Hometvshows36 Behind The Scenes Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About "How I...

36 Behind The Scenes Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About “How I Met Your Mother”

After nine seasons, most binge-watchers were so focused on the series’s polarizing finale that they almost forgot how sneakily innovative the multi-camera sitcom with the multiple flashbacks and flash-forwards was in 2005. Here are some little-known facts about the show, as approved by the Slap Bet Commissioner herself!

They Were All Based On Real People

The characters of Ted, Marshall, and Lily are based on the show’s creators, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, and Thomas’s college sweetheart and wife, Rebecca. They are the focal point of this comedy television series that continues to pull the heartstrings and make us laugh-cry as we watch the series over and over again in binge-style.

Cobie Smulders Got Lucky

Casting director Megan Branman spotted Cobie Smulders doing a bit part on a drama series while flipping through channels. She immediately told the creators she had found their Robin. Interestingly enough, while she was the perfect comedic relief for the role of Robin, she hasn’t played comedic roles

Jennifer Love-Hewitt Would Have Played Robin

Jennifer Love-Hewitt was originally supposed to play Robin, but she booked Ghost Whisperer instead. Cobie Smulders was a fantastic second choice for them as she fit into the dynamic of the group perfectly for being average looking but still believably attractive enough to be sought after by both Ted and Barney.

There Wasn’t A Live Audience

Another difference was they actually filmed in a silent studio. The laugh track was added in later when they would screen the episode for an audience. This made the filming process a lot easier for the actors on the show because they wouldn’t get distracted by the live audience, thus fewer bloopers, and more time to perfect the storyline.

What If Jack Black Played Barney?

Barney’s character was originally described as a “Jack Black, John Belushi type,” but as soon as Neil Patrick Harris auditioned for the role, the creators got rid of the description. He was the perfect fit for the role as a slender, handsome, hilarious young man who could make “suit-up” work. In hindsight, a choice like Jack Black may have been the wrong direction, taking the sexiness out of the character.

Neil Patrick Harris’s Audition

During his audition, Neil Patrick Harris acted out Barney playing laser tag. He did crazy dives and rolls, even slamming into the creators’ desk and knocking everything over. His craziness for the role sparked their interest because they knew they could mold this crazy behavior into what Barney was never supposed to be, but needed to be.

Jason Segal Was Their First Choice For Marshall

Jason Segel was Bays and Thomas’s first choice for the role of Marshall. They were both huge fans of Freaks and Geeks. He has that subtle humor that was perfect for the husband role to Lily and also the type of look that was absolutely believable where he got into a relationship early and held onto her ever since the first day of college.

The Theme Song

The theme song “Hey Beautiful” is sung by The Solids, Bays and Thomas’s real-life band. The theme has gone through some special changes throughout the series. In ‘Hopeless’, Barney introduces The Gang to his father, claiming that they are in a band together which made the subsequent theme song a video of all of them singing it in a band. Marshall plays the piano, Robin plays the drums, Barney plays lead guitar, Lily plays bass and Ted also plays guitar. In ‘Bedtime Stories’, a music-box version of the theme song is played.  

Jim Parsons As Barney?

Jim Parsons originally auditioned for the role of Barney. Parsons clearly wasn’t the best fit for the role for multiple obvious reasons, namely the lack of sexual attraction for the role. NPH was perfect in that regard because he had the ability to play the smooth playboy that Parsons’ look wasn’t quite right for.  

The Mother

Casting director Marisa Ross talked about casting Cristin Milioti as The Mother for two years before they called her in to audition. After waiting for so many episodes to find out what “The Mother” looked like, fans everywhere were beyond pleased that they cast Milioti for the role. She has a quick wit and loveable look that made her perfect for the love of Ted’s life. It was a disappointment for fans everywhere that her time on the show was so short-lived.

Victoria Was Going To Be The Mother

The creators planned to make Victoria the mother if the show was canceled during Seasons 1 or 2. Luckily, the show was beloved by so many that the show continued for nine seasons, which was perfect for binge watching.

Ted’s A Talented Man

Josh Radnor helped the creators and music supervisor Andy Gowan choose music for the series. Despite not getting too many roles following the completion of How I Met Your Mother, he is a very talented actor with the wherewithal to understand the production of the show that would make it a success all in all.

Something Blue

In “Something Blue,” the engagement with Robin and Ted was real. The extras were related to one of the writers and big fans of the show.

The Websites Were Real

Most of the websites mentioned throughout series are real, such as http://www.stinsonbreastreduction.com/, http://www.goliathbank.com/, and http://www.puzzlesthebar.com/. The producers of the show knew that fans were so heavily involved that they would get great satisfaction in connecting to the show in real life.

