Exclusive: Why 'Mother' split up Robin and Barney

How I Met Your Mother‘s decision to bring the Barney-Robin love story to a premature climax has left fans feeling decidedly unsatisfied. But executive producer Carter Bays insists the romance was sacrificed for a greater good: the preservation of Neil Patrick Harris’ legendary ladies’ man.

“None of us wanted to see Barney wearing a sweater-vest and going to bed-and-breakfasts,” says Bays, adding that it makes sense the relationship would “flame out fast” given that “neither of them, at their core, really wanted to be tied down.” Bays also believes that, deep down, viewers prefer single Barney to attached Barney. “It’s one of those things where you can give people what they think they want, or what they really want.”

And should some of them feel that they really want him to settle down with Robin, Bays offers this bit of hope. “[They] could get relationship amnesia and decide, ‘Hey, this is a good idea!'” he proposes. “This could be the first of many flameouts for them.”

Bays, however, stops short of saying a full-fledged reconciliation could be in their future. “I don’t want to say reconciliation,” he says. “But the story is not over, for sure.”

What do you think? Is Bays right? Did you really want to see Barney and Robin go their separate ways? Sound off in the comments!


Comments (283 total) Add your comment
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  • TL

    I’m probably one of the few that is happy that it’s over, but I don’t want another Ross/Rachel, JD/Elliott mess where they keep getting together and breaking up. Either keep them apart or keep them together, none of this back and forth junk.

    • chr

      TL, I could not have said it better myself.

    • Grace T

      totally agree

    • charli

      and yet, in terms of TV and movies the ‘love at first sight, happily ever after, never a trouble’ relationship is typically boring and nauseating. Rarely do real life relationships turn out that way. So them having some doubts, some fights, breaking up and then maybe later realizing that the break up, not the relationship, was a mistake is actually more real and more interesting. double considering the players.

      • SMW

        Lilly and Marshall had that scenario and that has worked out well.

    • Z

      yeah agree, we want something new, something fresh :)

    • Dave

      I think they are much better apart, loved the episode last week.

  • Paul B

    Yep. Absolutely the correct decision. I enjoyed seeing them get together, but the timing was just about right to break them up. I didn’t expect it, but had it gone on longer it would have become stale and boring.

    • Diane

      I thought the breakup occured too quickly. Well I love Barney the lady’s man, Robin and Barney were happy two weeks ago. We needed a week or two of unhappiness

      • Rich

        Haaaaave you met Barney?

    • RJ

      I agree Paul, it was good to finally see them together but, like the article said, they don’t want to be tied down.

  • Catalina

    I have to admit. I’m torn – I’d love to see Barney and Robin together but I don’t want to see Barney in relationship mode b/c it takes a little of his edge away. I think TPTB did the right thing — it’s alright to play with this line for a while.

    • Lili

      i feel the same way! i think it’d be a good series finale kind of thing :]

    • Raka

      I looooooooooveeeee them together!

  • Maria

    Last season I was definitely pro Robin/Barney, but once it happened, I wanted it over ASAP. I was glad when they broke them up because I do think its better for both characters to be single…that’s what made them so great was their lack of relationships. I just don’t want the show to drag it out or anything a la Friends, etc. It can be something we come back to WAY later, but let’s not do the ‘will they’/’won’t they’ thing…PLEASE!

    • Sara

      I’m with you! I really loved the idea of Barney/Robin (and they have chemistry), but once they were together you could see it didn’t really work as a “relationship”. But yeah, please none of the Ross/Rachel, JD/Elliot stuff.

    • Lexie

      I thought, honestly, it was poorly written. I was super excited about them getting together, and then it was completely underwhelming thanks to the way it was written. I’d love the show to come back to them later and have them try a less “traditional” relationship, since the traditional kind was clearly never going to work for them, but please, no ‘will they/don’t they.’

      • Me

        Totally with you. I felt the way the relationship was written forced both Barney and Robin to behave in ways that were out of character. A non-traditional approach could have been a refreshing and honest contrast to the very idealistic Marshall-Lily relationship.

      • JenR

        Yes, I think it is lazy writing. Instead of coming up with a way to make Barney interesting and funny within a relationship, they are falling back on their known formula.

