The ending of "Come On". Seeing Ted arriving home so happy only to find Marshall sitting on their building's doorsteps, in the rain, holding Lily's engagement ring.
Barney's reaction in "Game Night" when Lily plays his most embarrassing video. There's not a trace of his usual confidence and swagger; he just grabs the tape and storms off. Then, the next day, when the gang tries to ask him about it and starts laughing, he gets up without a word again. The events that led up to that video are clearly upsetting for him.
Lily telling Ted she's having doubts about marrying Marshall and telling him why she wants to go to San Francisco in "Milk". Aly's acting in that scene is perfectly heartbreaking.
The ending of "The Limo." Ted gets his kiss from Robin, but it doesn't exactly feel like the happy and victorious moment we were rooting for.
The last scene of "Slutty Pumpkin," while sweet, is also quite sad as it shows how much Ted wants to find a special someone, and how much Robin wants to want to find a special someone. The song playing in the background involves the lyrics: "I wanna know what's like on the inside," playing overtop Marshall and Lily, which sums up the situation quite well.
Likewise, Ted saying "You're pathetic!" after several weeks of having to put up with Marshall's behaviour. Ted also tells Marshall that he's now a shell of his former self and has no chance of getting Lily back until he quits moping around. Although Ted was right, and feels bad about being so hard on Marshall afterwards (itself a minor tearjerker), it's still sad to watch.
When Lily returns from San Francisco, she goes to MacLaren's, looks through the windows… and sees all her friends in there, laughing and talking without her- like they don't even care that she left. The viewers know that isn't the case, but Lily doesn't.
Ted and Robin's break-up at the end of season two is gut-wrenching since it comes about because they love and care for each other too much. It wasn't a petty fight, misunderstanding or a conflict of feelings that split them up, but just the realization that they had been ignoring the signs showing they had "an expiration date". The first thing they did when they made the decision was hold each other and tear-up.
Robin: You stole a blue French horn for me… Ted: I would have stolen you a whole orchestra.
Anti-kid Robin, being in a relationship with a single father, has this to say about the kid being around all the time. It's funny, but the tearjerker comes at the end when she has a bit of a Heel Realization:
Robin: Why is this kid around, anyway? Shouldn't he be with his mom? What kind of lawyer does this guy have if he has to take care of the kid all the time? Lily: A good one. He won full custody. Robin: He won? (bewildered) He won? (beat) Oh God, getting the kid is winning, isn't it? (Lily nods) Robin: Don't tell anyone I said that.
Ted decides to "dump" Barney and Neil Patrick Harris portrays Barney as absolutely devastated over losing his best friend. Finally resolved with a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, but terrible while it lasts.
Also doubling as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming, when we find out that despite having fallen out with Ted, Barney has still kept him as his emergency contact.
Everyone reacting to the news that Ted was in a car accident at the beginning of "Miracles". Sure, Mood Whiplash sets in when he turns out to be sitting in the hospital bed eating jello, but still.
In "Do I Know You?", Barney is trying to make Robin see him as a more thoughtful, boyfriendable kind of guy. They have a dinner and Robin expresses her enjoyment of the evening before excusing herself to the loo just as Barney is about to tell her he likes her. Robin returns… with the waitress, wingmanning for Barney as thanks for his listening and being such a good dinner guest.
Stella leaving Ted at the altar in "Shelter Island". One of the most depressing endings in the series.
Future!Ted: And that, kids, was the perfect ending to a perfect love story. It just wasn't mine.
Also the fact that Stella wouldn't let Ted have Robin as a guest at their wedding, and when Ted sadly goes to un-invite Robin, Robin agrees because, as she admits, she still has some lingering feelings for Ted. Robin's admission that she thinks Ted's making a mistake and deserves more than the life he'll have with Stella is the icing on the cake.
Retroactively, after the series finale, Ted's hypothetical ending of his story: in 2030, Stella is still alive.
