The Mermaid Theory

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"The Mermaid Theory"
How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 11
Directed by Pamela Fryman
Written by Robia Rashid
Production code 6ALH11
Original air date December 6, 2010 (2010-12-06)
Guest actors

Jennifer Morrison (Zoey Pierson)
Kyle MacLachlan (George "The Captain" Van Smoot)
Tamara Lynn Davis (Iris)

Season 6 episodes

"The Mermaid Theory" is the 11th episode of the sixth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and the 123rd episode overall. It aired on December 6, 2010. The Episode hints at future events, which are elaborated in Season 7 episode "Now We're Even".


Marshall and Robin realize they’ve never really spent much time alone, and decide to go out to dinner together. The dinner turns out be awkward, to which they agree it’s because they don’t spend much time together outside of the group. Marshall then explains Barney's “Mermaid Theory": Long ago, sailors used to picture manatees as mermaids due to long periods without female contact (the vision is shown with Barney and Marshall as sailors). After hiring an unappealing female assistant two years ago, Barney had told Marshall that though Marshall views her as a “manatee” now, as he spent more time with her, she would eventually become a “mermaid” in his eyes. Barney says the “mermaid clock” is ticking, and over a year later, his assistant does in fact seem like a mermaid to Marshall, much to his horror. Marshall tells Robin he doesn’t want her to turn into a mermaid out of respect for Lily, though he explains a woman can go back to being a manatee by becoming pregnant. The two eventually have a good time by getting drunk, though when they return to the apartment, Marshall begins seeing Robin as a mermaid. When she throws up all over the floor, however, Marshall once again sees her as a manatee, much to his relief.

Soon after Marshall and Robin had agreed to hang out, Barney had asked Lily the same, who refused, offending Barney. However, Future Ted has trouble recalling what exactly the argument was, and only after explaining the mermaid theory does he remember the actual story. This event had in fact taken place farther in the future, while Lily was pregnant. Lily had refused because she thought Barney would picture her naked, though when Barney says he views her as a manatee now that she’s pregnant, she becomes angry. Later, the two make up when Barney says Lily can become a mermaid again when she begins breastfeeding. Ted then walks in wearing a green dress, stating "Now we’re even!” though Future Ted says that’s a story for another time.

Future Ted explains Zoey has since become a normal acquaintance among the group, although Ted and the gang are secretly terrified of Zoey’s husband, “the Captain”. Ted tells the group Zoey has invited them to an art gala, though when only Ted expresses interest, Lily cautions Ted on hanging out with Zoey alone. Ted promises nothing will happen, though while the two are together, Zoey lies to her husband when he calls by saying she is “out with friends” instead of specifically mentioning Ted. Zoey tells Ted not to worry about it, but when he tells Lily later, she becomes worried. Lily then says if Ted can become friendly with the Captain, it can straighten things out. Zoey invites Ted to come on their boat one evening, though it turns out to only be with the Captain. Due to the Captain’s seemingly sinister undertones, Ted suspects the Captain knows he’s been hanging out with Zoey and fears he will be murdered. While the Captain heads below deck to get something, Ted prepares to jump from the boat, but finds his fears were for nothing as the Captain returns with drinks. However, the boat hits a bump and Ted falls in the water. After being brought back on the boat, Ted admits his fears, though the Captain tells him he’s glad Zoey has found a new friend and expresses his interest to be friends as well, to which Ted accepts. Ted later tells Zoey he really does think of the Captain as a nice guy, but hopes he and Zoey can continue to be friends. Ted decides they shouldn’t hang out if either begins to develop feelings for the other; while both deny any such notion, a ticking clock is heard in the background, indicating the mermaid clock has begun.

In the end, the sailor story is extended, with sailor Marshall lamenting about not finding land yet. He then begins to envision Barney as a mermaid, to which he affirms they really need to find land.

Critical response[edit]

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B+ rating.[1]

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a rating of 8 out of 10.[2]


  1. ^ Donna Bowman (2010-12-06). "How I Met Your Mother "The Mermaid Theory"". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 
  2. ^ Robert Canning (2010-12-07). "How I Met Your Mother: "The Mermaid Theory" Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2010-12-07. 

External links[edit]