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Top 10 How I Met Your Mother Running Gags

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Emily Brayton. Since its premiere in 2005, "How I Met Your Mother" has earned a place as one of today’s most successful sitcoms. Audiences fell in love with the unique storytelling device of Ted explaining to his kids how he first came to encounter his wife. In honor of the beginning of its ninth and final season on September 23rd, 2013, counts down our picks for the top 10 "How I Met Your Mother" running gags. (Do you agree with our list, or do you think we deserve to be slapped?) Special thanks to our user smoshy5 for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page!

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Top 10 How I Met Your Mother Running Gags

Kids, we’re going to tell you an incredible story… Welcome to, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top 10 “How I Met Your Mother” running gags.

#10 – Canada

Thanks to Robin Scherbatsky’s Canadian heritage, “How I Met Your Mother” mocks Canada. Often. Though she upholds the Canadian hockey stereotype, Robin tries her darndest to convince her friends that their neighbors to the north can speak properly, aren’t afraid of the dark, and don’t spend all their time at Tim Hortons. We still don’t know what an Old King Clancy is, but we’re sure we don’t wanna know.

#9 – Barney’s job

This isn’t a running gag, but a recurring mystery: nobody knows what Barney does. Our only clues? He does a lot of hiring and firing at GNB. Barney also has all the time and money in the world – who else could create a bachelor pad with a floating Jor-El-head projector, life-sized Stormtrooper and – of course – the “Ho-Be-Gone”? C’mon Barney: what do you do? Thought we’d at least try…

#8 – Musical Numbers

These guys love to get their sing on, no matter the occasion. We remember when Marshall had a problem with photomontages and songs about mundane events. But Marshmallow ain’t the only one with pipes: Ted’s given Barney some dating tips through song, while Barney’s sung about his love of formalwear. But their team effort for the oddly-familiar theme tune to their bar may be our fave.

#7 – Catchphrases

“How I Met Your Mother” has a catchphrase for every occasion, and many of them are attributable to the ultra-quotable Barney Stinson. But he’s not the only one with memorable mottos: Robin’s verbal tick is the most dangerous drinking game we know, Lily’s oddly interested in trying to find the poop, and Marshall will own you with just one “lawyered.” Think we can’t name them all? Challenge accepted.

#6 – Robin Sparkles

This recurring gag is a blast from Robin’s Canadian past. Her career as a teen pop sensation in her home and native land yielded hits like the catchy “Let’s Go to the Mall,” the heartbreakingly beautiful “Sandcastles in the Sand” and Robin Daggers’ first grunge effort, “P.S. I Love You.” But perhaps our favorite Robin Sparkles contribution was “Space Teens,” her short-lived TV show with Alan Thicke.

#5 – Barney’s Rules: The Playbook & The Bro Code

Barney has a lot of rules, whether they’re for the purposes of fashion, picking up ladies, or living life to the fullest. We’ve glimpsed the plays from his legendary Playbook; but we know he has more up his tailored suit sleeve – The Bro Code is his ultimate weapon. Rule numero uno: bros before hoes, obviously. Also, never share dessert or rent a chick flick.

#4 – Flashbacks/forwards

Sometimes they’re piecing together a drunken night. Sometimes they’re discussing how they met. Sometimes, they’re proving a point. But flashbacks are always hilarious, with Ted’s Jew-fro, Robin’s daddy issues, Barney’s hippie phase, Lily’s goth look, and Marshall’s mullet. The past was a simpler time, when Doctor X shot truth bullets and sandwiches were better. Flash-forwards are equally entertaining, if only to see how everyone’s aged.

#3 – Slap Bet

Starting in season two, Barney and Marshall began an all-out slap-dance that lasted years. We can hardly remember how it even started, but we think it had to do with a bet about Robin’s fear of malls. Since then, we’ve celebrated two Slapsgivings, learned that time-slap continuums can exist, and been introduced to a song that accompanies the slaps perfectly. We think the Slap Bet Commissioner would approve.

#2 – Blue French horn

Whether or not it’s a Smurf penis or a simple blue French horn; it’s where Ted’s never-ending story began. It shows up periodically as a symbol of Shmosby’s silly romantic nature and the ever-present possibility that he and Robin end up together. While we all know that doesn’t happen, we don’t care: we just want one for over our fireplace. Where are you when we need you, Teddy Westside?

#1 – Yellow umbrella

Anywhere this umbrella is, so shall the mother be. For eight seasons, the yellow umbrella is all frustrated fans knew about Ted’s future wife. Well, that and she plays bass, paints bizarre pictures and likes to play with her food. The yellow umbrella is one of the series’ most important symbols, though we had to wait until “a little ways down the road” to find out exactly why.

Do you agree with our list, or do you think we deserve to be slapped? For more top 10s about your favorite shows, be sure to subscribe to

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