‘This Is Us’ Creator Dan Fogelman Fought With NBC Over 1 Issue — ‘Just Leave the Show Alone’

NBC let This Is Us creator Dan Fogelman have free rein over the popular drama series. Even when the network wanted This Is Us to last for more than six seasons, they conceded to Fogelman and let him tell the story the way he wanted. However, according to the creator, there was one time that tensions rose between him and NBC over one change the network wanted to make to the series.

Milo Ventimiglia, in character as Jack Pearson in 'This Is Us' on NBC, wears a dark blue long-sleeved collared shirt and sits at the dinner table.
Milo Ventimiglia as Jack | Photo by: Ron Batzdorff/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Dan Fogelman reveals the one fight he and NBC had over ‘This Is Us’

Before the This Is Us series finale, Dan Fogelman and the cast spoke with The Hollywood Reporter and reflected on the NBC drama’s six seasons. And the creator discussed his relationship with the network.

“To their credit, they really supported everything we wanted to do,” Fogelman shared. “All the people here were my first choice; I never had to fight for them. When they talk about those early days of the table reads, you realize, ‘Wow, so many things break right for this thing to go right.’ It becomes a combination of really good, small decisions that everybody makes.”

However, he added, “To your question, we never really had to fight for it. I think the only place I really put my foot down was in the second season when they wanted to move us off the time slot. I kind of went to war — I was like, ‘Just leave the show alone! We finally have something!’ And we won that battle.”

This Is Us always aired Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on NBC. And its consistent time slot is all thanks to Dan Fogelman.

The ‘This Is Us’ creator discusses the early stages of the show

While speaking with The Hollywood Reporter, Dan Fogelman described the beginnings of This Is Us before it premiered in 2016 on NBC.

“I didn’t have [an elevator pitch],” the creator revealed. “I wrote the script and was sending it to people, and the main question I got was, ‘Well, what happens now?’ At the end of the pilot, everything was upended, and so the elevator pitch then became this very complicated one that I would be long-winded about, about what would happen in the course of a series.”

Sterling K. Brown asked, “The original conception was a flick, right?” And Fogelman responded, “Yes. It had six or seven people born on the same day, and then the twist at the end was going to be that they were all related to the Jack and Rebecca characters. But 80 pages in, I was like, ‘I don’t think this holds.’ So I gave up and put it away for a while.”

This Is Us went through many changes before it reached the hands of NBC executives. And we’re confident that fans are grateful that the series wasn’t a movie. After all, they got to spend six years with the Pearson family.

Dan Fogelman originally planned for ‘This Is Us’ to be four seasons on NBC

The This Is Us creator had a concrete plan for the NBC drama before its premiere. But there was one aspect of the series that changed along the way.

“I was actually contemplating four [seasons] at the very beginning, probably before we even talked about it,” Dan Fogelman told The Hollywood Reporter. “I was thinking about when Jack was going to die, and I knew we were going to run out of real estate with the kids’ age. But then when the show blew up, I was like, ‘I have six in me. But that will be the max.'”

He continued, “And we got picked up that way. We were doing a TCA event, and the president of NBC [Jennifer Salke] came over and told us she was picking up the show for two seasons. I remember it vividly because the day before, Ron [Cephas Jones] had shot his death scene! And then we got picked up for another three because — that was a whole complicated thing — and I said, ‘That will take us to the end.'”

This Is Us is available to stream on Hulu and Peacock.

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