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  • Actor Allusion:
    • Recently featured Barney, played by Neil Patrick Harris, typing up a blog entry--The "Doogie Howser, M.D." theme plays while he types. In a later episode he comments that "Child actors were just better in the 80's" (Doogie Howser, M.D. again). In fact, it seems we have a diehard Doogie fan. In a Season 5 episode, NPH shows up in scrubs. The season seven episode "No pressure" has Barney compare Lily and Marshall to preppy kids who stage and bet on hobo fights. NPH was a preppy kid who staged and bet on hobo fights on Boomtown.
    • Another one is with Alyson Hannigan's character. When having cold feet before her marriage, one of the items on the list of experiences to have is a big lesbian experience. Her most famous role is lesbian witch Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Her favorite name for her baby: Tara (Willow's girlfriend from Buffy).
    • At the end of Ten Sessions, the tattoo removal doctor tells Ted to call her if he ever ends up with a dolphin tattoo on his right ankle, which is coincidentally the tattoo that Alyson Hannigan has in real life.
    • Season 3, "Wait for It": When Ted is making out with Mandy Moore's character at the bar, her song "Nothing That You Are" is playing in the background.
    • Season 3, "Dowisetrepla": Marshall fantasizes about life with his and Lily's future kids. They're playing a Nick Andopolis-style giant drum kit.
    • In "Blitzgiving", Jorge Garcia played a cameo role. At one point someone asks for random numbers and he immediately shouts "4,8,15,16,23,42!" the Arc Numbers from Lost. His character is also cursed with being unlucky (as was his Lost character), and compares said curse with being on an island for eternity.
    • In "The Wedding Bride", the actor who plays Tony in the titular movie is played by the same guy who played a soap actor in "Prescription Passion", House's favorite soap. Both "The Wedding Bride" and "Prescription Passion" have him deliberately hamming it up to eleven.
    • Barney aka Neil Patrick Harris pretends to be Neil Armstrong and spend about a minute one of his women spends going "Neil, Neil, Neil, Neil...Armstrong"
    • Lily has a crush on Mila Kunis. Perhaps she recently saw her in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, written by and starring her husband (Jason Segel).
    • Jason Segel plays Marshall, who has a longtime dream of becoming an environmental lawyer and working to protect the environment. This may or may not be a reference to Segel's character of Mike in the 1999 film SLC Punk!, who leaves Salt Lake City for the University of Notre Dame in order to study botany and (guess what?) save the rain forests.
    • Robin's doppelgänger is basically her as a lesbian. Cobie Smulders previously played a lesbian in season two of The L Word.
  • Career Resurrection: Finally allowed Neil Patrick Harris to emerge from the shadow of Doogie Howser and rocketed him into superstardom.
  • Hide Your Pregnancy:
    • Before Alyson Hannigan went on maternity leave, Lily had lots of sitting shots and covered her mid-section.
    • In the same season, Robin wore lots of loose clothing and sat down much more but Cobie Smulders was simply so massive that it was too obvious to cover up. It might have been easier just to have had Robin be pregnant.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: "Hey, wasn't that blond guy-?" "Heh, please..." "-Dr. Horrible?"

 Steve: I was on that island for what seems like eternity!

