About the “How I Met Your Mother” Series Finale

Warning: This is one of the rare posts that does include spoilers for the series finale—and the entire series—so watch out.

I am trying to remember how many series finales I’ve actually watched as they aired. I can’t think of many. “Friends”, I think. “Futurama” definitely, if only some of its seventeen series finales. “Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood” too, which was beautiful. See, I’m not very good at watching series anyway; I lose interest very fast, so I generally start watching when they’re already over, like I’m arriving to the party late when everyone’s already shitfaced and I get hit on by a drunk girl in a Lola Bunny costume that one time I was sixteen.

Oh hold on, I totally saw the finale of “The Office”.

Anywho, “How I Met Your Mother” was a rare series that I actually watched religiously. I can’t say I started watching it when the show first aired because that would be a lie; I started sometime between seasons three and four, which means I’ve been watching every week for six years. It’s a show I’ve loved since the first episode and I still maintain the single best sitcom we’ve ever had in terms of general writing, so when it came to an end today, it was like getting ready to say good-bye to your best friend at the airport. Only this best friend was great all the way to the airport, through check-in, and then just before getting into the plane, decided to fart into my mouth and tell me “I’ve always hated you and your choice in shirts. Peace!”

Fuck you dude!

And fuck you, "How I Met Your Mother”! Not since “Silent Hill: Homecoming” have I been so on board with something only to have it crash and burn in the last second. See, in this series finale which describes the events between 2014 and roughly 2030, there are many twists, each pertaining to the ultimate fates of the main gang. Everything that happened with Marshall and Lilly was great. We find they spent time in Italy and Marshall got to be a judge anyway, they get a third child, he eventually becomes Supreme Court Justice (I’m guessing the writers didn’t really cared about what happens with Lilly).

First big twist: Robin and Barney get divorced. This made me groan, not necessarily because it’s an objectively poor choice, but because I really wanted Robin and Barney to be together—it showed a lot of growth for both characters and it just made a lot of sense. When the bombshell dropped (in a way that was a bit lazy and reminiscent to Robin and Ted's breakup at the end of season two), I kept watching. The way that story developed seemed to describe a bleak reality of life, and it became more and more bleak as it went on, showing us how Robin just drifted apart from the group to very rarely see them. This was poignant and in a series that is often pre-occupied with the harsh realities of adulthood, it made sense.

Meanwhile, Barney regresses to his 25 year old self, only to end up getting some nameless chick pregnant. This was lazy and I didn’t like it. Now yes, the scene in which Barney sees his daughter Ellie for the first time was very sweet, and the way she turns him into an adult was sweet too (though please easy on the dumbass misogyny with the random chicks at the bar; this isn’t “Two & A Half Men”). What sucks ass is that this happened with some random bitch off the street. Couldn’t we at least give Barney a slightly more respectful sendoff? Why couldn’t that be Nora, or Quinn? The fact that he has a bastard daughter raises far too many questions about that plot, and they’re never answered. Who was that girl? How often does Barney get to see his kid? Why are they ending your most popular character’s story on such a lazy note?

What really sucked is that the fact that Barney and Robin don't end up together makes the merits of the ninth season disappear. I was pretty impressed that they managed to make a bottle season. Bottle episodes? Okay. Bottle season? Damn impressive. But what’s the point of so much time and effort leading to the wedding if that story literally came to an abrupt stop and then didn’t go anywhere? I felt betrayed.

Ah, but the final twists which tie up the actual main plotline. Suddenly Barney and Robin’s rupture seemed unimportant. Ever since she was revealed at the end of season eight, I’ve had a massive crush on Cristin Millioti. Not only is she incredibly beautiful, the way in which her character was written was great, revealing a lifetime of laughs and pain and loss and growth in just one season. She was funny. She was a great fit for Ted. Her romantic story was the good kind of Hollywood romance: hopeful and eternal. Slowly, they tied up the many, many hints we had to the mother’s identity throughout the series, crafting a complex plot that intertwined two lives for eight years.

Ted met Tracy (the mom) after the wedding in yet another strike of unlikely fate. “It’s funny how sometimes you just find things.”

That was so beautiful, because it’s an enormous payoff to Ted’s restless search for love, and his incredible emotional resilience (which I’m glad Lilly acknowledged at one point). I was ready to say that despite how remarkably untraditional it was, “How I Met Your Mother” was a love story for the ages.

But then comes the first twist: the mother got sick and died around 2024, ten years after Ted met her. We had already been given a hint about this twist that was so massive, I thought it could only be a red herring. Back when the episode titled “Vesuvius” aired, I tweeted this.

