|How I Met Your Mother character|
Neil Patrick Harris as Barney Stinson
|Last appearance||"Last Forever"|
|Created by||Carter Bays
|Portrayed by||Neil Patrick Harris
Riley Thomas Stewart
(Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything)
|Family||Loretta Stinson (mother)
Jerome Whittaker (father)
Cheryl Whittaker (step-mother)
James Stinson (maternal half-brother)
Jerome "J. J." Whittaker, Jr. (paternal half-brother)
Carly Whittaker (paternal half-sister)
|Spouse(s)||Robin Scherbatsky (2013-2016) (divorced)|
|Significant other(s)||Shannon (ex-girlfriend)
Quinn Garvey (ex-fiancée)
"#31" (daughter's mother)
|Children||Ellie Stinson (daughter, born 2020)|
|Relatives||Eli Stinson (nephew)
Sadie Stinson (niece)
Barnabus "Barney" Stinson is a fictional character created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas for the CBS television series How I Met Your Mother, portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris. One of the main characters of the show, Barney is known to enjoy being single, wearing suits, and playing laser tag. He is a pickup artist, using different techniques and ideas to have sex with women, which is one of the show's central themes. During the later seasons, however, he does mature and get involved in serious relationships.
The character has been well received by critics throughout the series' run, and has been credited for much of the show's success. He is credited for the "Lemon Law" of first dates as well as the popularity of the "Suit Up!" concept, and is considered the show's breakout character.
- 1 Development
- 2 Character
- 3 Appearances outside of How I Met Your Mother
- 4 Relationships
- 5 Catchphrases
- 6 Reception
- 7 References
- 8 Bibliography
- 9 External links
The show's creators envisioned Barney as what Bays later described as a "large, John Belushi-type character"; nonetheless, Megan Branman, the casting director for How I Met Your Mother, invited Harris to audition. He assumed that he was invited solely because the two were friends and did not believe he had a chance of winning the role. Harris later said: "Since I [considered] myself the long shot, I didn't care that much, and I think that allowed a freedom." His audition centered on a scene playing laser tag, and Harris attempted a dive roll, accidentally knocking over a chair and slamming into a wall in the process. CBS executives enjoyed his playing, and Harris was quickly offered the part. The character is named for a heroin dealer in the James Ellroy novel L.A. Confidential.
Barney Stinson is one of five main characters on How I Met Your Mother. He is a histrionic in his mid-thirties, always wears a suit, likes women with "daddy issues" and is frequently willing to offer his (sometimes hypocritical) opinion. Throughout the earlier seasons, Barney is a huge womanizer, and has been described as a "high-functioning sociopath" by his best friend, Ted Mosby. Barney has a plethora of strategies and rules designed to meet women, sleep with them, and discard them. Through several seasons of the show, four of the main characters are couples, as Ted began dating Robin Scherbatsky and Ted's roommate Marshall Eriksen became engaged and later married to Lily Aldrin. This leaves Barney the only single character, and, according to Harris, Barney is "resentful" that the other characters had paired up. Later on, in season 5, he dates Robin. They end up breaking up not long after, once they both realize they are making one another miserable.
Harris describes Barney as a man who "likes to create crazy situations and then sit back and watch it all go down." He is an opportunist who manipulates any situation so that it goes his way. He is also highly competitive, and will take on "challenges" to complete (sometimes) outlandish tasks in order to prove his worth. He is proud and stubborn, and attempts to stand by his word no matter what. In "I Heart NJ", for example, he refuses to put down his fist unless someone offers him a fist bump. By the end of the episode, he has the same fist elevated in a sling after struggling to keep his fist up throughout the episode. In "Lucky Penny", when the others do not believe that he can run the New York City Marathon the next day without training, Barney immediately agrees to do so. Although he succeeds, he is unable to walk afterwards. Although he thinks of himself as worldly, Barney is sometimes extremely naive, believing many lies his mother told him well into adulthood, such as believing that Bob Barker is his father.
Barney, like Harris himself, is an illusionist. His favorite types of magic tricks involve fire, as seen in the tenth episode of the second season, "Single Stamina" and in the fourth episode of the fourth season, "Intervention". Barney uses magic tricks mostly to pick up women. His most common method of picking up women is telling them elaborate lies about himself, often using an alias. Many of his schemes for picking up women are in a book he has written called "The Playbook", which is exposed in the episode "The Playbook". He has commitment issues, as evidenced in his reluctance to put a label on his relationship with Robin and the fact that she is one of the few women he has actually dated since the show started.
Barney is very well-connected and is the most affluent member of the group. He frequently buys expensive items—such as a last-minute plane ticket to San Francisco, thousands of dollars in postage stamps, or two televisions specifically for smashing in frustration—in the spur of the moment. He is also something of a metrosexual; he waxes his chest, enjoys manicures and has an extensive knowledge of designer labels and gourmet food. However, he is also seen to have a gambling problem that he occasionally gets under control, only to relapse as seen in several episodes such as "Atlantic City", where he has gambling buddies in the Chinese Triad, and "Monday Night Football".
Although The Early Show described him as "utterly devoid of morality", Barney lives by the "Bro Code", his own code of rules. Despite his overall questionable character, according to creator Craig Thomas, Barney is "a pretty fragile character who's really afraid of being alone. He just wants people to like him, to be important to people, and to have disciples who follow his word." He has displayed a softer, kinder side on several occasions, however, such as preventing Marshall from sleeping with other women when he and Lily break up, and persuading Lily to come back to Marshall.
