Return of the Shirt

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"Return of the Shirt"
How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 4
Directed by Pamela Fryman
Written by Kourtney Kang
Production code 1ALH03
Original air date October 10, 2005
Guest appearance(s)
Season 1 episodes
List of How I Met Your Mother episodes

"Return of the Shirt" is the fourth episode in the first season of the television series How I Met Your Mother. It originally aired on October 10, 2005. The episode was written by Kourtney Kang and directed by Pamela Fryman.


Ted (Josh Radnor) discovers he suddenly loves a shirt he owned for six years but had never previously liked. He meets everyone else at the bar, and discovers that he likes bourbon, which he thought he hated. Realizing that his tastes have changed, he decides to reconsider girls he has previously dated but did not seem right at the time. The gang help him think back to some of the women he dated, and he fondly remembers the times he had with Natalie (Anne Dudek), with whom he broke up because he hadn't been looking for a serious relationship at the time. Unfortunately, she angrily hangs up the phone when he calls. Lily (Alyson Hannigan) asks Ted about why Natalie would be so upset with him, and he admits that he broke up with her on her birthday, and did so by leaving a message on her answering machine. Ted then visits Natalie's apartment, apologizing for his past behavior and offering a giant sock monkey toy as a belated birthday gift. Ted begs her to give him another chance, even just a cup of coffee. They soon end up in bed together.

Ted and Natalie start dating again, and after three weeks things appear to be going well. His friends like Natalie and agree she is the best girl he has dated in years. Abruptly, Ted says he has to break up with her, because he realizes she isn't "the one". The next night Ted takes Natalie out to dinner to break up with her face to face. She tells him it is her birthday but there is no need for a present since he has already given her the best present: she "can trust again". When she says her mother can't wait to meet him, Ted cannot wait any longer and tells her he wants to break up. Natalie is furious and Ted's attempts to be honest only make her angrier. She demands a good explanation, and when Ted can't give her a satisfactory response, she uses what she learned in Krav Maga class to beat Ted up. Ted returns to the bar in pain and with the shirt that started it all torn, and decides that there really is no good way to break up with someone. Future Ted tells his kids that as a result, all of his happy memories of Natalie were replaced with the memory of her beating him up. He later states that Natalie eventually found a better guy, got married a year later, and raised three children. However, Ted's son mocks him for being beat up by a girl.

Barney dares Robin (Cobie Smulders) to say or do increasingly unprofessional things on the news for money. She refuses at first, but performs the dares as she feels insulted by the seemingly unimportant stories she's assigned to cover and realizes that no one, not even her boss, watches her show. After three dares, Robin is challenged to do the "Ickey Shuffle" at her next news report. Barney has the bar turn on the television to Robin's news show and tells everyone to watch for something amazing. Robin plans to carry out the bet, but changes her mind at the last minute. While interviewing New York City's oldest Hansom cab driver she realizes her job is important to the people she is interviewing even if no one is watching. She stands up but accidentally slips and falls into a pile of horse droppings and curses on live television. Robin is embarrassed, especially when Ted reveals that he too saw the incident on the internet.


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