How I Met Your Mother
CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler is "optimistic" about a ninth season of How I Met Your Mother — and so are the show's creators.
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"We're optimistic too," co-creator and co-executive producer Craig Thomas tells TVGuide.com. "We're all on the edge of our seats waiting to see what will happen with these negotiations. We're hopeful we'll get an answer because obviously that'll affect the story one way or the other quite a bit. The thing is we want to give the fans the proper conclusion to this that they've earned for sticking with us. We had our highest-rated season in Season 7 and that's all because of the fans. They've stuck with us and we want to make sure we know in time that it's the end so we can give them the proper wrap-up that they deserve."
What will that wrap-up entail? How — and how much — would a ninth season affect the upcoming eighth season? Get the scoop from Thomas and director Pamela Fryman below.
It sounds like everyone's on board for a Season 9 and it's just a matter of business loose ends.
Fryman: We have no reason to think otherwise. Everybody loves the show and loves doing the show. We're crossing our fingers that it works out.
Thomas: We'd love to keep telling the story. We have a cool plan to do so. If we wrap it up in Season 8, that's also gonna be amazing. We hope we know soon and we possibly can't know soon enough.
Would Season 9 be the final season or are you leaving the door open for Season 10, which would end in May 2015 and we know Ted will have his daughter by the end of the calendar year?
Thomas: That's very, very true! A lot of my favorite all-time shows went 10 seasons. We tell a different kind of story than say, like, Cheers. Do I think we can keep the show strong for 10 seasons? I think we could, but I have no idea if we could possibly go that far.
How far into the season can you plan before you have to know?
Thomas: We're picking up where we left off in May. Not too far after that, we divide our board of 24 episodes into quarters. One through six we know. Seven through 12, we're good for some of that. Somewhere along there, there are really two roads diverging in the woods — to quote my man Robert Frost — and look, we need to know which road to pursue. We'll have to execute one track or another, or prepare to do both. But there will be a moment where you have to activate the launch sequence on what's the end of the series. ... It's the final sequence of the entire series and we have to know in time. I sound so military describing this. "The launch codes have gotten lost!"
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You said there is a "gasp" moment you want to include in the premiere if it is the final season.
Thomas: We're doing that moment anyway. You reach a point where creativity and logistics collide in a fantastical explosion. By that, I mean you have to build sets. [Laughs] People have to get hammers and nails and build sets. The cool thing is we came up with a way to begin Season 8 on an enormous "gasp" moment at the end and get further into the mythology of the series. We get a glimpse of something huge and crazy. It's a flash-forward to Barney and Robin's wedding day where we go further into that day than we ever have before and we show you more information than we ever have before.
About the mother?
Thomas: I can't say.
Fryman: But it's very, very lovely. My jaw dropped when I found out. It's gonna be great.
Thomas: It's a real "you get a chill from it" kind of moment. We're building the biggest and coolest set we've ever built. We're doing something pretty amazing that feels fitting to how close to the end of the series we are. We're going big in the premiere. ... We show you a moment and some new information that I hope will make fans feel really, really satisfied and also really, really curious.
You have a Plan A and a Plan B depending on if this is the last season. Does that affect how we meet the mother? Is Plan B the courtship if there's a Season 9?
Thomas: It's so funny. There are really strong opinions on both sides. ... We know exactly how it's gonna end. There's Plan A and Plan B, but it doesn't affect the very end. It doesn't affect how we're gonna end the series; it affects how we get to the end and the exact sequence that approaches the end. The end has always been the end. We've shot a piece of the end with the kids years ago. I would go as far to say we've shot 30 seconds of the last minute. The kids are, respectively, 43 and 47 years old right now. [Laughs]
The premiere has Ted (Josh Radnor) making Victoria (Ashley Williams) turn around and leave Klaus a "Dear John" letter. How does that go?
Thomas: I mean, leaving a letter is just Runaway Bride 101. And Ted Mosby is a man with a lot of heart and a lot of conscience, and he was left at the altar too ... It ends with something unexpected. Ted and Victoria's story ends in what I hope is a shocking twist — and that's not the "gasp"!
But they'll continue to date?
Thomas: They date for a little while and then break up. I mean, we all know she's not the mother. We're not trying to milk that suspense out of it. We're trying to play the wheel of everyone having that one last door in their romantic life that needs to be closed before they're really ready to move on. Victoria was a really serious relationship that Ted absolutely screwed up. We're gonna see him close that door and that's when he's really ready to meet the mother.
