Barney Stinson’s journey to redemption could have been much more significant if How I Met Your Mother presented his arc with a more serious tone.
Even though How I Met Your Mother was flawed in some elements, Barney’s redemption by the conclusion of the series was a bright spot. That said, the series could have made the core character’s arc much better if it was presented in a stronger tone. Seeing as the sitcom spanned decades with the inclusion of flashbacks and flash-forward sequences, it was no surprise that character growth served as a major focus. If the show gave Barney more of a reason to learn from his past while permanently shedding his childish personality, the redemption would have been more memorable.
Barney’s Hippie To Suit Transformation Explained
Barney’s origin as a promiscuous businessman was unearthed throughout How I Met Your Mother. Season 1’s “Game Night” was the first episode to present the character in a different light. To get Barney to share details into his first relationship, his friends agreed to share the most embarrassing moments in their lives. In turn, Barney unveiled a shocking story involving his transformation into the man they knew at that point of the timeline.
Before becoming a successful businessman, Barney was a college graduate working at an NYC coffee shop with his girlfriend, Shannon. It was the late ’90s and Barney identified as a hippie with plans to join the Peace Corps with his first girlfriend. The pair had plans to eventually marry, but before leaving for Nicaragua, Shannon backed out when her father threatened to cut her off financially. Barney tried multiple times to change her mind to no avail. While refusing to give up on the love of his life, Barney returned to the coffee shop, learning that Shannon was cheating on him with a businessman named Greg. The cocky businessman claimed that men with money and suits have a better chance with women, insulting Barney’s hippie attire in the process.
Upon falling into full despair, Barney decided to fully transform himself to mirror Greg’s style and personality. He even got a job at Greg’s company, which happened to be highly corrupt. As an act of revenge, Barney simultaneously worked as an FBI informant, resulting in Greg’s arrest for illegal activities. After Greg’s departure, Barney rose the ranks at the reformed company, now called GNB bank, but he remained a manipulative womanizer for the years that followed.
How & Why Barney Reverted To His Womanizer Ways
First, there was Nora, who saw right through Barney’s ploys to win her over. There was also Quinn, a woman to who Barney was engaged, but his past with Robin got in the way. Barney took the breakup with Quinn extremely hard, falling back to his promiscuity as a coping mechanism. In time, he realized that he truly wanted to settle down with Robin, so he embarked on “The Final Page” in his Playbook for his grand marriage proposal. The couple eventually got married, which was documented in the show’s final season. In the flash-forwards, it was revealed that Barney and Robin divorced after three years. Following the breakup, Barney went back to his womanizing ways, causing Robin to distance herself from the friend group.
Barney Becoming A Father Was Too Little Too Late
Each time Barney went through a serious relationship, he seemed to experience significant character growth. Unfortunately, his redemption arc surrounding his act of settling down with Robin was tarnished due to his actions after the divorce. Rather than learn from his past, realizing that there was more than life than being an oversexed businessman, Barney reverted to his Playbook days. After so much character growth, it was as if he learned nothing about how he treated women as objects for conquest. Interestingly enough, one of his flings resulted in the birth of his daughter, Ellie.
Barney’s Redemption Should’ve Been More Emotional Than Silly
There was no doubt that How I Met Your Mother elected to put Barney down a new path in the final few seasons. The character did end up a changed man compared to his past, after all. That said, the timeline in which Barney’s redemption remained intact was supposedly in the year 2020. Not only did it seem too long for Barney to encounter a change of priorities, but his transformation should have been through a more emotional arc instead of frivolous storylines that came into focus.
How I Met Your Mother had the opportunity to use Barney’s past with Shannon to present a man who transformed every aspect of himself because of his broken heart. Instead, the show twisted his broken spirit into a wild act of revenge on Greg while turning into a mirror image of the man he hated. To make it worse, he slept with Shannon well after his transformation as if he wanted to prove that he won. Even his emotional breakups with Quinn and Robin turned into silly responses such as “Bangtober” and Barney’s attempt at a “perfect month” by sleeping with a new woman for each day in the month. The emotional side of Barney’s journey was often overshadowed by the comedic promiscuity with the character. Had that been reversed, Barney’s redemption would have been much more meaningful.