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One Last Forever: Why The HIMYM Ending Was The Last Thing Anyone Wanted

Trenton April 8, 2014 5

“You’re totally in our gang now. And once you’re in, you’re in for life.”

It’s been one week since the ending of How I Met Your Mother took to countless television screens across the world. After nine years of watching, waiting, anticipating the end – it finally came. The time for Ted to meet the girl with the yellow umbrella – the titular Mother. Only in the wake of its conclusion, the reaction hasn’t been entirely positive. Many, myself included, felt upset, bitter, and cheated. Now that the dust has settled, it’s time to pinpoint why.

Ultimately, the finale’s fault lies in the fact that its content was questionable – not inherently bad – but told in the worst possible way. It was written for a show seven years in the past – not the one we’ve ended up with. Above all, too much happened in too short a time, which left fans thinking:


Some could argue it was justified, foreshadowed, and even true to life, but the lesson it preaches is lost on an audience who knows it all too well. Just this once, we wanted a happy ending.

“When we got married, I made a vow that I would always tell you the truth.”

Right off the bat, Carter and Craig do a great job of making the viewer feel bitter and confused after Barney and Robin divorce less than twenty minutes into the episode. Why did we sit through a whole season built around a marriage that fell apart almost immediately, along with Barney’s development as a character? The past three seasons of HIMYM (Otherwise known as the “Barney and Robin” show) spent growing Barney’s character from a womanizing child to a (comparatively) mature adult – thrown out the window for some annoying play-centric jokes, and to realize an ending which no longer fit the direction the series took.


Having him knock up some girl and have a child was extremely unnecessary, though probably the most redeeming conclusion of the episode. NPH gave an absolutely amazing performance, given what he had to work with. That said, getting there was one step forward, ten steps back. It’s frustrating seeing all his conscious development torn apart, just to be repaired by things that happened to him, rather than earning it, as he had before.

“You are the love of my life. Everything I have and everything I am is yours. Forever.”


Not to mention the fact that the whole charade took time away from what we really wanted to see; what we’ve been waiting almost a decade for. If they were going to go that route, why couldn’t they go into it more deeply? They stretched a single weekend into twenty episodes, almost entirely filler, just to condense sixteen emotional years into a single episode? Half a season was spent on road-trip Marshall farting around with a walking black stereotype, who nearly everyone forgot about! Why have that, when we could’ve been getting to know the Mother – could’ve been playing out the fall of Barney and Robin’s relationship. But all those episodes passed, and we were left with only the last episode. And we still don’t get our wish.

“To Ted Evelyn Mosby: a man with more emotional endurance than anyone I know. It was a long, difficult road. Thank God we finally got here.”

I’m not so much upset about the Mother’s death (After the events of Vesuvius it was all but guaranteed), but rather how they handled it. We spend the whole episode learning about the characters lives building up to 2030 – Lilly and Marshall’s kids, Big Fudge becoming Judge Fudge, Robin’s empty fame and travelling, Barney’s train-wreck of a life – completely confused at where they’re going with things. All we can think about is the train station we’ve been waiting years for – Ted and the Mother meeting and growing old together. And then it arrives.


In the midst of a monologue (which I’d say was pretty damn good, all things considered), Ted talks about the importance of love – a summary of his entire relationship with the Mother. Only, towards the end, he halfheartedly throws in “she got sick.” We get a scene with the mother in a hospital bed. Immediately, and all at once, a million things race through out head: What!? What’s she sick with? Is she dead!?

And then the scene ends. No explanation, no clarification. When, only a few seconds later, he finally “has the guts to stand up, walk over to her [and] tap her on the shoulder” our thoughts aren’t about the meeting we’ve been waiting for: it’s about her underdeveloped death.

“Those are my initials, TM: Tracy McConnell.”

Upon re-watch, this final meeting was actually pretty satisfying: they addressed all the threads which weaved their way through both their lives; the Yellow Umbrella, Cindy the Roommate, Economics 305. While not without it’s faults, I would’ve been perfectly fine if the series ended here, bar the whole “getting sick” thing. It’s traditional, it’s expected, but it doesn’t make things any less meaningful.


But then the train whizzes by, and we’re back in the Mosby family livingroom. We hear the words we’ve been waiting for: “And that, kids, is how I met your mother.” We now know she’s dead for sure, even though there’s no emotional buildup or on-screen funeral, and we still can’t quite process it.

“Mom’s been gone for six years now. It’s time.”

In what seems like the blink of an eye, Ted’s kids immediately turn to saying how the story was all about Aunt Robin and how he loves her so much. That the past nine years were all about asking permission for him to date her. This is the furthest thing from anyone’s mind at this point – we’re still grieving over the loss of a character, the emotion of the past scene. How can we be okay with Ted moving on, if we haven’t moved on ourselves? We’re mad at Ted and the Kids for not giving her death the gravity it deserves – it’s insulting to her character!

Next thing we know, Ted’s buckling it over to Robin’s house with a Blue French Horn. And then, with Robin’s face in view, what pops up on the screen? “How I Met Your Mother” The final insult, leaving the viewer confused, angry, and above all, bitter.