Barney singing "Cat's in the Cradle" at the end of Not A Father's Day is mostly Played for Laughs, but it gets a lot sadder when you really think about what that song is about. Especially after you watch season six.
The ending of "Benefits". Just the look on Barney's face while Robin remains oblivious to his love confession.
Robin: He can't separate the physical from the emotional. He's all like…
Barney: I love you.
Robin: (misunderstands him and thinks he's talking about Ted) …exactly! He's not like you, you know?
Barney's whole situation in this episode is a tearjerker to everyone who has ever seen their loved ones being with somebody else. That moment, when he's standing at the bar, fighting away the tears... ouch.
Ted and Lily's extremely tense screaming match in The Front Porch, after Ted realizes that Lily broke him and Robin up. Even though everything's forgiven in the end, it was like watching your parents fighting and threatening divorce.
Ted's speech to Stella in As Fast As She Can, about how he wants what Stella and Tony and Lily and Marshall have, but is tired of looking and waiting.
Ted: Okay, I'm gonna say something out loud that I've been doing a pretty good job of not saying out loud lately… what you and Tony have… what I thought for a second that you and I had… what I know that Marshall and Lily have… I want that! I do. I keep waiting for it to happen and waiting for it to happen, and… I guess I'm just, uh… I'm tired of waiting. And that's all I'm willing to say on that subject.
Stella: (…) I know that you're tired of waiting and… you may have to wait a little while more, but… she's on her way, Ted! And she's getting here as fast as she can.
Ted: (smiling softly) Goodbye, Stella.
Stella: (near whisper) Goodbye, Ted.
Finding out that, while Robin and Barney were together, they fought a lot and brought out the worst in each other. They were both letting themselves go in terms of physical appearance due to the stress of the relationship really wearing them down.
In spite of the above, Robin and Barney's breakup, right after their other three friends thought that the couple had just made it through a rough patch in their relationship and truly loved each other enough to stay together.
Robin's emotional breakdown after Don leaves her to take a job in Chicago (and, to add salt to the wound, it's the same job she turned down because she wanted to remain with Don), and her begging Ted to let her be his roommate again.
Even before that, the montage in Of Course revealing just how hurt Robin is that Barney is rubbing his "conquests" right in her face (and Ted and Marshall joining in) so soon after their breakup. And right when it looks like she might be moving on, Barney and Ted inadvertently make it worse with the Superdate thing, something Barney never did for Robin. No wonder the guys felt as guilty as they did!
The scene where James meets Sam for the first time. The look on Sam's face alone does it.
The scene in Cleaning House when Barney has the opportunity to find out who his father is, but instead realizes all of the things his mother did for him, and tells her that she was enough.
Barney's childhood as portrayed in that episode is also pretty sad. His mom wrote him a letter and signed it from the Postmaster General, explaining that he lost all the invitations to his 8th birthday party since no one showed up.
The ending of Bad News when Marshall learns that his dad had a fatal heart attack. The look on Lily's face alone was enough to make you cry. Then you notice that Marshall is trying to be strong and failing.
Marshall: (breaking down in Lily's arms) I'm not ready for this.
It's especially heart rending to consider the fact that out of all the characters in the show, Marshall has the biggest heart of the entire cast and his nickname "Marshmallow" isn't just for fluff.
Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan both REALLY sold this scene. It's verysudden, and it hits hard.
Segel's performance in particular is amazing, as in rehearsals Lily told him that she was pregnant. The producers prepped Hannigan immediately before the scene, and kept Segel in the dark. His reaction was entirely unscripted.
Marshall's breakdown outside of his father's funeral in Last Words. Brings out all the emotions that run through a person in that circumstance.
His raging against God in particular is devastating, especially since these feelings linger as he continues to suffer misfortune throughout the season.
Also in "Last Words", Marshall gets the others to understand his feelings about last words by asking them to imagine that the last time each of them saw their dads would indeed be the very last time. It works, and at the very end of the episode, we see all four of them on their cell phones.
