Zoo or False

"Zoo or False" is the 19th episode of the fifth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother and 107th episode overall. It aired on April 12, 2010. Episode hit season low with 2.8/9 rating and 6.88 million viewers.

"Zoo or False"
How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no.Season 5
Episode 19
Directed byPamela Fryman
Written byStephen Lloyd
Production code5ALH22
Original air dateApril 12, 2010 (2010-04-12)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"Say Cheese"
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"Home Wreckers"
How I Met Your Mother (season 5)
List of How I Met Your Mother episodes


When the gang discovers Marshall doesn't have any money to pay for the pizza they had ordered, he is forced to reveal that he was mugged by a man (Jon Dore) with a gun in Central Park. Lily is worried, and aided by Robin’s gun-loving nature, expresses her interest to buy a gun for protecting herself. Marshall is frightened by this prospect, and then reveals he wasn't mugged; instead, he had visited the Central Park Zoo, and while standing close to a monkey cage, a monkey had swiped his wallet. Robin asks to interview him for her show, and he agrees to help boost her show’s ratings. Marshall then privately explains to Barney and Ted that the monkey story is false, and that he really was mugged; he had made up the monkey to calm down Lily and stop her from buying a gun.

Meanwhile, Barney is using the story of being mugged to pick up women. He is interrupted by a woman he had earlier convinced he was Neil Armstrong. He tells an even greater lie in an attempt to get out of it and suggests a threesome.

The next morning, Ted brings along a scale model of the Empire State Building he had been working on; Ted had asked Robin to interview him about it, but she refused, but Ted brings it in case Marshall is unable to talk about the monkey mugging. Marshall is rattled when Robin reveals they have brought the monkey from the zoo as well, and the monkey will be separated from its mate Milly for committing the crime. Marshall finally refuses to talk about it, causing Robin to cut to a commercial and question him as to why. Bombarded with everyone asking him what really happened, Marshall then says “I’m going to bed,” before leaving, with the Future Ted saying they never did find out what really happened. Ted tells Barney he would be better off if he stopped telling lies but Barney replies Ted will someday tell this story and lie to give it a better ending. Robin is forced to interview Ted about his model, but as they are about to start, the monkey breaks free and snags a small doll nearby. It then proceeds to climb to the top of Ted's model, with the cameraman throwing paper aeroplanes at the monkey to get it off. Ted is left in disbelief that the ending from King Kong is being recreated before him, while Future Ted simply states "True story".

Critical responseEdit

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club rated the episode "Zoo or False" with a grade B−.[2] Bowman claims that, although the script included many promising comedic elements, they "never seemed to settle into rhythm or find their natural relationship". The genuinely funny elements were overshadowed by a "lack of natural interaction or real emotion", originating with the cast's "unconvincing gales of laughter" at the idea of being mugged by a monkey. That stated, Bowman praised the episode addressing the line between a story and a truthful account, and a number of specific jokes in the episode.

Amanda Sloane Murray of IGN gave the episode 9 out of 10.[3]

Cindy McLennan of Television Without Pity rated the episode with a grade C+.[4]

Lindsey Bahr of The Atlantic said regarding the fun factor of the episode:

It left me contemplating big "what is the point of it all" questions, which is something a sitcom should never, ever, provoke its audience to do.


The Time magazine compared the episode to Pale Fire of Vladimir Nabokov but only in romantic comedy form and praised the climax where Marshall said "she’s my sister/she’s my daughter".[6]


  1. ^ "How I Met Your Mother - Episode 5.19 - Zoo or False - Press Release". March 22, 2010.
  2. ^ Donna Bowman (April 12, 2010). "How I Met Your Mother "Zoo Or False"". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  3. ^ Amanda Sloane Murray (April 13, 2010). "How I Met Your Mother: "Zoo or False" Review. Mugged by a monkey". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  4. ^ Cindy McLennan (April 12, 2010). "How I Met Your Mother: Why Can't You Do It? Why Can't You Set Your Monkey Free?". Television Without Pity. NBCUniversal. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  5. ^ Lindsey Bahr (April 13, 2010). "Has 'How I Met Your Mother' Lost its Way?". The Atlantic. Retrieved November 19, 2017.
  6. ^ James Poniewozik (April 13, 2010). "HIMYM Watch: Gun-reliable Narrator". Time. Retrieved November 19, 2017.

External linksEdit