Will Ted go after other women after Victoria and before meeting the mother?
Thomas: Yes, there will be at least one other relationship for Ted, but a very different character. Victoria's the last big emotional door. Ted will need to make one other enormous mistake before meeting the mother. There's one last terrible mistake.
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How terrible is this? Is this like a Zoey mistake?
Thomas: We're not gonna ask the audience to fall in love with someone again because we know she's not the bride. This will just be a crazy last little bizarre left turn, like a fling that needs to be flung. It's gonna be very funny and fun.
Robin (Cobie Smulders) has Michael Trucco again. I hope he gets a name other than "Crush."
Thomas: [Laughs] You will learn his name in the premiere! The biggest mystery of the series will be answered! As we near the end, we have to pay off our promises. One of them was this. He's coming back. We're all huge BSG dorks, so Michael Trucco will hate us by the end. He's great. We got a little glimpse of him before. He's the final hurdle for Robin and will sort of lead her back to Barney. There are a lot of final hurdles for everyone.
Fryman: And there's a theme for October for all these hurdles and relationships.
Thomas: All the fans know where Ted, Robin and Barney are going. So we're calling October "Breakup Month." It's basically a relationship slasher movie. It's a horror movie, like Friday the 13th around Crystal Lake and Jason's coming around with a machete. You're gonna see exactly how the relationships implode in a span of four weeks. It's just the most disastrous month you'll see. It's a relationship bloodbath. Tune in if you like to see crap implode all over!
What's the order in which they all fall apart? Do Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Quinn (Becki Newton) break up first?
Thomas: I can't say. We already know it'll be a disaster, but the exact sequence in which they break up is important. How the last couple breaks up is important and leads to something big for all of the characters. It's planned out in a very specific way. I can't say who initiates each breakup. Episode 2 airs Oct. 1 and Episode 6 airs Oct. 29. November sweeps will be even crazier! November will have some heartfelt, poignant things happening.
So this will be a very brief happy engagement for Barney and Quinn.
Thomas: Unfortunately. They're still engaged when we pick up. And Becki may or may not be cast on another series. It's like a very Tyler Durden kind of moment where you're fighting with yourself about managing an actor. We had to figure out how much of Becki Newton we can use. We don't drag it out too long since we know they're not getting married.
Will Barney and Robin date more people after their breakups?
Thomas: I cannot say because we don't want to say exactly when Barney and Robin get together, when they get engaged and when they get married. And we're waiting to hear on certain things ourselves.
How will Marshall (Jason Segel) and Lily (Alyson Hannigan) continue to be part of the group now that they have Marvin?
Thomas: They're most concerned with, "How do we keep drinking beer now that we're parents?" Lily has to figure out, "Do I wanna go back to work or not?" In some ways, Barney, Ted and Robin have been Marshall and Lily's kids. Marshall and Lily have been the stable center all these years and there's gonna be a little sibling rivalry. Those guys are gonna be a little jealous of Marvin. ... But we're gonna see the best couple on TV become the best parents on TV.
Can we expect any familiar faces or callbacks this year?
Thomas: There's a good one we're hoping to talk about soon.
Fryman: The deal isn't quite done yet. We're hoping to hear soon. It's a really fun character.
Thomas: We actually wanna do an episode before the series ends that's called "What Happened to Everyone Else?" where we'll check in with every important side character on the show. And we'll spend $8 million in our casting budget on bringing everyone back! If this is the last season, our goal is to do that episode. Above and beyond that, there are a couple of characters we're hoping to bring back for an episode or an arc.
We still haven't met Robin's mom.
Thomas: Yeah, we're talking about that. We've also talked about bringing her dad (Ray Wise) back. We're talking about an episode where Robin and Barney meet each other's dads. That's kind of a half-formed idea. I think deep-down, Robin's dad is troublingly similar to Barney. [Laughs] I think that guy suits up, I think he buys a lot of expensive things, I think he's very sleek and cold a la Cameron's parents in Ferris Bueller. But no guarantees about which parents are coming back.
The Slap Bet clock counts down to Nov. 22, which is Thanksgiving.
Thomas: Does it, now? You already know too much. But if that's what it says...
Season 8 of How I Met Your Mother premieres Monday, Sept. 24 at 8/7c on CBS. The How I Met Your Mother soundtrack, featuring original songs from the show, will be released on iTunes on the same day.