“Our children will always hear/Romantic tales of distant years/Our gilded age may come and go/Our crooked dreams will always glow.” If you remember the final scene of the final episode of How I Met Your Mother, you surely recognize these lyrics. I always felt that the choice of using Heaven by The Walkmen in the finale was a masterstroke because the lyrics defined the entire theme of the show.
But unfortunately, not all of us ended up being impressed by it. HIMYM’s ending seems to be one of the most controversial endings of all time, with many fans having the opinion that it ruined the entire series for them.
I personally love the ending for several reasons. But, before you close the article, I want to make it clear that this is not my attempt to justify HIMYM’s finale. What I found interesting is that the recent spin-off, How I Met Your Father, in its own subtle way, tries to explain the finale a little more.
The final episode of Season 1 of HIMYF saw the return of Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders), one of the main characters of its predecessor. It was clearly an attempt to bank on the nostalgia that the fans of HIMYM live with, but I think it was also an attempt on the part of the creators to explain the finale of HIMYM better.
Why is the HIMYM ending so controversial?
For most fans, the ending did not do justice to the titular ‘Mother’ aka Tracy McConnel (Cristin Milloti) who became an instant fan favorite when she was introduced in the Season 8 finale. So, it obviously did not stand well with the fans that it was revealed that the Mother is actually dead in the present day.
Moreover, Barney and Robin’s wedding was given a build-up for the entirety of Season 8, only for them to be declared divorced in the last episode. If you were fond of the pairing, then obviously it did not sit well with you.
Finally, it was not about Ted and Robin getting back together in the end, but how abrupt it was. It was as though all that happened earlier was for nothing and fans were enraged with the ‘disrespect’ meted out to the Mother by the writers.
For mainly such reasons, the HIMYM ending is considered to be controversial and is the lowest-rated HIMYM episode in IMDb. Since September 2014, when the show ended, fans have been waiting for answers regarding this from the makers of the show.
But, none seemed to suffice. With years passing by, Ted Mosby, the protagonist and narrator of the series, was considered to be ‘obsessed’ with Robin and it seemed to be giving a view that he could move on from a relationship. This, especially because Robin told him multiple times in earlier seasons of the show that she was not into it.
In fact, Robin blatantly told Ted that she does not love him, after which the makers ended up getting her married to Ted’s best friend, Barney Stinson. What people blatantly miss out on is Robin’s dilemma before getting married to Barney.
A few days before the wedding, Robin decided to look for her lucky locket, apparently which must be found before her wedding since it would be her ‘something old’ object. Not being able to find it raised doubts in her mind about marrying Barney as she saw it as a sign (the perks of being with Ted Mosby).
It is then revealed that years ago, Ted found the locket, indicating that HE is the one Robin should marry. Robin remains in constant dilemma throughout the wedding preparations, to the extent that she asks Ted to run away with her before her wedding, to which Ted refuses.
So, the roles were now reversed. In the entire series, Ted was the one who always craved Robin’s affections and did everything possible to gain her love. Now that Ted had settled his mind and was about to move out of New York for good, Robin went after him. Nevertheless, she got married to Barney, with so many doubts in her mind. I am not sure how wise that was.
Lastly, if you’ve not already noticed, every time Robin let go of Ted, especially during the earlier seasons, it was due to fear. She was afraid of commitment, so she broke up with him in the Season 2 finale. She kept going back to him but could not actually commit due to fear.
Barney was the one who did ask for a commitment from her, since he is conventionally that way, Robin found solace in Barney. Again, all her decisions regarding Ted (mostly) were out of her fear for commitment, which brings me to my next point—what Robin’s cameo in HIMYM reveals about this.
What does Robin’s cameo in HIMYM reveal about HIMYM’s ending?
Though the main intention behind bringing back a series regular from the OG series is generally to induce nostalgic emotions, I think Robin’s cameo had a deeper significance for HIMYM fans.
