'How I Met Your Mother' boss Craig Thomas talks weddings, Ted's dating future, and the scene that made the crew cry


Image Credit: Cliff Lipson/CBS

How I Met Your Mother fans are likely not yet recovered from Monday’s season finale. I’m not, at least. And after you read our Q&A with executive producer Craig Thomas, in which he talks about the finale and what to expect from next season (Robin and Barney!?!), you’ll probably be left wanting new episodes of Mother more than you already do. Sorry in advance. Hey, at least we suffer through this hiatus together.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First, that wedding. You’re pretty cruel leaving it there. But I love that you’re going there with Barney. How did you decide that?
CRAIG THOMAS: Well it was really fun this season to see Barney looking forward a little bit. This is a guy who’s kind of trapped in one mode all his adult life of just being awesome and legendary and a horrible womanizer. It meant a lot to him to reconnect with his father and see another possible future, someone genetically related to him who found contentment in family life. It got under his skin a little bit. That wedding is taking place at an indeterminate time in the future that we are being incredibly and annoyingly vague about — but we can’t quite tell anybody exactly when that’s happening. Barney Stinson, for the first time in his life, is looking into the future and going, “Maybe there is something more out there for me than what I’ve done.” So it’s fun to write, and I will say this: The premiere of season 7 starts off at the same future wedding where we learn a little bit more, though I can’t say exactly what we learn cause that one doesn’t air until September. We just learned one half of the equation in the finale, that it’s Barney, and we don’t know who the other person is, but in season 7 we’ll — I can’t say exactly when or how — but we will obviously learn the other half the that equation in season 7. For sure.

The whole Punchy fake-out that you all planted in there was so incredibly clever. I know you fooled a lot of people.
We wanted to have a couple red herrings in there. Of course, there’s always the possibility that Barney is marrying Punchy. I can’t confirm or deny. But I’ll just say it: It’s true, he is.

[Laughs] No, he’s not marrying Punchy. We wanted to have a couple possibilities, different ways that it could go, and that was definitely a fake-out. Part of the art of series television is faking out the audience a little bit and frustrating them a little bit but also rewarding them. We hope that seeing one half of who’s actually getting married is a reward and that people want to see exactly how Barney got there and who the hell he’s marrying.

And this is where Ted meets the mother, though, right? At Barney’s wedding?
Absolutely. We’re not trying to pull any funny math on that one. That is actually as we set it up in the premiere of [season] 6. That is where Ted meets the mother — at Barney’s wedding. That is the day that he meets her.

The mother fake-out was also funny. But why no more little nuggets there about her in this finale?
You know what’s funny? We shot a little extra piece for our season 6 DVD that won’t come out until next September, and that actually does have an extended scene in it. So in a sense, the episode will have something that’s a little bit of a mother clue, but only on the DVD. The season finale is more about Ted getting closure on season 6 than it was about planting mother clues. But we come right back in season 7 and get much more on that track.

Since you brought up Ted, where are hoping to take him now?
We’re on an earlier writing schedule. Usually this is when we take our hiatus, but we stayed up in business and just kept writing to get into season 7, and later in the summer, we’ll take a little time off before we come back. So we’re already kind of writing it. Basically, at the top of the season, the condition for Ted is that he’s back out there dating, and one thing we’re discovering is how much we miss doing some fun Ted romantic looking-for-love stories because he was very much with Zoey from episode 5 to episode 24. She was there complicating both his professional life and personal life, and that was fun and gave us a love of good material. But it’s nice to have Ted back on track. The way season 7 opens is that Ted is kind of on a hot streak. Ted has been profiled in New York Magazine as the youngest architect to ever design a skyscraper in New York City, because with Zoey gone, Ted will be free and clear to build his building, which is huge for a 33-year-old-architect. It’s unheard of huge to be doing that. So Ted’s on a high and confident and the ladies are liking him and he realizes, “You know what? This is great, but I really miss the feeling of being in love.” So season 7 kind of gets Ted back on that path and back out there and recommitted to that journey, which is nice.

