Fanfic Recs: How I Met Your Mother
Proof that the remaining 10% is worth going against the Bro Code for
These are recommendations made by Tropers
for How I Met Your Mother
, all of which have been signed. After a few samples, you will be able to judge whether you might be interested in the 'fic, based on who recommended it. No-name recommendations will be zapped.
Nobody would back up the rec. Discussion of the recommendation is welcome on the discussion page. As such discussion is important, do remember to add the discussion page to the watchlist, if need be.
Do warn when a fanfic may head into non-canon
territory. Some people just don't like it, and as we all know, Shipping
is Serious Business
Authors, and Websites
Stories focused on the family and the friendly relationships of the cast. Plot-focused stories or light day-in-the-life stories. Pretty much anything that isn't focused on romance.
Every Line Speaks the Language of Love
Not A Love Story
- Recommended by fiftysix, Zephyr7
- Summary: what none of them even dare to think out loud is this—we're doing this because this is going to be the last story Dad'll ever tell.
- Comments: Alternate interpretation of the series, and simply oh-so-wonderful. It's full of heartwarming moments and tear-jerkers and you will end up believing that it's possible to happen in the series. You will hurt along with all the characters and it's so believable and heartbreaking and just. Just read it.
As Fast As She Can
- Recommended by fiftysix
- Summary: For those who have heard the story, mind you, without any background knowledge whatsoever—they may have concluded that it is actually a short story, the one that starts when the yellow umbrella comes into the picture. They are wrong.
- Comments: Another alternate interpretation of the series, but goes down the angst way. And it's scary, because the story is so well-thought of and brilliantly executed it could be easily integrated into the series. You will hurt along with Luke and Leia Mosby. The story-telling is fresh in an anachronistic order and when you reach the last line you'll be really mind blown because it's so epic and apt and just.
- Recommended by dhoffryn
- Synopsis: “I know that you’re tired of waiting, and you may have to wait a little more, but she’s on her way, Ted.” The story of the mother's path through her mid to late twenties, as she and Ted rush towards each other as fast as they can.
- Comments: A vividly poignant vignette utterly different from anything else this troper has ever read. Written in the second person from the point of view of the unnamed mother as the events of her twenties unfold parallel to but significantly differently from Ted's, and her perspective on her life and what she wants out of it develops from carefree independent youthfulness to a fierce determination to return to college and take a leap into the unknown, not knowing that it will lead her to her future soulmate. It flips the viewers' perspective on it's head in a way that brilliantly reflects the show's recurring themes and narrative devices, casting Ted as the mysterious, undefined beacon of happiness and the mother as the struggling, self-reflective POV character. Written shortly after "The Leap" aired, and shows it. Will take your breath away at certain points, and echoes of "Right Place, Right Time" abound.
Happy New Year
- Recommended by Pretzel Victim
- Synopsis: Why Barney jumped into the Hudson River, and what happened thereafter. Barney/Ted friendship, hints of Barney/Robin, though not really a shipping fic.
- Comments: Beautiful little ficlet explaining Barney's thought process during "Of Course", when he almost died throwing himself into the river after being propositioned by Anita. Barney's pain and self-loathing actually works perfectly as subtext for his canon behavior in the episode (and throughout season five), digging for some rhyme or reason to his shallow canon behavior. Barney's terror that no one cares about him, contrasted with Ted's motherly caretaking, is utterly heartwarming.
Stories where one fundamental aspect of the series is completely overhauled from its point of origin.
The Break Up Service
- Recommended by Warren Rugrat
- Synopsis: A set of stories following Barney from 31st Dec 2008. AU from Season 4, Little Minnesota.
- Commentary: The character tags may say Ted/Barney, but an emphasis is placed on a strong friendship between all five characters. Focuses on how Barney may have been affected by his bus accident. Simply brilliant.
Learning How to Live
- Recommended by fiftysix
- Summary: In which Barney Stinson runs a 'No Sad, Big Smile' Break Up Service and loses hope for love forever. Then, he meets a bartender—Robin, and a couple—Marshall and Lily
- Comments: Basing the story off a short commercial by Adidas, the author ran with the idea of having Barney own a breakup service. Superbly written, fun to read and the characters from the series are brought in a new, interesting way. There are details and real events that happened in the show, weaved expertly to fit into the AU. Just a two-shot, so should end soon. Highly recommended.
by Alix Zin
Faces Through The Veil Of Smoke
- Recommended by wingedchronicles
- Summary: When Barney is diagnosed with cancer his barriers begin to crumble and the truth about his past slowly becomes revealed. Mild Doogie Howser crossover and co-written with Idioticonion and Jerseystrife. Winner of best crossover at the HIMYM 2008 awards.
