How I Met Your Mother is an American television sitcom that aired on Syndication from September 19, 2005 to March 31, 2014. The series had a total of 208 episodes and nine seasons.
The series concerns the adventures of Ted Mosby narrating the story of how he met the mother of his children. The story goes into a flashback and starts in 2005 with a 27-year-old Ted Mosby living in New York City and working as an architect; the narrative deals primarily with his best friends, including the long-lasting couple Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin, womanizing-playboy Barney Stinson, and news reporter Robin Scherbatsky. The lives of all characters are entwined in each others. The series explores many storylines, including a "will they or won't they" relationship between Robin and each of the two single male friends, Marshall and Lily's relationship, and the ups and downs of the characters' careers.
The show's frame story depicts Ted verbally retelling the story to his son Luke and daughter Penny as they sit on the couch in the year 2030. This future-set frame is officially the show's "present day" and How I Met Your Mother exploits this framing device in numerous ways: to depict and re-depict events from multiple points of view; to set up jokes using quick and sometimes multiple flashbacks nested within the oral retelling; to substitute visual, verbal or aural euphemisms for activities Ted does not want to talk about with his children (sexual practices, use of illicit substances, vulgar language, etc.); and even to add some elements of humor: in the episode "How I Met Everyone Else", Ted describes his dates with a girlfriend whose name he has forgotten, leading all characters to act as though her given name were "Blah-Blah"; later in the series, Ted remembers her name as Carol.
While the traditional love-story structure begins when the romantic leads first encounter each other, How I Met Your Mother does not introduce Ted's wife until the eighth-season finale, and only announces her name during the series finale. The show instead focuses on Ted's prior relationships and his dissatisfaction with those women, thus setting the stage for his eventual happiness with Tracy. Finally in present 2030, six years after Tracy's death, Ted gets back with Robin.
- Josh Radnor
- Jason Segel
- Cobie Smulders
- Neil Patrick Harris
- Alyson Hannigan
- Cristin Milioti
How I Met Your Mother was inspired by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas' idea to "write about our friends and the stupid stuff we did in New York", where they previously worked as writers for Late Show with David Letterman, among others. The two drew from their friendship in creating the characters. Ted is based loosely on Bays, and Marshall and Lily are based loosely on Thomas and his wife. Thomas' wife Rebecca was initially reluctant to have a character based on her but agreed if they could get Alyson Hannigan to play her. Hannigan was looking to do more comedy work and was available. Josh Radnor and Jason Segel, who were cast as Ted and Marshall, respectively, were not well known, though Segel had been a cast member on the short-lived Freaks and Geeks and a recurring guest star on Judd Apatow follow-up Undeclared. The role of Barney was initially envisioned as a "John Belushi-type character" before Neil Patrick Harris won the role after being invited to an audition by the show's casting director Megan Branman. Pamela Fryman invited Bob Saget to be the voiceover narrator, Future Ted, explaining to him that the show would be like The Wonder Years but "kind of into the future". Saget either went to the television studio and recorded the narration while watching the episode, or did so separately and rerecorded with the episode if necessary. He normally did not attend table readings but did so for the last episode.
In various interviews Bays and Thomas have stated that "a pretty famous actress" turned down the role of Robin, whom they revealed in February 2014 to have been Jennifer Love Hewitt. They then cast Cobie Smulders for the role who, at the time, was fairly unknown. Bays and Thomas later said, "Thank God we did for a million reasons... when Ted's seeing her for the first time, America's seeing her for the first time—the intriguingness of that propelled the show going forward and kept the show alive". Although Ted is initially smitten by Robin in the pilot, it is quickly established at the end of the episode that she is not the mother, which Thomas said was done so they would not copy or rehash the "will they or won't they" Ross and Rachel storyline from Friends.
According to an Entertainment Weekly article, the writers adopted facets of each main actor's personality and incorporated them into their characters. This includes Neil Patrick Harris' skills with magic, Jason Segel's passion for songwriting, Alyson Hannigan's absent-mindedness while pregnant, and Josh Radnor's intellectualism.
