The Stinsons

HIMYM episode 4x15 (79)

The stinsons
First aired:
March 2, 2009
Pamela Fryman
Carter Bays
Craig Thomas
Barney's Blog

Images (8)

The gang learn Barney has been living a secret life with a wife and son for his mother. Lily tells Marshall how she really feels about his mother.


The gang is immediately suspicious when Barney skips out on hitting on a hot girl. Reexamining some of Barney's earlier behavior, they begin to suspect he is in a committed relationship. So they follow him to a house in Staten Island. There they find that Barney has been hiding a woman from them: his mother, Loretta Stinson. But the bigger shock comes when they are joined by his wife Betty and son Tyler.

The gang is shocked by the syrupy sweet family. Once his mother is out of earshot, Barney explains that Betty and Tyler are actually actors he hired to play his family. Years ago, when Loretta looked like she was going to die, Barney hired an actress, Margaret, to play his fiancée, Betty. When his mother miraculously got better, Barney was forced to keep up the ruse and cast Grant to play his son.

Ted bonds with Margaret as they discuss acting and Robin bonds with Grant discussing their troubled careers. Meanwhile, getting to know Loretta, Marshall decides the "sweet, caring, slightly too graphic" woman deserves to know the truth. When Marshall claims that Loretta reminds him of his own mother, Lily admits that she hates Marshall's mother.

After a slightly awkward dinner where Barney has written a script for Betty and Tyler, the gang walks in on Ted and Margaret kissing in the kitchen. Barney tries to ad-lib a confrontation but is startled when Ted creates his own story (thanks to some acting tips from Margaret). Robin meanwhile congratulates Grant on his improvised performance in the kitchen and the two share an awkward moment on the porch.

Barney eventually yields and confesses the whole story to his mother. Loretta is surprised but forgiving. She admits that she hates Betty and Tyler and even Barney's "fake friends". Loretta reminds Barney that she once led a promiscuous lifestyle to rival his own. She explains that she merely wants Barney to be happy and urges him to pursue love when it crosses his path. Robin comes in and tells him the cab's here. Barney tells his mom he'll try.

In the cab ride home, Lily comes to terms with Judy Eriksen on the phone for Marshall's benefit. What Marshall doesn't realize is that Margaret and Ted are on the other end of the line.


  • Barney mentions Bob Barker being his father, something he first claimed in Showdown.
  • Betty nags Barney about what Dr. Grossbard said about his cholesterol. Dr. Grossbard is the shrink Barney mentions in Intervention.
  • Barney derides the protagonist of The Karate Kid for being from New Jersey. Ted and the others express their disdain for New Jersey in We're Not From HereI Heart NJ, and Happily Ever After.
  • Barney hires actors in Milk, and puts on his own one-man show in Stuff.
  • Barney in Wait For It does not have a high opinion of women from his home borough.
  • This is Loretta's first appearance in person.

Future References (Contains Spoilers)

  • Barney in The Stamp Tramp calls New Jersey "a third-world country".
  • According to Barney, Johnny Lawrence, Hans Gruber, The Terminator, and Assistant Principal Vernon are the protagonists of The Karate KidDie HardThe Terminator, and The Breakfast Club, respectively. Barney rooting for villains and against heroes in movies, particularly in The Karate Kid, is referenced again several times:
    • In The Wedding Bride, he believes the Wedding Bride movie's portrayal of Ted as the bad guy in his, Stella, and Tony's love triangle was accurate, despite clearly having sided with Ted following the events of Shelter Island.
    • In The Bro Mitzvah, he displays his hatred for Ralph Macchio and admiration of William Zabka, the actors who portrayed the hero and the villain of The Karate Kid, respectively, when they appear at his bachelor party. He also lists Luke Skywalker, Harry Potter, and War Horse as other "movie bad guys" like Macchio's Daniel LaRusso.
    • In The Locket, while Barney and Robin worry about the possibility that they may be distantly related, Barney claims that King Joffrey from Game of Thrones was a "fair and wise leader" despite his parents being siblings.
    • In The Broken Code, William Zabka reappears as a guest at his and Robin's wedding, and briefly replaces Ted as his best man. The effect on Zabka of Barney's admiration of him and his character also comes up in Mom and Dad.
    • In No Questions Asked, Barney describes "the villain" of Die Hard crawling through air-vents, referring to the hero John McClane.
    • In Platonish, a flashback shows Lily and Robin giving Barney a series of challenges, one of which involved picking up a girl whom Robin tricked into thinking Ryan Gosling was interested in. Barney figures this out and initially guesses William Zabka to be the "movie star" she was waiting for.


