CBS’ “How I Met Your Mother” explains how Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) met the storied mother of his children. The series is told through flashbacks as future Ted (voiced by Bob Saget) sits down his son and daughter in the year 2030 to recount the misadventures that led him to their mother. The episodes center on the shenanigans of Ted and his friends, Marshall Eriksen (Jason Segel), Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan), Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris), Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) and, eventually, the mysterious mother (Cristin Milioti). Click through the gallery to meet the gang, but be warned: Spoilers for what’s aired lie ahead. (Sonja Flemming / CBS)
How we met Ted: In the first episode we meet the voice of future Ted (Bob Saget) in 2030 when he sits down his son and daughter to tell them the story of how he met their mother. Flash back to 2005, and this hopeless romantic first falls for Robin Scherbatsky at MacLaren’s Pub, steals a blue French horn for her and subsequently has his heart broken over and over. Ted is Marshall’s college roommate and best friend (much to Barney’s chagrin) and he’s Lily’s longtime friend. Ted started out as an architect, then became a professor after designing the Goliath National Bank skyscraper. His children’s names are Penny (after “lucky penny”) and Luke (a direct homage to his love of “Star Wars”).
Ted also goes by: Teddy Westside, T-Dog, Schmosby, Doctor X, Jed Mosley, Galactic President Superstar McAwesomeville, “a bit of a detective.”
Quotable catchphrases: As Future Ted: “Kids, ...”; “fun fact”; As Jed Mosley: “No Can Dosville, babydoll!”
How he met the mother: After nine long seasons of dating and waiting, we don’t learn how Ted actually meets the mother until the series finale in 2014 when the pair finally meet in person at the Farhampton train station.
Fun facts: Even Josh Radnor didn’t believe that Ted could pull off those recurring red cowboy boots. Scott Foley of “Felicity” and “Scandal” was originally eyed for the role of Ted. (CBS)
How we met Barney: When we first met Barney, he was a MacLaren’s Pub playboy who had a mysteriously high-paying job and inexplicable penchant for suits. Turns out he was really a hippie kid who had his heart broken and took on his “bro code"-abiding persona for an elaborate payback scheme. He has a thing for “Star Wars,” laser tag, magic tricks, aged scotch, cigars and strip clubs. Barney marries Robin but the two only stay married for three years.
Barney also goes by: The Barnacle, Swarley and any alter-ego in the Playbook.
Quotable catchphrases: Barney might have more catchphrases than he has suits (one of his catchphrases is “Suit up!”), but here’s a sampling: “Haaave you met Ted?”; “Awesome”; “It’s going to be LEGEN -- wait for it -- DARY!” and its various iterations; “Challenge accepted!”; “Stinson out!”; “Daddy’s home”; and anything with the word “bro” worked into it.
How he met the mother: In a pharmacy after Lily and Robin challenged him to pick up a woman while he buys diapers and samosas. She proceeds to give him some life-changing relationship advice.
Fun facts: “Barney’s Blog” was actually a real blog and was maintained on the CBS website. Also, his real-life partner David Burtka played Lily’s ex-boyfriend Scooter. (Ron P. Jaffe / CBS)
How we met Robin: This career-driven local news anchor befriended Ted & Co. at MacLaren’s. She hails from Canada and was formerly a teen pop star named Robin Sparkles. Her dad raised her as the son he wished he’d had, which helped her appreciate hockey, hunting, fishing and scotch but also left her with commitment issues that played out in her various couplings with Ted and Barney.
Robin also goes by: Robin Sparkles, Robin Daggers, Robin Charles Scherbatsky Jr.
Quotable catchphrases: “Nobody asked you, PATRICE!”; “But, ummm,”; “Let’s Go to the Mall!”
How she met the mother: Just as she was running from her wedding, Robin crashed (yes, literally crashed) into the mother on the dance floor and asked for her advice. The mother told her to take three deep breaths and vanished. Lucky for Barney, Robin took the advice.