Sophie’s situation in HIMYF was similar to Robin from Season 1—Jesse dropping ‘I love you’ in his sleep and canceling tours to be with her scared her because this meant Jesse may be demanding the same commitment from her, which she was, to quote Sophie, “scared” of.
She did not want things to happen “too soon.” Robin and Ted flashbacks, isn’t it? In a scene in the HIMYF finale, Sophie shares her fears with Robin, who clearly “misses the good old days” she spent at MacLaren’s.
It is her advice, that literally (not figuratively) fixes the HIMYM ending concerning Ted and Robin. Robin asks Sophie to not make the mistakes that she made when she tells her not to “waste her time being scared.” She explains that Jesse did nothing wrong, except giving her what she wanted her entire life, just a little earlier than she expected.
Apart from fear, there is nothing to hold her back from getting back together with Jesse. Robin mentions clearly that the only decisions she regrets taking in life are the ones that she made “out of fear.”
She even drops in the mention of Ted Mosby, when she says “I once had a guy told me ‘I love you’ on our first date.” She went on to say that it was a “good thing” and that she regrets making her decisions out of fear. So, it is not rocket science that she clearly misses Ted and regrets letting go of him.
There have been multiple hints throughout the original series that Robin regretted letting go of Ted, including statements from her that clearly mentioned it. In one episode, she told Lily that it hurts her when she sees Ted, “the guy she should have ended up with” having fun with the love of his life on Halloween night.
There’s also the highly popular deleted scene, where Robin and Ted meet at a café and Robin reminds him of their deal—if they are both single when they are 40, they would get married. Though Ted was not single when the deleted scene was set, Robin’s words made it clear that she missed Ted and considered getting back with him.
The HIMYF cameo by Robin is special not because we got to see her again, but because she cleared Ted Mosby of the blame that he did not “move on” and was “obsessed.” The cameo is set in 2022, which is six years earlier to when Ted begins telling the story of how he met the Mother to his kids. As per the HIMYM timeline, Tracy died in 2024. So, during Robin and Sophie’s conversation, she is alive and Ted is married to her.
Robin realized that her doubts throughout her wedding preparations with Barney were true, probably because she got over her fear of commitment and attachment issues. HIMYM dealt with modern cosmopolitan relationships like no other sitcom did, and Robin’s case is very, very relatable to many.
At that age, when she was busy spending time in the bar with her gang, commitment did seem scary. She probably wanted to explore life. So, she got together with Barney, which was a very weakly written track, in my opinion.
Both had similar issues—so they were paired opposite each other. Kind of detrimental to HIMYM’s uniqueness, no? Anyway, the Robin we meet in 2022 in the HIMYF finale is much more mature and composed and has had the experience of married life.
Now, she realizes the value of commitment and security, which Ted was ready to give her the entire time. Robin realized that she did not see what was in front of her the entire time. You could say this is a bias on part of the writers towards the Ted and Robin pairing, but I don’t see why that is a problem.
The show breaks the idea of perfect love because nothing that perfect could last so long. Tracy was the exact carbon copy of Ted, ticking all his boxes and matching every sign in the universe as Ted believed. But does modern love work that way?
I think Ted and Robin getting back together at the end of HIMYM shows that one can give relationships another try, especially if it did not work out for them when they were different people with different experiences.
The HIMYF Season 1 finale confirms that Robin was as interested in getting back together with Ted, missed him dearly, and regretted her decision of letting go of him out of her fear, probably of commitment. So, I am sure in the years in between, Ted and Robin may have had some discussions about it and Teddy Westside got the message.
Once he got the message, who could stop him from running after the blue French horn once again? I don’t think he was trying to convince his children about him getting back together with Robin. It was just that, perhaps reminiscing the memories made him realize he too still wants the same thing.
He was already aware of the problems he and Robin had in their relationship, but the ability to give it another try is what I would call courage, and that is what makes Ted Mosby so special. Now that Robin has confirmed that Ted was not exactly “running after her” with no reciprocation, I think the hate for Ted could stop.
