As someone who has viewed so much television and so many movies in my nearly twenty-four years of living, I have to say that one of the most versatile actors I have ever seen on screen is Neil Patrick Harris. Truly, this man has range when it comes to acting, whether it be drama, comedy, a musical, or anything else.
And not only that, but Harris can sing and dance and perform his butt off. He is seriously the definition of what I would consider a triple threat. But Harris has been around in the industry for many years, and today, we’re going to go over the best Neil Patrick Harris movies and TV shows, and how you can watch them streaming, or how to rent them.
Doogie Howser, M.D. (1989-1993)
If you’re looking for a (mostly) '90s dramedy, check out Doogie Howser, M.D. In this series, we follow Doogie Howser, a seemingly normal teenager with a big brain and a gifted genius. But even if he has to deal with the normal everyday issues of growing up, there’s also a catch - he’s a licensed physician.
For those who don’t know, this was Neil Patrick Harris' first big role, and just the start of a big career. But even then you can tell that he was made for television with his acting skills, and his natural charisma that he emitted as Doogie. Such a charm to watch him when he was young and to see him now, especially with all these other doctors shows out like Grey’s Anatomy or E.R.
Stream Doogie Howser M.D. on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
How I Met Your Mother (2005-2014)
Probably one of the most famous Neil Patrick Harris roles was his part as Barney Stinson in How I Met Your Mother. In this popular sitcom, a man recalls the story of how he met the mother of his children, detailing his personal life and love life that was always constantly changing, as well as his friends.
Harris received acclaim for his portrayal of Barney Stinson. While the rest of the How I Met Your Mother cast is great, there’s nothing quite like Barney hitting on ladies or saying some ridiculous quote that will make you literally snort out your drink because you’re laughing so hard. He’s just legen -- wait for it -- dary. And you can’t stop him no matter what. I would straight-up watch a spinoff of just him years later.
Stream How I Met Your Mother on Hulu. (opens in new tab)
Gone Girl (2014)
This amazing psychological thriller, directed by David Fincher and based on the novel of the same name by Gillian Flynn, is one of the best out there. Gone Girl, starring Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, tells the story of a man whose wife goes missing, but in turn, he ends up becoming the biggest suspect. Now, he has to prove that it wasn’t him – but nothing is quite as it seems.
While Neil Patrick Harris is known for many of his great comedic roles, he also had an amazing role in Gone Girl as Desi Collings, the ex-boyfriend of Amy (Rosamund Pike). His scenes in the movie were so amazing and he really showed off just how skilled he is as a dramatic actor as well. I wish he was in more roles like this because he truly shined.
Rent/Buy Gone Girl on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
The Unbearable Weight Of Massive Talent (2022)
Released in 2022 as part of the 2022 movie premiere schedule, The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, starring Nicolas Cage, follows a fictionalized version of himself as he travels across the world to spend time with a megafan after he is paid millions of dollars, but this trip turns into something a whole lot more chaotic.
While the main stars of The Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent are Nicolas Cage and Pedro Pascal (as they should be, since they were so funny and ridiculous), Neil Patrick Harris had some pretty unforgettable moments that reminded me of his time in the Harold and Kumar films (which we’ll get into in a bit). He was sarcastic, overly-sexual, and just pure chaotic energy and I loved every second he was on the screen.
Starship Troopers (1997)
Next up on the list, we have Starship Troopers, a military sci-fi film that was released in 1997. In this movie, we mainly follow Johnny Rico, a young man in the Mobile Infantry in a time that is much different than ours, as they fight in a war that is truly out of this world against giant green bugs known as Arachnids. No, not those arachnids -- literal aliens.
This film is a ridiculous ride from beginning to end and is quite funny in some ways, and at the time, it had some pretty badass visual effects (for a 1997 film, so it’s not like it’s a CGI-fest). Neil Patrick Harris, as part of the cast, played Carl Jenkins, who was a psychic and used his powers for the military, and he was a fun addition to this colorful cast of characters that made this action film so ridiculously crazy and yet so much fun.
Rent/Buy Starship Troopers on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
His Glee Appearance (2010)
While Neil Patrick Harris didn’t make numerous appearances in Glee like many other guest stars, his one time on the show was so memorable that, years later, I still sing his version of “Dream On.”
For those who don’t know, Glee was a popular musical-comedy that followed the Glee club at a high school in Ohio, and how the students, as well as the leader of the group, try their hardest in order to build themselves up from zeros to heroes and somehow become popular and win Nationals.
