Chris Elliott Appearances as Lily’s Deadbeat Dad in ‘How I Met Your Mother,’ Ranked
As How I Met Your Mother flashbacked its way through nine seasons, a number of comedy icons showed up for the occasional joke-and-dash. Few caused more chaos than cringe-comic Chris Elliott as Lily’s father, would-be board-game mogul Mickey Aldrin. The recovering gambling addict seasons the show with some much-needed vinegar, an appealing dirtbag who dares us to love him before he does something disgusting.
Here are all of Mickey’s HIMYM appearances, ranked according to the most effective combos of discomfort and hilarity…
‘Last Words,’ Season 6, Episode 14
When Marshall’s dad dies, the gang reflects on their own relationships with their fathers. For Lily, her most recent conversation with her pop-pop was when he called from jail to ask for $15,000. Oh, and by the way, he’s got an idea for a new board game called “Tax Evasion.” Lily pretends she’s her own answering machine so she doesn’t have to talk to the bum. “Last Words” is an easy choice for worst Mickey episode since we don’t even get to see Elliott on screen — he only appears in voiceover. Still, “Last Words” does the job of continuing to establish Mickey as an execrable parent.
‘Daisy,’ Season 9, Episode 20
Near the end of the series run, we flash-forward to find Mickey still on good terms with Lily and Marshall, as well as enjoying a romantic relationship we’ll discuss in “The Over-Correction” below. It’s a nice final moment for Mickey, but “nice” isn’t necessarily the ingredient we want in our Chris Elliott sandwiches. Carry on, not much to see here.
‘The Final Page, Part Two,’ Season 8, Episode 12
In a mostly uneventful Mickey episode, he agrees to babysit so Marshall and Lily can have a sexy night out. Despite some great line deliveries from Elliott — “Got it, load him up with cough syrup, watch Breaking Bad until he conks out. Kidding” — the episode doesn’t have much to offer Mickey fans.
‘The Burning Beekeeper,’ Season 7, Episode 15
Lily and Marshall throw a housewarming party, complicated by the fact that Mickey is keeping bees in their basement. Fast-forward through lots of hijinks to Mickey loaning his kerosene-soaked beekeeper suit to Marshall’s boss, Garrison Cootes (Martin Short), who promptly catches fire and somehow learns a lesson about being a workaholic. Despite the wacky scenario (the bees are never mentioned before or after this episode), Elliott doesn’t have a lot to do here other than hand over the helmet.
‘Nannies,’ Season 8, Episode 3
Understandably, Lily does not want to consider her absentee father as a nanny for her new baby, Marvin. But in a weird narrative turn, Mickey explains that when Lily was very young, he was her sole caretaker — a piece of the past she’s somehow completely oblivious to. Not only that, he was really good at it. The fact that he more or less abandoned Lily after becoming a gambling addict doesn’t stop Mickey from being named Marvin’s new manny. This is a strange one — after several episodes establishing Mickey as the Worst Dad Ever, HIMYM retcons Elliott’s character as Super Papa. For comedy’s sake, we prefer creepy Elliott, even though we get why he wouldn’t be an ideal babysitter.
‘The Magician’s Code, Part One,’ Season 7, Episode 23
Lily is going into labor, and the last person she wants to see in a medical emergency is Mickey. In a flashback, Lily remembers telling her dad she was worried about getting her tonsils out: “Aww, princess, I would be too. I’ve researched this surgery. Anything can happen. You could bleed to death, you could have your jaw removed due to infection and the anesthesia could suddenly just stop working — much like your mom’s and my marriage.”
It’s a great Mickey moment, but weird that Elliott doesn’t get to be present for the birth of his grandchild. Doesn’t Chekhov’s Comedy Gun dictate that once you introduce the idea of the worst guy to show up for a medical crisis, you bring that guy into the medical crisis?
‘46 Minutes,’ Season 7, Episode 14
Lily and Marshall move to her dad’s childhood home in the suburbs, but visiting Mickey acts like he owns the place and won’t leave. When Marshall finally tells Mickey he has to scram, the power goes out and Mickey refuses to help. At Lily’s insistence, Mickey uses the house intercom to guide Marshall through the unfamiliar house to the fuse box. Using sitcom logic, this barely helpful act earns Mickey an extended stay. Fun Mickey facts: As a child (and middle-aged adult), he used to spy on his jazzercising neighbor, the Widow Rodriguez. And on the ping-pong table in the basement, he’s set up an elaborate I Dream of Jeannie domino formation in an effort to seduce Barbara Eden.
‘Noretta,’ Season 7, Episode 7
The gang ponder the theory that people partner up with someone who reminds them of one of their parents. When Marshall invents a sexy board game, Lily can’t help but roll the dice and connect husband Marshall to father Mickey. Prepare to squirm when Mickey (a horny Elliott standing in for Marshall in Lily’s imagination) mimes squeezing her Community Chest. Honk! Honk! It’s a wonder the couple ever had sex again.
‘Tailgate,’ Season 7, Episode 13
Marshall convinces Lily to tell Mickey she’s pregnant. She finally relents and calls her dad, who’s away at a game convention in Chicago. Mickey answers, thanks Lily for the news, and promptly hangs up. Lily is peeved, but what she doesn’t know is that Mickey immediately jumped in a car and drove all dang night to deliver a congratulations teddy bear. A tearful Lily wishes him a happy new year. Elliott doesn’t get much screen time in this episode, but his moment at the door with Alyson Hannigan is one of Mickey’s most poignant.
‘The Over-Correction,’ Season 8, Episode 10
Mickey takes up with Marshall’s mom in an ewwww episode for the ages. The same man who tests Lily’s breastfeeding pump on his own nipples — “Don’t worry, the suction is fine. Actually kind of nice” — is now getting busy with Judy, who seductively calls him “mama’s big boy.” Can you blame Marshall for screaming “Get off my mommy!”? Mickey doesn’t get what the big deal is: “You’ve been bumping uglies with my daughter for years. The second I climb up on your mom, it’s the end of the world?” Close enough — when Lily finds out, she pukes. Mickey and Judy finally reassure the couple that there’s no need to worry about dating. They’re only having sex. “It’s family with benefits,” confides Mickey. We like when Elliott gets uncomfortable, but between this episode and “Noretta,” the show was probably getting too Oedipal.
‘Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap,’ Season 5, Episode 9
Meet Mickey! The deadbeat dad who’s living with his own parents shows up unexpectedly for Thanksgiving. Marshall invites him to stay for dinner, prompting Lily to walk out the door but not before shooting Mickey one of her patented “you’re dead to me” looks. The gang tries out one of Mickey’s board games, but Diseases spews horse bile and lead paint all over the turkey. So yeah, Marshall kicks him out. Lily learns that other recipients of her death stare actually die (long story) so she decides to make holiday peace with her dad. Elliott delivers prime smarm in the character’s debut. And extra credit for the Slap Bet game commercial!