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How I Met Your Mother: 5 Things That Changed In The Alternate Ending (& 5 That Stayed The Same)

The beloved sitcom How I Met Your Mother received lots of unpopular reviews after the finale was aired in 2014. While there were lots of elements that lived up to expectations – like Ted finally meeting the Mother (and fans getting to see her face), Robin and Barney getting married, and dreams coming true all around – the final scenes changed everything. Despite nearly ten years of build up, the titular Mother was killed off, to make way for Ted reuniting with Robin, after she and Barney divorce!

RELATED: 5 Ways How I Met Your Mother’s Ending Works (& 5 It Doesn’t)

The disappointing finale spurred the demand for an alternate ending, and the creators eventually released one that the fans welcomed wholeheartedly. This version of the story saw many of the fan frustrations addressed, and became a significantly happier ending – but not everything about it changed.

Updated Nov 15th by Rose Graceling-Moore: With the news that How I Met Your Mother has a spin off on the way, fans are hoping that How I Met Your Father learns from the original’s mistakes. Hopefully, this second series will not need to create two endings due to fan outrage over the first! It’s clear that if an entire series is leading up to meeting one character, fans don’t want to see them killed off… 

10 Changed: Tracy Does Not Die

One of the heartbreaking moments for the viewers of the show was the death of the mother, Tracy. Although the creators of the show gave a hint about Tracy’s sickness in an earlier episode while she and Ted were having dinner, the fans were annoyed by her quick demise in the final episode. The alternate ending doesn’t acknowledge anything about her sickness and ends it with Ted saying, “That’s how I met your mother”. The ending monologue also refers to her in the present tense, with lines about ‘waking up next to her every day’. Clearly, Tracy is still alive and is happily married to Ted.

9 Stayed The Same: Lily And Marshall’s Story

Lily Marvin and Marshall on the couch

Lily and Marshall are undoubtedly one of the best couples in modern sitcoms. One of the reasons why the finale worked well among the fans was that it didn’t try to change anything about the Marshall-Lily love story. Despite having a short breakup in season 2, Marshmallow and Lilypad continued to entertain the fans with their sweet relationship, and end the series happy and successful. In both the real and alternate ending, Lily and Marshall grow old together with their kids, take time to live in Italy, and see Marshall become a Supreme Court Judge.


8 Changed: Ted And Robin Don’t End Up Together

The finale’s climactic scene shows Ted standing outside Robin’s window with the blue french horn, the symbol of their romantic relationship. And of course, the two get back together, proving it was their love story all along. In the alternate ending, there is no mention of Robin after Ted’s marriage – unsurprisingly, given that he is still married to Tracy.

Robin and Barney do still get divorced in the alternate ending, but it’s assumed that she moves on with her life in a new direction, while remaining no more than friends with Ted. This was a relief to many fans, who felt that Ted and Robin would never have worked – and that the show proved how incompatible they were.

7 Stayed The Same: The Love Of Barney’s Life

The fans strongly believed that Robin was the perfect match for Barney. However, they get divorced, and it is only in the final episode of the show he finds the actual ‘love of his life’, his daughter, Ellie.

RELATED: The 10 Worst Things The Gang Did To Robin In How I Met Your Mother

It was very heartwarming for the fans to see Barney seeing his daughter for the first time and telling her how she owns everything he has and he is. The alternate ending doesn’t alter Barney’s story and left it as presented in the actual show. This is also a moment that shows how much Barney has changed – and the ways that he doesn’t. It was a great ending for a beloved character, and one that suited the series.

6 Changed: The Kids Don’t Make An Appearance


The show’s whole plot is based on Ted narrating the story to his kids about how he met their mother. In the actual ending, there is a discussion between Ted and the kids where they question Ted’s intention behind narrating the story and advise him to go after Robin. However, the kids do not appear in the alternate ending as it immediately ends after Ted completes his story.

