Tuesday, April 01, 2014

My thoughts on the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER finale

SPOILER ALERT to international readers since it hasn't aired worldwide yet. 

Actually, I want to hear YOUR thoughts on the HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER finale. Based on the title of the post that seems like a cheat. But for me, so did the finale.

Here’s why I ask: I was a fan of the show, although much more so in the early years. To me it was funnier in those early seasons although throughout the run I always appreciated how series creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas took great pains to tell stories in creative non-conventional ways. As a sitcom, HIMYM was clearly a cut above.

But over the last few years I would just check in from time to time, the way you peek in on your kids at night just to see that they’re alright.

I liked everybody on the show, except Cobie Smulders. Her I loved… and hated. She’s one of the most drop-dead beautiful girls I’ve ever seen. I could not take my eyes off of her when she was on the screen. But she wasn’t funny. Not for a second. And that drove me nuts. Especially in the company of a cast that was very funny. So I’d lust and cringe and over time that got exhausting.

People talk about the great chemistry she had with Josh Radnor. Maybe. I don’t know. I just kept hearing good jokes crunched, one after the other.

From what I’ve read, Bays & Thomas had the ending planned all along, which may or may not be such a good thing. On the one hand, it’s great to have the structure in place. But on the other, a long-running TV series will take on a life of its own and you have to follow wherever it takes you. And that can sometimes be counter to what you’ve planned and already established.

So going into the finale, here’s what I knew. First, series finales are HARD. Harder when you have an eight or nine year build-up.  Expectations are unreasonably high.  (Ask the fine folks from LOST.) It was established early on that Robin (Cobie) was not the mother. I had met the mother and liked her. And I had heard rumors that the mother was going to be killed.

From the minute the show started (reminding us of Robin’s introduction) I guessed what was going to happen. Then throughout the show, every scene pointed to it. So when it finally did happen I didn’t really know how to react. But then again, I’m a casual fan, not an avid follower of the show.

Actually, I sort of accurately predicted the ending back in December of 2011.

So I say in all sincerity, I’m way more curious as to what YOU thought than what I thought. Did it work for you? Did it live up to expectations? Were you disappointed? Was it worth all the build-up? Am I the only one who doesn’t find Cobie funny? Did you feel satisfied or cheated?

Overall, I thought it was a well-crafted show. There were a couple of great scenes. Barney seeing his daughter for the first time was a killer and a great payoff. The meet-cute between Ted and Tracy was romcom gold. Beyond that, you tell me.

And one final thing I’ll add: Whether you liked it or not, the fact that you have strong opinions and people are talking about it today makes HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER a huge television success. All involved should be proud. Thanks for a terrific series.


KT said...

Hi Ken,
HIMYM was one of my favourite shows. I loved the finale... until the last 3 minutes, when I yelled "Nooooooooooooooooooooooooo" at the TV. I didn't want Ted and Robin to end up together; I'd gotten over them as a couple in season 2. Cristin Milioti was PERFECT as the mother, and it's such a shame she was only around for one season. I still love this show though, and the last 3 minutes won't ruin it for me.

Clarry said...

I'm glad, or relieved, that the show is over. I was a huge fan in the early years, but they lost me along the way. I wanted to keep liking the show because I liked the folks involved, but I just couldn't get into it. Now I can stop feeling guilty for not watching and supporting it (most of the time) and its likable cast.

Why did Bob Saget's voice suddenly turn into Josh Radnor's voice? Disappointed in how that was handled. Despite what the show has been pushing for more than a decade, I never felt any sincere connection between the Robin and Ted characters and am somewhat bummed that the end point of this whole tale is their possible recoupling.

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

In terms of the finale, I agree with Sepinwall's review.

Funny you thought Cobie wasn't funny. For me, starting from very early on, the *extremely* weak link was Alyson Hannigan. Cobie seemed to be partially written as the straight woman, though I thought she had some good stuff over the years (especially the Robin Sparkles revelation).

Also, I found Ted to be smug and unsufferable by about season 3. That said, I enjoyed Marshall and Barney a lot.

The mother was perfect. It was frustrating that Robin and Barney divorced 5 seconds after they married just so they could stick to their plan. I don't believe they didn't have some other unused reactions from the kids.

Jordan said...

Overall, I thought it was a well-crafted show. There were a couple of great scenes. Barney seeing his daughter for the first time was a killer and a great payoff. The meet-cute between Ted and Tracy was romcom gold. Beyond that, you tell me.

I agree, those were the two strongest scenes in the episode.

My main issue with the episode is that they'd devoted themselves to an ending nine years ago that was no longer suited for the show today. The entire final season was devoted to the wedding of Barney and Robin, only have to have the marriage dissolve within the first fifteen minutes. The later season were invested in B&R as a couple and Ted's search for love outside the group, but the ending threw a lot of that development out very quickly. Other than the scene with Barney's daughter, his characterization - which had marched impressively forward for what was originally a catch phrase parrot - was butchered, and Robin's role throughout the episode was reduced to a one-note pining love interest. I am not a fan of Cristin Miloti, but she sold the mother more than I think most people expected and people were quickly invested in her and Ted, and to be killed off-screen felt tactless after the beauty of the meet cute.

If this finale had come after the first three seasons? Sure. There was no investment in Barney or the Mother, the characters were still who they originally were. But this is a show where the characters had grown nearly 10 years (20 due to time skips), and they were much different to what they were from the pilot. I applaud the writers for clinging to their vision over 9 years, but myself and other fans believe it wasn't the right ending for the show it had become.

Sepinwall's review provides greater depth and insight than my ramblings:

Little Miss Smoke and Mirrors said...

To clarify, I wasn't invested in Robin and Ted. I was invested in the original iteration of Robin and Barney which they apparently deliberately botched. Stuck with the show because I was invested but grew increasingly less enamored with every passing season. Writing got lazy after S4.

Josh said...

Based on what I'm reading online, I'm in the minority and ready to be eviscerated for this opinion, but the finale actually really worked for me.

Pilot episodes are so huge to me personally because they open the window to the next 5, 7, 10 years (whatever the case may be) we are going to spend with the characters. Pilots introduce what the macro story is going to be about and I have always loved when finales close that window.

I've always stayed frustrated with HIMYM because the pilot ep told me the story is about Robin and Ted. Not the mother. But everything that followed for nine years went against that. We genuinely cared about the mother and yellow umbrellas, all the while knowing we were going against what the pilot told us. So when the daughter says at the end, "This is the story about how you're totally in love with Aunt Robin," I literally said "THANK YOU" out loud and felt vindicated.

I guess I cared more that the writers completed the circle from pilot to finale and stayed true to the REAL story than the actual content of what "happened".

But I totally get why anyone else would be frustrated with what actually transpired.

Jeff Q said...

I thought it was a good, not great finale. But after 9 years of build up, that's not too bad. Misses - not enough jokes, focusing the entire last season around a wedding for a marriage that's torpedoed in the first 10 minutes, needing one last moment with "the gang" at the end.
Hits - Ted and the mother, the way everyone's story played out felt real, some nice callbacks to the series as a whole, the title cut and cast pics. I know a lot of people will disagree, but ted and robin reconnecting at the end didn't bother me. They did a good job of showing how much he loved the mother, it didn't feel like betrayal, just moving on.
As someone who watched from the very first episode, I was happy.

William Gallagher said...

I hadn't heard any rumours and didn't see it coming so that ending was a plank to the face for me. And I love that show which had faded away could plank me. It was a brave choice and even though so much of me was caught up with the characters enough that I wanted a happy ending, I admire them for doing what they did.

It's years since the series was actually funny but the characters kept me coming back just as much as if it were drama. I thought they were extraordinarily brave revealing the mother and it worked marvellously, she worked marvellously. As improved as this season was, the episodes without the mother were weaker.

Most shows coast after a few good years but at least this one went out with verve.

Danielle Solzman said...

I'm in the minority that enjoyed the finale.

C. A. Bridges said...

Stopped watching the last few years, mostly because both Ted/Robin and Barney/Robin bored me, although I liked her non-romantic interactions.

