How I Met Your Mother's Ted Mosby: What Only Big Fans Of The Show Will Know

Created by Craig Thomas and Carter Bays, "How I Met Your Mother" ran across nine seasons from 2005 to 2014. The series quickly became a huge favorite with audiences, drawing favorable comparisons to other stalwarts of the sitcom genre like "Friends" and "Scrubs." 

"How I Met Your Mother" tells the story of a group of 20-somethings living in New York City in the 2000s where they try to achieve success in romance and life. The framing device of the show is the main character Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) telling his children (in 2030) the story of, you guessed it, how he met their mother. 

That makes the entire world of "How I Met Your Mother" a series of memories that Ted shares with the audience. This style of storytelling makes use of Ted's personal opinions and biases to add humor and poignancy to situations. Over the course of the nine seasons, audiences got to know Ted and his various idiosyncrasies at a very intimate level. Let's take a look at some of the character's finer nuances that fans might not be aware of.

The basis for Ted

In a lot of ways, Ted Mosby is a classic rom-com protagonist. He is an incurable romantic who believes in true love but overthinks his relationships. He wants to settle down with someone special but struggles with commitment and self-doubt issues. 

The fictional biography of Ted places his origins in Shaker Heights, Ohio. Josh Radnor himself happens to be from Columbus, Ohio, while Carter Bays is actually from Shaker Heights. His place of birth has a big impact on Ted's outlook on the world and his aspirations to experience big city life in New York. Ted also graduated from Wesleyan University, as did Thomas and Bays.

When it came to fleshing out Ted's character on the show, Bays himself became the starting point, particularly when it came to Ted's hopelessly romantic nature. "I really wanted to get married," Bays told Cleveland Magazine. "And as a single guy in New York, I felt that was not the normal experience." Bays also hung out with Thomas and other friends in the city, and eventually, the duo decided to make a show about their shared experiences, which became "How I Met Your Mother."  

The other Ted

While present-day Ted is the protagonist of "How I Met Your Mother," the true main character of the series is his future self. He is the one telling the whole story to his children, who are teenagers at the time. The future version of Ted is rarely seen on camera and is voiced by Bob Saget instead of Josh Radnor. 

This idea of Saget voicing a future version of Ted took some getting used to, as Saget and Radnor discussed on a 2020 episode of "Bob Saget's Here For You podcast." According to Radnor, he wanted to voice future Ted himself, but his voice was deemed too young-sounding for the older character. "Okay, this is my rationalization: [Ted] smoked a lot and drank a lot." Saget told Radnor about the possible reason for the differences in their voices on the show. "So [Ted's] voice just changed [as he got older]."

While Saget never appeared in person on the show, he explained that his job as future Ted was tougher than simply recording some lines for an easy paycheck. "I would go in [the recording booth], and I had to know what [Ted was] thinking," Saget explained. "I didn't take it lightly. It wasn't a 'phone-in, pay me' job." Radnor finally took over voicing future Ted when he appeared as the character during the series finale. 

Ted got the dogs fired

"How I Met Your Mother" has not one, but two, titular characters. The first is Ted, denoted by "I" in the show's title, and the second is the mysterious mother whose identity became the chief source of mystery and rampant fan speculation on the show. For a long time, the money was on the mother to be revealed as Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders).

Ted meets Robin in the first episode and proceeds to fall hopelessly in love with her, despite them being very different people. Robin is always portrayed as a very independent person who lives alone instead of with a roommate and keeps five pet dogs in lieu of a romantic partner in her life. You get to see the dogs a few times in the early seasons before they were written out of the show, with Robin sending them to her aunt's farm.

Turns out the move was necessitated by Josh Radnor. In a guest blog the actor wrote for TV Guide, he revealed that he had tried to hide the fact that he is extremely allergic to dogs from the show creators. Things really got out of hand while filming Season 2, Episode 9, "Stuff," where a few scenes required Ted to be in close proximity to the dogs. The resulting extreme allergic reaction experienced by Radnor needed rapid intervention from paramedics, and it was decided after that to have the dogs exit the show for the sake of the actor's health.

Ted really got around

While Ted Mosby is the titular character of "How I Met Your Mother," the breakout character of the series was Barney Stinson — a sociopathic man-child and self-professed all-around-awesome dude, played with gleeful abandon by Neil Patrick Harris, in a star-making turn after years of being typecast as Doogie Howser from his earlier successful show.  

Barney is obsessed with women and will go to any lengths to get with them. He has a proportionally high number of love interests and romantic flings throughout the course of the show. Surprisingly, while Ted is posed as the opposite of Barney, someone who believes in true love and yearns to settle down with a special someone, he also has a pretty high scorecard when it comes to romantic liaisons. 

