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How I Met Your Mother vs. Friends

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Niki Neptune. In the battle of the attractive, upwardly mobile ensemble casts, who reigns supreme? Though they debuted 11 years apart, “Friends” and “How I Met Your Mother” have drawn comparisons for their similarities as two sitcoms about groups of tight-knight friends. Welcome to, and in this installment of Versus, we’re pitting “How I Met Your Mother” against “Friends” to see who takes this sitcom smackdown. For this Versus, we’ve compared the shows’ characters and casts, common hangouts, running jokes, romantic entanglements and guest stars. Special thanks to our users roxy and Andrew A. Dennison for submitting the idea on our Suggestions Page at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Niki Neptune.

How I Met Your Mother vs. Friends

In the battle of the attractive, upwardly mobile ensemble casts, who reigns supreme? Welcome to, and in this installment of Versus, we’re pitting “How I Met Your Mother” against “Friends” to see who takes this sitcom smackdown.

Round 1: Personable Personalities

Sitcoms are by nature formulaic, and true to form both of these shows feature the classic character archetypes: the quirky female friend, the wisecracking guy who marries within the inner circle, etc, etc. But it’s the hedonistic playboys where the battle really occurs.

On “Friends”, Joey Tribbiani plays an affable, if somewhat dim, lothario who seems to have plenty of luck with the ladies – even though he’s not all that bright. Much of his womanizing seems to come incidentally, and while he’s almost always on the prowl, he’s only moderately aggressive in his approaches.

By contrast, “How I Met Your Mother”’s suit-wearing Barney Stinson is a borderline predator. He’s constantly on the hunt for women, with most of his free time being spent concocting elaborate schemes to score with the ladies. He puts in the good old college try, and for that we gotta give him credit.

While the “Friends” cast is definitely in the running, Barney helps give “How I Met Your Mother” the advantage in the character department.

Winner: HIMYM 1 / Friends 0

Round 2: Habitual Hangouts

Both of these primetime sitcoms have their band of merry friends convening at some fairly interesting hangouts. The “How I Met Your Mother” crowd seems to be perpetually seated in a booth at MacLaren’s Pub. Since they’re all young upstarts just trying to deal with romantic entanglements, having drinks after work everyday seems like the way to go.

Meanwhile, the buds over at “Friends” play it straight edge, getting their kicks at Central Perk, a coffee shop where Rachel and Joey both worked, Phoebe plays her music and that has but one couch. And they are there a lot. However, these guys and gals also manage to somehow be permanent guests in each other’s apartments. Although, it’s mainly the girls’ apartment.

Sure, the kids over at “How I Met Your Mother” have some pretty cool cribs as well: Barney’s pad is a chick magnet – and repellant – and everyone else has lived in the apartment over MacLaren’s at one time or another. But the “Friends” spots are pop culture fixtures, plain and simple.

Winner: HIMYM 1 / Friends 1

Round 3: Running Gags

The writing on both shows is what helped them wedge their way into mainstream popularity, and garner a ridiculous amount of fans. It also helps to have running gags, callbacks, recurring jokes and catchphrases that make each show’s fans feel like they’re a part of the gang.

The “Friends” have an “ugly naked guy,” Phoebe’s shady past, and Joey’s catchphrase to make viewers feel as though they were in the loop.

Then again, between legendary Barney’s “playbook,” Robin Sparkles, and the “slaps,” fans of “How I Met Your Mother” are equipped with enough nudge-worthy inside jokes to write the shows on their own.

This round clearly goes to HIMYM.

Winner: HIMYM 2 / Friends 1

Round 4: Plot & Romances

Each show has its respective twists and turns, romances, feuds, fights, and disappointments. On again, off again relationships, hookups, and eventual marriages are a part of what makes each show addictive to watch.

“Friends” established an underlying romantic tension between Ross and Rachel that persisted from the first episode to the very last. Their rocky relationship and definitely bumpy romance presented viewers with the opportunity to root for them to eventually wind up together. We’ll just forget about that time Rachel and Joey got together…

The back and forth love triangle between Barney, Robin, and Ted is definitely interesting, given its tricky nature, but it grew lukewarm after a while. Not to mention the fact we already know Ted doesn’t end up with her.

The Ross/Rachel love affair gives “Friends” the edge for this round.

Winner: HIMYM 2 / Friends 2

Round 5: Cast & Guest Stars

Both shows have some formidable star power in the cast with the likes of Neil Patrick Harris and Jennifer Aniston, but the guest stars on both series made for mid-season treats. The popularity of both “How I Met Your Mother” and “Friends” has allowed for some big name actors to make surprise sitcom appearances without feeling like they’re slumming it.

“How I Met Your Mother” had a number of big names stop by for one-off roles, including Bryan Cranston as Ted’s annoying boss, and Britney Spears as one of Barney’s conquests, and later jilted ex-lover. Jennifer Lopez even gets in on the action.

“Friends” also managed to flex some serious star muscle with the likes of Ben Stiller, Danny DeVito, Bruce Willis and more. Jen’s ex-husband, Brad Pitt, even made a run on episode while the couple was still married.

All in all, it appears that the quality of all the stars on “Friends” gives the show its slight advantage.

Winner: HIMYM 2 / Friends 3


It was a close call, but by an extremely narrow margin, “Friends” walks away with the victory because we know they’ll be there for us.

Do you agree with our verdict, or do you need to talk to your “Friends” about it? Be sure to debate in the comments, and subscribe to for more entertaining versus battles.

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