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How I Met Your Mother Ending "Last Forever" Discussion [SPOILERS]

TheMaster666

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Sorry, I know this is a Buffy forum, but hey, Allyson Hannigan's one of the stars, and this is the Bronze, so I'm doing it :p

I've absolutely fallen in love with HIMYM, I think it's one of the greatest sitcoms of all time, up there with the Simpsons.

Tonight I watched the series finale, "Last Forever," which delivered an ending I really did not see coming.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW:

I think it's awesome that the ending we got had been in the minds of the creators since the pilot, filmed with Ted's kids nearly a decade prior. The fact that it still works, almost works better after the entirety of the show happened is pretty incredible. It's a bittersweet ending in some ways, intentionally avoiding the Hollywood "happily ever after" conclusion we'd been expecting for all the characters, yet in some ways delivering an ending almost more satisfying. A part of me always kind of wanted Ted and Robin to be together. He's so romantic, and they have those moments with such chemistry...no other girl was ever going to top Robin for Ted, and even though Robin and Barney were a great couple, there was something special with Ted. But we knew from day 1 that she couldn't end up with Ted, since this is the story of how Ted met his kids' mother, and Robin is "Aunt Robin," ergo, she can't end up with Ted. So even though they did date at one point, it had to have an expiration, which of course it did. The fact that this romantic potential has existed for so long, yet could seemingly never be fulfilled is precisely why bringing them together makes for a strangely satisfying conclusion. Barney loses Robin, but he gets the Michael Kelso ending from That 70s Show. Having a baby to take care of allows for his character to still grow up and mature, so that resolution of his character arc is still preserved. Seeing Barney send 2 hotties in a bar packing for their parents, protecting them from guys like Barney is the ultimate irony for his character.

-------------------------

During the course of the wedding, Robin sometimes wonders whether she should have really chosen Ted as her husband. Some may interpret this as foreshadowing, but I think this is simply the "bride freaking out" moment Lily knew Robin would experience, (and was concerned when earlier in the season, or hours prior in terms of the story, she seemed totally cool with marriage.) After all, Robin did calm down and marry Barney. So, like Barney says, "It's not a failed marriage; it's a successful marriage of three years." Although it's disappointing that the marriage that the audience has been anticipating all season long would eventually be a bust--which is practically a tv cliche, just look at Xander and Anya on Buffy. I have a rule that if an on-screen wedding has been hyped up for a long time coming, you can bet your bottom dollar it will inevitably fall through when the time finally comes to seal the deal.) Anyway, on other shows, like Buffy, such a move is usually disappointing, and perhaps upset some viewers, but I think in this case, it works.

Think about it. Even though the name of the story has always been How I Met Your Mother, what has the story really been about? Not the mother, since we don't even see her face till the final season, and even then, there's so much catching up to do and her appearances are all out of chronological order, that we necessarily can't be attached to her as much as we are to "the gang." We the viewers just haven't known her as long or as intimately. Whom we do love and care about is our gang, our family. Barney-waitforit-Stinson, Lillypad and Marshmallow, Ted Mosby the adorably awkward romantic, and the tomboyishly cool Robin Sherbatski (I'm probably misspelling that...let's stick with Robin Sparkles :) ) It's their story. The kids are right to call Ted out on this. The story has really been about this family of friends, and all the awesome great moments they shared with each other.

So even though an entire season is spent detailing the 48 hours of this one weekend of the wedding, 24-style, yet a season's worth of changes and character development occur within the single hour of this finale, that actually works. Because so many awesome things happen the weekend of this wedding, and it's the last time the gang is all together before they move on with their lives. Each time we see them again, though large swaths of time have passed, it's when they've reunited to share in those big life moments.

Earlier in the season, when a drunken Barney takes two young lads under his wing, imparting them with the skills of the playbook, in the early morning hours before his wedding to Robin, he leaves them with a final critical message:

"Whatever you do in life, it's only legendary if the people you love are there to share it with."

