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How I met the worst series finale to date

By Stephanie Ramirez

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With an alternate ending to be released this fall, it’s only fitting to discuss the controversial “How I Met Your Mother” series finale.

Nine years, nine seasons, 208 episodes, countless jokes and laughs, plenty of storylines, five main characters – and one (until now) nameless mother. It all came to an end Monday, March 31, and fans around the world sat down to watch what would become one of the most disappointing series finales to date.

Honestly, as soon as the episode was over, I checked my calendar and made sure it wasn’t April Fool’s Day yet, because that finale had to have been an elaborate prank. Weeks later, and I am still fuming.

The episode begins in 2005: a nice, sentimental look into the day Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) joined the gang. At that moment, I should have foreseen the ending and turned off my TV before it was too late. The whole finale was about Robin. How she became part of the group, her marriage to Barney, her divorce from Barney, her secret feelings for Ted and how she essentially quit her friendships. Truthfully, I don’t have a problem with Robin, but when I started watching “How I Met Your Mother,” I signed up for an ending in which Ted (Josh Radnor) and Tracy, the mother (Cristin Milioti), actually end up together.

To give credit to the writers, yes, Ted and Tracy were absolutely perfect together while they lasted. Yes, sickness does happen, and sometimes, it does tragically take the people you love. It is realistic, and of course, as the finale suggests, it is absolutely okay to move on. But don’t make us fall in love with the idea of Ted and the mother for nine years and then pull the rug out from under our feet during the series finale.

It was the plot twist to end all plot twists… except almost nobody enjoyed it.

For nine years, dedicated fans waited and anticipated Ted and Tracy’s meeting, with the show dropping hints about the couple’s effortless chemistry and important parallels. Viewers hoped to finally see and experience Ted’s happy ending with the woman of his dreams, only to find that the woman of his dreams was merely a plot device to unite Ted and Robin, a couple whose flames had seemingly died long ago.

Over the latter part of the show’s first eight years, the writers led the audience to believe that Ted and Robin were over, only to spend this entire last season hinting at and eventually reigniting their love. When Ted was at his lowest points, he returned to Robin in what can only be called a sick obsession, but Robin countlessly rejected him, leading fans to believe that her happy ending would be with Barney (Neil Patrick Harris).

Throughout their time together, both Barney and Robin recognized their faults and grew enormously as characters. The entire last season was about Barney’s and Robin’s wedding, so why would the writers dedicate a whole year to a marriage that would deteriorate within the first five minutes of the finale? Moreover, why did they flush all of Barney’s character development down the drain?

In fairness, Barney’s storyline with his daughter was perfection. He dedicated his whole life to writing off women, never fully committing – and then he promises to dedicate the rest of his life to one girl: his daughter, the result of a one-night stand. Although we never learn who that mother is, other than “Number 31,” in Barney’s “Perfect Month,” Barney promising to give everything to the most important girl in his life was endearing enough.

Well-written and incredibly touching, that storyline was the episode’s only ending I enjoyed. If I say I didn’t shed a tear during the scene at the hospital in which he calls Ellie, his daughter, the love of his life, I am lying.

Meanwhile, Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel), forever together and the least problematic characters, were hardly even acknowledged in the finale. While their ending was well established before the finale, I was left wondering what happens to their family. Are they still close to Ted? And where are their three kids? For one, we never even learn the third kid’s name. Are they happy and healthy? Do Lily and Marshall ever experience any problems beyond Marshall’s long career path to judgeship? On the one hand, Lily and Marshall fans should be grateful their favorite couple was left intact. On the other, their ending was … not an ending at all.

Now, with a looming alternate finale, one can only hope that the HIMYM team’s second choice is significantly better than the first. Including the alternate finale is not only an attempt to sell more DVDs when the final season is released, but the writers’ attempt to quiet dissatisfied fans. Quite frankly, if I watch the alternative finale and enjoy it, I’ll only be angry that it wasn’t the actual ending.