Last night there was a little too much "we have to reference every thing we've ever done, ever!" to where I was starting to think I was playing HIMYM bingo, and some of the future developments, even those we knew were coming (Fudge Supreme) seemed rushed.

LOVED Barney's love scene; that was worth the whole hour. But was annoyed the never-named mother of his daughter was so clearly immaterial.

Overall: not bad. Some funny stuff, some reminders of both why I loved it in the beginning and why I lost interest.

Pat Quinn said...

It was a significant departure from traditional sitcoms when the show hinted that the mother would not see her daughter's wedding. That is what the show's last season is going to be remembered for, IMHO.

Further humble opinions:

I think that if Ted and Robin were going to be together as a result of the nine-year story, that this "re-coupling" should have more structure than the last 30 seconds of the show with Ted waving the french horn in the air.

The other significant scene this season was Ted letting Robin go as she floated into the air. It seems uneven to have her "float" back into his life just before the credits.

The scenes in which Robin second-guessed her destiny with Ted vs. Barney were shoe-horned an otherwise organic show.

The scenes of the friends growing apart were refreshingly realistic and sad...unlike the Seinfeld with the friends all locked up together...or the Friends with the sunny "we'll always be friends" outlook.

While Robin and Barney's divorce seemed a little too sad...with them not even looking each other in the eye at the Halloween party... Robin's speech about how there isn't anything left for her was poignantly written and VERY well acted. I don't agree with you Ken, that Cobie is so lacking in comedy, but I will go as far to say that drama is her stronger skill.

Perhaps they were checkmated in writing this scene because they had a pre-taped video of the kids telling their father to go after Robin...but I felt the show was like a loose cannon that was rolling randomly all around the deck and, just before the credits, crashed off the boat and into the sea.

Dan Ball said...

HIMYM never got weird enough for me.

Jim S said...

I guess the gimmick of it bothered me. As Alan Sepinwall pointed out, the Mother character was a MacGuffin.

And having Robin marry Barney was just bad. Barney is a creep. Just having her be attracted to such a creep really ruined her character. And Ted carrying a torch for her for 25 years, creepier still.

Having Robin drop out of her friends' lives despite Lily's efforts to keep her included? How does that work? How does that make Ted carry the torch?

The ending just didn't work for me. But then that's why they make chocolate and vanilla.

bdam said...

There's a lot of hate for the finale but I thought it was perfect.

Everyone wants a happy ending and this isn't it or at the very least a twisted version of it. Tracy was the love of Ted's life and they sold every inch of that premise. However, as in life, they don't always ride off into the sunset together. She dies just like her own boyfriend (fiancee?) did. Then what? Well, Ted and Robin's pact comes in: if they're single at 40 they'd be backup spouses. To suggest that this negates everything he's learned or that he hasn't had any real arc I think is disingenuous. He loved, he lost, and after six years he decides to love again.

Now, you can quibble with the execution. There's something to say in the overall pacing of the last season and how much was spent on the wedding that gets tossed out unceremoniously. Yes, the finale felt rushed but it was damn powerful. If they had spread it out over several weeks would it have the impact it most certainly has had.

Daniel said...

I don't think there's any other way it could have ended.

It's been implied very strongly for nine years that The Mother was no longer part of Ted's life. And it's been implied very strongly that Ted and Robin loved each other tremendously. So the series pretty much had to end with the blue horn.

I can't really see any other ending that would have been dramatically satisfying. What are the other possibilities? Ted and The Mother got a divorce? Or: The Mother went on a trip to fight poverty in Africa and came back just in time to ask, "What have you all been talking about?" The first ending would be unbearably sad. The second would feel like a cheat.

The main problem with the ending was the lousy few seasons that led up to it. The series has been past its prime for at least three years, and after a while, the Ted-Robin soap opera became exhausting instead of moving. But I still remembered the terrific early years of the show, and I was still rooting for them as a couple (especially because Barney was, very obviously, not husband material). So I admire the showrunners for sticking to their original plan, in spite of the outcry they knew would come from some of the fans.

I sympathize with those fans, but I have to ask: What ending would have worked better?

Unknown said...

I've been an avid fan of the show since the beginning, and I was not satisfied with the finale. I think if we could delete the last 3 seasons, I may have enjoyed the finale more, but we had too much time. Too much time to move past Ted and Robin, too much time to get on board with Robin and Barney, too much time to get to know the mother. I was disappointed that so many sad things happened in the finale. I would have preferred a happily ever after. I absolutely did not need to see Ted end up with Robin.

Declan BH said...

Ken, I apologise for the long post

I am annoyed by it. I wonder if there was a longer version of the finale (promo pics showed scenes not shown) that had to be cut for time, but the second half of the episode seemed rushed, as if it had to get through so many twists and turns, so the "big moments" weren't given time to breathe and have the impact they were meant to. Also, while I realise it was part of the plot, having the whole gang barely having scenes together was a mistake I felt.

I could begrudgingly accept the mother dying (Tracy and Ted's easy chemistry completely trumps Ted and Robin's), but then having Ted return to Robin in the space of five minutes (narratively 6 years) made her seem fairly inconsequential and a stepping stone, which betrays the weight that Cristin Milioti brought to the role. It also made Ted's return with the blue french horn ring hollow, because they literally showed how wonderful Ted and Tracy were in the first conversation a few moments earlier. Given that the show successfully convinced us that Ted was over Robin and ready for Tracy this season, I think it was unwise to have his admission of feelings for Robin come so late in the season and episode. The intended effect (the widower has come to terms with the death of his true love and now hopes that that he can find companionship with the other woman who he loved as well) was marred by the rapid sequence of events.

It didn't help that Robin became incredibly and uncharacteristically isolated from the rest of the group, although I appreciate that they wanted to show the ups and downs in life and that friends drift apart sometimes. But to have it happen in such a brutal fashion and make it appear as if Robin completely (and illogically given the internet and phones) cut off made the final moments sour. To the viewers, Ted doesn't appear to know 2030 Robin all that well (the kids claim she visits often, but the rest of the scenes say otherwise) and so he is in love with his image of Robin, which contradicts the premise and sentiments expressed throughout the nine seasons. HIMYM was partially about Ted's love of Robin, but only as part of his supposed transformation from romantic idealist to that of someone who is genuinely ready to be in a relationship with a person who is accepting of all his characteristics i.e Tracy.

I also felt irritated by Barney's character regression (I think even Bays and Thomas were sceptical given how many times characters pointed out that his playboy ways were too young for him). I don't mind that he was divorced (though extending the wedding was pointless in retrospect), but I don't think that speech trying to convince Lily of his bachelorhood reflected his growth over the last three seasons. Also, I don't believe that the mother of his daughter wouldn't be known by name or that he wouldn't at least have a rational discussion with her (old Barney maybe, but not formerly-married Barney). Barney was played for laughs in the finale and it was callous.

Also, Marshall and Lily just faded away towards the end.

HIMYM trapped itself with a pre-determined ending that didn't count on The Mother being so popular and they failed to adapt the script to give any of their characters the respect that they deserved.

And what about the goddam pineapple?!

Hamid said...

I've only seen a couple of episodes of HIMYM. Good but wasn't enough to keep me watching.

But agreed 1000% on Cobie Smulders. She's a megababe. This would've been a good photo to go with this thread:


Mike said...

How I Met The Mothers Of Invention by Eddie & The Phlorescent Leech.
That I would watch.

And the phrase you're looking for is Cobie Smoulders.

benson said...

Some very thoughtful and interesting reading here.

For me, after two seasons it was just tell us who the damn mother is, and be done with it. But I wasn't in the demo, and didn't become friends with these characters like the die hards did.

To harken back to comedy gold of a generation ago, at some point, you have to stop teasing and have a pay off for the audience. Sam and Diane will they/won't they wouldn't have worked for nine years, Maddie and David, too. (though Bruce Willis and Cybill Shephard might have killed each other in the process) I'm a huge Frasier fan, but Niles and Daphne's mating dance took maybe a season too long.

slgc said...