Not only is this a beautiful quote, but also a perfect encapsulation of the story of HIMYM. The reason we don't spend months or years delving into the heartbreak of Ted losing his wife, the mother of his children, or Barney and Robin getting a divorce and how they live after those hardships, is because these aren't the moments that old Ted wishes to share or re-live. The moments he cherishes, the moments he chooses to immortalize in his stories are those crazy adventures he and his family of friends got up to in their 20s and 30s, sharing drinks in MacLaren's and sharing the joys and sorrows of each others' lives. Those are the moments that were LEGEN-wait for it-DARY. Their Manhattan apartment; that goat from Lily's kindergarten class; the "I would walk 500 miles, and I would walk 500 more..." over and over on the stereo; the playbook and the bro-code; the Ted, just....just.......okay? ; the interventions and the major apprehensions (heheh Major Apprehension *salutes*) with meeting new loves or starting new jobs; it's Slapsgivings and Weekends at Barney's; in short, it's every insanely awesome, high-five worthy thing they or any doppelganger ever did that was LEGENDARY, and they shared every moment of it with each other.

That's the real story of HIMYM, so even though the story perfectly ends with Ted meeting his kids' mother, Tracy, for the first time (having already shown us the important events that come after), it's simultaneously not the final ending. The episode ends with a poetic parallelism. The show begins in the very first episode with Ted stealing the blue french horn for Robin, proclaiming his love for her, and pursuing her romantically; and the final scene ends with old Ted, his tale completed, doing the exact same thing. The show never confirms or promises that the two actually do end up together. For all we know, they don't. Perhaps they do, but end up divorced like Barney. There's an intentional ambiguity, highlighting that the end goal has never been the point of the journey. This much should be certain, from a show which has seemingly told us from the very beginning Robin and Ted don't end up together. The mother ultimately plays such little part because Ted's destination, his time with her, isn't as important as the long road to getting there. The journey of life is full of twists and turns, but all the important moments are the ones that happen when you're with people you love.

To this extent, Craig and Carter could not have delivered a more fitting series finale. They could have taken the easy road and just given us the finale everyone expected. It would have been perfectly acceptable, if a little predictable, to let Barney and Robin live happily ever after; Ted and Tracy, the mother, live happily ever after; and Marshall's career takes him to one of the highest offices in the country (He and Lily live happily ever after); everyone wins. Instead of treating marriage as that moment of emotional climax, of perfect happiness achieved and story finished, the creators go a different route, one filled with the same abrupt, life-changing twists and turns the journey leading up to the wedding has had. The wedding was not happily ever after, but just another moment in this never-ending story called life. But it was a damn good one, so give it a damn good story, eh?

10/10 Thanks for a brilliant, beautiful show!
 

Plasma

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A part of me always kind of wanted Ted and Robin to be together. He's so romantic, and they have those moments with such chemistry...no other girl was ever going to top Robin for Ted, and even though Robin and Barney were a great couple, there was something special with Ted. But we knew from day 1 that she couldn't end up with Ted, since this is the story of how Ted met his kids' mother, and Robin is "Aunt Robin," ergo, she can't end up with Ted. So even though they did date at one point, it had to have an expiration, which of course it did.

You make an interesting argument, but I think the reason the ending doesn’t work for myself and many others is this right here. ^

The whole point of the show was showing how things are unexpected and life just happens, regardless of what plans you set out. Robin and Ted are pretty clearly built up at the start to be “the big romantic couple”, but of course we get the reveal that she isn’t the mother, so it becomes more interesting. The unpredictability of it is really nice, and it creates a situation where any number of things could happen. Maybe the kids were a one night stand and Robin and Ted really did get married? Or maybe it just didn’t work out? Maybe she is the mother and something happened where they don’t know that she’s really the mom?

All of that uncertainty gets wiped away when we get introduced to the actual mother, who is a likable character. This is where the story was going, and it works great! Ted & Robin tried, and although they had good chemistry, it just didn’t work out between them. That happens in real life and it feels really natural!

What kills the ending honestly is the fact that we finally meet the mother, we see her and Ted have that moment together under the umbrella, and then…Ted says that’s the end of the story and then he’s rushed over to date Robin again. The end footage with the kids was already shot when the show started (since aging was a concern), so the writers had to structure everything to get to that moment. Sadly, the story feels like it gets cut off, the mother character gets thrown out almost immediately, and Ted rushes off to smooch Robin.

The alternate ending where we actually see the mother spend more time with the core characters is much better and respects her better than the show’s actual ending does. Honestly feels like they just threw her out almost immediately so they could have Ted & Robin get together, which is what the fans wanted but not necessarily what the plot was leading to.
 

