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The Messed Up Part Of How I Met Your Mother's Barney That Fans Are Happy To Ignore

"How I Met Your Mother" had a lot of problematic moments, and a lot of them are related to Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris). Barney gets away with a lot on the show, partially because of how charming the character is. It probably helps that Harris isn't a womanizing misogynist in real life, but a rather lovable and happily married gay man. In fact, in an interview with People in 2021, Harris described the character as nothing like him.

In the Season 4 episode "The Naked Man," the whole gang–but especially Barney–become obsessed with a dating technique called "The Naked Man," in which a man comes home from a date and strips naked while the woman is in the other room in an attempt to pressure her into having sex. This is a move that largely ignores consent, and really isn't something that anyone should attempt. In a thread in the r/AskMen subreddit, someone asked if anyone had tried the move, and while many men talked proudly about having attempted it, one Redditor, u/whatdoyouthink2, had a story about how inappropriate the move is, writing, "I've had it done to me. I didn't think it was a good time because I didn't feel comfortable enough with him to have sex. I kind of felt like it was being pushed on me."

The move was probably added to Barney's infamous "playbook," the book where he documented different ways to trick women into sex, most of which are morally suspect. If that's not bad enough, you can actually buy your own copy of the book. Still, this somehow manages to not be the worst thing that Barney has done in the series.

Barney may have participated in human trafficking

In the "How I Met Your Mother" Season 3 episode "The Bracket," Barney finds himself striking out with women because every time he hits on a woman, another woman waits until Barney walks away. She then goes up to the woman and warns them about Barney's lying ways. When Barney finally finds the woman who he thinks is responsible for this act of humanitarianism, he doesn't remember her and tries to apologize for all the terrible things he's done over the years. 

While many of the things that Barney has done are pretty deplorable, one of the things he admits to in the midst of his apology is especially heinous. "At one point, I'm pretty sure I sold a woman," Barney admits, shockingly. "I didn't speak the language, but I shook a guy's hand, he gave me the keys to a Mercedes, and I left her there." Whoa, back up there, because that's somehow even worse than everything else that Barney's done. If it's true, that means Barney participated in human trafficking, which is even more morally abhorrent than tricking women into sex.

Although most fans seem to have ignored this line as a throwaway, others noticed that the joke went a bit too far. In a 2016 thread in the r/HIMYM subreddit, u/ajstar1000 said that this one line totally changed how they perceive Barney. Redditor u/CuddlePirate420 agreed, saying that Barney belongs behind bars. u/DaddyCatALSO pointed out that Barney is unsure of what actually happened, and that the show is entirely told from the perspective of Ted, who himself is an unreliable narrator. Still, if there's any chance that Barney did what he said he did, he's pretty terrible for going along with it.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).