Much of the mystery looming over How I Met Your Mother during its nine-year run was the identity of the Mother, but the series threw viewers another curveball at the very end by revealing that the Mother passed away six years prior to Future Ted's story. However, when looking back, there were actually a number of clues hinting at the character's grim fate.
The writers of How I Met Your Mother were masters when it came to clever clues and hidden Easter eggs that called back previous moments on the series. At times there were also moments of foreshadowing that many viewers didn't pick up on until multiple viewings of the series. The Mother's name, for example, was actually revealed in the show's debut season. Ted was telling his kids about meeting a stripper named Tracy and claimed that was how he met their mother before claiming that he was just joking. Later in the series, the Mother's name was revealed to be Tracy McConnell.
As time went on with How I Met Your Mother, loyal viewers started to worry about the Mother's fate. There were a number of fan theories that suggested the character was dead, and that was a reason why Ted was telling his kids the story. Unfortunately, many of those theories came true as Tracy passed away sometime in 2024. Here are all of the hints that alluded to the character's death throughout How I Met Your Mother.
Future Ted's Story
Over the nine seasons of How I Met Your Mother, Future Ted narrated the series as he told his children the story of how he met Tracy. As many viewers have noticed, the mysterious Mother character was always referred to in the past tense. This helped fuel the fire regarding the theories that the Mother was dead by the time Ted started his grand story. The series also relied on interweaving different timelines including flashbacks and flash-forwards. Not one of the flash-forward sequences involved Tracy. Even if they wanted to keep her identity a secret, there would have been ways to feature her presence without giving away too much. This never seemed to bode well with those hoping the Mother was alive and well.
Ted's Favorite Book
The first hint regarding Tracy's fate came during the penultimate episode of How I Met Your Mother season 1. After visiting a matchmaking service, Love Solutions, Ted was finally contacted that he had been matched with the "perfect woman. In the end, Ted decided not to meet the woman since he wanted to get Robin back. Despite not meeting her, details from the match's file were revealed. One particular detail stated that her favorite book was Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García Márquez. The plot of the book would go on to foreshadow the future situation between Ted, Tracy, and Robin.
Ted was seen reading the book on multiple occasions. He was even reading the book while sitting at the Farhampton Train Station when he first met Tracy. The book focused on a young couple in love who eventually grew apart. One of them went on and married but after the spouse passed away, the original couple found their way back together. This eerily mirrored what happened between Ted and Robin years after Tracy passed away from an undisclosed illness.
The Gravestone At Marshall's Tailgate
The next indisputable clue didn't come until How I Met Your Mother season 7. In the episode titled "Tailgate," Marshall carried on the tradition of tailgating on New Year's Day with his father. Marvin Sr. passed away the year before so Marshall set up the tailgate at his father's grave. More and more people arrive and Marshall allowed them to join in on the tradition. While at the gravesite, there was a gravestone nearby that simply read "Mother." The word is not uncommon on a gravestone but with no other name listed, it sure seemed like this was a well-planned hint at what was to come.
The Song At Farhampton Train Station
The Farhampton Train Station came into focus during the How I Met Your Mother season 8 premiere episode. It began with Ted sitting on the platform after Robin and Barney's wedding reception. He then backtracked and explaining a story involving Victoria and how a conversation at the same station made him realize that he was still on the search for "The One." Back to Ted's primary timeline, Tracy emerged from a taxi and stood on a platform a few feet away. Although viewers couldn't see her face, this was just moments before Ted and Tracy officially met. During the scene depicting the pair as their final moments of strangers, the song "The Funeral" from Band of Horses was playing. This song was purposely chosen as a connection to the Mother's fate unveiled in the series finale.
The Time Travelers Episode
During the How I Met Your Mother season 8 episode, "The Time Travelers, future versions of Ted and Barney tried to convince Ted to go to Robots Versus Wrestlers. While telling the story to his kids, Ted realized that it had been twenty years since that night. Ted wished that he could relive that night but instead of debating about seeing Robots Versus Wrestlers, he wanted the chance to have extra days with Tracy. He imagined himself running to Tracy's apartment and telling her that they will meet in 45 days. Ted claimed that he would do anything to have those extra 45 days with her, foreshadowing that their time together is eventually cut short.
A song playing in that episode also provided evidence of Tracy's death. It featured "If You See Her, Say Hello" by Bob Dylan. The song is about losing a loved one and includes the message about not wasting time. This alluded to how Ted was feeling when looking back at his life in the time leading up to his initial meeting with Tracy.
Tracy's Wedding Comment
The biggest clue foreshadowing Tracy's grim fate took place just a few episodes before the How I Met Your Mother series finale. In "Vesuvius," Ted and Tracy were shown having dinner at the Farhampton Inn in the year 2024. They realized that they had turned into an "old married couple" because they know all of each other's stories. Ted then remembered a story about Robin's lack of anxiety on her own wedding day. The story ended with Robin's mother showing up to attend the wedding, a complete surprise to everyone. Tracy questioned why that would be a surprise while stating "what mother is going to miss her daughter’s wedding?" before Ted got choked up.
This statement greatly affected Ted and he was overcome with visible emotion. Tracy quickly noticed that what she said upset her husband so they changed the subject. It was assumed that Ted was already well aware of Tracy's illness at this point and the notion that his wife not being around when their kids got older was unbearable. Of course, this sadly became true as Tracy passed away well before her daughter ever had the chance to get married.