Strange things are afoot at the
Circle K Farhampton Inn, Ted. Before we proceed, let’s take note of the big fat SPOILER ALERT that applies to everything from here on out.
But then fans all over realized that things were a wee bit confusing.
Let’s look at the timeline. I did this for Ted-Mosby.com and have copied and pasted a section of it here:
- 5/26/13: Ted meets The Mother at the Farhampton Train Station.
- 6/2013: Ted quits smoking, two weeks into dating The Mother.
- 5/2014: Ted and The Mother return to Farhampton Inn, very much in love with each other. They probably conceive their first child.
- 2015: Baby girl Penny Mosby is born! (Likely late February 2015 based on potential May 2014 conception date)
- May 2015: Ted and The Mother return to Farhampton. Ted proposes atop the lighthouse!
- Spring/Summer 2015: Ted introduces his baby girl to Trilogy Time with Barney and Marshall.
- 12/2015: Lily and Marshall take Ted’s daughter to meet Santa Claus for the first time.
- 2017: Baby boy Luke Mosby is born!
- 2020: Ted and his wife, along with Marshall and Lily, attend the Wesleyan University 20 year reunion.
- 2021: Barney’s exploding meatball prank
- 4/2021: Ted runs into Wendy the Waitress at the airport, tells her about his wife & two kids.
- 2030: Ted tells his kids the story of how he met their mother.
This means the lighthouse proposal flash forward is in May of 2015.
Why is this so significant? Look at the timeline again – this means that Ted proposes to The Mother AFTER their daughter has been born. It doesn’t seem very Teddish, now does it? But, in my opinion, it all makes sense. Here’s how I see it going down:
Curtis – the front desk guy at the Farhampton Inn – has already mentioned that countless babies have been conceived within the hotel’s walls. Ted and The Mother return to the inn, one year after they have met. It’s their first anniversary. Ted is super romantic. So amidst all of this romance and excitement, it is very easy to believe that a baby could have been accidentally created. Maybe they had a moment like Ted and Robin in season one, where they both decided to just “risk it”. But in this case, the risk resulted in an actual kid and not just a scare for Barney.
So they make the baby in May 2014, have the baby in February 2015, putting the baby at about 2-3 months old when we see her in “Trilogy Time”.
I’m guessing that Ted proposes to The Mother when he finds out she is pregnant. That’s a very Ted thing to do. I know having a baby out of wedlock doesn’t seem like a Mosby move, but what are the alternatives? If the character of Ted accidentally got someone pregnant, how do you think he would react? By proposing, of course. Ted is a proposal slut already, but this time he would mean it with his whole heart.
In real life, people get pregnant outside of marriage all the time. I get that this is a sitcom and not real life. I get that we would not expect Ted to be one of those people. But in a show that has covered taking risks with birth control in at least 3 prior episodes, it’s not unheard of. It’s not even unlikely. And if that happens, Ted isn’t going to be someone who wants an abortion or to put the baby up for adoption. He’s not going to be someone who says, peace out, have fun raising a baby on your own because you won’t ever see me again. He’s not even the type to pay child support but not have contact with his kid. Ted is the type that will propose, because this is exactly what he truly wants – a family with the woman that he loves. So he pops the question.
BUT – The Mother will say no. Or say yes, but not right now. Like most women, she wants her proposal to be special, and motivated by true love. She doesn’t want to be one of those couples that marries because of a baby and is then miserable down the road. She doesn’t want a forced proposal. So Ted accepts that challenge and vows to propose again later, in a romantic grand gesture that they both want and deserve.
So, down the road, and after the baby is born, Ted proposes again. It isn’t about their daughter this time. It’s purely about how much he loves her, with no sense of obligation or necessity to take away from the gesture. This seems very Ted-like to me.
So far, so good, right? Well, there’s the little hiccup of S7E20 “Trilogy Time” to consider.
When we see Ted holding his daughter, he’s wearing a wedding ring. But this is supposed to occur either before (likely) or very shortly after (less likely) the lighthouse proposal in 2015. Trilogy time traditionally occurs during finals week, so late spring or early summer. It started in an April episode, so I usually assume it’s around then.
Why would Ted be wearing a wedding ring before he has even proposed? Solo and I have been debating this over at Ted-Mosby.com, and I’ve come up with a few ideas. At this point he – and many, many others – are thinking this is a continuity error by the writers. These fans believe that the writers, creators, and actor all made the mistake of saying “two years” instead of “one year” ago in this lighthouse flash forward scene. I find that to be highly implausible. I just can’t believe that nobody noticed this glaring continuity error before it actually aired. So here are my ideas for how to make sense of that:
Trilogy Time in 2015 could have occurred later in the summer, after the proposal. Ted could be wearing a “man-gagement ring”. This is a relatively new trend where men wear engagement or wedding rings before the marriage. The reasons are simple – don’t want to seem single when you’re really taken, want to match your fiance in showing a symbol of commitment pre-marriage, or they just already consider themselves married in their hearts so why not wear the ring.
