Post Show Recaps

How I Met Your Mother Finale Reaction & Final Episode Recap


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On our special emergency coverage, Rob Cesternino and Rich Tackenberg review the finale of How I Met Your Mother and take your questions. It had been widely speculated about that the show was going to kill off the Mother (Cristin Milioti) but the creators of HIMYM, Carter Bays and Craig Thomas decided to go through with it and have Ted run back in to the arms of Robin.

Rich Tackenberg was actually pretty positive about the idea to kill of the mother, who we learned was named Tracy. Rich felt like after 9 years he had been beaten in to submission by the show and already expected the worst. Seriously, Rich felt like the story actually made more sense to be told from the perspective of Ted trying to win his kids approval to chase Robin. Rich didn’t think it made sense for all of the non-Tracy information to be in the story if that was not Ted’s intention.

Rob strongly disagreed with the decision to kill off the mother. Rob felt like the story of Ted meeting the mother was absolutely perfect and was really moved by the scene in which Ted meets Tracy for the first time. Rob really loved the performance by Cristin Milioti and really wanted this long journey to meeting her pay off for Ted. Rob thought the way things worked out made it seem as though Ted was relieved when she died so that we could pursue Robin. Looking back to the “How I Met Your Dad” episode, Rob wonders if we were being set up for this when Tracy (who also lost the love of her live) asked her deceased love interest if he could forgive her so she could pursue someone else.

Rob cites the article by Alan Sepinwall (@Sepinwall) which focuses on the decision by Bays and Thomas to have Robin be revealed as the Aunt of the children in the first episode. Since the scene with the kids was shot years ago, Bays and Thomas stuck with their original ending after years and years of storylines made that ending seem like less of a fit. Bays and Thomas stayed the course and gave us the decision to kill off Tracy, though she had become incredibly popular with the fans of the show.

Rob and Rich also really enjoyed the storyline about Barney having a baby and the effect that had on Barney as a person. However, Rob and Rich felt like the way in which the show never revealed who the mother of Barney’s child was left much to be desired.

Rob and Rich answer a number of questions from the audience touching on many different aspects of the finale including:

  • Did Marshall and Lilly get lost in the How I Met Your Mother finale?
  • Is it sexist that Robin pursuing her career goals is painted as her being a bitch to the audience?
  • Wasn’t the whole point of the show to show how Robin and all the other women weren’t right for Ted Mosby?
  • Was this finale better than the finales of LOST, The Sopranos or Dexter?
  • Did Robin become more unlikable as the series went on?
  • Will Josh Radnor have a career after How I met Your Mother?

Let us know your thoughts about the HIMYM finale in the comments section below.

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  • Rohit Philip

    I don’t know what to say.

    On one hand, it was a realistic ending, and they tied up a lot of loose ends, but it hardly felt satisfying. Why build up the mother so much to just cast her aside so quickly? Why make us all feel happy that Barney finally threw away his sad depressing sex life and found happiness with Robin and then throw that away? What was the point?

    Yes I have always felt from Day 1 that Robin was the heroine of the show and always wished Ted ended up with her, but not like this. Why did they build up the Mother so much when it was not her story at all? So sad, so crappy, yet so real perhaps.

    • Gary

      Ted was always talking about “Love in the Time of Cholera”. Which was a pretty big clue that he was going to somehow end up with Robin.
      As for Barney, I do agree, to a point. Ultimately, I think that Barney changing “for good” required a bigger suspension of disbelief than the idea that they would get divorced. From the looks of it though, by the end, Barney *did* finally mee the woman who would change him.

      • Rohit Philip

        They wanted a twist and they gave us a twist, but it was not a satisfying twist.

      • The book thing is a great catch

  • Mike

    I thought it was a great finale! (Note: My feed cut out at exactly 57 minutes into the episode, did I miss anything?)
    Seriously though, this was dreadful, and a lot of it actually goes beyond the resolution.
    First, because I feel charitable, I’ll start with the good:
    Number 1, the meeting was pitch perfect. That was about as perfectly written a scene as you could have for the meeting between Ted Mosby and Tracy McConnell. They were perfect, the two of them have electric chemistry, every note was hit perfectly. Just spot on, and worth the interminable wait.
    Number 2, NPH’s acting in the scene where he meets his daughter.
    Number 3, Alyson Hannigan being a great crier, and getting plenty of opportunities to play that beat, including her magnum opus of crying in a spandex white whale costume.
    Number 4, Marshall giving Lily the $5 from their bet about Marshall believing Ted would up with Robin leading in to their wedding, which was a quality reference.

