HIMYM Star Addresses the 'Insane' Theory Making Rounds -- But Does She Refute It?

Has How I Met Your Mother‘s titular momma been dead the whole time Ted’s been telling the tale of their first meeting?

Cristin Milioti, who plays… her… addresses that theory – which gained great momentum with the show’s week-ago outing — in this video Q&A with The Hollywood Reporter. And while she calls the Dead Mother idea “insane,” “crazy” and even “so crazy,” it’s worth noting that she never quite refutes/debunks it. In a word, she sums up the March 31 series finale as “beautiful.”

If the long-running CBS sitcom did go in that dark-ish direction, many would agree, it would be “insane,” “crazy” and maybe even “so crazy.” Yet if framed properly, it could be “beautiful.” (In TVLine’s most recent reader poll, shown below, 68 percent now subscribe to the Dead Mother theory.)

RELATED | How I Met Your Mother Finale Photo Mystery: Why Is Barney Wearing [Spoiler]?

Watch Milioti discuss the speculation (starting at the 30-second mark) and share your own analysis.


Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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88 Comments
  1. Andrew Hass says:

    I’m not surprised that she didn’t deny that the mother is dead because that takes away the suspense and now people will have to tune in to find out the truth.I personally don’t think the mother is dead but she could be dying and that’s why Ted made the video for their kids.

    • taran63 says:

      I don’t think the mother is dead, because that wouldn’t fit with the overall theme of the show all these years. But after the last episode, I do believe that the writers want to trick you into thinking she might be dead. Only to find out at the end that she is not.

  2. ravenscallywag says:

    I don’t think the Mother has been dead. If anything, the Mother is close to death and they are dealing with her imminent passing. I’m still hopeful it’s a case like she was diagnosed with cancer in 2024 (when Ted is tearing up), they treated it, then in 2030 when he’s telling the story, she has risky surgery to try to remove it and they don’t know if she’ll pull through. Gives the possibility that it will be okay in the end.

    • cali says:

      i like your theory!

    • Patrick says:

      I am beginning to think Robin is dead/dying. She and Barney adopted, and Ted is bummed about her imminent death. Ted is telling the story to his kids on the eve of Robin’s child getting married.

      • ravenscallywag says:

        Except it’s already been made clear, Robin never has children. She can’t have kids, and she said no to adopting/surrogate.

      • JLK says:

        Even if Barney and Robin did adopt a kid, they would have had to adopt like a 10 year-old for the child to be old enough to marry in 2030 when this story is being told.

    • Tom says:

      I thought the same thing, I was thinking she is either sick or facing a major surgery.

      • S. says:

        The kids would not be bored at the prospect of dad telling a longwinded story if she were dead, dying, or in serious danger. Team Not-Dead Mother. (As opposed to Undead Mother—wait, How I Met Your Undead Mother…Chris Hardwick could do an after show. It would be legen…wait for it…dary.)

  3. cali says:

    I truly think that she’s either going to die or did early on in the marriage. They let us know that in last week’s episode. It was so obvious during the comment about Robyn’s mother being there for the wedding. They both got all teary when she said “no mother is going to miss their daughter’s wedding”. It doesn’t bother me one way or the other – it’s a great show and I’m glad if there’s a big twist like that.

  4. David4 says:

    Big twists in the final seasons of sitcoms / comedies are ALWAYS horrible.

  5. rkar7 says:

    I don’t believe she is dead. I think the writers are doing what they always do best. Make us think one thing and then throw the curve ball that takes it in some other insane direction.

  6. Sasha says:

    I don’t think she’s dead either. She could be sick or something. I don’t have a theory or anything but there was to many present tenses when Ted is talking to his kids in 2030.

    That’s my reasoning and I’m sticking with it.

  7. Allison says:

    All I can focus on here is that the finale is this month! Why so early? Very disappointed it isn’t finishing up in May like I would expect.

