Burning Question: Has Any TV Finale Angered Fans More Than 'How I Met Your Mother'?
Is the last episode of "How I Met Your Mother" now the most hated TV finale of all time?
There are no hard, fast stats on fan rage.
"It's difficult to quantify vitriol," quips David Bushman, television curator at the Paley Center for Media.
But if we could measure it — be the Nielsen SoundScan of boiling couch-potato hatred — then there's a good chance the answer would be yes.
According to TV historians and industry watchers, the ending of the Neil Patrick Harris sitcom does rank up there as one of the most reviled in recent memory.
Entertainment Weekly has listed it among the "20 Most Frustrating TV Finales Ever," along with the Ben Flajnik season of "The Bachelor." E! Online offered a helpful guide on "how to hate the finale less." And HitFix critic Alan Sepinwall summed up the episode as "a variety of awful decisions that were likely hatched years ago."
But the most generous helpings of haterade clearly came from average fans.
Not many shows can retroactively destroy the entire series, but the #himymfinale managed that great feat.— Andriana Bicanin (@AndriBica85) April 1, 2014
It felt like a betrayal of the Mother and the audience that has rooted for her for nine years. #HIMYMFinale— ♥Farah Piou ♥ (@BeingFarah) April 1, 2014
I hope one day that the writers for HIMYM look back on the finale and hate themselves for the rest of their lives— Maya Silver (@Spewdiepie) April 1, 2014
The reason for the bile? More like reasons. Let's start with a lack of momentum for the series as a whole. Not many shows can keep up a winning formula for nine seasons; "How I Met Your Mother" was no exception.
"It was a lame ending for a lot of reasons, but the show was already so worn out that it may not have mattered as much," Syracuse University media scholar Robert J. Thompson tells me. In contrast, another show with a widely loathed finale, "Lost," didn't face so much backlash because it "ended at a peak. 'How I Met Your Mother' barely made it across the finish line."
The ending also sagged creatively.
"There were so many missing pieces that they needed to take care of at the last minute that the pacing seemed really strange, especially for a show that specialized in playing with the timeline," says TV Guide editor in chief Mickey O'Connor. "The fact that the mother had been dead for six years was glossed over. Barney and Robin being married, then divorced — they didn't give audience enough time to accept those developments."