🦋 How I Met Your Mother Is A Fairytale: A Cinderella Story 🦋
June 1, 2022
How I Met Your Mother really is a fairytale. Think about it. Fairytales rely heavily on symbolism: the red apple in Snow White, the glass slipper in Cinderella, the rose in Beauty and the Beast. HIMYM, like fairytales, relies heavily on symbolism. It’s one of the things I love most about How I Met Your Mother.
You’ve heard of the most common symbols in HIMYM: the yellow umbrella, the blue french horn, the red cowboy boots, and the pineapple. But there are other important symbols in HIMYM that are overlooked, namely the butterfly, the pumpkin, the locket and the lighthouse.
Remember, fairytales are about hope and transformation.
The yellow umbrella symbolizes hope. It’s like the wishing star in Disney. Ted had to believe in fate, believe that he would one day meet his soulmate.
You may laugh now but I’m going to show you how How I Met Your Mother is a Cinderella story, starting with the symbols, the butterfly and the pumpkin.
Butterflies represent transformation.
The main animals represented in Cinderella are the butterfly/bird and the fish. In the Cinderella movie Ever After, the main girl Danielle starts out as a fish. As a servant, she feels unfit to be among royalty.
Danielle looks at her dirty hands, then decides to cleanse herself and go for a swim, alluding to her being a fish at the beginning of the story.
This is my favorite scene in Ever After.
Ever After alluding to her future transformation with wings.
Her dress has wings.
Butterfly dress in Cinderella 2015
The butterfly is also used to signify transformation in How I Met Your Mother.
After Ted broke up with Robin, he got a butterfly tattoo, which became a running joke for the rest of the series. The breakup simply opened doors to greater things and was the starting point to Ted’s growth in the next chapter of his life.
“I thought you needed a wingman to fly, but the truth is, you’ve got your own wings now. Since you and Robin split, you’ve been gestating. Growing in your cocoon. And last night, you burst out of that cocoon like a majestic, uh…gosh what is it that comes out of a cocoon? I was always bad at science.” — Barney to Ted
Every time a female character undergoes transformation or a major life transition, she’s wearing a butterfly necklace.
Robin wearing the butterfly necklace when she quits her job in search for a better one. “I came to Metro News 1 as a little caterpillar, and for four years, this desk has been my cocoon. But tonight I emerge an ambitious butterfly.”
When Lily returns from San Francisco after her break up with Marshall, she’s wearing the butterfly necklace.
And that, kids, is the main theme of How I Met Your Mother.“Kids, I’ve been telling you the story of how I met your mother. And while there’s many things to learn from this story, this may be the biggest. The greatest moments of your life won’t necessarily be the things you do. They’ll also be the things that happen to you. Now I’m not saying you can’t take action to affect the outcome of your life. You have to take action, and you will. But never forget, that on any day, you could step out the front door and your whole life can change forever. You see, the universe has a plan, kids, and that plan is always in motion. A butterfly flaps its wings, and it starts to rain.”
Hmm, I wonder what happens when it starts to rain? It’s like Ted took out his yellow umbrella in that very scene! Isn’t HIMYM brilliant!?
Just like in Cinderella, Ted had to learn that “even miracles take a little time.”
Think about it: why is it called wingman? Barney gave Ted wings to fly.
Given how much fairytales and HIMYM have in common, it’s only fitting that HIMYM is now on Disney+!
The pumpkin is an icon in Cinderella.
Likewise, the pumpkin is also a significant symbol in HIMYM, enough for it to have a repeat episode near the end of the series.
Each year, Ted returns to the same Halloween party in hopes of finding the girl in the pumpkin costume he met years earlier. We don’t who the girl is and like Prince Charming, Ted doesn’t have her identity. He never got her name or number. She’s a mystery to us.
The pumpkin is a testament to Ted’s faith. “It’s about believing. This girl represents something to me. Hope.”
Robin: How do you do this, Ted? How do you sit out here all night on the roof in the cold, and still have faith your pumpkin’s going to show up?
Cinderella had to wait for her pumpkin too. “If you’d lost all your faith, I couldn’t be here. And here I am.”
In HIMYM, the minor characters are shorthand parallels for the major characters. For example in “The Window” episode, it’s not the Girl Next Door whom Ted’s been in love with his whole life. It doesn’t matter who she is. The Girl Next Door isn’t real. She’s just a representation of who Robin is.
Tracy = Slutty Pumpkin
Victoria = Natalie (the one Ted dumped on her birthday)
Robin = Girl Next Door (Maggie)
The Slutty Pumpkin is shorthand for the mother. She’s a mystery, the one Ted waited so long to meet, his search for “the one.”
Natalie is a shorthand for Victoria. Ted almost marries her. There’s nothing wrong with her, she’s great, but she simply isn’t “the one.”
Then there’s the Girl Next Door, a representation of Robin. He knows that she’s the love of his life, but the timing never worked out for them.
Be sure to look out for the next posts in my series #HIMYMandFairytales, where I will be discussing the other symbols in How I Met Your Mother.
Have a legendary day.