HIMYM: Tropes Season Four
Tropes for How I Met Your Mother
, Season Four.
- 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!
- Adam Westing: Regis Philbin plays a violent version of himself, who frightens people with his intensity and is capable of destroying machinery with a single blow of his mighty fist.
- 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 CRT.
- 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?
Marshall: No, no, Ted, it wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It would be the fourth worst thing. Number one, supervolcano. Number two, an asteroid hits the earth. Number three, all footage of Evil Knievel is lost. Number four, Ted calls Karen. Number five, Lily gets eaten by a shark.
- 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."
- Blatant Lies:
Barney: At what age did you first get your period?
Robin: Did you just ask about my period?!
Barney: Uhh, no (sounding offended that she would even suggest that he would have done that)
- When the group watches Barney's video resume, which culminates in a full-on rock song zeitgeist lyrics about how awesome Barney is, Ted asks Barney if he's the one singing the song, which he denies. The DVD release includes the full length music video, and sure enough...
This isn't Barney Stinson singing this song, that would be really lame
[Footage of the singer recording the song appears, it's blatantly Barney with a black bar covering his eyes.]
- 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".
- Cliffhanger Copout: "Right Place, Right Time" has a lengthy and complex buildup to a scene where Ted meets a mystery woman, and since the narration keeps on repeating how important this moment is, the viewer is lead to believe Ted is finally gonna meet the mother. At the end of the episode the woman is revealed to be Stella, so it's heavily implied she could be the mother after all. "As Fast as She Can", the next episode, continues from the cliffhanger, but it's made clear Stella isn't the mother, and Ted meeting her seems to be just a random incident that has nothing to do with the "how I met your the mother" subplot. It's only in the episodes following "As Fast as She Can" that we find out Ted meeting Stella does have a vague connection to the mother plot, but the reason the narration in "Right Place, Right Time" was hyping that moment was mostly because it leads to Ted getting a new job.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: 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!
Barney: Robin, it's not the 1950's anymore. Yes, you can.
- Also, Milt, the homeless guy Ted has to buy Marshall's charts from. He has his headphones plugged into a grapefruit and demands a million dollars for the charts. He's willing to accept a dollar a day for 2700 years.
- 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?"
- Comically Missing the Point: The same example as the Cloudcuckoolander example above.
- Continuity Nod: In "As Fast As She Can", Ted's ringtone is "Let's Go to the Mall". Earlier in the series, a similar gag had Marshall's ringtone as his "Studyin' law, makin' a responsible choice for my future!" song from 'Sweet Taste of Liberty'.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In "The Naked Man", Marshall coughs out an entire sentence aimed at calling Robin a slut.
- Cowboy Cop: In "Murtaugh", parodied by Barney (see Da Chief)
- 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.
- Da Chief: Parodied in the episode "Murtaugh" between Barney and the person in charge of the Laser Tag place.
- 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.
- 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.
- Everybody Knew Already: 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.
- 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".
- Fallback Marriage Pact: Provides the page quote. According to Urban Dictionary, the kids these days are calling it a "Ted & Robin Pact".
Robin: Let's make a pact. If we both turn 40 and we're both single...
Ted: Robin Scherbatsky - will you be my backup wife?
Robin: A girl always dreams of hearing those words. Yes, yes, a million times, yes!
- Fan Disservice: Mitch in "The Naked Man."
- Fanservice: 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!"
- Fun fact? The first two lines were from Ted.
- 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!
Barney: (mind obviously blanking)...How are you feeling...today?
Lily: Something personal!
Barney: ...Um...at what age did you first get your period?
- Gilligan Cut: "Benefits", when Ted and Robin agree to stop having sex for the sake of their fighting:
Ted: Roomies. (they shake hands)
(cut to Ted taking an empty carton of milk out of the fridge)
(cut to the two in bed together)
Ted: Well, we tell no one. Deal?
- 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.
Marshall: You're pregnant? Oh, my God! I know you've gained some weight lately, but...
Lily: I was lying, you jerk! Go ahead and jump. I hope you die!
Marshall: That's all the permission I need.
Ted: Tell me, why did you throw up?
Robin: I'm pregnant.
- 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?
Barney: I don't know; it's weird.
- 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...