For a listing of all images on the wiki tagged as being from this episode, see Category:The Stinsons images.

Memorable Quotes

Lily: Barney, check it, three blond babies drinking bad decision juice at eight o'clock.

Marshall: Where is Barney going?
Ted: Yeah. We're not even in Manhattan anymore. Where's this girl live?
Robin: We're talking about a woman who's gotten Barney to commit. I'm guessing Narnia.

Lily: Wait, Barney, hold on. Where are you going?
Barney: Nowhere. (pauses) The beach. It's winter. Laser tag. Home. Shut up! You're going somewhere.

Barney: Look, mom, there's something I have to tell you, something I should have told you a long time ago. Tyler is dying, and Betty said that when he goes she's gonna off herself. So that's all probably going to go down pretty soon.
Barney tries to explain Betty and Tyler out of the picture

Robin: I got one: Terminator.
Barney: What is the name of the movie, Robin? Who among us didn't shed a tear when his little red eye went out at the end, and he didn't get to kill those people?
Barney tends to view the wrong character as the protagonist

Notes and Trivia

Goofs and Errors

  • Betty mentions Dr. Grossbard, who apparently told Barney to have only one helping of meatloaf, to the group. Barney reveals in Intervention that Dr. Grossbard is his shrink, which implies that he might have suggested the name to Betty himself.
  • Barney's son, Grant, also plays Ted's cousin Stacy's son in How Lily Stole Christmas.
  • In this episode Barney's mom's name is Loretta. In The Yips, Rhonda French calls her Patty.
    • Patty might have been a nickname for Loretta.

Allusions and Outside References

  • Ted recalls having seen Betty act in Brecht's "Die Heilige Johanna der Schlachthöfe" (he refers to the play by its original German title).
  • Barney's line "Call me crazy, but child actors were way better back in the 80s", is a reference to the actor Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney. Harris himself was a child actor in the 1980s playing Doogie Howser, M.D.. After the line, an upbeat musical theme and stock outdoor shot play as segue to the next scene, both common in 1980s sitcoms.
  • Barney's fictitious wife's name Betty is a reference to Barney and Betty Rubble from The Flintstones.
  • Robin says that Barney's supposed girlfriend must have come from Narnia to manage to make him a committed man. Narnia is the fictitious world created by C.S. Lewis in his Chronicles of Narnia series of books.
  • The name of the episode (The Stinsons), is a reference to the title of the cartoon series, The Simpsons.
    • The title can also be a reference to The Flinstones, due to the "Barney and Betty" joke.
  • Barney says that when he watches the film The Karate Kid, he identifies the "Karate Kid" as Johnny Lawrence (played by William Zabka who would appear later in the series) because of his greater experience as a practitioner of karate at the Cobra Kai Dojo. Later, the gang grill Barney regarding other movies in which he states that he roots for Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator since he played the titular character; in Die Hard he roots for Hans Gruber because he "died hard"; in The Breakfast Club he roots for Richard Vernon the vice principal because he's the only character wearing a suit.



Other notes

  • Brooke D'Orsay, who plays Margaret/Betty, would later star as Deb Dobkins in the TV show Drop Dead Diva, in which also co-starred April Bowlby, who played Meg in How I Met Your Mother, the girl who was left by Barney at Lily and Marshall's apartment and eventually fell in love with him.


  • The AV Club rated the episode A-. [1]
  • Cindy McLennan of Television Without Pity rated the episode with a grade B. [2]
  • Michelle Zoromski of IGN gave the episode 8.6 out of 10. [3]
  • The St. Petersburg Comic Review gave this episode 9.5 out of 10 stars. "...'child actors were way better back in the 80s'..."


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