Can HIMYM survive without Segel?

Last updated 10:33 06/08/2012

Long-time fans of How I Met Your Mother must be in a tizz right now, with news that Jason Segel (Marshall) is planning to quit the show at the conclusion of its eighth season. The star was interviewed by an Austrian website, and was quoted as saying "I've been playing the nice guy for quite a long time now. That's why I'm gonna quit How I Met Your Mother after the eighth season." The report on Stuff mentions that Alyson Hannigan (Lily) is likely to quit the show too.

20120806You can't blame Segel for wanting to move on: eight years is a long time to be pretending you're somebody else, and he's now an in-demand Hollywood star following the recent critical success of The Muppets (which Segel also co-wrote) and The Five Year Engagement. Plus, he's a smart guy - he probably knows, just as well as we do, that HIMYM has been in sharp decline for the past few years. He wants out before it hits rock bottom.

But the news that Segel and Hannigan might be leaving the show forces me to ask the question: Could the show survive without them? Would it actually be a watchable show without Marshall and Lily involved?

It's true that Segel and Hannigan are two of the show's three biggest stars right now (alongside Neil Patrick Harris), but I think the show could work without them - and history proves that successful shows can maintain quality after the loss of a major character or two.

I nearly had a heart attack after Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and Khal Drogo (Jason Momoa) were killed off in consecutive episodes of Game of Thrones, but the story has been just as good since they departed. Likewise, as a massive CSI fan, I was concerned when Grissom (William Petersen) left the show, but the past season - led by Ted Danson as new character DB Russell - occasionally hit the high standard of those golden Grissom years.

Sure, the dynamic between the remaining characters would change and, unless head writers Carter Bays and Craig Thomas decided to introduce a pair of replacement characters, the kinds of stories being told on HIMYM would be mostly different. It would take a little time and some clever story development. It could be done. History proves it.

But therein lies the problem: recovering from the loss of Segel & Hannigan would all come down to the writing - and Bays, Thomas and the rest of the writers on How I Met Your Mother haven't done anything really exciting with the show in years. As viewers and fans, we have no reason to think they could do it.

In fact, you could make a decent case that they've spent the past couple of years infuriating fans by refusing to reveal who the mother is (c'mon guys, it's time) and spending a season making us wait to find out who Barney Stinson was marrying (the disappointing Season 7 finale predictably revealed it was Robin, not girlfriend Quinn).

If you ask me, Marshall & Lily are consistently the best part of HIMYM, giving us a chance to get away from Ted (who is now a completely unlikable wuss; just lower your standards and give the relationship a second to develop, idiot) and the yawnfest of Robin and Barney's will-they-won't-they relationship. Any attempt to do HIMYM without Marshall & Lily would be like trying to recreate a Rembrandt without using green or blue paint.

Thoughhistory proves that How I Met Your Mother could survive without Segel & Hannigan, it's also full of shows that failed in the wake of a major character departure*. And while it's possible that HIMYM could survive, I think the latter is much more likely. The show is already in decline. Losing Segel and/or Hannigan would simply accelerate it.

What do you think: Can How I Met Your Mother survive without Jason Segel and/or Alyson Hannigan? Will it be as good as it is now? If you're a HIMYM fan, will you stop watching the show if these two aren't involved?

(*) One of my favourite shows, The X Files, is a perfect example.

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p   #1   10:40 am Aug 06 2012

Funny, Rembrandt never used that much green or blue in his paintings....

Leon   #2   10:41 am Aug 06 2012

With the constant reliance on flashbacks, and foreshadowing, that has always been one of the central pillars of this show, I don't think that they can do it without the long term couple. We have always been reminded that Marshall and Lily have been friends with Ted since "college", and are told that they all remain close into the future. Suddenly removing that will make for a huge stretch in credibility. As you say, that then leaves Ted (awful), Robin (awful, and good lord woman please eat something), and Barney (great, but not deep).

I agree that the last couple of seasons of the show have been incredibly weak, especially if you go and watch some of the really tightly written early seasons.

Steve   #3   10:41 am Aug 06 2012

Given that season 8 is supposed to be the final season anyway, I don't see why this is a problem.

Ben   #4   10:42 am Aug 06 2012

I think this will accelerate the writers decision to end the show after 8 seasons. They have been talking about the fact they know the endpoint of the story, and that they can write the endpoint this season. They have been in talks with the network to make sure that they will have knowledge of when they need to write that story in. I don't think, given the premise is to set the show in the future and future Ted talks about Lily & Marshall as being still a part of everyones lives, that they could write them out of the show.

Tom Jackson   #5   10:43 am Aug 06 2012

HIMYM can't survive without Marshall. Many of the great stories revolve around him with his humour, his songs etc. Just watch the blooper reels on youtube - you'll see that behind the scenes, Marshall and Barney make the show funny.

capital gal   #6   10:45 am Aug 06 2012

I think the real question is why not just finish it and the end of season 8?

cathy   #7   10:46 am Aug 06 2012

Alyson Hannigan answering questions on her official twitter account: ā€@alydenisof

ā€œ@cieraaamillller: is it true that you and Jason are leaving if HIMYM gets a ninth season?ā€ I have NO IDEA where this rumor started! NOT TRUE

Miss_Whanau   #8   10:46 am Aug 06 2012

I lost interest after season three. I got over not knowing who the mother was and Ted's ridiculous high standards and pathetic whining just got to me. The show even got a tad misogynistic. Jason and Alyson are definitely the highlights of the show. Without them, the show is doomed.

Tracey   #9   10:47 am Aug 06 2012

I hope the writers see sense and decide to make the eighth season the final season. I really enjoy the show, but it has been going a bit downhill and is hardly about how he met their mother any more anyway. I don't know if I'd keep watching if Marshall and Lily left. I love Barney but do not think him and Robyn work together, and I've given up caring about Ted.

Trixie   #10   10:48 am Aug 06 2012

I sort of feel like Segel is trying to expedite the end of HIMYM by announcing his departure. The show is well overdue to wind up, has been for the last two seasons at least. I don't think they could introduce replacement characters for Marshall & Lily at this point, given the way HIMYM has always been structured (although less so recently) it has relied upon the clever writing and jumping into backstories with the main characters...something that's not going to work with new characters.

They need to write one final decent season & be done with it. Anything else just isn't going to work for the longtime fans.

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