How I Met Your Mother: 20 Mysteries And Plot Holes That The Show Left Hanging

How I Met Your Mother was a romantic comedy series of a father recounting to his children, through a series of flashbacks, the journey he took, alongside his four best friends, before he met his wife, their mother.  Starring Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan, and Christin Milioti, the 9-season series aired on CBS from September 19, 2005, to March 31, 2014.

The show amassed such a massive cult following, and an IMDB rating of 8.3, that it was nominated for 30 Emmy Awards, winning 10 of them. These were just a few of them among many. While the story had several plots and twists such as Barney falling in love with Robin and marrying her and Ted being secretly jealous about it, we also had a few mysteries and plot holes that left the show hanging. If these were solved, then it would have been more interesting, and maybe received less mixed reviews in the later seasons.

The most conspicuous plot hole was Tracy McConnell-Mosby, the mother. While we spent 7 seasons trying to figure out who she was and concluding that Robin could have been the mother all along, we finally got introduced to Tracy in season 8.  Unfortunately, seems the time was too short for the writers as she was written off later on, without us ever knowing how she interacted with the gang and the shenanigans of her relationship with Ted.

Here are 20 Mysteries And Plot Holes That The Show Left Hanging.

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Killing Tracy Without Explaining Her Actual Relationship With Ted And The Gang
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20 not Explaining tracy's Relationship With Ted And The Gang

Killing Tracy Without Explaining Her Actual Relationship With Ted And The Gang

Throughout the series, we were showed how Ted’s different girlfriends interacted with the gang. Karen and Ted had their screen time with the gang, and the story was elaborate enough, showing us how Lily finally broke them off. Stella and Ted, Victoria and Ted, Trudy and Ted among other girlfriends had their relationship with the gang explained.

It is, however, not an over expectation for us to want to see how Tracy, the long-awaited mother, interacted with the gang. Did they love her? Was she disgusted by Barney? Did the gang ever do an intervention for her? Instead, she was written off before all this was revealed.

19 St. Patrick’s Day 2008

St. Patrick’s Day 2008 was aired on season 3, episode 12, dubbed ‘No Tomorrow’. The gang did not attend the party together, opting to do different things. Lily, Marshall, and Ted opted for a board game night at Marshall and Lily’s new apartment, and Robin joined them. Barney decided to go all out, drinking green beer and wearing a green suit.

He later convinced Ted to join him after securing a date for him, and Ted couldn’t resist. As it was revealed later on, Tracy, the mother, was also at the party although Ted only met her umbrella. What was confusing, however, about this episode, was in season 9 when the mother gave her account of the day, it was April 2008, yet in season 3, it was on March 17, 2008. So, what was the real story?

18 Barney and Robin’s Wedding Date

Barney and Robin’s Wedding Date

Barney and Robin’s wedding filled the whole of season 9, and was probably the most explored storyline of the whole season. What left the story hanging and confused the fans was the actual wedding date. In season 8 episode 13, Ted said that the wedding was held on May 25th, 2013, putting the wedding on a Saturday.

Episode 1 of season 9 gave a different date, as it opened with a title of Friday, 11:00 a.m., 55 hours before the wedding. That calculation put’s the wedding on May 26th. So, did something happen that pushed the wedding by a day or it was a simple oversight and miscalculation by the writers?

17 Marshall and Lily Sharing A Toothbrush

Marshall and Lily Wedding - Best How I Met Your Mother Episodes

The issue of toothbrush sharing between couples is often frowned about as it is not. Some couples proudly claim that they share their toothbrushes, while others don’t but carry one to share when traveling, to reduce their luggage. This was, therefore, an important issue that the series could have addressed.

In season 5 episode 14, our lovebirds confessed to sharing a single toothbrush, Ted also confessed to using the same toothbrush, and it turned out Robin used it too when dating Ted. This means that the writers seemed to have shared their thoughts on the toothbrush issue. In season 1 however, we saw Lily and Marshall brush at the same time, using the same toothbrush. So, what really happened? We need to know because the show somewhat tackled bathroom issues between couples.

16 Robin and Nicknames

Robin and Nicknames

Robin was a complicated lady to some extent and had some strict relationship faux pax. One of these was her stand on the nicknames couples love to give each other. When Ted and Robin dated, she loathed nicknames, both addressed to her or her beau, despite Ted’s liking to call her ‘Schebs’ or ‘Robsie Wobsie’. She also hated it when Ted referred to himself as ‘T-Moz’.

The plot however changed when Robin began dating Barney, and Ted noticed that they were using mawkish nicknames. What changed? Robin had such a strong personality that any huge change should have been explained.

15 When Did Barney Learn How To Drive?

When Did Barney Learn How To Drive

Barney Stinson seemed to know everything, that when he saw Lily for the first time and thought that she was too hot for Marshall to seduce, was perplexed when he saw the two kissing immediately they laid eyes on each other. Barney then followed Marshall for a while wanting to know what the trick was, oblivious of the fact that the two were lovers!

