Kids, I’m going to tell you an incredible story – the story of how I met your mother.
With those words from the year 2030, Future Ted opened the first episode of How I Met Your Mother, set in 2005, and the past nine seasons of the CBS comedy, which suits up for its series finale Monday at 8 p.m., have been filled with moments that Barney might describe as legen ... wait for it ... dary.
From doppelgangers to the cockamouse, The Bro Code to The Playbook, and Swarley to Teddy West Side, there are too many one-liners, running gags and bar stories to list in this space, but here is a brief trip down memory lane.
The first fakeout
How I Met Your Mother could give Lost a run for its money with flash-forwards, flashbacks and alternate realities, but it’s the fakeouts and reveals that often leave viewers’ jaws on the floor. The first big reveal came at the end of the first episode. After Ted meets and goes on his first date with a beautiful woman, Future Ted narrates, Because that, kids, is the true story of how I met ... your Aunt Robin.
It’s Robin Sparkles, y’all!
Did Robin do porn or was she previously married in Canada? This was the burning question in a Season 2 episode that saw the birth of two running Mother gags: The Slap Bet and Robin Sparkles. The gang finds out Robin has a secret, and Barney makes a slap bet with Marshall that she did porn.
The truth is far more amusing: Porn? I wish it was porn; it would be less embarrassing. ... I was a teenage pop star in Canada, Robin finally admits as the gang watches her first Robin Sparkles music video, Let’s Go to the Mall.
During the series, we also saw videos for Sandcastles in the Sand (which introduced Alan Thicke in a recurring role as himself) and the grunge tune PS I Love You, which she recorded as Robin Daggers.
As for that bet, Marshall doled out the final slap he won at Robin and Barney’s wedding in last week’s episode.
The thing with your mom’s yellow umbrella. That quote from Future Ted about how he met the mother would inspire a recurring visual that runs through the series. Long story short (or at least shorter than Ted would tell it): The mother lost her yellow umbrella at a club on St. Patrick’s Day 2008. Ted picked it up there the next morning and used it from time to time, including when he went to try and save his relationship with Cindy, who turns out to be the mother’s roommate. He leaves the umbrella in their apartment, which is how the mother got it back. Every now and then, a yellow umbrella pops up in scenes outdoors to remind us the mother is nearby. She is using it on a train platform the night Ted meets her.
When Ted and Marshall moved to New York after college, they found an apartment upstairs from MacLaren’s Pub, the bar where the gang hangs out at all times of day. At some point in the series, the apartment has been a home to nearly every member of the core group. During Season 1, Lily officially moved into then-fiancé Marshall’s room. In Season 4, Robin takes the room vacated by the newlyweds. By Season 7, Robin has moved out and Ted decides it’s time for him to leave the apartment as well. He turns it over to parents-to-be Marshall and Lily. Future Ted at one point narrates that by 2030 it has been years since any of them lived there, but in scenes set in the near future, Marshall and Lily are still in the apartment.
Future Ted teased his kids (and the audience) with the story of the goat for several seasons. We finally learned the story at the end of Season 4. Lily had rescued the goat after a farmer brought it to visit her classroom. She brought it into the apartment and Ted ended up in the hospital on his 31st birthday after getting into a wrestling match with the goat over a washcloth. Of course, the gang got the biggest kick out of the goat’s name being Missy because that means Ted got beat up by a girl.
Aside from the Robin Sparkles videos, the show was full of so many original tunes, such as You Just Got Slapped, Bang Bang Bangity Bang and Nothin Suits Me Like a Suit, that it spawned its own album, How I Met Your Music.
Before the mother
Haaaaaaaave you met Ted? Certainly a lot of women have over the years as he searched for his one true love. But who could forget his longer relationships such as Victoria, Robin, Stella, Zoey and Victoria again?
Series co-creator Carter Bays recently said there was a contingency plan to make Victoria the mother if the series got canceled early in its run.
Britney Spears, Katy Perry and Jennifer Lopez played love interests for Barney, Bryan Cranston and Martin Short played bosses for Ted and Marshall respectively, John Lithgow and Frances Conroy are Barney’s parents; the list of famous guest stars goes on and on, but only a few such as Regis Philbin and George Clinton have played themselves. Here are three whose names were dropped regularly:
Barney grew up believing Bob Barker was his father.
Designer Tim Gunn is seen from time to time as Barney’s suit guy.
Actor Alan Thicke worked with Robin during her singing career.
How we met the mother
In the final minutes of the Season 8 finale, all the main characters are setting off for Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend in Farhampton. The strains of Simple Song by The Shins start playing and we see Barney and Robin climbing into Ranjit’s limo, Marshall and son Marvin getting ready to board a plane, Lily and Ted pulling away in a station wagon and ... wait, who is that at a train station ticket counter carrying a yellow umbrella?
In a moment that somehow remained unspoiled online until it aired, Cristin Milioti makes her first appearance as the still-unnamed mother with the line, Hi. One ticket to Farhampton, please.