I like single, dating Ted. 
I know, and I really liked doing the story we did this season in terms of Ted’s work life and how that got complicated with Barney and Marshall, and his love life and his work life intersecting. It was nice, in a sense, to take a little bit of a detour and do that. But already just putting together the first few episodes of season 7, our show is at its strongest when it’s about Ted dating and this group of friends helping him and supporting him in his journey. So it’s feeling really good writing season 7 so far.

I have to ask about that cab scene between Barney and Robin. That was incredible.
It’s actually one of the best scenes, I think, of season 6. One of my favorites, anyway. There’s such a chemistry between Barney and Robin and a lot of fans were bummed out that Barney and Robin weren’t together longer, and that their relationship ended the way it did. It felt a little abridged to them. The whole time, we knew that that wasn’t the end of the feelings between Barney and Robin. So we were always sort of coy in our responses to answers about that from critics because we knew that it wasn’t the end. I think that the finale sets up that it’s not the end of these feelings between Barney and Robin, and I can say that in season 7, we will see that come up in a very complicated and fun way.

So sneaky. But as a Barney/Robin fan, I can’t tell you how thrilled I am.
You’re gonna like season 7. I don’t want to say exactly how or when any of it comes back up, or if it will go anywhere. But it was really fun shooting the cab scene in the finale cause you’re just reminded that you care so much about the two of them. If you’ve been watching the show all these years, you love the chemistry between the two of them and you care so much. Watching it get shot, I felt like a fan of the show. I felt like, “Oh man, I want to see more of that. I want to see more of that chemistry.” It’s all of a 45-second scene in the back of a cab. Those two are good together. Definitely moved everyone watching it on stage as we shot it.

So that must be fun for you, to have those moments where you can still feel like a fan of the show.
I just think our cast is so great that I find myself watching it as we shoot it sometimes feeling like a fan, which is a great gift. The writers and Carter and I have to think so much about it analytically that it’s great to remember, essentially, that you just have to write it like a fan and try to write what you’d like to see. I know there are a lot of fans who wanted to see more from Barney and Robin, and to them I would say, stay tuned for season 7.

So you were renewed for two years. Are you operating under the assumption that you’re done after two years or are you thinking beyond that?
I don’t know. There’s really no way to tell yet but all our actors are contracted through that time and so are we so for right now we have to write it as though that’s what it is. We know we got two more for sure, but there is something nice to be later in the series to get to speed up where these characters are all going and where they’ll all end up at the end of the series, where ever that may be.

It’s all about progression.
Progression, yeah. We were pitching a show about a narrator looking backwards when we pitched the pilot in the room with the CBS executives. I think we said it’s like The Wonder Years for your late 20s/early 30s, because essentially that is another adolescence when you’re not quite grown up yet and you’re a little bit in between and it is a show about growing up and evolving in that time in your life and I think it would be dishonest not to show the characters all moving ahead. It would be too limiting to leave them all exactly where they started.

And lastly, there’s a baby Lily Pad coming! Or Baby Marshmallow, it could be either. I could hug you for doing that.
When we decided to have Marshall lose his father this season, we knew the only way we could do that is if there was the happiest possible ending to this season and that comes in the form of Lily being pregnant. You know where Lily comes in and tells Marshall that she’s pregnant and they start hugging and crying? Well, I looked around and I saw various people on our crew, all men, I think, crying. And it was such a jubilant moment, and you realize how much you needed that moment to end the season where there’s been a lot of darker moments than we usually play.

You had so many game-changers this season. What’s up your sleeve for season 7?
I think November sweeps of season 7, which we’ve already planned out, I think each episode is gonna end with something utterly mind-blowing, so I’m really excited. That’s one of the things about getting later in the series run, you can start calling some bigger plays and moving the larger story, the larger arc, down the field and at a faster rate, and it’s exciting. I will say that there is some very, very interesting Barney and Robin stuff coming up for the first half of season 7, but I don’t want to say anything more than that.

(Maggie Pehanick contributed to this report)

Follow Sandra on Twitter: @EWSandraG

Read more:
‘How I Met Your Mother’ finale: Guess who’s getting married!

