With the first of nine final How I Met Your Mother episodes having aired last night, the countdown to the end has begun. For the HIMYM team, however, the countdown has been running for a few years – ever since they filmed the last scene of the last episode sometime during season two, News.com.au reports.

How I Met Your Mother Cast
The actors have been at this for nine years.

The premise of the entire series is that sometime in the future, Josh Radnor’s character, Ted, is telling his kids the longwinded story of how he met their mother. In the early years of the show, the kids, played by David Henrie and Lyndsy Fonseca, were often seen sitting on a couch, listening to the story and looking utterly bored.

However, when it became obvious that the series was a success, an obvious problem emerged. The longer HIMYM ran, the more Henrie and Fonseca would change, until it became impossible to play their original character. The obvious solution for series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas was to film the very last scene of the show in advance. Bays and Thomas always knew where the series would end up, so one day they just closed down the set, ushered out everyone but one cameraman and filmed the last scene with Henrie and Fonseca. They’ve had no reason to change it since.

Lyndsy Fonseca, Hunger Games: Catching Fire PremiereDavid Henrie
Fonseca and Henrie's characters could not be seen aging.

As random and confused as some of the plots in season 9 have seemed, they’ve been building up to a very specific conclusion, planned out years in advance. The final scene will close an extended one-hour episode, set to air on March 31. To give themselves some room for creative decisions, the producers reportedly filmed several versions of the final two-minute scene, but the central plotline is the same in all of them. The rest of the cast will film the remainder of the final episode on February 28.

And no, even the sleuthiest of sleuths will not hunt down anything about that final scene - predictably, the material is highly confidential. The actors were both required to sign nondisclosure agreements prior to filming the scene. So intent on keeping the secret, Fonseca put it out of her mind and doesn't even remember what they filmed, Thomas said on Wednesday.

Jason Segel, Cobie Smulders, Josh Radnor, CBS Upfronts
With most lead actors having launched successful film or theater careers in the past decades, it's time to retire HIMYM.