[Update: This post is old. Click here for the most recent updates on How I Met Your Mother.]
While perusing the IMDb boards recently, I came across a fascinating theory on How I Met Your Mother‘s FAQ page: For the three times that Carter Bays and Craig Thomas thought that HIMYM might get cancelled, they wrote in back-up plans to reveal The Mother as three different women.
1) The writers, knowing that they only had as good a chance in their first season as any other new sitcom, wanted to make sure if they got cancelled after their initial 13 episodes that they still gave the fans a satisfying ending. You’ll notice that episode 13 of season 1 is “Drumroll, Please”: Ted (Josh Radnor) meets a wonderful girl named Victoria (Ashley Williams) at his friend’s wedding, but they part ways without exchanging information.
Robin (Cobie Smulders), who’s just realized she has feelings for Ted, tracks down Victoria because she wants Ted to be happy. Had the show gotten cancelled, the writers could have easily ended the series there, with a quick voiceover from Future Ted (Bob Saget) saying, “And that, kids, is how I met your mother.”
2) HIMYM hit another snag at the end of season 2; the finale, “Something Blue,” aired before the writers knew if the show had actually been renewed. In this case, we wouldn’t have had a specific woman to pinpoint as The Mother, but you can’t deny that it would’ve made a great series finale: Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) finally got married; Ted and Robin took their relationship as far as they could and parted as friends; and Barney ends on “Legen…”
3) The show’s fourth-season renewal didn’t come until late in season 3, long before Stella (Sarah Chalke) could leave Ted at the altar. Before then, the first episode “Ten Sessions” could’ve been an ideal finale: We would’ve watched Ted’s ten-week attempt to win over his dermatologist Stella, their two-minute date — which is still ranked as one of the series’ best moments — and the ending, where she says she’ll call him if she has time. Again, all it would’ve taken was a last-minute addendum from Future Ted.
Whoever wrote it up takes great pains to say that this is more conjecture than fact, but the truth is, it lines up pretty damn well. But thankfully, HIMYM is in its seventh season, which premieres tonight, so chances are that we’ll meet the actual woman that Carter and Craig envisioned!