How I Met Your Mother follows the love stories and woes between longtime friends Ted, Barney, Lily, Marshall, and Robin. Following these people throughout New York City, we get a peek into the ups and downs of their friend group and outside relationships. We see them evolve and mature pretty significantly as characters, especially by sitcom standards where characters usually tend to stay stuck in their ways. Hell, even Barney grows up eventually and matures out of his sinister ways!
In which ways did all the characters on How I Met Your Mother evolve and experience major character development throughout all nine seasons? Keep reading to find out!
BARNEY RAISING A DAUGHTER
Barney has always been extremely irresponsible and careless when it came to the women in his life. He would boastfully treat women like objects and although his friends were disgusted by his behavior, he would continue to treat women terribly.
It was a beautiful moment in the finale when Barney had a daughter, thus altering his entire view of life and women in general. He stops being a womanizer and instead becomes a man who vows to cherish and respect women.
ROBIN ACCEPTING LOVE IN HER LIFE
Robin made it pretty clear at the beginning of the series that she wasn’t looking for anything serious in her romantic pursuits. She wanted to explore the world and put her career first, knowing in her heart that a relationship would just hold her back. Yet eventually, she was able to take the risk and accept love into her life, even though it scared her half to death to do so. Robin made sacrifices in order to find happiness and accept the love that only a relationship could offer.
TED KNOWING WHEN TO LET GO
Ted is the type of person who believes in soul mates and true love, so he wasn’t quick to let Robin go for the longest time, even when he knew she didn’t feel the same way about him as he did for her.
It took time for Ted to admit to himself that Robin wanted different things out of life than he did, and it wasn’t until much later in the series that he could let go of his desires for Robin and officially move on from her.
LILY CHASING AFTER HER DREAMS
At the beginning of the series, Lily seems as though she is perfectly content with her life as a kindergarten teacher and as a woman who is about to marry the love of her life. Yet we see a more authentic side of Lily when she admits that she secretly longs for more out of her life, and her true colors show when she breaks off the engagement with Marshall in order to pursue an art program in San Francisco. The fact that she wasn’t completely content showed us a side of her that was fascinating to witness. It really developed her character as someone with serious ambition who was willing to give it all up in order to chase her dreams.
MARSHALL BEING HONEST WITH HIS DESIRES
Marshall is a happy-go-lucky person who always seems to be wearing a smile. He often lives to make other people feel content with their lives, especially when it comes to his relationship with Lily. Since he is very much a go-with-the-flow type of person, when he admits that he doesn’t like a certain aspect of his life and wants to make a change, it is a pretty big deal for him. This is evident when he wants to leave his corporate job because he is not passionate about it and it doesn’t coincide with his values. This is also true when he admits that he wants to move to New Jersey and that he secretly hates New York. Seeing a cynical side of Marshall is oddly refreshing and it shows us some major development in his character.
TED SUPPORTING ROBIN AND BARNEY’S RELATIONSHIP
Ted starts off as a guy who is absolutely obsessed with Robin. He even tells her that he’s in love with her on the first date! He will basically do anything to win her love and affection, yet once he realizes Barney’s love for her, he is somehow able to give up his longing so his friends can be happy together. That takes serious strength to be able to do that without revealing hurt or anger, yet Ted is completely selfless when he supports Barney and Robin’s relationship, even though it secretly destroys him. We’re not sure if Ted would have been so cool with this in the earlier seasons when the only thing that mattered to him was having Robin all to himself.
ROBIN EXPRESSING VULNERABILITY AND SADNESS
Robin is not the type of person who wears her heart on her sleeve under any circumstances. This is mostly due to her strict upbringing where her father pretended she was a boy throughout her childhood because he wanted to have a son instead of a daughter. During the instances when Robin lets her “cool girl” guard down and allows herself to feel is a really great moment for us viewers considering she always gives off the impression that nothing can hurt her.
This is especially evident when it is revealed that she cannot have kids. Robin breaks down, even though she expressed that she did not want kids beforehand. Yet after hearing that it would never happen, it messed her up a lot. It made us feel awful for her, yet we respected her even more when she tore down her wall and allowed herself to be sad.
BARNEY COMMITTING TO ROBIN
Barney was the ultimate player throughout the series who saw women as sexual conquests rather than human beings. This all changed when he slowly began to realize that he was madly in love with his best friend, Robin, even though these feelings went against the “bro-code”. Considering Ted was in love with her first, Barney was very conflicted about his feelings, especially due to the fact that his character is terrified of commitment. Yet his love for Robin is so deep that he is willing to give up his usual values in order to be in a serious relationship with her. It was a real shocker, especially considering the fact that Robin was just as afraid of serious relationships as he was.
LILY ADMITTING THAT SHE IS NOT OKAY
During one of the last episodes of the series, Lily admits to Ted that she isn’t as happy as she makes herself out to be. Lily knows that she should feel complete because she is a mother and has a wonderful husband, but she reveals to one of her best friends that she sometimes wants to get up and leave in the middle of the night and never come back. This is a huge development in Lily’s character, who seems very happy-go-lucky all of the time and tends to put on a smile even when she is hurting inside. It made us respect her even more because we realized she is human and has faults just like the rest of us do.
MARSHALL AND LILY ALLOWING THEMSELVES TO FIGHT
Marshall and Lily show character development as a couple on How I Met Your Mother during the rare occasions when they get into fights. As a romantic pair, they are both terrified of conflict and they work hard to make sure that everything is perfect and dandy all of the time. While this is well intended, in reality, it is good for couples to argue or even get into fights every so often when they are in a conflicting situation. They need to be honest with each other and face their issues without always attempting to avoid them, which is what they usually do whenever they’re facing a problem in their relationship. Whenever they do get into fights, it’s almost refreshing because they are putting aside the idea that they need to be perfect all the time and it shows growth between the two.
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