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7 Creepy Realizations About Barney From How I Met Your Mother

Jeremy enjoys reviewing cinema and television when not working as a chemist.

Marshall, Lily, Robin, Ted, and Barney

Marshall, Lily, Robin, Ted, and Barney

How I Met Your Mother Overview

Other than a polarizing ending, fans absolutely adore sitcom/drama/romance (Netflix classifies it as many things) How I Met Your Mother (HIMYM) for its hilarious adventures and surprisingly engaging drama. Throughout the show, we watch protagonist Ted Mosby and his four best friends tackle and overcome a variety of problems, cheering for our five heroes the entire journey.

That is, until we realize one of Ted's best friends, Barney Stinson, is one of the sleaziest people imaginable. Spoilers ahead.

Barney Stinson

Barney Stinson

Barney Stinson

Played by talented actor Neil Patrick Harris, Barney quickly became a fan favorite for his entertaining catchphrases (Suit up, legen—wait for it—dary, etc.), hidden depths (dude has daddy issues), and charm. Some compare him to fellow womanizer-with-a-heart-of-gold Joey from Friends, and despite Barney's wild antics and over-the-top advances on women, his friends always laugh it off—hey, it's just good ol' Barney fooling around, right?

Wrong. When we ignore the laugh track and actually examine Barney's deceitful behavior, we soon realize he's exactly the type of guy you don't want your daughter to encounter. Heck, even best friend Marshall has a horrible vision of Barney pursuing Marshall's hypothetical daughter in her teenage years.

To really see what I mean, let's examine seven creepy revelations about Barney Stinson!

7. He Assaults Ted

Before we get to Barney's numerous sexual deviances, let's talk about his often-overlooked violent and dangerous habits. In season 1 alone, he forcefully pushes Ted at the airport into the suitcases of two girls (as part of a scheme to woo them). A few episodes later, he sets Ted's coat on fire—while Ted is drunk.

Admittedly, this latter example was to stop Ted from drunk-calling Robin, which could have been a rare thoughtful moment, but comes across as pretty dangerous, especially involving someone as intoxicated as Ted was. Fortunately for Ted, neither case led to serious harm, but either could very well have ended in disaster.

Barney desperately seeking women

Barney desperately seeking women

6. He Constantly Deceives Women

If you've seen the show, you know Barney will do nearly anything to get in bed with a women—and leave afterwards as quickly as possible. Below are some of his most outrageous actions to fulfill this purpose:

  • He poses as his own evil twin, the Prince of Norway, the owner of Google, and Neil Armstrong.
  • He takes a woman to a campsite out in the woods, steals her truck, and leaves her as a bear attacks.
  • He convinces a woman he only has twelve hours to live.

Note that Barney often deceives women by pretending to be another person. You might not think much of it until you realize this constitutes a crime called "rape by deception," where sexual consent is received, but only through lies and fraudulent actions. Ring any bells?

Seriously, don't video or photograph without consent.

Seriously, don't video or photograph without consent.

Chief among Barney's crimes is videotaping his several one-night stands at his apartment. Of course, sex tapes are completely legal—if both parties consent. Anything else is a serious crime.

Stephanie's Law
Take the real-life story of Michael Piznarski, who secretly recorded a heated encounter with his then-girlfriend. After they broke up, Piznarski posted the video online (another no-no) and the police raided his apartment, finding recordings of various sexual nights with multiple clueless women. This breaks a statute called "Stephanie's Law," which simply states you cannot record or broadcast a person undressing or in a sexual act without their permission.

For his actions, Piznarski was labeled a sex offender and sentenced to a few years in prison. And guess where this all occurred? New York—where HIMYM takes place. That's right, Barney could very well be incarcerated if any of his victims discovered the tapes and charged him.

Barney not only secretly records women, but actively lies about it if questioned—like when one of his hook-ups asked if the camera's green light meant it was on (duh), which he denied.

Barney eyeing Marshall's date

Barney eyeing Marshall's date

4. He Steals Marshall's Date (Three Times)

In Season 2, Episode 2 (The Scorpion and the Toad), Marshall tries to date other women to help get over Lily, who left him to pursue an art program in another state. Having dated Lily for nine years, Marshall needs help with flirting, and Barney offers to take him out and help his endeavors.

Strike One
So what's the first thing that happens? Marshall awkwardly talks to a girl, only to have Barney swoop in and captivate her with charm and magic tricks, eventually taking her home. Thanks, pal. Later, Barney even mentions the girl stated were it not for him, she probably would have gone home with Marshall. Sure, this a minor character who never returns, but Barney did the one thing a wingman should never do—steal the person his friend is interested in.

