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In the year 2030, Ted Mosby recounts to his kids the story of how he and their mother met and fell in love. Although each episode is ostensibly an important step on the way to Ted meeting "The Mother," it seems Ted is the kind of person who uses this basic premise as an excuse to ramble off onto hundreds of other, completely unrelated anecdotes.
The series focuses on Ted's Five-Man Band and the hijinks that ensue when they get together. Ted (Josh Radnor) is a struggling architect and hopeless romantic, who would like nothing more than to get married and settle down. He is best friends with his former college roommate, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), an idealistic lawyer with a child-like streak. Marshall is married to Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), a surprisingly dirty kindergarten teacher and artist who acts as the mother for the group. Also in the gang is Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), a TV news reporter who used to be a Canadian pop star and who was introduced to us as Ted's main love interest in Seasons 1 and 2. Lastly, in a "save the best for last" sense, is Barney Stinson, a pretty much constantly on-the-make serial womanizer played by Neil Patrick Harris.
This Sitcom uses its framing device to some good effect, such as parts where the narrator honestly had no first-hand recollection of the events, or events are recalled out-of-order in order to create twists and surprises and achieve maximum impact (both methods can be seen in the memorable episode "The Pineapple Incident"). In other episodes, the framing device allowed Ted to retell stories involving foul curse words or drugs by substituting each with an Unusual Euphemism for his children's benefit.
Although giving the show narrative depth, the gimmick does not interfere with the show feeling like a regular sit-com, albeit one grounded in a wonderfully complex universe of seemingly unimportant events and myriad callbacks. Besides the concept itself, there is one other unusual element: the resident Wacky Guy is the best groomed and best dressed person in the show.
The uncredited Narrator for the show is Bob Saget.
After nine years on the air, How I Met Your Mother ended with its broadcast on March 31, 2013 and revealed, finally, all its secrets...
- Acceptable Feminine Goals: Mostly averted. Robin mostly puts her career before her romantic life, and the series as a whole portrays family success as important to both men and women. Ted is the most family oriented of the entire group and Barney is starting to come around to that as well.
- Actor Allusion: Too many to count. So many in fact, that they all got moved to the trivia tab.
- All Women Are Lustful: Lily and Robin certainly are (particularly the former).
- Ambiguously Bisexual: Lily.
- Robin's starred in a few of Lily's dreams that remind her a woman's sexuality is a moving target.
- Her secret crush is Mila Kunis.
- One of her unfulfilled ambitions in life is to have a lesbian experience.
- Not to mention what happens when she drinks martinis.
- Marshall and Barney. The two spent some time arguing who Ted was having gay dreams about and then realized they were trying to seduce him.
- Amusing Injuries: Barney has a tendency to suffer some of these as a result of his schemes and self-imposed challenges. He's usually fine by the next episode.
- Anachronic Order: A very common trope on this show, where a scene will happen, and then cut back to it later to show the scene from some other perspective. For example, "Swarley," "Zip, Zip, Zip", the whole storyline involving the goat. Also, in a twist, "Three Days of Snow" and "The Leap".
- Anger Montage: "Murderrrrrrr! Climb aboard the murder traiiiiiiiiin!"
- Bad Date: Ted's dates often end badly.
- Beta Couple: Marshall and Lily, the often boringly perfect couple.
- Big Applesauce
- Big No: Barney has a habit of doing this to close episodes.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: A handful of women of the week, but Lily is a rare example that gets portrayed in a positive light.
- Boggles the Mind: Invoked Trope by Ted, who tries to use a Scrabble game to broach the subject of whether Robin has ever been married.
- Bowdlerise: Future!Ted does this during his narration, which he lampshades;
- When Lily discovered an old answering machine message about her;
Ted: *Answer-machine* You should forget about that Grinch!
- Later subverted in the same episode;
Ted: She stole all the christmas presents! What a Grinch!
- Brick Joke: There's one or two in nearly every episode, not to mention several that span the seasons.
- The Bus Came Back: Happens twice with Ted's first serious girlfriend in the series, Victoria. She's put on a bus to Germany towards the end of season 1. They break up over the phone shortly after, and that's the last we see of her for years. As of the 2nd episode of season 7, she's back just to be put on the bus (both literally and figuratively) again in the next episode. However, she returns once again in the season finale.
- But for Me It Was Tuesday: Barney invokes this when telling Marshall about his first time sleeping with Robin, though strangely but not surprisingly, the invocation has nothing to do with Robin.
Marshall: I'm fairly certain that if these contracts aren't executed precisely, we will be at war with Portugal.
- Butt Monkey: Ted takes a fair amount of abuse, mostly in dating or being mocked for his dating skills.
- Barney - Full episodes have revolved around him getting slapped in the face.
- Robin too, especially with regards to her frustrating news anchor jobs and past career as a teen pop star.
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Lily does this from time to time, probably as a result of spending every day with kindergartners.
- Camp Straight: Ted.
- Caretaker Reversal:In one episode, Robin is sick and Ted takes care of her. When he goes to kiss her, she tries to refuse, but he goes ahead anyway. Immediately after, we see Ted in bed, Robin taking care of him.
Ted: So worth it.
- The Casanova: Barney
- The Cast Showoff:
- Neil Patrick Harris is a magician. He serves on the Board of Directors of Hollywood's Magic Castle. Barney is also a fan of magic, and he uses his tricks to impress girls and set an 'INTERVENTION' banner on fire. It was an intervention to try and stop him doing so many magic tricks. Specifically, those involving fire.
- Marshall plays the piano a lot. In "Slapsgiving", Marshall composes a song about slapping Barney in the face, and Barney joins in on harmony.
- Cobie Smulders got Robin Sparkles.
- Catch Phrase:
- "SUIT UP!"
- "Legen -- wait for it -- DARY"
- "True story."
- (After being asked about his job) "Heh, please".
- "Daddy's home!"
- "What up!"
- "Challenge accepted."
- (Answering his phone) "Go for Barney."
- (When someone, usually Ted, doesn't go along with one of his schemes/stories)" *huff* (name), just...Okay?"
- "To the (insert vehicle here)."
- "You sonuvabitch!"
- "Where's the poop, Robin?"
- "Fun fact" followed by an architecture fact that people usually ignore.
- Also referenced and played with in "The Stinsons", where the actor playing Barney's son tried to give his character the catch phrase "Tyler no likey".
- The TV Guidance column of the Canadian Maclean's magazine has pointed out that the show has also indulged in single-episode catchphrases, which may or not be referenced later on but are otherwise contained only to that episode (many Barneyisms fall into this category).
- The Blitz:
- "Aw, man..."
- Celebrity Paradox: In the summer of 2011, it was discovered that reruns of the show contained retroactive product placement - ads for timely 2011 products inserted into old episodes. This included a scene where Jason Segel stood in front of an ad for Bad Teacher, a film starring Jason Segel.
- The Chain of Harm: This is known as the Chain of Screaming. When someone screams at a subordinate, the subordinate must scream at someone lower, who in turn screams at someone else, and so on until someone screams at the original screamer and the cycle is complete. Marshall's attempts to break the chain do not go as well as he hoped.
- Character Blog: Barney's Blog
- Character Shilling: For Don in season 5.
- The Chessmaster: Barney thinks of himself this way, concocting all sorts of plans with varying degrees of success. Lily Aldrin is a better example - even Barney acknowledges her amazing powers of manipulation.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: James & Tom's son has apparently been retconned out of existence as of "Rebound Girl."
- But James and Tom's son is there in that episode. He's the small, blonde child that Barney says hey to before speaking to James.
- Cigarette of Anxiety: The show revealed that all the main characters were heavy smokers but due to the fact that Ted is an Unreliable Narrator he never mentioned it in the story he is telling his kids. After this revelation, smoking is not shown again in the series for a long time until a crucial episode that changes a lot of the status quo. Robin is going through a very rough time and is on the roof smoking. The implication is that it was such an important and stressful moment that Ted clearly remembered the cigarette and found it worth mentioning years later.
- Cleveland Rocks: Ted hails from the city of Shaker Heights, Ohio: a real-life first-ring suburb of Cleveland (also the hometown of series creator Carter Bays).
- Cloudcuckoolander: Barney at times seems to be a more grounded version of one of these. He's perfectly capable of functioning in the world, but occasionally displays a brand of logic that wouldn't make sense to anyone else but him.
- Also Marshall, who believes in, among other things, the Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster.
- Comically Missing the Point: Barney uses this trope frequently.
- Complexity Addiction: Barney often inexplicably comes up with incredibly elaborate and complicated schemes and solutions, completely overlooking the fact that there's a far simpler solution right in front of him.
- Continuity Lock Out: Given the amount of continuity, callbacks, references and plotlines the show has have over its run it's all but inevitable for this to occur on some level. However, steps are taken to simplify things and catch new viewers up. The framing device allows for a lot of concessions for this take, such as Ted specifically reminding his children about past events ("Remember when I said..." is frequently used).
- Continuity Nod: All the time, as the creators do a lot of planning ahead due to the multiple flashback nature of the show. In an interview, they revealed that while shooting Season Two, they also shot a scene that they don't plan to use until the series finale.
- Continuity Porn: So, so, so much. Pretty much every single episode has at least a few callbacks to previous episodes, the show is rife with unlampshaded running jokes, and sometimes events in an episode will explain or go into detail about a scene or line of dialogue from a previous one (e.g., pretty much everything involving Marshall, Ted, and Lily's college years).
- Continuity Snarl: The unique storytelling format of the show comes in handy since it is easily possible that episodes overlap or may not even be in complete chronological order. After all, "old Ted" is just telling his kids a story and it is shown that he alters the story (how he got over Robin's rebound boyfriend Gael) or leaves out details (the dirty joke, Victoria's story in Game Night). Sometimes he even makes mistakes, as he was close to telling the story of the goat at the wrong point of the actual story.
- Cool Teacher: Ted's students are really fond of him. Well, once he finds the right room. Ted possibly stops being a cool teacher when Zoey turns his students against him and he delivers the ultimatum of failing anyone who skips class.
- The Couch: Both in Ted and Marshall's apartment and in the bar downstairs.
- Since Marshall and Lily bought their apartment, an increasing number of episode play there as well.
- Couch Gag: In syndication, every episode ends with a different rule from the Bro Code.
- Cradle of Loneliness: Lily is shown holding a pillow dressed in Marshall's clothes while he's away.
- Crazy Memory: Occurs with Barney at times.
- Dawson Casting: The gang frequently plays their younger selves in flashback sequences, even to when they're teenagers.
- Also inverted with Robin who is actually a couple of years older than Cobie Smulders is in real life (presumably to shift her being a news anchor out of Improbable Age territory).
- Lampshaded in one episode, when Barney claims Robin always says she's two years younger than what she really is.
- Deadpan Snarker: Future Ted has a tendency to immediately deflate Ted's promises, among other things.
- Death Glare: Lily's "you're dead to me" look.
- Also, Robin's angry stare (Don't ever take a picture of it...she will punch you. And you will cry. For the third time. That night.)
- Deconfirmed Bachelor/ The Determinator: Barney.
- Devoted to You: Scooter to Lily, Ted to Robin, everyone Maggie bumps into.
- Disappeared Dad: Barney's father abandoned him when he was very young, and his mother doesn't seem to know who his father is either. She tells Barney his dad is Bob Barker, former host of the Price is Right, which he deludes himself into believing is true. His friends go along with it in order to spare his feelings.
- Do-It-Yourself Theme Tune: The opening theme is the very end of "Hey Beautiful" by the Solids; two creators of the show are members of the band.
- Dramatic Pause: Barney is a big fan of these, whether it's as part of his catchphrase, or just when he's announcing something to the group.
- The Driver: Ranjit, the cab driver in the pilot, who pops back up every once in a while.
- DVD Commentary: Season 2's "Arrivederci, Fiero" had its writer Chris Harris and star Jason Segel doing a commentary, which involved them stripping to their underwear. For season 3's "The Chain of Screaming", Segel demanded to do the commentary with Harris, who hadn't even written the episode. Before recording, Segel had done shots. During recording, he continued to drink vodka (with Harris) and also produced twelve condoms. For season 4, they went further and recorded a commentary in the personas of "David Ellis Duncan" and "Evan Rock".
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Theodore Evelyn Mosby; Robin Charles Scherbatsky.
- Embarrassing Nickname: Robin Sparkles and Swarley.
- "That's just how I Roll..land."
- Embarrassing Old Photo: Marshall. He makes a weird face on every picture ever taken of him.
- Inverted for Barney, who never looks bad in photos.
- Lily's naked painting of Marshall may count.
- Epic Fail: Barney's schemes tend to alternate between this and unbelievable successes, with very little middle ground. For example, the entire bachelor party he tries to throw Marshall, in which absolutely everything goes wrong; attempting to pull off the 'Naked Man' and getting thrown onto the streets in the middle of the night with no clothes; his attempts at completing the Murtaugh List; and also when he tries to get out of a speeding ticket in 'As Fast As She Can' and ends up in a holding cell.
- Played with in the episode where he runs he marathon with no training, in which he combines both unbelievable success and unmitigated failure.
- Everything's Better With Robin Sparkles.
- Expository Hairstyle Change:
- Barney shed his longer, hippie-like locks in favor of a sleeker look when his girlfriend dumped him for a businessman; Lampshaded when Lily goes to San Francisco and returns with a darker, straighter cut and the first thing Robin says to her after her shocking return is "I love your hair!".
- Everyone's hair changes in the flash forwards, to more conservative "parent" haircuts.
- The Faceless: At first, played straight with Barney's mom. In a later episode, unexpectedly subverted.
- Failure Is the Only Option: Basically Marshall and Lily are the only two in the 5 who have a Romantic Relationship and stay that way. Ted and Robin (and Barney) have had seemingly well developed romances that have failed in the end, which sometimes seem to make the show flirt with Status Quo Is God. But still, they seem to only be really fortunate in getting one night stands.
- Fan Service: Just ponder on the amount of time Barney has spent shirtless across various episodes. Nobody's complaining.
- First Girl Wins: Marshall and Lily met as they were moving into their college dorms. They are also each others' first and only sexual partners (though for Lily, this may be a technicality), a point of pride for the couple.
- This is also averted for Robin.
- Five-Man Band
- The Hero: Ted
- The Lancer: Barney
- The Smart Guy: Lily (Although sometimes Marshall takes this role, since he is a lawyer)
- The Big Guy: Marshall (Doubles as The Chick, as he is the most emotional and frequently acts as the group's moral compass)
- The Chick: Robin (Doubles as The Big Guy [Class 4-ish], being a gun-loving hockey fan)
- Sixth Ranger: Probably The Mom, whoever she will be, but for the purposes of the show, Ted's current love-interest fills this role.
- Flash Back, Flash Forward, and Separate Scene Storytelling: Firstly, the entire series is a flashback. Secondly, even that involves a lot of flashing both directions.
- Food Slap: Drinks to the face are an occupational hazard for Barney Stinson. "Eventually, you'll be able to anticipate it, and when you do... free drink!"
- Frothy Mugs of Water: In-universe, and ironically: all references to marijuana usage are replaced with "eating sandwiches" when Ted relates the story to his kids.
- The Gambling Addict: Barney. Apparently he used to think that gambling was for suckers, until Marshall convinced him to take a $1 bet on a play at the Super Bowl. Barney instantly becomes enraptured.
- Gay Bravado: a portion of the jokes rely on this.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: See Death Glare.
- Don't forget the Crazy Eyes.
- Grand Romantic Gesture: Ted is fond of these.
- Granola Guy: Barney was once one of these...until he suited up for the first time to deal with Shannon dumping him. Possibly lampshaded when Shannon said she was over "the whole granola thing."
- Handsome Lech: Barney
- Hands-Off Parenting: Barney's childhood was apparently like this, with his mother leaving him alone for days at a time.
- Happily Married: Marshall and Lily
- Heh, Heh, You Said "X": Occurs sometimes with the characters, especially between Barney and Marshall.
- Held Gaze: This is one of Barney's "moves" to invoke intimacy and seduce women (And Ted).
- Heterosexual Life Partners: Ted, Marshall and Barney. So freaking much. Although Ted and Barney deserve a special mention - considering the number of times they hug, tell each other "I love you", and how some scenes between them seem to be played as a couple getting back together (in "Something Blue" and "Miracles"), it's no wonder no one buys Marshall is Ted's best friend anymore.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood:
- Barney: His mom mentions the fact that she both drank coffee and smoked cigarettes constantly whilst she was pregnant with both James and Barney. She also used to leave him home alone when he was a little kid for days at a time, later left him with a babysitter for three weeks while she slept around and "got passed around like a bong" and finally told Barney his father was Bob Barker, which he has deluded himself into believing is true, because his real father abandoned him.
