Have you been wondering just who the mother is on How I Met Your Mother? Want to see her face, finally, and know who the actress is?!?! Or are you seeking information on fan ideas like the ever-popular missed date matchmaker theory, or the (disproved) Carly Theory? If so, you’re in exactly the right place (at the right time)!
*ORIGINALLY POSTED 1/4/13*
*UPDATED THROUGH SEASON 9, EPISODE 16 “HOW YOUR MOTHER MET ME”*
This page is meant to be a singular source for ALL theories, details, facts, clues, inferences, and extrapolations regarding The Mother of How I Met Your Mother, so you don’t have to click through to find what you’re looking for.
The season 8 finale “Something New” episode of HIMYM revealed that actress Cristin Milioti plays The Mother! Ted hasn’t met her yet, but he’s getting close!
Season 9 has revealed a whole lot about The Mother so far, but there are some big mysteries that remain. The most obvious one is that she doesn’t have a name yet! There’s also some confusion about the timeline, which so far deviates from the traditional love story some fans were expecting.
What’s cool is that some of the fan theories are still very much in play! Her name could be Tracy, or Hannah. She isn’t the same actress as we’ve seen in some other scenarios, but her character could still be the bump girl or the missed date. Ted as a slightly unreliable narrator can explain (via memories that are decades old) inconsistencies in how he thought or imagined she looked back then.
With that in mind, here’s the mother lode index – click to jump ahead to any section:
Who She Isn’t
Before They Meet
The First Meeting
The First Date
The Early Days
Who She Isn’t – Extra Details
Basic Info – Extra Details
Before They Meet – Extra Details
The First Meeting – Extra Details
The First Date – Extra Details
Season 6 DVD Extras Info
The Early Days – Extra Details
The Future – Extra Details
Color Theory in HIMYM
The Tracy Theory – POSSIBLE
The Bump Girl Theory – DISPROVED
The “Milk” Theory – DISPROVED
The Carly Theory – DISPROVED
The Wedding Band Theory – CONFIRMED
The Marissa Heller Theory – POSSIBLE
The Sister Theory – DISPROVED
The Michelle Tanner Theory – DISPROVED
The Jennifer Birmingham Theory – DISPROVED
The Cast Connection Theory – DISPROVED
The Joss Whedon Theory – DISPROVED
The Lyndsy Fonseca Theory – DISPROVED
The Hannah Theory – POSSIBLE
The Slutty Pumpkin Theory – DISPROVED
The Dead People Theory – POSSIBLE
Here is everything that we currently know about The Mother. Just consider me an honorary member of The Mosby Boys Detective Agency!
CLUES ABOUT THE MOTHER & HOW TED MEETS HER
Who She Isn’t
- She’s not Robin (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- No really, I promise, she’s NOT ROBIN. Let it go guys :)
- She’s not Victoria (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She’s not Stella – but she almost was (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She was never going to be Zoey (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She’s not Naomi, The Slutty Pumpkin (S7E8 “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns”)
- She’s not Carly, Barney’s half-sister (upcoming S8E14 “Ring Up!” to air on 1/21/13) (I know, this theory has gone strong for a long time but it is officially DISPROVED – more details below)
- She’s not the coat check girl (aka coat check wench aka Jayma Mays) We already knew this per S1E5 “Okay Awesome” but she was brought back for S8E20 “The Time Travelers”. She’s still not the mother.
- She’s not ANYONE that we have seen before on the show, including everyone’s relatives, all of Ted’s exes, and any random woman we may have spotted.
- BUT – given the nature of this show – it is still possible (though not as probable) that she could still be an extra or bit character formerly portrayed by a different actress.
- She is played by actress Cristin Milioti (S8E24 “Something New”)
- She was born on September 9th, 1994. This is based on her 21st birthday occuring the same night as S1E1 “Pilot” air date of 9/19/05). As such she is 28 years old when she meets Ted in May of 2013. (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She has a yellow umbrella (S3E1 “Wait For It”) (S3E12 “No Tomorrow”) (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”) (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”) (plus many other episodes)
- She was dating a man named Max, who was the love of her life, for at least 2 years. Unfortunately he died on her 21st birthday. (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She owns a replica of Pee Wee Herman’s bike from Pee Wee’s Great Adventure. It was a birthday gift from Max (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She owns a one man band suit, complete with cymbals. It was also a birthday gift from Max. (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She shared her apartment with her best friend until the fall of 2009 (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She lived with Cindy, who is a PhD candidate attending Columbia University (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- The Mother and Cindy were both in Economics 305 (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- The Mother is “getting a degree in economics”. This was true as of April 2013, 45 days before her and Ted meet for the first time. (S8E20 “The Time Travelers”)
- She makes paintings of robots playing sports (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- She enjoys making breakfast foods sing show tunes: “Your mother’s rendition of ‘Memory’, as performed by an English muffin is, to this day, the most hauntingly beautiful thing I have ever heard.” (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- Cindy said her crushes are “always falling in love with” The Mother (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- She owns a little yellow bus – first mentioned when seen in Cindy’s apartment, but also shown in the background of many scenes with Future Ted’s kids (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- She plays bass guitar (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”) (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She never leaves uneaten food on her plate (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She befriends waitresses and often scores free desserts (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She likes Pablo Neruda’s poems, particularly one entitled “Desnuda Eres.” (S5E12 “The Naked Man”)
- Lilacs are her favorite flower (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- She owns and wears a pair of leather driving gloves (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- She knows about Florian Van Otterloop, a buckle maker that Ted says “revolutionized the belt industry” (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- She makes delicious cookies called Sumbitches, which include chocolate, peanut butter, and caramel (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- She went to business school (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- She started a band called Super Freakonomics with some dorks from business school. She originally played bass and did lead vocals until the arrival of the evil Darren, who tried to take over her band. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”) (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She knits (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- She went to orchestra camp (and Mitch The Naked Man was her instructor there, although he was presumably not naked at that point) (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She knows how to play the cello but hasn’t “since the popular girls locked me inside the case” (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She is the 1 out of 3 girls that The Naked Man move does not work on (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She has a calligraphy set (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She has a coin collection (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She has a chainmail corset from the Renaissance faire (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She pronounces “Renaissance” in the same douchey way that Ted does, but it doesn’t seem douchey coming from her (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She does the crossword (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- She plays the eukele
- In September of 2005, Ted meets Robin at the MacLaren’s on the West Side, and The Mother celebrates her 21st birthday at the MacLaren’s on the East Side. The Mother’s boyfriend and first love of her life, Max, passes away. He leaves her a ukelele as a birthday gift.
- On approximately September 24th, 2007, (air date) The Mother (umbrella in hand) walks by MacLaren’s
- She and Ted were both at the same club, Low Point, in New York on St. Patrick’s Day, 2008: “I found out years later that your mom was at that party. I just didn’t meet her.” (S3E12 “No Tomorrow”)
- The Mother leaves with Mitch, aka The Naked Man, and forgets her umbrella at the club. She asks him over so she can donate her cello to his school. He tries TNM move on her but she is the 1 out 3 that it didn’t work on. Meanwhile, Ted makes out with a married lady, commits credit card fraud, and gets punched in the face.
- She forgets her yellow umbrella at that club, and Ted takes it home the next day (S3E12 “No Tomorrow”)
- Ted takes the umbrella out one day when it is raining (air date May 4th, 2009), and ends up running into Stella while holding it. Future Ted explains that this encounter was an essential step in the story of how he meets The Mother. We now understand that seeing Stella again led to Ted’s job at the university, which in turn led him to Cindy and The Mother. (S4E22 “Right Place, Right Time”)
- The Mother and Cindy both saw Ted when he tried to teach the wrong class on his first day of work as a professor at Columbia University (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- Ted thought he was teaching Architecture 101, he was actually in Econ 305: “Kids, you remember the wrong classroom story. I thought it was Architecture 101, but it was Econ 305.” (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- The Mother laughed at Ted’s shellfish joke (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- The Mother loaned Cindy the album “Who Will Cut Our Hair When We’re Gone” by The Unicorns. Ted had never met anyone else that had it. (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- The Mother gave Cindy the book At World’s End, by T. Coraghessan Boyle (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- Ted sees The Mother’s foot and ankle as she enters her bedroom. (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- Ted forgets the yellow umbrella at Cindy and The Mother’s apartment, thus inadvertently returning it to her (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- “A few years ago” (as of season 9, set in May 2013) The Mother started a band with “a couple of dorks from business school”. She originally sang lead vocals and played bass for the band, Super Freakonomics. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- At an undetermined point between the band starting and the present, she invited Darren into the band to do backup vocals. By April of 2012 he has assumed control. He took over lead vocals and relegated her to bass player in her own band. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- The Mother meets Louis when he helps her carry band equipment to Darren’s van. He asks if he can buy her a drink, and they head to the West Side MacLaren’s. Louis mentions that the last time he was there, he thought the place was called Puzzles. The Mother gets the brilliance of a bar named Puzzles! Louis and The Mother start dating. (S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me”)
- Once Ted and Robin are officially no longer a possibility (at least in his mind and her mind – Marshall seems to still be holding out hope), Ted is finally emotionally free and open to meeting someone new. This new phase is demonstrated by him walking outside and seeing a veritable sea of yellow umbrellas passing by MacLaren’s. This is presumably symbolic and didn’t actually happen – it is unlikely that a yellow umbrella convention happened to appear right when Ted walked outside. As such we cannot assume that The Mother was among the crowd. (S7E17 “No Pressure”)
- The Mother meets Barney in the fall of 2012 (“six months earlier” than the wedding date) when he tries to hit on her in the drugstore. She shuts him down, expresses concern for his clearly damaged soul, and they have a heart to heart chat. She convinces Barney to go back to Robin, and to do so with a grand gesture that will take everything he has. Without this encounter, Barney and Robin may not have ever gotten back together. The Mother says she has a boyfriend, but then says “I think maybe I still haven’t met the right guy”. (S9E9 “Platonish”)
- Ted runs into Cindy and her wife on the train. He mentions that Barney and Robin need a wedding band, and Cindy suggests The Mother’s band! This is how The Mother ends up at the wedding and therefore meets Ted (S8E13 “Band or DJ?”)