Ted: Hi Dad. Lily: Hi Dad. Robin: Hi Dad. Barney: Hey Mom. (deep breath) I'm ready to meet my dad.
At the end of Change of Heart, when Lily has finally convinced Barney he has actual feelings for Nora, he shows up where she is having brunch with her parents, and the scene goes on to show him going inside, apologizing for telling her he wasn't interested, and being introduced to her parents. Alas, it's just an Imagine Spot, and the look on his face when it pans back to him standing out there and giving up is just heartcrushing. To top it off, just after he walks away, Nora looks up and has missed him, also with a look on her face as if she wished he was there as well.
Barney's emotional meltdown at the basketball hoop at the end of Legendaddy. To elaborate, he has very recently had his father (who abandoned him when he was six) come back into his life and try to reconnect with him. Barney was hoping his father, Jerry, would be a hard-partying roadie who wasn't capable of being a father, since this would justify him abandoning Barney. However, Jerry has turned out to be a loving dad with two children, including a boy named 'Jerome Junior'. Barney can't handle this, and it culminates into him trying to yank JJ's basketball hoop off the garage so he could have at least some souvenir of a childhood he never got to have. Particularly heartbreaking is this exchange:
Barney: You're lame, okay? You're just some lame suburban dad.
Seconded. NPH's delivery of that line will break you.
The last line of the episode counts as well, after Barney gives Ted the basketball hoop he took from his dad's house:
Barney: A kid needs a hoop.
In The Exploding Meatball Sub, when Lily is about to head off to Spain because supporting Marshall through his oblivious insistence on quitting his job and taking up ridiculous projects while volunteering for the NRDC is driving her crazy. Ted is rightly appalled, furious, and clearly terrified (although he doesn't mention it, the memory of Lily breaking for San Fransisco is clearly in the forefront of both his and the audience's minds), until in the middle of Lily's rant, she breaks down into tears and confesses that she's afraid that Marshall doesn't want to have a baby with her anymore. Ted's demeanor immediately dissolves into tenderness with a soft "Oh Lil…"
Barney confessing to his father how unsure he is of improving his bachelor lifestyle and admitting he is too far gone and broken.
Turns into a heartwarming moment when his father quickly turns around and reminds him that it is possible to become happy in life just by meeting the right women.
Marshall's conversation with his late father about being unable to see his future, and his revelation that his father was fallible, but still an inspiration in Desperation Day.
The season seven opener as Robin tells Barney what to tell Nora… and she's really saying it to him and he's completely oblivious. Then he thanks her for getting him a second chance with Nora and walks away.
Even worse when you remember Robin did more or less the exact same thing to Barney only a couple seasons earlier at the end of "Benefits".
In "The Stinson Missile Crisis", there's something remarkably depressing about the photo montage of Lily and Marshall's themed Halloween costumes, accompanied by Ted as an increasingly-shoehorned Third Wheel.
At the end of "Tick, Tick, Tick…"
Future Ted: …for Barney, the second that would never end was this one…"
After realizing that Robin has chosen Kevin the look on Barney's face is absolutely heartbreaking. Then the icing on the cake? Watching him clean up the bedroom he had decorated with rose petals and candles.
How about the look right after that? Kevin walks in and the look Barney gives Robin says "But I thought…" and then she shakes her head. The despair is so overwhelming that his body language in the next few seconds just shows that he has no clue what to do now. A huge departure from the guy who is usually Crazy-Prepared.
In "Symphony of Illumination" Robin is narrating the episode to her and Barney's future kids. Until she finds out she can't ever have children.
Robin: So I can't have kids. Big deal. This way, there's no one to hold me back in life. No one to keep me from traveling where I wanna travel, no one getting in the way of my career. If you wanna know the truth of it, I'm glad you guys aren't real. [And the kids fade away.]...really glad.