- Robin has a Canadian version of this. Her father clearly wanted a son (her first name is "Charles"), and treated her accordingly. On top of that, his standard for raising a boy included a week where Robin was abandoned in the deep, cold woods, Rambo-style. However, she seems to have no idea that she's messed up and - in fact - thinks her childhood is perfectly normal and that everybody has these kinds of experiences.
- Honorary Uncle: Future Ted refers to all his friends as "Uncle" or "Aunt" to his kids, which causes some viewers to believe that the mother is the sister of one of Ted's friends.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Pairing the 6'4" Jason Segel with 5'4" Alyson Hannigan. Lampshaded in "Three Days of Snow" when Lily is imagining Marshall dumping her for someone "more height-appropriate."
- Later played with when Marshall refers to Robin (5'9) as "freakishly tall."
- Identical Stranger: Each of the gang has a doppleganger living in New York and one of their favorite things is to find them. This becomes a plot device of season 5. They are as follows:
- Lesbian Robin
- Moustache Marshal
- Stripper Lily
- Mexican Wrestler Ted
- Fertility specialist Barney
- Inconvenient Itch: Marshall realizes he has head-lice halfway through a job interview, and starts "discreetly" trying to scratch it. Eventually, it's too much for him and he screams out "I HAVE LICE!". Suffice to say, he did not get the job.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: entire scenes are constructed around them. Typically, one is thrown into conversation at the bar, which leads to the entire gang brainstorming a series of them.
- This is the reason Robin left her job at Metro News 1, because there was at least one lame pun in every other headline.
- Inner Monologue Conversation: Marshall and Lily have "telepathic" conversations many times, Ted and Barney do at least once (which is rather hilarious, in that all Barney's thinking is the Beach Boy's "Kokomo"), and in one notable instance, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney all have one around Ted, where they coordinate a verbal attack to trick Ted into dyeing his hair blond.
- Insistent Terminology: "As Ted's best friend..."
- It Runs in The Family: Barney, his brother and mother are all into promiscuity.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold/Jerkass Facade: Barney
- Joke Exhaustion: Barney does this occasionally, such as when he finds out that Marshall wears a nightshirt to bed.
- Karma Houdini: Lily breaks Ted up with numerous girlfriends, and the most she gets is a telling off. Tends to happen whenever she does something wrong.
- Kent Brockman News: Robin is a magnet for this. The bad puns, the dares, the awkward dancing around the Super Bowl results, the sports guy's on-air bitterness after their failed relationship -- and that's just on Metro News One; Japan and the morning show have their own indignities.
- The Ladette: Robin, enthusiast of drinking, hockey and guns, and Lily, perpetual winner of drinking contests and hot-dog eating competitions.
- Large Ham: Neil Patrick Harris chews up every scene he's in.
- He lampshades it in an audio commentary, saying something like "My acting in this show is very subdued".
- Last Girl Wins: Or so one imagines, anyway.
- Last Het Romance: Robin for a gay ex.
- Late Arrival Spoiler: So many. Any new viewer will unavoidably be spoiled about one of, if not all of the following if they go online:
- Robin is not the mother. She and Ted will not end up together. This was revealed at the end of the pilot, but it can be lost on a viewer who starts watching with a Season 2 episode with them as a couple where Future!Ted doesn't refer to her as "your Aunt Robin."
- Ted breaks up with every recurring girlfriend (including those teased as a potential mother) up to the current season:
- Ted and Victoria break up towards the end of season one.
- Stella leaves Ted at the altar early in season four.
- Lily leaves at the end of season one and breaks up with Marshall, but comes back in the next season and they get back together.
- Barney and Robin sleep together in season three and he falls in love with her. Eventually, they get together in season five.
- Laugh Track: Averted, then used straight. Early seasons taped episodes without a Studio Audience, then screened the completed episode to an audience and recorded the natural laughter (thus, not technically a Laugh Track, which is pre-recorded laughter). As of season six (and possibly earlier), Neil Patrick Harris has stated they've switched to canned laughter. In any case, the show is one of the few critically acclaimed TV comedies of its era to contain audible audience laughter (as opposed to the entirely canned-laughter-free critics' favorites like The Office, 30 Rock, Scrubs, Arrested Development and so on).
- Lemony Narrator: Future Ted, at times.
Ted: I'm not going to give up on her.
- Local Hangout: McLaren's.
- Logging Onto the Fourth Wall: The Other Wiki has a very long list of them.
- Looking for Love In All the Wrong Places: Ted
- Making Love in All the Wrong Places: All of the characters, but Marshall and Lily take it to the point of absurdity, including (but not limited to) Barney's childhood bedroom when they visiting his mother for the first time, and their fertility Doctor's waiting room.
- Man Hug: Barney, Marshall and Ted have quite a few of these, though they usually aren't overly concerned about appearing oversensitive, since they're Heterosexual Life Partners.
- Manipulative Bastard: Barney, who has a whole book with way to seduce woman and regularly manipulates his friends.
- Also, Lily, who sabotaged several of Ted's former relationships and tried to manipulate Barney and Robin.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: So much. The five main characters are: a man who dreams of getting swept off his feet and starting a family, and is ruled by irrational emotional impulses, a man who is gentle, sensitive, prone to hysteria, and committed to the point of clinginess, a man who glorifies stylish clothing and personal appearance to semi-religious levels, a woman who is crude, loud, and often complains that her husband doesn't put out enough, and a woman who is commitment-phobic, hates expressing feelings, loves hard liquor and guns, uncomfortable with kids, and has the emotional sensitivity of a frat boy.
- Master of the Mixed Message: Robin is this a lot, with both Ted (in the earlier seasons), and later Barney in seasons 3 and 4.
- Metaphorgotten: Occurs often with Barney, lampshaded in "The Platinum Rule"
Barney: Remember the old Barney? He was a lion. The king of the jungle. Stalking whatever prey he chose, going in for the kill. Now look at me; de-clawed, neutered. What was once my jungle is now my zoo. And I am forced to mate with the same old lioness, again and again and again and again, while families PAY to watch.
- Monochrome Casting: Given this is NYC, the sheer whiteness of the main cast and most of their supporting cast is rather glaring. Ted's lack of diversity in the girls he dates is somewhat necessitated by the fact that his children are obviously white.
- Musical World Hypotheses: When a musical number appears on the show, it always has an explanation.
- All in Their Heads: "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit" from "Girls vs. Suits" is imagined by Barney.
- Diagetic: All of Marshall's songs ("You Just Got Slapped", played on the piano of the apartment; and the songs he recorded for personalized web sites). All of the Robin Sparkles music videos.
- Adaptation: Theoretically, Ted's "Perfect Date" song is just a spoken monologue told to Barney, turned into a dramatic musical number when the future Ted tells the story to his children.
- Myth Arc: The whole story revolves around all the things that happened to Ted that caused him to meet the future love of his life.
- Mythology Gag: In the Russian version, Robin’s equivalent’s ringtone is Let’s Go to the Mall.
- Nice Guy: Ted.
- Marshall's an even bigger example.
- Wendy's a good female example.
- Although Barney's gay half brother James has many of Barney's character traits, he is much more virtuous.
- In season 7 we get Robin's new boyfriend Kevin.
- Nice to the Waiter: Barney is always nice and friendly to his cabbies, whereas Lily interrupts a cashier by calling him the wrong name (while he was trying to explain why he was wearing the wrong nametag).
- Nightmare Fuel: In-universe example: the thought of Marshall slapping him is this to Barney
- Nostalgic Narrator: Ted, usually.
- Not Now, Kiddo: "NOT NOW, TED!"
- Not Staying for Breakfast: Modus Operandi of Barney.
- Odd Friendship: Barney and Lily are extremely tight, considering Barney is a womanizer and Lily is a nice kindergarten teacher. Or is she?
- Old Shame: An in-character example for Robin, as "Canadian Teen Popstar" Robin Sparkles, and her hit songs "Let's Go To The Mall" and "Sandcastles In The Sand", as well as staring in a Canadian edutainment show. She's so humiliated by this that she would admit to being married & doing porn before admitting to being Robin Sparkles.
- Inverted with Marshall. When Ted points out that in college, Marshall wore a beanie, grew a soul patch & requested everyone refer to him by some ridiculous alias. Marshall immediately retorts that he doesn't regret that for one second.
- Barney's video to Shannon begging her to come back to him (and serenading her) when he was still a hippie definitely goes here.
- Future Ted is often embarrassed by Modern Ted's role in some of the stories. Similarly, Modern Ted is embarrassed about College Ted.
- One episode even revolves around one of the old shames of each character (such as Ted's rereturn).
- One-Scene Wonder: Taxi/limo/anything driver Ranjit shows up at various points in the series, always willing to drive the main cast anywhere in his trusty vehicle, whatever it might be at the time.
- The Other Darrin: Jai Rodriguez becomes the second actor to play James' life partner Tom.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: We rarely see most of the main characters at their regular jobs (except for Robin for obvious reasons.) And what exactly does Barney do for a living? Heh, please.
- The Producers Think Of Everything: Because they're Not Allowed to Grow Up, the same shot of the kids has been used every time they appear since the second season premiere. To avert a case of real life Off-Model, footage of the kids was shot during the second season with the express purpose of using it when Ted finally meets the Mother.
- Product Placement: The show was used to promote the upcoming X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie in the episode "Mosbius Designs." Technically, it's an example of Wolverine Publicity.
- A fake placement for Goliath National Bank... member FDIC.
- The computer screen with map and Bing search engine logo displayed in "Subway Wars", as well as Maury Povich (again) with an X-Box and Kinect.
- The whole show is full of very recognizable cell phones. The fact that both Ted and Robin had the same silver Motorola RAZR was a plot point in season 2. Also, most of the cast has iPhones. They are incredibly aware of the details though - Ted had a Verizon LG phone when they found his alterego, so they gave him a Droid 2 in "Bad News".
- Various Macs can be seen. Some of them are obvious and not covered up at all but some of them are more or less succesfully covered by a globe.
- Puppy Dog Eyes: Okay, so you wouldn't expect a character like Barney to sincerely give the 'puppy dog eyes' look, but since he's played by NPH, he is REALLY effective at it. For example, in 'Stuff' when he wants everyone to stay for his awful play; and also the ending of 'Benefits' during the scene with Robin.
- Puss in Boots: Haaaave you met Ted?
- Purely Aesthetic Glasses: Ted gets very upset when his "spectacles" break during a road trip with Marshall, but later confesses that they were just decorative.
- Queer People Are Funny: Usually with jokes between the main characters.
- The Rashomon: Used often: for example, "Swarley".
- Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Ted.
- Real Men Hate Sugar: Subverted in the character of Marshall - he's a good boyfriend and a dependable mate, but also fond of brunch, pink drinks with fruit in them, and a class of activities often considered feminine. This bothers his friends.
- Redemption Rejection: It's a Running Gag that, no matter how much other characters may try to convince him otherwise, Barney will never abandon his manipulative Casanova ways.
- Retcon: This happens every once in a while in minor ways, mostly justified with Future Ted narrating "Didn't I tell you about ___?"
- Romantic False Lead: Many, especially for Ted.
- These include Victoria, Stella, Karen, Kathy, Natalie, Royce, Stacy, Mary, Vicki, Blah-blah, Holli, Amanda, Jen, Amy, Cindy, Zoey, and Robin.
- Running Gag: Dozens and dozens of them.
- The telepathic conversations.
- Marshall slapping Barney periodically due to him winning the Slap Bet.
- Robin being a former Canadian pop star.
- Ted constantly correcting people if they say something wrong.
- Ted or Marshall being called a woman.
- Barney never saying what his actual job is. (Heh, please.)
- Ted and Robin automatically saluting phrases like "private thing", "major concept", and "general idea."
- Marshall's obsession with the supernatural and constant belief that mundane events have supernatural explanations.
- Robin's love of guns.
- Many an Unusual Euphemism.
- Lily's inability to keep a secret.
- Marshall always winning every game he plays and always shouting said game's name once he wins.
- Ted hating New Jersey.
- The Interventions.
- Ted being
- Robin's ridiculous jobs.
- Ted's need to have the perfect hair.
- Ted's obsession with the Empire State Building.
- Ted to Marshall and Lily: "Please don't."
- Barney My Friends And Zoidberging Ted.
- "And I would walk five hundred miles, and I would walk five hundred more!"
- The guys' obsession with Star Wars.
- Barney being insistant about being Ted's best friend, despite everyone insisting it's Marshall.
- Barney thinking that Bob Barker, former host of The Price Is Right, is his father.
- Marshall's, Ted's, and Lily's "sandwich" consume during college.
- Robin's inability to tell a funny joke.
- Robin using Canadian words or references to people or places in Canada, and nobody understanding her.
- Hurricanes of incredibly lame puns, although this has become somewhat rare in later seasons.
- So...fish are weird huh?
- Sad Clown: There's quite a few hints that Barney is one of these, particularly in more recent episodes.
- Secret Keeper: Averted by Lily most of the time but notably played straight when Barney tells her that he's love with Robin.
- And then averted later on when Marshall reveals she told him after exactly a day.
- Selective Obliviousness: Occurs sometimes with Barney, usually as a coping mechanism, e.g. in 'Cleaning House'.
- Self-Imposed Challenge: Barney loves to do it. To himself.
- Sensei for Scoundrels: Barney is this in some of his more *ahem* altruistic moments.
- Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Barney was the bleeding heart hippy and James was the closeted gay jock.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ted does this all the time, 'cause he's pompous like that.
- Sex Dressed: Happens pretty frequently, but mostly to Lily and Marshall.
- Sickeningly Sweethearts: Marshall and Lily.
- Shaggy Frog Story: Barney's stories will allegedly illustrate a point, but inevitably end up merely highlighting his sexual prowess.
- Sharp-Dressed Man: Barney, of course.
- Shipper on Deck: Marshall and Lily ship BrOTP. Also Barney and Ted. Barney, Robin and Ted ship LAME.
- Show Within a Show: The different shows Robin has hosted (Metro News One, briefly that show in Japan, now a pre-morning talk show at Channel 12).
- See seasons 4, 5, and 6 below for more examples.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Marshall, toward Lily. For the most part. Marshall can't even fantasize about another woman without feeling wrong ... unless he goes through an elaborate fantasy in which Lily dies and he grieves but eventually makes good on her dying wish, which is for him to sleep with whomever it was he is fantasizing about.
- Six Is Nine: In the episode "Bad News", the numbers 50 to 1 are hidden in the episode as a countdown until Marshall receives the news of his father's death. A file folder Barney is holding is marked with the number 9, and later the folder is picked up upside down, now representing the number 6 in the countdown.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism vs. Cynicism: Waaaaaaayyy over on the idealistic side, albeit in a rather snarky way.
- Slut Shaming: The show plays this straight most of the time. Though it is played in the following examples:
- Barney is a serial-user man-whore, and his friends tend to treat him as disgusting more often than heroic.
Ted: You should be proud. You should be tested, but you should be proud.
- Lily is Marshall's My Girl Is a Slut, with the pair of them having an incredibly active sex life, but Marshall makes a huge fuss about the possibility that he wasn't the one to take her virginity. At the same time, part of his problem was that he gave her his.
- Ted's generally after true love and not one night stands. The show tends not to heap abuse on him when he does go for one night stands, but it's usually either not shown (as when he and Robin broke up) or shown in a negative light (as when Marshall spends a morning shaming Ted for a litany of bad decisions, including hooking up with a married woman).
- Robin has fewer conquests than Ted, but she's had a one night stand with Mitch, inventor of The Naked Man!. After the gang spends a few minutes admiring Mitch's ingenuity, Marshall says, "I call slut!" And Robin spends the majority of the episode trying to justify what she did so she doesn't feel bad.
- Something Completely Different: "The Stinson Missile Crisis" is Robin telling the story of how she assaulted a woman to her court-ordered therapist, instead of the usual kids. The therapist keeps lampshading how she keeps talking about Marshall and Lilly and Ted, but she insists it's all connected.
- The second Robin Episode also "Symphony of Illumination"
- Son of a Whore: Fits Barney to a tee.
- Special Guest: So far includes: Wayne Brady, Bob Odenkirk, Bryan Cranston, Danica McKellar, Britney Spears, Heidi Klum, Mandy Moore, Enrique Iglesias, Regis Philbin, Tim Gunn, Nicole Scherzinger, Ben Vereen, Jennifer Lopez, Sarah Chalke, Alan Thicke, Alex Trebek, Maury Povitch, (the voice of) Harvey Fierstein, Alexis Denisof, Jorge Garcia and Katy Perry.
- Bob Barker and The Price Is Right set.
- Spit Take: Taken to new levels in the season seven episode "Mystery Vs History", where this is something of a Running Gag.
