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"I know that you are tired of waiting, and you may have to wait a little while more, but she's on her way, Ted. And she's getting here as fast as she can."
~Stella to Ted
Dr. Stella Zinman is Ted Mosby's romantic interest in half of Season 3. She gets engaged to him in the premiere of Season 4, but leaves him just before the wedding (Shelter Island) for her ex-boyfriend, father of her child and karate instructor Tony Grafanello.
It's possible her last name is named after one of the writers, Matthew Zinman.
Stella started dating Tony Grafanello in High School, and has been in love since. They broke up after their daughter Lucy was born because she wanted to focus on being a good mother. She went to college and onto Medical School (Stanford 2003). She eventually got a job at a Tattoo Removal Clinic in New York City. She has said she was on the PTA and the Deputy Mayor of her unnamed town in New Jersey. However, in season 4 episode 1, she said she had lost her virginity to a different guy her sophomore year at college even though it states she dated Lucy's dad in high school.
Relationship with Ted
Her first encounter with Ted occurs in the professional manner as his dermatologist in Ten Sessions, where Ted consults her to remove his butterfly lower-back tattoo. During his first session, the two agree to go out for a movie, but Ted mistakes this invitation for a date and ends up accompanying Stella on girls' night out, and she explains to him how there are regulations forbidding her to date patients. However, when Ted works around this by forewarning her that he'll ask her out once the sessions are over, she gives him fair warning that she will refuse. The sessions end, and Ted asks her out, to which Stella replies that she has a daughter, Lucy. However, this does not throw Ted off course, because she doesn't explicitly refuse (and he gets to learn that Marshall heard Stella describe Ted as a "small crush"), so he takes her on a two-minute date during her lunch-break. The two have a good time and they kiss.
The relationship kicks off and the two seem happy with each other, although Ted gets the feeling that Stella might be taking things too slow (Rebound Bro), since she has neither slept with him nor introduced him to her daughter. (By the end of the episode, she ends up doing both things). Paradoxically, in the finale, Ted freaks out when she asks him to accompany her to her sister Nora's wedding in six months, and breaks up with her, ignorant of the fact that she did not get the intention of his words. After Ted gets in a car accident, she visits him in the hospital and makes out with him on his bed. But when Lily accidentally reveals to Stella that he intended to break up with her earlier that day, she confronts him and dumps him. Ted doesn't give her up and once discharged, finds her at Kiddie Fun Land, where he proposes to her. The Season 4 premiere opens with her accepting his proposal.
Soon after the proposal, however, Marshall helps Ted realize how little he knows his wife-to-be, and he has her watching a Star Wars movie with him. Stella admits to Marshall, however, that she hated the film, but is ready to pretend to love it for the rest of her life for Ted. Despite this, Marshall still thinks that things are moving too fast and, together with the rest of the group, decides to hold an intervention for Ted about Stella. The intervention never took place until Ted found out and forced them to have the intervention anyway. Marshall still expresses his concerns to his best friend, although he also tells Ted that he and the group have since changed their opinion about Stella and are now happy to see the two together, even if the course of events has him moving to New Jersey (Stella refuses outright to move to New York with Ted because she thinks it's too dangerous to raise her daughter there).
However, when Stella decides to take over her sister's canceled wedding on Shelter Island, things start to get out of hand. Stella freaks out that Ted, who was supposed to pick up her daughter Lucy, also invited Tony for the wedding, as well as his ex-girlfriend Robin. Ted talks Robin out of coming to the wedding, but a few hours before the ceremony, he finds a note which Stella has left him, explaining that she's getting back with her ex Tony (Robin actually sees them together and kissing on the ferry boat).
The next day, Ted shows no signs of anger with regards to Stella and the group go to have dinner at a restaurant. Lily recounts Stella advising the place to her, and the gang are shocked to see Stella at the restaurant ordering a take-away. To avoid confrontation, they take shelter under their dining table until she leaves. After hearing the unresolved issues his friends still have with their "ghosts", Ted finally decides to confront Stella and follows her home, although he has no plans to yell in rage at her. On the way, Marshall lets slip out that Stella hated Star Wars in an unsuccessful attempt to get him angry. But when Lily points out that Stella is stopping at Tony's, Ted realizes that she has moved in with Tony despite her refusal to move in to New York with him, and his anger erupts. He plans an entire list of things to say to her, but after seeing her with Tony and Lucy as a perfect family, his anger vanishes and he just walks away.
Some time later, he encounters Stella at a crosswalk with Tony, where he plays it cool. Although this seems to be a casual encounter, Tony visits Ted soon after because he believes that Ted was sad to see Stella with Tony and offers him several architecture jobs, which Ted refuses. (By the end of the season, Ted ends up accepting Tony's offer of becoming an architecture professor). When Tony reveals the reason behind these job offers, Ted assures him that he doesn't want Stella back because she treated him that badly. Apparently surprised by Ted's harsh criticism of Stella, Tony breaks up with her. Stella then visits Ted to ask him to try and talk some sense into Tony. Ted refuses to do so, but takes advantage of the help she tries to offer him to make things better when Barney calls him from a police station in New Jersey to come and get him. Stella drives him back and forth, and the two have a short conversation in her car, where she assures Ted that the "one" for him is on the way, and that she's getting to him "as fast as she can". Ted thanks her and leaves. Afterwards, Stella moves to California with Tony.
In The Wedding Bride, Tony makes a movie based on the triangle between he, Ted, and Stella. It shows Ted in a bad light, showing that Tony is apparently not very kind towards Ted, although he did seem to like him in earlier episodes.
Stella reappears in Sunrise, when Ted calls her to ask about Robin's locket. She thinks that Ted is trying to ruin Robin's wedding, but she gives him permission to search for the locket in her storage unit in Los Angeles.
- Spouse: Tony Grafanello
- Mother: Francine Zinman
- Father: Joseph Zinman
- Sister(s): Nora Zinman
- Daughter(s): Lucy Zinman
- The Platinum Rule (mentioned only)
- Ten Sessions (first appearance)
- Rebound Bro
- Do I Know You?
- I Heart NJ
- Intervention (mentioned only)
- Shelter Island
- Happily Ever After
- The Naked Man (mentioned only)
- Right Place, Right Time
- As Fast As She Can
- The Wedding Bride (mentioned only)
- The Magician's Code - Part Two (mentioned only)
- Farhampton (mentioned only)
- The End of the Aisle (cameo)