Stephanie Ramirez can be reached at [email protected]


23 Responses to “How I met the worst series finale to date”

  1. Dan on April 15th, 2014 4:05 am

    I’m sorry but you are an absolute idiot. You have completely missed the point of the story. If you wanted a fairytale ending, then go and watch a Disney movie; this ending is basically showing how real life works, how friendships develop and sometimes collapse and finally the grim but very real truth of human health and how it affects a family. Watch the entire series again, think about these points and then see if this rant makes sense

  2. S on April 15th, 2014 9:54 am

    What Dan said. I liked the finale. It made SENSE. If you watched the show from episode one, you’d know.

  3. Cara on April 15th, 2014 10:02 am

    First of all, they did not make us fall in love with the idea of Ted and Tracy. It has always been about Ted and Robin, and if he could not get over her in the eight years leading up to the wedding, what made you think he would ever get over her? The flames never died. All of season 9 we watched him track down that locket for her. If you knew anything about Ted, you’d know he was a hopeless romantic. No true fan would call his love for Robin a “sick obsession” so don’t say that’s the only thing you can call it. Barney and Robin would have never worked because they are two very self-involved characters. Yes, they loved each other, but it wasn’t enough to make sacrifices for their relationship (Robin’s career). The only thing that held Ted back from being with Robin was that he wanted kids and she didn’t and the ending made that completely possible. The entire last season was not just about Barney and Robin’s wedding. It was about tying up knots and cutting loose ends, it was about meeting the mother and ending that era of their lives. They didn’t “flush Barney’s character development down the drain.” They showed him crashing after divorcing the woman he thought he’d spend the rest of his life with. The story wasn’t about Lily and Marshall either, so it is fine they didn’t focus as much on them either. Marshall and Marvin, Lily and Daisy, it was perfect, knowing the third child would have ruined it, however, 3 is the compromise for the four boys Marshall wanted and the two girls that Lily wanted so not knowing the gender is also good. We don’t need to know everything about everyone’s futures because the show was about the past. There’s no way that the second ending will be better than the original one and the fact that you are calling for it means you are a crappy fan. Thomas and Bays took us on this incredible journey and it should end how they planned it nine years ago.

  4. Talkback on April 15th, 2014 11:18 am

    If you liked the ending to this series I would have to say you weren’t really watching. Maybe if you watched seasons 1 and 2 and then watched the finale it would be ok but it wasn’t ok. True I love Robin and she is hands down my favorite character. I love Ted and Robin together they were special but the fact is. Ted and Robin didn’t work. I would even go as far as saying Ted wanted and loved Robin for so long because of their close quarters. I have experienced personally what it is like being friends with your ex. You backslide and then break up oh wait then you do it again. Do I believe their love was real, at some point it was. But like we saw in the balloon episode he had to let her go and he understood it and she understood it. Fundamentally they did not work. Then Ted got to meet the true love of his life a beautiful person that I would have to say a lot of the fans loved too and then for the sake of fulfilling their season 2 fantasies and stuck him with Robin again… which makes no sense and to be honest probably only influenced by Robin being back in his life since Tracy’s passing. Honestly it was really frustrating. Just like the goat with the washcloth. Which I guess is a lesson but it is a terrible one.

    Although if you didn’t see that the mother had died and Robin was totally second guessing not marrying Ted instead of Barney at about 6 episodes before the finale I don’t know if you were watching either.

  5. Patrick Moore on April 15th, 2014 12:37 pm

    I completely agree with the first three comments here. You are not a true fan. Go watch a Disney movie.

  6. Jonathan on April 15th, 2014 12:55 pm

    I don’t think you guys can claim any “true” fandom over anyone. That’s not exactly fair. I’ve spent the last month rewatching the entire show in preparation for the series finale, and it does seem like the dropped the ball. As the writer has said, Ted only goes to Robin at his lowest, heart breaking moments. That is THE definition of a relapse. I know that they had written the ending from the conception of the story, but if Lily and Marshall can let their vows roll with the punches, I think the writers are allowed a little liberty on what the ending should mean.