Comments (68 total) Add your comment
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  • James

    8 or 9 seasons seems like as long a series can stay fresh without its characters becoming caricatures, but it seems like with the progression, as you called it, of the characters, there’s not as big a chance of them becoming caricatures, because they’re changing, and the writers aren’t afraid to change them. Its when a show and the people on it stay the same year after year that a show can get very very stale. I know some people don’t want to wait two more seasons to meet the mother, I don’t really want to wait that long either, but I’ll keep watching the show no matter what.

    • Daily

      Indeed…hopefully they’ll end this after the two seasons. I can’t imagine Jason Segal wanting this to continue after that.

      • Jon

        I am hoping for 10 that seems like the right length for a good show

      • katie

        Yeah, I’ve read that Jason reportedly wants out after Season 8 to concentrate on movies. It will be interesting to see how they wrap it up – does it end with Ted meeting the mother, or does he meet her sooner and have some time with her?

    • sarah

      I agree. I love the show, but something based on how you met the kids’ mother really can’t last 10 years. It’s an amazing story besides Ted, but Ted’s the driving factor and it really is a story that needs to have an end point, you know?

    • Jerome

      Barney has been a caricature since Season 2. The same goes for Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. They are no different than Fonzie was on Happy Days, over the top and unbelievable. Remember when Barney hired a bunch of strangers to play his family, I’m assuming he rented the house they pretended to live in too, gimme a break. That’s only one example. I could give you more but my point is the character of Barney has jumped the shark.

      • Dana

        Um, I don’t think you payed very close attention to that episode. The house in question is where Barney’s real mom lives. The actors who play his family live wherever and only join him on days he goes to visit his real mom.

  • Karate Pants

    “we miss doing some fun Ted romantic looking-for-love stories because he was very much with Zoey from episode 5 to episode 24″

    • Rich

      Yes… from ep. 5 to ep. 24 of THIS season.

      • Darrin

        But he wasn’t really WITH her the entire season, as the quote would seem to suggest. She was still married to someone else until later in the season.

  • Liv

    I know I cried when Lily told Marshall she was pregnant. The look on his face. It was such a rough year and even though it was completely obvious from the start of the episode, it still had a huge emotional impact. Yay Barney and Robin! Go team Swarkles!

    • tito

      I’m a dude, and I’m going to admit, both the cab scene and when Lily tells Marshall she’s pregnant touched me a little. I can’t wait til September. Team Swarkles, LMAO.

  • pie thrower

    This show is officially terrible. Neil Patrick Harris is on a much grander scale in terms of talent versus the other actors on this show.

    The finale consisted of nothing but diarhea and vomit jokes leading to a charcter being pregnant followed by a tacked on incomplete cliffhanger. I could care less about who Barney is marrying or who the mother is any longer.

    If I want a poop/doody joke in the future, I’ll just turn to “How I Met Your Mother.” That’s all the value this program has any longer.

    EW should just exhaust it’s journalistic resources elsewhere. The hype this show gets is so much more than it deserves.

    • tito

      Go throw your pies elsewhere. Why do you even bother reading this article?

      • pie thrower


        to answer your question, I used to be fond of this show. Now I’m insulted at the time I wasted on this program.

        Tell me you can seriously go back and watch this show again. I promise you will feel like you were sucked in just like I did when I used to watch those “very special episodes” of “The Facts Of Life” and “Blossom.”

        Neil Patrick Harris deserves better material and the writers deserve to be put out of work. Their material lacks any substance or dimension. Case in point: Lily will throw up every time she appears in the episode. Hey writers…ya got anything else????

      • Karate Pants

        To be fair, pie thrower has a point.
        Marshall planning his day around some arbitrary diarrhea/barf countdown was weird. But not as weird as the assertion that Lily had it coming out of both ends…when she was supposed to be pregnant.
        That whole mess was sorta weak.

      • Amy

        Marshall never said she had it coming out of both ends, the rest of the gang just assumed it because Marshall said she had food posioning. We only ever saw Lily vomit. Okay, really gross and weird discussion.

      • Karate Pants

        Agree that it’s a gross and weird discussion. lol
        But when Marshall himself was expecting it from both ends because he ate what Lily ate, that’s what I think was sorta sloppy. Pun intended.

      • pie thrower

        Hey it might be a gross discussion but look who instigated it…the writers of HIMYM!!!!!

