Tropes for How I Met Your Mother
, Season One.
- Acoustic License: Averted in the fifth episode of the first season. The gang goes out to a nightclub, and while on the dance floor no one can hear each other, except when there's a momentary lull in the music.
- Actor Allusion: In "Best Prom Ever" Lily says she wishes she could have had a lesbian experience in college and Robin kisses her. Both actresses have played lesbians, Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Cobie Smulders in The L Word.
- Actually Not a Vampire: Parodied. Marshall believes that a bartender is a vampire, based on his black clothing and tendency to come out at night.
Hey! That does
describe a vampire! Or, you know, a bartender.
- Analogy Backfire: In the first episode.
Ted: I gotta do what that guy couldn't. I gotta take the leap. Okay, not a perfect metaphor, 'cause for me it's falling in love and getting married and for him it's... death.
Barney: Actually, that is a perfect metaphor. (to Marshall and Lily) By the way, have I congratulated you two yet?
- Artistic License - Law: Barney mentions The Jail Bait Wait when he says the only reason to wait a month to have sex is if she's 17 and eleven months, implying the age of consent is 18. New York's age of consent is 17. It is, however, 18 in California.
- A Storm Is Coming: The opening of the season finale foreshadows the massive rainstorm that occurs when Robin and Ted get together while Marshall and Lily break up with both the narrator and a tv weatherman invoking this trope (in the past and future-tenses respectively).
- Authentication by Newspaper: Ted tries to fake this with Victoria's care package.
- Big Damn Heroes: Marshall in the New Year's Eve episode. It's played that way, with Marshall running through the steam to Bon Jovi.
- Bittersweet Ending: Ted comes back to his apartment, high on the thrill of having finally gotten with Robin and more happy about life than he's been in a long time...to find Marshall on the stairs outside, holding Lily's disowned engagement ring.
- Blatant Lies: "See? Not awkward at all."
- Book Ends: The series begins with Marshall happily showing Ted the engagement ring he will give to Lily. The Season Finale closes with Marshall tearfully showing Ted the same ring disowned by Lily (They got better though). Further, both the pilot and season finale involves and shows Marshall and Lily having sex after the proposal and before the break-up, as well as Ted riding a cab to go (pilot) and to leave (s1 finale) Robin's apartment.
- Bottle Episode: "The Limo" takes place almost entirely in... well... the limo.
- Break the Cutie: Kind of happens in "Game Night". Hippie Barney is more funny than sad, and his ridiculous crying similarly distracts from the tragedy, but the watcher is also shocked at how Shannon screwed him up.
- Butt Monkey: Natalie. She and Ted dated, and Ted broke up with her over her answering machine on her birthday, during a surprise party at which she hadn't arrived yet (to be fair, he didn't know about that), waited three years for her to get over him, tracked her down, apologized and begged her to take him back, and then breaks up with her three weeks later, again on her birthday.
- Calvinball: Baskiceball.
Marshall: We can't let our kid play Baskiceball.
Lily: What are the rules?
Marshall: There are no rules, we just beat on each other.
- Can't Believe I Said That: Robin invites Ted over. She suggests they drink wine and his response is "Wine not? Wow, that's the stupidest thing I've ever said."
Ted: (on the phone with Robin) Ain't no thing but a chicken wing, mamasita!
Ted: (to others in the room) Who am I!?
Ted: I think I'm in love with you.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: When Barney, Robin and Lily are trying to sneak into a high school prom, one of his plans involves asking Robin how capable she is with a crossbow.
- Comically Missing the Point: Ted's kids, after he tells them the story of when he dated an ex, who he had previously dumped on her birthday, via an answering machine message, convinced her that he'd changed in order to get a second chance, only to break up with her on her birthday AGAIN, only this time in person... Which led to her kicking Ted's ass. All Ted's kids took from this story is that their dad got beat up by a girl.
- Complexity Addiction: In 'Best Prom Ever', Barney attempts to sneak into a prom by first crawling through the vents; then borrowing a giant turtle mascot costume to disguise himself... whereas Ted and Marshall snuck in through the back door.
- Confusing Multiple Negatives: Ted after getting plastered in 'The Pineapple Incident'- "And now, I don't think I won't not go to the bathroom!"
- Coordinated Clothes:
- Lily and Marshall are a cute couple and very much in love. They like wearing matching Halloween costumes. In "Slutty Pumpkin", they dress up as a not-gay pirate and his parrot.
- In a flashback in "Slutty Pumpkin", Marshall and Lily are shown being Sony and Cher (surprisingly, Marshall as Cher and Lily as Sonny) for one Halloween.
- "Slutty Pumpkin": Barney wants his best friend Ted to coordinate their Halloween costumes. He brought two ace pilot costumes and wants Ted to go as his literal and metaphorical wing-man. Ted defies the trope. He insists on wearing his old costume as the infamous ballot vote "Hanging Chad" because that's how possible future Mrs Mosby known only as Slutty Pumpkin remembers him.