  8. mark870 says:

    Could be last weeks episode ‘Vesuvius; was one of those times when a person or couple get away before possibly having to deal with something like fighting cancer or a life threatening disease. A chance to be still normal before the world possibly gets turned upside down.

  9. StillKirok says:

    She can’t deny or confirm that. Stars lie all the time. Simon Pegg once famously said that Benedict Cumberbatch was NOT playing Khan in Star Trek Into Darkness.

    If the Mother is dead, how can she talk about it? It would be kind of a major deal.

    I think it would also be a terrible thing for the writers to do to the fans, who followed the show for so long.

    I will say this–if the mother is dead, I will not watch How I Met Your Father.

  10. emily says:

    I don’t think she’s dead simply because the kids always look so bored when the dad is telling the story. If she were dying or dead, I think it would be a lot more poignant.

    • JLK says:

      Me too. Either those kids are horrible human beings, or they missed the boat on the way normal kids would/should react to a mother being dead or dying.

    • wgsecretary says:

      That was my thought exactly. I worry with all of the red herrings they seem to be throwing at us. But, I just think back to whenever we do see the kids. They do not look like kids whose mother is dying or dead. So, either they don’t care about continuity, (or the loyal fans), or the mother isn’t dead.

  11. Brooke says:

    Come on, give it a rest. A) They are probably not ALLOWED to tell us what happens in the finale, and B) this is fabulous press for them, having these rumors heating up discussion of the show on the Internet. What benefit does it serve to the show if they spoil a finale 9 years in the making?

  12. Well, that girl in the video certainly looks dead. I thought I was watching Walking Dead for a minute.

  13. Justin says:

    I have to second the comment by emily above. In past, when he’s speaking to the kids, they seemed bored or annoyed that they have to listen to all of these stories from their dad. I would agree and say that if she were dead or dying, the kids wouldn’t be showing theses looks of “ugh, will he finish this story already”.

  14. Ange says:

    I think the mother has died and everyone is coming together for her funeral. Ted seems to be telling the story years later

  15. Name This Tune says:

    Of course, the real plot twist would be if Ted is the one who is dying.

    • ravenscallywag says:

      I don’t agree with that, BUT! here’s a dilly of a twist on this…

      Kids look bored because this is the 500th time Ted has told the story. Because Ted or the Mother was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s and he tells the story all the time to help her/him remember.

      Probably not that, wouldn’t explain the teary eyed part last week, and I’d probably HATE that outcome, but it’s thought inducing.

  16. diya says:

    even i am leaning more towards the theory that the mother may be dead/dying. But, ted’s kids (whenever they r shown listening to their father narrate the story) don’t seem to project the attitude of children who have lost their mother or are on the verge of loosing her.

  17. Mary Kate says:

    Im guessing she was sick and is now in remission, but was really close to dying so Ted wanted to tell the story…
    still has the thought of maybe she died…but still a happy ending

  18. Mary says:

    But weren’t fans right about LOST? They were dead.

    • ravenscallywag says:

      Half-right. The theory was they died in the plane crash. The actual plot was that YEARS later, after all had died, they came together in another reality.

    • BTM says:

      They were not dead. That was explicitly explained. They were on the island that contained the waters of life. They were very much alive until death eventually happened. Sure, some people died in the crash, but our characters died individually at later times (Arzt blew up, Nikki & Paolo were buried alive, Ben murdered Locke, etc.). The “flash sideways” segments were a place they created after dying.

      Hurley and Ben lived hundreds of years longer.

      • jenferner8 says:

        Could have used your Lost logic years ago. I quit Lost three seasons in and only watched last half hour of finale because the show quit making any sense and stopped being interesting. After numerous attempts to watch over various seasons I believe I was more confused by the time the show ended then any alternative explaination.

    • Ann says:

      Please don’t compare this to Lost. The writers of Lost had three whole years to bring the story to a satisfying conclusion, but they seemingly wrote the story as they went along. And made up illogical plot points in the final season because they had no clue how to end the show. At least the writers of HIMYM seem like they thought the ending through and have geared this final season towards that conclusion.