HowiMetdaSlayer

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I actually liked the series finale. However I wasn't thrilled with the way the last 2 seasons were planned out.
I still liked the last 2 seasons, but it could've been a lot better.
 

TheMaster666

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Ted & Robin tried, and although they had good chemistry, it just didn’t work out between them. That happens in real life and it feels really natural!

What kills the ending honestly is the fact that we finally meet the mother, we see her and Ted have that moment together under the umbrella, and then…Ted says that’s the end of the story and then he’s rushed over to date Robin again. The end footage with the kids was already shot when the show started (since aging was a concern), so the writers had to structure everything to get to that moment. Sadly, the story feels like it gets cut off, the mother character gets thrown out almost immediately, and Ted rushes off to smooch Robin.

The alternate ending where we actually see the mother spend more time with the core characters is much better and respects her better than the show’s actual ending does. Honestly feels like they just threw her out almost immediately so they could have Ted & Robin get together, which is what the fans wanted but not necessarily what the plot was leading to.

Thanks for the reply!

I actually think Ted and Robin did work out well. Actually, if you remember the reason they actually broke up, it wasn't because things didn't work out. It was because at that point in time, Ted was looking to settle down, get married, have the 2.5 kids, etc, while Robin had no interest in marriage or kids. Realizing that there was this difference in life goals, they decided it was best to end it sooner rather than later, but they always had that bet that "If we're both still single when we're 40, we should get married."

Barney and Robin, on the other hand, actually didn't work out. They loved each other purely and intensely, but when they were together for a long period of time, they just brought each other down to a lesser version of themselves. Barney got fat, and Robin got ugly. That's why they ended it. So even though it's a sad ending to see their marriage end after 3 years, it feels like a plausible outcome. They didn't date a second time before deciding to get married. They just knew that even after breaking up, they still had strong feelings for each other, even while seeing other people. Then Barney pulled his "The Robin," the final play of the book, to get her to realize she loved him and asked her to marry him in this awesome romantic way.

So they never really tried the living with each other part before getting married, because they skipped dating and went straight to marriage. So even though they love each other, living together as a couple just isn't something that made them happy.

I agree with what you're saying about the mother, that they were building up to this moment, and then the character turns out to not be the central figure of the story. Sure, at first it is a little disappointing, because it's not what the viewer expected. But I think she did get as good of an ending as she could have gotten--she's smart, pretty, exactly perfect for Ted in every way, all his friends meet her first and love her, they meet romantically, fall in love, have kids, eventually get married, but then tragically she dies of illness after some years. The character and her story still reach the same conclusion; it's just, that conclusion isn't a cliche happily ever after. Life still happened after he met the mother, and tragedy struck. We gloss over the tragedy because that's not a part of the story.

I don't see old Ted seeking out Robin as a contradiction, or a nullificaion of Tracy/the mother. After all, Tracy herself had a first "one true love," too and she thought she'd never find another after he died when she was young. The show makes it clear that the fairytale notion of a "one true love," isn't really true, and there can be multiple people you feel that way about over time, and perhaps some people (like Stella) who seem to be that person, could easily shift and not be overnight.
Post automatically merged:

The alternate ending where we actually see the mother spend more time with the core characters is much better and respects her better than the show’s actual ending does. Honestly feels like they just threw her out almost immediately so they could have Ted & Robin get together, which is what the fans wanted but not necessarily what the plot was leading to.
There's an alternate ending? Cool, where can I find the deleted scene? Or is it just rumors from the writers' room?
 

Taake

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Lol. Many years later and I still havent forgotten the absolute disgust and fury I felt at this episode when it first aired. For me it still ruins the whole show, so while I still occasionally watch some eps, I’ll never re-visit the final season (which as a whole I found disappointing) and do feel like the ending taints the series entirely because it ruins Ted for me. And I’m one of the few (it seems) who actually liked Ted as a character.

His favorite book being Love in the time of cholera was a clue though, because it is also about a guy I find to be an absolute deranged creep.

I try to appreciate the aspects you mention, like I guess it was unexpected and brave in the sense that it wasn’t what people wanted… but I honestly cannot get over how for me this ep just makes Ted a pathetic, obsessive, stalker who had to wait until his dream girl was (for some unknown reason) downtrodden and pathetic enough to accept his advances for good. *shivers*
 

ILLYRIAN

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Oh, the show has ended, I thought it was going to be another Lost.
 
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