Did you enjoy the “How Your Mother Met Me”? The 200th episode of HIMYM delivered everything we had been hoping for and more! We got to see all the little near misses and chance encounters between Ted, The Mother, his friends, and her friends.
I’ve put together a timeline of their relationship below; it has so much more detail now than it did after episode 199! Some of the information here is based on my best guesses, but most is confirmed as show canon. I have noted potential errors and inconsistencies as applicable.
- 9/2005: 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.
- 9/2007: On approximately September 24th, 2007, (air date) The Mother (umbrella in hand) walks by MacLaren’s.
- 3/2008: Ted and The Mother are both at the same St. Patrick’s Day* party (at a club called Low Point). They do not directly encounter each other, but Barney does hit on The Mother’s best friend. 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. He returns the next day, seeking his lost cell phone, and finds the yellow umbrella instead.
- 9/2009: The Mother meets Cindy when they sit next to one another Economics 305 at Columbia University. When The Mother hears that Cindy doesn’t have a place to stay, she invites her to move in. Then, she sees Ted for the first time! It’s his first day as a teacher, and he thinks he is addressing the Architecture 101 class. Ted tells his shellfish joke and The Mother laughs. T-Dog embarrasses himself in front of the whole class before realizing he is in the wrong classroom.
- 1/2010: Ted dates Cindy, who happens to be The Mother’s roommate. They break up when Cindy realizes Ted is mainly attracted to items in their apartment that belong to The Mother. Cindy is insecure because guys are always falling for The Mother. Ted forgets the yellow umbrella at their apartment, thus accidentally returning it to The Mother. Cindy kisses The Mother and realizes she is lesbian.
- 4/2012: 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! Meanwhile, Barney and Lily fight and make up, and Ted picks up a chick whilst wearing a green dress. Later we discover that The Mother’s best friend fell for Barney’s “my penis grants wishes” play from the infamous Playbook. Louis and The Mother start dating.
- 5/18/13: 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.
- 5/24/13: The Mother buys a ticket to Farhampton. She will be staying at Louis’ beach house for the wedding weekend. She meets Lily on the train, and they instantly bond!
- 5/25/13: The Mother receives an email showing that her band mate Darren (who has been overtaking the band for years now) placed an ad titled “Bass Player Wanted”. Furious, she heads to the bar for a drink and runs into Lily again. Lily suggests that The Mother steal Darren’s van, and then run over Marshall. Lily tells The Mother about her problems with Marshall. Later that evening The Mother steals the van, and then turns around to return it. She sees Marshall and Marvin and stops to pick them up. Marshall encourages The Mother to be aggressive and confront Darren. She returns to the bar, but does not get a chance to speak with him. Darren has also encountered – and angered – Ted and the gang, which leads to Ted punching Darren in the face. The Mother and Ted still have not met, but she buys him a drink in thanks. The Mother returns to the beach house and finds Louis waiting with an engagement ring. She has a heartfelt moment where she speaks to her dead boyfriend, and feels that he has given her his blessing to move on. She says no to Louis, though, because the love wasn’t there. They break up and 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.
- 5/26/13: Barney and Robin get married. The Mother plays bass at the reception. Ted sees her playing but does not talk to her there.
- 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. This is the one year anniversary of when they first met.
- 5/2014: Ted and The Mother conceive their first child while at the Farhampton Inn. (Speculation on my part but it makes sense, especially since Curtis at the front desk noted that countless babies have been conceived within the Inn’s walls)
- 2015: Baby girl Penny Mosby is born! (Likely late February 2015 based on potential late May 2014 conception date) (Her birth is confirmed but the exact date is unknown)
- 5/2015: Ted and The Mother return to Farhampton. Ted proposes atop the lighthouse! This is the second anniversary of when they first met.
- Spring/Summer 2015: Ted introduces his baby girl to Trilogy Time with Barney and Marshall. (We don’t know exactly when in 2015 Trilogy Time occurs, but in past years it has happened in the April-July time frame)
- Winter/2015: Lily and Marshall take Ted’s daughter to meet Santa Claus for the first time.
- May/2016: Baby boy Luke is conceived on their anniversary, at the Farhampton Inn. This timing makes sense because Luke arrives earlier than expected in 2017. The only way to make this timeline even slightly make sense with both the kids is for Luke to have been born in January of 2017. The writers may fudge it a little, though, so the conception date (and birthdate) are not yet confirmed.
- 2017: Ted, The Mother, and little Penny return to the Farhampton Inn for one last getaway before the second baby is born. He arrives a little earlier than expected…
- 2017: Baby boy Luke Mosby is born!
