Let’s make it clear, this isn’t a news piece. You might even say I’m a few years late in bringing this up. Having re-watched all nine seasons of the sitcom How I Met Your Mother, I felt I had to get some stuff off my chest. Spoiler: I still hate the ending.
The show aired on CBS (Welcome Home) from 2005 to 2014. It was a show about Ted Evelyn Mosby (played by Josh Radnor) telling his kids the story how he searched for his true love and “met” their mother. Obviously he went into a lot of details. Throughout his adventures, we got to know his best friend Marshall (Jason Segel), his wife Lily (Alyson Hannigan) who he met in college, their womanizing and kind of sleazeball friend Barney (Neil Patrick Harris), and Robin (Cobie Smulders) who Ted falls in love in on their first date in the first episode.
Throughout the series, every once in a while, there is an actual hint or allusion to the actual mother. Despite the show having ended seven years ago, this is your warning. THERE WILL BE SPOILERS BELOW.
HIMYM was an enjoyable show. The ensemble cast did a great job playing off each other and the show was usually pretty funny. During the final season, things started getting a little hit or miss.
During the eighth season, we discover there is a wedding taking place. We learn it’s not Ted’s wedding. Eventually it’s revealed Robin and Barney are getting married, and Ted still has deep feelings for her after all these years. Throughout Ted’s various moments of pining over Robin, it was made clear they had different plans. They had broken up over their different views on marriage and children–two things Ted absolutely dreamed of having. At the end of the eighth season, the mother, played by Cristin Milioti, is finally revealed as being a bass player in the band performing at Robin and Barney’s wedding reception.
The final season focuses on the very long 56 hours leading up to the wedding. At certain moments, we start to get to know the mother as we see her meet the rest of the cast at different times. We learn her name is Tracy McConnell and that she is perfect for Ted. We also see flash forward scenes of Ted and Tracy dating and having their two kids.
The season finale decides to shake everything up big time. We find out Barney and Robin divorce after three years of marriage. Barney becomes a father after a one-night stand with a woman who is never shown. Worst of all, we’re told Tracy dies of an unknown illness in 2024, six years before Future Ted started telling his kids the story.
Life happens. It’s understandable. It just seemed cruel to introduce us to such a likable character with Tracy only to have her killed off. To make things worse, the whole motive of Ted telling his kids the story begins to be called into question when he finishes the story.
The kids aren’t idiots. They realize that Ted is in love with Aunt Robin. Ted’s kids urge him to go ask her out. They love Aunt Robin. It’s been six years since their mom died. They approve. He runs off to make a grand gesture similar to the first episode, thus having the show come full circle.
Maybe it’s because we only get a tiny glimpse of the grieving period and don’t see all the years of happiness they shared. It feels like Tracy was thrown aside, just so Ted could go after Robin one more (and hopefully final) time.
Yes, this is the ending the showrunners wanted. The end scene with the kids was filmed during the second season (so the kids would still appear to be the same age). We could ask what was the point of the final season dealing with Robin and Barney’s wedding only to have it fall apart so quickly (in our eyes). Life isn’t always neat and joyous.
There are some themes of there being more than one “the one” since Tracy’s first true love died, as did Ted’s. They both moved on to a second “the one.” Ted and Robin do both get what they dream of. Ted got his marriage and kids while Robin got her newscaster career. With years passing, they could return to each other having fulfilled their dreams. Blah blah blah. I don’t think they were meant to be together.
Here’s some art I was inspired to draw after my rewatching.
Ted and Robin might have started making each other better people when they were together, but Tracy was his soulmate. Maybe the show’s ending just added to the other “real life” moments that can happen. It doesn’t matter. As a viewer who watched the story play out over nine season, I’ll admit I’m selfish. I wanted a happy ending for them. The show was supposed to be about how Ted met Tracy. It shouldn’t be about how Ted could end up with Robin.
But that’s how life goes. Things don’t always work out like you thought they would. That’s what the show was trying to illustrate. I’ll just pretend the mother didn’t die. Maybe a miracle cure will be developed before her 2024 demise and we can all be happy.
Have you watched the show? Did you like the ending?