Although it’s been a lock for a couple of months now, CBS made it official yesterday by renewing How I Met Your Mother for a ninth season. Apparently, although all the parties had agreed to the renewal, it took a few weeks to work out all the specifics. We also learned that, in the ninth season, we will learn the identity of the mother, although we were not apprised of which part of the season she would avail herself: At the end? Or will much of the season be devoted to Ted’s woo? If it’s the latter, $27 bucks says that the mother and Ted will not immediately hit it off; they will loathe one another, and it will take them several episodes to realize they are in love. Of course, that very same relationship dynamic has been used in countless romantic comedies and in several of Ted’s relationships already, but Craig Thomas and Carter Bays have become quite skilled at recycling plotlines.
The real question is: Will this really be the final season?
After all, How I Met Your Mother is one of only six uber-successful sitcoms remaining on television right now, ratings-wise (along with Big Bang Theory, 2 Broke Girls, Two and a Half Men, Mike & Molly and Modern Family). A ninth season, with the promise of meeting the mother, will likely only increase the ratings, and HIMYM is killing in syndication. There was only one reluctant cast member this time around, Jason Segel, and while he does have a feature film career, it has cooled considerably of late (The Five-Year Engagement was a bust, and while Jeff Who Lives at Home was an amazing film, it didn’t exactly burn up the box-office). Segel has only one movie queued up, as one of many actors who play themselves in the end-of-the-world comedy, This Is the End, which opens up against Man of Steel, which means it’s probably not going to do so well, either.
So, let’s be real with ourselves: Has a sitcom ever gone off the air after its highest-rated season? Even Friends, Cheers and Seinfeld were on the decline. And with the introduction of the mother, it’s safe to say that next season may be HIMYM’s highest rated season to date. So while it’s possible and even likely that the ninth season will be its last, I’m not aware of a lot of network television shows that end their run when there’s still a ton of money left in the till (see also, Dexter).