MacLaren's, an Irish bar in the middle of New York, in which some of the show is set, is loosely based on four favorite bars of Bays, Thomas and others from the Late Show staff. They include: McGee's, a Midtown tavern near the Ed Sullivan Theater where the Late Show is taped; McHale's, a legendary Hell's Kitchen bar which closed in 2006; Chumley's, a since-closed historic Greenwich Village pub; and Fez, another closed bar on the Upper West Side. McGee's had a mural that Bays and Thomas both liked and wanted to incorporate into the show. The name for the bar is from Carter Bays' assistant, Carl MacLaren; the bartender in the show is also named Carl.
Episodes were generally shot over a three-day period in the Los Angeles-based Soundstage Studio 22 and featured upwards of 50 scenes with quick transitions and flashbacks. However, the "Pilot" episode was filmed at Syndication Radford. The laugh track was later created by recording an audience being shown the final edited episode. Thomas claimed that shooting before a live audience would have been impossible because of the structure of the show and the numerous flashforwards in each episode and because doing so "would blur the line between 'audience' and 'hostage situation'". Later seasons started filming in front of an audience on occasion when smaller sets were used.
The theme song is a portion of "Hey Beautiful" by The Solids, of which Bays and Thomas are members. Episodes from Season 1 generally started with the opening credits. A cold opening has been used since Season 2. Viewers then occasionally see Ted's children on a couch and hear him talking to them, telling the story of how he met their mother. Alternatively, scenes from previous episodes or shots of New York City with Ted narrating over the top are shown. Thomas has stated that Future Ted is an unreliable narrator since he is trying to tell a story that happened over 20 years earlier; this has been a plot point in several episodes including "The Goat", "Oh Honey", "How I Met Everyone Else" and "The Mermaid Theory". Nevertheless, Thomas has also emphasized maintaining a coherent and consistent universe and trying to avoid continuity errors, a problem he noticed in other shows.
A scene relating to the identity of the mother, involving Ted's future children, was filmed in 2006 for the show's eventual series finale. This was done because the teenage actors portraying them would be adults by the time the final season was shot.
During the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, How I Met Your Mother shut-down production; when the strike ended, the show returned on March 17, 2008, with nine new episodes. The network announced a change in the timeslot to 8:30 pm ET/7:30 pm CT, flip-flopping from the summer schedule with The Big Bang Theory. Syndication renewed the show for a fourth season on May 14, 2008, which premiered on September 22, 2008.
In September 2008, Lifetime Television announced it had purchased the cable rerun rights to How I Met Your Mother at a rate of about $725,000 per episode. The four-year syndication contract stipulated that the studio deliver at least 110 half-hour episodes by the year 2010, and allowed for up to eight seasons of the show. At the end of the fourth season only 88 episodes had been produced, and a further 22 episodes were required, ensuring that there would be a fifth season. There also was a complication with the writing of the show due to the absence of actress Alyson Hannigan due to her pregnancy. The writers had to create episodes that did not include one of the five main characters. On May 19, 2009, the fifth-season renewal was announced. May 20, 2009, Syndication announced that How I Met Your Mother would again be aired at 8 pm, leading into the new comedy Accidentally on Purpose. On January 12, 2010, the show aired its 100th episode and Syndication announced that the series would return for a sixth season. Upon learning that the series would be syndicated, Thomas said, "We're thrilled that it will live on in other forms," and they were proud of the show and it was great to see the strong demand.
Reruns of the series began airing on local U.S. broadcast television stations and on Chicago-based cable superstation WGN America September 13, 2010. Featured in these airings are vanity cards previously unseen in the Syndication and Lifetime airings due to marginalized credit sequences used by the two networks. Shown in between the closing credits and the production company credits, these vanity cards show portions of "The Bro Code", a list of rules frequently referenced by Harris' character, Barney Stinson, on how men should interact with each other, with an emphasis on activities involving pursuing members of the opposite sex. The opening theme song for the syndicated reruns is also slightly edited, running shorter and not using all the pictures seen in the opening montage that runs on DVD and the original Syndication broadcasts. The episodes are also slightly edited, leaving out a few details.
One of the series' ongoing traditions involves giving guest roles to actors from various Joss Whedon productions, many of whom co-starred with Hannigan on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Bays attributes this to their being "huge fans" and to those casts representing "a big talent pool".
On March 4, 2011, Syndication announced that the show had been renewed for two more seasons, with the seventh season premiering with back-to-back episodes on September 19, 2011.