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Characters / How I Met Your Mother Main Characters

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The main characters of How I Met Your Mother.

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    As a Whole 
  • The Artifact: Lily and Marshall after the two move into their own apartment and stop being roommates with Ted, really shouldn't figure in to Ted's story as much as they do, unlike Robin, whom the entire story hinges on given that Widower Ted is really asking his kids for permission to date her and Barney, given that Ted met the future Mrs. Mosby aka, Tracy McConnel at his wedding to Robin. Point of fact most of their more important plots after season 2 focus on the two of them, and less so on their interactions with Ted.
  • Blonde, Brunette, Redhead: Lily and Robin fill the redhead and brunette roles respectively, with the blonde role filled by several of Ted and Barney's love interests (Stella, Zoey, Quinn.) Averted with the mother as she is a brunette.
  • Character Signature Song: All but Lily got one.
    • Robin has four: "Let's go to the Mall", "Sandcastles in the Sand", "Two Beavers are Better than One" and "P.S. I Love You".
    • Marshall has three (aside from his own quirky moments singing): "Best Night Ever", "You Just Got Slapped" and "Marshall Versus The Machines".
    • Barney has "Nothing Suits me like a Suit" and "Barney Stinson, That Guy's Awesome".
    • Arguably, Ted's song could be "Superdate". While it’s more about giving advice to Barney, Ted sings all of it from his own perspective of what he would do for a romantic date.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Barney most of the time, though most of them really do this.
  • Deadpan Snarker: All of them, at various times. It is a World of Snark. Though when not snarking (usually at each other's expense), they're usually hamming it up.
  • Fatal Flaw:
    • Ted: His overly idealized notions of romance and believing that the universe will take care of everything
    • Marshall: Naivete.
    • Barney: His constant need to prove himself to others
    • Lily: Selfishness and self-doubt, particularly about her career and what she wanted to be
    • Robin: Envy and over competitiveness, that leads to some obnoxious and obsessive behavior and being easily manipulated
  • Five Temperament Ensemble: Ted is Leukine, Marshall is Phlegmatic, Robin is Melancholic, Barney is Choleric and Lily is Sanguine.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: Complete with a fifth philosophy; Ted is The Conflicted, Marshall is The Optimist, Robin is The Cynic, Barney is The Apathetic and Lily is The Realist.
  • Freudian Trio:
    • The men;
      • Barney, The womanizing sociopath (Id)
      • Marshall, the sensitive giant who uses reason. (Superego)
      • Ted, right between the two. (Ego)
    • The women;
      • Lily, the most impulsive (Id)
      • Robin, skeptical and goal-oriented. (Superego)
      • The Mother, right between the two. (Ego)
    • By the same logic, the trio of college friends also form one:
      • Lily (Id)
      • Marshall (Superego)
      • Ted (Ego)
  • Foil: Barney and Ted are this to each other. Ted started out as the Nice Guy of the group and wanted to find the perfect woman. However, as the series progressed, he become more and more pretentious and has date so many women that it is clear that he has no problem with one night stand. And despite wanting to get marry since the first episode, he is the last person of the group to do so. One episode has Ted being compared to Barney to show how bad he has become. Barney on the other hand is the Token Evil Teammate of the group, has one night stands with many women and has no intentions of getting married. In contrast to how Ted become as the series progressed, Barney becomes more mature, abandon his womanizing ways and decides to settle down with the woman of his life.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Barney and Marshall instantly becomes competitive with each other every time the topic of who among them is Ted's best friend gets brought up—all the while while hanging out with each other.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Ted, Marshall, and Barney are the males; Lily, Robin, and the Mother are the females.
  • The Hecate Sisters: Robin is the crone, Lily is the matron and The Mother is the maiden.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Ted, Marshall and Barney's friendship often borders Bromance levels. Ted and Marshall have been living together since college, while Barney is very close to both of them, insisting he is Ted's best friend.
  • Honorary Uncle: The gang refers to their friends as uncle or aunt when talking about them to their children.
  • Identical Stranger: Each of them has a doppelganger living in New York and one of their favorite things is to find them.
  • Insane Troll Logic: All of them had their moments where they came up with tall tales to explain a situation especially Barney.
  • Large Ham: All of them are prone to incredibly hammy moments, be they in arguments, grand gestures, or just plain conversation.
  • Manchild: All of them, though Barney takes the cake. Despite being in their thirties, they still act childishly, thought up childish theories and "eating sandwiches." Their most heated argument: Which is better? Duck or Rabbit?
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: So much. We have: a man who dreams of getting swept off his feet and starting a family, and is ruled by irrational emotional impulses; a man who is gentle, sensitive, prone to hysteria, and committed to the point of clinginess; a man who glorifies stylish clothing and personal appearance to semi-religious levels; a woman who is crude, loud, and often complains that her husband doesn't put out enough; and a woman who is commitment-phobic, hates expressing feelings, loves hard liquor and guns, is uncomfortable with kids, and has the emotional sensitivity of a frat boy.
    • All of the show's Official Couples have this factor too. Lily who complains that Marshall doesn't put out enough and Marshall who is offended by her saying its acceptable to have sex without love, Robin who spends her wedding morning playing hockey and Barney who spends his picking out the perfect clothes and dreaming of walking down the aisle, The Mother who plays bass and paints robots with Ted who's a textbook sensitive guy, and gun-toting Robin again with sensitive guy romantic and "guns are dangerous" Ted.
  • Magnetic Heroes: The gang has no trouble getting people drawn to them.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between:
  • Parental Issues: Everyone except Marshall, though Ted downplays this.
  • Platonic Life-Partners:
    • Ted and Lily have a Like Brother and Sister relationship. Ted knows Lily better than anyone, and they have told each other things they never told either Marshall or Robin.
    • Marshall and Robin are strictly The Friends Who Never Hang.
    • Played with Robin and Ted. Ted realizes they're "Platonish", as there's still an attraction to Robin, even after she chose Barney in the end. Ted still puts his friendship with her above any romantic relationship he has, and they're implied to get back together in the original finale. Their peak moments of pure platonic friendship come around the time Robin is invited to move in with Ted throughout the middle of the show's run, where their banter and relationship falls into this domain and with both of them able to take potshots at their previous relationship together.
    • Played straight with Lily and Barney; Barney is always hitting on Lily, but he (perpetually) does it as a joke, since she is with Marshall.
  • Romantic Two-Girl Friendship: Lily and Robin are very close to each other, to the point Lily is actually Robin's only female friend, since she can't stand other women. Lily often has fantasies about making out with Robin (and they both did it actually three times). By "Rally" it got reversed, since now Robin wants to make out with Lily.
  • The Three Faces of Adam: Played with. Barney thinks he is the Prophet, dispensing hard–earned wisdom and mentoring the other two men, but much of the series is actually his quest to determine what he wants in life and then finally commit to that decision, making him the Hunter. Marshall is the Lord, and Ted seems to be the Hunter, looking for the Mother throughout the entire show... except that, even from the first episode, he's really the Prophet — as Future!Ted, looking back on his life and imparting the lessons that he learned to the next generation. This helps play up the Foil relationship between Ted and Barney, with each picking up lessons from the other and becoming more like the other as the show goes on.
  • Three Plus Two: Flashbacks show Ted, Marshall and Lily having the Two Guys and a Girl dynamic in their college days right before meeting Barney. They met Robin at the series premiere.
  • True Companions: They constantly refer to each other as "family."
  • Two Girls to a Team: Robin and Lily for much of the series until the Mother joins the cast in the final season. During the time Robin left the gang, Lily and The Mother become this to the group.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: The only person in the group who is generally a good person is Marshall:
    • Ted talks about wanting to find love, but has no problem dumping girls after one night stands or helping Barney with his deceptions. At one point, he even tries to cheat on his long-distance girlfriend with a woman who thinks he's single.
    • Barney is the most obvious example, considering he shamelessly manipulates vulnerable women for his own sexual gratification.
    • Lily often meddles in the affairs of her friends and has no problem manipulating them to end relationships she doesn't like.
    • Robin is often dismissive and rude towards people outside her friends group, best seen in her abusive treatment of the ever-loving Patrice.
  • Your Cheating Heart: Only averted by Lily and Marshall.
    • Ted first cheated on Victoria by kissing Robin. Also in "No Tomorrow" he almost hooked up with a married woman. Then he had been on both sides with Karen, as Ted was cheated on multiple times on his bed and also Karen cheated on her boyfriend with him.
    • Robin first slept with Ted while dating another guy (in "Slapsgiving"), and then with Barney while she was still dating Kevin and he was dating Nora in "Disaster Averted" and "Tick Tick Tick…" .
    • Barney mentions that he has slept with a lot of married/engaged women. He also slept with Robin while they both were dating Nora and Kevin respectively.

    Ted Mosby
"And that's the funny thing about destiny, you can't plan it out. I never thought I would see that girl again, but it turns out I was too close to the puzzle to see the picture that was forming."

The main character and narrator, starting as a 27-year-old architect and eventually a professor of architecture at Columbia with an excessively romantic disposition, looking for love in New York. This being television, it goes about as well as you'd expect.

Played by: Josh Radnor and Bob Saget (Future Ted)

