Why I Didn't Hate the ‘How I Met Your Mother' Finale

Disclaimer: This post contains spoilers, so if you’re not up to date on the How I Met Your Mother conclusion, you might not want to continue reading. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!

After nearly a decade on the air, How I Met Your Mother came to an end last night, and while the series kept viewers intrigued, grounded and hopeful all along, the finale left many dedicated fans feeling cheated and robbed.

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I didn’t watch HIMYM until summer 2008, when I was temporarily living at American University in D.C. for a summer internship program. I was too young to accompany my hallmates to bars on the weekends, so I befriended a nice group of people on my floor that really liked HIMYM. I wasn’t quick to warm up to the show, but it was easy to watch, refreshingly optimistic and endearing. Unlike the numerous Barney Stinsons around him, Ted wanted so badly to find the right girl, and though I thought that had to be Robin, my new pals assured me she wasn’t The Mother because Ted referred to her as “Aunt Robin” in narrations to his kids. It turns out the writers knew Robin and Ted were meant for each other from the very beginning, and calling her “Aunt Robin” was just a way of throwing us all off.

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To give you a brief recap, the finale implies Ted lives happily ever after with Robin… that is, six years following the unforeseen death of his terminally wife Tracy McConnell (portrayed by Cristin Milioti). Ted and Tracy get together after Barney and Robin’s wedding, and next thing you know, they’re engaged and planning a grand ceremony. Then he hears Tracy is pregnant and doesn’t want to tie the knot until she can fit into her wedding gown. After three years of commitment and a whole lot of traveling for Robin’s job, Robin and Barney divorce, and he immediately jumps back into the dating game and fathers a baby girl with someone else. His marriage to Robin couldn’t tame him after all, but sweet little Ellie does, and he realizes this when he holds her for the first time ever. Though too exhausted to fully hit on attractive women anymore, Barney still has “the gang.” Robin, on the other hand, has drifted away from the group following her split from Barney.

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“Seven years and two kids” later, The Mother and Ted finally make it official. Ted sees her in her dress before the actual wedding, noting it’s “bad luck”, and sure enough, she dies before her time, thus inspiring Ted to tell his offspring how he met their mother.

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Ted tells the story and provides an anecdote about his first conversation with Tracy, an adorable, serendipitous interaction on a train platform. Then it’s over and Ted’s daughter brings up a glaring point that’s been on our minds all nine seasons: “That’s it?”

The kids realize the point of his story – to gauge their reaction of his interest in “Aunt Robin” – and encourage Ted to make a move on her, and he does in the last scene. After nearly ten years of investment in this show, the finale was bound to be heavy, but lots of fans felt outraged rather than understandably bittersweet:

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I’m not ashamed to admit I cried a few times during the last episode, not just because the final moment is emotional whether you love it or hate it, but because we’ve seen the characters go through so much over the past ten years. We may not have liked some of the things the gang went through, but doesn’t mean the last decade has been a waste. It just means they all had to grow up.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=566783420 Danielle McDermott

    I really enjoyed the finale. It wasn’t perfect but it’s hard for shows to please everyone. They did a good job covering some “Major Ground” and giving us an idea of where everyone ended up. Sure it may have been a let down that Tracy dies, but this show has been mostly about Ted and Robin’s relationship, and it makes sense they ended up together. I totally cried when Robin and Lily had their growing apart speech b/c I have had that feeling with many friends who moved onto to creating families, and the gang does falls apart. Also totally cried when Ted showed up with the horn, and then they flashed back to the first season of the entire cast. All in all it was a great ending to a long story we all really enjoyed.

    • Laura Donovan

      Robin’s speech was absolutely heartbreaking. I hated to see Lily crying alone in the apartment too. It was dark but life is that way sometimes, and I applaud the show for throwing us off so successfully.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1004654905 Danielle Mercedes Adams

      I guess we were watching a different show because after they broke up in Season 2 the show was not about Ted and Robins relationship. It was more about Barney & Robins relationship with Ted dating other people and sometimes for one episode here or there that he loved Robin again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100003646394177 Mayara Souza

    I agree with everything you said, and finally I don’t feel like I’m the only one who actually doesn’t hate the finale anymore.

