How I Met Your Mother is one of the most successful CBS shows of all time. It ran for nine seasons, and despite the finale being critically panned, for the most part people loved the show.
The career trajectories of some of the main cast members are a testament to the show’s popularity. Cobie Smulders, who played Robin, got roles in Captain America, The Lego Movie, and The Avengers franchise, pretty big bracket roles compared to basic cable. Jason Segel, Marshall, starred in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, I Love You, Man, and The Muppets. These actors went straight from a role in a sitcom to the Hollywood A-List, much like Jennifer Aniston after snagging the role of Rachel in Friends.
Given that, we thought it would be interesting to do a little investigating and see what secrets the CBS institution kept. We thought it would be doubly interesting seeing as the show played so much with cutaways, flashbacks, anecdotes, running jokes, and delayed gratification: there had perhaps been built-in little secrets that only astute viewers had noticed.
Here, we’ve compiled a list of 20 fun facts about How I Met Your Mother. Read on and you’ll have a tidbit next time your friend orders you to “Suit up!”
20. The Finale Was The Most Watched Episode
The finale, which aired in March of 2014, got almost 13 million viewers with a 5.3 Nielsen rating. Although the numbers are excellent (they toppled The Voice, which is one of the most popular shows on television) that didn’t mean people were happy. In fact, most reviews of the finale say the same thing: that it was cheap and lazy and that people feel conned. It’s a shame, because the show was overwhelmingly popular at its peak. But the writers trapped themselves with the plot gimmick and, despite the immense creativity that carried them for several seasons, they could not manage a final season and a satisfying final reveal.
19. The Scenes With the Children Were All Filmed at Once
Have you ever noticed that Ted’s children never seem to age? By 2014, David Henrie was a full-grown man, and yet in present-day scenes narrated by Bob Saget, he still looked much like his youthful self. This is because all the scenes with Ted’s kids were filmed together, including a scene with the titular mother that was filmed in season two. If you pay close attention, you can see that the kids become less “interactive” as the show goes on, proof of dwindling footage or footage that, if used, would be atrociously out of context.
18. There Was a Real Life Proposal on the Show
In the episode where Ted and Robin break up, Robin thinks Ted is proposing when she finds a ring in her champagne. When she reacts, the man at the adjacent table interrupts, saying the ring is his and proposing to his date. “Aw, cute!” the viewer thinks, not realizing that it was an actual proposal. The other couple were not actors, they were Timothy Russo and Jana Rugan, friends of a staff writer on the show. Although Ted’s proposal wasn’t real, Timothy’s was. You can tell by Jana’s surprised reaction that she had no idea what was about to happen.
17. Barney Truly Was the Inventor of the Bro Code
As of now, we all know the bro code. It’s something that we assume has been passed down through generations of fraternity members, whispered to them in latin during unsavory initiation processes. But actually, it was invented by How I Met Your Mother. Code-like aphorisms have been around forever, “bros before hoes,” “no glove, no love,” “I like the way you work it (no diggity),” but the bro-code itself, with its numerous clauses, is a Barney Stinson original, and you can buy the full version in book form online.
16. All the Websites They Make Up Are Real
Over the course of the show, the characters make up several websites (especially Barney, whose often-mentioned blog is regularly updated IRL). The websites include www.canadiansexacts.org, www.stintsonbreastreduction.com and www.lilyandmarshallselltheirstuff.com.
They were all real websites at some point, but some have gone down. Canadian sex acts is still online, though! It makes you punch in your age and, if you’re old enough, you can see the content of the site (if you’re expecting it to be saucy, prepare for disappointment; the website is just Alan Thicke apologizing for technical difficulties).
15. Josh Radnor Is Very Allergic to Dogs
Robin had five dogs on the show, an apparent reimagination of the needy cat-lady trope into an individualistic dog-lady. Either way, her apartment was packed with the things. Unfortunately Josh Radnor, the actor who portrayed Ted, has a serious dog allergy. In season two, Robin’s dogs get the boot. Perhaps this had something to do with Radnor’s allergies? After all, it’s when they started dating. The handsome leading man can’t have puffy eyes and Ted’s more essential to the plot than a couple of mutts.
14. The Show Was Filmed Without the Traditional Live Studio Audience
Unlike a lot of shows, especially CBS shows, How I Met Your Mother wasn’t filmed before a live studio audience. The reason? Because the show makes such gratuitous use of quick cuts and flashbacks that it would take forever to get through one episode. In fact, the series’ creators joke that the long set-up time between scenes would cross the line from “studio audience” to “hostage situation.” At a certain point, it would just stop being fun.
13. There Were 14 Interventions Done Throughout the Course of the Show
One of many, many recurring jokes in the show (slaps, always wearing suits, the ducky tie) is the use of interventions. They had fourteen of them in total during the show. Granted, not every one of them is seen fleshed-out. Sometimes, the interventions happen off-screen, and, in typical HIMYM style, are later discussed at McLaren’s. But, counting the off-screen interventions, there are fully fourteen of them in total. There’s even an episode where the gang has an intervention intervention, intervening in the excessive use of interventions to solve problems.
12. Barney Only Suits “Down” Twelve Times
Barney Stinson is famous for his suits. He even has a musical number dedicated to his love of suits called “Girls vs. Suits,” where he essentially says that nothing is better than a nice suit, not even a smokin’ hot babe. As a result, Barney has suits for all occasions. He sleeps in “suitjamas” and “flight suits up” on Halloween. In fact, Barney is so crazy about suits that there are only twelve instances over nine seasons where he doesn’t appear in one.