  7. Ted Mosby on April 15th, 2014 1:00 pm

    Sorry the show didn’t end with the ending you signed up for but its not all about you shit happens. Don’t let one episode ruin the whole show take a step back and look at the show for what it was a fantastic story about a group of friends.

  8. Meagh on April 15th, 2014 1:31 pm

    I agree with the author. I did not like the ending of this show. I was never into Ted and Robin being a couple to begin with. and how is it all of a sudden robin always loved Ted when she choose Barney over him to begin with. She had more than an opportunity to choose Ted in previous seasons and she never did. I fell in love with the idea of Ted and Traci not Robin. I always thought she was better with Barney. She took Barney’s sweeping gesture but never Ted’s. And I dont believe that his children would have been ok with him being with robin. Overall the ending was good but I thought the fact that he ended up with Robin was kinda wack but at last its only a tv show & i will move on with my life

  9. Me on April 15th, 2014 2:24 pm

    Great way to start of the comments, not an “i disagree. Just a kneejerk reaction where you call the writer an idiot because you don’t agree. Classy. The problem here is that they built up this meeting like it was going to be a fairytale ending. From the music used in scenes forshadowing the mother to the small things they introduced about her throughout the series. It attracted an audience of dreamers and people who believe in true love. And true love not just for ted. But for the other characters. I can’t understand why they would devote years and a full season to robin and barney, making us fall in love with this coupleing to just get them divorced in the first few minutes of the finale. It would be one thing if that had been given as much respect as ted and tracy but it wasn’t. It was just dismissed and forgotten with a bullshit line about how “it was a successful 3 year marraige” really? Cuz it looked super not succesful! We got a robin who abandons her marriage, then her friends, then when it comes time for robin to be with ted and maybe finally show that she loves him, all they do is have her stand there and get another hige gesture from ted. Maybe it should have been her turn. After all the times this show made me believe that robin didn’t love ted it would have been nice to flip that around and make her earn him for once. But nope. She thought he was proposing once and outright said “no” like 14 times in 6 seconds. I amosy wish they had killed barney off too. Everybody dies and its ok to move on after but fuck am i not ok with the being made to invest in barney/robin so hard and then to have that taken away because they stubornly stuck to their ideas of what the show would be during its inception. These characters grew and changed in ways im sure not even the writers expected over 9 years, so its ok to adapt and evolve with those characters, i think your characters should dictate your characters, this felt like writers dictating the plot to a point where it felt forced. There’s my two cents anyway. I loved this show, and i do not appologise for being a dreamer. Btw i liked that they killed off tracy whom was a fantastic character. Death is a part of life and everyone does it. My issue is with how these characters lived frol the finale forward.

  10. m on April 15th, 2014 2:35 pm

    you guys are stupid, this is a sitcom!!! it not suppose to teach you life lessons it only suppose to entertain. i vote the ending was awful. everyone wants a happy ending and the finale was filled with negative features such as the divorce, the death of tracy, lilly the baby factory, the mistake that barney made it changed barney’s character and his character was awesome. when the alternate ending is release hopefully it will be better. and btw i have watched from season one till season 9 over and over and i honestly didnt expect to be built up to finally watch the ending just for that depressing episode. that finale puts you off on the whole series.

  11. Robert on April 15th, 2014 4:09 pm

    “But don’t make us fall in love with the idea of Ted and the mother for nine years and then pull the rug out from under our feet during the series finale.”
    Yes, please do that! it’s a hundred times more interesting than your run-off-the-mill happy ending. That’s just how life is – there is never that one person that you’re supposed to end up with, life is full of twists and coincidences that can throw you in unexpected directions, but you can always get up and try to make the best of any given situation. I think the show, especially the finale, captured that notion beautifully.

