Barney Stinson memorably had a fear of driving in the early seasons of How I Met Your Mother. Played by Neil Patrick Harris for the duration of the sitcom, Barney was the charming womanizer of the How I Met Your Mother’s friend group. Here’s why Barney wouldn’t drive and how that changed as the show continued.
The topic of Barney’s big fear came into focus in the How I Met Your Mother season 2 episode, “Arrivederci, Fiero.” When Marshall’s beloved Pontiac Fiero breaks down, the friends come together and reminisce about their experiences with the car, but Barney didn’t understand their nostalgic obsession. Ted then shared Barney’s only experience of the Fiero, which wasn’t a great memory.
Ted’s story is presented as a flashback to when he tried to teach Barney how to drive in the Fiero. Barney grew up in Staten Island but spent most of his later life in New York City. Like most city residents, Barney never learned how to drive and instead relied on public transportation or taxis. At some point, he became terrified of driving, leading Ted to teach his friend how to drive. Unfortunately, Ted’s lesson made Barney’s fear of the road worse. When Ted tried to teach Barney in a parking lot, it didn’t go so well, as Barney refused to drive over 10mph and never left the lot. He then freaked out and steered into a bush. The character’s fears must have gone away because Barney drove in future seasons.
Barney Probably Learned To Drive In His Early Thirties
Although it was insinuated that Barney never learned how to drive, he was seen at the wheel of a vehicle on multiple occasions. The episode following “Arrivederci, Fiero” featured Barney stealing Ted’s moving van. In season 4, Barney tried to get pulled over on purpose to seduce female police officers. Even though the Fiero incident hindered Barney’s motivation to drive, he likely gathered the courage after that initial flashback was set. This would mean that the character finally learned to drive by his early thirties.
Some viewers might consider Barney’s fear of driving to be a continuity error. Since Ted claimed Barney was even more terrified after the driving lesson, there was a presumption that he never attempted to get a license. There were even a few flashbacks that took place before the demise of the Fiero showing Barney driving like when he drove Ted’s mom to the airport. The writers either overlooked the timeline or wanted to give Barney more freedom in How I Met Your Mother. Barney evolved a lot over the course of the series, and his fear of driving was something he clearly overcame despite being a lifelong NYC resident.