11. Speaking of Musical Numbers…
Each character in the show has a musical number except for Lily. As mentioned, Barney has his suits song. Robin has her Robin Sparkles discography. Ted sings “Super Date” in the episode “Of Course.” And Marshall sings a song called “Marshall vs. the Machines” in the premiere of season six. But Lily never sings. This is not because the producers shut her out of the party, but because Alyson Hannigan hates to sing publicly. For that reason, she never got a catchy tune of her own on the show.
10. And Speaking of Robin Sparkles…
Robin Sparkles is Robin’s Canadian pop star alter ego who sings Canadian smash hits “Let’s Go To The Mall” and “Sandcastles in the Sand.” “Let’s Go To The Mall” is in the video game Just Dance 3, where people plug mats into their console and dance to instructions and musical accompaniment on the screen. “Sancastles in the Sand,” which was written by Cobie Smulders, also appears on the game. An actress, a singer, and a dancer? Looks like Smulders is a triple threat.
9. Barney Was Actually Saying His Job The Whole Time
For the whole show, every time someone would ask Barney what he did for a living, he would respond with “Please!” The implication was, “please don’t be so gauche as to ask me that!” But, as it turns out, Barney was actually answering the question. Please was actually an acronym for “Provide Legal Exculpation And Sign Everything.” Like Chandler from Friends, Barney’s job was always a bit of a mystery. But Chandler’s job, people just couldn’t remember. Barney’s job people just couldn’t decipher.
8. Marshall Pays Up to Lily
In season seven, the gang finds out that Marshall and Lily had a longstanding bet that Ted and Robin would not end up together. Like so many elements on the show, it’s introduced and then seemingly forgotten. However, in the final episode, Ted is getting ready to marry Tracy, and you can see Marshall hand Lily a folded up wad of cash. Looks like even though we as viewers forget they had this bet going, they never did. On the day of wedding, as Ted and Tracy snuggle across the booth, Marshall pays Lily what he owes her.
7. The Main Cast’s Significant Others Often Appear
Alyson Hannigan’s husband Alexis Denisof shows up in the role of Sandy Rivers, Robin’s co-anchor. Taran Killam, the husband of Cobie Smulders, plays the role of Blauman, a character that each member of the gang has had an experience with. Neil Patrick Harris’s husband David Burtka plays the recurring character of Scooter, Lily’s high school boyfriend who still hopes for her affections.
6. Neil Patrick Harris Is Actually an Expert Magician
One of Barney’s most memorable pickup devices was his fire magic trick, where he asks a girl if she likes magic and then catches a spark in his hand that inscribes her answer, “Um, I guess…” onto his palm. He repeats this when she reacts with, “Oh, my god!” In fact, in real life, Neil Patrick Harris is an expert magician. He is the leader of the Academy of Magical Arts, which is headquartered at the famed Magic Castle on a hill overlooking Hollywood. Even though magic can be pretty dorky, NPH makes it seem kinda cool.
5. Alyson Hannigan Was Very Emotional About the Show Ending
Nine years is a pretty long time to work with people. Put it this way: high school only lasts a few years, and plenty of people still cry at graduation. And so it’s normal that the actors on How I Met Your Mother would be bummed that their time together was ending. Alyson Hannigan was especially sad, as can be seen in her promotional stint on The Talk. When asked what she would miss most about her televised spouse, Hannigan got tears in her eyes and could not answer the question. Poor thing!
4. Neil Patrick Harris Made Way More Money
The Friends actors always made the same amount of money. All the salary negotiations were done in unison. Lisa Kudrow said, “the six of us are far stronger than just one person.” But the same didn’t apply to How I Met Your Mother. While most of the actors were paid $120,000 per episode, Neil Patrick Harris made almost twice as much at $210,000. Although he was the source of the most memorable parts of the show, it’s hard to imagine that there wouldn’t have been some resentment about that.
3. Alyson Hannigan Was Pregnant In Season Four
Alyson Hannigan was pregnant during filming of season four. The producers used timeless TV tricks to hide her bulging belly: baggy sweaters, obstacles, big handbags, etc. But, there was one scene where they used the naturally swollen stomach to land a joke. In the episode “The Possimpible,” Lily enters a hot dog eating contest. At the end, because she has eaten so much, they show her inflated stomach. Turns out it was more than just a food baby.
2. Alicia Silverstone Didn’t Want to Be Outshined
Alicia Silverstone was originally cast as Stella Zinman but dropped out of the role. Apparently, it’s because Silverstone’s reps found out that Britney Spears would be playing her assistant and didn’t want Britney to outshine her in a smaller role just by virtue of being, as she says, “Britney, b****.” She probably doubly wouldn’t have wanted to come on the show if she knew that Katy Perry would later be on it, too.
1. Had The Show Not Been Renewed, Victoria Would Have Been the Mom
Like we said earlier, the show filmed the kids’ reactions at the beginning of the series. In other words, the writers and producers needed to have a few alternate endings prepared. One such ending was that Victoria, Ted’s girlfriend in season one, was the two kids’ mom. But the show got renewed, not just once but eight times. It wouldn’t have been very interesting if Ted had revealed the mom’s identity right then, so the writers got rid of Victoria and drew out the suspense for a bunch more years.