This evening, the curtain came down on How I Met Your Mother. The show was a moderate success in its early years but managed to escape cancellation and the audience grew and grew so that it actually became a hit for CBS. It’s surely much harder for the network to say goodbye tonight than it would have been eight years ago.
The last two episodes are called “Last Forever,” parts one and two. As you might expect, the episodes take us over the course of several years, via flashforwards, so that we can see what becomes of the friends and lovers.
After three years of marriage, Robin and Barney get divorced in Argentina. She’s constantly traveling the world on assignment for her job and, though they both still care for one another, it just isn’t working. They assure their friends that they will all still be together for the big life events but Robin ends up finding it too hard to bear — her ex is still hitting on younger women in front of her and Ted, the man she feels like she probably should have married, has found another love of his life. She sees her friends only occasionally for many years.
The divorce hasn’t changed Barney much. He’s still a very active ladies man. He tries to outdo his previous record by bedding a different woman each night for a month. He succeeds but the 31st woman becomes pregnant and has his child. He remains as cavalier as ever through the entire experience — until he holds his baby girl, Ellie, for the first time. He has found the love of his life and becomes a changed man.
Marshall and Lily are happily married and have (at least) three children. While Lily is pregnant with number three, they decide they have to move out of the apartment at last. Marshall returns to corporate law and hates it but hangs in there. He eventually becomes a judge in Queens and then decides to run for New York State Supreme Court.
Ted met his wife-to-be on the rainy train platform after Barney and Robin’s wedding. The two discovered some of the ways that their paths almost crossed. They discover they have the same initials (Tracy McConnell ) while standing underneath the yellow umbrella they’ve both owned at various times. It turns out that she was in one of the classes that Ted humorously accidentally started teaching at university. Ted doesn’t go to Chicago because of the new woman in his life and Lily can tell that this time, things will be different for him.
Tracy and Ted date for awhile and are very much in love. They eventually start planning an epic wedding but those plans get messed up when Tracy becomes pregnant with their first child. They have another child but don’t get married and remain incredibly happy “living in sin” together.
Sometime after Barney becomes a dad, Ted proposes to Tracy again, telling her that he wants to marry her on Thursday. She happily accepts again. Marshall, Lily, Barney, and Ted meet at MacLaren’s. Marshall announces his candidacy and Barney is dead tired because that’s what happens when you’re a new father. Robin shows up, even though she’d indicated that she wouldn’t. It turns out that Tracy convinced her to come anyway. The gang is together again and she takes a picture of the friends sitting together, echoing the one from the opening credits.
As the episode winds down, we see Ted finishing recounting the story of how he met his kids’ mother. We learn that Tracy had become sick and passed away six years ago.
Ted’s now-adult children realize that the story wasn’t really about how their dad met their mom — she was hardly in it after all. It was really his way of asking permission to date their “Aunt Robin.” They’ve seen how their dad lights up when she’s around and they enthusiastically encourage him to go for it.
Cut to Robin coming into her apartment after walking her many dogs. The apartment bell rings and the frontdoor camera doesn’t work so she looks out the window. She sees Ted standing below, looking up at her while holding the blue french horn (actually a mellophone) — just as he had in the pilot episode. It seems Ted and Robin were destined to be together after all — it just took a little while to get there. End of series.
What do you think? Did you like the ending? Were you satisfied how everything wrapped up?