How I Met Your Mother was well-known for long-running gags like the Playbook, the Bro Code, and the continuing verbal desecration of Robin’s homeland, Canada. None of these, however, matches the epic brilliance of the Slap Bet, which began as a wager between Marshall (Jason Segel) and Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) over Robin’s (Cobie Smulders) secret past. The winner would get to slap the loser in the face with no fear of retaliation, thus directly resulting in the birth of “Slapsgiving.”
In honor of HIMYM‘s dedication to showcasing the kind of stupid stuff that friends sometimes do with one another, we’re looking back at the history of the Slap Bet.
Rise of the Slap Bet
Given the choice between 10-consecutive slaps or five to be delivered anytime/anywhere, Barney chose the latter, thinking five is better than 10. He couldn’t have been more wrong.
Getting his first slap on the spot, Barney would worry for the next few years about when he’d feel the brunt force of the larger-than-average Minnesotan known as Marshall Eriksen.
Enough is Enough
Barney often made challenges out of things that didn’t need to be. When Lily was still in her struggling artist phase, she forced the group to sit through a long, boring play, which resulted in Barney expressing how he truly felt. In response, Lily claimed if Barney were to put on a play, no matter how bad it was, she’d have nothing negative to say. Of course, Barney put that to the test by making the worst play humanly possible.
After sitting through most of Barney’s horrible play, Marshall had enough and walked up to the stage to do what everyone wanted to and sent him flying, mid-performance.
Usual nice-guy Marshall showed a dark side when he waged psychological warfare on Barney by installing a countdown clock — 55 days in advance — leading up to the next slap. Worried that her Thanksgiving would get pushed aside by the slap-hijinks, Lily, who was also Slap Bet Commissioner, declared that no slap would occur on Thanksgiving. Naturally, Barney took full advantage of this and taunted Marshall up until the very last second of the countdown, which resulted in Lily giving Marshall permission to deliver a slap, just as time expired.
This slap led to a “Slapsgiving” tradition and the first version of Marshall’s “You Just Got Slapped.”
The Spirit of Slapsgiving
In the spirit of Thanks–er, Slapsgiving, the gang all decided to give someone else the chance to deliver Barney’s holiday slap. Everyone wants to, even Lily’s dad, but after going through the entire room, Marshall keeps with the holiday spirit and unties Barney from the chair he was strapped to and tells him there won’t be a slap this year.
Two for One Special
Marshall had only one slap left from the Slap Bet by now, and Barney was desperate to get it over with in exchange for the cost of yet another bet he lost. He was going to meet his girlfriend’s parents soon and wanted to make a good impression.
Barney did all he could to get Marshall to slap him, but it was Marshall’s good heart, and ulterior motives, that finally made the deal go through with an added three bonus slaps in exchange for removal of the “ducky tie.” Being that he only expected to have one slap left, and not four, Marshall got two out of the way right then and there.
The Last Slapsgiving
This slap was meant to do serious damage to both Barney’s face and ego. While taunting Marshall, Barney says that he’s become immune to his slaps over the years. So, Marshall makes it a mission to become the best slapper the world has ever seen and tells the story of his intense training to master “the Slap of a Million Exploding Suns.”
Outside of the wedding with everyone else, Marshall delivers a brutal, slow motion slap to Barney that he’ll never forget. Afterwards, the two laugh about it until Marshall reminds Barney that there’s still one slap left. At the end of the episode, Marshall introduces Boyz II Men, who sing a soulful rendition of “You Just Got Slapped.”
The Final Slap
For those of us that were keeping count at home, time was running out and there was still one slap left to be had as the ninth and final season of How I Met Your Mother started to wind down. So, as Barney stood at the altar dealing with pre-wedding jitters as he waited on Robin, Marshall did him the honor or delivering the final slap to get him back on track. Not only was the slap well timed, but it did the trick and got Barney ready to marry Robin, who he’d been pining after for years.