For an entire generation of millennials, How I Met Your Mother was the go-to sitcom to learn about life and love in your twenties. Built around the simple premise of a father telling his children about meeting their mother for the first time, the show was surprisingly subversive and unexpected, thanks to some solid writing.
Another big strength of the show was the solid cast of main characters. The nicest of those characters was undoubtedly Marshall Eriksen, played by Jason Segel, the gentle giant from a small town who became a big city lawyer and married the girl of his dreams, Lily. Here are 10 significant ways the character of Marshall evolved from the first season to the last.
10 Becoming A Dad
One of the biggest arcs for Marshall was his marriage to Lily and the birth of their son Marvin. It was Marvin who prompted Marshall to take a look at his life and assess what drastic changes he had to make in order to support his son and his wife.
It was also Marvin that forced Marshall to give up on a lot of his reckless bachelor ways from before and become a more mature and responsible person. Marshall went from being an adult with a childlike disposition towards life to a grown man who accepted that his first priority in life was no longer his own well-being, but the well-being of his family.
9 Compromising At Work
Marshall had always been an idealist when it came to his work. He wanted to become an environmental lawyer and help save the world. But with the start of his own family, Marshall was forced to consider the downside of working with environmental law firms in return for very little pay.
He even switched sides for a while and started lawyering for Barney’s big, bad multinational corporation. He returned to being an environmental lawyer soon after, but the experience did make Marshall start seeing his work in less idealistic terms.
8 Going Full Italian
Lily had always had an obsession with what she saw as the glamorous life of Italy. Marshall did not share her enthusiasm, having only learned Italian for one year in school, and having forgotten most of it by the time he was an adult. In the future, it is revealed that Marshall and Lily moved to Italy and stayed there for a full year.
In that time, Marshall learned to appreciate the upsides of living in Italy and emerged from the experience a more knowledgable and cultured person.
7 Looking Beyond Lily For Love
Marshall and Lily were the ideal couple of the show and the ultimate example of true love that inspired Ted to look for his own soulmate. But there came a time when Marshall broke up with Lily, and he actually started looking elsewhere for love.
This was a huge step for Marshall, in acknowledging that there are more options in his love life than the only girl he had ever been in love with and that he needed to look at what else life had to offer beyond Lily.
6 Matured Lovelife
Marshall and Lily did not stay broken up for long. But when the two did get back together, it was with a renewed appreciation for the special bond the two shared. Lily, in particular, had in some ways started taking Marshall’s unthinking devotion for granted.
With the breakup and their subsequent reunion, the two enjoyed a more mature kind of love, love that had passed through the forge and emerged a stronger, more balanced emotion than the heady, high-school romance puppy love that the two had shared in the past.
5 Accepting His Shortcomings
Young Marshall in high school had a lot of dreams for what his adult life would be like. He saw himself as a dashing professional with a hot beau and an even hotter ride. Young Marshall wrote his future self a letter to the same effect, which older Marshall read and immediately went into a shame spiral because of all the ways his present self was not as good as he had imagined he would be.
By the end of the episode, Marshal had accepted that he was not going to have as perfect a life as his younger self had envisioned, but he was at peace with what he had achieved in life.
4 Giving Up His Bachelor Ways
Married life was not all smooth sailing for Marshall. One of the biggest sacrifices he had to make was giving up his carefree bachelor ways of hanging out at Ted’s apartment and constant clubbing and boozing to settle down to couples nights with Lily.
At first, Marshall made an attempt to hold on to his carefree ways by ditching Lily and going with Ted and Barney to a party. But eventually, he realized that he was no longer interested in having fun if it did not involve Lily, and willingly gave up his bachelor lifestyle.
3 Growing Close To Robin
Robin and Marshall had less one-on-one interactions with each other than the rest of the group, because of a personal hangup that Marshall had about getting attracted to Robin without intending to. So for the most part, in the beginning, Marshall kept his distance from Robin and only interacted with her in group settings.
Eventually, however, Marshall got past his fear, over the course of a single episode exploring the concept of the ‘Mermaid theory’, and the two have remained closer friends ever since.
2 Making Peace With His Father’s Death
One of the most heartbreaking arcs for Marshall had to do with him coming to terms with the death of his father, who had always been incredibly close to him. Marshall had to face the prospect of not being able to speak to the man who had raised him ever again, even as Marshall himself prepared to become a father to baby Marvin.
A late-night chat with his father’s memory in a car helped Marshall manage his emotions and become hopeful that he could follow in his father’s footsteps and become a good dad.
1 Becoming Less Naive
Marshall started out as the most naive and optimistic member of the group. By the end of the series, he was still optimistic, but his naivety had been sanded off to a considerable extent thanks to years of living in the big city and being friends with people like Barney.
Through all the experiences that he gained, all the heartbreak and all the regrets, and seeing his friends and himself stumble from one personal crisis to the next, Marshall became a wiser and better person.
NEXT: Jason Segel’s 10 Best Roles (Movies & TV), According To IMDb