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True Story is a rage comic character based on a black and white contour drawing of How I Met Your Mother character Barney Stinson (played by actor Neil Patrick Harris) smiling smugly while holding a wine glass. Often accompanied by the text “true story,” the character can mostly be found in the final panel of a rage comic to either indicate or falsely claim that it is based on a true story.
The colloquial expression “true story” has been used as an affirmative statement to corroborate one’s claim or allegation. Online, one of the earliest archived instances of this was posted on three separate Usenet newsgroups on November 2nd, 1995. The post contained a diatribe criticizing the logic of seasoned posters who were complaining about an influx of newbies to Usenet. As an aside, author David Sewell used an example from his real life with a “true story” disclaimer, comparing the actions of a professor complaining about a student playing loud music to the way the older Usenet users were acting towards newcomers.
(True story: a professor at a private university complained to the Dean of Students about a student who every day would blare music from his dorm room right across from the professor’s afternoon class; the kid protested loudly that this practice was “part of his culture” and that the professor had no right to try to suppress it. Now where have we heard that argument lately…?)
An Urban Dictionary definition for the phrase used in this manner was submitted nearly ten years later on June 20th, 2004. “True Story” gained much of its catchphrase status through the character Barney Stinson from the TV sitcom series How I Met Your Mother, which began airing in 2005. Throughout the show, Stinson frequently uses the expression “True Story” as an ending to theories or stories that are for the most part probably false or nonsense.
In Rage Comics
On February 2nd, 2011, Redditor acodemaster posted a thread titled “My submission for the ‘True Story’ Panel – Neil Patrick Harris”, suggesting a still shot (shown below, right) of Stinson from “Do I Know You?,” the first episode of How I Met Your Mother’s fourth season, be used for the rage face. Though many submissions were posted, the winning photo (shown below, left) was created by Redditor vorin.
The character was added to All The Rage Faces on September 11th, 2011. The “True Story” character quickly took off on the f7u12 subreddit, which has more than 12,000 results for the phrase as of September 2012, and numerous rage comics based on the character have been featured across other internet humor blogs, including Memebase, FunnyJunk and 9gag. The popularity of the phrase also led to an image macro generator page on DIYLOL. Related merchandises featuring the “True Story” character can be also found on Zazzle and Etsy.
Additional rage comics using the character continue to be shared on Memebase, Rage Comic Archive and Tumblr, where users will also simply use the image as a reaction face in a text post. A Facebook fan page for the character has more than 157,000 likes as of September 2012.
The reaction image is primarily used in the final panel of rage comics to re-emphasize the statement made in the preceding panel. On the f7u12 subreddit, such posts have been typically titled with the tag “[True Story].”