In the end, the reason things fell apart was that most of the ending was decided a long, long time ago. If the episode had aired back in 2007, it would’ve been perfect. We weren’t as attached to the characters, and, fundamentally, they were different people. Their stories suited their characters; Barney abandoned his old ways and found someone to care for; Ted finally ended up with Robin; they each got what they were looking for out of life. But in 2014, Barney had room to grow by himself. In 2014, Ted has long since gotten over Robin – him letting go has been hammered into our heads over and over and over again. We’d been waiting too long for the Mother, and when she finally got here, she was perfect. But when she was ripped away, there was no time for us to process it.

Ultimately, having Ted turn back into the person he was 25 years ago is no recipe for a conclusion, and that’s why people are upset. In the show’s own words:

“Ted, the future is scary. But you can’t just run back to the past because it’s familiar. Yes, it’s tempting… but it’s a mistake.”

If the backlash from the episode is any indication, it was a mistake after all.


  1. Felipe April 9, 2014 at 12:12 pm -

    Can’t agree with you there, I think that every part in this episode was well placed and well executed. Barney and Robin breaking up makes sense because we need, as a society, learn that love isn’t always the end-game. Barney needed another type of accomplishment to become a better human being, not a wedding with someone who’s extremely career focused as Robin (especially when Barney is, and always will be, needy as fuck). So they had different journeys through life, their intersection was okay, but everything ends. Next point, TM’s death: People are complayning it’s tone deaf, and way too rushed. This story is not for you, it’s for the kids, that’s how the narrative played out from the beggining. It’s a nine season history about Ted growing up and about his relation with Robin, not about TM. TM only showed up at the season 8 finale, this is not her show, although I do like her as a character, this story was not about her. Remember that the kids already know TM’s story, the whole HIMYM gig is nothing more than Ted, explaining to himself why he should be with Robin, and trying to get his children to stand by him. It’s so bizarre to see people who have been watching the show and getting its morals not realizing what the show is about. (“How can we be okay with Ted moving on, if we haven’t moved on ourselves?” – that’s plain childish). Finally, the past is not something to be discarded as we move on. We always admired Ted because he never gave up, he never surrendered, with TM or not, it’s something he had before he met her, but people always saw it as something of a fate/destiny thing. And it’s not. Ted never gives up on love, no matter what the ocasion. TM is dead, he will always love her, but he still sees beauty in the world enough to learn to love again. The conclusion on this review basically states that “living the future is better than clinging to the past”, to me it’s more like, you can never change your past or yourself, you can only realise your flaws and try to live with them or erase them. Throwing everything you are away is just the most self-depreciating thing anyone can do. But anyway, got it out of my chest

    • Trenton April 9, 2014 at 2:34 pm -

      I respect that (and I’m not going to try and match the depth you went into), but I think you’re forgetting the fact that while, yes, the story is being told to the kids from a narrative perspective, its ultimately for us as viewers. It is a television show, right? Therefore the viewer deserves a certain amount of respect. If this is the story Carter and Craig want to tell, they have to get to get the audience to understand and absorb it. This is where the poor-pacing comes it. The line about “How can we be okay with Ted moving on, if we haven’t moved on ourselves?” was just to illustrate that within five minutes, the bombshell was dropped that the mother is dead, and Ted’s already going after Robin. The viewer needs time to absorb whats happening.

      • Felipe April 9, 2014 at 2:55 pm -

        HIMYM was at it’s best when the lessons weren’t being forced (like Robin floating away on what could possibly be the worst analogy i’ve ever seen). Had we spent a whole season knowing TM as well as people wanted, the moral would be even more wasted than it already is. It’s harsh, but there was never any need for TM to appear, she’s not the focus of the show. HIMYM was never afraid of breaking the viewers hearts and make them appreciate it. I think people are just love-sick with the show, without really thinking clearly about it. The show is our pre-finale Robin, we should just let it go. (And thinking in narrative terms, five minutes goes way up to six years ^^)
        P.S. : Cool cyberman profile picture bro

        • Trenton April 9, 2014 at 3:04 pm -

          lul thanks. And yeah, you’re right. I think people would be a lot less upset about the message Carter and Craig wanted to send if Cristin Milioti wasn’t so fantastic, or if they never included the Mother at all. Another thing to consider though, is that people have been wanting to see Ted meet her for nine years. So naturally they feel a bit bitter after finding out it was never about the Mother at all (even if its plainly obvious in hindsight).

  2. Kristy April 11, 2014 at 12:48 pm -

    I really wish that people could think for themselves. It’s obvious that many of the fans who hated the finale could not read between the lines. This story has always been about Ted and Robin. That’s the way I’ve always viewed it and it turns out that’s what Bays and Thomas planned from the very beginning. Even though Barney and Robin got married in the penultimate episode, I still held out hope that Ted and Robin would end up together. Otherwise, the series would not makes sense to me. There were just too many clues pointing in that direction. And it turns out that I was right. So, please don’t say “we” when referring to the fans. Because I’m ridiculously over the moon with this ending. That last scene with Ted and Robin makes me cry every time I watch it.

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