It’s been about an hour and a half since I launched into a rage over the series finale of How I Met Your Mother. Pillows (OK, 1) were thrown, people (OK, just friend Amy) were called, and my finger was burned as I attempted to cook my dinner in anger (not an exaggeration at all).
I am much calmer now, and I can safely say that I am not happy with how the show ended.
This post was meant to be a tribute to Ted, a defense of him, really, and that is how it shall remain.
Warning now: SPOILERS ARE LIKELY AHEAD (I’m not going to put them into the post on purpose, but they’re probably going to end up there anyway).
When we first meet Ted Evelyn Mosby, he’s a 27-year-old architect, trying to make it in Manhattan. And, like many a person before him, he declares that he’s done being single in the pilot episode.
“I’m not good at it,” he says. I, upon seeing that scene, nodded.
He then sees Robin Scherbatsky across the bar and decides, right then, that he’s going to marry her. He tells her just days after he meets her that he’s in love with her. And throughout the seasons, we watch him as he struggles to get over her (season 1), then be with her (season 2), then get over her again (season 3) and again and again (basically every season that follows). If being in love with someone is a character flaw, then it is Ted’s.
He dates girl after girl, has a few serious relationships in there (Victoria, Stella, Zoey), and none of it ever seems to work out.
Ted claims he’s lost faith in love at Punchy’s wedding (was that really nearly three years ago?), and Robin gives him one of my favorite pep talks of all time:
Ted: I used to believe in destiny, you know? I go to the bagel place, see a pretty girl in line, reading my favorite novel, whistling the song that’s been stuck in my head all week, and I think: “Wow… Hey, maybe she’s the one?” Now I think: “I just know that bitch is going to take the last whole wheat everything bagel.”
Robin: You’ve just been focused on work.
Ted: No, it’s more than that. I stopped believing. Not in some depressed I’m-gonna-cry-during-my-toast way. Not in a way I even noticed until tonight. It’s just, every day I think I… believe a little less, and a little less, and a little less, and that sucks. What do I about that, Scherbatsky?
Robin: You’re Ted Mosby. You start believing again.
Ted: In what? Destiny?
Robin: Chemistry. You got chemistry, you only need one other thing.
Ted: What’s that?
Robin: Timing. But timing’s a bitch.
But here’s the thing about Ted — he didn’t really need that pep talk. Ted is the guy of the blue French horn, of the rain dance, of the super date and the grand speeches (real and imaginary) and the light installations. True, he was down by the time he was best man at that particular wedding, but he wasn’t out.
Despite what he goes through, he continues to be this romantic idealist — perhaps not as bright eyed as he was when he was 27, but with the same sensibilities that make him who he is. And that’s clearly evident twice in the finale (here come those spoilers I promised).
Ted is set to move to Chicago to begin again. He’s got a job, he’s got an apartment, he’s said his goodbyes.
Then he meets the Mother on the platform in the rain — Tracy McConnell! A well played honor to the first season when he meets a stripper on Thanksgiving — and those plans, in true Ted fashion, go down the drain. He’s supposed to leave, but maybe, just maybe, he should give this a shot because this could be it and he’s going to try, dammit.
He wasn’t wrong, as we’ve seen through the flash forwards this season.
Then — the part that KILLED ME — years later, after he’s finally done relating the story of how he met their mother, his children point out something major: the story wasn’t really about that. It was about how, despite everything, despite marriages and a divorce and death and kids and 25 years since the first time he said it, he was still in love with Robin. It’s a love that he repeatedly has said throughout the series wouldn’t ever go away. Ted realizes that they’re right, and the series ends with Robin coming to her window and finding Ted on the street below, holding up that blue French horn.
And that, even though it angered me in such a visceral way, is why I still love Ted and why I love How I Met Your Mother. For all of his ridiculous quirks (the driving gloves and the Renaissance pronunciation and the penchant for thinking he can solve mysteries), he is the embodiment of the hopeless romantic. And as one of those myself, I can’t hold that against him.
Also, writing all of this (it is now a little more than an hour later) probably gave me some peace about that ending.