So Ted could be newly engaged and rocking his own version of an engagement ring. Based on timing, though, I believe that Trilogy Time 2015 occurs BEFORE the lighthouse proposal.
If this is the case, Ted could be wearing a wedding ring for the same reasons. He doesn’t want to give off the impression that he’s single when he’s really not. He doesn’t want to deal with being hit on – we all know a cute baby is great lady bait, right? He may be actively seeking the same effect that Lily and Robin dealt with when wearing their engagement rings. Ted probably wouldn’t mind being invisible to other women at this point in his life.
Ted could also be wearing a wedding ring to avoid dealing with judgemental and/or questioning people who don’t approve of or understand a child born out of wedlock. Maybe him and The Mother are tired of doctors, strangers on the street, etc, asking nosy questions about the lack of a wedding ring along with a new baby. I doubt him and The Mother would actually care about other people’s opinions, but it is likely that they want to protect their baby from judgement. There are, unfortunately, doctors and nurses that would look down on them for this situation. A professional in the medical industry shouldn’t discriminate, berate, or inquire about their marital status, but it does happen.
Another idea – Ted has already proposed. He and The Mother have agreed to wait on that until after the baby is born. But, Ted is in love with his soulmate already. He knows that they are meant to be together and he knows that he would have proposed even if she never got pregnant. So he tells her that she can take all the time she needs, but he’s wearing the ring because his mind is made up. The flaw in this theory is that he is NOT wearing a ring in the scene with the lighthouse proposal.
More likely – Ted and The Mother DID get married before the baby was born. But it was a marriage of necessity, not romance. There probably wasn’t enough time to plan a fairy tale wedding and pull it off before the baby was born. The logistics of wedding dress shopping mean that it would be difficult to get the dress in time and in the right size, because they would be estimated how big she would get as she progresses with the pregnancy. So maybe it was a court ceremony, or just something simple.
But that’s not very romantic, so Ted takes the opportunity to propose again, this time for the fancy wedding and big, family filled joyous occasion that they both originally dreamed of. I personally like this idea quite a bit.
If this is the case, then Ted would have had to take the ring off at some point before the lighthouse proposal. Maybe it’s lost for real, or he just said it was lost for the symbolism of the moment. Maybe it’s being sized, idk.
Another possibility – maybe Ted’s dad or grandpa died, and now Ted is wearing his ring. It’s not unheard of.
Basically, the wedding ring that Ted wears in “Trilogy Time” is the only element that directly contradicts what happened last night. I don’t personally see this as evidence of a mistake in the timeline or continuity error. I might not be enjoying everything from this season, but I trust that the writers are at least paying enough attention to get a HUGE fact like that correct.
What seems more likely – multiple people screwed up a major plot element and no one noticed before it aired…or, the writers are adding another layer of unexpected surprises to the love story? I’m guessing the timeline is correct.
Here’s another thing to consider – we know that the kids filmed the final reveal scene back when they were filming season one. They’ve saved it because they correctly predicted that the kids would be too old for it to make sense when they finally did get to the end of the series.
But they didn’t know, at that point, that Cristin would be cast as The Mother. And she isn’t a character that has been previously referenced, so what’s so shocking about that? Why does that information require a reaction scene from the kids that the actors still remember as a memorable, big moment?
So kids, I met your mom at Aunt Robin and Uncle Barney’s wedding. Surprise!
Okay, with all of the near misses and connective elements like the yellow umbrella, it’s still a very special story. But it’s not shocking. It’s not THAT dramatic. You know what is dramatic? This:
So kids, your mom and I actually got pregnant before we were married.
THAT would justify a shocked reaction scene. That would justify telling this whole story, really. I know Ted has mentioned before that he’s telling them the whole story because his mom and dad told a brief, boring story about how they met, and Ted wanted it to be different for his kids. (S2E3 “Brunch”)
This plotline gives new life to why Ted would bother with this story. His kids would probably assume – using basic addition and subtraction skills – that their mom and dad got married because they were pregnant. Nothing romantic, nothing destined to be, just two people who are stuck together via circumstances. But that’s so far from the truth! The whole story is so much bigger than that, and it’s worth telling. It justifies the entire explanation from start to finish.
What are your thoughts? Did everyone on the show make a mistake with the timeline? I can’t deny that there have been (smaller) continuity errors in the past. I’ve been working on a post compiling all of them and it is taking more time than I expected. So that is a possibility. Or, do you think that the ring is a mistake, or a red herring? Maybe you have a new idea that makes more sense than anything that anyone has come up with so far. Please share, whatever your thoughts may be!