Fun facts: “Ghost Whisperer” actress Jennifer Love Hewitt was originally eyed for the part of Robin. Also, like her patriotic character, Smulders is indeed from Canada. (Richard Cartwright / CBS)
How we met Marshall: In the first episode, this sweet “sandwich"-loving guy from Minnesota was a law student preparing to propose to his college sweetheart, Lily Aldrin. Fast forward to Season 9, and the corporate sellout-turned-environmental lawyer is married, has accepted a judgeship and has a young son, a daughter and his wife is pregnant with their third child.
Marshall also goes by: Marshmallow, Big Fudge, Beercules, Judge Fudge and The Kid.
Quotable catchphrases: “Lawyered”; “Andiamo fratello non mangiarti tutti i Funyuns,” which is to say, “Come on, bro, don’t bogart the Funyuns” in his terrible Italian.
How he met the mother: She picked him up in her bandmate’s van when he and baby Marvin were walking to the Farhampton Inn after a grueling journey from Minnesota.
Fun facts: Marshall and Lily’s relationship and antics were based on those of show co-creator Craig Thomas and his wife, who is responsible for casting Alyson Hannigan in the role of Lily. Segel was cast because showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were fans of his cult classic “Freaks and Geeks.” (Richard Cartwright / CBS)
How we met Lily: This former goth and kindergarten teacher got engaged to Marshall in the first episode. She prided herself on her overpriced designer duds and meddling in Ted’s romantic dealings. She also struggled with defining her life beyond her relationship with Marshall. She ran off a few times when they fought but always came back to her college sweetheart, whom she married. Ultimately, Lily became an art consultant for the Captain and moved to Rome temporarily with her once-estranged dad, Marshall and their two children, Marvin and Daisy. In the finale, we learn she’s pregnant with their third child.
Lily also goes by: Lilypad, Mama, slap bet commissioner.
Famous catchphrases: “Thank you, Linus”; “You’re dead to me”; “You son of a ...”
How she met the mother: Lily met the mother on a train ride to Farhampton. She made an excuse to get out of her road trip to the inn with Ted, claiming he was irritating her. In fact, she was trying to conceal her morning sickness, and the two bonded over the mother’s homemade (and inappropriately titled) cookies.
Fun facts: Show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas were big fans of Alyson Hannigan’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and the show has featured various guest stars from the Joss Whedon universe, including Hannigan’s real-life husband Alexis Denisof, Seth Green, Amy Acker, Tom Lenk, Morena Baccarin and Harry Groener. Hannigan was also pregnant with her first daughter, Satyana, while filming episodes in which Lily was pregnant with Marvin. (Cliff Lipson / CBS)
How we met the mother: A lost umbrella, a glimpse of an ankle, a tease in a college classroom and a St. Patrick’s Day party -- it suffices to say there were several near-encounters throughout the series. However, viewers finally met the mother as she was buying a train ticket to Farhampton in order to perform with her band at Barney’s and Robin’s wedding. Her story is told during the show’s ninth season, when we learn that her boyfriend’s death prevented her from dating and she turned down a wedding proposal just before meeting Ted.
She also goes by: The mother (yes, we don’t learn her name before the final episode. Spoiler alert: It’s Tracy McConnell -- “TM,” like Ted Mosby).
Quotable catchphrases: Since she joined the show in the finale of Season 8 and was seen sporadically in the ninth and final season, the mother hasn’t been on screen long enough to develop her own catchphrases. However, every now and then, she drops a line that sounds like something Ted might say -- further evidence that the couple is meant to be.
How Ted met the mother: Unbeknownst to her, she bought Ted, er “the best man,” a glass of the bar’s finest scotch for getting her scheming bandmate kicked out of her group. He also heard her singing “La Vie en Rose” from an adjoining balcony. But they don’t come face to face until the series finale. Finally, the pair meet face-to-face for the first time at the Farhampton train station.
Fun facts: Cristin Milioti auditioned for the show with the final scene of the series. She was asked to sing “La Vie en Rose” before getting the part. When she made her debut in the Season 8 finale, crew members played the extras at the train station in order to keep her identity a secret. (Ron P. Jaffe / CBS)