      • canaryyellow

        pie thrower, how i met your mother is a strong series. You can claim it’s weak all you want. In reality, the core of the show is something that people can relate to. The finale wasn’t an amazing finish, but it stirred the pot of conversation. It’s about progression as the writers said. It will be your loss if you stop watching it now

    • gobruins

      I think the series is good but sometimes it does get a little annoying…i really dont like robin…i think she is a horrible actress…i love all the other characters or actors and being from minnesota i think its cool that marshall is from minnesota and talks about stuff that actually goes on in mn and actually towns in the state…sounds lame but whatever…good show all around and i will continue to watch it and i even watch the reruns…

  • AJ

    you’re right…now I want more episodes. like, right now.

    Also, I know everyone wants barney and robin to end up together, but I’d rather they not. I’m a huge fan of the show and love the two of them, but I hope Barney ends of with Nora and Robin ends up with either Don or that guy from the bar this season that she lied to about being engaged, that guy is supposed to pop back up right?

    • katie

      I definitely want Barney and Robin together.

      But I predict that Barney will be with Nora for a bit this upcoming season and Robin will be with the guy from the bar/clothing store. Then something will happen and they end up together.

  • Brian Cantor

    ” The season finale is more about Ted getting closure on season 6 than it was about planting mother clues. But we come right back in season 7 and get much more on that track.”

    Is he serious? They said this EXACT thing last year–that season 6 was about getting back on track with the narrative.

    • kate middleton

      You’re right. I remember reading an interview with Thomas or Bays this time last year about how they were tired of Ted having a date of the week storyline and he needed a longer term thing, so they were “getting back on track” with that. LOL.

      For what it’s worth, I’d rather Ted just have random dates than a crap girlfriend like Zoey. She was insufferable. Although Ted is pretty insufferable himself, so perhaps they were a good fit.

  • Amy

    I love how this show has evolved to becoming a show about the characters growing up and looking at becoming the adults they will be for the rest of their lives. The situations they find themselves in are very real. Maybe it is because I am in that stage of life. Also, even though we didn’t get specifics, at least we got concrete answers on when and where we would meet the bride and the mother. Thanks!

    • Kirsten

      They’re in their thirties. I think they’re past the growing up stage. I know we all ‘grow up’ all the time, in a sense, but it’s not like these characters are in their 20s. And two more seasons is long enough. Probably too long, but I hope they don’t try to stretch it any further.

      • igotsopinions

        Actually it’s pretty accurate for a lot of people of this generation. Because of the necessity of a higher education people aren’t really starting “adulthood” until their early thirties.

        It’s an odd dynamic for generation Y – half of us are established in our mid twenties and then the other half is moving in a much slower pace – buying houses later, marrying later, and having babies later. This is probably due to being substantially in debt with school bills. The ones who are lucky enough to have their parents cover the bills get to start life sooner.

      • James

        I’ve known too many people in their 30s to agree with you. How old are you? If you’re in your late 20’s, you’re probably offended because you have the desire to be finished with stupidity after you hit 30. If you’re in your 30s, you’re deluding yourself into thinking that people your age are finished growing up. =)

      • Elizabeth

        I’m almost 27 and I still don’t feel “grown up” yet. I don’t think it’s something you feel like you are until you start having a family. If it’s just you (and significant other), the responsibilities don’t seem as big and you tend to have “more fun.” I think Ted is ready to “grow up” but can’t seem to achieve it.

  • Daw Johnson

    I don’t like that EW is encouraging the show, as if the Barney reveal was some great, unexpected twist.

    I didn’t like the finale at all, but it’s okay if you did. However, treating this twist like the equivalent of the season 3 Lost finale is *INSANE*. Who thought the GROOM would be anybody *BUT* Barney?

    • McNulty

      Thank you! People are treating the “Who is the mother?” revelation as though it is an intricately plotted mystery akin to “What is the island?” or “Who killed Laura Palmer?” The mother will be someone introduced in the final season, proving to be the love of Ted’s life.

      HIMYM is a decent, occasionally profound, sit-com. It isn’t LOST. It isn’t Fringe. It isn’t Life on Mars. It’s about character growth, not cliffhangers.

      • Eddie

        I believe “the goat” would strongly disagree with you about cliffhangers. And the tastiness of paper.

