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HIMYM Theory: Barney Adopted His Daughter (But Lied To The Group About It)

"How I Met Your Mother" scallywag Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) is nothing if not a total devotee to the long con — whether that be spending months convincing a woman to sleep with him, charming Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) into becoming his wife, or even tricking his friends for the simple joy of getting a laugh in at their expenses. Magic is one of the guy's main hobbies, after all. Ergo, it's not surprising that his trickery has spawned a fan theory that suggests his daughter, Ellie, may not be his biological child at all but an adopted foundling.

"We know that Barney is a pathological liars, and we know that Barney is rarely as sleazy as he seems. Based on this, I find it easy to believe that the concept of 'Number 31' is perhaps not what we think it is," offered u/KyoryuRed, posting to the fan theories subreddit while admitting that the theory is not originally their own. They go on to wonder if Barney simply lied about his perfect month to provide a cover story for his adoption and was secretly going home every night to secure himself a child with an adoption agency. Why? Because perhaps he can't have biological children himself, but he misses his friends, who are now all busy being parents. Wanting to be a dad too, he decides to cook up a brilliant scheme that'll get him a kid while saving face with the gang. This also erases the character's devolution from a man in love back into a free-and-easy love 'em and leave 'em type.

Might Barney have found a child to rejoin his friends' group?

Fans of "How I Met Your Mother" found the theory to be pretty plausible — and in fact something of a major relief, as it explains Barney Stinson's pivot from being happily involved with Robin Scherbatsky to the same guy he was before he met her. "Works actually. Cool if its true. Lessens the blow of his sudden turn back into sleazeball Barney," said u/Anradnat. Multiple fans who hated the show's original ending found the notion of Barney doing this charming and felt that it solves their issue with his characters' final arc.

But others couldn't resist poking holes in the theory's viability. U/TinyDonkey4 points out that Barney is on edge throughout "Not a Father's Day" because a woman he'd been dating is going through a pregnancy scare, meaning that it's likely he's able to have biological children. Another user wondered if Barney would go so far as to refuse to see his child be born. 

One thing "How I Met Your Father" definitely has done for Barney, of course, is continuing to portray his journey deeper into fatherhood, even showing him as an SVU-owning family man. It looks like the franchise will stay committed to him becoming a completely different man due to his daughter's birth, but one never knows if the show's producers might throw fans a late-in-the-game curveball.