This Is Us creator says all mysteries will be answered by series finale: 'No stone left unturned'
This Is Us lives to delve into complex issues (transracial adoption, mental health, addiction) and play elaborately with time (any given episode will likely transport you to a few different decades). But when it comes wrapping up six seasons of Pearson family drama with the series finale, one word comes to the mind of creator Dan Fogelman to describe that farewell: simple.
"My hope is that it would feel like the end of one of those sprawling family saga novels, and that those of us who are readers, who like those kind of books and go on an adventure with a group of people through a couple of generations, close the book, take that three seconds and go, 'Wow. Well done,'" Fogelman tells EW. "I do think it's going to feel like that, closing a final chapter. I do think after a lot of ambition in the season, it will feel really simple."
It's an ending that he's envisioned for a long time — Fogelman started banking footage for the final scene seasons ago — and he has shared the broad strokes of the full painting with the show's stars. "I only talk about it globally because I don't like to think about it too much," he notes. "I don't want to deal with it until I've actually written it — and I haven't written it yet. But I feel like we have the right ending."
Before that ending comes to light, season 6 will unfold with a "nice, quiet, slow pace," setting up viewers for "some really big stuff that's coming down the pike," he hints. And it sounds like show's mastermind has been Beautiful Mind-ing the arcs of these Pearson family members to arrive at the final destination. "How we're playing with the form to get to the point where I've wanted to get to since the beginning has required a lot of planning," he says. "What we're asking of some of the actors — particularly Mandy Moore right now [who, as matriarch Rebecca, is struggling with Alzheimer's] — is beyond ambitious."
While Fogelman is tight-lipped on further farewell details, he will reveal that he won't leave you cliff-hanging when it comes to those myriad mysteries. (See: several question marks introduced in the season 5 finale, which join a few lingering ones from previous seasons. The show does love an elongated mystery, after all.) "My hope is that by the end of the series, there is no stone left unturned," he says. "You would have nothing left to ask me about spoilers. You might want to call me and say, 'I don't like what happened to such-and-such. I don't like who such-and-such wound up with.' But you won't be going, 'Who?' If we've done that, I feel like we've done our job and we've made the choices that we thought were best for the characters and for the story. But by the end of it, I don't think there will be any of these timeline mysteries left. Hopefully it will set us up for a very beautiful and simple ending to the entire venture." (Milo Ventimiglia described it as "magical" and "hopeful.")
Which leads to another question: Is this truly the end of the road? What are the chances that viewers could reunite with the Pearsons via a spin-off, a prospect at which NBC would jump. Fogelman told EW earlier this year that he hadn't any conversations about such a scenario, and it doesn't sound likely at the moment or top of mind now. (Though, as you will see, he does leave the door open just a crack for the possibility of some kind of reboot down the road.)"I mean, you have your moments," he begins. "It's a testament to how much I like the people on this show and how much the crew loves each other. You have this very definitive thing that you've been thinking about for six years and you can't help but suddenly go, 'Oh man, this is actually really happening. It's actually ending. But what if…?' Honestly, more than the commerce of it all, we're not all ready to end making this show. But I've been pretty firm on creatively just knowing that it would be really hard to go past where we've gone this year, and it would be hard to keep the level where we've all tried to keep the level. So it definitely feels like the end and the time to go. Who the hell knows? My wife is very excited to go turn on the Sex and the City show all this time later. So I'm not speaking about the far future — or even the near future — though there's certainly no plans. But in terms of any continuous spin-off or continuation of the show? No, we're definitely bringing it to the end."
The beginning of the end begins Jan. 4. For a preview of season 6, see the hints that Chrissy Metz dropped.
NBC’s beloved era-hopping drama tells the story of the Pearson family through the years.