It wasn't exactly what I would have envisioned for most of the characters (except for Marshall and Lily), because I'm a sucker for conventional Happily Ever After storylines, but I appreciate how it played out. Robin and Ted will ultimately be together, and she loves his children but never had to be a mother herself (and Barney eventually had the child that he always wanted, even though he was willing to give up children for Robin).

I also keep thinking back to the pilot episode, where the adult Ted faked out the kids with, "And that's the story of how I met your Aunt Robin."

The finale was a bit heavy on the schmaltz, but true to the heart of the series and its characters. I haven't completely processed whether I liked it or not, or even whether I'll watch it again on my DVR, but ultimately I'm comfortable with the show as a vehicle for saying goodbye to characters who felt like friends.

goodman.dl said...

One of the flops, for me, was spending a season-plus on Barney and Robin's wedding, and to then quickly discard their marriage for reasons that had little to do with potential cracks in their relationship as shown over several years of TV.

Mason said...

I got bored with HIMYM and stopped watching a couple of seasons back and wasn't intrigued enough about the finale to bother watching it. Used to watch regularly, but as happens too often with successful series, it ran too long.

Wendy M. Grossman said...

My main feeling is that I'm so, so glad it's finally OVER. HIMYM was a great show when it started. A couple of years ago during a summer break I rewatched the series from the beginning and realized that the drop-off in quality hadn't been gradual but abrupt, and that the smart move would have been to stop watching at the end of season 4 when they all jump off their roof onto the roof next door. I'd have missed only a very few really good episodes that way. Knowing what we know now, it's clear that show hamstrung itself by stubbornly sticking to the ending the writers planned back around season 2 or 3 when people really wanted Ted and Robin together.

As for Cobie Smulders, the character she played at the beginning - cool, gorgeous, tomboyish, who smoked cigars with Barney in a suit and was entirely self-possessed - that character was worth watching whether she was funny or not. Problem is, the writers warped her out of all recognition. It's hard for me to blame Smulders for that; maybe her limitations meant the writers didn't have enough choices, couldn't say.

So yes, I thought the finale was a cheat - and it was a cheat because, as others have said, they decided years ago to give fans the ending they wanted *then*.

I wish Jason Segal had stuck to his guns and made season 9 impossible.

For various reasons, it's only in the last few years that I've been able to see whole series more or less contemporaneously with their original broadcasts. So HIMYM and THE GOOD WIFE are my first outings with following a series to a) a finale and b) the death of a major character. (I've seen all of BUFFY, for example, but I didn't start watching it, ANGEL, or BREAKING BAD until after the series had ended.) The HIMYM experience (sticking with a show clearly long past its best) made me think hard about how long I want to follow *any* series; the
result has been much more ruthless pruning of shows earlier in their runs (. Enough fans are angry about this finale that I wonder if this will become a more widespread pattern. I understand that shows and their characters have to grow and develop and change, but it's a rare show that remains true to itself after season 3/4.


Carson said...

I just don't understand why Bays and Thomas felt locked into the ending they envisioned nine years ago. When it became clear that Ted and Tracy had great chemistry, change your plans. As a fan of the show for so long I felt sucker punched by the rushed way they met and then mom died.

Scooter Schechtman said...

Cobie Smulders...all resemblances to Natalie Wood are purely coincidental...

Jeff said...

I agree with many of things you mentioned Ken. I too was a huge fan of the show early on, and had to binge watch the last few seasons just to get through them. I feel the comedy wasn't as sharp as in earlier years.

In regards to the finale, I thought it was exactly how it needed to end. A lot of the naysayers point to the final season being directly correlated to Barney and Robin's wedding. Which of course turned out to be a giant curve ball inteneded to surprise the audience, when we discover their marriage failed.

But honestly, were people that surprised by this? Right from the pilot episode the writers had been using the curve ball strategy by setting up Robin as Aunt Robin and not the mother of Ted's kids.

I agree with you Ken on the notion that you should be flexible on storylines, which over time, may naturally deviate from your original intentions. However, I'm also a big believer that a writer should never (or at least rarely) set up something that doens't pay off.

I had to explain it to friends like this. If you wrote a pilot where a character said, "And that was the day dinosaurs mysteriously came back to life", and then your show ran 9 seasons and you never actually saw any dinosaurs your audience is going to feel cheated. They were promised dinosaurs, they should have that promise paid off.

With How I Met Your Mother, there is a premise set up right from the pilot. A direct quote from Ted in the pilot goes, "And there's one other big difference between me and Marshall: he's found the love of his life. Even if I WAS ready it's like, ok I'm ready! Where is she?" We then see Robin for the first time and Ted finishes, "And there she was".

There is a lot of gravity in that premise. Ted is admitting Robin is the love of his life. There is now an expectation of that plot point paying off.

It was a premise that was explored constantly throughout the show. All of Ted's relationships failed because of the underlying notion he was in love with Robin.

Which is why the 3rd last episode was symbollic. Ted is finally able to let Robin go. This allows him to finally move on and meet Tracy, who'm he even admits in the finale he loved as much as he could for as long as he could.

Plus as the old adage goes, "if you love something, let it go and if it returns it was meant to be". Ted finally letting Robin go it not only allowed Ted to meet his wife, it also made Robin realize after her divorce that she should have chosen Ted all along.

Lastly, what would have been the purpose of the show on a deeper level if there wasn't something symbollic to the story. The ending that most people seemed to want was Ted and the mother living happily ever after. Here's my problem with that. Why did Ted tell 208 stories to his children then? What purpose was there to him telling such a long tale?

The kids mother being dead gave the story a purpose. He not only wanted the kids to hear about all the life decisions he made that led to him meeting the mother, but he also wanted to tell the story as almost a way to demonstrate how he also loved their "Aunt" Robin, and was seeking the kids permission to pursue her.

All in all I thought it was an ideal ending, and one that paid off the promise of the premise established in the pilot. Barney still got his happy ending by having a daughter he loves with all his heart, and Ted and Robin finally have their happy ending together.

Matt said...

I thought the episode (and series was great) they hinted enough that the mother would be dead, so it wasn't a huge shocker. My biggest issue was the kids at the end, they shot that scene back in 2006 at the time the sitcom had a different feel, I had no problem with their dialog, it was just the acting was too 2006 sitcom-y as opposed to the tone of the 2014 show. The very first episode was a love note to Robin...and the entire series was Ted convincing his kids how great Robin is...so it makes sens...in the end Ted is happy.

MikeAdamson said...

When the end of a series nears I ask myself if I'm watching a portrayal of real life or if I'm watching a fairy tale. I viewed HIMYM as essentially real life throughout the years but, with the finale, I realised that I was rooting for a fairy tale ending and that's what I believe I got. I agree that Barney's transformation into a nicish guy and the trajectory of his relationship with Robin is undone for all intents and purposes but in the end it doesn't ruin it for me since I'm invested in seeing Ted and Robin together at the end.

Does the story as told hold together? Not really but I'll remember the laughs along the way and the satisfaction I derived from seeing the S1 Ted/Robin connection achieve completion in the end.

It wasn't a great series but it was very good and I didn't feel cheated by what I view as a fairy tale ending.

Stephen Robinson said...

I'd commented that the finale wound up feeling like the Ryan Reynolds film "Definitely Maybe" and although the HIMYM producers might have come up with their ending sooner*, there's an argument for shifting gears if a mediocre romantic comedy beats you to it.

*I also wonder if the Robin/Barney relationship was unexpected, because splitting them up in service of the ending disappointed a lot of fans,from what I've read.

Narratively, I tend to think that a first person story requires true motivation ("why is he telling this story at this time), so the mother had to have died or the couple got divorced. I think the latter might have been better and I know for young children of a divorced couple it's eye opening to know that their parents were ever in love. It would also make their blase response to Ted's story make more sense. If your mother has died, you'd be thirsty for stories about her.

