For a few years now, theories have been circulating about why Ted is going to such lengths to tell his kids the story of how he met their mother. As the show wraps up, viewers are finally getting the chance to nix certain theories and advance others. Is this a good thing? You tell me.
We’re only 4 episodes away from the series finale of this much beloved, though maybe overdone, show and one particularly tragic theory published last season is beginning to look more and more plausible. Jenna Mullins suggested that, based on Ted’s speech in episode 8:20 last season, “The Time Travelers,” the mother might actually be dead by the time Ted is telling the story in the future (2030). At that point in the timeline, Ted was only forty-five days away from meeting the mother and he imagines this plea-filled moment in which he begs his future wife for those extra forty-five days.
For this writer watching that scene felt sad, yeah, definitely. But it felt far more reminiscent of Ted’s hopelessness and despair in the face of his failed romances, rather than depicting some amazing love story cut tragically short. I didn’t give those “is the mother actually dead?!” theories much credence…not until Monday night’s episode, “Vesuvius.”
In 2024, Ted takes The Mother back to The Farhampton Inn, where they met. As they begin reminiscing over their pasts, they realize they’ve become an old married couple who knows all of the other’s stories.
But the interaction takes a fairly nostalgic turn as The Mother tells Ted,
“You’re the love of my life, Pooh-bear. I just worry about you. I don’t want you to be the guy who lives in his stories. Life only moves forward.”
The viewer begins to get this sinking feeling that the devastated look on Ted’s face isn’t one of past guilt. That maybe, The Mother knows all too well what it’s like to realize you’re experiencing your last moments with your loved ones. All of that, however, would have been pretty insubstantial, if it weren’t for the closing moments of the episode.
So, if this is the inevitable, and The Mother has developed (by 2024) some kind of incurable illness and she’s passed away by 2030 (when Ted is telling this story to his kids), what’s the end game? Why did we tune in for nine seasons to see a few episodes of Ted living his happily ever after and realize he only had — what 15 years with the love of his life?
Another theory, floating around out there, presumes that Barney and Robin had even less time together than Ted and the Mother. Based on specific evidence from the show, some of it seems plausible while other bits feel a bit too farfetched, this fan feels that Barney has been dead for several years — so long that Ted’s kids didn’t really even know him. So, if the mother is dead by 2030 and Barney is dead by 2030 — does that mean Ted and Robin are endgame after all? Will future Ted conclude his narrative by expressing to his kids how much he desperately loved their mother but that even she encouraged him not to live in the past — therefore he’s moving on with their “Aunt” Robin?
This may feel Not Good Enough, to many fans — however, it would certainly explain why the writers continue to return to Ted and Robin time after time. I know specific people who continued to ship Ted and Robin, even though it was made clear in the very first episode that she wasn’t The Mother. Their timing was never right, they never wanted the same things out of life and that’s why their relationship could never function beyond friendship. But what about 25 years later? After Robin has lived all over the world, and Ted has been able to settle down and raise a family? Could 2030 Robin and 2030 Ted get together and make it work? Do we, as viewers, want to see that? Likely, we’ll all be grieving over the passing of Cristin Milioti’s Mother and it might just feel too soon.
That being said, the writer’s of How I Met Your Mother are notorious for two things: trolling the fandom and dragging things out. It seems out of style for them to do some slapdash job where they simultaneously reveal that The Mother’s dead, Barney’s dead and Ted and Robin are finally getting together. On top of all of that: this is a CBS sitcom. Series finale’s always have an element of sadness to them but sitcoms? They rarely end with some cruel devastating blow to their loyal viewers. Since this writer has no control over how these next four episodes are going to go, my advice is this. Wait. Carter Bays and Craig Thomas have always had in mind how this show was going to end: it’s their baby. The best thing we can do is trust that they know exactly what they’re doing.