    • Laura Donovan

      😀

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=531745038 Jenne Foronjy Travers

      My words exactly, Mayara :) Thanks, Laura Donovan for writing this!! I don’t feel so alone anymore.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=5111430 Jen Juneau

    I’ll admit, my first reaction was anger because they killed off Tracy (I really loved her character) and made us sit through an entire season centered around a wedding that didn’t even produce a long-term successful marriage. But now, after thinking about it, I completely agree with this article. Robin and Ted were not necessarily each other’s “The One,” but they ended up together because fate finally dealt them their time to do that and they did love each other. That doesn’t invalidate Tracy and Ted’s relationship, and you’re right that the story was about Ted, not Tracy. I feel like the ending was realistic with everyone drifting apart, with Barney only being able to be tamed by his child, but with everything sort of still being OK in the end. I loved it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=28002158 Valerie Seimas

    I did not enjoy it. I think they made a few really big mistakes. From the title of the show the creaters “promised’ us something – an unwritten understanding that the mother was important which was why we were getting so much build-up. From the first episode they telegraphed that Robin was not the one and I believed them. I also think that they were too committed to an ending that the narrative just didn’t bear out anymore. A few seasons earlier I would have been more okay with the finale but why did we have two seasons of Barney and Robin falling in love and getting married if they were just going to knock it down ten minutes into the finale? Also they whole 9th season on the wedding weekend was horrible – 20 episodes for a weekend and then 15 years in an hour? If they had spread the finale episode over the whole season I think I would have been more on board. Also I just never thought Robin and Ted were right for each other so I don’t understand why we had to kill off the titular mom to get it (who I LOVED and was so happy that Ted was going to get his happy ending with the perfect woman).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1022663051 Lisa Frymark

    I stopped watching the show a few years ago because Ted became insufferable (he’s the “Ross” of HIMYM). I have red recaps of the final episode and plan to watch it online. (I tried to watch a few episodes of this last season, but couldn’t handle it being stretched out over one weekend — UGH.). I appreciate your perspective, because everyone else I know has felt so betrayed by the finale. I’ll have to reserve my judgment for after I watch it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1004654905 Danielle Mercedes Adams

    It was 55 minutes of perfection followed by 5 minutes of BS that ruined 9 years. It was a romantic story that the writers just pulled the rug out from under us. As much as I loved the beginning of the episode those last 5 minutes ruined it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1311721072 Sami Thomason

    My problem is that they used two female characters as agency for Ted to get what he wanted. Ted’s relationship with Robin was obsessive and unhealthy, and the fact that he spent the whole time with Tracey still in love with Robin? Not cool, Ted. Not cool at all. Also, spending a whole season dedicated to a wedding that falls apart within 15 minutes of the finale? That’s insulting to the fans, plain and simple.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1004654905 Danielle Mercedes Adams

      I don’t think he was in love with Robin when he was with Tracy. The way he talked about her he was clearly in love with her. I just think after some time since his wife had passed away his feelings for Robin came back.
      Not that I agree with it at all. I am angry about the whole thing. The ruined a perfectly romantic 9 year show in the last 5 minutes.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=779689194 Bob Hantsch

    I found the HIMYM finale to be logical and satisfying. It celebrated the quirks we all loved about the show. It toyed with the idea of fate. And, it acknowledged the reality that things aren’t always what they seem to be. I think, given time, the audience will embrace the idea that it wasn’t just about the “mother,” but about giving Ted the opportunity to trace ALL the important relationships of his past, present and future.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=615936098 Holly Platte

    I could be okay with the ending, if I didn’t feel like we were made to believe that it wasn’t necessarily a timing issue with Robin and Ted, that it was more than that. There was no true connection with the two of them in Season 9. The connection was with the mother and Ted. I didn’t feel like Ted and Robin loved each other in the end. We also didn’t get how Robin came back into Ted’s life. I mean she left the gang, but the kids called her Aunt Robin, but why? As Penny said she was the lady on the bus. It was missing some moments to make the ending more believable.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1262241421 Eugenia Sendzuk

    I’ve been watching this show for less than a year yet it seems like all those 9 years are just a wink) The finale was funny and awkward. I didn’t expect to see Ted and Robin together yet there’s a point in it. I absolutely love Cristin Milioti and I think she has done a great job making the last two seasons a bit brighter. No matter how long or useless the last episodes were I still like the show. The finale is something that’s been somewhere deep right from the start. After all the tears, strange face expressions and chocolate bars I feel happy because I have met Ted! :-)