It has been reported by fans (via Vulture), who studied "How I Met Your Mother" closely, that Ted has had over 30 romantic partners (that we know of). He has also been physically intimate with at least 20 of them. It seems that, at the end of the day, Ted and Barney were not very different in terms of their romantic careers, despite being at odds over almost every aspect of dating and romance. 

Ted has an origin story

The driving force behind "How I Met Your Mother" is Ted's all-consuming obsession with finding and falling in love with the perfect girl. Throughout the series, Ted bounces from one relationship to another, desperately searching for a special someone to settle down with, before inevitably getting dumped, left at the altar, and or friend-zoned.  

Many fans and critics have noted that Ted's approach to romance is far from healthy. He tends to get too serious too quickly, like telling Robin he is in love with her during their very first date. As it turns out, this facet of Ted's personality has a rather sad origin story that gets explored in Season 9, Episode 17, "Sunrise." 

In the episode, audiences learn that when Ted was a kid, he had a balloon that he loved, which floated away forever after Ted momentarily let go of it. In future Ted's own words, "The whole thing taught me a lesson. If you love something, you can never let it go, not even for a second, or it's gone forever." If that origin story sounds pretty cartoonish, that's because it literally is, since the main villain from Disney's iconic animated series, "Phineas and Ferb," has the exact same backstory.  

Luke and Leia

"How I Met Your Mother" was that rare sitcom that gave its fans plenty of mysteries to obsess over, like a rom-com version of "Lost." Ever since the start of the series, fans were kept hooked by the question of who Ted's future wife was, and why he feels the need to tell his children about her in such a long-winded manner. 

Two important characters on "How I Met Your Mother," despite being kept on the sidelines for the entire run of the series, are future Ted's two kids, played by Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie. They are the surrogate audience that Ted tells his story, and their questions and reactions help move Ted's stories forward in important ways. But despite being a part of the show from the start, the names of Ted's children were not revealed for a long time. 

The wait got so long that fans started coming up with theories of their own as to their names. The most popular theory was that Ted had named his children "Luke and Leia," as a nod to his all-consuming love for "Star Wars." This turned out to be half-correct when it was finally revealed in Season 9, Episode 15, "Unpause," that Ted's children are named Luke and Penny. 

Ted was a hypocrite

Ted is the guy you are supposed to be rooting for in his grand quest to find the girl of his dreams. The problem is, despite his repeated declarations of being a true romantic who believes in soul mates and wants nothing more than to find a special someone, Ted's actions often show him up as a hypocrite. 

While looking down on Barney for having a large number of romantic partners, Ted himself, as previously mentioned, has dated over 30 women in his time, and not always for the right reasons. This was made clear in the Season 7 hour-long finale, "The Magician's Code," when Ted chooses to drop Victoria (Ashley Williams) to chase after Robin yet again. This makes Robin chew Ted out, as she points out that he is willing to dump a woman who genuinely wants to settle down with him in favor of chasing after Robin when she has made it repeatedly clear that she does not want to marry Ted.

Hearing the words from Robin seem to make an impression on Ted. In Season 8, he finally admits that despite pursuing serious relationships for so long, a part of him was never really serious about it, and he was having too much fun being single to seriously think about settling down.    

What could have been

When "How I Met Your Mother" was in the process of being created, network television audiences were searching for something new to fill the "Friends"-shaped hole in their hearts. "How I Met Your Mother" showed promise that it could be it, and there were a lot of actors in consideration to play the modern sitcom romantic hero, Ted Mosby. 

At the time, Radnor was an unknown quantity in terms of his acting career, having done a few small roles here and there. The producers of "How I Met Your Mother" wanted someone more seasoned to play Ted Mosby, and one of their first choices was allegedly Scott Foley. However, Foley turned down the offer, leaving the door wide open for Radnor.

Another actor who almost played Ted was Jason Biggs, of "American Pie" fame, who declined the role at the time and came to regret that decision in later years. "I was offered the role [of Ted]," Biggs told Sirius XM (via E! News). "And it's probably my biggest regret, you know, on passing." The actor explained that he was working on film projects at the time which only needed a few months of commitment, and he did not like the idea of being tied down to a single show for potentially years. 

The name was teased from the start

Right from the first episode of "How I Met Your Mother," the burning question on everyone's mind was who Ted's future wife was. While a stubborn few clung on to the idea that Robin would ultimately turn out to be the mother after all, other fans started hunting around for clues as to which other character on the show could be the titular "Mother." 