Throughout the series, one major character development is apparent in Barney: At the beginning of the show, his character is a womanizer who completely objectifies sex and women and wants nothing to do with dating and relationships. Although he does date Robin in Season 5, he continues his promiscuous ways immediately after their breakup. In Seasons 6 and 7, however, he begins to confront his personal issues, like his relationship with his estranged father and his fear of commitment. By the time late Season 7 rolls around, Barney has finally "grown up," and has now warmed to the idea of a commitment and marriage, culminating in his proposal to his girlfriend, Quinn. Although he briefly retreats to his escapades after he and Quinn break up, he does make one major final leap in his maturity when he burns The Playbook and proposes to Robin in Season 8's two-part episode "The Final Page," after finally admitting to himself that he is still in love with her. Robin accepts and they plan their wedding in the second half of the season. The Season 9 episode
The final season revolves around Barney and Robin's wedding weekend. After some apprehension on both their parts, they get married in "The End of the Aisle" after he vows to always be honest with her. The series finale, "Last Forever", reveals that, three years after their wedding, they get divorced because Robin's hectic travel schedule prevents them from spending any time together. Barney returns to a lifestyle of meaningless sex with multiple women for several years afterward, until he gets one of his one-night stands pregnant. He hates the idea of being a father until the day his child - a girl named Ellie - is born. He falls in love with her at first sight, and becomes a devoted father. He hangs out with the whole gang one last time in 2020 to watch Ted marry Tracy McConnell, the series' titular mother.
Childhood and family
Two references have been offered to identify Barney's year of birth: In "Natural History", Barney claims he was six years old on July 23, 1981. This puts his birthday somewhere between July 24, 1974 and July 23, 1975; in "Zoo or False", Ted says Barney was born seven years after the moon landing (which occurred in July 1969), meaning his birthday is in 1976. Therefore his birthday probably lies between 1974 and 1976. He was raised in Port Richmond, Staten Island by his mother Loretta (younger version voiced by Megan Mullally, played by Frances Conroy), who was apparently very promiscuous. His father proved to be an ongoing mystery in the series. When Barney was young, he asked his mother who his father was, and as The Price is Right happened to be on TV at the time, she pointed to Bob Barker and replied "Oh, I don't know. That guy." Barney believed the lie wholeheartedly, and years later confronted Barker in the season 2 episode "Showdown" with the intention of naming Barker as his father on national television, until he panicked at the last minute and could not go through with it. As a child, Barney was terrible at sports, and from various episodes it is shown he had few friends (one scene shows that no one attended his birthday party). In the episode "The Leap," Lily reveals that Barney planned on being a violinist when he was young.
In "Natural History", Barney finds out that a man named Jerome Whittaker, whom Barney believed to be his uncle, signed a form claiming to be Barney's father. Barney finally meets Jerome (John Lithgow) again in the episode "Legendaddy" and learns that he is in fact his father. Upon meeting, Jerome feels pressured to act in the same confident, womanizing manner as Barney in order to impress him, and also because Barney refuses to see him any other way. Barney eventually breaks down and accuses Jerome of walking out on him (Barney's mother forbade Jerome from seeing Barney due to his drug use and wild lifestyle). Jerome, who can offer no excuse, apologizes and pleads with Barney to allow him to be a part of his life. Later in the sixth season, in "Hopeless", Jerome tries to impress Barney by acting like his old self, but later reveals he was just pretending. Barney, nevertheless, willingly listens to advice from Jerome about settling down.
Barney has three half-siblings: James (played by Wayne Brady), from his mother's side, a gay African American who has with an adopted son and daughter (as revealed in the season seven episode "The Rebound Girl"); Carly (played by Ashley Benson), a university student from his father's side with whom Ted hooks up, on Barney's insistence in "Ring Up!", and Jerome Jr. (JJ), from his father's side, who is 11. He also has a female cousin named Leslie, whom he accidentally grinds with in a nightclub, as seen in the episode "Okay Awesome".
Throughout the series Barney has claimed to have attended MIT; In the final season, Barney explains that MIT is an acronym for the Magicians Institute of Teaneck, not the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He has worn a Cornell Big Red T-Shirt, indicating that he may have gone there, instead. He possibly attended Cosmetology school, as he runs a play that requires him to work part-time as a hairdresser. As evidenced in Season 2 "Atlantic City", Barney learned at least conversational Chinese at some point, as well as some French. Musical skills include playing the drums, dancing the tango and singing. He is also skilled at juggling.
Adult life prior to 2005 ("Pilot")
"Game Night" reveals that Barney had once been an innocent, idealistic young man who wanted to join the Peace Corps with his first serious girlfriend, Shannon. When she left him for a suit-wearing womanizer, James arranged for the 23-year-old Barney to lose his virginity to their mother's friend, Rhonda "the Man Maker" French. After he slept with Rhonda and was led to believe he satisfied her, he became a similarly suit-wearing womanizer, even going so far as to adopt some of his rival's catchphrases. He lives by a strict code known as the Bro Code.
Barney is also revealed to have had a terrible gambling problem, enabled by his mother, who is a bookmaker. However, he assures the group that it is not a problem because he is so good at it. He revealed in "Atlantic City" that he lost his entire life savings playing a Chinese game. He has also apparently lost every one of his many bets on the Super Bowl. He will go to any lengths to win a bet, even if it takes one year for just $10.