This makes sense for two reasons – first, the kids only appear in the original ending to talk Ted into going after Robin again, and there is nothing comparable for them to do in the alternate. On a more practical level, though, the scenes with the kids were all filmed at the start of the series, so that the actors wouldn’t age as time went on. Bringing them back to do an alternate ending wouldn’t have been possible – as they would appear to suddenly be nine years older!

5 Stayed The Same: The Characters Drifting Apart

Josh Radnor, Cobie Smulders, Jason Segel, Alyson Hannigan and Neil Patrick Harris in How I Met Your Mother Series Finale

It is revealed in the penultimate episode of the show that “the five of us hanging together in Maclaren’s, being young and stupid” is not one of the wonderful things that will happen anymore.

RELATED: 10 Times The How I Met Your Mother Gang Was Friendship Goals

The show had a very realistic ending, where each of the characters go their own way. Marshall and Lily lead a serene life away from the city bustle, Barney sets out for a new life with his daughter, Ted and Robin continue living in New York. The viewers see the friendship circle, and the way it changes over time, which has remained the same in the alternate ending as well. Of course, this wasn’t a storyline that fans disliked, so it’s not surprising it wasn’t changed.

4 Changed: Marshall Loses The Lily-Marshall Bet

Marshall won't give up on his bet with Lily in How I Met Your Mother.

Marshall and Lily have a long-term bet about the Robin-Ted relationship. Marshall always vouches for Ted and Robin to get together, whereas Lily placed her bet on Ted marrying someone else. In the actual ending, the win goes to Marshall after Ted asked Robin out in the final clip of the show. However, Ted stays together with Tracy in the alternate ending, which implies that Lily won the bet.

This is a relatively minor change, of course, even if the long-term bets are something that crops up more than once in the show. They exist as more of a running joke, though, so it doesn’t really matter who wins.

3 Stayed The Same: Robin And Barney Divorce

Cobie Smulders as Robin and Neil Patrick Harris as Barney in How I Met Your Mother

It came as a big blow to the fans when Robin and Barney got divorced in the show’s penultimate episode. One thing that stayed the same in the actual and alternate ending is this decision made by the two characters. They realized that neither of them is happy with the marriage and got divorced.

RELATED: 5 Reasons Why Robin Should’ve Ended Up With Barney In HIMYM (& 5 Why Ted Was The Right Choice)

This is the one part of the controversial finale that stayed the same, despite the fact that so many fans hated it. The general consensus was that these two were perfect for one another, and that they divorced largely to free Robin up to be with Ted. It’s likely that this didn’t change in the alternate ending largely because it would have simply been to complicated on a practical level, when their divorce was shown before the very last scenes.

2 Changed: Robin Continued Her World Trip

The viewers are quite familiar with Robin’s goal to become a famous reporter and travel worldwide. Although Robin successfully achieved this, her friends are disappointed as she is not available for the big things that happen in their lives. The fans see Robin returning to New York in the actual ending where she stays in her old apartment. In the alternate ending, Robin doesn’t come back to New York and the fans assume that she is still traveling the world as a reporter.

This is actually a much better ending for the character, as it lines up with Robin’s long-term goals throughout her time on the series. It suits her character to continue to put her career and her dreams first, rather than to simply end up back where she started.

1 Stayed The Same: Having The First Conversation With Tracy At Farhampton

Ted and Tracy under the yellow umbrella

The show revolves around the circumstances that led Ted to meet Tracy, the mother of his kids. Although they had almost crossed paths at different places throughout the show, they had their first conversation at the Farhampton station when Ted bumped into her and started a conversation. This is a common sequence in both the real and alternate ending.

While the alternate ending culminates with this conversation at the station, this takes place before Ted’s discussion with his kids in the actual ending. This is largely a practical change, and one that comes from cutting together a new ending from existing footage. It makes for a sweet moment to wrap up the show, though – and arguably a better one that the original!

NEXT: 5 How I Met Your Mother Characters Who Got Fitting Endings (& 5 Who Deserved More)

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