- She is confirmed to be the bass player in Barney and Robin’s wedding band! (S8E13 “Band or DJ?”)
- As of April 2013 – exactly 45 days before her and Ted meet – “she was dating some finance guy named Louis”. Based on the image of the Wall Street sign show when this fact is announced, Louis works on Wall St. Also Louis (at least as Ted imagined him) was played by Lou Ferrigno Jr. (S8E20 “The Time Travelers”)
- As of April 2013 – exactly 45 days before her and Ted meet – her address was 7A on West 115th St.
- We see her at the Long Island train station, buying a ticket to Farhampton, right before Barney and Robin’s wedding. (SE24 “Something New”)
- She meets Lily while they are both on the train, heading to Farhampton on the Friday before Barney and Robin’s wedding. (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- She shares her homemade Sumbitches cookies with Lily & they become friends (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- On the Saturday before the wedding, The Mother sees that Darren has posted a “Bass Player Wanted” ad. She realizes he is trying to kick her out of her own band. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- The Mother runs into Lily at the hotel bar, and they discusses their troubles. Lily advises The Mother to steal Darren’s van (Aldrin Justice in effect), and then confides in her about Marshall taking the judge job. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- The Mother is in the process of returning the stolen van (which she plans to gas up and get washed) when she sees Marshall and baby Marvin on the road. She picks up the adorable hitchhikers and freaks out Marshall with her uncanny knowledge of his life.
- After talking to Marshall, and realizing that she is (like him) too nice, she decides to address her fear of confrontation and take back control of the band. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- Ted ends up punching out Darren, and The Mother buys him a double shot of 35 year Glenn McKenna as a thank you. Neither has seen or met the other yet. (S9E13 “Bass Player Wanted”)
- Louis proposes to The Mother, and she talks to Max (in heaven) about the situation. She feel sthat she receives his blessing to move, but she says no to Louis. She is ready to move on but knows he is not the right one for her.
- The Mother checks into the Farhampton Inn. She takes room 6, which was originally intended for Robin’s mother. Ted is in the room right next door. The Mother plays La Vie En Rose on the ukulele and Ted listens, intrigued, from the other side of the balcony.
The First Meeting
- Barney and Robin are set to be married on May 26, 2013
- Ted and The Mother officially meet for the first time at the Farhampton Train Station, after Barney and Robin’s wedding (S8E1 “Farhampton”)
- She carries a bass guitar, a yellow umbrella, and a purple purse (S8E1 “Farhampton”)
- Her dress and shoes are also purple (S8E1 “Farhampton”)
- She has her bass guitar, which she used a member of the wedding band (S8E1 “Farhampton”) (S8E13 “Band or DJ?”)
- Ted gives her a lilac the first moment that they meet (S6 DVD extra “What We Know About Your Mother”)
- The wedding colors are lilac and cream, which can explain both her purple attire/accessories and the flower that Ted gives her (S8E13 “Band or DJ?”)
- Ted’s right hand is bandaged, perhaps from being in a fight (S8E1 “Farhampton”)
- She laughed at his first date shellfish joke (“Do you want to share the oysters? Good, because if you didn’t, that would be shellfish” (S5E2 “Double Date”)
- She presumably did “the check dance”* (S5E2 “Double Date”) (S7E2 “The Naked Truth”)
- Ted called her “right away” afterwards (S5E2 “Double Date”)
- Ted quits smoking within two weeks of their first date (S5E11 “Last Cigarette Ever”)
- Robin is the last person that Ted says “I love you” to, so The Mother is the next person (S7E17 “No Pressure”)
- Ted says “I love you” to The Mother when they go to see the movie The Wedding Bride III. She is holding the yellow umbrella in this scene. (S7E17 “No Pressure”)
- She nicknames Ted “Lady Tedwina Slowsby” as a way to make him stop driving slow like a little girl. It works. (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- She and Ted return to the Farhampton Inn in May of 2014, exactly a year after Ted sits alone and vows to bring her back (at this point, “her” is just him thinking of his soulmate, not The Mother specifically) (S9E2 “Coming Back”)
- Ted is shown holding his infant daughter in 2015 (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”)
- Ted and The Mother’s daughter is named Penny! (S9E15 “Unpause”)
- “Trilogy Time” occurs once every 3 years, beginning in 2000. The first time (2000), Ted and Marshall watch the Star Wars trilogy instead of studying for their Economics final. (This is also interesting because of The Mother’s connection to Economics classes). In 2003, it seems to be the summer before Marshall begins law school. In 2006, Marshall is sad about Lily breaking off their engagement and going to a summer art internship in San Francisco. In 2009, Barney and Robin are carrying on their secret summer romance. The 2012 episode aired on April 9, 2012. It seems that Trilogy Time officially occurs in late spring/early summer each year. (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”)
- Given this information, we can assume that Ted’s daughter Penny (appears to be approximately 1-3 months old) must have been born in early 2015. This matches with the original time frame that shows her as a teenager in 2030. (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”)
- In May of 2013, Ted has a disasterous trip to the Farhampton lighthouse with a girl named Cassie. In a flash forward scene set “Not 2 Years Later”, we see Ted at the lighthouse with The Mother. Ted says to her, “Why couldn’t it have been you here with me two years ago”? (S9E8 “The Lighthouse”)
- Ted proposes to The Mother at the top of the lighthouse! (S9E8 “The Lighthouse”)
- Some fans are confused because this indicates that baby Penny was conceived and born prior to Ted and The Mother getting engaged/married. The Mother does not appear pregnant in the scene, so it would either have to be set when she was not at all pregnant, when she was in the early stages (first trimester perhaps), or after the baby is born. Since the baby is alive for Trilogy Time in spring/summer of 2015, it seems that she was already born as of the proposal scene. Trilogy Time 2015 must have occurred around the same time, either shortly before or after this scene. Ted is wearing a wedding ring in the Trilogy Time 2015 scene, so that furthers confuses the matter. But, the show’s writers have tweeted to confirm the timeline IS correct and is not an error. (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”) (S9E8 “The Lighthouse”)
- Ted and The Mother let Lily and Marshall babysit Penny in December of 2015. They take Penny to meet Santa for the first time as a long awaited revenge for Ted doing the same with baby Marvin in December of 2012. (S8E9 “Lobster Crawl”)
- Ted, The Mother, and Penny return to visit Farhampton in 2017. The Mother is very pregnant and goes into labor after 2 AM. We see her, Ted, and Penny getting in the car and preparing to deliver their second baby. (S9E15 “Unpause”)
- Ted and The Mother’s son is named Luke! (S9E15 “Unpause”)
- As of the night of Luke’s birth, Penny looks to be the wrong age. The timeline strongly indicates she is born in late 2014/early 2015, which would make her around two years old as of 2017. The actual baby that played Penny is the second child of writer Carter Bays and wife Denise Cox Bays. Little Georgina was born in (approximately) August of 2012. This scene was shot in November, making the tiny actress just about 1 year and 3 months (15 months) old as of filming. Even if the night of Luke’s birth was January 1st, 2017, that still gives us a baby that was born in late 2015. We know that Trilogy Time 2015 should occur in spring/summer, and that Penny meets Santa for the first time when is an infant in December of 2015. We also know that The Mother must have delivered Penny and lost the baby weight as of the lighthouse proposal scene set in May 2015. At first the age discrepancy seemed like a mistake or a change in the timeline. But upon realizing it is the writer’s own child, it makes sense that would sacrific a bit of age accuracy for such a special guest star cameo. (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”) (S9E15 “Unpause”)
- At some point when the kids are growing up, she insists on the whole family taking a seven hour detour while en route to Disney World, so she can see a goat in South Carolina that blows smoke rings. (S9E1 “The Locket”)
- Ted and The Mother are married as of the Wesleyan Reunion that they attend with Lily and Marshall in 2020 (S3E5 “How I Met Everyone Else”)
- Ted reports being happily married and with two kids when he runs into Wendy the Waitress in 2021 (S6E20 “The Exploding Meatball Sub”)
- At different points in the series, there were plans for existing characters (Victoria and Stella) to be The Mother in case the show was cancelled:
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.
