HIMYM Barney-Robin-Ted Analysis

Note: if you aren’t a HIMYM fan 1) why not? and 2) you can skip this entry and go become a How I Met Your Mother fan.

Alright folks. I have more than a month still until I get more How I Met Your Mother, even longer for Psych, and I finally caught up on my summer shows (and shark week!) so I have time to obsess a little. Mostly, I’ve been considering the Barney-Robin-Ted triangle that really isn’t a triangle. Yes, I know Ted and Robin had a “moment” in the rain, but (SPOILER ALERT) the creators have assured us that Barney and Robin will get married in season 9. But I’m getting off topic.

Yes. I am aware that these are fictional characters but if people can obsess about Beyonce and Blue Ivy (still a dumb name) wearing matching shoes, I can obsess about a well-developed fictitious couple. So here is my Ted-Mosby-story-length dissertation. 

Anyway. Suspend the knowledge for a moment that we know Robin is not the mother and we know she marries Barney and look at the other evidence why Barney and Robin do work and Ted and Robin don’t:

  • Kids. This is obvious, but I’ll state it anyway. Barney and Robin are ambivalent about kids at best, and Robin can’t have any. Ted wants, has always wanted (and clearly has) kids. 

  • Fun. Have you seen Natural History? Barney and Robin have a blast. They start out in season 1 with Zip Zip Zip where the pair have a great time smoking cigars, playing laser tag, and “bro”ing out. The whole Murtaugh List. And in Stamp Tramp Barney “drunkenly” admits that he always has fun with Robin, which is clearly shown throughout the series, both while they are romantically involved and while they are merely friends. Ted and Robin, on the other hand, don’t appear to have nearly as much fun together. Yes, they are very sweet both as friends and in a relationship, and slightly snarky and competitive but come on, Robin and Barney made a game out of touching everything at the Natural History Museum and breaking up an obnoxious couple. Ted’s great but he just wouldn’t do that.

  • Chemistry. Season 7. Episode 1. The Best Man. Barney and Robin’s dance. That’s all I even need to say on this, but I will go on. The almost kiss in the rain and the actual kiss in the taxi in Disaster Averted. Actually, if you watch, from season 3/4ish onward, they pretty much have a spark anytime they are alone together, and even though Robin gets mad at Barney for the way he acts after they break up, they seem to know that they need each other, because they still remain pretty good friends for almost the entire series. Ted and Robin? Meh. They’ve got some sizzle in the beginning but it is not really there after season 3ish. 

Next, the messy bits. 

  • I’m sorry, but there is nothing more heartbreaking than Barney’s face when Robin chooses Kevin in Tick, Tick, Tick. Then with the trash bag and the petals and the candles…poor Barney.

  • Robin gets insanely jealous of Nora, and when Barney and Quinn get engaged, she is clearly rattled. but puts on a brave face. Then when she believes Barney is dating Patrice, she is heartbroken and appears to be paranoid and in denial. (which, it turns out she was right and Barney wasn’t daring Patrice, and he was putting on a show for her benefit, but we’ll get to that…)

  • Barney clearly gets jealous when Ted and Robin start hooking up in Benefits. It drives him crazy enough that he starts taking care of whatever the two were arguing about to keep them from hooking up. Then, he gets jealous again when Robin is dating Don in Twin Beds. And yes, Ted also becomes jealous but it is only after Barney reveals that he wants Robin back. And Barney is the one to bring up that he and Robin dated and he doesn’t want her to move in with Don from the start. I think Ted’s jealousy in this episode is like his “piggyback stamp”. He doesn’t have the original idea, but once someone else does, he gets on board.

  • There are only two times in the series where there is real jealousy (not started by Barney, see #3) in Robin and Ted’s relationship. In the first season, Robin is jealous of Victoria. In the eighth season, Ted gets jealous that Barney and Robin are engaged and he wants her back. And even then, it’s not nearly as crazy as the lengths Barney and Robin go to when jealous.

  • When Robin is trying to break up with Nick at Barney’s insistence  (with Lily, Ted, Marshall and Barney listening in via speakerphone) and he starts to kiss her, these are the responses: Ted “Sickening” and Barney: “Exiting” because he can’t stand to listen to it anymore. That whole episode, Barney’s goal is to have Robin break up with Nick. He was finally realizing that he still had feelings for Robin, and knew he didn’t want to see her with another guy, but I don’t think he knew how he really felt until he got to the restaurant and started talking (see below in “The Robin”)

Now, onto the gooey romantic stuff.

  • Ted: the Blue French Horn/Quartet in the living room/Rain dance. Yes. These were all nice, crazy romantic gestures from Ted but they were sort of…Ted-centric. And a little desperate. Then he does that big Christmas light display to cheer her up. These are all very nice. Sometimes I think these are the things that Ted wants someone to do for him, so while very adorable and romantic, these gestures are a bit self-centered. Ted has some wonderful romantic moments with Robin, but…meh.

  • Barney: proposal aside, he is into smaller, more private moments, surprisingly. Even though Robin sort of betrays him in Tick Tick Tick, Barney had planned a quiet romantic surprise for her – rose petals and candles. Simple.  Barney gets Robin a job when she faces deportation in The PossimpibleHe tackles Ted when he knows Robin needs a win during Subway Wars but denies ever doing it. He sends Robin on a super date with another man to apologize for his behavior towards her after their breakup and honors her request not to sleep with someone. In Disaster Averted, he has a moment of sincerity and tells Robin that any day he goes without talking to her is “just no good” and they nearly kiss. When they cheat on Nora and Kevin with each other, Barney’s first reaction is that clearly it meant something. He backpedals later, but then admits to Robin that he hasn’t stopped thinking about her.
  • Even when he announces his engagement to Quinn, Barney gives himself and Robin an out, suggesting that they “run away together”, which I’m still not convinced was entirely a joke.  
  • After they are engaged, he agrees to sell his Fortress of Barnitude (and from eight seasons experience, we know how much he loves his apartment), he burns and later blows up The Playlist, which he put years into perfecting. 

