first thing in the morning.

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • The flashback of Robin drinking with her co-workers before the gallery opening includes Mike, the camera man from Come On, Get Up New York!. However, Robin quit working there and started working at World Wide News more than two years (in False Positive) before the events of this episode.
    • It is possible that since Mike was on Robin's hook, he followed her to World Wide News, like he followed her from Metro News 1 to Come On, Get Up New York!, when she started working there.
  • In the episode where Becky stars in the "Boats Boats Boats" ad, she was wearing a short pink wig but on this episode, she has her natural blonde hair.
    • It is possible she filmed two ads, one with pink hair, one with blonde.

Allusions and Outside References


Other Notes

  • This is the final episode of the series to feature Mike.



  • This episode received 8.86 million viewers.[1]
  • Farihah Zaman of The AV Club gave the episode a B. [2]
  • Max Nicholson of IGN gave the episode a 7.7 out of 10. He says that "this episode felt a lot like a classic episode of HIMYM: no mother plot, no romantic arcs, just straight fun. While it didn't quite succeed on every level, it did make clever use of the Rashomon story structure and presented just enough callbacks to garner some well-deserved chuckles". [3]
  • Angel Cohn of Television Without Pity gave the episode a D. He says that "the entire 22 minutes of this episode could have been wrapped up in one easy phone call, or an off-handed bar scene with Lily saying, You'll never guess who offered me a job…". [4]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 8 out of 10 stars. ",,,kind of dry to bring the Captain back at this late date..."


External Links

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Start a Discussion Discussions about The Ashtray

  • The Captain (George Van Smoot) to return

    5 messages
    • you think bc a character is acting in one show she couldnt guess star on another ???
    • i was wondering with the show over and a spin off in the works i was thinking we clearly know nothing about his life as gerorge van smoot si...