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‘How I Met Your Mother’: The women in Ted’s journey

The road to Ted’s (Josh Radnor) dream woman on “How I Met Your Mother” is littered with ladies. From brief encounters to long relationships to the ones that got away, executive producer Craig Thomas looks back on the women in Ted’s journey to the mother, starting with the striking Canadian who will come to be known as Aunt Robin. (CBS)
“She’s just so confident and badass and cool. I mean, the scotch, the cigars, the guns, the laser tag. She'’s kind of a guy,” Thomas says. “She’'s hot and she can kick your ass. That’s one of the things that I think [Ted and Barney] are so enamored of. She’s so formidable, and yet there’s that vulnerable side to her too. … Were they to be completely honest, I think Barney and Ted would both say that she sets a pretty high bar for any other girl to meet.”

But don’t expect the writers to pull a switcheroo and have Robin be the mother. “If we’'d said in the pilot she’s not the mother and then somehow figured out some way to like loophole our way back into that, I would hate us.”  (Eric McCandless / FOX)
“There’s just something interesting about someone being out there who Ted has never met, but saw across a crowded room. I don’t want to rule anything out on that one. That’s the kind of loose end that we like to have, and I don’t want to sort of hint at it one way or the other. … The slutty pumpkin’s still out there in the world, and New York is not as big a city as we think. That could come back around.”

In Season 7, the slutty pumpkin returns. Ted tracks her down after he sees the costume hanging in the window of a costume shop and finally meets Naomi. She was played by Katie Holmes and had awful chemistry with Ted; they date for a short while before finally admitting that their relationship was super-awkward, then break up amicably.  (20th Century Fox Film Corp.)
Did he or didn’t he? Thomas won’t spill whether or not Ted had a threesome with Trudy and Rachel, but he does confirm that Trudy, who also appeared in the “Pineapple Incident” episode, is not the mother.

“Ted had two of his craziest drunken nights around that girl,” Thomas says with a laugh. “It would be just sort of a weird way to meet the mother of your children, and also he would have already met her. … It’s funny that two of Ted’s just craziest drunken nights involve Winnie Cooper from ‘The Wonder Years.’ … ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is to some extent a story about all the insane nights of sowing your wild oats and whatnot.”  (Monty Brinton / CBS)
“It was actually a really interesting speed to play in Season 1 to show Ted, essentially, kind of flirt with cheating on Victoria. It was so interesting because we didn’'t want to make people not like our romantic lead, and yet he was completely head over heels for Robin. … There was something so fun in the writing about playing with that dangerous theme of, ‘What would you do if the girl of your dreams calls you at 2 in the morning when you’'re in a long-distance relationship with somebody who you haven’t been dating that long?’ … Every now and again in the writers’ room, someone will bring up the idea like, ‘Do you think Victoria weighs 700 pounds now?’ She’s just in Germany eating cupcakes all the time.”