The cameo and what she said about her love life attempt to fix the controversial ending by making it evident that Ted and Robin both realized that now that they are mature people, they could give each other another try.
Is the finale justified or should the makers have done it differently?
I don’t think any of us can answer this question with a yes or a no. It all depends on your perspective. But if you ask me, the ending was good enough except perhaps the writing, which was too hurried.
HIMYM always tried to be a different sitcom, with not every episode having only laughter such as its close predecessor, Friends. HIMYM dealt with various issues and had some of the most heart-breaking scenes in television.
At the end of the day, the series is special because of its unique narrative style, namely the stream of consciousness technique and its brilliant depiction of modern relationships. Be it Marshall and Lily, Ted and Robin, or Barney and Robin, every relationship and its ups and downs revealed something about the tragedy of modern romantic relationships.
I don’t know whether the finale was “justified” but it proved its point because nothing perfect lasts forever and not everything in life can be planned. Divorce happens for various reasons, you lose people you love for certain reasons and have to move on—I don’t think a conventional ending with Tracy entering the last scene saying, “Is Dad telling one of his incredibly long stories?” would do justice to this show, the world’s longest Ted Talk.
Barney and Robin were portrayed as the perfect match, so was Ted and Tracy. But perfect is a subjective term and not everything lasts. Times change, people change, perspectives change and there is always room for second chances.
Also, such an ending would allow us to list HIMYM as a classic tragi-comedy rather than an out and out comedy, because the show is all about the tragedy of Ted Mosby and how he narrates it through humor. The ending is an open-ended one, but it talks of hope and second chances because technically, Robin wanted to get back, not Ted.
Ted definitely had an interest in her since he had always loved Robin, but it was not Ted but Robin who says that she regrets leaving Ted in several scenes in the original series, in a deleted scene and also in the HIMYF finale now. So, the finale does reveal quite a bit about the HIMYM ending.
Having said that, I think the makers could have used some more episodes to actually pace out the incidents, such as how exactly Barney and Robin got divorced or Tracy’s death and Ted’s life after losing her before moving on to the Ted and Robin reunion.
It is true that the writing was off, but I do not think the ending was bad. It’s Schmosby (Scherbatsky and Mosby) all the way!
Will the writers of HIMYF do things differently?
It is too early to predict that, but since Robin Scherbatsky also said “timing’s a bitch”—it all depends on what ends up happening when. Having said that, Jesse and Sophie do seem to be following pretty much a Ted and Robin route, so we can expect the will-they-won’t-they trope with the characters.
Apart from that, both HIMYM and HIMYF tries to deal with modern relationships and how people handle them along with the protagonist’s obsession with finding everything ‘perfect’—from the perfect shot to the perfect love story.
If anything at all, HIMYF might reinstate that there is nothing called a perfect love story or a perfect shot. It was all about how you see it—if your flawed relationship is what seems perfect to you, so be it. If your second chances lead you to something perfect, so be it.
So, HIMYF is definitely following the HIMYM route in terms of what the show is trying to depict. Now, we have to wait for Season 2 to see what timing has in store for us. Also, I am expecting many other cameos, including one by Neil Patrick Harris, the legendary Barney Stinson.
About How I Met Your Father
How I Met Your Father (HIMYF) is a spinoff series of the incredibly successful CBS show, How I Met Your Mother. The original show ran for nine seasons, from 2005 to 2014, quickly making its mark with a dedicated cult-like fanbase.
HIMYF was announced to start production in April 2021 with the Lizzy McGuire star Hilary Duff playing the lead called Sophie, narrating her journey to her children in the future.
The show’s flashbacks will start from Sophie and her close friends navigating love, life and struggles in the modern era of dating, paying bills and more, in 2021.
Created by writers Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger of This Is Us fame and directed by the original show’s director, Pamela Fryman, the first season of HIMYF is revealed to have 10 episodes. No further details have yet been released.