And the divorce could lead to the story allowing Ted to realize he still loves her and wants to try again. But that would have required introducing the Mother sooner.

Tim W. said...

I tried to watch an episode of the show once and couldn't get through the whole thing. It wasn't bad, like Two and a Half Men, but I just didn't find it funny.


On another note, I just watched the Las Vegas episode of Modern Family and wanted to know your opinion on the episode. You've discussed how much you enjoy farce before (and used it on Frasier) and I thought they did a great job.

T to the L said...

Have never seen more than 2 minutes of HIMYM. But the Colbie Smulders comment reminded me of my feelings about Courtney Cox on Friends. Am still not sure if it is just me but I always felt that comedy ground to a halt anytime Monica had to say a line. Not that Friends was the best show ever, but I'd just feel like I was watching a Princeton basketball offense suddenly have to pass the ball to Carmelo Anthony. She was the place pacing and jokes went to die. At least for me. Nothing personal -- liked her in the Bruce Springsteen video and she is still very attractive.

T to the L said...

Never saw an episode of HIMYM but the Colbie Smulders comment reminded me of my feelings about Courtney Cox on Friends. Not sure if anyone else feels this way but I always felt like with Friends I was watching a Princeton basketball offense playing with Carmelo Anthony. It just seemed like Courtney Cox was the place where pacing and jokes went to die.

Anonymous said...

Whether one agrees with the specifics what I liked was it was honest to the set up. How many of us have been asking the question the daughter answered? If this was all about how Ted met their mother, why were 99% of his stories not about her? It was never about her; it was his meandering way of explaining his life till now so the kids would understand the next phase. Of course like with all of his stories, they got it long before he got there. Also, it was obvious he also totally loved the Mother. But now... Anyway, after what I thought was a terrible season, they pulled it together with a great end. -MW

Rich D said...

OK, I liked it. But then again, I was rolling out of a weekend which saw many of my friends and I get together to see a reunion show of a favorite band of ours from our 20s (We're in our mid-40s now.) and I was feeling the lasting bonds of friendship that couldn't be broken no matter how far away our lives have taken each other, which I felt was a major theme of the episode. (We also were joking about how seeing one person was as rare as a Sasquatch sighting.) Granted maybe there were a few rushed moments, but overall it hit the right spots for me.

Anonymous said...

As you said Finale's are tough. This was a perfect ending....i wanted Ted and Robin to be together but was ok with the fact that they wouldnt. This finale was perfect. had me in tears and I am going to miss it.

LAprGuy said...

Good points, Ken. One thing I've always wondered about the show during it's run: How closely did the writers/runners follow the idea that each episode is based on Ted's memory (thus whatever "character development" occurred over 9 years was influenced by Ted's personal opinion of Barney and his lies and Lily and her temper and affection for Robin). Viewing the finale through the eyes of a narrator who remained jealous of Barney, peeved with Lily and in awe of Marshall - oh, and connected to Robin - made it feel very satisfying to me.

Declan BH said...

In Reply to Daniel: what ending would have worked better?

I don't think the plot points were the problem for the most part, but rather the execution. So here is my alternative plot sketch for the finale. The main plot is similar, but the flashbacks are extended.

It is the day before Tracy's funeral. Open the scene on Ted alone at Maclaren's with Bob Saget (as an executor of the will or something) reading the draft obituary Ted wrote for Tracy concluding with a line like "And that kids is why I loved your mother...That's beautiful. A bit long though, isn't it?". (That way we get to hear Saget one last time). He leaves to send it to the papers. Robin enters to console Ted. She's flown back to NY after a while abroad to pay her respects. The key is to show that Ted really didn't settle for Tracy and that Robin can believably become his partner due to the both of them

Their conversation now acts as a framing device where Ted realistically reminisces about his wife and his memories of her are shown via flashback (the whole gang hanging out, Tracy and his wedding, her sickness etc.). This is juxtaposed with Robin discussing her recent divorce (flashbacks of her and Barney's "legendary" marriage and the breakdown of it, her intermittent meetings with everyone).

Through this conversation the viewer sees that Ted adored his wife, but that both he and Robin feel lost, which serves as the impetus from them to renew their friendship and support one another. This way the concepts that friends grow apart and that there are tribulations in life are explored, while elaborating upon why Tracy was so important to Ted, as well as how Robin returned to NY and became so involved in Ted's life. Thus, when Ted asks the kids for permission to date Aunt Robin and they agree, it doesn't seem as if Ted was pining for her the whole time, but rather his renewed love was a result of evolving relationship following Tracy's death.

Barney still accidentally impregnates a woman after his divorce, but as a result of a single one-night stand, not some endless playboy run. The woman wants to put the girl up for adoption for various reasons, but Barney decides, having learnt to love as a husband, that he wants to raise the child as a single father. This hearkens back to Season 7 "Rebound Girl" and his general affinity for babies, but this time he's ready for the commitment.

Marshall and Lily's story is interwoven between the flashbacks, but they are more involved in the story.

Cut back to the bar. Everyone else arrives and Ted begins to tell them about the first time he met the mother. It then develops as it did in the actual finale. We see the flashback of Ted and Tracy. When it ends we see Ted concluding the story for his children. The conversation is similar, but with better connectivity to Robin and Ted's friendship and still respectful of Tracy.

The final scene of Ted bringing the Blue French Horn to Robin (who doesn't have that awful haircut and seems less isolated) has the sentimental and emotional weight that HIMYM is known for, and as it fades to black, an excellent "love story in reverse" is completed.

Anonymous said...

A question I'm sure someone on this board will know. the answer: We know they filmed the final sequence with the kids when the series began so there'd be no problem when the kids naturally aged. I'm assuming the actors signed the standard NDA, but still... the pressure on them to reveal what they had said 9 years earlier had to be great. So... Did they shoot like 50 different endings back then, covering every possibility, not only to allow for changes of mind but also to prevent the kids from giving the answers? And this is directed to the Showrunners If so, can they be put on the Blu-Ray? -MW

Tracy Tran said...

Before I write my opinion, I have a question for you, Ken:

Would you know any spinoff show that was either picked-up, or not, by the networks, that was based on the last season of the show?

The reason I asked that because I felt not only cheated by the finale, but this episode gave me a different view of the previous 9 season and the upcoming spinoff, How I Met Your Dad.

I don't mind the result of Barney/Robin divorced, Tracy (cool name, by the way) died, and Ted and Robin got back together. That's how real-life works. I was more mad about how the producers and writers didn't think through the process.

I love the first 4 seasons of the show, and then some moments between 5-8. Before season 9 started, I actually liked that the whole season takes place at Robin/Barney's wedding weekend. Now, it looks like a terrible decision. With the exception of the first 2 episodes of season 9 and the 200th episode, most of the season was filler.

What they should of done is in each episode, it's a different year between 2013-2030 with a multi-episode arc on Tracy's illness and Robin/Barney's divorce. In that aspect, we would know how the characters develop each year, each week.

Instead, we get a Cliff Notes version of 2013-2030 and there was no emotional attachment to it. In addition, why did Barney revert to his old ways and got happy by seeing his baby...after a one-night stand? Why Robin left the gang for so long? Then, the biggest question: why was Tracy there in the first place? Ted and Tracy had better chemistry than Ted and Robin, but Tracy seems like a plot device than an actual character. I want to know what she said to Ted in 2024?

Someone made a point of why Ted told the long-winding story of the wedding because he still loves Robin. If that's the case, then why not do something about it? All that character development for those 9 seasons went down the drain as if the producers hit the reset button for this episode.

I will concur with other posters to read Alan Sepinwall's post in that the writers set themselves up for failure. Also, Alyssa Rosenberg mention this on Twitter, but if you have the time, watch Definitely, Maybe. It was a similar arc as HIMYM, but they did it better in 90 minutes than in 9 seasons of HIMYM. Finally, if you want a good final episode of this past week, watch Psych.

Overall, I think the last episode altered my views of the past 9 seasons and not for the better. I feel guilty binge-watching HIMYM now these days.

Rob said...

I like Declan's version better.

