TCA: 'How I Met Your Mother' Showrunners Address End Date and Endgame

How I Met Your Mother - TV Still: "Mystery Vs. History" - Group - H - 2011
Sonja Flemming/CBS

With a two-year pick up last season, taking the show into at least May 2013, How I Met Your Mother seemed poised to end at the conclusion of its eighth season.

But with a recent ratings bump and what many critics regard as a creative uptick, Season 9 appears to be on the table. So is the show considering a fixed end date?

"We've talked about it," Carter Bays told reporters at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. "It's not a high priority for us. I know Lost did it. We've gotten that question a lot. I would imagine, going into the final season of the show, we'd hint people to that... It's hard for us to say that on May 14, 2000-whatever, we will officially be out of ideas."

"We have to see if the Mayans were right also," said Jason Segel, chiming in. "It might be Dec. 21 2012 that you'll meet the mother."

PHOTOS: Behind the Scenes With the Showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas

Segel, who was joined by co-star Alyson Hannigan, also seemed optimistic about sticking around for a ninth season if it felt right.

"I would like to see the show come to its natural end, whether its 8 years or 9 years," he said. "I was so relieved to hear there was a plan."

There is a plan. Though Bays and co-creator Craig Thomas are shy to even allude to the way in which they'll reveal the mother, it's something they say they've been settled on for a while.

"We have it worked out," said Bays. "We know what the end-game of the series."

Questions then turned to the controversial December episode, in which an adult Robin (Cobie Smulders) takes over voice over duty from narrator Bob Saget for an initially misleading -- and fairly heartbreaking -- revelation about her future family. One reporter even noted that his daughter vowed to stop watching the series after the tease.

"She should have been at the table read. I was like, 'season pass delete,'" said Hannigan, holding up an invisible remote control. "I was so angry too, and it's because I care so much."

Segel, whose character lost his father last season, echoed her appreciation for the series' more serious turns.

"It's a real honor when people ask the best of you," he said, "because it makes you want to do your best."