How I Met Your Mother featured a clever joke focusing on a couple in the background of a season 9 episode. Over the course of the nine seasons, there was a slew of Easter eggs and references to expand on funny quips, but the lifecycle gag in the episode "The Rehearsal Dinner" can easily be considered the show's best background work.
The CBS sitcom spent a lot of time establishing the importance of paying attention to small details. The How I Met Your Mother creative team were masters at inserting little references as callbacks to other episodes or using the entire set to further develop jokes. Not every situation centered on a joke, such as the subtle countdown to the death of Marshall's father. The background couple joke, however, stemmed from a lighter tone.
In the How I Met Your Mother season 9 episode, Barney fought hard to convince Robin to hold their rehearsal dinner at a laser tag arena. The gang was totally against the idea but Robin responded by saying how compromise was important in marriage. She then added that she originally wanted to get married in Canada but compromised with doing the ceremony in New York. The comment caused Barney, Ted, Marshall, and Lily to make a handful of Canadian jokes. Robin asked if they were done after a few jokes but they were only getting started. The scene continued as the group took turns making jokes at the expense of Robin's Canadian citizenship but the sequence in the background was what truly pulled the gag together. To explain the amount of time that had passed during the jokes, a couple in the background at McLaren's Pub shared their whole life story.
How HIMYM's Couple In The Background Had An Up-Like Montage
While Robin's friends were joking about Canada, a man and woman were seen sitting at a table behind Ted, possibly on a first date. When the camera panned back to Barney and Robin, the same couple was shown but this time, the man was proposing to the woman. Next, the woman was shown to be pregnant but in the next shot, the couple was celebrating their son's graduation. By the end of the sequence, the woman was shown dressed in black and sitting alone while her husband's urn sat on the table, revealing that he had passed away. Another man then approached to hit on the widow.
Many viewers who noticed the couple in the background had compared the couple to Carl and Ellie from Pixar's Up. The life between this unknown man and woman played out in one sequence, similar to Up's opening montage. Of course, this couple in the background was meant to exaggerate how much time was spent making fun of Robin and Canada. That said, it clearly made the entire scene that much funnier and would justify a reason to rewatch the episode if missed during a previous run-through of How I Met Your Mother.