Warning: This article contains multiple spoilers. Do not read if you have not seen the finale of How I Met Your Mother.
It was, to quote Barney Stinson, legen … wait for it … dary! The nine-season saga of How I Met Your Mother came to a close during a one-hour finale Monday night, and in between the tears and the laughs, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas fulfilled the vision they had been building, pineapple by pineapple, since episode 1, when Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) told Robin Scherbatsky (Cobie Smulders) that he loved her on their first date.
Yes, fans’ worst fears were confirmed: The Mother (Cristin Milioti), who we were gradually introduced to during the course of the final season in wedded bliss with Ted in flash-forwards, did, indeed, die. And in a completely emotional gut punch, we learn that the point of Ted’s long and winding story to his children of How He Met Their Mother was actually … it seems so obvious now … how he never really got over Robin, who divorced Barney (Neil Patrick Harris) after only three years and never remarried. (As the kids remind him, the Mother is barely in the story!)
I realize many viewers were outraged by what they saw as a tasteless final scene: Ted showing up on Robin’s doorstep, holding the Smurf Penis—er, blue French horn. Apparently, the blogosphere feels Ted should have lived the rest of his life as a widow, even though the Mother clearly told him she didn’t want him living in the past. And c’mon—the guy waited six years! For me, this episode gets better the more I think about it. And for those who will be streaming this again someday on Netflix, imagine how differently you’ll be watching it.
Show creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have contributed something truly unique in television history. HIMYM is not, as so many detractors have suggested, a Friends ripoff. It’s a multilayered, detailed and meticulously thought-out saga, and its use of flashbacks, flash-forwards and twists is a master class in storytelling. “But we’ll get to that” was perhaps the show’s catchphrase, because you always knew it meant a significant piece of the puzzle was soon to be revealed. And HIMYM came about its surprises and emotional crescendos without resorting to cheap ploys or clichéd circumstances. Characters thrived, despaired, died, laughed and lived pretty much the way they do in real life.
Bays and Thomas showed their affection for each and every character in the show, wrapping up storylines for not only Ted’s closest friends Marshall Eriksen and Lily Aldrin (Jason Segal and Alyson Hanagan) and Barney—It puts a huge smile on my face to think of Marshall as “Fudge Supreme,” or Barney lavishing all his wealth on his love child from “No. 31”—but so many of the ancillary characters, some of whom were only in a single episode. (Seeing Hugo “Hurley” Reyes say one last, “Aw, MAN!” was so satisfying.)
All I can say is, if the upcoming How I Met Your Dad is even half as good as this show was, I’ll be committing myself to another nine years.