Wait, Are Hilary Duff's Lizzie McGuire And Sophie Tompkins The Same Person? HIMYF Boss On Bonkers Crossover Moment

Sophie smiling in scarf in How I Met Your Father
(Image credit: Hulu)

Spoilers below for anyone who hasn’t yet watched the latest episode of How I Met Your Father, so be warned!

Hulu’s How I Met Your Father hasn’t even reached the midway point of its second season, and has already added a surprising number of big names to its list of How I Met Your Mother character cameos, on top of other famous faces like Judge Judy and Meghan Trainor. But I don’t think even the combined arrivals of Jason Segel, Josh Radnor and Allyson Williams could have set audiences up for the universe-shattering flashback sequence that played out in Episode 207, which featured none other than Hilary Duff’s original claim-to-fame character Lizzie McGuire. What? Is? Happening?

No, it wasn’t a signal-crossing disruption due to Disney servers gaining sentience (which is possibly its own future Hulu project), but rather an intentional slice of crossover wackiness from showrunners Elizabeth Berger and Isaac Aptaker. The episode, titled “A Terrible, No Good, Very Bad Valentine’s Day,” featured the core character group sharing awkward memories of lovey-dovey holidays past. After Sophie’s initial prepubescent anecdote was declined, she flashed back to when she was 13, and viewers were gifted with footage from the Season 2 premiere of Lizzie McGuire, featuring the teenybopping Duff alongside former co-star Lalaine’s Miranda Sanchez. Without a current-day appearance from Miranda, or Lalaine as another character, viewers were left with the admittedly ridiculous question of “Are Sophie and Lizzie the same person?”

Just as ridiculous? Co-showrunner and EP Elizabeth Berger bemusedly staying away from flat-out denying or confirming that to be the canonical case for How I Met Your Father’s central hopeless romantic. Here’s how she put it with Variety:

I’m not confirming that, but it felt like a really fun thing for us to do. We got a temperature check from Hilary, who has such good sense of humor. Then it was just about finding the right clip. We loved that we got to bring Lizzie into our world for a minute.

Gotta love it. Obviously many explanations and fact-morphing would be needed to fully confirm that two of Hilary Duff’s most notable TV characters are, in fact, the same person. Perhaps the biggest one would be whether it was puberty itself that changed her from appearing to be a completely different person and into a more genuine reflection of her current looks.

The second would be why Elizabeth Berger called her Lizzie and not Sophie, and what that would mean for How I Met Your Father’s entire flashback storyline being told by Kim Cattrall’s Future Sophie…or is it Future Lizzie? Where’s Gordo when you need him?

Considering Hilary Duff was previously partnered up with Disney+ for a Lizzie McGuire revival that was shelved after multiple episodes were filmed, the timing of her HIMYF inclusion is intriguing to say the least. But the actress doesn’t seem to have had any reservations about bringing the throwback moment into her current comedy, saying:

I was like, ‘Of course I’d be okay with it!’ Lizzie makes people happy. The fact that we could tie it into this show, I was obsessed with it. I loved it.

It doesn’t seem like Hilary Duff would be free to take on any long-term Lizzie revivals in the near future, what with How I Met Your Father impressing its streaming home enough to earn a doubled-up second season, with the future looking bright as well. The creative team took a big swing by bringing Neil Patrick Harris’ Barney into the Season 2 premiere, with Alexis Denisof’s Sandy Rivers also making a fun return in Ep 205, so perhaps the showrunners are aiming to squeeze in as many creative surprises while they can, just in case such positive headwinds take a turn. 

Another fun surprise was Hilary Duff herself getting a big career callback, with former Raise Your Voice co-star John Corbett being cast as one of her love interests in Season 2. While waiting to see what shakes out in next Tuesday’s episode of How I Met Your Father, check out all the other shows hitting the small screen soon with our 2023 TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.