TCADeadline__140109155905The creators of CBS’ How I Met Your Mother insist they really did have an eight-year plan beginning with the pilot and at the start of season two shot part of what is going to air in the series finale with the Mosby children “who are now 53 and 62,” joked exec producer Craig Thomas. “We shot a little bit with the kids in fall of 2006 and it’s part of the end game. You will see it on March 31,” he said at TCA. “We’ve kind of tried to space out over the season – have kind of a building momentum to how much we’re seeing of their relationship, but we will, in these last few episodes, really get a sense of sorts to tie it all together in a package of what this story has been that we’ve been watching, why we’ve been watching it. I don’t want to say too much about it.”

himym4The 200th episode fills in the eight years in the life of the mother, played by Cristin Milioti,  in which “there’s a lot of fun intersections between her life and our gang,” Thomas said. “Our gang is in that episode, but really it’s her episode and that kicks off the end game of the season and the series where you’re going to see more of her and Ted and learn more about them.”

One year ago, CBS negotiated an extra ninth season for its Monday night comedy. The prospects appeared all but dead after star Jason Segel had held firmly to his decision to leave, until he changed his mind after reviewing detailed records of the relatively light workload the hybrid series requires for a fat paycheck while also allowing him to also pursue a feature career. This extra ninth season, which takes place over a weekend, has had its “pitfalls,” Bays said at TCA, but a “fun challenge to figure out how to do that.

The show spent its early seasons in a perpetual state of “on the bubble” and Carter Bays said the backup plan for an alternate ending “we both kind of agreed: Ted meeting Victoria – happened at the end of Episode 12…It would have been Victoria, probably.”

“Ashley Williams reading this, like ‘Motherfucker! That would have been awesome!” said Thomas.

During the Q&A, none of the journalists in the room asked the cast or crew about this week’s episode in which the cast were dressed in yellowface and “Asian attire” as media reports have described their costumes. Some viewers tweeted angrily about it and  Bays tweeted that the episode was intended as a “silly and unabashedly immature homage to Kung Fu movies.” But he acknowledged some viewers were offended, adding, for that, “We’re deeply sorry.”

“We try to make a show that’s universal, that anyone can watch and enjoy,” Bays said. “We fell short of that this week, and feel terrible about it.”

The episode was titled “Slapsgiving 3: Slappointment in Slapmarra,” continuing a tradition on the show in which the friends slap each other.

Thomas and Bays said at TCA Wednesday night they do not intend to include updates of the HIMYM characters in the spinoff, which will feature a new group of New York friends and chronicle a female member of the group’s quest to meet her future husband. “Nothing will replace these people sitting here, and I think we owe it to this show to end it on its own terms, and when this show ends, that’s the curtain coming down for this world, I think,” Bays said.

“We want to keep the end really clean, really clean and respectful,” added Thomas. “This show is ending, and whatever How I Met Your Dad would ever be, if it goes, it has to prove itself on its own, and the show deserves the best possible ending that it could get, and the fans who stuck with us deserve that, and that’s what we intend to give them.”