Captain America’s ending in Avengers: Endgame makes the same mistake as the How I Met Your Mother series finale. Following a successful time travel heist, the Marvel Cinematic Universe film saw Captain America return to the past to be with Peggy Carter, one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the love of Steve Rogers’ life. While Captain America got a happy ending after several years of turmoil, his return to Peggy wasn’t reflective of his journey in the years since the ending of Captain America: The First Avenger and was more in line with Ted Mosby’s return to Robin Scherbatsky in the season 9 finale of How I Met Your Mother.
After nine seasons of stories and mysteries, Ted finally meets the elusive “mother” — whose real name, Tracy McConnell, wasn’t revealed until How I Met Your Mother’s finale — after Barney Stinson and Robin’s wedding. However, after several years of marriage and two children together, Tracy dies from an unknown illness. Six years after Tracy’s death, Ted seeks permission from his teenage kids to pursue Robin, whom he had been head-over-heels in love with years prior. However, Ted’s return to Robin felt like the writers were retreading old story beats because the goal post hadn’t changed.
It was disingenuous to both Ted and Robin’s stories, especially after they’d both moved on from each other to be with other people. Arguably, Robin and Barney were never given a real shot at happiness. Most of their post-marriage life was completely glossed over and rushed because the series set its sights on having Ted get back with Robin, negating both of their hard-earned lessons. It was an ending that was originally envisioned for How I Met Your Mother, but one that no longer made sense considering all that Ted and Robin had gone through over the course of nine seasons.
Similarly, Captain America’s return to Peggy at the end of Endgame made a lot of sense for the character if this had been the Phase One iteration who still pined after his love interest and mourned the life he never had. However, Steve didn’t bother trying for a new life after he was awakened from his frozen state. Cap spent all of Endgame attempting to restore the world’s population and, shortly after getting back both Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson, Steve left them behind for a life that no longer belonged to him.
Yes, it was sweet in the moment, but Captain America’s return to the past in Avengers: Endgame undermined his hard-earned character development throughout the first three phases of the MCU. With his friends back in the game, Steve could’ve continued building a life for himself rather than returning to a life he used to know and a relationship that wasn’t guaranteed to work out. Ultimately, Steve’s arc is very much like How I Met Your Mother’s Ted, fraught with an unwillingness to look ahead and carry on in a way that is meaningful and respectful to their individual journeys.