After eight seasons and several months of speculation, How I Met Your Mother has made its end date official.
CBS and 20th Century Fox TV announced Wednesday that the veteran comedy from Carter Bays and Craig Thomas has been been renewed for a ninth and final season to air during the 2013-14 broadcast season. This means viewers will finally get to meet the titular mother and future bride of Ted (Josh Radnor), whose identity has been teased since the series launched in 2005.
The order comes more than a month after all five series regulars -- Radnor, Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Neil Patrick Harris, Alyson Hannigan -- locked down deals to reprise their characters for one final run. Official word was expected earlier, and Bays, Thomas and CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler have all noted that the deal was more or less inevitable since reports of an early pickup broke in December.
"Through eight years, How I Met Your Mother has mastered the art of leading-edge comedy, emotional water-cooler moments and pop culture catch-phrases,” said Tassler. “We are excited for Carter, Craig, Pam Fryman and this amazing cast to tell the final chapter and reveal television’s most mysterious mother to some of TV’s most passionate fans.”
Fryman, who has thus far directed 163 of the series' 174 episodes, serves as executive producer alongside Bays, Thomas, Chris Harris, Stephen Lloyd, Chuck Tatham and Kourtney Kang.
"We‘re thrilled to have the entire and incredibly talented How I Met Your Mother cast back for one final season to bring the series to a proper close,” said 20th Century Fox Television chairmen Dana Walden and Gary Newman in a joint statement. “Carter Bays and Craig Thomas are masterful and hilarious storytellers, and we have no doubt that they will guide one of the greatest comedies of the last decade to a gratifying conclusion when they finally reveal the identity of the mother."
Following surprising growth to series high ratings during the seventh season, How I Met Your Mother remains one of TV's strongest comedies among total viewers and adults 18-49. The current run is averaging 10 million viewers and a 4.2 adults rating in live-plus-seven-day Nielsen returns. That's 31 percent growth with the key demo from live-plus-same viewings.
The early arrival of How I Met Your Mother's renewal is largely due to the nature of the series' storytelling. Bays and Thomas have long expressed that they'd need a year's notice to properly tie up their comedy's many loose ends.
"We're writing this season like it's the end," Thomas said at the start of the current season. "We'll have to have a Plan A and a Plan B going, and we're approaching the moment where those plans diverge."
That plan will now likely have to accommodate at least 22 more episodes after the current run, though no official count was given at the time of the announcement.