      • Ethan

        profound sitcom? lol
        This season was just as bad as the last, with Zoey dragging Ted’s character down. I don’t know anyone who actually enjoyed her character. It was pointless and annoying. There is no growth in Ted’s character.

      • Ace

        Eddie FTW. (And washcloths, too, Eddie!)

  • Adam Siebenmorgan

    I think the show is really going somewhere. I love the show! I do want Barney and Robin to get back together.

  • Adam Siebenmorgan

    I think Barney should get married.
    Of course we are all gonna miss the Barney we have all known for years. But all good things must come to an end.

  • M

    Am I the only person that thinks Robin is a grating, annoying character and that Barney deserves better? They were cute at first, but I think Robin has become really unlikeable. I, for one, am hoping for Barney and Nora.

    • kate middleton

      I’m the opposite. I used to dislike Robin at first, but she’s grown on me a lot. I can see how some people may not like her though.

      I don’t get Nora – I feel like we know nothing about her and I don’t understand why we would be invested in her and Barney being together.

    • KC

      Future Ted always refers to Uncle Barney and Aunt Robin when talking to the kids…which tells me that Barney and Robin end up married.

      • CK

        I love Robin! She is my favorite character because she comes off effortlessly funny and as someone you’d want to be friends with– remember the Marshall’s dad funeral and she was the go-to girl for pick-me-ups. I do think she needs to get a better storyline though than getting crushed romantically. If she and Barney get together, I want him to go after her!

      • Big Walt

        Why would that necessarily mean they are married to each other? If Ted had kids right now he would be Uncle Barney and she would be Aunt Robin. It doesn’t have anything to do with their relationship to each other it’s each of them’s relationship to Ted.

      • Big Walt

        And I swear they said at one point that she marries Don (or whatever her ex-boyfriend, ex-coanchor’s name was)?

  • D

    Am I the only one who wants Robin to have a really amazing career as a journalist before she marries anyone? I want her to work in Milan and Paris-isn’t that what she was promised at the end of season 2 when Ted and Robin broke up?

  • AH

    i think theres a strong possibility that barney ends up marrying nora based on the fact that, if it had been robin, wouldnt lily be the bridesmaid, and did she look like a bridesmaid? no i mean seriously, did she look like a bridesmaid?

    • kate middleton

      Yes, Lily did look like a bridesmaid. She had a pink dress and matching pink shoes (the exact same color). I don’t think she’d wear that if she wasn’t a bridesmaid.

  • Doris

    First, I’d like to see Ted meet the mother soon and go through courtship, engagement, wedding planning, etc. I want Robin to be with someone other than Ted, preferably Sandy Rivers (I LOVE Alexis Denisov) or the bar guy (I love Michael Trucco). I really couldn’t care less about Barney. And who says there’s only one bridesmaid?

    • Doris

      Oops, I meant someone other than Barney. I hate that heartless lecher.

  • Raina

    Lost regained a lot of it’s momentum once it knew when it was ending and could plan accordingly. It’s extremely rare when a show can plan out it’s ending well in advance, and while I would miss it, I think two more years to get to the appropriate end point is perfect.

    • Ann

      Yes, Lost regained momentum…too bad the writers had no clue what to do with the story. All they ended up doing was creating more questions without answers. What’s the deal with that dumb mirror the peared into the lives of the islanders? The Lost narrative is the biggest failure I have ever witnessed. It was good and full of suspense when it was on the air, but the lack of narration to end the series ruined it for me, especially since the writers knew exactly when the show would end. Let’s hope the writers of HIMYM are better than that and know how to end the narrative of this story without adding dumb, meaningless questions.

      • Liv

        Totally agreed Ann! I am still very disappointed in the way Lost ended. It had such potential and it just wasted away. I think you can ask “What the deal with…” about dozens if not hundreds of mysteries introduced in Lost over the years. Almost nothing was ever solved. There was no goal, no end game, no realy narrative. It reads like a bunch of writers sitting around a table thinking up stuff that they think is cool and just writing it down, no cohesive story just, ” Hey man what if there’s like a smoke monster that kills people? Yea, that’s righteous.” and “Let’s like do a time travel thing.”

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