    • m.

      For me the episodes with Barney & Robin together have been the weakest of HIMYM. I also like the idea before it happened, but once they were together it wasn’t exciting. I was actually very releaved when they broke them up.

      • Ali

        I feel the same way. I think Marshall and Lily have been the best part of the show recently. I think Alyson Hannigan has really stepped it up, she’s been a great laugh lately.

      • Becky

        Couldn’t agree more! I thought the episodes when Barney and Robin were in a relationship were just boring! Did I want them to get together, yes. Am I glad they broke up, YES! It just wasn’t working.

      • Dustin

        I hate Lily. Once she left Marshall at the end of season 1 I was furious about it. Then once I found out she had broken up Robin and Ted, I just cant stand her anymore

  • elizs

    I liked them as a couple, & I was disappointed in the lame breakup. But I’m still watching the show!

  • Anjeli

    I was happy too when it ended. I wasn’t liking them together.

  • sweetiepie1019

    While I’m bummed about the breakup, I do get his point. However, I still think that how they managed the breakup was awful. It was abrupt and unsatisfying, and while the reasons behind splitting them up were sound, the way they ended things … no real lead in, a bad plotline during the actual episode, and the relationship was trivialized in the process. Conclusion to the mini-rant: I can handle the fact that they broke up, but the actual event was poorly written, and they could’ve done better.

    • Sara

      Point. I, uh, read spoilers so I knew it was coming, but it still felt rushed – there were hints before that their relationship was kinda dysfunctional and it wasn’t as awesome as they hoped, but it still ended awkwardly.

    • missy

      When most relationships end, there is no lead in, there is bad plotline, and then the relationship is trivialized. Obviously the writers felt that Robin and Barney’s friendship was more important and provided better story than their short-term hookup. And, since they are trying to be friends, it makes sense that they would minimize the romantic relationship. There was good stuff when they were together but there is better stuff with them apart. I can already see the episode of drunken breakup sex.

      • anonymous

        You’re confusing “it’s okay to reflect reality” with “it’s okay to be as random as reality.” Most shows need a decent, well-written plot. (Always exceptions, yadda yadda…)

    • Maia Villa

      What was SO awful was that, while Barney was merely in love with Robin — and, hell, while they were “bros” — they showed such perfect sides to Robin and Barney that the two characters didn’t show anywhere else. When they were together, Barney became an idiot when it comes to Robin (HATED, absolutely HATED Robin 101), and Robin isn’t even the cool chick anymore.

      Writers sabotaged the relationship from the start of it, and ruined the bond that even made us care about Barney and Robin in the damn first place.

  • Jack

    I do not usually care but I was disappointed by this move. I thought the story was funnier with them together. I think this was an overreaction by the producers to something that the general audience was not bothered by.

  • Nicole

    Carter Bays is a douche. If he thinks the only way two people can be in a relationship is to be like Marshall and Lily, he is an extremely stunted individual with a profound lack of imagination.

    • Jan

      I agree. “None of us wanted to see Barney wearing a sweater-vest and going to bed-and-breakfasts,” and why would this happen? Because this is what happens to every batchelor in tv-sitcome land???

    • jcpdiesel21

      Seriously. Just because Barney and Robin are in a relationship together doesn’t mean that they have to alter their personalities drastically and become super lame. I’m actually MORE annoyed by the break-up now that I’ve read this interview. I wish they had never put Barney and Robin in the first place now.

      • eden

        thank you! That interview was truly condescending, and the notion that ‘neither of them want to tied down’ is a bit over simplified. Have we forgotten that ladies man Barney only exists because he was a super nerd who got his HEART BROKEN? Clearly Barney wants love, that’s what makes good drama and good comedy, if tptb at HIMYM have lost the creativity to make that journey/struggle interesting, that’s just lazy and sad.

      • samantha

        It does seem like a bit of a waste. They spent the whole fourth season building up to this, and then they end it? And I don’t know about the whole Robin doesn’t want to be tied down thing. She was with Ted for a year, wasn’t she? Just because she didn’t want to get married doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to be in a relationship. And what about Ted? I feel too much emphasis was put on Barney and Robin, and not on the main character! Maybe if Ted had been the main focus, and Robin and Barney a secondary focus the couple would have lasted longer. Whew. Rant over!