    “only to find that the woman of his dreams was merely a plot device to unite Ted and Robin”
    If that’s everything you that you could take from Tracy’s appearence in the show I really feel sorry for you. I think the writers did a wonderful job of giving her an important role in the show while avoiding happily ever after clichés.

  12. Kiki on April 15th, 2014 4:17 pm

    “If you wanted a fairytale ending, then go and watch a Disney movie; this ending is basically showing how real life works, how friendships develop and sometimes collapse and finally the grim but very real truth of human health and how it affects a family. ”

    Sorry but I don’t watch romantic sitcoms for “grim but real” truth – that’s what dramas are for (oh- and real life). There’s nothing real about Ted’s love with Tracy – it’s a complete fairy tale. No actual person can create a laundry list of their one true love (She plays bass, she hates olives, etc) and actually find someone to exactly meet the profile. This was scripted as a happily-ever after fairy tale, and that’s the ending I wanted after spending 9 years waiting for it. That does not make me an idiot. I understand the plot twist, but found it so disappointing. Like I’m literally having nightmares about Tracy’s death. Not cool for a sitcom that I’ve been loyal to for 9 years to leave me wounded like that. Looking forward to the alternate ending.

  13. Rich in NJ on April 15th, 2014 8:11 pm

    I agree with Kiki. If I wanted grim reality I’d watch CNN, not a sitcom. I absolutely LOVED the finale of The Office, where just about everybody got to live happily ever after. The HIMYM finale even ruined watching the reruns in syndication for me. After the way they had described Lily’s “porch test”, the ONLY ending that would have satisfied me was Ted & Tracy, Barney & Robin, Lily & Marshall, all sitting on Lily’s porch after their 30th consecutive Thanksgiving dinner together. Raise a toast, cut to black – okay, maybe with the sound of a slap in the background.

  14. anonymous on April 15th, 2014 9:13 pm

    Quote: “That’s just how life is – there is never that one person that you’re supposed to end up with, life is full of twists and coincidences that can throw you in unexpected directions, but you can always get up and try to make the best of any given situation. I think the show, especially the finale, captured that notion beautifully.”

    If this is the way life is, Ted should have ended up with someone other than the Mother OR ROBIN.

    The problem with the way the “realists” see the show is that by season 9, there was nothing real about Ted and Robin. They had both moved on. To get them back together seemed the least real of all endings.

    And as for Ted, as mentioned in “Double Date,” the best thing he could do was find someone who appreciated him for who he was – like making jokes about typos in menus. The Mother was that person. Robin was not.

    The ending did not jive with the rest of the show.

  15. Shhhhteve on April 15th, 2014 10:26 pm

    I watched the entire series from start to finish. I don’t like the idea that after all these years searching for the Mother that she should be killed off in an instant. They could have at least shown some suffering on his part as her sickness worsened. It would have legitimized the storyline.
    I would have preferred if they lived happily ever after though – much of the entire series was built on him being a hopeless romantic, but never finding his match. When he finally did, it would have been fine to end it that way.

    Having the entire last season within 48 hours of the wedding was a bad idea also. Too constrained.

  16. john on April 16th, 2014 1:57 am

    It was a terrible ending. It is a TV show and a romantic comedy at that. It is not about realities and people die and get divorced. We don’t watch shows like this for reality. This ending was the ultimate slap to a lot of fans.

  17. Cara on April 16th, 2014 6:37 am

    If you were never into Ted and Robin as a couple then why would you watch this show? At least once a season he goes back to wanting her. She has had her doubts as well. She didn’t choose Barney over Ted to begin with, she wasn’t even interested in Barney until season 3. Barney and Robin would have never worked, and the ending was completely realistic of how that marriage would have played out. The first time they dated the turned into monsters, so how was it really supposed to end for them? Robins reserves for dating Ted were always about herself, she didn’t want kids, she didn’t want to be tied down to New York. With Barney she could never trust him, how is that a good basis for a marriage? Ted would have traveled the world with Robin, never have kids if he could be with her. Robin loved him too much to let him do that. Like the show said, in every relationship there is a reacher and a settler, Robin and Barney weren’t settlers, but Ted was.

