What is the Secret Origin of Lily Aldrin on How I Met Your Mother?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: There would be no Lily Aldrin on “How I Met Your Mother” had Alyson Hannigan not played her.

As I wrote in a TV Legends Revealed a while back, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the creators of “How I Met Your Mother,” were so unsure about whether they would get picked up for a full first season that they wrote in a “backup” mother in case the show was canceled early. However, the character of Lily Aldrin might not have even made it that far, according to a legend involving Rebecca Alson-Milkman, the wife of show co-creator Craig Thomas.

Bays, Thomas and Alson-Milkman all attended Wesleyan University together in the late 1990s. The main characters in “How I Met Your Mother” of Ted Mosby (the sitcom was about him telling his kids the story of his life leading up to the time he met their mother) and his best friends Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin, were based on the perpetually single Bays (Bays got married in 2011, during the show’s seventh season) and Thomas and Alson-Milkman, who have been a couple since college. As the story goes, Alson-Milkman did not like the idea of having a character based on her and would only agree to it if Alyson Hannigan played her character. Luckily, Hannigan was looking for a comedy after “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” went off the air, so she was, indeed, cast as Lily and the rest is sitcom history.

Or is it? Let’s find out!
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Did How I Met Your Mother Work an Insult of the Show by Star Jason Segel Into an Episode of the Series?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: How I Met Your Mother worked an insult of the show by Jason Segel into the series.

Being a regular on a popular television series is often an interesting double-edged sword for actors. On the one hand, it tends to be extremely lucrative in a profession where being unemployed is much more common that actually having a regular gig. On the other hand, actors sometimes feel as though they are “trapped” working on a regular series, whether because they are not fans of the material or because they feel that their role has changed from when they were originally cast or perhaps just because they prefer the freedom to do other work, like films (one of the most common reasons for actors leaving a popular television series is because they want to go make motion pictures instead). In past TV Legends Revealeds, I have featured the results of such conflicts for actors like Denise Crosby on Star Trek: The Next Generation and Robert Downey Jr. on Ally McBeal. Today we look at the curious case of Jason Segel and How I Met Your Mother. Unlike the other actors, Segel never actually left the series, but his frustrations with the show eventually were worked into the show itself with hilarious effect.

Read on to see how!
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Were There “Back-Up” Mothers on How I Met Your Mother?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: There was at least one back-up Mother in the show How I Met Your Mother.

The CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother concluded its impressive nine-year run earlier this year (its final was one of its highest-rated seasons yet – it ended up as CBS’ second-most popular show in the all-important 18-49 demographic, behind only the ratings juggernaut The Big Bang Theory. If CBS had its druthers, the show likely would have continued for even more seasons).

The show was about a man named Ted Mosby (played by Josh Radnor) who was telling his kids in the year 2030 the (rather long) story about how he met their mother (the narrator telling the story through voiceovers is oddly enough not Radnor, but veteran sitcom actor Bob Saget). At the end of season 8, viewers got to meet the mother, played by Cristin Milioti, and the final season showed flash-forwards of the relationship between Ted and the Mother (their first date, his wedding proposal, the birth of their kids) while we waited to finally see their first meeting in the series finale. Reader Lynn J. wrote in, though, to ask if it was true that the show had a number of other characters originally planned as the titular Mother. Read on to see the answer!
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Did an Episode of “How I Met Your Mother” Contain a REAL Wedding Proposal?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.

TV URBAN LEGEND: An episode of How I Met Your Mother contained an genuine wedding proposal!

How I Met Your Mother is a TV sitcom that is about a man telling his two children the story of the events of his late 20s and most of his 30s that led to him meeting their mother (the show will finish its run next season after nine seasons – quite a long story!).

One significant “obstacle,” of sorts, is that the first two seasons of the show told the story of how the man, Ted (played by Josh Radnor) fell in love with and ended up having a serious relationship with Robin (played by Colbie Smulders). In fact, the big twist of the first episode (really, for the record, just so you know – this is all going to involve plots from How I Met Your Mother – you might want to quit reading if you don’t want to be spoiled) is that right after Ted professes his love for Robin we learn that Robin is categorically NOT the mother from a voiceover by Future Ted.

In any event, at the end of Season Two of the series, Ted and Robin (who had been together since the end of Season One) break up. The incident that incites the break-up is that the two are out to dinner when Robin thinks that Ted is proposing to her via a ring in a glass of champagne.

Here she is freaking out over what she thinks is Ted proposing to her.

In the background are two actors eating dinner.

The male actor stands up and says that no, it was HIS ring.

He takes it from Robin…

And proceeds to go over…

and propose to his date…

It’s a funny enough bit, especially as it establishes that Robin really does NOT want to get married to Ted at this point. However, here’s a twist. That was a REAL proposal!!!
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