  • Abusive Parents: Played for laughs in the non-canon promo for season 8. It turns out his now grown-up children have been listening to his story non-stop for 8 years straight. His children chew him out for this.
  • Adorkable
    Lily: "Swear to me on your unborn son and daughter!"
    Ted: "I swear on Luke and Leia."
  • Acquired Situational Narcissism: Whatever small fortune Ted had (such as being on the cover of a magazine) raises his ego even more than that of Barney.
  • Agent Mulder: In a romantic sense. Ted believes in fate, destiny, and signs from the universe, which perfectly contrasts with Robin's Agent Scully worldview. He later grows out of it as time progresses, also contrasting Robin who starts to believe in them.
  • Alone Among the Couples: Really got hit hard in Season Eight's The Time Travelers, when the Gang had better things to do, and Ted is all alone in the bar with his tickets to Robots vs. Wrestlers.
    Imaginary Barney: Look around you, Ted. You're all alone.
  • Amicable Exes: Remains dear friends with Robin after they break up. Slightly deconstructed, as it's apparent that his feelings never truly went away until he met the mother.
  • Animal Motifs: Justified, downplayed and played for laughs. In "Wait For It" upon the discovery of Ted's butterfly tattoo, Barney uses subtle butterfly metaphors to ridicule him. Butterfly tattoos are stereotypically known to symbolise those who have gone through change or about to change which pretty much sums up Ted's character arc to meet the mother. However this wasn't the case since butterfly tattoos can be embarrassing for male owners due to their feminine connotations.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: He is the only person who thinks the Red Cowboy Boots is a chick magnet.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grew one after breaking up with Robin. He is implied to do this every time a major relationship ends.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Ted is an extremely proud New Yorker and an extremely proud non-New Jerseyan. How proud, you ask? When Ted runs into Stella after she leaves him at the altar, the tipping point at which Ted decides to chew her out is not the fact that she left him in the first place—it's the fact that Stella refused to move to New York and expected Ted to move to New Jersey to be with her, but moves to Tony's place in New York once he and Stella get back together with no fuss.
    • Not too long after being left at the altar, Doug, the short-tempered McLaren's bartender, insulted Ted saying "no wonder your fiancée left you." Despite never fighting anyone before in his life, Ted punched him.
  • Better as Friends: With Robin. When he tried to get back together with her in season 7, they came to this conclusion.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Archie for Robin's Veronica and Victoria's Betty.
    • The Betty to Barney's Veronica for Robin's Archie.
    • The Betty to Tony's Veronica for Stella's Archie in the episode "Shelter Island".
  • Beware the Nice Ones: While mostly a Non-Action Guy, Ted is willing to throw a punch when pushed too far.
  • Big Brother Instinct: He never started thinking of his little sister as an adult. When she visits, he tries to shelter her from issues and, well, Barney.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Generally a Nice Guy at heart, but has a tendency to be rather stubborn, selfish and impulsive, causing him to take many of his loved ones for granted without even knowing it.
  • Blatant Lies: Whenever he says "I promise" to anyone, there's a high chance that he broke it moments later.
  • Break the Cutie: Years of failing relationships, being left at the altar, losing jobs and continuing being turned down by Robin while his friends moved on with their lives really put Ted down. By Season 8, he nears Despair Event Horizon and decides to run away from New York and re-start a life in Chicago. This is subverted when he properly meets The Mother.
  • Bumbling Dad: Implied with Future Ted.
  • Butt-Monkey: Especially when it comes to love.
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: As bad, if not worst than Lily. Whenever someone told him a secret, he will immediately reveal it to his friends in the next scene.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Among the group, each of whom is a big fan of drinking, Ted is the one most likely to wake up in the morning not knowing what happened.
  • The Comically Serious: Ted is a very ambitious, passionate, level-headed and diligent intellectual who serves as the show's Straight Man but he can also be a quirky, childishly and dorky Ditzy Genius.
  • Companion Cube: When Ted was 7 years old, his best friend was a balloon. This would also be his Freudian Excuse of why he is so attached to Robin or any other girlfriend he has had.
  • Cool Teacher: His goal as a professor of architecture. His students (those that didn't immediately drop the class, at least) seem to really like him.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Ted dyed his hair blond in the season 5 finale.
  • Deadpan Snarker: He has the most straightfoward snarky moments, largely due to being the Straight Man to Barney.
  • Deconstruction: Do you want to be the type of guy that relies on fate and destiny to get your ideal partner? It got Ted nowhere for eight years. He finally realizes that it's not a healthy way of living, and culminates in a "World of Cardboard" Speech in Something Old.
    Maybe it's dumb to look for signs from the Universe. Maybe the Universe has better things to do; dear God, I hope it does. Do you know how many signs I've gotten that I should or shouldn't be with somebody, and where has it gotten me? Maybe there aren't any signs. Maybe a locket is just a locket, a chair is just a chair. Maybe we don't have to give meaning to every little thing. Maybe we don't need the Universe to tell us what we really want. Maybe we already know that deep down.
  • Determinator: While Ted generally shows signs of this trope, the entirety of the season 1 finale is Ted embodying it, to the point that he somehow defies logic itself and makes it rain: "It is meant to be, and you know why? Because I MEAN it to be!" He later says about The Two-Minute Date—"And that, kids, is how you turn a 'No' into a 'Yes'."
  • Disposable Fiancé: To Stella. Ted even lampshades this in a later episode, claiming it was always 'their' love story.
  • Dogged Nice Guy: He very rarely gets together with his love interests right away…
    • With Robin, he spent a season wearing her down.
    • He spent 10 one hour sessions trying to get Stella to like him, and then also took one incredibly grand romantic gesture to get her to date him.
    • He didn't mean to be this to Zoe, but as they were hanging out mutual feelings developed between them.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Frequently stated that he will be Happily Married to the mother. That is, until she dies in the finale, though he does finally end up with Robin, so it is not completely averted. The Alternate ending plays it entirely straight though.
  • Embarrassing Middle Name: His full name is Theodore Evelyn Mosby
  • Embarrassing Tattoo: After flirting with a woman and drinking too much. Ted received a tattoo of a butterfly on his lower back which he immediately regretted and organised a tattoo removal session. Funnily enough butterfly tattoos are believed to represent people/symbolise those who have gone through changes or are going through changes. Which seems to sum up the entire premise of Ted's story in the series.
  • Even the Guys Want Him: Marshall and Barney had an argument over which one of them Ted has gay dreams about; it devolved into this.
    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.
  • Fatal Flaw: Being a delusional Wide-Eyed Idealist, something he himself recognizes later on. He believes in very romantic and unrealistic ideals of love, dating and meeting the perfect woman that checks every single one of the boxes on his long and idealized list. Marshall lampshades that this sometimes makes him hurt the women he dates, because they aren't his perfect ideal, though at first he believes them to be, and takes the relationship too fast.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ted's best friend was a balloon that floated away in the second he got distracted, and that made him think during most of his life that if you love something, you never let go. He later admits it took him nearly 30 years to un-learn this.
  • First-Person Smartass: Future Ted has elements of this.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Leukine—Exhibits both extroverted and introverted traits and is generally balanced between temperaments.
  • Geeky Turn-On: Deconstructed. In one of his attempts to find common ground with Stella, he gets her to watch Star Wars alone, convinced that she must be perfect if she enjoys it. Much to his delight, she says she loved it. Except, she lied, and this is one of the many tiny dominos that lead to their relationship crumbling.
  • Gender-Blender Name: His Embarrassing Middle Name, which is why it's embarrassing in the first place.
  • Generation Xerox: Outside of storytelling ability and willingness to talk, Ted and his father, along with their respective relationships with Robin and Mrs. Mosby, are eerily similar.
  • Great Detective: As revealed in Season 9's "Mom and Dad"… or so he thinks. In fact, the only real mystery he had been trying to crack was the Pineapple incident and he gave up on it.
    • In "Daisy", he managed to figure out that Lily is hiding something based on her actions which led to a pregnancy test hidden in the daisy flower pot with the results that Lily is pregnant. However, he was expecting to find a cigarette underneath it.
    • Ted (even when someone knows what happened and is trying to tell him) is consistently able to follow clues and motives and draw a conclusion—but the conclusion he comes up with is usually wrong on the main element, even when the rest of it is correct.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Averted, when Robin and Barney accidentally slept together he isn't actually angry about the act but upset that with Barney worshiping The Bro Code and violating it compromised their friendship. When Barney shows signs of genuine interest in Robin (and not just another hook-up), Ted not only gives his endorsement but actually tries to help Barney understand some of Robin's nuances. After Barney proposes to Robin however, the trope plays straight as Ted inadvertently tries to sabotage the wedding by being the planner and impressing Robin with a special gift in hopes that she will return his feelings though he ultimately couldn't go through with it and finally let go of his love for her.
  • Happily Married: To the mother. Even if their relationship only lasted 10 years because of her death.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has one towards the end of the fourth season while talking with Stella about how stagnant his love life has been and echoed again a few times, notably in the seventh season premiere talking with Robin and really hits hard later in the season with "Trilogy Time" when he laments how things have not gone the way he hoped.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: He and Marshall have been inseparable since college. While he's very close with Barney, who insists that he's Ted's best friend, he makes it clear countless times throughout the series that he values Marshall above him.
  • Hidden Depths: In Season 8, Ted says that, for all the time he has spent chasing a serious commitment, he believes he never really meant it and enjoyed his life as a single guy too much to actually look for a girl he could settle down with. Robin mentions it in the Season 7 Finale, when she says that all his relationships thus far were chasing the wrong girl, and he let go of the only girl that could actually be worth it (Victoria) to chase a girl he knew didn't want commitment (Robin).
  • Hollywood Dateless: Given that he's a handsome, charming and successful architect, it's not that he has a hard time chatting up girls or dating in general. It's more so that he is hoping each new date will result in "The One" and tends to get hurt badly when it falls apart.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: As the series progressed, he keeps dating girls that his friends hate, solely for their looks and not their personalities or fits any of the criteria on his list. One of them, Karen, is unfaithful to him and has cheated on him numerous times, even kiss a man right in front of him. Despite this, she and Ted keep getting back together until Karen expects Ted to never see Lily again. And then there's Jeanatte
  • Humiliation Conga: Season 4. Ted starts off having to give up several things to move away to be with Stella, who leaves him at the altar, now having to suffer pity from all sides, he gets into a fight just to lose, he loses his job afterwards due to recession, but he finds new hope in starting his own company, which never gets off the ground and loses his first and only client to Sven. He, however, claims that this was the best thing that ever happened to him, as it landed a job he loved as an architecture teacher and being in the place he needed to meet the Mother.
  • Hypocrite: A big one.
    • He normally chastise his friends for their childish behaviors even though he himself acts like a child most of the time.
    • In Matchmaker, Ted finds out from a matchmaking service that the closest person compatible to be his soulmate is an engaged dermatolgist who is getting married at the end of the week. Ted visited the woman in hopes to win her over and berates her for marrying a man who she only known for a few months when he only just met her.
    • He teases Lily for her inability to keep a secret even though he is just as bad as her.
    • Initially, he says that the Red Cowboy Boots are stupid and mocks anyone who is willing to wear them until the cute saleswoman tricks him into buying the boots by claiming that he look great in them.
    • In The Wedding Bride, he is worried that his new girlfriend will dump him if she finds out that he is still carrying an emotional baggage but she easily accepts him. However, when he finds out that she has even more baggages than him, he immediately breaks up with her.
    • He was depressed over Stella for leaving him for her ex-husband on their wedding. When Victoria wants to abandon her groom for him during her wedding day, Ted helps her although he initially didn't want to. It could also be assumed that he planned to ruin Barney and Robin's wedding by presenting her with her missing locket. That's not even mentioning that he attempted to hit on an engaged woman back in season One.
  • In Love with Love: Throughout the show, Ted frequently bemoans the fact that he still hasn't found "the one." His overwhelming desire to be in a perfect relationship has caused him to do things like tell Robin he loved her on their very first date and rush into an engagement with Stella despite only knowing her for a few months. At one point in the show one of his friends even calls him a "commitment junkie" and points out that he scares away potential girlfriends by moving too fast when it comes to romance.
  • In Love with Your Carnage: Somewhat. Several of his love interests (Robin, Natalie, Zoey, especially Jeanette) are all perfectly willing to beat people up. He even notes in a season five episode that he should probably see a therapist about the fact that Natalie beating him up in public turned him on.
  • Insufferable Genius: Even his friends find his ratiocination pretentious. Even he finds himself insufferable at one point, when he realizes how "douchey" it is to recite the Italian of The Divine Comedy aloud when you could watch robots fight wrestlers instead.
  • Irony: Out of the gang, he's the one who really wants to get married. However, all of the other four get married before he does. Including the two with aversions to marriage.
  • It Is Pronounced Tropay: He likes being a stickler on grammar and pronunciation, including insisting encyclopedia is "encyclopaidia" and in another episode he never knew that chameleon isn't pronounced "cham-a-leon." While Ted sees himself as a rational and sophisticated intellectual, this type of habit makes him appear more of a quirky and pretentious dork that's too overconfident in his delusions.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: To Stella and Robin. It got to the point where in "Something New" he reveals to Lily that he's moving to Chicago after Barney and Robin's wedding, trying to get away from the idea that Robin is the only one for him. In the Season 9 episode, "Sunrise", he finally lets go of his feelings of Robin hours before the wedding and in his mind, watches her fly away. But this was averted in the series finale, where his kids realized that their dad is telling them the story of how he fell in love with Robin not their mother.
  • Last Het Romance: Turns out he was the last guy Cindy dated. Cindy is a roommate of The Mother.
  • The Leader: Ted. He is the "I" in the title, after all.
  • Looking for Love in All the Wrong Places: In this case, the wrong place is Robin, who is the wrong woman to Ted for many reasons, but he still pursues her off and on for seven years. Plus Stella, who was still in love with the father of her child, and Zoey, whom Ted met while she was married and actively trying to destroy Ted's life work. His poor judgement gets lampshaded multiple times.
  • Love Hurts: Ted has it bad. He longs for a loving wife, but universe keeps sending him unsuitable women. Most notably when Robin turns him down definitively in season 7. Her saying she doesn't reciprocate his feelings hurts more than anything he'd ever felt (which included a lengthy montage of Ted being physically hurt throughout the series). His wife, Tracy, eventually dies.
  • Love at First Sight: To almost all the girls he dated, including Robin and the Mother.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Guy: Interestingly, as much as the Mother is his Manic Pixie Dream Girl, he fills the role just as much for her. While Ted is at his worst by the time of Season Nine, having given up on romance and New York as a whole, the Mother has spent eight years mourning her first love and is now trying to finally move on. Both manage to pull one another out of their respective slumps.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Don thought Ted was gay for months, due to some slightly effeminate mannerisms with a love of cooking and Project Runway.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!:
    • Ted forbids Barney from meeting Heather, since Barney was constantly joking about banging her.
    • Barney was not pleased when Ted slept with his sister.
  • Never My Fault: Whenever Ted made a Innocently Insensitive comment, not only he didn't apologize, he also comes up with an excuse to justify his actions. In Aldrin Justice for example, he thought his overweight co-worker brought an entire chicken to share, upsetting the woman and causing her to quit. He try to defend himself by saying its an honest mistake before making another comment about the woman's figure. Even Barney is appalled at this.
  • Nice Guy: Ted embodies both the positive and negative aspects of this trope. He's cultured, kindhearted and incredibly romantic but also tends to be pushy, quick to overestimate his relationships with women and self-entitled.
  • Nostalgic Narrator: Whenever 2030 Ted describes a setting or activity for the first time, he usually mentions how much he loved it.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: When he and Barney pretend to be tourists from Missouri to pick up girls.
    • Barney puts on a half hearted yokel accent. Ted, being from Ohio, would already have a midwestern accent. Which would be convincing enough for the girls from New York /New Jersey.
  • Oblivious to Love: After their Unrequited Love Switcheroo, Ted has absolutely no clue that Robin has developed feelings for him until Lily tells him.
  • Only Sane Man: When it comes to certain non-romantic matters, Ted is one of the most ambitious, level-headed and diligent characters, doing his best to keep everyone grounded. But his big issue is that he does crazy things in the name of love, where the roles are reversed and the rest of the group has to fight to keep him grounded. In addition he is sometimes convinced by the others to do some more outlandish things, but it consistently takes him some time before he gives in.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: He has a very bad habit of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time, especially when dealing with women.
  • Out of Focus: In Season 5 and Season 7. Both times Ted stops dating and the story shifts focus to Barney and Robin's relationship.
  • Protagonist Title: He is the "I" in the title.
  • Pungeon Master: Makes awful puns to the extent that his friends think he's a dorky dad even if he's single and has no children.
  • Rule of Perception: He frequently gets hit hard with this, unaware of how things are unless it is shown to him such as his behavior at a St. Patrick's day dance and dating a girl who wouldn't stop TALKING. This also takes him down a notch when The Wedding Bride came out and he was portrayed as a stereotypical evil Romantic False Lead who didn't deserve the girl he was marrying when the truth was far more complex.
  • Saw Star Wars 27 Times: Ted watches Star Wars when he's home, sick with the flu. He watches it on rainy Sunday afternoons in the fall. He watches it on Christmas Eve. Ted watches Star Wars in sickness and in health, in good times and in bad.
    • And every 3 years with Marshall and Barney. Point being, Ted has watched this movie a lot, but that's not a bad thing.
  • Second Love: To the Mother, after she finally lets go of her late boyfriend Max.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Sensitive guy to Barney's manly man.
  • Serial Romeo: As a result of being In Love with Love, the obsessive, lonely and perfectionistic man is constantly falling head-over-heels for various women. This gets deconstructed in season 5's "Say Cheese", in which Lily blows up at him for bringing a strange woman to their intimate gathering on her birthday, leading her to showcase how annoying is this habit to his friends and Marshall later reveals that he breaks the heart of many girls, because he acts like the relationship is very important, leading them to think things are more serious than what Ted takes them, leaving them devastated when they break up, with Marshall having to pick up the pieces so many times he grew insensitive to the girl's pains.
  • Serious Business: Due to his friendship with Barney, Ted has followed every rule of The Bro Code, no matter how insane.
  • Sherlock Scan: It's played up as Informed Ability more often than not, largely because he is not as good as he would like himself to be. But he actually is talented with picking up on trivial details and coming to reasonable conclusions, though a lot of the humor comes from the details being right but the conclusion was still off because of his speculation.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: He often brags how popular or talented he is even though he isn't.
    • An example is inThe Stamp Tramp, he believes that the radio show he hosted back in university is a hit when in reality nobody listens to it and he is the only fan. In fact, everyone knows that Doctor X, the pseudonym he used on the show, is him.
    • In Something Old, he believes himself to be an expert in packing after traveling around Mexico for two weeks with only a fanny pack and is referred as "El ganso con la riñonera" by the locals. Ted believes it means "Packer of great skill and merit" but it actually means "Fanny Pack dork".
  • El Spanish "-o": He thinks he can speak Spanish, but it's mostly My Hovercraft Is Full of Eels with some shades of mixing English with Spanish like accent.
  • Straight Man: To both Barney and Marshall, who are both much quirkier.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Josh Radnor stands 6 feet tall.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: About the only thing established for certain about "The Mother" is that she was a student at Columbia University while Ted was a teacher, and he briefly dated her roommate before they met. Played With, in that it's ultimately revealed that she is an economics major, and he never actually teaches her in a class.
  • Team Dad: Lily calls him a dorky dad at one point, despite being 30 years old and childless. This is best shown in the season 2 episode, Moving Day when he left the apartment, Lily and Marshall realized that Ted was actually the provider who was only supplied food, tissues, etc.
  • Time-Shifted Actor: Played with. Bob Saget voices Future! Ted, but Josh Radnor portrays 2030 Ted in make-up.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In later seasons, he begins to think highly of himself, often brags how great he is and refuses to take advice from his friends.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Lampshaded by Future Ted. Despite his friends warnings and the obvious signs that she is a stalker and is mentally unstable, Ted decides to date Jeanette. A few episodes later, she destroys his apartment.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: He, Marshall and Lily are this during their college years. When the latter two began starting a family, he starts hanging around Barney and Robin more. Future!Ted is telling the story to his son and daughter.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Future Ted. Many continuity errors are handwaved by this.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: With Robin a few times, though overall Ted is shown pining for her a lot more often than the other way around.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Referenced on Family Guy.
    Peter: Y'know, I've only seen that show once, but I gotta tell ya, what's really weird to me is why is the voice of the guy from the future Bob Saget? I mean, the guy on the show, he's already an adult, y'know? So it's not like he's going to grow into Bob Saget.
  • Will They or Won't They?: This was Ted and Robin for the whole of the first season and part of seasons 4 and 7. The series finale gave it possibility that the two will end up together after the Mother died.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: It's not enough that Stella left Ted at the altar for him, but Tony then proceeds to write The Wedding Bride, a movie which features Ted as the villain and a major jerkass.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Ted knew that he and Robin had some serious issues to figure out if they were meant to be together, and through those issues they gave it a try. Eventually, they both accept it won't work and break up, but still hold onto a slight idea that they may figure things out in the future (even agreeing to a Fallback Marriage Pact if they hit 40 and are unmarried). Robin eventually tells him outright that they aren't going to end up together, which hurts him deeply but allows him to move on. Then again, given the final minute of the show, you just might not be able to fight fate after all...

    Marshall Eriksen
"The only people in the universe who haven't seen Star Wars are the characters in Star Wars. And that's cause they lived 'em, Ted! That's cause they lived the Star Wars!"

Ted's former college roommate and best friend, a sweet-tempered goofball who makes his way through law school and eventually takes the Bar during the course of the series. In the pilot, he becomes engaged to his girlfriend Lily. They get married later and continue to develop through the series as a married couple, facing many hurdles over time.

