How I Met Your Mother might be about chasing after career goals, developing friendships, and living in New York City, but it’s about one thing more than anything else: Ted’s search for the future Mrs. Mosby.
Throughout the course of the series, Ted ends up dating over 30 girls. While not every relationship got serious or lasted beyond a single episode, we thought it was worth taking a look at them all and determining which of Ted’s girlfriends were the best. Cue that theme music; It’s time to journey back to the city and rank ten of Ted’s relationships.
Ted and Karen dated on and off again throughout high school and college. Unfortunately, she kind of sucked.
Karen formerly cheated on Ted and is constantly pretentious. She most definitely didn’t bring out the best in Ted, and Lily has a hard time not despising her for it. Ted eventually discovers that Lily had messed with his relationship for years, but ultimately, he decides to let go of Karen because he cares about what his girlfriend thinks of his friends.
Royce is the girl Ted dates during the Season 5 episode “The Wedding Bride.” He becomes weary of being with her, though, when he realizes everyone he dates will have “baggage” come along. However, as he himself was left at the altar, he realizes that his potential girlfriends have to deal with his baggage just as much as he has to deal with theirs.
Royce was left at the altar three times. So, while she was never a contender thanks to her over-the-top level of baggage, she did help Ted learn a lot about himself. For that, she wasn’t the worst of his dates, despite being problematic.
Ted dates Cathy in the Season 3 episode “Spoiler Alert.” Additionally, Josh Radnor (who played Ted) and Lindsay Price (who played Cathy) actually started dating in real life while filming the episode.
Cathy is the chick Ted dated who talked a lot — and because of this quirk, he ends up breaking up with her. Luckily, after running into Cathy years later, he learns that she’s become engaged to someone who is deaf. It’s a win-win situation, until Ted signs to her fiancé that Cathy talks too much — something he previously did not realize.
7 Jeanette Peterson
Jeanette is important in the timeline of Ted Mosby because she is the last girl he dates before meeting the mother.
Jeanette is problematic, but if Ted’s relationship with her had never happened, he might not have been able to let go of Robin. You can thank Jeanette for throwing away the locket Ted meant to return to Robin. You can also thank her for one heck of an exit that involved throwing Ted’s stuff out the window including those Red Cowboy Boots, which she lit on fire.
Ted and Naomi first flirted with each other at a Halloween party in 2001. She was wearing a pumpkin costume with cuts in strategic places. Ted remembered her, and continued to search for her every single Halloween, waiting for the girl who first mixed up a signature drink containing Kahlúa and root beer.
Ten years later, they reunite. They try to date, although the pair realizes how incredibly awkward they are together and determine that their lack of chemistry is a sign they should part ways.
5 Stella Zinman
Ted and Stella almost get married to each other, however, she ends up ditching him at the altar for her ex-boyfriend and the father of her child.
Stella removes tattoos, and her relationship with Ted begins after she finishes removing his butterfly tattoo in Season 3. Things go almost too well — and the relationship begins moving at a high speed. As aforementioned, it all comes to a dramatic conclusion at Ted’s wedding. Stella’s husband Tony ends up creating The Wedding Bride based on the love triangle they found themselves in. It continues to haunt Ted throughout the rest of the series.
4 Zoey Pierson
Zoey and Ted start out as enemies. She is an activist who is wholly against the destruction of The Arcadian, an old New York hotel that is to be replaced with a building Ted is designing. Though they first find themselves at odds, Ted develops a crush on her and a string of events leads to their friendship.
After Zoey reveals she is getting a divorce, she and Ted begin dating. However, he learns that the order of events leading to this was scrambled and that he ended up causing her divorce. They continue to fight throughout their relationship, and he chooses to call it off in pursuit of his dreams over his future with Zoey.
Victoria was the girl Ted almost ended up with. First off, the two met at a wedding and shared one perfect night together. They decided not to get each other’s information as to not soil their memories, but Ted later realizes how stupid that was and tracks her down at her bakery. They have a happy relationship, but it ultimately ends after she leaves for a culinary institute in Germany and Ted lies to Robin about breaking things off with her.
The pair actually would have ended up together had the series been canceled after Season 1. The creators of How I Met Your Mother made Victoria into a safety-net Mother, so had the series not continued, she would become the girl Ted ultimately ended up with.
2 Robin Schebatsky
Ted and Robin’s relationship was rocky all the way to the end of the series, but who could forget their perfect meeting? After all, Ted stole a blue french horn for her.
Though their ultimate reunion as a couple at the end of the series is hotly debated, there’s nothing we can change about it now. So, with that said, it is kind of sweet that the two came full-circle, even if their character development was destroyed in the process. They don’t always get along well, but they do always have each other’s back — and their constant friendship is something to admire.
1 Tracy McConnell
Topping off the list is none other than the mother herself: Tracy McConnell. After all, Tracy wasn’t only Ted’s girlfriend; She eventually became his wife and the mom of their two kids.
She is incredibly cool (as the bass player and lead singer of the Superfreakonomics, of course) and is also very sweet, helping out Ted’s friends even before she knows them. Ted and Tracy live an amazing life together, and though her ending is tragic, we will always remember her. Ted’s relationship with Tracy was magical for the time it lasted. And that, kids, is how Ted met the mother.
NEXT: How I Met Your Mother: 5 Best Friendships (& 5 Worst)