- "Slutty Pumpkin": Robin and her boyfriend joked over emails about dressing up as Hansel and Gretel. Mike thought she was serious, but Robin's part of the costume was missing.
- *Cough* Snark *Cough*: In "Best Prom Ever", Barney and Robin have this exchange:
Barney: *cough* Lesbian.
Robin: The cough is supposed to cover the "lesbian".
Barney: Nah, I'm trying to start a thing where the cough is separate.
- Dawson Casting: Played With in-universe when the gang attempts to sneak into a high school prom, only to be immediately busted at the door for being adults.
- Derailed For Details:
- When Ted wakes up with a strange girl in his bed and a pineapple on his nightstand, everyone tries to figure out who the girl is and how Ted hooked up with her ... except for Marshall, who's fixated on getting details about the pineapple.
- Marshall again in "Drumroll, Please". Ted is telling everyone about the girl he met at Claudia and Stuart's wedding, but all Marshall cares about is the cake.
- Digging Yourself Deeper: Ted had a spectacular instance of this when he attempted to break up with his girlfriend (who knew Krav Maga) back in season 1.
- Don't Explain the Joke: In "The Slutty Pumpkin", Barney says this to a girl dressed as a hula dancer when she comments on his "getting lei'd" joke.
- Drinking Game: In-Universe, the game Marshgammon has a rule where anyone who answers "What?" must drink a shot.
- Eek, a Mouse!!: In "Matchmaker" Lily and Marshall get freaked out by a creature living in their apartment that they dub a "cockamouse" (a combination of a cockroach and a mouse). After two encounters with it, Marshall says in a tone of dead shock, "It's bigger now. It's been feeding." It can also fly.
- Everyone Looks Sexier If French: In the pilot Barney comments that Lebanese women have replaced half-Asian women in his fantasies.
- Everything's Better with Penguins:
- Barney in "Slutty Pumpkin."
- Ted in "The Pineapple Incident". "I need to see some penguins right now."
- First Episode Spoiler: See Foregone Conclusion.
- Flynning: A mid-first season episode has Marshall and Ted in a swordfight over Lily moving in/who gets to keep the apartment in the end. Any sense of the fight being real disappears once they start pausing to issue instructions on how next to Flynn in a stylish and awesome manner.
- Foregone Conclusion: "Kids, I'm gonna tell you an incredible story - the story of how I met your mother!" - these are the series first words!
- "Because this, kids, is the true story of how I met your Aunt Robin!" - we learn Robin's not the Mother at the end of the pilot!
- Also, we know for a fact that Ted, Marshall, Lily, and Robin (but not necessarily Barney - though he is an Honorary Uncle, Ted speaks about him as though his kids don't know him that well) will still be close friends after the series is over, no matter what an episode tries to throw at them.
- Fruit of The Loon: The inxeplicable pineapple that shows up after a wild night of boozing.
- Funny Background Event: In Best Prom Ever, during a phone conversation between Robin and Marshall, Barney sneaks into the prom, gets caught, and is thrown out.
- Good Angel, Bad Angel: Parodied; they're at a rooftop party, and Ted has to pee, but doesn't want to leave. (Long story.) Barney, dressed as a devil, suggests he pee off the roof from behind his right shoulder. A random dude dressed like an angel says from Ted's left shoulder that it'd be a bad idea. And then asks for some weed.
- "Good Luck" Gesture: In "Slutty Pumpkin", Lily crosses her fingers intensely when she hopes that she and Marshall will win the costume competition.
- Grilling the Newbie: The gang does this to poor Victoria about her love life, with the questions thinly disguised as being part of a Truth or Dare style board game.
- Hypocritical Humor: Barney calls Marshall "gay" for hosting a wine-tasting while wearing a silver, reflective shirt.
- I Know Krav Maga: Ted getting beat up by a disgruntled ex using Krav Maga.
- Important Haircut: In "Game Night," we discover that Barney became the awesome dude he was today after being dumped when he was a long-haired hippie and deciding to go to the dark side.
- Intoxication Ensues: Ted in "The Pineapple Incident" after drinking five shots in a row of...well, no idea what was in them, but they're called Red Dragons.
- Ironic Echo: In "Mary The Paralegal", "C'mon, if you don't laugh, it just seems mean."
- Its Pronounced Tro PAY: Barney's alias, "Jack Package". "It's pronounced pe-kahj."
- The Jail Bait Wait: Barney references this when he says
Ted, the only reason to wait a month for sex is if the girl is seventeen years, eleven months old.
- Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In Season 1 , the Barney is telling Ted that the Universe doesn't care about Ted's love life. Marshall interjects jokingly, "Unless Ted's love life is the glue binding the entire Universe together!" Everyone laughs, of course. If only they knew...
- Leaving You to Find Myself: Lily has an engagement freakout and leaves Marshall to run off to do some art program in San Francisco.