Played by: Jason Segel

  • The Ace: Is uncannily good at any game the group plays, and loves to shout it out. "Gin!" "Yahtzee!" "Poker!" His skills as a lawyer are also exceptional given his limited experience and very gentle disposition.
    Future Ted: "He got a B minus. Still, 25 pages in one night… B minus! The Kid was good."
  • Adorkable
    Lily: It's gotta be hard to woo someone when you're sticking your naked ass in their face.
    Marshall: Works for baboons. [Beat] It's called presenting. [cute smile]
  • Ambiguous Situation: After "Zoo or False" it was never clear if he was really mugged or if a monkey took his wallet.
  • Alliterative Family: Him, as well as his dad, brothers and son have names that starts with Mar.
  • Agent Mulder: Firmly believes in the existence of ghosts and the Loch Ness Monster (though he'd prefer that people not call her a "monster". It's disrespectful).
  • Bad Liar: He simply cannot lie, or act natural as part of a ruse.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT accuse him of being selfish.
  • Beta Couple: With Lily. Their engagement in the first episode highlights that Ted wants to get married.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: In The Fight we get to see that Marshall is very good in a fight, courtesy of the vicious brawls he'd have with his brothers when he was younger.
    • Marshall has a pretty long fuse so when he does lose his temper and goes off on somebody it is truly a sight to behold. Examples including calling out his jerk of a boss "Artillery" Arthur Hobbs, snapping at Ted for not throwing away the peanut butter jar when he had finished it and utterly ripping into Amanda, Ted's date for giving Lily a birthday cake with the wrong name and the wrong age written on it. That last moment was followed by the reveal that Marshall is always the one to have to console the girls Ted breaks up with and he'd been growing rather cynical over the whole thing. And this isn't even mentioning how sadistic Marshall can be when it comes to the slap bet between him and Barney.
  • Big Eater: There's a picture of Marshall on the coupons for the local pizza joint. He also can eat from any kind of place, ignoring the risk of food poisoning, often frequenting places like The Blue Bowl (the soup kitchen that gave him, Lily and his boss food poisoning several times), or Gazzoli's Pizza (which was closed once for rats).
  • The Big Guy: Marshall, at 6"4", he's the tallest of his friends and used to be into ultimate fighting.
  • Break the Cutie: A lot of commentators point out that Marshall is one of the most friendly and idealistic characters ever depicted in television, thus when he is put through some crap you really feel sorry for him. Adding to that is the fact he is a lawyer, and has to fight the general heartlessness of the system at every turn.
  • Catchphrase: "Lawyered!"
  • Camp Straight: He and Brad love Broadway musicals, Alanis Morrisette and brunch.
  • Character Signature Song: "I'm Gonna be (500 Miles)" by The Proclaimers, to the point that it's one of the show's Running Gag.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Makes a lot of crazy stuff and is a firm believer of supernatural.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: As Ted says in "The Fight"
    "Kids, never mess with your Uncle Marshall. That dude's crazy."
  • Darkest Hour: According to Marshall, his break-up with Lily is considered to be the worst moments in his life, followed by the death of his father. The effects of the break-up really made him down for the whole summer until Ted, Robin and Barney help him get back to his feet.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Like the rest of the cast. He and Lily often team up to snark at other characters.
  • Deuteragonist: In the 2nd Season, as it follows his recovery after Lily's abandonment, their eventual reconciliation, and concluding with their marriage.
  • Ditzy Genius: He really is very proficient as a lawyer. He also thoroughly believes in the paranormal and tracks Bigfoot with about as much professionalism as law.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: When coaching Lily's students about basketball. Yelling, throwing basketballs at them, just being pretty unpleasant.
  • Exact Words: Marshall never lies to Lily. However, he may not tell her everything. For example, when she asks him a question, he may respond "yepskerdoodle" which doesn't actually mean "yes" as it's a made up word. Or if she calls him at work, he has said that he's working on a "big case"… he just neglected to mention it's a big case of beer. Upon finding this out, Lily panicked, recalling him saying he was about to get reamed. Then one of his coworkers flung a ream of paper at him.
  • Family Theme Naming: He and his son goes for alphabetical (see above), while his wife and daughter goes for floral (see below). What's amazing is that they still managed to follow the Ericksen Theme Naming at the same time.
  • Fatal Flaw: His naivete is treated as such and lampshaded in various moments. Robin mention that he still acts as if he was in a crime free small town, even after years of living in New York, Barney tries to convince him to let go of that behavior so he can get what he want, Lily felt overwhelmed when he gave up his job for a unpaid internship. He wants to help anyone around him, even if it ends up bad for him, though sometimes it still works out.
  • Floral Theme Naming: His wife Lily and their daughter Daisy.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic—Meek, laid-back, good-natured, and was somewhat shy and non-confrontational before the influences of New York and the gang made him more assertive.
  • Frequently-Broken Unbreakable Vow: Whenever Marshall makes a "sweeping declaration" not to do something again, the gang knows that he's going to do it eventually. Marshall usually vows to not get drunk ever again, which happens 3 times after said vows.
  • Friend to All Living Things: His main goal is to become an environmental lawyer.
  • Gag Penis: Its size is mentioned way more often than you'd expect.
    Barney: "Your hand is massive!"
    Marshall: "Of course it is. You've seen my penis."
    • Also from "The Naked Truth"
      Cootes: That's a big snake! I'm talking about your penis.
  • Genius Bruiser: Marshall is shown to be physically large and athletic yet savvy.
  • Gentle Giant: He is one of the first to offer a hug to someone crying.
  • Giftedly Bad: He has a lot of impressive talents, like winning every boardgame invented (and then triumphantly saying that game's name). However, stand-up comedy is not one of those talents.
  • Guile Hero: There are hints that Marshall is far more sly and cunning that he acts. He's often the first that seems to cotton on and predict Lily or Barney's gambits. He played a pretty hardcore Paranoia Gambit on Barney with the "Slap Bet" and has manipulated Barney before with more efficiency than most. Likely due to his being ridiculously good at games, he's entirely capable of being The Chessmaster when he wants.
  • Grammar Nazi: With the difference between affect and effect, at least.
  • Happily Married: To Lily, as of the finale of season 2. They've been the most stable relationship in the show, not that that's difficult.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Something he inherited from his father.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has two of these over the course of the show's run, first after his break-up with Lily, then later after his father's death.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: While Barney is more adamant about his friendship with Ted, Marshall and Ted lived together for some 10 years and are like brothers. In the pilot Ted even comments that he was there for all of Marshall and Lily relationship.
  • Hidden Depths: Marshall, over the years, knows and embraces Italy. He even studied Italian during one year in college, albeit now he can only remember one sentence.
  • Honor Before Reason: Which also others take to advantage over him.
  • Horny Vikings: His family are of Scandinavian descent and can trace their lineage back to the Vikings.
  • Hypocrite: Despite his negative view of corporate lawyers, he does end up taking several corporate jobs.
  • Hypocrite Has a Point: Throughout the series, Marshall has dealt with unemployment, and environmental lawyers make less than corporate lawyers. With him being married to Lily since the season 2 finale, he does have to take money into consideration as they start a family, as well as taking care of Lily's credit card debt.
  • Informed Flaw: In "Jenkins", the gang consider Marshall a "reacher" to Lily's "settler" in which he would never get anybody better then Lily. In the beginning of season 2, he had success at dating other girls while Lily was desperate to get back together with him.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Marshall's inviting Lily's father to thanksgiving is considerably insensitive, since he continuously ignores how uncomfortable and angry she is at him, and tries to say that her family should act like his, ignoring the hardships her family had. He understands this once he sees how insensitive to his daughter Mickey is.
  • It Runs in the Family: Many of his mannerisms, instincts, and interests are shared between most of his family members.
  • Jerkass Ball: Only once has he acted like a real Jerkass, which was during "Slapsgiving". While Lily was trying her hardest to make a nice first Thanksgiving for everyone, he insisted on torturing Barney psychologically and getting everything ready for one of his slap-bet slaps rather than actually help Lily prepare for the holiday. Eventually she got so fed up she forbade him from slapping him. Afterwards he apologized and took part in the holiday, but was allowed to slap Barney after all after he started rubbing it in Marshall's face.
  • Let's Get Dangerous!: Turns out the fights he had with his brothers are all true. ("COCOA BREAK!")
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Lily and Marshall's mom. Both are Fiery Redheaded women. However, Marshall finds Lily to be similar to his dad.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Marshall is generally a very sensitive guy who is prone to emotional outbursts and cried when his boss was yelling at him. On the other hand, Lily may be a kindergarten teacher but she is sexually aggressive with Marshall and proud of winning drinking games.
  • Minnesota Nice: Lampshaded by Robin in season 6. He can't even ignore a phone call in his parents' house because it would be rude.
  • The Music Meister: He has a habit of singing about everything he does and everything around him.
  • Naked People Are Funny: As "Beercules". A video of which found its way to the internet.
  • Narcissist: When he drinks daiquiris. He gets "weirdly obsessed with how beautiful he is" and dares people to dare him to make out with… his reflection.
  • Nice Guy: Certainly the nicest of the main cast. While the others have shades of Bitch in Sheep's Clothing or shades of Jerk with a Heart of Gold, Marshall is straightforward and nice.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: He may seem like a big goof most of the time (well, he is), but the minute he steps into lawyer!mode? Don't mess with him.
  • Obsessed with Food: He has a fixation on food that no one else on the show does. For example, he is the one constantly asking about the pineapple in "The Pineapple Incident" when that is the least of anyone else's concern.
  • One Head Taller: He positively towers over Lily.
  • Only Sane Man: Out of all the group he tends to be the voice of reason more often than even Ted, and is less likely to be berated by the others for some stupid decision he made.
  • Open-Minded Parent: From ''The Magician's Code Part 2":
    Marshall: You're gonna love the park, buddy, it's a great place to meet chicks… or dudes… or both.
    Lily: We're gonna love you no matter what.
  • Prematurely Bald: In a flashforward from "Rally", it's shown that in 2020, Marshall went bald out of stress for his New York Supreme Judge race against Brad in a span of three weeks. And Marshall is 42 at that time.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: He loves girly/coupley things like those frilly pink "girl" drinks (which he never orders because of the double standard) and brunch.
  • Rules Lawyer: Often takes this role in the group.
  • Shipper on Deck: Marshall thinks Barney and Robin are perfect for each other. And has commented that he likes the idea of Barney and Ted. Also was a big supporter of Robin and Don, being the primary shiller of Don's.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: With Lily. They like all lovey-dovey stuff like Romantic Spoonfeeding or matching costumes for Halloween.
  • Single-Target Sexuality: Can't even fantasize about a woman other than Lily without serious effort.
  • Stereotype Flip: He's a lawyer.. and the nicest, most ethical person on the show.
  • The So-Called Coward: Adamantly refuses to fight. However, when Ted gets punched out, Marshall shows what he's really made of.
  • Token Good Teammate: He has the fewest lapses into jackassery of the gang.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Is by far one of the most friendly characters, indicative of his Minnesota upbringing, and it's been brought up how much he stands out in the cynical community of New York.

    Robin Scherbatsky
"I come from a culture of hockey players and if a guy can throw down, it's somewhat way hot. And scars… hello! If a guy's got a scar, he's got a Robin and if he's missing his teeth, I'm missing my pants!"

A news reporter from Canada whom Ted falls for at first sight in the Pilot Episode but their inherent differences (Ted is ready to settle down, she is Married to the Job) prevent anything between them at first, although they do explore their feelings for each other throughout the series. Regardless, she mixes in well with the gang and becomes best friends with Lily. Her independent nature gives her a fun mix of geeky/guyness, which has even attracted Barney to her in a real relationship. Her history as a brief Canadian pop star "Robin Sparkles" becomes a Running Gag throughout the series.