Truthfully, I think the show was done in by the need to turn in an hour long finale rather than a season long wrapping up of the show. Framing it around the wedding of Robin and Barney, and casting an appealing "mother" made us uncomfortable about Robin and Ted getting together. Had the Mother's relationship with Ted and their future been better hashed out throughout a season rather than in 44 minutes, the ending may have felt less forced.

Still, it made me think of other finales, and I'd place it above the finales of other popular shows like M*A*S*H (too pretentiously serious as a whole), Friends (anyone remember what happened?), and Seinfeld (an F you to fans.)

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

The idea of the finale was fine (it's their show to do what they want)...
But, it was the execution that failed.

This whole season was dragged out, only to flipped quickly through the actual meeting and courtship of the Mother.

Here's what they should have done:
Left 3-4 episodes for the showing of the meeting, and the courting of Ted and Mother. Let's meet them as a couple. The death payoff would have been incredible.

In the finale, everything else would remain the same but 3 things:
1) Barney and Robin stay fast friends AFTER the divorce (instead of not avoiding each other)
2) Just as in Charles Dicken's
"David Copperfield", the Mother, who knows she's dying, tells Robin a secret. Years later, the audience and Ted, find out the Mother wanted Robin to someday replace her and marry Ted.
3) When Ted goes to bring Robin the French Horn, the whole gang is there behind him, because they are all there for the "big events" in life.

Mike Bell said...

To me, the funniest thing about the finale was that they had spent 9/10ths of the season covering a couple of days, and then covered many years in the final episode.

Declan BH said...

Thanks Rob :)

I agree with you about things being too rushed. Perhaps if the wedding had only lasted till midseason and we saw the aftermath during the second half (or even following "How Your Mother Met Me"), the finale could have been better dedicated towards naturally completing character arcs. Alternatively, if the second half of the season had used the antepenultimate episode's framing style ("Gary Blauman" written by Kourtney Kang, which I think was my favourite episode of the season), the expansion upon Ted and Tracy's relationship would have helped the finale in its present state.

Anonymous said...

I agree totally, the series could have ended earlier, this last season was self indulgent. But craftwise, a great series, I yelled YESSS at the reveal, knowing all along the story and show was about Robin...as in There's Something About Robin...the ending was inevitable

Alfred Day said...

I think I was of the minority opinion in that the current season was, I think, one of the best. The introduction of the Mother was handled very well and cast miraculously. That was the problem.

As you often say, you have to let a show develop and surprise you. This season built up so much goodwill and affection for the Mother, that the ending they had tied themselves to by shooting the kids responses way back in Season 2 didn't allow for what eventually became the driving force of the show.

In season 4 or 5 if you had this ending with the Mother dying and Ted finding his way back to Robin, it would've been sweet. But now, we have the death of a much beloved character happening off-screen and then just a few seconds later we whiplash into Ted declaring love for a character he spent the last 4-5 years getting over.

They needed to let the success of the Mother being added to the cast affect the outcome of where the show is now. In essence, they resolved the story where it stood at the end of season 2 and to do that, they had to ignore all the development of seasons 3-9. For me, I'll just pretend the show ended at the moment when Ted says "That's how I met your mother."

K.W. Leslie said...

I started watching the show on Netflix last year, and caught up to the finale. So my experience has been compressed a bit.

My problem with the finale was the fact Ted has been an unreliable narrator all along. We were set up, in the pilot, to recognize Robin wasn't the mother; to NOT root for Ted and Robin as a couple. When they became a couple, we were clearly shown why that wouldn't work out. In the last season's episodes, where Ted was dealing with his feelings for Robin, we were rooting for him to get over her. The writers had gone to a lot of trouble to make Ted and Tracy a perfect couple, and Barney and Robin a pretty good fit, despite Barney's many defects.

Then in an hour, they end Barney and Robin's marriage, bump off the mother, and have the kids point out to Ted that it was Robin all along. And so Ted shows up at her door.

I know they've been planning this ending for years ('cause they had to film the kids years ago). But they did way too well with the misdirection: We, the audience, weren't wishing for Ted and Robin to get together. We were rooting AGAINST THAT. And we didn't get what we wanted.

Other than that, I liked the finale. But that's a pretty big matzoh ball to have to swallow.

Anonymous said...

You are right, Ken. Shows take on a life of their own and you can't be bound by what you planned at the beginning. Proof of that is Glee. Ryan Murphy said he had the final episode planned out from the beginning. After all of her fame & glory, Rachel would come home (to Finn teaching & running the Glee Club at McKinley), stand in the door of the classroom and say, "I'm home."

Sometimes the characters force you to change & sometime life just interupts. They might be on paper, but those characters have a way of becoming real in our hearts. I never watched the show, but my sister said she flipped back & forth. One minute she was please with the ending and the next she was cursing the writers, lol.

Pam aka sisterzip

Gordon said...

My wife and I watched the pilot and just didn't "get it." So we never watched again. Then she read an article in the paper on Sunday and thought she understood it and wanted to buy the boxed set (or watch it on Netflix) from the beginning cause it sounded good to her... I don't know what we'll do... especially since I now know the ending...

Pamela Jaye said...

Sepinwall said that they were locked into this ending. As one of the pissed off, I beg to differ. Over at Scrubs they said they did will they/won't they with JD and Elliott so many times that by season 5(?) they just had to end it and destroy the relationship such that it could never be fixed. And then, in season 8 - they fixed it. And we got our happy ending. A happy ending you don't need or expect from a show called Scrubs.
This show was called How I Met Your Mother. Not How We Led You On For Almost 9 Seasons And Then Screwed You And Your Loyalty By Telling You The Mother Would Be Great And Then Killing Her.

I only have 5 seasons on DVD. Anyone want them?
They should have called it So Glad We Want Into Syndication Four Seasons Before Our Finale Destroyed Our Fans' Desire To Ever Watch A Single Episode Of This Travesty Ever Again.

I hardly ever have the energy to capitalize that many words but I'm REALLY mad.
Even though I *have* been reading *some* of the comments at Sepinwall and, yeah, they've been giving away the death for a while now. I was hoping for a happy twist ending. But nope. Alan called it a FU to the fans (or some variation of that. "Could be?" ) But really - if they thought that this is what we wanted, they are as misguided as Berman(?) and Brags and their "Valentine To The Fans" final episode on Enterprise. I know plenty of fans who will never watch that one again either. Difference here: the finale tainted the entire series. We can't just lop it of and say, Oh well, the rest was good, though.
Whatever their next series is, I'm not watching it. (I had to break a vow to never watch CBS again, just to watch HIMYM. I think I made it up to 3 whole series on CBS by last fall. And I'll abandon my No CBS rule if CBS will give me Scott Bakula by picking up NCIS:NOLA. If not, I'll go back to banning. And I'll still be more pissed off about the HIMYM finale than by "losing" Scott again. For me, that's pretty darn pissed off.

Phillip B said...

Ken, you knew Robin's character was the problem - I can take a wild guess as to why you felt that way.

The show is about successful coupling and told from a male point of view. The women who have babies and become devoted moms are the ideal. Robin doesn't fit - she has a successful career in one of the most viciously cut throat industries on earth.

So Ted is VERY happy to have married a good mother, but always tempted by the beautiful Robin.

The problem is that the viewer never sees anything appealing about Robin except that she is devastatingly beautiful. And anyone over 25 (even men over 25) know that is not enough to pine for 25 years.

If Robin had been portrayed as a slightly conflicted careerist - whipping male colleagues on a daily basis, jet setting and name dropping while somehow longing for the old gang - it works better for me.

Barney could never tolerate playing a supporting role to a bitch goddess. His womanizing is a fruitless search for power over women. And he'd never clean up his act well enough to step up in class to the people Robin now hangs with.

So he would walk away from the most beautiful girl in the world for reasons better than the lack of reliable wi-fi connections in international hotels. And Robin would accept their connection was just a failed attempt to stay with the old gang once Ted was unavailable.

Ted's longing for a powerful woman makes more sense. It would also explain why it took him six years to make a move.