  18. Alice on April 16th, 2014 6:43 am

    I wonder why Ted built up the story to be this fairy tale ending? Maybe because he was telling it to his motherless children? It is true that Ted and Tracey were a perfect match, and she gave Ted everything he ever asked for and vice versa. But the show was always going to end the way it did. The outrage is completely uncalled for. What other ending would make sense for the story to be told the way it was. If it were really about Ted and Tracey then why would the first episode not be when he met her roommate or St. Patrick’s day. The first episode had nothing to do with the mother. It was about Robin.

  19. John on April 16th, 2014 7:42 am

    Oh those few die hard Ted and Robin shippers…how the heck can you claim the ending was realistic after
    all the character development of all the characters. The season finale was a complete throwback to
    season one as if the other eight season never happened at all. Worst season finale of all time (not due to the
    great actors but the Creators who fell on their sword just to make a point…the series is going to end this was simply because it was our first…but not our best idea.
    After the HIMYM season finale I won’t be wasting my time on HIMYD…I wonder how many seasons it will last (Vegas have odds on it making it through its first season)? Perhaps that’s a shame…that spin off might have had a chance but I don’t think it does now. The only spinoffs I could see succeeding are ones with Ted and the Mother…Lilly and Marshall, Robin and Barney…which would of course mean we would need to shoot a short sequence where Ted wakes up in bed next to the mother and the original series finale was just a nightmare…like it was for most of the shows fan base.

  20. Deb on April 18th, 2014 4:34 pm

    I loved it. I thought it was a great ending. That is all.

  21. Paula on April 18th, 2014 6:27 pm

    As a fan of one of the greatest sitcoms of our time.I’m glad Ted’s happy but i hate the ending. People think it’s because i wanted a fairytale (which i did not, i know where to find the disney channel), others think it’s because she died and it isn’t (life, and death, happen). it is that we loved Robin & Ted and understood why it didn’t worked and mourned when he had to let her go. it is because we saw that Barney & Robin didn’t work when it ended the 1st time and where subsequently treated to 2 seasons of (successfully) convincing us otherwise. we watched Barney Stinsosn grow up and suddenly regress (PS: loved how he met his daughter too) and we watched a SEASON about a wedding that ended in 5 minutes. Call it multiple plot twists, call it a lesson in timing, call it what you like, I’m calling [email protected]#$%.

  22. Paula on April 18th, 2014 6:28 pm

    And i didn’t appreciate the use of the mother as a plot device to conveniently remove all obstacles from Ted and Robin’s path. How dare they?

  23. Weighing in months late on November 19th, 2014 11:14 pm

    Was never a huge fan of this show, but watched the ending online after everyone at work was raising hell about it. Now I’m watching reruns of the final season, and wow, it’s got to be one of the most poorly written sitcoms ever.

    Obviously, the show’s creators sat down, however many years ago, and said “Hey, let’s do a rehash of Friends. That’ll make us rich.” They intended from the outset that Ted and Robin would somehow be the reheated version of Ross and Rachel, But they simply didn’t have the writing chops to pull it off. (No big surprise, or they’d have come up with something original in the first place.) Now the creators have their egos all bruised that their fans didn’t buy into the “he was always her lobster” contrivance, but too bad. The fans owe them nothing, and they betrayed their fans horribly. The pacing in the last season is pathetically clumsy, and killing off the mother was ridiculous.

    The show would have been canceled years ago if not for the talent of Neil Patrick Harris, a.k.a. Microwave Joey. Bet he’s glad to be freed from this dreck. The writers are a bunch of no-talent hacks who’d hoped to cash in on the success of others who’d come before them. Hope they’re never contracted for another show, ever.

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