In Depth

Was How I Met Your Mother finale the worst ending ever?

Spoiler alert: Ted finally reveals how he met his children's mother but critics call it a 'slap in the face'

After nine years of waiting, British fans of How I Met Your Mother have finally found out how the leading character Ted did actually meet his children's mother – but critics say the finale was far from legendary.

The mother is revealed as Tracy McConnell, played by Cristin Milioti, and – as many predicted – had died from an unexplained illness by the time Ted is telling the story to his two children.

Main characters Robin and Barney divorce 20 minutes into the final episode, paving the way for a last-minute twist, in which Ted rekindles his love for Robin.

Gray-haired and six years a widower, Ted races to Robin's window with the blessing of his children and brandishes the same French horn he stole for her in the pilot episode.

When the episode was aired in the US earlier this year, some fans took to Twitter to praise the emotional ending, but many expressed disappointment.

Ben Skipper at the International Business Times describes it as "the worst TV ending ever". After nine whole years of waiting, Ted and Tracy's entire relationship was condensed into as short a time as possible, he complains. "The Mother was never anything more than an after-thought, a tragic character whose sad back story was a journey that would lead her to just a few years with Ted before an illness that is never explained claims her."

He adds: "It turned out to be How I Met Your Step-Mother, and that's the ultimate disappointment."

Josh Visser at the National Post accuses the makers of betraying their fans with such a "cheap ploy" and, worst of all, betraying their own show. "I hope the rotten ending doesn't poison the show in retrospect," he says.

James Poniewozik in Time magazine describes the finale as "a clumsy, emotionally disjointed hour" that made the entire series an "elaborate con job", setting up a story that was not, in the end, what it purported to be about.

"We had, by my rough guess, about 45 seconds to learn Tracy's name, see her meet Ted, mourn her, and get the hell over her so the kids could laugh it off and tell their dad to get out there again so we could return to Status Quo 2005," he says. "For the audience, it was How I Met, Then Quickly Moved Past Because Remember She Was Not the Original Love Interest, Your Mother."

Furthermore, the show spent an entire season on the weekend of Robin and Barney's wedding, only to have them get divorced in the blink of an eye, says Margaret Lyons at Vulture. "My boss says using vulgar language makes us all look bad, but I can't help it in this instance: This is complete bulls***."

She adds: "Killing the mom is bad enough, but making this a Ted-and-Robin love story is bailing on the central conceit of the show. You might even call it a slap in the face."

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