Robin's character was just never right. I think she would have been funnier with a harder edge, but the attempts to make her vulnerable and more likable left her without much to make her attractive.

So the male lesson here is men lust over successful and beautiful women, but they don't marry them. And Ted's kids will always call her "Aunt Robin."

Rob said...

First to Ken's comments about Cobie Smulders. I don't think she's as gorgeous as you do but she's very attractive. And I had no problem with her comedic talents. I always thought she fit in fine with the rest of the cast and did just fine either as a straight woman or when she had to deliver a joke.

But it is interesting hearing your opinion as a show-runner/writer/director about her. So obviously if you had been the show-runner, you never would have cast her as Robin. Maybe you would have found a one-shot role for her as just a hot girl.

As for the finale, I hated it with the intensity of a thousand suns. My first thought, they should have changed the name to "How I met your Steo-mother." But another poster elsewhere nailed it. "How I met the Womb."

It comes off as he's just using the Mother for her ability to have his babies so then he get to the woman he truly loves.

Perhaps an ever better title would be, "How the Producers F-d the Mother." You know, by KILLING her.

The whole last two years--forcing us to like and accept the Barney/Robin relationship, pissed away in five minutes of the finale.

The whole last season, getting us to like and accept and even fall in love with the Mother, and showing us how she was absolutely the right person for Ted, blown away by the last few minutes.

The only good moments of the entire final season were the ones with the Mother. She was awesome.

Ok, changed my mind, it should have been "How the Producers F-d the Viewers."

A great review of the show is by Margaret Lyons, here:


As for how it SHOULD have ended. How about Robin & Barney staying together--maybe adopting some kids--and Ted & Tracy living happily ever after. Throw out the footage they shot with the kids they filmed 8 years ago. Either don't show them at all, or have them do voice-overs....or get new actors to play them.

And then have Tracy walk in at the end and say to her kids, "I hope your Dad hasn't been wasting your time with his silly stories again."

Bryan L. said...

My main gripe about the finale was the resolution of Barney's character. He had thirty-one consecutive one night stands and apparently had a box of thirty condoms? And where in America does the father keep the child with no thought of the mother? The better solution would have been for him to adopt a child, convinced he wouldn't remarry and this was the way to satisfy his desire to be a father.

Cap'n Bob said...

Easy answer: I never watched it.

R said...

Full disclosure - I haven't watched the finale but I've read the highlights, such as they are.

I liked the show quite a bit when it started airing but at some point mid-series, maybe season 4, I'd had enough. Too many gimmicks and I never liked Ted as a focus point, not sure if it was the actor or the character or both but I just wasn't a fan.

My issue with Smulders wasn't that she wasn't funny, I just didn't think she was a very good actress (or is, based on her Avengers work). I thought her "funny" was appropriate to her standard, although it may take a Canadian to be able to stand one.

In terms of the finale, I'm disappointed mostly because it was so predictable. My assumption the first time I even heard about the premise of the show is that the mother was dead... otherwise the show setup itself made no sense.

I always thought they were playing Ted and Robin to eventually get together, I watched long enough for them to be out of sorts (she'd already been involved with Barney at least once at that point and I'm assuming there was significant on and off in the years since) but it never seemed implausible that they'd end up together.

Thing is... I think that was only a viable end game up to about the point where I stopped watching, probably 3-4 years and probably what the creators figured was the lifespan of the show. Back then, this ending might have worked. With 5 more years of back-story, though, they needed to revamp the plan but it doesn't sound like they did, they just crafted the post-game off-screen stuff to coerce the situation to fit their plan. You'd think they could have used some of those 5 additional years to do that instead but I suppose they're the pros and I'm just the ex-viewer.

Also, it's not like anyone who hated the ending can quit the show or anything... there's a significant lack of leverage from viewers past the point where the show has ended.

Darren said...

On the "plus" side, it spurred an "AfterMASH" mention: http://www.macleans.ca/authors/jaime-weinman/how-i-redacted-your-mother/

Charles H. Bryan said...

They never really explained what that damn island was. Someday, I want the finale of some show -- ANY show -- to explain LOST to me.

I wasn't crazy about the finale - it just tried to cover too much ground, but maybe it had to - however, I'm okay with that, because this was a pretty good show for nine years, and sometimes it was very good. And -- other than Robin -- this was a very likable group of characters. (I agree; Robin just wasn't that funny or compelling. I don't know if it was bad casting or bad concept. She just seemed like the odd person out.)

Nine years of pretty good/very good -- that's a lot more than I get from other shows. And that's not nine cable seasons - that's nine real teevee seasons. That's damn near 200 episodes.

Friday Question: Ken, do you think it's time that if a long running show hits a voluntarily final episode that maybe it should just be a regular episode (unless there's a really solid finale idea)? I mean, what's Modern Family going to do? Let us meet the documentary crew?

benson said...

Ken, tell the truth. Are you laughing your ass off reading the comments section today? Do you have a sense of deja vu all over again?

You were a part of two historic finales that brought very similar passion and more than a fair amount of associated criticism.

I said it earlier today. The comments today are fascinating and compelling. Thanks to all.

One final thought: Too bad Suzanne Pleshette and Mary Frann have passed. Ted wakes up with either and vows to never eat Japanese food again. There's comedy gold.

The Bumble Bee Pendant said...

Benson's finale answer (above) was terrific.

One finale which in my opinion was the best was "Everybody Loves Raymond". It was just like a regular episode with a nice touch at the end with everyone eating around the kitchen table.
No major or minor turn of events. No wrap ups. Just family comedy that satisfied.

Terrence Moss said...

The genesis of "Boston Legal" was the final season of "The Practice".

Terrence Moss said...

Both "mother" and "glee" suffer from "lasted too damn long" syndrome.

Terrence Moss said...

"Everybody Loves Raymond" did that. And quite well.

Doktor Frank Doe said...

Hey Ken,

I watch the syndicated run of this show which is now probably in its fourth season or so, and never tune in to the network run, except for the finale which I Tivo'd.

I would believe that the show's end was in mind since the beginning and the finale was probably based on a whole mountain of notes that made the first 22 minutes seemed forced and jammed up trying to get all that content in. Then it seemed as though the network talked them into an hour show, (A decision you recently covered) and probably saddled with a whole lot of other notes that kept the second 22 minutes in the same mostly forced-feeling pace. The pace of the finale was ramped up well over the pace of the shows leading up to it.
I agree with you on the scenes you described 100% as well as the last scene where Ted went to see Robin, as it echoed their first date. Other than that, it was ok for the Tivo where I could race through it quicker. I agree Robin's character is not funny, perhaps she isn't as well and it would have been nice the character a little more three-dimensional. I also agree they presented this show in some really great ways that were unique - FINALLY - for a typical sitcom, but I also think it ran it's course after about three seasons and became entirely too predictable and dry.

The ending was far-too obvious how it was going to end, in the end, it was just a matter of exactly "how" and "how" wasn't all that bad.

Anonymous said...

This episode maybe hit me a little too close to home, being in my early 30s and seeing my drinking buddies drift further and further away. That was kind of the moral of the series finale to me.. You will never have as interesting times as you will in your 20s, your closest friends will abandon you and your wife could die at any time and you will pine for a woman who once slept with you even though you drove each other absolutely insane.

I guess it was nice that Barney discovered the joys of fatherhood and that Marshall's career is going well though, I guess..

sanford said...

too many posts to answer but I would read this post from Alan Sepinwall. Just killed it.


sentstk agreement

-bee said...

I came into the show about 3 or 4 years into its run and really enjoyed it.

I really enjoyed the wedding weekend episodes and thought it was a cool idea as I was watching - but in RETROSPECT it was a terrible mistake in regards to how the show pays off. I really came to like Tracy (the mother)and was rooting for her and Ted. I really liked how Ted was able to finally let Robin go. I also liked Barney finally seeming to mature and change.

So to backtrack on all that in the finale made me feel a bit cheated. The ending seemed stuck on and not well integrated into the story.

