While you may think you know the story of the show, there are quite a few behind-the-scenes secrets that even big fans may be shocked to hear.
Would-be cast members
Cobie Smulders almost lost the role of Robin to Jennifer Love Hewitt, who was already well known for Party of Five and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Josh Radnor also almost missed out on his part, with producers reportedly also looking into Felicity actor Scott Foley. Jim Parsons says he went out for the show as well, auditioning for Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney Stinson
Ashley Williams’ Victoria was first introduced in season one, episode 12, at Stuart and Claudia’s wedding. Thomas echoed this sentiment in a Reddit AMA, saying, “It was hard to say goodbye to Victoria, she and Ted had such chemistry,” and calling her the hardest of Ted’s girlfriends to write off the show.
How I Met Your Mother became a family affair behind the scenes, with the main cast becoming good friends and playing big roles in each other’s lives. The show’s friendly environment allowed Hannigan, Harris, and Smulders to bring on their real-life spouses to star with them.
The show used traditional methods of hiding the actress’s pregnancies, including large handbags and baggy clothing. However, Thomas said they also used some items that they thought would intentionally use to tease Hannigan’s growing belly, including a globe and a basketball. “Why be subtle about it?” Thomas said. “Let’s make an extra joke out of it.”
No live studio audience
Due to its strange story structure, episodes of HIMYM take longer to film than most sitcoms (three days compared to a usual three hours), so producers decided to film in an empty studio. “There’s no way we could shoot this amount of material in front of an audience,” Thomas said in an interview with The Chicago Tribune. “It would blur the line between ‘audience’ and ‘hostage situation.'”
Thomas revealed at the William S. Paley TV Fest in 2006 that Marshall is based on him, while Ted is based on Bays, and Lily is based on Thomas’ wife Rebecca, who he started dating during his freshman year of college. According to Thomas, Rebecca played a big part in Hannigan’s casting, saying that she would only let him put her on TV if she could get Willow from Buffy to do it. Luckily for everyone involved, Hannigan was free to take the part.
The Pineapple Incident
Many fans questioned why such a pivotal moment in the series wasn’t shown on screen. Hannigan responded to fans on Twitter, saying the show ended up 18 minutes longer than it was supposed to, leading to scenes being cut. (She didn’t specify which episode, but the deleted scene came from season nine, episode 20.) Still, at least we know there’s a canonical ending to the pineapple mystery.
Casting the mother
“I kind of felt bad for Cristin because it was really like Jesus has risen when she showed up on the set—the whole crew was like ‘Here she is, the women we’ve been waiting for for 10 years!'” they said. “And she’s like, ‘I’m just an actor.'”
The pair said in an interview that they filmed the final scene at some point during season two, with the creators rushing to get the piece in before Henrie went through puberty. Everyone cleared the set except Carter and Bays, and the two had to sign confidentiality agreements saying that they’d keep the ending a secret.
An alternate ending
It turns out the producers did actually have an alternate ending. Later released. it cuts out the mother’s death and Barney and Robin’s divorce, and instead focuses on Ted’s journey, all leading up to walk up to Tracy and “start talking. “See kids, easy,” he says, after describing his journey. The alternate ending finishes off with, “And that kids, is how I met your mother” before cutting to black. Although it doesn’t include any new footage, only alternate narration, at least 20,000 people would have been much happier if the alternate ending had been for real.