About That HIMYM Finale


I realize that the finale of How I Met Your Mother aired over a week ago, and most people with anything to say about it have done so by now. It’s taken me so long to sort out my reactions that I thought it was too late to post about it, but friends are still asking what I thought, so let’s go for it!

WARNING: The following will completely spoil the ending of How I Met Your Mother. If you don’t want to know, don’t continue reading!

Things I Liked About the Finale:

– Ted was happy in the end… even though he lost his soul mate much too soon.

– Lily and Marshall are still awesome.

– The first meeting under the yellow umbrella was perfect.

Things I Hated About the Finale:

– So this was the ending the writers had planned from the beginning, had filmed with the kids eight years ago. The Mother (Tracy) dies, and Ted still ends up with Robin. What I find unforgivable is that, KNOWING this, they developed the plot and characters totally contrary to this plan for the last five or so seasons. They showed Ted and Robin growing in opposite directions, and him “letting her go” over and over again, finally for real. They convinced us that Barney and Robin made sense. They let us get to know Tracy and showed us how completely perfect she was for Ted. Then they turned around and gave us the final slap, but it never had to be that way. More thoughts about that in a minute.

– WHY would you set an entire season at a wedding for a marriage that lasted ten minutes in show-time… then cram another twenty years’ worth of important events into one episode? If they’d given us a little more time to get used to the endgame, it might not have been such a blow, or felt like such a betrayal of Tracy, who was seemingly reduced to a speedbump and egg donor on the way to Ted finally getting Robin. I really loved Tracy and wish we could have seen more of her and Ted together, although we did get some good moments.

– By the end of the show’s timeline, Robin had spent years estranged from the gang. How were she and Ted still close enough for him to start a relationship with her? How did his kids even know her well enough to call her “Aunt”?

– I hated what they did to Barney. After being redeemed as more than a one-note womanizer, he regressed to a nauseating degree. The only thing that finally settled him down was unexpectedly becoming a father. (To me, this also felt like a subtle jab at Robin, since she’s infertile and a child was the one thing she couldn’t give him. But they could have adopted!) Also, I guess we can assume “#31” is the main character of How I Met Your Dad? I don’t plan to tune in.

– I watched the show with my dad, and at every commercial break, I expressed disbelief about how depressingly it was unfolding. He shrugged and said “It’s the truth. This is how life is.” He was right. As I said in my plea for the mother, real life is already overfull of painful divorces and close friends drifting apart and losing loved ones too soon. Most of us have lived it, and we don’t want to see those everyday tragedies on a comedy that we watch to feel uplifted and hopeful. We want help believing that something better is possible, not more fodder for our cynicism.

– Finally: from a writing perspective, I think this jarring ending is a cautionary tale about listening to your story. Over the years, How I Met Your Mother took a slightly different track from the writers’ original vision, and they should have rolled with it. I can’t remember the source because I’ve read so many articles about the finale, but one pointed out that a story – especially a long-running one on TV – is a living thing. Anyone who’s ever written fiction knows this. You have to give your story some room to breathe and be open to turns you weren’t expecting. When they filmed that final “Go ask out Aunt Robin” scene with the kids years ago, why didn’t they film a few different ones, just in case they changed their minds? To me, that’s irresponsible. There’s nothing admirable about staying the course if it means totally invalidating most of what you’ve built. It’s also not cool to pull a Lost and spend years vehemently insisting that a show is not going to end a certain way, then end it exactly that way.

It’s been a long time since I watched the early episodes, so I may go back and see how they bookend with the finale. Maybe then I won’t feel so double-crossed.

About Brenda W.

Christian. Memphian. Reader. Writer. True blue Tiger fan. Lover of shoes, the ocean, adventure, and McAlister's iced tea. View all posts by Brenda W. →
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13 Responses to About That HIMYM Finale

  1. Jamie Bagley says:

    I knew it was a good idea to detach when I did a few months ago! ;) (It was totally accidental but now I’m grateful.) Sounds like one of those stories I’d prefer to make up my own ending for, (like countless books I’ve wanted to redeem.)
    Great analysis about the fiction writing. You nailed it. Flexibility would have served the writers of HIMYM well in the end. I’m kind of sad, but I heard enough of the general reaction to expect to be disappointed. I’ve tried the whole “get it together; it’s just a tv show!” pep talk on myself with Merlin(BBC) and that didn’t work out so well, so I think I’ll just quietly grieve about this one for a while, too. ;)
    Thanks for breaking it to me gently. My fragile heart was waiting to see what you in particular had to say.

  2. stacye says:

    I was hoping that Ted was dead and the mother was making the kids watch videos he had left for them. And I wasn’t excited that Lily was reduced to a baby making machine. But the Barney/Robin part was the worst for me.

