Old King Clancy

HIMYM episode 4x18 (82)

Old king clancy - young robin
First aired:
March 23, 2009
Pamela Fryman
Jamie Rhonheimer
Barney's Blog

Images (6)

Ted’s project to design a new building for Goliath National Bank gets scrapped but Barney and Marshall pretend it wasn’t to spare his feelings. Robin admits she once went home with a celebrity who made an unusual sex request.


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Future Ted describes his work in the spring of 2009 on the new Goliath National Bank headquarters. While he felt inspired when he started the project, including naturalistic features like wood beams and natural sunlight, Ted feels restricted by the executive supervising the project, Bilson. Eventually, a new task force is put together to supervise Ted, and he feels engaged again. But, after an awkward pick-up attempt in the elevator, he is told the building was scrapped a month ago.

The gang is at MacLaren's, drinking and talking, when Robin brings up the fact that she was once invited over to a Canadian celebrity's house to see his collection, but, after being offered a profane Canadian sex act, she left. Lily is desperate for the specifics, and starts hyperventilating until she gets the hiccups. Robin says she will tell them the details if they guess all three things correctly (the celebrity, the sex act, and the nature of the collection). Barney quickly brings up (an actual website, but created for the show) on a laptop, and the gang starts guessing.

Ted walks in, bewildered by the cancellation of his project and fearing for his job security. After a brief exchange, Barney and Marshall admit they lied to Ted, and reveal the elaborate nature of their ruse. Bilson had told them to fire Ted after the corporation decide to cut back on new expenditures (he complains about having to cut back on their bi-quarterly St. Croix retreats). The company was still contracted to pay Ted for the next two months, so after Marshall blurted out a lie about Ted's success, the two GNB employees decided to fool Ted. They hired, Roy (one of the office's janitors), Louisa (the cafeteria worker who can only speak Spanish), Arthur (a crazy street musician who follows advice of Reginald, his pet chipmunk), and interns to pose as the new task force for reviewing the headquarters plans.

Ted is furious, insisting that he would never lie to make his friends feel better. Barney refutes this, citing the time Ted encouraged Marshall's unfunny standup set (basically a list of fishes' names). Barney then mentions that a smaller job is available at GNB designing a copy of the ETR, or "Employee Transition Room" which Barney admits is a room where people are fired. A montage of close circuit TV footage shows angry employees lashing out at Barney after being fired in the room.

Though he is asked to simply duplicate the room, Ted decides to add his own flair, recreating the ETR as a "rebirth canal." After a presentation to Bilson, Ted is taken down to the ETR, where he himself is promptly fired. The next night, back at the bar, Ted says he quit to start his own firm. After a bit of prodding, he quickly admits he was fired, and smacked Bilson over the head with a chair. Ted still wants to start his own work without the noose of corporate thinking.

Throughout the story, Lily and the gang use the pauses in conversation to guess Robin's celebrity encounter (ex., Rick Moranis [Canadian celebrity], the Reverse Rick Moranis [Canadian sex act], antique Judaica [collection]). After 3 days, they give up, and Robin gives in and tells them, but the items are all unrecognizable to the gang, so she has to explain. She met "The Frozen Snowshoe" (a famous Canadian wrestler), he showed her his collection of Harvey's Trays (simple orange plastic trays from a fast-food chain), and offered her an "Old King Clancy" (apparently, a "Sacramento Turtleneck," but with maple syrup). The gang is disappointed at the absolute obscurity of Robin's story.

In a flashback (known only to the audience), Robin's 2002 celebrity meeting is portrayed, but we find out that it was Robin that offered the Snowshoe the Old King Clancy (pulling a small bottle of maple syrup out of her purse), and it was he who rejected her, not the other way around.


  • Barney and Marshall disagree on who is Ted's best friend, albeit claiming that the other is.
  • Many episodes have depicted Barney's skill at lying and/or Marshall's inability to keep secrets; Marshall only does so with Barney's help.
  • Marshall performs the Fish List comedy routine.
  • The new GNB Headquarters Ted was hired to design in Woooo! is scrapped in this episode.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • The new GNB headquarters is revived, and Ted hired to design it again, in Unfinished, goes under construction in Challenge Accepted, and is completed in The Final Page - Part Two.
  • Ted pitches the idea of starting his own company, which occurs in Mosbius Designs.
  • Lily starts hiccuping after swallowing too much air when Robin refuses to tell them which celebrity she slept with. In Double Date, Marshall reveals that he can only fantasize about other women after imagining Lily passing away from a chronic hiccuping disease.
  • Robin driving men away by wanting to engage in freaky sex acts reoccurs in Architect of Destruction, where Max considers breaking up with her over a "weird thing she likes to do in the bedroom", and both Barney and Ted acknowledge that it's "not for everyone".
  • Barney urges Marshall to fire Randy Wharmpess in Canning Randy.


