How I Met Your Mother: Evidence Against The Dead Mother Theory

Over the years there have been numerous How I Met Your Mother theories, but none sadder than the ‘Mother Is Dead’ Theory – which is self explanatory. Whereas its hard to trace when this theory actually started, it’s gained significant support in the past few seasons, but none more than the episode entitled “Vesuvius”. Since the episode aired, there have been countless articles detailing the ‘evidence’ for why this is the only explanation, but what people forget is all the evidence to the contrary. Don’t lose hope HIMYM fans! By the end of this article you will have restored hope in a happy ending for HIMYM!

How Cute

In case you aren’t that familiar with the theory’s evidence thus far, it basically got its first boon of support during a speech Ted gave in the Season 8 “The Time Travelers” when he wishes he met the mother 45 days sooner so he could have 45 more days with her. This theory was again supported in this past episode when he and the mother have a very emotional conversation in 2024 about the future and how mothers should attend their daughter’s wedding – and then proceed to cry. For a full run down of this evidence, here is an emotional and concise article to spell it out more.

As for the evidence as to why the mother ISN’T dead, I will arrange these items in order of ‘how we learned them’ starting with season 1 and ending with what we learned from “Vesuvius” – yes, there is hope in that heartbreaking episode. I’ll admit that some of these points are stronger than others. While some set up a tone, others directly disprove the evidence FOR the dead mother theory.

Ted’s Women:

“All you’ve done is talk about an endless parade of sluts you’ve banged. Do you realize how disturbing that is? You’re our father.” – Penny Mosby (Ted’s Daughter)

Ted’s daughter – played by the beautiful Lyndsy Fonseca – summed this point up best in the Season 9 Spoof Preview that aired around Comic Con. If the mother were truly dead, and this story was one big touching tribute to her so that their children could always keep her alive in their memories, then why – DEAR GOD WHY – is he talking about all the women he’s slept with?

Teds Women

Sure Ted has slept with some of the most beautiful women in the world, but you do not tell those stories to your kids. If you want to brag, tell your friends, but don’t relive your glory days to your children. To be fair, whether the mother is dead or alive this is still pretty disturbing. Though if the mother is in fact dead, then this goes from being just disturbing to downright disrespectful to the women he loves. Ted’s has always gone out of his way to try to be the perpetual romantic – even when it was annoying  – so I doubt Ted would do something as disrespectful as this to the one he’s been searching 9 Seasons for.

Debunking the ‘Where’s My Wife?’ Evidence:

One usual piece of evidence for the ‘dead mother theory’ is during the Season 3 episode “How I Met Everyone Else” where Ted flash forwards to his, Marshal, and Lilly’s 20th College Reunion in 2020. During this time, the gang gets high off . . . “eating a big sandwich” and Ted utters “Where’s my wife?”. Some people have taken this to be a very surreal and just plain tragically cruel moment in which Ted is so high he can’t remember his wife is dead. WRONG!!!!!

Wheres my wife

As you’ll remember, the events of “Vesuvius” took place in 2024 – 4 years after the college reunion – and the mother is indeed present. So any ideas about this being another hint about a tragic end is completely wrong. Sure this has no effect on what happens post 2024, but it’s important to see where the other evidence stands in the larger picture. The next evidence doesn’t debunk ‘the dead mother’ theory directly, but it does show that fan theories are just that – theories.

Fan Theories – Acknowledged But Ultimately False:

Again,  there have been many HIMYM theories and the most prevalent a while back was that ‘the mother’ was Barney’s half sister. We saw a few possible signs – sound familiar – but ultimately didn’t prove to be true. Instead the writers wrote a story to acknowledge it in the Season 8 episode “Ring Up!”. Ted met a girl who turned out to be Barney’s half sister and they had a one night stand – which made Barney try to wed them after he found out she was his sister.

