Time to close out our tab at MacLaren's: After eight legen-(wait for it)-dary years, the "How I Met Your Mother" gang is signing off with a ninth and final season, premiering September 23, where we'll get to see Barney and Robin get hitched. Oh, and yes, we'll finally (finally!) meet the Mother, aka Ted's future wife, played by new cast addition Cristin Milioti.
We sat down with the "HIMYM" cast and creators at Comic-Con back in July, where they dropped five major hints about what to expect from this final season. In short: Prepare yourself for lots of tears, ghosts of seasons past… and a grand finale eight years in the making.
1. Ted and the Mother are bonding already
Chemistry is everything on a sitcom, and it can be tricky incorporating a brand-new cast member into a tight-knit group like "HIMYM's" this late in the run. But series director Pamela Fryman is confident they made the right choice with Milioti (a Tony nominee for Broadway's "Once"): "When you cast someone, you don't know if they're really the right one. And she's so the right one. And now we're all taking credit."
Josh Radnor (Ted) agrees, as he describes first meeting Milioti on set: "I had this feeling of, 'Oh, there she is!' It's what they say about meeting your wife or your husband: Everything else is a struggle, but when you meet that person, it's just effortless and easy." And the on-screen lovebirds are already bonding over — what else? — the rigors of L.A. traffic. "She's living not close to the studio," Radnor says. "I'm also on the east side, so we've talked traffic routes. I've given her a few tips on what streets seem to be open." Awww… how romantic.
Go behind the scenes with "HIMYM" stars Josh Radnor and Cristin Milioti:
2. But Ted and Robin aren't quite finished yet
"But wait," we can hear you "HIMYM" fans saying. "Isn't Ted still hung up on Robin?" Yes, he is, at least when Season 9 opens, and Cobie Smulders (Robin) says the feeling might be mutual — even though Robin's about to walk down the aisle with Barney. "Ted and Robin had a connection, and that doesn't just vanish," she says. "It's hard when one of your best friends is somebody you had romantic feelings for, and is also the best man. It makes for good TV!"
Helpful as always, Neil Patrick Harris (Barney) suggests: "What about a three-way?" Yikes… we'd like to see how Future Ted explains that one to his kids.
3. You will cry (oh yes, you will)
"HIMYM" has always tugged on our heartstrings a little harder than the average sitcom, and Season 9 is lining up to be most emotional outing yet. "Every season, we'll have maybe four or five episodes that end with a good cry, a good 'awww' moment," says co-creator Carter Bays. "And I just feel like every episode this season is gonna be one of those." (So stock up on Kleenex, basically.)
And with the final episode looming at season's end, Alyson Hannigan (Lily) is already preparing herself for a heavy dose of waterworks: "The last episode is the one I'm most dreading. How are we gonna get through that without just bawling?" You? How about us?
Get caught up on "How I Met Your Mother" with this video recap:
4. Keep an eye out for familiar faces at the wedding
With the entire season taking place over Barney and Robin's wedding weekend, we'll be spending plenty of time with their wedding guests. And the cast hints that some of those guests will be characters we'll recognize from seasons past. Nobody's spilling any names yet, but Jason Segel (Marshall) is excited by the possibilities: "I hope it's like the end of 'The Muppets Take Manhattan,' where they're like, "We need more pigs! And more frogs!' And you cut to the audience and it's packed with everyone: 'Sesame Street' characters and stuff." In this case, substitute Britney Spears for Big Bird.
5. They already shot the final scene… eight years ago!
The most surprising tidbit we gleaned from the "HIMYM" gang: Bays and co-creator Craig Thomas revealed they filmed a portion of the series finale way back in Season 1, so the ages of the child actors playing Ted's kids would match. "We knew how we wanted to end the series right from the beginning, so we decided to just go ahead and shoot it," Bays says. "We haven't looked at the footage yet. Hopefully, no one taped over it."
Get a sneak peek at this week's "HIMYM" season premiere right here:
"How I Met Your Mother" premieres Monday, September 23 at 8 p.m. on CBS.