The How I Met Your Father Season 2 premiere seemed to strengthen a popular fan theory, but not for long. After the episode aired on Tuesday, showrunners Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker spoke out to shoot the idea down. Fair warning: there are spoilers for How I Met Your Father ahead!
How I Met Your Father centers around Sophie (Hilary Duff), and while she is a hopeless romantic just like How I Met Your Mother's Ted (Josh Radnor), their stories are completely separate. The newer series has already featured cameo appearances by characters from the original, and some fans expected the shows to become more and more entwined. In Season 2, Episode 1, Neil Patrick Harris made an appearance as his old character Barney Stinson. This brought a popular fan theory to the forefront – that Barney is Sophie's mysterious father.
The showrunners say that is not the case. When asked about the theory in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Aptakar said: "Yeah, we can debunk that, just based on the fact of the math of it. He would be something like a sophomore in high school. It's not really the story that we're trying to tell."
Berger elaborated: "We never like to dispel a theory because we love a good fan theory but because How I Met Your Mother fans are so diehard and so good at tracking the timelines, and our fans are as well now, we can safely say that that is not the case and he is not the father."
The identity of Sophie's father is a mystery that builds gradually to importance in the course of How I Met Your Father, and will apparently become more important in Season 2. This week's episode features one scene that teases drama to come later – when Sophie says that she thinks she's hit "rock bottom" in her love life, narrator Sophie (Kim Cattrall) cuts in to say that the real rock bottom is still ahead. Fans are then treated to an out-of-context scene where present Sophie (Duff) talks to her mom on the phone while driving furiously, demanding to know who her father is.
"Mom, please call me back! I think I'm dating my dad," she says. She then rear-ends the car in front of her and gets out to speak to the other driver. Barney steps out and says: "Dude!" before the cut scene comes to an end. It seems the rest will play out later in the season.
As Aptaker and Berger pointed out, the math isn't right for Barney to be Sophie's father. Sophie turned 30 in 2022 as the show established in Season 1, meaning she was born in 1992. How I Met Your Mother was extremely specific about Barney's sex life. The scene where he had sex for the first time in his life was set in 1999, so he couldn't have been her father.
The mystery will undoubtedly face some more twists and turns before the show is over. How I Met Your Father is streaming now on Hulu, with new episodes every Tuesday. How I Met Your Mother is streaming there as well.