Played by: Cobie Smulders

  • Abusive Parents: Robin's father is extremely dismissive towards Robin as she was not the son he wanted. He also did things like drop her off in the woods with just a small knife for three days on her thirteenth birthday, with no concern for her mental or physical wellbeing.
  • A-Cup Angst: In "Stuff," it hints that she is a little self-conscious about her more modest bust when talking about some of Ted's ex-girlfriends. Cobie Smulders later got pregnant (hidden on the show, naturally) and, as a result, her chest increased several sizes. She joked about it in an interview "You're welcome, TV!"
  • Agent Scully: Robin does not believe in miracles and destiny. Even when Ted made it rain for her she wrote it off as a coincidence. However, in the Final Season, she later starts to believe in them as she tries to convince herself that destiny tells her to choose Ted even if she is already set to marry Barney.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: This is heavily implied to be one of the reasons she is attracted to Barney, and ultimately fell in love with him.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She's the outsider of the group, and if one person isn't participating in shenanigans, it's usually Robin.
  • Amicable Exes: With Ted. And Barney. Ted still has feelings for her, and she winds up marrying Barney and later, divorcing him.
  • Bad Liar: She giggles when she lies, even when she lies about not giggling when she lies.
  • Better as Friends: With Ted. At least, she thinks so.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Veronica to Victoria's Betty for Ted's Archie.
    • The Archie for Ted's Betty and Barney's Veronica.
    • The Veronica to Nora's Betty for Barney's Archie.
    • The Archie for Barney's Veronica and Kevin's Betty.
    • The Betty to Quinn's Veronica for Barney's Archie, though in this case it wasn't so much a Love Triangle as it was part of the season 7 "bride mystery".
    • The Veronica to Patrice's Betty for Barney's Archie, subverted when it is revealed Barney isn't really dating Patrice and it is all part of his final play "The Robin".
  • Bifauxnen: Her father raised her as a boy until she was 16.
  • Big Sister Instinct: She was very protective of Katie and freaked out at the prospect of Katie planning to have sex with her douchebag boyfriend.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Barney. This is pointed out in a season 1 episode, but they wouldn't hook up until late in season 3.
  • Blatant Lies: "I love Patrice. We're like sisters."
  • Career Versus Man: Robin is often in this situation. She usually chooses her career, but she did turned down a job so she could stay with Don, only for him to accept said job and leave her. This is shown again in the series finale where she and Barney, after being married for 3 years, ended up divorced because she is very focused on her work.
  • Canada, Eh?: Both in and out of universe, many jokes are made about Canada and its stereotypes.
  • Canadian = Hockey Fan: Robin is Canadian, so of course she's a hockey fan. When she gets drunk and turns "Super-Canadian", she puts on a Vancouver Canucks jersey.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Robin's sense of humor often falls flat. Sometimes it's because her Canadian references are completely incomprehensible to her American friends. Sometime's because the others don't recognise what she's referencing, or in one case that she's even referencing somethingnote . Sometimes you have to assume the gang are just messing with her.
  • Character Development: She gradually grows more comfortable to the idea of commitment and marriage over the years.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • Her tomboy qualities and were virtually non-existent in the first season, with the second season highlighting a few things like emotional insensitivity and a love of guns. It wasn't until the third season and beyond that it was shown she was really messed up by her dad treating her as a boy and in general being more masculine than Ted. In particular a second season episode shows her getting scared over a spider with Ted coming to the rescue, while in the sixth season Ted mentioned that one thing he lamented about their relationship was that she never made him feel needed (ie, when a burglar was trying to break in Ted grabbed a brush while Robin grabbed a shotgun "I got this"). The same happens with her Proud Beauty. During the first three seasons she behaves as an Indifferent Beauty, and shows some minor insecurities about her appearance at certain points.
    • Robin's more Adorkable traits also weren't shown until second season, such as misgivings about the differences between Canada and US and a dorky laughter, she was much more of a cool beauty type for a good portion of Season One.
  • Character Signature Song:
    • "Let's Go To The Mall" from the time she was Robin Sparkles.
    • In a secondary level, later are revealed "Sandcastles in the Sand" from the time she was with Simon, and much later "PS I Love You" as the end of her career as Robin Sparkles.
  • Child Hater: She has made clear that even if she gets married she doesn't want to have kids. However, she got depressed when she found out she can't have children. As Future!Ted tells, eventually Robin grew to care and get close to Marvin and Ted's kids.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: When both Ted and Barney were hooked up with Victoria and Nora respectively, Robin was this. In season 8 she was also actively trying to sabotage Barney's relationship with Patrice. She also showed signs of this when she was dating Ted; forcing him to get rid of anything he owned that was given to him by an ex-girlfriend.
  • Commitment Issues: Generally panics and freaks out when any mention of marriage is made. She even gets anxious in one episode even being in a couple.
  • Continuity Snarl: Robin's history is very, very contradicting and inconsistent.
  • Darker and Edgier: 1996, Robin Sparkles changed her stage persona to Robin Daggers. Turning from a squeaky-clean teen pop singer to an angry and cynical Grunge musician.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Very dry sense of humor, fitting her being a Lad-ette.
  • Deuteragonist: Perhaps for the entire series, as Ted is actually telling his children the story about how he fell for Robin.
  • Devoted to You: Ted never stops pining for Robin, even after realizing she is far from what he looks for in a woman. And Barney tried several times to give up a lot of himself so he could be with Robin.
  • Dude Magnet: When she and Lily meet some men in a bar, all of them were ignoring Lily and hitting on Robin. She also attracts many other men over the years, and two of her male best friends fell in love with her.
  • '80s Hair: In her music videos as Robin Sparkles in the 90's, no less, because the 80's only hit Canada in 1993!
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: Robin believed that the North Pole and reindeer were made up.
  • Even the Girls Want Her: It's been hinted a lot that Lily has a crush on her. As the series marched on it became less hinted at and more blatantly obvious that Lily wants Robin.
    Lily: Robin Scherbatsky is many things: friend; confidante; occasional guest star in some confusing dreams that remind me a woman's sexuality is a moving target, but she is no crazy, jealous stalker-bitch.
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: She is blond as Robin Sparkles.
  • Everything's Better with Sparkles: As her celebrity alter ego, Robin Sparkles… actually, no, Robin would much rather forget about it. Not that the other characters (namely Barney) will let her.
  • Failed a Spot Check: She never realized that Ted had gotten back together with his college girlfriend due to using sleeping pills to regulate her schedule with her new morning job, which, as Ted mentions, were more potent and had more side effects than what she thought.
  • Fetish Retardant: invoked It's a minor trait of hers that she can invoke this. The Frozen Snowshoe really was not interested in her offer of an Old King Clancy, and Max broke up with her because an unknown bedroom thing made him feel uncomfortable. Ted and Barney agreed that it was a valid point.
  • Forbidden Fruit: Telling her she can't have something will make her want it. "Lobster Crawl" is based around this fact, as are several other instances of her only deciding she wants something after she can't have it.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic—Independent, career-oriented, emotionally detached, and cynical, particularly towards commitment and marriage.
  • Foregone Conclusion: The first episode ends with calling her "Aunt" Robin. And yet there's still two full seasons of her and Ted's relationship.
  • Former Child Star: She was a teen pop sensation in Canada as a child. It's left her somewhat disillusioned to the point that she can't so much as enter a mall anymore.
  • Four Is Death: Robin Sparkles IV shows Robin's fall as a pop star.
  • Funny Foreigner: Downplayed, given that she lived in America for quite some time when she met the gang. Still, the show doesn't stop on poking fun at her Canadian heritage.
  • Gender-Blender Name: Robin. Which was the name her father wanted to use for his son.
  • Girls with Guns: Her father, having wanted all sons, taught her how to use a gun and hunt when she was young and now is a proud member of the NRA.
  • Good Bad Girl: Next to Barney, she has the highest amount of sexual partners of anyone on the show.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Robin has shown to be very jealous and wanting prohibited things.
    • She always gets jealous towards Ted's other love interests despite the fact that she rejected him three times. When Ted was with Victoria, she suddenly wanted Ted for herself. When Ted proposed to Stella, she got drunk, cried her heart out, and dug out the precious keepsake she was saving for her wedding day, thinking that she would have no use for it as she's not marrying Ted. It also happened when Ted and The Mother were together after her own divorce, starting to wonder if she really should have ended up together with him.
    • As Lily recalls, Robin was once diagnosed as allergic to lobster, so she went on a rampage of lobster, even when it almost killed her.
    • Also got jealous when MacLaren's got a new female bartender, as all the men (except for Marshall were paying attention to her.
    • She got so envious of Nora getting daily presents from Barney that she considered sabotaging their relationship.
    • When Barney dated Patrice, Robin almost fired Patrice before realizing she was actually angry with herself. It got to a point where Lily, Marshall and Ted had no choice other than give her an intervention.
  • Green-Eyed Epiphany:
    • In Season 1 Robin walks in on Ted having a romantic moment with Victoria. The jealousy Robin feels drives her to tears and makes her realize that she's in love with Ted.
    • In Season 8, she realizes her feelings for Barney are not done after Barney actually locks the door after she closed it first. Turns out Barney did all this on purpose, so Robin could finally admit her feelings via envy towards Patrice.
  • Gun Nut: One of her tomboy qualities. A humorous moment has Ted reminiscing about the oddest things he ever saw when entering his apartment and one of them was a Mexican Standoff between her and a pair of would-be thieves. Lampshaded in the seventh episode of Season Nine by frustrated Ted:
    Ted: Why do you have a gun?! WHY DO YOU ALWAYS HAVE A GUN?!
  • Heroes Love Dogs: In the first season. After that she had to give them away to her aunt, though she's still seen wearing dog-themed clothing in later seasons, showing she still likes them.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Mis-gendered, dismissed and subject to some rather dangerous situations by her father through much of her childhood. It's often played for laughs, but she does seem to have gained some serious emotional scars.
  • Hypocrite: She forced Ted to get rid of his ex-girlfriends gifts, without taking in consideration her dogs were from her ex-boyfriends. Althought she eventually accepts this and sends the dogs to her aunt's farm.
  • Idol Singer: She was a teen pop idol in Canada she was younger, to rebel from the image her father forced on her.
  • Irrational Hatred: There's no apparent reason for her to hate Patrice so much.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: After Ted meets the mother, and her divorce from Barney, she slowly begins to gravitate away from the group, seemingly to be away from her sleazy ex-husband. But as she admits to Lily, it's more along the lines that she has finally come to terms that she still has feelings for Ted, and doesn't want to jeopardize his happiness with Tracy, whom she does genuinely like. However after realizing how much it would mean to him, she does turn up in time for Ted and Tracy's wedding.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: She can be rude, selfish, egotistical and downright bitchy sometimes, but make no mistake she loves her friends very much.
  • Kent Brockman News: Another running gag is the horrifically low quality of the news channels she worked at.
  • Kick the Dog: Her attitude towards Patrice generally.
  • The Lad-ette: Likes hockey, guns, cigars, scotch…
  • The Lancer: Though Barney is Ted's Bromantic Foil, she's the one who usually backs Ted up as well as the most independent member from the gang.
  • Last Het Romance: Robin lost her viriginity to a gay guy, only not really because he'd barely gotten in before he stopped and announced, "Yeah, I'm gay."
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: Gets averted when she realizes that she will never be able to be a mother, even if it wasn't in her immediate plan.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The Dark to Lily's Light.
  • Love Makes You Crazy: Her reactions to Barney and Patrice's relationship.
  • Lonely at the Top: In the finale of the show, Robin becomes a successful and famous news anchor. However, her busy work schedule and constant traveling plays a major role in her marriage falling apart. And once her marriage ends it becomes difficult for her to be around the rest of the gang because it contains her ex-husband in addition to the guy she believes she should have married and his new wife. Robin has achieved career success, but she's alone except for her dogs.
  • Married to the Job: Her dedication to her career over her love life becomes a serious issue in a few episodes. In the series finale, this leads to her divorce with Barney and it keeps her from hanging out with the gang for next few years.
  • Master of the Mixed Message: With Ted, and then later with Barney.
  • Meganekko: Starting in season six, Robin, played by the already ridiculously hot Cobie Smulders, actually managed to get even hotter by donning a pair of glasses.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Twice. She goes on a date with a nerd to prove something to Barney and he assumes she is a hooker. The next time happens when she sneaks into a prom by pretending to be another nerd's date.
  • Ms. Fanservice: There are a lot of eye-catching moments.
  • Music Video: Three, heinously awful and amusing.
  • Naïve Newcomer: If anyone's confused as to why the gang is acting so strange, it's her. She catches on fast, though.
  • Narcissist: She's proud of her looks and is offended when people don't consider her the prettiest girl in the room. It's also worth noting that she gets turned on watching herself on the news during sex.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Her "Robin Daggers" phase is blatantly patterned over Alanis Morissette.
  • No Indoor Voice: When she's with Patrice. "You haven't had one exchange with her without screaming."
  • Oblivious to Love: To Barney in season 4 and again in seasons 7 and 8.
  • Out of Focus: In season 6 between Ted and his battle with Zoe over the Arcadian, Lily and Marshall attempting to conceive, and Barney's falling in love with Nora and search for his father, Robin takes a backseat.
  • Parental Hypocrisy: She tries to talk her sister out of losing her virginity young, but Robin herself lost her virginity at 16. Her sister even lampshades it.
  • Pet the Dog: The only nice thing Robin does for to Patrice is at the wedding ceremony itself, where Patrice, as one of her bridesmaids, says she looked beautiful and Robin does her usual "I didn't ask you, Patrice" without screaming at her.
  • Proud Beauty: Nobody worships her beauty more than herself.
  • Raised as the Opposite Gender: Her father raised her as a boy until she was 16.
  • Raised by Dudes: She was primarily raised by her father, who raised her as a boy to boot. As a result, she's The Lad-ette.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: Robin has pale skin and very dark hair. She's a gorgeous woman and admired by virtually everybody.
  • Reckless Gun Usage: In accordance with her general love of guns come a series of poor management of safety standards. When swearing Marshall to secrecy on her love of guns she found herself pointing a pistol at him, and in another episode an ex-boyfriend returned a gun to her and she was relieved because she had no idea where it was. (Since Ted, the narrator, is incredibly anti-gun and ignorant of Canada's strict gun safety laws, it's possible that he is exaggerating Robin's gun toting behavior.)
  • The Rival: Downplayed. While they are civil to each other, tensions between her and Victoria are very obvious. Nonetheless, Victoria is the only person who is upfront on Robin and Ted being/remaining friends, which is a major factor in Ted and Victoria's character arcs.
  • Robot Buddy: Shows up in every "Robin Sparkles" installment ("Lets Go To The Mall," "Sandcastles in the Sand", "Space Teens" and "P.S. I Love You"). It was her sidekick.
  • Romantic False Lead: The pilot episode made it clear that Robin is not the mother. Ironically by the finale however it's revealed that this was averted all along and that the entire point of the story was a widowed and lonely Ted asking his children's permission to date their Aunt Robin, with the final scene of the series implicating that the two will rekindle their romantic relationship.
  • Running Gag: Sometimes whenever the gang tells her something about herself that is absolutely obvious, she laughs hysterically while denying it, followed by a quick "Shut Up!".
  • Sarcastic Confession: One of her many quirks. After sarcastically saying she wants to get back with Barney, Lily reminds her of all the times she's sarcastically said something she really means, including an incident where she let off a pungent fart.
  • Second Love: She is Barney's second love after Shannon, though they broke up. They get together again and eventually got married… but then divorced after three years of marriage, averting the trope.
  • Shipper on Deck: After she breaks up with Barney, Robin ships Barney and Nora. Until she realized that she still has feelings for him.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Robin is somewhat irked by Ted's neediness, wide-eyed idealism and questionable romantic gestures, but the reason she can't let go of his feelings for him is because Ted is the person who always comes through for her when she needs him the most. In fact, Robin's greatest what-if in her life is whether she should have married Ted.
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: She absolutely hates Patrice, who is never anything but kind to Robin.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Briefly becomes a stalker with a crush when Barney and Patrice start "dating". She was also one during her Robin Sparkles days, which inspired her Darker and Edgier turn as Robin Daggers. The crush was on Paul Schaffer.
  • Statuesque Stunner: Cobie Smulders stands at 5'8" tall.
  • The Stoic: She really was hurt after Barney went after all those chicks shortly after their break-up. She's just good at holding it in.
  • Sugar-and-Ice Personality: She has a very distant, cool, and professional demeanor most of the time, especially at her job and frequently hides her emotions. However, she eventually lets her guard down around the gang and begins to show her warmer and friendlier side around them, especially Ted, Barney, and Lily.
  • Tall, Dark, and Snarky: She's statuesque, dark-haired, and is the biggest Deadpan Snarker in the cast.
  • That Man Is Dead: In Robin Sparkles four she announced this about Robin Sparkles.
  • Tomboyish Name: Robin Charles Scherbatsky, Jr. Her father was in denial because he wanted a son.
  • Tomboy with a Girly Streak: On occasion she does engage in girly things (she enjoys the Minnesota Tidal Wave, and she was a teen pop star) but overall is The Lad-ette. A good example was in Robin 101—the three things that distract her while angry are the victory of her favourite hockey team in 2004, proper gun maintenance and emperor penguins mating rituals.
    So cute, the penguins acting all fancy! "Hello Mr. Penguin! Hello Ms. Penguin!".
  • Took a Level in Dumbass: A mild example and ultimately positive in the long run. The first season she developed as a well-rounded character but was ultimately defined mostly by the feelings between her and Ted. By season two she acquired a lot more quirky traits, gaps in her understanding of American culture, and general insanity (*salutes* General Insanity) that made her sillier and more prone to stupid mistakes. This resulted in giving her much greater depth and it even makes sense that she would hide certain things about herself until she became more comfortable with a new group of friends.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Especially in late seasons where she can't stand other women or treats Patrice like crap.
  • Tsundere: Type A to Ted and later on Barney. She's quick to scream at them both (or anyone, really), but she loves them both dearly. How much of a Tsundere is she? Her way of saying "I love you" is to shake her head, smile, and say, "You're an idiot."
  • Ungrateful Bitch: To Patrice, no matter what Patrice does, Robin finds fault with it.
  • Unknown Rival: Robin usually harbors a one-sided rivalry towards someone who's oblivious to it (Nora, Becky and some of Ted/Barney's Girl of the Week).
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: With Ted in the first season and the series Finale, when she openly mentions that she thinks she was meant to be with Ted, before he met Tracy. And with Barney about a dozen times in seasons 7 and 8.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Gal: Specifically cited by Ted in "Robin 101"-
    Ted: What are the six words Robin has always wanted to hear from her father?
    Barney: Robin, I'm proud of you, eh?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Her friends from the pilot are never seen or heard again.
  • Will They or Won't They?: With Ted in season 1, and the series Finale, and with Barney in seasons 3, 4 and 7. For Barney, the season 7 finale reveals that they will. Eventually. They do… in a legen—wait for it—dary plan by Barney, done in a spectacular fashion.
  • Wrong Guy First: Circled around. While she did love Barney, and cares about Ted and his happiness, she openly wonder aloud to Lily, after her marriage with Barney falls apart, if she was meant to be with Ted all along, before he met Tracy. After Tracy dies, and him getting permission from his children, who love their Aunt Robin, the series ends with Ted standing outside of Robin's apartment window smiling with a Blue French Horn in his hands, with her smiling back at him...
  • Yet Another Baby Panda: Much of her career was spent dealing with these fluff pieces, much to her chagrin.

