The Final Word on the How I Met Your Mother Finale

Do the names Ted, Robin, Lily, Marshall and Barney mean anything to you? They do to me and that’s why I need to write this. How I Met Your Mother went off the air in 2014 after completing a legen..wait for it..dary nine year run on CBS. It’s been three years since the finale aired and for three years it has left a sour taste in my mouth. I’m writing about it now because for the first time I watched the entire series from start to finish on Netflix and I just watched the finale today.

I must make it clear that I LOVE How I Met Your Mother. It is my favorite sitcom of all time but the show had a fatal flaw. The show was Ted telling his kids the story of how he met their mother. So, as we sit for nine years of a will they/won’t they between Ted and Robin we know they won’t because it was told to us that Robin was not the mother. As much as we want Ted and Robin to end up together (well, at least for the first 8 years of the show we do)  we know they can’t. No matter how many heartstrings they pull on, even right up until moments before Barney marries Robin, we know they don’t mean anything because Robin is not the mother. No matter how many women Ted dates such as Stella and Victoria (who for the record is my favorite Ted girlfriend) tell Ted their relationships have failed because he loves Robin, we know that it doesn’t matter. Robin’s not “the one” anyway. Robin isn’t Ted’s end game because she’s not the mother. Then you learn everything you trusted Craig Thomas and Carter Bays with was a lie because of the finale they gave us.

I had so much excitement for the final season because the final moments of the season 8 finale were masterfully done with all the moving pieces with the other characters being spliced into seeing a woman walking in a train station. Then we finally see a woman ask for a train ticket to Far Hampton and we all screamed “YES” because we’ve been paying attention for eight years and we know that woman is the mother. It’s the moment we all waited for. The entire (except for the finale) final season takes place at Robin and Barney’s wedding. Of course there are more flashbacks to how the mother got to this point in her life and we got flash forwards to see how Ted and the mother’s relationship progressed. We waited 8 years for the mother and we loved her. She’s the woman we wanted Ted to end up with after all the heartbreak he suffered. She was Ted’s perfect match. That’s why I mentioned earlier that for 8 years we wanted Ted to end up with Robin. It’s because we had not met the mother yet. Once we did and saw how this was the exact woman Ted was searching for, we didn’t want Ted and Robin anymore. Even though the show tried to convince us otherwise during the lead up to Barney and Robin’s wedding with some very poignant moments between Ted and Robin. After we met the mother we knew Ted and Robin were all wrong for each other. We always thought it but when the mother came into the picture that thought was sealed as a fact. The show was going to end and we were all going to be happy with Ted and Tracy (the mother’s name), right? Wrong.

The only episode of the final season that doesn’t take place at Barney and Robin’s wedding is the finale. And within 15 minutes of the finale which starts 3 years after the wedding, we are let in on a big bombshell, Robin and Barney have gotten a divorce. So, most of the entire last season is completely pointless because their marriage didn’t even make it 15 minutes into the next episode. Whatever though right? It’s Robin and Barney, we all kind of knew it wouldn’t last because of their personalities and Ted seems really happy with the mother. So, we’re cool with it, but things aren’t as happy as they seem.

The finale originally aired as a 1 hour episode but it’s broken into two parts on Netflix and half way through the second part of the finale we learn the mother is dead. Yup, nine years and she’s dead, or at least I have to assume she is. All we’re told is that she got “sick” and we see 10 seconds of Ted reading a book to her in a hospital bed. So, the death of the mother, who is the title character, is glossed over like a random girl Barney hits on at the bar. In what should’ve been a major moment in the finale and series as a whole was treated like it was nothing. And why was it treated like nothing? All so Ted could be standing outside Robin’s window with the blue French horn (just like in the pilot) to end the series. Total nonsense.

Yes, there is a glaring loophole, the show is called “How I Met Your Mother” not “Who Ted is Ending Up With” so the writers had the ability to do that since we are told who the mother is, so I guess they did their job. It doesn’t mean it was right and it doesn’t mean I have to like it. This brings me to the show’s fatal flaw, it’s told in Flashback. As the show moves along you’re told clues as to who the mother is so you know all the women Ted dates aren’t the mother. It was one of the biggest talking points of the show, the Ted clues as I call them. Those little nuggets that were dropped as to her identity. Such as when she was in the club on St. Patrick’s Day or she was Cindy’s roommate or the fact that she was in the classroom on Ted’s first day of being a professor. Every time a new girl came along we immediately dismissed her because we’ve been keeping track of the clues and she didn’t fit any of them.

If the show is present day moving forward it changes your thinking as the viewer. If the show is called “Ted and Four Pals” the writers can do whatever they want to do. Once you call the show “How I Met Your Mother” and you tell it in flashback, you change the dynamic of the show. You spend nine years building to something leaving us crumbs in the forest to find our way home and then at the last minute the address of the house changes. We didn’t want to be jerked around for eight years to meet this woman. Then we meet her, love her and then she’s killed off. All because the writers couldn’t move off of the idea that Ted had to end up Robin. He didn’t. Especially after we meet the mother. It’s an awful bait and switch after we were led to believe something for 9 years only for it to change at the very last second. It’s was a giant black mark on an otherwise awesome and entertaining series and sadly, it’s the last memory of HIMYM.

Oh but wait, there’s an alternate ending to the series? Really? It can kiss one of baby Marvin’s dirty diapers. The sad part is that it was the PERFECT ending to HIMYM. I always said that the last thing you hear on the show should be Ted uttering the words “and kids that’s the story of How I Met Your Mother”. It would have been perfect. The scene where Ted and Tracy meet for the first time is so great. They realize that they are in the exact spot they are supposed to be in when they realize all the connections that they had that we already knew in the Ted clues. The back and forth over the who actually owned the yellow umbrella was so great when they came up with different “TM” phrases. That’s when we learned the mother’s name and that she had the same initials as Ted, that’s why the “TM” was written on the umbrella. It’s such a magical scene that made the nine years we watched this show all worth it. That’s exactly how the show should have ended. That should be the lasting memory of HIMYM. Yes, it does appear in the aired version of the finale so it’s part of HIMYM cannon but I can’t go back and magically edit that alternate ending into my DVD of the show or on Netflix and just pretend like the Robin ending doesn’t exist.  It’s just there as a cruel reminder of what should’ve been.

I needed to write this as I said before. I had to vent about how my favorite sitcom of all time was ruined by an awful decision by the creators. Even if it is three years later. Despite my disdain for the finale, I’ll always remember the awesome times at MacLaren’s, all the high fives, the Perfect Week, The Slap Bet, The Playbook, The Bro Code and so, so much more because How I Met Your Mother was indeed legen…wait for it…

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