Friends Cleverly Dodged a Mistake That Doomed HIMYM

Friends Cleverly Dodged a Mistake That Doomed HIMYM
Image credit: NBC, CBS

These two sitcoms may have had much in common, but their endings couldn't be further apart when it came to continued success.

Friends and How I Met Your Mother were both hugely successful sitcoms, beloved for their humor, characters, and portrayal of friendships.

However, their respective finales took vastly different paths, leading to two very separate legacies.

Why HIMYM Ruined its Final Episode

In the final episode of HIMYM titled 'Last Forever' and spread over two parts in season 9, Ted Mosby's long-anticipated meeting with The Mother finally occurs. However, after an enchanting love story and the birth of their children, the episode takes a sudden dark turn. The Mother is revealed to have died from a terminal illness, and Ted suddenly concludes the story he's been telling his kids all these years.

If that wasn't strange enough, the episode takes another unexpected turn. In the last moments, Ted suddenly realizes his love for Robin, and the series closes with him outside her window, holding the infamous blue French horn.

The odd decision to bring Ted and Robin back together, after seasons of emphasizing their incompatibility, felt like a betrayal of the show's original premise. This twist was intended to be shocking, but instead came at the cost of undermining the genuine character growth and connections that had developed over the series.

Naturally, the controversial ending left many fans dissatisfied, tarnishing the show's reputation and casting a shadow over the brilliance of the earlier seasons.

How Friends Got It Right

In contrast, Friends concluded with a much more emotionally satisfying and touching finale, aptly titled 'The Last One.' After a decade of laughter, tears, and ups and downs, the final episode was a masterclass in concluding such a beloved series. The central relationship of the show, Ross and Rachel, took center stage as they finally reconciled in a heart-pounding moment as Rachel boards a plane to Paris. In a true romantic gesture, Ross races to the airport to confess his love. The suspense builds as we're left wondering if he'll make it in time.

In a moment of pure television magic, we see Ross and Rachel finally reignite their love, with the 'did she get off the plane' moment leaving viewers cheering and shedding tears of joy. Unlike HIMYM, it was a satisfying conclusion to a central relationship that had been a cornerstone of the series.

The final scene of the episode takes place in Monica and Chandler's empty apartment as they prepare to move out of NYC. The entire gang gathers to say heartfelt goodbyes, and the series ends on a poignant, but uplifting, note.

Where Friends Dodged the Mistake Made by HIMYM

The critical distinction between Friends and HIMYM is how they handled their respective finales. Friends stayed true to its established premise, maintaining its humor, tone, and emotional resonance to the very end. It also provided the exact closure fans craved for the long-running Ross and Rachel storyline while remaining faithful to its core values.

Conversely, HIMYM opted for something bold and unexpected, which ended up feeling out of sync with the rest of the series. Going to the extent of rewriting the entire premise, killing off the character central to the show's title, and leaving other main characters with uncertain and unsatisfying resolutions. Barney, for example, was suddenly left with a daughter out of nowhere, which felt very inconsistent for his character development.

In the world of long-running sitcoms, Friends clearly stands as a shining example of how to end a series gracefully and in line with its original premise. Whereas, HIMYM instead serves as a cautionary tale, showing the potential pitfalls of sacrificing a show's essence for the sake of a shocking twist ending. When it comes to crafting a memorable series finale, staying true to the spirit of the show, like Friends, is what creates a lasting legacy that continues to bring audiences back time and time again.