With How I Met Your Mother on hiatus until next week, I’ve had some time to ruminate on the show’s central mystery: The identity of The Mother, and when we’ll actually meet her. The show has run nearly seven years on doling out only a handful of hints — the yellow umbrella, glimpsing The Mother’s foot about 50 episodes ago — but we’re starting to really get impatient.
But then it hit me: The show takes place in 2030, as you can see from the above shot at the beginning of every episode. Back when the show began in 2005 that was a hell of a ways off, but now in 2012, it’s not so distant. Especially because Ted doesn’t meet The Mother in 2030; he tells his teenage kids the story in 2030.
Yesterday I saw this tweet from @PhysicistLisa, which corroborates a line of thinking I’d gone down recently:
i just did some math… HIMYM’s Ted needs to find the mother soon. If you assume his older kid is 14, she’d have to be born in 2016.
My thoughts exactly! Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas could have set the show in modern times without stamping it with a date, but they’ve done the opposite: Over the seasons they’ve planted very exact points on a canonical timeline. If they said 2030, they meant it. (Television Without Pity has helpfully constructed this timeline that tracks the gang’s comings and goings over the series, though it’s light on The Mother hints.)
Let’s consider Ted’s kids. David Henrie, 22, was 15 around the time of the pilot; Lyndsy Fonseca, 25, was 18 at the time. If we’re going by her exact age, then Ted’s daughter would be born now, in 2012. I think it’s more likely that she was meant to be 14-15 in the pilot (and her brother is a year or so behind her), which means Ted needs to be married and impregnating The Mother in 2015 or 2016.