Many of Ted's romantic partners, from Stella to Victoria, seemed like possible candidates. Then a clue dropped that pointed toward a completely new character. In Season 1, Episode 9, "Belly Full of Turkey," a stripper tells Ted her name is Tracy. At that moment, the camera cuts to Ted's future children looking shocked as their father informs them the stripper was their mother. 

But this only turns out to be a joke on Ted's part. Still, the sequence led fans to conclude that Tracy was indeed the name of the person who would one day become Ted's wife. This fan theory ended up being true. When the wife was finally introduced fully in Season 9, her name was revealed to be Tracy McConnell.

Barney was not so bad

In terms of their attitude towards women and romance, Ted and Barney represent the opposite ends of the male spectrum. Ted is a true romantic with dreams of finding his soul mate, while Barney treats women like objects and is willing to sink to any level to get them to sleep with him before moving on to his next target.

Throughout the show, we get to see Barney engage in some truly despicable, misogynistic behavior in his pursuit of women. But there is a possibility that he was not actually that bad. Remember, the entire show is narrated from future Ted's perspective, and the character might have reason to make Barney seem extra bad to prop up his own past self as a better man by comparison in front of his kids. 

This is a popular fan theory that Neil Patrick Harris also subscribes to. "I think that [theory is] very accurate," Harris told Digital Spy. "Given the story structure, and with [Ted] telling the story to his kids, everything was able to be overdrawn." To support the theory, Harris points out how Ted goes out of his way to paint an overly negative picture of Robin and Barney's dating life in Season 5, Episode 7, "The Rough Patch," as an example of Ted embellishing the past in his favor. 

Victoria almost became the mother

Some fans of "How I Met Your Mother" like to think the entire series was meticulously planned from start to finish, building up nine seasons of intrigue with various hints and clues all leading up to Ted Mosby finally entering into a relationship with the mother of his future children. But the truth is the showrunners were pretty much just making the whole thing up as they went along.

This was especially true during Season 1 when there was no guarantee that the series would be picked up for a second season, let alone eight more. So, showrunners Craig Thomas and Carter Bays had a proposed ending ready in case they would not get to add any more seasons to the show. Namely, one where Ted's girlfriend, Victoria, would turn out to be the mother after all. 

As the showrunners revealed in an interview, reported by Deadline, "We both kind of agreed: Ted meeting Victoria – happened at the end of Episode 12 ... It would have been Victoria, probably." Once it became clear that the show was a hit and not in danger of getting canceled in a hurry, Bays and Thomas ditched the idea and started building a longer road to establishing Tracy McConnell as future Ted's wife. 

Josh Radnor is not a fan of Ted

At the start of "How I Met Your Mother," Ted was poised to be the romantic hero for an entirely new generation of audiences — like a cross between Ross Geller and Hugh Grant's character from "Notting Hill." But as the show progressed Ted's actions started to become more questionable, and fan opinion began to turn against him.

By later seasons, more and more critics were pointing out that while Ted claimed to be a die-hard romantic who loves and respects women, his behavior was often closer to Barney than a chivalrous knight of old. Many argued about how Ted would try to emotionally manipulate the women he dated and refused to take no for an answer, making him more of a jerk than the show might have intended.

It's an assessment that Radnor appears to agree with. When a fan criticized Ted on Twitter for not having as much "emotional endurance" as Lily's (Alyson Hannigan) monologue from the final episode would have us believe, Radnor chimed in with his wholehearted agreement. The actor also admitted he has actively tried to distance himself from Ted since the show ended. "I haven't been clean-shaven since the show ended," Radnor told GQ. "I like having a beard, and I hate shaving. But part of it was that when I shave, I look like that guy." 

Coming to terms with the ending for Ted

After nine seasons of laughter and heartbreak, Ted's full story was finally revealed in the series finale of "How I Met Your Mother." And the reactions were mixed, to say the least. A certain section of the fandom was outraged over the way the show chose to tie up Ted's storyline with respect to the titular "Mother."

It is revealed in the finale that Ted did end up marrying Tracy and having two children with her. But Tracy passes away a few years after marriage. Ted then seeks permission from his children to start dating again, also revealing that he had been in love with Robin the whole time, and intends to pursue her now that Tracy was out of the picture. Josh Radnor has a theory as to why so many fans were offended by the way things ended for Ted, Tracy, and Robin.

"People were more comfortable being angry than sad," the actor told Bob Saget on his podcast. "They were sad their favorite show was ending and they were sad it didn't end the way they wanted it to." Radnor also stated his belief that the series finale of "How I Met Your Mother" would be seen in a better light a few years down the road when fans have gained some emotional distance from the world and characters they had grown to care so deeply about.