A divorce. A maternal death. An array of terrible wigs. All of these tragedies and more capped off the nine-year-run of one of the most beloved sitcoms in recent memory. And many. People. Are. Pissed.
Sure, the finale of How I Met Your Mother has the true believing supporter and intrepid thinkpiece contrarian who insists the finale was "perfect" or at the very least, "fitting." But the loudest of the internet voices, the ones who weren't tailoring their responses to clicks, were dissatisfied with the hour long series conclusion. Quite frankly, as a person who went from catching the occasional episode of HIMYM maybe every 6 weeks or so to a person who has spent much of the last week futilely trying to get caught up, after watching the finale I feel bad for the die hard fans, and kind of glad that I didn't spend the last several years committing the characters' inside jokes to memory, since the show's entire premise was thrown away in the finale. You thought you were in on the joke, audience? Well, the joke's on you!
Being familiar enough with the material to understand why what I just watched would upset people but not familiar enough with it that I actually give much more than half a shit about the fact that it's upsetting puts me in a unique position to spell out to you, day-after internet peruser, just what about the final episode people thought sucked so hard.
It should go without saying but, like, this post is more stuffed with spoilers than a mayonnaise picnic that's been out in the sun for a few hours. Don't read any further if you don't want to know what happened beyond the fact that a lot of people didn't like it.
Ted leaves in the fucking middle of the goddamn wedding reception because he "has to move" and then he doesn't move.
He was the best man and he leaves in the middle of the wedding reception and makes all of his friends say goodbye to him with tears running down their faces like candle wax because he was planning to move to Chicago the next day for a dream job, except then he doesn't move because he meets a cute girl on a train platform who he could have met at the fucking wedding he insisted on leaving because she was in the goddamn wedding band. After emotionally and ceremonially saying goodbye to Ted, Marshall and Lily see him the next day in the bar where they always hang out and he's like *SHRUG* and everyone is just okay with it because they're all so fucking emotionally invested in Ted's penis finding a home.
The whole ninth season was centered around Barney and Robin's wedding and then in the final episode of the ninth season, Barney and Robin get divorced. During the same episode as the one that featured their wedding reception.
As some fans on social media pointed out, fans had years to grow fond of the Robin/Barney pairing and the Robin/Ted pairing. But only a few fleeting minutes to fall in love with The Mother and Ted pairing. And then, following that, only a few minutes to get over losing The Mother before it was back to Robin again.
Oh yeah by the way, that macabre fan theory that The Mother has been dead this whole time turned out to be fucking true.
We don't know how she died, but we do know that she died when her two children were relatively young.
We also know that the show took approximately two beats to convey this. It was brutally quick. It was Red Wedding sudden. La la la la we find out The Mother's name is Tracy. La la la, Tracy gets sick and then that's fucking it. Now suddenly we're in the living room and it's the year 2030 and Ted somehow magically does not have the voice of Bob Saget and his kids are giving him dating advice and reminding him that his wife has been dead for six years. For them she's been dead for six years. For us, she's been dead for six seconds.
The whole damn show was just a framing device for a widower to tell his kids that he'd pretty much wanted to nail his ex the whole time.
And at the end of the show, Future Ted is encouraged by his kids to go on ahead and try to date Future Robin, successful international news anchor, and her weird bob wig. Future Robin still lives in the same apartment in Brooklyn with the same number of enormous dogs, which cannot possibly be the same dogs unless they're genetically modified super dogs with unnaturally long life spans. And Ted's always been in love with her. So basically, The Mother was the woman Ted hung out with for a few years until she died, freeing Ted to seek out the company of the love of his life, Robin. Who, devoted watchers of the show might recall, is unable to have children. Ted really ends up having it all!
Come to think of it, are we sure that Ted Mosby didn't murder The Mother? (We're pretty sure.)
Meanwhile, the supporting cast was doin' stuff.
Lily and Marshall had another baby, and Lily's wigs became more and more outrageous as her wardrobe became more Ann Taylor and less Anthropologie. She also started wearing more baubles on her necklaces.
Barney, in the meantime, went back to slutting around the Upper West Side, a neighborhood the show continues to insist has a vibrant singles scene and will continue to have one well beyond the present day. Barney's cock rampage continues until one day, at the end of a long month of one night stands, when he impregnates one of his conquests. We never see who she is. Maybe it doesn't matter. Regardless, she gives birth to a baby girl and Barney, in a moment of magical personal transformation, suddenly turns into one of those former scummy guys who have daughters and then spend the rest of their lives terrified that men treats women as disrespectfully as he does. He and Robin are cool, kind of. Maybe.
Oh, and Marshall becomes a judge. I medium cared.
The episode ends with an identical shot from the pilot, with Grey Haired Old Ted standing outside of Weird Wig Future Robin's Brooklyn apartment, hoisting a blue French horn aloft.
Reminder: this all happened — Ted's tearful goodbye to his friends at Robin and Barney's wedding reception, Ted meeting the mother, Robin and Barney deciding to get a divorce, Lily's pregnancy, Barney becoming a father, The Mother getting pregnant — twice, Ted and The Mother's wedding, The Mother dying, and Ted deciding to go after Robin again — in the span of a 40 something minute long television episode. It was Twin Peaks Agent Cooper Bashing Head On Mirror Bad. It was Roseanne bad.
Reaction to what some viewers saw as a sloppy, cobbled together schmaltz fest was swift and harsh. Many on the Twitters hoped against hope that the whole mess was an April Fools Day prank. WORST FUCKING POSSIBLE ENDING, declared the top thread in Reddit's popular HIMYM forum. Here's a representative sample of the sort of comments populating that thread:
The other top thread, as I'm writing this now at like 1 in the morning, was a .gif from Community of Donald Glover opening a door into a room that is on fire. Vulture accused the show of "bailing" on the plot and the fans, The Daily Beast called it "bloated." And Twitter wasn't happy, either.
Not everyone was mega pissed at how the show ended. Noted thought leader Carrie Underwood Tweeted that it was "perfect" exclamation point. Vanity Fair didn't hate it. The New York Times was into the fact that The Mother was a "red herring" and the show was actually about enduring love between Robin and Ted, a TV monument to life's messiness. Robin and Ted weren't together when they maybe "should have" been, but because of that, Ted met Tracy, and their two children were born. Because of Robin and Barney's divorce, Barney went on a slut rampage and ended up with a daughter he adores. The lighting aflame of the show's premise was a bit of a middle finger to the unrealistic neatness audiences demand from shows, and, in a way, plays into the overall theme that paths, like stories, aren't linear.
But fandom knows no rhyme or reason, and cannot be consoled with philosophical platitudes. People wanted a finale that rewarded their loyalty, not a lecture about life's messiness, goddamn it! Whether or not that demand is a fair one for an audience to make of a TV show, How I Met Your Mother, a show that people loved because it included its audience in its jokes sailed off into the sunset by letting its audience know they were the butt of the joke.
I'm still a fan of the theory that Barney and Ted were the same person, Fight Club style.