Mother's Day has come early at CBS: Its veteran comedy "How I Met Your Mother" will indeed return next season -- and it will be the final one for the series.
The entire gang is set to return for the show's swan song. And patient viewers of the longrunning comedy will finally learn the identity of the enigmatic mother in the title.
CBS and 20th Century Fox TV made the news official Wednesday after much speculation about the show's fate. CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler had hinted earlier this month at the Television Critics Assn. press tour that a renewal announcement was imminent.
The series, from Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, premiered on CBS in September 2005 and became a strong performer for the network among adults 18-49 and among total viewers. This season it is bringing in around 10 million viewers.
"Through eight years, 'How I Met Your Mother' has mastered the art of leading-edge comedy, emotional water-cooler moments and pop culture catch phrases," Tassler said in a statement. "We are excited for Carter, Craig and [executive producer] Pam Fryman and this amazing cast and to tell the final chapter and reveal television's most mysterious mother to some of TV's most passionate fans."
Last September, Bays and Thomas had said the uncertainty of the show's future had them planning out the eighth season as its last -- and expressed needing a firm "yes" or "no" soon so they could adequately resolve story lines.
"It's going to be more and more work that we have to throw out if this isn't our last season," Bays said in September. "We'd like to know as soon as possible. If this is the last season of 'How I Met Your Mother,' it's everything we've dreamed of and more -- that being said, do we have a ninth season within us? Absolutely. We could do a ninth season, if it was possible."
What might fans expect in the final run of the series?
"We have a plan to bring back many people we've had on the show," Bays said. "Not to steal their idea, but I loved the 'Seinfeld' finale where you saw everyone that's ever been on the show. We have a way to do it that sort of fits in with the universe of our show."