It seems to me the heart of the season should have been that period (8 years?) after Tracey dies and Ted and Robin slowly get on the same page as a couple. The device of the kids would have been a big problem though

Oh yeah, and the show should never have been called "How I met your Mother".

404 said...

After reading through the comments, it's nice to know I'm not the only one that liked it. I can't add to what many have already said, other than just to add some general agreements.

(salutes) General Agreements!

Doktor Frank Doe said...

PROBABLY the BEST finale episode of all time was "Six Feet Under" - Alan Ball and company set the bar so high it's unforgettable.

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

I never missed an episode of the series, although I'd hardly call myself its number-one fan. I stuck with it until the end, though, and I'm not angry that Ted ended up with Robin.

What frustrated me was all of the time we were forced to invest at the Farhampton Inn during the last season, living and re-living those 48 or 56 hours prior to the wedding minute-by-minute. Then we get to the series finale and HUGE moments like Barney and Robin's divorce, the birth of Barney's child, the death of The Mother and about nine other things all get one-sentence mentions? ANGRY.

In my admittedly unprofessional opinion, we would all have been much better served if Bays & Thomas had taken the myriad plotpoints from the finale and fleshed them out over 22 episodes to build the entire final season. We could have come to know and love the mother and Ted together, gotten upset about her getting sick, perhaps seen her encourage Ted to go after Robin at some point in the future (which might have thrown the fans a bone) ... and done a lot more with any or all of the other B-stories that were available. Anything other than what we actually got at the Inn would have been nice.

Also. There was no need for them to have felt hemmed in by the kids' growth. Who among us wouldn't have thought it HILARIOUS if they'd cut to Lyndsy Fonseca and David Henrie on that couch for the final scene and they'd aged nine years? COME ON!

JC said...

I HATED the finale. After nine long seasons were spent building up the meeting between Ted and the mother. The last episode was so rushed and forced, when it ended, I said "You got to be kidding me!" It felt as if they took the last nine years and thoughtlessly threw them in the garbage. I thought about buying the series on blu-ray/dvd, but I do feel the last few minutes of the finale tainted the entire series for me.

Mike Schryver said...

"we would all have been much better served if Bays & Thomas had taken the myriad plotpoints from the finale and fleshed them out over 22 episodes to build the entire final season."

I agree with that, but I'm still betting there was some reason that Segal couldn't appear with the other actors for the first 2/3 of the season. That would explain why the entire season is set in one weekend - it's much easier to explain why Marshall isn't there. If they had done those 18 or so episodes in normal time and if I'm right about Segal, his absences would have been hard to explain.

I don't think there's another sensible reason that they would have set the entire season in one weekend.

I agree with most others that they should have abandoned the planned ending, after making us get over the idea of Ted/Robin, and especially spending the last two seasons selling us on Robin/Barney.

A_Homer said...

The idea that the kids scene was shot years ago so it was necessary to conform to that seems ridiculous by any standards. Ted could have just spoken to the camera, as he did, and it goes from there to the logical consequences. We audience were the listeners the kids were standing in for. The kids super-optimism was ridiculous.

What sold me on the Tracy/Mother was the scene in the rain with the yellow umbrella. So well written and acted meet-cute, which it turns out was the scene she read to for trying out the part. It was another level from the rest of the characters interaction, and showed what could have been developed over a few more episodes.

Cobie wasn't a natural for comedy, but this wasn't character-driven, line-reading dependant like Frasier either. I think more the problem was the changes made to Robin and Barney.

Jeffrey Leonard said...

I felt about the show like you did, Ken. Loved it in the beginning and grew tired of it a few seasons ago. But, still checked in occasionally to see where it was going. I think the ending was as good as it could have been. The writers had a lot of pressure on them to try and make everyone happy. Unfortunately, that's NEVER going to happen. Overall...I'll give the finale an A-

Anonymous said...

I'm a follower of the show and have watched every single ep. Even sometimes catch the re-runs. And I thought the ending was perfect.

My favorite seasons were always the first few because I always felt the love story between Ted and Robin were wonderfully done. He stole the blue French horn for her. He made it rain for her. Moments between the two throughout the seasons always made me feel like they belonged together -- even though we knew she wasn't the mother -- and even when she was with Barney. I was invested in the two. And this was always a feeling that nagged me throughout the later seasons.

The real mother was coming in too late in the game, so to me a love story between her and Ted wasn't going to feel as well earned. We weren't going to know her as well as Robin -- and we weren't going to see Ted go through the emotional wringer with her like has done with Robin. So, to me, seeing Ted and Robin finally together with their futures uncertain, it just felt right.

There are still a whole bunch of logical issues -- like where did Bob Saget's voice over go?

Anonymous said...

Where are the spoilers? I still don't know what happened.

Gary Benz said...

It's interesting reading all the posts. They make Ken's point: the fact that so many people are vested in how the series should have ended, what relationships mattered and what felt right or wrong is the best testament to any show, sitcom or otherwise. The show, including the finale, was a success because people were invested in the characters. It's what happen when good writing and good actors meet.

As to the finale, no major complaints. It just felt rushed in the context of the season. In other words, the finale didn't flow logically, or at least smoothly, from the episodes of this season that preceded it. The season arguably could have been better planned but when you step back and consider how it all should have turned out, this was what most would have thought all along.

McAlvie said...

huh. I would have liked it if the mother had had a more substantial recurring role. We didn't know this person at the end, and having gotten to know all the other characters so well, I felt a bit cheated.

Re Cobie Smuthers, I actually thought her character was well done. Robin filled a necessary niche in the cast, as everyone else seemed a bit larger than life.

I never really bought into the Ted and Robin romance, though. Yes, Ted loved Robin; but Robin was so NOT what Ted needed at that point, or for his future. She was really too much like Barney in many ways. In this respect, I think they played the ending well. Robin needed to do a lot of growing and changing before she could really fit in the picture of Ted's life. The way they ended it, she was given that time, which made it more believable for me that she and Ted would somehow end up together, and in a way that still allowed Ted to have the family life he'd always yearned for.

All in all, I have to say it was pretty well done.

RockGolf said...

The blame, is a truly weird sense, belongs to Christina Miloti.

She was so good and so right for Ted that we the audience wanted them together. The gang wanted them together, although they came to that realization separately. She was so perfect that the planned-from-the-beginning Ted/Robin pairing seemed like weak sauce.

If The Blacklist had hired Miloti, and HIMYM hired Megan Boone as the Mother, we'd have 2 good shows be better and would all be cheering the finale.

scottmc said...

I really appreciated many of the previous comments. Some comments expressed thoughts that I had but did it better than I could. Some took the finale to places that were better than the what we saw. I agree that the show overstayed its welcome. The Barney-Robin coupling, uncoupling,marriage and divorce was an unfortunate and distracting yo-yo. The whole final season is about their wedding, and their marriage lasted about as long as the Broncos chances in the last Super Bowl. In light of the finale the show should have been titled 'How I met your step-mom'.

Barbie said...

The finale was everything it should have been. We met these characters in 2005 and said goodbye to them in 2014; however, the events of this story take place in 2030. We knew that from the start of the pilot.

We joined adult Ted and his kids for 9 years, learning about Ted, Marshall, Lily, Robin and Barney's ups and downs, adventures and hard times. There were exciting clues leading up to the meeting of the mother and then we finally met her. We learned how each character came to know her. We saw flash forwards of Ted and Tracy and we were happy that Ted had finally found the mother.

Adult Ted finally finished telling his kids the story, and it was a great one! Some may feel cheated that we spent an entire season on Robin and Barney's wedding, only to have their marriage dissolve in a short scene in the finale. But remember, this is TED's story. How he met the mother. And he met her the weekend of the wedding, and thus it was an important weekend to play out over a season. Things may have felt rushed from there with Ted covering 2015-2030 so quickly, but he is telling this story to his kids who were alive during this timeframe; they already know Barney and Robin are divorced, that Marshall and Lily have three kids and that Barney has a daughter. He doesn't need to elaborate on the details. And in this way, in 42 minutes, we were brought into what happened to these characters we came to love for 9 years. Ted and Tracy meeting on that train platform is the STORY's end. That's 2030 Ted finishing the story he has been telling his kids.

