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.
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.
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.
“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.
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:
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.