Yep, folks, we finally met the mother: Tonight’s How I Met Your Mother revealed actress Cristin Milioti as the show’s titular — and, until now, extremely elusive — character.
The unveiling took place in the final few seconds of the season 8 finale, as Milioti’s yet-unnamed character simply walked up to a Long Island Rail Road ticket booth to purchase one ticket to the fictional Farhampton, presumably to go play in the band at the impending nuptials between Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders). The show didn’t exactly spell out the reveal (casual fans could have missed it), but there was one key to knowing the doe-eyed girl was the mother: the bright yellow umbrella she was holding. That’s the linchpin accessory the show’s narrator and father Ted (Josh Radnor) previously set up as the woman’s signature — and identifying — item.
EW was on set for the filming of the game-changing scene, and scored an exclusive interview with co-creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas. The pair revealed, among many other things, that we likely would have met the mother in May 2013 no matter what: The original plan was for the show to end after just eight seasons (meaning it would have been over…now), with the mother briefly introduced in the series finale. Only after HIMYM was extended to nine seasons did Bays and Thomas make the decision to reveal the mother before the final season — in tonight’s episode. (Though it seems Ted won’t be coming face-to-face with her until much later next season.)
While the scene answered the biggest burning question — who was the woman at the center of the saga that Ted has been reliving for his kids (and viewers) since the show first launched in 2005? — it left us with many, many more: Why do this now? Why didn’t they cast a big, big star? Why wasn’t the mother actually Robin? How was the long-awaited casting kept secret from the show’s incredibly rabid followers? Read on as Bays and Thomas break down the Mother of all reveals.