Earlier today, the alternate ending to How I Met Your Mother made its way on to the Internet. I had been waiting for the arrival of this ending since it was announced a few months ago, but I’d recently forgotten about it. I watched the alternate ending immediately, not knowing what to expect. As I clicked play, I realized I didn’t know if I wanted it to be great or terrible. Were it terrible, I could just forget it ever existed. But were it great, it might have caused my doubts about the finale to resurface. I’ve spent so much time and thought putting a positive spin on the final message that I would have been a little annoyed had this alternate ending been superb. (If you want to take another look at my extended piece on coming to terms with the finale, click here)
To put it bluntly, I was quite underwhelmed by what I saw today. It all seemed too “easy” (pun intended). Was the message of the show really that everything is simple in the end? I don’t see that at all. For me, this seemed like a cop-out of sorts, a way to oversimplify eight seasons of character development and plots. It poked fun at itself really, listing a complicated way for the easy path to happen to show that the message wasn’t entirely serious. And after all that, don’t we deserve something serious?
Had this been the actually ending of the show, I think I would have been a little disappointed. There wasn’t much emotion in it. After nine seasons, there needed to be an ending that worked with the rest of the show’s themes. And for me, this just poked fun at its themes, rather than using them to make a bigger point.
I have a hard time believing that the writers seriously considered using this ending, or at least considered it in the context of the final season. Had the final season at the wedding led to this, it would have made no sense. Or the earlier parts of the finale wouldn’t have made sense. It hinted that Barney and Robin would have been “put back together,” which would be fine with me out of the context of the finale, but were it to come immediately after a divorce, would have been incredibly confusing. I don’t think the writers were ever going to use this ending.
The character of Tracy would have had to be developed in different ways over the back stretch of episodes for this ending to work for her. I would have wanted to see more flash-forwards to her and Ted parenting in the final season to see that things were indeed perfect for example. We would have needed to see a lot more of her, and a lot less of Robin in the final season. The mother was clearly built as a tragic figure, and this wasn’t made with that in mind.
My biggest issue with the clip itself was the minute of summary and flashbacks. I think it’s fair to say that most HIMYM fans have rewatched plenty of episodes and didn’t need to be reminded of what happened. The last minutes of a show have potential to change the lives of millions of viewers, and the writers wasted a large chunk of their chance with filler material – yet another reason why I don’t think they seriously considered using this.
The music was obviously different that what it is for the original ending, with the main difference being the upbeat nature of the songs in this one. The first song that played for much of it didn’t do a whole lot for me, but I really liked the song that played during the credits. Had that song played instead of “Heaven” during the credits of the original, that would have been ideal.
In addition to the final song choice, I did think this ending did a couple of things better than the original. I much preferred having it end with a Bob Saget voiceover saying “And that kids, is how I met your mother” than when an aged Josh Radnor said it in the original. Not showing Ted telling the story like the original did at the end didn’t abruptly change the course of the finale, and it felt more fluid. That voice also was the voice of the show, and the final line sounded better coming from Bob Saget. I also liked it being said while the train came by rather than after.
So basically, this alternate ending served to say, isn’t it funny to look back on something later in life and see how much we worried things weren’t going to work out? Everybody stresses over the littlest things in the moment. Anything happening right now always seems complicated. But once everything has settled, you can look back and see it all led to one place. And you’ll be happy. It’s a good message of hope, but I don’t think that’s what the show’s overall message was.
I might watch this clip again. But I’m not going to consider this as the ending of How I Met Your Mother. The one that aired on March 31, 2014 is the only ending in my book. And while it was a good ploy to make fans less angry, the writers surely know that this wasn’t their best work – there’s a reason it wasn’t chosen. I am glad I had one last chance to watch HIMYM though, because this show was pretty near perfect.
What did you think about the alternate ending? Please comment below, and talk about the last new clips we will ever see of this wonderful show.