- To elaborate on it even further, Ted's sister was holding the Ball BIG TIME (if this weren't TV land she would have been toast). She decides the best way to teach Ted that she has grown up is.... to pretend to act exactly the same way and pretend to sleep with his second best friend - which Ted said NOTHING about, until they started constantly dropping innuendo until Ted finally snapped. When called on it... she has absolutely no evidence to back up the fact that she DIDN'T sleep with Barney, other than their words. So to review, she intentionally staged getting caught in a compromising position by Ted's friend that she KNOWS can't keep a secret, and after Ted doesn't take the bait, drops constant innuendo until he can't take it anymore, and then proceeds to get MAD at him for giving her exactly the reaction that would be expected of any brother. If anything, it demonstrated she was still an immature little girl, and given her behavior, I personally wouldn't have co-signed buying a couch for her, much less a lease on an apartment.
- I Have No Son: Said word for word by Robin's dad. To Robin. Who is a girl.
- 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?
(cut to Barney coming in with a bloodied roll of paper towels on his ear)
Barney: 'Get ear pierced!' Check. All right, I'm off to go do laundry at mom's house.
- 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"
- 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.
- 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-
Marshall: I know that you're in love with Robin!
- 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. His "wife" ends up kissing Ted, which the gang spins into a whole new drama.
- 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 lose 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, digitally inserted a la Forrest Gump.
- 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.
- Right for the Wrong Reasons: "The Front Porch" revealed that Lily had secretly sabotaged many of Ted's relationship because of "The Front Porch Test," a look into the future if you'll be happy sitting with them on the front porch in 50 years. This includes on again/off again girlfriend Karen (despised by everyone else) and even Robin (unintentional as Lily wanted them to talk things out, not actually break up). Ted rightfully calls her out for manipulating his life according to her own concept of what is best for him. At the end, though, Ted admits she had a point with the Front Porch Test and under his own examination Karen failed and he broke up with her for good, and has a more meaningful discussion with Robin as was Lily's original intention.
- A Round Of Drinks For The House: Barney loudly declares he's buying champagne for everyone in the bar. After the cheers die down, he quietly tells the bartender to give everyone ginger ale.
- 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."
Here, let me demonstrate: I own a pony.
Ask me a question.
Marshall: Okay. Um, what color is your pony?
Barney: Well, when I first got Dandelion she was a deep, chestnut brown, but, sadly, her stable is located near a chemical plant which contaminated the drinking water. So, over time, she's turned a sickly, grayish-white color and there's nothing the vet can do to fix her.
- Selective Memory: In "Murtaugh", the basketball team that Marshall was coaching (and that Lily had forbidden him from pushing to actually play to win) loses by over a hundred points. According to Future Ted, every time Marshall would recount the story, the opposing team would get older and taller. In the second half they even had a teenwolf on their team!
- Sex Dressed: Barney pulls a subversion to teach Ted a lesson, that Ted can trust both Barney and his own sister. (For a full explanation on how badly the show set up the situation, see the Idiot Ball entry above)
- 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).
- "Shut Up" Kiss: Barney and Robin in "The Leap."
- 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.
- Therapy Is For The Weak: Barney maintains this throughout "Benefits" while denying that he has problems. Then he goes to Lily's class...
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
Marshall: I'm cuddly, bitch!
- Tomato Surprise: In the episode "Three Days of Snow", Future!Ted tells at the same time three stories: (1) Robin taking Marshall to welcome Lily at the airport, (2) Ted and Barney taking care of the bar and (3) Lily trying to get some beers to give to Marshall when he welcomes her in the airport. But when Lily and Marshall had just gotten to get at the airport, Future!Ted reveals that the three stories are taking part in three different days, so Marshall did not met Lily at day one, he mourned at Ted and Barney's "bar" at day two, and seemingly nobody was in the airport to welcome Lily at day three ( but Marshall surprises Lily by bringing an entire band to greet her).
- Trailers Always Lie: A trailer for a 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".
- Visual Pun: In "Little Minnesota" Marshall wears a #70 throwback Minnesota Vikings jersey to the Walleye Saloon. #70 was worn by legendary Minnesota Vikings defensive end Jim Marshall who played for Minnesota's "Purple People Eaters". Know mostly for recovering a fumble and running it the wrong way 66 yards for a safety, and for an NFL record 282 consecutive games played; Marshall's #70 was retired by the Vikings. Though the jersey doesn't bear the name, it appears to have been signed by Jim Marshall.
- Will They or Won't They?: Barney and Robin season.
- You Can't Handle The Parody
Ted: Did you break me and Robin up?
Lily: I did what I had to do.
Ted: Did you break me and Robin up?!
Lily: YOU'RE DAMN RIGHT I DID!
- Artistic License - History: 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 "encyclopędia" warranted comment from other characters. "En-cyc-lo-PAY-dia" because of the ę.