- Victoria returned later in the show, but she’s still officially ruled out:
TV Guide: Ted’s driving off with Victoria, but we know that she’s not the mother.
Thomas: That’s why it’s really fun with storytelling time! [Laughs] But it felt very relatable to us. I think everybody in their love life has had someone they felt they screwed it up with or that person could’ve been the one or if circumstances had been different, maybe that was the one. That’s how Ted feels about Victoria. He screwed that up in Season 1… Ted doesn’t know this in 2012 — he still thinks Victoria could be the mother of his children — but we, the audience, and astute HIMYM fans know more than him thanks to Bob Saget. We love Victoria representing the door that’s still open a crack in Ted’s mind. He has to see what’s behind that door and eventually close it to be able to meet the mother. As we head toward the end of the series, it’s one of the last things Ted has to do.
-How I Met Your Mother Boss on Barney’s Bride: “It Had to Be Her” 5/15/12
- She was indeed “almost Stella” – look at this clever set design element that could have tied current Stella to Future Ted and the Mosby family:
- We can rule out Naomi, aka The Slutty Pumpkin, played by Katie Holmes. Naomi and Ted were super awkward together when they finally reunited, and they both agreed it wasn’t a love match. (S7E8 “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns”)
- The Carly Theory is DEAD, guys. In S8E14 “Ring Up!” we have Ashley Benson playing Carly. Ted clearly meets her before the day of the wedding, and that is enough right there to prove it’s not the winning theory.
- Cindy is currently “writing a dissertation titled Foreign Direct Investment and Inter-generational Linkages in Consumption Behavior.” This sounds pretty Economics-y to me, but I can’t say for sure :) (S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”)
- Ted is trying to teach an introductory course, Architecture 101. Therefore 101 equals the first, introductory course in a given subject.
- The course numbering system likely means that 100-level courses are for undergraduates, 200-level classes are for those majoring/minoring in the subject OR are only for graduate students, and 300-level classes are for PhD candidates/graduate students only. Alternately, 100-level courses may be for freshmen, 200-level courses may be for sophomores, 300-level for juniors, and 400-level for seniors. I believe the former makes more sense.
- Thus, The Mother is likely either a PhD candidate working on her own dissertation, or a graduate/upper level student taking a required Economics course for a different degree. She could be a junior taking an undergraduate class but that doesn’t seem to make as much sense.
- Some fans assume The Mother must be in the 17-22 age range, because she is a college student. Given the type of class and caliber of classmates (Cindy), I think that The Mother must be in her mid to late twenties when that show aired in 2010.
- The Mother is probably close to Cindy’s age. We don’t know Cindy’s exact age but we do know Rachel Bilson, the actress, was 28 years old when the episode aired in January of 2010 (IMDB). This age makes sense for Cindy, given that a PhD candidate should already have a high school diploma, a four-year college degree, and some years of post-graduate work completed.
- In “Shelter Island”, we see a flash forward of how the future may have looked if Ted and Stella had gotten married. Both children are blonde in this image, indicating that a blonde mother plus brunette Ted equals blonde kids. Since we know that the children actually have dark hair, it is very likely that The Mother has dark hair as well. This is further demonstrated in the pictures seen in the background behind the children, which feature what looks like Ted, two children, and a dark-haired woman. This picture is also present in the image with the imaginary Stella-kids, though, so it may be a childhood picture of Ted, his sister, and their parents. (S4E5 “Shelter Island”)
- The show’s creators have confirmed that Ted and The Mother officially meet at the Farhampton train station:
She was still obscured by her yellow umbrella, of course, but the couple’s future together officially kicks off on a train station platform — the episode’s namesake, Farhampton. And while you ponder the likely fake-out of her hopping on a different train, showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas insist that’s not the case.
“There won’t be a swerve,” Thomas told The Hollywood Reporter and other press at a screening. “That’s the moment. We can very honestly say it. He’s moments away from meeting her.”
This scene is presented to us as the immediate moment before Ted actually meets the mother. Here’s the question we need to focus on now – are we thinking of when Ted officially or unofficially meets the mother?
Here’s what is awesome about the end of S8E13 “Band or DJ?”…
I absolutely LOVE this scene because it proves something I’ve suspected for quite a while – Ted does meet The Mother at the Farhampton station, but he sees her at least once before (shown above). If he’s seen her once before he meets here, that opens up waaaay more possibilities for tie-ins to prior characters and encounters. The writers nicely tied up the issue, for example, of him already meeting the St. Patrick’s Day party girl. She could still be The Mother now, because he saw/ran into her but did not technically meet her. Similarly, he saw the bass player at the reception, but did not technically meet her until the train station scene. So much more fun this way!
- Ted uses “the check dance” as a measure of compatibility on first dates. He plans to pay for dinner, but he appreciates when the woman reaches for the check as though she will pay. This demonstrates general good manners and consideration, and it also gives Ted the chance to feel like a big man when he goes ahead and takes care of it. This is noted as an important diagnostic tool for him in two episodes: “The Double Date” (S5E2) and “The Naked Truth” (S7E2).
Future Ted recaps clues that we already know:
- She’s not Robin
- She was almost Stella
- She was Cindy’s roommate
- She plays bass
- She has a yellow umbrella
- She was in what Ted thought was his architecture class
- She paints robots doing sports
- She makes breakfast foods sing show tunes
- She was never going to be Zoey
- Ted met her on the day of a wedding
And some brand new information:
- She never leaves uneaten food on her plate: “She never would’ve left that much of her sandwich uneaten. No joke, I’ve seen that woman get a half a pad of butter wrapped up to go…”
- She befriends waitresses and often scores free desserts: “Oh, and your mother definitely would’ve befriended the waitress, which inevitably would have led to a free desert…Mom’s ability to get free pie; supernatural”
- Lilacs are her favorite flower, and they are also the first flower that Ted ever gives her: “Oh, and I wouldn’t have had much luck with an orchid. I’d have given her lilacs; her favorite…which just just happened to be the first flower I ever gave her…the very moment we met…”
POSSIBILITIES & THEORIES
COLOR THEORY IN HIMYM
I’ve been giving this quite a bit of thought (as it is clearly VERY IMPORTANT lol) and I have some newish conclusions. Most of them are fueled by the fact that EVERYONE IS WEARING PURPLE ALL SEASON LONG. Seriously, idk if the Gap had a sale on all things eggplant and lilac or what, but these guys are rocking more purple than Barney. Yes, THAT Barney:
We all know that yellow is the main color for this show – the yellow umbrella, little yellow school bus, Robin’s yellow raincoat, all of the pivotal moments that occur in yellow cabs, etc. There are two schools of thought regarding purple. One theory is that, since purple is the complementary/opposite color for yellow, it indicates a lack of romance. By this theory, anyone with yellow symbolism is a viable candidate to be someone’s happily ever after, and anyone wearing purple is disqualified.
But that doesn’t really mesh with how this season in particular has progressed, so I think I’m going with the alternate theory. This theory holds that Ted’s happily ever after color is yellow, whereas Barney’s happily ever after color is purple. This just means that purple people – like Robin with the purple giraffe – are not suited for Ted. But – since Barney is a foil character for Ted – this means that Robin and all her purple giraffe glory could be Barney’s true soul mate. Quinn is in purple because she is a contender, and everyone else is in purple because it signifies Barney’s upcoming nuptials.
UPDATE – I’ve been reading some other blogs, and they pointed out a couple additional facts. We could assume that Ted is purple, and looking for his yellow, whereas Barney is yellow, and looking for his purple. Or we could assume that both are purples, looking for their yellows. When we see both members of a couple in the same color – Robin and Kevin both wearing purple, for example, or Barney and Nora both wearing yellow, or Barney and Quinn both wearing purple – that means that they’re NOT meant to be together. Ex:
It has also been noted that Robin seems to only wear yellow when she’s involved with Barney. I’m not sure if this is accurate but I’ve documented all of the Robin in yellow episodes I’ve found so far:
Season 4, episode 24 “The Leap”, where Barney and Robin finally kiss and get together for reals.