In the series (2005–present)
While Barney's softer, generous side is not often apparent, it is not always relegated to flashbacks. When Marshall and Lily break their engagement in season one, Barney lures women away from Marshall so that he can remain faithful to the woman he truly loves. It is revealed that it was Barney who convinced Lily to come back to New York, even buying her a plane ticket home. Barney's relationship with women evolves throughout the series; in the later seasons, he begins to desire a more conventional relationship, as evidenced by his subsequent proposals to both Quinn Garvey and Robin Scherbatsky. He is also known to write a blog. In an allusion to Harris' role in Doogie Howser, M.D., the music played during his blogging sessions is the theme song from the show.
Throughout the series, Barney frequently refuses to say what he does for a living, brushing off any questions about his job with a condescending "Please." in the Season 9 episode "Unpause", he drunkenly reveals that his job is to "Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything" (P.L.E.A.S.E.), setting him up to be the fall guy for his company's nefarious activities. Unknown to his company, he has been conspiring with the federal government as part of a long-term plan to get revenge on his boss, who stole his girlfriend prior to the start of the series. In his blog, he writes that he is the Director of WHO DID THIS. The company he works for, Altrucell, advertises itself as the world's largest producer of the felt covers of tennis balls; however, Future Ted implies that the company's main profits come from other, less innocent sources, such as logging, oil drilling, small arms, tobacco farming and missile construction. Barney states in "Cupcake" that, as a lawyer for Altrucell, Marshall would make more money in three months than he and Lily make in a year because his company has so many lawsuits against it. In the season 3 episode "The Bracket," he says that he is good enough at lying to avoid perjury charges. As of Season 4, his company is involved in a hostile takeover of Goliath National Bank (GNB) and consequently shifts him to the management team of the bank, but he remains a powerful executive and continues to use the same office he has had since it was first shown in Season 1. Despite this, he has suggested there is the possibility he will one day wash up on shore with no teeth or fingerprints and supposedly has come under attack by ninjas in the past during work. In Season 4, during the episode "Happily Ever After", Barney states to a woman that he is an "Attorney in Law", though this was probably just part of a pick-up line as he immediately followed it with "Let's talk about getting you off". His video resume was published in Season 4 episode "The Possimpible". In a season 8 episode, it was implied that the full extent of Barney's career might never be revealed. Whatever his profession, Barney is apparently quite wealthy, and is undeniably the richest out of the five. He lives in an upscale apartment and is rich enough to own two 300 inch televisions shipped from Japan as well as expensive memorabilia, including an Imperial Stormtrooper costume from the Star Wars films. Barney is also shown to be a fan of the rock groups AC/DC, Van Halen and Bon Jovi.
The season 4 final episode "The Leap" sees Barney finally confront Robin about his feelings. Robin attempts to "Mosby" Barney, only to have Lily tell Barney that Robin had deliberately done that to drive him away. Barney and Robin confront each other in a hospital room where Barney finally tells Robin he loves her.
The two continue to date awkwardly, not wanting to give specific names to their relationship. Eventually, however, the two embrace their dating life - even considering themselves the best couple (between them and Marshall and Lily). In "The Rough Patch", however, the relationship begins to bring out the worst in each other: Barney gains weight and Robin stops taking care of herself because of her frustration with Barney. The two eventually decide to break up and resume their friendship.
"Twin Beds" sees Barney reconsidering his relationship with Robin as she is about to move in with her new boyfriend, Don. Barney decides he wants Robin back and manages to convince Ted that he does too. The episode ends with neither Barney or Ted managing to get anywhere with Robin, who has decided to be with Don and to effectively cut them both out of her life. Barney is still resolved to "get" Robin and she returns in the following episode, "Robots Versus Wrestlers." However, their relationship alternates between friendship and romance several times, and they marry in the final season, only to divorce three years later.
Barney has two other serious girlfriends throughout the series: Nora, who breaks up with him after he cheats on her with Robin; and Quinn, to whom he is briefly engaged before they both realize that they do not trust each other.
Appearances outside of How I Met Your Mother
In 2008, the book The Bro Code, ostensibly written by Barney, was published.
In 2010, Barney was featured in a Super Bowl commercial that showed him in the stands at the Super Bowl with a sign stating "Hey Ladies Call Barney Stinson 1-877-987-6401." A call to the number results in a recorded message inviting you to meet him at MacLaren's Pub on Monday, October 12, 2016, even though that date falls on a Wednesday. The number was disconnected as of 2013. The scene was worked into the show itself a day later. The letters in bold, C, B and S, are the name of the show's production house, CBS.
Ted and Barney met in McLaren's bathroom in 2001 and Barney takes it upon himself to teach Ted how to live. Barney believes himself to be Ted's best friend, and acts as his wingman, constantly introducing him to women through the game "Have You Met Ted?". When Barney admits to sleeping with Robin, Ted furiously lashes out at him and ends their friendship.Barney tries to find another wingman to distract himself from the genuine hurt he feels at losing Ted as a friend. They are reunited after Barney is hit by a bus running to the hospital after Ted's cab accident. Despite this hiccup, Ted and Barney's friendship is implied to be long-lasting and with deep roots in Future Ted's life: Ted's future children know Barney as "Uncle Barney", implying a certain degree of closeness, and it's implied in Challenge Accepted that Barney's best man will be Ted, thus giving him the occasion to meet the titular "mother." Although they both at some point were after Robin, Ted ultimately gives Barney his blessing, by setting up the circumstances for their engagement, in "The Final Page".
