How I Met Your Mother Wiki
How I Met Your Mother Wiki
The Three Days Rule

HIMYM episode 4x21 (85)

Three days rule.png
First aired:
April 27, 2009
Pamela Fryman
Greg Malins
Barney's Blog

Images (6)

Ted gets a girl's number but decides to text instead of waiting three days (as per the rule) to call her. Marshall and Barney decide to have some fun with Ted.


Ted gets a girl's number at the bar and wants to call her right away, but Barney says he can't call her because of the three days rule; you have to wait until three days from receiving the number to call the person. Ted agrees not to call her, but instead texts her saying he never promised he wouldn't do that. When he gets a response Holli says that she's in the bath, which makes Ted do his "Naked Lady Noise." A noise that Robin points out to him, flashing back to moments where he has seen naked women. Robin asks if it's Holli that is texting him and saying that he promised to wait three days. Ted points out it's different than calling. Robin sighs and leaves telling him to keep the "naked lady" noise to a minimum. Ted still thinks he doesn't make a noise, so Robin opens her robe and then walks away as Ted makes the noise.

Ted and Holli spend the next couple of days texting one another. Ted thinks she's perfect, and comments about a text to Robin saying that Holli told him what she's wearing right now, and it's pretty hot. Robin guarantees she's not wearing "her old cheerleading uniform while reading architecture magazines" and is only saying it to make Ted like her. Then he gets a text from Holli "Hey baby I picked up some take out from Genero's. Be home soon", stating it was clearly meant for someone else. Robin says maybe it's to a brother or sick dad, but when she scrolls down it says "and then I want you to do me on the couch."

Robin meets up with Barney and Marshall at the bar, and picks up a paper bag asking what it is. Marshall tells her it's just some Genero's that he's taking home to Lily. Robin realizes that Barney and Marshall are Holli, and have been the ones texting Ted. Barney and Marshall knew Ted would call Holli before the three days were up and decided to switch her number to Barney's work cell number. They were just going to bust on him for calling too soon, but then Ted started texting her. When they get the "texty-text" Marshall, feeling sorry for him, says they should tell him it's them. Barney, however, says they should pretend to be Holli and say they're in the bath, which Marshall says is a better idea. This continues on with every text, Marshall saying they should tell Ted it's them and Barney saying "or...", with Marshall saying that's a better idea.

Robin tells them that what they're doing is mean, but Marshall says they were protecting Ted from himself. They know he really likes this girl and that he's going to start moving too fast. He has that crazy look in his eye, the same one he had with Robin on their first date. Marshall and Barney thought they could get him to say I love you to Holli before he even makes contact with her, saying it's coming soon and all the signs are there in his texts. But he wasn't saying it, and that's when they met Stan. Stan's a guy in the next booth over asking why they are being so loud. Marshall and Barney tell him the Ted story and Stan gives them heartfelt things to say to Ted as Holli. Everything was going great until Marshall sent a text to Ted that was meant for Lily. Robin says it doesn't matter now and it's over, and that they have to call Ted and apologize to him. They say OK, but when Robin leaves, Barney says "or..."

Robin comes into the apartment where Ted says the Genero's text from Holli was a mistake and that she explained everything. Ted says Holli's dumb friend Marsha used her phone to text her husband Billy about getting Genero's. Robin, sick of the joke, tells Ted everything about what Barney and Marshall have been doing. She says now you can tell them you know, but Ted says "or I can text them something that will really mess with their heads." He sends them a text, which they get while sitting in Barney's office. At first they think he's about to say I love you to Holli, but then they read on and it says "I sometimes have gay dreams about my best friend." Barney and Marshall are shocked about the text, but then they start to argue over who Ted was talking about.

At the bar they tell Robin about the text, still trying to decide who it was about, when Ted walks in. He sits down and tells them he had a weird dream the other night. He goes on to waste a half hour of their lives about having dinner with his top five favorite architects throughout history. To try and get Ted to admit who he's having gay dreams about him Marshall asks him who he'd get with if Ted, Barney, and him were the only ones on the planet. Ted says he'd choose Holli. He tells them that he knew because Robin told him and that's why he made up the gay dreams text. Then Holli walks in and Ted tells them he knew where she worked and that even though he didn't wait the three days it's okay because Holli actually thought it was romantic. She goes and waits for him outside the bar for their date. Marshall says he's sorry and Barney says it was fun. Ted tells them he doesn't need to be taken care of and he won't change his "love at first sight" ways for some three days rule.