Slap Bet

The idea for the “Slap Bet” between Marshall and Barney came from Bays, who would make slap bets with his high school friends. This is what made the “slap bet” so relatable amongst friends in real life, and what made it something of a fad. When real-life inside jokes and activities can be woven into the storyline, it gives the show more credibility.


MacLaren’s Pub was named after one of the show’s production assistants, Carl MacLaren. It was modeled after the real NYC bar McGee’s, where Bays and Thomas hung out when they worked on the Late Show With David Letterman.

Have You Met Ted?

The running joke “Have you met Ted?” was actually started by Bays and Thomas’s boss at Letterman. He would say, “Have you met Carter?” They knew this would be a perfect inside-joke cameo for the show as Barney would attempt to help Ted get some action, despite the usual steal not long after.

Their Husbands Made Guest Appearances

Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Neil Patrick Harris’s real-life husbands all appeared on the show more than once. They claimed that it was a blast having their significant others get in on a piece of the biggest part of their lives at the time.

What A Team!

The cast had the tradition of walking into table reads together. Jason Segel suggested it because that way they would all get there early and could eat the free breakfast provided. This was one of the many reasons this cast worked so well together. They operated as most close friend groups usually do, as a makeshift family.

A Challenging Production

Unlike most multi-camera sitcoms, How I Met Your Mother shot episodes over a span of three days as opposed to just one. This helped produce some of the best-directed episodes as they span over several locations, giving each story-line the depth it really needs to carry the weight of the story.

Only Alyson Hannigan

Thomas’s wife Rebecca said that they could only make a character based on her if Alyson Hannigan played the part. She had an affinity for Alyson Hannigan and felt that she would be the perfect star for the role based on her natural comedic personality and cute statue. Ultimately, nobody else could’ve done for Lily what Alyson Hannigan did.

Aging Ted

Thomas and Bays originally decided to use two different actors for Ted — Josh Radnor and Bob Saget — so viewers would understand that Ted went on a transformative journey and wasn’t the same person he used to be. They would later change their mind and have their makeup artists apply some wrinkles and gray hair on ted so he would show the journey without losing authenticity. Also, there wasn’t enough of an age gap between Radnor and Saget to make that one believable.

Robin And Barney

Barney and Robin’s relationship wasn’t planned from the beginning. The creators came up with the idea after seeing the chemistry between Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders. It was a major let-down for fans when ultimately things didn’t work out for Barnie and Robin, but they somehow found a way for us all to be okay with it in the end.

Pamela Fryman

Pamela Fryman directed 196 of the 208 episodes, including the series finale.

Marshall’s Dad Died

In the episode “Bad News,” Jason Segel didn’t know Marshall’s dad was going to die until they shot the episode. When Hannigan said her line, “He didn’t make it,” we see Segal genuinely reacting to the news. Alyson Hannigan’s tears are what really got us all with tears streaming down our faces. Just amazing acting all around here in one of the most powerful episodes of the show.

Lifetime Supply Of Redbull

Neil Patrick Harris drank so much Red Bull both on screen and off while playing Barney Stinson that the company gave him a lifetime supply. So much for being the face of Heineken.

Jason Segal’s Smoking Habit

Jason Segel tried to kick his cigarette smoking habit because Alyson Hannigan hated the smell. They had a bet where he owed her $10 every time he had a cigarette. By the end of the first day, Segel owed Hannigan $200.

Britney Spears Made A Cameo

Britney Spears reached out to the creators about wanting to be involved in the show. The show was such a hit when it was running live, so stars all throughout Hollywood wanted to get involved and get their hands on cameo roles. Britney Spears played the role of Abby in season three’s ‘Ten Sessions’ and ‘Everything Must Go’.

The Child Actors Knew All Along!

The actors who played Ted’s children, David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca, filmed their final scene in which we learn who Ted ends up with during Season 2. They were then sworn to secrecy.


Josh Radnor got to keep the Blue French Horn and Cobie Smulders got Robin Sparkles’ jean jacket. Meanwhile, Neil Patrick Harris brought home the gang’s booth from MacLaren’s Pub and Barney’s infamous playbook.

Robin Sparkles

The Robin Sparkles music videos were some of the hardest scenes to shoot. They required an extra day of filming and Cobie Smulders would wind up dancing for about 16 hours straight.

The Extras

All of the extras featured in the train station where we finally see The Mother for the first time were crew members.

A Musical Episode

Neil Patrick Harris’s favorite episode of the series was the 100th episode, “Girls vs. Suits,” in which the entire cast performed a musical number.

The Marching Band Airport Surprise

One of Alyson Hannigan’s fondest memories from the series was the episode when Marshall surprises Lily at the airport with a marching band. She was pregnant IRL and got really emotional while filming.

The Most Viewed Episodes

The most-viewed episodes were the series finale and the Season 1 episode “The Pineapple Incident.”

The Last Scene Filmed


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