Breaking Bad served as inspiration for the midseason twist in How I Met Your Mother season 8. Plot wise, the AMC drama series didn't have many similarities when it came to the CBS sitcom. That said, Breaking Bad was one of the biggest series airing during How I Met Your Mother's late-season run. Here's how Walter White's manipulation inspired Barney Stinson's plan in winning over Robin Scherbatsky.
The How I Met Your Mother plot that took a page out of Breaking Bad's playbook coincidentally involved Barney's infamous Playbook. These plays were used by Barney to win over women in ridiculous ways. The first half of season 8 featured Barney carrying out his final play, The Robin, in order to get back his former love. The Robin involved a number of steps that played out through six episodes. Barney purposely pushed Robin away and faked a relationship with Patrice in order to make Robin go crazy, but more importantly, to get her to unearth her true feelings. After all of the misleading events, Robin found Barney at the top of the building ready to propose to her.
How I Met Your Mother has had its fair share of mystery but never something that took the focus of multiple episodes until The Robin came along. The idea of a long con as revealed by the show's producer Carter Bays in an interview (via Vulture) following the episode, "The Final Page – Part Two." When asked about Barney's trick and the reason why the audience was also deceived by Barney, Bays explained that he took influence from the finale episodes from Breaking Bad season 4, but "without anyone getting blown up or poisoned."
The long con that Bays referred to in Breaking Bad was the storyline that focused on Walt pulling the strings with Gus Fring's death. Gus fired Walt and threatened to harm his family so the former meth kingpin went into desperation mode. Jesse was still aligned with Gus so his former partner had to make a grim move to get Jesse back on his side. Walt poisoned the young son of Jesse's ex-girlfriend and pinned it on Gus. After a failed attempt with a car bomb, Walt successfully set up Gus' death using Hector Salamanca. Many of the details surrounding this ploy wasn't revealed until the series finale episode. As the case with Barney's plan, the audience was kept in the dark regarding Walt's mindset.
Shockingly enough, this wasn't the only connection between Breaking Bad and How I Met Your Mother. As previously explained, the plots didn't share many of the same aspects but there were plenty of connections regarding the faces of the series. Two Breaking Bad stars, Bryan Cranston and Bob Odenkirk, both appeared in minor arcs within How I Met Your Mother. Odenkirk's involvement in the sitcom was even credited as creating Jonathan Banks' Breaking Bad character, Mike Ehrmantraut. Maybe Better Call Saul could keep the connections going by inviting some past stars of How I Met Your Mother in a future season.