Be sure to put Kleenex on your shopping list, How I Met Your Mother fans, because there are only 10 episodes left before we have to say goodbye to our favorite insane, catchphrase-spouting New Yorkers, with the one-hour season finale, titled "Last Forever," on March 31.
The cast and creators of the long-running CBS sitcom helped jump-start the grieving process with a farewell Q&A and reception on the set as part of this year's Winter TCA Press Tour. They gave us a little bit of scoop with a huge helping of nearly tearful nostalgia as they reminisced about the past eight and a half seasons, including a time when renewal wasn't so certain.
"I was always ready for the show to get canceled," said star Jason Segel, "And the fact that we got along so well made it almost a sure thing that we'd be canceled. We really lucked out."
Creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas felt a little differently, according to Bays. "I think during the first two years, there was this crazy naiveté of like, they're not going to cancel us, it's How I Met Your Mother. Come on! The show's so charming!"
Luckily, they were right, and the series went on to even exceed their original intentions. "We knew we had an eight year plan from the pilot," Thomas explained, "We kind of knew how we wanted to end it, and it turned into nine years, which is great, but we were so naïve that it would just keep going."
Even with the extra season, that plan has remained mostly in place. Part of the series finale was even filmed way back around the end of season one, when Ted's (Josh Radnor) kids, played by David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca, could still be considered kids. "It's surreal," said Thomas, "We shot that whole bit with the kids in the fall of 2006, and it's part of the endgame. You'll see it on March 31, and it's really weird to get to that point."
One of the biggest continuing complaints about the series is that it took so darn long to actually meet the titular mother, played by Cristin Millioti, and now that we've met her, we've barely seen her. Bays promises, however, that we will soon be seeing a lot more of her and her relationship with Ted, and that we'll find out why Ted started the story when he did.
"I think we've tried to space it out over the season, like building momentum to how much we're seeing of their relationship," he said when asked about the tone of the mother's appearances going forward, "But we will, in these last few episodes, really tie it all together in a package, and see why their story was worth watching."
The upcoming 200th episode will focus almost entirely on Millioti and the mother's side of the story, and Bays said that while the whole season has been a delight to write, "How Your Mother Met Me" is one that made him think "this is why we're here when we're here."
If you're waiting to hear the Broadway veteran, who was nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Once, show off her impressive singing voice, Bays also promised that there will be a bit of live music coming up this season. After all, it would be a weird season of How I Met Your Mother without any live music.
It would also be a weird season of How I Met Your Mother without some of the show's long-running gags, like the infamous pineapple from the season-one episode, "The Pineapple Incident." Ted already tried and failed once this season to figure out where the pineapple came from, and star Josh Radnor doesn't yet know if the mystery will ever be solved. He does know which gag he'd rather not see again: "There's a fan favorite that I always was mystified by, and just also find to be really uncomfortable, but I'm not a huge fan of the red boots."
While much of the Q&A session was peppered with sex jokes and sarcasm, usually from Segel and Cobie Smulders, the cast, along with Bays, Thomas, and director Pam Fryman, were mostly nostalgic, particularly when asked to praise their fellow actors. Alyson Hannigan told a story of a particularly wonderful scene between her and Segel, when the sound went out on their microphones but they were far too invested in the scene. "Even the way Pam called 'Cut,' it like, hurt her inside," she said. "We were just acting for ourselves," added Segel.
The cast got a little emotional speaking of how they'll try to stay close despite Smulders and Neil Patrick Harris moving to New York after the final episode wraps, but they've still got time. They haven't yet received final scripts, only have a general idea of how the show ends.
Of course, Harris claimed to have cornered Bays and Thomas after a few drinks to demand answers. "They stood there, they told me all of it, and it's more complicated than you would assume. For all of our fans, they will be far from disappointed."
How I Met Your Mother airs Mondays at 8 p.m. on CBS.