    Lily Aldrin
"Today, I yelled at a little girl for painting a rainbow."

An artist and kindergarten teacher with a slightly rebellious streak, who is nevertheless deeply committed to Marshall (who have been together since the first week of college). Together they represent the voice of stable, adult relationships in the series, as the resident Beta Couple.

Played by: Alyson Hannigan

  • All Girls Want Bad Boys: Marshall pretends to be a bad boy for a time in Season 8 because Lily finds it incredibly attractive.
  • Alliterative Family: Like most of the female members of the Eriksen family, her name ends with a Y (Lily, Ashley, Daisy).
  • All Women Love Shoes: Deconstructed when it got her and Marshall into very serious credit card debt, Played for Laughs most of the time.
  • Ambiguously Bi: In the first season, she mentions it was her dream to study abroad and have a lesbian romance. Happily Married to Marshall but it is heavily implied she's attracted to female friend Robin. It's revealed in "The Perfect Cocktail", whenever she's drunk on martinis, she immediately tries making out with Robin. She also had very visible trouble turning down a girl while looking for Marshall the first week of college.
  • And Starring: She and Neil Patrick Harris (Barney) get the "with" treatment in the credits.
  • Ax-Crazy: By her own admission, after she cuts off a toy horse's head and sneaks it into the naptime mat of a troublemaking kid. She also detailed how she was going to curb stomp Ted when he got back with Karen (after she wanted to borrow Robin's gun when she first heard the news) and stood over Robin's bed with a hammer like Kathy Bates.
  • Berserk Button: Don't kiss her husband if you won't her punch in your face.
  • Beta Couple: With Marshall for Ted.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Usually plays the Team Mom until something upsets her.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Usually acts like a kind and loving team mom, but she is happy to manipulate her friends for her own good.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Between her "Aldrin Justice" and her "Front Porch Test" she kind of comes across this way to her friends.
  • Bridezilla: She thought she was handling it well, but Marshall disagreed. She also had Bridezilla-by-proxy for Robin when she was entirely casual about her wedding, Lily thought Robin should be freaking out and treating the day like Lily would.
  • Brooklyn Rage: A born and raised New Yorker, she encourages getting mad and confrontational versus Marshall's Minnesota Nice tendencies or Ted's mid-western Stepford Smiler recommendations.
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: "That reminds me, I have to pee."
  • Cannot Keep a Secret: This is a running gag when the few times she keeps a secret to herself is particularly memorable. She has no problem keeping her own secrets, it's everyone else's that she blabs.
  • Catchphrase: "You son of a bitch!". She calls this to her son twice, though she says "You son of a me!"
  • The Chessmaster: Acknowledged to be more skilled with machinations than Barney, as she manages to spend seven years ending Ted's relationships without him even knowing.
  • Character Development: In the beginning of the series, when Lily had a crisis of faith regarding her dedication to Marshall, she abandons him to discover herself as an artist. A few years later, she has a similar moment after he becomes an environmental lawyer. She comes back before he even knows she left.
  • The Chick: Lily, she's The Heart of the group, even if Ted is a more traditional Team Dad.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: When she and Marshall were broken up, she wound up stalking the girl he was going on a date with, and then waiting in his apartment, hiding under a desk. When she finds out another woman kissed Marshall, she immediately punches her when she tries to apologize. In season nine when Robin is getting along with another girl, Lily is only able to enjoy it for two seconds before going crazy jealous and threatening to "Cut" said girl.
  • Compressed Vice: A frequent victim of this trope. Her obnoxiously loud chewing, her complete inability to aim, her similarities to Marshall's father…
  • Cool Teacher: She is a very loving kindergarten teacher.
  • Covert Pervert: She is often the one complaining about not having enough sex with Marshall, tries to get Barney's porn collection off Ted, she is curious to watch a sex tape Barney had made, and she stares at Robin's breasts, in the space of two episodes. Others have her wanting Marshall to not cross his legs because he's not wearing any pants and mentions erotic dreams with Robin, Mila Kunis, Bill Cosby, Ranjit, George Washington and various other people. Her actress is pretty well known for playing these roles.
  • Cradle of Loneliness: Does this with a pillow dressed in Marshall's clothes while he's away.
  • The Cutie: Downplayed. She's a kindergarten teacher, and very cute, short and bubbly (and she was a Perky Goth in her younger days), but has a manipulative streak and she is far from innocent.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Like the rest of the cast. Often teams up with Marshall to tag-team snark everyone else.
  • Devoted to You: Marshall considers her the only woman for him. And her ex-boyfriend Scooter still hasn't given up on getting her back.
  • Easily Forgiven: Averted after her trip to San Francisco, leaving Marshall and everyone else behind for an art school. She returns humbled by a miserable experience and trying to rebuild her life. Ted and Robin are cordial, but when she begs forgiveness from Marshall it takes him almost half the season to take her back. A few episodes later, after a bitter recording brings the topic back up, Ted was forced to share that he harbors some resentment, not just for the fact that she cut off all contact with him when they were supposed to be friends but because Ted had to deal with Marshall's breakdown and informing both sides of the family that Lily had left. Seven years later in "Unpause," Marshall and Lily are fighting over him accepting a judgeship (canceling out moving to Italy for her job), when Lily claims she was never so selfish he demands to know whether he and baby Marvin are not just some consolation prize to her failure at art school.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: We can know in which year the flashback is taking place by Lily's hairstyles.
  • Family Theme Naming: She and her daughter goes for floral (see below), while her husband and son goes for alphabetical (see above). What's amazing is that they still managed to follow the Ericksen Theme Naming at the same time.
  • Fiery Redhead: Except for the seasons where she died her hair brown. She's easily the most confrontational of the group.
  • Floral Theme Naming: She and her daughter Daisy.
  • Former Teen Rebel: She was an out and out thug during high school, to the point where it turns out not only were her horror stories true when everyone else made them up, people from her stalking grounds still fear her. Lampshaded in one of Ted's flashbacks.
    Ted: As I look at your Aunt Lily while holding her child, I think back to college (Cue scene of Lily escaping in a car after shop-lifting) and told myself; that girl is a mom!
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric—Confident, rebellious, confrontational, loud, and at times controlling and selfish.
  • Freudian Excuse: Lily's rebellious, manipulative and inconsiderate traits stem from having a father who was constantly stealing from her, letting her and her mother down, and scaring her with his inconsiderate stories, as well as her mother being a controlling Straw Feminist.
  • Girly Girl with a Tomboy Streak: Loves fashion, is good with kids, and also drinks, gets in hot dog eating contests and was known as a delinquent in her neighborhood.
  • Happily Married: To Marshall, starting in season 2.
  • The Heart: Despite her manipulations and general craziness the fact is she does care about her friends, especially Marshall
  • Hot Teacher: She is a very cute and very loving kindergarten teacher.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Girl: Especially with 6'4 Marshall in comparison to her being 5'4, but just to stay in the same frame as the rest of the cast Lily is almost never seen without heels. Lampshaded whenever she interacts with Marshall's family, where Marshall is the "runt" of the litter.
  • Hypocrite:
    • In The Stinson Missile Crisis, Lily berates Ted for meddling in her personal life. Considering that Lily engineered the breakups between Ted and several of his former girlfriends (in addition to several other instances in the series where she interferes in her friends' lives), she definitely comes across as more than a little hypocritical in that scene.
    • Another example happens in season 9, when Lily and Marshall get into an argument over him accepting a job as a judge without consulting her first. Lily claims that she has never done anything as selfish as that, and Marshall immediately points out her hypocrisy by bringing up the season one incident where she broke up with him so she could go to art school in San Francisco. He bluntly asks Lily if she would have come back and married Marshall had her art career not bombed.
  • It's All About Me: One of her character flaws. Robin notes that she can't talk to Lily about a personal tragedy because Robin will wind up consoling Lily, although it's worth noting that when she actually did find out she consoled Robin. In the episode "Glitter" Lily's inability to talk about anything but her own future pregnancy drives a wedge between her and Robin.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Sure she is responsible for breaking up most of Ted's relationships but it's mostly because she knew that most of those girls she deemed "sluts" didn't have a future with him, like the obnoxious Karen. In fact, Ted doesn't even remember many of the girls he dated.
    • Ted is right to call her a birthday brat in "Say Cheese", but while she is being very abrasive and rude, she is making a point correctly: Ted shouldn't bring random girls he just started to date to their intimate close gatherings, specially because it is awkward for them, misleads the girls into thinking that the relationship is more serious than what it actually is and it has ruined said parties more than once note . It reaches the point where she invents a game called Name That Bitch which Ted fails abysmally at, unable to remember some girls mere months after breaking up with them.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • Her tendency to manipulate Ted's love life (and later Barney's) based on her own criteria doesn't end in any long-lasting hard feelings, despite how invasive her meddling was, and even when her machinations fail she ends up getting her desired result with no hard feelings to her.
    • Played around with after her leaving Marshall at the end of Season 1. Marshall initially refuses to forgive her and takes half a season to come back around to the idea, but Ted admits during the Christmas Episode that while he's willing to be cordial with Lily, he doesn't forgive her. Marshall quietly holds onto this resentment until the end of the show, where he asks Lily in "Unpause" if she would have ever returned to New York and married him and had their child together had Lily's art career not failed miserably.
    • After her addiction to buying expensive designer clothes racks up a huge amount of credit card debt, instead of Lily paying the debt herself Marshall takes a corporate job he hates to pay it off and he forgives her immediately. And while Marshall suggests that Lily sell some of her designer clothes to help pay the bills, she blows off this idea in favor of selling her far more unpopular paintings, letting her keep her purchases that caused the problem in the first place.
  • The Lad-ette: Not as much as Robin, but she's a perpetual winner of drinking contests and hotdog eating competitions and she won't let you forget that—it's in her resume!
  • Large Ham: Second only to Barney.
  • Light Feminine and Dark Feminine: The Light to Robin's Dark.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Marshall and her father both love to create absurd board games.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Gives Barney a run for his money, but she's only like this in regards to Marshall. And Robin.
  • The Maiden Name Debate: Lily keeps her last name after marrying Marshall.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Played for Laughs for the most part. She enjoys and supposedly is skilled at manipulating everyone around her.
  • Married to the Job: Starts to have this problem after becoming the Captain's art consultant, which stops her from spending time with Marshall and Marvin.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Lily is all around One of the Boys with a love of alcohol and sex despite having plenty of feminine qualities to accompany it. Marshall, on the other hand, is much more emotionally driven and will be the first to cry in any touching, heartwarming or sad moment.
  • Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher: Lily does teach kindergarten, but in the brief time she tried other jobs, she tended to try and deal with workplace conflicts in the same manner and with the same reasoning as she had with children.
  • Not So Different: Is every bit into sex and manipulating people as Barney.
  • Obnoxious In-Laws: She and Marshall's mother don't get along.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: Her "You are dead to me look" has this as a Leitmotif.
  • One of the Boys: As she's with Marshall, Ted and Barney have this relation with her.
  • Open-Minded Parent: From ''The Magician's Code Part 2":
    Marshall: You're gonna love the park, buddy, it's a great place to meet chicks… or dudes… or both.
    Lily: We're gonna love you no matter what.
  • Perky Goth: When younger, she dressed like a goth but was just as bubbly as ever.
  • Poisonous Friend: To Ted. While her heart is in the right place her methods of "helping" him are... unorthodox, to put it mildly. The worst would have to be when she deleberately sabatoges his relationships because she thinks the girl in question is wrong for him, rather than just, you know, talking to him about why the girl in question might not be the right fit for him, like a sane person would.
  • Punny Name: Lily's name in Japanese translates to Yuri. This is also the Japanese term for Hot Girl-on-Girl Action. Lily also spends a lot of time fantasizing and testing Robin over possible lesbian experiences, though it's mostly Played for Laughs.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Her "You are dead to me look" shows her irises and pupils Burning with Anger.
  • Relationship Sabotage: She eventually admits to having broken Ted up with over six women in the decade she'd known him, since she felt that they weren't good enough for him.
  • Ship Tease:
    • Has quite a bit of this with Barney, including pretending to be his wife to scare off chicks and sleeping in the same bed with him when she needed a place to stay. But it will never happen.
    • On more than one occasion, appears to have a crush on Robin.
  • Shipper on Deck: Lily really wants Barney and Robin together… at first. She has also commented that Barney and Ted would be good together.
  • Sickeningly Sweethearts: With Marshall.
  • Silk Hiding Steel: She is a kindergarten teacher and that often translates over into her relationships with her friends, but she has repeatedly shown to have a shrewd tactical mind, can be sexually aggressive with Marshall and is the last person you want to cross.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Happily Married to Marshall.
  • The Smart Girl: To the point where Barney has called her an "Evil Genius." She's definitely the schemer of the group.
  • Spider-Sense: "Where's the poop?" "Dammit, Lily!"
  • Stalker with a Crush: When she and Marshall were broken up in the beginning of season 2, she stalked him on his first date with another woman. It is also revealed in season 8, that she first saw Marshall at freshman orientation and was desperate to met him so she broke her stereo on purpose and knocked on every door in Marshall and Ted's residence hall until she found him.
  • Team Mom: Ted even refers to her and Marshall as being like the parents that he moved away from Ohio specifically to avoid.
  • Two First Names: Probably why she sticks to her maiden name even after her marriage, because it's a lot easier to pronounce and remember.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: See Misplaced Kindergarten Teacher; she tries to solve all conflicts using kindergarten-teacher logic. Not just in her other jobs, but in personal relationships quite often.

    Barney Stinson
"It's going to be Legen--wait for it--DARY!"

An unrepentant bachelor who is proudly a counterpoint to Lily and Marshall's monogamous bliss. Barney is a business executive who works a high paying desk job, although his exact job is always shrouded in mystery (until Season 9). He is dedicated to a free lifestyle, does exactly what he wants all of the time, purposely does not establish any romantic relationships and makes no apologies for what he is.