    • Michael

      Exactly. It’s a false dichotomy. Frankly, Barney/Robin would work and be hilariously great if they did something a little less traditional. I do think, however, that the show needs to swing its focus back to Ted a bit, and if it takes a horrible episode like “The Rough Patch” to do that, then so be it.

  • Lindsey

    Go to IMDb. Many of us hated them once they got together. (Some of us, myself included, hated the idea of them together in the first place.) I was ecstatic when they broke up, and I really hope it stays that way. My only problem now is that it really has become The Barney Show… I’m sure I’m the only one, but he’s actually not my favorite character.. I think he’s better in smaller doses, like in the first few seasons….

    • Elle

      So glad they broke them up, IMO I thought they were horrible together. And I totally agree about it becoming the Barney show, I love the guy but Ted is my favourite character and I feel like we’ve hardly seen him this season.

    • samantha

      I’d say Barney is my favorite, but Ted is the main character and the heart of the show. Barney works best as a supporting character, not the main one.

  • Christy

    I wish they had never put them together rather than breaking them up so lamely. I enjoyed Barney pining for Robin last season and I enjoyed them together. The abrupt break-up? Not so much.

    I have to say that CB’s comment ” “It’s one of those things where you can give people what they think they want, or what they really want.” — was pretty obnoxious. Wow, thanks for reading my mind, dude. It’s a good thing you know what we really want since we’re apparently to stupid to realize it for ourselves.

    • Nicole

      That’s why he’s a douche.

    • Melinda65

      I hate comments like that, and it demonstrates why so many shows fail or go downhill; TPTB are arrogantly assuming that they know what people want. Don’t tell viewers, “Oh, we did this for YOU, because it’s what you really want to see,” when the truth is that you couldn’t figure out how to make Barney grow up and be in a relationship while still making him Barney.

      • elora


      • Lili

        amen!!! it’s idiotic to assume the only route the could take was a “sweater vest and B&b’s” >:o damn suits! both the characters and the watchers deserved a better break up!!!

      • Jen

        Very condensing remarks from Bays. The writers did a piss poor job and they are blaming the audience because that is “what we wanted”? We wanted Robin & Barney to be in a relationship & still be themselves. What is the issue with that? We didn’t ask for you to rewrite the characters’ personalities! You made it so out of character for both characters that it was painful to watch. Don’t blame us for that!!! You can be in a relationship & still be yourself!!!

  • Kiddo

    Thanks for the post, Michael.

    CARTER BAYS AND THE REST OF THE PRODUCERS ARE SUCH COWARDS! Specially ending things up that way.

    • Fl

      Yes i agree..they are cowards, they probably think the only way to be in a relashionship is to be like Marshall and Lily. I definitely don’t understand why they spent AN ENTIRE SEASON building up Barney’s feelings for Robin for this

      • Nicole

        I think they just weren’t clever enough to write stories for couples who aren’t like Lily and Marshall.

      • SusanS

        I agree – why build up Barney’s yearning for Robin for an entire season and then dump them as a couple in just a few episodes? It drives me crazy when there is no logic or continuity in these shows.

      • kelsey

        My feelings exactly. In season 4, it was treated like a huge deal, but the way it just fizzled out left me so disappointed. I’m one of the fans who likes Barney with or without a gf, and I thought Robin was a good match for him. It really sucks how the writers handled this turn of events.

  • Ben

    I actually like how they handled it, they are very similiar, and in that respect perfect for each other, something Barney mentioned in Season 1. But that was also there downfall, they were too similiar, so they clashed. Now they can but that behind them and move on has characters.

  • Stef M.

    I HATED Barney and Robin. I hated that Barney. I’m so happy they’re over and I hope that story line dies forever!!!! Seasons 1 and 2 of this show were by far the best and it has gone progressively downhill from there.

  • Jess

    I’m okay with the breakup in general. I just felt that it was a little rushed and poorly done. It felt a little like the writers just didn’t know what else to do with them. But it’s good to have the ridiculously inappropriate Barney back.

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