In its heyday, How I Met Your Mother was considered one of the best sitcoms on television. Some bits of the show haven’t aged that well (like Ted’s entire character, or the painfully fake laugh tracks), but the nine-season show still contains some of the best episodes and a lot of running jokes that are undeniably funny. For instance, the Lemon Law: Barney’s universal rule that states anyone can leave a date within the first five minutes with zero backlash.
I’m revisiting How I Met Your Mother to uncover some of the best gems throughout the series. Here we go!
What Is Barney’s Job?
There are many unsolved mysteries in HIMYM. Who is the mother? Where is the yellow umbrella? Who is Barney’s father? But the goofiest mystery is that no one knows what Barney’s job is.
Barney has a LOT of money, so it has to be a job that pays well. But any time someone asks about work, his only reply is “Please.”
After nine seasons of being elusive about his career, Barney finally reveals that “please” is actually an acronym for Provide Legal Exculpation and Sign Everything. That doesn’t actually clear much up, either.
“Eating A Sandwich”
If you ever see anyone in the gang laughing hysterically while eating a comically large sub, it’s not because the sandwich said something funny. Nobody call the cops, but "eating a sandwich" is actually a euphemism for smoking a fat doobie.
I’m not sure where the code name came from, but maybe it’s derived from the amount of sandwiches Marshall and Ted wanted to eat after the munchies hit.
Nothing Suits Barney Like A Suit
Two words: Suit. Up.
When Barney gives those two words, that means it’s time for something legen—wait for it—dary to happen. It also means Barney will probably still be the only one wearing a suit. We won’t get into ALL the details behind Barney’s affinity for suits, but just know that his love of suits eventually culminated in a huge musical number.
Actually, Barney is only seen in clothes other than suits on a handful of occasions (like when Marshall gets him to try wearing a nightgown, or when he wears a t-shirt to seduce a hot new bartender at Maclaren’s.
Lily Loves Robin
They’re best friends, and they spend a lot of time together. So it totally makes sense that every once in a while Lily’s love for Robin turns a little non-platonic.
Nowadays, we’d probably just call Lily bi, but back in the day when HIMYM came out (in 2005) I think they would have used the phrase “girl crush.” Call it what you want, but Lily absolutely wanted to kiss Robin.
The Playbook, a.k.a. Barney’s elaborate book of pick-up artistry. Some of the best plays include The Mrs. Stinsfire (Barney becomes the house mother at a sorority) and The Ted Mosby (Barney wears Ted’s clothes and tells girls he’s been left at the altar). It sounds gross (it is), but unfortunately a lot of Barney’s plays actually work for him.
In my honest opinion, Barney’s character only works because Neil Patrick Harris seems to genuinely be one of the sweetest humans on the planet. No other character could spend so much time trying to trick women and still come off as mostly likable.
While growing up in Canada, Robin Scherbatsky was kind of a tomboy. She’s a huge hockey fan, frequents a Canadian bar called the Hoser Hut, and has a thing for guys with missing teeth. That’s why Robin’s deepest, darkest secret is that once upon a time, she was a Canadian teen pop star named Robin Sparkles.
Robin Sparkles’ most famous hit is definitely “Let’s Go To The Mall,” an upbeat tune about going to the mall. Here, I’ll save you the trouble of searching for the video yourself:
This song WILL be stuck in your head for the next 3-5 business days. Robin Sparkles also had a legendary hit with “The Beaver Song,” featuring Jessica Glitter (The Masked Singer panelist Nicole Scherzinger).
The Slap Bet
One of my personal favorite running gags from How I Met Your Mother is Marshall and Barney’s Slap Bet. Here are the basics:
While Robin is trying to hide her dark past as Robin Sparkles, Barney and Marshall strike up a friendly bet. The person who can guess Robin’s secret has permission to slap the other across the face.
The rules become convoluted, though, as slaps begin to occur without consent from the Slap Bet Commissioner (Lily). Slaps are traded back and forth, but ultimately Marshall ends up with three slaps in his Slap Bank that can be administered to Barney at any time in the future. From that point on, any moment could turn into Slapsgiving.
Marshall Is The Runt Of His Family
Jason Segel, who played Marshall, stands at a gangly 6'4", absolutely towering over Alyson Hannigan (who played Lily). But back home in Minnesota, Marshall is actually the baby of the family. He’s also the tiniest—his brothers are 6'7" and 7'0".
Marshall’s family was a loving one, but the three boys often got pretty rough playing Baskiceball (a basketball/hockey combo) and wrestling. Since Marshall was the littlest, he got pretty used to taking a beating as a kid.
The gang firmly believes that there is a Doppelganger out there for each of them. At the start of the series, they’ve already found one: Moustache Marshall, whom Ted saw at Maclaren’s on a date in 2002.
Over the course of the rest of the series, more lookalikes appear on the streets of New York. Ultimately they find the remaining four: Lesbian Robin, Stripper Lily, Mexican Wrestler Ted, and Fertility Doctor Barney.
Barney’s doppelganger was a lot harder to find—mostly because he likes to dress up in costumes and mess with his friends.
Other Bits That Make Me Laugh
This list could have gone on forever, but here are some of the smaller bits that always make me laugh.
- That one couple in the background of Season 9 that meets, gets engaged, has a baby, and grows old
- The REAL hero of the Karate Kid isn't Ralph Macchio
- Saluting Major Baggage or General Idea
- Lily's death stare
All nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother are available to stream on Hulu. Or, if you’re interested in watching the spinoff starring Hilary Duff, the Hulu original How I Met Your Father is available on the streaming service as well.
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She/her. Lover of female-led comedies, Saturday Night Live, and THAT scene in Fleabag. Will probably get up halfway through the movie to add more butter to the popcorn.