  • The Ace: The sheer number of skills he has acquired is astonishing. He is almost always three steps ahead of every other character at any given time, even when it seems like he isn't, and usually wins any conflict he enters into as a result. This makes the occasions where the other members of the group succeed in outsmarting him instant Awesome Moments on their parts.
  • Adorkable: Shows from time-to-time. He's often genuinely excited about his geeky hobbies.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Harris has described his character as "Darth Vader with a tie". His vaguely-defined job as a Corrupt Corporate Executive and bizarre tendency to always mistake the villain of a movie for the hero lend a lot of credence to this theory. The finale reveals that, while he's still undeniably a pretty terrible person, he was Good All Along in his job.
  • And Starring: He and Alyson Hannigan (Lily) get the "with" treatment in the credits.
  • Anti-Hero: Barney is a Nominal Hero, he is a complete Jerkass to everyone else and his friends despite being loyal to them, he also once sold a woman into slavery not, even bothering to read the document, just so he could get a vehicle.
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: When Ted calls him the worst student ever while teaching a class on how to be Robin's boyfriend, Barney answers that his teachers said he, "had AD…something. Can we have class outside?" He's actually a surprisingly realistic portrayal of it.
  • Attention Whore: His need to be the center of attention would make a kindergartener blush.
  • Bastard Bastard: He certainly fits the bill, though he wasn't always this way. His parents were never married and he's a manipulative lech, and that's to his friends.
  • Batman Gambit: He pulls these off successfully on a few occasions from his patented playbook, most notably "The Scuba Diver," where he tricks his friends into thinking he's out of plays and horribly depressed. In reality, he's accounting for them to feel bad for him and tell a girl about how sad he is so that girl will then sleep with him.
  • Becoming the Mask: It's revealed that the only reason he adopted his "awesome" persona was to gain the trust of the man whom he's trying to get revenge on. However, it clearly becomes more than that, supplanting his old hippie personality entirely—he still acts the same after getting his revenge.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Don't EVER tell him magic is lame or he'll come at you with a fireball (as Ted found out to his horror):
      Barney: Is This LAME?!? (spark flies out of his hand)
      Lily: Barney, no, no! We said no fireballs at the table!
      Marshall: What the hell is wrong with you?
      Robin: There's alcohol here!
      Wendy: Barney, we've talked about this. It's a fire code violation.
      Barney: Ted provoked me!
      Lily: No, you're on a timeout. Go sit over there.
    • Also, don't ever break up a girl fight he's watching. He will literally put a fist through the wall.
    • Played for laughs in The Exploding Meatball Sub: after Marshall points out that Barney had a bit of marinara sauce on his tie, Barney views this as terribly humiliating and concocts an elaborate scheme for revenge.
  • Betty and Veronica: The Veronica to Ted's Betty for Robin's Archie.
    • The Archie for Robin's Veronica and Nora's Betty.
    • The Veronica to Kevin's Betty for Robin's Archie.
    • The Archie for Robin's Betty and Quinn's Veronica, though in this case it's wasn't so much a Love Triangle as it was part of the season 7 "bride mystery".
    • The Archie for Robin's Veronica and Patrice's Betty, subverted when it is revealed he isn't really dating Patrice and that it is all part of his final play "The Robin".
  • Best Served Cold: Both of his revenge scheme s. He waits ten years to get revenge on Marshall as shown in "The Exploding Meatball Sub", and spends nearly twenty years taking down the guy who stole his first girlfriend. Both succeed.
  • Big Eater: While not exactly on Marshall's levels, Barney is shown to eat a lot at times, especially when he is stressed. Also, the episodes "Baby Talk" and "Gary Blauman" heavily imply that he hates sharing food.
  • Birds of a Feather: With Robin and Quinn. In both cases, part of the reason their relationships fell apart is they're too similar.
  • Breakout Character: Barney initially started off as the Foil to Marshal and Lily; Barney served as the playboy to their committed relationship. Starting in season 4, Barney got more and more development to the point where you couldn't blame the viewers for mistaking him as the main character. Later seasons make it clear that Barney's character arc is the most integral part of Ted's meeting the Mother, because Ted meets the Mother at Barney and Robin's wedding, and getting over Robin is the final hurdle Ted has to get over in order to be ready to meet the Mother.
  • Break the Cutie: His backstory. Originally, Barney was a sweet, tree hugging hippie who wanted to join the Peace Corps with his girlfriend, Shannon. But then Shannon cheated on him with a shallow, suit-wearing douchebag and Barney was so devastated that he decided to forego his tree-hugging, monogamous ways and become the shallow, suit-wearing Jerkass that he is today. Though, he seems to be growing out of that persona as the show goes on. Although since his job is really just a way to get back at the douchebag who ruined his life, it's possible that the old Barney is still in there.
  • Bromantic Foil: To Ted, who's looking to settle down while Barney is looking to bang every girl he can meet.
  • Broken Ace: He really is legitimately intelligent and talented in a great many ways, but past romantic (and parental) issues have left him emotionally twisted and unwilling to contribute his skills to anything genuinely productive.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While his actual job is unclear, he's shown to be very competent at it despite the fact that he acts like a maniac half the time he's at the office.
  • Butt-Monkey: There is a series-spanning subplot revolving around him getting slapped in the face.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: He calls his father out after he learns he has started a new family and acts as a normal dad to his other son while he never did that for him.
  • Camp Straight: Both rather effeminate and fashion-conscious, as well as unhealthily fixated on his male friendships, but is an almost disturbingly prolific womanizer.
  • Cargo Ship: In-Universe. The other characters often joked on how much Barney love his suits.
  • The Casanova: Slept with over 200 women by the end of the series through charm, deception, and endless determination.
  • Casual Kink: Very frequently mentions light bondage in casual conversation.
  • Catchphrase: Multiple. He tries to make them as much as possible.
  • Character Development: Easily the most developed character over the show's run. "Trilogy Time" of season seven highlights this, with time jumps to three year intervals where the guys watch the classic Star Wars trilogy and plan out what their life was going to be like three years later. 2003, 2006 and 2009 all featured Barney with the same plan to be exactly the way he was (with him dismissing his latest "conquest"). When 2012 comes around the guys assume Barney had the same plan, but he honestly states that he is looking forward to settling down. But when he and Robin divorced in 2016, he went back into his womanizing ways until in 2020, his daughter (from his recent conquest) was born and instead of abandoning her, he stayed and raised her.
  • Characterization Marches On:
    • One of his first lines was about how much he loves his suits, but would casually change into something more appropriate to the situation. In particular he goes to the club in "Okay, Awesome" wearing a club appropriate silvery dress shirt. Later episodes he struggles to ever take off a suit, even showing him with suit-pajamas "suit-jamas."
    • Earlier in the show, he was against Marshall and Lily like all marriage. Later on, he's the president of the Marshall/Lily fanclub. ("The world needs Marshall and Lily together!")
  • Character Signature Song: "Barney Stinson, That Guy's Awesome". Alternatively, "Nothing Suits You Like A Suit".
  • The Chessmaster: Many of his plays on women are incredibly complex, and he also winds up manipulating his own friends, sometimes with shocking precision.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Even when conversing normally. When he's actually acting? Even moreso. Also, he seems to be the only character able to alter the opening credits to fit his antics.
  • Chick Magnet: Almost always in the middle of a one night stand. One episode reveals that his skills with women are much more realistic than they initially seem to be, and that only a very small number of the women he approaches are actually receptive to him at all, it's just that he's incredibly persistent and has very limited standards, allowing him to ask out literally hundreds of women a night in order to ensure that he will have sex.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: He is the one in the group who comes up with mot of the shenanigans. He's perfectly capable of functioning in the world, but occasionally displays a brand of logic that wouldn't make sense to anyone else but him. He holds that "New is always better" is his best rule because it's the oldest, he believes a childhood lie that Bob Barker is his father, and he interprets a joke about overalls as a challenge to seduce someone while wearing them.
  • Comedic Sociopathy: To the point others get disturbed by him on spades (and that's saying a lot, they are used to some of his issues)
  • Comically Missing the Point: He makes hot, sweaty monkey love to this trope.
    • In the Pilot episode:
      Ted: So these guys think I chickened out. What do you think?
      Barney: I… can't believe you're still not wearing a suit!
    • Episode 2x03 "Brunch": When Barney shows a picture he took of Ted's dad having an affair with Wendy the Waitress, Ted is naturally mortified. Barney assumes this Angst is because Ted's dad violated his duties, not as a husband, but as Barney's wingman. He called dibs on Wendy first, dammit!
    • Episode 3x11 "The Platinum Rule": Barney becomes convinced that an ex-girlfriend is trying to kill him.
      Barney: I dump her, and she says, "no hard feelings." She's a psycho, what other explanation is there?!
    • Episode 4x06 "Happily Ever After": Robin recounts her childhood in Canada, in which her father ignored her gender and tried to instill masculinity in his "son". (Her full name is Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr.) This culminates with Scherbatsky Sr. witnessing Robin kiss a hockey teammate at age 14; he has an utterly pompous Heroic BSoD ("Oh my god… I have no son.") This kind of thing really screwed up Robin's life. After the story is finished…
      Barney: You poor thing. You had to grow up in Canada. With America RIGHT THERE.
    • Episode 4x13 "Three Days of Snow": Barney explains how he plays a game called "Party School Bingo" where he takes a list of the Top 25 party schools in the country, arranges them on a bingo card, and fills in a space every time he sleeps with a girl from that school.
      Ted: So how many people are in on this Party School Bingo thing?
      Barney: Oh, it's just me.
      Ted: Then what's the point, then?
      Barney: The point is to get five in a row.
      Ted: And what do you get when you get five in a row?
      Barney: I get Bingo.
    • Episode 4x15 "The Stinsons": When Barney watches movies, well…
      Barney: Hey, The Karate Kid's a great movie. It's the story of a hopeful, young karate enthusiast whose dreams and moxie take him all the way to the All Valley Karate Championship. Of course, sadly, he loses in the final round to that nerd kid. But he learns an important lesson about gracefully accepting defeat.
      Lily: Wait, when you watch The Karate Kid you actually root for that mean blonde boy?
      Barney: No, I root for the scrawny loser from New Jersey who barely even knows karate. When I watch The Karate Kid I root for the karate kid, Johnny Lawrence from the Cobra Kai dojo. Get your head out of your ass Lily.
    • The same episode has him revealing that he roots for Hans Gruber in Die Hard (believing him to be the title character), Principal Vernon in The Breakfast Club (the only one who wears a suit) and The Terminator (and proceeds to start crying over his death scene, saying "And she doesn't even help him!") That explains the life-size Imperial Stormtrooper armor in his living room.
    • Much later, he lists Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and War Horse to the list of "bad guys who win" and later he considers Joffrey to be a kind and wise ruler.
  • Commitment Issues: Robin was his first girlfriend in a long time… even when they were dating he was climbing out the window in his sleep in muscle memory alone.
  • Competition Freak: Barney will often take an innocent remark as a challenge and respond with "Challenge accepted!".
  • Consummate Liar: He can lie with the greatest of ease, and with no preparation. On rare occasions, we also get to see what he can do with some preparation.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Heavily implied to be one of these. Turns out he's not.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Not only does he always bring along a second (or even third) Halloween costume in case he strikes out with the hottest girl at the party, he keeps a suit stashed in the bar at MacLaren's. And that's in addition to his Playbook.
  • Cunning Linguist: He speaks several languages, using what is said to be Ukrainian (actually Russian) with his tailor, Mandarin, Japanese, and Korean. Some scenes imply he can also speak Spanish.
  • The Dandy: Well dressed, groomed, manicured, spotless apartment.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Slightly less than the rest of the cast, due to his Large Ham tendencies, but he's more than happy to point out the silliness of his friends' ideas.
  • Deconfirmed Bachelor: Devoutly against marriage or even relationships, but he winds up getting married before Ted.
  • Demoted to Satellite Love Interest: In season 7 Barney's character is appropriated as Robin's love interest, and his main significance is to be a source of angst for Robin. This makes the single brief look at his perspective in "Tick, Tick, Tick" all the more heartbreaking, as the audience knows that while Robin is busy going through character development and struggling with her personal conflicts, Barney is miserably and silently Out of Focus, waiting for her to address her relationship with him.
  • Determinator: If he sets his mind on something, he will not stop until he completes it. This is especially true of any "challenge," which he compulsively will accept.
  • Deuteragonist: Around the 4th Season, more emphasis starts to be put on Barney's development as a character, actually giving him stable relationships.
  • Disappeared Dad: Until season 6.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Barney seems to revel in these. The Exploding Meatball Sub is probably the most famous example, all as an act of revenge toward Marshall commenting that Barney got some sauce on his tie. Now in season 9, we learn his entire job is part of a revenge plot to shut down a corporation all because the head guy stole Barney's girlfriend when he was younger.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Swarley. Swar—wait for it…—ley. Swarls Barkley. Any variation of Swarley, actually.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: While Barney has no qualms about bedding women in relationships, he won't go after anyone his friends are with. Other than some flirting with Lily (and his convoluted scheme to get to see and/or touch her breasts), he never made a serious move on her since she was with Marshall, and waited for confirmation that Ted was over Robin before he started seeing her. He also refuses to sleep with underage girls.
  • Evil Makeover: He used to be a long-haired granola guy until his first girlfriend cheated on him. As a result, he "suited up". But he hasn't completely changed.
  • Evil vs. Evil: His personal feud with Greg. He is the "lesser evil" in this feud.
  • Fetish: Barney's been demonstrated to be into feet and light bondage. His scrapbook also implies (we don't get to see it) that he experiments with a lot of positions and toys.
  • Fiction 500: We don't know what he does, but it seems to give him apparently unlimited money. It turns in Season 9, he's paid to day sign papers claiming responsibility for the illegal activities of a corporation. For that, he is paid 16 craploads a year.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: Although he doesn't show it, what Shannon did to him really hurt him.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine—Extroverted, childish, mischievous, always seeks attention, and ''extremely'' unpredictable most of the time.
  • Flanderization:
    • As the show goes on, Barney becomes more and more of a womanizer who abhors commitment. Early in the show his attitude was "Date a woman for a few weeks, then dump her". But later in the show's run he becomes the master of the one-night stand, rarely bothering to go on more than a single date with a girl and is obsessed with whatever play he makes.
    • An episode in season 9 provides possible justification for this, as the mother tells Barney that, having been dumped by Robin in season 5, he's spent his entire life since then trying to keep her out of his mind, such that he won't let himself stop for even a second, lest his feelings for her start to re-emerge. Considering his relapses since then came when he was settled down with Nora and Quinn, it's not entirely an unreasonable claim.
