On March 31, after nine years of legendary adventures, many drinks at MacLarens, a goat, a Slutty Pumpkin, and a lot of really terrible dates, How I Met Your Mother will sign off for the last time. During a recent visit to the set, the cast and creators spoke to reporters about what the show's legacy, what's in store for Ted and the gang for the rest of the season (including tonight's 200th episode), and what we can expect for the final slap. Gather round, kids, because this is what we learned...
On the show's "bubble status" in its early years:
How I Met Your Mother wasn't an immediate success, but Neil Patrick Harris thinks the show's underdog status actually worked in its favor. "It gave us the opportunity to come up with our own sense of humor," he said. "Sometimes when a show is thrust into success right away, then there's high expectations for them to come up with terrific stuff super fast, and we got to develop a great vocabulary and weird little inside jokes so that by the time fans—Netflix-style and syndication-style started watching it—it had found its own voice."
Jason Segel compared HIMYM to some of his previous work—including the critically acclaimed Freaks and Geeks, which was canceled in its first season—recalling, "I really felt like there was no way you could equate
quality with whether or not [the show] lasted, so I was always ready for the show to be
canceled, and then the fact that we got along so well made it almost a sure
thing to be canceled. It's just
the best gift ever that it stuck around for so long. We lucked out. It's been like a dream experience."
On having a contingency plan for if the show wasn't picked up for the second half of Season 1:
Series co-creator Carter Bays said that even though he and Craig Thomas never discussed it, if the show hadn't received a back-nine order, Ashley Williams' Victoria probably would have been the Mother, given that she met Ted in Episode 12.
On forging friendships with their fellow cast members:
Nine years is a long time, so naturally, the cast shares a lot of fond memories. Josh Radnor told a story about the cast and creators all going to breakfast together before the final season began filming, because it was something they used to do early in the show's run. "[It was] Season 3 and we realize they have free breakfast here," Segel quipped. He also marveled at how many life-changing events he and the rest of the cast have happened since the show premiered in 2005. "We watched each other go through some really serious life stuff," he said. "People have gotten married and have children. That's a really special thing. As the characters evolved, all of our lives did as well, and some of it paralleled what we've kind of gone through as people... This is the longest I've known any group of people besides my family."
On planning for the end:
According to Thomas, he and Bays always had an eight-year plan from the pilot, but they're happy they've been given nine years to tell the story. "We kind of knew how we wanted to end it, but we were so naive that it would just keep going," he said.
"It's an ending that we've been really excited to tell for a long time," Bays added. "You might see it and hate it, but I think we forget that there is this mystery and that there is this sort of feeling that there's something unanswered, because we're just also telling these stories about all five of these characters and the rest of their lives."
On what's still to come (and how much of the Mother we'll see):
"We're going to get more
glimpses of [Ted and the Mother's] relationship, and some big moments in it," Thomas hinted. "There's
also this wonderful episode, our 200th episode, that fills in the eight years in
the life of the mother... we're really excited and proud about [it]." But for anyone who's worried that the rest of the cast won't be appearing in tonight's milestone event, fear not. "Our gang is in that
episode," Thomas said, "but really it's her episode, and I feel that kicks off the endgame of
the season and the series where you're going to see more of her and Ted and
learn more about them, and that episode kicks that off beautifully."
On the decision to have Season 9 play out over the course of the wedding weekend, and the difficulty of writing it:
been pitfalls," Bays admitted. "It's been a fun
challenge. ... A huge part of that
is meeting the Mother and being able to write that. The whole season's been a delight to do, but there's a few
episodes like 'How Your Mother Met Me,' [the series' aforementioned 200th episode] that you just see the episode
and think, 'This is why we're here one more year, just this right here.'"
Building on that statement, Thomas said they wanted to do something different to make the last season stand out. "We loved the idea... that a Season 9 would feel unlike other seasons, that we would give the audience a feeling that something different is happening, but it's still How I Met Your Mother. ... It's a bit of a cheat that we kind of jump back and forth, but it's been inspiring to tell the story in a different way."
On what to expect from the final scene:
The series' last moments will explain why Ted has decided to tell his children this story, and they'll obviously include Ted's children, played by Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie. According to Thomas, they shot the final scene during Season 2—in the fall of 2006—so the actors won't have aged too much. "Those kids are now 53 and 62," he joked.
Harris said he cornered Thomas and Bays at the show's Christmas party and demanded to know how the show would end. He said the ending is "more complicated than you would assume" and fans will be "far from
disappointed." What do you think it could be?
On the final slap:
There might not be one! "There has always been an appeal to us," Bays said, "of leaving that last slap just hanging... to let the audience imagine when that slap will happen." But he also said that they're wrapping up everything fans could ever imagine (including what Barney does for a living) before the series ends, so it's probably safe to say that the final slap will happen (or at least be hinted at), even if we won't be able to count on the Slap Bet Countdown Clock anymore.
On whether How I Met Your Mother will overlap with How I Met Your Dad:
If the controversial spin-off actually finds an audience, don't expect to see many familiar faces. "Nothing will replace these people," Bays said, "and I think we owe
it to this show to end it on its own terms, and when this show ends, that's the
curtain coming down for this world."
Added Thomas, "We want to keep the end really clean, really clean and respectful. This show is ending, and whatever How I Met Your Dad would ever be, it has to prove itself on its own. The show deserves the best possible ending that it could get, and the fans who stuck with us deserve that, and that's what we intend to give."
AIRED ON 3/31/2014
Season 9 : Episode 24