Season 6, episode 9 “Glitter” – Barney is the one that tracked down the glorious Space Teens video starring Robin Sparkles and Jessica Glitter…
Season 7, episode 8 “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns” – this is the one where we find out that Barney is (gasp!) part Canadian…like Robin…
Season 7, episode 9 “Disaster Averted”, where Barney and Robin reminisce about what might have been had they hooked up in the (yellow) cab.
Season 7, episode 15 “The Drunk Train”. This one is a Robin with Kevin episode, which ends with them breaking up. Maybe stripes indicate ambivalence? If so that could apply to the earlier image of Robin and Ted in purple/blue stripes and plaids. I will have to investigate further…
UPDATE: As of the season 9, episode 4, the gang is still doing the purple wardrobe thing every week. There have also been some interesting new color theories to arise. For example, some theorize that the show is going through the entire progression of the colors of the rainbow. This doesn’t make as much sense to me, because why would they skip over the other colors so much and emphasize this hue for three plus seasons? In terms of the order of colors in the rainbow, the acronym ROY G. BIV does remind us that violet is at the very end.
That being said, The Mother is shown to be wearing purple when we finally see her at the Long Island train station, AND when Ted meets her at the Farhampton train station. Both times she is carrying the yellow umbrella, which might balance out her purple? This would work better if Ted was somehow wearing tons of yellow with a purple accent, but I don’t see that happening. :)
Basically, we can see the plethora of purple as all indicative of Barney and Robin getting married, or as Ted finally meeting The Mother. Barney and Robin’s relationship is essential to Ted meeting The Mother, though, so it can of course be indicative of both.
It might make more sense to focus on traditional color theory, and the well known meanings and symbolism associated with purple. Here are some interesting traditional associations to consider:
- Purple indicates royalty. I doubt that The Mother happens to be an actual princess or queen, but we could widen the parameters a bit. If we look at purple as indicating wealth and/or power, it is the appropriate color for a member of the extremely rich Van Smoot family. That option could lend credence to the Hannah Theory (see below).
- Purple can also indicate uniqueness – or artifice. It is the color that appears most rarely in nature, and it is said to be the first hue that was artificially created. We can certainly gleen from this that The Mother is unique, but the “fake” implications don’t fit what we know of her.
- Purple can mean uncertainity. This can be said of any color that is comprised of two primary colors. We can see it as a mix between the symbolism of blue (loyalty, nature, truth, sincerity, and faith) and red (passion, love, strength, and excitement). These would suit what we know of The Mother.
- Purple in American pop culture is associated with the band Deep Purple (of “Smoke on the Water” fame), “Purple Rain” (the song, album, and movie) by Prince, and “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix. I have no idea if any of this relates to The Mother but I always like to consider the pop culture connections.
- One of my favorite ideas for the symbolism of purple in How I Met Your Mother actually comes from the world of science. Violet is one of the colors on the visible spectrum. It can be seen in rainbows and it was identified by Isaac Newton. Purple, however, is totally different. It is a non-spectral color. Here’s the part that I love the most, as quoted from Wikipedia:”It exists in culture and art, but not, in the same way that violet does, in optics.” This totally reminds me of how The Mother has existed in this show since day one, but she has not been a visible element until very recently.
Here are thumbnails with examples of purple throughout season 7. I’m compiling additional examples from seasons 8 and 9 to post here as well.
The Amber/Stripper/Tracy Theory
Way back in the early days of HIMYM, an intriguing fan theory came about. To understand it best, we should revisit the specific scene, which is set at a familiar location – The Lusty Leopard Strip Club.
Stripper: I’m Amber
Ted: I’m Ted
Stripper: Actually, it’s Tracy
Ted: Still Ted
- cut to Future Ted speaking to the Mosby kids -
Future Ted: And that, kids, is the true story of how I met your mother
Future Ted: (laughs) Just kidding
-S1E9 “Belly Full of Turkey”
Some fans felt that the shocked reactions meant the kids believed Future Ted’s story. And instead of saying, “wait, but mom’s name is _____”, the kids just gasped in astonishment. These fans believe that the kids accepted the statement so readily because Ted used The Mother’s actual name – Tracy. Other fans agree with this reasoning but think it indicates that The Mother’s name is Amber. This idea also holds credence to some because amber is a shade of yellow, the main symbolic hue of the show and The Mother.
As of the season 8 finale, we do not know The Mother’s name. As such, it could still be Tracy. Or Amber.
IF IT’S TRUE: The mother’s name is Tracy. Or Amber.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT BE: The shock expressed by the kids could also be simple confusion because none of the information – names or occupation – match what they know about their mother. Alternately, the name may be irrelevant, because strippers (particularly those at The Lusty Leopard) often have stage names. So the kids may have just assumed that Amber and/or Tracy were the mother’s stripper names, and thus not her real name. Finally, we have to remember that Ted is not a reliable narrator.
The Bump Girl/St. Patrick’s Day/”No Tomorrow” Girl Theory: DISPROVED
In the aforementioned “No Tomorrow” (S3E12), there is an interesting scene set inside the bar. Ted bumps into an attractive dark-haired girl, and they both part ways after a brief moment of acknowledgement. Ted says “oh, I’m sorry”, and she responds “it’s okay”. Many fans suspect that this woman is The Mother. We do know that both Ted and The Mother were at same bar at the same time, but Ted notes that he did not meet her that night. “I found out years later that your mom was at that party. I just didn’t meet her.” (S3E12 “No Tomorrow”) Since bumping into someone doesn’t technically constitute a real meeting, this character may in fact be The Mother.
Let’s compare this actress to the woman holding the yellow umbrella – my thanks to Jack Cola for the pictures:
The actress – Nicole Muirbrook Wagner, played “Woman” on this episode per IMDB - may be called back to play the role, or she may just represent Ted’s hazy memory of her.
If the former is true, we may see a flashback that shows the same scene but with the “official” actress playing this character. This theory has big appeal, because there is no obvious reason to include the scene otherwise.
IF IT’S TRUE: We know that The Mother is slim, beautiful, and has long dark hair. That’s really all we can discern from these without knowing if this specific actress ends up playing The Mother. I guess we can assume that she has a penchant for clutch purses and print tank tops but that’s a stretch. I think she’s adorable and I would love to see her play The Mother! That being said, she looks a little bit too much like actress Lindsay Price, who played Cathy in S3E8 “Spoiler Alert”.
WHY IT MIGHT NOT BE: The scene seems relevant, but we have to remember that the writers may be throwing in red herrings to distract/deter us from discovering The Mother’s identity. These twists and turns are part of what we love about How I Met Your Mother!
UPDATE: We saw in the season 8 finale that The Mother is played by Cristin Milioti. That is obviously not the same actress as Nicole Wuirbrook Wagner, shown above. In S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me” we see The Mother in a different part of the club as Ted is bumping into the bump girl. Therefore The Mother is NOT the bump girl as many previously tought!
The Matchmaker/Missed Date Girl Theory/”Milk” Theory: DISPROVED
I wrote about this theory extensively already (HIMYM: I’m 99% Sure These Are Pics Of “The Mother) so most of this content is pulled straight from there:
In “Matchmaker” (S1E7), Ted signs up for a matchmaking service. He is not matched up with anyone suitable. There is one match – a 9.6 out of 10 – but she (Sarah O’Brian) is already matched up. Undeterred, Ted sneaks into the office to print the info sheets for Sarah. He reads them and learns her occupation, guilty pleasure song, likes and dislikes, etc. He is able to locate her and meet her in person, but she is engaged to her match and not interested.
Ok, now let’s skip ahead to “Milk” (S1E21). Ted receives a phone call from the new owner of the matchmaking agency, informing him that his match has been found. Ted ponies up the $500 needed for her information, and receives her file in return. We see 10 photos (shown above) which indicate that the woman is Ted’s perfect match.
So I read the file, and by God this woman was perfect. She liked dogs, she spent her summers in North Carolina, she played bass guitar, she did the Times crossword, she played tennis, she liked old movies, her favorite food was lasagna, and her favorite book was Love in the Time of Cholera. Her favorite singer was Otis Redding and she wanted two kids, a boy and a girl.
Later, when speaking to Robin, Ted also mentions that ”she’s 28, just like me” and “college-educated”. When Robin asks if the mystery woman is looking to get married, Ted says yes.
The photos are either in the file, or what Ted is imagining based on her profile information. If the photos are in the file, why are they shown with the faces blurred out? Is it perhaps because she is indeed The Mother, and the show creators are keeping her face a secret? If Ted is imagining the images based on the information given, why is he imagining them with the face blurred out? Is it because she was intangible at that point, and Ted simply couldn’t put a face to her profile? Or is it because Future Ted is reflecting on this past experience and purposely obscuring information so he doesn’t spoil the surprise for his kids?
