‘This Is Us’ Almost Never Happened Because Fogelman Couldn’t Figure out the ‘F*Cking Point’

Viewers use an extreme amount of tissues while watching This Is Us. The show is now a household name. It’s won so many awards that it’s hard to believe it almost never happened. Let’s take a look at what creator Dan Fogelman had in mind for the series, and why he almost couldn’t make it work.

Hartley, Fogelman and Moore
Justin Hartley, Dan Fogelman, and Mandy Moore | Vivien Killilea/Getty Images for Los Angeles Confidential

‘This Is Us’ just wrapped the first half of season 4

This is Us is a drama series with tragic elements that follows the lives of two parents and their three children throughout many decades. Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore star as the parents of ‘the big three.’ 

The three grown children are Kate (Chrissy Metz), Kevin (Justin Hartley), and Randall (Sterling K. Brown). Many additional cast members play the children when they are younger. 

Over three-plus years, the drama was nominated for—and won—many awards. In 2017 alone, the series received ten Emmy nominations. Sterling K. Brown has received an Emmy, a Golden Globe, a Critic’s Choice Award, and an NAACP Image Award for his work in the series. 

Both Mandy Moore and Chrissy Metz received Golden Globe nominations for Best Supporting Actress. This Is Us also just received five nominations for the 2020 Critics Choice Awards.

The series is currently in the fourth season, with nine episodes left to air. It was picked up for seasons 5 and 6 already. 

‘This Is Us’ was supposed to be a movie, not a TV series

Back in 2015, This Is Us was sitting unread in a drawer, collecting dust. Fogelman was mostly making movies, not TV shows. He had great success with Crazy, Stupid, Love, and Cars. However, on the small screen, he only wrote flops—Neighbors and Grandfathered never made it big. 

The script for the fan-favorite show, This Is Us, was 80 pages intended for the big screen. It followed eight separate people—instead of three—that worked up to a big reveal ending that they are octuplets. 

“Fogelman felt pretty confident about the characters he’d created,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

However, every time he sat down to write more, he could not figure out what the bigger picture was. 

“What’s the f*cking point of this?” Fogelman pondered over and over again. 

The reveal that the characters throughout the movie are all connected would be the big ending, just like the pilot episode of This Is Us. However, he couldn’t come to a conclusion on what the point of the movie would be. 

How did Fogelman figure out the point of ‘This Is Us’?

Then, during the summer of 2015, Fogelman took an eight-figure deal with 20th TV, so he needed some solid television ideas. He pulled that dusty script back out and decided that maybe it could be the basis for a TV show instead of a movie. 

The characters that he loved wouldn’t have to have a “f*cking point,” they could just go about their lives. 

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This is 40. #ThisIsUs

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The pilot for This Is Us was born, and Fogelman named it “36.” That is the age of ‘the big three’ when the pilot airs. However, no one ever liked that title. There was a lot of debate over it, but they finally settled on This Is Us.

At this point, Fogelman knows how the show ends. He plans to keep it to six seasons so that things can come to a logical and complete end. You can catch new episodes of This Is Us when the show returns to NBC on Jan. 14, 2020.