By EW Staff
Updated August 28, 2013 at 04:00 PM EDT
1275 EWCOVER Himym

It’s the most legen — wait for it because you’ll never want it to put it down — dary issue of Entertainment Weekly as the cast of the CBS hit How I Met Your Mother graces the cover for the first time.

Last season ended with (horrible pun alert) the mother of all cliffhangers as viewers got their first glimpse of the woman Ted (Josh Radnor) will eventually marry. Still nameless, she’s played by 28-year-old Tony-nominee Cristin Milioti, who wowed audiences in the Broadway hit Once.

We were on the HIMYM set as Milioti filmed scenes from the new season and scored the first interview with her since she was cast in the pivotal role last spring. “The day I show [my first scene] it was really on lockdown. All the extras in that train station are producers and writers of the show.”

We also talked to the entire cast and crew about season 9 (there will be at least two fights over a cell phone and one over a pair of driving gloves), their favorite memories of the show, and what guest stars will return for a final curtain call. Think: Wayne Brady as Barney’s brother and Ellen D. “Nobody Asked You, Patrice!” Williams. “We’re using this season as kind of like the greatest-hits medley at the end of a rock concert,” says co-creator Carter Bays.

Even though CBS announced earlier this year that season 9 will be the last, that doesn’t necessarily mean we will be saying goodbye to the HIMYM universe forever — especially after a tour de force appearance at Comic-Con in July that was the most popular panel on social media, according to a survey by Entertainment Weekly and General Sentiment. “Comic-Con reminded us how many people really love the show,” says Bays. “And it would be a shame for the party to end next spring.”

How’s that for a cliffhanger?

For more on How I Met Your Mother including scoop on the new season—How will Ted meet The Mother?; Will Robin and Barney go through with their wedding?; When will the last slap be doled out?— as well as a season by season recaps of the comedy, pick up the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly on sale Friday.

Bonus! Check out an exclusive video of Neil Patrick Harris and Cobie Smulders talking about Robin and Barney on our Facebook page.

Episode Recaps

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