If the writers took time to explain this, then they should have explained how the all-knowing Barney who didn’t know how to drive in season 2, getting scared of Marshall’s Fierro, and driving it only a short distance. Ted then recalled that Barney couldn’t drive, but again we see him in season 5 working a Taxi driver to pick up chicks. Barney’s driving lesson is definitely a huge plot hole. We would also love to see him vulnerable and clueless, and maybe failing his first test!

14 The Pineapple Incident

The Pineapple

In season 1 episode 10, Ted had a one night stand with Trudy. Ted had taken 5 shots of a drink called ‘ The Red Dragon’, and he blacked out. He woke up the next morning with a pineapple on his nightstand, a brunette girl in his bed, whom he didn’t remember; and a sprained ankle. This storyline besides being juicy had two major plot holes.

Trudy snuck out through the fire escape, and Ted says that he left her a message.  In season 3, the two met again, and Ted said he was going to call her but was too embarrassed. So, did he call or not? Also, we thought that Trudy brought the pineapple but she said she didn’t! The series ended without us ever solving the pineapple mystery, well, until we discovered a deleted scene that revealed that Ted stole the pineapple from The Captain’s house that night.

13 Robin Getting Scared Of Not Moby’s Gun

Robin was the most confident of the ladies, in terms of handling difficult situations. So we were a bit shocked, but understood, when she got scared of Not Moby’s gun in episode 11 of season 1. That was not a big problem though. Just a few episodes later, in the first episode of season 2, we discovered that Robin was quite a gun enthusiast, even taking Marshall to a gun range to get over Lily’s breakup.

Her necklace also has a gun-shaped pendant, a clear sign that she was comfortable around guns. She had even subscribed to a guns and ammunition magazine! So, what changed between the limo’s scene and the gun range?

12 Lily’s Dog Allergy

In season 2 episode 2, we saw Lily spending time with Robin in her apartment, and she didn’t seem to have any allergic reactions with the dogs around. Just 3 episodes later, in episode 5, Lily had a new apartment, but it was completely inhabitable, having a raccoon who was kind enough to eat her housewarming gift from Ted and Robin, for a roommate!

She couldn’t live with Ted and Marshall as they had not rekindled their relationship, and couldn’t live with Robin either, as she was allergic to dogs, Robin’s housemates. This is mysterious, as three episodes earlier, she was okay with the dogs! Was this the writers’ way of forcing Lily and Barney to live together so that we would see his house?

11 Where Did Robin’s Girlfriends Go

The writers did a pretty good job portraying Robin as a macho woman, who hated hanging out with women. In fact, she was the girl that loved bar hopping with boys and was friends with Lily by default because she was part of the gang. Also in season 9, while planning the wedding, Lily revealed to the gang that Robin didn’t have female friends. Despite this, HIMYM writers decided that there would be a bachelorette party for the girl who hated girls, and people were confused.

That aside, we did not understand what happened to the friendships Robin had with the women we saw with throughout the series. When Robin was introduced to us in season 1, episode 1, she was at the bar with a group of ladies, not men! And then we saw her with more ladies in season 4 episode 8, and season 6 episodes 9 and 16, with more ladies! Maybe we should have seen her drama with them in one instance, just to know where they went to and why?

10 The Clock Always Being At 4:20 At Lily and Marshall’s House

The Clock Always Being At 4 20 At Lily and Marshall’s House

4:20 was the time on the clock whenever it was shown in Lily and Marshall’s apartment. If this was a broken clock, then Barney or Robin could have pointed it out, solving the mystery that became a source of running jokes for fans around the world.

Turns out that in urban legend, 4:20 is slang for smoking the green herb, the reason why people overindulge on 20th April, annually. While we did not have a direct scene of Ted, Lily, and Marshall smoking the stuff in college, they used to refer to ‘eating a sandwich’. This was their metaphor for smoking the green stuff, and maybe 4:20 on the clock was the writers’ poetic way to refer to the couple’s sandwich moments back in college?

9 What Exactly Was The Cockamouse?

What Exactly Was The Cockamouse

The cockamouse has been one the biggest unsolved How I Met Your Mother mysteries. Lily and Marshall walked into their apartment and saw a creature that Lily believed to be a cockroach while Marshall thought it was a mouse. They tried to end it with a bug spray and phonebook, but the phonebook moved, meaning that it was not gone. Petrified, they dashed down to McLaren’s to notify the rest of the gang of the newly baptized ‘cockamouse’, and Robin was skeptic about it.

Marshall then trapped it, took it to a biologist at the Columbia Biology Department for identification, only to realize that he no longer had it. They later found it in the apartment, Robin believed in the ‘cockamouse’, Marshall caught it and threw it out of the window, only for it to fly! He closed the window and it never came back. That is the last we saw of the cockamouse.

