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This Is Us season 6 release date, cast, theories and season 5 finale explained

This Is Us season 6
(Image credit: NBC)

Grab the tissues for one last cry in This Is Us season 6, which is the final season for the NBC drama. The Pearsons are saying goodbye and we expect many, many tears. This Is Us is one of the biggest shows ending soon (on top of many canceled TV shows), and after all the roller coaster ride of feelings we've experienced so far, season 6 should feature plenty of emotional fireworks. 

A huge storyline was set up in This Is Us finale, which ended with a jaw-dropping reveal: Five years in the future, Kate is getting married to her music teacher boss, Phillip! From the flash-forwards into the distant future, we already suspected Kate and Toby had gotten divorced. But this was a twist nobody saw coming!

That's not the only loose end that will need tying up in This Is Us season 6. The show has a ton of blanks to fill in between the present-day and the flash-forwards to the distant future, when Rebecca Pearson is lying on her death bed. What kind of "rising star" does Randall become? Will Kevin find the love of his life or remain single? What happened to Kate and Toby? And how did her relationship with Phillip develop from distrust to "I do"?

So many questions and only one season to get all the answers. Here's everything we know so far about This Is Us season 6.

This Is Us season 6 release date

NBC has not set a specific release date for This Is Us season 6. However, we do know that the season isn't a part of the fall NBC schedule — it wasn't included in the lineup.

Instead, This Is Us season 6 will premiere at midseason, in early 2022. That will enable the 18 episodes to air nearly uninterrupted. 

This Is Us season 5 finale, explained

This Is Us finales often conclude with a shocker, but season 5's ending just might take the cake. 

The episode began with Kevin seemingly preparing for his wedding to Madison by rehearsing his vows (including a famous Princess Bride impression). But Madison called off the nuptials after confronting Kevin about whether he was in love with her. While he loved the family they made together with their twins, Kevin could not say the words. 

Afterward, the Pearsons comforted Kevin and advised him to keep busy. To help with that, Rebecca asked him to build the house that Jack had designed for her. This is the house where all of them gather in the flash-forward far future, where Rebecca is dying. 

Meanwhile, Kate and Toby were at odds because he had accepted a job that put him in San Francisco for three days of the week. Kate recalled her own wedding vows to make him happy, so she decided to quit her job at the music school. However, her boss, the curmudgeonly Phillip, declared she was a great teacher and refused to accept her resignation. Kate and Toby decided to figure out a way to make a long-distance marriage work.

Then, a time jump, five years into the future. Kevin is rehearsing a speech, quoting the Princess Bride, but it's not his vows — he is officiating or giving a toast at someone else's wedding. We see a New Yorker profile of Randall calling him a "rising star." Uncle Nicky is there ... and he's married?!

Kevin enters a hotel room, where Beth and Madison try to shoot him away. He and Madison seem awfully friendly for two people who called off their wedding five years prior. Kate emerges from the bathroom — wearing a beautiful white wedding dress.

When the women finally kick Kevin out, he seems a man leave another room. It's Phillip, Kate's music school boss. Kevin asks if he can make jokes about the British in his speech and Phillip refers to himself as "your brother-in-law" in response. Kate is getting married to Phillip! 

This Is Us season 6 cast

The cast of This Is Us season 6 will be anchored by the five main Pearsons. That's Milo Ventimiglia as Jack Pearson and Mandy Moore as Rebecca Pearson. 

The Big Three as adults are Sterling K. Brown as Randall Pearson, Chrissy Metz as Kate Pearson and Justin Hartley as Kevin Pearson. 

The younger versions of the Big Three are: 

  • Young Randall: Niles Fitch (ages 16–18) and Lonnie Chavis (ages 9–12)
  • Young Kate: Hannah Zeile (ages 16–18) and Mackenzie Hancsicsak (ages 9–12)
  • Young Kevin: Logan Shroyer (ages 16–18) and Parker Bates (ages 9–12)

In the Pearsons' orbit are their spouses, significant others, children, relatives and friends:

Susan Kelechi Watson as Beth Pearson, Randall's wife, and mother of Deja, Tess and Annie. Young Beth is portrayed by Rachel Hilson (ages 16–18) and Akira Akbar (child).

