Did ‘How I Met Your Mother’ Base Robin and Barney’s Relationship On a ‘Friends’ Couple?

Now that a new group of people will be able to watch Friends on HBO Max, even more may come to the same conclusion: The series influenced comedies that followed it, like How I Met Your Mother. Did the 2005 CBS sitcom take one specific element from the 1994 NBC one that preceded it?

‘How I Met Your Mother’ couple Barney and Robin

Cobie Smulders as Robin and Neil Patrick Harris as Barney in 'How I Met Your Mother'
Cobie Smulders as Robin and Neil Patrick Harris as Barney in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

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The characters of Barney Stinson and Robin Scherbatsky met in the pilot episode of HIMYM. Barney introduces Robin to Ted at McLaren’s and encourages Ted to sleep with her. After Ted and Robin decide just to be friends, she joins the group. Robin and Barney remain good friends as Ted and Robin date (and breakup). But in season 3, they sleep together for the first time.

Barney and Robin have a friends-with-benefits relationship in season 4, which then turns into a monogamous relationship. They break up in season 5, and both go on to date (and get engaged to) other people. However, in season 8, they finally get back together and get engaged.

Their divorce in the series finale angered many fans

HIMYM did something very unique in its final season. All of season 9 took place throughout one long weekend: Robin and Barney’s wedding weekend. There are plenty of hiccups along the way, but in the end, they officially tie the knot and appear happy about it.

This is why the series finale, which sees the group over the years following the wedding, was highly criticized. Robin and Barney get divorced after just a few years of marriage. Barney never settles down again, but after about 15 years, Robin does — with Ted.

‘HIMYM’ has often been compared to ‘Friends’ 

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HIMYM has drawn many comparisons to Friends. Both are sitcoms about 20-somethings living in Manhattan who spend a lot of time at a dining establishment. There’s also a distinct lack of representation in regards to race and sexual orientation in both. (While HIMYM does a little better in this aspect, it also came years after Friends.)

Another way the two series are alike? There’s a fair amount of dating within the core groups. Most notably, there’s one woman (Robin and Rachel) who joins the group in the pilot and who is romantically involved with two of the men throughout the show (Barney and Ted, Joey and Ross).

How Robin and Barney are different from Rachel and Joey

In HIMYM, Robin and Ted have the same kind of on-again, off-again, “meant to be” kind of relationship that Rachel and Ross do in Friends. So that makes Robin and Barney like Rachel and Joey. As The Take points out in a video about the HIMYM, there are some similarities there. Namely that Joey and Barney are both the “playboy” types of the group.

But there are a lot more differences. Robin and Rachel aren’t all that much alike in personality. Yes, both are “career-driven” women, but that’s a classification that feels outdated by HIMYM. More than that, as couples, there’s no real comparison. Robin and Barney made sense as a couple because they were so similar. And fans saw them work well together.

Rachel and Joey, on the other hand, never really vibed. They were thrown together late in the game (much later than Barney and Robin). And they flamed out almost immediately. So while there are definite reasons to compare these two couples, it doesn’t seem like Friends was the inspiration for the HIMYM pairing, however doomed they may both have been.