Here’s How Much of How I Met Your Mother Is Based on a True Story

Despite the odds being against it, How I Met Your Mother became one of the most successful sitcoms of all time, airing on CBS for nine seasons. As a plot-heavy half-hour comedy, critics were skeptical of its ability to keep audiences engaged. The creators knew this, writing contingency plans into the show in case of a sudden cancellation.

Knowing how they wanted the story to end, a long procession of actresses could have played the titular “mother”, which kept the co-stars, and audiences, guessing until the series finale. While the central story of a man telling his children how he met their mom is fictional, even some of the biggest fans of the show don’t realize how many aspects are lifted directly from real life.

The creators of the show, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, are writing partners and old friends, using their experiences living in Chicago together as fodder for the characters in the show. Unlike most other popular series, they even took it a step further, incorporating aspects of the actors’ lives into the script, blurring the lines between fact and fiction.

Whether it’s writing a real actresses’ pregnancy into the show rather than hiding it or making a facsimile of their local bar haunt, Thomas and Bays made a show that was so successful, perhaps because viewers could connect with the authenticity of it. Read on to discover which elements were real, and which were totally made up.

Cobie Smulders Is Actually Canadian

Cobbie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother

Many of the jokes in the show hinge on the fact that Robin hails from Canada. What few realize, though, is that the actress who plays her, Cobie Smulders, is actually from Canada too. The Vancouver, British Columbia native is best known for her role on How I Met Your Mother, but has branched out since, appearing in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Maria Hill and voicing Wonder Woman in The Lego Movie. She only received her US citizenship in 2020, making her a dual Canadian-American citizen.

McLaren’s Is Not A Real Bar

MacLaren's Bar in How I Met Your Mother

Fans of the gang’s favorite bar, replete with cozy booths and drunken hijinks, might be disappointed to find out that MacLaren’s isn’t a real bar in New York City. While it was based on a bar that creators Thomas and Bays would hang out at in Chicago, it was a film set and not a real location. Nevertheless, diehard fans mustn’t look too far for an Irish bar with a similar vibe in NYC, as there are plenty.

Alyson Hannigan Was Really Pregnant In Season Eight

Alyson Hannigan in How I Met Your Mother

During Alyson Hannigan’s first pregnancy, the creators didn’t want her character, Lily, to be pregnant, so they employed the usual tactics to hide on-screen pregnancies, covering her with baggy clothes and comically large accessories. In only one episode did they show her belly, in which she was a contestant in a hotdog eating contest. For her second pregnancy, however, it made sense narratively to have her character be pregnant, so the creators entirely wrote it in.

Ted And Marshall Are Based On The Creators (And Lily On His Wife)

Ted and Marshall How I Met Your Mother

Writing partners Craig Thomas and Carter Bays decided to write what they knew, which meant building a story around their friendship. They opted to make the character of Ted based on Thomas, and the character of Marshall based on Bays, even building Lily’s character based on Bays’ wife. Just like Ted, Thomas also went to Wesleyan, and just like Bays, Marshall is also from the midwest. Of course, there are many differences between them and their characters, but the essential elements of their friendship and interactions are totally grounded in reality.

The Season Two Finale Proposal Was Real

Proposal on How I Met Your Mother

In the season two finale, Robin is accidentally handed a glass of champagne with a ring in it while at dinner with Ted, thinking that he was intending to propose. Then, a stranger also dining at the restaurant clears up the mix-up, saying it’s his, and proposing to his girlfriend. This proposal was actually real, engineered by one of the staff writers on the show who wanted to help his brother propose to his girlfriend, who was a huge fan of the show. Not only did they get a legendary proposal story, but they put on a great performance that made its way into the show for all viewers to see.

Lily And Marshall’s Relationship Is Just Like On The Show

Lilly and Marshall on How I Met Your Mother

Marshall’s character was based on show creator Carter Bays, so it follows that his partner in the show, Lily, would be based on Bays’ wife. While writing her character, his wife insisted that Allison Hannigan play her, or she wouldn’t allow her likeness to be portrayed on the show. Luckily for both of them, Hannigan was able to take the role, and absolutely stole the heart of audiences everywhere with her quirky, fun depiction of Lily.

The Theme Song Is By The Creators’ Band

Bar table How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Mother’s catchy theme song came from none other than the creators’ band, called The Solids, which they formed back when they were in college together at Wesleyan in Connecticut. 12 seconds of the song “Hey, Beautiful” are used for the title credits of the show; an ear-worm of a power-pop ditty. The band has produced other theme music for television, and is still together to this day, performing in Los Angeles where all of the members live.

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