Barney's relationship with Robin was his second major one (that we know of), and the first after becoming a suited-up, well-groomed bachelor. His first ever real relationship though was with Shannon, as shown in the episode "Game Night." After his breakup with Robin his next serious relationship was with Nora and his fourth was with Quinn Garvey before reuniting with Robin.
Signs of some sort of connection between Barney and Robin, could be seen back in the season one episode "Zip, Zip, Zip," where Barney is teamed with Robin because he is unable to use Ted as his wingman. Robin is also alone during this episode and decided to act as Barney's wingman leaving to her attempting to set up Barney. It is perhaps the last part of this episode that lays the groundwork for any future relationship, as Barney decides to go 'bare pickle' in front of Robin as a precursor to sex, only to have Robin state that she has feelings for Ted. Throughout the first three seasons, there were instances such as in "Moving Day" where Barney discovers that Robin isn't wearing makeup and says, "Holy crap, you're beautiful!;" and in "Ten Sessions," where Barney mentioned his proposition to Robin for sex and implied that he was still bothered by its failure, where it is hinted that Barney is attracted to Robin, though at that point he doesn't act upon the attraction.
In the season 3 episode, "Sandcastles in the Sand," Barney and Robin sleep together for the first time after watching her second Robin Sparkles music video. However, both are unnerved and Robin eventually reveals what happened to Ted, who tells Barney he does not want to be friends anymore. In the season 3 finale, Barney is hit by a bus while rushing to the hospital to see Ted despite their feud, and the gang gets back together. Marshall mentions that during Ted's car accident, Ted had seen his life and the things he loved flash before his eyes. He asks Barney what he saw. He doesn't answer, but gazes longingly at Robin
In the season four premiere, "Do I Know You?," Barney admits to Lily that he has feelings for Robin, and continues to struggle with them throughout the season. Finally, in the season four finale, "The Leap," Robin discovers Barney's feelings for her and eventually decides scare him off by saying "I love you" too soon. However, Barney discovers her intentions and confronts her, leading to a revealing discussion that ends with a kiss.
This relationship came to realization in season 5 in the episode "Definitions" and continued until "The Rough Patch." This episode concluded with Robin and Barney deciding to "become friends again". After their breakup, Barney dives back into his bachelor life. However, in the episode "Twin Beds," Barney decides despite his better instincts - and Ted's advice - to continue pursuing Robin.
In an interview with the creators of the show, they stated that if they had their time again they would not have broken up the pairing of Barney and Robin so soon. As episodes are written months in advance, the chemistry between the two characters was never realized until it was too late to do anything about it. The writers have stated that they decided the characters would end up together during the summer between the 5th and 6th season, and spent the next two years leading up to their reconciliation.
In Season 6, there are moments where Barney is shown to still have some feelings for Robin although nothing as notable as was depicted in season 4. In the season 6 premiere, "Big Days", Barney makes a comment that Robin who is currently still getting over Don has "lost it". Robin seems to take this message to heart and leaves returning later dressed in a sundress where it appears she is using it as a bait to see if she can still pick up men. This tactic proves successful and seems to have been done for the benefit of Barney. Barney compliments her on her change and beauty which she accepts.
In the season 6 episode, "Subway Wars", Barney is seen to help Robin win the bet to get to a restaurant where Woody Allen is supposedly eating. According to the recollection of Future Ted, Barney deliberately trips Ted as they are running neck to neck with Robin. Future Ted surmises that Barney did this as Robin was feeling quite depressed and sad about her life in New York. Earlier in the same episode, Barney does not listen to Robin as she attempts to talk to him about an unknown topic. He uses her in one of his 'plays' and she reacts badly to this. Barney's actions at the end of the episode could be seen as trying to make up for this, or perhaps because of his latent feelings for Robin.
"Natural History" shows Barney and Robin together as they attend a Black Tie Dinner held at a museum. They spend most of the episode trying to one up each other by touching and misusing items in the museum until finally both are caught by security. Later he learns that the man who took him to the museum was his father. Robin tries to comfort him, but he abruptly ends the conversation by asking her not to tell anyone.
When Barney reconnects with his father in "Hopeless", he places the group in false personas meant to impress his father, and hints at lingering feelings for Robin. In the same episode, Barney opens up to his father and confesses his dissatisfaction with his life, and his worry that he is too far gone to break out of it. His father tells him that the secret to settling down is to find the right woman, and says, "Maybe you'll meet her tomorrow." Barney replies, "Maybe I've met her already."
During the final episode of Season 6, "Challenge Accepted", Robin and Barney rekindle their chemistry ; they agree that, as far as they both left their past behind, they may still have lingering feelings to each other. However, Robin ultimately decides to pressure Barney into pursuing a more meaningful relationship with Nora. When Barney asks Nora for coffee, Robin is shown to have a smile on her face, but it suddenly changes into a sad look—presumably because it pains her to see Barney have feelings for another woman.