The last picture, at least, has to be imagined, because it shows two young children that the woman presumably wished to have someday. The only issue with this is how the picture shows a little girl and her older brother, while the siblings on the show seem to be an older sister and her little brother. In real life, the actress who plays the daughter (Lyndsy Fonseca) is two years older than David Henrie, who plays the son. So I’m not sure, but I’m still intrigued.
It could also be an image of that woman’s childhood, with her beside her older brother. Who knows!
Notice anything else interesting about this pictures? Half of them show the woman wearing a silver ring on her right ring finger. I suspect it might be a little clue for the discerning fans and not just an oversight. Now look at these two photos of the children – one from the pilot episode, and one from season six:
A silver ring! Could be coincidence, sure, but I like the idea of it being the mother’s ring, gifted to her daughter. The daughter wears her ring on her left middle finger though – maybe it’s still too big for her ring finger? I don’t know!
A final thought…we never find out the name of Ted’s match. They schedule a blind date, and Ted is able to contact her to delay their meeting when Lily needs him ASAP. It seems likely that he would know her name, don’t you think? Especially since he paid for the full file and didn’t just print and steal a summary sheet. If he knew Sarah O’Brian’s name, I think he should have known the match’s name as well. So why do we never hear it?
Later, in “Rabbit or Duck” (S5E15), Ted asks Lily and Marshall to set him up. They consider women from his past, including Trudy (married), Blah Blah (committed – relationship? no, Bellevue), and Natalie (Ted is her least favorite person in the world). But they never think of the “Milk” maiden. Based on prior episodes, neither Natalie nor Blah Blah are viable options, but this woman is still a real possibility. And yet we never hear of her again…
IF IT’S TRUE: We know that The Mother likes dogs, spent summers in North Carolina, plays bass guitar, does the NY Times crossword, plays tennis, likes old movies, her favorite food is lasagna, her favorite book is Love in the Time of Cholera, her favorite singer is Otis Redding, and she ended up with two kids just like she wanted, a boy and a girl. We can also see that she has/had a golden retriever (I think that’s the dog breed shown above?), is right-handed, and rocks a silver ring on her right hand. We also know that she is the same age as Ted (28 as of this episode’s May 28th, 2006 air date), college educated, and looking to get married.
Actress Lisa Claire is credited as “Beautiful Woman #2″ in S1E21 “Milk”. The first “Beautiful Woman” was the girl that Barney hits at the bar. Anyway this woman’s hair feels like it could match the pictures, but there are no guarantees:
WHY IT MIGHT NOT BE TRUE: There is a brief conversation that may rule out this possibility:
Future Ted: I didn’t know it, but I was about to hear the very first description of the woman I’d one day marry.
Cindy: She’s a whore.
-S5E12 “Girls Versus Suits”
If we get really technical, we can go with the idea that Ted read/saw the information from the matchmaker profile, and thus did not hear a description of The Mother until meeting Cindy. That’s a bit of a jump, so it could completely eliminate the Matchmaker Girl Theory, depending on how you look at it. There is also the continuing possibility of this being a red herring, planted by the writers to add even more mystery. BUT loose ends are generally resolved on this show, so I expect to see some reference to this particular character again.
UPDATE: We saw in the season 8 finale that The Mother is played by Cristin Milioti. That is obviously not the same actress as Lisa Claire, shown above. Beyond that, the body shape, height, and hair don’t seem to match how Cristin looks as The Mother at all.
In S9E16 “How Your Mother Met Me” we learn that The Mother is six years younger than Ted. The Milk girl is said to be the same age as Ted. Therefore, The Mother cannot be the milk girl.
The Carly Theory/The Barney’s Sister Theory: DISPROVED
People visit my blog for a variety of writing, but there’s one specific concept that draws in more readers than anything else: articles on the possibility of Barney’s sister, Carly Whittaker, being THE mother on How I Met Your Mother. It was fun while it lasted, but it’s been officially squashed. Check this info out:
BARNEY BEGS TED TO CONTINUE SEEING HIS YOUNGER, WILDER GIRLFRIEND, EVEN THOUGH TED HAS NOTHING IN COMMON WITH HER, ON “HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER,” MONDAY, JAN. 21
Ashley Benson (“Pretty Little Liars”) Guest Stars as Carly, Ted’s New Girlfriend
CHEAT TWEET: Barney begs Ted to continue dating a much younger girl @AshBenzo until he learns who she is! #HIMYM 1/21 @8PM ET/PT http://bit.ly/SmKGNn“Ring Up” — Barney begs Ted to continue seeing his much younger, much wilder girlfriend, even though Ted has nothing in common with her. Meanwhile, Robin must adjust to the power of the bling, on HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER, Monday, Jan. 21 (8:00-8:30 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network. Ashley Benson (“Pretty Little Liars”) guest stars as Carly, Ted’s new girlfriend.
Carly (Ashley Benson)
Those who want all the details can still review all the facts; just keep reading…
Since I’ve already written about this topic extensively, I will once again be pulling some content straight from my previous posts NEW Pic of the Mom – HIMYM – Does Ted Marry Barney’s Sister? I’m 99.99% Sure Yes and The Latest How I Met Your Mother Theories (HIMYM – Including Season 8).
Here’s what we know about Carly Whittaker, per “Legendaddy” (S6E19):
- She’s the daughter of Jerome Whittaker and Cheryl Whittaker.
- She’s the sister of Jerome Jr. (J.J.)
- She’s the half-sister of Barney Stinson
- We haven’t seen or met her character yet
- When Barney visits his father’s home, he meets his younger half-brother, JJ, and hears about his younger half-sister, Carly
- Jerome says that Carly is away at college and doesn’t live at home
Those are pretty much the only facts that we have so far. But, we can see if Carly Whittaker meets the requirements that are already established for the mother.
- Carly could be going to school at Columbia University (the same school that Cindy goes to and Ted teaches at)
- Carly could be Cindy’s roommate
- The Whittaker’s home and Cindy/The Mother’s home are both decorated in a similar manner (animal figurines, pillows, pictures, etc.)
- Cindy says that guys are always falling in love with The Mother. We know that women are always falling in love (or at least lust) with Barney. Perhaps him and baby sister share the same set of sex appeal genes?
- As Barney’s sister, Carly will likely be at the Barney and Robin wedding
- If she happens to be musical, Barney may have asked her to be a part of the wedding band
- Ted meets The Mother on the day of the wedding
- Future Ted refers to Barney and Robin as “Uncle Barney” and “Aunt Robin”
- Ted’s bandaged hand in “Farhampton” may be due to a fight with Barney over his violation of The Bro Code (hooking up with Barney’s sister at the wedding?)
- Note – Ted could hook up with Barney’s sister Carly at the wedding, fight with Barney, and then go on to meet the actual mother at the train station
If Ted married Barney’s sister, Barney and Robin would in fact be uncle and aunt to the kids. But Ted also refers to “Uncle Marshall” and “Aunt Lily”, and we know that they aren’t technically related to Ted. So this clue doesn’t hold much weight.
Ted hooking up with Barney’s sister is a clear violation of The Bro Code. BUT, Barney has already violated his own code of ethics twice where Ted is concerned – he made out with Ted’s mom, and he slept with Ted’s ex-girlfriend Robin. I’m not sure if marriage negates that violation or what, but Ted hooking up with Barney’s sister would certainly balance things out a bit.
This concept is particularly amusing because of the following exchange:
Ted: Check it out. I just got that girl’s number. See? Holly.
Barney: Nice! Girls with “ly” at the end of their names are dirty. Carly, Shirly, Lily.
Marshall: Hey!… all right, it’s true.
Barney: Don’t even get me started on girls whose name should end in “ly”, but instead end in I. Those girls are like roller-coasters. You’ve got to wait in a long line, but once you get up there, you just hold on for dear life and hope you don’t lose your keys.
-S4E21 “The Three Days Rule”
Lord help the men of New York if Barney’s sister spells her name Carli… :)
There’s been a persistent rumor running around the interwebs about how Cindy’s apartment has a picture frame (I think?) that says C + C. This could refer to Cindy + Carly (= Best Friends 4Eva?) but it could also refer to the show’s creators, Craig Thomas and Carter Bays. From what I can tell, though, nobody has been able to find a screenshot or anything actually showing this elusive symbolic object. As such I don’t think it’s all that relevant.
So at this point, Carly Whittaker is a loose end. She has been mentioned but not truly incorporated into the show. Proponents of this theory are encouraged by the lack of discussion of Carly before or after on the show. I feel the same way about her that I do about the missed date from the “Milk” episode – she might not be The Mother, but her character will be revisited. If we had to spend all this time with effing Victoria and The Slutty Pumpkin and Robin again and again, they can certainly find time to delve into this mini mystery.
IF IT’S TRUE: Carly Whittaker, Barney’s half-sister, is The Mother. The Bro Code slate would be wiped clean. Mystery solved!
WHY IT MIGHT NOT BE: It’s established, it’s for sure not her.