  • Ted is disappointed working with Bilson
  • Robin proposes the Old King Clancy
  • Ted getting fired from Bilson
  • Ted is about to find out how Marshall and Barney lied to him.
  • Marshall and Barney's new invented Task Force.
For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:Old King Clancy images.

Memorable Quotes

Ted: What is an E.T.R.?
Barney: It's an Employee Transition Room.
Ted: What does that mean?
Barney: Well, it's a space where a supervisor and an employee engage in a knowledge transfer about an impending vocational paradigm shift.
Marshall: People get fired here.

Lily: How do you know all these?
Barney: It's bookmarked on the top right.
Marshall: Dot org?
Barney: Yeah, it's not for profit. They really just want to get the information out there.

Marshall: Louisa, I need your help with something, but you can't tell anybody.
Louisa: No hablo Inglés. (I don't speak English.)
Marshall: Exactly. This is a big secret. How do you say "secret" in Spanish?
Louisa: ¿Albóndigas? (Meatballs?)
Marshall: Ah. Yes, albóndigas. This will be our little albóndigas. Hey, can I have a couple of meatballs, please?

Ted: Now when I go in there, I'm probably going to be fired. Best case scenario, my boss is going to ream me out in front of everybody.
Robin: Back home we call that a-
Lily: -a Saskatoon Totem Pole. It's all in here.

Ted: I have to think of ways to put my wood into Bilson's dark atrium.

Barney: If I could nail any celebrity, it would have to be Scarlett Johansson. She's hot, she's talented, and any woman who does that many Woody Allen movies has to have major daddy issues.

Ted: I don't believe it. I just got screwed by my two best friends, and I didn't even know it.
Lily: In Canada, that's called a Sneaky Snowplow.

Marshall: If I could nail any celebrity, it would be Lily, because she's the star of my heart.
Lily: Aw! Mine would be Hugh Jackman.

Barney: Canada, you did it again! You even managed to ruin this! Why? Why do we even let you be a country?

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

Allusions and Outside Refereces

  • The website referenced on the show was created by the staff and launched directly after the episode aired.
  • When Marshall and Barney are explaining to Ted how they hired the fake task force, its members are presented in a similar way as the cast of the movie Snatch.
  • Some of the celebrities that were used as guesses included singer Bryan Adams, hockey player Wayne Gretzky, game show host Alex Trebek, members of the rock band Rush, and actors Kiefer Sutherland and Rick Moranis. All of these celebrities are from Canada.
  • After Ted learned that the plans for the new GNB HQ had been scrapped, Marshall and Barney put him in charge of designing a room at the office for employees to be fired in. As Ted walks into the bar, Marshall calls him Mr. Mister in reference to their song "Broken Wings" in honor of Ted "learning to fly again" on this new project.
  • Whether the financial crisis of 2007-2008 directly affects GNB is not known, but it is affected by the resulting Great Recession. Ted's architecture firm is affected as well, based on how it is laying people off.
  • The Canadian celebrity that propositioned Robin collects Harvey's serving trays. She saw him perform at the Kamloops Memorial Arena.


  • Mardi Gras - by Aldeberto E Felipe

Other Notes

  • Old King Clancy is based on a true story. One of the show writers told of an incident involving a friend who had met an American celebrity with a strange collection and also a strange sex proposition. The writers tried to guess who it was, what they collected and the sex act. After spending a lot of time on it they decided to incorporate the idea into the show.[1]
  • The German episode title is "Old King Clancy". The French episode title is "Le vieux joueur de Hockey", meaning "The Old Hockey Player".
  • International Airdates: Australia: May 18, 2009 on Channel 7; Germany on February 6, 2010 on ProSieben; United Kingdom: April 8, 2010 on E4.
  • A last-minute timeslot change had this episode air at 8:00 rather than its regular 8:30.
  • Bi-quarterly retreats are not very frequent as it sounds. Bi-quarterly is every 2 quarters, so it is twice a year or semi-annually. If the retreats were to happen twice a quarter, it will be called semi-quarterly retreats (8 times a year).



  • Donna Bowman of The AV Club gave the episode an B grade. [2]
  • Michelle Zoromski of IGN gave the episode 8.5 out of 10. [3]
  • Cindy McLennan of Television Without Pity gave the episode an C- grade. [4]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 9 out of 10 stars. "Hit him with a chair."


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