In "Tick Tick Tick", Barney and Robin impulsively sleep together, cheating on their significant others at the time. As a result, Barney breaks up with Nora in order to pursue a relationship with Robin. However, Robin decides not to break up with Kevin, leaving Barney heartbroken. In "The Rebound Girl", Robin tells Barney she is pregnant. This is continued in "Symphony of Illumination", with Robin telling him that she hadn't had sex with Kevin yet; if she is pregnant, Barney would be the father. However, they find out she isn't pregnant. (It is later revealed that she is infertile.) Meanwhile, Barney and Robin decide to be friends again. Later he declares that he has gotten over her in "No Pressure", resigned that she does not reciprocate his feelings anymore.
As Barney's relationship with Quinn - a stripper at his favorite club - develops, Barney and Robin share fewer scenes together. In "The Broath", Robin is in the plot to break Barney and Quinn up when the group decides that he is moving into the relationship too fast. This episode marks the start of a change in Barney's relationship with Quinn, as he grows more and more perturbed by the fact she is a stripper.
Despite his engagement to Quinn in the season seven finale, the same episode suggests that Barney may marry Robin. One of the final conversations in the episode occurs between Barney and Robin in Marshall and Lily's apartment. Jokingly Barney suggests that they leave the apartment together and escape across the border (referencing a previous conversation in "Tick Tick Tick"). Robin seems happy for Barney and Quinn. The reveal that it is Robin and not Quinn who is the bride-to-be in the last screen shot indicates that the Quinn engagement will not last (his breakup with Quinn is confirmed in the second episode of the eighth season).
In the season eight episode "The Final Page", Barney proposes to Robin on the rooftop of the World Wide News building after revealing the final page of "The Playbook" is a play known as "The Robin." It is revealed that Barney had staged many incidents (including his fake relationship with Patrice) during the season to further push Robin to pursue him one last time. When Robin gets upset over the play and her inability to trust him, he tells her to turn the page over and reveals the final part of the play, "Hope she says yes". As Barney reveals the ring and proposes, Robin happily accepts.
Barney and Robin have some ups and downs in the months leading up to their wedding, and both get cold feet on a few occasions. However, when they leave for their wedding weekend, they both hurry off excitedly. From flash forwards, the audience knows that both the bride and groom panic on their wedding day before walking down the aisle.
The final season of How I Met Your Mother center around the 56-hour weekend leading up to their wedding. Through flashbacks, it is revealed that The Mother is the one who convinces Barney to pursue Robin again in "Platonish".
During the final episode, it is revealed that Robin and Barney get divorced after three years of marriage.
Barney has long-standing, completely unrequited sexual feelings for Lily, often flirting with her right in front of Marshall. It is not known how they officially met, but in "How I Met Everyone Else" Barney recalls first seeing her walking into MacLaren's and daring Marshall to hit on her, not knowing that Marshall was already dating her. While the episode "The Mermaid Theory" shows Lily's reluctance to hang out with Barney alone, the two have shared a close friendship.
Barney himself has exploited Lily in his dating schemes, as in "The Playbook", where he shocks Lily with the titular guide to picking up women; he then manipulates her into helping him pick up a girl by faking feelings of loneliness and insecurity. In "World's Greatest Couple", during her and Marshall's separation, Lily moves in with Barney after Ted gives her Barney's spare key. She proves valuable to Barney as she helps ward off clingy one night stands. But the two find themselves waking up one morning in the same bed. Though they did not have sex, Barney realizes that they are in a relationship and has Lily move out. In "Miracles", Lily is the first to hear that Barney was also in an accident on his way to the hospital to visit Ted. Barney goes to Lily as a confidant, revealing to her in "Do I Know You?" that he has feelings for Robin, and that he once planned on being a violinist. In the episode "Stuff" Barney, Ted, Robin, and Marshal go to see a play Lily is performing in. They all agree that the play is awful, but Barney is the only one who says so to her face. Lily is hurt and tells Barney that if he were in a bad play she would only say good things about it, prompting Barney to create his own play designed specifically to get back at her - entitled "Suck it Lily", it mostly consists of him repeating the word "moist", a word she hates, while squirting her with water.
Despite being frequently annoyed and disgusted by Barney's promiscuity and arrogance, Lily cares deeply for Barney; in "Perfect Week", she offers him a place to stay when he fears he will lose his job, and in "The Playbook" she refers to him as "one of my best friends" - albeit right after calling him a "sleazeball" and a "disgusting pervert".
Marshall and Barney are good friends, even though Marshall is sometimes irritated by Barney's actions and Barney's annoyance of Marshall's plan to settle down. Barney is initially hostile towards Marshall, as Barney believes he's Ted's best friend. In "The Best Burger in New York", he gives Marshall a job in Goliath National Banks's legal department after Marshall failed to receive a new job. However, when Marshall joins Zoey's efforts to save the Arcadian, a resentful Barney starts an openly antagonistic campaign of childish pranks and open fights, to which Marshall retaliates by sabotaging Barney's dates: they're able to put their differences aside in "Landmarks", when Marshall, upon being made aware that Barney's work depends from the Arcadian's demolition, willingly agrees to sabotage his own efforts and rush in Barney's help. Despite this major hiccup, and despite Barney's jealousy towards the long-lasting friendship between Ted and Marshall, Barney is also close to Marshall, acting as his wingman in "The Scorpion and the Toad", inadvertently stealing two of Marshall's hookup's and purposely stealing one in a long winded gamble to keep Lily and Marshall from splitting. As Barney pushed Lily and convinced her to get back with Marshall, Barney is rewarded by being the co-best man at their wedding as revealed in, "Bachelor Party".