      • Even better: the numbers he shouts out for the prank text? 4 8 15 16 23 42
        • Fridge Brilliance: This is actually Ted making a subtle joke to his kids, because having watched Lost he knows his friend Steve looks like the guy who played Hurley.
    • Ted went on the same blind date twice with Valerie.
    • Robin's dad just became Satan!
    • Dr. Quinn teaches law now?
    • Silk Spectre II played Stella in "The Wedding Bride".
      • The Wedding Bride is an interesting example, because the actors of the movie (Jason Lewis, Malin Akerman, and Chris Kattan) were actually supposed to be those actors. Meaning this would've possibly been a Hey It'sThatGuy in-universe as well.
    • Zoey is married to Special Agent Dale Cooper/Trey MacDougal/Orson Hodge?
    • Anyone else freak out when Barney opened his door and Trinity was there?
    • A small one, but with bonus: Pat Crawford Brown does small roles like Ida Greenberg from Desperate Housewives. She's the women on the plane who sat next to Lily in Three days of snow, hearing annoyed to her. Also, she's the woman killed by Bullseye in Daredevil because she was annoying him. On a plane.
    • Mr. Moseby was the loan officer in Dowisetrepla.
      • He was also Buffy's school psychiatrist.
      • And Hooch. Hooch is crazy.
    • Jiminy Glick is Marshall's New Boss.
    • Robin dates Kutner
    • In Season 6, Robbie Amell plays a love interest of Robin's by the name of "Scooby", and is mocked by the main cast for having dog-like tendencies. Interesting, since two of his best known roles are Scooby-Doo movies.
    • Wait wait wait wait wait, hold the phone for just a second. His name was Scooby?
    • Ruth Fisher is Barney's mother.
  • Irony as She Is Cast: Neil Patrick Harris, famously gay, playing a serial womanizer.
  • Promoted Fangirl: Youtube ukulele songwriter Tally Deushane, whose filk song about the saintlike patience of Ted's kids was played over the Season 5 series recap.
  • Shout-Out: The ending of the episode "The Naked Man" has Ted narrating to the style of Jim Gordon in the recent Dark Knight flick.
    • And in "The Pineapple Incident", Marshall thinks Carl is a vampire. And for a brief second, Lily seems to agree.
    • Barney (played by former child actor Neil Patrick Harris, of course) saying "Call me crazy, but child actors were way better back in the 80s".
    • Possibly in "Slapsgiving 2: Revenge of the Slap" when Lily gets crazy eyes and starts blowing people up (metaphorically, as opposed to DarkWillow).
      • She also gets the demon eyes and voice in The Stinson Missile Crisis. Imagine Dark Willow even angrier.
    • And again in Baby Talk when Lily wants to name her daughter Tara.
    • Lily says in a bar, "We need a drink that can turn subtext into text!" The last half of the sentence is almost word for word what Giles tells Buffy in the episode Ted.
    • Best Prom Ever has Lily mention several times she wanted to have a lesbian experience.
    • Yet another one for Alyson Hannigan. Barney had repeatedly tried hitting on her to no avail. Well in Three Days of Snow when he throws a party for a marching band, he asks "Is the flute section seeing anyone?"
    • The sequence showing the first time Barney dons a suit is an homage to the scene where Anakin Skywalker dons the Vader suit in Star Wars Episode III.
    • I'm too old for this sh... stuff!"
    • Oh Captain My Captain!
    • When Marshall describes how wonderful it feels to sleep in a nightshirt, the accompanying fantasy sequence mimics the dream sequence from The Big Lebowski.
    • Steve "The Blitz" (I forget his late name) is a walking Shout-Out to Lost:
      • First off, his name has the same form as his Lost character, Hugo "Hurley" Reyes. Both characters are chronically unluncky. When asked for random numbers, Steve calls out the Arc Numbers from Lost which "cursed" Hurley (making this one a literal shout out). Finally, he compares the unlucky streak to being on an island for a very long time, which is how Hurley's character arc ultimately ends.
    • Also from the episode "Blitzgiving", Ted mentioned he sang "Twist and shout" at the thanksgiving parade and telling Barney that he's not the Blitz, he's The Bueller
    • Marshall tells Jenkins that if she kidnaps him his family doesn't have any money but his wife has a set of special skills.
    • The McLaren's bartender gets the entire bar to shout "SWARLEY!" when Barney, er, Swarley walks in at the end of "Swarley". The closing credits use the same font as Cheers.
    • Ted describes the scene of Lily and Marshall fighting and finishes with putting his sunglasses on in a very David Caruso way.

 "Lily left the lid off, then Marshall blew his."

    • In "Unfinished", Marshall has an entire elaborate Star Wars analogy for GNB and Ted being like "the guy who built the Death Star". Not designing it with any ventilation shafts and clearly marking all the trash compactors on the detention level...
    • At one point in the song on tedmosbyisajerk.com, Barney-as-Ted is accused of being a Cylon.
    • Barney buys the most expensive suit known to man, thanks to its diamond pinstripes -- it's called "The DiBiase".
    • In "How Lily Stole Christmas," Ted substitutes Grinch for another word for the sake of his children, telling them: "Only I didn't say grinch." He then follows this up with: "Only I didn't say fudge," just to make the reference more obvious.
    • "Baby Talk" features one to the Pearl Jam song Jeremy in the form of Lily putting her hands up and shouting "JEREMY! NO!" before being covered in red paint.
  • In The Leap we get the full story of the goat Lily rescued.
  • Then there was the time a kid was running rampant in Lily's class with a toy horse. She admits that she's a psycho when she reveals that during nap time, she cut off the horse's head and placed it in his bed.
    • In order to argue against moving a story of Barney wanting to leave GNB is brought up, where he notices a fire house for sale. He asks someone for a phone, who turns out to be Ernie Hudson, who asks, Who ya gonna call?
    • Lily and Marshall move out of New York, and Robin goes to visit them, only to feel like their prisoner. When she wakes up Lily is standing over her like Kathy Bates with a sledgehammer...erm, croquet mallet.
  • Unintentional Period Piece: It pops up every now and then. It didn't help that the show premiered in the mid-2000s and lived through society's shifting view toward the Dogged Nice Guy trope, the driven feminist, or the greater sensitivity to transgender people.
  • Word of God:
    • It is never stated in the show, but the creators have confirmed that Carl's last name is MacLaren and that he owns the bar.
      • This is a Shout-Out in and of itself - Carl MacLaren is a member of the HIMYM crew.
    • Marshall once made Ted swear on the names of his unborn children: Luke and Leia.
  • Over half the main cast have worked with Joss Whedon. Alyson Hannigan rose to fame in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Neil Patrick Harris was in Doctor Horribles Sing Along Blog, and Colbie Smulders is in The Avengers. Jason Seagal and Josh Radnor are the only main cast members who haven't worked with Whedon.
  • One episode shows a picture of Robin appearing on Letterman. In real life around the week later Colbie appeared on that show to talk about her role in the Avengers movie.
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