‘This Is Us’: The Original Script Had a Few Key Differences

This Is Us has become one of those shows you’ve come to expect nothing but greatness. Whether it’s the deep dive into each character’s backstory or the jumping timelines, series creator, Dan Fogelman, knows what he’s doing. But, did you know his original version was a lot different?

‘This Is Us’ Season 4 is well underway

'This Is Us' Season 4
‘This Is Us ‘ Season 4 | Ron Batzdorff/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

So far on season 4 of This Is Us, Fogelman and his crew has introduced a slew of new characters, a couple of time jumps, and some dots to connect, per the usual.

In case you missed it, the last episode, “Flip a Coin,” followed college-aged Randall (Niles Fitch) and Beth (Rachel Hilson) where Rebecca (Mandy Moore) and Carol (Felicia Rashad) met for the first time. Adult Randall (Sterling K. Brown) and Beth (Susan Kelechi Watson) welcomed Carol for a visit as Beth opened her new dance studio.

Malik (Asante Blakk) and Deja (Lyric Ross) came clean to Randall about Malik’s daughter (which doesn’t sit well). Teen Kate (Hannah Zeile) found a new crush (and got a new job) while present-day Kate (Chrissy Metz) and Toby (Chris Sullivan) navigated issues surrounding their new-parent tension and the new neighbor, Gregory (Timothy Omundson).

Adult Kevin (Justin Hartley) reflected on his past career choices, taking Uncle Nicky (Griffin Dunne) and new pal, Cassidy (Jennifer Morrison), along for the ride. Teen Kevin (Logan Shroyer) dropped a bombshell on Rebecca saying he and Sophie got married.

If it sounds like a lot, that’s how the show likes it.

How was the original ‘This Is Us’ different?

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According to The Hollywood Reporter, This Is Us was first written as a feature-length movie. Fogelman’s biggest successes were of the feature-length variety (Crazy, Stupid Love, and Cars). The script sat in Fogelman’s desk until 2015 when he re-worked everything.

The original version, according to THR, built towards a similar reveal. However, instead of “The Big 3,” there were eight who discovered later they were octuplets.

However, Deadline suggested the story revolved around sextuplets. Fogelman joked it would’ve been “a kind of a Sixth Sense-type ending with babies.”

Can you imagine crying over eight Pearson kids?

Either way, both are drastically different than what This Is Us has become today.

Fogelman admitted that every time he sat down to write it, he couldn’t shake the lingering question, “What’s the f*****g point of this?”

Things changed when Fogelman abandoned his deal at ABC Studios to a new, eight-figure deal with 20th TV. That spawned the idea that there needn’t be “a point” and the characters could just live their lives.

Fogelman gave Glamour a little more insight into that 80-page script.

“It was originally called 36, which is the age they’re all turning at the beginning,” he said.

Why did the title change to ‘This Is Us’?

As far as the title, it didn’t sit well. “I didn’t like it. I had done a series of movies where I had never titled them and no one can agree on the title. I threw 36 on it, and then I never liked it. Nobody ever liked it.”

He continued: “I came up with This Is Us, I think, when I was in editorial. I decided I liked how it looked at the beginning [of the show], and I put it in there. But, there was a lot of debate over what the title of the show was gonna be.”

The original characters were a little different, too. There was a sister in London with a partial English accent. Fogelman said it was a “misdirect” to divert viewers from knowing she was related to the others.

What’s coming up on ‘This Is Us’?

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Episode five, “Storybook Love” reveals a dinner party to celebrate teen Kevin and Sophie’s marriage. Knowing Rebecca, she’ll want answers, too.

The show also follows present-day Kevin as he continues helping Uncle Nicky and Cassidy, while Randall and his clan are still adjusting to their new home.

This Is Us may have changed from its initial concept, but the central themes of hope and forgiveness remain throughout.