In the season 6 episode, "Desperation Day", Barney meets Nora, Robin's coworker at World Wide News. He is immediately attracted to her, and lies that he wants to settle down as a ploy to get her into bed. When she presses him to make a commitment, he mocks her romanticism as "desperate"; hurt, she breaks up with him. Robin claims that Barney is beginning to like Nora, which he denies. Robin later invites Nora to play laser tag with Barney, and he soon goes on his first ever Valentine's Day date with her. In the next episode, "Garbage Island", Barney tells the gang that his date with Nora went well, but he is not going to call her. Robin catches Barney smiling whenever he mentions Nora, and gives him a napkin with Nora's phone number so he can call her. Robin eventually dares him to sleep with her to prove he does not like Nora. Barney shows up at Ted and Robin's apartment, which infuriates Robin because she had been encouraging him to pursue Nora. However, Barney reveals he had actually come to ask for Nora's phone number; pleased, Robin gives it to him and tells him to go for it. In "A Change of Heart", Barney and Nora are about to go on a date when he catches a cold, and she nurses him back to health. Later when they go on their date, Nora tells him that she wants to settle down and he says he wants to, too. Barney also blackmails the group into lying to Nora in order to play himself up. Nora returns and tells the gang that her parents are in town and invites Barney to meet them at brunch the next day. However, Barney later revealed to Nora that he was lying about wanting to get married and criticized her for telling the other person in a relationship exactly what to expect to happen. In response, Nora slaps him. Later Barney realizes that he really wants to settle down with Nora, and is about to tell this to Nora in front of her parents, but chickens out. In "Challenge Accepted", Barney bumps into Nora and asks her for a cup of coffee when Robin pressures him.
In the season 7 premiere episode, "The Best Man", Barney gets a call back from Nora after he called her five times, and with Robin's help she agrees to meet him. In "The Naked Truth", Barney meets Nora with a neck-brace to get sympathy from her, but she instantly realizes he is lying. She asks him to tell her every lie he told in order for women to sleep with him. When Nora is about to leave, disgusted, he asks her if he can call her, and she asks him how he thinks he still has a chance with her. Barney says that it's because she sat through the date, and he wants to change for her. He also says to prove he isn't lying, he won't leave the diner until he gets a second date with her. Barney stays at the diner for hours and even sleeps there and wakes up to see Nora standing in front of him. After that, Barney and Nora become a full-fledged couple. In the episode, "Tick Tick Tick", Barney cheats on Nora with Robin and confesses his infidelity, but cannot bring himself to say that it meant nothing. They then break up, as Barney now wants to pursue a relationship with Robin.
James is Barney's black gay half brother, currently separated from his husband Tom and father to two adopted children. Like Barney, James enjoys Laser Tag, fine suits, and maintaining a blog. Also like Barney, James also grew up not knowing who his father was, although his mother suggested several black celebrities: Bill Cosby, Flip Wilson, James Earl Jones, and Meadowlark Lemon. It wasn't until 2010 when Loretta moved out of James and Barney's childhood home that he discovered a clue that led him to his birth father: a picture of him and Barney with "Your Son" written on the back, addressed to Sam Gibbs. He subsequently was united with his father.
As a young woman, she slept around a lot. As a result, Barney and James grew up not knowing who their fathers were. She also tended to tell outrageous lies to her sons to cover up bad news, such as telling a young Barney that his biological father is Bob Barker when a flashback revealed child Barney asking her about his dad while The Price Is Right happened to be on TV.
Sam Gibbs, the father of Barney's half-brother James, works as a minister at a Long Island church running a program that helps people get back on their feet, providing them with food, a place to live, clothes and job interviews. In "False Positive", Barney makes a large money donation to the program, and donates dozens of suits.
As a child, Barney believed Jerome to be his "Uncle Jerry" with whom he would occasionally spend time. That was until July 23, 1981. On a trip to the New York Museum of Natural History, young Barney used a rib from a dinosaur exhibit and used it to knock down the giant model of a blue whale suspended from the ceiling. "Uncle Jerry" picked up Barney from security signing forms indicating that he was actually Barney's father. This was the last time Barney saw Whittaker as Barney's mother was so upset that he let Barney commit such an act of vandalism that he stopped coming to visit. The two were reunited in season six and while the initial meeting was rocky at best ("Legendaddy"), they managed to reconcile later in the season ("Hopeless"). They have kept in contact since then as Jerry calls Barney to check up on him during Hurricane Irene in the season seven episode "Disaster Averted" and Jerry and his wife show up at the inn for Barney's wedding.
