How I Met Your Mother may not involve Ted actually meeting the titular Mother until the very end, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have a whole lot of near-misses along the way. Throughout the show, fans are treated to ‘almosts’ between the two, usually pointed out by future-Ted’s narration.
Then, in the episode ‘How Your Mother Met Me’, fans were given a timeline of what Tracy was doing over the course of the show, and the parallels between her life and Ted’s – including some moments where she met Ted’s friends! Here are all the near-misses from the first episode to the train platform at Farhampton.
They Both Drink At MacLaren’s
While for most of the show, it appears that there is only one MacLaren’s, it is eventually revealed that there are two – one on the East Side, and one on the West Side. Ted and his gang spend time at the West Side version, but on the same night that Ted meets Robin, Tracy is celebrating her birthday at the East Side version. One of her friends even shows up to the wrong one, and very nearly meets Ted and Barney that same night! Tracy is also later seen walking past the West Side MacLaren’s, holding up her signature yellow umbrella.
They Are At The Same St Patrick’s Party
The first big moment that the audience knows Ted has almost met the mother is at the St Patrick’s Day party where he picks up the yellow umbrella. The episode sees Ted and Barney getting drunk and partying at the club, with Ted using someone else’s credit card, kissing a married woman, and generally behaving badly – and losing his phone in them
When he returns the next day to try and find it, he ends up grabbing the umbrella that Tracy left behind. This is also the night that Tracy meets The Naked Man (although she doesn’t sleep with him), who later meets Ted and the gang through Robin.
She Attends Ted’s First Class
Another big one came when Ted went to teach his first class – and ended up in the wrong classroom. The narration mentions this one, as Ted tells his kids that Tracy was in that classroom, but wasn’t actually in his class, as Ted had his classrooms mixed up and was accidentally trying to teach the wrong people. Thankfully, Tracy found it funny.
Ted Dates Her Roommate, Cindy
The last of the really big near misses before the wedding that brings them together comes when Ted and Cindy (Tracy’s roommate) start dating. Of course, it ends badly, as Ted starts to compliment things around the apartment to show Cindy how much they have in common, and manages to pick things that are all Tracy’s. When leaving the apartment, Tracy is coming out of the shower, and he gets a glimpse of an ankle before her door closes. He also leaves the umbrella back at Tracy’s in this episode.
Tracy Goes To Ted’s MacLarens
It’s not revealed until ‘How Your Mother Met Me’, but Tracy dated a man named Louis, who took her to the MacLaren’s that Ted and the gang hang out in. Louis has not only come to the bar previously, when Ted and Barney re-named it Puzzles for a night, but Tracy’s friend has also been to this bar and met Barney, whose ‘my penis grants wishes’ line actually worked on her.
Cindy Tells Ted To Hire Tracy’s Band For Robin’s Wedding
Another big one – and one that was obvious at the time that it was first revealed in the show, because future-Ted commented on it – was when Ted bumped into Cindy down the road, at a time that Robin and Barney needed a wedding band. And of course, the mother just so happens to be the bass player in a band that does weddings. It’s an entirely chance encounter, and one that puts the rest in motion.
Tracy Meets Lily On The Train
In an intentional twist, Tracy actually meets everyone else in the gang before she meets Ted – and the first of these is when she meets Lily on the train to Farhampton.
The two get on phenomenally well, and later, when Tracy is angry at her despicable bandmate, they meet again over a drink. Their meeting really becomes about Tracy giving Lily great advice, but it’s also great to see how well they get along from the start.
Tracy Meets Marshall & Marvin
Next up, Tracy meets Marshall and Marvin, after she is driving a stolen van (the despicable bandmate’s), and sees them at the side of the road. She is the one who ends up giving them a ride to the hotel, wrapping up their incredibly long journey to get to the wedding, and giving her a chance to bond with Marshall, too.
Tracy Buys Ted A Drink (Anonymously)
Probably the closest they come to meeting before the wedding itself is when Tracy is dropping Marshall off at the hotel (and returning the stolen van). She intends to come in and confront her bandmate over his behavior (trying to kick her out of her own band), but ends up coming in to see Ted punching the bandmate for making him drop an expensive bottle of Scotch. Happy with this, Tracy sends Ted an anonymous drink, but then heads back to the beachhouse where she is staying with her boyfriend – only just missing out on meeting Ted by giving him the drink in person.
Tracy Ends Up In The Hotel Room Next To Ted
Finally, when Tracy gets back to the beach house, her boyfriend proposes – and she realizes that she has to turn him down, because she just doesn’t love him. She ends up coming back to the hotel to get a room, and is given the room next to Ted’s, where they have another almost-connection as she plays La Vie En Rose and Ted listens. Still, though, they don’t actually connect that night, or at the wedding when she plays (and meets Barney and Robin in the process). They only properly meet at the Farhampton train platform when the wedding is done.