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1202670247 Anna K. Yuan

    The writers decided back in 2005 to have the series end this way. They had no idea how the characters would evolve from that point until now. Instead of changing their ending to fit the characters growth they used the last episode to break down all of their character development to fit a scene they recorded nearly ten years ago.
    I hate that Tracey had to die, but I had expected it since “The Time traveler” in season 8 (I believe it’s 8?). And I can understand after 6 years people change and he could find a way to fall back in love with Robin. Do I like it, no, but I understand it.
    What I do NOT understand is how the writers thought it was a great idea to spend the entire last season revolving around 56 hours that would crumble into nothing 3 years later. I was honestly speechless to see Barney and Robin announce their divorce. Now, let’s be realistic, they were HORRIBLE together. We all knew that, they were toxin, even more so than Ted and Robin together. And this show has held such a strong following because it appears realistic, and divorce is realistic.
    What shouldn’t have happen is revolve an entire season around this train wreck that will end 20 minutes into the final episode. What a pointless plot line. It could have easily fit into 1 or 2 episodes and we spend the rest of the season learning about the early years of the mother. But no, Craig and Carter decided 9 years ago Robin would be who Ted ended up with, so we couldn’t get too invested in The Mother… but guess what, we did.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1931378 Breanne Flory

    Whether you liked the ending or not, those scenes with Ted’s kids were shot 8-9 years ago. The writers have had this ending in mind the entire time they’ve been telling Ted’s story. I’m coming around to the finale, but I’m still sad because the writers themselves developed these people into such wonderful, dimensional characters (100% annoying sometimes, too). I’m guessing they couldn’t have imagined HIMYM would be here for 9 seasons, and when the show started, Ted & Robin was a good end-all pairing.
    Good for the writers for sticking to their original plan, and I’m still sad it’s over. My new theory is the writers are just huge Hitchcock fans and The Mother is really the red herring of the show.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=787145275 Anja Abel

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!
    After I was done watching the finale I went online to check the comments on their facebook page and I was shocked how much everyone hated the finale.
    I get why people may not be that happy about the ending, because many people were rooting for team Robin & Barney. But the writers did a great job on the Robin-Ted-Barney-triangle in season 9. The viewers could see how torn Robin was between those two men all the way through the final season. And we all knew that Ted was still hung up on her.
    I LOVED the character of Tracy and she was more than perfect to be Ted’s wife and mother of his children. And I’m heartbroken that they had to let her pass away so young. But lets be honest, as much as we all like her, it’s just as Ted’s kids pointed out: This whole story wasn’t really about meeting their mother, it was all about his relationship with Robin and how it changed over the years (and of course about the gang, not to forget).
    I don’t think the writers want us to think he never really loved Tracy, or that she was just a plan B until the time was right for him and Robin (Did he leave Tracy when he found out about Robin’s and Barney’s divorce? NO, he didn’t!). This is real life and I like the fact that the show’s ending does not tell us that there is only the ONE person for us.

    Loved it. Thanks HIMYM for so many years of fun and even some tears!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=18702158 Luisa Fernanda Madrid Estremadoyro

    I disliked the ending when it came down to the following: 1. The divorce, 2. The death of the “Mother”, & 3. The reunification of Ted and Robin.

    The Divorce: For a season and a half, the show was based on the wedding which was “to be or not to be”. When it finally showed, that both parties were going to go through with it- it was like “FINALLY!”- Great. Let’s move on to the ‘Mother’. However, when I realized that the commercials aired last night were longer than Robin’s & Barney’s marriage- I felt deeply annoyed and frustrated. I felt that the amount of time I put aside to view whether or not they would get married was just a complete waste. WASTE.

    Ok, so whatever…divorces happen in the real world so maybe the show will still make a turn around. —NOPE!

    2. The Death of the ‘Mother': Us viewers know the emotionally draining life that Ted experienced looking for “his one true love”. And, we finally got to see that when he met the woman who would be his children’s mother. She appeared to be an absolutely perfect woman for Ted. A woman who was just as silly & romantic like him. Ted and the ‘Mother’ looked like a match made in heaven- another “Lily and Marshall”. And, the fact that it seemed she adored his quirky, nerdy self to reese’s pieces, made the show magical. He finally had infinite love and the show took it away.

    (Ooook. So, deaths also happen in life, understandable. Well…what’s next??)

    3. The Reunification of Ted and Robin: BLASPHEMY! The show should’ve just ended with Ted saying, “So kids, that’s how i met your mother”. But no. The show had to reunite Ted and Robin.

    Listen, Listen, Listen….I know Ted was in love with Robin from “Day 1″, but the two should not have ended up together. He may have loved her and been one of the many loves he had, but Robin did not see him that way. Robin never truly appreciated Ted’s quirkiness and romantic syle. He was emotionally “too much” for her. The only reason why Ted and Robin even remained close was because even though they cared for each other, it was the group that held them together.