Other Assorted Mother Theories
Many fans suspect The Mother is a member of the wedding band (or DJ) :) We know that she does play bass guitar, and we see her at the Farhampton train station on the night of Barney and Robin’s wedding. She’s dressed in formal wear, and she has her guitar case with her. I can’t think of any reason why this may not be true, so for now it’s a strong possibility.
UPDATE: We just discovered that the original wedding band falls through, and Ted fortuitously runs into Cindy (Rachel Bilson) and her wife on the subway. Cindy asks if Ted believes in destiny, and then explains that her former roommate – the one that was a perfect match for Ted – happens to be the bass player for the BEST wedding band in NYC. Then we see Ted, at the reception, eyes fixed upon the bass player. At the same time, we hear Future Ted talking about how everything worked out as it should…
In “Robots versus Wrestlers” (S5E22), we learn that mail for a prior resident (Marissa Heller) has consistently been delivered to the apartment ever since Ted and Marshall first moved in. When Ted spots Marissa Heller’s invitation to an exclusive party at the Alberta Building, he convinces the others to accompany him. They attempt to use her invitation, but the real Marissa Heller shows up.
Or does she?! Marissa invites Ted, Barney, Lily, and Marshall to join her. In the elevator, Lily tries to chat with Marissa about mail-related interests. Lily saw that Marissa received Soap Opera Digest, for example, so she asks Marissa about her favorite soaps. Marissa isn’t into that, though, and everyone thinks she’s pretty douchey. Except Ted, of course, because he was a little douchey himself in that episode.
One Redditor posited that elevator-Marissa’s lack of interest means that she wasn’t the real Marissa at all. The real Marissa could have been busy that night – busy being The Mother! We actually only know of one other event occurring that event – a little thing called Robots VS Wrestlers. Who might be interested in such a thing? Maybe a woman who paints ROBOTS DOING SPORTS. Is your mind blown just a little? :)
The Mother may not be Marissa, but she certainly could have attended Robots Versus Wrestlers. It is a yearly event, after all. Ted notes that this becomes an annual tradition for the whole group, so it’s likely that The Mother ends up going once they meet and get together. I like this theory because it’s a unique take that isn’t discussed much. It’s a long shot, but such an intriguing possibility. Marissa Mosby does have a certain ring to it, no?
UPDATE: We still don’t know the name of The Mother, so it could very well be Marissa Heller.
The Sister Theories: DISPROVED
The whole Aunt Robin and Uncle Barney thing has really thrown off some fans. As I noted in a prior article, many are holding strong to The Carly Theory because of this:
Future Ted refers to Barney as “Uncle Barney”.
Conflict: Ted also calls his other friends “Uncle Marshall”, “Aunt Lily”, and “Aunt Robin”
Conclusion: If Barney is Ted’s brother-in-law by marriage, and that’s why Ted refers to him as “Uncle Barney”, then we can presume that Robin is “Aunt Robin” because she is married to Barney.
Alternate Conclusion: Like many of us, Ted refers to close family friends as “aunt” and “uncle”.
If we really want to stretch our imaginations, these other marriages would fulfil the technical requirements: Ted marries Robin’s younger sister Katie Scherbatsky, or Barney marries Ted’s younger (already married) sister Heather Mosby. Other fans have speculated that Ted ends up with Stella’s sister Nora Zinman. All three of these possibilities are ruled out – Ted has already met both Katie and Nora prior to the wedding, and Barney is definitely marrying Robin.
UPDATE: Now that we’ve seen actress Cristin Milioti, we know without a doubt that she isn’t any of these characters that Ted has met before.
Update – it looks like Dave McKain (the Facebooker that created the image below) was the first to post this theory online. I don’t know if he and Justin came up with the ideas separately, or were influenced by one another, but I wanted to make sure to give proper credit where it’s due. Here is Dave’s take, as published on Have-You-Met-Ted.com in early 2012:
HIMYM can cross over with Full House by making Michelle Tanner the mother. Bear with me…there are lots of things that can make this work. As unlikely as this probably is, it might make sense on a lot of levels. My thought is that we have not met the mother character as of yet. They have said as much throughout the first 6 seasons, but we like to twist words and give double meanings to make it possible to mean other things. I think a lot of the ‘clues’ that we have are purposeful misleadings to get different theories circulating. But also, I don’t think they would just spring a random character that the audience is not attached to as well. I think the creators want the ending and the reveal to be iconic in the “nobody saw that coming” Newhart fashion.
REASONS THAT SUPPORT MICHELLE TANNER
They casted Bob Saget as the ‘voice’ of future Ted. Now we have seen future Ted with his grey hair many a time over the years and he always had Josh Radnor’s voice. I believe the voice of Bob Saget is more a metaphorical representation in the kid’s minds as a combination of a paternal and maternal story telling…with the Grandfather being thrown in…kind of a hint to the mother’s lineage. And as we know, Bob Saget (aka Danny Tanner) would be the Grandfather to these kids.
The Age. If we can assume that Michelle Tanner and the Olsen’s are the same age, then as of today the Olsen’s are 25. Which as of the first day of Ted’s teaching career (Sept 2009), Michelle Tanner would have been 23 years old…the perfect age for a grad student taking Economics 305. The St Patty’s day party was Mar 17, 2008…making Michelle Tanner 21 and old enough to go bar hopping (not that under 21 would stop people).
Rachel Bilson as the roommate. This tie in is more of a funny real-life one. Rachel Bilson has listed Ashley Olsen as one of her major fashion influence, and it is common knowledge that they are good friends and they run in the same circles.
Lily. When Lily and Marshall broke up, Lily went off to San Francisco. The Tanners were from San Francisco. The creators could make an easy tie in as to why Michelle Tanner is at a wedding that Lily is at…maybe Lily invited them after befriending during her time in San Fran.
Robin. Robin is in TV journalism…as was Danny Tanner. They have had the exact same job, but Danny Tanner was just a little more accomplished. Robin’s career path could be a tie in to how they all meet each other.
Bass guitar. Ted’s future wife plays bass guitar. What 23 year old, good looking chic would have a better opportunity to have played a rock’n’roll instrument than the niece of Uncle Jesse. For all we know, Michelle Tanner could have been playing since she was a kid. Easy tie in.
Admittedly (and proudly) I never watched Full House. But from what my wife has told me, Michelle’s best friend growing up was a boy named…you guessed it…Ted. I’m not saying that this Ted is Ted Mosby (cause we know its not), but what a great hint and an even better Ice-Breaker for when the two meet.
Doppelganger…what an easy and perfect twin…you know that whoever Ted gets with eventually will have to have a doppelganger to be a permanent fixture in the group.
Josh Radnor is directing and starring in a movie in 2012 called Liberal Arts. The lead actress…Elizabeth Olsen…yes the younger sister of the Twins. I think he’d have some pull in that family for casting purposes.
I know this is likely not the ending…but I just wanted to float ‘out-of-the-box’ thoughts out there and get people’s opinions.
One blog commenter, Justin Banker, has a very unique take on who The Mother may be. He has put together evidence supporting the idea of Michelle Tanner from Full House being The Mother! Wait, what? Click here to check out the information on his blog. I’ve put together the relevant details in bullet point here:
- Lily spent a summer in San Francisco doing her art program. Full House is set in SF, so perhaps Michelle Tanner/The Mother became friends with Lily at that point.
- Uncle Jesse played bass, and he was always very close to Michelle, so he could have taught her how to play.
- Future Ted is voiced by Bob Saget, aka Danny Tanner (Michelle’s father) on Full House.
- Josh Radnor (Ted) was in a movie (Liberal Arts) with Elizabeth Olsen; she is the real life younger sister of actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, who both played Michelle Tanner on Full House.
- Josh Radnor and Elizabeth Olsen share the same agent (I haven’t confirmed this info, btw)
- Michelle Tanner – if played by one of the original actresses – would have the perfect doppelganger…her twin sister!
- Michelle’s childhood BFF was named Teddy.
- Both Danny Tanner and Robin Scherbatsky are broadcast journalists. Their paths could potentially cross this way, although I suspect Danny is up near retirement age by now. Then again, Bob Saget hasn’t retired yet, so what do I know.
Regarding her age – Justin says:
First off everyone will say how is he going to marry some kid, shes like 6 years old! In the TV Show yeah but Full House ended in 1995 with the character of Michelle being the same age as her actresses, 9 years old. She would be 19 by the time HIMYM started in 2005 and would be 22 on Mar. 17th 2008 when she was at the St Patrick’s Day party that Ted was also at. In 2009 when Ted began teaching she would be nearly 23 years old, perfect college age to be taking an upper level economics class.
Justin thinks that the character could be Michelle Tanner, but he doesn’t think she would actually be played with Mary-Kate or Ashley Olsen. He suggests that perhaps Elizabeth Olsen could play the role, and notes that Elizabeth Olsen has mentioned Rachel Bilson as one of her inspirations.