- Stalker with a Crush: Scooter, sometimes Ted to Robin.
- Straight Gay: Barney's black brother James, played by Wayne Brady.
- Sugar and Ice Girl/ Tsundere: Robin.
- Team Dad: In one episode, they specifically mention that Ted is the "group dad". This is followed by a montage of Ted doing very dad-like things: telling bad jokes, lecturing the others, and embarrassing them at a restaurant. When Robin tells him this, Ted responds with a stern, "I don't think I like your tone, young lady."
- Team Mom: Lily.
- Tender Tears: Occurs a number of times with, surprisingly, Barney. It's never full-on crying, but he tears up while marrying Marshall and Lily (though he tries to hide it and fails spectacularly); not to mention when he thinks Marshall and Lily are getting a divorce; when Bob Barker says he's proud of him on The Price is Right; while discussing Field Of Dreams with the guys; whenever Robin mentions Ted (who was temporarily done with their friendship) in 'Rebound Bro'; when Robin and Ted start sleeping together in 'Benefits' (Lily points out that he's "weeping openly"); after Marshall slaps him in 'Slapsgiving'; and when Stan suggests what to text to Ted as Holly in 'The Three Days Rule'. There may be more.
- Marshall has a notable crying scene as well after he gets chewed out by Artillery Arthur at his high-paying lawyer job.
- This Is Going to Be Huge: Or in this case, legenWAITFORIT.
- Title Drop: Each episode title gets dropped at some point in it, and the show's name also gets dropped from time to time.
- Token Evil Teammate: Not a "teammate" by name, but Barney fits this role to a "T."
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Robin and Lily, respectively, mostly by their hobbies and interests.
- Tough Room: Averted because the creators hate this trope. Anytime a character is intentionally telling a joke, the actor playing the character telling the joke will be the only actor in the scene who's been told the joke beforehand. This ensures that the rest of the characters will laugh, or at least smirk, at the joke because the rest of the actors haven't heard it before.
- Trope Overdosed: Read the page. When you're done, feed yourself, because it will have been days.
- True Companions: The core five, obviously. They're all very different from each other, but they love one another more than anything else in the entire world and are pretty much Friendship Moment personified.
- Tsundere: Lily's a Type B.
- Twitchy Eye: Happens sometimes with Barney, generally when he's freaking out about something, such as receiving another slap from Marshall.
- Then happens to both Marshall and Robin when they try to hang out just the two of them.
- The Unfettered: In a strange sense, Barney. As soon as he utters the words "Challenge accepted!" he will do anything to make sure he wins. And I do mean anything...
- Unusual Euphemism: "Grinch"; "eating a sandwich"; "playing the bagpipes"; "read a magazine."
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: The gang gets into some very loud, very bizarre arguments in their booth at McLaren's. Nobody else in the bar ever so much as looks up from their beer to glance at them.
- Seeing how Ted, Lily, and Marshall have been several-times-a-week regulars since 2001, everyone's probably used to it. They're probably infamous fixtures of the bar, like the artwork on the far wall or the sign saying "On this spot in 1862, nothing happened."
- Unreliable Voiceover: Future Ted usually edits his story to his kids, cutting out some of the stuff he did, or adding parts that weren't there before.
- However, the trope is averted for the most part. According to the writers, you can trust what Bob Saget says.
- The Un-Reveal: Played with a couple times a season when it is hinted that Ted is close to meeting the mother.
- Verbal Tic: Robin's excessive use of "but...umm" on her pre-morning news show served as the basis for a Drinking Game in "Jenkins."
- This tic is actually either a character trait or a Throw It In, because Smulders demonstrates a "but...um" as far back as the first season.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: Carter Bays and Craig Thomas created the series from the idea "let's write about our friends and the stupid stuff we did in New York". Ted is based on Bays, Marshall is based on Thomas, and Lily is based on Thomas' wife Rebecca.
- The Watson: Ted's kids. Also, Robin in seasons 1 and 2, and Kevin in season 7.
- Well Done Daughter Chick: Robin Charles Scherbatsky...JUNIOR.
- The male version also most definitely applies to Barney, most noticeably in the episode 'Showdown', with Bob Barker.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: "YOU'RE DEAD TO ME" Lily. Complete with Ominous Latin Chanting.
- What Exactly Is His Job?: Barney's exact job has still not been explicitly revealed. "Heh, please."
- When All You Have Is a Hammer: Lily firmly believes every problem can be solved the same way she would deal with her kindergarten class.
- Whip Pan: Used all the time.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Marshall.
- Wolverine Publicity: If you've seen advertisements for the show but not the show itself, you could be forgiven for thinking that Barney is the main character.
- Lampshaded by Jason Segel in the Season 4 blooper reel. Segel and Neil Patrick Harris pretend to pose for a TV Guide cover and Segel jokes that Harris will be the only one who actually ends up on the cover.
- The Wonka: Barney can be one of these at times, what with all his eccentricities. Occasionally crosses over into being a Cloudcuckoolander.
- Worst Whatever Ever
- Yet Another Baby Panda: One of Robin's biggest career complaints.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are: This seems to be Lily's intent with Barney. She believes he has boyfriend/husband potential in him. Barney, at this point, disagrees, but he isn't quite as insufferably smug about "remaining awesome" as in earlier seasons.
- Zany Scheme: Occurs fairly often, with the most insane and elaborate schemes coming from Barney, who has a tendency to go way over the top with every one, as well as having an inability to back down from a challenge. In one episode, it's revealed he hired actors to play his fake wife and son for years so that his mother would be proud of him.
- Acoustic License: Averted in the fifth episode of the first season. The gang goes out to a nightclub, and while on the dance floor no one can hear each other, except when there's momentary lulls in the music.
- Actually Not a Vampire: Parodied. Marshall believes that a bartender is a vampire, based on his black clothing and tendency to come out at night.
Robin: Hey! That does describe a vampire! Or, you know, a bartender.
- Analogy Backfire: In the first episode.
Ted: I gotta do what that guy couldn't. I gotta take the leap. Okay, not a perfect metaphor, 'cause for me it's falling in love and getting married and for him it's... death.
- Authentication by Newspaper: Ted tries to fake this with Victoria's care package.
- Big Damn Heroes: Arguably, Marshall in the New Year's Eve episode.
- Blatant Lies: "See? Not awkward at all."
- Bottle Episode: "The Limo" takes place almost entirely in... well... the limo.
- Break the Cutie: Kind of happens in "Game Night". Hippie Barney is more funny than sad, and his ridiculous crying similarly distracts from the tragedy, but the watcher is also shocked at how Shannon screwed him up.
- Butt Monkey: Natalie. She and Ted dated, and Ted broke up with her over her answering machine on her birthday, during a surprise party at which she hadn't arrived yet (to be fair, he didn't know about that), waited three years for her to get over him, tracked her down, apologized and begged her to take him back, and then breaks up with her three weeks later, again on her birthday.
- Calvin Ball: Baskiceball.
Marshall: We can't let our kid play Baskiceball.
- Can't Believe I Said That: Robin invites Ted over. She suggests they drink wine and his response is "Wine not? Wow, that's the stupidest thing I've ever said."
Ted: (on the phone with Robin) Ain't no thing but a chicken wing, mamasita!
- And most importantly:
Ted: I think I'm in love with you.
- Cloudcuckoolander: When Barney, Robin and Lily are trying to sneak into a high school prom, one of his plans involves asking Robin how capable she is with a crossbow.
- Comically Missing the Point: Ted's kids, after he tells them the story of when he dated an ex, who he had previously dumped on her birthday, via an answering machine message, convinced her that he'd changed in order to get a second chance, only to break up with her on her birthday AGAIN, only this time in person... Which led to her kicking Ted's ass. All Ted's kids took from this story is that their dad got beat up by a girl.
- Complexity Addiction: In 'Best Prom Ever', Barney attempts to sneak into a prom by first crawling through the vents; then borrowing a giant turtle mascot costume to disguise himself... whereas Ted and Marshall snuck in through the back door.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: Ted after getting plastered in 'The Pineapple Incident'- "And now, I don't think I won't not go to the bathroom!"
- Cough-Snark-Cough: In 'Best Prom Ever', Barney and Robin have this exchange:
Barney: *cough* Lesbian.
- Dawson Casting: Played with when the gang attempts to sneak into a high school prom, only to be immediately busted at the door for being adults.
- Played straight in flashback scenes, in which the characters are played by the same actors.
- Derailed for Details: When Ted wakes up with a strange girl in his bed and a pineapple on his nightstand, everyone tries to figure out who the girl is and how Ted hooked up with her ... except for Marshall, who's fixated on getting details about the pineapple.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Ted had a spectacular instance of this when he attempted to break up with his girlfriend (who knew Krav Maga) back in season 1.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "The Slutty Pumpkin," Barney says this to a girl dressed as a hula dancer when she comments on his "getting lei'd" joke.
- Drinking Game: In-Universe, the game Marshgammon has a rule where anyone who answers "What?" must drink a shot. Also, Ted's college students make a drinking game out of Robin's morning show, taking a shot every time she says, "But, um..."
- Not to mention Ted and his Superbowl drinking game, though as Barney put it "It's not a game if you drink any time anything happens"
- Eek! a Mouse!: In "Matchmaker" Lily and Marshall get freaked out by a creature living in their apartment that they dub a "cockamouse" (a combination of a cockroach and a mouse). After two encounters with it, Marshall says in a tone of dead shock, "It's bigger now. It's been feeding."
- Also, it can fly.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: In the Pilot Barney comments that Lebanese women have replaced half-Asian women in his fantasies.
- This turns out to be a huge Chekhov's Gun: have you noticed Nora looks very much Mid-Eastern?
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Barney in "Slutty Pumpkin."
- Also, Ted in "The Pineapple Incident". "I need to see some penguins right now."
- First Episode Spoiler: See Foregone Conclusion.
- Flynning: A mid-first season episode has Marshall and Ted in a swordfight over Lily moving in/who gets to keep the apartment in the end. Any sense of the fight being real disappears once they start pausing to issue instructions on how next to Flynn in a stylish and awesome manner.
- Foregone Conclusion: "Kids, I'm gonna tell you an incredible story - the story of how I met your mother!" - these are the series first words!
- "Because this, kids, is the true story of how I met your Aunt Robin!" - we learn Robin's not the Mother at the end of the pilot!
- Also, we know for a fact that Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Robin (but not necessarily Barney - though he is an Honorary Uncle, Ted speaks about him as though his kids don't know him that well) will still be close friends after the series is over, no matter what an episode tries to throw at them.
- Fruit of the Loon: The inxeplicable pineapple that shows up after a wild night of boozing.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied; they're at a rooftop party, and Ted has to pee, but doesn't want to leave. (Long story.) Barney, dressed as a devil, suggests he pee off the roof from behind his right shoulder. A random dude dressed like an angel says from Ted's left shoulder that it'd be a bad idea. And then asks for some weed.
- Grilling the Newbie: The gang does this to poor Victoria about her love life, with the questions thinly disguised as being part of a Truth or Dare style board game.
- Homoerotic Dream: Lily also mentions that Robin has been a "costar in some confusing dreams that remind [her] a woman's sexuality is a moving target."
- Hypocritical Humor: Barney calls Marshall "gay" for hosting a wine-tasting while wearing a silver, reflective shirt.
- I Know Krav Maga: Ted getting beat up by a disgruntled ex using Krav Maga.
- Important Haircut: In "Game Night," we discover that Barney became the awesome dude he was today after being dumped when he was a long-haired hippie and deciding to go to the dark side.
- Intoxication Ensues: Ted in 'The Pineapple Incident' after drinking five shots in a row of...well, no idea what was in them, but they're called Red Dragons.
- Ironic Echo: In Mary The Paralegal, "C'mon, if you don't laugh, it just seems mean."
- Its Pronounced Tropay: Barney's alias, "Jack Package". "It's pronounced pe-kahj."
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Season 1 , the Barney is telling Ted that the Universe doesn't care about Ted's love life. Marshall interjects jokingly, "Unless Ted's love life is the glue binding the entire Universe together!" Everyone laughs, of course. If only they knew...
- Leaving You to Find Myself: Lily has an engagement freakout and leaves Marshall to run off to do some art program in San Francisco. It really doesn't work out and she returns to him.
- Living Memory: "Nothing Good Happens After 2 AM"
- Mathematician's Answer
Ted: Wait, [bring a prostitute to Robin's award ceremony] to hang out with ironically or to actually have sex with?
- Meaningful Name: Bob Rorschach of Love Solutions. He provides Ted with a profile for his soul mate... the purpose of which (plotwise) was to have Ted realize that he wants Robin.
- My Friends and Zoidberg: "Ladies. Gentlemen. Ted."
- Noodle Incident: Ted's ex-GF Victoria told a story involving a game of Truth Or Dare, ice cream topping and the pool at her grandparents' retirement home. It wasn't that awesome.
Marshall: That's the most awesome story ever!
- The Pineapple Incident - where the hell did he get that pineapple? And what made it so delicious!
- Oblivious to Love: Ted is completely clueless to Robin's growing feelings for him in the middle of the season, that is until Lily tells him.
- Plot Leveling: The first 13 episodes, written before the network ordered more, were conceived as if Victoria ("Buttercup") was the titular mother. Once the series was extended, they rewrote the concluding voice over, and Victoria was downgraded to a recurring girlfriend in the second half of the season.
- Rain Dance: Ted does one in an Overly Long Gag as a desperate attempt to keep Robin from leaving to... well, let's just say it's complicated.
- Riddle for the Ages: "The Pineapple Incident".
- Running Gag: "Have you met Ted?"
- Seven Minute Lull: In a mild variation, the club music stops right after Ted realizes the girl he's with can't hear him, and starts shouting weird things. "I'm wetting my pants!"
- Shaggy Dog Story: The pilot. The whole episode centers on Ted meeting, falling for and ultimately failing to have a relationship with Robin, with a promise of many more stories about his attempts, successful or not, to win her. We then learn that she is not the Mother. The entire episode, as well as much of the next two seasons, becomes this trope.
- Shock Party: Ted breaks up with one of his girlfriends over her answering machine, while all her friends and family are listening, waiting with a Surprise Party.
- Start of Darkness: Barney in the episode "Game Night."
- Take That: A proposal to go to a techno club:
Ted!Barney: Hey, Marshall! You up for some super-loud, repetitive music that hasn't changed since the mid-90s?
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: Also Ted in "The Pineapple Incident": 'I drank all five, bitch!'
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Stewart and Claudia but played a bit differently; she's a controlling shrew and he's a miserable drunk. They tend to be doing okay, though.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Ted/Robin/Victoria.
- Walk On the Wild Side Episode: "The Pineapple Incident" has the gang convince Ted to drink instead of think. He wakes up next morning with a sprained ankle, burned coat, several drunken messages on Robin's phone and a girl he's never met before in bed next to him. Oh and a pineapple that never gets explained.
- What Could Have Been: Victoria would've been the mother if the show hadn't been renewed.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: "The Pineapple Incident."
- Will They or Won't They?: Ted and Robin for the majority of the first season; subverted and further complicated by the fact that the audience knows from the first episode that the two do not end up together (so season 2 is will they or won't they break up?) -- and even more so because they're suddenly willing again.
- Amusing Injuries: In 'Aldrin Justice' Barney dislocates his hip while having sex with Marshall's law professor.
- Anti-Love Song: "Ted Mosby Is a Jerk".
- Answer Cut: In the first episode of the second season, Marshall has some relationship problems. Robin has an answer, which prompts Barney to ask "What's your prescription Dr. Estrogen? Eat Häagen-Dazs and watch 'Love Actually' 'til your period synchs up?" Robin being Robin cures Marshall's depression with some target shooting.
- Bavarian Fire Drill: "It's for the bride."
- Beard of Sorrow: Ted grows the ultimate Beard of Sorrow after his Season 2 break-up with Robin and shaves it off in stages in "Wait for It".
- Bed Trick: Arguably Barney does this in most of the episodes, but most memorably in "Ted Mosby: Architect" when he pretends to be Ted to prove that architecture is a sexy career. This episode also utilizes Unreliable Narrator, since the audience and Robin both think it actually is Ted having this wild night until the very end.
- The Bet: The Slap Bet over whether Robin is married and/or did porn. Despite neither of them winning, Marshall ended up winning the right to slap Barney in the face five times. The effects of this bet continue to be felt years down the line.
- Big Book of War: Barney's Bro Code.
- The Bro Code: The Trope Namer.
- Broken Record: Barney in "Something Blue"--"Tell people what? Tell people what? Tell people what?..."
- But He Sounds Handsome: "Moving Day": in the midst of moving in with Robin, the van with Ted's stuff is stolen, and the culprit calls Ted and gives him instructions on how to get them back. Of course, Ted knows exactly who it is.
