In the mid-2000s, CBS launched How I Met Your Mother, a sitcom that seemed stock by nature -with its cast of characters who were young, attractive 20-somethings in New York City who either hung out at the local bar or an expensive apartment that none of the characters could really afford. It was a tiring and overdone formula, which many believed had already been perfected by Friends.
However, the show’s creators had a unique plan for How I Met Your Mother by adding an interesting mystery in the mix that would keep viewers on the edge of their seats for years to come. That mystery? Finding out the identity of the woman who would eventually become the mother of Ted Mosby’s children. As the story was told from the perspective of an older Ted, fans waited patiently for a decade to find out who the mother was.
The show was an instant success thanks to its intriguing premise, lovable cast of characters, and hilarious use of cut-aways. Despite the overnight phenomenon the show became, it was plagued with setbacks, secrecy, and poorly planned decisions that proved the show had a rocky production.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 15 Dark Secrets Behind How I Met Your Mother.
15. There’s A Deleted Alternate Ending
Some fans were less than pleased when the show’s original ending aired, showcasing the mother passing away thanks to an unknown illness, with the show ending only to show Ted chasing after Robin again. It turns out that there was a deleted alternate ending that had a much more definitive, safer tone.
The deleted alternate ending features Ted telling his children how easy it was to find the mother, giving them essentially a “TL;DR” of the previous nine seasons with visuals depicting each beat accompanying the voiceover. The ending then takes us back to the scene where Ted and Tracy first meet and then ending as the train arrives.
14. Jason Segel’s Smoking Was Too Much
Jason Segel played Marshall Eriksen who was married to Alyson Hannigan’s Lily Aldrin, so naturally, they shared a few on-screen kisses together during their tenure on the show. However, Segel was an avid smoker who would light up between takes, which meant that he always smelt and tasted like an ashtray.
Hannigan refused to kiss Segel and asked her co-star to quit smoking, which is a huge ordeal for any long-term smoker. Segel and Hannigan came up with a system where Segel had to pay her $10 for every cigarette smoked, but as one can expect, he ended up having to pay quite a bit. In the end, Segel obliged by quitting smoking. However, his smoke-free life only lasted a year, as he relapsed due to stress.
13. Jennifer Love Hewitt Turned Down The Role Of Robin
Before casting Cobie Smulders in the iconic role of Canadian pop star turned journalist Robin Scherbatsky, the producers initially offered the role to Jennifer Love Hewitt. Hewitt passed on playing Robin, deciding to star in another CBS project, The Ghost Whisperer, which failed to even replicate half the success of HIMYM.
One of the reasons Smulders works so well in the role is because she is Canadian and has aided the writers and producers to get their facts right, but isn’t afraid to roast her country of origin in the process. Beyond that, it would be insane to imagine the role of Robin being played by someone as famous as Hewitt, because it would more than certainly be distracting and take away from the complexity of Robin’s character.
12. Neil Patrick Harris Wanted To Ban Britney Spears From Set
Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney, was really proud of the show and its content, but he believed it was selling out when the sitcom decided to have Britney Spears film multiple guest appearances. Spears famously played a receptionist who fell in love with Barney Stinson after a brief fling with him.
Harris believed that the only reason Spears was brought on was to draw in more viewers, which would only be beneficial to the higher-ups – not the fans. He believed that adding more guests stars for the sake of guest stars would only make the show and its comedy suffer, resulting in viewers dropping off in the long-term.
11. Alicia Silverstone Dropped The Role Of Stella Because of Britney Spears
Apparently, Neil Patrick Harris isn’t the only one who had an issue with Britney Spears being in the show. Alicia Silverstone, best remembered as Cher from the ’90s classic Clueless, was originally slated to play Stella, the dermatologist who would date Ted over the course of the show’s fourth season.
However, Silverstone bowed out of the role because she and her reps feared that she would be overshadowed by Britney Spears, who would be playing Stella’s assistant. It turns out that Spears was much more important to the show as her star power could easily boost the show’s rating.
10. Cobie Smulders Battled Cancer During The Show
How I Met Your Mother is a show that has dealt with tragedy and illness in a respectful and nuanced way, but it’s heartbreaking to know that some of the show’s fictional woes steeped into reality as well. Well into the show’s prime, Cobie Smulders was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2008. Just 25 at the time, Smulders didn’t reveal her battle with ovarian cancer until the show was over – when she was 36.
Smulders cited spreading awareness for the disease and helping others get through such a tumultuous time when asked why she decided to reveal her diagnosis. Smulders was cancer-free two years later, after surgery and therapy, and currently has two daughters with her husband.
9. Josh Radnor Is Allergic To Robin’s Dogs
Josh Radnor is, by all means, a great actor, but just like the rest of us, he suffers from allergies that affected his performance. The reason his allergies are so prominent is that he would eventually date Robin – a woman who has an almost unhealthy obsession with dogs. It turns out that the show’s creators had no idea that Radnor was allergic to dogs until after he was cast.
Seeing as he would be spending a bunch of time with Robin and her dogs, paramedics were on set just in case Radnor had a severe reaction. Many fans were left confused when Robin’s dogs disappeared from the show’s narrative in season 2, but it turns out that they were written out because of Radnor’s allergies, which clears up one loose end.
