After nine seasons, How I Met Your Mother ended with a less than satisfying storyline, which resulted in an additional alternate ending in order to appease the viewers.
Nothing is as stressful as reaching the series finale episode for any hit television series.
This is as the ending can either solidify the series successful run, much like The Sopranos did, or the series finale episode can be so polarising that the series’ track record is negated.
One show that felt the pressure of having the perfect conclusion was the 2000s hit comedy series, How I Met Your Mother.
Following the series finale episode, the sitcom released an alternative ending, in an effort to quell the backlash it received from viewers. After the first ending aired, the fans were left disappointed by the chosen storyline.
The legacy of How I Met Your Mother
How I Met Your Mother first premiered in 2005 and was an immediate hit with fans.
Created by Carter Bays and Craig Thomas, the premise of the sitcom was, “A father recounts to his children – through a series of flashbacks – the journey he and his four best friends took leading up to him meeting their mother.”
The sitcom would run for nine seasons until the last season aired in 2014. Best friends Ted Mosby, Barney Stinson, Lily Aldrin, Marshall Eriksen and Robin Scherbatsky remained the title characters until the end of the show.
How I Met Your Mother and its alternate ending
How I Met Your Mother hinged on the mystery of who was the mother of Ted Mosby’s twins. Initially, it was believed that it was Ted’s best friend, Robin.
However, following the yellow umbrella scene where Ted first meets the twin’s mother, it was clear that it was not Robin.
The initial ending used this as a plot twist, as we learnt that the twin’s mother was Tracy McConnell, played by Cristin Milioti.
And just when it looked like we had solved the mystery, Tracy dies and Ted is encouraged by his children to go after Robin, which he does.
Speaking to Vulture following the series finale, lead Josh Radnor explained that he was somewhat aware of the ending since the first season by stating,:
“They had mentioned to me the twist about the mother in the first season…I didn’t know if they would actually want to come back to it and do that, especially after Cristin, because she was so wonderful and the fans seemed to really take to her. So I asked them “Are you guys still doing that?” And they said yeah.”
Seemingly, fans were disappointed with the ending and made their disgruntlement clear. This is as the initial ending served the purpose of the creators of the show, but not the fans.
As a result, the producers opted to listen to the demands and changed the ending to ensure the integrity of the sitcom. The revised ending meant that Ted and Robin do not end up together.
Instead, Tracy does not die in the story and she and Ted live-happily-ever-after. Robin continues to travel the world being an international news correspondent, Barney raises his daughter as a single dad, and Lily and Marshall stay married indefinitely.
Josh Radnor on backlash over initial ending
Before the producer of the show changed the ending, Radnor had shared his stance on the initial backlash.
He admitted to not being surprised about the matter, adding, “I think people are having to deal with grief on a number of levels. There’s grief in the episode, but then there’s grief at letting the show go. People are in various Kubler-Ross stages of grieving and when they contextualise it and step back and maybe even watch the finale again or revisit the show, I think when the dust settles people will feel pretty complete.”
What is How I Met Your Mother’s legacy?
How I Met Your Mother broke a set convention that stories told through flashbacks are unsuccessful as ongoing television series.
The convention of using flashbacks as a motif of storytelling in comedy had still not been explored, until the announcement of the spinoff series, How I Met Your Father, which aired the first episode on Tuesday, 18 January 2022 on Hulu.
The premise of the spinoff is similar to the original series as, “Sophie and her close-knit group of friends are in the midst of figuring out who they are, what they want out of life, and how to fall in love in the age of dating apps and limitless options.”
How I Met Your Mother is still one of the most iconic sitcoms to have come out of the 2000s.
Besides maintaining its popularity for nine seasons between 2005 and 2014. The sitcom also broke conventions through using flashbacks as its storytelling motif.
The only consensus that the show has made for its fans was in relation to the ending, when it released an alternate ending from the one initially conceptualised by the writers and creators.
Fans fell in love with Cristin Milioti as Tracy McConnell, and wanted her to get her happy ending, which she did.