Chris Sullivan as Toby Damon, Kate's husband and Hailey and Jack Damon's father. Young Toby is portrayed by Luke Clark (teen) and Dylan Gage (child).

Jon Huertas as Miguel Rivas, Jack's best friend and Rebecca's second husband.

Caitlin Thompson as Madison Simons, Kate's best friend and mother of Kevin's twins, Franny and Nick.

Griffin Dunne as Nicky Pearson, Jack's brother. Young Nicky is portrayed by Michael Angarano (early 20s) and Donnie Masihi (child).

Chris Geere as Phillip, Kate's boss at the music school and eventual fiance. 

Eris Baker as Tess Pearson, Randall and Beth's older daughter. Adult Tess is portrayed by Iantha Richardson.

Faithe Herman as Annie Pearson, Randall and Beth's youngest daughter.

Lyric Ross as Deja Pearson, Randall and Beth's adopted daughter.

Ron Cephas Jones as William Hill, Randall's biological father. Younger William is portrayed by Jermel Nakia. 

Phylicia Rashad as Carol Clarke, Beth's mother.

Alexandra Breckenridge as Sophie, Kate's childhood best friend and Kevin's ex-wife. Young Sophie is portrayed by Amanda Leighton (ages 15–19) and Sophia Coto (ages 10–12).

Melanie Liburd as Zoe Baker, Beth's cousin and Kevin's ex-girlfriend. Young Zoe is portrayed by Brianna Reed (teen) and Dakota Baccelli (child).

Asante Blackk as Malik Hodges, Deja's boyfriend.

Blake Stadnik as Jack Damon, the adult version of Kate and Toby's son.

Adelaide Kane as Hailey Damon, the adult version of Kate and Toby's daughter.

Auden Thornton as Lucy, Jack Damon's fiancée and mother of his daughter, Hope.

And for the final season, This Is Us may bring back major guest stars from the past, like Gerald McRaney as Dr. Nathan Katowski (aka Dr. K) and Jennifer Morrison as Cassidy Sharp. 

This Is Us season 6 theories and spoilers

As mentioned before, This Is Us has quite a few gaps to fill in between the present-day (after Kevin and Madison's non-wedding) to the future (when Rebecca's family gathers at the new cabin to be by her death bed). 

Now that the season 5 finale revealed Kate and Toby definitely get divorced and she seems to marry Phillip, fans are theorizing that Kate and second husband Phillip are in the white car seen pulling up to the cabin in the episode 9 flash-forward. "Hey, look who's here," older Randall tells adult Deja. They both wave. 

Considering Kevin and Randall are already at the cabin, only Kate is missing from the Big Three. Fans have been worrying that Kate may have died herself in the intervening time, but it's more likely she was running late with Phillip. This also makes sense when you think about what future Randall tells future Toby on the phone, that "she would want you there." That could be Randall letting Toby know that his ex-wife is OK with his presence at Rebecca's vigil. 

Other major question marks to resolve: 

Who does Uncle Nicky marry?: In the five-year flash-forward, Nicky is running behind on getting ready and reveals he has a wife! Could he have found his hippie love Sally from episode 11?

Who is the father of Deja's baby in the future?: In episode 9, grown-up Dr. Deja tells Annie that she's pregnant. However, in the finale, teen Deja's future with boyfriend Malik looks uncertain when he announces he was accepted into Harvard. 

What's up with Kevin and Madison?: Even if they are dream co-parents, they seem extremely friendly in the five-year flash-forward. Show creator Dan Fogelman told Variety, "Despite the heartbreak of that beautiful scene between them and the unusual breakup between them, clearly something is very right with them in that future timeline at the end of the episode."

What kind of "rising star" does Randall become?: It's definitely related to his career. Fogelman said, "We do have a plan. We’ve had it for a while. I think we’ve built it successfully with his early rise and slight indications of his local and even borderline national profile just growing in small doses, so that’s a journey we owe and in traversing time a little bit, we’ll be able to tell that story."

How did Rebecca and Miguel get together?: We've already seen how the two reconnected (social media), but how Rebecca get from being Facebook friends to marrying her dead husband's best friend? Fogelman has promised fans will see how their relationship developed in season 6.