    • Mike

      And… the bad, and boy was there a lot.
      First and foremost, the fact that possibly the most likable, sweet, adorable character they ever created, turned out to be merely a babymaking prop for Ted to end up with his one true love… Aunt Robin. Seriously?
      That it was literally mere moments from us finding out that Tracy is dead to his kids begging him to bang Aunt Robin. Now, I absolutely understand that in reality Ted and the kids have had time to grieve Tracy’s death, and that the kids probably know Robin better than they knew Tracy given that she died when they were 9 and 7, and that in 6 years of seeing the two of them together (and that it’s not just some random woman, but someone they know and care about already) the kids would be willing to embrace this, but that doesn’t change the tonal dissonance of how it was presented on the show. You need to at least show us broken down Ted after what happened, to both actually show how important Tracy was to him, rather than just tell us, and to crystallize why the kids want their dad to get back out there, why their dad needs this relationship even if she’s not “the one,” but someone he can be happy with.
      The saddest thing of all is that the story wasn’t inherently bad. There’s a way to write a good story where Ted ends up with Aunt Robin at the end, but this was a spectacularly bad way to do it. One big one would not to make the two of them seem so damn toxic together. That way, it’s not necessarily a happy ending, but not such a bleak one. Tracy dying would always be sad, but if Ted and Robin were actually still good together, it could have been bittersweet, rather than just bitter. If Ted maintained the relationship he had with Robin in season two when he would have stolen her a whole orchestra, but they just realized that at this point in their lives they wanted different things and couldn’t work as a couple, this ending could have been poignant. But instead, they had the multiple relationships with Barney, the belittling of Ted and Robin’s relationship, most starkly in the episode when he ironically repeated the stolen her a whole orchestra line, the way that the show showed us consistently how much Robin messed Ted up emotionally throughout its run, the multiple times he showed us he’d let Robin go and let her be happy with Barney (3 separate times I believe?), all of it.
      Another huge problem was that fulfilled career woman Robin was miserable until a man came to save her, which pretty much is the final nail in the coffin of one of the best female sitcom characters of all time through season 3 or 4. Survivor may have a woman problem, but you could argue HIMYM’s is worse.
      That Barney totally regressed back to season 1 form and undid all of his character growth. The fact that in the delivery room, he still called the Mother of his child “#31” (and I know the theory that #31 is Greta
      Gerwig in How I Met Your Dad, and that’s fine in theory, but awful in execution here given how it makes Barney look and how much it sets him back) That Lily has always been self-centered, but it was really
      awful how she made Robin and Barney’s divorce about how it would affect her.
      Note to future show-runners… don’t decide on your freaking
      ending based solely on something you shot 8 years prior. At the end of season 2, if there was a single fan of HIMYM that didn’t think Ted ending up with Aunt Robin was wonderful news, I’d like to meet them and set them straight, because those 2 were excellent together, but things change. Hearing Lyndsey Fonseca say that the story was really about Aunt Robin after the events of “Something Blue” would have been perfection, but we had 7 years of ruining all of that between then and now, and a full year of Cristin Milioti being absolutely dynamite such that almost every fan of HIMYM fell in love with her as thoroughly as Ted did that this ending couldn’t be anything but a disaster.

      • Rohit Philip

        Very well said. From Day 1, Robin was such a great character and I always felt that Ted should end up with Robin, but over the past 6 seasons they just worked so hard on changing that up and making Tracy such an important piece of the story including being Ted’s perfect match/soulmate that this ending just made Ted and Robin look like villains all along.

        You are right, they should have shown us heartbroken Ted.

      • Matt Geoghegan

        I could not agree more.

  • Gary

    The reaction I’ve been seeing reminds me of the people who think that everyone was dead the whole time on LOST. We KNEW the Mother was going to die. Ted in the airport was talking about how sick she was. He was taking the time to tell his kids a story – why? The Daughter called it. There was a reason why Ted started his story with meeting Robin.

  • Bobby Lewis


    They couldn’t have “just gotten divorced.” If she never died, Ted would have just been happy with her forever. But she did die and he was forced to move on and realized that he “had the hots” for Robin.

    • Michael Norris

      Yeah, I wouldn’t have liked the idea of their relationship not being a successful one.

  • Lisa

    I could’ve done without the last five minutes and didn’t like the regression of Robin and Barney.

  • Danielle Mathis

    Josh Radnor spoke at my school a couple weeks ago and he said that the reason for Bob Saget was his voice was too young for “Older Ted” so I guess for this last episode, they decided his voice had to do so he could talk directly with the kids. So that explains the lack of Bob during the finale.

    • Danielle Mathis

      He also said he prefers writing and directing over acting and doesn’t plan to pursue much more parts out there which is why we have not seen him anywhere else

      • In a related story, I also am choosing not to date any sports illustrated swimsuit models.