Strikes Two and Three
Plus, (in the same episode) Barney does the exact same thing when Marshall falters with the next girl. And then, when Marshall manages to successfully talk to one woman in a set of twins, Barney lies to Marshall, saying both twins want Barney. We learn this is a fabrication, as both the girl and Marshall like each other, but Barney (too obsessed with having a threesome) deceives both parties and splits them up. Seriously, think about how mad you would be if a close friend did that to you.

Virginia and Barney

Virginia and Barney

3. He Hits on Ted's Mother

Giving a whole new meaning to the words How I Met Your Mother, Barney continuously pursues Ted's divorced mother, Virginia Mosby. The two even kiss when Barney picks her up from the airport. Virginia ultimately marries a different man, an act that disturbs Barney so much he cries at their wedding.

Do I really need to explain this one? Barney frequently asserts he's Ted's best friend, but finds it acceptable to view his mother as a sexual object. And like the vast majority of guys, Ted isn't cool with this, even smashing a hole in his wall with a sledgehammer upon discovering their kiss. Of course, this isn't the only line Barney crosses with Ted...

Barney, Robin, and Ted

Barney, Robin, and Ted

2. He Sleeps with Ted's Ex

You could argue either way whether Robin goes better with Ted or Barney, as the show offers evidence to both. After all, Robin is one of very few women Barney respects and (mostly) treats as a person, not a sexual release.

Yet none of that changes Barney's breaking of his self-called "Bro Code," a set of guidelines for friends to follow. Chief of which is thou shalt not sleep with thy friend's ex, a mantra most of us know without a silly code from a sitcom.

Nonetheless, Barney has sex with with Ted's ex Robin (after she went through a bad breakup and was emotionally vulnerable—of course), an action that creates a large rift Ted and Barney. As we later learn, Ted and Robin still harbor feelings for one another, further complicating the situation. Ted eventually forgives Barney, a testament to his kind nature, but this yet again shows Barney's lack of regard for his friend's feelings.

Barney and Lily

Barney and Lily

1. He Hits on Marshall's Wife

Guys, you should already know it's not cool to set sights on a taken girl even if you don't know her boyfriend. But despite Barney's close friendship with both Marshall and Lily, he constantly flirts with and makes lewd comments towards her (which she doesn't enjoy). These remarks don't stop upon Marshall and Lily's marriage, and Barney makes no secret of the fact that he'd bed Lily if possible. Here's a quick list of his most inappropriate actions:

  • He desperately searches for a sex tape of Marshall and Lily upon learning of its existence.
  • He disguises himself as a doctor, attempting to examine Lily naked in a checkup.
  • He finds pleasure in paying Lily (who was struggling for funds alongside Marshall) to paint him naked.
  • He stays overnight in Marshall/Lily's tub without their consent, and was present and awake when Lily used the restroom that night

Barney never successfully woos Lily, so we overlook these instances as light-hearted shenanigans, but really stop and think about how you'd feel if your best friend tried to sleep with your spouse.

Fan Reception

How could fans ignore or miss all these incidents? Well, most are played for laughs, and Barney does some genuinely nice things throughout the show, but only for his friends—he terribly mistreats the women he comes across.

Plus, we're supposed to idolize Barney. He has a sweet job, piles of money, he's good with women, well-dressed, quick-witted, and somehow manages to keep four decent people as his best friends. That's a life many, especially us guys, would love, causing us to inadvertently respect rather than despise Barney. And we somewhat forgive him for his trespasses because we see the difficult issues he faced growing up, like an absent father and the abuse suffered from his first girlfriend.

Still, behind the high fives, jokes, and suits lies a shattered person who spreads more misery than joy throughout the world he inhabits.

Questions & Answers

Question: Why do you hate Barney? It's just a sitcom!

Answer: Easy there. No one said I hate Barney. Just because it isn't real doesn't mean the scope of his actions within the fictional universe aren't despicable.

Question: Have you seen the entire series? Barney took Marshall's dates because he wanted him to be with Lilly which is why he's the one the brought her back to New York. Also, he just wanted her to paint him naked, it had nothing to do with her specifically.

Answer: Have you given this thought? Sure, Barney's actions regarding stealing Marshall's date turn out to be more well-intentioned than we originally believed, but they're still far from ideal because they essentially force a decision on Marshall--to get back with Lilly or be single indefinitely.

Sure, Lilly and Marshall end up together, making us somewhat forgive Barney for wanting them to pair back up, but they almost didn't, and had either of them chosen not to rekindle things, Barney was very possibly sabotaging Marshall's new life (and happiness) without consent. That's definitely not how I'd want my friends to show support for me after a breakup; Robin herself (the woman who married Barney) admits that she has doubts about him because even his "good" actions revolve around deception (like his proposal to her).

