Series finales can be touchy, and typically, there are two camps once a show wraps for good: The lovers and the haters. When it comes to the finale of the CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother,’’ there is hardly any room for hate.
In the show’s final 60 minutes, the writers managed to successfully span 25 years of “Mother’’ milestones. The episode started with Robin’s introduction to the gang at MacLaren’s in 2005, fast forwarded to her and Barney’s wedding in 2014, and added another 16 years of story line before the final scene wrapped in 2030.
Each of the five main characters were given finite, succinct, believable endings. Anyone who is disappointed in the show’s ending isn’t being realistic.
Note: Follow along with the timeline above.
Spoiler alert: Stop reading this now if you don’t want to know what happened. Or pause, go watch the episode, and then come back. We’ll finish this journey together.
One thing “HIMYM’’ has always been (for the most part) is real. If Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) and Robin (Cobie Smulders) had stayed together (they get divorced in May 2016) and had a million babies (she can’t have children), it wouldn’t have been true to either of the characters’ development over the past nine years.
Their divorce is sad, yes, but did we really think that Barney could settle down? That wouldn’t have been legen-wait for it-dary. What is? The fact that he has a perfect month (31 women in 31 days) in 2019, gets one pregnant, and then becomes a loving, doting father to a little girl named Ellie in 2020.
Onto Lily (Alyson Hannigan) and Marshall (Jason Segel). These two lovebirds wind up with three kids — no surprise there. Lily works hard to try and keep “the gang’’ intact for all of the big moments (i.e. births, promotions, weddings) while being a mom, and Marshall continues to chase his dream of becoming a judge. He eventually gets appointed in 2018 and runs for state supreme court (2020).
If you’re looking for your happy ending, after nine years of ups and downs, break-ups, interventions, and breakdowns, Marshall and Lily are it.
Now, for the final, and perhaps most important couple. After meeting under fateful rainy skies on a train platform following Barney and Robin’s wedding, Ted (Josh Radnor) and Mother (who turns out to be named Tracy McConnell) live a seemingly perfect, jovial life. They fill it with a couple of kids and lots of love, despite not having a title (they get engaged in 2015 and have grand castle-filled plans to marry that year, but Tracy finds out she is pregnant).
In 2020, Ted re-proposes and the two get married in a small ceremony. Their big day is enhanced when Tracy (Cristin Milioti) convinces Robin to attend — see, “one of the big moments.’’ It’s the first time Robin comes around after her successful career forced her divorce from Barney, which in turn forced her to bow out of the gang at Lily and Marshall’s Halloween/farewell apartment party in October 2016. In all fairness, we wouldn’t want to be around two happy couples and a manwhore of an ex-husband, either.
Now, this is the heartbreaking part (this is the really real spoiler, so I’m warning you, stop reading): Tracy gets sick. So sick that she dies.
There’s no discussion of why or how, but Ted is left to raise their two kids (one of which, Penny, we get a young glimpse at) alone after Tracy’s death in 2024. As he finishes telling Penny and Luke the show’s titular story in 2030, the pair have a revelation that they aren’t particularly happy about.
“That’s it?’’ Penny asks.
“That’s it,’’ Ted tells her.
“No, I don’t buy it. That is not the reason you made us listen to this,’’ Penny starts. “No, this is a story about how you’re totally in love with Aunt Robin and you’re thinking about asking her out and you want to know if we’re okay with it.’’
Communal a-ha moment.
“Whenever she comes over for dinner, it’s so obvious,’’ Luke chimes in.
“Come on dad, mom’s been gone for 6 years now. It’s time,’’ adds Penny.
“So what, I just call her up on the phone and ask her on a date?’’ Ted asks.
“And that’s something you guys would want?’’
Ted picks up the phone, but he quickly puts it down, because simply asking Robin out on the phone after all those years would be really, really lame.
The scene breaks and we enter the chic apartment of a very single Robin Scherbatsky (a.k.a Robin Sparkles), who has become a super successful “World Wide News’’ anchor with a million dogs (okay, four).
She hears a buzz at the door and tries to use a voice prompt on her fancy shmancy television, asking it to display the visitor, but alas, technology fails her. Instead, she throws up the sash on a living room window, sticks her head out and finds Ted standing a la John Cusack in “Say Anything,’’ complete with the show’s iconic blue french horn in his hands in place of a boombox.
And here folks, after 208 episodes, is where things come full circle.