Yes, I sound unreasonably angry in that tweet, because I hate it when stories decide to stray from the traditional happy ending just because it’s traditional (even if it isn’t anymore). It was not fair to have us get so invested in the mother’s identity, and Ted’s love life and romantic future, if the series was going to end in such a downer of a note. It’s stupid how nervous I had been since that time, because I really, really, really didn’t want Tracy to die or be dead. It would’ve been too sad.

But then, as I kept thinking about that possible ending, preparing for the finale, I began to think that maybe it wasn’t so bad. Yes, it’s definitely a sad thing, but like I said, the series has never avoided sad and harsh realities (remember Marshall’s dad’s death, or “Symphony of Illumination”). Maybe that would make sense: Ted is living in this really long story that ties him and the late love of his life. She tells him that he wants him to look ahead and not linger on their time together. This would shed a new light on Ted’s desire to tell his kids his story—he wants to remember her from the beginning, because she played a big role in his life for many years before they met.

"Kids, in the spring of 2014, I revealed myself as an asshole."
It was said that the two kids who play Ted’s children shot the final scene when they shot the pilot, so the ending was written nine years ago. There was a theory that suggested that Ted was telling them this story and then the big twist would be that he takes them to visit their mom’s grave. I had grown to accept this possibility as a bleak but poignant finale I could live with. Hell, I could’ve lived with Ted moving on from Tracy and finding someone else, like she wanted him to.

You know what isn’t cool? Ted moving on to Robin, and apparently telling this story to their kids so they could give him the green light to chase Robin, six years after Tracy’s death.

I don’t think any of the writers are aware of the horrible story-ruining implications that ending has. First off, it suggests Tracy was a consolation prize: what Ted really wanted was Robin. The whole thing where he ‘let go’ of her like a balloon? Bullshit. Him getting over her so many times? Bullshit. Most importantly: the entire fucking story? Bullshit. That was a twist that managed to do what I would’ve believed to be completely impossible: ruin nine years’ worth of narrative. Suddenly, all the complex ways in which Tracy and Ted’s story intertwined, how they were perfect for one another, how they were meant to be together, means fucking squat.

Hell, turns out Ted was only with Tracy for 10 years—that’s about the same amount of time Ted knew Robin before she married Barney and they drifted apart.

Now, all the bits in the final season that suggested that Ted wasn’t over Robin, and every time we groaned because “Ugh, we know they don’t end up together!” just confirms that Tracy was never really going to be an important part of the story: she was just another girl like Blah Blah, Karen, or the parade of sluts Ted banged before ending up with Robin (because apparently in 14 years, the beautiful, incredibly famous and successful Robin never found anyone either). I would refrain from saying this, but the way the show ends suggests a massively romantic gesture on Ted’s part, that has the exact implication that “it was Robin all along”.

Fuck everything about that. Fuck you for ruining your own love story before you even started. Fuck you for transforming your unbelievably romantic lead character into a flaky asshole. Fuck you for taking away all the meaning and poignancy the nine-year-old story could’ve had. You literally threw away everything your show had going for it. Why? Because you wanted to surprise us.

Fuck. You.

I can only think that, since that was something they wrote so long ago, they got stuck with it. I’m sure nine years ago, the whole “It was Robin all along” twist ending seemed like a good idea because it was coupled only with a pilot. But nine years later, when you’ve developed and transformed these characters so much, when you built an actual love story with a different character, it’s literally the single worst decision I have ever seen made by a TV writer. It would’ve been okay to not use that footage of the kids. You could’ve found a way around it, just don’t make your millions of fans think that all this time you were lying to us, and then metaphorically fart into our mouths.

Yeah, it was funny ("Be cool lady, damn!") but the show's always been funny. At this point I didn't care about that.

A part of me still wants to believe this was an April Fools joke, but honestly,  at this point I’m so embarrassed for the show’s last 2 minutes, that I’m not even disappointed—just mad. The same thing happened with “Silent Hill: Revelation”. I’ll try to find a way to appreciate it, but these are my initial thoughts. I never thought something could be ruined this hard, this quickly but hey, “How I Met Your Mother” often did things few, if any, other TV shows ever could.
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About The Damn Beast

Pre-op trans-minotaur, sci-fi/fantasy/horror author, metal singer, videogame journalist, pop culture blogger. I also lift heavy things and put them down again repeatedly to occupy more space.
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  1. Totally agreed....FUCK YOU HIMYM Writers, Director, Producers, and the whole crew...really....FUCK YOU!