Warning: Spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched the show or the finale (obviously).
Like anyone who watches How I Met Your Mother (or HIMYM) religiously, I was overcome with mixed emotions on Monday night, when the show ended its nine year run. I knew that no matter how the show ended, I would be content with the result because HIMYM is one of my all-time favorite TV shows. In fact, the show had a huge influence on American television, spawning an entire cultural following.
Having had critical success and consistently impressive ratings since its beginning in 2005, HIMYM gave young teenagers and adults a relatable sitcom that followed in the footsteps of another beloved sitcom, Friends. Although the bulk of this season’s plot was overloaded with stale, uninteresting storylines, it was at times quite poignant. Some clever gags, epic high fives, and gut-busting one-liners were made here and there. But this season also exhibited more dramatic character developments, emotional turmoil, and bold, albeit slightly cheesy, proclamations of love.
The finale begins with an unexpected flashback to the show’s pilot, where Lily (Alyson Hannigan), Marshall (Jason Segel), Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), Ted (Josh Radnor), and Robin (Cobie Smulders) hang out for the first time as a group at the MacLaren’s Pub. It’s nice to see how these wacky, wisecracking thirtysomethings have progressed over the last few years.
In the beginning of the series, Robin was against marriage and struggling to become recognized as a news anchor on TV. By the end of the series, she is married to Barney and becomes an international sensation on television news, but ultimately it comes with a price: within three years of that marriage (and ten minutes of the episode), Robin and Barney reveal that they have divorced. I had somewhat saw this coming, but what becomes the most unpredictable and sentimental moment of the show is when Barney sees his baby daughter. We finally see Barney in his sincerest moment since the show’s beginning. He realizes that the only woman he will truly love and care about is of his own flesh and bone. While this may be a great moment for Barney, his divorce with Robin seems rather unnecessary. I got used to them being together around season five, once I realized that they were better together than Robin and Ted. It was a bit upsetting to see Robin and Barney fall apart as a couple, considering that the entire season centered on the weekend of their marriage.
Despite this, the rest of the gang comes full circle in their stories: After spending a year in Italy, Marshall becomes cynical about his mediocre job as a corporate lawyer, but soon receives a second once-in-a-lifetime job offer as a judge. Lily becomes pregnant for a third time and both she and Marshall continue to live as a happily married couple. And of course, Ted meets the Mother, which helps set up the rest of the episode’s story. Many fans, including myself, had speculated a theory that the infamous Mother would somehow die. And like many fans, I was screaming expletives at my TV when Ted reveals that the Mother had died six years prior to Ted’s telling of the story of how he met her.
I was initially very disappointed with the outcome, since the Mother was only introduced during the season eight finale and only appeared sporadically in this season. We finally get to see her after eight years, yet she still does not get as much screen time. Viewers deserved more of a chance to see Ted and the Mother (whose name was revealed as Tracy McConnell) interact and form the loving relationship that people have been waiting for. But nevertheless, we did get to see the pivotal moments: how they met at the train station, their first kiss, Ted’s marriage proposal, the birth of their children, and last but not least, their wedding. It’s still emotionally heart-wrenching to think about it now, but hopefully, people will be able to truly appreciate what the show is and has become.
The episode itself was very well-done, as it ties in plenty of unfinished plot lines. While some jokes remain unanswered (where did the pineapple from season one come from?), the finale brought on a full stock of amusing jokes and nostalgia. However, the series ended with a very off-putting closer. After Ted finally finishes the story of how he met the Mother, his children, Penny and Luke, question his real motives. Penny suggests that the whole story was Ted’s way of asking for his kids’ approval to date Robin. They push their father to go after Robin one more time— since, you know, the Mother died — and Ted decides to make the same move he made in the pilot episode. He uses the blue French horn he stole from his first date with Robin and waits optimistically outside Robin’s apartment. Sure enough, Robin opens her window and smiles as she sees him holding the blue French horn, symbolizing a long-awaited rekindling of their relationship.
As the credits rolled, I became overwhelmed with a variety of emotions: confusion, happiness, sadness and anger. But I’d say that “bittersweet” would suffice as my strongest emotion. How I Met Your Mother may not have ended the way many wanted it to, but at least everyone got the best of both worlds. Series finales are never perfect and this finale definitely wasn’t, especially since the HIMYM showrunners Carter Bays and Craig Thomas planned this ending since the very first episode. They could have easily dropped the Mother’s death from the story, as well as the fate of Robin and Ted’s relationship. However, by the end of the series, I realized that HIMYM still led an incredible legacy. Over the years, viewers experienced a close connection to each main character, saw Ted fall in love multiple times, and witnessed the meeting of the Mother. It was indeed a legen—wait for it—dary end to a great show.