Relive How I Met Your Dad, the Failed—But Legendary—HIMYM Spinoff Starring Greta Gerwig

Hilary Duff's new Hulu spinoff actually stems from a failed 2014 pilot starring...Greta Gerwig? Relive that and more high-profile TV shows that never were.

By Samantha Bergeson Apr 22, 2021 5:24 PMTags
Watch: Hilary Duff Confirms "Lizzie McGuire" Reboot Is Dead

Ah, a second chance at love—and a spinoff.

For How I Met Your Mother fans, it seems the journey for millennial hopeless romantics hasn't ended just quite yet. On Apr. 21, Hilary Duff confirmed that she will be producing and starring in a HIMYM sequel for Hulu.

Duff's character Sophie—already billed as a female version of lovably neurotic Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor)—tells her son the story of how she met his dad. The series, aptly named How I Met Your Father, is expected to "catapult us back to the year 2021 where Sophie and her close-knit group of friends are in the midst of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and how to fall in love in the age of dating apps and limitless options," according to a series description.

"As a huge fan of How I Met Your Mother, I'm honored and even a little nervous that [creators] Carter Bays and Craig Thomas would trust me with the sequel of their baby," Duff gushed in a press release. "I realize these are big shoes to fill and I'm excited to slip my 6 ½'s in there!"

Yet Duff isn't the first blonde to try to fill those shoes!


How I Met Your Mother: Final Season Guest Stars

Way back in 2014, Greta Gerwig was slated to star in similar spinoff How I Met Your Dad, with Meg Ryan narrating from the future. The series was expected to land at CBS, but executives didn't find the first episode punchy enough."[T]here were elements of the pilot that didn't work out," CBS' Nina Tassler explained at the time. "I'm heartsick. We love this brand and we love this show, but it didn't work out." 

Gerwig's version was centered around Sally, a "female Peter Pan who is on the verge of breaking up with her husband after less than a year of marriage," per a CBS press release. The multitalented star had a producer credit and was planning to additionally write and direct episodes.

By 2017, Gerwig herself was ready to break her silence as to why How I Met Your Dad flopped. "We shot the pilot and it was so much fun!" she told The Late Show host Stephen Colbert. "I loved working on it."

Yet test viewers didn't react well to the ill-fated episode. "The audience, they're given knobs. They turn the knob to the right if they like it and to the left if they don't," Gerwig revealed. "And apparently, they turned the knob to the left every time I came yeah, they didn't like it. At all."

Of course, maybe Gerwig's love affair with How I Met Your Dad just wasn't meant to be. She went on to be Oscar-nominated for Best Director and Best Screenwriter for hit films Lady Bird and Little Women. Gerwig is also currently writing and directing Barbie with partner Noah Baumbach. The highly-anticipated live action film stars Margot Robbie as a Barbie doll expelled from picture-perfect Barbieland for not being perfect enough. Sound familiar? 

Ah well, at least we'll always have the HIMYD trailer to help us imagine the show that could have been. 

While How I Met Your Dad certainly isn't the only A-list pilot that didn't get off the ground, keep scrolling to check out some other TV shows that could have been. 

How I Met Your Dad

While we're happy and all for Hilary Duff's How I Met Your Mother spinoff, let's just say that another famous blonde did it first. Back in 2014, Lady Bird writer-director Greta Gerwig was announced to be starring in CBS spinoff sitcom How I Met Your Dad. The plot would have been a little bit different: instead of dating apps and millennial friend groups at the forefront, Gerwig's main character Sally would be struggling in a loveless marriage and contemplating divorce. The weighty plot line lacked the pep that test audiences were hoping for, and so Gerwig went on to bigger and arguably better (hey, some Oscar nominations don't hurt!) things. 

Lizzie McGuire

Before Hilary Duff landed the new How I Met Your Mother spinoff, she was slated to return to her Disney Channel roots in a highly-anticipated Lizzie McGuire reboot. The first episode was filmed, fans were swooning over set pics, and all of a sudden a showrunner change-up meant the Disney+ series was shelved forever. Seems like our dreams for a Lizzie revival can't even be saved by Paolo's return.

Beverly Hills Cop

Eddie Murphy was supposed to reprise his famed '80s role as Los Angeles detective Axel Foley for the small screen. Seems like the perfect premise for a TV series, right? Wrong. The failed CBS procedural was reportedly deemed "too retro" (is there even such a thing?!), and the network believed Murphy's supporting presence took away from main character Foley's son, played by Brandon T. Jackson.


Back when she was YA gold, Emma Roberts was expected to star in the adaptation of the Delirium sci-fi trilogy. The plot? Love is illegal, and all young would-be lovers are forced to undergo a procedure that makes it impossible for them to feel. It's basically next-level abstinence. Of course Roberts' character dares to fall in love, and must go on the run with her suitor before she's apathetic forever. 

Super Clyde

It's Harry Potter meets Kickass...kind of. Rupert Grint was cast as an awkward fast food worker who has a superhero alter-ego. The sitcom series didn't fly, though.


Lucifer's sultry Tom Ellis would have made the perfect Viktor Frankenstein—or at least that's what the minds behind 2013 pilot Gothica thought. The show was pitched as a Justice League of classic monsters and their hunters, including Van Helsing, Dracula and Dorian Gray. Alas the series hasn't proven to be undead just yet. 

The Corrections

Based off of Jonathan Franzen's bestselling novel, The Corrections was slated to air on HBO and star Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ewan McGregor, Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest. Even better? Franzen and director Noah Baumbach were credited as co-screenwriters. Hopefully whoever is in charge can correct this mistake and bring the famed domestic drama to life onscreen. 


In our fantasies, Aidan has relocated to Los Angeles, given up furniture-making and used his carpentry skills to capture criminals. While the cancelled pilot NCIS LA: Red could have given us all of John Corbett's beachfront glory (surfing! car chases!), the show wasn't meant to be.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Inspired by the Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie movie of the same name, this action series would have been a hit at ABC. Lead stars Jordana Brewster and Martin Henderson had sizzling chemistry in the pilot directed by Doug Liman, but the spinoff didn't pack enough punch to land at a network.

A new pair of married spies are now headed to Amazon, and this time they're played by Donald Glover and Phoebe Waller-Bridge

Heat Vision and Jack

In an out of this world pilot directed by Ben Stiller, an astronaut (Jack Black) gets superpowers after being in an accident. His gift? Seeing a talking motorcycle, voiced by Owen Wilson. It's just trippy enough to be brilliant. 

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