Ring Up

It’s entirely possible that the whole ‘dead mother theory’ is simply being acknowledged here, but in the end is just another red-herring. It’s happened before, so maybe with any luck it can happen again. This format has been used in various other shows as well, the most notable of which is the BBC series Sherlock. Season 3 premiered with a bunch of different theories for how Sherlock faked his own death – each of which were based off of actual fan theories that had developed after the Season 2 finale.

Pissed Off Kids:

Much like the my first point, this one is all about tone of character. Throughout the 9 season of Ted telling his kids about how he meet their mother, the kids have seemed at best disinterested. If these kids were truly hearing about their dead mother, you would assume that they would have at least a little more interest in the story.


Ted’s kids overreact in this Comic Con spoof to promote the 9th and finale Season

Sure after 9 seasons anyone would get annoyed, but it still comes down to this being about their dead mother. They haven’t teared up once, or even hinted at their mother being dead. Sure Ted has been telling this story at a snails pace, but the kids would have mentioned it by now. Unless he is telling this entire story to preface telling his kids that their mom is dead – which is a whole new level of disturbing.

Breaking A Dying Promise:

As I mentioned earlier, the episode that kicked up this firestorm of worry was “Vesuvius”. Though despite all the circumstantial evidence it gave, there was also one key moment that most people have misinterpreted:

“I don’t want you to be the guy who only lives in his stories. Life moves forward” – The Mother

Many people saw this as the mother telling Ted to move on – a sort of ‘when I’m gone…’ statement. To be fair this might very well be the case, but if this was truly the mother’s dying wish for Ted . . . . he broke it.

Mom's promise

Think about it. If the mother is indeed dead and this is him telling his kids the story of how he met their mother to keep her memory alive, he broke his promise to her. Telling them how he met their mother is fine, but the amount of details he’s put into the stories weren’t needed. He started the story almost 10 years before he met the mother. Ted is living inside his stories again – clearly.


All and all, you might be wondering what any of these facts say directly about the mother being alive. Well, these circumstantial pieces of evidence are no more proven than the pieces of evidence used to support the mother is dead theory. So does that mean everything breaks even? No! My main goal was to make you realize what it would truly mean IF the mother was dead.

If the mother is dead, then How I Met Your Mother is the story of a man who searched his whole life for his wife and finally found her. Sadly, after around 10 years together, she found out she was going to die, so she told him to move on and not live in the past. Unable to cope with this, Ted spends his days doing exactly what she asked him not to – living in his stories – while reminiscing about all the women before her. In doing so, he hasn’t found closure, but has only succeeded in pushing his children away.

Almost together at last

Can’t these two just have a happy ending?

When push comes to shove, How I Met Your Mother is a comedy. Yes, there have been some horribly tragic moments in the past, but each was eventually passed and was made better. Whether it was the loss of Marshal’s dad or when Barney left Nora for Robin – who wouldn’t do the same for him -, those moments were made better in the end. Marshall got his closure and began a new family, and Barney and Robin get married. If the mother does die, we know Ted’s future. There is no closure, no happy ending, only stories. And certainly no silver lining to this tragedy that has been 9 Seasons in the making.

UPDATE: As of 3/10/14, Cristin Milioti (The Mother) hinted that the Mother Isn’t Dead. So WIN!!!!

7 thoughts on “How I Met Your Mother: Evidence Against The Dead Mother Theory

  1. The writers are aware of the “mother is dead” theory and decided to fan the flames a little to get publicity and build up anticipation for the finale. They aren’t stupid- the endless discussion (which i enjoy) helps the show’s ratings. But they hit the “clues” too hard in episode 19, which leads me to think it is a total head-fake to throw all off course.

  2. I’m pretty sure that the Mother isnt dead. They are playing us well! Ted is an highly emotinal man, no one can deny that. What I believe, is either the Mother’s mother might not have been there at their own wedding. We know The Mother isnt as emotional as Ted. It isnt the most likely, what I believe is the most probable, is Ted’s own mother. We know Ted has a sister. Maybe the event of Vesuvius happens not long after that? We still have a lot to learn.

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