  19. the girl says:

    What mother misses her daughter’s wedding day… what if Ted tears up because something is going on with Lily? I have literally only been watching this show since last season. Has their ever been an indication that Marvin is their only child, or that they will have another (others)? Oh wait, there were flashforwards where Lily was much older. Still, that doesn’t mean she can’t be sick or they think she might not make it.

  20. Marc says:

    Not dead. It’s a hoax, and the network and studio are happy to take advantage of the attention.

    There is NOTHING in the tone of the Sagat narration from the pilot to today that would even suggest a dead or dying mom.

    A dying Ted, on the other hand . . . No. Just kidding. The kids faces refute that.

    • S. says:

      Completely agree. It feels like 2/3 of the fandom is delusional. Usually it’s just vocal minorities about these kinds of things. Of course HIMYM’s writers and actors aren’t gonna refute it. It’s free press. Nothing about Ted’s narration or the kids’ attitude says the Mother is dead. I can’t tell if fans are just being paranoid because other shows have taught them to be or if they want the Mother to be dead for some reason so they’ve talked themselves into it.

  21. John NYC says:

    They’re all dead: the final scene is them all exiting the Farhampton Chapel into a blinding light……

  22. LOST says:

    As a fan from day one, I feel that I know the writers well enough to know that they wouldn’t do this. I’m sure they are just misleading us.

  23. Mike says:

    I could see sick but I think she recovers by the end.

  24. Scott says:

    We’re all idiots…

    She said “no mother is going to miss their daughter’s wedding”..

    Ted is telling the story on the day of the daughter’s wedding!

  25. shezar says:

    if the mother is dead, the children are pretty awful w/ the smart alec remarks made earlier in the series. she’s alive and probably recovering from whatever scare that caused the teary eyes at the inn.

  26. RobMF says:

    Wait, what if Ted is dead and the kids are watching a Video in his Den?

  27. skiki says:

    You guys, they’re all dead. They’ve been dead the whole time. How I Met Your Mother is Lost. Obviously.

  28. DarkDefender says:

    I think that Ted and the mother never actually got married. Had the kids.. They were at the Farhampton Inn in 2024 when the mother’s mother had died or was dying and Ted is telling the story of how he met their mother because it is their wedding day.

    That’s how I’d write it.

  29. Cala Lilly says:

    Y’all are dumb. THEY WERE NEVER DEAD THE WHOLE TIME ON LOST. THIS WAS EXPLAINED. THEY ALL DIED AT VARIOUS TIMES IN AND OFF THE ISLAND AND CAME TOGETHER AT THE END. PERIOD. THEY WEREN’T DEAD THE WHOLE TIME.

    That said, I haven’t watched the show since we found out Robin was the bride, but I’m pretty sure they’re just faking everyone out and she’s not actually dead. It’s WAY too obvious of a thing if that’s actually what’s going to happen in the finale.

  30. GPJ says:

    The Mother is not dead. It’s her own mother that died and was unable to attend Ted’s and her wedding.

  31. Lizzie says:

    My first thought was that Ted’s mother recently died and then his sister got married.

    • Cleyton says:

      Thinking that way seems way more reasonable to me than killing The Mother. We should also consider that kids were potentially bored when listening their Mother’s history, which would be less likely if she were dead. In this case they would eager to hear from her. Sounds definitely not the case that The Mother is dead (so far).

  32. Sarah says:

    See. I actually think it’s Lily or Robin who is sick or dying. I think that makes more sense than the Mother being ill. I think the story will wind down to one of them introducing Ted to the Mother and that’s why he’s so emotional. Now that we know Lily has a daughter, it makes more and more sense.

  33. Lindsey says:

    I think something will happen to Lily or Lily’s daughter. It would explain so much more than having the mother die. I would think the kids would want to hear more about their dead mother and not be so bored. It also would explain why Ted got all upset, but the mother wasn’t nearly as upset. Really, for anyone to die would be depressing. I don’t see why anyone has to die, but it seems to be going that route.

