Ok, so I got a look at the supposedly leaked alternate ending of How I Met Your Mother. I say supposedly leaked because I think the leak was more of a peek for fans who hated the ending and vowed never to re-watch the show again. How else would you sell a boxed set to your former fans if not by offering them an olive branch just before the release of said boxed set? But teasing an alternate ending wouldn’t be good enough. With how the creators stomped on our hearts with the aired finale, how were we to trust them to not mess this up as well? The answer comes in the neatly packaged, supposedly leaked alternate ending. And yes, it does at least act as a salve for our mangled hearts and wounded psyches.
It’s not perfect, and admittedly the fatal hints along the way would need to be analyzed with a much more Pollyanna-like outlook (which I must admit, I had done all along) but it’s much more satisfying. That is at least to those of us who fell in love with the characters and wanted to see the end of this journey leave us all feeling fulfilled. I know I’m a sappy romantic, but I like my sitcoms (situational comedies) to leave me feeling good, inspired, happy, even—not huddled tearfully in a corner, contemplating the ephemeral nature of life.
I’m sure if this had been the chosen ending there would have been those criticizing it for being too sweet and boring. But I wish they had made the other the alternate ending for those who need to have their edginess quota filled by even as good-natured a creature as a sitcom. To me, the show was always a great example of the best (and sometimes worst) aspects of friendship. We watched them fall in love, have their hearts broken, go through all sizes of life’s challenges and be there for each other along the way. Having it all framed as a story that was supposedly heading somewhere, told by an unreliable narrator, gave it more freedom in all aspects.
This is the kind of story you want ending with a big, happy, you’ve-stuck-with-us-for-nine-seasons reward, not a supposedly clever twist that undermines the entire premise. I realize the creators decided on a particular story early on in the show’s production, and I can appreciate wanting to tell their story without being influenced by outside forces. I’ve heard people applaud them for sticking to their vision, and heard the star defend the ending as being mature. But I have to disagree with this assessment. If they wanted this to be about moving on after the love of your life, they could have started with the premise of moving on, not trying to pull some ultimate trick. (Also, maybe they should have made this a dramedy and definitely not used a laugh track.) They should not have the kids be so rude about getting to listen to a story about their deceased mother. As someone who lost a parent earlier in life, I can tell you that 6 years fly by in the blink of an eye; these kids’ reactions to both the beginning and ending of the story was incomprehensible to me. And finally, having the characters go through so much only to have the main character live out some teenage fantasy of regaining the girl he fell for—who rejected him over and over—25 years earlier seems like the opposite of mature to me.
So this new ending, though not perfect, is an acceptable substitute for the final slap that the aired ending dealt to its audience. Those of us who loved the progression of the characters can now go back to re-watching the show without the bleakness of Future Ted’s circumstances tainting every story.