Marvin Sr. was Marshall Eriksen’s role model: a kind and compassionate father. His death in season 6 delivered a major tonal shift to the show.

Marshall’s father, Marvin Sr., dies in How I Met Your Mother season 6 in one of the most emotionally charged episodes of the show. It marks a turning point in Marshall’s life, as he’s waiting to know whether he and Lily are both fertile and spends the whole episode anticipating bad news. Everything seems to be pointing at one of the happiest moments of the show when Marshall prepares to tell his father he’s going to be a dad, but an unanswered call changes everything: Marvin Sr. is dead.


While Marvin Sr. wasn’t a recurring character on the show, he influenced many changes that occurred in Marshall’s HIMYM arc: it’s possible to draw a line between the man Marshall was before his father died and the man he became afterward. Marvin Sr.’s death marks the moment in which Marshall began his transition into fatherhood himself, but since his father was no longer with him, he had no option but to scavenge his childhood memories in order to learn how to become as good a dad as Marvin Sr.

Related: Marshall’s 5 Best (& Worst) Story Arcs In How I Met Your Mother

Marvin Eriksen Sr. Suffered A Heart Attack

Marshall crying

In How I Met Your Mother season 6, episode 13, “Bad News,” Marshall waits for the right moment to call his father and update him about his quest to have a child. He thinks about calling Marvin Sr. right after hearing that Lily is extremely fertile but decides to wait until his own results are ready, as he’s afraid to jinx his fertility by calling his dad too soon — one of Marshall’s worst traits on HIMYM is how he relies too much on tradition. When his parents surprisingly show up at his house, Marshall finds himself cornered but eventually has a heart-to-heart conversation with his family.

That this is the last time Marshall sees his father makes it all the more impactful, especially on a second watch. Marvin Sr. advises his son and reiterates how much he loves him, amping up Marshall’s confidence. Everything seemingly works out fine in the end; Marshall hears amazing news from the doctor and is about to call his dad when Lily shows up and tells him that Marvin Sr. suffered a heart attack and didn’t pull through. Marshall’s words, “I’m not ready for this,” are heartbreaking, ending the episode on an emotionally charged note.

How Marvin’s Death Impacts Marshall’s Arc

Marvin Eriksen Sr.

Despite Marshall and Lily’s baby, Marvin’s weird middle name, the revelation that the couple named their baby after his dad is a heartwarming highlight of How I Met Your Mother season 7’s finale. After Marvin Sr.’s death, Marshall is forced to learn a thing or two about letting go, but also to think less and do more; if his parents hadn’t paid him a surprise visit, they wouldn’t have had an insightful conversation about fatherhood and Marshall’s future. Most importantly, Marvin Sr.’s death influences Marshall to always look back to his time growing up, using his dad as the model of fatherhood he plans to become.

More: 10 Saddest Things About How I Met Your Mother’s Marshall

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