THIS IS US: Every Episode, Every Rating

The 2010's produced its slew of breakout hits, with This Is Us being the last in line on the scripted front after Empire, The Big Bang Theory and Modern Family.  Well ahead of its first season concluding, NBC delivered a landmark 3 season renewal, acknowledging this was as good as it gets with runaway hits.  The well layered drama, consisting of the proper mixture of suspense, character development and linings of humor took America by storm as it explored decades and generations of the Pearson family.  Centered on the timeless love story of Jack and Rebecca (Milo Ventimiglia, Many Moore), it explores their origins, raising their unorthodox set of triplets, Kate, Kevin and Randall (Chrissy Metz, Justin Hartley and Sterling K. Brown).  And proceeding into the present, the adult lives of the triplets as Kate battles romance and weight issues, famed celebrity struggles for attention and adopted and black Randall discovers his birth father.  The series mopped the floor in the ratings its first two seasons.  And even as they cooled down in Seasons 3-4, This Is Us remains the strongest scripted show on broadcast network television.  Utilizing 18 episodes vs. the conventional 22-24, TIU and its bloated ensemble pack a lot of action into each 60 minute entry (or 42 minutes if one counts the chincy networks' demands for allowing commercials).

Please note This Is Us is a returning show, so this table only holds data up through the 2019-20 television season.  To see how This is Us rated year to year against its competition, cruise through TVRG's Ratings History database as it has television data from 1950 through the present!

The mysterious pilot dropped a 2.8 demo upon debut, well into the leagues of hit shows like Empire and The Big Bang Theory.  The debut season dropped a new mystery or wrinkle in every episode, leaving viewers clamoring to return and dig for more clues.  Rather than resorting to plot-driven criminal elements and horrendous events like car crashes and shootings, TIU turned to realism instead and offered mysteries like Rebecca knowing of Randall's birth father and what happened to Jack.  In between the big three were profiled through adolescence and teenage years, painting new layers and dimensions to these already rich characters.  Ratings in the fall maintained solidly in the mid 2.0 18-49 demo ratings, and January windfalls saw the series crack the 3.0 threshold for the first time following Toby's heart attack.  NBC chose not to exploit TIU's success and stretching to May like FOX did with Empire and ended mid-March, striking a then-series-high 3.4.

Season 2 returned swinging in September 2017 to another unprecedented high at 3.9, only bested by The Big Bang Theory in scripted performance.  Another season low came at the start of November Sweeps with a 2.0 (ironically coinciding with the start of the infamous #Me Too movement)  This Is Us managed to bounce back by exploring a cliffhanger relating to Kevin's drinking problem.  This could not top the season's big ticket item in plotting as they revealed how Jack died years earlier.  NBC held the Superbowl ticket this February prior to the Olympics and wisely chose this episode to reveal the heartbreaking development.  Season 2 finished with an impressive 12.7% gain averaging 3.07 with this episode.  Subtracting the Superbowl airing, it maintained steady with slight improvements over the prior season with 2.70 vs. 2.68.

With its big ticket item spent and viewers rewarded, Season 3 experienced noticeable drops.  Showrunners chose to make the focal point of the season exploring Jack's story in Vietnam, as well as Kate's futile attempts to conceive.  Critically acclaimed indeed, they couldn't hold a candle to the prior season's masterful mystery.  Making a heralded 3.0 debut in September 2018, Season 3 scraped below the 2.0 mark by November Sweeps.  The winter showings hovered just below the 2.0 line, with the season as expected suffering a massive loss of 34.5%.  A contributing factor is speculated with the trending three-episode special events in February which often focused on each of the big three and left several cast members noticeably absent.

Season 4 continued to see losses with its debut "Strangers" down 40% from the prior season.  Again, this episode showcased four unknown characters monopolizing screen time and the beloved favorites crammed into tiny scenes at conclusion.  Perhaps it should have been titled "Umm, Who Are They!?" as confused viewers were wondering where the cast was.  While well-constructed, showrunners perhaps should have waited till episode 2 to unveil this mystery which paid homage to the mysterious premiere.  Following the trend of the prior two seasons, November Sweeps again tunneled lower into the 1.0 range except January did not present bountiful gains.   Another three-episode special draped February, following a two-week break resulting in a disastrous 1.1 series low.  The next episode bounced back to a 1.4 as the COVID-19 pandemic shut down much of America, and the series bowed out with an improved 1.7 for the finale full of reveals and new twists.  Will Season 5 bounce back for This Is Us, or will it see this critical darling lose more than 25% of its audience again?

Check out the EVERY EPISODE, EVERY RATING LIBRARY to see other shows profiled.



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