Now that’s what we call the Big Three.
This Is Us has finally been renewed, it was announced on Sunday. News of NBC’s hit family drama receiving an order for more episodes is long-awaited and hardly surprising, but the length of this deal certainly is: It’s for three more seasons. That’s an exceptionally rare level of commitment for a scripted show to receive from a network. Of course, NBC has shown This Is Us its highest signs of faith over the years. The network picked up the critically admired show for a full season after only one episode had aired, and halfway through season 1, it issued a two-season renewal.
The time-hopping drama — which stars Mandy Moore and Milo Ventimiglia as the parents of three children whose adult versions are played by Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Justin Hartley — has aired 54 episodes to date, and the renewal is for 18 episodes per season. With the 54 additional episodes, the show is now guaranteed to pass the 100-episode milestone. However you slice it, the Pearsons aren’t going anywhere for a long time.
This renewal also moves the show to the endgame, if not to the end. Creator Dan Fogelman already has an ending in mind, and he has been collecting footage for the finale before the child actors look too old for the age they are playing. He told EW in April that he sees the show at around the midpoint, and he may have put a finer point on that idea when he tweeted the word “Halftime” right after the season 3 finale aired. “In speaking purely about the characters’ stories, I think we’re in the middle of their stories,” he said. “If you were in a movie theater, you’d be at the one-hour mark.” (Earlier this month, Fogelman signed a five-year overall deal with now-Disney-owned 20th Century Fox Television, which produces This Is Us.)
The network is not confirming whether or not the show will wrap up after six seasons, however. As NBC Entertainment co-chairman Paul Telegdy told reporters on Sunday, “We are keeping it open for right now.” Ventimiglia recently told Ellen Degeneres on Ellen that the plan could change if there were a ratings rise in season 6, saying, “maybe there will be more. I don’t know.”
Co-showrunner Isaac Aptaker, who recently spoke of a six-season plan, “give or take,” confirmed that there is an endgame in mind. “We aren’t just throwing things on TV to throw them on TV,” he told EW. “Whenever we make a decision, we know we have a plan in place… [W]e have a plan here, like a complicated, long novel. We know where it’s headed, and we hope to be doing it as long as people want us to do it.”
A Nielsen powerhouse, This Is Us was the 2018-2019 TV season’s highest-rated network prime-time drama in the key 18-to-49-year-old demographic, with a 3.8 rating, and averaged 13.8 million viewers per episode when factoring in a week of DVR playback, making it the No. 2 drama in total viewers, behind only NCIS. On the awards front, This Is Us was nominated for an Outstanding Drama Series Emmy in its first two seasons — with Brown taking home a lead actor Emmy — and it has won two Screen Actors Guild Awards for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble.
Season 3 of This Is Us, which concluded in early April, took viewers to Vietnam with Kevin (Hartley) to learn about Jack’s (Ventimiglia) war history while introducing his long-thought-dead brother, Nicky (played by Michael Angarano and Griffin Dunne). It also saw Randall (Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) weather a rocky time in their marriage, and Kate (Metz) give birth to a premature son named Jack. The finale’s final minutes flashed forward about 15 years into the future, leaving viewers with a handful of questions that involved the failing health of Rebecca (Moore), the status of Kate and Toby’s (Chris Sullivan) marriage, the whereabouts of Miguel (Jon Huertas), the return of Nicky, and the identity of the mother of Kevin’s son.
To read what Fogelman revealed about those new mysteries, head over here.
-Additional reporting by Lynette Rice