Cobie Smulders

With the death of Marshall's father last spring and Robin's recent emotional roller coaster, CBS' How I Met Your Mother has been playing out like a daytime soap, and executive producer Carter Bays says there's more drama ahead next year. "We always try to do that delicate dance between lighthearted comedy and real issues," Carter says. Among the upcoming developments:

• Barney finds romantic stability — likely with a woman named Quinn (Ugly Betty vet Becki Newton) — while Robin and Kevin's "relationship takes some big steps," says Carter.

• Lily's father, Mickey (Chris Elliott), returns for a multi-episode arc.

• Marshall and Lily welcome their baby boy in May.

• We'll again flash forward to the mysterious wedding and the long-awaited revelation of the bride's identity. "In May, we will follow Ted to the bride's dressing room and meet her," promises Carter. "Some monumental things are ahead that will change Ted's life irrevocably and make it a different show going forward. We're going to get into why he's still single. He's going to start realizing some things and exploring some new territory."

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