Barney Stinson often served as one of the funniest characters on How I Met Your Mother — and also one of the sleaziest. He became known for his womanizer ways, which he never seemed to fully let go of throughout the CBS comedy’s nine seasons. Every time Barney appeared ready to leave his days of playing women behind, something pulled him backward. However, underneath the surface, Barney did show character growth in several ways.
Barney Stinson finally gave commitment a try
How I Met Your Mother introduced Barney as someone who never wanted to give up the single lifestyle. He spent most of his days trying to hook up with as many women as he could, and any sign of commitment frightened him. Barney never wanted to get married, and he never wanted to start a family. However, his feelings about relationships changed in season 5.
As fans may recall, Barney and Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) had similar approaches to relationships. When they started dating, though, they both opened up to the idea of commitment. And though Barney and Robin’s relationship ended up being toxic for both parties, it helped Barney move past his anti-relationship stance. He later entered a relationship with Nora (Nazanin Boniadi) and even got engaged to Quinn (Becki Newton).
Barney reconnected with his father
How I Met Your Mother revealed early in the series that Barney didn’t know the true identity of his father. In season 2, he admitted that he grew up believing his father was Bob Barker, although he eventually realized this wasn’t true. Then, in season 6, Barney learned that his Uncle Jerry (John Lithgow), who left the family during Barney’s childhood, was actually his father.
At first, Barney felt angry at Jerry for leaving his family behind, only to start a new family with another wife and child later in life. He acted immaturely toward Jerry’s new life, mocking his second son whenever he got the chance. However, Barney eventually opened up about the pain Jerry caused him.
And though he didn’t have to forgive Jerry, Barney later bonded with his father and put the past behind him. This showcased Barney’s maturity.
He became a shoulder to lean on for his friends
Barney often came across as having a selfish attitude, only caring about his latest scheme at work or his newest play from the Playbook. It wasn’t often that fans saw Barney comforting his friends and offering them advice. However, in season 9 episode 18, “Rally,” the gang realized that Barney had helped them through some of their toughest times.
Barney drank too much the night before his wedding to Robin and needed his signature Stinson Hangover Fixer Elixr to snap him out of his stupor. Unfortunately, he never told his friends the secret ingredients, so they couldn’t finish making the beverage.
Then, Robin, Ted (Josh Radnor), Lily (Alyson Hannigan), and Marshall (Jason Segel) realized the main ingredient: love. The drink was always a placebo effect, as Barney gave it to his friends whenever they got too drunk during hard times in their lives. He sat with them, listened to their troubles, and helped get their minds off the pain. Barney may not have been as selfish as he seemed.
Barney settled down for his daughter
After his relationships with Robin, Nora, and Quinn, Barney always went back to his womanizer ways. It seemed impossible for anything to pull him out of the game. But then, something changed him forever: his daughter.
In the How I Met Your Mother finale, Barney learned that a woman he slept with had gotten pregnant. And when he saw his daughter for the first time, Barney cried. He looked into her eyes, gave her a kiss, and told her that she was the love of his life.
After that, Barney tried to go back to his single lifestyle, but he couldn’t resist the pull of parenthood. This time, Barney seemed done with womanizing for good.
All episodes of How I Met Your Mother are now streaming on Hulu.