If it feels like How I Met Your Mother has been airing for decades, that's because it has. Well, more like a year under one decade, but still. The first episode of the beloved sitcom hit the small screen in 2005, back when George W. Bush was still president and Miley Cyrus was still Hannah Montana. A lot has changed since 2005, but How I Met Your Mother is not one of those things.
The show has managed to stay true to its initial premise: one man sitting his children down and telling them the story of how he met their mother. The narrative arc of the story is relayed through flashbacks and narration, but the real draw of the series has always been the ensemble cast. Marshall, Lily, Barney, Robin, and Ted, with their eccentric personalities and never ending supply of elaborate inside jokes, made an entire nation of viewers want to quit their jobs and hang out in a bar all day with their own co-ed clique.
How I Met Your Mother earned an ardent group of diehard fans with its intricately woven plots, reoccurring jokes, and framing mystery. It’s basically like Lost, but with fewer polar bears and more Neil Patrick Harris. Naturally, after nine years of solid laughs, viewers grew attached to this winning formula. While the identity of "The Mother" was already revealed earlier this season, the finale hit loyal fans with a barrage of shocking plot lines to rewind, puzzle over, and tweet about, effectively stalling HIMYM withdrawal for a little while longer.
The most notable thing about the HIMYM finale is that it was about three seasons worth of plot shoved into a single episode. You know how the entire ninth season has been about Robin and Barney's wedding? Turns out they're divorced, after their three year marriage ended over Robin's demanding travel schedule and Barney's equally demanding lifestyle blog. This emotional bomb is dropped early in the episode, paving the way for the upcoming nukes. No character is safe from rapid fire plot lines as the narrative jumps ahead at a demanding pace, moving through time, space, weddings, and pregnancies all before the first commercial break.
At the beginning of the episode, the always boring Ted has reached the peak of his dull, happy life, living in the suburbs with his perfect match, The Mother. Lily and Marshall keep popping out kids, and Marshall finally lands his dream job as a judge after years of dodging egg salad sandwiches in the exciting field of corporate law. So we're all good here, right? Not so fast.
Post-Barney break up, Robin is clearly floundering. Her ex-husband is still hitting on twentysomethings and, as we see in an emotional Halloween Party rooftop scene, she'll always remember Ted as the one who got away. Now that she's tried and failed to sustain serious committed relationships with two out of her four best friends, the whole merry band of buddies thing isn't really working for her. And so Robin distances herself from the group, which, between Ted living in the suburbs and Lily and Marshall looking after baby number three, is quickly hurtling towards non-existence.
Meanwhile, Barney is living in a completely different show than his former co-patriots. Luckily, this show is way more fun—it features lots of sex, elaborate scheming, and the quick quips HIMYM used to be known for. With some help from his new and improved playbook, Barney has pulled off the perfect month—that means sleeping with a new woman every night. Unfortunately, Barney's perfect month has a pretty glaring asterisk; namely, that one of these luckily ladies is Barney's new baby mama.
As we dutifully march (run?) forward in time, we're treated to a happy reunion—Robin agrees to meet up with the gang to celebrate a very special occasion—Ted's finally getting married! For real! Marshall is getting an even better job, Barney's a proud and loving daddy, and Robin finally seems like she's not totally pissed off at everyone! So…are we all good here?
Not even close. This is where the finale goes from feeling good to feeling some serious feels. Future Ted begins to wax poetic about his wife as romantic snapshots of the couple flash across the screen. Ted declares how he knew from the first moment they met that he would always love and cherish her, and he explains how, even when she started to get sick…Yes, what you're hearing right now is a collective gasp from all the HIMYM conspiracy theorists who guessed that The Mother had been dead all along. Choosing to kill off the love of Ted Mosby's life always seemed like the biggest curveball HIMYM could possibly throw at its viewers. But with its dying breath, this show took it to a whole ‘nother level.
The Mother is dead, and Ted is done with his story. But his kids look a little pissed off. They (rightfully) claim that Ted’s tale, which was supposed to be about finding his wife, barely featured their mother at all. The kids realize that the love story at the heart of the story isn't between their mother and father, but between their dad and their aunt Robin. Seeing as mom's been dead for six years, the kids tell Ted to go for it. They want their dad to ask Robin on a date, which he promptly does, showing up at her door with a blue French horn in his hand.
Gasp! One thing you can say about this finale is that it really went all out. Now let the Twitter hysteria begin.