- Comments: It truly is an amazing story, please do not let the crossover thing scare you away, I never watched it and yet I followed the story 100% so its not like you need any background knowledge of it (in fact it actually made me want to check this other show out). Alix Zin managed to weave in Doogie's story with Barney's so well that it did not seem forced and yet Barney is still Barney in it with his pervy jokes and cheerful personality but he isn't a Mary sue. The readers see how badly the disease wears him down and how much he has to rely on his friends for help. His past secrets are revealed painfully and so is his past relationships and you can't help but be sympathetic to everyone there. Though at the beginning there seems to be Robing bashing (according to my friend) there really isn't any and everyone is as IC as possible considering the circumstances. Its such a wonderfully written stories and though I was thrown for a loop with all its plot twists I was never lost or bored. As for warnings there is angst for one and mental disturbances for Barney and James. There is some slash with what I'm almost sure is an OC character (I've never watched the other show this crossovers with which just goes to show how amazing the story is) and some Barney/Robin (which shows how great it is since I don't even like that pairing) despite the Barney and Ted tag. It mostly focuses on Barney, his friendships, and the emotional turmoil caused by the cancer. I hope someone else gives this the review it definitely deserves.
Saw Your Face Through The Flames
- Recommended by sagittarius
- Summary: It's a ghost story, except for all the ways it's not. Robin Scherbatsky meets and befriends Ted Mosby, who was recently left at the altar, and Marshall Eriksen, whose fiancee left him two years ago, and who are both still in mourning over the loss of one of their best friends. However, she also befriends a mysterious, wisecracking blond man whom only she seems to be able to see.
- Comments: Although it's totally AU, taking place in a universe where Robin doesn't meet any of the gang until mid-season 4, Lily didn't come back from San Francisco at the end of the summer, and Barney's bus crash went tragically differently than it did in canon, the characterization is flawless and the the differences and similarities in the relationships that develop are pitch-perfect. The characters are wonderfully written and in-character except for the small changes expected when peoples' friends are torn apart by tragedy and loneliness. Special kudos go to Ted and Marshall's deep sadness in Barney and Lily's absence, from Robin's point of view, Robin's erupting happiness at having friends after being lonely for so long, the handling of Marshall/Lily when Lily comes back to New York, and the weird, awesome, funny, exactly-the-same-but-so-very-different relationship between Robin and "Barney" (who is also perfectly characterized for a version of Barney who cannot be heard or seen by anyone but Robin). To go into more detail would spoil the plot twists, but needless to say that this AU is flawlessly conceived of and written and brilliant in its originality and execution. The subtly detailed way the characters relationships and situations develop towards the way they are in canon despite such monumentally different circumstances will make any hardcore viewers grin in delight. Highly recommended.
Stories focused on the romantic relationships between the cast.
- Recommended by 45xxx
- Summary: Barney’s not dead, but you can’t really say the same thing about everyone else. (A cracky AU of Faces Through The Veil Of Smoke)
- Comments: From the original story, it diverges from near the end of Chapter 3. As for what it's about... well... Think "The Sixth Sense" but with Barney and you've nailed it. If you've read the above, this is a MUST read if only for the out-there twist.
Play it, Sam, but I forget how it goes
- Recommended by Otempora
- Pairing: Barney/Robin
- Synopsis: Barney and Robin start a casual friends-with-benefits type relationship, which slowly turns into something more.
- Comments: The dialog is perfect, the characterization is top-notch, the prose is achingly beautiful, and the slow progression of the relationship is completely believable. Barney and Robin settle into a loving relationship without ever losing their independence or cynicism. There is (quite a lot of) sexual content, but it fits the characters (and is REALLY hot).
- Wookiee: I'd like to second this comment, and add that the story is just as memorable for what it doesn't do as what it does. There's absolutely no Ted-bashing — all the reasons for why the Barney/Robin ship is so great are demonstrated through the characters' own merits, which are written brilliantly enough to not be weakened by Ted's endearing interactions or extremely close friendship with the two of them in this fic — and no denigration of the Marshall/Lily relationship, or any attempts to argue that Barney/Robin is somehow a better or deeper couple than them. In fact, the story seems to run behind the scenes of an imaginary (set in the future at the time of writing, but now AU) season 4 and 5, with all the snippets of the characters' arcs outside of the development of the Barney/Robin romance reading like references to ongoing canon story arcs, and ending with the appearance of the Mother.
- Recommended by okelay
- Pairing: Barney/Robin with some side of Ted/Robin
- Synopsis: Short stories that go with every episode of the series, with either Barney or Robin's POV. follows canon, mostly.
- Comments: It's a very simple idea but the execution is brilliant. it's sweet and funny and very in-character and a great companion to the series.
fool me once, fool me twice
- Recommended by moberemk
- Pairing: Barney/Robin with some Ted/Stella
- Synopsis: Barney's not the man he thought he was. An alternative look at the events from Miracles to Rabbit Or Duck..
- Comments: An amazing idea that builds on the season three finale; to say anymore would be ruining it completely.
Lush Notes of Sherry
- Recommended by moberemk
- Pairing: Barney/Robin
- Synopsis: Their official story, on the record, is that they don't have a story, but their non story spans months, years.
- Comments: Starts at Season Five and looks at the progression of Barney and Robin's relationship through years as the gang grows up and apart, and does it while keeping the characters perfectly IC. Excellently written, and leaves just enough space to fill in blanks that you aren't feeling like you're being explained everything.
