Alright, this will be long, this will be ragey and it will be extremely negative. You have been warned.
The HIMYM finale is the worst series finale I have seen since Dan Humphrey was revealed to be Gossip Girl (in fact, that made more sense). Everything the show has worked towards, everything the audience has fallen in love with, every character we have watched grow and evolve, all undone in forty-five minutes. Putting all that aside, the episode itself was poorly filmed and scripted; the pacing was bizarre and felt very rushed, the dialogue wasn’t as funny as it could have been and when I watched the episode I got the same feeling I do from reading a lazy and overloaded epilogue. But that aside, let’s get down to the true atrocities, the events of the episode.
Unpopular opinion time; I’ve never liked Barney and Robin as a couple. Their first attempt at a relationship was disastrous with them bailing on it before even truly trying to make it work. For the next few seasons we were treated to way too many “will they or won’t they” moments, which were particularly grating because they only seemed to pop up when the other was in a relationship (somewhat reminiscent of Ross and Rachel on Friends). And I loathed The Robin, which was basically Barney manipulating Robin (in an atrocious fashion) into marrying him. That being said, I was resigned to the fact that they were getting married and several of the episodes in Season 9 did attempt to address their issues and have them resolve to be together. We finally saw them get married and take that final step.
And then it’s all undone within fifteen minutes. Now, I could actually believe that Robin and Barney would eventually end up divorced. I think Ted was right when he said you can’t have two Alphas in a relationship. It’s hard for two dominant personalities to exist easily within a relationship, constantly letting pride get in the way, refusing to give in during fights, battling for dominance in the dynamic. Couple that with the constant fears and doubts in their relationship which never one hundred per cent disappeared and you have a recipe for a very tumultuous relationship. So, yes, I could see Barney and Robin getting a divorce. But not like this.
Not with Robin’s career as the catalyst and Barney regressing to the immature young man of Season 1, whingeing about being bored and not being able to update his blog. This was awful, sloppy writing, which punished Robin for her career ambitions (something the show had not done previously) and undid all of the progress made with Barney Stinson. The fans and the characters deserved more than a short, badly-written scene in which neither character fought for the relationship and the reason for the break up was flimsy and out of character. The entirety of Season 9 was building up to the final step of this relationship, to getting both of them down the aisle and for the relationship to be so completely and sloppily decimated so abruptly is an insult.
And that’s not even going into what happened to both characters in the wake of the divorce. Did we get to see Robin decide that her career really has always been the most important thing, throw herself into work with determination and enjoy her immense success? No. Instead we get a lonely and bitter woman, who chooses a life of solitude (shitting all over one of her best friends in the progress), longing for a guy she repeatedly rejected (for good and solid reasons) and feeling empty and alone. And Barney - do we get a reformed man, sad and regretful (but at peace with) his failed marriage but determined to better himself and make another real connection with a woman? No. Instead we are treated to a return of Season 1 Barney, a pathetic, misogynistic womanizer, treating females like crap, writing another playbook and regressing more than I ever seen a character regress. And the brilliant way to finally have Barney change? A random love-child with a woman who doesn’t even receive a name and a sweet but very abrupt and somewhat bizarre bonding scene with his newborn baby. Absolutely horrendous.
The rest of the characters don’t fare much better. Lily and Marshall are used as supporting characters, reacting and responding to the events around them, but with little development of their own. We are at least informed that Marshall returned to corporate law and did eventually become a judge, finally moving on to the supreme court. But what of Lily? Her character is entirely ignored in this episode. We find out nothing about her. We don’t know if her year in Italy was a success, if she’s still painting, if she’s still teaching, if she found success as artist. Lily is a fantastic, amazing character with her own dreams and desires and we don’t get to see any of them realised. The finale takes her and Marshall and turns them from rich, three-dimensional characters into supporting players, all but irrelevant to the plot.
And speaking of irrelevant, can we please talk about what this episode did to the character of the mother and by extension, the entire premise of the show. For nine freakin’ seasons we have waited for this woman. We have suffered through Ted’s failed romances and ridiculous at times somewhat pathetic attempts to find “the one”. We’ve watched his obsession with Robin and seen him let her go time and again. And the whole time it was worth it because we knew that at the end of all of this, Ted would find the Mother and he would finally settle down. She has been a vital character since the opening scene and when Cristin Milioti walked onto the screen and asked for one ticket to Farhampton, the audience fell in love and continued to fall in love over every interaction with her in Season 9. She was presented as a wonderful character and the show clearly displayed how it wasn’t just Ted who was waiting for her, it was all of them.
And it was all for nothing. Instead of a wonderful ending to a long (and sometimes frustrating story) the Mother is fridged to make way for a couple who should have been over in Season 3. It would have been fine to write the Mother’s death into the show if that’s all it was (and it would have added a bittersweet touch to the overall arc). It should not have been used as the catalyst for Ted and Robin to end up together. To kill off the Mother so abruptly, so clumsily, smacks of bad writing. We don’t even find out exactly what she’s dying of, how long they lived with the illness before it finally claimed her or how her children dealt with the loss. We don’t see anyone grieve over her, as if he character really was irrelevant. Really, in the end it basically ends up looking like Ted used the Mother to have kids (which he couldn’t do with Robin, even if she changed her mind) before returning to the real love of his life. Which brings us to the very worst part of the episode, the event that rendered an entire series moot; Ted and Robin being endgame, the only event in the finale that should never have happened, no matter the circumstances.