- It then gets an Ironic Echo when Ted finds the van and takes it back, with Barney and his date inside:
Ted: Enjoying the ride?
- Cat Fight: According to the "The Bro Code", a bro must always alert another bro when a catfight breaks out.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: Barney's "Legendary" was interrupted again in 'How Lily Stole Christmas'. Barney is sick with the flu, and starts to say it, but falls asleep after 'wait for it'. He picks it up perfectly when he is jolted awake.
- Chekhov's Gun: Played straight: Slap Bet.
- Chekhov's Skill: Marshall is so good at board games that the gang make him run game night, otherwise no one else would ever win. This comes up again a season later when Marshall comprehends and helps Barney win an inexplicable Chinese gambling game in "Atlantic City."
- Chew Out Fake Out: Spousal instead of parental. Marshall loudly rebukes Lily for forgoing her morals for cash (accepting money to paint a nude picture of Barney). In between his chastisements, he whispers to her that he's actually glad she found a way to get so much cash and is criticizing her as loudly as possible so that Barney, in the next room, will come back in and offer even more money.
- Comically Missing the Point: At the end of "The Brunch", Ted and Robin are talking to his parents to learn why they got divorced. The parents briefly describe their courtship to illustrate why their marriage was doomed from the start and there are some eery parallells with Ted's courtship of Robin, a fact that is clearly not lost on Ted, judging by his expression. After his parents leave, Robin excitedly exclaims, "Your parents like me!"
- Complexity Addiction: 'We thought of authentic Native American headdress before we thought of a hat?'
- Country Matters: Word of God says this is the word Ted changes to "grinch" when talking to his kids.
- Heavily implied in the episode itself when Ted's mother wonders whether he used that word because of his hostility to her boyfriend, Clint.
- Did You Just Have Sex?: In the Season 2 premiere, Barney is excited because he thinks that he, Ted, and Marshall are all single at the same time, and while he's giving a speech about how awesome their singledom will be, he takes a close look at Robin and Ted and groans "Aww man, you guys did it, didn't you?"
- And further (inverted?): Barney's suite of superpowers includes the ability to tell how long it's been since a woman has had sex.
- Discriminate and Switch: S2 Ep 10, "Single Stamina" introduces Barney's gay brother, James (Wayne Brady). While Barney is initially shown being fine with James's homosexuality, he gets angry when James reveals he and his partner are planning to get married. While it first at seems Barney is against same-sex marriage, it turns out he's just against marriage, lamenting that once gay men start getting married, everyone else will get married, too (because whatever gay people do, everyone else starts doing six months later), and single life as we know it will be ruined. He eventually accepts it, telling James's adopted baby at the reception, "Just because you're their kid, doesn't mean you have to accept their lifestyle."
- Disproportionate Retribution: During the Slap Bet episode, Barney slaps Marshall when he thinks he's won. He hasn't. As a result, he is given the choice of 5 slaps at any time, or 10 in a row. This is particularly bad because Marshall had earlier done the exact same thing... then lied and tried to hide the evidence that he was wrong. His punishment was only three slaps.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Arrivederci, Fiero", the car is treated like it's dying. In Robin's story, the way she and Lily try to clean up the car after they spilled Thai food inside it is like they're trying to remove evidence of a murder. Many times in many episodes, something is made to look like a romantic relationship.
- Don't Look At Me: Barney says this to Robin in 'How Lily Stole Christmas' when he's forced to wear track-pants instead of a suit while he's sick with the flu.
- Eek! a Mouse!: It's easy not to notice it, but in 'First Time in New York', Robin gets freaked out by a spider and asks Ted to kill it. Barney, who is nearby, practically leaps off the couch and leaves the apartment with the hurried excuse "I left something in the hallway!" Then when he comes back in, Ted realizes the spider is still alive, and Barney abandons all pretense, just speeding out the door yelling "Run!"
- Easily Forgiven: Averted. Even though Lily's back by the end of the first episode, Marshall isn't so willing to have her back after the way she dumped him the previous spring. They don't actually reconcile until the seventh episode.
- Frank's 2000-Inch TV: Barney has two of these in his apartment, with each one taking up an entire wall. Supposedly the pain of watching it "never goes away".
- Game Show Appearance: Barney, on The Price Is Right.
- Gilligan Cut: "Slap Bet" invokes this twice.
- Ted tells the group to respect that Robin doesn't like malls and that it shouldn't be their concern. Cut to the two of them in bed, and he's asking her what her problem with them is.
- Lily and Marshall remind Ted that he promised Robin he'd respect her privacy, which he agrees to. Cut to their apartment where they're playing Scrabble and Ted misspells "husband" and ends up asking her if she's married.
- And in "Lucky Penny":
Marshall: Well, it looks like "Barney" should be coming over the Queensborough bridge and up first avenue within the next hour or so, but there is no way that that's really him.
- Good with Numbers: When Barney goes on The Price Is Right, he knows the exact price of absolutely every prize on the show, and can also quickly add up the prices of everything in his final showcase in order to walk off with every prize. He also knew the exact cost of his opponent's showcase, just to top it off.
- Hypocritical Humor: In "How Lily Stole Christmas," Lily says this to Ted:
Lily: If one of my kindergarteners used that kind of language, I'd be on the phone with their parents.
- I Call Him "Mister Happy": Barnito Supreme, among others.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha Barney's play "Suck it, Lily". "The robot falls in love.
- Ironic Echo: "This isn't Ted, but I hear that guy's awesome." Not technically the exact same phrase ("Barney" substituted by "Ted")
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Ted's daughter complains in the season 2 premiere that it feels like he's been talking for a whole year.
- Lovely Assistant: Parodied in "False Positive", when news anchor Robin suffers a crisis of confidence and auditions to be the "coin-flip bimbo" (or "currency rotation specialist") on Million-Dollar Heads Or Tails.
- Manly Tears: In "Ted Mosby: Architect", all the guys tear up when discussing the end of Field of Dreams.
- Multiple Choice Form Letter: In "Ted Mosby: Architect", Barney uses one that claims he is a ghost to explain why he is not around to girls who he sleeps with and then leaves before they wake up in the morning. He simply fills in their name in the blanks.
- My Name Is Not Durwood: "Swarley".
- My Own Private I Do: Lily and Marshall of the Plan First, Elope Later variety. But they bring the important people with them.
- Most Annoying Sound: In-Universe; the car alarm outside the bridal shop.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: In "How Lily Stole Christmas"
- Noodle Implements: All we know about the stripper's act at Marshall's bachelor party is that she explicitly told Barney not to use the smoke machine while she was on the hippety-hop.
- And that it involved a typewriter at some point.
- Porn Stash: Barney's quite open about his, partly so that when his conquests see it after sleeping with him they will want to leave as fast as possible.
Barney: Some guys hide their porn. I have mine professionally lit.
- Pulling the Thread: In the episode "Slap Bet" Robin reveals she has an unusual fear of going to the mall but refuses to tell why. The others form theories as to why this is. Marshall believes it's because she's been married before and had the wedding in a mall. Robin decides to use this as her cover story. Ted tests her on it by asking her numerous detailed questions about the wedding, all of which Robin easily answers but gives herself away when she can't think of the answer to the easiest question, the name of the groom.
- Reality Subtext: Barney's gay brother shows up a month after Neil Patrick Harris came out in real life; the episode deals with him getting married, a lifestyle choice of which Barney disapproves.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: After 56 days of Marshall's depression over Lily leaving him, Ted gives one to him when he asks why he can't go beg her to take him back:
Ted: BECAUSE YOU'RE PATHETIC! I'm sorry. But right now, you are NOT Marshall. You are the miserable, whining, shampoo-sniffing ghost of Marshall and frankly, a guy like you doesn't have a shot in hell with a girl like Lily. You know who might have a shot somewhere down the line? Marshall. The REAL Marshall. But if you go down there now like this, you'll blow it for him and he's never gonna forgive you. Of course, whatever I say, you just will do the opposite so, have a great weekend! Good luck screwing up your life.
- Romance-Inducing Smudge: Parodied in the episode "World's Greatest Couple", where Brad freaks out Marshall at dinner by licking his napkin and wiping a smudge of food off his face.
- Shout-Out: "SWARLEY!!" Cue the Cheers theme song. And the Cheers credits font.
- Skip to the End: Slightly varied during Marshall and Lily's wedding in that Barney, who is acting as the minister, is the one who tries to speed up the ceremony in order to try and hide the fact that he's crying. He doesn't hide it very well.
- Springtime for Hitler: Subverted in "World's Greatest Couple", Barney shows Lily that his apartment is designed to stop women from wanting to stay there long. Unfortunately, one woman doesn't care about the small comforter on the bed, the lack of extra towels ("I don't buy into the myth that we need to shower every day"), the lack of coffee, ("You may as well drink the tears of a Colombian peasant farmer".) or his professionally-lighted porn collection ("Wow, you're so open with your sexuality"). What finally drives her away is Lily, who the girl assumes is Barney's wife, walking into the apartment.
- Stealth Hi Bye: Parodied when Barney does this to Marshall on "The Scorpion & The Toad". He just went to the bathroom.
- Stock Footage: As of "Where Were We," the second season premiere, it's the same shot of the kids staring straight into the camera. Presumably because, seeing as it's not supposed to be taking Future Ted five years to tell his story, they're Not Allowed to Grow Up. However, while most episodes use shots of the children after the show was being produced, some episodes (most notably "Last Cigarette Ever") use footage from the pilot, in which the children are wearing different clothing.
- Take That: Ted and Barney have this exchange in a coffee shop:
Ted: So I guess that decides it.
- They're Called "Personal Issues" for a Reason: Robin doesn't want to talk about the mall.
- Also the friends keep quiet about Barney's misconception that Bob Barker is his father.
- Trust Me, I'm an X: "Ted Mosby, architect. Trust me."
- Underdressed for the Occasion: When the gang goes to a funeral, Barney shows up in sweats because he believes that suits are joyful, only meant for the living, and have no place at a sad occasion such as a funeral.
- Wall Glower: Lily at the end of "Where Were We?"
- Where Everybody Knows Your Flame: The cast accompanies Barney to here as he tries to get a date for his brother.
- Wicket: LET'S GO THE MALL!!
- X Called. They Want Their Y Back.: Subverted. When mocking some pants Marshall wants to wear, Ted says "BelBivDevoe called, and not even they want those pants back."
- "What's this? A guy in a toga just walked in and handed me a parchment! It's ancient Greece; they want their idea back!"
- Yandere: Barney says you can tell a girl is Yandere by seeing if she has "crazy eyes." He says this of a girl Marshall is going out with when he introduces her to the group. The entire episode is of Marshall wondering what Barney says is true with evidence piling up, but in the end it's revealed that it was the work of Lily, Marshall's ex-fiance. Marshall finds it endearing and they get back together. The episode ends with previous girl proving to be Yandere after all.
- Lily was also totally Yandere in that same episode.
- There's the girl who Barney romanced in 'Ted Mosby: Architect'. Her 'song' eventually becomes "I love you, we have something beautiful, I know this is a rough patch but come meet my parents, you're amazing, I HATE YOU, WHY DID YOU LEAVE I WANT YOU TO DIE, I'M GOING TO KILL YOU, I'VE DONE IT BEFORE". Apparently, not every Yandere is to be avoided in Barney's Playbook.
- Acting Unnatural: When the protagonists try to work out who Barney's stalker is, they're told to try to look inconspicuous, and Marshall immediately reacts by acting very strangely, having no idea what to do with his hands, etc.
- Amusing Injuries: Barney's hit by a bus in 'Miracles' and breaks most of his bones, although this took a while to recover from, since he's seen in physical therapy in the season 4 premiere.
- Big Brother Instinct: Barney's brother James, who's gay, sleeps with their mother's friend in exchange for her sleeping with Barney in order to raise his self-esteem.
- Blah Blah Blah: Ted can't remember his ex-girlfriend's name, so refers to her to his kids as "Blah blah".
- Bland-Name Product: In episode 1 "Wait for it," you can see that the cereal on top of the fridge in the apartment is called "Cap'n Munch".
- Broken Record: In "How I Met Everyone Else", Ted's girl of the week asks how Robin and Barney met, assuming that they're a couple. Robin answer this question more than once. (Made even funnier by the fact that they later do date.)
Barney: Really? Sixteen no's? Really?
- On the blooper reel, Robin gets to 32. NPH's task during that joke was to sit and count the no's, making sure he kept a straight face.
- Brown Note: Lily's paintings turn out to mesmerize dogs and drive birds to suicide.
- Butt Monkey: Robin edges into this on occasion, most notably her inability to even land the lotto girl position in season three and her commercial for adult diapers.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: "Legen-- wait for it, and I hope you're not lactose intolerant..."
- The end of season 2 was historic according to creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for being the first time a television show ended their season in the middle of a word - Barney predicting to Ted that their time as single men together was going to be "Legen... wait for it..." and then cut to black. Season 3 began at the exact same spot, with Barney finally saying "dary."
- Chekhov's Gun: Averted in that Future Ted tells the kids outright about the significance of the yellow umbrella of their mother.
- Comedic Sociopathy: Deconstructed in the Episode "No Tomorrow".
- Comically Small Bribe: In 'The Goat', Barney hires Marshall to find a loophole in 'The Bro Code' so he doesn't feel guilty about sleeping with Robin anymore:
Barney: I'll pay you.
- Complexity Addiction: In 'Little Boys', Barney starts to organise a bet between himself and Ted to see who's better at picking up women by thinking up a 'Picking Up Girls Olympiad' culminating in travelling to a neutral city with a panel of international judges. Ted cuts this off by saying that they should just pick a girl and the first to get her wins the bet.
- Dawson Casting: Done pretty literally when James Van Der Beek guest starred as Robin's old boyfriend and played both his teenage self and his middle-aged self. (Of course, teenage Robin is also played by Cobie Smulders.)
- Department of Redundancy Department: "Sandcastles in the Sand" anyone?
- Fauxshadow: The mother was at that insane St. Patrick's Day party in "No Tomorrow". This was true for Stella, but she was proven not to be the mother.
- Feud Episode: Ted and Barney after Barney and Robin had sex.
- Gilligan Cut: In "The Bracket":
Ted: Come on! Let's see the list.
- Made even funnier by the fact that according to "Right Place, Right Time," Barney actually does have a list.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In 3x14, "The Bracket", Barney starts trying to figure out which of the women he seduced, lied to, and abandoned is now sabotaging him. We see a slide show of each woman, that gets faster and faster. One of them is Madeleine Albright.
- Groin Attack: Almost subverted in "The Goat":
- Ted punches Barney in the groin after being offered "one free shot" as punishment for Barney breaking the Bro Code by sleeping with Robin, Ted's ex-serious-girlfriend.
- Heel Realization: After Marshall plays a recording of all the things Ted said at the St. Patrick's Day party in "No Tomorrow", Ted realizes with horror that he had spent the entire night being a complete asshole, and thanks Marshall for setting him straight.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Barney in "Slapsgiving". If not for his mockery of Marshall's slap countdown, Lily wouldn't have given Marshall permission to slap him at the last second
- Homoerotic Dream: Robin also has an erotic dream with her vacation self as the guest star.
- Implausible Deniability: Occurs with Barney in 'Miracles' when he attempts to deny the fact that he ran all the way to hospital to see if Ted was okay after being in a car accident. He says that he was actually on the way to a 'very important international business meeting.'
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: In the episode "The Chain of Screaming," the gang gets confused with the report that Marshall's describing, so he just calls it "The Ninja Report." As Barney says, "Ninjas are awesome."
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "The Platinum Rule", Barney ruins Ted's hair and Marshall says that gives them half an hour to talk him out of his date with Stella.
- Like a God to Me: Randy says this to Barney.
- Look Both Ways: In the third season finale, Barney is rushing to the hospital to reach Ted, who he thinks has been seriously injured in a car accident (he was fine). Barney looks the correct way down a one way street, but is then promptly hit by a bus going in the wrong direction. Luckily, he isn't killed, and was in front of the hospital when it happened.
- Love Epiphany: At the end of season 3, after getting hit by a bus and almost killed, Barney realises that he is in love with Robin.
- Meaningful Name: The club in season 3 episode "No Tomorrow" is called the "Low Point."
- Meganekko: Abby, Stella's receptionist, played by the already gorgeous Britney Spears, only got more beautiful by putting on a pair of specs.
- Music Video Syndrome: Lampshaded in the third season premiere.
Ted: First of all, this isn't one of those "I came all the way over here because I want you back" things. There'll be no startling confession of love, no sweet indie rock song that swells up just as we're about to kiss, none of that crap. Got it?
- Especially clever because that is an exact description of the first season finale.
