"How I Met Your Mother" is reportedly coming back for a ninth season — and if the show's creators take their title literally, we may have another year and a half, minimum, before Ted Mosby gets a look at his future wife.

Deadline's Nikki Finke is reporting that a last-minute deal has been closed for a ninth season renewal, after Jason Segel — the one cast member who was reluctant to come back, due to his busy film career — agreed to stick around for the sake of his co-stars.

Whether Finke is right or not about a deal being finished, every story on the "HIMYM" renewal discussions — including public comments by creators Craig Thomas and Carter Bays — has made one thing clear: Thomas and Bays wanted an answer very very soon, so they could map out the rest of the sitcom's complicated mythology.

Which certainly suggests that they really don't want us to meet the Mother until the very end of the series.

Bays and Thomas have always played coy about when the eponymous moment might play out on the show. But last year, they said they were at least toying with the idea of introducing the Mother by the end of season 8, renewal or not, and then coming up with a new course for a ninth season — whether it was flashbacks to untold moments from the previous eight years, or simply moving forward with the Mother as a regular character.

But if they were seriously considering that, then they wouldn't have needed to set a deadline for finding out if there would be another season. If they were confident that the Mother would be peeking out from under the yellow umbrella by the end of May, no matter what, this wouldn't be an issue. They'd just plot out the rest of the season and figure out how season 9 would work whenever the deal closed.

This could, of course, be part of the ongoing game of misdirection the show plays. Bays and Thomas may be intending to introduce the Mother very soon — it happens on the day of Robin and Barney's wedding, and they got engaged in this week's episode — and just wanted an answer so the rest of the crew would know if they needed to start looking for new jobs already.

But brace yourself for a lot more of Future Ted saying, "But we'll get to that later," just in case.