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Why Lily From How I Met Your Mother Looks So Familiar

In the world of television sitcoms, the Single Friends Living in the City model is a genre unto itself. "How I Met Your Mother" is not even the longest-running sitcom to date, but there is a reason that it still endures in the hearts of fans (via NPR). For nine years, viewers watched with anticipation to see if Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) would finally get his life together and find someone that suited his incredibly high standards. Cycling through on-again-off-again girlfriend Robin (Cobie Smulders) many times, the series ended with the two finding common ground, though that wasn't the ending of "How I Met Your Mother" that we really wanted.

Despite these shortcomings, the shining light of the series remains the relationship between Marshall (Jason Segel) and his better half. Since their engagement in the first episode, the two have been through break-ups, marriages, and children, all to come out on the other side intact. For over 200 episodes, "How I Met Your Mother" told the story of realistic love, and it wouldn't be possible without Marshall's wife, Lily Aldrin (Alyson Hannigan).

Alyson Hannigan started young in My Stepmother Is An Alien

Alyson Hannigan has blazed a trail through comedy and drama in her career, but her first big role occurred when she was only 14 years old in the aptly titled "My Stepmother Is An Alien" (per MTV). Though the title implies some campiness, the 1988 film has a surprising amount of heavy hitters in the cast. Dan Akroyd stars as Steven Mills, an oblivious researcher who unwittingly falls for a disarming alien named Celeste (Kim Basinger). Unfortunately for Steven, Celeste has ulterior motives and is only interested in his research. A Rotten Tomatoes score of 20% doesn't make the film a hit, but "My Stepmother Is An Alien" did feature many actors who would go on to have wildly successful careers. In addition to Hannigan in the role of Steven's teenage daughter Jessie, there are also appearances from a young Seth Green and Juliet Lewis in supporting roles who have gone on to be household names in their own right (via IMDb).

As for Hannigan, she is the lynchpin of the film. Jessie seems to be the only person who sees the truth about her stepmother. Steven is too blinded by love for the beautiful alien to see sense. Through the film, the young actor demonstrates that she can handle comedy and genre film, a portend for her next big role.

She broke barriers as Willow Rosenberg

It is no small thing to be part of a cultural phenomenon, and Alyson Hannigan was at the ground floor. For seven seasons, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" pushed a progressive feminist narrative as Buffy Summers (Sarah Michelle Gellar) battled vampires, demons, and the forces of darkness. By using monsters as a metaphor for high school, "Buffy" told human stories that were emotionally resonant and gut-wrenching. Hannigan portrayed the titular vampire slayer's best friend Willow; a computer nerd turned powerful witch. Willow goes through many difficulties throughout the series, including an addiction to magic.

But it is her relationship with Tara (Amber Benson) that makes the series genuinely groundbreaking. In Season 4, Willow meets the fellow witch, and the two cultivate a moving and heartfelt relationship in one of the first same-sex couples featured on network television. The Nerdist's Juliet Bennett Rylah wrote about the significance of showing two women in love and how seriously the series dealt with the romance. Controversies certainly arose, including the divisive Bury Your Gays trope, but Willow and Tara's relationship still endures (via The Hollywood Reporter).

"You got to see the journey, so that, I think, was very groundbreaking, and ... I've never had anything but just such a positive reaction," Hannigan told Entertainment Weekly during the "Buffy" reunion (via Yahoo). She went on to conclude: "[I]t's like it's such a gift to be able to be part of that."

The world will never be the same after that one time at band camp

Alyson Hannigan's participation in massive pop culture successes didn't end there. While filming "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," the actor became involved in a little-known franchise called "American Pie." Spawning three sequels and a myriad of questionable DVD movies, "American Pie" is truly the gift that keeps on giving. But no one can forget the 1999 teen sex comedy that created a wave of similar films. In it, we get the trope that started it all when Jim (Jason Biggs) attempts to lose his virginity before prom. We get Emmy winner Jennifer Coolidge as Stifler's Mom. And, of course, we get Michelle (Hannigan) and her tales of what happened at band camp.

"American Pie" remains a cultural touchstone. The most recent was 2011's "American Reunion," which is seeing new life on Netflix. But there may be hope for yet another sequel. Biggs and Shannon Elizabeth told The Hollywood Reporter that they are more than willing to return for a potential "American Pie 5." But it was Tara Reid that gave the most detail for a sequel.

"I can't tell you when, because I don't really know when, because we have to get all the actors and at the same time to get our schedules together," Reid told Entertainment Tonight. She hinted further: "There is a script out there. I'll put it that way."

She went back to the '70s for two episodes

The period comedy saw many guest stars in the eight years that "That '70s Show" graced the airwaves. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Jessica Simpson, and Amy Adams were some of the familiar faces with minor roles in the series. Before Alyson Hannigan made her way to "How I Met Your Mother," she was just one in a long procession of impressive guest stars. The actor appeared in episodes 12 and 13 of Season 6 as Kelso's (Ashton Kutcher) fellow cadet at the police academy, Suzy Simpson. Comfortable with firearms, the character was a wedge between Kelso and Fez (Wilmer Valderrama).

Fez's quest to find true love in Point Place was thrown for a loop yet again when he vied for Suzy's attention. But at the shooting range, he horrifies his potential paramour by shooting a rabbit. As a devout animal lover, that endangers any possible romance. Suzy concludes that both Kelso and Fez are not worth her time, which is the last we see of her. Though the character was short-lived, Hannigan demonstrated a knack for sitcom performance, which she would implement in the beloved comedy "How I Met Your Mother" a year later.

She took a dark turn in Veronica Mars

Alyson Hannigan may be better known for her light-hearted fare, but she showed an aptitude for darker material in the series "Veronica Mars." Like Buffy, Veronica (Kristen Bell) is a high schooler with the weight of the world on her shoulders. Instead of fighting demons, her superpower is her intellect, which she uses to solve mysteries. Taking inspiration from the darker elements of noir, "Veronica Mars" explores mature themes such as murder, sexual assault, and domestic abuse.

Though it is a high school show, some elements are more explicit, including Hannigan's portrayal of Logan Echolls' (Jason Dohring) sister Trina. She first appears as an aspiring actor, trying to get her father, Aaron (Harry Hamlin), to appear in her boyfriend's movie. Things take a turn for the worst when Logan discovers that Trina is being abused because of Aaron's reluctance to appear in the film. Violence has been a devastating undercurrent in the Echolls household from the beginning, and Aaron uses it against Trina's boyfriend. Aaron beating Trina's abuser demonstrates his bloodlust and foreshadows the surprise ending of Season 1. The care that "Veronica Mars" takes to tell these stories elevates it above just a high school show and gives it immense rewatch value.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.