Why How I Met Your Mother Accidentally Created A Jason Segel Paradox

The cult sitcom How I Met Your Mother may have left viewers with a lot of questions, but one of the biggest must be how Marshall ended up existing in the same universe as a real-life Jason Segel movie. Beginning in 2005 shortly after Friends ended its ten-season run and lasting until 2014, How I Met Your Mother used its inventive premise to let Josh Radnor’s lovable sadsack Ted spin endless yarns about his twenty-something friends and their NYC adventures.

A classic hang-out sitcom, How I Met Your Mother benefitted from a superb ensemble cast including Neil Patrick Harris and Alyson Hannigan, but faltered in its later seasons before ending on one of sitcom history’s most divisive finales. The series was infamous for featuring some sizable plot holes, but one of the biggest is the bizarre Jason Segel paradox that the reruns of How I Met Your Mother created.


The reruns of How I Met Your Mother used a canny tactic to allow their parent network to advertise new movies every time an old episode was a rerun, but it led to a confusing paradox in one episode as one of these movies starred a cast member of the show itself. Being set in New York City, How I Met Your Mother constantly featured scenes of characters standing near, beside, or in front of billboards, subway advertisements, and blank screens. When the show’s episodes were being rerun, the network added advertisements in the background of old episodes, updating them to be new ads for new movies each time a How I Met Your Mother episode aired.

This intervention required subtle CGI additions, but the process led to a bizarre internal paradox when Ted and Barney were meeting with Marshall (who is played by Jason Segel) and stood in front of an advertisement for 2011’s Bad Teacher, which starred… the real-life actor Jason Segel. Interestingly, this wasn’t one of the many integrated advertisements which were simply added to an existing blank canvas in the background of a How I Met Your Mother episode. The plasma screen TVs that advertisements for Bad Teacher appeared on during a rerun of ‘Swarley’ were also added into what had been dead space behind the lead actors when the scene was originally filmed.

It’s a surprisingly seamless addition to the rerun that few viewers would be perceptive enough to notice, but however clever the technology may be, the process becomes instantly noticeable when fictional characters like How I Met Your Mother’s Marshall are in the same setting as ads for movies that star their real-life actor. The advertisements were also specific to geographical areas, with the Bad Teacher paradox only cropping up in New York reruns of How I Met Your Mother and different ads being added for different markets. The same technology was also utilized in every rerun episode of My Name Is Earl, but luckily this application didn’t lead to any real actor/fictional character paradoxes.

Author: Admin

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