  • Freudian Excuse: Used to be a naive and extremely kind-hearted hippie. His then-girlfriend left him for a suit-wearing womanizer and he decided to become one himself.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Largely in earlier seasons, most of the characters admit to having a "Barney Limit." When Barney slept with Robin, Ted explained his anger at Barney wasn't simply that he slept with his ex but that he assumed if Barney had any sort of "limits" it would have been anything regarding him. It wasn't until after they reconcile that Barney starts being treated more as a real friend and less of a nuisance.
  • Friend to All Children: Despite being a bad influence to them at times, Barney's few redeeming qualities before he Took a Level in Kindness is this.
    • During the scenes where we see Barney's childhood, he's revealed to be have been quite lonely and unpopular. This probably has a lot to do with the reason he's nice to children.
    • When he was throwing a fit about his brother getting married, the news that he would be an uncle immediately turned him into a supportive, squeeing ball of joy.
  • The Gambling Addict: "It's not gambling if you know you're going to win."
  • Handsome Lech: He's an attractive young man who shags one bimbo after another and keeps scores of his conquests. He devised plenty of tricks how to manipulate women into sleeping with him.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: Successfully runs the New York Marathon—which Marshall has been training for for months—at a day's notice with no preparation. Not played entirely straight. He does mention having run a 10K earlier in the season, plus he says afterwards that he works out everyday (and judging by his Shirtless Scenes, he doesn't lie). And though he does finish he can't walk afterward.
  • Has a Type: Barney declares in the pilot that he's discarded his old type (half-Asian girls) for a new type (Lebanese girls). Later he declares he doesn't have a type; that's crass and limiting. However, he kinda does. His type is naive bimbos with daddy issues. And Robin.
  • I Hate Past Me: Thoroughly ashamed of his pre-suit hippie years. However, he still liked himself as a kid.
  • The Hedonist: If there's one thing Barney wants in life it's pleasure.
  • Heroic Comedic Sociopath: He'll frequently do horrible things for his own amusement, and for ours, too.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Is very defensive of his supposed status as Ted's best friend, when they have a falling out in season three he starts looking for a new "wingman" in the exact same way anyone is trying to rebound from a break-up. While good friends with both Ted and Marshall, it's fairly obvious they aren't as devoted to him as he is to them.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Can speak Chinese and is a very good, albeit compulsive, gambler.
    • Season Four started showing that he hides a severe abandonment complex with his regular behavior, having never known his dad in addition to being devastated by a break-up when he was younger. In season six when he meets his dad and spends some time with him he admits he feels he is too far gone for redemption.
  • Hilariously Abusive Childhood: Early seasons showed him being almost criminally neglected, but later seasons seemed to have gently retconned it into simply his mother having a lot of lovers.
  • Hot-Blooded: His desire to make every night legendary and his tendency to make passionate speeches, even about things that only he considers to be of the highest importance, qualify him as this.
  • Hypocrite: Loves to mock Robin for being Canadian and enjoys ridiculing his friends's interests. One of his biggest fights with Robin resulted from her openly joking about his interests. Also, he thoroughly plugs the Bro Code and expects Ted to abide by it (which Ted does), but has broken numerous parts of it himself.
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Despite his beliefs against marriage, the thought of Lily and Marshall not ending up together scares him. "Bachelor Party" reveals that he was the one who convinced Lily to come back to New York. He also shows signs of this during "Something Borrowed" and "Dowisetrepla".
  • I Call Him "Mr. Happy": When Lily paints a portrait of him with Ken Doll Anatomy, he rattles off a series of nicknames for his penis, mostly puns based on his name.
  • Iconic Outfit: Suits in general.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: He really does love his friends and wants to keep them. This is especially apparent in "The Rally" when asked why he'd lie to them about having a hangover cure, his answer is because he loves them (and giving them a placebo actually did help).
  • Identical Stranger: Eventually played straight. Marshall and Lily see his "doppelganger" only to later find out that it's actually him disguised as a taxi driver for another one night stand scheme. When Barney finds out Marshall and Lily won't have kids until they've seen all five doppelgangers, he disguises himself as a street performer. They don't fall for it, but seem to be touched. Then Lily thinks she's found Barney's true doppelganger, when in reality she's seeing what she wants to see. Eventually they find his real doppleganger, an obstetrician.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: He has one moment in "Girls vs. Suits" when Tim Gunn gives him the bad news about his torn suit: "I can't make it work!" "So Young!" goes a hysterical Barney in his breakdown.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: Heavily implied that his severe abandonment issues left him with this and all his bravado is fake and a way to cover it up.
  • Insistent Terminology: He is constantly insisting to others (including Ted) that he is Ted's best friend instead of Marshall.
  • Intentional Heartbreaker: Barney tries to have sex with as many women as possible and he often breaks hearts in the process. Sometimes the girl he picks up knows very well it's a one-night-stand, but he very often manipulates his dates, and specifically targets gullible women. He makes them believe he wants a committed relationship, takes them to other people's flats and talks about how he wants to settle down, and he mentions he proposed to women to have "I-can't-believe-you-just-proposed-to-me" sex etc.
  • Jerkass: Even he isn't sure why they hang out with him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: By the later seasons, he has mostly evolved entirely to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, even if he refuses to admit it. Some actions of his show that he really does care about others, like when he hops on a plane to get Lily back to New York because of Marshal.
  • Lack of Empathy: Played for laughs. He gets better in later seasons though.
  • Ladykiller in Love: With Robin, Nora and Quinn. He does genuinely love them, and puts a lot of effort into wooing all three.
  • Large Ham: His raison d'etre. So much so that...well, see chewing the scenery above.
  • Laughably Evil: He's genuinely proud of his Evil Laugh.
  • Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics: Will often create his own statistics to get any member of the group to go along with one of his schemes. It's always something like 83%, or 8.3 seconds, or similar.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse:
    • His relationship with Nora mirrors his relationship with his mother.
    • Robin's mother absolutely terrifies her by describing her father when he was their age as exactly like Barney
  • Limited Wardrobe: He is almost never seen without a suit, and is proud of that fact. Except for funerals.
  • The Long List: The Playbook and the Bro Code, both of which have been defictionalized.
  • Lovable Sex Maniac: Bedded several hundred women, spews off entendres, and his friends still love him.
  • Magnificent Bastard: In-Universe as this is now Canon, having been state almost word for word by Marshal in the season 7 episode 'Ducky Tie'. There is "The Robin" too in Season 8.
  • Manchild: From time to time, he acts very childish. People think this is because of his Hilariously Abusive Childhood.
  • Manipulative Bastard: As The Chessmaster and per The Playbook, he's more than happy to manipulate people.
  • Master of Disguise: He hit on the same woman three times in one night by changing costumes. He also really enjoys using costumes and disguises for various plays, including impersonating celebrities.
  • The Mentor: In the season 9 episode "Sunrise" Barney meets two young men who are hopelessly inept when it comes to impressing women. He takes pity on them and decides to mentor them in the art of picking up women.
  • Moral Sociopathy: He lives according to his Bro Code.
  • Mr. Fanservice: More shirtless scenes than anyone else, and he's much more toned than Marshall or Ted.
  • My Sister Is Off-Limits!: Absolutely flipped out when Ted unknowingly slept with Barney's younger half-sister.
  • Narcissist: He's obsessed with his looks, and also secretly afraid of losing them as he gets older.
  • Neologizer: He's constantly coming up with new words and expressions that he tries to popularize. He claims that doing so shows vision and creativity — "visiotivity".
  • Nice to the Waiter: An early sign of his Jerk with a Heart of Gold tendencies is that he always befriends cabbies or waiters and winds up on a first name basis with them.
  • No Listening Skills: Whenever he claims to be Ted's best friend, Ted always corrects him that it's Marshall. Barney always bulldozes this by continuing "and as your best friend . . . "
  • Obliquely Obfuscated Occupation: Whenever someone asks he simply brushes them off with a condescending chuckle and a "Please." Later, it is revealed that "please" is Provide Legal Exculpation and Sign Everything where he signs papers claiming responsibility for the illegal activities of a corporation.
  • Oblivious to Love: To Robin for the first few episodes of season 7, before she seemingly moves on with Kevin.
  • Older Than He Looks: He's actually the oldest member of the gang (he starts the show at 30-years-old), but he hardly looks it. The show lampshades it from time to time.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: It is heavily implied that he has this kind of grudge towards Greg, the guy who stole his first girlfriend.
  • On the Rebound: He explicitly targets women who are emotionally vulnerable as he thinks they're easy targets.
  • Playing with Fire: Barney loves doing fire-based magic tricks. Why the gang ends up doing an intervention on Barney—he loves doing it TOO much.
  • Played for Laughs: All the Evil Tropes associated with him.
  • The Pornomancer
    Barney: When are you guys gonna learn that the only difference between my life and porn is that my life has better lighting?
  • The Prankster: Pranks his friends mercilessly… and his enemies so much worse.
  • Proud to Be a Geek: Unabashedly loves Star Wars, to the point that he has a fantasy of having sex with a woman who is wearing Stormtrooper armor. He also once almost ended his (at that time) most serious relationship because of their opinion on Ewoks.note 
  • Race Fetish: His Establishing Character Moment is announcing to Ted that he's moved on from half-Asian girls, and is now going after Lebanese girls. He also has said that his "type" is "Asian, with some boob."
  • Really Gets Around: Mainly Played for Laughs, but he loves to sleep around.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Barney doesn't so much refuge in audacity as much as he lives in it. He once attempted to convince a girl he was Neal Armstrong. According to Barney's own recollection of the event, he succeeded.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
  • Sad Clown: It is clear that his constant flings and other antics is to cover up his own insecurity and to have someone to hang out with. After his divorce with Robin, he return to his old self because he believes that if his marriage with Robin is a failure, there will never be a successful one for him.
  • Second Love: He is Robin's second love after Ted, though they broke up. They get together again and eventually got married.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: Very often he'll say something is impossible… then declare "Challenge accepted!" and try to accomplish it.
  • Self-Serving Memory: Any flashback he retells will be centered on him and paint him in a great light.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: He is constantly teaching other men how to pick up women with his "Playbook," fashioning himself as a guru figure. Ted tends to ignore him, but other men who follow his advice seem to succeed.
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: Manly man to Ted's (or Marshall's) sensitive guy.
  • Serious Business: Nothing suits him like a suit! Honestly, everything he does is Serious Business. Suits, girls, being a good friend, being a good boyfriend, possibly his job whatever that is perhaps. The Bro Code, too. Especially The Bro Code.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Always impeccably dressed.
  • Ship Tease: Barney has expressed considerable attraction to Lily, and there's the inevitable chemistry matchmakers always seem to strike with their clients, but Barney and Lily will never go beyond a fantasy. An episode in Season 2 even toyed with the idea of what the two as a couple would be like.
  • Shipper on Deck: According to him, "The world needs Marshall and Lily together!"
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: Barney absolutely hates Ralph Macchio, so you can imagine how annoyed he was when the guy showed up at his bachelor party. Still you replace high-fives with handshakes and the word Legendary with Incredible and they are the same guy, though Barney refuses to see it.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Make no mistake, Barney is incredibly smart and good-looking… just not nearly as smart and good-looking as he thinks he is.
  • The Smart Guy: Marshall even called him as such almost word-per-word.
  • Son of a Whore: His mother once abandoned him for two weeks to be "passed around like a bong." She's settled down, and their relationship is now much closer.
  • Stage Magician: He frequently uses magic to try to impress girls, and has vintage magic posters in his apartment. In real life Neil Patrick Harris is president of the Magic Circle, and an accomplished magician.
  • The Starscream: The reason why he worked for AltruCell Corp. is to humiliate Greg, the man who stole his first girlfriend and is one of the Mega-Corp's higher-ups.
  • Start of Darkness: Revealed in the episode Game Night where he explains how his girlfriend left him, causing his transformation from a long-haired hippy to a life of "suits, sex, and money". Continued in "Unpause", which reveals he didn't fully change.
  • Super Gullible: He's an adult still believing all the ridiculous lies his mother has told him as a child. This is also quite ironic, considering that Barney is a notorious liar himself.
  • Tears of Joy: Upon seeing the birth of his daughter, Barney couldn't help but to cry.
  • Token Evil Teammate: The most sociopathic and amoral of the group.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Starting out as the Token Evil Teammate, he becomes more humane in later seasons as he surprises the group in giving genuine to support to them in bad times (He contacted Lily to get her back to New York for Marshall's sake and admitted that despite complaining about Ted and Robin he was sad to see them break up). After having a daughter with an unnamed woman, Barney resolves to abandon his womanizing ways.
  • The Trickster: He's the master of this and manipulation, usually to get women into his bed but also to get what he wants out of everyone else too, his friends included. Evidence.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Without knowing what is exactly his job, Barney always had a lot of money for random pranks or bribes, a neat apartment and crazy gadgets. Even after the final season reveals that he worked as GNB's scapegoat, it's still a lot of money.
  • The Unfettered: Early in the series, he wasn't really tied down with "emotions" or "empathy" so he was so very good at what he did (…banging chicks).
  • Unreliable Narrator: So much that the stories he tell are almost never taken seriously. When he narrates in "Perfect Week", "The Ashtray" and "Home Wreckers" there's always an exageration in his stories, in "Perfect Week" he assumed that all his friends were praising him when he wasn't there, "The Ashtray" has him trying to put himself in the story and "Home Wreckers" has him making Robin and Ted's mom say how big his penis is.
  • Unrequited Love Switcheroo: With Robin many times in seasons 7 and 8.
  • The Un-Reveal:
    • Does anybody know what his job is?
      [insert any character here]: Barney, what exactly is it you do for a living?
      Barney: Ha ha! …please.
    • We eventually find out in Season 9 that "please" is exactly his job which is Provide Legal Exculpation and Sign Everything. His job was to sign papers claiming responsibility for the illegal activities of a corporation. But him entering the job is part of his Batman Gambit to get back at the guy who stole his girlfriend, Shannon, years ago.
  • Unsympathetic Comedy Protagonist: Especially in the early seasons. Not so much after he Took a Level in Kindness, though he can still occasionally have some moments.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: The Reveal that he used to be a kind Granola Guy who wanted to join the Peace Corps shocked everyone. But he's still a Nice Guy.
  • Verbal Tic: Whenever he makes up a statistic, he uses 83, or 8.3. Ted Lampshaded it at one point.
  • Villain of Another Story: While in the main story of the show, Barney is not a villain, but more a Jerk with a Heart of Gold, his working with the Obviously Evil Goliath National Bank (not out of near-necessity, as with Marshall for a while) makes him this. Partially subverted at the end, as at some point he began cooperating with the government to incriminate GNB.