Here’s an image that Facebooker and HIMYM fan Dave McKain put together – click the image to go see the post and comments:
What I think – the age doesn’t match up quite right, for one thing. I would guess Stephanie Tanner before Michelle, but she lacks many of the connections that Justin found between the Olsens and the HIMYM cast. Also all the Tanner girls and Olsen girls are more blonde than not, and I still don’t think The Mother will have light hair. Beyond that, Full House aired on ABC and HIMYM is on CBS. If The Mother was going to come from another show, I would guess it would be from a “sibling” show that shares the same parent network.
Although…here’s an interesting quote from Carter Bays…it’s just a joke, but it certainly adds some validity to this theory:
Which show would you like to do a crossover event with and why?
Full House. I want it to slowly become clear that our show is the prequel to that show, Prometheus-style.
UPDATE: I consider this theory disproved, because the actress is Cristin Milioti and not an Olsen. Beyond that, she looks nothing like how Michelle Tanner would have looked as an adult. Finally, the timing was always off, so I was never really on board with this one.
The Jennifer Birmingham Theory: DISPROVED
Actress Jennifer Birmingham was originally credited as “Woman” for S8E1 “Farhampton”, but later her name was removed:
(Update: The IMDB listing for the “Farhampton” episode of “How I Met Your Mother” appears to list several other actors who were neither listed in the post-show credits nor obviously involved in the on-screen action. It is therefore possible Birmingham was listed in error.)
Now she is credited as “Woman” for S8E13 “Band or DJ”. But, this doesn’t necessarily mean she THE mother. We’ve only seen bits and pieces of The Mother – her ankle, her legs and torso, her hands – so it could still be virtually any woman playing her.
We also know that Thomas and Bays have used a stand-in as The Mother at least once before:
As for that mother, Thomas and Bays wouldn’t say whether it was a body double or the actual actress viewers will eventually meet. (Previous stunt mothers include series director Pamela Fryman.)
“It was definitely closed doors,” Bays said of the shoot. “That moment was something we’ve been building to for a long time, and we’ll see more of that moment as the series goes on — or ends, whenever happens.”
Is she the real deal? No idea, but she could be! The only objection that I have is that she is blonde, and I think The Mother should have dark hair. I know it can be dyed, but some people just look right as blondes and can’t pull off darker hair colors (ahem Barney talking to you).
UPDATE: Nope, not played by Jennifer Birmingham. The Mother is played by Cristin Milioti.
The Cast Connection Theory: DISPROVED
How I Met Your Mother loves to cast people with connections to the stars of the show! Here’s a list to reference, but I will update later with a link to the full article that I’m working on. That post will have pictures so you can get a better mental image of all the cast connections…but here’s what I have so far:
- Sandy Rivers (Robin’s former co-anchor/nemesis) = Alexis Denisof, real life husband of Alyson Hannigan (Lily)
- Scooter (Lily’s high school boyfriend) = David Burtka, real life fiance of Neil Patrick Harris (Barney)
- Blauman (Barney & Marshall’s coworker) = Taran Killam, real life husband of Colbie Smulders
- Jeanette (Ted’s crazy girlfriend from “PS I Love You” and “Bad Crazy”) = Abby Elliott, real life daughter to Chris Elliott, who plays Lily’s dad Mickey
- Katie Scherbatsky (Robin’s little sister) = Lucy Hale, who co-stars on Pretty Little Liars with Ashley Benson, who plays Carly Whittaker (Barney’s half-sister)
- Ted’s daughter = Lyndsy Fonseca, who in real life is said to have dated David Henrie, who plays Ted’s son
- David Henrie is also the real life ex-boyfriend of Lucy Hale (Katie Sherbatsky)
- Cathy (chatty girl from “Spoiler Alert”) = Lindsay Price, real life former girlfriend of Josh Radnor (Ted)(but I believe they met on set, so that doesn’t really count)
- Robin’s dad = Ray Wise, who was in Twin Peaks with Kyle MacLachlan (The Captain)
Given all of that, it stands to reason that The Mother could be played by someone with a real life connection to the cast. Here are some people that I would not be surprised to see on HIMYM:
- Michelle Williams, real life (ex)fiance of Jason Segel (Marshall)
- Sarah Michelle Gellar, real life former co-star of Alyson Hannigan (and Alexis Denisof) (see below)
- Mila Kunis, real life former co-star of Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall)
There’s also a fair chance of seeing other stars from Pretty Little Liars, or anyone that has done anything with Joss Whedon. Read on for the details!
UPDATE: As far as I know, actress Cristin Milioti (who plays The Mother) has no connection to any of the cast members. If anyone knows otherwise please tell me!
The Joss Whedon Theory/The Sarah Michelle Gellar Theory: DISPROVED
This ties into the aforementioned Cast Connection Theory, because there are many connections between Joss Whedon and HIMYM. Let’s break them down point by point, beginning with main cast members and then proceeding down to cameos and one time roles:
- Alyson Hannigan – Lily – played Willow on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel
- Colbie Smulders – Robin – played Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers
- Neil Patrick Harris – Barney – starred as Billy in Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog
- Alexis Denisof – Sandy Rivers – played Wesley on Buffy and Angel, and Senator Daniel Perrin on Dollhouse
- Harry Groener – Clint (Ted’s stepfather) – played Mayor Richard Wilkins on Buffy
- Morena Baccarin – Chloe (barista girl that Marshall dated – “Swarley” S2E7) played Inara Serra on Firefly and Serenity
- Amy Acker – Penelope (a girl Barney slept with – “Come On” S1E22) – played Winifred “Fred” on Angel and Dr. Claire Saunders/Whiskey on Dollhouse
- Danny Strong – Trey (he held the funeral service for Marshall’s dad; he was the son of the preacher and also a short guy that used to bully Marshall in high school – “Last Words” S6E14) played Johnathan Levinson on Buffy
- Tom Lenk – Scott (no idea who he is, I need to rewatch ”Swarley” S2E7) played Andrew Wells/Cyrus on Buffy and Angel
- Craig Thomas, Carter Bays, and Joss Whedon all graduated from Wesleyan University
- Ted, Marshall, and Lily also graduated from Wesleyan
- Willow (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) was early accepted into Wesleyan, among other schools
- Willow wrote Doogie Howser, M.D. fan fiction when she was younger
- Doogie Howser was played by Neil Patrick Harris
- Doppelgangers factor prominently into both HIMYM and Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Based on all of this, and the interconnected nature of the Joss Whedonverse, there is an excellent chance that The Mother will also have worked with Whedon in the past. The obvious selection is Sarah Michelle Gellar, who starred as the titular character on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She’s the right age, but I’m pretty sure I’ve read that her and Alyson Hannigan do not get along at all. If that is the case, the writers might not want to bring on an actress that will clash with one of the leads on the show. What do you guys think?
Here’s a pic of her with dark hair; it is usually blonde but I think she can pull off the brunette thing:
Other potential actresses from the Whedonverse that could play The Mother:
- Felicia Day (played Vi on Buffy, Penny on Dr. Horrible, and Mag on Dollhouse)
- Eliza Dushku (played Faith on Buffy and Angel and starred as Echo on Dollhouse)
- Summer Glau (played Prima Ballerina on Angel, River Tam on Firefly and Serenity, and Bennett Halverson on Dollhouse)
UPDATE: The Mother is played by actress Cristin Milioti, and she does not have a solid connection to Joss Whedon. The closest we can come is this:
Critin Milioti was in Mike Birbiglia’s 2012 movie Sleepwalk With Me. This came out around the same time as Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. Whedon made and posted a video where he jokingly told people to boycott Birbiglia’s film because it was taking money away from Whedon’s own movie.
The Lyndsy Fonseca Theory: DISPROVED
The show has been going on for so long now that some people think Ted’s daughter could end up playing his wife! Here’s a pic of actress Lyndsy Fonseca looking especially grown up (from January 2013):
I would be a little weirded out by this, and I’ve heard other fans say the same. Then again, what better way is there to ensure that The Mother looks like she could be related to the kids? Still, she was born in 1987, and that’s a little young for Ted. But there’s still a bit of an ick factor.
UPDATE: Nope, The Mother isn’t played by Fonseca. The Mother is played by actress Cristin Milioti.
This is an interesting one that I was slow to pick up on. You can read in the comments for more details, but here’s the gist: Ted’s ex-girlfriend Zoey Pierson (Jennifer Morrison) was the current, and then former, wife of The Captain. The Captain is actually George Van Smoot, so named The Captain because “a real man chooses his own name!” (This leads to Ted calling himself – and The Captain referring to Ted as - “Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville”!) The Captain is also, as of season 8, Lily’s new employer.
Anyway, George Van Smoot has a daughter, Hannah Van Smoot. We have never met her. We only know that her relationship with Zoey was always strained, and at one point Zoey purchased a stuffed animal to give her as a gift.