        • haha! I was going to say the same thing. I wonder if this is like Ben Afflect deciding he’d rather direct after he couldn’t get arrested as an actor!

          • RHAP Recapper

            Radnor’s twitter game 2 days after the finale has been to RT ppl quoting his movie Liberal Arts, including Ebert’s review of it, and promoting Afternoon Delight- a film he acted in. Basically it’s go-time on Operation: Haaaaave You Met Josh?

        • Danielle Mathis

          bahaha, touche

        • Natalie Franklin

          He’s actually written, directed and starred in two movies. Happythankyoumoreplease with Kate Mara and Malin Ackerman and Liberal Arts with Elizabeth Olsen. Both were well received at Sundance.

          • taylor

            I have to say, both Josh Radnor movies are GREAT. I hope he does make more.

          • Natalie Franklin

            Yes. I especially enjoyed Liberal Arts. I listened to a podcast interview about his writing/directing process and he’s a very driven/talented guy.

  • JRHane

    The comparison between the LOST finale and HIMYM finale is interesting in that both decided their endings so far in advance. HIMYM had it’s ending apparently 7 seasons ago, and LOST set their own end date so they could get back on track to the story they wanted to tell.

    Perhaps HIMYM should have set their own ending as well if they were so set in having Ted end up with Robin, because they definitely dropped the ball. It’s like the whole 9 season run was just the writers spinning plates hoping to successfully set up Ted with the Mother, while still having him end up with Robin, when having both simply was never an option.

    I agree with general concensus: the meeting on the train platform was perfect. All the callbacks were referenced, going back to season three. When Marshall and Lily found Ted in MacLaren’s when he should have been in Chicago Marshall lamented how he hated seeing Ted fall in love over and over, prompting Lily to respond, “Not like this.” Lily witnessed Ted when he met Robin. She watched him and Robin go back and forth all that time, and to say what she did after looking at Ted for all of ten seconds on the phone with Tracy, it really sets up the idea: “This is the woman for Ted.”

    On the other side of the argument you have Ted telling Robin he loves her after one date, stealing the blue french horn, Victoria breaking up with Ted twice because of Robin, Ted finding Robin’s locket, and Robin admitting on her wedding day that maybe she should be with Ted.

    The finale made it clear the writers wanted to do two things over the course of the past nine seasons, and instead of picking one and nailing it, they ruined both. If they had kept Robin and Barney stay together, and somehow included a shot of the six of them enjoying an evening together on a front porch somewhere, I think we would have all walked away happy.

    • Well said, by trying to accomplish two opposing goals it hurt their ability to do either well.

  • RHAP Recapper

    Just wanted to chime in that Ted shares the same dad as Alex P. Keaton and Dr. John Carter. (so a Saget cameo couldn’t have been as Ted’s Dad… although I suppose Saget could’ve walked Tracy down the aisle…)

  • Roberto

    I really hated it, and they should’ve known better, even if they had the kids taped years in advance to me that’s no excuse, they could’ve taped them now, in fact, that would’ve been funny to see them how they look now, not teens anymore when Ted says ” I kept it short and to the point”:

  • I just heard the rest of Radnor on WTF. He says when the show wrapped, the show runners gave him the blue french horn as a goodbye gift. Awww.

  • Matt Watters

    The reason they gave no info on No. 31 is to leave them the option of making Barney the (How I Met Your) Dad in the spin-off.

  • Did they go back to the kids only because they filmed it in season 2 or 3 to use at this moment?

    I guess I live in a bubble, so I didn’t know that the mom dies… so it was a BIG surprise to me. I agree with Rob. I didn’t think they needed to go back to the kids and, while 6 years had gone by since Tracy had passed, it still felt like moments in the episode so I didn’t feel that Ted and Robin felt right.

  • homertownie

    I generally liked the finale because it threw away the last two seasons of Robin-Barney being a couple. It made no sense that Robin would date Barney, if only out of fear of STDs, nor did it make sense that Barney would suddenly give up being a hound so easily. Plus the actors had no love chemistry between them on air, especially compared to Lilly-Marshall and Ted-Mother.

    HIMYM was in a lot of ways like “Seinfeld” with the quick cuts and multiple story lines in an episode. The characters were similar too, with Lilly-Marshall filling the role of best friend George and Barney being Kramer. Thus Robin-Barney was a lot like Elaine dating Kramer — no chance of that.

  • Bertinho

    Ranjit was the limo driver and he now owns the limo company after doing well in the stock market. No wonder you liked the final, it’s like you didn’t even watch the show. Shame on you, guy who is not Rob, shame.

    • Bertinho, I knew what happened to the limo driver, it was a lame attempt at a joke.