    The Mother
Click to see her face. 
"Kids, I'm gonna tell you an incredible story. The story of how I met your mother."

The woman, Tracy McConnel, about whom Future Ted is telling a story to his kids about, with the story of how they met is apparently one of the greatest stories ever heard. During the course of the series little is known about her and how she fits into Ted's story, with only a few hard facts such as owning a yellow umbrella, being at the same place Ted was at a few distinct moments (a St. Patrick's Day party and Ted trying to teach the wrong class) and that she and Ted met on the day of a wedding. She is eventually revealed in the final season, remaining nameless but peripherally involved with the plot, including some Flash Forwards, saving her and Ted's official meeting until the Grand Finale.

Played by: Cristin Milioti

  • Accidental Hero: She had no idea the effect she had on a few members of the group before she met Ted and became a part of the group.
  • Adorkable:
    • She has an innate understanding of the quirks behind the rest of the cast, letting her fit right in. "Why would they call a bar 'Puzzles?' (dawns on her) Unless that's the puzzle."
    • Among her favorite activities (that many, except for Ted, find dorky), enjoys painting robots playing sports, singing showtunes with the breakfast, collecting coins, calligraphy sets, Renaissance Fair goodies and random road trip trivia (Future!Ted tells the family once made a stop so The Mother could see a goat blowing smoke rings).
    • Once Max gave her a one-man-band suit. When her friends question why she would like something like that, she responded "It's not something I want. It's something I need".
  • Advertised Extra: Billed as a regular for the final season, only appeared in roughly half of the episodes. This was apparently due to a rule imposed by Bays and Thomas that she would only appear in episodes written by them personally.
  • Arc Symbol: Her yellow umbrella symbolizes the path Ted takes that would lead him to her as well as the way that the two are meant to be together.
  • Best for Last: The best of Ted's love, and the last. Technically speaking.
  • Big Damn Heroes: She first meets Ted's friends when they are in horrible, rock-bottom situations that she helps them out of.
    • In a sense: "Something New", which reveals that Ted is planning on moving to Chicago because of his failure to move past Robin, ends with her buying the ticket to Farhampton. She effectively spares Ted from going to Chicago because of their meeting.
    • And in a more literal sense, when she gives Marshall a ride when he is trying (and failing) to walk all the way to the Farhampton Inn after his bus breaks down.
    • She also calms Robin down who is freaking out and attempting to run away before the wedding. Her advice to Robin save the wedding from being a total disaster.
  • Big Good: An unusual example in that she only shows up in the very last season and the finale of the season before it, but in almost every appearance she helps someone in the gang get over one of their current personal issues, she's the special girl Ted's been waiting for all along, and the two of them meeting is what ultimately helps Ted get over his past relationship with Robin and keeps him from moving away to Chicago.
  • Birds of a Feather: Both are nice and she shares a lot of Ted's quirks (like driving gloves, she finishes his sentences exactly like Ted would say them and knows facts only Ted finds amusing).
  • Break the Cutie: Her backstory reveals her almost decade long grief of losing her boyfriend.
  • Broken Bird: She has been one ever since her boyfriend Max died and spent the entire show's run like this until she met Ted.
  • Calling Card: Whenever the audience sees a Yellow Umbrella, they know the Mother is or was nearby.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In the 100th episode "Girls vs. Suits" many of her quirks are played for laughs, especially things like painting pictures of robots playing sports and singing with her food while making breakfast. In the 200th episode "How Your Mother Met Me," both of those take on greater significance when we learn her first love Max's last present to her was a ukelele "so your breakfast doesn't need to perform acapella" and her robot painting was an activity she threw herself into to try and deal with losing him. Louis's lack of appreciation of singing English muffins was also a sign that they would not work long term.
  • Character Signature Song: "La Vie En Rose". It's pointed out that she used to sing her children to sleep with the song every night, and Ted admits the moment he started falling in love with her, even before meeting her, was the night he over heard her singing the song on the hotel terrace next door to his.
  • Closet Key: A rare example of a character being this despite not being gay themselves; after she dumps Ted, Cindy kisses her and realises she's attracted not just to her, but women in general.
  • Color Motif: Purple and yellow are heavily associated with her. Her yellow umbrella serves as an important Arc Symbol for the series, while she's practically always wearing purple clothes.
  • The Cutie: She's adorable and always upbeat.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "How Your Mother Met Me" is completely from her perspective and how narrowly her path crosses with Ted's over the years and how narrowly she misses meeting him. The show even reinvented its opening credits to show the Mother and her friends.
  • Deadpan Snarker: She's good enough to hold her own against Barney, as demonstrated in the final episode.
  • Distaff Counterpart: While she has her own unique personality, she and Ted share just enough quirks to qualify, such as loving road trip detours to visit unusual landmarks and wearing driving gloves.
  • Dude Magnet: According to Cindy, guys keep falling in love with her.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Her first scene with a cast member has her offering an emotional Lily a cookie, a personal recipe she calls "Sumbitch." After a brief altercation Lily apologizes for trying to bite her and the Mother apologizes for swatting her with a rolled up magazine.
  • Extreme Doormat: "Bass Player Wanted" reveals that, Nice Girl she is, the Mother usually lets the other person have their way in conflicts.
  • Face Death with Dignity: During a flash-forward of the two during their anniversary trip to the Inn Ted ends up breaking down implying that she's dying and it's the last Anniversary the two will share, with her comforting him.
  • The First Cut Is the Deepest: The reason why her relationship with Louis doesn't work out.
  • First Love: Max, her late boyfriend, who died in 2005.
  • The Faceless: Until the season 8 finale.
  • The Gadfly: Has shown a willingness to deceive others temporarily for laughs, such as telling Lily her cookies were found beneath a train seat as well as pretending to be a creepy psychic who reads Marshall's situation with scary accuracy. She meets her boyfriend Louis by claiming she was 16 and he fell for it.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: Was wearing a purple sundress during her first official appearance and wore dominantly purple attire ever since.
  • The Heart: In her first scene with a cast member, she offers a crying Lily a cookie. In a flashback, she sets Barney straight in his womanizing ways and is the reason why Barney decided to propose to Robin in the first place. And she even helps a distraught Robin who tries to run away before the wedding starts by telling her to take three deep breaths before she makes a decision.
  • Hero of Another Story: It is almost absurd how close she was to the group throughout all of their adventures but never actually crossing paths.
  • Iconic Item: Her yellow umbrella. So much so that yellow umbrellas became popular during the show's run.
  • Iconic Sequel Character: She's The Ghost until the Season 8 finale, but her single season run as a main character is enough to endear her to the viewers.
  • Last Episode, New Character: Notably averted; original plans where to have the Mother show up in the final episode, meet with everyone and, obviously, Ted. But once they got confirmation of getting a Finale Season it gave them a unique opportunity of introducing her in the closing scene of the eighth season and have her be a peripheral character throughout the ninth. This let the characters and the audience get to actually know the love of his life rather than just be told in The Stinger how great she was.
  • Last Girl Wins: Or so one imagines. Confirmed by Word of God.
  • The Lost Lenore: The same night Ted met Robin, the Mother lost her boyfriend Max to an unspecified accident. She was incapable of letting him go but tried to move on by dating Louis.
    • In the final episode, it's revealed that in 2030 she's this to Ted, since by then she's been dead for six years. At least in the original ending. In the alternate ending, her illness was omitted and she's still very much alive.
  • Manic Pixie Dream Girl: Approaches this character trope by proxy of the few descriptions we have of her. She is effectively portrayed as Ted's dream girl with all sorts of quirks like painting pictures of robots, singing showtunes while making breakfast, plays bass guitar in a band and apparently guys are constantly falling in love with her. And she helps pull Ted out of one of the darkest times in his life.
    • The final season gives us more of her quirkiness such as owning a pair of driving gloves and wanting to see some weird stuff on the roadside, just like Ted.
    • Given her reactions to how Lily describes Ted, her reactions to him in their various near misses, and the fact he will help her get over Max, you could say Ted is her Manic Pixie Dream Guy.
  • The Mourning After: She avoided relationships altogether for five years after the death of Max, her First Love, because she thought she would never be able to love someone like that again. After getting into a relationship with Louis, she never really got to love him because she couldn't let Max go until the night right before meeting Ted.
  • Missing Mom: We never see the mother in the future with her kids, because she has died some years before Ted decided to tell the story of how they met, which in turn was actually a thinly veiled request of his children's blessing to date their Aunt Robin.
  • Nice Gal: Her first meetings with the individual members of the group assert very quickly how friendly she is. In her first scene of the final season, she offers a crying Lily a cookie. With Barney, despite him trying out one of his plays on her she sees through it and him and gives him a hug, encouraging him to stop distracting himself with his plays and get Robin back. With Marshall, she gave him a ride on the final leg of his road trip and lent an ear to his eventual fight with Lily, later knitting a hat for Marvin. With Robin, after colliding she offers advice on how to calm down when feeling hysterical.
  • Nobody Loves the Bassist: Averted real time. (Seriously, see the other tropes about Mom). In fact, Ted actively wants to date a bassist.
    • Played straight in "Bass Player Wanted" with Darren stealing the spotlight and replacing her as lead singer, then kicking her out of her own band. Averted in the end when he leaves, allowing her to be the lead singer again.
  • No Name Given: Even her actress doesn't know the Mother's name. Until the last few moments in the finale, when we find out her name is Tracy McConnell, the same initials as Ted Mosby.
  • Not So Different: She and Ted both have have difficult times letting go of past loves, Ted for Robin and the Mother for Max, who died on her 21st birthday. They also share most of the quirks and interests. On their first date, the Mother ended up hiding from her ex-boyfriend Louis and explained to Ted he had proposed to her the Saturday before. Ted knew exactly how that felt, with him doing something similar in season four's "Happily Ever After" with Stella.
  • One Steve Limit: Her first name was hinted back in season 1 when Ted jokingly told his kids that his encounter with a stripper named Tracy was how he met their mother. Another Tracy appears in the episode "The Leap".
  • Posthumous Character: We learn in Season 8, during one of Ted's fantasy, where he beelines his way to the Mother's apartment, a couple months before he actually met her, that something happens to her, in season 9 we get several hints that the mother and Ted aren't together during the time of Ted's story to Luke and Penny, and in the Series Finale we learn that she had died of an unknown illness.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: Her actress, Cristin Milioti, got her name billed in the opening credits in the final season after her cameo in the eight season finale.
  • Red Herring: Or rather, many other characters have been red herrings for the mother. After "Vesuvius", her having alleged failing health becomes a hot topic.
  • The Reveal: The Grand Finale revealed her real name and that she's a Dead All Along.
  • Romantic False Lead: It's established that she was dating a guy named Louis right before she met Ted. While he doesn't seem to be a bad guy it's fairly clear they were not really in love (he was only mildly amused at her adorable breakfast showtunes). Louis actually proposed to her the night before she and Ted met. In a tragic twist, she tried asking Max for permission to move on and after getting confirmation she told Louis "no," because she knew she wasn't going to move on with him.
  • Secondary Character Title: She's the titular mother, but didn't even show up until the finale of the eighth season.
  • Second Love: For Ted, after he finally gets over Robin. Though technically she's either the fourth since there's Victoria and Stella, or fifth if you consider Zoey.
    • For her, Ted was the one for whom she got over her first love, Max, who had died in 2005.
  • Shadow Archetype: "How Your Mother Met Me" revealed that the night her First Love died is the same night Ted (and Barney) met Robin.
  • Significant Monogram: The finale reveals that she has her initials T.M. carved into the handle of her trademark yellow umbrella. Not only are her and Ted's initials the same but T.M. could also be short for The Mother.
  • Sixth Ranger: She's the official one to the show's Five-Man Band, whoever she is.
  • Supporting Leader: It is stated that she is one of the founders of her band, but isn't its front-woman. Their Token Evil Teammate front-man then exploited this.
  • Teacher/Student Romance: Future Ted teases this possibility; she was a student at Columbia University and saw Ted teaching once, but Ted had the wrong classroom so she's not actually his student. She left the class-room right before the lecture because she thought she was in the wrong one, only to have Ted himself ran past her when he realized he was in the wrong one.
  • Team Mom: Her Establishing Character Moment had her, a stranger on a train, comforting a distraught Lily.
  • Tragic Keepsake: The ukulele she received from Max on her 21st birthday, after he died, which she owns as a keepsake of his spirit and presence.
  • Unkempt Beauty: In a Flash Forward, she commented about being haggard and sweaty from a long car ride (and eating a muffin crumb in her bra), while Ted couldn't care less.
  • The Un-Reveal: Until the final minutes of the series, her name was a mystery. Her illness that ultimately killed her, on the other hand, wasn't stated.
  • Unseen No More: For most of the show, she's never seen beyond really obtuse angles, not even subtly. A few scenes are stated that she was somewhere in a crowd shot but never pointed out. There have only been a handful of official sightings: Ted saw her ankle in "Girls vs. Suits," the back of her hat-covered head in "No Pressure," outside the club in "No Tomorrow" holding her yellow umbrella and wearing blue jeans, at the train station in "Farhampton," carrying her bass and (face covered by umbrella), at Barney and Robin's wedding reception, playing aforementioned bass. She's finally seen in Season's 8 "Something New" and becomes a regular in Season 9.
  • Walking Spoiler: The show was careful about being vague with the details on how she and Ted meet, with a lot of information that means nothing when revealed and will only be important when paired with the actual Meet Cute, such as the yellow umbrella. That said, the fact she is an actual character in the finale season is something of a spoiler already, and every episode she appears in unveils a specific and definitive piece of the puzzle. In the wedding weekend she meets Lily, Marshall, Robin and, obviously, Ted, helping each with the big moment of their lives that converged on that weekend. But the biggest surprise was that she met Barney a year prior, inspiring him to stop playing the game and actually win by developing "The Robin" play.
  • Wham Episode: The 100th Episode "Girls vs. Suits" had her and Ted in the same apartment at one point, although they didn't meet then he got an earful as her roommate Cindy described her in detail. The 8th Season Finale finally shows her face as she leaves to play at Barney and Robin's wedding.
    • In the Season 9 episode "Platonish" it's revealed that Barney first met the Mother six months earlier and that she persuaded him to end his womanizing and devote his full time and energy to winning over Robin, which is how Barney came up with "The Robin".
    • The 200th episode, "How Your Mother Met Me", centers on the Mother and reveals that her boyfriend died in 2005 and she hasn't been able to get over him since.
    • The Grand Finale, "Last Forever", revealed that she's a Posthumous Character.

    Ted's Children 

Son and Daughter Mosby
Daughter: Dad, could you please skip to the part where you meet Mom? I feel you've been talking for like, a year...

Ted's kids living in the year 2030. For his own reasons, he subjected them to a lengthy and needlessly detailed tale of how he met their mother. While nameless for the majority of the series, their names were later revealed in "Unpause."

Played by: David Henrie (Son) and Lyndsy Fonseca (Daughter)

  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: While both siblings are very snarky, the daughter is notably more "Icy". At least in the first two seasons.
  • Audience Surrogate: The story is being told to them, so we hear about things as they do. And, like many viewers, they ask Ted to just get on with the story... not that he listens.
  • Big "WHAT?!": They provide many of these, starting with the pilot (which became frequently-used stock footage later on).
  • Brother–Sister Incest: In the Comic-Con trailer, Ted's son tells his father that the only girl he's seen in the past 8 years is his sister and it's starting to make him think stuff... very bad stuff. Not canon, obviously.
  • Brother–Sister Team: They always join forces when snarking their father until their scenes have been reduced to Stock Footage.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After eight long years of telling them endless details they don't care about (and did things they're not proud of), they tell him personally that they want him to get to the point of how he actually met their mother already.
  • Completely Missing the Point: After Future!Ted tells them the story of when he dated an ex, who he had previously dumped on her birthday, via an answering machine message heard by friends and family, convinced her to give him get a second chance, only to break up with her on her birthday AGAIN...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.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When they could still comment on Ted's stories anyway. Probably got it from dad.
  • Fake Guest Star: They're almost in every episode in the first two seasons but they're only credited as guest stars. This is justified from Season 3 onwards, however, as they've been reduced to Stock Footage.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Season 2 opens with they commenting that it feels like their father has been telling the story for a year already.
  • Limited Wardrobe: They only wear two sets of clothes thanks to them being used only in Stock Footage. Of the two sets, the other pair (the daughter's gray dress and the son's black shirt) was used only twice.
  • Meaningful Name: Luke, obviously, got his name from Ted being a huge Star Wars fan. Penny's name is likely a reference to the 2nd season episode "Lucky Penny", in which Future Ted comments that picking up a penny minted in 1939 was a deciding factor in his having met the Mother. Alternately, Penny could also be a reference to the fact that Ted and The Mother are both coin collectors.
  • No Name Given: Though Ted has repeatedly expressed the desire to name them Luke and Leia. There names are only revealed in "Unpause" - Penny and Luke.
  • Non-Serial Movie: A special Season Nine Comic-Con Video was made showing the two having aged 8 years, with the original actors reprising their roles and furious at how long Ted was taking to tell the story. It's been a joke in fan circles for years, although the creators verified that the video is definitely non-canon and, while lengthy, Ted does not take THAT long to actually tell the story (It's still 2030 from their perspective).
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up:
    • Later in the series, the "reaction" of the kids are only stills from a previous clip. Word of God has stated that they already shot the ending of the series at the start of season 2, so that when the show does end, Ted's kids don't rapidly age several years when their dad finishes his story.
    • Defied in the comic-con video where they got the original child actors to return to their roles, obviously much older and incredibly PISSED at how long their dad is taking to tell the story.
  • Satellite Character: They exist just as Ted's children. Justified since the entire story is being told to them from the future without much time to develop them otherwise.
  • Secondary Character Title: They are the "your" in the title.
  • Shipper on Deck: The last minutes of the finale show them to be this with regard to Ted and Robin after the mother has died. They even point out that the story was really about how Ted was in love with Robin.
  • Stock Footage: The first two seasons had the kids interacting with Future Ted at times, commenting on the situation. To avoid seeing the kids growing up in real time, season three and beyond started reusing a handful of "bored expressions" footage to introduce the episode. Season two apparently filmed a unique sequence to use when Ted finally reveals "Mom."
  • Sweater Girl: The daughter is wearing a pink cardigan.
  • Those Two Guys: They barely appear unless it's to make a little joke on the framing device. Again, justified by the story being told to them and not featuring them.
  • Wham Episode:
    • "Trilogy Time" established that Ted's daughter was a few months old in early 2015, which is the most definitive timetable the show has ever given.
    • The daughter was seen when Ted was dropping her off with Lily and Marshall, who took her to see Santa for the first time.
    • "Unpause" shows the night when Ted's son was born and reveals their names.


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