  34. John NYC says:

    Okay given the minimal screen time she’s getting this season? Totally see them killing off such an unknown character. We’re not getting the time to know and connect with her: so when they kill her off we all just go. Who was that again?

    Not even IN tonight’s episode. If this were baseball they’d refer to her time in the majors as just long enough for a cup of coffee.

    Linus has gotten more screen time.

    Too bad, I bet Christin could have knocked our socks off. Ah well.

  35. Whimsical says:

    If they ruin the show by killing the mother I will pledge to any kickstarter that has a goal of leaving flaming dog poop on the creator’s porches.

    After 9 years, the only acceptable ending is a happy one.

  36. Reba says:

    I think Ted’s mom died, maybe she died before Ted’s wedding. When Ted asked his dad how he met his mom, he said ” In a bar”, which Ted then replies he’s gonna tell his kids all about how he met their mom. Ted’s mom is the one who’s dead.

  37. Lara says:

    Weird question but have we actually seen Robin in a much later flash forward? I’m starting to think she is the one that passed away.

  38. Goodbye Universe Guy says:

    What mother misses her daughter’s wedding day? Maybe Robin’s? Not sure what the second-to-final scene (Robin and her Mom talking out on the balcony) in tonight’s ‘Daisy’ episode was alluding to, but it was significant enough for CT/CB to include it. At this point, every scene in each episode is trying to tie up loose ends, complete storylines that have gone on for 9 years.

    SPOILER ALERT- anyone who has not seen tonight’s HIMYM ‘Daisy’ episode yet, STOP READING RIGHT HERE.

    Barney and Robin’ storyline is completed, missing just the wedding itself. Now we know how Marshall and Lily’s storyline wraps up – it is Italy. I knew Marshall would see the light [finally, I was actually right about someone on this show] – Lily deserves to see her dreams fulfilled. Here come’s Italy. Ted sees the Mother at the reception, meets her at Farhampton. So, we know how that is going to work out (regardless of who ‘dies’ when). But we (apparently) still do not know the full storyline wrap-up between Ted and Robin.

    That final balcony conversation between Robin and her mom, where her mom says marriage is about dependability, and asks her if she knows someone in her life who is dependable? And Robin says she does, we know who that is. That goes back to ‘Something Old’ from last season, as well as ‘Sunrise’ from a few weeks ago. Indeed, as I assumed, CT/CB are not quite done yet with Robin and Ted. There will be no easy way out of ‘that’.

    I have a bad feeling here – Robin’s mom make not stay for the wedding – because of Ted, or perhaps because of Robin’s answer to her mom’s question out on the balcony. It may not be a ‘death’ at all – thank goodness. It may be (yet more) guilt heaped on Ted and Robin, and the fact that Robin’s mom left Robin/Barney’s wedding because of Ted [although, through no fault of Ted's].

    To the Mother’s credit – she can handle ‘the Robin factor’ in Ted’s life – not many (any?) other girlfriends in Ted’s life could deal with it. So, by 2024, The Mother has had years (and years) of hearing Ted’s story[s] about Robin – in fact, he’d have to tell The Mother about Robin early on, just to ensure she (the Mother) could handle it.

    Maybe that’s what will happen – all three couples are happy, alive and well, but the little secret all six now share is that Ted and Robin are haunted by the ‘what might have been’, and every bad thing that happens to the other causes either Ted and Robin some guilt and some grief, over and over again, year after year. Maybe that’s whyTed tears up in ‘Vesuvius.’ How’s that for a lifetime of torture, kids? The reason Ted is tearing up – not because of the Mother, but because of Robin. We know Robin lives at least until around 2030 [Bad Crazy - episode 8.16], so in 2024, it would not be Robin’s death, but something close to Robin, something she’s lose that Ted would blame himself over [and over, and over again].