- "No. Just... No" Reaction: Robin's first reaction to Blah Blah asking if Barney and she were a couple in season 3.
- Noodle Incident: Aplenty in the episode 'Bracket'. Most of Barney's schemes are not fully explained, and viewers are left to guess how the actual schemes work.
(Arguing which of the schemes was worse) Everyone: Fake baby! Lost at sea! Fake baby! Lost at sea!
- Nosebleed: One of the rare non-anime examples.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Parodied. Barney assumes Wendy the waitress is this in "The Platinum Rule" but she's really taking their break-up really well.
- Paranoia Gambit: Slapsgiving.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ted gives one to Barney in "The Goat" after he breaks the Bro Code and sleeps with Robin.
- Retail Therapy: When Lily was feeling down in the dumps she maxed out a stack of credit cards buying her grief away.
- Riddle for the Ages: Did Ted ride the tricycle or not?
- Road Trip Across the Street: Ted and Stella's two-minute date.
- Room Full of Crazy: The girl who was seduced by Barney under the alias of Ted Mosby and wrote tedmosbyisajerk.com apparently scrawled "Ted Mosby" all over her walls. It's real pretty, she should be a graffiti artist.
- Screw Yourself: Robin claiming she went all the way with her Argentinan self in a dream in the episode "We're Not From Here".
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Ted, Barney and Robin did this to confuse Gael.
- Spanner in the Works: In the episode "Little Boys," Barney tricks Ted into thinking that he slept with a girl so he could win a bet. When Ted and the girl were about to do it, Ted's mind could only picture tiny Barneys crawling all over the girl. However, Barney was also unable to sleep with the girl because of the tiny Ted dancing on the girl's shoulder.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: "How does everyone know it's a goat turd?"
- Stylistic Suck: The Robin Sparkles music videos.
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: quite a few, for example:
Robyn: Anyway, who gets trapped under a boulder in a mall?
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch: And Barney in "Little Boys": 'Why? Parce que j'ai le jeu, mes chiennes! Translation: Cos I got game, bitches!'
- Three-Way Sex: The premise of "Third Wheel".
- A Threesome Is Hot: Played straight with the guy/girl/girl variation referred to by Barney as "riding the tricycle."
- A Threesome Is Manly: Completely averted - Barney calls the two-guys-and-a-girl version "The Devil's Threeway" and eye contact between bros is forbidden.
- We Used to Be Friends: Briefly happens to Barney and Ted at the end of the third season, because Barney slept with Robin.
- Wham! Episode: "Sandcastles in the Sand".
- With This Ring: Trope eight. Ted proposes to Stella rather spur-of-the-moment, with an orange toy kangaroo which was all he could win on a nearby claw machine.
- World of Warcraft: Ted played and hooked-up with a chick while playing WoW.
- Cross Player: Ted.
- Technically Blah Blah (the girl he hooked up with) as well.
- Cross Player: Ted.
- Yandere: Blah Blah from the episode, "How I Met Everyone Else."
- Vicky Mendoza and Shelly Gallesby, Barney's former conquests, leading Barney to compile Hot/Crazy Scale
- The Hot/Crazy Scale itself, a surefire way to select a prospective date, allowing a Bro to date a Yandere, as long as she's hotter than she's crazy.
- Vicky Mendoza and Shelly Gallesby, Barney's former conquests, leading Barney to compile Hot/Crazy Scale
- 20% More Awesome: "Not a Father's Day" has:
Barney: Lily, no part of Barney Stinson does less than 110%. If one of my Michael Phelps' got loose, he's goin' for the gold!
- Amusing Injuries: In 'Murtaugh' Barney throws out his back, blows out his knee, gets an infected ear and is accidentally drugged at a rave.
- In 'Wooooo!' he gets tied to a mechanical bull for (supposedly) three hours despite an inner ear problem and ends up so dizzy he can't stand up afterwards.
- Anger Montage: Barney has one in 'Benefits'. Every time Ted tells him about sleeping with Robin, Barney (who is in love with her) goes to the back alley of McClaren's and smashes a television set from the dumpster. Eventually, when the dumpster runs out of televisions to smash, he starts buying his own and bringing them back to the alley to destroy. This includes buying a plasma.
- It was a CRT, it has better contrast!
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: When we find out that Stella lied about liking Star Wars just so Ted wouldn't be upset:
Marshall: Stella, that is Ted's favorite movie of all time. He watches it when he's home sick with the flu. He watches it on rainy Sunday afternoons in the fall. He watches it on Christmas Eve.
- And played with in "Sorry, Bro":
Ted: I never said I was gonna get back together with her. But I was thinking, she's new in town, would it be the worst thing in the world if I gave her a call?
- Balloon Belly: Lily, after a hot-dog eating contest in "The Possimpible", which was also a subversion of Hide Your Pregnancy.
- Bar Slide: Ted attempts to slide a drink across the counter to Barney while they have taken over the bar in 'Three Days of Snow'. Barney makes multiple grabs for the drink, but it ends up sliding all the way off the end of the counter and smashing.
- Big Brother Instinct: Ted goes out of his way to keep his sister Heather away from Barney.
- Black Comedy Burst: Ted being asked to design a "murder house."
- Brief Accent Imitation: Barney attempts to sound English to disguise the fact that he's interviewing himself in his video resume, but ends up inexplicably slipping into a Scottish accent.
- Butterfly of Doom: Directly referenced by Ted in the opening of "Right Place Right Time".
- The Calls Are Coming From Inside the House: Mocked ruthlessly in 'Mosbius Designs', complete with zooming cameras, dramatic music and frightened delivery word for word about somebody being late to work. Ted's assistant was hooking up with Robin in her room.
- Cannot Spit It Out: Barney in season 4, regarding his feelings for Robin. In fact, the only character he really confessed it to was Lily. Marshall found out from Lily, Ted figured it out by himself (thanks to Barney's epic freaking out in 'Benefits'), and Robin overheard Barney talking to Ted.
Barney: Ted, I have to tell you the truth! I'm in love with R- (Robin walks into the room) TACOS!
- Canada, Eh?: Super-drunk Robin in "Intervention," and the bar Marshall and Robin go to in "Little Minnesota".
- Cat Fight: In "Intervention" Barney got so mad at Ted for breaking up Robin and Lily's fight that he punches a hole through the wall.
- Chair Reveal: Barney rents a chair for this purpose in 'Little Minnesota'.
- Cloudcuckoolander: This exchange in 'The Possimpible' when Barney is trying to make Robin a video resume:
Robin:(dressed in a karate outfit) Barney, I can't break fifteen bricks with my forehead!
- College Radio, with a young Ted as a pretentious The Last DJ wannabe.
- Comic Sutra: An episode centered around a bunch of these for Robin, named for Canada, as she is Canadian.
- Completely Missing the Point: Barney teaching Marshall on how to lie when they have to lie to Ted about him being laid off. As an example lie, Barney tells Marshall that he has a horse named Dandelion, and then distracts from the issue by making up a long story about how she was dying of an unusual condition causing her to change colour. Marshall eventually understands that it's a lie: "Ohh, I see what you did there. Dandelion isn't even sick, is she?"
- Continuity Nod: In "As Fast As She Can" Ted's ringtone is "Let's Go to the Mall".
- Cough-Snark-Cough: In 'The Naked Man', Marshall coughs out an entire sentence aimed at calling Robin a slut.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Marshall shed his usual peace-loving self in the episode "The Fight."
- He's also a scarily aggressive basketball coach.
- Cut Apart: In "Three Days of Snow", Marshall debates whether or not to pick up Lily at the airport. The end shows Marshall and Lily searching for each other in the airport, only they weren't there the same day: Lily's flight was delayed. They even have a scene of them sitting next to each other, which turns out to be a split-screen.
- Deconstruction: Barney was getting hit by this pretty hard before he and Robin got to do the "They Do" in their case of Will They or Won't They?. While the show normally loves to play with how "awesome" Barney is, in more recent episodes before he hooked up with Robin, it was heavily implied that he was becoming pathetic due to his lifestyle. Barney was in denial when his therapist told him that his womanizing ways was due to how emotionally unbalanced he was. We learn that Barney wanted to grow up to be the womanizer because in his childhood an older kid at school was bragging about how many hot chicks he had sex with. Barney met up with that student, who is now a grown man, and told him that he lied about his sexual escapades because he was just a kid. That former classmate grown up to be a Happily Married man with children who bids Barney farewell, and basically You Suck was greatly implied towards Barney. Granted, this can be viewed as Character Development on Barney's part so he and Robin can be boyfriend and girlfriend. Too bad their romance didn't last.
- Even the Guys Want Him: Stan in "The Three Days Rule". Something about Kevin Michael Richardson quoting Pablo Neruda just busts through all previously established sexual orientation.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: In a later episode Ted's response to running into Stella is rated on a scale from "crying about still sleeping with her sweater" to "introducing her to his new girlfriend who looks just like her, but is also French and has huge cans".
- Fan Disservice: Mitch in "The Naked Man."
- Fan Service: Ted and Barney strip down for the ladies (and some men) in the episode, "The Naked Man."
- Faux Horrific: A resort doesn't have meat or alcohol in "Shelter Island."
- Fawlty Towers Plot: 'The Fight'.
- Friends with Benefits: Ted and Robin in 'Benefits' until Ted realises how much it's killing Barney.
- Fun with Subtitles: The Woo Girls all have their woos subtitled. "My career's going nowhere!" "My love life's going nowhere!" "I'm secretly a lesbian!"
- Funny Background Event: The gang have gotten up to watch Robin's early morning talk show, and mute it seconds after it starts because Ted has just found out Lily sabotaged several of his relationships. The fact that they're missing what appears to the most awesome episode of that show ever serves nicely as Comic Relief to the serious discussion in the foreground.
- At the end of "Wooooo!", while Jillian (a friend of Lily's from work) and her friend were discussing their plans to have a threesome, we see Barney repeatedly get up and fall down in quick succession (he'd just been on an electronic bull for three hours on a setting called "Paint Mixer")
- Gibberish of Love: Barney during his phonecall to Robin which Lily forces him to make.
Lily: Ask her something!
- Gilligan Cut: "Benefits", when Ted and Robin agree to stop having sex for the sake of their fighting:
- A Good Name for a Rock Band: "Puzzles."
- Hide Your Pregnancy: This happened with both Lily and Robin in Season 4, as both Cobie Smulders and Alysson Hannigan were pregnant. It was easier for Robin, given how tall she is. Amid the usual standing behind stuff/large purses and only filming from the chest up options, the show also employed more creative solutions like Lily winning a hot-dog eating contest. Lampshaded late in the season with both Lily:
Lily: You want a reason not to jump? I'll give you a reason. I'm pregnant.
- And with Robin:
Ted: Tell me, why did you throw up?
- Hold My Glasses
- Homoerotic Dream: In 'The Three Days Rule', Ted lies and tells Barney and Marshall that he's had a gay dream about 'his best friend' in order to get back at them for playing a prank on him. In a hilarious twist on what often happens with these sort of plots (Barney and Marshall get freaked out and uncomfortable around Ted), the two of them end up competing about which one of them Ted had the dream about.
Marshall: Ted and I have a history! I could do things to him that would blow his m... ...Why do we keep trying to have sex with Ted?
- Idiot Ball: On Ted's part in "Little Minnesota". He has plenty of evidence that Barney and his sister DID have sex, and the only evidence against it is the word of two people he didn't trust before. Further, their claim (that they intentionally made it look like they had sex so Lily would tell Ted and that he would trust them....for some reason?) makes less than zero sense. Why did he buy that load of crap? Because otherwise, we wouldn't learn a valuable lesson about trust...
- I Have No Son: Said word for word by Robin's dad. To Robin. Who is a girl.
- It wasn't him disowning her, more of an epiphany. He'd been raising Robin as the son he wanted and seeing her kissing another boy made him realise he couldn't change her being his daughter no matter how hard he tried.
- Identification From Dental Records: Barney says that, given the things he knows about Goliath National Bank, he'll never be fired, but that he might one day "wash up on shore with no fingerprints or teeth."
- Implausible Deniability: It happens again with Barney in 'Do I Know You?' when Lily tries to get him to call up Robin and ask her out after he reveals he is in love with her. The phone call does not go as planned, and he then tries to pass off revealing that he has feelings for Robin as a practical joke on Lily. Wisely, she knows that he's full of crap.
- Also with Barney in 'Benefits' after he steals Feely the Share Bear, then (while he is clearly holding it in his hands) tells Marshall that he doesn't have it.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: In "Mosbius Designs," Marshall and Barney see an actual ninja prowling through the offices of Altrucel. Barney is terrified.
Barney: We should go. This has happened before.
- Ironic Echo Cut: In "Murtaugh", when Robin asks Ted if he thinks Barney can accomplish everything on the list:
Ted: Robin, there is some pretty tough stuff on that list. (laughs) Do you really think Barney's going to get his ear pierced?
- Ladykiller in Love: When Barney falls for Robin.
- Last-Second Word Swap: Barney does this when he's about to tell Ted he loves Robin:
"Ted, I have to tell you the truth! I'm in love with --(sees Robin) -- taaaacos!"
- Leeroy Jenkins: Barney does a version of the Leeroy Jenkins battle charge in "The Murtaugh List".
"All right chums, let's do this. BAAARNEEEEEEEEEEY AHHHH STINSONNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!"
- Longing Look: Barney has had quite a few of these in regards to Robin.
- Love Makes You Crazy: Barney is generally smooth and collected when he's picking up random girls who he has no real feelings for...but often acted completely irrationally and totally lost his cool whilst dealing with his genuine love for Robin, e.g. in 'The Fight' and 'Benefits'.
- Manly Tears: In a hilarious subversion, Lily asks Barney if he's crying. Barney says he's weeping Manly Tears, but actually, he's really feeling hurt.
- Meadow Run: Barney mentions this when talking to Marshall about Robin, and attempting to deny (badly) that he has feelings for her.
Barney: But let's be CLEAR. I don't love her, okay? I just...miss her when she's not around, I think about her all the time, and I imagine us one day running towards each other in slow motion and I'm wearing a brown suede vest.
- Naked People Trapped Outside: Barney, Ted and Lily all try to sleep with their respective partners/one-night-stands by pulling a move known as 'the Naked Man', in which they wait naked for their target, who is then compelled to have sex with them. Ted and Lily both succeed...and Barney is kicked out of his hook-up's apartment completely naked, in the middle of the night, in the streets of New York. He actually has an opportunity to put some clothes on when he comes across a rack of on-sale suits on the street, but deems them too low-quality, preferring to remain naked.
- Narrative Profanity Filter: "The Murtaugh List"
- The Not-Secret: In 'The Leap', Barney finally confesses to Ted about being in love with Robin... which doesn't surprise Ted in the slightest, because Barney could not have been more obvious about it if he tried.
- Oblivious to Love: Robin regarding Barney.
- One Dialogue, Two Conversations: In 'Sorry, Bro', Lily shows up to Barney's work to ask him to give Marshall a pair of pants. Barney, being Barney, assumes she's there to give Marshall a little something else, and the conversation gets progressively more confusing for both of them. Particularly when Barney ends up thinking Lily wants him to give Marshall the 'something else' instead.
- One-Scene Wonder: Stan the security guard reciting Pablo Neruda and later on taking Robin out on a date!
- Orphaned Punchline: Averted in a pair of flashbacks, where Ted says the answer to a riddle in one scene and in a later scene says the riddle that the punchline goes with.
- Overly Long Gag: Defied in "Mosbius Designs", when Barney attempts to avoid an uncomfortable discussion:
Barney: I'm-wait for it...in-wait for it...love-wait for it...with-wait for it...a-wait for it...certain-wait for it-
- Paid-for Family: Barney pays a pair of actors (for several years) to play his wife and son... so that his mother will believe he's happy and has a family in one episode.
- Portmanteau: Barney has a habit of making up words like this, e.g 'possimpible' and 'linkativity'.
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Marshall's kiddie basketball team. Inverted in that they fail the basketball game miserably. They even had a Hope Spot.
- Reflexive Response: Occurs with Barney in 'Benefits' when he is trying (with increasing difficulty) to hide from everyone the fact that he is in love with Robin. He, Ted and Marshall are talking in the bar, and Marshall asks Ted (who has been casually sleeping with Robin) if he is getting feelings for Robin. Barney then blurts out 'Yes, I'm in love with her!' He backpedals accordingly, and somehow manages to get away with it.
- Remember the New Guy?: In "The Fight", Doug can be seen in flashbacks of past episodes.
- Retcon: Ted and his design for the new Goliath National Bank headquarters are ridiculed and rejected by Bilson because of the open and welcoming feelings that they inspire, which are diametrically opposed to the soul-crushing despair that Bilson wants the building to evoke. However, when Ted was first hired it was Bilson who supported him, explaining that he liked both the designs and the emotions behind them. True, in the original pitch Ted did not get down to the specific details of the building, it was only an introduction, but he did explain his goals and intended result.
