"Game Night" is the 15th episode in the first season of the television series How I Met Your Mother. It originally aired on February 27, 2006.
Anytime Marshall, Lily, Ted, Robin, and Barney hold a game night together, Marshall always wins, no matter what the game is, so the others decide that he should always run game nights. Marshall decides to create his own game, "Marshgammon", which few people understand (although a player must drink if they ask "What?"). Ted plans to bring Victoria along, and tells Marshall, Lily, and Barney not to scare her off; all reluctantly promise not to try to ruin things, but they end up trying their hardest. At game night, Marshall uses the game questions to find out more about Victoria, while Lily reveals that someone gave her a videotape to give to Barney, and once Barney figures out who it is, he panics, destroying a tape of Ted's graduation before Lily revealed that she had hidden the real tape. They watch it, and find a longer-haired, hippie-sh Barney, singing and playing a keyboard while crying. Barney ejects the tape and walks out, and no one can find him.
Barney meets all of them at the bar, and only tells his story once everyone else agrees to tell their embarrassing stories. Marshall confesses that he was seen on the toilet by Lily's kindergarten class, Lily tells the story of how Marshall's mother once overheard the couple having sex via a phonecall, Victoria tells a story involving marshmallow sauce that is "too inappropriate" to recount, and Ted confesses that on the night he told Robin he loved her he "re-returned" to her apartment to try and kiss her, but was so drunk that he threw up on her doormat and ran away instead. Barney then reveals that he once worked in a coffee shop with his girlfriend Shannon. They had planned on going to Nicaragua with the Peace Corps, but Shannon backed out, saying that her father did not want her to go. Barney came back, and found that she had begun seeing a yuppie alpha male named Greg. Barney made the video and sent it to Shannon, but was humiliated by Greg, and left the coffee shop devastated. Barney then changed his appearance and lifestyle, getting a haircut, wearing suits, and discarding his idealistic world-view. He then revealed that after he left Ted and Marshall's apartment, he went over to visit Shannon, and talked with her a bit. He found out that Greg since left her, she now had a son, and that her life had also changed a lot. Then, in typical Barney fashion, he had sex with her, which he captured on video on his cell phone as proof. He also declares that his life "rocked" because he has money, suits, lots of one-night stands and did not have a child to take care of. Barney leaves, and everyone decides that Barney had won game night, since he also has dirt on them now.
- "Off the Record" by My Morning Jacket
- In "Drumroll, Please" Barney lied to a bridesmaid about joining the Peace Corps. This episode reveals that at one time Barney did plan to join the Peace Corps.
- When Lily is on the phone with Marshall's mom, she is disgusted to find out that the cookies Marshall's mom sent contain mayonnaise. The episode "Belly Full of Turkey" establishes the Eriksens' love of mayonnaise when Marshall's mom gives Lily a salad recipe that calls for 16 cups of mayo.
- After Ted tells his Story of The Re-Return, Marshall calls him on the claim that he made in "The Pineapple Incident" about having been "vomit-free since '93."
- It's the first time that Marshall fixation with games is shown. Later in the series, we see that again in "Say Cheese" and "Noretta". Also, in the episode "The Front Porch" Marshall says he doesn't like the scenario where he loses the game of bridge. Also, Marshall has the ability to understand complicated games is shown in the episode "Atlantic City".
- Ted and Victoria remember the Marshgammon in season 7 episode "The Naked Truth".
- In the game night flashbacks, the group plays gin rummy, Yahtzee, and poker.
- Marshall's game "Marshgammon" contains elements of Candy Land, I Never, Pictionary, poker, Twister, and Taboo.
- Barney's transformation, in particular the shot of Barney tilting upward in a barber's chair, is a reference to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Anakin Skywalker's transformation into Darth Vader.
- When Barney first flashes back, he is finishing Jewel's "You Were Meant For Me" on the coffeehouse piano.
- In an update to his blog, Barney pitches his ideas for events to improve the Winter Olympics, such as Hot Tubbing and Figure Rating.
- In another update, inspired by his "reconnection" with Shannon, Barney lists several things that, although enjoyable in the 90s, suck now. This includes the Toronto Blue Jays, Vanilla Ice, Furbies, and Saved by the Bell.
- Barney lists the American Pie films list as something that was good in the 90s but sucks now, specifically noting the "One time at Band Camp" line becoming used in pop-culture. Alyson Hannigan (Lily) was in the first three American Pie films, and it was her character who spawned that line.
Recurring elements introduced in this episode
- Marshall is a master at playing and creating games. Later examples include "Atlantic City", where Marshall picks up on the confusing game that Barney is playing with the Chinese men and tells Barney how to perform a game winning move, and "Noretta", where he introduces "Chutes and Lilies".
- First episode to feature extensive (longer than a brief cutaway) flashbacks to before the start of series (i.e. before fall 2005).
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