And then there was the show's end. I think it was something very special. That his kids in 2030 would encourage Ted to move on. That Robin has always been that person and NOW is the time. I just think it was a beautiful end.

I really enjoyed the finale and the nine years I spent with the show.

I would encourage those who disagree to go back and watch the show's pilot. Remind yourself of the beginning of 2030 Ted's story.

Tracy Tran said...

There is an interesting theory out there, and I believe this might be true, that if you only watch the first 4 seasons and left a few years ago, you would think the ending was satisfying, but if you watch all of the episodes, the finale was a disappointment.

Roger Owen Green said...

It was all Bobby Ewing's dream.

Tony C. said...

What the f*** is HIMYM?

Dennis said...

Hm, I always thought of Cobie Smulders being the funniest of all and the scenes with her being the best.

Not haha funny, but calm and always a bit serious ... dry. All the others were often to much; just over the edge.

And for the finale ... I was certain that Ted would turn out to be dead and all the time it was him in a recording talking to his kids. And in the end the camera would turn and show the tv with him on. Although, I cannot remember if this could have been possible from all the previous scenes or if there were actual conversations between him and the kids.

And Robin and Barney getting divorced felt wrong and was the biggest disappointment. For me the relation between both was the best sub plot of all. And they had a great chemistry and the effort that went into the character change for Barney seemes now somewhat wasted.

Because the decision to split them up feels like being done out of pure necessity for the Robin and Ted plot casually erasing the years long developed relation between Robin and Barney.

I will admit, for a few seconds I really thought Robin would turn out to be number 31 and Barney would have that child with her after all.

I can see how the authors had this punch line (more than once hinted) "It was always about Robin" right from the beginning in mind. But for whatever reason they developed the relation between Robin and Barney in such a way, that it felt right and truthful. However, the rushed divorce felt anything but.

Anonymous said...

The ending of the show was like being slowly crucified by someone who forgot the nails, the wood, but was determined to cause you as much pain as possible while they figured out how to get it done. And then, for good measure, they pee on you a little bit.

I have never seen character assassination done so thoroughly, a lack of resolution so solidly held, as the finale of this show. Not one character was given proper resolution to their arcs, least of all the main character. These weren't the characters I watched for nine years. These weren't even the same characters I watched over the last season! There was no point to this story. No message. No summation of ideals, no epiphany or crystallization of ideas and themes. It was a seven year old mothball of an ending.

I refuse this ending. I have had more pleasant, funny hospital visits. It holds no artistic merit, no emotional value, and it would have been just fine if the series ended on the penultimate two-parter.

pumpkinhead said...

This is a major improvement (Major Improvement): http://www.uproxx.com/up/2014/04/a-fan-fixed-the-how-i-met-your-mother-ending-and-made-it-so-much-better/

Allen Lulu said...

Barbie helped me galvanize my thoughts. So, here's what I wrote on my blog. If you read it, cool. I've been reading you for years and you are inspiring. (And I read your novel, too. Which was laugh out loud funny, btw)

forg/jecoup said...

I didn't hate the finale like the Internet does but I really wish they ended with the umbrella scene, what a perfect moment

David Baruffi said...

I was backtracking and reading your analysis on the "How I Met Your Mother" finale (Which I loved, and I thought worked incredibly well, especially considering the entirety of the series.) and read how you didn't find Cobie Smolders particularly funny. I think I could argue that perhaps she wasn't supposed to be as funny as she could've possibly been, but I see your point, and it got me thinking. Are there any other stars and actors on major sitcoms, past or present, that you thought weren't particularly funny, or as funny as they could've been? I've often heard that Marilu Henner for instance struggles with comedic lines, and was helped by the editing and writing, but I'm curious who you think would never hit the lines as funny as he/she probably should've?

Johnny Walker said...

Ok, I finally got around to finishing all nine seasons, and the finale. Here's what I felt about it (before reading anyone else's take):

There was lots I LOVED about this finale. After a crumby last few seasons, with the writers desperately trying to come up with new stories that didn't compromise the integrity of the characters (and not really succeeding all that well), it was great to see a story that was very firmly constrained by who the characters were again.

Happy endings be damned, it made perfect sense that Barney and Robin would get a divorce. Their relationship was always a stretch in the show, and it was nice to see that acknowledged. It also would have been super easy to have Robin stay a member of the gang, but it was truly not in her personality, and it made perfect sense for her to drift away. Likewise it was refreshing to hear Marshall reveal that he despised his job -- as many people do in real life. This sort of stuff was never in FRIENDS.

HIMYM was always at its best when it dealt with the emotional struggles of its characters. The show never shied away from showing difficult times, but it also balanced it with a belief that there always things worth enjoying, fighting for, and believing in. In its best years there was a sharp edge of realism lining its romanticness, but as the years went by, that balancing act obviously became very difficult and the show descended into more and more absurdity. Indeed, the episodes leading up to this one seem very cartoony by comparison, as if they were the drunken barfly version of events, rather than a true account.

Although it didn't really have a story and wasn't particularly funny, the finale was a welcome return to what HIMYM always did best. I can't imagine how it played for people who hadn't been following the characters for nine years, but for this one, it was a satisfying experience.

My only complaint was the notion that the entire series had been Ted's subconscious love-letter to Robin, which lead to Ted attempting to give a relationship with her another shot. Yes, it ties together nicely with how the show opened, and they always had Ted carrying a torch for her (long after it seemed likely), but it really undermined pretty much everything that came before -- Ted's love letter to his wife. It kind of sullied the romantic relationship the entire show had been built around, and felt a little like fan-service. (Of course the ending was actually filmed several years ago, so maybe they'd painted themselves into a corner.)

In my mind, there's no way that Robin and Ted would actually get into a serious relationship again. She'd have her apartment, he'd have his. He'd spend a lot of time being there for her kids, she'd be travelling the world with her job. She never wanted to be a mother, so would only ever be an aunt to Ted's kids. It would be a relationship of convenience and comfort, with no pressure or expectations -- nothing like the one he had with his wife. For that to be the big ending of a show that wore romance on it sleeve so brazenly, feels very odd.

(The more I think about it, the more I think it was probably a reaction to what viewers were saying when they filmed the ending, all that time ago.)

Still, I'll just ignore that bit, and enjoy the fact that, despite life's ups and downs, the gang from MacClaren's essentially lived happily ever after.

Thanks for lots of great times Carter Bays and Craig Thomas!

JP said...

Ok a bit late but only just broadcast in the UK.

My view was that story in HIMYM was always about Robin: from the start it was about her as seen by Ted. But also she wasn't the "mother" which meant either:
a) Robin was the biological mother but not interested in mothering so Ted's wife was the "mother" (possible given long gaps while she went travelling)
b) Something happens to their real mother, something not good.

a) was written out part way through, so it had to be b).

Given b) why was Ted telling this very long long story about Robin to his kids? If the story was really HIMYM then it would be simply season 9.

But a lot of the comments seem to come from the viewpoint of those following the story directly rather than looking at its context, i.e. being told to the children. They were viewing this as a mechanism to tell the story (e.g. as in the Princess Bride) rather than something important in its own right.

I like season 9 more than some of the previous ones as it stretched ideas such as flash forwards/backs / hour by hour breakdown of critical day(s) into the sitcom structure.

It also ended up with all the key characters (except mum) having moved forward, resolved key issues and, most importantly, still there and true to themselves. So viewers can imagine them still being Ted and the gang even if we aren't listening in on the story.

As such I'd say it was a success - but it might have been better to signpost that the framing of the story as told to the kids was integral to the overall structure rather than simply a mechanism so that there was less surprise / disappointment. Towards the end they skipped that a lot (no more "Kids...") so it became invisible but actually it was critical information for the viewers.

In addition there should have been more time to say goodbye to mum - she was great!