- Sarcastic Confession: Ted to Marshall in "The Fight."
- Scenery Censor: This trope is used to its full hilarious and awesome effect in "The Naked Man," in which Barney and Ted converse, while naked, about the best position to highlight their...assets.
- Seamless Spontaneous Lie: Barney sums this up pretty well: "If someone questions you, distract them from the original lie with more lies."
Barney: Here, let me demonstrate: I own a pony. Ask me a question.
- Sex Dressed: Barney pulls a subversion to teach Ted a lesson, that Ted can trust both Barney and his own sister.
- Shaped Like What It Sells: There was a joke along these lines in one episode. Ted was designing a building shaped like a 10-gallon hat for some cheesy Texan franchise. Instead, they went with a Mecha-Godzilla shaped building. No businessman is going to have a building design that needlessly complex if he's not going to sell souvenirs inside...unless, of course, he's been charmed by the powers of Sven.
- Shown Their Work: When Ted is showing Star Wars to Stella in order to see if they are compatible as a couple, he begins to explain the history and background of the film. The original film was based in large part on Akira Kurosawa's The Hidden Fortress, just as Ted explains.
- Shout-Out : "Mosbius Designs" gives us a coworker who greets Marshall by saying, "Hey Buddy" and rubbing Marshall's shoulders, in the same way as Buster Bluth from Arrested Development.
- Barney gives one to A Beautiful Mind while trying to figure out how to sleep with Robin in "Shelter Island."
- Show Within a Show: Regis Philbin hosts "Million Dollar Heads Or Tails" (which also shows up in season 6, hosted by Alex Trebek).
- Spoof Aesop: Future Ted, after telling the story of the only fight he had ever been in...
Future Ted: Kids, I can't tell you whether fighting is good or bad; and I can't tell you not to do it. I can only give you one piece of advice about fighting: don't get into a fight with your Uncle Marshall. 'Cause that guy's friggin' crazy.
- Standardized Sitcom Housing: Ted and Robin's apartment is this.
- Testosterone Poisoning: Barney's video resume.
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch:
Marshall: I'm cuddly, bitch!
- Trailers Always Lie: A trailer for one season four episode showed Robin throwing up in a bowl and announcing that she was pregnant to a horrified Barney (who she had slept with in the previous season). As it turned out, Robin had food poisoning and sarcastically said she was pregnant in order to get rid of Barney.
- Underdogs Always Win: Discussed by Lily and Barney in The Stinsons.
Ted: Did you break me and Robin up?
- You Fail History Forever: Barney, though most likely intentionally when explaining the 3 day wait on calling women: "Jesus actually started it. He could have rose from the dead on Saturday, but he waited until Sunday when everyone was in church, came in, and ran down the aisle giving everyone high fives. True Story."
- You Say Tomato: Ted has his own pretentious way of pronouncing several words. But his pronunciation of "encyclopædia" warranted comment from other characters. "En-cyc-lo-PAY-dia" because of the æ.
- Amusing Injuries: In 'Duel Citizenship' Barney ends up with both his shoulder and jaw dislocated, crutches, a black eye, and winds up unconscious.
- Animal Chick Magnet: Barney harnesses the power of a ridiculously cute teacup pig to get women into his apartment.
- Attention Deficit Ooh Shiny: When Barney starts dating Robin and is taking a class about her from Ted, he says "I have A-D... something - can we have class outside?!"
- Author Avatar: In-universe example: Tony writes a screenplay with a Mary Sue character named Tony.
- Batman Gambit: The Scuba Diver from Barney's playbook. He anticipated the need for an entire episode as a play
- Big Book of War: Barney's Playbook.
- Bilingual Bonus: In the episode "Of Course", the restaurant in the super date is called the Tombeur des Culottes, which translates into The Panty Dropper.
- Billy Needs an Organ: Played for Laughs in "Girls vs. Suits". Barney "loses" a suit, but his tailor says he can salvage the buttons to fix other suits. Added some gratuitous faux-drama to their 100th episode.
- Broken Record: After Super Bowl 2009: "Or this one?! Or this one?! Or this one?! Or this one?! Or this one?!"
- At that upper-crust party in the Alberta: "No. No. No. No. No. No. No."
- Canada, Eh?: In the episode "Duel Citizenship", when Robin relapses into her Canadian ways, she goes out drinking with a women's curling team and wakes up in a Toronto hotel room surrounded by hockey jerseys and maple-leaf flags.
- Caught on the Jumbotron: The Kiss Cam variation happens to Robin and Brad at a not-really-a-date hockey game, which she attends after she and Barney refuse to define their relationship.
- Cavemen vs. Astronauts Debate: Which are better, ducks or rabbits?
- Character Development: Ted comments on how everyone in the gang has changed from Season 1 to Season 5 in the Season 5 finale.
- Character Shilling: 2 Egregious examples, both suspiciously soon after the breakup of Fan-Preferred Couple Barney/Robin. Robin's next Love Interest, Don, was heavily shilled by the rest of the cast (especially Marshall) even before he actually became Robin's boyfriend and despite the fact he seemed to the audience to be an unremarkable Jerkass. Also, when Barney was Flanderised, the rest of the cast suddenly became his enthusiastic cheerleaders of his womanizing, when previous they'd only had a weary tolerance for it.
- Chekhov's Gun: Played straight but retroactively: the little yellow bus behind the 2030 Mosby kids.
- The Chessmaster: Barney's standard tricking girls into sleeping with him aside, The Scuba Diver deserves mention as one damn impressive Gambit Roulette. Not to mention at one point he recorded a video over a porn, knowing that A: If he was ever in a relationship, he would give his porn to Ted, B: He would secretly be unhappy in said relationship, C: Ted would choose THAT porno first, D: That Marshall would be sitting in that particular seat... this was filmed four years in advance.
- Citizenship Marriage: Barney is about ready to propose to Robin under the guise of one of these when they get the news she's about to be deported. Until Marshall lampshades how unrealistic this trope is in the kind of time crunch situation they were facing, the logistics make it an unfeasible and impractical solution.
- Continuity Nod: When Don tries to hook up with Robin he ends up using the Naked Man from season 4, saying he learned it from a blog.
- Continuity Snarl: In "The Playbook", Robin tells Barney point blank how uncomfortable she is with him hitting on another woman in front of her so soon after their breakup. But when Barney is told in "Of Course" that Robin is taking the breakup hard and that he's been acting like a jerk, he acts so shocked that he throws up in stormtrooper helmet.
- Possibly justified. From one episode to the other, nine eps have passed, or more than two months. Not only could he have forgotten, it's been long enough that for her to still be taking it that hard would be surprising. Also, Robin was playing it very cool in front of Barney.
- Crowd Chant: Barney proves to Robin that the United States is better than Canada by starting a "USA" chant in the bar. Robin tries to do it with Canada and gets blank stares.
- Crowd Song: Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit.
- Deconstruction: The Wedding Bride deconstructs a "bad guy" who gets left at the altar by showing how it affects the guy who got dumped. Namely, Ted.
- Distracted by the Sexy: At the opening of one episode, Lily is engrossed by Robin's breasts.
- Drinking Game: In-universe.
- Robin's early morning show becomes popular because some college kids make up a drinking game about her interviews.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: The Lily / Marshall - Robin / Barney issue is played as a real break up get back together thing.
- Eek! a Mouse!: There's also 'Home Wreckers', in which a couple of mice run across the floor of the old house Ted just bought...and both Lily and Barney jump backwards into Marshall's arms.
- The Eiffel Tower Effect: Averted in "Duel Citizenship" when Robin goes on a bender and Barney tries to dramatically show she'd ended up in Toronto by opening a window hoping to see a memorable Toronto monument except there isn't any.
- Embarrassing Slide: At the end of 'Robin 101', Ted accidentally presents a picture of drunk Robin to his class in his presentation. That picture is supposed to be for his Robin 101 class with Barney.
- Everything's Better with Penguins: One of the ways to defuse a pissed-off Robin is to talk about Emperor Penguins.
- Fauxshadow: The mother thought Ted was a complete idiot for teaching in the wrong classroom. This was also true of the mother's roommate, Cindy but she is proven in short order to not be the mother.
- Feud Episode: Robin to Barney and Ted after they almost screw up her relationship with Don.
- Flanderization: After Barney and Robin broke up, Barney not only went back to his womanizing ways, he suddenly became a complete success at it who always scored with each and every girl he hit on (in previous seasons he'd been just as likely to fail as succeed). More episodes centered around Barney's womanizing in mid-Season Five than in the previous four seasons combined. This was mercifully ended in Of Course, when he finally realizes that all this is painful to Robin and keeps his word to her not to score with his latest would-be conquest. After that, Barney's womanizing went back to the more realistic, just as likely to fail as it was to succeed.
- Fridge Brilliance: Barney's successes were suddenly more memorable to Ted, and more relevant to the story that Future!Ted is telling, because they were hurting Robin.
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: In the scene where everyone is literally carrying their metaphorical baggage, there are a few jokes in there, including "Elvis is alive", and "Still thinks his ska band will take off" – while at least three of the women have "Slept with Barney".
- Friends with Benefits: Barney and Robin have this sort of thing going for a while, until Lily forces them to make a choice.
- Fun with Acronyms: Make Adjustments, Go Get It Energized!
- Future Me Scares Me: Played with in a season 5 episode, when 2009!Marshall beats the crap out of 1991!Marshall, he scares off 1991!Marshall's friend.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: The lyrics of the Suit Song:
Girls will go and girls will come...
- Gilligan Cut: In "Duel Citizenship":
Ted: She's got a backrub and a crumpet, she'll be fine. Relax. Have some fun.
- And in "Zoo or False":
Lily: Baby, you don't have to worry about me. Yes, i'm a little scared, but I'm a New Yorker. I'm not gonna let this change me.
- Also, in "The Wedding Bride", after Ted has told Marshall, Lily and Robin about how much he hated The Wedding Bride, the three all claim it looks terrible and that they don't plan on seeing it. Cut to the theater where Lily, Robin and Barney are seeing it (but not Marshall). Future Ted even lampshades it right before it cuts: "Kids, you know where this is going."
- Girl Next Door: Explicitly invoked with Maggie.
- Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: Virginia, Ted's mom, was especially gorgeous in "Home Wreckers."
- Hates the Job, Loves the Limelight: Don Frank, at first.
- Heroic BSOD: Ted has one when he's on his first day of teaching.
Ted: Oh my god. Does professor have one F or two? Oh my god. Oh my god. They're all looking at me. I should do something... *writes Proffesor* ...two f's. I think that's right.
- Hiss Before Fleeing: Barney, when Lily jinxes his Perfect Week.
- Homoerotic Dream: Lily mentions her dreams of Robin yet again.
- Barney sniffing, licking, and rubbing his face all over Marshall's suit when he's going through Suit Withdrawal in "Girls vs. Suits". The orgasm faces are a particularly nice touch, too.
- In "Say Cheese", a flashback involving a picture with Slash reveals that Marshall had been grabbing Barney's ass instead of Lily's all along.
- Honor Before Reason: When Robin finds out about a Drinking Game based around her interviews, she deliberately says the trigger in order to force everyone playing to drink themselves into oblivion. Ted figures it out and tells everyone to stop playing, but the college kids around him says they have to drink because she said the trigger. Ted joins in the drinking binge anyway.
- I'll Be in My Bunk: 1991!Marshall does this when 2009!Marshall shows him a picture of Lily.
- Imagine Spot: "Nothing Suits Me Like a Suit".
- Informed Ability: "The Wedding Bride" is apparently breaking box office records everywhere, yet it looks worse than something by Seltzer and Friedberg.
- Insane Troll Logic: Barney's advice to Marshall in "Bagpipes."
- Intoxication Ensues: Barney at the end of 'Hooked' after taking the 'purple pills' the pharmacy girls left behind.
- Ironic Echo: both "No-can-do's-ville, baby doll!" and "Can do's-ville, baby doll!"
- I Wish You Had Called: Parodied with Lily and Marshall's reaction to Barney and Robin showing up on their doorstep in "The Sexless Innkeeper."
- Kick the Dog: Ted's most romantic gestures towards Stella become this in the movie "The Wedding Bride"
- Line-of-Sight Name: In another episode, Ted tries to recall the names of his past dates from photographs by associating them with either the occasion ("Bertha" for a girl he met at a birthday party), or something in the picture. He gets them all wrong.
- Mary Sue: In-universe, Tony and Stella in "The Wedding Bride".
- Mistaken for Gay: Ted, by Don, in "Twin Beds." Robin decides not to dissuade Don from this.
- Mood Whiplash: Played for laughs in the season five episode, "The Window."
- Narrative Profanity Filter: "The Wedding Bride."
- Noir Episode: Subverted in "Of Course," which plays like a Noir Episode (albeit in color) in The Teaser, but not for the rest of the show.
- No Smoking: One fifth season episode revealed that Future Ted has been leaving out the detail that he and the rest of the gang smoked pretty regularly during this period in their lives (this is one of only few episodes that show Robin, Lily or Barney, and the only episode that show Ted or Marshall, actually smoking anything other than sandwiches or celebratory cigars). The reveal is done one by one for the main cast with shocked reactions from the kids in the future each time. The episode ends with Ted detailing exactly when each character ended up quitting for good, in his case it was right after meeting their Mother.
- Not Now, Kiddo: In the season 5 premiere, the students trying to tell Ted he's teaching the wrong class.
- Not So Above It All: The self-help author Anita writes books on how to handle guys properly. But when Barney rejects her in order to spare Robin's feelings, she easily falls for her own trick of playing hard to get.
- Oh Crap: The look on Barney and Ted's faces when Robin catches them in Robin 101.
- Porn Stash: Barney's porn stash makes a second appearance when he gives it to Ted, no longer needing it as he's in a happy relationship.
- The Plan: Robin and Barney had ended up having sex every time they tried to talk about where their relationship is going. Lily locked them in Robin's room until they gave her an answer she was happy with (i.e. "boyfriend and girlfriend"). They decide to lie and say they are BF and GF. As they walk off...
Ted:You do realize they were lying, right?
- Barney in the episode "The Playbook": The Scuba Diver
- Pronoun Trouble: What Marshall gets himself into when trying to keep Lily in the illusion that Jenkins is a man.
- Real Trailer, Fake Movie: The Wedding Bride
- Riddle for the Ages: Barney somehow manages to make the exact same pose no matter what photo he's in and no matter what pose he actually was in when the photo was taken.
- Did Marshall get mugged at gun point or have his wallet stolen by a monkey?
- Rhyming List: Barney's list of all the professions of women he's slept with in "Girls vs. Suits":
"A butcher, a baker, a candlestick maker. Yes, we're to the rhyming section, now. A math professor, a tax assessor, a weight guesser..."
- Sequel Episode: "Slapsgiving" was followed up by "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap" (while "Slapsgiving" itself was a sequel to the episode "Slap Bet").
- Shout-Out: "Rabbit or Duck" shows a desperate Barney seeking to answer his phone, and Ranjit persuading him to let it go, much in the same manner as Dr. Jones telling his son to give up the Grail.
- Show Within a Show: The Wedding Bride.
- Stuck on a Ski Lift: This happens to Barney and Robin. They'd just started having a fight before the ski lift stopped, making their usual strategies for avoiding a fight (Barney leaves the room and/or Robin gets naked) useless.
- Stylistic Suck: Also The Wedding Bride, though in-universe it's the fifth highest grossing movie of all time.
- Talking Your Way Out: In order to get out of receiving the fourth slap, which Marshall had bequeathed to Ted and Robin, Barney attempts to play his two friends off against each other. It doesn't work. Marshall ends up slapping him anyway.
- This Is Your Song: Ted's stepfather.
- Totem Pole Trench:
Marshall: Guys, there was no monkey, it was a human being with a gun!
- Tough Room: Sometimes averted by the creators, who have said that they can't stand that kind of thing.
- Unreliable Narrator: Ted doesn't think much of The Wedding Bride knowing it's really about him, yet it's breaking box office records and even his friends admit that they really like it. Is it really that bad, or is Ted just so sour over it that he paints it as Ed Wood fare in his stories?
- Victorious Childhood Friend : Maggie and her last boyfriend, in what Ted dubs "the second-greatest love story I've ever heard".
- Was I Just A Toy To You: Robin feels this way in regards to Barney in "Of Course".
- We Want Our Jerk Back: In order to woo Robin, Barney tries to be a sensitive, well-mannered person, which only ends up confusing Robin who demands that he act like her friend Barney again.
- What Do You Mean It's Not Awesome?: Cindy invokes this, when her roommate has this strange hobby of drawing robots playing volleyball, among other things. The roomate is the Mother by the way.
