Sam(Cheers) vs Barney(How I Met Your Mother)...Why is Sam so much creepier?

Ok: I just finished a “Best of How I Met Your Mother” marathon and am skipping to a “Best of Cheers” marathon. Barney and Sam have similar views on women*. They both lie to get women, try to trick them, Sam has plays that he uses (I assume he’s not actually literate enough to have a playbook like Barney’s, but same idea). They both regularly lie about their identities and professions to get sex, and they’ve even used the same tricks/plays.

So why is Sam so incredibly creepy…I mean, he gives off a rapist vibe while Barney isn’t?

Some of the differences:
Barney’s more of a cartoon character.
Barney takes more…joy? in it. It’s a game to him. Sam seems kinda pathetically desperate.
Barney’s far, FAR more successful with women (and in general) than Sam.
Sam does the creepy “Slather Aqua-Velva on your hands then smear the back of your neck and face” move that just screams “Loser”

Also, Neil Patrick Harris is about 20x the actor that Ted Danson is (and I like Danson in general, it’s just that Harris is better), but let’s leave that out of the equation.

Last comment: we’re only talking about in the context of the show. Either one would be gross in real life. Let’s stick to the various show’s universes.

So: who’s creepier, Sam Malone or Barney Stinson?

*Ignore the occasional episodes or seasons where they really do fall in love with someone.

Barney is a huge douche. In real life I wouldn’t like to be in the same room with him. Sam is just a guy who hits on women, but doesn’t plan to psychologically destroy them

Sam is just your average guy. Barney is a creepy asshole who ought to be in jail.

Ted Danson has a deep voice and is more physically imposing than NPH. NPH is tall but quite slender at around 155 lbs. At 166 lbs the average US woman weighs more than he does. He’s hardly a threat to most women.

Sam is the main character. Barney is a silly character we laugh at. (I’m not counting Barney’s character development, since that’s basically him falling in love.) We’re supposed to identify with Sam, so perhaps that makes his womanizing feel worse.

In-universe, I think the cartoonishness of Barney indicates that his exploits are exaggerated. Out of universe, the cartoonishness means we take him less seriously.

I think the fact that Barney’s behaviour is, in universe, laughed off by all his friends, when he’s actually a serial rapist-by-deception, is much, much creepier than Sam’s quite upfront Lothario routine. If he’s a cartoon, he’s Pepe le Pew…

I couldn’t get over Robin ever having a relationship with him - slightly ruined the rest of the series for me, actually.

I honestly can’t recall any time Sam has lied about his identity or profession to get sex. Can you give some examples? I remember him as being completely up front when he was hitting on women.

I never understood the casting of NPH as an over the top womanizer. Not to take away from his talents as an actor - I think he’s great - but he’s average looking and the Barney character isn’t particularly charismatic or even charming, IMO. Pretty much everything Mr. Dibble said.

Cheers was happening when the stakes of Sam’s behavior felt more real. HIMYM was happening from a once-removed ironic place. The wink inside NPH’s portrayal is part of that show’s overall feel and the key difference from Cheers, IMHO.

He’s claimed to be a doctor, an airplane pilot-uniform included (I think) a therapist (and used confidential info he stole from Frasier to do it), a military guy who’d just signed up for service and was going be shipped overseas the next morning, a dancer, and a skydiver.

Honestly I don’t agree with your initial statement (and I think the poll is supporting me.)

To me, Sam is a retired athlete who would naturally attract some women. He doesn’t need tricks (and isn’t bright enough to make them up.) He’s a sweet guy.

Barney has real psychological problems with women and has spent a great deal of effort devising complicated ploys to get a one night stand (followed by throwing out the woman in the morning.)
He has no interest in a relationship (until he finally settles down with Robin.) He is creepy.

Sam and Robin Colcord?? :eek::wink:

From the very beginning of the show, it’s obvious that there is supposed to be a romantic element between Sam and Diane which I think makes him a more sympathetic character. The dates and flings he has before that romance is in bloom are part of the road he travels and his redemption (from a story standpoint, not a personal judgment). Barney, in contrast, is set up as a deceptive womanizing horn-dog with no end in sight. That changes later but, by then, the impression of him is set and I think he comes across as sleazier than Sam.

Evan Drake needs to chime in.

Sam never sold a woman.

Pretty sure it’s the time frame of the shows. Sam only seems creepy and rapey with 35 years of hindsight. Back then he was a well-defined trope, and the success of Cheers hinged on fleshing out that trope and making him into a relatively realistic person. You want creepy? Check out Three’s Company some time. (I’m not very familiar with HIMYM, FYI.)

Barney is a handsome, rich, charming, impeccably-dressed young man who is apparently very good at bed. A guy like him would be beating them off with a stick either way. He doesn’t *need *to use any of his ploys to get women - he uses them because he can. And hearsay aside, I don’t know of many women he’s actually hurt. Most of the women he sleeps with seem to come out of the experience confused yet satisfied.

It helps, of course, that he mainly targets women of, shall I say, lesser intellectual skills (in fact, one point of his ploys is that they filter out the smart ones), which means that we in the audience have less sympathy for them. We basically see women fooled by Barney as sort of lesser Darwin Award winners; they really should have know better.

And especially Robin.

The impossibility of her falling for him made the last half insane. Particularly as she was as into casual sex as he was.

I’ve never watched HIMYM so can’t comment on Barney, but I watched Sam in-era and watched the entire Cheers series on rerun a couple years ago when it ended up on Amazon Prime free streaming.

Remember Cheers firstly, starts in 1982, men like Sam were closer to the mainstream back then, although obviously even in the Cheers universe he gets mocked by strong female characters for his Lothario behaviors. I think the OP’s criticisms of Sam are pretty off base, I can’t remember Sam ever coming off as a rapist. He’s a Don Juan type but he loves women, albeit is bad at serious relationships, he pursues women with an eye towards getting them to go to bed with him but I’ve never recalled a sense that Sam is “rapey.”

Sam also grows a lot as a character throughout the show, we see Sam vulnerable quite a bit and his insecurities underlying his behavior are explored quite often. I’m not sure if that ever happens in HIMYM, but as someone who has seen all of Cheers, Sam is absolutely not one dimensional.

Another subtle difference is that Sam seems to actually have dates. They may be dates with the intent of having sex, but something may feel different about “Yeah, I have a date with the twins tonight winkwink*” versus just picking up women at a bar and getting them into bed. For one thing, the women involved have plenty of time and clarity of mind to be making their own decisions versus hitting on drunk women.