- 2020: Ted and his wife, along with Marshall and Lily, attend the Wesleyan University 20 year reunion.
- 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.
*Season 9 episode “How Your Mother Met Me” incorrectly titled the St. Patrick’s Day club scene as April of 2008. St. Patrick’s Day occurred on March 17th in 2008. The writers have confirmed that this was a mistake.
*Ted says that after The Mother and Louis got together, “for a couple years it was fine”. But if they met in April of 2012 and the wedding is in May of 2013 that is just one year. The writers have confirmed that this was a mistake.
Much of this information was originally compiled for this life of Ted Mosby post over at Ted-Mosby.com. I know my post title says this is the only Ted and The Mother timeline you need, but you should really check out the Ted timeline over there. It starts before Ted was born and gives you all the background info you could ever want! Also that blog is well-written and encourages plenty of fun HIMYM discussions and debates.
If this timeline doesn’t make sense to you, it is probably because of one or more of the following reasons:
1. You don’t think they would have a baby before Ted proposes
2. You don’t think they would have a baby before marriage
3. The baby does not look the right age in almost any of the scenes
If the timeline makes sense to you than you can stop reading here. But if it doesn’t, here’s a long explanation…
Regarding Penny…things get a bit confusing when we look at her scenes as a baby. The first image we see of her is the Trilogy Time moment. I’m not a doctor but I know babies, and this baby looks to be an infant, age approximately between 0-3 months old. This baby could be representing a newborn Penny, though, because newborn babies are rarely used in TV/movies.
That makes sense for a conception date of late May 2014 (the anniversary of when Ted and The Mother met; we know they return to Farhampton that same week in May), a birthdate of late February 2015, and Trilogy Time sometime between April and June of 2015. The proposal fits neatly either right before or right after Trilogy Time.
Some fans feel that the proposal scene was not definitely two years later, because the scene was titled “Not 2 Years Later”. They think it makes more sense to view the scene as less than two years later. I think if they meant one year later they would have said one year later. Also, a moment later, Ted says to The Mother “why couldn’t it have been you here with me two years ago”. The two years ago in this sentence refers to May of 2014, when he was at the lighthouse with Cassie.
Here’s a confusing twist – the same starred point from above:
Ted says that after The Mother and Louis got together, “for a couple years it was fine”. But if they met in April of 2012 and the wedding is in May of 2013, that is just one year. This is either a mistake or a purposeful demonstration of Ted as an unreliable narrator. By this logic the proposal scene that should be in 2015 could be another time but it is unlikely. For now I’m assuming the timeline established here is correct.
Some people are uncomfortable with the proposal occurring after the baby is born; we can delve into that a little further. The Mother does not appear pregnant in the scene, so it would either have to be set before she was pregnant, when she was in the early stages (first trimester perhaps), or after the baby is born.
To figure it out, let’s first assign a specific date to Trilogy Time. In prior episodes it has occurred between April and July of each third year. Let’s split the difference and say Trilogy Time occurs June 1st. If the baby were a newborn (just weeks old) as of this date, The Mother would have been clearly very pregnant as of the May 2015 proposal.
If the baby was born in 2014 she would look much bigger as of Trilogy Time, regardless of what exact month it is. And she would look like a one year old for the 2015 Santa trip. But she’s still clearly a baby in these scenes.
Before she was pregnant – not possible, because the baby is alive for Trilogy Time 2015
Early stages of pregnancy – still not possible if the baby is alive for Trilogy Time. If The Mother is so newly pregnant that she’s not showing as of May 2015, the baby can’t be born in time for spring/summer Trilogy Time 2015 and then be obviously older for the Santa visit in the winter of 2015.
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.
We next see baby Penny when Lily and Marshall babysit, and plan to take her to meet Santa. The whole idea is them getting revenge of Ted for taking over the moment when their baby Marvin first met Santa. So, this scene must be set at her first Christmas, in December of 2015.
It got a little tricky in the scenes from “Unpause”, which showed the moments before Luke was born in 2017. 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 Penny was born up to a full year prior to that, so it is confusing. 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 sacrifice a bit of age accuracy for such a special guest star cameo. (S7E20 “Trilogy Time”) (S9E15 “Unpause”)
We still don’t have a wedding date, though. For all we know, it could be a hasty shotgun wedding pre-Penny, and the later proposal is the romantic gesture that they didn’t have a chance for the first time around. My best guess is that the wedding occurred after the proposal, and that’s a large part of why Ted is telling this whole story.
His daughter could easily think, okay, mom and dad got pregnant with me and then they had to get married. Not much of a romantic story, and not much to tell. But then the reality is that they are star-crossed lovers who would have wed regardless! That’s a romantic twist to the story that I would love.