- The suit song.
- Whip It Good: Marshall in the first episode of the 5th season.
- You Suck: The whole point of the faux movie "The Wedding Bride," was to tell Ted that he sucks. Of course, it's really fricking biased, because Tony wrote it.
- Amusing Injuries: Ted and Barney attempt to invoke this trope at Marshall's father's funeral.
- Animal Stereotypes: Robin hangs out with a guy nicknamed Scooby in "A Change of Heart" who is extremely dog-like.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "The Exploding Meatball Sub". Barney goes through 4 ways to get his revenge on Marshall:
- Cut his brakes.
- Frame him for treason.
- Phone call really late at night.
- Aside Glance: in "The Mermaid Theory". Future!Ted can't remember why Barney & Lily were fighting and they "freeze" while they are shouting while he tries to figure out what was going on that day. They then awkwardly look at the screen and surreptitiously check their watches.
- Back for the Dead: Marshall's dad is made much more important shortly before he dies.
- Bag of Holding: Robin has one in Marshall's dad's funeral.
- Belligerent Sexual Tension: Robin sees this between Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner.
Robin: The way that she bats her eyelashes and shakes her tail feathers in his face. Oh, she wants it.
- Also, because this is what they're describing, Ted and Zoey.
- The "B" Grade: Inverted in "Subway Wars". Architecture professor Ted finds out about a website where students can rate their teacher. He checks it out and finds he's received dozens of glowing reviews. The one that he obsesses over calls him "boring".
- Borrowed Catchphrase: Barney fires off an absolutely epic string of actual reality show dismissal catchphrases in an episode.
- Break the Cutie: Season 6 seems to enjoy throwing these at Barney, especially at the end of an episode.
- Brick Joke: "Legen... wait for it... and I'll send you the rest in an inter office memo because we FREAKING WORK TOGETHER!" Their next scene together, Ted gets an "important inter-office memo" saying "DARY."
- Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: Lily during the road trip, incessantly.
- The Cameo: New Yorkers see Maury Povich all the time.
- Catchphrase Interruptus: In 'Natural History,' the night guard begins to describe Barney's childhood escapade as "Legen--" and his phone rings. He says, "hold on," turns off the ringer, and completes the catchphrase.
- Cut off by a sneeze in "A Change of Heart." Oddly enough, he doesn't finish it afterwords.
- Chair Reveal: Barney does this again in 'Architect of Destruction'.
- Chekhov's Gun: Marshall's phone remains uncharged at the end of the episode Bad News. It's important for the next episode, as his father's last words were on that phone and he didn't know until the funeral.
- Chekhov's Acoustic Sweet Spot: naturally someone overhears something important thanks to the shape of the dome and being on said sweet spot. Very straight example.
- In the episode "Subway Wars" Barney's ability to tell if a girl has been crying is introduced well before he needs it to help Robin.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Barney's suggestion to Ted as to what the design for the new GNB building should be "a gigantic rooftop ring of fire that you can jump through on a motorcycle." Ted tweaks it to a rooftop patio instead where you can eat your bag lunch. Barney is just as excited about the patio, if not more.
- Also his answer to Nora when she asks how many kids he would want, and he responds with "Three. One of each".
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: In "Oh Honey," the characters are dressed in colors matching characters in Clue. Ted is dressed in purples (Professor Plum), Barney always wore green somewhere (Mr. Green), Robin dressed in blue (Mrs. Peacock), Zoey wore white (Mrs. White), and Honey wore red (Miss Scarlett).
- Indicative of Ships- During the phone scene Lily wears a pink shirt under a grey sweater and Marshalls shirt is grey and pink. Ted's purple shirts have white accents such as the purple and white striped tie, or a white undershirt and Zoey wears white.
- Completely Missing the Point Ted tries to claim "implied dibs" when Barney calls dibs on hitting on a woman Ted had been ogling.
- Continuity Nod: In "Bad News" Barney wears Ted's Sensory Depriver from season 2's "Monday Night Football". Also, Robin has to work together with her co-host from the first season.
- In "Canning Randy", Lily mentions "that '98 Taurus that's always parked outside with the really annoying alarm", which Ted and Robin then imitate. It sounds exactly like the one from "Luck Penny".
- After finding the latest Robin Sparkles show called "Space Teens", Barney thinks it's a porno and prepares to slap the bejeezus out of Marshall who is already cringing: a nod to the second season episode, "Slap Bet."
- In "Oh, Honey", the Loch Ness Monster poster in Marshall's childhood room.
- In "Hopeless"
Robin: Okay, Jerry's gone, let's break up.
- Credits Gag: We're also a band!
- Dating Catwoman: Ted and Zoey. Zoey is protesting the destruction of the Arcadian, the site of the future GNB headquarters that Ted is designing.
- Disproportionate Retribution: The exploding meatball sub.
- "Canning Randy". Ted says that he is in favor of the Arcadian being torn down. Zoey starts to act like a complete snob. So to try to make it up to his students, he gives them candy and makes a mix CD. Zoey's response? To take his entire class and turn it against him.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: In "Glitter", Space Teens is made almost entirely of this trope.
- Doomed by Canon: Non-lethal variation. When Ted finally gets together with Zoey, we already know there's no possibility whatsoever she's the mother.
- Downer Ending: "Bad News" ends with Lily telling Marshall that his father is dead.
- Eek! a Mouse!: The cockamouse shows up again five seasons later in "The Perfect Cocktail". It has children.
- Enforced Method Acting: Jason Segel was not told that the bad news in "Bad News" was his character's father dying until the words came out of Alyson Hannigan's mouth while shooting the final scene (which was just one take). He also improvised the line "I'm not ready for this."
- Everything's Better with Penguins: Robin again in "Natural History."
- Exactly What It Says on the Tin: "Garbage Island. You haven't heard of Garbage Island? It's an island. Made of garbage."
- Foreshadowing: Season 6 drops a big one. One of Ted's stipulations for Cindy to make it up to him is to set him up with one of her friends...
- Barney in the first episode of Season 6 states that if he ever had his father's phone number, he would never not talk to him. Second episode, Barney's mother offers him the contact information of his real father, which he tears up saying his mom was father enough for him.
- "Bad News" has this in a sort of Fridge Brilliance way. Most of the episode leads the viewer to believe the "bad news" is that Marshall may not be able to get Lily pregnant. This is all a ruse.
- In a flashback that takes place after Ted gets married to the mother, he states in passing that his relationship with Zoey ended badly.
- A subtler bit of foreshadowing occurs in the episode where Ted and Zoey first got together. In that episode she introduces Ted to her cousin, whom Future!Ted calls "Honey" because he's forgotten her real name. If Zoey were the mother, Ted should've been able to remember Honey's real name.
- Another big one was dropped at the end of the Season 6 finale. The episode teased a possible reconnection between Robin and Barney, only for them to decide it isn't a good idea. Barney runs in to Norah, and we are teased with a reconnection between those two. We flash forward a bit to learn that Barney is getting married, with Ted as his best man, though who Barney marries is not revealed. Word of God says that Season 7 will partly focus on learning who it is Barney will marry, and that it is at that wedding that Ted meets The Mother.
- In an early episode, Ted annoys some people on the bus with archictural information on various buildings, among them the Arcadian, which will later become central to the season's story.
- Very subtle one in season 4, Marshall says that in 3-5 years, he'll be carving the Thanksgiving turkey with a lightsaber. The stinger of the episode ends with him doing that, with the subtitle of "Three to five years later" Marshall is shown doing just that. But before he does, he says a few words to Lily and his mother. But not his father, who dies two years later... before this scene would take place.
- Former Teen Rebel: Jerome Whitaker.
- Funny Background Event: In the episode where Robin tries to become a real New Yorker, count the amount of times Maury Povich appears in the background. I'd say make a drinking game out of it, but you'd be passed out by the mid-way point.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In-show example; the "Space Teens" show, especially "The Beaver Song".
- Gilligan Cut: Barney states that the entire gang will be helping him clean out his mother's house this weekend. No one is convinced and states that his schmoozing powers may work on unaware girls but will never work on his friends. Cut to everyone helping to clean Barney's mother's house and Lily wondering how he did that.
- Groin Attack: Ted and Barney try to get Marshal to laugh at his father's funeral by showing him video's of people getting hit in the groin. When that fails, Barney hits Ted in the groin, which also fails.
- Heads-Tails-Edge: In "Blitzgiving", once Barney inherits the curse of "The Blitz" which makes awesome things happen just as he isn't there to see them, the original Blitz flips a coin while Barney is out of the room and it lands on its edge. It falls over just as Barney returns.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Hey, he finally figured out the laugh!
- Honorary Uncle: Barney tells Robin of the time when "Uncle Jerry" took him to the Museum of Natural History. Everyone understands that the guy was just one of Barney's mother's many boyfriends and had no actual relation to Barney. However, at the end of the episode we find out that Jerry might actually be Barney's real father.
- Imagine Spot: Barney doesn't actually walk into the restaurant to win Nora back at the end of "A Change of Heart".
- Innocent Innuendo: In the third Robin Sparkles educational special, she and Jessica Glitter talk about their beavers and Alan Thicke asks a math question about how much wood is needed to keep the beavers well fed all weekend long. Ted and Barney nearly have aneurysms.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Ninja: Robin believs the three possible outcomes of the Arcadian hearing are Ted denounces the building and Zoey dumps him, Ted saves the building, but dumps Zoey in the process, or Ted is assassinated by a ninja hired by Zoey's ex husband.
- Ironic Echo: "Carrots and peas" and "Things have to fall apart to make way for better things".
- It Is Pronounced Tro-PAY: When discussing clubs to go to, a club called Lame is mentioned. Marshall later says that the club's name is pronounced "Lamé"; It is a gay bar, after all.
- Kawaiiko: Robin's co-worker Becky.
- Barney later inverts this in order to prove him acting like a little boy attracts women, just as much women acting like little girls attracts men.
- Lampshade Hanging: Robin and Barney ask Lily for details about Ted's first date with Zoey:
Lily: Yeah, I wasn't really listening. Ted can really drone on about a bitch.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Ted dishes this out to his students when Zoey says they are about to abandon him for wanting to tear down the Arcadian: "Anyone not in class tomorrow gets an F."
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Subverted. Lily and Marshall try for a year, but eventually Lily gets pregnant
- Let Us Never Speak of This Again
Ted: She didn't see us high-six did she?
- Line-of-Sight Name: In the episode "Canning Randy," Robin looks at the bill and the pepper shaker on the restaurant table and claims that the man she slept with was called "Bill Pepper." Lily, not fooled, inquires if Bill knows "Fork Napkin."
- Manly Tears: Marshall when he learns that his father died.
- Meaningful Background Event: Throughout "Bad News", numbers starting from 50 and counting down can be seen peppered throughout the entire episode, except the five, which is Barney saying a variation of "high five". When the "countdown" reaches zero, Marshall receives the news that his father's just died.
- Meganekko: Robin, played by the already ridiculously hot Cobie Smulders, actually managed to get even hotter in the sixth season by donning a pair of glasses.
- Mind Screw: The effect of absinthe on Robin and Lily.
Robin: We're just a dream a baby's having.
- Moment Killer: Ted does this to Robin and her secret crush.
- Mood Whiplash: In "Bad News", Marshall gets tested to see if he can even get Lily pregnant. The doctor comes in to say that his sperm aren't fertile... before Marshall rips the beard off of the doctor to reveal that he's Barney. Then the real doctor comes in and says that Marshall is fertile. Later he celebrates at the bar, leaves to call his dad to tell him the good news... to run into Lily leaving a cab saying his dad died of a heart attack. Ouch.
- Mushroom Samba: Robin considers the cartoon sequences in Mary Poppins as such.
Robin: Ted, the kids in that movie jumped into a painting and spent 15 minutes chasing a cartoon fox. "Spoonful of sugar"? Grow up.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: The Captain purposely acts creepy to hide his shyness.
- No Matter How Much I Beg: Robin, reeling over a breakup, warns friend (and ex-boyfriend) Ted that some time in the future she will attempt rebound sex with him, and makes him promise to resist her advances. By the time she makes her move, she's such an emotional (and physical) wreck that Ted finds resisting very easy.
- Noodle Incident: Barney blackmailed the gang into making him look good to Nora by his knowledge of embarrassing things that happened to them. Only Marshall's eating a calzone he dropped on the ground was explained. What happened to the hamster in Lily's class, Robin's Mr. T dream and Ted's thermos, are not explained.
- Numerological Motif: Various props in the season 6 episode "Bad News" count down from 50 to 1 until the announcement that Marshall's father has had a fatal heart attack.
- Open-Minded Parent: Barney's mum is a lot more accepting of his lifestyle than Barney was expecting, mostly because she was exactly like him when she was younger.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: Marshall has been using these to avoid lying to Lily. If it's not a word, it can't be false, right? Also, Barney likes to make up words to sound more awesome.
- Promoted Fangirl: In interviews Jennifer Morrison has stated she was a huge fan of the show and actively campaigned to get her part.
- Rage Against the Heavens: Marshall has one. At the end of the episode Last Words Marshall rants to God about how unfair the whole situation is with his father's untimely death... good thing his dad pulls through in the end.
- Reflexive Response: When Lily announces that she's pregnant in False Positive, Barney immediately screams "I've never slept with that woman before in my life!"
- "Nora." *Smile*
- Shout-Out: In "Canning Randy" there is a reference to the Godfather's dead horse head scene.
- Show Within a Show: Alex Trebek hosts "Million Dollar Heads Or Tails" (which had been hosted in season 4 by Regis Philbin).
- "Space Teens", a kids' show featuring Robin Sparkles and Jessica Glitter . . . and a LOT of creepy pornographic not-even-subtext.
- Shower of Angst: Referenced in "Glitter."
- Sophisticated As Hell:
The Captain: I daresay Scylla and Charibdis could not have torn us asunder: we had great big boners for each other.
- Soundtrack Dissonance: While discussing losing a potiential friendship with Lily, Jessica Glitter, Robin's ex-BFF, is playing an organ for a hockey game. The happy organ music being played (and the Pavlovian responses to certain tunes) gives a comical contrast to the seriousness of the discussion.
- Spit Take: Barney and Ted both have one when the first words said in the section of the third Robin Sparkles special they're watching are "How's your beaver?"
- Suspiciously Specific Denial: "I don't recall saying snakes."
- Don't forget Marshall's hilarious response when Nora asked him about Barney:
Marshall: We did not meet him at the strip club. No. Barney don't go to no strip club.
- Translation Train Wreck: In The Meatball Sub, Ted is supposed to be talking to a Professor with Spanish, but turns up becoming this and Double Entendre.
"Professor Rodriguez, I are Ted. This am Lily. We'd like to get inside you and proceed forward."
- Underdressed for the Occasion: Barney, meaningfully, averts this at Marshall's father's memorial, but then, he and Ted are trying to cheer Marshall up, and make it a day about living.
- Wham! Episode: "Natural History": One minute it seems like a fun episode about Barney and Robin touching things they aren't supposed to at the museum and the next thing you know, Barney learns the truth about his father.
- "Bad News": One moment, we're celebrating with Marshall about his "strong swimmers," next moment he learns that his father has died.
- The season six finale "Challenge Accepted" gave us two wham moments. We find out that Lily is pregnant and does not in fact have food poisoning, and as Ted performs his Best Man duties at a wedding, it is revealed that the groom is actually Barney.
- In short, season six is a shot to the gut like unto that which killed Houdini.
- Wham! Line:
Lily: (in tears) Marshall, something's happened...your dad had a heart attack...h-he didn't make it...
- "Natural History" when Barney finally learned the identity of his father just after he gets over it.
Guard: Stinson was reprimanded and returned to the custody of his father, Jerome Whittaker.
- What Do You Mean It's Not for Kids?: In-universe, Robin insists that "Space Teens" is an educational show for kids, despite two girls wrestling over a suggestively-shaped joystick, followed by "The Beaver Song."
- What the Hell, Hero?: Lily gives one to Barney for lying to Nora, despite their feelings for each other and her being quite possibly the most decent girl Barney has ever met.
- Who's on First?: In "Hopeless", the entire gang and Barney's father engage in this when trying to figure out which club to go to. Barney's father even lampshades the conversation by uttering lines from the original skit.
- Younger Than She Looks: Robin gave alcohol to a really tall 15 year old girl at the funeral of Marshall's father.
- Abuse Is Okay When It Is Female On Male: After Robin tells Barney that she is pregnant, he responds with several insensitive questions or statements. After each one, Robin punches Barney hard, in the face, knocking him to the floor. This is played for laughs, but of course, he is Barney.
