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Break out the Kleenex.
NBC’s award-winning and top-rated drama series This Is Us will come to an end with its sixth season. Sources tell The Hollywood Reporter that the network is poised to announce on Friday that its time-jumping family tear-jerker from creator Dan Fogelman will close its run during the upcoming 2021-22 broadcast season.
Representatives for NBC and studio 20th Television declined comment. NBC is set to reveal its fall schedule for the 2021-22 season on Friday as new execs Frances Berwick and Susan Rovner present their vision for the future of the network to the press corps for the first time. (Rovner and Berwick oversee a sprawling content portfolio that includes NBC.)
News that This Is Us will end after six seasons is hardly a surprise. When NBC in May 2019 renewed This Is Us for three additional seasons, sources told THR at the time that season six would likely be the last for the Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia and Sterling K. Brown starrer. Then-NBC brass, however, remained optimistic that the megahit could live on beyond that, though that no longer appears to be the case.
Still, Fogelman has been adamant about the endgame for This Is Us, saying at the end of season three that his show was at its “midpoint.” Fogelman, who serves as showrunner alongside Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger, has for years said that the structure of the series would not sustain a run comparable to NBC’s veteran procedurals.
“We never set out to make a television series that was going to last 18 seasons, so we have a very direct plan. I have script pages I have written and I’m writing that really are deep, deep, deep into the future. We have a plan for what we’re going to do, and I know what the plan is,” he told THR in April 2019.
While an official count has yet to be determined, it’s expected that the final season will consist of around 18 episodes, likely enough to carry the series over the 100-episode threshold typically needed to secure a lucrative off-network syndication deal and triggering a cash infusion for Fogelman and Disney, which now owns the series after closing its $71.3 billion Fox deal a few years ago. That would create yet another revenue stream after Disney-owned Hulu in 2017 acquired SVOD rights to This Is Us in what sources at the time said was a record-breaking per-episode fee. Hulu and NBC shared co-exclusive rights to the series.
This Is Us was a broadcast unicorn right out of the gate after the show’s trailer debuted to a record-setting number of YouTube views following NBC’s upfront presentation. The series lived up to the hype and was a ratings and awards breakout at a time when broadcast originals have struggled to catch hold as viewers continue to cut the cord and focus on streaming originals. This Is Us will likely go out as one of broadcast’s top-rated dramas among total viewers and the all-important adults 18-49 demographic.
What’s more, This Is Us has been a rare broadcast show to break through on the awards circuit, earning Emmy nominations for drama series and for stars Ventimiglia, Moore, Brown and Chrissy Metz. Brown and a handful of guest stars have taken home Emmy gold, with the show also scoring a nomination for a prestigious Peabody Award.
Fogelman, meanwhile, still has multiple years remaining on his rich nine-figure overall deal with Disney’s 20th Television, where newly installed studio chief Karey Burke has long courted him for a new series. Co-showrunners Aptaker and Berger, meanwhile, have the upcoming second season of Love, Victor on Hulu and recently secured a straight-to-series order at Hulu for How I Met Your Father, a spinoff of sorts of the former CBS comedy. Both shows also hail from 20th TV, where the duo is housed under an overall deal.
This Is Us is NBC’s second scripted show that will end during the 2021-22 broadcast season, joining former Fox comedy Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which will wrap with an abbreviated and delayed eighth season. The news comes as NBC this season parted ways with Superstore.
NBC has already made the bulk of its renewal decisions for next season, where This Is Us and Brooklyn will join returning shows The Blacklist, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Law & Order: SVU, New Amsterdam and comedies Kenan, Mr. Mayor and Young Rock. Law & Order: Organized Crime is expected to return, leaving Good Girls, Manifest, Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and rookie Debris on the bubble. Decisions on the bubble shows might be delayed given the pandemic-related late start to the midseason schedule.
NBC has already picked up new comedies American Auto and Grand Crew to go with dramas La Brea and Ordinary Joe as well as limited series The Thing About Pam.
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