In an interview with Deadline, Aptaker and Fogelman revealed that the series may end up being shorter than fans would like, with Aptaker estimating that the NBC drama will tap out at six seasons, as the creative team is planning "about three seasons in the future" for the show's final episode.
The duo also revealed that the series finale is already planned out, and that everyone involved with the show knows where it's ultimately heading.
"From day one, Dan came in with his master plan for the big picture stuff of the show and said, 'I think this is where we end up. I think this is what I know. Let's figure out the rest together,'" Aptaker said. "So all of the writers and the actors really know everything. We're all pretty good at keeping secrets by now, it's been three years, but it's a total open book for everyone who works on the show, so there are no secrets from each other."
"I would hope that it's elegant," he added of the finale. "That's what we're going for. I would hope that when we reach our ending, people think it's a really satisfying end place, that makes sense, and it feels like they've watched something that is a complete piece of work because that's really how we're trying to plan it. Almost like you would a book, or a super-long movie. We've had this end in mind for a long time, so we're able to plan for it, and try to make it feel like it's a whole, as opposed to a series that's going to go endlessly."
While this news means that This Is Us won't be ruling the airwaves for years to come like some other shows, it's also a comfort to fans to know that every plot point is an intentional and integral part of the Pearson family's story, rather than just a way to stretch the show out for another episode or season.
As for what's coming during the rest of Season 3, fans can expect more interweaving timelines during the back half of the season as well as some fresh starts when Season 4 arrives in the fall.
"We've got multiple seasons mapped out," Fogelman said. "I think this season has been a lot about redemption, but also a lot of rebirth. Next season is a season of new beginnings and restarts."
Photo Credit: Getty / Jason LaVeris