Worst Things The Characters On How I Met Your Mother Ever Did

In "How I Met Your Mother," Ted Mosby tells his teenage kids about the adventures and misadventures he and his friends got into as young New Yorkers, and the search for love that ultimately led him to their mother. The show was popular throughout much of its 2005-2013 run and, despite a nearly universally maligned finale that damaged its legacy, remains surprisingly rewatchable. It has memorable characters, hilarious running gags, and more than its fair share of sappy but effective moments of romance and tenderness.

Unfortunately, it's also a product of a bygone era, as evidenced by a laundry list of cruelties the main five characters visited upon each other and those that got caught in their orbit. Many of these things wouldn't fly today, and enough are so egregious that several other terrible things — like Barney sleeping with Robin despite her being Ted's ex, or Ted breaking up with a girl on her birthday, getting back together with her years later, and then doing it again – didn't even make the cut. So what did? Read on to find out: These are the worst things the main characters on "How I Met Your Mother" ever did. Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD.

Robin's treatment of Patrice

For most of the show, Robin struggles with her career. She starts off doing mindless fluff pieces for news programs that nobody watches. She finally gets to be an anchor, but only in pre-dawn hours when nobody's watching. She goes to Japan for a bit, but returns to New York after realizing that show was just as much of a career dead end as anything she'd done previously. Later in the show, she gets two job offers: One as a "coin flip bimbo" — sorry, "currency rotation specialist" — on a game show, and another as a research associate at World Wide News. She chooses the latter job because it's a respectable network, even though she'll be working behind the scenes.

However, working somewhere that'll actually reinforce her resume for once isn't enough for Robin. She also has to put up with Patrice, an enthusiastic and sweet-hearted coworker. For some reason, Robin simply cannot stand this woman, often responding to her bubbly comments with a vicious "NOBODY ASKED YOU, PATRICE!" or something similarly uncalled for and mean-spirited. Despite all the abuse, Patrice never takes it to heart. In Season 8, Patrice dates Barney, which devastates Robin, who's still in love with him. But even after realizing this was all a ruse to get Barney and Robin back together, Robin's inexplicable cruelty towards Patrice doesn't let up.

Barney lies to his mom about having a family

In season 4, Barney's friends suspect he's in a committed relationship. They follow him to a house in Staten Island, where they discover the place is actually owned by Barney's mom, Loretta. Then, shockingly, they're all joined by Barney's wife and son. For a minute, it really does seem like Barney has been leading a double life this whole time.

The truth ends up being a little less bizarre (but only a little). Turns out, Barney doesn't only lie to women he wants to sleep with: He's also been lying to his mother for years. A few years earlier, she got sick and it looked like she wasn't going to pull through. So Barney hired actors to play his wife and son, wanting his mom to pass away believing her son had finally settled down with a woman he loved. When Loretta beat the odds and pulled through, Barney decided to keep up the ruse, making semi-regular visits to his mom's house alongside his fake family ever since.

He comes clean by the end of the episode, and it all works out because Loretta hated his "wife" and "son" anyway, but still. Only a sick mind would even think about deceiving their own mother like that, even if they did it for nice reasons.

Marshall doesn't tell Lily about taking a judgeship

In Season 9, Lily and Marshall's storyline centers around their competing careers. Lily wants to go to Italy to be a professional art consultant for the Captain, while Marshall wants to become a judge. After already agreeing to follow Lily to Italy, Marshall takes an offer for a judgeship which would start the week before their move to Europe. Then, not wanting to fight with Lily during Robin and Barney's wedding, he just... doesn't tell her. At least not at first. When he finally does, she's understandably enraged.

As we later find out, he agrees to go to Italy anyway. Lily enjoys a few successful years as the Captain's art consultant. Then they move back, and Marshall returns to work as a corporate lawyer for a few years before accepting another, better judgeship in Queens, a dream of his. So it all works out in the end, because Marshall loves Lily more than his own career and is rewarded for this down the road. But still, taking a job that he knows would sabotage his wife's career and then hiding it from her is an uncharacteristically selfish move from Eriksen.

Ted won't take no for an answer with women

Ted Mosby is a funny, good-looking, successful young guy living in New York City. If he had a healthier relationship with women, he might've realized his dream of getting married well before he hit his mid-30s. Unfortunately, he's so in love with the idea of being in love that he frequently ends up with the wrong women for far too long, even when they try to turn him down. This is a sitcom, so grand romantic gestures are par for the course. But some of the things Ted pulls are over the line.

