'This Is Us' Sets Premiere Date for Final Season: 'Very Excited, Also Incredibly Sad,' Says Creator

The final season will have 18 episodes

this is us
The cast of This Is Us. Photo: Maarten de Boer/NBCUniversal

For This Is Us fans, the beginning of the end is near.

On Friday, NBC announced that the sixth and final season of the hit drama will premiere on Jan. 4, 2022.

Over the next 18 episodes, audiences will finally get some answers to cliffhangers and big questions that were first presented when season 1 premiered on Sept. 20, 2016.

"I'm very excited. I'm also incredibly sad. We're pretty deep in and Season Six is turning me inside out. #ThisIsUs," creator Dan Fogelman tweeted on Friday.

The network previously renewed This Is Us in May 2019 through season 6. Season 5 was cut short by two episodes due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which delayed production multiple times throughout 2020 and caused a late start last fall.

As fans will recall, season 5 ended with one couple calling off their romance while a flashforward teased a Pearson family member's second wedding.

When the season 5 finale aired in May, Fogelman told PEOPLE and other reporters that "everything will be resolved" by the end as audiences will get a "real sense of resolution and completion from this family."

Fogelman and the cast — including Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Chrissy Metz, Sterling K. Brown, Justin Hartley, Susan Kelechi Watson and Chris Sullivan — have remained tight-lipped about how the show will end.

But some details about the final installment were recently shared.

Metz and Watson will each be co-writing an episode with the latter having a part in creating the sixth episode, which will be part 2 of the Beth Pearson-centric standalone "Little Island Girl" from season 3.

Additionally, Sullivan and Jon Huertas, who plays Miguel Rivas, each directed an episode in the upcoming season.

Next season will be a "big one" for Moore as an actress, according to Fogelman.

"A big one that we've always planned on diving into heavily next season is the courtship and coming together and then ultimate separation then coming back together of Rebecca and Miguel. It's a big storyline we have," he said in May.

"Mandy is going to have a tremendously ambitious season next year as an actress," Fogelman shared. "Obviously, as you're traversing this timeline, these timelines into the future and her character battling Alzheimer's, it's going to be quite a showcase for a young woman, who I've been beating the drum for a while, is doing something quite extraordinary on television. So that's a big storyline to come."

Metz told PEOPLE this month that while she is excited about her and her costars' expanded opportunities on the show, her emotions about This Is Us concluding "comes in waves."

"I'll be sitting there about to put a scene up and I'm like, 'Oh, this is the last time that I might be doing this. Or the last time we're at this location.' I have to suppress those feelings because it might not be conducive to the scene," she said of filming as of late.

"I want to really enjoy and relish the moments that I do have as opposed to just crying through them, so it's weird. Also, I feel like it's a story that could go on forever, so part of my delusional mind is like, 'Oh, it's not really ending.' Part of me is trying to just protect myself," the actress and singer shared.

Metz added, "It's been so much fun and there is a lightness to everything, even though all of the storylines are getting very heavy or deep. There's just this ease with the cast that's really nice so it's all the feelings, it's all the things."

This Is Us airs Tuesdays (9 p.m. ET) on NBC.

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