How I Met Your Father‘s Season 2 premiere marked the surprise return of Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney Stinson — and the cameo was merely an amuse-bouche, with NPH set to resurface a little ways down the road. In the meantime, TVLine is taking stock of the Hulu sequel series’ many nods, cameos and crossovers with the Mothership.
For the uninitiated: HIMYF picks up eight years after the events of the How I Met Your Mother finale, and focuses on a new friend group consisting of Sophie (Younger‘s Hilary Duff), Jesse (Veronica Mars‘ Chris Lowell), Valentina (grown-ish‘s Francia Raisa), Charlie (The Royals‘ Tom Ainsley), Ellen (Space Force‘s Tien Tran) and Sid (God Friended Me‘s Suraj Sharma). The story is told from the perspective of 58-year-old Sophie (played by Sex and the City‘s Kim Cattrall) — and unlike the original, the pilot establishes that our new protagonist has already met the dad, thereby confirming that the follow-up is operating under a slightly different framework than its predecessor.
Whether you’re already familiar with the spinoff or simply curious, the following guide provides a rundown of all the ways that HIMYF has paid homage to HIMYM and tied the two, largely standalone sitcoms together. Scroll through the following list to see if you’ve caught every tip of the hat to the OG series — and be sure to check back throughout the run of the show for inevitable additions.
After walking the Brooklyn Bridge in the series’ pilot, Sophie, Valentina and Charlie follow new friends Jesse, Sid and Ellen back to Jesse and Sid’s place. When they open the door, it’s revealed that they live in the same apartment that once was home to How I Met Your Mother‘s Ted (Josh Radnor), Marshall (Jason Segel), Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and (at one point) Robin (Cobie Smulders).
“The guys living in Ted and Marshall’s apartment felt like just the right level of connection [to the original series],” series co-creator Isaac Aptaker previously told TVLine. “It wouldn’t be [Sophie’s] apartment, it would be two friends she meets along this journey.”
When Sophie tells Jesse and Sid that she loves their place, Jesse mentions that they found the listing on a Wesleyan alumni group, indicating that Jesse and/or Sid attended the same alma mater as three-fifths of the former friend group — albeit years apart.
'OLD MARRIED COUPLE'
Jesse also reveals the listing for the apartment was posted by “this old married couple,” which suggests that he and Sid have been subletting from Marvin and Daisy’s parents. (As you’ll recall, Marshall and Lily realized they needed a bigger place in the HIMYM finale, upon the return of the mystical cockamouse and prior to the arrival of Baby No. 3.)
While the apartment has received a fresh coat of paint, something that belonged to its original occupants remains: Ted and Marshall’s swords, which were first showcased in the HIMYM episode “The Duel” (Season 1, Episode 8) and now hang over Jesse and Sid’s fireplace.
GEORGE VAN SMOOT AKA THE CAPTAIN
The two-part Season 1 finale kicks off with the unexpected return of not one but two fan-favorite recurring characters from the original series, beginning with George Van Smoot aka The Captain. When we first see Kyle MacLachlan’s alter ego again, he’s canoodling in bed with a woman other than his wife…
Moments later, Laura Bell Bundy enters the scene as Robin’s onetime morning news co-anchor Becky aka “Boats! Boats! Boats!” Girl, who was first introduced in the HIMYM episode “Subway Wars” (Season 6, Episode 4) and later got involved with The Captain.
In Season 1, Episode 9, “Jay Street,” Ellen lands a job interview with Goliath Corporate Market and is eventually hired as their assistant produce officer. While it is not yet confirmed that Goliath Corporate Market is a subsidiary of Goliath National Bank, series co-creator Elizabeth Berger previously told TVLine that “nothing we do in that respect is accidental.” With that said, it was “too early to say if there is a bigger connection” to Barney and Marshall’s former workplace.
The Season 1 finale features scenes from The Captain and Becky’s divorce proceedings, during which The Captain’s attorney says that his client is willing to forfeit to his wife his oceanside estate in Farhampton, previously seen in HIMYM Season 9.
The Captain is also willing to part with a bottle of 1831 single malt Glen McKenna, valued at $3 million — the very same brand of scotch whiskey referenced throughout the original series. (HIMYM creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas previously told Slate that the fictional beverage company was named after Spider-Man: No Way Home scribe Chris McKenna, who had worked with them on American Dad! and contributed early on to Barney’s storyline.)
