Last Forever: The Right Ending for How I Met Your Mother

When How I Met Your Mother ended a month ago, most people were still in a state of shock. What were Carter Bays and Craig Thomas even thinking when they killed off the Mother in less than 50 minutes after spending a season building up her character?

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It’s right for fans to feel a sense of betrayal after following a show for nine years and getting this kind of resolution to the journeys of characters whose lives they have been deeply invested in since the pilot aired back in 2005. But after rewatching the series finale and rethinking about what went on and what the show’s creators were aiming for, I can argue that “Last Forever” was incredible—and the right ending for a show that had all the clues there since the beginning that this was the way it was supposed to conclude.

HIMYM was never a show about how Ted met the woman of his dreams. It was a show about real life. The producers spent the first eight seasons not talking about the Mother, but instead spent them chronicling the lives of the gang. Even in the show’s final season, we never caught many scenes with just the Mother, who always seemed to take a back seat to the stories of HIMYM‘s original characters. In all those episodes, the constant was the value of friendship and family. Whether Marshall got fired from his job at a terrible law firm with a bad boss, Robin achieved her dreams through anchoring a national news network, or Ted got left at the altar—the tight-knit group of five friends was the sole constant throughout How I Met Your Mother‘s entire run.

This is what HIMYM was about from the start: a realistic show about how wherever you go, however powerful or destitute you are, the only thing that matters is that you have a family to back you up.

Had Bays and Thomas really been aiming for a Friends-like ending about how two people are always meant to be with each other, the series wouldn’t have started in 2005, but in 2013. We never saw glimpses of Ted’s and Tracy’s happy life together because HIMYM wasn’t intended to be a fairy tale love story. And following this theme, the finale makes perfect sense. It was real and human. Instead of resolving everything in one swoop, “Last Forever” gave us continuity—a sense that life goes on, with all the hardships, tragedies, and successes that come with it. A sense that the lives of Lily, Ted, Robin, Marshall, and Barney aren’t those of some far-off characters on TV, but instead those of people whose lives really mirror our own struggles.

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