- Living Memory: "Nothing Good Happens After 2 AM"
- Mathematician's Answer
Ted: Wait, [bring a prostitute to Robin's award ceremony] to hang out with ironically or to actually have sex with?
- Meaningful Name: Bob Rorschach of Love Solutions. He provides Ted with a profile for his soul mate... the purpose of which (plotwise) was to have Ted realize that he wants Robin.
- My Friends... and Zoidberg: "Ladies. Gentlemen. Ted."
- Noodle Incident: Ted's ex-GF Victoria told a story involving a game of Truth Or Dare, ice cream topping and the pool at her grandparents' retirement home. It wasn't that awesome.Note:
Marshall: That's the most awesome story ever!
- The Pineapple Incident - where the hell did he get that pineapple? And what made it so delicious!
- Not so Fast, Bucko!: An obvious use: At the start of the pilot, Future Ted starts to tell the story of... well, you know by now. However, by end of the pilot: "And that, kids, is the story of how I met your Aunt Robin." Justified, since Future Ted said it would be a long story.
- Oblivious to Love: Ted is completely clueless to Robin's growing feelings for him in the middle of the season, that is until Lily tells him.
- Plot Leveling: The first 13 episodes, written before the network ordered more, were conceived as if Victoria ("Buttercup") was the titular mother. Once the series was extended, they rewrote the concluding voice over, and Victoria was downgraded to a recurring girlfriend in the second half of the season.
- Rain Dance: Ted does one in an Overly-Long Gag as a desperate attempt to keep Robin from leaving to... well, let's just say it's complicated.
- Riddle for the Ages: "The Pineapple Incident". Ted and co, as well as the viewers, will never find out how he got it and why he brought it with himself home from his epically drunk night.
- Romantic Spoonfeeding:
- In "Slutty Pumpkin", Marshal and Lily are dressed in matching Halloween outfits and share dinner — Lily spoonfeeds Marshal. They later also share a dessert.
- Robin is reluctant to do any lovey-dovey stuff with Mike in "Slutty Pumpkin". Mike wants her to taste his chicken, but she refuses and defies the trope. Lily tells her she should be more girlfriend-like and she attempts to share her sundae, but she likes it too much, so it doesn't really work out well.
- Running Gag: "Have you met Ted?"
- Seven Minute Lull: In a mild variation, the club music stops right after Ted realizes the girl he's with can't hear him, and starts shouting weird things. "I'm wetting my pants!"
- Shaggy Dog Story: The pilot. The whole episode centers on Ted meeting, falling for and ultimately failing to have a relationship with Robin, with a promise of many more stories about his attempts, successful or not, to win her. We then learn that she is not the Mother. The entire episode, as well as much of the next two seasons, becomes this trope.
- Shock Party: Ted breaks up with one of his girlfriends over her answering machine, while all her friends and family are listening, waiting with a Surprise Party.
- Shout-Out: Barney's transformation in "Game Night" bears some resemblance to another famous suiting-up. Especially considering that the episode first aired a few months after that movie came out.
- Stalking Is Love: Though Ted surprising Robin in her flat with an entire orchestra isn't received with eruptive joy.
- Start of Darkness: Barney in the episode "Game Night."
- This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Also Ted in "The Pineapple Incident": "I drank all five, bitch!"
- True Blue Femininity: Robin is attracted to this color.
- Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Stewart and Claudia but played a bit differently; she's a controlling shrew and he's a miserable drunk. However, character repeatedly comment on Claudia being out of Stu's league.
- Un Duet: Marshall and Lily have a full dance-routine to go with "Don't Go Breakin' My Heart." Marshall, eager to fit in with his new co-workers, doesn't sing the song at karaoke. However, when he decides Lily's more important, he gets on stage and sings his half of the song, until Lily joins in halfway through.
- Unrequited Love Switcheroo: Ted/Robin/Victoria.
- Unusual Euphemism: When Ted says "It's ineffable", Natalie misunderstands and says "I'm not F-able?!"
- Vertigo Effect: Used in "Betty Full of Turkey", when Lily finds out the typical size of an Eriksen newborn.
- Walk On The Wild Side Episode: "The Pineapple Incident" has the gang convince Ted to drink instead of think. He wakes up next morning with a sprained ankle, burned coat, several drunken messages on Robin's phone and a girl he's never met before in bed next to him. Oh and a pineapple that never gets explained.
- What Could Have Been: Victoria would've been the mother if the show hadn't been renewed.
- What Did I Do Last Night?: "The Pineapple Incident."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Robin had a group of friends in the pilot and another one in the episode where she hangs out with Barney. They all appear in one scene, never to be seen ever again. Robin even talks about how she barely knows anyone in New York and has no friends before meeting Ted, since she's new in town and she spends most of her time at work. Also the same to her dogs in later seasons.
- Will They or Won't They?: Ted and Robin for the majority of the first season; subverted and further complicated by the fact that the audience knows from the first episode that the two do not end up together (so season 2 is will they or won't they break up?) — and even more so because they're suddenly willing again.