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HIMYM: The Mother Revealed, Theories Disproved & Clues To Still Possible Connections!


Have you been wondering about the mother is on How I Met Your Mother? If so, you’re in exactly the right place (at the right time)!



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
Basic Info
Before They Meet
The First Meeting
The First Date
The Early Days
The Future
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 – CONFIRMED
The Bump Girl Theory – DISPROVED
The “Milk” Theory – DISPROVED
The Carly Theory – DISPROVED
The Wedding Band Theory – CONFIRMED
The Marissa Heller Theory – DISPROVED
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 – DISPROVED
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!


Who She Isn’t

Basic Info:

Before They Meet


The First Meeting

The First Dates

The Early Days

The Future




Who She Isn’t – Extra Details

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.

Did You Know That How I Met Your Mother Has Had Three “Contingency Mothers”? 9/19/11

Who have the “contingency mothers” been? FAQ on IMDB

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

Basic Info – Extra Details

 The First Meeting – Extra Details

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.”

 How I Met Your Mother’ Showrunners Promise No More Fake-Outs After Season 8 Premier 9/24/12

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!

The First Date – Extra Details

*Season 6 DVD Extra: “What We Know About Your Mother”

Future Ted recaps clues that we already know:

And some brand new information:



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:

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

Kids: WHAT?!?!

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:


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“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):

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.

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

The Wedding Band Theory – CONFIRMED!!:

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…

The Marissa Heller Theory: 

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”.

NEW Pic of the Mom – HIMYM – Does Ted Marry Barney’s Sister? I’m 99.99% Sure Yes. 2/7/12

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. 

The Michelle Tanner Theory/The Full House Theory:

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 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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).

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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:

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:

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:

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:


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:

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.

The Hannah/Captain’s Daughter Theory:

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 Dead People Theories:

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. 


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.

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!

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