Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

HIMYM Theory Gives Barney's Suits A Troubling Meaning

Whether you are a fan of "How I Met Your Mother" or not, you likely are familiar with the dynamic character of Barney Stinson, played brilliantly by Neil Patrick Harris. His ability to bring the majority of the humor to a series about a young man looking for his forever significant other earned him legendary status. He became known for his catchphrase, "Suit up!" And you can even go on Amazon to buy physical copies of his "Bro Code" and his "Playbook."

Of course, his phrase about donning a suit for a night on the town made him a pillar of style in the series. While Ted (Josh Radnor) and Marshall (Jason Segel) were often happy with a simple button-up shirt untucked over jeans — like the rest of their age group in the mid-to-late-00s — Barney was hardly ever seen not in a suit. Despite his best efforts, in the nine seasons of his attempting to get his wingmen to suit up, they only did so a handful of times.

But theories have come about that while Barney may very well have loved suits, there was a deeper meaning to them. As a matter of fact, one Reddit rumor posited that the suits weren't suits at all, but rather a metaphor for his addiction to cocaine. Of course, this is never said explicitly in the series, as it was a primetime sitcom, but there is plenty of evidence to show that this could be the case. u/No-Tangerine-6201 believes that Barney Stinson had a cocaine addiction, and this is why you should at least consider it too.

If you or anyone you know needs help with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

He chose suits over the girl

The above-mentioned Redditor used one episode as their example of why they believe Barney's suits were a metaphor for drug addiction. In Season 5, Episode 12, "Girl vs. Suits," a bartender at MacLaren's (essentially the gang's version of "Friends" hangout Central Perk) refuses to date Barney because he wears suits. Of course, there's no way that Barney Stinson would ever accept that, and he begins to put on a ruse and hide the suits to woo the girl. Only to fail by the end and choose the suits over her.

"She puts her aversion of suit wearers to the fact that she dated Wall Streets guys (people known for wearing suits AND using cocaïne) before and that they weren't good boyfriends," u/No-Tangerine-6201 wrote. "Barney then proceeds to stop wearing suits, and it shows (sweating, ticks...etc) symptoms usually associated to withdrawal. He reveals in the next scene that he hid a suit in the Bar's bathroom and goes in it to wear his suit for 'a minute' and then comes back to the table feeling better."

Anyone who has seen the effects of, or experienced firsthand, the signs of addiction knows all too well that this episode makes it clear that Barney is dealing with an addiction. Not only did he suffer from the effects of not using, but he hid it from his significant other, only to choose it over her. While it led to one of the most enjoyable moments in the entire series (a musical number that was a love song to tailored garments), it displayed how deep his addiction went. Whether or not that addiction was suits or cocaine is up to the audience's interpretation.

He always suited up before an epic party

What made Barney a compelling character from the get-go was that he seemed to operate as the devil on Ted's shoulder. While Marshall showed Ted on a regular basis that you should always hope for love and used his relationship with Lily (Alyson Hannigan) as an example, Barney went in the other direction. He continually attempted to coerce Ted into his womanizing lifestyle by telling him to suit up and have legendary nights (and one-night stands) to avoid the dreaded marriage. 

Of course, Barney's insistence that he suits up before every outing seems similar to the idea that someone who is addicted to cocaine would need to partake in his drug of choice before heading off into legen-wait-for-it-dary evenings. But one Redditor pointed out that he wasn't always able to do so. As he lost a bet where he had to wear a rubber duck tie for a year. u/GrandmasterSexay believes that the bet had something entirely different at its core.

"The "Ducky Tie" could be code for Cold Turkey as well," they wrote. "A bet that Barney would go Cold Turkey. It explains his over-the-top reaction to wearing it, and Duck and Turkeys are birds." The compelling idea that Barney was addicted to cocaine and at one point had to go cold turkey after losing a bet would definitely explain his over-the-top (albeit highly entertaining) reaction to the punishment.

Ted liked to use metaphors for drugs

Finally, if you are a fan of "How I Met Your Mother," you know that Ted is recounting events from his 20s and 30s to his teenage children. Therefore, he liked to leave out certain parts of the story to keep it age-appropriate. He also liked to use metaphors when referring to things he didn't want to divulge to his kids, namely, calling smoking marijuana "eating a sandwich." In many flashbacks to their college days and one flash-forward, sitting in a high school hallway, Ted, Marshall, and Lily are seen eating sandwiches in a haze of smoke.

The same tactic may have been used to describe Barney's over-the-top behavior. And while he might have been someone that cared deeply about his appearance and, due to his career, wore suits often, the extent of his obsession with his tailored wardrobe very well could have been a metaphor to hide a much darker aspect of Uncle Barney's past that Ted wanted to shield his children from. Of course, this all depends on one very crucial element.

What this comes down to is what kind of narrator you think Ted is. If you believe he is a reliable narrator and he is shielding his children from inappropriate content such as drug use, then sandwiches and suits are metaphors to cover up that part of his life. Barney did turn to suits following a horrible breakup, further supporting the theory. If you believe Ted is an unreliable narrator, then it is possible that the over-the-top nature of Barney's obsession with his suits was one more way Ted tried to make him look bad. The whole point of telling the story (as revealed in the finale) was to get the kids' blessings to pursue Robin (Cobie Smulders) all over again.