- Seconded by Rita1516151615161516. Not only does this fic manage to write Barney, Robin and the rest of the cast more in character than the show's own writers have in season 5, it shows exactly how a relationship between these two would be. Shipping aside, and while Barney/Robin are the story's main focus, the friendships between the core five are depicted perfectly, and it's full of crowning moments of heartwarming and tear jerkers even if it's just a oneshot.
, by rumidha
The Legendary Five Way
- Recommended by darlingdarla
- Pairing: Barney/Robin, allusions to past Ted/Barney and Ted/Robin
- Synopsis: When Barney crashes at Ted's after successfully executing the Scuba Diver, talk turns to Robin, charades crumble, and Ted plays matchmaker. Once in a very great while, something good can happen after 2:00 AM after all. AU after 5.08, The Playbook.
- Comments: For everyone who is still bitter about season 5's terrible handling of the Barney/Robin relationship/breakup, this is the perfect remedy. While this is a Barney/Robin story, it's actually Ted-centric, focusing on his worry and exasperation with his two stubborn friends. Rumidha's analysis via Ted of the failure of Barney-and-Robin (calling them out for trying to be like people they're not) is pitch-perfect and absolutely in-character. Ted's musings in the opening and his and Barney's subsequent conversation is achingly sad and beautiful, Barney's ridiculous plots would not be out of place at all on the show, the Barney/Robin dialogue is hilarious and perfect, Ted's lecturing and machinations are vividly in-character, and the interaction between the three characters in the entire last section is so hilarious yet heartfelt and insightful I was literally laughing out loud as I nodded in appreciation. What is best about this fic is that it's not solely focused on the main plot. The asides and observations are just as insightful and appropriate — in particular, one paragraph dealing with Ted's reaction to Barney being run over by the bus in "Miracles" hits home especially hard.
Desperation, parts one and two
- Recommended by darlingdarla
- Pairing: Ted/Marshall/Lily/Robin/Barney. Yes, you read that right.
- Synopsis: Ted doesn't like to admit it (and he certainly will never admit it to his kids, Jesus Christ. He may be the king of the inter-generational over share, but some things cross the line from inherently dorky dad trying to prove he once approached cool right into someone should probably call the cops on that dude territory), but it perhaps, might have, maybe, been his idea first.
- Comments: You'd think it would be impossible to take the terms "in-character", "sweet", "believable", "hot", "well-written", and "five way" together in a fic review, but you'd be wrong. Perhaps it's due to the canon relationships between the five main characters, with their extreme closeness and long history and lack of boundaries and the way they orbit around Marshall and Lily. Perhaps it's due to the (snarkily lampshaded by the narration) perfect storm of build-up and circumstances - loneliness, "Three Day's Rule"-esque homoerotic discussions, drunken ideas, a surprising turn of events that opens up new trains of thought and possibilities, and a convenient power outage. Either way, yes, this story contains a shockingly poignant but still funny and slightly cracky fivesome that manages to actually take into account the characters' personalities.
Recommended by dhoffryn
That Time Barney and Robin Stopped a Zombie Apocalypse
- Pairing: Barney/Robin, Barney/Robin/Ted
- Synopsis: "All he wants to do is to fix them. Ted can't stand to see them both in such pain, to see them both so out of sync that with every turn they shred each other's skin." As Robin continues without a job, she gets more and more depressed and she developed damaging behavior that she doesn't even bother to hide from her friends. When Barney tries to help her, Ted steps in to rescue them both. AU from Three Days of Snow, in which The Possimpible never happened.
- Comments: This is absolutely mind-blowingly well-written and emotionally vivid. It's very, very, very dark, featuring self-destructive behavior, violence, and an extremely unhealthy bordering on abusive relationship that is treated like a drug fix. However, the climax and aftermath is amazingly emotionally raw and poignant, and the characters are astoundingly in-character for such a brutally dark story.
Best Imitation of Myself
- Recommended by Wookiee
- Pairing: Barney/Robin
- Synopsis: "Kids, did I ever tell you about the time your Aunt Robin and your Uncle Barney saved the world from a zombie holocaust?"
- Comments: If the summary doesn't explain why you must read this, I don't know what can. Robin is awesome, Barney is adorable, both of them are hilarious, genuine emotion is drawn out of the crackiness, and Future!Ted's wry narrative comments and asides are almost as great as the action itself.
- Recommended by Pretzel Victim
- Pairing: Barney/Robin
- Synopsis: Barney Stinson has always been good at putting on a show. But it's becoming harder and harder to hide his true feelings, and his true self, from Robin. AU after "The Front Porch."
- Comments: This fic addresses an uncomfortable truth that many HIMYM fans like to gloss over: Barney's treatment of and attitude towards women is absolutely horrible, and very few people — not even Ted, Marshall, and Lily — would want one of their best friends to date a man like him. The fic follows Barney's attempts to deal with his feelings for Robin while making an effort to change himself and get out from under his reputation, as well as come to terms with the fact that his misogyny and Jerkassery isn't as harmless as he thinks it is. The brutally honest Deconstruction (termed "objection!fic") of Barney's behavior is unique, thought-provoking, and a good kick in the rear for leather-pantsing Barney-fans while making sure to keep him sympathetic, complex, and in-character.