Victoria and Ted meet again at the Architect’s Ball in Season 7, and Ted offers to help her do dishes after catering the event. Victoria reveals that she’s engaged and tells Ted that the reason his previous relationships have failed is because he’s still too close to Robin. They meet again a few months later when Victoria is running away from her own wedding. They set out to be together only to learn that her groom Klaus has also decided that he isn’t ready to marry her. She and Ted date for a while (in Season 8) and Victoria reveals she wants their relationship to get more serious, so she asks Ted to stop being friends with Robin. He refuses, and they break up for good.  (20th Century Fox Television)
“I think playing against type is why [Mandy Moore] wanted to do it. And it was awesome. She got to play a hard-drinking, cigarette-smoking, tattoo-getting badass. She definitely goes down in ‘HIMYM’ history as the love interest who convinced Ted to do perhaps the stupidest thing he’s ever done to impress a woman: get a tattoo of a butterfly just above his butt crack. … Without that crazy night, Ted never would have met Stella, who became an incredibly significant presence in his life, and informs the rest of the course of his romantic search. It’s always cool to sort of make those connections. We’'re definitely believers in destiny and fate and one thing leading to another and the sort of magic of how everything worked out.”  (Monty Brinton / CBS)
“At the time, we were definitely unsure of how much Sarah Chalke we’d be able to get since she was awaiting word on the fate of ‘Scrubs.’ That made planning out the story arc trickier. We loved Sarah and surely would have planned even more episodes with her had her schedule been freer, although [‘Scrubs’ creator] Bill Lawrence was so supportive and helpful, and we were thrilled to get what we did. ... I’d say she’s probably Ted’s most significant relationship aside from Robin. I mean, he was literally minutes away from walking down the aisle with her before it all turned to crap! Stella also goes down as the biggest emotional ass-kicking we’ve seen Ted get, as she decides to reunite with the father of her daughter instead of marrying Ted.”  (Monty Brinton / CBS)
“I think most people have had at least one relationship in their life where they had no perspective, no power and no ability to put the damn thing out of its misery. Someone who treats you terribly and you just keep coming back for more. And then you look back on it years later and go, ‘What the hell was I thinking?! What the hell were they thinking?!’ For Ted, that was Karen. She’s also a living artifact of Ted’s pretentious … years in college,” Thomas says. “The difference being, Ted grew up and Karen didn’'t!”  (Sonja Flemming / CBS)
“I think our best stories are always the ones where viewers say, ‘I lived that.’ The phenomenon of ‘The Window’ was definitely one of those for us. … That notion really struck a chord because even at the stage where this episode was just an outline, every guy who read it would come up to us and tell some wistful story about ‘their’ elusive window girl. Alas, Maggie wasn’t meant for Ted. And yes, it was cool to have another ‘Freaks and Geeks’ alum on the show! I still think Buffy is winning, head-to-head, but the race isn’t over yet!”" (Getty Images)
“The twist of Rachel Bilson’s character Cindy having become a lesbian since we last saw her -- Season 5, in our 100th episode -- definitely started to leak out before we wanted it to. Why this twist? We really just wanted to see a big romantic kiss in our Season 6 premiere. We just knew it wasn’t going to be for Ted! … She'’s Ted’s most direct link to The Mother, being her roommate and all. Yes, we could definitely wind up seeing Rachel Bilson again, absolutely. She’'s still Ted’s closest degree of separation to The Mother, and it adds suspense, having her out there for Ted to run into again someday.”

And he does. In Season 8, Ted recruits Cindy to help him find the perfect band for Barney and Robin’s wedding. She refers him to her roommate, who, by the end of the season, we glimpse buying a ticket to the Farhampton nuptials.  (Cliff Lipson / CBS)
“Zoey and Ted are a highly flammable couple. They’re poised on opposite sides of a huge issue. Not the sturdiest foundation on which to build a relationship – half-assed architecture pun most definitely intended! – but hey, since when was love logical? Their enmity on the issue of the new GNB Tower versus the Arcadian will definitely continue to complicate their relationship as Season 6 progresses. We went out on a limb and told the audience through our narrator that this relationship will end badly. You could argue that knowing that kills the suspense. But it also whets one’s appetite to see a truly grand train wreck of an ending. If you’re a fan of horrible breakups – and really who isn’t?! – stay tuned!”

Ted and Zoey’s toxic relationship is further strained because they constantly disagree on everything. Ted realizes that his dream is building a New York skyscraper is more important than being with someone like Zoey and they have a pretty epic breakup in front of a room full of people.  (Monty Brinton / CBS)
Ted describes as the last woman he dated before meeting his kids’ mother. It turns out she’s a crazy stalker but Ted refuses to see that... for a long time. After seeing each other on the train, Ted works to track her down only to have her track him down first. She sets off the fire alarm in his building to meet him then, over a series of episodes in Season 8, goes on to reveal she’s obsessed with him, is a police officer who trashes his apartment and eventually breaks up with Ted after setting Barney’s beloved playbook on fire with fireworks. This helps Ted confirm that he’s done being single.  (Ron P. Jaffe / CBS)
When Ted finds himself with three prospects for a date during Barney and Robin’s wedding weekend, he chooses poorly, pretty much spending the weekend with a weepy, clingy woman named Cassie. He ultimately makes a series of poor decisions with her and learns that they have nothing in common. However, “Future Ted” acknowledges that his fizzled romance with Cassie turned out for the best -- had he continued seeing her, he wouldn’t have met The Mother. (Richard Foreman / )
In the Season 8 finale, viewers finally meet the mother as she buys a ticket out to Barney and Robin’s wedding in Farhampton, revealing the identity of the woman who had previously been seen only behind a yellow umbrella.

The mysterious woman was glimpsed in the third season,but viewers had only seen only her ankle and were privy to other tantalizing bits of information about her: She’s in a band and everybody who dates her falls in love with her. At the beginning of the eighth season, Ted leaves for Barney and Robin’s wedding and bumps into The Mother at the train station before he makes a big move from New York to Chicago. In the “How Your Mother Met Me” episode in Season 9, it’s revealed that she was off the market following the death of her boyfriend and was nearly engaged. Later, Ted proposes to her at the Farhampton lighthouse and she gives birth to their children, Penn and Luke. (CBS)