MacLaren’s remains directly downstairs from Jesse and Sid’s apartment — but when TVLine asked at the start of Season 1 if Sophie & Co. might wander in there before season’s end, Berger kept her answer vague. “There’s a chance,” she said. Indeed, the old gang’s favorite watering hole is first seen in Episode 10.
As for why they didn’t just make MacLaren’s the new gang’s hangout, Aptaker answered: “It would make it a little bit too much like, ‘Oh, we’re watching the same show.’ We like the idea that they have their space [Pemberton’s] and that one of our characters is a new business owner and is trying to turn this classic New York bar into something of his own.”
CARL THE BARTENDER
Joe Nieves is the third How I Met Your Mother veteran to reprise his role on the sequel series. Sophie enters MacLaren’s and immediately approaches Carl the Bartender with her drink order.
It’s at MacLaren’s Pub that Sophie meets Canada’s greatest export, Robin Scherbatsky (played, of course, by Cobie Smulders). The famed journalist buys Sophie a drink, then offers her some sage relationship advice while seated at her favorite booth:
“Do not waste your time being scared,” she tells her. “Fear can make you run away from things that could be good — great, even! Things that are supposed to be a part of your story…. I have been married, I have been single, I have been everything in between, and the only decisions I regret making are the ones I made out of fear.”
The advice speaks not only to Sophie’s then-current predicament involving Jesse, but also to Robin’s own love story, which remains a work in progress. In the year 2022, she is six years removed from her marriage to Barney and eight years away from rekindling her relationship with Ted.
ROBIN GORED BY A BULL
Future Ted mentioned Robin’s brief career as a bullfighter in the HIMYM episode “Symphony of Illumination” (Season 7, Episode 12). A deleted scene from the original series finale, set in the year 2020, clarifies that Robin had been gored by a bull during a news segment — a segment that had clearly gone viral by the time Sophie runs into Robin two years later and tells her that she was a total badass for entering the bullfighting ring.
'A REAL PIECE OF WORK'
“I once had a guy who said ‘I love you’ on our first date,” Robin recalls, referring to her date with Ted in the HIMYM pilot. When Sophie says this guy sounds like a “real piece of work,” Robin answers, “You have no idea, but a good piece of work.”
THE PINEAPPLE INCIDENT
Amid their divorce proceedings, The Captain tells Becky that he “hasn’t hurt this bad since someone stole that pineapple off my front doorstep in aught five.” He’s referring to the famed Pineapple Incident of 2005, the mystery at the center of the HIMYM episode “The Pineapple Incident” (Season 1, Episode 10). An answer, however, had already come in a deleted scene from the final-season episode “Daisy” (Season 9, Episode 20), wherein Ted at last recalled how he retrieved the infamous tropical fruit.
Eagled-eyed viewers will also notice Sophie and Valentina have a pineapple-shaped cutting board hanging in their kitchen (as first seen in HIMYF Season 1, Episode 2).
IAN'S CONNECTION TO THE CAPTAIN
Had Becky not discovered The Captain’s affair and decided to divorce him, she wouldn’t have seized and sunken his prized boats — including the vessel in Australia that employed marine biologist Ian, Sophie’s Tinder date from Episode 1. Suddenly, Ian was out of a job and back in New York, just in time to reunite with Soph at the Naomi Reisberg exhibition in the Season 1 finale.
Daddy’s home! The Season 2 premiere marks the first appearance (keyword being first) by Neil Patrick Harris, who is reprising his Emmy-nominated role as Barney Stinson in Season 2 of the Hulu sequel series.
In the episode, Future Sophie begins to tell her son the story of how she hit “rock bottom.” We then cut back to the present timeline — albeit later in the year — to find 30-year-old Soph driving through the suburbs, frantically trying to make contact with Lori. “Mom, please call me back,” she says. “I think I’m dating my dad!” Wait, what??
Distracted, Sophie gets into a fender bender. She gets out to assess the damage, and that’s when we discover that the vehicle she dinged belongs to Barney. “Dude!” he exclaims, as the bumper falls off the back of his Audi. And that’s all we get of Barney for now. (Bonus Easter egg: Barney’s license plate reads “LGNDRY.”)
An episode count for Harris’ encore is being kept under wraps, but we can confirm that NPH’s cameo was only an introduction, and we’ll see more of Barney at some point during HIMYF‘s supersized second season of 20 episodes. For more intel on NPH’s return, click here.