Not ready to say goodbye. The series finale of This Is Us is rapidly approaching, but showrunners Isaac Aptaker and Elizabeth Berger aren’t yet saying goodbye.
“It’s so surreal,” Aptaker exclusively told Us Weekly shortly after the season 6 premiere. “I look at my ID photo when I drive onto the Paramount lot every day, which was taken the first day of This Is Us, and it’s like it’s a different person.”
Last year, NBC announced that the Emmy-winning series’ sixth season would be its last, much to the disappointment of fans who’ve been following the Pearson family since the show premiered in September 2016.
“I don’t think it’s really hit us yet that it’s over,” Berger told Us. “And part of that is on purpose. I don’t think we can really process it until it is over.”
NBC hasn’t announced an air date for the series finale, which hasn’t yet been filmed. Aptaker and Berger noted that they haven’t had much time to take in the reality of the show’s end because there’s still “too much work to do” before the series wraps up.
“It’s been such a gigantic chapter of all of our lives,” Aptaker explained. “And I think it’s so bittersweet because it does feel like the right time to end the show.”
Berger, for her part, emphasized that working through the coronavirus pandemic brought the cast and crew even closer than they already were.
“There’s a lot of us, you know. We’ve gotten married, we’ve had children, we’ve gone through losses together,” she told Us. “It really, truly is a family, and it’s the kind of thing where you can’t really process that it’s gonna go away until it happens.”
“Once we start to get to, like, the last two or three episodes, there’ll be something that happens that I won’t be able to stop from happening, because I know I’m actually saying goodbye,” the Emmy winner, 45, said in December 2021. “Right now, I’m like, ‘Oh, we’re having a great time.’ When it gets to the end, there’ll be no acting.”
The sixth season only began earlier this month, but show creator Dan Fogelman has hinted that more tear-jerking moments are coming. In August 2021, the Life Itself director, 45, revealed that a story pitch meeting for the final season brought NBC executives to tears.
“People were crying to the point that I wasn’t sure if I should keep going or not,” he told Deadline at the time. “Cameras were shutting off, and I thought I’d lost people.”
Aptaker and Berger are also the cocreators of How I Met Your Father, the How I Met Your Mother spinoff that premiered via Hulu on Tuesday, January 18. When the duo wrote the pilot for HIMYF, This Is Us was still in its first season.
“We just put [HIMYF] completely on ice,” Aptaker told Us. “It just sort of sat there for five years.”
As they entered the final season of This Is Us, they realized it was “the perfect time” to revisit the script they’d set aside so long ago.
“Then in this kind of magical, cosmic way, Hilary [Duff] was just coming off of her show Younger and looking for her next thing,” Aptaker recalled. “And so the script that had just truly been untouched for years and years and years overnight became this active project that was very quickly ordered to series.”
This Is Us airs on NBC Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.
With reporting by Stephanie Webber