On his date with Holli, Ted realizes that it won't work out when she starts saying things like "We should get married haha just kidding. Or am I, haha just kidding again." "We should totally go to Brazil together." "I think I'm in love with you Ted." All things that Ted had implied they should do when he was texting Barney and Marshall thinking it was Holli.

At the bar, Robin, Marshall, and Barney are sitting together when Stan comes in. Marshall and Barney are excited to see him and want to hang out, but Stan says that he has a date, he turns to Robin and asks if she is ready. Barney and Marshall practically beg that they should have their date with them. Stan says it's time to say goodbye to them, they had a great afternoon together, but it's over. As he and Robin walk out, she asks if he even knows their names, to which Stan replies, "no idea."


  • Ted says that he is unwilling to change his personality even if some girls may think he "said things too soon." His telling Robin "I love you" after their first date in the Pilot is an important part of Future Ted's narrative to his children.
  • Ted brings up his parents' divorce, which he found out about in Brunch, when texting with "Holli."
  • Barney gives another fake history lesson, ending with a True Story.
  • Ted dons the red cowboy boots.
  • Stan attributes some of his words to Pablo Neruda, who is Ted's favorite poet, as mentioned in The Naked Man.
  • Barney and Marshall argue about who is Ted's best friend.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Future Ted states that he broke the three days rule with the Mother, as seen in Last Forever - Part One.
  • Ted reiterates his refusal to change his personality for girls in Double Date, but Architect of Destruction shows several examples of his doing so.
  • When Barney claims that girls whose names end with "ly" are dirty, one of the examples he gives is "Carly." In Legendaddy, Barney is revealed to have a half-sister named Carly, who hooks up with Ted in Ring Up because she apparently has "grandaddy issues" and likes older men.


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

Memorable Quotes

Stan: Why don't you tell Ted that knowing he's just out there thinking about you, caring about you, makes you feel safe? So all your fears, all your yesterdays, wash away, and only hope remains in the promise of his embrace.

Barney: Texty-text?
Marshall: Oh.. Ted. Oh poor, sweet Ted. We should tell him it's us.
Barney: Yeah.... Or... We pretend we're Holli and we're in the bath.
Marshall: Yeah. That's better.

Barney: Jesus waited three days to come back to life. It was perfect! If he had only waited one day, a lot of people wouldn't have even heard he died. They'd be all, "Hey Jesus, what up?" and Jesus would probably be like, "What up? I died yesterday!" and they'd be all, "Uh, you look pretty alive to me, dude..." and then Jesus would have to explain how he was resurrected, and how it was a miracle, and the dude'd be like "Uhh okay, whatever you say, bro..." And he's not gonna come back on a Saturday. Everybody's busy, doing chores, workin' the loom, trimmin' the beard, NO. He waited the perfect number of days, three. Plus it's Sunday, so everyone's in church already, and they're all in there like "Oh no, Jesus is dead", and then BAM! He bursts in the back door, runnin' up the aisle, everyone's totally psyched, and FYI, that's when he invented the high five. That's why we wait three days to call a woman, because that's how long Jesus wants us to wait.... True story.

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • Barney changed Holli's number to his work cell but Marshall uses the phone to send a personal text to Lily.
    • This could theoretically happen, if the phones are the same model and Marshall wasn't paying attention when he did it.

Allusions and Outside References

  • Marshall sends Ted a text intended for Lily saying he bought take-out from Genero's which Ted believes to be from Holli. The maiden name of John McClane's wife in Die Hard is Holly Gennaro.
  • Ted's "naked lady noise" laugh is similar to Beavis and Butthead's laugh.


Other Notes

  • Lily is absent in this episode because it was filmed during Alyson Hannigan's last week of pregnancy. The writers used the dirty joke from Mosbius Designs to make an excuse for her maternity leave.
  • Cobie Smulders was also pregnant during the filming of this episode; she is visibly pregnant in this episode.



  • Donna Bowman of The AV Club gave the episode a B- rating. [1]
  • Michelle Zoromski of IGN gave the episode 8.7 out of 10. [2]
  • Cindy McLennan of Television Without Pity gave the episode a B+ rating. [3]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 8 out of 10 stars. "Who knew Jesus started the Three Days Rule?"


External Links

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