Infamously, Ted repeatedly pressures Robin into dating despite knowing full well she doesn't want to. In another episode, he takes Stella Zinman on a "two-minute date" in which they chat, have a bite to eat, and watch a short film in 120 seconds. Sounds cute, but he only does this because Stella repeatedly tries to articulate to him that she has no time to date. Ted pushes and essentially strong-arms her into a relationship ... that results in his being left at the altar. Maybe he doesn't deserve that, but he does need to be taught a lesson that sometimes, women aren't playing hard to get: No simply means no.

Lily sabotages Ted's relationships

In one episode, Robin convinces her friends to watch her morning news program, which airs before dawn. They all assemble in the living room in their pajamas (or, in Marshall's case, a nightgown that Barney mocks). However, instead of watching the show, which ends up being filled with fires, heart attacks, and Robin helping a woman give birth live on TV, they have a fight. Robin gets home excited to discuss the wild show, only to discover, to her disappointment, that nobody paid any attention.

But the fight needs to be had. This is when Lily tells Ted that she has sabotaged his relationship with Karen (Laura Prepon) by placing one of Robin's earrings in his bed to make it look like Ted is cheating. To be fair, Karen, who often cheats on Ted and is a pretentious snob who hates his friends, needs to go. But as Ted points out, Lily has no right to meddle in his personal life like that. To make matters worse, Lily reveals she has actually sabotaged many of Ted's previous relationships, including the one with Robin, because they didn't pass the "porch" test. Meaning, if Lily couldn't imagine her, Marshall, Ted, and whatever girl he was seeing all sitting on a porch in their old age and enjoying a sunset, then she would undermine the relationship. She's usually right that the women are bad for Ted, but this is way over the line.

Barney's friends enable his poor treatment of women

Almost as problematic as Barney's terrible behavior is that the show, and Barney's friends — both of which seem to be at least somewhat aware that his actions are often completely unacceptable — treat it like a silly joke. "There goes that scamp again, filming women without their consent!" instead of, "Barney films women without their consent. I'm calling the police."

They roll their eyes when he recounts the (usually embellished) tales of his latest sexual conquest, or make silly, light-hearted jokes at his expense. Sometimes they will actually confront him, but never intensely enough. For example, Lily briefly lays into Barney for continuing to lie to women for sex, but only because she knows he loves Robin and wants him to stop ... for his sake. Not for the sake of the poor girl who only slept with him because she thinks he plays for the Yankees.

On multiple other occasions, Barney's friends play wingman and actively help him seduce women at bars. Wingman culture is problematic enough as it is, but given the fact that they know full well that Barney is a sex predator who lies, manipulates, and treats consent like a joke, it makes their involvement even worse.

Lily doesn't disclose her debt to Marshall

We all have vices, and so do the characters on "How I Met Your Mother." Barney is a serial womanizer. Ted is romantic to a fault. Robin can't let go of her career aspirations long enough to find a meaningful relationship. Marshall believes in Bigfoot, or something. Everyone smokes. And Lily shops. And shops. And shops.

Her reckless spending habits have been noted multiple times throughout the show. In one episode, she explains to her friends that she swipes her credit card to relieve stress, like when things aren't going well at work, or when she's stressed about Marshall, or when she gets a massive credit card bill in the mail. Ka-ching. Another $100 added to the pile.

We're not here to judge her for this because again, we all deal with stress in our own unhealthy ways. But what truly crosses the line is the fact that she doesn't tell Marshall about her enormous credit card debt until ... well, she never actually does. She's about to, but the financial advisor who turns them down for a loan beats her to the punch. Oh, and this all happens after they're married.

In the show, this creates one episode of drama that ends with Marshall saying, "When I married you, I married your problems too," and the audience going "Awwww." In real life, something this serious wouldn't be so easy to get past, and might well lead to divorce.

Ted tells his kids about inappropriate things

The entire framing story for "How I Met Your Mother" is an older Ted Mosby, voiced by Bob Saget, telling his high school-aged kids about his adventures as a young New Yorker looking for love. It sounds charming, and it often is, but some of the stories he tells are wildly inappropriate for a dad to share with his kids, especially while they're still underage.