8 What ended Tracy

What Killed Tracy

In season 8 finale, finally, we saw the mother! We, therefore, expected season 9 to be full of stories of how Tracy interacted with the gang, any drama they had with Ted before finally settling down, a glimpse of who her ex was just for a little more sauce and then their happily ever after. Instead, we had a rushed view of their relationship and before we knew it, Tracy was gone!

We only know she fell ill, saw her in a hospital bed with Ted visiting, then she passed away!  What was the disease? The kids sure deserved to know how their mum passed away! It was sad that they had to cut this all short for an ill-advised Ted-Robin reunion.

7 Who Was Barney’s Baby Mama

Barney’s Baby Mama

The one moment we saw Barney’s deep, raw emotions was when he met his daughter, Ellie. This was an interesting plot twist, as he had been with so many women and never had a baby. In the episode, the bracket, Barney’s attempts to pick up girls were being sabotaged by someone he thought to have slept with and really hurt.

So he set out to examine his past conquests to figure out who it was, of course with help from Marshall and Ted. The writers had the time to reveal some of these faces to us, but when Barney finally got a baby out of his busy bed escapade, we could not be shown the baby mama?

6 Marshall’s Fighting Knowledge

In season 1 episode 3, Marshall believed that a man was hitting on Lily and went to the bar to fight him. He turned out to be gay, and Marshall was beyond happy, thanking God for the turn of events as he had never been in a fight. For a moment, we believed he was a softie!

In season 4 however, Marshall revealed that he had been in lots of fights with his brothers. The scenes for their fights were pretty bad, no wonder Marshall did not like recalling that period. So, why would the writers include Marshall’s lack of fighting knowledge in season one?

5 Ted and Natalie’s Dating History

Ted and Natalie’s Dating History

Ted and Natalie’s relationship was another weird one. In episode 4 of season 1, Ted talked about his ex of three years, and when they met, Natalie confirmed it. They then dated after this rendezvous, and Ted dumped her after three weeks, on her birthday again! This means that since it was October 2005, he broke up with her in October 2002, of course on her birthday.

However, in season 5 episode 18, we saw Marshall comfort Natalie after another Ted breakup, in February 2005 flashback. We also saw several flashbacks of Ted getting back with his exes for stupid reasons, asking Natalie to get back with him after he ran out of whip cream. There is so much more controversy, as Natalie got married in between, and we are not sure what their real dating history was.

4 Marshall Taking meds

Marshall Taking Painkillers

Marshall’s history with medication was as contradicting as his fight history. In season one, he seems to believe in medication, asking Barney for some aspirin, who then advised him to ask the people in the bathroom.

Marshall then emerged from the bathroom, high on some unnamed drug, that caused him to treat fellow revelers to a dance show. Later on, in season 2, Marshall said that he did not believe in medication. Could this be the fear of getting the desired result from an unnamed substance again, or he just made an exemption due to a toothache?

3 Barney’s First Time

Barney had bedded a lot of women and believed that he was the king of the female anatomy. This made his first time an interesting storyline. Was the confident Barney Stinson once a cowardly, shy fellow? Season 2 episode 2, revealed that his first time was with his mom’s 45-year old friend, Rhonda.

His account of the events was however full of Barney-style exaggeration, with Rhonda saying that that was the best rodeo she had ever had. Barney also stated that Rhonda stayed at her place for two weeks, his comforter smelled like menthol. In season 3 however, we see that the event actually took part in Rhonda’s house, and Barney’s brother had paid the lady to bed young Barney. So, how could have his sheets smelled like menthol when they didn’t take a dip into the honeypot in Barney’s house?

2 Tracy and Louis’ Relationship

Tracy and Louis Relationship

While Ted and Tracy’s relationship was portrayed throughout the season as a perfect one, we expected some level of imperfection, in terms of their past relationships. We had excellent storylines on Ted’s exes during his quest and also expected to have some dirt on Tracy’s frogs before she met the prince.

One of these was Louis, her last boyfriend before Ted. In season 9 episode 16, we officially met him and Ted narrated that he had dated Tracy for a couple of years, and it was fine. Louis proposed and Tracy declined, causing their breakup. We should have seen more of this relationship and maybe one more that Tracy had, just to explain better, the journey before Mr. and Mrs. Right locate each other.

1 Robin’s Aunt’s Lover’s Name

The storyline about Robin and her aunt was quite confusing. We didn’t know her name, and Robin didn’t seem to be clear on her knowledge of her aunt’s orientation. In season 2, Robin did not realize that her aunt was attracted to women, ignorantly saying that she had sent her dogs upstate to live with her aunt and a female live-in friend called Betty. In season 8, Robin referred to her aunt again, who lived with a new female friend, Maureen.

The disconnect is when in season 2, Robin referred to Betty as her aunt’s lover, meaning that she was aware of her orientation, yet later on in season 8, she ‘discovered’ that her aunt was a lesbian? What really happened?


Can you think of any other plot holes that How I Met Your Mother left hanging? Let us know in the comments!

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