'How I Met Your Mother' finale: Producer reveals storytelling secrets

'How I Met Your Mother' finale: Producer reveals storytelling secrets
"How I Met Your Mother" ended its run on CBS Monday night. With (from left) Josh Radnor, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Ben Vereen, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel. (Richard Cartwright/CBS)

Fans and critics praised "How I Met Your Mother" for sophisticated storytelling. But according to the man behind the show, all that time travel was all an accident.

Craig Thomas, who co-created with writing partner Carter Bays the CBS sitcom that ended its nine-season run Monday night, says they weren't trying to wow anyone with flashbacks and other time jumps. The entire series featured an offscreen narrator (Bob Saget) narrating to his children circa 2030 how he came to meet his spouse.

"We didn't set out to find weird structural ways to tell stories," Thomas wrote in an email to Showtracker. "It's just sort of how we naturally write!

"It's born of the fact that 'HIMYM' is all one big story being told by a narrator," he added. "When you tell a story verbally, you jump all over the place, hitting pause to back up, then adding some funny side trip story you just thought of, then jumping ahead to some ironic postscript in the future. We wanted the show to feel like a real story being told by a real, imperfect narrator."

The "I" of "HIMYM" is Ted (Josh Radnor), a somewhat bumbling nerd who navigates life and love alongside ladies' man Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), elegant TV anchor Robin (Cobie Smulders) and goofy married couple Marshall and Lilly (Jason Segel and Alyson Hannigan).

Thomas said the hardest part of the job was keeping the show fresh over nine seasons.

"The answer was to occasionally scare the crap out of ourselves with the storytelling," he said. "Through the series, one of Barney's catchphrases was 'Challenge accepted!'

"That's basically how we tried to write."

What did you think of "HIMYM" and its finale?