    Many times Ted professed his love for Robin. Robin, many times, denied the love, making it unrequited over the years, even when there was a “window of opportunity” available. She was just not into him that way. She chose many other options until she realized that her options led her to a relationship that was deteriorating (again).

    And now, that the gang has moved forward with their lives, accomplishing many major life milestones, Robin realized that she was behind on her own- placing her in what we call, “a mid-life crisis”. Does that mean that she was in love with Ted? — I don’t think so. I think that just left her vulnerable, exposed, and unfulfilled, giving her plenty of time to realize the type of husband Ted would’ve been to her.

    Ted was a rebound. And that fact that he loved her made it easier for her to get a good guy without doing all the hard work. And, now that his wife is dead (which, I repeat, should have never happened), he is back to his old self with that desire for her because she is the one who got away and continues to keep in touch, reigniting all the feelings that once were (which, obviously, would happen to anyone).

    But I am sure, that in a few months or years Robin would probably be fed with with Ted’s personality, feel bored, and break his heart….again.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=507262069 Jesica Vaisman

    So angry at the ending. Another fan wrote this and this is exactly how I feel about the ending……To say I was disappointed in the series finale of How I Met Your Mother is a gross understatement. I am disconcertingly, irretrievably, unfathomably disappointed in the way you chose to end what used to be my absolute favorite television series of all time, to the point where it makes me physically ill to think about. For nine seasons you taught us to believe in magic, and in destiny, and happy endings, and in the fates always working out in the end, no matter how bumpy the road to get there was. This ending absolutely destroyed everything that was magical about this series. A few things you destroyed:

    Barney Stinson. From the moment we saw Barney asking about his tie at the end of season 6, and realized that he was getting married, we have seen the character of Barney Stinson evolve, albiet slowly from a manipulative womanizer to a gentlemen worthy of marrying Robin Sherbatsky. When he finally vowed to always tell Robin the truth the moment before he married her, I was proud of him and the full circle that he had done. And then, in one episode, you destroyed three seasons of character development for Barney and made him devolve into an unfunny, immature scumbag of a guy who knocked somebody up and who wasn’t even happy about having a child until the moment he held her in his arms. What a SAD, MISERABLE ending for one of the most diverse characters in the show.

    Robin Sherbatsky. Ruined her character as well. So she becomes famous, ditches all of her friends and her husband for her career, and lives an anti-social life where she eventually ends up all alone in her old apartment with more dogs?

    I could have lived with the mother dying. I could have lived with this. I could have been happy. I could have made it work.

    But you decided to take it one step further.

    You decided to ruin Ted Mosby. You decided to turn Ted Mosby from a hopeless romantic telling an amazingly beautiful story of how he met the mother of his children into some elaborate ploy to ask his kids’ permission to pursue Robin again. Robin. THE SAME WOMAN WHO MARRIED HIS BEST FRIEND AND WHO TOLD TED SHE DID NOT LOVE HIM AND THAT THEY WOULD NEVER WORK OUT EVER BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT PEOPLE. By the way, way to break the bro code, Ted. You shattered Ted’s character by convincing us he finally moved on from Robin. But no. Still pining after the same woman after 20+ years. Makes me physically ill.

    But the worst thing….

    You ruined The Mother and her story. You turned her death into a minor part, another hurdle Ted had to jump to finally reach Robin. We did not see ANY mourning from Ted for the death of his wife. We did not see their final moments together. We did not see the funeral. We did not hear any sadness from her kids. All we heard was “Oh by the way, the mother got sick and died, let’s talk about Robin instead”. Makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.

    You ruined the magic. And for that, I will forever be disappointed.

    In my mind, the series ended with Barney and Robin’s wedding. A snippet of Ted seeing the mother playing bass on stage. Finally meeting her at the train station. Flash forwards of their lives together. Ted proposes. They have an amazing life and two children together. She slowly gets sick and eventually passes away. And in order to honor her memory, he sits his kids down and tells them the long, amazing story of how he met the love of his life.