As for the painting, I very much doubt Barney didn't derive pleasure from having his friend's wife (who he flirts with constantly) perform the act, but even if you're right, that's a small defense that doesn't excuse the other transgressions.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill


Neil on August 05, 2018:

Barneys attitude to women is a defence after having his heart broken by Shannon . Prior to Shannon cheating and lying to him he was a virgin saving himself for marriage and planned to join the peace corps

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on April 30, 2018:


There are many issues with your arguments, beginning with your numerous errors ("It's mater revealed he dies") and extending to your claims that using makeup is akin to stealing someone's identity.

That "popular theory" is interesting, but not one I buy into. First, Future Ted admits when he's remembering something wrong or editing it. Then, if Future Ted's goal was to discredit Barney, he'd leave out the several semi-redeeming moments that Barney has throughout the series, which he most certainly didn't do.

J on April 30, 2018:

Oh also, he didn't dress up to examine Lily naked he did that to make Marshall play laser tag with him. He never tried to examine Lily. Watch the episode again please.

J on April 30, 2018:


So about the recordings? It's mater revealed he dies tell the women they're being recorded and photographed before they leave and makes a scrapbook and even offers to sell them a copy.

He was dropping Virginia at the airport not picking her up and she came onto him when he was nervous.

Robin bedded Barney and everyone claims it's his fault. Watch it again and it's evident that she used him for support and tore him out of the group with her own guilt by lying to Barney about keeping it secret snd telling Ted herself before Barney could.

Barney hitting on Lily may seem over the line but is commonplace banter and the painting was nothing sex related he was literally paying an artist and he did not sue them for stealing his money when she gave him "The Ken Doll" and refused to paint his junk if you paid attention.

Deception : Any woman that wears a pushup bra and makeup should be arrested for deception by that logic. He falsified his identity multiple times sure but he wasn't doing anything illegal by NY State Law. Seriously look it up.

Also for the whole thing abiut stealing dates, he stole them to get Marshall bsck with Lily and sure that seems like he forced the decision on them but he did them a huge favour and spent oodles of money on making it happen. If they decided not to rekindle things he truly woild have helped Marshall but in that scenario, he was a wingman for Lily, he was wing manning their relationship to get them back together.

Also a popular theory : Ted is the unreliable dickbag telling the story to get permission fro his kids to bone Robin again. Barney was his big romantic rival when it comes to Robin so every seemingly notorious Barney flaw is just a fib, an exaggerated lie so the kids think it's okay for Ted to date a woman who isn't just his own And Barney's ex but his EX WIFE!

andrea on February 24, 2018:

He pretends to be a doctor to give women breast examines

He tried to convince a woman her husband was having affair with his wife

He made a joke he may have sold a woman into the human trafficking

He tricked a blind woman he was Sean Connery

He got a woman arrest when left in house he did not own she was arrest for trespassing

Jeremy Gill (author) from Louisiana on December 16, 2017:

@Ted is not a decent person

I think it's safe to assume that what Ted's kids actually heard was different than what we did. Would they really sit for 30+ hours? Besides that, Ted's morality is a topic for another day.

@Why do you need my name?

6) I'm no legal expert, but the research I've done indicates it doesn't need to be a significant other.

5) Common ground, glad to see it.

4) Admittedly, Barney's intentions were later revealed to be better than we thought, but his methods are still questionable. Why not just tell Marshall what he really thought and spare him the humiliation?

2 & 3) It's not about the women's freedom of choice, it's about Barney's lack of respect for actions he knows will upset his best friend. Heck, you admit these were selfish actions.

Why do you need my name? on December 15, 2017:

6)That doesn’t really qualify as rape by deception (aka rape by fraud), which in all states that I know of requires that you are impersonating the victims significant other. Pretending to be Neil Armstrong would be tantamount to using an alias, and there is no law against that.

5)The recordings are definitely creepy and illegal, probably the worst thing he does.

4)In season 2 episode 19 it is revealed that Barney stealing these girls was part of his attempts to get Marshall and Lily back together, pay attention to what he says to Lily in San Francisco, “I can’t keep stealing girls from Marshall forever”

3&2) While yeah this is a dick move, Virginia and Robbin are both free to do whatever they want with whoever they want, they are not beholden to Ted

Ted is not a decent person on December 13, 2017:

Ted is a creep. Which sick person tells their teenage children the stories (extremely well detailed) of how he banged various women and then speak about maybe their mother for 10-15 episodes only to hint that he's still in love with his best friend's ex-wife 15 FREAKING YEARS later?

Also, at least Barney changed for Robin, Ted was a sick creep who couldn't let go of Robin after 15 years even though the entire show hinted that they were not meant to be. Also, ever wonder how he conveniently had what he most wanted (kids) and then Robin, because Robin couldn't have them?

jake on November 01, 2017:

yea, barney had some moments, but anyone who stops and really thinks can see he's slime