- All Love Is Unrequited: Robin for Barney. But not in episode nine. Oh boy. Then it turns itself around again in episode ten, Tick Tick Tick when Barney starts pining for Robin again. Then Robin starts pining for Barney again further into the season.
- Ted also realizes there's a part of him that still wanted to be with Robin until episode 17.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Robin: This day sucks. Me and my date are kaputz.
- Played straight in "Karma":
Barney: I don't know how I'd feel about her being a stripper.
- Also when Ted decides to date a girl without looking up everything there is to know about her on the internet. His friends of course can't resist and try texting him on what they found out. Ted tries to avoid clicking on their link, but has several terrifying imagine spots where it turns out she's a prostitute, or that she's a man, or that she hates Annie Hall.
- In the season finale, Robin says Zoey was the wrong girl for Ted because she was married, trying to sabotage his career, and wore a lot of stupid hats.
- Ascended Extra: Patrice was just in the background in The Stinson Missile Crisis, and by No Pressure, she becomes Robin's sworn enemy.
- Awesome McCoolname: Or at least that what the gang think with Marshall and Lily's son Marvin Wait-For-It Erikson.
- Batman Gambit: Barney's plan to grope Lily's boobs in "The Ducky Tie". He even spent five years using Pavlovian conditioning on Marshall to prepare for it. Could be considered a Xanatos Gambit, since Lily still had to show him her boobs in order to thwart the plan.
- Barney and Quinn pull one in "The Broath" against the gang to teach them not to judge Quinn, ala The Playbook.
- Bittersweet Ending: In the episode No Pressure, Ted finally realizes that Robin will only love him as a friend, which allows him to finally move on with his life.
- Book Ends: The Season Premiere and Finale will be two back-to-back episodes which shows Barney at his wedding.
- Brick Joke: During the field trip poll session, Ted proves it's Edward James Olmos. The argument that established that shows up at the very end.
- One from the previous season: Ted getting a girl's number in a dress explains an incident from a Season 6 Flash Forward that Future!Ted promised to elaborate on later.
- The Bus Came Back: Twice. Victoria showed up at the end of the season's second episode, "The Naked Truth" and once again in the season finale.
- Call Back: The scene with Ted and Robin smoking cigars outdoors mirrors Ted and Barney's in the Second Season finale. You know, after we learn Ted and Robin Broke up?
- A LOT in "The Ducky Tie". Ted makes the group guess which ex-girlfriend he met in the Architect Ball, and they started referencing all Ted's exes. Every. Single. One. Of them.
- A reprise of the "Bangity Bang" song.
- At the end of "Good Crazy", Marshall has a cigarette. This is only significant in light of "Last Cigarette Ever"'s reveal.
- "You sonofabitch."
- "Murder Train" is played for a montage of everyone committing acts of violence against each other.
- Marshall's list of fish names shows up again.
- Ted and Barney briefly end up opening their bar, "Puzzles".
- Ted and Robin go back to the restaurant which had that Blue French Horn.
- A LOT in "The Ducky Tie". Ted makes the group guess which ex-girlfriend he met in the Architect Ball, and they started referencing all Ted's exes. Every. Single. One. Of them.
- Cliffhanger Copout: In "Symphony of Illumination" turns out when Robin said "I'm pregnant" at the end of "Rebound Girl" she really meant "I am a few days late and haven't even taken a pregnancy test yet."
- Continuity Lock Out: Victoria's return could have been one, but they simplify the breakup between her and Ted to save an explanation ("I cheated on you with Robin" is a lot simpler than "I thought you weren't going to call me so I was going to break up with you after I started to cheat on you with Robin whom I had told that we had broken up but I never got the chance to because you called while I was at her place, and Robin answered because we had identical phone and then we fought for a while and eventually did hook up under completely unrelated circumstances").
- Crazy Prepared: Ted, desperate for something interesting to show to his intro to architecture class, brings them to Barney at GNB. Barney immediately whips out a Crazy Awesome advertisement for Sex Lessons before Ted interrupts and chastises him. Barney is too upset about Nora not liking Ewoks to actually care, and he proceeds to explain the problem using an in-depth history of the Ewoks. Ted interrupts again, telling him to "Skip to the part about you and Nora." And so Barney skips... and skips and skips and skips to the end where he presents his latest theory on the Ewok Line, proving that his "29 year-old girlfriend" has to be 37. In addition, he demonstrates that he memorized the names of Ted's 200+ students. 
- Dead Guy, Junior: Marshall and Lily's son is named Marvin Wait-For-It Eriksen.
- Darker and Edgier: Season seven seems to have really amped up the angst.
- Darkest Hour: Ted certainly thinks this of his love life after giving up on Robin for good. Sent up in Trilogy Time where despite everything that happened to him across the series he never gave up hope on finding his true love up until now.
- Defictionalization: The labor announcement that Ted created for Lily and Marshall is an actual site:
- Doomed by Canon: In the season finale, Ted and Victoria past the church in which she was suppose to get married to another person and them driving in to the sunset together. Which is pointless because the viewers know that Victoria is not the mother and that Ted met her at Barney's wedding.
- This is also true for Barney and Quinn, since, despite their engagement, we already know that Robin is the bride at his wedding.
- Drama-Preserving Handicap: The real reason why Ted can't get into a serious, committed relationship with other women is because there's a small part of him that still wants to be with Robin. The episode No Pressure makes it clear to Ted that he and Robin are Better as Friends, which opens him up to the possibility of hooking up with the Mother.
- Embarrassing Middle Name: Poor Marvin Wait-For-It Eriksen.
- Embarrassing? It's the coolest middle name of all time!
- Everything's Worse with Bears: When Marshall is temporarily without medical insurance he starts imaging worst case scenarios. No matter what the scenario is, he is mauled by a bear.
- Evil Laugh: Marshall and Lily share one in "The Ducky Tie".
- Freeze-Frame Bonus: At the beginning of "Mystery Vs History" one of the people's descriptions has Josh Radnor (who plays Ted) listed in her favourite actors.
- Also there's a scene in the seventeenth episode when the gang are hanging out in Mc Claren's, you can spot Conan O'Brien.
- Foreshadowing: One of Ted's favorite movies is Annie Hall, where the titular character and the protagonist get into a relationship, have it end and decide that they are Better as Friends.
- Gender Equals Breed: Robin's kids with Barney. The boy is a blond in a suit, and the girl has long dark hair. Of course, they're part of Robin's imagination.
- Generation Xerox: Again, Robin's imaginary children.
- Germans Love David Hasselhoff: Invoked in the 5th episode.
Ted: Who here loves David Hasselhoff?
- Gilligan Cut: In "The Naked Truth":
Marshall: I wanna be the kind of man my child can look up to. So, sweeping declaration, I am never getting drunk again as long as I live. (the rest of the gang laughs) I'm serious! (scene briefly stops so Future Ted can narrate)
- The lighter subplot in "The Drunk Train" ends with this. After Marshall and Lily agree not to keep score anymore, it cuts to them months later, making tallies on a scoreboard to determine who changes the baby.
- Gratuitous French: In "Disaster Averted", when Barney decides he has to incite Marshall to slap him, says "Le jeu commance" (The game begins) menacingly. Marshall, in the same fashion, retaliates, "Je m'appele Marshall" (My name is Marshall). And yes, the scenes are translated exactly so.
- Hide Your Pregnancy: Averted with Alyson Hannigan's second pregnancy, as Lily was already pregnant.
- Which is rather funny when you notice Stripper Lily has an unexplained bump in episode 14...
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold: Quinn. It's kind of hidden though.
- Hypocritical Humor: Robin's therapist Kevin tells her he's moving to Alaska. Turns out he had to stop seeing her because he was attracted to her.
Robin: [offended] So you dumped me as a patient so you could ask me out?
- I Thought It Meant: Barney and Ted's dispute over Jacob and Edward. ... James Olmos.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy:
- Hearing Ted say that he's realized that if you care about somebody, you should want them to be happy even if you get left out in The Stinson Missile Crisis, gets Robin to change her mind about trying to sabotage Barney's relationship with Nora for her own benefit. Even before this realization, she's done things such as played Cyrano for Barney and Nora, despite her own feelings for him.
- After their roles have reversed in mid-season, Barney does this for Robin, saying that even though her choosing Kevin over him made him mad, she's still his bro and he doesn't mind who she dates as long as it makes her happy.
- Since it was revealed that Robin is Barney's future bride, it seems like she does this again for him in the season finale, saying that she's truly happy for him after having heard the news of his engagement to Quinn.
- Identical Stranger: In addition to the return of Doppelganger Lily, when Ted is in University Housing there are three college students who are dead ringers for Ted, Marshall, and Lily when they were in college.
- I Love You Because I Can't Control You: Barney only wanted a hookup with Quinn, but it led to their engagement.
- Incredibly Lame Pun: Marshall, desperately trying to be an environmentalist lawyer, is struggling to wow three hard core corporate attorneys. In desperation, he turns to his tried and true list of fish names. Then his boss shows up.
- Jade-Colored Glasses: Ted admits to Robin that he's been wearing these for a while now.
- Jaywalking Will Ruin Your Life: Ted's reaction towards discovering his date Nadine's backgrounds in "Mystery vs History".
Robin: She's wanted in Florida on crystal meth charges.
- Karma Houdini: That shitbag kid in "Symphony of Illumination" who scams Marshall, looks at Lily's boobs, wrecks their house, and gets paid for all.
- Large Ham: Pete in "The Naked Truth".
And I select, the BEAUTIFUL GAME! THE SWEEET SCIENCE! THE SPORT OF KIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIINGS
- Law of Inverse Fertility: Subverted with Robin. She's never wanted kids and thinks she's pregnant, but then it turns out she can't have kids at all.
- Let's Get Dangerous / Changed My Mind, Kid: Garrison Cootes is inspired by Marshall's resolve to turn things around for the planet.
- Man On Fire: "The Burning Beekeeper".
- Meaningful Echo:
I'm sorry. We're great as friends. Let's just forget I ever said anything.
- Meaningful Episode Title: Karma. Marshall's good deed in No Pressure gets reciprocated at the end of the episode, while Barney is reaping what he sowed for being a Serial Playboy when he meets his match in Quinn, whom he genuinely likes but is being played like a fiddle.
- Mood Whiplash: Marshall is getting a soul crushing Hannibal Lecture on how the earth is doomed from an erstwhile environmental activist in a dimly lit office when a partier bursts in with a noisemaker, funny hat, and piñata. The broken environmentalist grins cheerily and says he'll be right out before immediately returning to his soul crushing lecture.
- My Girl Is a Slut: Has Barney mentioned that he's dating a stripper? Although this is Deconstructed as Barney actually has a tough time dealing with this.
- Noodle Incident: BARNELL!
- Oblivious to Love: Barney regarding Robin. And then the other way around.
- Oh Crap:
- Marshall and Lily's faces when Barney messes with them about knowing Shinjitsu cooking. They're worth an official stamp.
- Barney when he checks his voice mail and hears Lily saying she's in labor while he and Marshall are stuck (and drunk!) in Atlantic City.
- Old Flame Fizzle
- One of Us: Ted and Barney take advantage of a horrifically boring field trip to settle some of their debates.
Ted: Who thinks David Hasselhoff is awesome?
- Poor Communication Kills: Or in this case, leads to more than one bad date. When Ted finally reunites with the Slutty Pumpkin, they both quickly realize that they're completely incompatible with each other. Too bad neither of them realizes the other one realizes it.
- Punctuated for Emphasis: Marshall's boss, after Marshall's Shut UP, Hannibal / Rousing Speech. He rejects an evil business's offer of $24,000.
- Put on a Bus: After The Bus Came Back, Victoria was literally put back on one in episode three.
- Reality Subtext: Several months after Lily and Marshall learned they were having their first child, Alyson Hannigan announced she was pregnant with her second child.
- Rhetorical Statement Blunder:
Ted: Barney. That was my VCR.
- Screaming Birth: Lily experiences this when she goes into labor.
- Ship Tease: Robin doesn't seem to mind being the mother of Barney's children. And being married to him even.
- Shotgun Wedding: Turns out Punchy's wedding is one (though apparently no one knew but the bride and groom.
- Sickly Green Glow: See Mood Whiplash. Said soul-destroying lecture is in an office with appropriately dreary green tinted lighting.
- Simultaneous Arcs: The Burning Beekeeper is shown from the perspective of each room in the five minutes leading up to said burning beekeeper running through the house and out the front door.
- Sitcom Arch Nemesis: PATRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIICE
- Start My Own: Barney and Ted always wanted to start their own bar called Puzzles. On New Year's Eve 2011 they are outraged by the high cover charge at McLaren's and jokingly suggest that they should just start their own bar in Ted's apartment. The idea takes off and their bar goes viral within hours. However, as more and more people show up, the party turns rowdy. As their costs due to damages and other expenses rise, they have to keep raising their prices until they are almost the same as the real bar and everyone leaves. Also they don't actually have a liquor license.
- Stepford Smiler: Everyone at Marshall's new environmental activist lawfirm. They're convinced the world is doomed and sue bad guys for just enough money for cake.
- Barney was really hurt by Robin's decision of choosing Kevin over him, but he never told anyone else except Ted in No Pressure.
- Take That Us: Robin's therapist Kevin gets more and more exasperated that she can't directly explain one specific event, but must work up to it with round-about side-stories that didn't even involve her. (It may also be she's been hanging around Ted too long.)
- That Didn't Happen / It Doesn't Mean Anything: Barney and Robin's initial reaction to sleeping together.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: In universe. Lily and Marshall once went to a one woman stageshow that solely consisted of the woman screaming. On the playbill, the name of the show was Just Screaming.
- True Companions:
- The concept is being put under scrutiny, as Kevin points out how dysfunctional the group is getting because they're meddling too much in each other's affairs.
- It's deconstructed for real in The Broath. Barney's friends meddle into his relationship with a stripper, stage intervention to him, and eventually break them up. The whole thing is set up by Barney and his girlfriend so they can force Barney's friends into realizing what they are doing.
- Twist Ending: Episode 12 "ends" with Robin's Generation Xerox kids being imaginary.
- Also Magician's Code Pt 2 shows Barney proposing to Quinn and announcing their engagement to the group, and less than a minute later flashes forward to the wedding, where the bride is Robin.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: For most of Season 4, it's Barney who has the hots for Robin. Now it's the other way around. Except that from episode 10 onwards, it's Barney pining for Robin again. And as of No Pressure, it's Robin pining for Barney again. Wow.
- Wham! Episode: The Rebound Girl ends with Robin telling Barney she's pregnant.
- Symphony of Illumination: Not only is Robin not pregnant, she discovers she can't ever have children.
- No Pressure: Ted has been holding back in finding the right girl because he's been unconsciously pining after Robin after all these years. He lets this go when Robin tells him it's not gonna happen.
- Karma: Ted moves out of the apartment and leaves it to Lily and Marshall.
- Trilogy Time: Ted has an infant daughter by 2015.
- Magician's Code: Ted and Victoria run away together, Barney and Quinn are engaged, and Robin's The Bride!
- Wham! Line:
Robin to Barney: I'm pregnant.
- And in the next episode:
Robin to her "kids": If you want to know the truth of it, I'm glad you guys aren't real.
- In The Drunk Train:
Ted: I love you, Robin.
- Then in No Pressure
Ted: I think you know how you feel about me now, and I don’t think time is going to change that. Just tell me. Do you love me?
- Again in Good Crazy:
"Barney, it's Lily. You guys need to get back to New York right away. I'm in labor!"
- What the Hell, Hero?: Victoria calls Ted (and by extension, Barney) out for still being friends with Robin after their relationship is over because it's "weird" and that it can't work if he wants future relationships to go well. Future!Ted very ominously informs the audience (and his kids) that she was right.
- Her warning plays out, first in Disaster Averted, with Barney, and in No Pressure, with Ted.
- Robin calls Ted out on not being friendly with her since No Pressure. The whole situation sucks for Robin too, but we never get to see it from her perspective until she called him out on it.It makes sense, since its Future!Ted who's narrating the whole thing.
- Robin also calls Ted out for chasing all the wrong girls for the past seven years.
- Will They or Won't They?: Another season-long one for Barney and Robin, this time with Robin pining and Barney oblivious. They did, but did not continue to.
- They will. For real this time.
- Ted and Robin again in episodes 16 and 17. Like the above example, they did not.
- Whole-Plot Reference: The 5th episode is similar to how the Star Wars protagonists managed to get the Ewoks to help them fight the Empire.
- Who's Your Daddy?: Robin's pregnant, and the father is either Barney or Kevin. Subverted, that she wasn't really pregnant and it would have been Barney.
- Wimp Fight: Cootes and Ted.
- And not just the hot chicks; he also knew Will's name, maybe because his 38 year-old mother is hot
- and Robin's