Don't forget the eggnog and the snowstorm.
Plus Robin's Thousand-Yard Stare when it cuts to her sitting alone on the park bench, with said eggnog in said snowstorm.
And Robin dissolving into tears in Ted's arms after he tells her that he'll never stop trying to cheer her up even if she can't tell him what's wrong, and clinging to him wordlessly while Future!Ted somberly reveals that "Your Aunt Robin never became a pole vaulter."
There are two particularly gut wrenching moments in the episode "No Pressure''.
The scene where Barney tells Ted that after Robin had broken his heart and chosen Kevin over him, he no longer has feelings for her.
Later on, the scene where Robin tells Ted that she will never love him as anything more than a friend. It was bittersweet, as Ted hadn't exactly been pining for Robin: he had been wondering whether or not they should get back together, and despite the finality being painful, he was relieved that he could move on. However, that doesn't make the scene where he's standing on the roof staring depressedly out into the city as Robin moved out of the apartment any less saddening — after all, he doesn't know the mother is out there.
The way she tears up a little and is choking out her "no" indicates that Robin knows it's not the answer Ted is hoping for.
The music, the paradoxically triumphant and heartbreaking Shake It Out by Florence and the Machine sums up the whole situation nicely. And heartbreakingly.
Super minor, but Patrice in "Karma"… sitting there, excitedly waiting for Robin to come, only Robin a) hates her, and b) isn't coming anyway. It's pretty much Offscreen Inertia at work, but poor Patrice…
Barney's "Robin-box" and her reaction when she finds it.
Barney and Quinn break up because their ridiculously long pre-nup makes them realize they don't trust each other enough for marriage to work.
In "Nannies", all episode long, Lily and Marshall search high and low for the perfect nanny to babysit their kid, Marvin. Lily's father wants to volunteer but Lily is reluctant because of all the years her dad has neglected her. When Marshall and Lily think that Marvin has gone missing, they find out that her father had Marvin all along and took really good care of the child. Mr. Aldrin then explains that while Lily's mom was off working, he was the stay-home dad and that her grandparents only came to visit, instead of her grandparents taking care of her as Lily saw it. It seems he was a fantastic dad, and it was only when Lily went to kindergarten that he found himself at loose ends for part of the day, went to the track on a whim, and got addicted to gambling. It is then revealed that Mr. Aldrin had managed to save a photo album from a fire that burned down their house which is told earlier in the episode. The photo album then reveals all the times Mr. Aldrin shared with newborn Lily, capping it off with Lily's first day of preschool. Mr. Aldrin then apologizes to his daughter for all his neglectfulness and promises to be around for Marvin, if Lily is fine with it. Lily then decides to make her father the new nanny and a slideshow is shown of the moments Lily, Marshall, their son Marvin, and Mr. Aldrin shared, the slideshow ending on a picture of Marvin's first day of preschool.
You have to feel sorry for Ted after Jeanette completely destroys his apartment, complete with him solemnly saying he's finally ready to settle down.
The Reveal for "The Time Travelers." The whole episode was an Imagine Spot for Ted. While all of his friends are moving forward in their lives, Ted is sitting in the bar, probably never this alone in his life. Becomes a heartwarming moment when he discusses what he would do if he had traveled back in time to that night: Meet The Mother weeks before they actually do and tell her that he wishes that they could spend the time before they meet together so he wouldn't be alone.
Ted: Hi. I’m Ted Mosby. And exactly 45 days from now, you and I are gonna meet, and we’re gonna get married, and… We’re gonna have two kids. And we’re gonna love them and each other so much… All that is 45 days away. But I’m here now, I guess, because… I want those extra 45 days with you. I want each one of them. And look, if I can’t have them, I’ll take the 45 seconds before your boyfriend shows up and punches me in the face, because… I love you. I’m always gonna love you. Till the end of my days… and beyond. You’ll see.