The Van Smoots have been connected in the HIMYM storyline since season one. Their first reference is when Lily and Marshall race to beat another engaged couple for an unexpected opening to have their wedding at the infamous Van Smoot House. Later, Ted ends up falling for Zoey, and basically helps break up her marriage to The Captain. When Ted is featured on the front of New York magazine, there is a cover blurb about Van Smoot. Finally, The Captain eventually becomes Lily’s new boss, and asks her to move to Italy with him for a year.
The Van Smoot name having prior importance throughout the show indicates that it could be important to The Mother’s identity. So, maybe Hannah is older than we would think, and she’s The Mother!?
UPDATE: We have seen that The Mother is played by actress Cristin Milioti, but we don’t know her character’s name yet. It could be Hannah Von Smoot.
The internet can be a morbid place, and HIMYM fan theories are no exception. Rumors abound about various characters being dead when Future Ted tells his story in 2030. Let’s review the evidence for and against each, shall we?
Many fans have legitimately wondered why Ted is so painstakingly relaying every detail – and then some – about how he met the mother. Why would someone subject their kids to this if not for a purpose? And could that purpose be to tell the children every little thing he remembers about their dead mother?
We have to keep in mind that Ted has already been proven to be a dorky, somewhat boring dad. He bores Barney and Robin as their surrogate dad figure, he tells lame dad jokes to waitresses, and he often talks at length about stuff that frankly no one else cares about. I love Ted, but he’s not the most exciting character in terms of storytelling. You’re more likely to hear a lengthy diatribe on proper prounciation than you are to hear a legendary “true story” a la Barney.
We also have to remember that Ted provides an explanation in S2E3 “Brunch”. Ted asks his mom and dad how they met, and receives a brief “we met at a bar” in return. He then vows that when he has kids, he’s going to tell them everything about how he met their mother. So, we have a solid reason for Ted’s long-winded story, and it fits with his general character.
Flash foward scenes have indicated that the Mother is alive in the future, but her absence in the 2030 scenes still worries some fans. It is also worth noting that the kids are kinda being jerks about the story if their mom really is dead. You could at least feign interest in the story of how your dad met your now dead mom, you know? Hopefully their impatience with the story means that all is well in the Mosby household.
I have never given this theory much credence, but the end of ”The Time Travelers” (S8E20) did worry me a bit. Future Ted talks about what he would do if he could actually time travel. If he went to that day, he tells the kids, “you know the thing I’d do first”. We then see what Future Ted is imagining – himself visiting the mother’s apartment 45 days before they were set to meet. He delivers an impassioned speech about how they will meet, fall in love, get married, and have kids. He explains that this is all just 45 days away, but he wants those 45 days. And if he can’t have them, he will take the 45 seconds before her boyfriend (Louis) shows up and punches him in the face. He tells the mother (who remains unseen, of course) “I love you, I’m always going to love you, until the end of my days and beyond.”
Could this be the desperate plea of a man wanting just a sliver more time with his one true love? And why does he need that 45 seconds so badly? This episode was pretty masterfully done, because it really could go several ways.
2013 Ted is so horribly alone and depressed and without hope that Future Ted would end his suffering in a second if he could. Future Ted wishes that 2013 Ted didn’t have to go through those last – presumably painful – 45 days where his friends are happily settling in to the life that he always wanted. 2013 Ted has no girlfriend, no wife, no children, and his very best friends have all that and more.
As someone who is currently single and amidst close friends that have found their destiny, I can relate. It’s pretty much a soul-crushing feeling to look around and see everyone in love, while you’re not even close to the happily ever after you’ve wanted your whole life. If there was a Future Corina that could save me from 45 more lonely days, I would appreciate her making an appearance.
That being said…Ted was really emotional. And crying. Perhaps more than is appropriate for just seeing the 2013 version of your soulmate. It is entirely possible that he is so emotional because he can’t have even 45 more seconds with The Mother in 2030. Perhaps because she is dead? I really hope not.
I actually think that Ted’s speech made it seem more like HE was the dying one. Imagine a scenario where there is a couple, and one of them is dying. Does it seem like the dying person or the healthy person would say ”I love you, I’m always going to love you, until the end of my days and beyond”? To me it seems like something a dying person would say to the one that would survive them. If it were me, and my spouse were dead in the future, I would say something like, “I will always love you, until the end of time and beyond” or “until the end of our days and beyond”.
So could Future Ted actually be dying/dead? He’s clearly interacting with the kids and at times having small conversations with them, so I think he is still alive as of 2030. I don’t think the kids are just watching a video he made or anything like that. But he might be sick/dying, and sharing his greatest story before his time is up. That could also explain why the kids have attitude. When someone is dying, you don’t usually want to spend all of your time crying and being sad. People often try to act normal for the benefit of the sick person, and for their own sake. So the kids might be giving Ted a hard time because they’re trying to act like nothing is wrong…
I don’t really believe that either of them are dead or dying as of 2030. I think the writers created a poignant episode with the end of the series in mind. Future Ted also imagines going back to his old apartment, holding baby Marv, and visiting with his close friends. These scenes made me cry because they spoke to the series ending. It felt like the beginning of an arc that takes us to the very end.
There have also been theories about Barney being dead in the future. We haven’t seen him in any flash forward scenes, except for the odd Exploding Meatball Sub scenario. That seems like it could be a false memory, from unreliable narrator Ted. The thing is, Barney actually does have the time, energy, resources, and twisted motivation to pull off an elaborate prank like that. So I take that as proof of Barney being alive in the future.
WHAT I BELIEVE
As of today, 1/3/13, I think that The Mother is the missed date from the “Milk” episode. I don’t think she is named Tracy or Amber, and the arrival of Ashley Benson makes me suspect that Barney’s sister Carly is not The Mother either. I would enjoy a multitude of connecting threads, so I would personally like it if The Mother was the missed date, and the bass player in the wedding band, and the girl from the St. Patrick’s Day party. I would LOVE feedback on all of this, so please feel free to lawyer me with your questions and comments.
Update as of 1/15/13: I was correct about the Carly Theory (Carly is NOT The Mother), but I didn’t for sure let it go until the episode descriptions and official name of Ashley Benson’s character was confirmed. So I can’t say that I always knew it was wrong :) I was correct about the wedding band theory (The Mother IS the bass player in the wedding band), and I still believe The Mother is also the missed date from “Milk” and/or the bump girl from “No Tomorrows”.
Update as of 5/16/13: I’m still really hoping that The Mother connects to Ted in one of aforementioned ways. I feel like it would add more excitement and importance to the story if she is not just the bass player, and his ex’s old roommate, and the owner of the yellow umbrella, but ALSO is the missed date, or the bump girl, or Hannah or even Tracy. We have months to go before season 9, but it’s pretty fun that these theories can still be in the running for now.
Update as of 1/27/14: Welp, we have some more theories disproved. She isn’t the milk girl or the bump girl! But the show delivered exactly what I hoped for: meaningful near misses and encounters between Ted and The Mother. Now we’re left wondering what her name is, when they get married, and what the entire timeline of the relationship results in as of the “present” (2030). Things are looking up for the rest of season 9!
Showing us that Ted has seen The Mother before meeting her really breathes new life into some of these theories. I think it almost has to be at least one of these women, because otherwise I don’t know if I believe it’s truly the greatest love story ever. All of the umbrella moments and the connection via Cindy aren’t quite enough for me to feel satisfied that this entire saga is the most romantic story ever. But, we have to stay tuned to find out.
Finally, here are some articles that aren’t specifically about The Mother, but they do offer observations about HIMYM that you may not be able to find elsewhere. If anything they may spark your interest to do some sleuthing of your own! I’ve had so much fun writing them, and I hope you enjoy reading them.
- Ted always seems to encounter old ladies during pivotal moments in his relationships
- Color Theory in How I Met Your Mother, with an emphasis on yellow and purple
- All of the How I Met Your Mother Halloween costumes throughout the years
- Mrs. Erikson’s secret 7-layer salad recipe – make it today!
- 5 HIMYM theories that need to be put to rest
- Do bad weddings equal good marriages in the HIMYM world?
- 7 HIMYM mysteries solved in season 7
- 10 signs you’re a HIMYM super-fan
- A compilation of HIMYM music, including the infamous Get Psyched! Mix
- Fat jokes in HIMYM – how they add to and how they degrade the show
- Adding insult to injury with Patrice as Barney’s fake girlfriend
I came up with all of this from my own set of notes, compiled by my obsessive watching and rewatching of episodes, but I have to give credit to the HIMYM wiki page for “The Mother” and the Reddit Semi-Definitive “Mother” Checklist. I confirmed quite a bit of information by double checking these sites, and they continue to inspire me to seek out and analyze new theories. There is a ton of information at both sites and they are great refreshers for those that need it!