Loved this thread and the ensuing comments.
As a self-proclaimed sex and dating nerd, that's no surprise.
What struck me reading the comments was that the central, unspoken issue was not about what happened. At its core, much of the criticism was really whispered around one thing.
That thing is Time.
An ending that would have been perfect 5 years ago feels wrong today. People have grown and evolved. We've had a chance to digest the Big Picture around these characters, to see that Ted and Robin, however much they might care about each other Do Not Work.
We've had too much time with these character to accept this ending.
At the same time, there is not enough time between the death of Tracy and Ted getting together with Robin to process the emotions. We don't see the circumstances that led to Barney and Robin's divorce and his subsequent regression.
We haven't had enough time with these characters to accept this ending.
We don't often talk about it, but most of us understand on some level that things unfold in time, that they cannot be rushed or forced. We understand the rhythm of healing. We learn that the most important things--letting go, moving on, growing up, reaching out--are processes. They don't happen instantly; we take time to come to get to those decsions points, to make and re-make those commitments. We experience them as journeys rather than events.
We see how they happen on Time's schedule, not ours.
We don't always like it. Often we rebel against it. We look for shortcuts. We try and make things happen before they are ready to happen or try to hold on to things long after the time for them has passed.
In our heart of hearts though, we understand. Those moments when we fully embrace and accept it tend to be our most peaceful moments. When we feel we're being ripped apart by forces we don't understand, in the worst of our despair, we find those moments where we surrender to the effects of time. And in those seconds, even in the midst of the whirlpool, we find islands of serenity.
In life, time works exactly the way it should.
On television though, all bets are off.
Sometimes there's too much time. Some times there's not enough. Sometimes, as in the case of How I Met Your Mother, it's a little of both.
And sometimes, sometimes it's exactly right.