  • Bertinho

    ZOMG ! Alfred Mosby is Ted’s dad, and yes he has been on the show. One of his episodes was referenced in the final.

  • R K

    Rob I wish you had done this podcast with someone who loved the show because I think the positive perspective would have resonated better from someone who was a diehard fan throughout who loved the stories and the characters. I found it very off putting when your co-host started off by saying that he found the finale to be good because he had come to expect so little over the years. As someone who loved the series over the years, as I’m sure many of the listeners of this podcast did, I found that offensive. Love your work here and on RHAP! Keep it coming.

    • RK – that was me on the podcast. Sorry you didn’t enjoy our podcast. I have watched every episode of HIMYM from it’s season premiere and stuck with it through all nine years. I love it, but think it is a far from perfect show. I guess it takes all kinds of fans!

  • Michael Norris

    I think them getting divorced instead of her dying ruins the whole idea of the story, being that he was asking his kids permission to date again after the death of their mother. Also, I don’t think him ending up with Robin trivializes Ted and Tracy’s relationship at all. It’s basically like Ted, six years after his wife’s death, deciding that he is ready to start dating again, and so he remembers this girl he dated back in 2005, and tells his kids about her to ask if it’s okay.

    • Mike

      I agree with you in theory, but the problem was in the structure of the episode it most certainly DID diminish his relationship with Tracy. We went immediately from, oh by the way, Tracy is dead to him going after Robin. I get for the characters it wasn’t that stark, she’d been gone for years, the kids knew and loved Robin, and Ted was probably broken up to a degree that the kids wanted him to get back out there because they wanted their dad to be happy, but for us watching the show, who are the important people in this particular instance, it was tonally jarring. Maybe if they didn’t spend the first 10 episodes or so sputtering around with no plot movement and 5-6 minutes of the 21 devoted to Sherri Shepard yelling at Marshall they could have handled this in a way that worked, but they failed at that, like many things in the final season.

      • Marc Percy

        I don’t think it trivialized the relationship, but it was rushed in the show and they should have spent a little more time setting it up, IMO.

  • Michael Norris

    Cristin Milioti was DiCaprio’s first wife in The Wolf Of Wall Street.

  • Marc Percy

    They could not have done Ted and Tracy divorcing so Ted could be with Robin, because that makes Ted look like a total schmuck. With the mother dying and 6 years have passed, Ted is ready to move on and whether he really was trying to prep the kids for the possibility of getting together with Robin or just telling their story is not that clear. Actually his reaction to the kids saying he should go after Robin, my guess was that is not his plan, but was certainly open to the idea and he certainly may have thought of it, but wasn’t going to act, until the kids said they love Robin.

  • Rod Jeremy

    I found this on reddit and I figured you guys would like to see it. Someone on reddit put together the scenes of Ted + Tracy and not only does it feel like an actual episode and not some cheap fan-made mashup, it feels like a proper sendoff for the show. password is downtowntrain

    Hope you don’t mind me posting these links but I thought you – Rob, Rich and everyone else – would enjoy it.

    • Rob – I will be forever indebted to you for posting this. (I think it’s down now.) One of the best 28 minutes of TV I’ve seen in awhile.

  • trina87

    I agree with most that it was poorly executed and extremely rushed. They were definitely going for that “wow factor” in the last couple of minutes.

    However, I do somewhat understanding the reasoning as Rich said. Robin and Ted broke up because Robin wanted to focus on her career and travel and Ted wanted a family. In order to achieve those things they could not be together in 2005-2013. But in the end, they both got what they wanted. And I agree that if Tracey lived, then Ted would have been with her forever, but she didn’t.

    But the way they rushed her death and moved from that scene to Ted being with Robin was too much for me. Also I was not a fan how Barney regressed into his old self for so many years. Marshal and Lily’s story was pretty boring but not sure what else they could have done there.

  • Guest

    @51:30, Ted wasn’t a likeable character??? What planet are you living on, Rich? He was one of the most likeable TV characters of all time.

  • JJ

    @51:30, Ted wasn’t a likeable character, Rich??? He was one of the most likeable TV characters of all time!

    • My opinion was that the actor, Josh Radnor, was very likable, but the character, Ted, was often pretentious and self-obsessed. The writers often played into those character traits for good laughs! Don’t get me wrong, I loved Ted, and I don’t think the character was a bad person. But in the real world, ,he’d be a guy that I would say, “He’s a good guy. I’m not sure why i don’t want to be better friends with him.”
      Aside – I think this unintentional trait of the character really hurt Radnor the actors chances of getting other roles.
      Just my $0.02.

  • Matt Geoghegan

    Rob, you are not alone. I have always disliked Robin and that is why this ending doesn’t make me happy at all

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