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Justin Hartley as Kevin, Chrissy Metz as Kate, Sterling K Brown as Randall

Welp, The Final Season Of This Is Us Is Going To Make Us All Ugly Cry

"All good things must come to an end."

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NBC

This Is Us’ first big surprise came in Season 1, Episode 1. It seemed like a show about four random characters with zero connection other than the same birthday. But by the end of the hour, the series had pulled back the curtain and revealed that all four (Kevin, Kate, Randall, and Jack) were one big family. Moreover, there was a grand plan in place to tell their story. With This Is Us Season 6 on the way for the 2021-2022 TV season, fans want to know where the plan goes next.

Since the show's inception, showrunner Dan Fogelman has said the series is on a six-season arc. He said the story's big plot points were already planned out well in advance, including twists to come in later seasons.

The first three seasons of This Is Us were renewed in the usual broadcast way, one season at a time each spring as the networks presented their upcoming slates. But something strange happened ahead of Season 4. Fans knew the show was almost certainly coming back, but NBC declined to mention its renewal at the usual time.

It took until August 2019, when the show returned to film, for the announcement to come, and then it was a bonanza reveal: This Is Us was renewed through Season 6, which Fogelman reiterated at the time was planned as the final season.

Now, with that season almost here, here's what to know about it:

This Is Us Season 6 Teaser

Fogelman took to Twitter on May 14 to share the news Season 6 is now confirmed as the series finale, writing that while he’s “sad” for the end, “We’ll work hard to stick the landing.” But with a few episodes left to air at the time, there was no teaser for him to share. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t good This Is Us content to weep over; the cast got super emotional on social media. Mandy Moore posted Fogelman’s message to Instagram with the caption, “One season left of my favorite job.” Fellow actor Eris Baker responded, “Doesn’t seem real.”

Once the Season 5 finale aired, fans got even more emotional pre-Season 6 content. NBC released a featurette letting fans get a glimpse of how the final season plans to pull our heartstrings. Although there’s technically no footage from the final season in this teaser, since Season 6 hasn’t started filming yet, the cast talks a lot about what’s to come.

This Is Us Season 6 Cast
Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal

The Pearson clan has been the heart of This Is Us since the show's inception, and fans can expect all three siblings, their spouses, their parents, and their children to return for the final run.

That includes:

  • The Pearson "Big Three" Triplets: Sterling K. Brown plays Randall, Chrissy Metz plays Kate, and Justin Hartley plays Kevin. Their teen versions are played by Niles Fitch, Hannah Zeile, and Logan Shroyer, and their tween versions are played by Lonnie Chavis, Mackenzie Hancsicsak, and Parker Bates.
  • The Older Pearson Generation: Mandy Moore is their mother, Rebecca, Milo Ventimiglia is her beloved late husband, Jack, and Jon Huertas is her current husband, Miguel. Also, Griffin Dunne plays Nicky, Jack's younger brother and uncle to the Big Three. He's the only character of this generation to have a "younger" version played by a different actor, Michael Angarano.
  • The Pearson Spouses: Susan Kelechi Watson plays Randall's wife Beth, Chris Sullivan plays Kate's (soon-to-be ex-)husband Toby, and Caitlin Thompson plays Kevin's fiancée, Madison. Of this group, only Beth has recurring younger versions, played by Rachel Hilson and Akira Akbar.
  • The Pearsons: The Next Generation: The oldest kids are Randall's three children: Eris Baker as Tess, Lyric Ross as Deja, and Faithe Herman as Annie. Their adult versions (Iantha Richardson, La Trice Harper, and Iyana Halley) will also turn up in flash forwards. Kate's toddler son Jack and adopted baby daughter Hailey, and Kevin's newborn twins, Nicholas and Frances, will also be around. Fans have met Jack and Hailey's adult counterparts (Blake Stadnik and Adelaide Kane) in the future-set scenes, but not their teen versions. Conversely, fans have glimpsed Nicholas and Frances as tweens but have not seen adult versions yet.

As for recurring roles, it's a little less clear who will roll into the show's final season. Asante Blackk will probably be back as Deja's boyfriend, Malik. Phylicia Rashad will also most likely be around as Beth's mother, Carol. And judging by the plot twist at the end of Season 5’s finale, Chris Geere is almost definitely returning as Phillip.

Alexandra Breckenridge may be back as Kevin's ex-wife Sophie (as may her teen and kid counterparts, Amanda Leighton and Sophia Coto). Ron Cephas Jones may appear in flashbacks as Randall's biological dad William. Fans also hope Jennifer Morrison will be back as Cassidy Sharp, Nicky's friend from rehab.

This Is Us Season 6 Plot
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Like the first five seasons, This Is Us will continue to unfold the final layers of the 100-year story of the all-American family of the Pearsons. So far, the series has covered stories from Jack’s birth in 1950 to the birth of his great-granddaughter, Hope, in 2050.

But the Season 5 finale threw much of what fans assumed into chaos by revealing that not only do Madison and Kevin fail to tie the knot, but Kate will be getting divorced and remarried in the near future, and to a character fans barely know.

Speaking to Deadline after the Season 5 finale aired, Fogelman promised Season 6 would resolve all of these loose ends: “All of these timelines will be brought to a conclusion and explained,” Fogelman promised. “There will be no looming questions when we get through next season. Everything will be resolved.”

But where exactly are the characters going? In a different interview with Entertainment Weekly, Fogelman explained, “When you end the series, even if you haven’t agreed with all the choices that the writers of the characters made, you’ll have found the most realized versions of those characters.” As Fogelman sees it, “If you went back to the pilot episode, who was that person back then, and who are they now, they would hopefully feel like very different people, and people that you would’ve wanted them to become.”

Fogelman also promised, among other things, that fans will get to know Phillip, that Randall’s career taking off will be a big part of the season, as will Nicky’s journey to finally getting married. Also, this final season is planned as a tour-de-force for Mandy Moore. Fogelman stated her character, Rebecca, would have, by far, the most ambitious storyline of all. Let’s just start the Mandy Moore 2022 Best Actress Emmy campaign now.

This Is Us Season 6 Release Date
Ron Batzdorff/NBC

Except for the coronavirus-delayed Season 5, This Is Us has returned like clockwork every year to NBC on the last Tuesday of September. But not so Season 6. According to NBC, the finale season of This Is Uswill be treated like “an event.” The plan is to air all 18 episodes straight through in a row. To do that, the series won’t begin airing until after the 2021 winter break, making This Is Us technically a “mid-season” premiere, arriving in early 2022.

Exactly when This Is Us Season 6 will start in the winter of 2022 is not yet known, but fans know the final season will be worth the wait.