    • Faster says:

      So your theory is that both Ted and Robin live a life ‘tortured’ by one another, and it makes it so that none of the six main characters can ever have a happy relationship with one another again because of it? I think that’s a much sadder ending that any of them being dead, to be honest.

      • Goodbye Universe Guy says:

        I think you’re right – if my theory holds true, this will be a rough ending. The question is really, what story are CT/CB trying to tell? I’m not sure, but they have had many, many opportunities to ‘let go of this’, and let the Ted-Robin dynamic end. A good end point might have been ‘Last Page/pt2′, or ‘Something Old’, or even ‘Sunrise’. I’d have been very happy with an end-pt to the Robin-Ted story at either/any of those three episodes. [Although I'm glad they kept going]

        CB/CT do keep this going – they really do have something here regarding Ted and Robin that they want to tell us, and it may not all be ‘happy news’. To an extent, at one time, we all thought (I think) that season 9 would be more about Ted and the Mother, and that by the wedding day, Robin and Ted would not still be thinking about each. The thought of Robin and Ted still (even) considering the implications of her marriage on her wedding day, would have been **unthinkable** a year ago.

        But here we are – there will obviously be Ted-Mother dynamic in the final wedding episodes on March 31st (The Last Forever), but what are we all gearing up for at this point? The possible death of ‘the Mother/Robin’, and the Ted-Robin final “show-down” at the church. That says a lot about the story being told.

        I just can’t get past the notion that CT/CB have something more to say about finding ‘the one’, and about happiness than just ‘love-wedding-happily ever after’. I think they want to leave us with a bit more – and that Ted and Robin are the two characters whom CT/CB are needing here in order to tell the very last pieces of this story. Yes, the show is called HIMYM, but I think (as we near the end), this show was, at it’s core, a story of two star-crossed lovers who had to let each other go for the sake of loving someone else, for better or worse.

  39. JB Smooove says:

    if the mommy is dead, I wont be mad. ive died inside to the show being any good after the last three season, so…

  40. Matt says:

    I feel like if she was dead the kids wouldn’t look so annoyed about having to listen to this story they obviously don’t want to listen to.

  41. Nunya Bidness says:

    I’ve been saying the mother is dead for a while, but i wasn’t sure how they were going to wrap it up without it being too much of a downer. My newest theory is that the mother is dead and Ted is getting ready to marry Aunt Robin. No way Barney and Robin make it for the long haul. Audience got to meet the mother and Ted and Robin finally end up together.

  42. Bob says:

    Is Francisco Franco still dead?

  43. Murphy says:

    Bela Lugosi’s dead/undead….

  44. NJMark says:

    Whatever anyone (including me) is predicting is going to be wrong. (Seriously, cancer surgery?) I’m not really going out on a limb here, since nearly every prediction has been proven wrong so far. Last night,the “Ranjit was the one who picked up Lily” one was shot down.

  45. The mom that dies is Robin’s mom. That’s why Ted got choked up telling the “suprise ending”. She was sick but made it to the wedding to make up with Robin before she died.

  46. Andy J says:

    My theory is that in 2024 the mother is about to go to jail and Ted is telling the story on the evening before her release.

  47. Ármann Bern says:

    Isn’t it possible Ted got sad because his own mother died sometime after the Stinson wedding and didn’t make it to his own.

  48. Kat says:

    My theory is that the finale will be Daisy’s wedding. I think that Lilly will have been ill (in 2024) but recovers before her daughters wedding in 2030.

  49. Khaatim says:

    After watching this week’s episode, I believe the Mother is dying. After she passes, Robin and Ted will then get married. The way Robin talked at the end of this week has me leaning in that direction

  50. Mikael says:

    The Mother is not dead. The kids look bored and annoyed the whole time, like everyone has pointed out. I think the Mother is going away for some humanitarian mission and won’t be home to see Lyndsy Fonseca get married. I just find it hard to believe that a COMEDY would end on such a morbid note.

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