For nine years we have watched Ted chase Robin. At first because he genuinely loves her but later because he comes to love an idealised version of her, which he returns to whenever he is at a particularly low point in his life. Ted and Robin is Season 2 were a very sweet couple and they were genuinely happy. The only reason they broke up was because they wanted completely different things, which was a good and solid reason. They realised they wouldn’t work and they parted ways amicably. However, over the next few years, Ted starts to build up that relationship in his mind, because of all his relationships, it actually was the best and the easiest. No one was married or opposing his lifelong dream, or pining for their ex or moving to Germany. With every failed relationship, Ted adds another layer to his idealization of Robin, culminating in a very unhealthy obsession, which he does, finally let go off in the penultimate episode. He finally realises that he doesn’t love Robin, he loves the idealized version of her and he relinquishes the last lingering feelings he has, which enables him to connect instantly with the Mother with nothing holding him back.
Then, suddenly, we’re right back where we started. Back to Season 1 Ted, holding up a blue french horn to a woman who will never want him the way he wants her. Everything the show has built, every story told, every step taken, every character that has evolved is all undone in that final scene. We’re back at the beginning; we might as well have never left that first episode.
I’m sorry it took me so long to respond to this. I was avoiding reading it because I knew it’d piss me off, but I did, and now I’m going to counter it with my own article.
Why “5 Criticisms of How I Met Your Mother’s Ending and why they’re Invalid” is Invalid
1. I understand the point they are making here. Tracy had Max, and she was her “the one”. And then he died and she met Ted, and he was also her “the one”. Yes, there can be more than just one person for everyone. I get that. It really is a timing thing.
I understand that Ted had to move on, and I’m really okay with that. What upset me more was that he used a story supposedly about his dead wife to ask his kid’s permission to move on. But anyways, I get it. He had to move on.
But moving on to Robin wasn’t really moving on. They were wrong for each other for more reasons then just “she wanted to travel and he wanted a family”. Robin was never Ted’s the one, and that didn’t change.
2. As I was just kind of saying, can we please stop reducing these characters down to details over what they wanted in life. It isn’t just about what Ted wanted in a woman and what Robin wanted in a man. Sure, that was part of it, but it wasn’t everything. What kept Ted and Robin apart wasn’t something that would be fixed by them simply getting what they wanted (for Robin, success, and for Ted, a family), then running back to each other. Ted and Robin just weren’t right for each other. They may have loved each other at some point, but it doesn’t make them soulmates.
3. Barney’s character development was something that took place throughout pretty much all nine seasons. Robin, Nora, and Quinn, all played huge roles in that. So did him meeting his father. He grew into a mature, loving person. And then over the course of about 10 minutes, they brought him right back to square one. And then, in about a 30-second long scene, surprise! He’s a mature, loving adult again. It was the most pointless arc I’ve ever witnessed.
While obviously everything that happened in the finale was over a much larger time frame than it felt like for us as viewers, it was still too quick to be believable. Television writers need to keep that kind of thing in mind. They can’t justify entirely changing a character twice in one episode. Character development just doesn’t work like that.
And don’t tell me what he needed was a child, not a woman. He wasn’t anymore mature after having that child than he was with Robin. The baby didn’t change him in a way Robin never could. That’s just bullshit. He did change. He is capable of a relationship. We’ve been watching him get to that point for nine seasons, they can’t just invalidate it in the finale.
And honestly, his daughter “changing” him was kind of a disgusting idea, in my opinion. It enforced this idea that a woman isn’t worth anything until she’s worth something to a man (father). Because suddenly, after realizing what it’s like to have a daughter, he starts treating women with respect (and by respect, I mean slut-shaming them).
As for Ted, I wouldn’t say his character development regressed all that much. He was a very very different person in season one, and a blue french horn isn’t going to bring him back to being that person.
But Ted never learned to stop living in his stories. That was literally what he was doing by going back to Robin. He may have changed, but he was trying to go back and be the wide-eyed, naive romantic he used to be. The one he was with Robin. He doesn’t go back because he loves her, he hasn’t even seen her in years. He goes back because he wants to go back in time.
4. I don’t have much to say on this one, because it didn’t actually contradict the title as much as people seem to believe. It was about him meeting the mother, technically speaking. I just hated how they used her character as a plot device… she deserved more than that.
5. I agree on this one, in the sense that the show needed all those years for Robin and Ted to get together. Season one Robin wasn’t nearly broken enough to have settled for him.
- Ted’s kids
- Marshall’s parents
- Ted’s parents
- Barney’s parents
- Robin’s parents
- Lily’s dad
- The Captain
- Gary Blauman
- Coat Check Girl
- Slutty Pumpkin
- Blah Blah
- Wang Guy
- literally everybody fucking else
- The Mother
Tracy discovers a way to end all poverty on earth. Unfortunately there are many special interest groups who want to keep this information secret, so Tracy fakes her own death in order to protect her family. Six years later, Ted is telling the story of HIMYM as a way of gently easing the kids into the fact that their mother is not dead at all and about to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. (Because if anyone deserves a better ending, it’s The Mother)
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