In the Season 1 episode, “Dream On,” Harris played the character Bryan Ryan, a rival of Will Schuster’s (Matthew Morrison) back in the day. These two battle it out throughout the episode, ultimately culminating in one of the best song covers on the show, “Dream On,” where Harris really got the chance to show off his singing talents on television. This dude is talented as heck, and he won an Emmy Award for his guest role in the show, so you know it’s good.
Stream his Glee appearance on Disney+. (opens in new tab)
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog (2008)
Created by Joss Whedon, this is a pick that you should watch if you like Neil Patrick Harris' singing talent. Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog stars Harris as Dr. Horrible, a supervillain with his own personal video blog, who is trying to join the Evil League of Evil, but through every attempt, no matter how hilarious, he is foiled by Captain Hammer each time.
Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog got a great audience score on Rotten Tomatoes, showing just how popular it was with fans. And who wouldn't want to see Neil Patrick Harris as an eccentric villain once again? He just does it so well. That, paired with his natural musical talent, makes this a great pick.
Buy Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
The Harold And Kumar Movies (2004-2011)
In this fun film trilogy, we follow the titular characters, Harold and Kumar, on ridiculous adventures together. In Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle, the duo gets high and decides to go to the fast-food restaurant together but run into much trouble along the way. In the sequel, Harold and Kumar Escape Guantanamo Bay, they do exactly that -- try to get out of the island when they are trapped. And in the third film, A Very Harold and Kumar 3-D Christmas, we get to see them on a holiday adventure.
Probably one of the first times I ever saw Neil Patrick Harris was in the Harold & Kumar movies. I know, what a way to get introduced to him as an actor, but it made its impression on me and I love him in these movies because he plays the complete opposite of who he is in real life. As a womanizing, disgusting pervert, somehow, someway, his character always gets himself tangled up in Harold and Kumar’s adventures and it’s just ridiculous. There’s nothing quite like a fictionalized version of himself.
Rent/Buy Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2017-2019)
Next up on this list, we have A Series of Unfortunate Events. This three-season Netflix series follows the Baudelaire children after they lose their parents and are taken under the care of Count Olaf as they are moved between foster homes, while he just wants them for their incredible fortune. As time passes, they learn more about who their parents truly were.
I was so upset that this series only lasted for three seasons. I wanted this show to go on for so much longer because Neil Patrick Harris was honestly amazing as Count Olaf. He was dramatic, funny, and just the right amount of evil where you really believed his performance, and truly, if he ever returned to the role, I would be down to watch him again. He definitely holds a candle to Jim Carry’s version as well. I think he might even be better.
Stream A Series of Unfortunate Events on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
8-Bit Christmas (2021)
Moving on, we now have a fun Christmas film that I know you’ll enjoy. Released on HBO Max, we take a look at 8-Bit Christmas, a movie that tells the story of a man who is recollecting on the time of his childhood when he was obsessed with video games, and how this led to a crazy Christmas season in the late 1980s.
This movie is just pure nostalgia fun, for someone like me who grew up playing games and especially for the whole family that was around when video games were just starting to gain traction in modern-day culture. It’s heartwarming in the best way, and it’s partly because of Neil Patrick Harris’ electric performance as the lead character, Jake Doyle, and his chemistry with his on-screen daughter, Sophia Reid-Gantzert. They’re great, but the story as a whole is so cute.
Stream 8-Bit Christmas on HBO Max. (opens in new tab)
Last but not least, we have the latest addition to Neil Patrick Harris’ line-up of TV shows, Uncoupled. This series, from Sex and the City creator, Darren Star, follows a man who was suddenly broken up with by his long-term partner after seventeen years, and now has to navigate the dating world in his forties, which includes the ever popular idea of online dating.
If you like Darren Star and his other shows, such as Sex and the City or Emily in Paris, then you’ll enjoy Uncoupled, but really, it’s Harris that steals the show. He was the perfect choice for the main role as Michael Lawson, because truly, he is just out of this world funny. And honestly, seeing him return back to his comedy show roots is always fun after watching him on How I Met Your Mother for years.
Stream Uncoupled on Netflix. (opens in new tab)
No matter what you pick from this list, I’m sure you’re going to find something that you truly enjoy and will love to watch over and over again. For me, I’m just going to go and re-watch all of How I Met Your Mother again.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!