As we see over the course of the show, and as evidenced by the existence of this very article, Ted and his friends did a lot of regrettable things. And along with Barney and Robin, Ted seems to have slept with almost half the city, and tells his kids about these sexual conquests that have questionable relevance to the titular story of how he met their mother. On top of that, Ted talks about getting blackout drunk on multiple occasions, cheating on girlfriends, hitting on married women, getting tramp stamps, Aunt Lily and Uncle Marshall's ravenous sexual appetite for each other, and how Uncle Barney once had a perfect week by nailing a different girl every night for seven days straight. Ted often seems oblivious to how inappropriate his behavior is, but some of this stuff should be obvious.

It would've made a lot more sense to just say, "I met your mom at Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin's wedding and we hit it off. Now go brush your teeth."

Everyone's infidelity

They say all's fair in love and war, but there are lines decent human beings simply shouldn't cross. Unfortunately, the "HIMYM" characters are so impulsive and selfish that they routinely step over basic boundaries. Early on in the show, after starting a long-distance relationship with his girlfriend Victoria after she moves to Germany, Ted tries to get with Robin by lying to both women. Luckily, he gets caught and it all blows up in his face. Later on, Ted drunkenly hits on an engaged woman. Towards the end of the series, Ted reunites with Victoria and the two run away... on her wedding day. She's literally in her white dress when they drive off. In Ted's defense, he's the one who turns the car around because he can't go through with it, at which point they find out Victoria's husband-to-be, Klaus, also had cold feet and ran off. 

But the infidelity doesn't stop there. Robin openly pursues relationships with her male friends when they're in relationships, luring Ted away from Victoria and later cheating on Kevin by sleeping with Barney, who cheated on Nora by doing the same.

The Naked Man

In one episode while Ted is living with Robin, he comes home to find a naked man named Mitch, who'd just been on a date with Robin, sitting on his couch. After the initial shock wears off, Ted asks Mitch what in God's name he's doing there. Mitch explains that this strange tactic, known as "the Naked Man," involves him being invited into a woman's apartment after a date, stripping down to his birthday suit while she's out of the room, and hoping she'll be so amused by his boldness that she agrees to sleep with him. He further explains that it's the only way a schlub like him can reliably sleep with women, and that it works two thirds of the time.

Ted then explains this to the gang, and everyone tries it. Lily ends a fight with Marshall by getting naked, which is fine since they're already in a relationship. But Ted and Barney both try this with different women they barely know. It works for Ted, but Barney gets thrown out of the terrified woman's apartment. See? Two out of three times.

Okay, do we really need to explain why you can't just get naked in someone's house unless you know for a fact they'll be okay with it? Consent is important, folks, so don't try this at home. Or anyone else's.

Barney films women without their consent

The "oversexed, womanizing lunkhead" character has been a sitcom staple ever since Joey Tribbiani from "Friends" popularized the archetype in the '90s. But it didn't take long for other shows to take that concept to some dark, dark places. That's how we got to Dennis Reynolds from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and, of course, Barney Stinson. They both lie for sex, treat women like objects, and film them without their knowledge for their own pleasure later. 

This is ... not okay. Not by a longshot.

In one scene, it's revealed Barney does this not only to the random "bimbos" he seduces at bars, but to his own friends. He films himself having sex with Robin without her consent in Season 7, and he also bugs Lily and Marshall's bathroom. When Lily storms into the living room upset, Barney apologizes for the camera he assumes she found in there, saying it's the only one before adding, "Wait, which one did you find?" Cue canned laughter and of course, everyone else in the room simply rolling their eyes and moving on. 

Barney's Playbook

Other than almost exclusively wearing suits and having goofy catchphrases, Barney's defining characteristic is that he habitually manipulates women into bed using schemes detailed in his "Playbook." It makes for some pretty entertaining TV, especially when he dons various costumes or builds entire websites to support his lie of being "Lorenzo Von Matterhorn," an impossibly accomplished fake character he invented to impress women.

But many of the things Barney casually admits to doing for sex are beyond unacceptable to the nth degree of infinity. He once told a woman he was a genie whose genitals could grant wishes if rubbed hard enough. He sometimes goes to the Empire State Building and tells women standing alone that "he's not coming," hoping they're waiting for a star-crossed lover and that he can take her to bed instead. He once sold a woman into slavery, for God's sake. In one episode, the gang makes a bracket of 64 of Barney's sexual conquests to determine which woman was the most mistreated. Here we learn Barney once pretended he had 12 hours to live, posed as various wealthy entrepreneurs, and faked being his own evil twin so he could sleep with a girl twice.

Even in this fictional world, Barney's treating consent like a joke and lying to get women into bed ranges from cruel to legitimately illegal. Suffice to say, no sitcom would dare try to pull off half of his jokes in today's television.