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But stories change. Characters change. Shows change. And plans have to change to accommodate that.

This plan didn’t. So instead of a bumpy final few years being redeemed by a finale that at least resulted in our hero winding up with a woman we all liked, and who seemed a perfect match for him, we have a finale that turns the title and narrative framework of the show into a case of Bays and Thomas following the letter of the law rather than the spirit. They and Future Ted promised us that we’d be getting the story of how Ted met the kids’ mother, but all along she was just meant to be a distraction from the real story — like the kind of misdirection Barney uses in his magic tricks.

And the problem is that at a certain point the misdirection became vastly more entertaining than the illusion it was designed to facilitate, and as a result we just wind up feeling tricked, and annoyed, and wondering why we went along with all of it, when we should have known from the very first episode — from the Aunt Robin joke that got us into this gigantic mess — that this was a show that would not hesitate to make us feel tricked. And once upon a time, when we and “HIMYM” were younger, that was fun, but at a certain point, like the idea of Barney Stinson still having a Playbook in his 40s, it’s just sad.

Alan Sepinwall, Series finale review: ‘How I Met Your Mother’ - ‘Last Forever’: How they conned us all
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