As the popular ensemble sitcom How I Met Your Mother draws near the end of its nine-season run, a downer of a fan theory is starting to look more and more feasible. The theory: The Mother has been dead this whole time. M. Night Shyamalan'd!
The Mother Is Dead theory has been around for awhile. In 2010, Jason Segal told GQ that he told the show's creators that he thought the mother was dead. But things really started picking up steam during an episode that aired last year called "Time Travelers," when main character and narrator Ted Mosby gives either the most romantic or most maudlin speech ever about his future wife.
Exactly 45 days from now, you and I are going to meet. We're going to fall in love and we're going to get married, and we're going to have two kids. We're going to love them and each other so much. All that is 45 days away, but I'm here now, I guess because I want those extra 45 days with you. I want each one of them…I am always going to love you. Until the end of my days and beyond.
Is it possible that Ted was just being incredibly Ted at that moment? Sure; his relentless romanticism and unending sentimentality have grown grating for some of the show's viewers, but that's just Who Ted Is. Dead Mother Truthers, however, saw things differently.
The show's given viewers other signs that the Mother is dead, too. During the show's scenes that allegedly occur in the year 2030, the mother has never, not a once, been mentioned in the present tense. She also never appears in flash forwards of the gang of friends around which the show rotates; not even from the back. It seems like The Mother is simply not present in the future beyond the year 2024. And there's the fact that after the show's final table read, Alyson Hannigan Tweeted a picture of her script surrounded by used Kleenexes. Naturally, after almost 9 years, people get attached to jobs, to characters. But would a schmaltzy This Whole Thing Was About A Nice Lady Who Died Tragically turn have made the cryfests worse?
Last night's episode cemented in many viewers' and critics' minds The Mother's eventual sad fate. In the episode, which takes place in 2024 after the pair are already married, Ted tells The Mother a story about how Robin's mother showed up to Robin and Barney's wedding. The Mother remarked that of course a mother would want to be at her daughter's wedding. Ted bursts into tears, and The Mother (whose name viewers haven't yet learned) comforts him and tells him to stop living in his stories and move on with his life. Reddit, hive of fan theories that it is, went a little nuts. Recappers hoped against hope that it isn't so.
But all signs are pointing to her death, at this point, and there are only five episodes left. The show's all but guaranteed it's been planning on chucking its paragon of perfect womanhood in a volcano of pathos all along.
Of course, maybe the show is fucking with its viewers. If the whole framing device for the show is a father telling a story to his kids to help them remember their dead mom, then why would Ted's long, 9-season-long story about a dead woman be so focused on, uh, Ted's dating life before he met her? What if Ted is the dead or dying one? What if nobody's dead? What if we are actually all dead and part of purgatory is that we all have to sometimes catch an episode of How I Met Your Mother in syndication?
All will be revealed in a matter of weeks.