  3. Emily E says:

    I don’t really feel that bad about the way it ended. Yes it sucks to have set up the mother so much and then have them have such a short time together, but that doesn’t invalidate the fact that the Mother was perfect for him and he for her. I think it’s shortchanges them all when people act like the mother’s only roll was childbearer that Robin couldn’t (and didn’t want to) be. As Pops said- that’s life. And Ted’s character was always very clearly happy to have had what time he had with the Mother no matter how short it was. What I didn’t like was that it took Ted five years to marry her. That’s just stupid. Life doesn’t get in the way THAT much that you can’t plan a wedding any of those times.

    Personally, I never felt that Robin and Barney were going to make it. The scene in the back of the town car at the end of the last season, when they head off to the wedding weekend seemed pretty ominous to me. They clearly didn’t have that ‘happily ever after’ look to them. Plus they absolutely NEVER showed future shots of Barney and Robin like they did with everyone else- other than that one scene in Argentina that they finally showed towards the end of this season. The scene with Barney and the baby was wonderful.

  4. Esther Joy says:

    I thought the scene with Barney and the Baby was completely ridiculous, then solidified later at the bar where he shamed the women that he used to pick up. There was no self realization that HE had an addiction or something that needed to change. It was all externally driven and quite shallow. (Even though in the show Barney has depth but he covers up the pain from his childhood by acting out.)

    I always liked Barney/Robin from their first try at the relationship. I seriously believed that they both challenged each other (in good ways) but the last season to me tried to reverse that effect by bringing everything back to Robin/Ted. Their (Robin/Ted) relationship edge stopped for me a long time ago and so everything seemed forced by this last season.

    Also, Lily going out without personality was a travesty. There was always a balanced tension between she and Marshall’s dreams…but you didn’t see that in the finale. (I hated when they sent her away earlier in the series, but it really aided in character development IMO)

    Then to have Robin, who in all honesty, needed her friends to keep her from being self consumed. To just drop them suddenly was weird…and just sped up. The whole way they executed she and Barney calling it quits was hard too. Maybe even if they went to the infertile storyline where she couldn’t handle it and had to take a break. It would have given her more empathy and have Barney mourn the loss of a love because it was HUGE for him to get married.

  5. Laura says:

    How did his kids even know her well enough to call her “Aunt”? GOOD POINT!

    I also agree with Emily about how it took so long for Ted and Tracy to get married. Ted was ALL ABOUT finding the right woman and marrying her. Even if a baby causes a wedding to be postponed, he wouldn’t have let it go for five years.

    It helps me a little to look at the storyline from Robin’s perspective. After so many years of not wanting to get married, she decides to take the plunge. That was progress for her. There were lots of moments where she was unsure about Barney, but he came through for her on all of them. (Maybe if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been so surprised about their divorce.) Still, focusing on her uncertainty – she seemed to be wondering all along if she should be marrying Ted instead. Even after the divorce, and Robin was leaving the Halloween party, she came right out and told Lily that maybe Ted was the guy she was supposed to be with. I can see how that would drive her away from the friend group. She doesn’t want to keep being reminded of what might have been and regretting her past choices.

    Years later, she was probably as over Ted as she was ever going to be. And I’m sure she wasn’t wishing for anything bad to happen to Tracy. Even after Tracy died, it’s not like Robin swooped in to try to get Ted back. But still, Ted shows up out of his own choice, and she has another chance at happiness. In that way, I can be happy for her.

    If this was a real life situation, I would be happy for both of them. That they can both get past their heartaches and be happy with each other. But it’s not real life, so I feel duped. The title of the show is about the mother, and the entire story is supposedly about the mother, but in the end, we find out that it wasn’t. And the writers chose that. That’s why I would be okay if it was real life, but I resent the ending of this story that people made up. They could have made up anything, and this is what they CHOSE to have happen. Even if that’s what they planned at the beginning, you’re right that they should have changed it after seeing what their story had become.

    It makes me wonder how this went over with test audiences. Did they even test it? :/

  6. Sarah says:

    I really feel like this entire last season was because they knew they only had one season left and they ran out of things so that’s why the entire thing was a weekend. I hated the set up of this season. I also think it’s INCREDIBLY hard, writing-wise, to write a beginning and an ending and THEN go back through all of it. Writing is about GETTING to an end and learning about the characters along the way. This was definitely the classic story of not wanting to change the ending but failing to work all the way up to it properly. I mean, the more I think about it, the more I think I did like the finale. I liked the finale as an episode and the ending as an ending. What I didn’t like was the rest of this season :/

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