  • The Robin. Yes, this might be the single most adorable, romantic, manipulative, over-the-top proposal ever done on a sitcom. “The Robin” was a play spanning 6 episodes, however, here is my theory on how “The Robin” came into being. So we know Barney wants Robin to break up with Nick. When it seems she won’t be able to do it, Barney takes action. He marches into the dessert parlor and begins a speech that, I believe, he intended to be fake. But then it turns real because once he gets past the initial part where he tells Nick that he and Robin are done, he starts to actually pour out his feelings. I don’t think he intended to say all of this, which I have included in it’s full text because it’s AMAZING: 

Barney: I love her Nick.
Robin: Look, he doesn’t love me. He’s just saying this because he thinks…

Barney: I love everything about her, and I’m not a guy who says that lightly. I am a guy who has faked love his entire life. I thought love was just something idiots thought they felt, but this woman has a hold on my heart that I could not break if I wanted too. And there have been times that I wanted to. It has been overwhelming, and humbling. And even painful, at times. But I could not stop loving her any more than I could stop breathing. I am hopelessly, irretrievably, in love with her. More than she knows.

*chills* It just got real. I think somewhere during his quest to break Nick and Robin up, Barney admits to himself that he still loves her. He later claims to be “bro”ing Robin out to make sure he doesn’t get hurt again because he got very vulnerable in the ice cream shop. I think if Patrice hadn’t called and interrupted their kiss, he and Robin would have gotten back together right then and there. I think later that night, AFTER the Splitsville speech, Barney made his decision to pull off “The Robin”. I think he decided it needed to be the most elaborate, involved play he’s ever pulled because, way back in the episode with the Superdate, Robin was upset at how hard he worked to get other women and she never got that treatment. I think “The Robin” was Barney’s way of showing her that she was important by designing the biggest play ever around proposing to her. The rest of the play goes from there, with Barney carefully orchestrating each step BUT in order for it to be pulled off completely, he needs two people to make their own choices, which I think is the key to making the proposal more romantic than creepy. 

  • Ted has to let Robin go, thus giving his blessing to Barney and Robin. At this point, Ted and Barney both know that Robin is in love with Barney and Ted, in a nice selfless moment, tells Robin to go and try to win Barney back, not realizing the ruse. 

  • Robin has to say yes. The last step of “The Robin” is very simple and puts all that Barney has done into perspective. He pulled off this amazingly complicated trick, and in the end, step 16 says “Hope she says yes”. This is not planned, he doesn’t know the outcome, all he can do is hope. I think that’s what gets Robin. He didn’t do all of this with the expectation she would say “yes”, he did it hoping she would, the choice is completely up to her. 

Really, I think Ted is a little like Scarlet O’Hara, who, for years, is in love with the idea of Ashley Wilkes. She doesn’t really love him, she loves this picture of him she’s had in her head since she was 17. I think that’s Ted. I think he’s in love with the Robin he has created in his head the day they met. Whenever Ted talks about his feelings for Robin, he says things like “I love her” and “I think she could be the one” and “she should be with me”. Romantic, sure, but not on the same level as Barney.

When Barney admits to his feelings to Lily he tells her “I can’t eat, I can’t sleep. I close my eyes, I see Robin” and tells Marshall that he thinks about Robin all the time and misses her when she isn’t there. And while Ted’s relationship with Robin doesn’t appear to change his dating habits, Barney actually only returns to his previous lifestyle of one-night-stands to deal with the rough parts of life, like he does in The Playbook (after breaking up with Robin) the episodes following his breakup with Nora, and the episodes following his breakup with Quinn. But that works out to less than a third of seasons 5, 6, 7, and 8. Considering he spent pretty much every episode of the first four seasons hooking up with any bimbo he wanted, that’s a significant change.

Finally, in one of the most romantic speeches on the show, Klaus, the man Victoria left at the altar, tells Ted about finding “the One”:

Klaus: Oh, oh (sigh) Ah…Victoria… There’s a word in German: Lebenschlangershicksalsschatz. And the closest translation would be “life-long treasure of destiny”. And Victoria is wunderbar, but she’s not my Lebenschlangershicksalsschatz. She’s my Beinaheleidenschaftsgegenstand. You know?…It means “the thing that is almost the thing that you want, but is not quite”. That is Victoria to me.

TedHow do you know that she’s not your Lebenschlangershicksalsschatz? I mean…maybe as the years go by she’ll get Lebenschlangershicksalsschatz-ier.

KlausOh, nein, nein, nein. Lebenschlangershicksalsschatz is not something that develops over time, it is something that happens instantaneously. It crosses through you like the water of the river after a storm; filling you and emptying you, all at once. You feel it through out your body: in your hands, in your heart, in your stomach, in your skin. Of course you feel it in your Schlauchmanchendejungen. Pardon my French. Have you ever felt this way about someone?

TedYeah, I think so.

Klaus: If you have to think about it, you have not felt it.

We know Barney has felt that way, he admitted to it way back in Season 4 when he admitted to being in love with Robin and again in season 8’s Splitsville when he gave his “fake” romantic speech. But not Ted. Ted has to think about it, and he’s not thinking about Robin at this point, he’s thinking about Victoria. And that, kids, is why Robin and Barney were always meant to be and Ted was meant to be with someone else. 

Peace out.