This becomes even more a tearjerker in hindsight, since we eventually learn that The Mother won't live past 2024. Poor Ted.
Since "The Time Travelers", Ted has experienced a bad Despair Event Horizon that slowly occurred and basically hit rock bottom in "Something New". Ted's willing to move to Chicago after the wedding just to stay away from Robin, someone who he loves dearly, because she's married and seeing her just reminds himself that he is unable to find the one for him. It makes you feel for him so damned much. Luckily though, the Mother finally shows up on her way to the wedding. He also seems to feel guilty over his feelings for Robin, since he knows she's marrying one of his best friends, heck maybe he wanted to move to Chicago because he didn't want to get in the way of Barney/Robin.
Ted: That's just a really sucky way to feel about your best friend's fiancée.
A fair amount of HIMYM fans seem to dislike Ted, feeling he's boring and/or unsympathetic, but the last few seasons have to have done a decent job of making him more sympathetic. Beginning with his relationship with Zoey ending really badly and his admission to Robin early in Season 7 that he'd been feeling a bit jaded about finding someone, the Slutty Pumpkin and Victoria also returned only for both relationships to fizzle and leave Ted feeling disillusioned. That was followed by Robin admitting that she didn't love him romantically and then getting engaged to Barney, the fling with Jeannette which was a huge, self-destructive disaster and the guilt over lingering feelings for one of his best friend's fiancee. Seeing as how it's at the point where Ted is ready to just quietly leave New York and all his friends behind as he feel there's nothing left for him and he doesn't want to get in the way of Barney and Robin, it wouldn't have been a surprise if Future!Ted's narration had admitted to his kids that at that moment, he'd pretty much given up all hope of ever meeting their mother, having hit rock bottom. Fortunately, we know that the story has a happy ending, but Ted's had to go through some really dark times to be in the right spot and the right person to meet The Mother.
Lily's confession that she's having a really hard time being a mom, and on top of that feels guilty that she isn't more excited about motherhood, and hasn't been able to tell anyone about it, even Marshall. Even though at first she's just trying to say something/anything that would be sort of a confession just to get Ted to be honest, it's obvious this has really weighed heavy on her and she's just letting out how she really feels. Shows you how silly all the "Lily cries over something minor" jokes are since Alyson Hannigan's fake crying is not remotely believable, but it's totally different when Lily is supposed to genuinely be distressed over something, and it's really moving…
The very end of the first episode of the season.
Future Ted: I didn't have the when of it quite right yet. But the where of it…
(a clap of thunder, a downpour of rain, and the scenes changes to the Farhampton station… right when Ted is about to meet the Mother)
The music really doesn't help.
Ted getting "one last life lecture" from Lily before he leaves for Chicago. (Though, of course, we all know he won't reallyleave New York, and, as Lily puts it, he's dreaming if he thinks this is the last one)
Lily: You wrote all of these things to say goodbye to, but so many of them are good things. Why not just say goodbye to the bad things? Say goodbye to all the times you felt lost, to all the times it was a "no" instead of a "yes," to all the scrapes and bruises, to all the heartache. Say goodbye to everything your really want to do for the last time, but don't go have one last Scotch with Barney, have the first Scotch toasting Barney's new life, because that's a good thing and the good things will always be here waiting for you.
The look of quiet despair on Ted's face as Barney finishes his story of how the Mother (whom Ted still hasn't met yet) inspired Barney to finally pursue Robin. At the same time Ted had his last Hope Spot that she might still be the one for him, but decided to leave it up to fate, Barney resolved to go after her with everything he had. And that's why he got her.
Ted and Barney's fight about Chicago is just so utterly painful for both of them. Barney initially thinks Ted not telling him was because he didn't care, and we all know he has huge abandonment issues as it is. But Ted does care, he just doesn't want to take away from the happiness of his two best friends getting married, even though though he's leaving becausethey're getting married. True, Ted does steal the Glen McKenna to make up for it and Barney does accept his decision, but even then they still have to say goodbye to each other. The "I'm going to miss you" and the hug really did it.