In season seven Barney meets a stripper named Quinn, because Ted was on a date and brought Barney for the date's friend, Quinn, who sees right through Barney's schemes. Barney goes on talking about her constantly until he realizes he likes her, with the help of his friends. While he does not initially know that she is a stripper, he finds out when he sees her at the Lusty Leopard, but is still determined to go out with her. As he is trying to get her to go on a date, Barney ends up paying for lap dance after lap dance, being unknowingly played by Quinn. She does this by getting Barney to pay for a lap dance and then letting him try to convince her why they should go out. As a song nears its end she starts to pretend to give an answer, but then says she has to go unless he pays again. Eventually she ends up giving in, and while Barney's friends are initially skeptical about her intentions, they end up realizing that she and Barney are perfect for each other. They date for some time and Barney gets extremely jealous, even offering her a job at GNB to get her to stop stripping. She says she won't stop stripping unless she's getting married. Anyways, Barney, Marshall, and Ted have a thing every year when they watch a star wars series and in a certain episode with goals of the future, Barney realizes he loves Quinn and he doesn't want to date anyone else. They end up moving in together and plan a trip to Hawaii after Barney leaves with Marshall to go to Atlantic City. At the airport guards find that there is a mysterious box in Barney's bag. He refuses to show them what's in the box, claiming it's because of the "Magicians Code". Once detained Quinn reveals that she quit stripping and implores Barney to show the airport security what is in the box. Barney proposes through a magic trick that is related to the box, which is why he wouldn't show it to security. When he makes the announcement of his engagement, Robin is visibly upset. At the end of Season 7, it is revealed that Robin, not Quinn, is Barney's bride. Near the start of the Season 8, Barney and Quinn break off their engagement when they both realize they can't trust each other. Quinn returns at the end of season 8, for a prank at Barney's bachelor party for his engagement to Robin. While she acts upset to see he is engaged to Robin less than a year after their own engagement is called off, when the ruse is up, she ultimately toasts their nuptials.
In the show's pilot, Barney first utters his most recognizable phrase, "Suit up!", as he tells others to dress like him to go out. The phrase "Suit up!" came from an ad for a suit sale in a later episode about his past with Shannon. According to creator Thomas, this is a sign that Barney "thought of his suit as some kind of superhero outfit that separated him from the pack." The phrase is repeated in many episodes, and is often modified to fit whatever clothing Barney is wearing, such as "Flight suit up!" when telling Ted to be his wingman in Halloween or "Snow suit up!" when inviting Ted to build an igloo in Central Park, mid winter or when Ted is waiting for a woman at a Halloween party " I even penguin suited up for you!" or "Slut up!" when Robin and Lily go to a prom. Also when he was getting naked in Robin's apartment and she asked what he was doing he replied "birthday suiting up!" The phrase has also led to an International Suit-Up Day on Facebook. He used the phrase "law-suit up" in an episode in which Marshall passed the Bar exam.
Besides "Suit up!", he often describes schemes as "Legendary!". He also frequently intersperses the phrase "Wait for it" between syllables of a long word. The season two finale closed with Barney saying "Legen — wait for it...", and he opened season three with "...Dary!". Barney often changes his catch phrase slightly to suit his situation or for comic effect such as "It's gonna be legen — wait for it... and I hope you're not lactose intolerant because the second half of that word is DARY!" In the sixth season finale, Barney modifies his "legendary" catchphrase while arguing with Ted over which of them will push the button to demolish the Arcadian. Barney says that, since Ted will be standing beside him when he (Barney) pushes the button, Ted will be "Legen — wait for it... — dary adjacent. Legendary adjacent." This even leads to Marshall and Lily giving permission for "Wait For It" to be their first child's middle name.
In the show Barney frequently approaches attractive women with Mosby in tow and asks "Haaaaaave you met Ted?" as a way to start a conversation with strangers. Thomas says that this phrase is based in real life, as a one-time friend of his often used a similar line to meet women. He is also prone to using "Daddy's Home" as either a chat-up line or for grand entrances and "True Story" as an ending to stories or theories that are generally erroneous.
Barney also will tell elaborate, outrageous stories or assert his own "awesomeness", followed by "True story"—especially when the story told is implausible. Also, whenever asked what his job is he replies with a little laugh followed by "Please." His brother James reacted similarly when asked how the two were of different races. Barney often makes up statistics in order to make his arguments sound credible. When he makes up a statistic, he always uses the figure 83%, which is not lost on his friends. When Marshall catches him and calls him out on these bogus facts, he begins his own catchphrase in having 'lawyered' (proven wrong) Barney. However, when Ted refuses to go along with his ridiculous stories or schemes, Barney often resorts to the old "Ted, just..okay?"
Barney is very well-connected, and seems to know people who can help him procure any number of outlandish items or services. When he is questioned how he's gotten some unusual item for one of his elaborate schemes, he'll dismiss it by saying "I've got a ____ guy." For example, in "The Broath", Ted asks about a record playing at Barney's apartment, and Barney says, "I got some local monks to record this -- Yeah, I got a monk guy." Barney even claims to have a "baby guy" in "The Rebound Girl" when he procures a baby girl so that he and Ted can practice being surrogate parents, although the child is revealed to be Barney's niece, whom he had been babysitting.
Barney states: "When I get sad I stop being sad and be AWESOME instead. True story!" in episode 1, season 2, when talking about Marshall and how sad he is. At one point Barney catches a cold and tell this to Robin: "Whenever I start feeling sick, I stop being sick and be awesome instead." This is something he calls "mind over barney."
Barney is frequently asking for high-fives in different variations, similar to Todd Quinlan in Scrubs. 'Relapse five', 'Phone five', 'Cell Five' 'Tiny five', 'Freeze-frame high-five', 'hypothetical high-five', 'wordplay five', 'arthritis five', 'self five', 'foot five', 'claw five', 'solemn low-five', 'door five', 'Motility-five' and 'high-six' are a few. In his early life as a hippie, he only gave "high twos" (peace signs).