8. Yellowface Controversy
One of the biggest missteps of the show happened in season 9, when the show was criticized for its portrayal of Asian people and the use of Yellowface. Focusing on Marshall traveling to Asia to learn how to give Barney the best (or depending on how you see it, the worst) slap of his life, the episode “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra” featured the main cast dressing up in stereotypical Asian get-ups with yellowface and fake mustaches.
While the creators meant no harm, citing the episode as an unabashed, immature, love-letter to Kung-Fu films, many were shocked and appalled at the show’s blatant racism towards Asian audience members. The creators later apologized, realizing why the joke didn’t land as well as they would have hoped.
7. There Have Been 3 Failed Spin-Offs
Hoping to catch lightning in a bottle again, CBS and the show’s creators attempted to create a spin-off that was told from the perspective of another mother. The show, titled How I Met Your Dad, would be set in another bar and focus on a different cast of characters, which included Oscar nominee Greta Gerwig, who would play the mother. Meg Ryan was slated to play the older mother. Unfortunately, the pilot was never picked up.
Another spin-off, titled How I Met Your Father, was conceived of in 2016, but no pilot was shot and the show was eventually abandoned. However, the idea didn’t stay dead for too long, as just last year, the idea was brought up once again, this time under a different crew. As of now, nothing has come out of the spin-off, and the show will most likely never come to fruition.
6. Josh Radnor Was Sued For His Big Deck
Being rich and famous does mysterious things to those who want a big deck, because after all, who doesn’t want one? Josh Radnor was sued over his house having a huge deck. The lawsuit stated that the previous owner had the right to extend into the neighbor’s property if they maintained the walkaway and a wall, which Radnor clearly didn’t care for.
Radnor didn’t care for the rules and knocked over the wall, which in turn extended his deck, making it extend to the neighbor’s property. After refusing to tear down the deck, Radnor was sued for not adhering to the previously agreed upon rules. It turns out that How I Met Your Mother money and fame doesn’t allow you to play architect whenever you’d like.
5. Jason Segel Hasn’t Seen The Finale & Alyson Hannigan Didn’t Like It
When asked what he thought about the show’s controversial ending, Jason Segel recently revealed that he still hasn’t seen the show’s series finale. Segel explained that he still knows what the ending is and how it was executed, but just isn’t interested in seeing it in motion, especially because he wants the show to live on in his own mind.
Meanwhile, on the other end of the spectrum, Alyson Hannigan isn’t shy about her distaste towards the show’s finale. She thought the finale was too confusing for viewers and moved at a brisk pace. She specifically called out how the finale just simply brushed through poignant moments like nothing. She also wasn’t the biggest fan of seeing Barney Stinson getting married either.
4. Neil Patrick Harris’ Disrespectful Cake
Halloween is a fun, spooky time, and Neil Patrick Harris has recently become an icon for the holiday. Every year, he and his family dazzle the world with their impressive, intricate Halloween costumes that put all of our store-bought costumes to shame. That being said, Harris has also had a few Halloween duds on his hands as well.
For a particular Halloween, Harris made a cake depicting the corpse of Amy Winehouse with her face bloody, and a cigarette in her mouth. Beside the cake lay a note saying “The Corpse of Amy Winehouse”, as if the cake itself wasn’t haunting enough. After facing backlash, Harris apologized for creating the cake. It turns out that Harris couldn’t have his cake and eat it too.
3. The Kids Had To Keep The Real Mother’s Identity A Secret For 9 Years
Unlike what many fans thought, the controversial ending was planned since the beginning. David Henrie, who plays Ted’s son, revealed that he and his on-screen sister Lyndsey Fornesca have known the show’s ending for 9 years. Both stars were made to sign N.D.A’s to protect the show’s ending.
Not knowing how long the show would be on the air, the creators decided to film all the shots with the kids during the end of season 1 so they always looked the same. A majority of the footage was just reaction shots, but the last few bits where they speak were pivotal to the show. It’s a miracle that both stars didn’t spill the beans, because it would’ve been catastrophic and could’ve cost them quite a bit in legal fees.
2. Victoria Would’ve Been The Mother If The Show Got Canceled
With a show that’s so heavily focused on mystery and dropping hints, it’s no surprise that the show’s creators had a contingency plan if the show was ever canceled prior to the last season. It turns out that they would have thrown out the original ending if they weren’t able to fully flesh out the roles of Ted and Robin in time, as well as their rocky relationship.
The mother would’ve been fan favorite Victoria, who was introduced to audiences in season 1 at a wedding. It was clear right off the bat that Ted and Victoria were perfect for each other, but alas, the show had to move on. It is comforting to know that the creators were gracefully planning each step and had a plan for every mishap if it were to happen.
1. Neil Patrick Harris Was The Highest Paid Actor On The Show
Despite not being the main character on the show, Neil Patrick Harris earned the most out of all of his co-stars. Harris was the most famous and bankable when the show started airing, which is why his salary began above all of his fellow actors. As the show continued to rise in popularity and his tenure grew, his salary rose just like his co-stars, but he was never eclipsed.
Neil Patrick Harris made about $210,000 per episode while his costars made about $120,000 per episode. Barney Stinson was one of the most popular and quotable characters from the show, so it made sense that the creators had to keep Harris happy with his large paycheck. The only star who was able to get close to his salary was Jason Segel.
Do you have any dark trivia to share about How I Met Your Mother? Leave it in the comments!
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