Carl the Bartender is one of the best secondary characters in How I Met Your Mother – but only devoted fans will know all these facts about him!
The supporting cast on How I Met Your Mother was pretty solid. Characters from Ranjit to Victoria to Marvin helped fill out the world of the nine-season CBS comedy well, giving depth to the series and the main group of five, around whom the episodes mostly centered.
One particular character, Carl, was one of the most frequently appearing recurring characters on How I Met Your Mother. Carl was the bartender at MacLaren’s, the gang’s bar of choice, which allowed him to play a role in a great many episodes. After all, so much time was spent at the bar that it would have been stranger if Carl didn’t appear. Even with his recurring role, there is still so much that fans need to know about him.
Beginning To End
Carl is an absolute mainstay on How I Met Your Mother. Many recurring characters appeared later in the show or departed earlier than the finale. Carl, however, is there from the beginning to the end.
He appears in the series’ first-ever episode and in the finale, “Last Forever.” Granted, he doesn’t appear in every episode along the way, but Carl is still a constant in the background of the show.
No Last Name?
Carl is typically referred to as Carl the Bartender and many are still not sure if he actually had a surname. Much about what is known about Carl, however, does come from DVD commentaries on the episodes. In season one’s DVDs, it’s said to be Carl MacLaren.
It does make sense that the main figure in the bar, MacLaren’s, would have the last name of MacLaren. To the gang, though, he’ll always just be Carl. (Except for Marshall, who sees him as Carl Junior.)
The name Carl MacLaren might seem fairly inconsequential and standard for a bartender. However, it does have a fun origin that many who skipped past the HIMYM episodes’ credits would not have noticed.
One of the associate producers on How I Met Your Mother is actually named Carl MacLaren. He’s not one of the biggest behind-the-scenes workers on the show, but he does have a perfect name for a bartender.
Typically, characters in Carl’s role would just be named after the actor. Carl the Bartender, on the other hand, is played by Joe Nieves.
As a character actor, Nieves has obviously shown up in a ton of shows and films over the years. However, fans might be most likely to run into Nieves in the video game, L.A. Noire, from 2011. In this game, the actors who lend their voices are recreated with avatar likenesses in the game. Nieves is recreated through the character of Diego Aguilar!
From Cop To Bartender
The season one DVD commentaries also reveal another interesting aspect of Nieves’ role on the show. Initially, he was slated to play a cop in the first ever episode of HIMYM. When his scene was cut, though, his erasure fell through the cracks and no one told him.
As a result, the show’s creative team felt bad when Nieves showed up on set in a cop costume and they decided to give him a role as the bartender. It just so happened that this role flourished until the end in a truly lovely story!
Relationship With The Gang
Casual fans might tune into an episode of HIMYM and feel like Carl was just a paragon of abrasiveness on the show, refusing to get sucked into the gang’s hijinks.
On the other hand, devoted fans know that Carl is actually a loyal companion of the MacLaren’s gang and he engages in many of the group’s activities. He trusts them to maintain the bar, he gives out free drinks, he tries out new concoctions on them. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship between Carl and the gang!
Probably the closest connection Carl ever had with the group was when he found out about Lily’s pregnancy before anyone else, except for Marshall. Lily’s order of a non-alcoholic beer is what leads him to the discovery in “The Best Man.”
This provides a different kind of intimacy between Lily and Carl. While she may be closer friends with Barney, Ted, and Robin, none of them learned about her being pregnant before Carl.
Carl is not a bad option for a friend to tell first about the pregnancy, though. After all, Carl is a bit of a family man himself.
The only other person that fans see Carl trust enough to help him run the bar (aside from the gang and the other background bartenders) is his son! Not much investigation into Carl’s personal/family life is present, but he does reveal that he plans to transfer the bar into “family business” territory by eventually transitioning to his son. Good for Carl!
One aspect of Carl’s personal life that is treated with a bit more ambiguity is his relationship status. Obviously, if he has a son, there must be some woman in Carl’s life. It just remains to be seen if that woman is Yasmin.
In case one does not remember Yasmin, she was Carl’s girlfriend, as revealed in the show’s premiere. Carl seems to be single with many of his series flirtations, but it’s not entirely clear if Yasmin is still in the picture.
Harbinger Of Greatness
Over the course of HIMYM, Carl only appears in twenty episodes of the show. However, if he ever did pop up in an episode, fans knew that the installment was going to be an excellent one.
He appears in “Blitzgiving,” “The Pineapple Incident,” and “The Time Travelers,” among others. Carl had one of the highest batting averages on the entire show. He was always a prominent “good sign” character for the fun to come.