After he makes a double entendre or issues a putdown, Barney typically exclaims "What up!" while attempting to high-five whomever he is speaking to.
Barney often uses the phrase "Challenge accepted" in earlier seasons when someone mentions something that supposedly cannot be done. It is usually quickly followed by "the challenger" telling Barney they were not remotely challenging him, but Barney ignores this. This can be seen in "Aldrin Justice" when Marshall mentions his mean constitutional law professor, Barney calls her a cougar and accepts the challenge to tame her. In Murtaugh when Ted mentions the "Murtaugh List" can not be completed, Barney accepts the challenge to do everything on it. In "As Fast As She Can" Barney takes the challenge of talking his way out of a ticket by saying "Challenge accep...", leaving out the last syllable and replacing it by pointing at Ted. In "The Window" Barney challenges himself to pick up a woman while wearing overalls, whilst in "Baby Talk" he challenges himself to pick up whilst only speaking like a little boy. This is the only time he admits to a failure to complete a challenge, though he later manages to pick up a woman whilst speaking like an eight-year-old without even trying.
Another phrase often used by Barney is "Get your head out of your ass, Lily." This phrase is often heard when Lily presents a point Barney interprets as overly idealistic or naive. A variation of this is seen in the song, "Nothing Suits Me Like A Suit" in "Girls Versus Suits."
Barney has said he only has One rule: but the rule always changes every time he says it. And the exception to every "One" rule is: "unless she's hot".
Lastly, there's all the times Barney has exclaimed, "That's the dream!" For the other characters, this phrase is reserved for rare occasions, like when Ted meets Zoey: "Guys, she's an architecture nerd- that's the dream!". But Barney uses this phrase all the time.
According to The Early Show, Barney is one of the main reasons that the show has been a success. Maclean's says that Barney is the show's most popular character and explains that the most likeable characters are often those with the best catchphrases. In 2006, TV Land named Barney's "Suit Up" one of the 100 Best Catchphrases. Barney's signature phrase is one of only four from contemporary television shows, as writers are now less likely to have a character repeat a phrase in many episodes. In June 2010, Entertainment Weekly named him one of the 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years. Paste included him in their list of the 20 Best Characters of 2011, ranking him No. 4.
From 2007–10, Harris was nominated for a Primetime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his work playing Barney. In 2008, Fireside published The Bro Code. Ostensibly written by Stinson, although actually penned by Matt Kuhn, a writer for the show, the book reveals the code by which the character supposedly lives his life (though he has been shown disregarding and/or violating a large portion of the articles in the book). Oxford Dictionaries recognized Stinson as "the quintessence of a certain iteration of the contemporary bro" and noted how his language uses the word liberally.
- "Unpause". How I Met Your Mother. Season 9. Episode 15. January 20, 2014. CBS.
- Neil Patrick Harris on Playing a Cad. The Early Show. October 9, 2006. Archived from the original on 9 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Zoromski, Brian. "How I Met Your Mother: Girls vs. Suits Review". IGN TV. IGN. Retrieved 13 February 2012.
- Sullivan, Brian Ford (2010-01-08). "Live at the Paley Center for Media: "How I Met Your Mother"". The Futon Critic. Retrieved June 10, 2012.
- Barney, has a good sense of humor, and made one of his catchphrases "True Story" an Internet viral meme.Dransfeldt, Jeffrey (April 26, 2008). "Harris is enjoying Barney's adventures in How I Met Your Mother". Ventura County Star. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Pierce, Scott D. (September 3, 2007). "Legen-dary!". Deseret Morning News. Archived from the original on 17 May 2008. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Weinman, Jaime J. (December 25, 2006). "Why Barney is the new Fonzie". Maclean's. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- "How Lily Stole Christmas"
- Weather & Time (2012-04-02). "Barney Stinson's Bro Code". Chacha.com. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- Season 3 Episode 13 "Ten Sessions"
- "How I Met Your Mother Community". CBS.com. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- How I Met Your Mother Season Premiere Monday Sept 24 8/7c (2012-05-15). "Barney's Blog: Interrogation Room, Sweet Interrogation Room - How I Met Your Mother". CBS.com. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "Life Among the Gorillas". Season 1. Episode 17.
- "Barney Stinson's Video Resume". Barneysvideoresume.com. Retrieved 2012-07-13.
- "How I Met Your Mother: "Third Wheel" Review — A potential threesome ... for Ted, not Barney.". "... we know he's a geek at heart. He does have a life-size Stormtrooper in his living room after all."
- "What's next for HIMYM". Vulture. December 18, 2012. Retrieved Dec 23, 2012.
- "Facebook". Facebook. Retrieved 2013-05-27.
- Adam B. Vary (June 1, 2010). "The 100 Greatest Characters of the Last 20 Years: Here's our full list!". Entertainment Weekly. Time Inc. Retrieved July 7, 2012.
- Jackson, Josh (December 5, 2011). "The 20 Best TV Characters of 2011". Paste. Retrieved June 30, 2012.
- "And the nominees are". The Daily Telegraph. September 14, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-02.
- Michael Esposito (November 8, 2008). "5 things we learned from "The Bro Code"". Chicago Tribune (in Japanese). Archived from the original on April 19, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2011.
- Martin, Katherine Connor (October 9, 2013). "The rise of the portmanbro". Oxford Dictionaries. Archived from the original on April 5, 2014. Retrieved April 5, 2014.