Robin gets two real gut punches in "The Lighthouse."
First, when she admits she doesn't know how to make scrambled eggs, Loretta snarkily comments that she worries what kind of breakfast Robin will make for her children. Robin informs her she doesn't have to worry about that and walks out, clearly close to tears. (It's even worse when you consider that Robin had every reason to believe Loretta already knew about her infertility, and might've thought this was an intentional jab at it, even though it wasn't.)
Then, she finds out her mother won't be coming to her wedding, because she was too scared to get on the plane. Ouch.
In "Unpause", Lily and Marshall's fight over Marshall accepting the judgeship - Lily refuses to give up her dream or even discuss the judgeship, whilst Marshall tries to convince Lily it's what's best for their family & that they should at least discuss it, despite already taking the job behind her back. The fight reaches its climax when Lily claims that she's never been as selfish in their relationship as Marshall is right now, only for Marshall to counter by bringing up her breaking off their engagement less than two months before the wedding so she could try & become an artist in San Francisco. Lily is left absolutely speechless as Marshall brings up the worst thing she ever did to him, for the first time in 7 years. Since they've had so few on-screen fights, it's particularly jarring to see things escalate so far in so little time.
Even worse, we learn that Marshall secretly fears the only reason Lily came back to him was because she failed in San Francisco, and when he asks her all Lily can do is run out of the room in tears.
Thankfully, they get better in "Sunrise". Their making up consists of almost no words, showing that their love is still as strong as it was before the fight.
The Mother's back story. We find out she was in love with this one guy who died the same night Ted met Robin. For the next eight years, she never lets herself fall in love again because she can't let him go, just like Ted with Robin. Her speech to her dead boyfriend when she realizes this and starts to breakdown is heart-wrenching.
Mother: Since you've died, I've never let myself fall in love. (crying) So do you think it'd be OK if I start to move on?
As a part of that same episode, the Mother playing Edith Piaf's La Vie En Rose on the ukelele her dead boyfriend gave her, while cutting to the various main characters at this point in the show. It's really quite moving, to say the least.
The sheer number of near misses between Ted & the Mother meeting. Hell, the mere fact that the night before the wedding, they're both miserable & don't realise the love of their life is literally on the other side of a wall to them.
The implication that the Mother's mother didn't make it to her wedding.
Or, alternatively, that the Mother won't live to see her own daughter's wedding.
Ted: In a moment like that, when what's happening is too intense to deal with, sometimes it's best…
Mother: To leave it unspoken.
In "Gary Blauman," the Mother saves the terrible first date between herself and Ted by offering to just walk around New York and tell each other stories. This is already very moving, but becomes a tearjerker when Ted stops mid-stride. The Mother asks what he's doing, and Ted says, "Remembering this." That's actually Future Ted, lost in the memory of the first date with the dead love of his life. Tears, tears on the side of my face.
In "The End of the Aisle", Robin is having cold feet and confesses to Ted that she rather choose him after she realized Ted is the one who found the locket. She even begins to doubt Barney because of his dishonesty and wants to run away with Ted because of his determination to get the locket back. But Ted tells her that he's no longer the guy who gave her the blue French horn years ago and refuses to run away with her since he let go of his unrequited feelings and knows that Robin is just freaking out.
In 2016, Barney and Robin got divorced. And in 2024, Tracy, the mother, dies.
Ted mourned her for six years (a full year longer than she mourned her first love, Max). Even though he knew it was okay to let her go he couldn't because he loved her so much.
The Breaking the Fellowship that occurred in the finale. These 5 friends that we got to know and spent 9 years having fun together, and being nearly inseparable, just drift apart. It's a sad reality that many people have encountered in real life and is a harsh truth nobody wants to face, that life is unpredictable, everyone has a different path, and people do grow up and change. Nothing will ever be the same again.