‘How I Met Your Mother’: Why Fans Thinks Tracy Died From Coronavirus

Though the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother came to an end in 2014, fans still chat about it online. As a show that jumps back and forth in time, viewers can use this as a way to imagine how the events of today could have been tied in. And one new theory proposes that the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic played a role in the titular mother’s death.

‘How I Met Your Mother’ aired for 9 seasons

How I Met Your Mother
L to R: Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor, Alyson Hannigan and Jason Segel in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

How I Met Your Mother premiered in 2005. The series’ tagline was “a love story in reverse.” That’s because the central character, Ted (Josh Radnor), is recalling events that happened in the past. He tells the story (with narration from Bob Saget) from the year 2030 when his kids are teenagers.

The show begins with the events of 2005 and ends with a weekend in 2013. However, there are flash-forward moments that tease events that come after that time. Ted explains to his kids how he met their mother, and series hinges on keeping her identity from the audience for most of its nine-season run.

The mother, Tracy, died from a mysterious illness

Cristin Milioti as Tracy in 'How I Met Your Mother'
Cristin Milioti as Tracy in ‘How I Met Your Mother’ | Cliff Lipson/CBS via Getty Images

Throughout the show, the writers drop hints about the mother. Her name is Tracy, she plays the bass, and she studied economics. The audience finally meets Tracy in the season 8 finale, and the final season features flashbacks in which her imminent death from an unnamed illness becomes apparent.

In the series finale, the question is answered: Ted meets Tracy after Robin and Barney’s wedding. They begin dating, get engaged, have two children, and get married in 2020. Tracy passes away in the year 2024, and her cause of death is presumed to be cancer, though it’s never mentioned.

Ted never mentioned coronavirus — was there a reason?

Now that we’re actually living through 2020, one viewer of the series poses the question: How could someone tell a story in such detail, and not mention a pandemic? “Ted Mosby, in the year 2030, told the story of how he met his children’s mother and HE NEVER MENTIONED THE CORONAVIRUS ONCE,” they wrote.

But there could be a reason. If Tracy died from the coronavirus, his kids (who were very young in 2020) would likely know about it. “I had to go back and check what year the Mother died to make sure she didn’t die of Covid,” wrote another Twitter user. “She dies in 2024…I really hope this isn’t still a problem in 4 years.”

Series creator Craig Thomas weighs in

One benefit of posing a question or theory on Twitter? The possibility of a knowledgeable source weighing in. Craig Thomas, who co-created HIMYM with Carter Bays, saw the initial tweet. His response? “In his defense, Ted didn’t want to make the story overly long,” a joke about the series going on longer than expected.

While Thomas didn’t address the theory about Tracy’s cause of death, he did like a Twitter reply that reads, “Ted didn’t mention it for the same reason he’s telling a long, meandering story like he’s got all the time in the world (and why you only see him outside of Robin’s window at the end): THEY’RE STILL IN QUARANTINE. This isn’t going away by magic!”

The argument against this theory


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As with most fan theories, there are reasons why it’s not likely. “The conclusion seems to be that Tracey may have passed from COVID complications, but let’s not forget he visited her in hospital without PPE so that’s probably not it, people,” wrote the fan who initially tweeted on the subject.

To that effect, there are plenty of episodes in which the events taking place between 2020 and 2030 are shown, and no one is wearing a mask or following social distancing guidelines. So either society completely abandons precautions and coronavirus remains a problem, or Tracy died from some kind of cancer, as has been purported in the past.