    And that’s the true story of how Ted met the mother, the love of his life. At least, that’s the story I will be remembering

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1042080112 Alexander See-Wai Lagumen Wong

    I feel like a lot of people wanted the best possible happy ending, that’s where I see the expressions of outcry, deceit, and backlash from the masses all over the internet, and initially I wanted that amazing storybook happy ending too, but what the final episode did, that I did not expect at all, was that they explored such complex, natural, and very real territories that heightened the show even farther than I had ever imagined…life is full of happiness, tragedy, growth, distance, love, surprises, memories, and so much more…it’s not always perfect, and when we meet that fork in the road of our life’s journey, it’s the silver linings that help us become whole all over again

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1596840070 Michelle Drewek

      100% agree! Life isn’t a Fairy Tale. Anyone who came in thinking that it was required to end happily is jading themselves. Ted Mosby is the biggest example of things not turning out the way you expect them to. He is who we should all think of when life hands us a situation we didn’t plan for, because guess what…life will continue to do that. But, from the unexpected can come happiness. Some times in our life will be shorter lived than others, but that doesn’t make them any less significant.

      Barney needed Robin to help us see a side of him we wouldn’t have believed otherwise. He would never have been able to pick up his baby girl and say all those things to her, with us believing him, if it weren’t for Robin.

      Robin always wanted her career. That’s why she came to the city in the first place. She was married to that dream before she was even engaged to Barney. Ted and her were never on the same path during those years, and that’s okay! It’s okay for life to take two people down different roads that eventually lead to the right moment. It’s okay that Ted and Tracy met and made a family together. Ted never would’ve gotten that with Robin. The mother dying is also okay. We expect to live long, but again, life doesn’t always work out that way.

      Finally, it’s okay that Ted and Robin end up together, or at least that’s where the series left us with them. It’s to remind us of that road that will take us a million different directions in life. We need to stop trying to predict the ending, and enjoy the highs and learn from the lows along the way.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=552695125 Madison Morgan

    I wasn’t in quite as much emotional turmoil after the finale as my husband was, but I did feel a bit overwhelmed. With everything that happened in the finale, many details were missing. It made the whole thing feel discombobulated. Instead of saving all of it for the finale, they should have showed bits of it in other episodes that were otherwise filled with pointless plot lines. I think less fans would have been disappointed if we could have had those missing details (e.i., what happened to the mother of Barney’s child, how did Ted and Robin become close again, etc.).

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=500398088 Elise Austin

    It wasn’t about him ending up with Robin. It was how they portrayed it. In less than a minute they go from the Mother being sick and dying to “Go for Aunt Robin!” with a tiny quip of her being gone for six years. It was rushed, and because the end of the mother being such a small moment and we never saw him that upset about it, it looks like he was always holding out for Robin, when the show was about him FINALLY meeting his one true love. The one true love seemed to turn into a side point in the episode, when we had been waiting NINE years for it to happen! I love Robin, but she treated Ted horribly and always left him in the dust once he got attached again. The ending was executed all wrong, and THAT is what the issue is.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=121400115 Jeff Slade

    I’m still processing it for the most part. For me, and maybe others, the fact that a show I’ve loved and watched for so long was ending at all was a little disheartening, so that might be playing into things.

    While I know it was an ending it still felt… abrupt would be the word, I guess. The whole last season was focused on Barney and Robin’s wedding, so all along I think we were expecting the last episode would end with the wedding and Ted would finally meet The Mother. After the penultimate episode I was scratching my head a bit that they actually showed the wedding, and was wondering what to expect from last night’s finale. I’m glad they went beyond the wedding, since I wasn’t expecting that, but it was a lot of ground to cover and pretty jarring.

    The jarring part isn’t a surprise from this show (remember Marshall’s father’s passing, for example), but to have Barney and Robin’s divorce, The Mother’s death, and Ted and Robin getting back together virtually all at once? That’s a lot to take in at one time, and knowing there’s no more episodes left to explore the aftermath of any of these huge events, well, it sucks.

    Also, the whole red herring aspect of Ted getting together with Robin at the end does smart a bit. HIMYM isn’t the first show/movie to do something like that of course but on top of the above mentioned reasons it feels like insult to injury, like, ‘haha, didn’t see that coming did you? TRICKED YOU!’ Which I’m sure wasn’t the creators’ intent, but I can see why some people are disappointed.

    Right now I’m feeling more ‘mreh’ about it. I didn’t love it, but I didn’t hate it, and it’s probably going to take a while before I come up with a final opinion.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1052172449 Agos Iaz

    I agree with you a 100%. I thought the series finale was both intense and unexpected and if you ask me that’s what I expect from a TV show. I’m grateful for the fact that the writers sticked to their original plan outlined nine years ago and they didn’t follow the fans’ wishes or tweets. I’m tired of writers asking fans what they wish to see on their TV shows. It’s their job to entertain us and surprise us with their ideas. I for one did not see this ending coming and I loved the fact that just as in real life there was comedy and tragedy, and love. :)

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