False Positive (How I Met Your Mother)

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"False Positive"
How I Met Your Mother episode
Episode no. Season 6
Episode 12
Directed by Pamela Fryman
Written by Craig Gerard & Matthew Zinman
Production code 6ALH12
Original air date December 13, 2010 (2010-12-13)
Guest actors

Chris Romano (Punchy)
Alex Trebek (himself)
Ben Vereen (Sam Gibbs)
Melissa Molinaro (Noelle)

Season 6 episodes

"False Positive" is the 12th episode of the sixth season of the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother, and the 124th episode overall. It aired on December 13, 2010. It features guest star Alex Trebek.


Ted is outside a movie theater showing It's a Wonderful Life, waiting for the rest of the gang and carrying a gingerbread house as their Christmas-themed movie snack. Future Ted backtracks to two days before, when Marshall and Lily eagerly await the results of her latest pregnancy test. The test is positive and they tell Ted, Barney, and Robin the news, but the doctor later says it's a false alarm and Future Ted tells the story of what happened while the gang thought Lily was pregnant.

Prior to the test, Ted and Punchy begin talking about Punchy's wedding. After hanging up, Ted argues with Robin about his ability to be an effective best man, especially in the event that Punchy gets cold feet. Robin reveals that she auditioned as a "currency rotation specialist" (coin-flip bimbo) in the game show Million Dollar Heads or Tails, hosted by Alex Trebek. Ted rebukes her for bailing on her New Year's Resolution to be working for the Worldwide News Network by the end of the year. Robin admits that she applied for the Network, but only an associate researcher position is available. When Marshall and Lily break the news of the pregnancy, Robin becomes aware of how her own life is stalling, and resolves to take the research position, but when they reveal the false positive, she changes her mind once more, deciding that she is content to be a "coin-flip bimbo".

Barney, meanwhile, has received an end-of-year bonus, which he intends to spend on luxuries for himself, including a suit with diamond pinstripes. When he hears about the pregnancy, he realizes how unfulfilled his selfishness has left him, and decides to spend the money helping others. After buying the patrons of MacLaren's designer clothes, toys and condoms, and taking them to a strip club, Barney goes to see Sam Gibbs, his brother's father and a minister, to make a donation to his church. He is in the process of writing a check for $10,000 when he gets the news about the false positive, and adds a decimal point to turn it into $100, returning to his selfish ways and, indeed, buying his diamond-striped suit.

Immediately after they discover the pregnancy test's results, Marshall and Lily begin to panic about how unprepared they are to raise a child, and scramble to complete pre-delivery remodeling of their apartment in one night. They announce the news of the pregnancy to the gang, and pretend to share their excitement, but are still terrified inside. After an argument about playing music for the child, the couple see the doctor, who tells them Lily is not pregnant.

Marshall and Lily meet up with the rest of the gang outside the theater and admit that they are relieved about the false positive. Since they are not ready for kids yet, Marshall says they're considering getting a dog for now. When Robin and Barney agree with Marshall, Ted smashes the gingerbread house and angrily orders everybody to reconsider their decisions, forcing Marshall and Lily to go straight back home to try to conceive, ordering Robin to take the research job, and yelling to the "criminals of New York" about Barney's suit, effectively making him a walking target for theft. When Punchy calls him, suffering the predicted cold feet, Ted angrily orders him to get married, solving that problem as well. After everybody leaves, he decides to watch It's a Wonderful Life all by himself. In the end, Marshall and Lily continue trying to conceive, Barney makes his intended cash donation to the ministry and also donates suits for jobless people to wear to interviews, and Robin begins her first day at Worldwide News. Back at the apartment, Robin thanks Ted for his fit of rage and he accepts her offer to be the best man if she ever gets married to anyone other than him.

In the ending scene, Barney tries a Christmas message-style play on a girl called Noelle (Melissa Molinaro) at the bar, who turns him down.


"Xmas Time Is Here Again" By My Morning Jacket

"A Perfect Christmas" By Vasco & Jerry Abbott

"Freakin Out" By Death (Detroit protopunk band—during the one-night apartment remodel)

Barney's blog[edit]

In his blog entry titled "Barney's Favorite Things", Barney gives a list of the gifts he claims to have given to the patrons of MacLaren's Pub, and also specifies a number of fictional charities to which he contributed.[1]

Cultural references[edit]

  • Robin says to Ted outside the cinema "Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans" reference to the song "Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)" by John Lennon.
  • The gang wanted to watch the Christmas classic It's a Wonderful Life.
  • Barney compares his willingness to sleep with women over 30 to the philanthropy of Bill and Melinda Gates.
  • "Barney's Favorite Things" is a throwback to Oprah Winfrey's surprise presents for the audience on her show.
  • Robin claims that one of Heads or Tails' coin-toss girls went on to appear in The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser, and Celebrity Rehab.
  • Marshall and Ted claim to have received gift checks from GNB for Costa Coffee, which appeared in the Season 2 episode "Swarley".
  • Ted guesses Barney's second favorite word starting with the letters "BON" as Bon Jovi. Barney played "You Give Love a Bad Name" as part of his Get Psyched mix in the Season 1 episode The Limo.
  • Barney sings the Christmas carol "O Holy Night" in this episode.
  • Marshall accidentally plays a Jerky Boys album to Lily's uterus.
  • As Barney concludes his Christmas message he winks and says "And that's One to Grow On".
  • A Kinect for the Xbox 360 can be seen as one of Barney's giveaways.
  • Barney's "DiBiase" suit is an homage to professional wrestler Ted DiBiase, who wore a gold-studded suit and diamond-encrusted belt.

Critical response[edit]

Donna Bowman of The A.V. Club gave the episode a A- rating.[2]

Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a rating of 9.5 out of 10.[3]

DeAnn Welker of Television Without Pity graded the episode at A.[4]


  1. ^ Stinson, Barney (2010-12-13). "Barney's Favorite Things". Archived from the original on 2010-12-14. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  2. ^ Donna Bowman (2010-12-13). "How I Met Your Mother "False Positive"". The A.V. Club. The Onion. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  3. ^ Robert Canning (2010-12-14). "How I Met Your Mother: "False Positive" Review". IGN. News Corporation. Retrieved 2010-12-14. 
  4. ^ DeAnn Welker (2010-12-15). "How I Met Your Mother: It's A Christmas Miracle". Television Without Pity. NBC Universal. 

External links[edit]